Happy Plumbing

According to my usual frequency of blogging, this is very likely my last post before my wife’s arrival.

Since last week, I started to thoroughly clean and fix my apartment.  Not that the apartment was dirty or broken. To me, this is just a better idea to welcome my wife than throwing a bachelor party.

After finishing those baby tasks like wiping off dust in my living room and shining my bathtub, I had to face my kitchen. Honestly, I didn’t take care of it very well, partly because of lacking experience, and partly laziness. My oily Sichuan cooking was evident all over my cooking area. It took me in total 4-5 hours to rub off the residues on the induction stove, clean the cooking desk, and cover the desk with aluminum foil. So far, the tasks were accomplished by hard work rather than skill and gift.

Then comes the awesome part concerning the title of this post. My kitchen drain was half-clogged for a while. Though still functioning, I knew the nightmare of all kitchens was looming. I wanted to clean my washing area on Sunday, so Saturday night, I applied some Rohrfrei power-gel. Sunday morning, I poured some hot water in the drain, but water still flowed slowly. I kept pouring. After about 5 kettles, quite contrary to internet wisdom, it was fully clogged! On fucking nothing-is-working-except-god-and-google Sunday! Since I had no proper tool, I went jogging, and proved running away doesn’t solve anything. After some searching and mental preparing, I left work early today to buy tools. I couldn’t find a drain auger in OBI, and I forgot to check the German word for it. But a video ad with frustrating faces in front of clogged drains caught me immediately. It eventually led me to buy my first tool today–Drain Buster–an air pump.

Drain Buster

Back home with all the hopes suggested by the jubilant actors at the end of the ad, I pumped my drain again and again for about an hour. Nothing changed. It was already 4 pm. I realized if I wanted to sleep well tonight, I had to find a drain auger. I asked some friends to find out how to say drain auger in German. Yet another amazing word–Rohrreinigungsswelle, or Rohrreinigungsspirale. OBI again, this time with some smooth conversation with staff, I found it, the ultimate solution I firmly believed in.

Drain Auger

It’s a 4.5-meter manual auger. The blue box hides the long steel snake nicely. It’s easy to use, but still requires some trials to master it. Finally, I was able to push the snake through the second turn in my drain. I kept pushing and tried to feel the move inside the filthy complex. I didn’t detect the malicious clog, but I enjoyed pushing the snake forward, till I found that I have used all the 4.5 meters. Then I was seriously confused. The drain clog in my apartment can’t be 4.5 meters deep in the pipes. 4.5 meters, I must have reached downstairs, and somehow missed the clog. I poured some water, nothing changed yet. And even more terrifying at that moment was that I couldn’t pull it out! I guess the price is different for hiring a plumbing service and tearing down the whole drain system in wall. Fortunately, it turned out that if turning the snake in one direction is easy to push it in, turning it reversely will naturally pull it out. I dragged the snake out bit by bit. Maybe half way back, I heard the sound of flowing water. But even so, I didn’t feel water flowed anyhow faster from my basin. In the last part of pulling, I could smell something typically deep in sewer, and saw the gray, shining and filthy mud brought back by the auger. I have definitely gone too far, and in the end, I got only some little amount of hair at the head of the snake. The whole pushing and pulling action took me 1 hour or so. Still, nothing changed. Frustrated, and pondering if redoing it would help or it’s time to call a service, I started to use the pump again as a desperate, last-ditch effort. All of a sudden, I heard, like a sound from heaven, water rushed into the drain. I couldn’t recall exactly what was on my mind at that very moment. I was lifted. Some happy moments of my life quickly flashed, and in the end Obama kicked in to remind me this was the day Bin Laden was killed. I turned on my tap to let hot water go through the drain, flushing whatever was left in the drain and enjoying the sound of flow. Mission accomplished.

In highest spirits, I quickly cleaned the washing area and basin, restored everything.

My wife will soon be coming, this time literally.

Austrian Business

A blog is like a shark. It must keep moving, or die…

Austria is not a country known for business creativity. Two shopping seasons a year with moderate discounts. Limited choice on almost any consumer products, and very limited supply of size S, if there is any in a real sense. Predictable sales in supermarkets. Sky-high price for electronic products. However, low house price. I am happily living here with all the inconveniences because I believe this is socialism. In reality, having observed these stubborn facts, my expectations had become reasonably low till two recent cases lit me up again.

I am looking for a new mobile phone subscription because my current one is about to expire. Bullshit! I just want an iPhone 4! I am now with Orange. It offers reasonable iPhone deals, among which the most attractive is iPhone 4 16G for €1 if you pay €39 monthly in the next two years. Under this contract you get free call minutes and SMS which nobody cares but enough for ten years or more, and most important to iPhone, 6 GB data per month. But this is ONLY for new customers. By definition, a new customer is a guy who signs a new contract and binds it to a phone number which isn’t bound to Orange currently. Sounds reasonable. But I am an old customer, so I checked the deals for old customers first. Then I realized how terrible I am to Orange as a customer. The only way I can get an iPhone and bind it to my current contract is to buy it from Orange Bonus Club. Big bonus, €549 just for the phone. On top of this, I have to pay €15 per month for a 3GB data package if I would like to use iPhone in the way suggested by Mr. Jobs as all other normal iPhone users do, plus €16 monthly fee of my current contract. You do the calculation. I have a very high brand loyalty. If I follow a brand, I hardly change, so I asked Orange how I can renew myself. The answer is simple–die, then I can be reborn. I have to end my contract, sign a new one and change to a new number. Well, I am more loyal to my number than to Orange. Under EU regulation, customers can switch between operators without changing number, so why on earth bother with Orange? Other operators also have good deals to new subscribers, although I heard they are equally unwilling to keep their old subscribers. Anyway, I reserved one from Drei (3). Don’t know if I will get it this year since its offers are the cheapest on the market. To summarize the Austrian operators’ approach to customers: you can switch from one operator to another easily and economically without changing phone number, but you cannot get the same benefits by switching from one contract to another within one operator. In other words, operators in Austria do their best to attract more users as all the reasonable operators in the world do. At the same time they also forcefully kick out old customers when their contracts end. €549 for an locked iPhone with useless contract is not a bonus, but a fine. This is against common sense of marketing. But on second thought, it is perfectly in line with socialism–operators share customers politely.

When I moved into this apartment, I found one switch didn’t work well. I fixed it but broke the frame of the switch plate.

My quest for a frame begins. I went to one local construction supermarket, and immediately noticed that the frames were all of one size, although there were several brands and models. The major differences are the color and the number of switches framed. To be clear, by different colors I mean something from white to off-wite, and light-grey to grey, certainly not orange, green, blue, pink, red, golden, or violet. For one moment there I was picturing in my mind that all the wall switches in Austria are of the same size, look almost the same, and presumably do the same thing. With a little reasoning you can further get a somewhat stunning conclusion that all the Austrian homes look similar because there are not many alternatives on anything needed for decoration. Surely for the locals home is not a place to be creative. I bought one without even taking out the broken frame in my pocket because I supposed if there was only one size, it must fit. Unfortunately, this would only happen in a perfect world, not a socialist one. I returned it, checked another market, found the very same and only size. In fact, I found the same brands and models in another market at the same price. Thank goodness this market uses another font to print price! I reported the situation to my landlord. She checked a couple of markets as well. No luck. But she shared with me the message from the markets about why no frame matches mine. The size of switches changes every some years, maybe ten, for pushing people to buy more switches. Thus only one size is kept available at one time. Very logical marketing. If one of my switches breaks, I am going to change it and all other 10+ switches in my flat because I can’t find the size anymore. If I refurbish my flat, I am not going to throw out all my old switches because they still fit. Sorry, my landlord and I share the same illogical view to this world. We decided just to glue the bloody frame.












说点正经的了。西班牙夺冠是实至名归的结果。上一篇写德国和西班牙那场,写着写着我也觉得西班牙的赢面大。最后说到冠军的心,其实自己都有些动摇。近两年西班牙展现出来的场上控制力,技术先进性,球队整体感,球星作用,还有最重要的强大的心理素质,都让这个冠军很有说服力。西班牙赢球1:0多,但是他们的1:0是很有观赏性的,和意大利有本质区别。以流畅的中场传接球控制为代表的巴萨打法被西班牙国家队很好的采用,当然这和大量召入巴萨球员不无关系。今天赛前看克鲁伊夫的评论:"Spain, a replica of Barca, is the best publicity for football.",点出了西班牙和巴萨对于世界足球的影响。西班牙代表了当今足坛最先进的打法和最高的技战术水平。西班牙夺冠,沉重的打击了从国米夺得欧冠到本届世界杯初期阶段重现苗头的密集防守的趋势。在永无休止的form与function的争论中,今天西班牙给出了这个时代的完美答案。

关于决赛,这场球本身的质量完全超出了我的预期。双方创造出来的机会之多,不亚于一场高水平的联赛。荷兰发挥非常出色,以破坏性的方式控制住了中场,打乱了西班牙惯有的节奏,让小白和xavi都难以流畅出球。在肮脏的防守上,荷兰表现得一如既往的突出。这一点必须要表扬一下今天的裁判,他对于本场比赛的控制极其优秀。除了de jong飞揣alonso那球轻判,基本没有明显误判。黄牌数多,但是这符合场上形势。大多数的牌都给得恰到好处,阻止了更严重犯规的发生,又保持了两支球队的完整性和比赛的连续性,没有让06年荷兰对葡萄牙的经典在世界杯决赛重演。最后小白的进球两次向他传球都不在越位位置,无可争议。Robben浪费两次单刀,不能怪别人。别的前锋本来就是来打酱油的,不能指望。我实在不能认同施耐德踢球的方式,世界杯决赛阶段的进球含金量也偏低。他如果成为先生,只能是唯成绩论的结果。从球员的整体年龄和年轻球员的能力来看,可以预见这是荷兰足球短期内难以企及的一个高点。下次再进世界杯决赛,不知会是多少届以后了。西班牙今天表现并不好,尤其是中后卫,从开场就有明显失误。罗本两次单刀,都是中后卫的问题。圣卡西确实是大赛型,这场决赛首功应该是他。西班牙的中场就怕凶猛逼抢的打法,今天再次验证。在荷兰队终于显出疲态的时候,加上Bosque的换人,中场终于开始正常运转。navas换下难以和其他球员形成默契的Pedro,在右边给荷兰队造成了很大的压力。小法送出了可能是他这辈子最关键的一次助攻。他的上场是战术调整,加强进攻,刚开始捎显得独,但最终效果明显。另外,他换下的Alonso全场在攻守两方面全面的表现也无可挑剔。最后饱受争议的Torres在左路的尝试最终造成了小白的进球。在荷兰传统的边路强项上,今天西班牙全面压制了荷兰,反倒是中路落了下风。在被人围追堵截了将近120分钟之后,小白终于抓住了荷兰防线的一点破绽,展现出了他先生级球员的风采。跑位停球射门,精准算计,从容完成。


关于德国,且看4年之后。德国确实是支年轻得恐怖的球队。输给西班牙,经验,体能,战术等方面的原因都有,但是我觉得心气很重要。如我写过的,冠军必须有一颗冠军的心,德国的小将们还没有为世界杯冠军准备好。在连续两场大胜后,除了小猪,别的中场球员兴奋度都不够。加上技术的劣势,对手防守的强大,那只所向披靡的青年军被打得找不到北。这场比赛对他们没有坏处,最终的结果也符合实力。时候没到就是时候没到,经验不够就是经验不够。包括Löw也是,他应该这两年都在琢磨如何击败西班牙,但是最后还是功亏一篑。有人批评那场球德国保守,其实不保守并不见得就能赢。4年之后,现在的德国队要退役的重要球员只有Klose,和已不再重要的Ballack。24岁的守门员,24岁的中后卫,26岁的队长,25岁的核心,以及一批天赋超越前辈的20岁出头的新星,Müller, Kroos,Khedira…他们得到季军之后笑了,他们应该高兴。他们在一起奋斗,站到了绝大多数同龄球员难以想像的高峰,他们还会在一起成长,一起享受更高的荣誉。这样一代球员的出现本来就是值得庆祝的事情。4年之后的德国队,依然年轻,但是会有成熟的战术,充足的经验,优秀的技术,强壮的身体帮助他们在巴西击败巴西。






进攻方面,数据看来显然德国占优。西班牙之前并没有表现出很强的攻击力,甚至都没有表现出很强的攻击欲望,但是对巴拉圭一战,应该让西班牙对打硬仗有了充分的准备。Villa几乎包办了西班牙所有进球,但是这并不意味着Xavi, Iniesta, Torres可以忽略,这几个人任何一个都可以一招致命。西班牙前几场比赛,转折都出现在Torres下场,下一场比赛他是否会首发都很难说。如果Villa首发就推到中锋,德国的防守将会面临很大的挑战。德国的进球数和进球的分布证明了其非常恐怖的整体攻击力,但是目前德国在大胜的几场中,都没有遇到真正强有力的防守。人员方面首先需要注意的是Müller停赛。尽管以德国的备战水平,任何一人缺阵都不应该造成重大影响,这名小将目前的地位还是难以忽略。比较可能替代Müller角色的是Özil,目前他在边路活动较多,上一场状态一般,希望他能够恢复状态,承担起进攻轴心的作用。不用怀疑Klose仍然会延续较好的状态,如果中场不灵,不妨多打长传冲吊和45度传中。前几场已经证明只要德国愿意出这一招,随时都有效。



ps: 另有5欧买了Klose最佳射手,表示我对这位球技人品都一流的伟大前锋的支持!破大罗15球记录指日可待!





巴西胜荷兰。无论从整容还是本届的表现来看,荷兰爆冷的可能性很小。巴西在攻防两端都展示了极强的实力。后防线的个人能力看看名单就知道了,Juan和Lucio风格互补,妖人Maicon简直就是边后卫中的罗纳尔多。后腰Gilberto Silva征战他的最后一届世界杯,目前为止表现非常稳定。最为可怕的是,在邓加的战术体系下,除了单前锋Luis Fabiano,全员参与防守和逼抢,在整体个人能力超强的情况下,这样的防守足以轻松打乱荷兰的战线。开赛之前,我以为巴西的攻击能力不够突出,现在看来不过是他们过去的进攻过于强了,所以造成了现在这样的组合进攻不够突出的错觉。虽然前锋不是世界绝对最强的那一个,但是仍然是超一流水准。虽然卡卡状态不佳,但也已送出了多次助攻。在稳定防守扰乱对方节奏的情况下,巴西的中前场两三个人就可以瞬间形成战斗力,一击致命。荷兰这边,就算以防守为主,现在的整容是无法守住的。进攻一端,主打罗本难以奏效,因为对位的是麦孔。别的球员单兵作战能力一般,封住施耐德的远射,截断向范佩西传球的路线,就可以静候乌拉圭,准备决赛了。








另一个一直关心的球队是意大利,谁打意大利我支持谁。踢法难看,个个打扮得花枝招展,场内小动作无数,特别是惯用的假摔,连该得的点球都要摔得比别人夸张(参考de rossi在对新西兰比赛中的那个)。意大利的比赛也看了两场,进攻乏力比较明显。但是意大利不是靠进攻吃饭的,防守的漏洞才是最根本的败因。卡队老了,对新西兰的丢球不是他的错,但他的发挥对于防线整体水平的影响还是很大的,这一点很难以单个球的得失来衡量。pirlo当然不是救世主,可以用我对ribery的评论来评价他,球星一个,巨星里面属于二流。从今天的比分来看,意大利最后是拚了,至少走得比法国体面。对于结果,除了心里高兴和在意大利人面前作同情状,就不多说了。




ps: 如果明天有心情,就写点8强预测。



都知道这一天会到来,年龄是单调递增的线性函数,在一定的阈值之上,也可以作为一种单调递增的线性成就,这个阈值当然不是30。Alles gute,All the best, 生日快乐都可以接受,但我始终不能理解为什么有些同事喜欢说Congratulations。还是老板的直接,"probably, you are not halfway through.", "yes, probably.",我喜欢事实。我也喜欢现实的生活,吃吃喝喝吵吵闹闹睡个好觉,最期待的礼物是明天收到一篇论文的接受通知。

update: 昨天去了一个日本公园,Setagaya park,还是有点日本味道的。