The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

The Aardvark Speaks : my so-called life

This page contains the last 50 stories posted to this category, sorted in chronological order (earliest first). For earlier stories, you need to check out the monthly archives.


Document

I must say that 7½ hours of dj-ing can be pretty exhausting, even though it has some interesting side-effects, such as discovering a remarkably non-seedy restaurant with a somewhat questionable clientèle (including myself), which seems to be open 22-24 hours a day and offers a perfectly decent Zwiebelrostbraten, rather competitively priced at €8.20, even at 5 o'clock in the morning. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came and/or listened to the live stream, I hope you enjoyed it. Comments about the music programme can be posted on the Rhiz website. Personal comments to me in the comments below as usual.

It's also the first time I've done this that it has been documented, so please excuse my enthusiasm and let me point you to the archived MP3 stream, which will still be online for another seven days. Right-click and choose "Save link target as...". If the server is offline (which happens quite a lot), try again 12 hours later.

Unfortunately, the first 30 minutes (8:30pm to 9:00pm) and the last hour (3:00am to 4:00am) are missing. Sorry, but we started somewhat early and finished somewhat late.

Track selections are alternatingly by DJ dd and myself; my first selection is the Oscar Peterson jazz piece that starts about 30 seconds into the first transmission.

If I ever have too much time on my hand (not likely), I might eventually publish a playlist. Because I had too much time on my hands, you can also download the playlist.

Posted by Horst on June 05, 2006 | # | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Fun

My idea of fun during this time when everybody is talking about the Soccer World Cup and watching soccer matches, is to invent new kinds of sports that are not in any way even remotely related to soccer.

For example, Radishball. It's a hockey-like game involving eleven small radishes and one human with a broomstick. The objective of the game is for the human to use the broomstick to get the radishes out from under the dishwasher (where they ended up after he accidentally dropped them) and to avoid hitting them in such a way that they disappear even further under the kitchen cupboards.

A typical game of Radishball takes about 7 minutes; or up to 14 if the human accidentally drops some of the radishes yet again once he has retrieved them.

If the radishes remain under the dishwasher, they win and the human loses. If the human manages to retrieve all the radishes, he wins and they lose. If the radishes remain under the dishwasher for so long that they are beginning to rot, both the human and the radishes lose and the germs win.

Posted by Horst on June 10, 2006 | # | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Question

Should I keep the wrong CD or send it back? Suggestions in the comments, please.

Posted by Horst on June 14, 2006 | # | Comments (5)

Accomplishment

A Photo A Day - #36: Survival Kit

This is not a shameless plug for the pharmaceuticals industry, even if it may look that way. It's my current survival kit. Getting a sunburn at 36°C is one thing, getting a pretty horrid cold is quite another. However, getting both is quite an accomplishment.

Posted by Horst on June 28, 2006 | # | Comments (0)

Size

A Photo A Day - #37: Package

I wonder -- have DVD cases been specifically designed not to be wrappable in A4-size paper sheets?

Posted by Horst on June 29, 2006 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Things I could write about

  • How one of the two teams that I didn't want to win the World Cup actually won the World Cup
  • How to alienate your weblog readers
  • Why human children scream considerably more than those of any other species
  • Why Wikipedia still sucks, and probably more so than ever before
  • Zidane, the unprofessional football player
  • The weather
  • Smells that I find profoundly erotic
  • Serious thoughts on death and the afterlife
  • How my horoscope prevents me from having sex being rich
  • Boring weblogs
  • The urge to insult people
  • Writing lists
  • Making raspberry yoghurt
  • What Closure/• stands for
  • How it's time to move on

I just can't be bothered.

Posted by Horst on July 10, 2006 | # | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Observations

1. The newer or the more recently refurbished a given McDonald's restaurant is, the lower they mounted the urinals in the male toilets. I can only speculate about the reasons for this, but my safest guiess is that their target customers are getting younger and younger. I wouldn't be surprised if they converted the restaurants into kindergardens any time soon. They sure look more like kindergardens every time I enter one of them.

2. I wonder how actors feel about the characters they are playing. Do they miss them once the play closes or the film is in the box? I spent only a couple of days getting into the skin of Dr Cosma, but I miss him somehow now. Is that normal or is it a sign of beginning schizophrenia? Are there more schizophreniacs among actors than among librarians?

3. Ukuleles are obviously made for people with tiny, tiny fingers. How is a person with hands my size supposed to play a B major chord on one of these things? It's just not possible. A C major chord is just about doable, but even an A major chord, which is quite easy in theory, is near impossible in practice. Do Hawaiians have tinier hands than people from other countries? Or did they embrace the steel guitar so enthusiastically because they were also having enough of the hand cramps?

4. EVCO rules. Thanks & congrats to Mig for pulling this off (and for paying our bills at the closing event).

Posted by Horst on July 14, 2006 | # | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Paradox

Why is it that I have an especially strong urge to meet certain people when they're on holidays and want to go to certain restaurants or cafés when they're closed?

Perhaps it's because I'm on semi-holidays myself and actually have the time to think about seeing them or going there.

Whichever way, mid-August has its drawbacks.

Posted by Horst on August 15, 2006 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Minus

I used to sign my emails "-H" or "-Horst", always with a hyphen before the first letter. I never thought about why I did it like that, but it confused a few people.

"Is there any significance why you are putting a minus before your name?" they asked. "Is it a subconscious message that you do not feel worthy? Or that you are an inverted person?"

I didn't have an answer because I just didn't know why I did it that way. After all, if it was a subconscious thing, I certainly wouldn't know anything about it -- that's why it's called subconscious after all. I thought it was merely a convention of sorts to start lines of text like that, but that didn't really explain why I did it in emails, but not in conventional documents.

A few weeks ago I suddely noticed that I no longer put hyphens in front of my name. I noticed it merely by accident, not having paid attention to that thing at all. Out of curiosity, I went through my archive of sent emails, and noticed that I had stopped using the hyphen about eight months ago.

Does that mean that I now feel worthy of whatever? Or that I am no longer inverted? I don't have the slightest idea.

Posted by Horst on August 19, 2006 | # | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Inverted

I felt totally inverted today, and it had nothing to do with me signing an e-mail "-H" (see previous entry). It was one of the days where you feel like you're still yourself, but the world around you, and especially the people in it, are not what or who they used to be because they just don't behave in the way they usually do.

The day started in a somewhat unusual fashion, not by waking up and getting up, but rather by me leaving a café at 7 o'clock in the morning. I hadn't slept at all during the night, and I'm saying that my day started at 7 simply because that was when I noticed that there was daylight around me. Usually, I first wake up and then notice there's daylight; today, I noticed it when I left that café, and then I went to bed. And it felt as if things were totally the wrong way round.

I woke up about 10:30am, still with some alcohol in my blood, and up until now I am doubting whether I really woke up at all. Most of the day seemed to be something of an unreal blur; that may have been due to the residual alcohol. I think I behaved fairly soberly, but that doesn't mean I was sober all the time. At any rate, I'm still not totally convinced everything I experienced today was actually real.

And weird things happened. The most harmless of these was an ATM who refused to give me anything other than one single €10 note. Or me sitting in a park where I've never been before, reading a hi-fi magazine, which I've also never done before.

Also, I had two of the weirdest telephone conversations today. It was as if I was talking to impersonators rather than the people I wanted to talk to. The voices were right, but what was said was just wrong. Either the two people I talked to had undergone a personality change since I last talked to them, or perhaps they were just part of a nightmarish dream.

On my way home in the evening, I passed the café again where my day had started. It was dark outside again, and it felt spookily like I had come full circle, even though it hadn't been 24 hours since I had entered the café the night before. At any rate I hoped to get home quickly, go to bed and wake up tomorrow.

And I mean really wake up. Because if today was real, then I'm not particularly thrilled with the prospects that lie ahead of me.

Posted by Horst on August 27, 2006 | # | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Capitalism

N.B.: For the benefit of my English-speaking readers, I should perhaps explain in advance that GmbH = Ltd and AG = Inc., and that I don't know the English equivalent of an OEG, only that it's a more risky kind of company than a Ltd.

I received a letter today in which the Allianz Insurance Company, the previous owner of the house that I'm living in, told me that the house has been sold to a different company, the IAH Westbahnstrasse OEG. I thought it was interesting that the name of the company was exactly the same as the address of the house.

I decided to do some research.

I also found out that there are 106 IAH companies, apparently one for each house sold by the Allianz Insurance company.

I found out that the IAH Westbahnstrasse OEG is owned at 33.33% each by three other companies, the ECOI Immobilien GmbH, the GGJ Beteiligungs GmbH, and the Immobilien Allianz Holding GmbH.

Furthermore, I found out that ECOI Immobilien GmbH is owned 100% by P&K Estate GmbH; GGJ Beteiligungs GmbH is owned 100% by conwert Immobilien AG, and Immobilien Allianz Holding GmbH is owned 100% by ECO Business Immobilien AG.

Both conwert Immobilien AG and ECO Business Immobilien AG are run by the Viennese real estate tycoons Günter Kerbler and Johann Kowar. Incidentally, the company that took over the administration of the house is also owned by Kerbler and Kowar. Even the websites of these companies [1] [2] [3] are remarkably similar both in design and in the way they don't say a lot about the respective companies.

P&K Real Estate GmbH is apparently owned 90% by Pirelli RE and 10% by Kronberg International.

I don't know what kind of impact the sale of the house is going to have on my life, but the business construct that the new owners have erected is complicated enough to make me feel uneasy, even though I'm sure it's legal and that things like this are done all the time. There must be some kind of benefit in setting up 106 OEGs and having every OEG owned by the same three GmbHs, which in turn are owned by AGs, but unfortunately I'm only a simple person with a doctorate in English literature, so don't have the slightest idea what it could be.

But I'm pretty sure that money is involved in some way or other, and that's what makes it truly frightening.

Posted by Horst on August 28, 2006 | # | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Marathon

So, as previously announced I participated in the 3rd Vienna Photo Marathon yesterday. The whole exercise turned out to be somewhat futile, more about which below. I also learned a few probably not too flattering things about myself, more about which also below.

They said that it wasn't literally a marathon, only in the way that you were supposed to take 24 photographs within 12 hours. Yet the kilometre counter on my bicycle shows exactly 42.3 kilometres, so I suppose it was literally a marathon after all, at least as far as I and my itinerary were concerned.

You were supposed to wear this around your neck all the timeAt the start they gave the participants a list of 24 topics. There was no prescribed route, so you could go anywhere in Vienna to take the pictures, but you had to take them in the exact sequence that was on the list. Meaning that when the topic "My friends" came up, I could either phone some friends of mine to arrange a spontaneous meeting, ride home all across town to take a picture of Haldur and my potted plants, or ask a few complete strangers on the street to pose as friends. I'll let you guess what I did.

What I learned about myself: either I'm a cynic, or the topics on the list brought out the cynic in me. For example, the topic "On Public Transport" had me think about taking a picture of a crammed underground train, "Typically Viennese" made me want to take a picture of a dog turd on the street, "21st Century Technology" had me look out for particularly ugly mobile phone masts, and "Youth(s) in Vienna" made me want to go to a department store and take a picture of youths spending all afternoon playing at computer games at the playstations.

What I also learned about myself: Apparently I have no sense of humour. The hardest picture to take was "A Humorous Photograph". I ended up taking a picture of the photographs on display at the Kabarett Simpl, which were, after all, humorous photographs, sort of.

Oddly enough, "Tourists in Vienna" cost me about an hour. You'd think it'd be easier to find some photogenic tourists you can take pictures of. Not so.

Anyhow. I still won't win any of the prizes. Not the first prize, the trip to Barbados, not even the second one, which I'd like more than the first one, a Nikon digital SRL camera. Still, regardless of the quality of my photographs and those of the 900 other participants, I won't win anything for two very simple reasons:

  • In an apparent subconscious reflex, I noticed only after I had taken the photograph "Vienna Coffeehouse" that I was supposed to take the "Humorous Photograph" first. Meaning that the two pictures are in the wrong sequence, which is a reason for disqualification.
  • Even if they don't disqualify me for taking two pictures in the wrong order, they still won't give me a prize for the simple reason that at least three, possibly more, of my pictures were destroyed when the film got jammed in my camera as I rewound it. It looked as if it had been fully rewound, it felt as if it had been fully rewound, yet when I opened the camera to take out the film, I found that it hadn't been fully rewound. No idea how many photos got destroyed, but it turns out that the 42.3 kilometres and all the effort to take original, non-cynical pictures had all been in vain.

I also noticed that people with digital cameras were at an unfair advantage because they could just take as many pictures as they liked, in any order, and at the end simply delete the not-so-good ones and rearrange the rest so that they conformed to the list of topics. Also, they are quite obviously invulnerable to jamming films. There really should be two separate competitions.

MedalAnyway, I submitted the destroyed film and got a medal, like everybody else. A medal that looks rather cheap, I'm afraid to say. Haldur likes it though, so I let him wear it. I'll get my pictures on a CD in four weeks or so, and if some of them haven't been destroyed, I'll upload them to my Flickr site and let you know about it.

In the meantime, spending a whole day outdoors in perfect weather and a 42.3-kilometre bicycle ride aren't all that bad either, are they?

Posted by Horst on September 10, 2006 | # | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)

Rhinocéros

The e-mails I am receiving at work are getting more and more absurd every day. It is now fairly obvious that an increasing number of people are losing their grip on reality. Today I reached the point where it started getting to me, and I suddenly had the profound feeling that I was caught in an absurdist play, one that was too laughable to even take it seriously. The question that posed itself was: were the people around me were turning into something like rhinoceroses, or should I simply be glad that there wasn't a tree anywhere nearby?

Posted by Horst on September 14, 2006 | # | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Metro

Something in my office emanates a smell that is remarkably similar to the very smell which used to be present in the trains and stations of the old Vienna metro. I have not yet found out where it comes from, but, as smells do, it brings up strong childhood memories.

When I was a child, my parents and I would travel to Vienna at least once a year, usually during the summer. The three things I seem to remember most vividly from the time when I was around four years old are:

  • the smell of the old Vienna metro, especially in Westbahnhof station
  • some absurd pieces of concrete furniture in the Donaupark
  • the Quisisana restaurant on Mariahilferstrasse

The latter was particularly intriguing, with it being half a modern espresso, and half a self-service restaurant with one wall consisting entirely of vending machines. It closed around 1972. I have been trying to find pictures of the Quisisana's interior for about a year now, but so far without success. In fact it was only last year that I was able to confirm that it even existed.

The old metro station at Westbahnhof used to be my second impression of the city, right after the railway station itself. Back then it was the only metro station entirely underground, and the gloomy lighting and the trains coming out of the tunnels were particularly fascinating. Plus, because it was underground, the metro smell was especially strong there. It was a rather technical smell -- possibly a combination of the tar they used to impregnate the sleepers and some lubricating oil for the trains' motors or bogies -- but a fairly addictive one. It disappeared with the old metro trains around 1980, and when they closed the old Westbahnhof station about ten years later, even the last faint notion of it was gone forever.

As for the strange concrete furniture in the Donaupark, I have no idea if it still exists or not. Actually, I couldn't care less, so it's probably still there.

If anyone knows about or even owns photos of the interior of the Quisisana automat restaurant, please drop me a note.

Posted by Horst on September 15, 2006 | # | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Ouch

My first non-pedestrian-induced bicycle accident since about 1984. A strong reminder not to apply the brakes, not even cautiously, when crossing wet tramway rails.

My left hand hurts.

Posted by Horst on September 18, 2006 | # | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Season

At some point in the past, I noticed how computer magazines always seem to be published one month in advance. Like the October issue is published on the 3rd of September.

Last week I wanted to buy a jacket for the current weather, which is not really so warm that you can go out in the evening without a jacket, but warm enough that you'd really feel hot in anything tht's not really thin.

It turns out that it's not just impossible to buy this month's computer magazine, it's also impossible to buy a jacket which is adequate for the current weather. All they sell now,in mid-September, is thick, warm winter jackets for temperatures below zero. The shop assistant told me that if I wanted a thin jacket I should have come in July. I told her that in July it had been so hot that I certainly hadn't needed any jacket.

Which reminded me that I wanted to buy sandals during the summer last year and was told I should have come and bought them in March or April, because now they were stocking the sturdy shoes for the wet autumn weather.

It doesn't seem to make any sense. It just doesn't.

Something that makes sense, even though it is really unrelated: yesterday, I received notice that a friend of mine had died a few days ago. Let me assure you that now is the perfect season to stop smoking.

Posted by Horst on September 20, 2006 | # | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Leaving

The town of Villach is host to an amazing number of tourists. I'm not particularly sure why, but the whole town was full of them last Saturday. Most of them seemed confused and lost as if they were in the wrong town, so maybe they were; or perhaps it just looked that way because they were only barely able to find their way through the thousands of leaflets, balloons and cuddly toys handed out by members of five political parties, all of which were still in desperate search for voters for next Sunday (but apparently not desperate enough not to leave at 12 noon sharp). I suppose the sheer number of tourists explains why a coffee and a Sachertorte are more expensive in Villach than they are in Vienna, which I hadn't really thought possible.

The town of Villach also has two Waldfriedhöfe (forest cemeteries), and if it hadn't been for a chain of minor coincidences, I would not have found out about the second one and thus would almost have ended up at the wrong one, missing my friend's funeral.

At the funeral I noticed that apparently it doesn't really matter how well you knew a person; you may still find that you grieve for them more than you thought you would, simply because they made a big enough impression on you at some point. It's also good to see that people who know somebody well enough can make sure that they leave in the same style and with the same dignity in which they lived. It's interesting to see who came and who didn't come, especially if as a visitor you find that there's nobody there that you know.

In moments like these I usually go all mushy and begin to wonder who will show up at my funeral, what they will say, what they think my style was. I wonder if it will matter, to me, or to someone else. I wonder if I should make arrangements about the script and the soundtrack, but I'm afraid there's not really a lot I can do about the audience.

Posted by Horst on September 24, 2006 | # | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Zit

Why is it that whenever I meet an attractive woman I have a huge zit somewhere on my face? Like today, on my lower lip, which is not just slightly disgusting, but also rather painful?

This is never going to work out, ever.

Posted by Horst on September 25, 2006 | # | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Success

When we were talking after tonight's presentation, one of my colleagues remarked that the presentation was good, but now she could barely understand me because I was speaking so fast.

I suppose that's how adrenaline works.

Posted by Horst on September 28, 2006 | # | Comments (7)

Entertainment

The French Connection, Sat 7 Oct 2006 from 9pm, Cafe Frame, Jaegerstrasse 28, 1200 Wien

If you like French music and/or jazz, come to Café Frame this Saturday.
The French music will be from 9pm to 11pm, the jazz from 11pm to 1am.

Posted by Horst on October 05, 2006 | # | Comments (3)

Error

The following image (click to enlarge) contains one error:

Musicology

Or at least I was asked to change something about it, because as it is, it was not deemed suitable for use on the VU library website.

Can you guess what's wrong with it?
(I'll post the answer as soon as ten people have posted a guess.)

Posted by Horst on October 06, 2006 | # | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)

Pictures

The photographs from the ill-fated photo marathon have arrived and are now ready for your edification on my Flickr site.

I have provided extensive annotations for each of them. Your comments &c. (on the Flickr site) are appreciated.

The winner's photographs can be found on the official site. As expected, the list of winners reveals that almost all of them used digital cameras. I rest my case.

Posted by Horst on October 16, 2006 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Attachment

I once read somewhere that men will only ever engage in friendship or indeed any kind of social interaction with women that they would want to have sex with (regardless of whether sex is an actual or only very remote possibility). Basically, what this boils down to is that what men really want from women is sex, and that friendship (or indeed any other kind of social interaction) is little more than an act of compensation when sex is impossible, unfeasible or socially unacceptable.

I always thought that this theory was bollocks, little more than one of those "theories" that you "read somewhere", but recent events have led me to rethink my stance on the matter. I am now pretty much convinced that it is actually true.

Posted by Horst on October 26, 2006 | # | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Toothpaste

I always buy two tubes of toothpaste, mostly because for some mysterious reason I seem to be out of toothpaste a lot. The strange thing is that while I can remember opening the first tube after buying it, it always seems that the second tube has mysteriously disappeared by the time the first one is empty. Which is partly the reason why I seem to be out of toothpaste such a lot.

Do I open the second tube and forget about it immediately, or is there a secret hiding place for all the second tubes of toothpaste? A gate to a parallel universe in my bathroom even? Beginning Alzheimer's? Haldur?

Posted by Horst on October 28, 2006 | # | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Trumpet

Suddenly, I have this urge to learn to play the trumpet and become some kind of Don Cherry or Clifford Thornton or Lee Morgan of sorts. The questions that are circling in my head are: is is possible to even learn a brass instrument at age almost-40? How much time do I have to spend on practicing? Where could I practice, since "in my flat" is not an option, for obvious reasons? Can I ever reach a level with which I will be satisfied? Is the whole thing just a fluke that will be gone again in a few weeks? How much are trumpets anyway? And what the heck do you have to do with your lips to get a sound out of them?

Posted by Horst on November 01, 2006 | # | Comments (3)

November

Okay, so November is here, and as if to prove the concept, somebody lowered the outside temperature by about 15 degrees to just slightly above the freezing point, while somebody else thought it was a good idea to end Daylight Savings Time so that it's now dark pretty much the entire day, and after only four days of this abysmal routine I am beginning to feel depressed.

I have also had a fairly strong headache for two days, possibly weather-related, which isn't helping much.

The only thing I can think of doing -- rather than actual useful work on the MSc thesis that I'm supposed to be working on -- is to go out and buy things which I neither need nor really want. Which everybody else seems to be doing as the shops are crammed with people and there are even articles in the newspaper in which the Chamber of Commerce is announcing record sales this week, "possibly due to the bad weather". It's pretty sad that things have come down to this. Only I feel I'm now past the point where I still believe that a pointless purchase can still make me happy in any way, which makes the whole thing a doubly frustrating exercise. Plus, it's currently so cold and wet outside that leaving the house sounds like a really bad idea, as much as I'd want to.

Of course, I could also go on antidepressants and join the happy Prozac crowd, but the problem is that when you're not on the stuff, these people are so sickening that you wouldn't want to join them.

Posted by Horst on November 04, 2006 | # | Comments (7)

Frustration

I'm pretty sure they changed the timetable for tram line 5 here in Vienna, because as far as I remember, the last tram used to leave from Wallensteinplatz considerably later than 00:09 hrs.

Anyway, when I came to the tram stop at 00:10 hrs, all I could see were the last tram's taillights in a distance of about 150 metres or so, and the train indicator at the station happily announcing "Betriebsschluss" (no service).

I didn't feel like paying €12 for a taxi, so I decided to take a swift walk to the nearest subway station, which in this case is above ground, a fact which allowed me to see the last train enter and leave the station when I was still about 150 metres away from it.

I kept walking for about ten minutes until I was approaching my next option, tram number 38. When I was about 150 metres away from the station, the last tram on that line passed through it.

Five minutes later, just as I approached the stop of tram number 41, the same thing happened again. Not that it would have helped me to catch that train, because by then it was so late that I would have missed the connecting service anyway, but I was beginning to get the hang of seeing a cascade of last trams pass at a distance of about 150 metres, like a reminder of the transport authority that if you miss the last tram number 5, your punishment will not just consist of having to walk, you will also be humiliated and frustrated at each subsequent alternative route.

Some ten or fifteen minutes later, I was still on my way and it was well past 00:45 hrs by now, I walked along the route of bus line 13A, a fairly useful line which would have saved me about 15 minutes' walk if it were still in service. However, I was perfectly sure that the last bus must have left some time ago, so I didn't bother to check the timetable at one of the stations that I walked past.

Just when I was right in the middle between that station and the next (actually about 150 metres away from the next), I heard the sound of a bus approaching behind me. I uttered an expletive and started to run.

Posted by Horst on November 10, 2006 | # | Comments (11)

Found

Two minutes after my duty at the reference desk had started, a colleague phoned and asked me if by any chance the student ID of a certain Mr X had been found and deposited there. I checked the lost & found box, and there was an ID in it, but unfortunately it wasn't Mr X's, it belonged to a Ms Y.

An hour or so later, a female student came to the desk and asked me if I could look up her library ID number in the computer because she had left her card at home and needed the number to order a book. I asked her for some other identification so I could look it up. The name on it seemed very familiar; so familiar in fact that I went back to the lost & found box, just to check. She was Ms Y alright.

I said to the student, "Are you sure that you left your ID at home?"

She said she was.

I said I wouldn't be so sure about it.

Posted by Horst on November 14, 2006 | # | Comments (6)

Plectrum

Possibly Ira Kaplan's plectrum

There are objects that are worth something, and there are objects that are worthless. And then there are objects that could be worth something, at least to you, but you just don't have a clue if they are or not.

For example, for the past few weeks the object pictured above has been in my possession. It's a guitar plectrum. It's kind of possible that it's Ira Kaplan's guitar plectrum, but as I don't own a CSI kit that can do DNA analysis, I have no idea whether it is or not.

Clues: I A friend found this plectrum after the Yo La Tengo concert in Brussels, at the venue, about 10 feet from the merchandise stand to which Ira Kaplan had returned after playing one of the noisiest (and most exhilarating) gigs that I have ever been to.

Of course, considering that several other bands also played that evening, the plectrum might also have belonged to Edith Frost or any band member of Sukilove, Espers, or Midlake. Considering how many people there were in the audience, it could of course also be some audience member's plectrum.

Funny though: if I knew it was Ira Kaplan's plectrum, it would be valuable to me. If it was anybody else's plectrum, I wouldn't care much. As it is, I'll probably put it into one of those CSI-issue sealable little plastic bags, file it as "possibly Ira Kaplan's plectrum" and keep it as an item of questionable value.

Which is probably weird to some people, but fine by me.

Hear Ira Kaplan play on Yo La Tengo's "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind".

Posted by Horst on December 04, 2006 | # | Comments (5)

View

View from my office, 5 Dec 2006, around 4pm

Did I ever mention that I have this really great view from my office window, which sometimes is not just great, but actually quite spectacular?

Posted by Horst on December 05, 2006 | # | Comments (6)

Egg

Today, I accidentally cooked an egg for no less than 35 minutes. I am currently pondering whether I should open it just to see what it looks like on the inside (somebody once told me that yolks turn all black), or whether I should just throw it away aithout any further ado.

Posted by Horst on December 07, 2006 | # | Comments (6)

Age

I remember when I was about twelve years old, there was this summer during which I went on holidays with just my mother because my father couldn't get that week off work. When we returned home, I noticed (or thought I'd noticed) that my father's hair had all gone gray. In my memory, a week earlier it had still been black, and it was as if he'd aged ten or fifteen years in that one week. He also seemed rather tired and exhausted. I don't know if anything happened during that week, but as, contrary to legend, people's hair doesn't just go gray overnight (or overweek), I suppose I simply took a better look at him that day and noticed what he really looked like rather than what I thought he looked like.

About two years ago I had a similar experience when I saw him and suddenly I realised he had become an old man. Not an "old" old man -- he still does 20-mile bicycle tours without any problem at all -- but something in his posture had changed enough to change my perception of him, as if he had again aged fifteen years within a week.

It's frightening that he ages that way, in those big steps every once in a while. Most people seem to do it more slowly, more continuously, more subtly.

Similarly frightening is a medical diagnosis he received a week ago that I learned about at Christmas; hardly the kind of thing you want to learn about at Christmas, or at any time of the year for that matter. It looks curable, but an operation is required, and that was when I realised that he's almost 70 and I'm almost 40, and now I've become slightly afraid of the face that I might see if I take a closer look at the mirror, or the face that I might no longer see one day when I look where my father is supposed to be, but isn't.

Posted by Horst on December 28, 2006 | # | Comments (4)

This year in cities

Berlin, Germany
Braunau, Austria
Brno, Czech Republic
Brussels, Belgium
Eichberg, Austria
Graz, Austria
Linz, Austria
London, United Kingdom
Munich, Germany
Paris, France
Salzburg, Austria
Vienna, Austria
Villach, Austria

Posted by Horst on December 30, 2006 | # | Comments (11)

Older

kuufuu is people

I realize that the older I get, the more trouble I have understanding young people, and the more trouble they have understanding me. For example, from a random sample of 25 people nobody got the "kuufuu is people" joke that I used on the promotional Messages from the Lost Continent website.

Not the "kuufuu" part, because for that you obviously need to read the Messages. They didn't get the "is people" part, nor my snickering reference to green biscuits.

Most of them also didn't know who or what Charlton Heston is. That's where it got really frightening. Not that I think that a life without knowledge of Charlton Heston is all that bad; quite on the contrary. It's the realization that my jokes are becoming generation-specific that hurt most.

Posted by Horst on January 16, 2007 | # | Comments (15)

Pre-emptive customer service

In the 20 years or so that I've bought and unpacked compact discs, I have repeatedly asked myself whether it is possible for a compact disc to become so stuck on its tray that you can actually break it while trying to remove it. So far, however, all CDs that I've tried to take out of their box, even those that seemed to be dangerously stuck, have shown a remarkable elasticity.

Today, however, I learned that CDs can indeed break apart, very much like knäckebröd in fact, right through the middle, into two halves of roughly the same size, and even emit knäckebröd-like breaking sounds in the process.

It was the crowning achievement of a whole week of customer dissatisfaction, during which I had to return no fewer than five items to their respective sales points because they were either broken or damaged; that's more in one week than I returned during the whole of the past 10 years. I only hope it's a spell that passes soon.

During this week I also received an Amazon order. In the box, I found an empty fat jewel case for 2CDs with a note on which they apologized that the jewel case of one of the items they sent me was broken and they were including this empty jewel box to compensate for it.

The funny thing was, none of the CD cases with CDs in them was broken, but the extra empty one they sent me was.

My only explanation for this phenomenon that does not involve time travel or an intervention from a parallel universe is that they expected one of the jewel cases in the order to break during shipping, because these things often do, and simply included the extra case as a matter of pre-emptive customer service, and ironically, it was the extra case that took the hit.

A shop assistant at a record shop where I got a replacement for an unplayable, totally fogged CD today told me she had had a significantly higher number of defective items this week. I told her about my week of broken items and how a CD cracked into two halves in my hand earlier today, and she said, "well yes, that also happens to us a lot."

Posted by Horst on February 23, 2007 | # | Comments (2)

Update

Nothing broke during the past seven days, at least nothing that was really important. A small piece of plastic broke off my desk when I accidentally kicked against it, but it doesn't seem o be important, and you barely notice it's missing.

Once again I noticed that "rare" is an overused term when applied to used records. Why is it that some record dealers all have he same nondescipt albums in their "rare" box, and then you discover some really rare, much sought-after items in their special offers box? Do they even know what they are selling? What happened to the term "expertise"?

Yes, I haven't been blogging much lately. Neither have, I noticed, many of the people who started blogging around the same time that I did and that I used to keep contact with. Are we floating on similar brainwaves that are telling us "no use blogging" these days? Or does our non-blogging exert negative vibes on our respective blogs? Who knows. The increasing number of inactive weblogs around me in the blogosphere will, however, be one of the things that I will use in my paper on weblog applications for libraries, which I've finally started to work on more seriously.

At any rate, my readership is once again dropping significantly as a direct effect of non-blogging. I understand this completely; after all you people want to be entertained.

Other than that, the good news is that something nice has happened which I can't tell anybody yet until next week, and the not-so-good news is my father has his operation scheduled for Wednesday, and as if that wasn't scary enough, I have a rather scary (less scary than my dad's operation, but still scary enough) birthday coming up. I'll keep you informed.

Posted by Horst on March 04, 2007 | # | Comments (6)

Thresholds

Okay, during the days when I didn't post anything I safely made it into my 41st year, and, more importantly, my father made it out of hospital.

Posted by Horst on March 24, 2007 | # | Comments (1)

Anatomy

The trumpet that Robert Bachner lent me is, at this stage, emitting two sounds when I blow into it. I'm convinced it was designed to emit more than two sounds, especially as Robert, when blowing into it himself, produced what seemed to be a myriad of sounds, but in my present stage of not yet having started to take trumpet lessons and therefore not practising because (for lack of lessons) I do not yet know what exactly to practise, all I get out of it is two sounds.

And assorted noises, but I guess these do not qualify as music. Nor do my two sounds I guess, but they somehw seem closer to the concept of music. After all, given the required dexterity, by pressing the valves two sounds can be multiplied into several.

What really matters for trumpet playing though is strong lips. It's quite amazing how many muscles are involved in moving your lips (assuming this wikipedia article is correct), and it seems that for playing a brass instrument, all of them must be well trained and strong.

Now all I need to find is a fitness club where they have adapted these machines that you normally use to strengthen your biceps so that you can work on your zygomaticus major instead. I'm sure that once I'm able to lift a 16-ton weight with my levator labii superioris alaeque nasi I will also be a virtuoso trumpet player.

Probably with a rather disturbing expression on my face, but I guess that's the price you have to pay.

Posted by Horst on May 03, 2007 | # | Comments (8)

Aphrodesia

I admit here and now that one of the remnants of my teenage life in the 1980s is that I still like certain kinds of incense sticks. When I last went to the local incense stick shop to stock up on Shrinivas Sugandhalaya's "Geet Govind" and "Sriram" varieties, the shop assistant gave me a free sample package of "Aphrodesia" incense sticks with my purchase.

Aphrodesia incense sticks

All the way home, and for hours afterwards, I wondered if I had looked as if I needed them.

Posted by Horst on June 16, 2007 | # | Comments (4)

Sounds that came out of the trumpet during my lesson today

E - F - F# - G - Ab - A - Bb - B - C - C# - D - Eb

Not all of them sounded nice, and the D and Eb weren't under particular control, but it's a nice progress compared to the two sounds from a few weeks ago.

Posted by Horst on June 17, 2007 | # | Comments (1)

Emotion

Recently, a colleague at work gave me a bottle of Emotion. "Here," she said, "I got this for you."

Emotion, incidentally, is this drink they sell here. It is like water, only with some sugar and a choice of essential oils or flavors. The bottle she gave me was pear & balm flavour. The label said it was to have a soothing and calming effect.

I am allergic to pear, and I have a general dislike of sweetened drinks that pretend to be healthy when very obviously they are not. My blood pressure may be slightly above average, but I did not remember having acted in a way that may have necessitated a soothing and calming drink.

"Um," I said, looking at the bottle that she held out to me. Then I said, "Why?"

I suppose it's this kind of reaction that has some people believe that I am suffering from Asperger's and am positively unable to emotionally connect to other people. At any rate she looked at me in disbelief because I had very obviously given the wrong answer.

"You could say thank you," she said without answering my question.

This puzzled me to no end. There, in front of me, was a bottle full of stuff I didn't like, was likely allergic to, and had never even remotely asked for. And she was expecting me to take it and thank her for it?

It was a particularly hot day, so I decided to take the path of least resistance and take the bottle. I said, "Thank you, I guess."

I drank the Emotion later that day. It tasted pretty horrible, in a way that makes you wonder how they are able to sell such a product in the first place. However, the soothing and calming effect must have worked because despite my increasing disgust, I emptied the whole bottle. Luckily, it was artificial enough not to cause me any allergic reactions. Subsequently, I took a vow never to touch this kind of vile liquid ever again.

The next day, Mig blogged about his experience with Emotion, and from his story I gathered that my colleague had most likely got the Emotion free with her lunch sandwich and had probably given it to me because she wasn't too fond of pear & balm either.

It was one of these evil schemes that you just have to admire.

Posted by Horst on June 24, 2007 | # | Comments (14)

Physics

I am currently conducting various experiments to reduce the heat in my non-airconditioned workplace.

My previous experiment consisted of switching off nine of the eighteen computers in the reference library (which is pretty deserted during vacation time anyway) and putting up signs asking the readers to not switch them on unless all the remaining computers are occupied. A few hours later, temperatures did indeed seem to be somewhat lower than usual.

Currently, I am trying to figure out whether putting large amounts of tinfoil on my office window merely makes the office darker, or if it also keeps out the heat a bit. So far I can confirm that the room is definitely darker, but I'm not sure if it has become any cooler.

Posted by Horst on July 20, 2007 | # | Comments (4)

Trumpet lesson

The TRUMPET TEACHER (TT) has been on holidays for two weeks. It has been three weeks since he and the TRUMPET STUDENT (TS) had their last meeting. The TS has been practicing, but not as much as he knows he should have. Nevertheless he has managed to increase his tonal range somewhat, from c" to e". At some point during the lesson, however, the TS struggles unexpectedly as he is supposed to be playing an a', which has never really posed a problem before.

TS: [produces moderately convincing sound on trumpet]

TT: Hm.

TS: [produces slightly less convincing sound on trumpet]

TT: Wait a second. Do that again.

TS: [attempts to produce the same sound, but is stopped before he can actually blow]

TT: You're opening your mouth. Before you start blowing into the mouthpiece, you're opening your mouth. That's not good. Try again.

TS: [attempts to put the trumpet to his mouth without opening his mouth]

TT: You did it again. You probably don't even notice it anymore. That's not good. Take off that mouthpiece, go over to that mirror and watch yourself as you put the mouthpiece on your lips.

TS: [walks to the mirror and puts the mouthpiece to his lips. Sees in the mirror that he is moving his lips without having moved them consciously.]

TT: See that?

TS: Um, yes. [Puts mouthpiece on his lips several times]

TT: Okay, keep going.

TS: [puts mouthpiece on his lips several times. Finally manages to do it without moving his lips too much]

TT: You're still moving your lips. Until next week, I want you to do this in front of your bathroom mirror for at least ten minutes twice every day. And... can I see your lips?

TS: [shows the teacher his lips. The TT studies the impression that the trumpet mouthpiece has left on the TS's lips]

TT: I'm afraid you're putting the mouthpiece too much on your lower lip and not enough on your upper lip. Take that mouthpiece and put it on your lips.

TS: [puts mouthpiece on his lips]

TT: You opened your mouth again.

TS: [sighs. Puts mouthpiece on his lips]

TT: Okay. Higher.

TS: [puts mouthpiece higher on his lips]

TT: Higher. It will feel odd.

TS: [puts mouthpiece higher on his lips. It feels odd]

TT: Getting closer. Higher.

TS: [puts mouthpiece higher on his lips. It feels very odd]

TT: That's the correct position. Now do the mouthpiece thing again, don't open your mouth and try to reach that position.

TS: [puts mouthpiece on his lips several times. It feels very very odd]

TT: Good. Now try to play that sound again.

TS: [mounts mouthpiece on trumpet. Puts trumpet to lips in an uncomfortably high position, taking care not to open the mouth. Attempts to blow] Pfffffffffffff. [a lot of air from the trumpet, no sound at all]

TT: It's the correct position. I'm afraid now you'll have to get used to it before you can play anything again.

TS: Gah.

Posted by Horst on July 26, 2007 | # | Comments (2)

2nd try

Last year I got a guitar plectrum that may or may not have been Ira Kaplan's. Today I got one that was most definitely his.

The gig was once again brilliant, the kind of experience that you gladly travel 700 miles for.

Posted by Horst on September 11, 2007 | # | Comments (7)

The trumpet is a harsh mistress

trumpet mouthpieceAt the end of one episode of Grey's Anatomy, Burke and George can be seen (but not heard) jamming along one evening, seemingly enjoying themselves. Burke is playing the trumpet, and George is playing the clarinet. It is the only reference that I've so far come across in the series that the two of them are playing musical instruments.

I do not personally know any hospital doctor playing the trumpet or clarinet, but to me it seems about as realistic as Monica of Friends being a chef, yet also being able to spend most evenings at home. That degree of realism would be "extremely unlikely".

For the trumpet is a harsh mistress. She demands your constant attention. One hour per day is the minimum you have to spend with her, and I doubt whether a doctor like Burke with 48-hour shifts and all that can really spare the necessary amount of time to practice regularly. But ignore your trumpet one day, and much of the time that you have invested in your relationship will have been in vain. Things that were well worked out and went smoothly the day before yesterday will suddenly feel about as awkward as they felt at your first encounter; instead of ecstatic high-pitched sounds you will hear nothing but painful moaning when you touch her with your lips. Also, the fingering will feel strangely clumsy, like you'd never touched her before.

And of course, the exercise will be anticlimactic; the hour spent with her will be a protracted experience of utter frustration. You'll be all sore, but painfully so, because as you played up that scale, the note at the climax just didn't sound convincing, and you know that it's the punishment for not spending enough time with her.

Burke should have been living through a frustrating experience with his trumpet equally bad or worse than his relationship with Cristina. Like what every person who isn't lucky enough to be a TV character has to go through when learning to play the trumpet.

Posted by Horst on October 20, 2007 | # | Comments (7)

The Drawer

a selection of cansI do appreciate the fact that the bread I eat contains apparently no preservatives at all. I can say this with some certainty because even at this time of the year, when my kitchen is mostly dark and cool, it takes only something like 3 or 4 days for the bread to become mouldy.

It's during the moments of the recognition of the fungus on the bread and the thought "but I bought this only a few days ago" that I'm unsure whether I should have my kitchen checked for particularly aggressive fungus spores, or tell my local supermarket that they should have their shop checked for these spores, because the whole bread-getting-mouldy thing seems to be happening a lot faster now than it used to.

And it's moments like these when I dig through the drawer in my kitchen and realize there's really nothing in there that would taste nice without some bread to go with it.

Plus, I also realize that some of the things I'm buying, like the local variety of spam (edible spam, not the stuff in your inbox), are pretty revolting. Or the fact that the can of cassoulet in genuine duck stock brings back fonder memories of the day when I bought this can in a supermarket in Toulouse than of the contents of the second can bought on that day and eaten a few months ago.

I suppose the kimchi works without bread. I wonder if I'll ever feel like eating that can of cassoulet.

Posted by Horst on February 12, 2008 | # | Comments (6)

The Event

French Connection 5 - DJ h-prill presents chansons and jazz at Cafe Frame, 15 February 2008, from 9pm
Posted by Horst on February 13, 2008 | # | Comments (2)

The Next Event

Friday Jazz Night with DJ Horst
@ Kantine, Porzellangasse 19, 1090 Wien

Friday 28 March
starts at 9pm until late

Posted by Horst on March 26, 2008 | # | Comments (0)

Master of Science

It seems they liked my thesis on weblog applications in libraries because I easily passed my exam today and am now the proud owner of an MSc in Library and Information Science. Nice. :-)

Posted by Horst on March 27, 2008 | # | Comments (7)

French Connection 6

French Connection 6

DJ h-prill presents French Connection 6 - chansons & jazz.

Friday 24 October 2008, from 9pm
Café Frame, 1200 Wien, Jägerstrasse 28.

Posted by Horst on October 20, 2008 | # | Comments (4)


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