Browsing All Posts filed under »at random«

berlin: christmas cheer

December 23, 2005


by michael scott moore This is a Berlin Weihnachtsmarkt. At most German Christmas markets, you shove your way through crowds of recalcitrant and impatient people and try to look at the merchandise — sweaters and scarves, woolly hats, Lebkuchen, quaint wooden figurines — then relieve the stress of battling other holiday-minded strangers with a cup […]

madrid: smoking banks

December 11, 2005


by ben curtis Metro Madrid has an 80% drop in smoking-related complaints, with 411 people fined for smoking underground since the beginning of a clampdown this time last year. Gone are the days when you would step onto a platform to find smokers puffing away whilst chatting casually to the very security guards that were […]

copenhagen: they mystery of aebleskiver

December 11, 2005


by sabine behrmann Christmas time is in Denmark the season for something called æbleskiver, "apple slices", pancake balls (!) that do not contain anything apple-ish. Confused? Welcome to the club! My mother used to make something she called apple slices that did contain slices of apple covered in pancake dough, and when I first saw […]

copenhagen: october sunshine makes headlines

November 1, 2005


Denmark has logged an extraordinary amount of sunshine hours this October, according to ecstatic local media: The sun has shone more in October this year than ever before. Over the entire country, the sun broke through the clouds for a total of 162 hours, ten times more than the last time the record was broken, […]

paris: teaching the canadians

October 18, 2005


Journalists often make mistakes, no doubt. Quebec often and surely wanted to get away from English-speaking Canada, feeling often closer to France than to any other country in the world. Yet, Quebec seems to share with the USA a common dislike for geography, see for yourself !

paris: roller freaks

September 25, 2005


Rollers.jpgParisian roller freaks flock in by the thousands in any of the week’s two roller itineraries. Friday nights are the most popular with some 15.000 participants criss-crossing the capital from 21:30 PM to 1:00 AM. Amateurs have better train before joining, as the event is high speed and accidents galore. Females usually go with friends or the current boyfriend, for boys will always be boys. But if you feel like partying that night, there also is Sunday afternoon starting at 2:30 PM. City Hall has organized things nicely, with first help kits readily available and ambulances following the crowd for all those who randomly faint or get bruised.

stockholm: judging wines by their label

September 25, 2005




It's Friday after work in Kungsholmen, and once again I find myself standing in line to take the numbered ticket that saves a spot in the queue for the right to buy booze from the state alcohol dispensing monopoly, Systembolaget,

The only reason this situation is not outwardly ridiculous is because the numbered ticket obviates the need to stand in an actual, physical alcohol dispensing line, which would just look Soviet and sad. Fifteen minutes separate my entering the shop from being called to a counter to declare the particulars of my alcohol dependency. That's plenty of time to ruminate, as was no doubt the intention, on whether I really should be drinking (and I must, it's my money). Instead, what actually happens is that I get to seethe silently at the fact that the nearest specialist shop with a proper selection of real (Belgian) beer and more than a smattering of good cheap South African wines is probably in Estonia, where queues are considered a problem, not a solution.

As it is, the 15-minute wait for my turn leaves plenty of time to peruse the glass cabinets, where alcohol is exhibited like exotic insects, tagged with ID number, defining characteristics and native habitat (by way of a flag). I've tried to take advantage of this objective approach to displaying merchandise by making my own scientific investigations, and can now announce with some certainty a startling fact about red wine in general:

Cheap to mid-range red wines with sans serif labels have a much higher quality to price ratio, on average.

berlin: frankzappastrasse!

September 11, 2005


zappaismSome musicians in the deep-eastern Berlin neighborhood of Marzahn — with all the famous Plattenbau — want to name one of their local streets after Frank Zappa. Right now it’s called "Street 13." Back before the Iron Curtain fell, Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground were such huge influences on eastern counterculture that Vaclav Havel invited […]

zurich: sweet sun, sushi and sugar

August 30, 2005


sugar cubes
Now that the sun has finally decided to visit Zurich after so much rain and flooding we're back to enjoying the outdoors and, in particular, down by the Zurich See. People are swimming in the enclosed bathing places, sunbathing, walking with baby buggies or walking their dogs.

The Euro Ladies are carrying their little doggies in padded Burberry bags and I always want to tap them on the shoulder and ask them if they know how Burberry is viewed in its homeland. However, the sun makes me happy and there's no need, today, for me to take the gloss off some rich dame's pleasure in her doggie's comfort.

paris: a vanity fair of me-too-blogs

August 10, 2005


et moi et moi
et moi et moi
Blogging is in the air these days, and one may wonder how much time people have to read all the white noise this creates. The fact is that an increasing number of very famous French public figures have turned aficionados to blogging, and no doubt celebrity help their visiting statistics. As these are mostly in French, no lengthy comments this time, just a few URL’s for those interested:

- former Gaullist PM Alain Juppé ( is terse but evasive on his deeds. Note that this URL has two kinds of word play: ‘1’ reads much like the end of ‘Alain’, and ‘p’ is to be fully pronounced: probably a sly inspiration by some trendy communications assessor;
- former Socialist PM Dominique Strauss-Kahn, aka DSK amongst connoisseurs. more talkative and detailed than his colleague : all quite PC and likely aimed at nurturing his image of open-minded politician;

- former Minister of Culture and Minister of Education Jack Lang ;