Friday, March 30, 2007

Roll, Roll, Rock'n'Roll

A first (or second?) Stardust Trailer is up. It's looking good. Maybe a bit crowded with action, which makes you wonder if they aren't trying to press too much story and action into one film, but overall it looks exciting. I'm looking forward to the film. There haven't been nearly enough good films in the cinema recently (I had to switch from going to the cinema once or twice a week to once a month because there are simply no good films that I want to see - and the good ones like Pan's Labyrinth only make me realize how bad the bad ones are, so I'm not even trying to see the films that look okay but might be bad).


I had my first game with the German RPG system Das Schwarze Auge (The Black Eye). It's insane. You have to do three die rolls to see if you managed to make a spell or to see if you managed a skill check. If one of them fails, you're out. It's not even as if the three checks were easy.
You also have to roll die when you gain a level to see if you even level up - a roll for every skill and ability and spell you want to level. This means if you roll really badly, you can level up without improving your character at all (unlikely, but still).
I like the theory behind all this, which is that a skill is influenced by several abilities; but it's not practical at all. Maybe it will get better after I've played a few times. I certainly hope so.


San Francisco and Paris banned plastic bags from supermarkets. That's great. One thing that always annoyed me a bit in Oxford was that I usually ended up with three or more plastic bags, because the cashiers were so overwhelmingly helpful to pack them for me (which isn't done in Austria and which I found nice service). Problem was, that usually didn't give me the time to get out my cloth bags and pack them, and the cashiers put only about 4-5 items into one bag, leaving huge amounts of space there (probably because otherwise they'd rip). The general attitude is nice, because you're not so stressed about packing your bags quickly - but it would be perfect if I could still pack them myself and have the other customers wait patiently (which they almost always did in Britain and never do in Austria).


Two designs of skirts I intend to sew, and some scribbles:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'll be back

Still ill. Not fun.

It's snowing too, now (for the fifth time this winter). Last weekend I was running around in a poncho and the last two days I've been freezing in a coat. Really weird weather.

It looks like I'll be spending some time in Britain again, as I had hoped I could do. Everything seems to be much less hassle and more common than I'd thought at first (apparently almost every past diploma/PhD student of my supervisor did it). Maybe it will be Liverpool, unless I find a library/archive that suits my research needs better.
I'm surprised how smoothly everything develops. Cheers for our government funding research trips. Now I just need to get well again so I can start work properly.


New WIP shot:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Modern wizards and witch-hunters

So now terrorists have started to notice that Austria exists and threatened us as well. Nice. Not that I really get their way of thinking. Two equal messages, one to Germany and one to Austria, while Germany has 3000 soldiers in Afghanistan and Austria has a stunning army of 4.
Needless to say that a threat gets less threatening if you don't get your facts straight. It's four soldiers, not five as the video says. We spend money on Bush? We support Bush? Hell, no. How you can support anyone significantly with four people is beyond my imagination anyway.

Although I do have to admit I'm surprised about the knowledge the video shows about our current political state, the broken election promises above all.

You gave the far right parties some more oil for their fires. Well done.


I've been quite ill the last few days (still am). After it got much worse yet again during the night, I finally surrendered and saw a doctor this morning. It was interesting. He looked into my ear and said "You can't have slept well at all with an ear like that" (I wholeheartedly agreed). Much like a wizard looks at people and knows their past deeds, he looks at ears and knows their owner's past night's sleep. Neat. Modern Magic.

(I'm only so amazed because I'm not used to obviously competent doctors. The doctors I usually go to listen, nod, don't say much and give you pills. This one listened, filled the gaps that I hadn't even thought of telling and emphasized in how much pain I must be, showing that he knows more about me than I do myself.)

Since I'm encouraged by competent people, I went straigth to uni instead of back to bed to listen to a lecture on American culture. I don't have an anti-American attitude (as the Americans I have got to know personally have been mostly normal, sensible people), but after this semester, I think I may have one. The second half of the lecture we watched a documentary about American views. I was repelled in many ways by a lot of the images shown and the things said. The patriotism and God-thing is probably the main cause.
I think most Austrian people aren't very patriotic. It's nice to be Austrian, but it's equally nice to be European. There are certainly some who wouldn't even care if they're Austrian or, say, Spanish. In the end it's just a country - land to build on. Raising the country's flag in one's yard would be considered very odd by most people here.
And the God-thing ... one thing that was said went something like (quoting for meaning here, not word-for-word) "We can be ethnocentric and self-righteous because God likes us best". Half of the people in the lecture chuckled at that.
It just seems so stereotypical and a bit narrow-minded, and I find it hard to believe that there's a country in which most people should carry an attitude like that. Admittedly, I haven't ever argued with any American whether the US sucks or if God really likes them best (or prefers the Irish); so I never tried to touch the core of anyone's cultural beliefs. I guess I just always assumed that it's common to not think too highly of oneself and to not believe one's country too important (I've been making too many intentional fallacies like that recently).
That's another point the documentary made - in Germany children are told that the government is bad, the country is economically wasting away, that the child will never fulfil his/her dearest dream and should just get down to earth again and get a proper job, etc., while in the US the children are told how much they are loved, how great the country is, how wonderful the government, that your dreams can come true and that they are loved, again that they are loved and that the country is great. I can accept that as accurate because I know the German part is true (and also partly true for Austria).
So the subtle, less problematic cultural differences from Watching the English suddenly become vastly different, entirely problematic differences when you look to the other side of the ocean. It's interesting. Certainly not easy to be not biased, or to judge objectively (one person clapped during a particularly big cultural difference shown in the documentary that was somewhat offensive towards Americans). It is also harder to believe what is said because I have no way of comparision. With British culture and behaviour it's easy, because I gathered enough background knowledge myself during my year abroad to know that what is written in a book is true (making it likely that the parts that I don't know about discussed in the book are true as well). With the US, it's been almost a decade since I've been there for the last time, and back then I was not as perceptive about cultural issues as I am now.

I do hope we'll have some people from the US in the lecture who give us their view on what is said.

After the lecture I had a short talk with the supervisor of my diploma thesis again to finally set the topic. It's now back to fairies (yay), restricted to the Victorian times. Maybe from a feminist view, but I'll still have to check on that and see if I like it. Victorian fairies rock.
I seriously have the best supervisor in the world (so glad I'm studying in Salzburg). Not one teacher has managed to get me excited and motivated about a topic like her.


Since my health has kept me from sketching and painting in the last few days, I give you some photos from my walks in the forest (been doing them once a week for some weeks now). Regular walks are great for observing a particular subject matter, because every time you go there again you see more details and find new things you hadn't noticed before. The last time I was particularly impressed by the colour contrast of the green moss and the withered red leaves on the ground, and how treestumps and roots glow with bright green moss.
Mostly though, I collected textures.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Run from typcial blog stuff. Shut down your computer.

Participate in Shutdown Day. (Easy for me, since that's a point of my 101 list anyway and I don't care which day I actually do it.)
I still think only one day without a computer is pathetic. A week would be alright. Sadly, I find that I wouldn't be able to go through with that unless I'm on holidays.

(If you dislike typical annoying blog stuff and finding out more stuff about my personal me, skip the following up to the sketch.)

I normally don't do memes, but this one was for a friend over at LJ, so I might as well repost it here.

1. Can you cook? Yes, and I love it. I try to cook something new every week.

2. What was your dream growing up? Being a princess (how typically girly of me ;). Then I wanted to be a teacher, then a fashion designer. I think at some point I even went back to wanting to be a princess.

3. What talent do you wish you had? Hm. I'm actually quite happy with the skills I have. Most talents are only learned skills anyway, and if I wanted to have them I could just learn them.
Hmmmm. Maybe a talent for discourse and diplomacy, so people don't get offended when I tried to compliment them.

4. Favorite place? In the woods.

5. Favorite vegetable? Ginger is probably considered a spice and not a vegetable, so I'll say onions.

6. What was the last book you read? Last book I finished: Kate Fox - Watching the English. Book I'm reading right now: George R. R. Martin - A Feast for Crows

7. What zodiac sign are u ? Gemini

8. Any Tattoos and/or Piercings? Apart from my ears, no.

9. Worst Habit? Procrastinating online when there's nothing interesting to find online.

10. Do we know each other outside of lj? Only in some former art communities, I think.

11. What is your favorite sport? I don't like and don't do sports. I sometimes go swimming in summer, and I've taken up Kendo this semester to try it out. Maybe I'll like it.

12. Negative or Optimistic attitude? Optimist who scolds people for their pessimistic attitude.

13. What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me? Paint on the walls, maybe.

14. Worst thing to ever happen to you? I tend to see the positive side of bad things, and "worst thing" sounds as if I wanted that it never happened. So I could say "Having been bullied at school", but that probably caused me to read Fantasy, get into art and find true, long-term friends, who I love to bits.

15. Tell me one weird fact about you: I lived the first two years of university mostly on crispbread, because I was afraid the 25 people who I had to share kitchen with would laugh at my newbie cooking skills (and because the kitchen was never clean and there was never space to cook properly).

16. Do u have any pets? Sadly, no.

17. Do u know how to do the macerana? Not anymore.

18. What time is it where u are now? 11.22

19. Do you think clowns are cute or scary? I go for annoying. If you talk about proper, medieval court jesters from medieval fairs, though, who entertain the children, they are both cute and awesome and funny.

20. If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be? My bum, I guess. Working on it.

21. Would you be my crime partner or my conscience? Conscience. I'm as optimistic conscience as optimistic conscience can be.

22. What color eyes do you have? grey-blue

23. Ever been arrested? No.

24. Bottle or Draft? Draft (just to pretend that I fully know what the question is about).

25. If you won $10,000 dollars today, what would you do with it? Get a new desktop computer, go on holidays to Ireland with my brother and Christine, buy all stuff from my Amazon wishlist, donate some to a good cause, and save the rest.

26. What kind of bubble gum do you prefer to chew? None at all.

27. What 's your favorite bar to hang at? I don't like bars, but I'll take any pub any time.

28. Do you believe in ghosts? No, but in Shadows.

29. Favorite thing to do in your spare time? Read and paint and hang out with friends.

30. Do you swear a lot? Not really.

31. Biggest pet peeve? Ignorant people (now that's a good category - I can put all the stuff in it that I dislike - people who talk in the cinema or who talk to me during lectures, people who act all high and mighty when they're not and even told that they're not, etc.).

32. In one word, how would you describe yourself? Windy.

33. Will you repost this so I can fill it out and do the same for you? Probably not, since I don't use LJ.


This was sort of fun, even if inaccurate:

The Everything Test

There are many different types of tests on the internet today. Personality tests, purity tests, stereotype tests, political tests. But now, there is one test to rule them all.

Traditionally, online tests would ask certain questions about your musical tastes or clothing for a stereotype, your experiences for a purity test, or deep questions for a personality test.We're turning that upside down - all the questions affect all the results, and we've got some innovative results too! Enjoy :-)

You are more emotional than logical, more concerned about others than concerned about self, more atheist than religious, more loner than dependent, more lazy than workaholic, more rebel than traditional, more engineering mind than artistic mind, more cynical than idealist, more leader than follower, and more extroverted than introverted.

As for specific personality traits, you are intellectual (73%), romantic (57%).

College Student88%
Life Experience

Your political views would best be described as Liberal, whom you agree with around 73% of the time.
Your attitude toward life best associates you with Lower Middle Class. You make more than 0% of those who have taken this test, and 82% less than the U.S. average.

If your life was a movie, it would be rated PG.
By the way, your hottness rank is 57%, hotter than 82% of other test takers.

brought to you by thatsurveysite

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Alcohol Anthropologics

Still reading Kate Fox's Watching the English. Right now I'm finishing the part on drinking and rules of drunkenness. It says this:

In some societies (such as the UK, the US, Australia and parts of Scandinavia), drinking is associated with aggression, violence and anti-social behaviour, while in others (such as Latin/Mediterranean cultures) drinking behaviour is largely peaceful and harmonious. This variation cannot be attributed to different levels of consumption or genetic differences, but is clearly related to different cultural beliefs about alcohol, different expectations regarding the effects of alcohol and different social norms regarding drunken comportment. [...] The experiments show that when people think they are drinking alcohol, they behave according to their cultural beliefs about the behavioural effects of alcohol. The English believe that alcohol is a disinhibitor, and specifically that it makes people amorous or aggressive, so when they are given what they think are alcoholic drinks - but are in fact non-alcoholic 'placebos' - they shed their inhibitions: they become flirtatious, and males (young males in particular) often become aggressive.

This is a very interesting insight, both about the different cultural expectations concerning drunkenness and also about the effect of placebo drinks. From my limited knowledge it seems plausible.
So, I'd say in Austria the general expectation concerning the effect of alcohol is to be more outgoing (and louder), more talkative and - especially among the younger people - to make more of a fool of yourself, which is what I also observe at parties.
Basically, this means the way you think about the effects of alcohol influences your actual behaviour when drunk majorly. Isn't that interesting? You can't blame the alcohol any longer, because it's not in the alcohol, it's in your head. Boy, this opens up so many wonderful opportunities to look into people's minds.

This knowledge is also quite abusable, I think, since you could give people placebo drinks in order to make them behave in a certain way, without them being able to blame it on the alcohol in the end.

I can only repeat what an awesome book this is.


Here is some info on the next Pixar film. It sounds exciting. I admit I'm a sucker for moving and interacting gadgets (like that mini-sequence of a Win and a Mac computer getting close to each other). There's something intriguing about the idea of "cold" machines with human emotions, if it's not overdone and the specific characteristics of the machines are retained (this doesn't include cars walking on two wheels).


And lastly, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sleep. Because how you spend those 4-12 hours has major consequences on how you spend the rest of the day.


The whole family went to the Energiesparmesse in Wels today. It was mostly about stuff that I didn't have much of a clue about anyway, so I was basically walking through the dark all the time, not knowing what the thing in front of me was actually used for. But I made good use of my time there by taking lots of photos for textures and references.
Seriously, if you need textures, go there; there's wood, stone, grass, marble, clay and loads of other stuff that I partly don't even know what it is (because it's stuff that is hidden somewhere in the building of your house behind all the stone and tapestries). I was overwhelmed by the thousands of different textures.

At the entrance. Ah, Wels. Lots of good memories from the two medieval fairs that we visited there years ago.
(photo courtesy of Christine)

Right after the entrance. Too many people. I do prefer medieval fairs, not just because there aren't by far as many people there.

There was a small section in one of the halls on gardening. I liked that, since it emphasized the decorative aspect (unlike most of the stuff there, which was more about the vital aspects of house building). I also liked the fences.

I'm still not quite sure what it is. A fountain? A bird pond? Some capitalists mad fancy?
Who'd put that into his yard?
(photo courtesy of Christine)