La La Land Zero Points

Why? Because it’s crap. In fact, it shouldn’t even remotely be alluded to the über-kitschy Eurovision Song Contest, it’s that lame.

The story is …. wait, what story? Acting is thin. The film as a whole is what a six-year-old might want to watch if at least it wasn’t for the music. You’re quite right I didn’t like the movie. Now that we’ve gotten this out of the way, let us return to the real world. Thank goodness it does actually exist.

For a healthy(ier) dose of reality (although that too is discutable) Continue reading “La La Land Zero Points”

Colour Me Happy

Discovery of the day: I miss the colours. This is why at the beginning of February it seems to me the winter lasts forever. It’s no easy task imagining a near end to it when there are only the greys, browns and dark greens around. It’s easy peasy getting through January, although long, after the festive hysteria but once February takes to stage it’s no consolation it’s the shortest month of the year.

Photo gallery featuring lots of cerulean

 

Well, let’s not get too pessimistic. It’s not that bad after all. I only have to flip through my photos to feel better. Continue reading “Colour Me Happy”

January, February, Celery

Not a cloud in sight for two consecutive days. Jeez, the skiing was just perfect! The pistes were only occasionally punctuated by a skier or a small group of them that all of a sudden emerged out of nowhere and once they flew past us the white course was left to us alone again. That’s what January feels like these days. Herrlich!

Skiing in January in the Alps can mean a lot of things. It can mean masses of snow, every other day a new consignment of powder. It can mean blue skies and strong wind. Or, grey clouds, heavy with precipitation, that don’t seem to move anywhere. In the olden days, January skiing meant guaranteed snow conditions but not the friendliest weather conditions with the lowest temperatures. That inconveniences could on the other hand be mitigated by lower, so-called off-season prices to lure the most eager skiers out in the open. Nowadays, January generally still means no crowds but at the same time no (natural) snow. Thankfully, the technology of snowmaking is in place everywhere now so we can smoothly indulge in the winter delight of skiing.

When I’m in the mountains I seem to notice the weather more. It’s got to do with exposure I guess. This January is rather on the cold side, which I don’t mind at all, and the weather has been picture perfect throughout. Sunny and cold – the best winter arrangement. As if by order. As far as I’m concerned we could do with more snow though. Down below in the hometown the last snowing brought in more snow than in the mountains. Shame, really.

Another thing typically perceived is the days are getting longer. Today, for example, when we were preparing our late lunch after returning back from skiing the sun was still up and it was past 4 pm (a few weeks ago it had already been dark at that time). Once the sun sets behind the mountains the night gets all black, much darker than in the cities, and dotted with millions of golden stars.

For lunch I planned to use up the celery that was lying around for a week together with a packet of cherry tomatoes. The first recipe I found online was interesting enough to stop searching. At first, I was a bit suspicious about the whole thing. I was afraid I wouldn’t like the taste of it too much since it’s quite particular. I love it raw, it’s essential as a spice for a soup or used finely chopped in a soffrito but as a main character? Well, I was afraid. But it turned out quite silky and delicious. I served it with bulghur but you could use couscous or pasta.

Not a cloud in sight for two consecutive days. Our cheeks are red and our lungs are filled with fresh Zirben scented air. We’re ready to head back to everyday.

Can’t Buy Me Love

“It’s (nearly) Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid. Except, of course, there is. Forced festive fun is staggering towards us in its paper hat and comedy jumper, complete with flashing lights, reindeer noses and knowing irony.”

This passus by Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham from their article in theguardian.com is probably the best description of the current warming-up-to-the-hype, pre-festive hysteria. It nails it perfectly.

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There’s another very interesting and thought-provoking piece related to the upcoming season (which is already here actually!) that I’ve been saving since last year. A dinosaur, I know. It’s as timeless though as the greatest Christmas tale itself: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

I’m referring to an article by Tim Harford, FT columnist and Undercover Economist. Here’s a headline and an excerpt that I particularly liked:

In praise of Scrooge

‘Scrooge didn’t waste his money on extravagances for people whose desires he didn’t really understand’

“It is hard for us to grasp the discrepancy between how we see the world when giving gifts and when receiving them. Recipients may appreciate cash or presents from a list and not fuss too much about expensive gifts; gift givers, in contrast, imagine that the ideal present is an expensive surprise. It isn’t. All this suggests we should probably be spending less on presents, and thinking a lot more about the presents we do buy.”

I’m a firm believer that we should be paying attention to people, to their needs and/or desires. There’s so much more to Christmas than presents and binge drinking and eating. (This from a person who cannot stop reaching for another slice of panettone as if her life depended on it.) The present, if and when we intend to give one, should by all means reflect the purposefulness and meaningfulness we infused into the process of buying it. There’s nothing worse in a gift than the obvious fact it was carelessly or sloppily selected, bulk chosen or having no personal value to the recipient. Something you put away in a drawer never to recall the moment of receiving it reflects money spent badly plus the disappointment (although not expressed or shown) is immeasurable. I’d feel uncomfortable giving away things just for the sake of doing what everybody else is doing and considering a proper thing. If we’re no good at memorizing (and are parallelly employing the idea of chronic lack of time) then, in the age of smart phones that are always at the tips of our fingers, the task should not be too difficult at all: taking notes on the go has never been easier. It doesn’t take the burden of paying attention off though. Nevertheless, don’t fall for the obvious seemingly easy and generic solutions: receiving a wrong cosmetic is awful and giving cosmetic per se is bloody weak, especially for women. Same goes for wine (white wine person getting a bottle of red anyone?). Or anything else really. Give it some thought, it’s a valuable suggestion. Do try making them happy not your own self. Spending a fortune on presents is more or less passé. There’s even a scientific proof.

Pay attention then. Reach for quality in your choices. Set examples. Feel good about it. Don’t believe me? See what experts say about attention.

 

Recommended:

More science on the subject of gift giving

And two fiery 80’s and 60’s music mementos:

 

Plastic Fantastic

Even when I was growing up, in the 80s, there circulated an anecdote about some strange kid asking his or her parents upon spending a day in the countryside and seeing a cherry tree laden with fruit: “Who was the barmy person that hanged the cherries in the tree?”

This at the time when we as children spent a significant amount of time out in the country or at least out in the open and our mothers tended the kitchen gardens after work or at least our grandmothers did. Poor old cherries. Poor old child.

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At the approximately same time at my friend’s brother’s school, who is 10 years our junior, one child’s response to teacher’s inquiry “Where does milk come from?” was a determined and self-confident: “Off the shelf in the supermarket.”

All the same, I usually like to think of our generation as one of the last to have grown up within the actual natural environment and not watching it from indoors (possibly on the TV). Getting dirty and sweaty and ending up with bruised knees was no news to any of us or our parents. Or to the teachers at school. It was certainly a part of a healthy and sturdy growing up.

Consuming the natural environment in the sense of being comfortable within it and being aware of it helps the consumption remains within the limits of healthy and respectable. It never occurs to me to break the branches of the trees or damage the fungi just for the fun of it. I couldn’t leave rubbish behind. I can’t imagine disposing of something in the sea or in the street for that matter. I would never chase the animals or scare them on purpose. Not even the nasty pigeons. That doesn’t apply to mosquitoes though. Guilty as charged.

There’s more to it than this, I know. It’s a deeper issue not to be superficialized. Everyone should already in the early age be introduced to the joys and responsibilities of enjoying the natural environment for the pure beauty of it. The biological diversity alone can be a well of inspiration to the children and their parents. It’s a mysterious place, Mother Nature’s home. I remember all the fun we had as children running around the forests, meadows, jumping over the streams, watching the birds (there was an owl nesting in the chimney of the little cottage in our town’s forests) and foraging the blueberries or mushrooms. Oh, the rewards of the physical freedom.

Anyway, this last summer I read a few articles on ever so popular theme of environment protection. Obviously, they’ve employed my mind. Guess what, it’s a jungle out there.

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Recommended:

If you see not the wilderness but only the trophy animals in it; if the closest you’ll ever get to the forest is riding in a jeep with seven friends who have been brought up to think of the stillness and quietness of the wild as uncomfortable, even threatening; if your culture teaches you to recognise Pokémon but not different kinds of leaves or trees, how will you value any of this?

Excerpt from Nilanjana Roy in FT Weekend 27/28 August 2016 on the problem of preserving the forests

FT Weekend 4 August 2016: The 22-year-old trying to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and same topic in The Guardian 22 June 2016

You thought so-called paper coffee cups get recycled? Think again. The Guardian on Britons’ consumption of paper coffee cups that are not recycled after all Excerpt from this article by Paula Cocozza:

[…]you need to be busy to be important, while telling everyone you had time to wait in line while the beans were ground and the milk was steamed. And now there is one more contradiction to add to the list, because the paper coffee cup, it turns out, is recyclable – yet woefully, overwhelmingly, unrecycled.

Summertime Blues


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As I was unlocking the city bike, hands filled with, as it so often happens to a woman, a handbag and this and that, and trying at the same time not to get all dirty on the bike stand, an unfamiliar elderly woman approached me, her hands laden with heavy grocery bags.

“I’m sure you have a mobile phone, young lady,” she said to me, undoubtedly to me. I looked around in awe, confused and wary, but it seemed only the usual daily routine was going on around me. No signs of a possible ambush by bothersome beggars or loiterers or whatever unpleasant characters there might be cohabiting within your average midsized town.

So, I replied nervously: “I do.” No point in lying.

“Can I ask you, then, to lend it to me for a quick call? It’s really urgent I make that call.”

Red light started flashing in my mind. “I’m certainly not going to give my phone into your hands …” Her eyes grew big with disappointment and her face suddenly turned sad and exhausted. Nevertheless, she kept explaining: “You see, I’m to visit Cecilia but I’m running late and she mentioned she had some errands to do later today and I’m afraid I might miss her and then this ride on the bus will be in vain and then yet another ride on the bus to get back home, all in vain, and I’d really like to see her today.”

“You can tell me her number and I’ll ring her for you,” I suggested after a milisecond or so.

She brightened up, smiled, relieved. She gave me the number of that Cecilia woman I was to call and introduced herself as Fanny.

Cecilia answered.

Me: “Is this Cecilia?”

Cecilia: “Yes, speaking.”

“I have a friend of yours, Fanny, standing next to me.”

“Oh, is that so?”

“Well, yes, she’s asked me to tell you she’s been running late but she was on her way to you now. She wants you to wait for her.”

“Why, this is wonderful! Of course I’ll wait for her.”

“She’s taking the bus now.”

“Thank you very much, God bless you, thank you.”

Fanny thanked me as well and while I was putting my phone away she shifted from one foot to the other as if there was something else. And there was. Her head tilted as she said: “You didn’t actually think I was going to steal your phone, did you?” Now, I was surprised again. She continued: “Look at me, I’m old and rusty, you’d catch me in no time.”

“There’s all sorts around these days, one never knows …” I replied. “The crooks are just everywhere.”

“Well, you’re right there, you’re right.”

Off we went, each of us in her own direction, both probably submersed in own thoughts about this experience. I know I was. At least we conversed.

Doubt and caution are the building stones of our everyday.

It’s been another Monday, people.