Sunday, November 3, 2019


68 kilometers: The Ups and Downs of Wien Rundumadum 2019

68 kilometers, 1525 m elevation, 90000 steps – that’s how far I got this year at the Wien Rundumadum, the running event around the city of Vienna. While I dropped out again, it still marks the longest distance I ever did, albeit at a decreasing pace, but more on that later.

Last year I felt much better prepared but had screwed up on coordinating with family, now I had everyone’s blessing, although my family still thinks I am crazy, and probably rightly so. There were many familiar faces among the 83 runners who gathered in the early morning, ready for the 130 km course. After picking up the GPS trackers and getting a quick race briefing, we started at 05:30 am.

Having failed on the training plan and skipped most long runs, I knew that I lacked both mental and physical strength for a long distance run and was expecting some ups and downs. What I was not prepared for was the first energy low and a serious slowdown after merely 5 kilometers at a comfortable pace. An energy bar later I was back on track and happily moving along, except for a short detour to Cobenzl after missing a turn at Kreuzeiche. Reportedly, I was not the only one literally going for the extra mile here.

The first supply station had little to offer that appealed to me, heavy donuts are not my favorite food during activities. Tired of cold iso drinks I settled for only two bottles of sweat hot tea, which unfortunately didn’t go well with the sweat gels, so I skipped those. The second supply station after Lainzer Tiergarten had sweat rolls, which were not too bad once salted. The only real food was the soup generously provided by Traildog Running, many thanks to the team for offering something hot and salty.

There I was joking about having enough of a buffer to finish the remaining distance by walking, however moving on, my pace, which was already around 40 seconds per kilometer slower than last year, continued to drop and I was only half way through. Despite the optimistic predictions of my smartwatch, it became painfully obvious that I would not reach the finish line within the 24-hour cut-off time. The only co-runner going at a similar pace had fallen behind a while ago, and the prospect of doing the next segment through the Lobau national park all by myself wasn’t terribly attractive.

As night was falling, I decided to drop out. I had done more than half of the course, including most of the inclines, run longer and farther than ever before, and overall was at peace with myself and the world. Needless to say that after a lovely family dinner and a good night’s sleep I wonder if I should have done another segment, or maybe more.

If nothing else, the experience certainly has prepared me better for the next opportunity to go around Vienna: looking forward to WRU 2020!

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Sunday, July 8, 2018


Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon: Up to new heights!

Im Oberwallis im schönu Tal
Da löifunt alli widär Mal
Än Marathon mit Emotion
zZielband gseh, das isch diinä Lohn

(from the official Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon song “Alli gliich” by Sam Gruber)

Yeah, I did it! Seeing the finish line was the main goal for the Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon, my first full marathon this year. On Saturday I finished this fantastic alpine racing challenge from St. Niklaus at 1,116 m all the way up to Riffelberg at 2,585 m in an excruciating 7:22:13.5.

The weather forecast had started with rain and thunderstorms a week before the race and got better by the day, with only light rain on Friday when I arrived by train, and a perfectly clear sky and sunny weather on Saturday. An alphorn quartet, which welcomed the runners at the start in Sankt Niklaus, was the perfectly fit to the picturesque mountain landscape.  The first half of the run to Zermatt was quite easy, with plenty of shade along the track and only 500 m vertical height, and the headache that had plagued me for the first few kilometers magically disappeared.

The second half was more challenging, with steep inclines, mostly in the sun, and varying terrain from comfortable hike paths to rugged areas and single trails. The beautiful nature along the route and the absolutely stunning views on the king of mountains, the Matterhorn, make it well worth the effort and enjoyable. After all, this is not so much a race against the competition but against yourself – and the clock.

The small margin against the cut-off time was shrinking rapidly. With not enough energy or time left, I had to forgo the admittedly quite arrogant goal to take on the extra 3.4 km to the Gornergrat for an “insane ultra” (organizer Olivier Andenmatten) and happily settled for the marathon distance this time. What a relief when I crossed the finish line and received my marathon medal and the finisher pack!

Thank you to my wonderful wife for giving me this very special birthday gift and sending me off to Zermatt!

Also thank you to my running partners in crime for their support and encouragement. When I had mentioned the remote idea of going for the Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon a few weeks before the event to Egon Theiner, he suggested to give it a try: “Not sure about your current training level, but then, nothing ventured, nothing gained!” It was well worth it, and congratulations Egon on your successful ultra run.

Lastly, the organizing team and the many helpers deserve a big round of applause for making this an absolutely perfect event. With the many friendly and helpful people at the supply stations and along the course, everything just worked fine.

PS. Did I get to see the Gornergrat after all? Of course, I took the train up to the summit right after the run to enjoy the panoramic view.

Related links

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Sunday, April 23, 2017


Vienna City Marathon 2017: Slower than before, and happy about the result

Spoilt by the improvements in running in the first two years, I had to drop down a gear this year. After finishing the first few races in 2015, including two marathons and two halfs, and accumulating 1000 km running by year end, the following year was even better. The improvements over all distances brought me recognition and a nice collection of cups by the Running@IBM club.

This year was off to a slow start. Suffering from colds for several months, running was out of question. I reluctantly skipped a long-distance event only after luring a colleague to consider the event, and haven't been training much until recently.

With only two long jogs in the last quarter, going for the marathon distance seemed unreasonable, and I postponed the decision to the racing day. After a good first half I decided to go for the full distance anyway. The lack of training did show in the second half when I hit the wall around km 30 but eventually finished, slower than in previous years with 04:55:13 h.

Still an enjoyable run, happy that I made it through!

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Thursday, December 31, 2015


1000 km—Or: How I Became a Runner

When I started running some 15 months ago, my goal was to relax and live healthier.  If you know me, I haven’t been much of a runner before, aside from occasional runs through the Wiener Prater or along the beach a few times per year.

Today I completed my 1000th kilometer this year. I have run two full marathons and two halfs, competed in a trail run and some shorter races and finished ninth place in the local Running@IBM cup.

Why I started running

Like most nerds spending long hours in front of their computers, I had been sitting in my office chair for long hours, seeing my health parameters getting worse at every annual checkup, not to alarming levels but still, constantly gaining weight, and getting recommendations from my doctor to eat less and exercise more … and found tons of excuses why I had other things to do first and could never find the time.

Over the years I have admired sporty family members, friends and co-workers, including an Olympic walker, marathoners, ultra-runners and triathletes, and have drawn inspiration from their determination and their successes. But it was a newspaper ad from an insurance company that literally flipped the switch, a lonesome runner in the middle of the night explaining that some folks call him “Daddy” and he’d like to keep it that way for long.

Starting slow

And so I got my old sports shoes out and started running. Took the stairs instead of the elevator. Made an effort to eat healthier and intermittently switched to alternate day fasting (“weekday 10-in-2”).  Joined the Running@IBM club and made new friends there. Downloaded training plans and (here comes the nerdy part) wrote some scripts to ease importing them into my calendar. Bought a book on long-distance running.

The beginning was hard. I barely managed short distances non-stop. Soon I started seeing improvements, and in October last year I boldly decided to go for the full marathon distance in April and as an extra motivation join the #Run4CARE charity campaign. The initial response when I started telling people about my plans later on was usually along the lines of “You? Seriously?!”, usually followed by encouragement and support.

The first marathon

During winter I mostly followed my training plans, regardless of weather conditions. Facebook somewhat made up for the lack of a training buddy (finding someone nearby for midnight and early morning runs wouldn’t work out), the Likes and comments helped me staying on track. When I eventually finished the Wien Energie half marathon in March, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride, and even more so in April after doing the full distance at the Vienna City Marathon.

What was meant to be a once-in-a lifetime experience has turned into a bit of an addiction. I was hooked and just have to keep on running.

Happy New Year everyone, and Happy Running!

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Sunday, April 12, 2015


Vienna City Marathon 2015

Yes, I did it! Today I finished my first marathon race, the Vienna City Marathon 2015

More than 9,000 runners completed the marathon, of 42,742 athletes overall who participated in five disciplines.

We had a beautiful day, with sunshine in the morning and some light clouds and wind in the afternoon, and the volunteers, the co-runners and the spectators made  this a friendly and enjoyable event.

One of my favorite signs, displayed by a supporter towards the end of the track, read: “Going back now would be a bad idea.” So we kept running.

My finishing time was 04:54:15.

I dedicate my first marathon to my dad, an experienced long distance runner who ran the Vienna City Marathon before, in just over three hours.

Thank you everyone for your encouragement, support and advise, and also for the generous donations for the #Run4CARE charity run.

PS. One small suggestion for the organizers: Waste bins after the supply stations would be great to keep the track at least somewhat cleaner. Running on layers of crunching plastic cups and through seas of Powerade is no fun.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015


Wien Energie Halbmarathon 2015

Today I finished my first race ever, the Wien Energie half marathon 2015, in 2:06:26.

Weather conditions were fine, with 7°C, modest winds and no rain, and I had a nice run at almost constant speed throughout the race. I even ran right next to the unbeatable Lemawork Ketema, if only for a split second, as he was passing the field to start his third round. Thanks to the organizers, support staff, cheerleaders, drummers and spectators for making this a great event!

Now that I have completed the half marathon distance, I have even more respect for the challenge ahead of me.

Next month I will #Run4CARE at the Vienna City Marathon and raise funds for charity. CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, providing disaster relief and supporting sustainable development projects.

Please help my quest and support the “Packages for Children in Need” campaign. Thank you kindly!

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Sunday, February 22, 2015


Running for charity: Vienna City Marathon

40,000 runners from around the world will participate in the Vienna City Marathon under the theme “We are Europe” on 12 April 2015. I plan to be one of them and have signed up for the challenge.

I have three goals for the Vienna City Marathon 2015:
  1. Running the full marathon distance and finishing the race in reasonable time.
    This will be my first marathon. In fact, unless I find a good practice race, it will be my first running competition ever. Running the marathon should be doable still. I have run half-marathon distances just for kicks without much training. Finishing the race in reasonable time will be tougher. A friend of mine was joking that she walked faster than I ran. I will do my best but expect no miracles, anything before the cut-off time counts!

  2. Raising funds for “CARE – Packages for Children in Need”.
    CARE is the charity of my choice for the Vienna City Marathon 2015. Whether you want to help a good cause or just motivate me to complete my first marathon, please donate now to keep those packages coming:

    Raising funds for CARE and supporting children in need is an extra motivation to finish, if not an obligation to the charity team and to you, my dear friends, whom I trust to generously contribute to the #Run4CARE charity run.

    All donations will go directly to CARE in support of the “Packages for Children in Need” campaign. CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, providing disaster relief and supporting sustainable development projects. When crises or natural disasters force families to flee their homes, CARE is on site and provides emergency relief.

  3. Encouraging others to join in.
    Lastly, I hope that others will join in, too. Running is an excellent way to improve physical fitness and also to refresh your mind. There is nothing like an early morning round in the park to start the day. I can do this, and so can you!

Related information

CARE Österreich has been awarded the OSGS quality seal for charities. Donations can be made by credit card and bank transfer.

Update: The Wien Energie half marathon mid March turns out to be a good test race, so I will run there first before I attempt a full marathon next month.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014


How an internship turned into a twenty-five year journey

When I applied for an internship at IBM, least I expected was a long-term career at Big Blue.
My first summer job involved porting a commercial application from IBM System/36 to IBM AS/400 using RPG and the command language (QWRKSPLF, anyone?), copying and labelling the 8” release master floppy disks for another product and passing the quality assurance leader’s fierce interrogation on database normalization up to the fifth normal form.

At the end of the two month cycle, I had a job offer in the mail to work in IBM’s Information Systems AD/M group, passed the interview and was ready to start the new academic year as a part time employee.

Today I celebrate a milestone in my career, my quarter century anniversary. Working at IBM has been an exciting, instructional, challenging, rewarding and sometimes crazy experience. I have been an application developer, course instructor, product tester, customer support engineer, infrastructure architect and corporate webmaster (aka webworm), team leader, manager, and enterprise architect.

I still have a copy of the original job offer, the small blue employee handbook which outlined the company believes and policies, the internal “facebook” booklet and an office cupboard filled with books, papers and various memorabilia, from conferences badges to award certificates and my first patent plaque.

What’s more important than the “stuff” are the connections with the many smart, dedicated and supportive people whom I met and had the pleasure to work with over the years, locally and around the world. 

Thank you to all my colleagues and friends who have made my first twenty-five years special!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014


My first summer job and what's the deal with those magnetic ledger cards

Thirty years ago, on July 2, 1984, I started my first summer job in the accounting department of Gebrüder Ulmer, a hardware retailer and wholesale firm.

The little I remember from those days are fixed working hours from 8–12 and 14–18, with sufficient time for a lunch break at home, handwritten memos, a plethora of documents arriving every few hours that needed to be stamped, sorted, numbered, processed and forwarded to the next department or stored in the archive, and the mix of historic and then-modern business machines.

My responsibilities were mostly sorting and archiving documents, and typing letters on an ancient mechanical Underwood typewriter.
The most advanced device was “the accounting machine”, most likely a Philips P354 Visible Records Computer or similar. Accounting information was stored on large Magnetic Ledger Cards, with transactions getting recorded on a magnetic stripe as well as printed on the card, so one could easily access the information without a computer. Transactions were recorded on individual customer and supplier account cards, and the totals got transferred to the general ledger cards automatically at the end.

The accounting system was eventually re-implemented on an IBM System/36 minicomputer, and later ported to the IBM AS/400. As a teenager who proudly owned a Commodore 64, these big irons were quite impressive and a motivation to know more about business computing, data modelling and programming languages. (I still have a copy of the COBOL 78 manual, just in case.)

In the thirty years since my first summer job, there have been tremendous changes. No longer do most of us work fixed working hours, rarely do we exchange handwritten memos, and data processing usually means instantaneously and electronically, not in paper batches.

I am grateful for what I learned during my first summer job and during my professional career since, and looking forward to the next big shifts ahead.

Photo courtesy of The Centre for Computing History - Computer Museum,

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Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year 2011

Wishing You A Very Happy and Prosperous New Year!


Friday, December 24, 2010


When two men fight for their position in line…

When two men fight for their position in line at the fish stall,
When a truck and a car block each other at the car park and both drivers furiously refuse to back up,
When all the Briochekipferl are sold out as if everyone was going to have a Verhülltes Bauernmädchen for dessert this year,
Then it must be the most peaceful time of the year.

We wish you all the best for the holidays.

Frohe Weihnachten!
Merry Christmas!
Veselé Vianoce!
Joyeux Noël!
Feliz Natal!
کریسمس مبارک


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


One year later …

When I embarked upon studying law in September last year, little did I know what to expect. How easily would I get back into learning? Which subjects would I find interesting? How much time would I be able to devote to studying besides job, family and teaching?

One year later I have answers to most of my questions. Getting back into the learning routine wasn’t too hard. The work commute has provided an excellent opportunity for reading text books (although they look somewhat shabby after a few round trips in the backpack). Watching the video streams in the narrow period during which they are made available turned out to be the biggest challenge, with soon-to-expire lectures piling up towards weekends and more than once requiring the family’s understanding and support.

One year later I am happy to report that things have been going well. I took most of the exams offered and passed with reasonable grades, and will soon have completed the first section of the program.

This week I attend the second lecture block at the Institut für Multimediale Linzer Rechtsstudien in Linz to learn about the courses offered in the upcoming years, to pick up more books and DVDs with recorded lectures, and to meet with other students.

Will this change what I do professionally? That question I haven’t answered yet, but it’s quite possible that one day it will. After I finish my courses, that is.

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Friday, January 1, 2010


Happy New Year 2010

We wish everyone a Happy New Year 2010!

As we started the new year, we watched not only the fireworks but also the “blue moon”, as the rare occurrence of two full moons in one month is called. albeit incorrectly as Mayo noted. The next time we will see this astronomical phenomenon on a New Year's Eve will be in 2028. Unfortunately the weather conditions weren't too good, lots of clouds throughout the day and now dense fog.

2009 in retrospect

In January, organizational changes and painful staff reductions at work marked an unfortunate start of the year 2009. On a more positive note, the painter was almost done with the house, and we had a surprise party to celebrate Andrea’s birthday–the first in a series of round birthdays amongst friends and family–with rented tables and chairs in an otherwise empty house. With the beginning of the spring term, I also resumed teaching at Webster University in Vienna with courses in Web animation (yes, that’s mostly Flash development) and Web design principles.

February and March were mostly filled with going to furniture stores, chasing Kika to deliver the missing kitchen cupboard (and annoying everyone with frequent updates on the incorrect delivery, partial delivery, non-delivery) and running errands around the house.

On April 2 and 4. we moved to the new house with great help from Christian, Michael and Rainer. We were exhausted after hauling boxes and furniture. There was plenty of stuff left in the old apartments waiting to be moved in the months to come, and we were missing some furniture (did I mention a kitchen cupboard?) but immediately enjoyed living in our new home.

In May, Elias and Daniel welcomed their new cousin and gently put their arms around the newborn baby, very cute.

Our first real holiday trip with the kids in July started with a damaged engine and the desparate search for a replacement vehicle. Other than the rough start, we had a good time, enjoyed Italian cuisine, the sea and the nice sand beaches in Lido di Jesolo.

In August, Andrea and the kids spent some time with the grandparents in Salzburg, so I had the house to myself, which meant more visits to the hardware store and eventually getting all shelves in the basement properly secured.

With a week-long block course at the picturesque Burg Schlaining I started my legal studies at the Johannes Kepler Universität Linz in September. The degree program is suitable for distance learning and will take at least four years.

After a busy fourth quarter we were looking forward to the holiday season. This year for the first time we celebrated Christmas at our place instead of visiting family. Our plan was that Elias and Daniel would attend church in the afternoon with the grandparents while we decorated the tree on Christmas Eve; they were both so exhausted from the excitement about the holidays that they fell asleep instead. Judging from the expressions on their faces when they saw the tree, we did a good job :-)


Friday, September 25, 2009


Brain food

Over twenty years after coming to Vienna to study computer science, I felt like going back to university and enrolled in a master's degree program in legal studies offered by the Institut für Multimediale Linzer Rechtsstudien at the Johannes Kepler Universität Linz.

The program started in early September with one week of lectures at the Burg Schlaining conference center. Besides getting an introduction into the concepts of law, registering and picking up the text books and DVDs, we had sufficient time for socializing and getting to know fellow students. On the first evening, the major invited to a reception at the town hall. I appreciated the warm welcome and thoroughly enjoyed the week, learning something new in the relaxed atmosphere of scenic Stadtschlaining and meeting nice people.

Having spent a good portion of my study period with checking bulletin boards distributed throughout the campus for announcements and organizing the study—the Web had not been invented—I was positively impressed how well things were organized here. The lectures and practice sessions are available on DVDs or as video streams, and textbooks are available for all courses, eliminating the need to take illegible notes.

What's nice about the program is the flexibility where and when you study. Of course that flexibility comes with the risk of procrastination, so feel free to ask me about my progress from time to time (read: no more than once a quarter!) as a gentle reminder.

Will I become a lawyer some day? Probably not. I haven't given much thought to how a law degree might change my career plans. Either way, it will be worth it to me.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Wiener Neustadt is half way from Vienna to Jesolo

No, we didn't get the distances wrong. Granted, Wiener Neustadt is about 60 km from Vienna whereas the distance to Jesolo is 600 km.

We left home in the dusk on July 1 with our van fully loaded, expecting to reach our vacation destination Jesolo by noon. Shortly after we had passed Wiener Neustadt, we noticed strange sounds under the hood, and the engine temperature started to rise quickly. “Stop engine. Oil pressure low.” destroyed our hope to reach at least a service station.

The towing service arrived promptly, we squeezed two child seats and ourselves into the tow truck and still hoped for a quick repair. The mechanic who first inspected our car suspected a more serious problem, and an hour later we had the sad certainty: our VW Sharan had suffered from a broken connecting rod and subsequent damage to the engine at less than 7000 km, “a manufacturing defect”. We would certainly not continue our journey with this car.

We weren't ready to give up, though. After all we had made travel arrangements, and the kids were excited about our first vacation trip abroad. Volkswagen offers a Mobility Guarantee, which sounds like you would retain your mobility when your car breaks down. It includes free roadside assistance and towing, which was indeed helpful, and a replacement vehicle of Volkswagen's choice for three days. Subject to availability, that is. Three days wouldn't helped much anyway but the rental car partner mentioned they had no large vans available for the rest of the year (mind you, this was on July 1!) and actually had no cars available at all, not even for an hour to drive to the airport to pick up another car. As good as the mobility guarantee sounds, it was pretty useless when we needed it.

It's summer time and most car rental companies were short on cars. In the end we managed to arrange for a reasonable large Opel Zaphira with the help of a wonderful agent at and I took the train back to Vienna to get the car. Meanwhile Andrea stayed at the dealership with two tired kids, not a good way to start a holiday.

We left Wiener Neustadt in the afternoon and arrived in Jesolo late at night, tired but glad that we made it after all.

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Monday, April 6, 2009


301 Moved permanently

We are pleased to announce that we finally moved. Our new address: Buchbindergasse 6, A-1130 Wien.

The move went well and almost according to schedule.

We started packing on Tuesday, slowly filling a corner of my apartment with moving boxes. Christian had volunteered to help on Thursday, so we spent most of the day hauling some 30 boxes down three floors from the apartment, stuffing them into the van, driving to the house and unpacking stuff there so we could later reuse the boxes.

After three tours back and forth, wir hatten fertig.

Friday night was the time for the next round of packing boxes, and again we filled the storage space quickly. Amongst the packed stuff were some treasures that had long been lost, including two small booklets which were hidden under a pile of photographs, and a set of wedding pictures which mysteriously showed up behind a teapot!

Saturday was really the big moving day, with more boxes as well as furniture and other heavy stuff. Fortunately we had even more helping hands, and with a convoy of a rental transporter and two additional cars managed to move “everything” in just three more tours.

A big thank you to Christian, Michael and Rainer; you guys were absolutely terrific, and we would have never managed to move in two days without your great help.

We will spend the next few weeks organizing the new home and moving the remaining, less needed stuff that we left in the apartments. The house is currently filled with boxes waiting to be unpacked and things look slightly messy. Nevertheless we enjoyed the first night in our new home, and Elias tiptoeing over to our bedroom and giving us a gentle wakeup the next morning.

Lastly, we had our DSL line installed today; now if only I could find all the cables in one of the boxes…

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Thursday, March 19, 2009


We are moving

We have finally settled on the moving dates to our new home: April 2 and 4. We plan to move a good portion of the boxes by car on the first day, and get a transporter to move the larger furniture, the remaining boxes, and other stuff on the second day. That leaves one day in between to recover from hauling boxes and furniture down three floors from our apartments, and then up one or two floors in the house.

Help needed!
We greatly appreciate any help you can give us with the move, including packing and unpacking, disassembling and reassembling furniture, moving stuff around, and last but not least looking after the kids (that is, feeding Daniel during the day as needed and keeping an eye on Elias when he returns from kindergarten, or taking him to the nearby playground, weather permitting). Hints and tools for moving are also welcome.

Please kindly let us know if you can help us with the move. Food and drinks will be provided at the house.

(Last updated March 31, 2009)

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Monday, February 23, 2009


Apple juice and milk

After cleaning my office chair from milk, the results of Daniel's inverse peristalsis, I wasn't planning to clean the keyboard next. That was before I poured a glass of naturally cloudy apple juice over it. From a quick glance the keyboard looks alright; the keys popped out quite easily, albeit with a crackling sound, and the electronics stayed dray, or so I hope.

I will remind myself that food and typing don't go well together and enjoy the comfort of a clean keyboard for a while before falling back to my bad habits :-)

PS. Speaking of milk, on Saturday night we went to the cinema to see Gus Van Sant's beautiful and highly acclaimed movie Milk on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, portrayed by Sean Penn, who just received an academy award for his performance this weekend.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Summer inside, winter outside

We had this winter's first snow today in Vienna (not counting the few snowflakes back in December). Fortunately temperatures are up again after a rather chilly week, and that was not just because Russian gas stopped reaching Europe.


Thursday, January 1, 2009


Happy New Year 2009

Wish you Happy and Prosperous New Year 2009!

We returned to Vienna tonight from our family tour to Salzburg, Munich, Dornbirn and Salzburg again.

It was good to see our families again, including the first meeting of little Daniel with his great grandmothers. At the same time it feels like we spent most the last 10 days driving (or, getting stuck in traffic jams), so we are glad to be home.

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