Friday, December 29, 2006

Second Snow

Without me noticing, sometime in the last few hours, snow fell down from the sky and covered our garden - how wonderful. It hasn't snowed since mid-November and I was sad to have a green Christmas (again). But at least now we might have a white New Year.


If you want to read a hilarious Fantasy story, go and check out Elf vs. Orc by Ursula Vernon. The story isn't finished yet, but there are nine installments so far. Up to number four they are good, then they get very good and from the sixth installment on I couldn't stop reading (and laughing).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'll take you any time

Good golly. I'm gonna write my diploma thesis on Fantasy.

I hadn't planned to get into the topic this early, but the teacher who I wanted to be my supervisor for the thesis liked one of my essays so much that she offered to supervise my thesis. So I went for it.

I initially intended to write on the depiction of Elves and Fairies from folklore through Shakespeare to Tolkien, but it seems to topic is too broad. So I'm now looking for a nice, small topic in the genre and am frankly blown away by the multitude of themes that are offered to me. So many great authors to investigate - Gaiman, Beagle, LeGuin, Pullman to name some contemporary ones, but also the 18th and early 19th century writers, Tolkien, Lewis, MacDonald, Morris. Been grinning all day, I'm so happy to be able to write on the genre.
I'm lucky to be at a university where one of the head teachers studies fantastic literature. I'd never have dreamed of being able to write on Fantasy when I started my studies.

Now I'm trying hard to find a list of significant Fantasy stories and authors online, sorted by date.

Monday, December 18, 2006

G. here and there

I'm reading "Das neue Schwarzbuch Markenfirmen" by Klaus Werner and Hans Weiss at the moment. It's about companies, brands and globalisation, very similar to Naomi Klein's "No Logo". Very, very similar, actually. There are quite a few things repeated in the Schwarzbuch Markenfirmen that has already been written in No Logo. Some stuff is new and interesting, though, e.g. that Milka chocolate and the Mozartkugeln are produced by an American company and that an African 14-year-old child costs 30€.

The positive thing about the book is that the content is more local to the German-speaking countries, so companies like Aldi and Eduscho get mentioned. These are the companies that you never hear about in the American books on globalisation.
Otherwise the books gives a very general overview on the impact that globalisation and big companies have on all sorts of products in the world. Food, toys, clothing, oil, medicine, electronic gadgets, etc. It's not as detailed and in-depth as No Logo, but a nice introductory book on the topic.
About half of the book is also dedicated to single companies. So every company has a two-page company profile, listing what violations the company is accused of.


Jehova's Witnesses were at our doorstep again. The very same people who were here the last time I posted about them. They said they could give us stuff to read about God and religion, so my mum told them she's not interested in it and sent them away again. They must be quite desperate to return.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Good Day

Lots of nice things happened today.

I donated blood. That needle is huge, but it wasn't as painful as I expected it to be (after seeing the needle). It also didn't affect me and I felt like I could donate again right after I was finished (not that they would have let me). I got chocolate and some drinks for it, and the Red Cross people were really nice.

Then, right after leaving the building, I stumbled across another Fairtrade shop (Eine Welt Handel) that I hadn't known yet. The more, the better.

And lastly, I never thought I could find a biological/Fairtrade chocolate that I'd like. They all have some peculiar taste that I can't stand, and I've tried all brands in the bio and Fairtrade shops. So I decided to go back to Milka, Dove, etc. because I'm not gonna buy chocolate that I don't like just because it's Fairtrade.
But. My brother has been telling me about an Austrian chocolate brand for ages now. It's really expensive (more than the Fairtrade one; 3€ for 70g), typical quality chocolate that you usually buy as a present for someone. So I only bought one bar some days ago to see if I like it. Today I opened it, had a closer look at the wrapping, and it says "bio and fair". Awesome! Chocolate switch to Fairtrade initiated. (It tastes good.)
Check out the website: Zotter
They have about 60 different standard flavours, plus some flavours that change seasonally (plus drinking chocolate and chocolate liquors). My brother already ordered Zotter chocolate for 55€, and he and Christine are planning to visit the factory (where you can taste all the chocolate), and I'm coming along. That will be great.

So, good day. Very good day.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

You better leave The Mum alone

My mum rocks when it comes to people ringing at our doorbell to convert us to some belief (Jehova's Witnesses, usually). She has no problem with being unfriendly or offensive, which is surprising because normally she's the friendliest person I know in the world. Granted, her lack of patience with bell people probably comes from having two houses and having to scare them away from both.
Which happened today.
First they rang at my brother's house, where she shied them away immediately. Then she came over to our house, as did Jehova's Witnesses. Imagine their surprise when seeing the same person opening the door again. She tried to make them go away again, to which they replied with "But there are still so many bells here" (we have about 6 or 7 bells at the front door because we used to let the rooms in the cellar). Read: "There are still so many people living here that we can talk to and convert". She made them go away quickly.

The idea of my mum being all unfriendly is very, very amusing.


As promised, photos:

The local train around the Chiemsee. Very nice looking, but slightly cold.

The area right after the entrance

One of the musicians. He was amazing. He used the melody of well-known pop-songs and added medieval lyrics to them. One was "Hotel California". The lyrics were similar to "Welcome to the Halls of Valhalla. Who needs the Hotel California, when you can dine with Odin and his guys?". He also played a song he composed himself called "Little fat elf girl".

Here one of the groups put up the pole for the sun wheel to celebrate Yule. Unfortunately I had to leave before it was set on fire.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

6 in 101

A month has passed and I went through with drinking 2l of water and making my bed every day. It took 2-3 weeks to get accustomed to it and by now it's no effort at all to do it.
There are several reasons why I do this 1001 thing and why the things that are on the list are on the list. Some of them are on the list because they simply do good (like donating blood). Others because they're things that are done, but that I almost never do (like making bed every day) and again others because they're supposed to be good for you (egoistic selfish thinking; like drinking 2l of water per day).
I couldn't care less for the 'things that are done', but it's a new experience to do them anyway. The point of the whole list is (for me) to try certain things and keep doing them if I like them or if I find them useful. I'll go on drinking water. It doesn't taste as bad as it used to when I was a child and I can drink until I'm not thirsty anymore without getting bored of the taste. I'm also saving the money that I used to spend on drinks. Plus, when I do drink something different - like the chocolate tea that I bought some time ago - it tastes better than I remember and I appreciate it more (which is the point of expensive teas, to appreciate them).
I don't know about the bed-making. It's not much of an effort and it looks nice, but I don't get anything out of it (monetary, emotionally, physically or otherwise). I'll see how this develops now that I'm not forcing myself to do it anymore.

Okay, new tasks for the next month:
- Do exercises every day. I have a messed up spine since my teenage days (at least that's when it was discovered) and I'm supposed to do exercises every day so it doesn't get worse. I don't do them regularly, only when I wake up and my back hurts like hell. I know it's not good, and it doesn't improve by the way I'm always sitting at the computer (basically forming an L with my spine).
- Don't hit the snooze button anymore. That's similar to making my bed every morning (concerning how useful I find it ... not at all). At least it should prevent me from falling asleep after having been woken up already (this morning there were twenty minutes between the alarmclock ringing this morning and me getting out of bed, and I don't remember lying in bed for that long; either my sense of time is dwindling or I fell asleep very shortly and woke up again for some reason).

Also, I'm going to donate blood next week. The Red Cross is coming to university faculties, so I know where I have to go (which was what prevented me from donating blood previously).
If you're in Salzburg and have time, go donate blood as well. Tuesday 8.30-16 at the NAWI (Dekanatssitzungssaal), and Wednesday same time in the Kapitelgasse 4 (Senatssitzungssaal).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Legend of Amerang

I had a blast. Even though a few things went wrong on the way to the castle, all in all the day was loads of fun and it felt so good to walk among people in medieval clothes again. The market wasn't too big. I'd say it had a nice, comfy size - not too big to get lost and to not see everything and to not be able to talk to the people, but also big enough to offer some variety. All the artists were so open and friendly that I felt completely at home. I spent quite a while talking with the couple from Vergessene Künste who sold some liquors, bathing stuff and food. They were nice enough to explain to me how they make their stuff, why they can't offer mead, and they also showed me how they make their mustard (like it was made in the Middle Ages, just without the stones that make your teeth disappear after a lifetime). I also got a small discount for wearing historical clothes. Yay.
I also repeatedly came across one of the jesters, who then started to tell another visitor that I was following him around and pretend-flirted with me. God, it was fun. Also talked with another seller about night markets and how they're much better than markets that end at 6pm.
The fire-show was amazing. Not as impressive as other shows I've seen (especially since by now I'm somewhat used to them). Still, I cringed often. The two guys from the show set the stage on fire, as well as the towel they used for killing the fire and their clothes. One of them set his tongue on fire. The other one fell into a heap of glass splinters.

I once again realized that I much prefer small sellers and companies to the big mass-market ones. The couple from Vergessene Künste seemed to enjoy explaining their work to me and kept giving everyone who approached their tent drinks (here's the difference between small markets and big, commercial ones: you don't get free stuff to try on the commercial markets - you even have to buy a glass of mead to drink before you can decide if you even like the mead and want to buy it).
There was also a big difference between the trains. I had to change once, using the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) for the longer trip and the Chiemgauer Lokalbahn (local train for the area around the Chiemsee) for the shorter one. The local train was much cheaper. The Deutsche Bahn made me pay extra because apparently there are different fees for taking different types of train, even when they're going to the same place. So because I took a train that had a travel time of 52 minutes instead of 57 minutes I had to pay 5.30€ more. I wasn't made aware of that when I bought the ticket, only when I already was in the 'wrong' train and the unfriendly ticket woman told me that I have to pay more. Thanks. Also, the staff from the local train was much friendlier. The Deutsche Bahn woman was unfriendly as hell (which I'm not used to, since the staff in the Austrian trains is always very polite and friendly). One of the people from the local train chatted a bit with almost every passenger when they bought their tickets, and the children got chocolate at the beginning of the trip (as it was a special occasion because of the market). When I went back home the same guy also talked with me for a while, asking me about the market. Big kudos to the staff from the Chiemgauer Lokalbahn - they worked all day (with a 30 minute break) to operate the train so we could get to the market and didn't have time to see it for themselves. They're also donating 1€ to the kindergardens in Amerang for every ticket that's sold this weekend.
The Deutsche Bahn discourage me to go to Germany again by train.

The weirdest sight of the day was probably the goth girl smoking a black cigarette. It reminded me of the shop in which you can buy black toilet paper for 2.50€ per roll.

Photos will follow.

Meet me on the sunny road

After having learned that I'm going to have a baby from the Pope on December 25th (it's a girl!), I also found out that I'm a bubble.

Now I'm going to bed to dream of rainbows and shiny knights before waking up and seeing them for real.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Chant d'automne

Nature is beautiful at this time of the year. Three times a week I'm going to Hallein by train (as I'm teaching at a secondary school there) , which is a 20 minute journey. Here's where the Alps start. On the train from Linz to Salzburg I see mostly flat land (and a lake), with the mountains looming far behind in the distance. To Hallein, I'm going past the mountains. They are to the left and to the right of the train and change every day. One day the sun is shining, and I see the crisp edges between the sun-lit side and the shadow-side, with white patches of snow crossing the sides at the top. On other days it's misty. Then the lower part of the mountains is hidden in fog. Only the peak shows, peeking out of the fog. It never ceases to amaze me.
The mountains are even more beautiful when you go from Linz to Graz. Then you literally go over the mountains, with steep cliffs at one side of the train occasionally. This must be the sublime nature that the Romantics adored.

Tomorrow I'm going to a medieval market in Amerang (between Salzburg and Munich, in Germany). The last market for this year. I'll miss them during winter.