Sunday, December 31, 2006

Prosit Neujahr!

Only a couple of minutes left in good old 2006. I changed my usual habit and avoided the rocket-dodging atmosphere of central Vienna. So I'm still at home but in almost no time I'll grab the sparkling wine, some flutes, my granny and wander off to my uncle's place (a step across our property border) to drink to the old or new year.

Happy New Year! May your dreams come true in 2007 (wow, that was cheesy).

PS. If some of the documentaries I watched are right it could be that Christ was born 2000 years ago. So for everyone who believes in this Armageddon bullshit: go and get especially drunk within the next half hour. Although ... if Jesus was born in Israel it's already too late anyway. Or do we have time until Christmas again?


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Telephone terror

Someone just called my landline, at 1:30am. Of course I didn't reach the receiver on time (tell me why this doesn't surprise me). I really hope that was no American university, because that would imply that they are not smart enough to figure out time-differences. On the other hand, I just finished filing applications, so what would they want? And why would they work over the Christmas holidays?


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Don't watch Eragon!

I had the «pleasure» of watching almost two hours of boring hackneyed conversations and battles with an easy-going, predictable plot. In addition, either someone bolloxed up the German localisation, or the dragon sounds like a desperate, horny, eight year old girl in the original version as well [1]. One of my friends made the amusing remark that it would pep up the film when the dragon would screw our blond little hero.

That's the last time I went to the movies without reading critiques first. However ... I'm somehow tempted to watch the second part, just to ensure myself that the third part will be absolutely nonsense.

Rumours claim that the books are much better.

[1] What a combination. Paedophiles will love it.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What the heck?

Without words.


Forgetfulness' consequences

Remember? I forgot to upload my CV. Just received the following email in response to my kind request of attaching my CV afterwards. Darn, now I'll have to print and post the bloody CV. (Sob)

We are not able to open email attachments at this Webmail address. We suggest that you mail your CV to The Graduate School:
For express mail service (DHL, FEDEX, UPS), please use this address:
Harvard University
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Holyoke Center, 3rd Floor
1350 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138


Monday, December 25, 2006

It's fondue day

Yes, Christmas is already over in Austria. And following a long lasting family tradition, today is the feast of a thousand tiny pieces of meat, forks and hot oil. As far as I can remember back (and that's about 20 years), we've always had the same friends coming to our place for fondue on the 25th of December. We don't even need to invite them, they simply knock on our door at about 2pm.

May the feast begin!


Merry Christmas everyone!

What a day, including: family dramas [1], hardcore cooking [2], awesome presents [3] and eventually loads of fun [4].

[1] As soon as my control-freak granny is around my uncle and mother go frenzy. The result is typically a granny leaving in a huff and parboiled mum. And Mike collecting pieces.

[2] Starting at 10am to get a Tafelspitz with red cabbage, roasted potatoes and apple horseradish sauce done at 6pm. A nagging granny scurrying around, knowing everything better.

[3] AKG K141 headphones, my suit and some green notes.

[4] Playing golf and baseball on my cousin's new Nintendo Wii for more than two hours. It's unbelievable how intriguing the new game pad principle is.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

My trip home

I actually wanted to write about my small Odyssey from London to Munich. However, the apparent lack of an internet connection of my brother's place impeded my plan.

Anyhow, once again the Stansted Express was replaced by a bus service. I completely disagree with the concept of not telling the customer before the ticket purchase about the replacement service. I don't like spending 15 quid for a short train journey either, but at least it guarantees some punctuality.

Stansted Airport decided to check shoes for dangerous items. Although I like cheese, the area around the x-ray machine certainly overexcited my olfactory senses. They also hat a «small» water bottle collection at the first security check point.

I hate the RyanAir Boeing 747 seats. They make me hunch and I always feel as if a whole football team ran over my back after the flight, besides that those seats make it impossible for people taller than 5'8" to sleep at all.

The rest of my trip was fine. I finally arrived at home yesterday after 3 days of extensive Christmas shopping in Munich.


Shopping frenzy

I'm broke now. I spent more than 450 Euros throughout a whole day in a designer outlet. Now I'm a proud owner of a anthracite Boss suit (three parts), two pairs of blue jeans, Adidas shorts, a white Tommy Hilfiger double cuff shirt and orange v-collar pullover.

Please Santa [1], bring me money.

[1] For my British and American readers, as the Christ-child brings the presents in Austria (and hopefully in Germany as well).

PS. I need to remember to finish my CalTech application and start with the British universities. Funnily, I requested an Oxford graduate prospectus roughly 4 months ago and it hasn't arrived yet. Same applies to the GRE test training software.

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Christmas is ...

... stressing? I'm not sure whether it's the correct term, but I haven't found time recently to write. In fact, I have to run again to go shopping in a minute. Where the hell can one buy a nice silk-scarf without three million colours in the pattern? Seems like my granny's present is the toughtest...

Cheerio and merry pre-christmas-days.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Need to recover from sugar intoxication

Dinner at friends yesterday, yummy, too much desert (frozen alaksa, plaska, ...?), too much sugar, blb.

Besides, the early awakening throughout the last months showed its effects in an utterly sleepy Mike. I started to hate my mobile alarm-clock. Where is my damn coffee?


Friday, December 15, 2006

They violated the showers

And ruined one of my favourite thinking spots (sob, nag). Yes, they were leaky and needed refurbishment, however, the way it was done very much reflects a British idiosyncrasy: «If something is broken, don't try to fix it and chuck a new layer on top». According to one of our maintenance guys here in my halls, the water was leaking into the wall and down into the ceiling. I always thought that those brown water marks on the walls were a crucial part of English design and architecture - how much was I mistaken. Following their motto, the builders just glued another layer of plasterboard onto the leaky surface and laid new tiles on top, making the shower cubicles even narrower [1].

So far, nothing bad happened, but then they reduced the water pressure. Before the showers were strong and had power (!) [2], now I feels more like someone peeing on my back. Well, at least the water is still hot, so what am I complaining about? Yet, I'm still a naggin' Austrian with the right to do so.

[1] Dropped soap stays on the floor until you leave the shower.
[2] Try to imagine Tim Allen grunting.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm so proud of myself

Because I managed not to forget about the 30 quid cheque I was carrying around for over two months. I paid it in this morning. Apropos paying in cheques: do you have the same problems with those HSBC paying-in-slips? I remember that they sent me a personalised version in my first year. However, who the hell uses them anyway when there's a 0.001% chance of actually having to pay in a cheque. I will never understand what numbers on my debit card constitute my account number [1], so I keep asking my mates. Maybe I'll post a «How to: HBSC paying-in-slips».

Yesterday, I received a - in lack of a better word - «funny» email by the Illinois Institute of Technology. Apparently, I have agreed to get advertisement sent to my email address by taking the GRE test. If universities have to send out commercial emails to beg for students, something must be wrong with their reputation.

[1] Memo for myself: the last eight digits Mike, goddamn keep it in mind!


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Notable molecules

Many of my friends who visited my first year «shelter» will immediately recognise these drawings by nearing zero, as they embellished the walls of my humble residence for a long time.

notable molecules1

notable molecules2

environmental scientists

Finally, two short movie-clips I think are quite entertaining.

How to draw a car in paint
The key ingredient for a christmassy soup is?

Update: Forgot to mention, Stanford is done. Only two more to go before end of term.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Graduate application costs

I thought it might be interesting for all prospective grad-students to know how much they are going to spend, or in fact how much I will spend. Let’s see:

  • 160$ GRE general test [1]
  • 45$ GRE transcripts [2]
  • 60$ Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • 90$ Upenn
  • 90$ Harvard
  • 105$ Stanford
  • 70$ MIT
  • 80$ Berkeley
  • 80$ CalTech
  • 60$ Mark transcripts
  • 20$ Posting

This adds up to 860$. It’s probably a bit early to think about interviews, however I hope the flight costs will be refunded (though I would happily cover the costs if I receive an offer from any of the above listed institutions).

[1] I have no clue why I had to pay 40 bugs more than the American test takers. Moreover, only 4 transcripts are included in the test costs.
[2] Makes another 15 bugs per transcript. They must have been sent in golden envelopes or similar. From my angle this whole ETS business looks like an education-mafia.


Friday, December 08, 2006

About raffles, pens and blogger beta

I am a generally lucky fellow. If you were able to look back on what I achieved and when Fortuna pointed me in the right direction, you would be astonished. Besides my little Harvard incident, yesterday was an enjoyable day and guess what: I won in a Christmas-party raffle [1]. The prize wasn't quite what I expected [2], but you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. I was also taking bets that I'll complete my finals with the pen, however, no one wanted to agree with my conditions. Lucky me again [3], because I wrote a couple of lines with my new nifty pen and noticed that the wiggly top bit is very annoying.

Blogger eventually decided to let me transfer my blog to the beta. I'm not so sure whether this was actually a wise decision, but I wanted to check out those fancy post-labels and the easier edit-function [4]. I like it so far, nevertheless I don't see the logic behind introducing new blogger-tags for the source code? I'll have to work through my whole template again ... maybe I'll be bored later tonight.

[1] just in case you were wondering why I waffled about luck.
[2] see picture and annotations.
[3] see?
[4] Not that I used any of them yet, as my template isn't compatible.

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Forgetfulness in action

I am a big moron, stupid, stupid, stupid. Yesterday, I submitted my Ph.D. application for Harvard. Having spent a considerable amount of time on fine-tuning and proofreading my statement, curriculum vitae and additional information, I was glad I finally saw some reward for the effort - the confirmation email. Then at 5am I bolted out of a lovely dream and it came to me that I didn't attach my CV to the application, ahhh! No need to mention, I emailed the admissions this morning (day of the deadline), begging that they'll still accept and attach my resume.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. So stupid! Arrghh!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's Sankt Nikolaus day

In Austria the guy who inspired the creation of good old Santa - Sankt Nikolaus (or affectionately called Nikolo by little kids) - walks the streets and gives his blessings. Yesterday, his grumpy companion - Krampus - birched naughty children [1]. Today, the nice kids get sweets and fruits. Dudes and dudesses, put your boots or socks outside your doors and hope for the best.

I always loved that tradition. According to stories from my grandmother I used to be terribly afraid of the Krampus [2], nevertheless, behaved quite cleverly when one of the dressed up Nikolos asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Well knowing that he was carrying around a sack full of sweets I replied: «Ein Zuckerl, bitte» (candy, please).

[1] Isn't it a funny coincidence that December 05 is also my brother's birthday?
[2] No wonder, look at the embedded picture.

My friend got mugged ...

... outside our halls this night. The security guards from the opposite building where watching happily while having a fag. The robber was peculiar himself, as he demanded to give my friend her SIM card back, after he stole a mere 20 quid and one of her mobiles. I live in NW1 of London, that's supposed to be a safe area. Why was there no security guard at our reception, as he should be?

Monday, December 04, 2006

I bloody hate the people on my corridor

Not only that those bastards manage to turn the kitchen into a battlefield regularly [1], now they target the loo as well. Accordingly, the notice on the left appeared. Over the last two weeks, the drains were routinely blocked as if it was their daily objective to analyse how much tissue they could flush down. Morons! This culminated in the morning when all three toilets in proximity to my room were blocked and all toilet paper was «used» or spread across the floor.

To fuel my anger a little bit more, my today's gym experience was worse than I hoped. I suppose one can expect a 10% loss in performance after an involuntary 4-week break (sob).

[1] I was threatened today that it's going to be locked soon. Why the hell do the cleaners knock on my door? Every day they see me carrying my pan from my room to the kitchen, meticulously cleaning it after I'm done and returning it to my room. Would you suspect someone who takes pedantic care of his equipment to «harm» the kitchen? I'm deeply emotionally hurt.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Some amusing quotations

The first one is from Terry Pratchett's «Interesting Times» (ignore the straw-business).

"Um. Have you ever heard of the theory that history goes in cycles?"
"I saw a drawing in one of Leonard of Quirm's notebooks-" Raincewind began, trying again with another straw.
"No, I mean ... like a ... wheel, spinning. If you stand in the same place it all comes round again?"
"Oh, that. Blast!"
"Well, a lot of people believe it here. They think History starts again every three thousand years."
"Could be," said Rincewind, who was looking for another straw and wasn't really listening. Then the words sank in. "Three thousand years? That's a bit short isn't it? The whole thing? Stars and oceans and intelligent life evolving from arts graduates, that sort of thing?"

Number two originates from Neil Gaiman's feather. He wrote in the book «Neverwhere»:

Jessica changed all that. Richard found himself, on otherwise sensible weekends, accompanying her to places like the National Gallery and the Tate, where he learned that walking around galleries too long hurts your feet, that the great art treasures of the world all blur into each other after a while, and that it is almost beyond the human capacity for belief to accept how much museum cafeterias will brazenly charge for a slice of cake and a cup of tea.
'Here's your tea, and you éclair', he hold her. 'It would have cost less to buy one of those Tintorettos.'
'Don't exaggerate,' said Jessica, cheerfully. 'Anyway, there aren't any Tintorettos at the Tate.'
'I should have had cherry cake,' said Richard. 'Then they would have been able to afford another Van Gogh.'