Monday, October 30, 2017

Payback Time

I am all geared up with a packed suitcase for my 2.5 weeks trip with my Mum. Flights have been booked since March and it's quite an adventure. We're flying to Australia with stopovers in Bangkok (outbound) and Singapore (inbound). I am treating my Mum on this no-expenses spared holiday for her 70th birthday. Dad contributed to the flights, but hotels (some of them quite fancy 5* ones), concerts, day-trips, etc. are all my gift. It's not that my mother would not be able to afford such "extravagant" vacations out of her own pocket - quite the opposite. It's more a matter of showing my appreciation and splurging out after having been the beneficiary of her generosity, in fact both my parents', for decades. Her treating ME on trips together was always the default setting and I was really grateful for that while I was a student or not-that-well-paid employee at Coma HQ. Since the travel bug only runs in the maternal side of our family, she was glad to have a travel companion and I would have joined her even if she had not paid my share. Win, win! I am also an only child and even if I always protest when people come out with those "spoilt brat" stereotypes, I won't deny that this comes with a lot of privileges unless you are at war with your parents. I definitely can't complain about mine and am truly spoilt in many ways. So, to cut a long story short, the idea of treating my Mum to a short vacation in Singapore for her 70th that came to my mind as I was swimming in the breathtaking infinity pool of the Marina Bay Sands hotel a few years back somehow snowballed into this bigger project. This type of present would definitely be a punishment rather than a gift for my Dad (not mentioning the fact that his health would not allow him to go on such a trip), so it's definitely for everyone, but it is something that gets my Mum excited and also made her win for once in the daughters-trumpcard-game. While she cannot take part in the comparison of cute photos of grandchildren, much to her regret, she definitely "won" when it comes to family present for their 70ths birthday.

Monday, October 23, 2017


[First World Problem Alert] Does this picture make you uncomfortable or slightly stressed? Well, why should it. At first sight, it does not trigger these emotions in me, either as it is actually a photo of thingsI love: my books and magazines in my favourite reading nook. Not pictured: my super comfortable Jolly chair where I am writing this post. What makes this still life less than perfect is the fact that I never seem to be able to work off my pile of magazines or book backlog completely. It's the offline equivalent of an inbox with dozens of unread e-mails. None other than me is to blame as I don't have to hoard books or download them to my Kindle, nor buy magazines. I actually only have two magazine subscriptions left, but this does not mean I don't buy them or grab them for free in airline lounges. Essentially, I am a glossy mag magpie and I love reading them, too. Magazines are my favourite side dish when laying by the sea/lake/pool or in the bathtub. They make weekend more colourful, too. However, there is always other stuff to do or YouTube channels to watch so I never quite seem to be able to completely diminish the pile. And it stresses me. Seeing this pile of unread reading material is like an to-do-list with no items ticked off, i.e. a failure of some kind. Does it keep me from adding to this pile? Nope. #newyearsresolutionmaterial

Monday, October 16, 2017

One Pump of Syrup

I know some people who deny themselves so many innocent pleasures. Like ordering dessert although they would like it. Or choosing one scoop of lemon sorbet even though they are secretly craving 2 scoops of hazelnut praline. Or dragging themselves to the gym even though they would rather finish that good book or meet a friend after work. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating undiscriminating overeating with no exercise at all, but the older I become, the less fixated I am on the things you “should do” (says who?!). If I want dessert, I eat dessert...knowing that I won’t pig out every day of the week...probably, but if I do, I will automatically become a bit more disciplined when my favourite jeans start making me look like a sausage close to bursting apart. I can’t even give you a personal realistic example with exercising as I don’t do anything that deserves that name. Then again, I love walking and sometimes take the stairs to my office which is on the 6th floor of the building. Why? Because I am that weird kind of person who actually enjoys climbing stairs.
Currently, Starbucks is serving its wildly popular PSL ( that's Pumpkin Spice Latte for the uninitiated). Personally, I simply cannot stomach any of the regular Starbucks concoctions with syrups or whipped cream of any kind, finding them way too sweet, but I do love pumpkin spice. Therefore, I treat myself to one (!) pump of pumpkin spice in my favourite Starbucks beverage in Vienna, the skinny Melange (a double espresso with low-fat frothed mild) quite often when they stock pumpkin spice syrup. One pump only, because I love the extra flavour in my coffee, and not because I want to avoid all those calories of a regular PSL. If I liked it, I would drink it. And no, I don't opt for the skinny milk for diet considerations either. That coffee with one pump of PS is something to look forward to in the morning, as is my daily Starbucks fix as such, for which I actually take a little detour to work. Yes, it's overpriced and yes, I have a Nespresso machine both at home and at the office (and I do use both), but as long as I can afford a treat and it makes me happy, I will not deny myself the pleasure. If I had it every day, I probably would not like it as much, but as it is a seasonal phenomenon, I treasure it while it lasts, as I do seasonal food and drinks in general. But I digress. What I am trying to say is that it makes me sad when people are so strict on themselves and settle for something they don't actually like when they could just as well make their days (if not lives) better by treating themselves. If you don't spoil yourself, you can't expect others to do that either. After all, they might think you actually like lemon sorbet best.

Monday, October 09, 2017

A New Routine Every Decade...

(spot the spelling mistake if you speak German...)
I'm a creature of habit when it comes to my lunch routine as a blog post from 12 (!) years ago testifies. About 95% of my nine years at Coma HQ I had the same type of cold sandwich lunch and a warm dinner together with my then-boyfriend. This changed when I started working at the Firm where we got to enjoy a nice restaurant lunch on the company in Vienna (and a great free canteen lunch when visiting their bigger offices elsewhere) that meant I was not really hungry enough for a proper dinner any more and had no problem skipping that altogether. With the exception of business trips when overeating was on the agenda every day anyway, this was my routine for the 10 years I worked at the Firm. Also, I did not have a live-in partner and my whole "life routine" was very different than during my Coma HQ years, with nobody waiting for me to come home from work. These days, I enjoy a typically Austrian work environment: ugly nondescript office and a subsidised lunch at the canteen that is somewhat hit or miss regarding its culinary offerings. From day 1 I copied my team mates that always order the "half portion" of the lunch dish (there are usually 4 varieties of warm dishes on offer) and take a salad from the buffet every day, too. It's 4 Euros well spent, but I had to adapt from (free) food being available everywhere in the office every day to having to pay for my own meals again and having to think ahead and buy snacks if I felt peckish. To be honest, that half portion does not keep me full until dinnertime really and I now crave (and eat) a proper dinner again on most days. I might not have appreciated all that free food at the Firm as much had I never worked elsewhere before, but since I had, I could never quite get over how spoilt we actually were. Now that those privileges are a thing of the not so distant past, I sometimes think back to the soft-serve ice-cream machine in the dessert corner of one of the canteens in Dublin with nostalgia as it symbolised absolute decadence for me and would definitely feature in my personal dream kitchen if floor space and money were no issue. For the next 10 (?) years, however this new routine of mine is very much o.k.

Monday, October 02, 2017


On Saturday night, my phone decided to die from one second to the next. I was not pleased. The two of us have been through a lot together, basically from day one, and I had grown quite attached to it despite its less than perfect battery life (which is probably due to my obsessive charging at any opportunity). I was a lot more chilled, though, than I was when I realised I had lost my phone in Zurich on a business trip a few years ago. This time, it happened a few subway stops from my home and I knew I was about to return to my flat where I had a landline and spare (old, but functioning) smartphone waiting for me. Not a tragedy by any means, but a nuisance. I was up until rather late, reading forum posts and watching some YouTube videos of people taking their phones apart and fiddling with screwdrivers, hairdryers and the like, which I had no intention of doing, before I realised it was a common LG bug called "bootloop" and there was nothing I could fix myself.  I am now hoping that when the Pixel 2 comes out this week I will be able to get my hands on a Pixel (1) phone for a decent price. We shall see.
On another tech-related note I also wanted to recommend a book I am currently reading, called Bored and Brilliant. If you have ever thought that your use of electronic gadgets and the internet is stealing precious time of your day and you would like to change that, it is a worthwhile read. Well-written and not preachy at all. I was actually surprised that due to one of the smartphone-usage-tracker apps that were recommended in the book, I was not such a bad junkie as I had thought by any means...meaning that there are people out there wayyy more addicted to their phones than I am. Some people in my life might find that hard to believe, but that is another story.
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