My mom’s come to visit

December 7, 2007 at 10:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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She came yesterday and is going to stay until Tuesday – five and a half days altogether. That’s a long time – no notable friction yet.

Nobody knows The Sound of Music in Austria

June 12, 2007 at 11:19 pm | Posted in Austria, Film | 4 Comments
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That’s one thing that is worth being said over and over again: Americans, Aussies, Brits, when you come to Austria, don’t expect anyone to greet you with a tune from The Sound Of Music on their lips. We don’t know that film or musical over here. There were a couple of German Movies in the 1950s which dealt with the same topic, the adventures of the Trapp family: Die Trapp-Familie with Ruth Leuwerik and Hans Holt (1956, directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner), as well as Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika (same principals, 1958) and the creators of the The Sound of music admitted that this was where they got their inspiration film. The films were incredibly successful in their times, but today, as virtually all Heimatfilme, are experienced as unbearable by most viewers below 60 today. Neither the films nor the musical is true anyway.
Trapp-Familie

This just as addendum – I only learned yesterday that the song My favorite things in the Skoda ad was taken out of the musical.

Back on the blog, internet weary

May 27, 2007 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Blogging | Leave a comment
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Coming back from a brief blogging break, and having been unable to use internet from home for the past two weeks, I realize that I have become internet weary. I think I am going to cancel the contract with my internet provider tomorrow – until I move away in about two to three (yay!) months, I won’t desperately need it at home. I can always go into my office to use it, like I am doing now.

My mom came to visit and it was a really nice break from work – we spent three hours on ships on Lake Constance, travelled through three countries (Austria, Germany, Switzerland), went on a fabulous hike in lovely weather. We hardly got on each other’s nerves which is quite an achievement, considering we spent three consecutive days with each other. I suppose it’s like that with every body and their mothers – there is nobody who has known you longer than they do, but there is also nobody who can irritate you more than they can, with just one little word, or just with the way they say things;-) You think you have grown up and emancipated yourself from your upbringing, but that’s not quite true. Because if you were, then those little words and the way they are said wouldn’t upset you so much, would they? So some words did upset me, but at least I was able to see why they did, and nothing led to a particular disagreement. Occasionally, we were even able to see the comical aspect of seeing ourselves so subjected to the past patterns of interaction, so congratulations to us both:-)

While my mum was here with me in Austria, a wild thunderstorm raged where she, her boyfriend and my brother live. My brother sent me these movies – the noise matters in the first, and the images in the other.

Family-friendly

May 24, 2007 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Gender | Leave a comment
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Just a quick one: I went on an excursion to vaude, manufacturer of mountain sports equipment and clothing who won I don’t know how many prizes for family friendly work conditions. Roughly a dozen of people were on the excursion, and it left us drooling about what they offer.

Anybody can work part-time, even in the management, with a ratio of up to 70% of part-time employees in some departments. Work-hours are flexible, they have both teleworkers and job sharers, and they also have a day care centre for kids from half a year to ten years, costing no more than 180€ (half a day) to 208 € (a full day) a month, including food. And the food’s organic, btw.

Employees may use the company’s vehicles, having to pay no more than the gas they use themselves. They can take out all the equipment on loan AND the company regulalry organizes courses and events in skiing, climbing, hiking, surviving in the wilderness which start Friday noon (meaning employees get half a day off if they take part in a course).

The company is located in a village that is part of Tettnang, a municipality in the Allgäu, and a year ago, the public swimming-pool was almost closed town. A local initiative approached the company for help – they trained some of their staff as life guards and are now running the pool for half the amount of the original costs and it is even open longer than before. The have also introduced courses in work organization, helping employees to work more effectively in order to reduce extra hours, have special reward and incentive systems (financial reward for employees who make recommendations that affect the whole company; small financial rewards for small recommendations within the departments which go into the department’s kitty).

Improvement? The majority of their employees are female, and almost all of them return to work from maternity leave – some of them return to work in their home offices only a month after having given birth. They can decide whether they want to work 5 hours on two days or two hours on five days a week. Over the past five years the birth rates among employees have almost quadrupled, from 5 to 18 children born a year, in a company with 300 employees. Needless to mention they also have special pension funds to support their employees.

It was all pretty amazing and I am still drooling… I was close to asking them for a job although I really want to move back into the city:-)

My brother’s photographs 31/40

March 29, 2007 at 7:12 am | Posted in Photography | 4 Comments
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In terms of ‘career’ and ‘professional development’, my brother and I couldn’t be any more different. He’s just four years older than me but has been working for the past 19 years in a full time job. I am in my 4.5th year now of working full-time. I’m an English teacher (not justified to call me lecturer, although it says so on my card), he has been employed as cleaning staff for the past 15 years. But the photographs he takes keep amazing me. He has never had any form of training, and you can sometimes see that his take on framing, for instance, is very unconventional. Which contributes to the photos’ fascination. And the collages he comes up with are also absolutely independent. He only had five years of English at school and that was 20 years ago. This notwithstanding, he keeps writing me emails in English and knows how to use the language to describe his pictures. Today I’d just like to present some of the pictures on his flickr portfolio:












Carnival Photo Report, Pt. 3

February 17, 2007 at 11:02 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Parts 3 and 4 of the report aren’t really reports on carnival, but of the way we spent the carnival holiday in general. We went “home”, i.e. to my home-home, i.e the place where my mother lives which was only 300 km away, but nevertheless we spent 5.5 hours on the train. She lives close to the border to Thuringia, which was formerly the border with the German Democratic Republic, and the infrastructure regrading public transport is still not ideal.

We went there because of the mentioned accommodation problem and because, if we turned around the accommodation problem, it meant it was an excellent opportunity to introduce my boyfriend to my mother, and all went extremely well :-) She was absolutely delighted about him, my mother’s boyfriend enjoined the male company (he often seems a bit intimidated by my presence, or even jealous), and I learned so many things about my own home and the surrounding area.

Carnival in CologneThe village where they live (and where I spent the seven unhappiest years of my life after we moved there from a town – which is probably the reason why I know so little about it) is an official reserve in UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Project, for its unique combination of biodiversity and rural civilisation. Here is a link to the Wikipedia page in German which desribes the Biosphärenreservat Rhön.

My mom’s boyfriend is a former forrester/ranger and helped map the area. My mom is a farmer’s daughter and belives in growing her own food, gathering the gifts of mother nature and preparing them in her own tiled oven. We had a very wholesome stay, in terms of nutrition, education and tending family relations :-) I am even looking forward to going back which has rarely happened before:-D

The pic shows my mom and her boyfriend.

Mother-Daughter Convergence

January 17, 2007 at 8:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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These are my Mom’s teeth. Her front teeth, the two that are protuding a bit, are capped. She’s been having them for at least 30 years now, probably more, which is why they’ve never looked unnatural to me. This is just they way they are and always were.

My Mom's teeth

The reason why I am looking at this now is that I’ll probably have to have my teeth capped too. They’re disintegrating, literally, and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do. The incisors have become thinner and thinner, and shorter and shorter over the past years. Pieces of enamel have begun chipping off, and where they did, the dentine is not only showing, but beginning to darken. The overall result is enough to discourage me from smiling (since I’m not exactly a Cheshire cat, that isn’t a great hardship for me).

I’ve got an appointment at a Dental Health Clinic tomorrow morning, and I am already determined to squander some of my savings for the reconstrucion of my pearly whites if necessary – I am really worried that they might just collapse in front of my eyes one day. Anyhow, if they have the side effect of making my upper lip bulge they way my Mom’s does, I won’t complain ;-)

Living vicariously

January 11, 2007 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Friends | 4 Comments
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Suppose it’s time for another “F__ing Vorarlberg” post. If I give up my grudge against this place, I might be giving up my most important “constituting other”. These days, my thoughts are so much geared up towards leaving this place that I probably do not even try anymore to come to grips with it and the situation. I probably should do something about that. But except from commuting between work and my flat, there’s hardly any activity that I engage in these days (and I abhor the mere thought of social engagement, to be honest, although it would probably do me good). Tapping the internet for a few signs of life from distant friends, and that’s it. And it still seems to be the better alternative to me than beginning to hang out with the locals :-P

EDIT: commuting in this case means nothing more but a 15 minutes walk…

Visit Heligoland while it lasts!

January 8, 2007 at 8:49 pm | Posted in German, Global Warming | 6 Comments
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This thought came to my mind today when walking home and once more pondering the issue of global warming. Heligoland is an island in the North Sea. In the ancient days, it was controlled by Frisian, Danish, and British rulers until in 1890, Britain traded it with Germany for Zanzibar. The German name for the island is Helgoland, but the vernacular language spoken is Halunder, which is a kind of Frisian. Today, Heligoland’s highest point rises 61m above sealevel – if the sealevels rose, I suppose quite a big chunk would be torn out of the island’s flesh. It consists of the main island, Helgoland, and the uninhabitaed Düne (dune).

Heligoland is two sailing hours away from the German mainland. It enjoys tax-exempt status, which is the reason why Heligoland is also a popular destination of the so-called Butterfahrten (German, literally: butter trip). A Butterfahrt is a trip with a ship to buy duty-free goods. As soon as such a Butterschiff (butter boat; boat used for such a trip) reaches the duty-free zone, the sale may begin. On the ship. Butterfahrt tourists do not usually disembark the ship at their destination.

Over the centuries, the inhabitable area of Heligoland has been severly reduced, partly due to the hunger of the sea and partly due to the hunger of war:

There was a large allied air raid on the island on 15 October 1944, destroying many of the buildings of the Unterland; then, on 18 April 1945 over a thousand Allied bombers attacked the islands leaving nothing standing.[...] The islands were evacuated the following night.

From 1945 to 1952 the uninhabited islands were used as a bombing range. On 18 April 1947, the Royal Navy detonated 6,800 tonnes of explosives in a concerted attempt to destroy the island (“Big Bang” or “British Bang”); while aiming at the fortifications, the island’s total destruction would have been accepted. The blow shook the main island several miles down to its base, changing its shape: the Mittelland was created.

In 1952 the islands were restored to the German authorities, who had to clear a huge amount of undetonated ammunition, landscape the main island, and rebuild the houses before it could be reinhabited. Wikipedia

Btw, the 18th of April, which has twice been an unholy day for Helgoland, is also the date of my birthday.

Surprisingly, Google Earth hasn’t put Heligoland on the map yet, literally. They are retrieving the data from the sightseeing attractions’ database correctly – but no picture of the island itself is attainable:

Heligoland

This is truly a pity, as Heligoland is probably one of the most scenic natural landscapes of Europe. Have a look at some of the pictures a stefanlb (via Panoramio) took from the Island:

Heligoland

And before I forget: One of my favourite authors from my childhood days was born on Helgoland: James Krüss. And the one book which I’ve probably read a half dozen of times is set on the island: Mein Urgroßvater und ich (My greatgrandfather and me). It’s the story of a boy and a greatgrandfather who spend their days writing poems and stories on the back of the raw planks that are supposed to be made into a boat. Here is an excerpt from the book. Do you notice anything special about this poem?

Zanthens Yacht Xanthippe
war völlig unberechenbar,
trieb stets regelwidrig quer,
prosperierte oft nicht mehr,
landete kreuz-jammerbar
im Haitihafen gar,
fuhr entgegenkreuzend dann
Cubas Blumenküste an.

The next time I go home to my mother’s I should probably take the book with me to read it another time.
P.S.: If you’re clueless, read the comments!

No Snow in the Alps

January 3, 2007 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Alps, Global Warming | 4 Comments
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EDIT (Jan 14): Skiing is now possible in the higher regions, but what you won’t get is a snowy winter wonderland wherever you go. Here is a link to a current snow report for Vorarlberg (West of Austria, on the border to Switzerland and Germany).

Vorarlberg in Austria

Although living in the alleged winter wonderland of Austria, there is hardly any snow around this year. Looking out of the window of my office, I can see some on the highest mountain tops, but those are already in Switzerland. Admittedly, you’d have to go a bit further up the province to find the ski resorts Vorarlberg is famous for.

I cannot ski, never have been able to, nor do I want to really, so I cannot be bothered. Snowmaking machines are an incredible waste of energy, but the only way to satisfy those nasty tourists excessive expectations at the moment. Only 30 centimeters of snow even in the higher skiable regions at the moment! Imagine global warming becoming worse over the next years (which it undoubtedly will). Let’s just hope people are sensible enought to stop the nonsense of creating artificial snowscapes in time. Of course they won’t be. The link people have established between the terms ‘snowscape’ and ‘Austria’ is just all too pervasive.

Here are a few pics my brother has sent me. He lives in the Northern most part of Hesse (Hessen in Germany) which is sometimes dubbed Hessian Siberia. Siberia or not: no snow this year.

N.B.: These pictures show a part of Germany, not of Austria

Schenklengsfeld

Schenklengsfeld

Schenklengsfeld

I’m back (and sick)

December 31, 2006 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Friends, Sick | 1 Comment
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This is going to be an odd new year’s eve. I had wanted to spent it with my boyfriend and his hometown pals in Gmunden… but now I’m sick and confined to my own four walls. It’s not the first Silvester (as it is called in German) I am going to spent by myself.

The other time was roughly ten years ago when I had gone home to the country side for new year’s eve only to find that everyone I knew had gone elsewhere. Even my mom and brother had decided to celebrate somewhere else, and I at the time was to shy to gate-crash a party to which I hadn’t officially been invited. Before going frantic about the prospect of being all my myself, however, I accepted my fate. I was lucky to have the cat though which was still alive back then.

In hindsight, it probably was the most peaceful new year’s eve ever. I roasted chestnuts on the stove in my room (yes, my room still had one at the time) and sipped a bit of port until I feel asleep around 11pm, with the cat dozing on my chest. At mind-night, when the (rather humble) fireworks started, the cat made a few louder purring noises which woke me up in turn, only to go back to sleep a little later. I wish I had a cat for this one, too.

Anyhow, what I have is Frank Schätzing’s novel THE SWARM, which has received not so complimentary reviews by the more science-literate crowd, but is actually quite thrilling to me. It has a whopping 987 pages of which I have only mastered 350 so far, in spite of having been an avid reader for the past three days. Some of the scientists and most of the equipment used exist in real life, too – for instance the Deep Rover, a submersible consisting mainly of a transparent globe on skis with two picker arms. Of course this is no warranty for scientific accuracy or literary excellence – but makes the read rather entertaining when most of the instruments are googleable.

Maybe it would have been wiser to go to Gmunden anyway, even if only being able to participate in a wee part of the celebration. Good thing is though that I rarely regret decisions I have taken (except those which were not really based on judgment, but the arbitrary result of not knowing what to do and not knowing any better – for instance, getting a degree in humanities ;-) So thankfully I’m not having a major grudge against fate today :-)

Happy birthday, bro!

November 25, 2006 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Today is also the 36th birthday of my brother who has come down to Vorradelberg to celebrate. Yesterday we went to dine at the Tokyo Running Sushi Bar in B. Later, we saw the surprisingly funny Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot in the cinema, a film by a Bavarian director whose middle name is the name of the village he comes from (Markus Hausham Rosenmüller).

It’s interesting to have my brother here. From his perspective, Dornburn is a lively little town, 20 times the size of the place where he lives and two times the size of the nearby town where I went to school when I still lived there. To me, its a claustrophobic, paranoia-inducing nightmare, because I have this thing of believing that I can never be myself if I constantly run into people who know me. I either need complete anonymity around me or the reassuring presence of some close friends, a few people I trust. But this scenario of dozens of acquaintances, three quarters of which are work-related, seems to be really getting to me.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine and I tried to describe our favourite positions within a community/society and finally agreed that OFF-CENTER would be the ideal position: being able to observe what’s going own, but remaining unseen oneself. We had a type of invisibility in mind that would allow you to traverse and roam different social fields, but without ever having a particular standing (and in connection with that: responsibility) in any of these spheres.

This, however, is irreconcilable with particular professions, and maybe in general irreconcilable with most types of bourgeois careers.

Lest I get carried away, here are a few pics from today: My brother and I, me and my brother, and a view of Dornburn as seen from the Karren (to allow those who haven’t visited me yet to get an idea of what it looks like – come soon, before it’s too late!)

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy

Dornbirn

Clicky to see these pictures on Flickr.

EDIT: Yes, we do have a rather dissimilar complexion. He’s pink and I’m yellow. We came out as the opposing extremes of phenotypes from your genetic pool (he could be a bit blonder, though – hey, I realized today that he does not have a single grey hair, in spite of being four years older than me… and I had my first when I was 16!)

Back in touch with Kiki

October 15, 2006 at 6:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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On Friday this weekend I went to Munich to see Kiki again. Hadn’t seen her for ages (and I was the person to blame for this). She’s moving to Brussels soon, so I figured this would be the last chance in a while to rekindle the friendship.

Getting to know old friends anew beats getting to know new friends anyway – you don’t start from scratch, most of the other’s peculiarities you already know anyway (and he/she knows yours), and on top of that you get a much more mature and interesting friend than the one you had in the past (and hopefully you are going to be more mature and maybe even more interesting, too).

Kiki and me
Kiki and me

Anyhow, I had a very nice time in Munich, we still fundamentally agree on the most important issues in the life of an early thirty something (e.g. on the inferiority of jealous girlfriends of male friends, the strange behaviour of men regarding the eating and drinking habits of their pregnant girlfriends/wife, the fact that the pursuit of happiness through a career is highly overrated…. or so I seem to remember it).

Kiki's kickass pumps
Kiki’s kickass pumps

On top of that, she convinced me that Munich isn’t half as evil as thought it to be – all the bars we went to were relaxed, nice music, easy going patrons, only the beer was a bit hard difficult to swallow (kinda to yeasty, couldn’t finish even half a litre in an hour). Oh, and in one bar, they created a cocktail especially for Kiki and named it after her. In the same spot they offered nine (!) types of soap in the restrooms (but no toilet paper…).

Quality of the pictures is rather abysmal… at least I managed to capture one of Kiki’s dimples (she claims they are wrinkles now, but I have to disagree…).

Kiki's kickass pumps

Herwiggasse

October 15, 2006 at 6:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Herwiggasse

Originally uploaded by anajemstaht.

Matthias (Nolz) sends me this pic of an alley somewhere in the East of Austria (was it Graz?) bearing my surname… guess I don’t have to battle hard to make a name for myself any more, I’ll just refer to this one.

Should ask him which cell phone he uses – quality of the picture is much better than the pics from my phone. Need to get a new one anhow…

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