Saturday, December 25, 2010

This and That.

The irony of the blog is that I don't have too danged much to talk about if I'm at home or travelling. 
That's just the way it goes.
 Currently Christmas day,  with the madness of present opening over with,  now waiting for the turkey to cook.
Of course,  we had turkey last night at one of my sister-in-laws in Guelph,  but for some reason that remains a dark mystery for the average man,  there has to be turkey once again on Christmas day.  I think there's even another bird somewhere in this house (kept in a refrigerated state)  that is going to get cooked later on.   I can eat a certain amount,  but after about the third bird,  I do get a little weary of turkey.  That's just me.
I probably need say,  a week between offerings?   That's about all.
The reality is,   with a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread,  I'm pretty much set for at least two meals a day.
Pretty sad,  I know.
 Apart from running the roads from time to time,  I've been farting around in my shop for the most part.   With no particular projects to deal with,  the "project" was mostly just sorting out all the drawers full of various highly necessary items (*ahem*)  that one tends to collect over the years.
Fine,  so there was a certain amount of junk in there that got tossed.
Where does some of it come from,  and what possessed me to keep some of it?

 Meanwhile,  I realised that I had a bare patch of wall that needed something,  and came up with a cabinet to house a few routers and router bits.

Now,  you're probably thinking that that's not much of a cabinet for the amount of time that passed after stepping off the plane a few days back.
First of all,   I have the attention span of a gnat,  which means there are many many distractions that get in the way,  and then secondly,  all the material that went into the thing was left over from some previous projects.  All part of the "cleaning up" process.
Not keen on simply turfing out cherry plywood.
The only slight consideration with using the "found" materials program,  is that I now don't have material for a door.
 It really should have a door.   I'd prefer that those routers stayed right where I put them.   Things had been so well hidden previously (in the mess) that I really didn't worry too much about things growing legs.  I'm a little worried now.   I'll sort it out.

Meanwhile,  my sister has just arrived from out of town,  so I'm pretty much done for this entry.
 See how it goes?   No time for this blogging foolishness.
 Haven't seen her in about half a year.   Best not to be rude.

Hope there's a Merry Christmas in your life today.

 By the way,  here's a picture of the previous project.   I like "built-ins"  and put this arrangement in our bedroom.   Not exactly Ikea.

There are actually many, many drawers down below.   With the way these things go though,  I only have about three of the twelve drawers. 
How does that work exactly?

Is that the subject of a whole other blog entry??

 Best not go there.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Back Home.

I think I'm awake,  although not completely sure.
 The "trick",   and it's not really much of a trick,  is to try and stay awake as long as possible and then sleep through the first night.
 Finally had to pack it in around two a.m. Wienerland time,  which of course is only about eight p.m. in Ontario.  Took great delight in watching all of about 15 minutes of TV in English and passed out.
 The annoying thing then is to wake up at about four a.m. and not be able to go back to sleep.
 This causes a certain amount of "fuzzy brain"  I'm afraid,  and since I'm already contending with a certain amount of fuzziness in the brain department,  it's more like a great hairy quilt.
Our flight was fairly uneventful.  As I think I mentioned,  went with KLM which meant having to connect in Schiphol.  Since the Vienna airport is such a marvel of design, (that,  by the way is a sarcastic comment.   Vienna airport should be torn down)  a great number of flights are boarded using the big-assed bus program.   Has nothing to do with whether the airport is a hub or not,  since Austrian has to use the big-assed bus program as well for many of their flights,  even though it's their main port of call.   This is not so bad in the middle of summer,  but the wind was just picking things when we went to board,  as you may be able to tell from the wind sock that is standing out straight here....

Lookin' a tad bleak out there?

Such a lovely experience to stand on the steps waiting for people to figure out how to sit down.  My guess would be the wind chill had to be around -10°C
Kept my coat on for that first leg of the trip just to try and regain a little lost body heat.

There was a certain amount of concern that we wouldn't have enough time between flights,  or that our luggage wouldn't get to the second plane.  I think we only had about 40 minutes there,  and of course the luggage gets there faster since it doesn't have to make it through the whole terminal.

If you prefer not to click on this little map to get the bigger version,  I'll just point out that we came in at Gate "F" (something)  at the lower left, and had to make our way to Gate "D" (something),  which is way up there at the top.
 Good thing they have an abundance of moving side walks, 'cause it seemed like a good couple kilometres there.  Probably wasn't.
Of course,  there are always those people who don't quite know how to use a moving side walk,  but I don't want to get off on a rant.

Before I get too far along here,  there is just this one little thing that I have to poke fun at.   In this case there was some time to kill before the first leg of the flight,  so we figured we'd go and relax in the First Class lounge.  OK so fine,  we flew First Class.   Whatever.   This is our annual "home leave",  so cut us some slack.    Anyway,  all I really and truly want is a place to sit quietly and be left alone,  which is not always entirely possible if the only other place to sit is at the gate.   Especially when there's not quite enough seating at the gate for the number of people booked on the flight.   Please note and refer back to my previous sarcastic comment about the Vienna airport being such a wonderful design.

So what's with the chairs?   Can you see where they've tried to colour the padding underneath to make it less noticeable?
Just go to IKEA if the budget is limited.  I'm sure they cold approach IKEA headquarters and work out a dealski.

Travelling Companion was trying to convince me that that was the actual colour underneath.   Then how would that explain the unretouched  white bits?

OK,  I'll move on now.

The only other slight snag was coming through Toronto, where the motto is,  "we're not happy,  until you're not happy".   It might take you a second or two to get your head around that one,  but we've been known to come in to Buffalo when we lived in Puerto Rico,  just to avoid Toronto.
 First of all,  with any international flight you have to remember to have your passport handy at the gate,  even though you're miles from Customs,  they check everyone coming off the plane.  Apparently if you land on Canada's shores in the hold of some smuggler's ship you're OK,  but if you come in by air,  they need to check to see if you're still the same person who got on the plane.  Nobody has been able to explain this to me.   At least not to my satisfaction.
Then of course there's the hike through the terminal,  which isn't too bad a thing after you have been completely sedentary for over eight hours.    Gets the blood flowing.  There's not too much point in trying to hurry though,  since you're by no means done.   There's then the wait for the luggage.  Now,  I know a 747 is a big plane,  but that's not the reason that it takes the luggage so long.  There really isn't any reason that the luggage takes so long.
It's Toronto.
Remember the motto.
Fine,  our one and only bag finally came out.   But wait!  There's more!   THEN you have to line up for Customs. 
On this occasion,   I'm not really sure how many flights had come in,  and I've gone through this particular customs point several times before,  so please trust me when I say I have never ever seen this long a line of people waiting to clear customs.
 I was starting to wish for a little Tylenol® by that point.

I think we finally got to our rental car by around six.   Our flight pulled up to the gate at 3:45.
Such fun.

It was all worth it.

I'm as giddy as a school boy.  
 Well,  I'll be a little more giddy after a short nap.

 Hope everyone has a fine weekend.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

A blustery day.

I had read that there was a cold front moving through and that we'd be getting a bit of wind today,  but thought better than to mention it to Travelling Companion,  just to lessen the chance of that whole "weather worry wart" phenomenon. 
Airplanes don't mind wind.   It's things like fog or volcanic ash that tend to make travel plans questionable.

 So the list continues.   I've called for our taxi,  which will be here tomorrow morning at seven.  I guess that means we're getting up at what?  Five?

Meh, we can sleep on the plane.

 I've also made another trip to the post office to send off a few more Christmas cards.   Lining up at the post office is always fun.    Luckily for me I avoided the one line where this young lady had over 150 letters.  Even though they put them all on the scale and she agreed to pay some sort of amount that included them stamping them for her,  she was still there after I had waited for the three people in front of me,  send off my cards and had gone.     Wouldn't there be some better way of doing that?   Just wondering.

 When I happened to peer out onto the balcony this morning,  I was a little bit surprised to see just how windy it had been overnight.

Ruh-roh.   Not exactly the ideal situation for keeping the bird seed dry.   And I won't be here for the next three weeks to do any re-mediation.
I thought by tying the lid down that would suffice,  but a little later on I happened to look out,  and it seemed as if the whole thing was about to go airborne!   Whoa!

Time for a more trustworthy solution.

There dammit.   That should hold it.

Even though I had initially put the feeder out without the tarp,  it was probably a good thing that Travelling Companion had insisted that I cover the table,  since the birds tend to be messy little buggers,   although I haven't seen any evidence yet of any crapping going on,  which was the reason for the tarp in the first place.

We'll see how it looks in the New Year.

I'm sure you'll care.

I think that's about it for today.   I got nothin'.

I just hope my trousers are dry.   Gawd I miss our dryer. 

 Oh....I miss you too kids!   *ulp*

Keep your sticks on the ice.

Almost forgot!  ONE MORE SLEEP!   Heeheeee!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I need more light!

Not sure if I've complained about this in the past,  and if not,  it's a subject that's overdue.   When is December 21st again?  Isn't that when the days start to get longer?
I swear some days when it's overcast it's dark by around 3:00 p.m.

 I don't like it.

 I know we get our reward in the summer time when it's light on into the evening,  but that's not good enough.

That's all I want to say.

Oh,  that and you should have seen me trying to explain to this one guy in Puerto Rico who wanted to rent us his house just how the days are so much longer in the North in the summertime than there.  I could have used something like a baseball and a tomato to demonstrate the angle of the sun,  but didn't have anything handy.
He pretended to understand.  Not sure he did.
At 18° north of the equator,  the length of daylight in Puerto Rico only changes by about a half hour between summer and winter.    And the sun doesn't just gently slide sideways below the horizon.  No,  it drops like a stone.

 On a completely different matter,  today is a National Holiday here in Wienerland,  since it's the "Immaculate Conception",  and everything that matters in closed.   I did however notice that the cops were overseeing the blockage of Mariahilfer this morning,  which to me means the retail stores will be open.  I haven't bothered to go back downstairs to investigate,  since I don't particularly care.

 I couldn't help but notice in one of our local blurbs the picture on the front of one of the small take out places around the corner from us.   They just opened in July and judging from the near constant line-ups,  they seem to be doing well.

Good for them.

 Here's the thing though.

We hate these guys.
Well,  let's just say if they closed up shop and moved away,  nobody in the building would shed a tear.
They were the top most subject of our bitch session with the Landlords a few weeks back.   They managed to stink up the entire building from the very first day they moved in back in July,  and finally the authorities put the kibosh to their vile cooking habits inside the building.  Part of their "deal"  is that they have a storage room off the main hallway for their exclusive use.   Thing is,  they immediately started using it as a second kitchen.


Not sure just what was going on in there,  and I'm sure glad we have one of the newer stink resistant front doors,  since some of my neighbours below would come home at the end of the day to find their entire apartments smelling like a stale Chinese restaurant.  I can only imagine.
Well,  it wasn't much of a stretch of the imagination,  we only had to step out into the hallway.
Couldn't hold my breath long enough to make it all the way out of the building.   Then to make matters worse,  the elevator would konk out on the order of about once a month,  so that meant even deeper breathing on the way up the stairs.

Once again.


The other somewhat disturbing by-product of this stinky business was a sudden increase in the number of rat traps in the building.  Think there was a connection?

Not sure what they're going to do when the weather warms up and their volume goes up.   They won't be stinking up the building any more that's for sure.
When their representative, who was at the previously mentioned meeting, said something about not knowing if they'd be able to stay open without being able to cook in that room,  it was met with a considerable amount of shall we say?  Silence?  Indifference?

Two more sleeps.

3:30 p.m.

This just in.

Seems people are shopping.

 I'm not.

 There was also an offering of music.   No recording.  Sorry.  I'm sure you don't mind.


Monday, December 6, 2010

And now we wait.

We're down to the single digit countdown now.   The weather looks like it should hold out until Friday,  and at least we're not flying into Buffalo.
For those of you who might happen to tune in from other corners of the world,  Buffalo got around a meter of snow last week.  It doesn't matter if you do or do not know how much a meter is.  That's a lot of snow.

Making a list.
Checking it twice.

Finishing up laundry.
 Standing in line for the usual long wait to fill prescriptions for Travelling Companion only to be told to come back in the afternoon since they were out of stock.
Standing in line again this afternoon to pick up said prescription and observing this hair brained individual jump to the head of the queue to ask if she had left her bank card behind and if the clerk would please go back and check only to discover that she had put it in another spot in her wallet.
I did not make eye contact.
Standing around at the bank to make sure a couple bills get paid before we leave.  Standing "in line" is only if you're going to the "Kassa",  all others have to hover around like lost sheep.
Putting our stuff all in one location so as to not forget anything.
Trying to figure out how to pack a jar of honey that somehow mysteriously ended up being brought here from Slovenia without having it explode in our luggage and nicely breaking in the brand new huge suitcase that Travelling Companion got from her American Express reward miles.
Car rental.
Two return tickets to Toronto on KLM. 
Check.   (no Austrian Air thanks)

There will be a couple more things to check,  like order a cab and print off our boarding passes,  but it's too early.
We'll do the smelly cab routine this time,  since the other public transit also involves a little too much walking for Travelling Companion.  Therefore no  "CAT" or "Schnellbahn".
If the geniuses who "designed"  (and I use the term loosely)  the airport here in Wienerland actually had some decent long term parking that didn't cost more than the car itself I'd actually consider it.   They don't.

There's also the small matter of trying to work away at the contents of the fridge so as to not have to throw out copious amounts of food at the end of the week.  The power is considerably more reliable here than in say Puerto Rico,  but I still don't like to leave too much in the fridge if we're away.  
Would prefer to keep the unpleasant olfactory experiences to a minimum,  thank-you.
That mandate would also explain our particular choices when it comes to the airline and the seating arrangements. 
More on that later.

Four more sleeps.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Zimske Gume.

These two words have been going through my head all morning.  They just happen to be two Slovenian words is all,  and they were a couple more Slovenian words that we learned on the weekend.
See,  Travelling Companion's cousin was concerned whether or not we had "Zimske Gume"  on our car.   And yes,  we have "Zimske Gume"  on the car,  and it's a darned good thing we do too,  since it's been snowing just gobs here.

So fine,  if you have no desire to go to google translate and look it up,  that's "winter tires".

 By the way,  don't always believe what you read in "google translate" without cross checking with maybe a good dictionary,  or in the case of last weekend,  a sign advertising winter tires and an explanation coming from a native speaker of the language who just happened to be sitting in our back seat.

 Just thought I should mention that.

I realise it's hard to have all those conditions in place if you're attempting to learn a new language,  but it helps.

 So we're back to this?

I swear this is a new photo!  I had cleaned all the snow off yesterday!
I took it just now,  and it's around noon time.    They're calling for around 20 cm.   Whatever system of measurement you chose to use,  what I see there on the table is beginning to approach the "that will be quite enough,  thank-you"  end of the scale.

The rather expected result of these kinds of conditions is that muggins here has the dubious honour of driving Travelling Companion to work.   She's just not overly keen on that whole winter driving situation.  Wasn't too bad back in Canada,  since she not only had "Zimske Gume" on the car,  but it was only about a 10 minute drive from the house.
 No Biggie.
 Here it's a little different,  since you can well imagine that there might be a couple butt clenching moments on the roads when surrounded by?   How shall I put this?   Those whose driving skills in adverse conditions are somewhat lacking?   I already saw one rear ender yesterday afternoon,  and it was clearly obvious that the rear ender was the result of the one twit simply following too close. 
 Being rear ended is probably my biggest concern.  I'm quite capable of avoiding the twits in front.  It's the nitwits from behind that give me the willies.

Speaking of things that can make a person wonder just what's up,   we were going merrily along on the North Bridge,  and were quite content with the fact that we had left the bulk of the traffic behind,  when out of the blue we get a warning from the "on-board computer"  telling me to cautiously pull off to the shoulder since one of my tires was going flat.


 Thankfully Travelling Companion needs her glasses to be able to read these kinds of things,  so she didn't go directly into a panic.   That always helps.
 Thing is,  some of these cars have just WAY TOO MANY SENSORS,  and if a sensor should happen to,  oh I don't know?  get frozen say?   Then there might be a problem?   There was no way in hell I was stopping at the side of the "carriage way"  on the advise of a few lines of programming.   When we got to Travelling Companions workplace,  I did the only test I knew how,  which was to go around and kick all four tires,  and lo and behold,  they all had air in them.  Besides which,  they're "run flat tires"  whatever that means,   but I certainly didn't feel any adverse effects when we were driving.
 I'd rather not have ever had that experience but trust me,  I know how a flat tire behaves.
Actually,  I also know how a car handles when the entire wheel decides to come off and go rolling merrily off into a cow pasture,  but that's another story.

  That about wraps up today's excitement.   Aren't you excited?

 Word is Travelling Companion wants to be picked up at 2:00 p.m.  which means I'll have to leave shortly.

 Feels like I've been spending a lot of time in the car today.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

We know the drill.

Probably time to dig out the bird feeder?

 When I went out with the shovel to clear the snow away,  I did notice some furtive little bird tracks where they had been looking for food.   I didn't see any evidence of tiny little bird snow shovels,  so I figured I'd just take the initiative and clear off the table.   I mean,  my snow shovel is considerably bigger after all.

Wouldn't they need like a "bird snowblower"?

Never mind.  

That's actually not what I had in mind today.   Other than the fact that we're down to eight more sleeps, (yay!)  the other news is that today was the day to go and pick up our Residence Permits.

Such fun.

Not much of a "yay"  on that one I'm afraid.

 It wouldn't kill them to have a system by which you pay up front and then go to a completely different office to pick the things up but no,  it's the same routine all over again.   You line up outside the building,  shuffle inside (if you're lucky enough to even move that fast)  then get your number,   then go upstairs to the big cattle call type waiting room.

 An hour and a half.

To pick up two pieces of plastic.

Thankfully my bladder was being cooperative.

There was no bonehead this time suggesting we should go to city hall.  
As a matter of fact,  the lady at the first ticket wicket was quite pleasant and chatty.
That was kind of bizarre actually,  since the notion of someone actually being pleasant in that sort of situation is somewhat out of the ordinary.   I'm not just referring to life here in "Absurdistan"  either.   It's been my experience that most "officials" are a notoriously miserable lot and should be taken out behind the wood pile for some "fine tuning". 
Of course,  that's just the "Farmer Bob"  in me coming out,  so don't take any notice.
I have a whole list of folks who could do with some "fine tuning",  but we won't go there.

Speaking of "miserable"....

Sure wouldn't hurt if they'd let you smile just ever so slightly for those types of pictures? Couldn't hurt in my case,   that's for sure.

So there you have it.    We're legal again for another year. 

Well almost.   Mine expires in October,  since that's when my passport expires.  


We're still not going to start the process until two weeks before Travelling Companion's runs out I'm thinking since:
1) I will have renewed my passport when we go home for Christmas, and
2) I don't really care?

I think Lawyer Dude (who was almost on time this time)  mentioned something about 90 days or something.   Whatever.   pfft!  They can kick me out. 

Hope everyone has a fine day.  


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


And this,  Ladies and Gentlemen,  is another one of the reasons I'm not overly keen on taking public transit.   You of course remember the whole not wanting to smell you,  hear you or see you thing I mentioned a few days ago,  right?   Well,  how about being cooped up with the same smelly bunch for a couple hours?
In a subway car.
In a tunnel.

Seems with some of the adverse temperatures (and really,  it's only hovering around the freezing mark)  there was a power outage on one of the subway lines yesterday,  and a train load of passengers were left in a tunnel for TWO HOURS!

 Are you kidding me?

It says there on the second line,  "Wurde Zug im Tunnel vergessen?"   You can figure that one out I'm sure.

I heard something on the radio yesterday afternoon in the car and thought at first I had misunderstood.

 Nope.   Seems my German comprehension skills aren't all that shabby after all.

I would additionally like to point out that,  although I did have to stop at traffic lights and sit in the car from time to time,   I was in fact comfortable,  "moving"  to some degree or other,  and arrived at my destination,  on time, without having the car break down.

Just thought I'd mention that.

And yes I know,  Vienna has one of the best transit systems in the world,  bla bla bla.   Whatever.   And yes,  I know there was that one time there when we couldn't get the flippin' garage door to open for us and we had to jump on the subway to meet our visitors down town.
But we could have also hailed a cab.

And I suppose that being stuck in a subway car for a couple hours is part of the "charm" of living in the big city?  I guess there are certain things I no longer find charming.  The "authorities"  will be investigating as to just what went wrong.   Certainly there must have been people calling frantically on their cell phones?   I mean,  they're always yakking on the damned things in the subway cars,  so I can only imagine that the signal strength must be just fine.  

This isn't to say that I'd never take public transit.   No no,  I'm just pointing out my preferences.   In the best of all possible worlds,   I'd happily take the bike most any day,  with the proviso that there were some sort of notion of  "subjective safety".   Some days I just don't feel like bolstering my courage to ride a bike in Vienna,  especially when the first part of my journey is on a street like Mariahilfer.   The actual weather conditions have very little to do with it.   I would like to get some sort of eye wear to ward off any errant snow flakes however,  since getting pounded in the eyeballs by snow is a bit uncomfortable.   Other than that,   I've ridden in temps down as low as -9°C.

Speaking of snow,  we're getting some.

I should have started a "segue count".   Too late,  dammit!

Just got an apologetic call from German Teacher Dude that he'd rather not head out in the present conditions,  since it does seem to be getting worse.
I'm fine with that.   It's not like he's delivering an organ for some sort of life saving operation.  Life is really too short to be stressing about these kinds of things.

 I'm only slightly annoyed that I got the car washed yesterday.    Kind of a waste.

Remember this?

Yes well,   there's been a slight change....

 Now where did I put my boots?  


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Into the depths.

If we were to fret over the weather forecast I suppose we would have stayed in Wienerland for the weekend.  The thing is,  Travelling Companion had made an appointment with some lawyers down that away for Monday afternoon,  and even though there was some brief talk of bugging out early because of the threatening weather,  we basically went to Slovenia and back over Sunday and Monday pretty well unscathed.
We had no sooner arrived Sunday afternoon in Sava,  when it started to snow those big heavy snot like gobs of snow,   which it continued to do throughout pretty much the whole evening. 

You might notice on the outside of the house here that there are these roll shutters that many houses in Europe have?   Well,  they're great for security and for keeping out unwanted light.
That is until the power goes out,  and moonlight is all you have until some candles can be found.

Seems the heavy snow and power lines don't go well together.   The power did come back on at one point and we thought we were in the clear,  but then it went out again just as the one snarky lawyer on Boston Legal was making his closing arguments and well,  I guess we'll have to buy that season too,  since I don't know how it turned out.  And seeing as "Denny Crane"   had fallen in love with some cattle rancher,  I don't even think that episode would have ended up with them smoking cigars on their little rooftop terrace.   It'll all be fresh and new whenever I get to watch it when the time comes,  which is normally something that I don't experience with these things,  since it's usually Travelling Companion who falls asleep through just about every thing she sees on the screen. 
Mind you,  that can make for some really economical DVD watching,  since she can watch an episode at least three or four times before putting it all together. 
Yes,   we got to watch TV in Slovenia!   See,  they leave all the programming in the original language,  and use subtitles.  I think I've gone on about this before,  so I'll leave it alone.
I'm beginning to feel that the novelty of driving down to Slovenia and back is starting to wear off,  even if I do get to watch some TV.   Driving some 935 kilometres for some TV time is a bit much.  
The somewhat amazing thing is,  even though the BMW is barely broken in,  the mileage has really improved.   We went down and back and still had a quarter tank of fuel!   Roughly €60 to fill up,  plus another €15 for a vignette.   That's probably expensive by North American standards,  but I don't think it's too bad,  and I'm pretty parsimonious.

That's about all I have.   This weekend coming up will be our last weekend here in Wienerland for 2010.

 Today's magic number is 10!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

No Black Friday for me!

However,  there was a bit of a White Saturday in our lives this morning.  

Does that count as a segue?

Now I realise I had mentioned a couple things about adverse weather that other folks had been getting,  and that must have been enough to temp fate.
Or something.
But hey!  They got upwards of 15 inches of snow in parts of England.
Pushing my luck there.
I'll try not to bring it up again.

 So I had to bring the snow shovel up from the dungeon,   since clearing away the excess is unfortunately a requirement,  otherwise it just gets all crusty and impossible to deal with.  I just might want to go upstairs a couple more times in the next week or so. 

How does that work anyway?  I'm always afraid to say,  "Oh my,  aren't we lucky?  Or,  my isn't it a nice day?".   Knowing full well that in the next instance all hell could break loose.

The sole reason that I even managed to get my hind end out of bed that early on a Saturday morning was because I knew we needed fuel for the Beemer,  since we're heading to Slovenia in the morning,  and this is the first "Advent Samstag".

Not sure how to translate that exactly.  Basically means the first big Saturday shopping day before Christmas,  if you put it into the strictly non religious sense.

Last year we were caught quite unaware and I ended up having to run up a one way street the wrong way in order to get the car back in the garage.   This time around I just happened to notice something in the paper mentioning how Mariahilfer was going to be made into a pedestrian zone after nine a.m.  
That meant I had to hustle my butt down to the garage for some diesel and get back here well before the cut-off time.   I have no idea where all the cars end up,  since this street is normally just a madhouse of vehicles,  and at first it wasn't all that busy,  as you can see,

but later on,  there were just droves of people,  many of whom had emerged from the subway.   I also read that there were going to be over a hundred bus loads of shoppers being brought in from God knows where.
Organised chaos.
 The reason I have no pertinent pictures of the crowds from later in the day is because well,  I try to avoid that whole scene if at all possible?  The only reason I managed this one was because I was on my way to the butcher on Neubaugaße to pick up some stewing beef.  Otherwise you'd just have to take my word for it.

I did have to go out later to reload my cell phone and pick up some wrapping paper.  Picture taking was not on the agenda.
 It did seem though that closing it off to vehicular traffic was kind of a lame idea,  since the sheep like shoppers tend to walk on the side walk anyway,  even though the road has been freed up for their use.
I walked on the road,  that's for sure.   I'd do that just about every day if I could to avoid having to elbow my way through the twits who don't realise we're not in Jamaica,  or England,  and have no idea about side walk walking protocol.   Keep to the right! Dammit!
Stupid cell phone chatting foreign language speaking dolts!   By "foreign language"  I'm basically talking about Hungarian or Turkish,  since eavesdropping on German is more or less do-able,  so I don't really consider that "foreign", not that I'd really eaves drop,  but some times it can't be helped.   Especially when the annoying cell phone talker isn't exactly using their "inside voice"?
Please refer back to my disdain for using public transit.

So we'll see how things are going down in Slovenia.   I'll let you know.   I'm sure you care.  Supposed to be sunny and clear.  That works for me.

Weather for Ljubljana, Slovenia

-2°C | °F
Current: Fog
Wind: N at 3 km/h
Humidity: 100%
Partly Sunny
3°C | -1°C
Chance of Snow
4°C | 1°C
Chance of Rain
5°C | -6°C
Chance of Snow
4°C | 0°C

Have a fine weekend.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lucky so far, I guess.

I'm referring to the weather,  although that's a pretty lame topic I know.  The thing is,  I can't help but notice that a few places "across the pond" are experiencing what I would like to refer to in the "care-taking vernacular" as "shitty weather".
 Hate to be blunt,  but snow in Vancouver?   Not only that,  snow over on Vancouver Island?   Does that even happen?  The gobs of snow in Montana are well,  more or less par for the course,  and having ridiculous below freezing temperatures in a place like Calgary?   Well,  that's Calgary.    It could warm up to plus five the next day.
There are some places though that are just not in any way shape or form geared up for winter.  In case you hadn't guessed,  I'm speaking of Vancouver.
  Any time there's a hint of snow in Vancouver, the Canadian Media decides that that should be worthy of some sort of story,  which is almost as lame as this whole topic.   But at least I'm not being funded by the Canadian taxpayer.
 Not yet anyway.
Which reminds me,  (do you sense a pending seque?)  I have to take a look at just what is happening to my CPP now that I'm "between assignments".   I guess I'll try wading through their website.  Never a happy time.   I can always try calling someone when we get home,  although that can also be not such a happy time.  The calling part,   not the going home part.
By the way,   that will be after fifteen more sleeps.
Not that I'm keeping track or anything.
Somehow though I think the CPP situation is OK,  since I've certainly been paying into it long enough,  so I don't think missing a couple years will make any kind of difference.   It is one of those deals that is geared to the number of years worked and the amount of earnings HOWEVER,  there is something called "drop out years"  that have recently been increased to eight years.   I'm still good.

Plus,  I also noticed this wording...

If I am between 60 and 64, how do I qualify for a retirement pension?

To qualify for a retirement pension between the ages of 60 and 64, you need to do one of the following:
  • Stop working and receive no earnings    (wait!  what??)
  • This means that you are not working by the end of the month before the CPP retirement pension begins and during the month in which it begins.
    • Example: If you want your pension to begin in April, you have to stop working by the end of March and you cannot work during the month of April.
  • Earn less than a specified amount
  • This means you earn less than the current monthly maximum CPP retirement pension payment ($934.17 in 2010) in the month before your pension begins and in the month it begins.
    • Example: If you want your pension to begin in April 2010, you need to earn less than $934.17 in both March and April. Once you start receiving your CPP pension, you can work as much as you want without affecting your pension amount. However, you cannot contribute to the CPP on any future earnings from employment.

Whatever.   Bla bla bla.  What was that first part?

OK so,   I've figured out the "Stop working and receive no earnings" part.   That was easy.   Just have to wait a few more years. 

There.   Solved that problem.

Now,  unemployment insurance is another deal.   I've paid into that one for way too long,  and I'd happily just take back all my premiums.   I think I collected something like a week's worth there back in about 1984.   Something like that.  Even then that was because someone told me I really should.  It never actually occurred to me to apply for pogey.
I just might apply when we move back home though.
I want my money back.
Meh, we'll see.

That's if for today I suppose.  Didn't have that much on my mind.  Not much going on.
Travelling Companion is out to dinner tonight with some work associates.  Even if I did know what that was about I couldn't say.
Some people flew in from other locations.
There were meetings. 
Now they eat. 

What that means however is that at some point later this evening I'll "get the call"  and have to go and pick her up.   *sigh*
I don't mind,  really.  It just means no beer for Bob. *sigh*
The Austrian authorities take a really dim view of even a barely noticeable alcomohol level in a driver's blood stream.  I don't recall the limit,  but it's low.   Trust me.
Not worth the risk.  I'm often called upon to do the driving.  Once again.  *sigh*

 Happy Thanksgiving to anyone south of the 49th!  You know who you are.

 Stay safe on "Black Friday".    (Gawd that sounds ominous.)


Monday, November 22, 2010

Slow German? or No German?

Once in a very long while we're either prudent or lucky,  I'm really not sure which.   With the Christmas season just around the corner,  we once again have to resist the temptation to remove the car from the parking garage on a Saturday.  Pretty soon Mariahilfer is going to be closed off to cars on Saturdays,  and we have to keep that in mind.

First of all,  I should say that the really extra good news about going home already on the 10th of December,  is that the "Wienerland shopping program" will be severely curtailed,  and I will no longer be pressed into service once we get back home to be the cheery co-shopper.   That particular torch will be passed off to one of my sisters-in-law.
For this I am truly thankful.
On this side of the pond however,  I'm the chosen one.  That's all I'm willing to offer about my take on shopping.   You may be able to read between the lines.

There was a plan afoot to head down to the centre of town to partake in the joy of this thing called "Christmas shopping",  and at first I had this bright idea to take the car,  since it's not one of those Saturdays just yet.
 I realise that we're ever so slightly spoiled, but I just prefer to have my own little space,  (my own recently vacuumed space,  I might add)  and have no real qualms about either sitting in traffic a bit,  or paying a few Euros extra for parking.   It's already over €7 for the two of us to go and return on the U-Bahn,  so for a little bit more,  or sometimes not,  we can go by car.

I should point out that,  when forced to take public transit I do not:
1) Care to hear what ever is blaring out of your ear buds that you seem to think is music.  2) Wish to smell you.
3) Wish to be part of some one sided conversation you just had to have at that precise moment on your cell phone.
Or best of all....4) I don't want to see any parts of your body that should be tucked neatly away in your underwear!
No dangling participles!   Thank-you.

  Should I go on?   I think you get the idea.   I like my (own) space.


 This is a glimpse of the mob scene around Stephansplatz.   I was actually more taken with the Christmas decorations,  and I'm sure I could have taken gobs more photos of the crowds.
You'll just have to take my word for it.

So it's a good thing I had a moment of clarity there,  and we ended up taking the U-Bahn,  since we quite likely wouldn't have been able to get home anyway.  At least not right away.
There was a lovely demonstration right at the one way street we need to go down to be able to put the car put away.   Something to do with cruelty to animals.   Don't know.  Don't care.

I just sure as hell hope they have to get a permit,  that's all.

Once again, getting home expeditiously has something to do with going to the bathroom,  and if the internal bathroom timer has been set off,  then there's really and truly only so much time before well,  the time has run out.

Thankfully the elevator has been working faithfully for some time now...

Today's exciting although brief adventure had us once again going to the Immigration office to get our residence permits renewed.   Really though,  it wasn't very exciting,  not much of an adventure,  and not overly brief.

There's been a certain amount of,  oh I don't know,  frustration with the whole procedure,  since the very smart relocation company whose office is somewhere in Texas (and I'm just going to let that speak for itself)  were supposed to get the ball rolling on this a couple months ago.

Nothing happened.  No surprise there.

 Finally not too long ago,  Travelling Companion sent out a note to the lawyers up in Belgium (and that's just as absurd,  I know) asking just what the hell?   and so,  after a flurry of emails and a couple phone calls on my part (like I really want to get involved)  we had our visit this morning.

Here's how it works:   The lawyer is supposed to meet us there,  with copies of all the "stuff"  that we've provided for him.   That would be:  Copies of passports.  Copies of some sort of statement saying we do in fact pay rent.  Copies of proof that Travelling Companion is getting paid to work here.    Copies of the insurance coverage saying we're basically not sucking on the Austrian health care teat.
And a couple new photos.
 I think that's it.
Then they take this information and they put it on a couple forms.   Good thing we checked the forms,  since somebody doesn't know how to copy down information.
Then we each sign our respective forms in about nine places.

 I think the thing that I found just ever so slightly annoying was that the lawyer was LATE.   You may recall my view on "late"?   Not keen.
 Unfortunately,  this falls into the category of "active bullshit",  as opposed to "passive bullshit".   Nothing to be done.   He was only about 10 minutes late,  but in those ten minutes we had already made our way up to the counter to get our number.
Here's the thing,  even though I very clearly said we were there to renew our Residence Permits,  the turd behind the counter seemed to think we had to go to City Hall.
At first he started babbling away in German to Travelling Companion,  which of course meant that I was the one answering the questions,  then pointing out that she spoke very little German,  so what's he do?
He just speaks slower.
Like that helps.
So the big question is,  in that instance,  do you argue with an "official"?



Turns out he also had the brains of a turd,  and once he looked up something or other on his computer, he proceeded to give us our ticket.
That's all I wanted!   Thank-you there Mr.Turd!

 It's a similar idea to when you get your passport,  you first line up to get a ticket,  then you go to another area to watch and wait for your number.   Our number was up by the time we made it to the fifth floor,  so lawyer dude did have to eat a little crow there,  and apologise to the young lady at the desk for our "lateness".

Hey,  we were already lined up outside at 7:40,  so I figured I sure as hell wasn't going to offer any apologies. 

 So the money has been paid.   Everything submitted,  and we can pick up our new cards on the second of December. 

 Wondering if I should start a pool on the exact time lawyer dude will show up.  Hmmm?

Today's magic number is 18.


Friday, November 19, 2010

And then the rains came.

I always imagine African drum music when I think of that,  which has mostly to do with an old radio show from the BBC.

I'm going to break my promise.   Just this once.
I hadn't really figured out where to put this thing,  but it seems the chickadees don't care.

At one point there were a half dozen of these little guys.

Other than that,  there's sweet bugger all going on today.   Had to go out as usual,  and face a sea of umbrellas on the street.  Gah!  If you know it's going to rain,  why not just dress for it?   Didn't bring my safety goggles,  and avoiding eye injury can sometimes be a preoccupation.  
Certainly not going to miss that aspect of city life.

Travelling Companion just called from the Birmingham airport.  Only has 45 minutes for a layover in Düsseldorf,  so we'll see how that turns out.

Hopefully the rain lets up a tad for the airport run tonight.

Hope everyone has a fine weekend.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Almost a night out.

Well,  that was close.   Damned near had a chance to interact with some fellow English speaking types.  Apparently though,   they're not all that punctual.

 I don't do "late".

Just doesn't work for me.  If you're organising an "event",  you need to be on time.

Or send an emissary.

A note on a table.


 There was supposed to be some sort of "meet and greet"  at a dump er,  I mean "pub" a few blocks away,  and by the time I found the place,  I was feeling kinda bad that I was already quite late,  (twenty minutes!)  but in spite of that fact,  there was nary a soul there.  Not sure what was up with that,  but I simply walked home.   So I went from feeling somewhat "sheepish"  to well, just a sheep.

See, if I'm going to sit by myself and drink beer,  I can do it right here.   Thank-you.
Besides,   the "Flying Pig" was aptly named,  and maybe it was supposed to have "character",  but to my way of thinking,  it wasn't much to write home about.   So I won't.

The way I look at it,  I have to put up with enough "passive" bullshit,  so I'm certainly not going to be looking for the "active" kind.

Say what you wish about the Austrians,  and there's plenty to say I'm sure,  but with any encounters or meetings that I've had up to this point,  there has never ever been a situation when anyone was blatantly late.  Or even close to being late.
 OK,  maybe there was this one time with the immigration lawyer,  and we're going to once again put him to the test on Monday morning.  We'll see how he does.   Should I send him a note and ask if he needs a wake-up call?


They'll even call if they're early to ask if that's "OK"?  And I'm not just talking about German teacher dude.   The same happened with the so called installer from Telecom Austria.   He showed up early.  He called me on my "Handy"  (cell phone) to ask if that was OK?  I don't think that really happens in North America.   Mind you,  turns out he was pretty useless as an installer,  but that's another story.
He was polite,  albeit incompetent.

Now,  speaking of Austrians (and you're thinking,  "oh here he goes")   I went this morning for a haircut.  Of course the "Friseur"  babbles away at me in German and well,  I can understand about 95% I would say,  so that's not too bad,  and then at some point,  as in every encounter while seated in the chair,  you do run out of things to talk about,  and that has nothing to do with any kind of language barrier.
I mean,  I run out of things to talk about when I'm at my favourite barber back in Burlington.   I'm just saying.
No,  what I wanted to mention was that she had Christmas presents for both Travelling Companion and me.
  She was even somewhat apologetic that she forgot about them when Travelling Companion was in a couple weeks back.
Good thing I was sitting down.   I had never heard of such a thing.  I know we've been going there for something like a year,  but Christmas presents?
Now before you say,  "oh well, it was probably some sort of deal from a supplier"  it still seems to me to be somewhat extraordinary.

 I'm not some sort of ingrate,  I was very thankful.   I do know how to thank someone profusely in German.  Don't worry.

 The one on the left is for me.   Never thought of myself as much of a Metro sexual,  but I suppose I'll use that hand cream.   I didn't really look in the other package.   Some sort of lubricants presumably.

And if my wife is reading this from the UK (I doubt it,  she said the internet at the hotel was sketchy)  sorry Dear to have ruined the "surprise".

 (rolling my eyes here)

You'll notice that the little camera is actually in the picture.   That's not a trick.   One of the other things that tends to just drive me around the bend is the fact that it's FLIPPIN' dark by five o'clock!   Even though I'm not overly keen on the cold,  the darkness is the part of winter that I just loathe.   And that's all I'm gonna say, but man I could really go on about that.

It turns out that the little camera doesn't do all that well in the total absence of light,  so I had to bring out the big guns.  It was at that point that I realised that I need some new batteries for the flash.   (yes,  click the link)

I thought there was something else wrong,  but it was just the batteries.   Oops.

Managed to squeeze out a couple shots,  but that was about it.
I'll need to get right on that.   But man, that thing is just about idiot proof.

And well, that's probably a good thing.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sleeping in.

OK,  I'll admit it,  this quite often happens when Travelling Companion is away somewhere,  unless we have guests I suppose.   I'll do that "old man" thing and wake up at some stupid hour like six a.m.  as I normally would,  but then since there's no need to haul myself out of bed,  I tend to "lie in"  as the Brits would say.  That usually doesn't last much longer than about seven thirty though,  and then I just get up anyway. 
Usually has something to do with going to the bathroom.

 In my defence,  the only time I ever have to use an alarm clock is when we have to get up at say,  4:30 in order to make it to the airport on time.   Even then I tend to wake up just about every hour so as not to somehow sleep in.  Then I wonder why I'm kind of weary for the rest of the day.

 To use the sailing analogy,  we're once again on a long tack.   Not too damned much going on.   Travelling Companion is in the UK on some sort of training course,  and there's no point in me trying to explain what that's about.   She was supposed to attend this course last year some time in Amsterdam,  but that plan fell through,  since she was simply too busy.

  So that means I'm just a lonely guy in a lonely town.

Well,  except for the maybe the million and a half Viennese out there.  They tend to mostly just get in the way.
I thought that this morning I'd meander out in the car and give it a good "hoovering".   Here's the thing.   It's not like I can go out to the driveway with the vacuum cleaner and get busy.   It doesn't work that way.   We're in the city.   A busy city.   So that means pretty well making a morning of it,   since I have to take the car to some service station or other where they have these "pay as you suck"  kind of places,  and the nearest one that I know about is out on Prager Straße.    I think there's something closer out on the Gürtel,  but I prefer to go where I know.

With a little bit of practise and being somewhat organised,  I can pretty well vacuum the entire car for the whopping sum of one Euro.  Yes,  you read that right.   It's all in the prep work.

Don't get side tracked.
Don't piss around with the mats.
Just suck.

It's actually probably good motivation to be expeditious if I'm paying for it.  I know it's taken me way longer to vacuum out the car sitting in the driveway.  Being all that efficient sort of gets wasted though when the rest of the time is spent sitting in traffic.

I'm sure you care.

So as not to waste a perfectly good outing,  I decided to take a little detour into Klosterneuberg and slide by the Baumaxx and have a look around for....well,  I hate to admit this,   a bird feeder.

It's that time of the year when a lot of these stores have that kind of stuff on display,  and I've been tempted to put something out before,  but just never got around to it.  If I start getting pigeons though I'm going to be really annoyed.  I'm aiming more for the chickadees that I see coming around from time to time.    So fine,  a couple small bags of bird seed,  a feeder and a six pack of suet balls for under €15 is tolerable I suppose.

I promise not to bore you to tears with any bird pictures though.

Just talking about it has been bad enough.

Keep your powder dry.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Off to the Opera!

OK,  that sounds as pretentious as hell,  but that's just too bad.   I had every intention of saying something yesterday,  but for a while there,  getting out to the opera was starting to look somewhat doubtful.
 And I already had the tickets!
 And well,  remember what I said about wanting to have good seats?  I'll let you go to the appropriate website and take a gander at some ticket prices and you can come to your own conclusions.
So needless to say,  when Travelling Companion called from Cluj Napoca yesterday morning to say the flight had been delayed because there was some sort of pea soup fog,  we both started to get a little nervous.   Too far to drive for the pick-up (eight hours)  and taking the train would have got her into the Westbahnhof at 8:30 this morning.   Pfft!  Right!
 Thankfully the fog lifted,  and the system that was coming through Wienerland here passed by,  and although she was over an hour delayed,  it all worked out.


And that is probably the most nerve racking part of going to some place like the opera.  There are just so many things that one hopes will fall into place so you get to plonk your hind end down in those hard to get seats.
Too much butt clenching.
And yes,  there's probably a pun in there.

 So you have to understand,  as much as I like my,  oh I don't know,  Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young* (odd combination to mention I know)   I think I've had a hankering to see Tosca at some point in my life ever since the "Three Tenors" did a few snippets way back in the early nineties in Italy.
With apologies to all my "pub buddies",  but hey,  so I like a little opera once in a while?  

 I'm going to now drag you kicking and screaming into the world of opera appreciation for  the next few minutes as I give you a little coles notes version of the story.
Basically there's a guy who's a bit of a scum bag,  in a position of authority,  who uses that authority to have his way with the womenfolk.  Boy,  that sure seems like a recurring theme,    dunnit?
That would be Scarpia,  (you may hiss and boo now)  who also happens to be the chief of police.   Long story short,  he needs to bump off any of his rivals,  one of which happens to be the lover of Tosca,  his latest interest.  It's actually heaps more complicated than that,  but we won't go there.

You're welcome.

Here is an example of Placido Domingo,  playing the part of that lover, Mario Cavaradossi
at the point where he is about to be put to death....
I put in that particular snippet since it has subtitles.  Always helps.

The fellow who did that particular aria got a hearty round of applause when he did that one.  He was pretty danged good.  I have to confess, when I hear this one,  I do tend to get a little "verklempt",  but we'll just skip over that.

 So the bottom line is,  Tosca makes a "deal" with Scarpia that she'll give in to him if he spares the life of Cavaradossi,  then after he writes out the pardon,  she kills him.
(I know!)

Seems she really didn't want to go through with that whole "kissy kissy" thing.

The thing was,  to make it look good,  they were going to have a fake firing squad,  just to make everything look proper,  but Scarpia double crosses her,  and the firing squad uses real bullets anyway.

Even from beyond the grave, he's such a bastard!

So Cavaradossi gets killed,  and Tosca commits suicide by leaping to her death.  
That's it.  Pretty much the whole story.

That took roughly two hours with two intermissions.

As I'm sure you're aware,  taking photos during the performance is really,  really bad form,  but I do have a few random pics....

Our view of the stage was pretty good.

Marco Berti,  who played the part of Mario Cavaradossi.

Michèle Crider on the right,  who played the part of Tosca.

Him I really liked.  Her not so much.  She also did Madama Butterfly that we went to see back in June.   Meh.   I guess I prefer Tenors.  Dunno.

More random pics.

Um,  those would be the standing places.   Don't think I could do that.  Maybe thirty years ago.

Now,  see the lady with the light coloured clothes?   She's right about now telling the man there that he's in her seat.  

He's not.

  She tried to tell my I was in her seat.   I wasn't.
 There's this thing called "left"  and "right".   Um...ya.   We sent her over to the other side.

So not only was she on the wrong side (don't know why the ushers didn't catch it, but maybe she was one of those "know it alls")  but she wasn't even on the right level.   Here she is,  finally in her proper spot.   Yikes.

OK,  you may have to break down and click on that one.  I wanted the "wide"  shot...

Note how she's on the row below us?

So while it turns out Tosca is indeed not a comedy,  at least some of the audience members were worth a chuckle.

Have a fine weekend.

Oh!  Almost forgot!  Today's number is 27.

*who coincidently turned 65 today.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Looking for stuff.

And I don't mean the answers to the bigger questions,  I'm talking about something I've mentioned before and that is quite simply,  looking for "stuff".
The word is that Travelling Companion very astutely bought some Christmas cards some time last year right after Christmas and before coming back here to Wienerland,  and has very carefully stored them somewhere.  They may jump out at me,  but I'm not about to hold my breath.

You probably figure the easy solution would be for me to simply decline the invitation,  with a hearty "Thanks,  but no thanks",  but it's not that simple.   See,  Travelling Companion is presently in Romania,  where she's been since yesterday.   Originally she was supposed to fly out on Tuesday,  but her flight was cancelled.  Probably because the flight was not even remotely full,  but I'm not sure.   There was some talk of having her fly all over Europe to get to Romania,  but she wasn't going to bite.
For those of you who enjoy little snippets of geography,  the plan was to fly to Munich,  then to Bucharest,  then on to Baia Mare.   Pffft! 

Couldn't for the life of me find a program or web page out there that would permit me to put all three of the proposed legs on one page,  and I was not going to try and attempt anything in Microsoft "Paint"  (what a retarded program),   but you can get an idea.   Those links are "clickable"  by the way....

And you may have also realised that by now I've finally figured out how to save screen shots of web pages.  It's actually pretty simple.

Ya right.
We all remember the fiasco with getting the one and only connecting flight from Bucharest to Baia Mare.   Besides,  each and every time we see one of those "Fly Niki"  signs advertising some ridiculously low airfare to Bucharest,  she never hesitates to proclaim,  "I never want to go to Bucharest again in my life!".

OK then.  No point in keeping these things bottled up. 

So this was the preferred method yesterday.

We made sure we checked in the morning before doing the airport run to make sure they were actually going to head out.  I guess they had enough warm bodies going to Cluj Napoca.

  The company that cannot be named then sends a driver down to Cluj to pick her up.  Much better system.

I'll start my search for the cards by looking in the dungeon,  and we'll take it from there.

That looks like a complete disaster,  and it partly is,  but you should see my neighbour's!  Holy full to the rafters!   Of course,  they're not going to be moving "back home"  and this is where they live,  so they got the usual overflowing amount of "stuff".   I didn't take a picture.   It wouldn't have mattered.
Speaking of our neighbours,  it just so happened that when I was on my way down to the dungeon to begin my quest,  our neighbour lady was out in the hallway waiting for the elevator.  We rode down together,  and come to find out,  her other half is in Abu Dhabi.   See?  It's sometimes not all that rosy at the top.   We were commiserating on the subject of air travel,  and just how the bloom is off that particular rose.    By the way,  it's currently 32°C in Abu Dhabi.
 One of Travelling Companion's former associates is presently living in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai,  I don't remember which,  (both in the United Arab Emirates)  and from time to time the question is asked about when we are going to come for visit?   Hm,  have to think long and hard on that one.    It would quite likely be in the winter,  since their summer temperatures are just nuts.  That whole,  "but it's a dry heat",  just doesn't cut it when it's approaching 50°C.   Gah!

Back to the search.

Hope your weather co-operates for Remembrance Day.