Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yuengling Beer.

Never heard of it.

Apparently the Canadian Prime Minister isn't going to get to sample any any time soon either.

And if you're not too sure what I'm referring to,  then you need to just unplug your computer right now and throw it out the nearest window. Oh, and take a hammer to your TV while you're at it.
Either that,  or you just woke up from a  17 day coma,  in which case all is forgiven.

Turns out,  in a fashion typical of most politicians,  they managed to totally screw up the bet anyway.  Who wants to have someone buy you a case of Molsons?

What's that all about?

Isn't the guy who loses the bet supposed to humbly drop off the beer at the winner's front door?  I'm sure Obama can find 24 Sussex.

There's enough links in there for a brain damaged three year old to figure it out,  so go crazy.

A parallel universe.

A parallel universe was where I thought I was this morning when I heard the medal standings at the Vancouver Olympics.
I mean,  the first thing I said was, "What on Earth?"
And then I got to thinking that just perhaps we had some how slipped through to another dimension,  since the possibility of such an occurrence on this Earth was pretty far fetched.

I mean,  how is it even possible?

Didn't we always suck?

Also,  I tend to equate medal standings to the population of a nation,  such that say, China should have what?  fifty thousand times the number of medals of anyone else?  I'm just being facetious here,  but you know what I'm saying.   It's like when the Yanks go on about how many of their brave young men have fallen in the desert.  Sorry,  but based on our relative populations,  we've lost WAY more soldiers.

Just one of my pet peeves.

We're still contemplating hitting a hotel tonight to take in the Canada/USA hockey game.  This whole business of living in a foreign country during the Olympics was very poorly planned,  I must say.
Somehow we didn't co-ordinate the long term career plans of my travelling companion with the inner workings of the IOC.

Who knew?

Yesterday we decided to go out on the main drag for a little stroll.  Lemme tell ya,  Mariahilfer Strasse on a Saturday afternoon is NUTS.   Just think of the busiest commercial street in any major city.  It's right up there.
Beggars,  Pick-pockets,  Shoppers.  In that order of annoyance.

So happens though we did find a really nice little restaurant just off the beaten path.  It was down past one of the first Churches we went to a few weeks back.  I'd make reference to hypothermia,  but that would just be confusing,  since it's been an underlying theme for all of the Church visits up to this point.
I made sure I asked for a card from this place,  since we not only want to go back, but wouldn't mind recommending it to anyone looking for a decent place to eat.   They don't have a website for me to link to,  but I'll stick in the name just the same.  It's "Frascati",  and a firm knowledge of Italian doesn't help,  but German seemed to work just fine.  Of course,  most all the staff had thick Italian accents.  I put in a google map link if you're at all interested,  here...

I think I was mostly intrigued by the view looking south off Mariahilfer,  so we simply decided to wander down one of the side streets.

Anyway,  since we didn't think we were all that hungry,  we decided to order one pizza between us.  I mean,  the pizzas were running around €8,  so really,  how big could one be?  Well,  turns out that was a good plan,  since the very obvious tourists who were at a neighbouring table thought they'd order one pizza each.
The look on their faces when their meal arrived was worth the price of admission.
There wasn't really enough room on the table.

So that makes for numerous reasons to go back.  First of all,  decent sized portions with decent service,  and the most important criteria of all,  a non-smoking section that was almost in the next district from the smokers.  Pretty rare in Vienna I'm afraid.  Normally the "non-smoking" section in restaurants here is pretty lame, and tends to be not only within sight and smell of the smokers,  but it always seems to work that the ventilation system,  if there is one,  manages to pull all the smoke out past the non-smokers.
Makes for such an enjoyable dining experience.

Just to add to the bedlam on Mariahilfer,  we couldn't help but notice that the constabulary were out directing traffic.  It wasn't making any sense that they were not allowing cars to go east,  while westbound traffic was OK. 
We had learned through bad experience back in December,  that the very best place for the car on a Saturday afternoon is right down in the parking garage,  'cause you might get out,  but getting back home again might prove to be impossible.
Yesterday would have been no exception,  since a bunch of knobs decided to have a protest right at the intersection of Mariahilfer and Schottenfeldgasse.    At first I felt rather bad for all the traffic that got stopped,  but on second thought,  I just figured it didn't take me that long to learn,  what's wrong with you people?

Get a clue.

After having a brief look at the "protest",  I also came to realise that this was the same raggedy assed smelly bunch that used to protest this or that when I went to school back in the 70s!
It was like stepping back in time....

Once again,  I'd like to refer to the aforementioned rift in the space/time continuum,  as relates to our gold medal standings.....

See how I tie this all together?

Here they are...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

At least they tell you.


Did you get that?

C'mon people!  Sound it out.  Something to do with water,  right?
See the little blue squiggly lines?  Pretty sure that's an internationally recognised symbol for water...
Isn't it?

OK,  I won't torture you anymore.   They had to shut off the water this morning.
This is actually pretty accommodating, since that was certainly never the case when we were in Puerto Rico.  Damned good thing we had an 800 gallon cistern at the side of the house,  since with no warning at all,  the water would be shut off sometimes for a couple days. 
No clue as to the reason why.

We also had to make use of the 10kw stand-by generator on just about a weekly basis as well,  but that's another story.....

I'm only mentioning this to reassure everyone that,  in spite of certain technical setbacks regarding say,  internet and phone installation,  there are actually people in this country that have a clue.

And when they indicated that the water would be back on at 8:30,  they weren't kidding.  Whatever it was,  they only needed the hour.

I've been reading some forum comments on a couple local blurbs talking about how rude and pushy some people here in Wienerland can be,  but I rather think this is a big city phenomenon,  since I find people tend to get in my face just a bit too much anyway.   I mean,  I've been at the check-out at various large grocery stores in our neighbourhood back home,  (and well,  elsewhere) and have had the overwhelming urge to give someone a good swift elbow to the larynx.  (and who hasn't,  I might add?)  
I haven't been charged with assault yet,  but the jury is still out on that one.

There was one time there,  when I turned to some idiot breathing down my neck and asked if he was paying?  And if not?  Then maybe he'd like to step back!  (that whole pin number thing)

He looked at me with a certain amount of indignation,  but I'm sure it would have been a completely different look had my right big toe come in sharp contact with his privates.


Getting back to the Puerto Rico situation,  the only thing I had going for me when getting crowded at the check-out,  was the fact that I'm taller than just about 99% of all Puerto Ricans.  Just wish I could possibly tolerate going without a shower for a few days,  but unfortunately it's just not in my nature,  so getting to the point where someone else can smell my B.O. is pretty far fetched.  So using some sort of body odour ploy wasn't an option.
Maybe a can of that stuff hunters use to attract deer in the fall?   That *must* be pretty smelly.  Huh?  Huh?
A really lame assed pun has been long overdue.


Yup.   That'll do.

Sorry it's just a small image if you click on it.  Have to take what I can get with borrowed images.  Oh,  and if you have the overwhelming urge to get some of your own,  you can get yours here.
You could become a "distributor"!
By this point you've quite likely figured out that there "ain't much happenin' "  today in Wienerland.  

I promise though not to include any pictures of really big logs.

Keep it between the ditches.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Church Experience. Part Deux.

I don't want to dampen anyone's spirits right off the bat here,  but I'm pretty sure there will be a few more "Church" entries before I hang up my sock come next Christmas.
That and getting some overcooked meat at dinner last night were pretty much the two noteworthy events of the weekend.
The thing is,  when we were living "out in the boonies" in the Netherlands, my travelling companion thought nothing of hopping on her bike and pedalling off to Church in Delden.
Since neither of us had too much of an interest in reading the Church Bulletin that got dropped in our mailbox just about every week,  there were a couple times there when she would be back within ten or fifteen minutes,  since the Church would be locked up tight.  Seems they would do that "every other week" program?

We started paying attention to the bulletin.

Seems there was a reason they sent it around to all the houses....?
Actually,  what that meant was that I was the one who had to decipher the Bulletin,  since I was the only one who had a clue as to how to decipher the Dutch language.
Such a thrill.

So now that we're settled here in Wienerland,  my involvement doesn't so much have to do with the language end of things,  since a lot of the Catholic service is done "by the book"  in whatever language one might encounter.  Once in a while there's some odd little quirk,  but if you look around at the congregation,  there can be clues as to which ones are confused,  and which ones know the ropes.

No instead,  my involvement has mostly to do with the transportation requirements,  and a  more or less "touristy"  travelling companion type of role.  Hard to explain,  but I think you get it.
I mean,  I'll gladly go and sit in some cool old gothic building for the better part of an hour.   The apartment is wonderful and everything,  but once in a while a person has to get out and about.

What I really need to think about though,  are warmer socks.

We went to one of the "newer" churches here in Vienna,  and this time around I swear it was five degrees warmer outside on the front steps than inside.
Once again they had the heated seat program happening,  but that does nothing for your tootsies.  It was only when I got up and started to move around again that I could actually feel the blood trying to find its way back into my extremities.

It's actually a rather odd sensation.

I also began to understand why the priest and alter boys had their hands clasped together in such a pious fashion.  It's to try and keep them warm!

See?  Some of this stuff starts to make sense.

So I'm glad I've been able to clear up that little mystery for you,  now on to our picture part of the entry.
I like to do any links before the pics,  it's less confusing for me that way,  and if you don't know what I'm talking about,  you've never had any encounters with HTML.

And really,  when it comes to writing html text,  I haven't got a clue.  But that's my point.

This is the VotivChurch,  which you can read all about in the link that I stuck in up above......

Not sure what the deal is with the honkin' big sign out front,  except that there were some renovations going on,  and those things cost money.





Much warmer outside.....a balmy five degrees.



The organ console.


You can also see this sort of thing on the webpage,  but I thought I'd throw in my own version.
All in all it's very hard to capture the size and detail of such a place,  so I thought I'd shoot a short clip.   This was after the service,  when the organ dude gets a chance to play a bit...

Somehow I thought he'd really let loose,  but he was pretty average after all...

There's a short clip here

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crisis averted.

Crisis?  What Crisis?

OK,  maybe it wasn't so much a crisis,  as a bit of a concern.

Before the weekend at some point,  I noticed a sheet of paper tacked up outside the elevator (which was working at the time by the way)  directed at anyone with their stuff in the basement.
I scanned it quickly,  and noted that somebody had to remove a bunch of wood they had stored down there (which I think is the guy on the third floor)  and there was some other gibberish that I didn't quite take in.  As I mentioned,  the elevator was working,  so when the door opened,  I dutifully got in.

(Besides,  if you don't get in the elevator right away,  the flippin' door closes on you and will take it's sweet time opening up again)

The next time I was on the ground floor,  I thought I'd better give the note a second read,  and realised that one of the two storage areas they were referring to was the one WE are using, and I had to get our stuff out by the end of the month!


I already knew we had our stuff in the wrong locker,  but our highly competent real estate lady had simply said go ahead and use it,  since someone had put their junk in the one reserved for us.
Even though I didn't ship the bolt cutters,  I do have a honkin' big cold chisel and an adequate hammer,  so my answer to that little challenge would have been to knock the puny little lock off the door,  pitch everything in the bin,  and start using my storage area but no,  she said she'd inform the landlord that I had taken the one on the end.

It was all under control.

Sort of like the way she should have made sure they remembered to order the kitchen....but let's just leave that one alone,  shall we?

You'll note here that I'm trying to get around using numbers,  addresses etc.   This is a weblog after all.

So....what to do?

Well,   muggins here wasn't about to cart everything up to the apartment and wait for the benevolence of some faceless landlord to sort it all out,  so that meant getting Relocation Lady involved.
I realise that I probably could have and should have dealt with this myself,  but perhaps too many of my landlord relationship issues are still haunting me from the distant past.  I'd just as soon not talk to them.
Best to make use of a neutral third party,  at not even a fraction of the cost of legal counsel I might add.

Well,  problem solved.  

I'll be keeping our junk right where it is thank-you, until the person or persons who had put their junk in my spot gets it out of there.

Now they have until the end of the month.

I didn't know you could still buy white out....since rather than put up a new piece of paper,  somebody came around and simply changed the number on the notice.

It also seems that our neighbour on this floor does not  have the benefit of a "Relocation Lady",  since they spent considerable time and effort getting their junk out of the other locker next to mine some time over the weekend.
They brought it all upstairs I guess.
Maybe they're going to fight that battle later. 
Usually better to stand one's ground I would think.

On a somewhat positive note,  the landlord turns out to be a landlady,  who put in a call to my travelling companion the other day at her office with apologies for the miscommunication.


Geez,  maybe I'll have to start thinking about getting over any past landlord relationship issues I might have.....

Then again.

Maybe not.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This I know.

Tuesday mornings are not a good time to buy beer.

When we were living in the Netherlands,  I had the bike,  and beer there tends to be sold in six packs.  This arrangement is conducive to not only having a variety on hand,  but a six pack fits nicely into a bike bag.
Buying individual cans or bottles of beer here is entirely possible,  but when there's a sale on,  and the individual price drops from €,75 down to €.53 when purchasing 24?   Well then,  it's the entire case or nothing.

I had it all planned.

   Two shopping bags.  One heavy duty reinforced number into which I would slide the aforementioned case of beer,  (it has the appropriate heavy duty straps as well)  and another less robust type for the one or two other things that I seem to need on a daily basis.

 Smooth as silk.

That's how I would describe the way I deftly placed everything in the appropriate carrying devices,   returned the shopping cart and retrieved my Euro coin.

Even if only shopping, it should be done with some style.

No problems on the walk home.   Nicely balanced with a case of beer in the one hand and a full bag of groceries in the other.   Stopped outside the door to the cafe briefly to hear that my usage of the Orange USB internet thingy was a wash,  since my friend got his bill,  and there were no additional charges.

I still want to pay half his monthly bill,  but I wasn't going to stand there holding thirty or forty kilos while we argued the point.

Got to the elevator,  getting ever so closer to wanting to put everything down, but figured I could hang in there for the ride up the six floors.   (I said yesterday it was seven.....sorry,  can't count)

I was then informed that the elevator was not working....


See,  Tuesday is the day when all the floors in the common area get cleaned.  Seems the cleaner dude decided to put the elevator out of commission rather than chase the damned thing from floor to floor,  so that meant muggins here carted a case of beer and a bag of groceries up six floors.
Six sets of stairs that had just been washed,  I might add.  Nothing like throwing in little element of difficulty.

I'm sitting here typing this,  so that should be testament to the fact that I didn't completely croak,  but there were a couple minutes there .....

Maybe instead of some sort of card that proves you're old enough to buy beer,  there should be some sort of requirement for physical endurance?
Makes sense to me.
  Something like those signs at the entrance to a ride at a carnival.  "You must be this tall to go on the ride".

"It has been ascertained that the bearer of this card can indeed carry a case beer up six flights".

And under "endorsements";

"Level of difficulty ranging between six and ten".

You may now proceed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Amazing parking garages.

All in all we had a pretty lazy weekend.   At one point there I'm pretty sure I could hear my arteries hardening,  which prompted me to go out for a walk on Sunday afternoon,  and then climb seven flights of stairs.
Just had to.
Even though the temperature was hovering around the freezing mark (see how I made that simple even for the folks using Fahrenheit?)  it just "felt"  cold.
This could be a sign that we're getting closer to the point where we'd really like to have some warmer weather.  Winter just doesn't do it for me I'm afraid.
Sorry if I've said that.   Over and over and over again.

Is it still February?  Why yes,  yes it is.

It so happens that I do get the odd email from time to time,  some of which are a joy to read,  as they let us know about the day to day things that can matter oh so much when half a world away from friends and family.
Olympic stuff is particularly appreciated....

Sometimes though,  the delete key comes in really handy.  Sometimes.

There are some members of my "email community"  that do hit the forward key just a little too often,  and for the most part we've probably come to terms with that.  Once in a while though,  there is something that I either find interesting or at the very least doesn't annoy the cr*p outta me.

We're getting to the Parking Garage,  trust me.

One note I received this weekend had these two pictures....    It's supposedly a parking garage somewhere in Munich. 

I haven't actually been able to substantiate that this arrangement is in fact in Munich,  but it is kinda neat anyway,  no matter where it is.

 On edit,   I discovered this little snippet.  What did I just say?
     "Analysis: These photos are authentic, though mislabeled. What you actually see above is the interior of a 20-storey car tower in Volkswagen's Autostadt or "car city" in Wolfsburg, Germany — basically a car dealership and theme park rolled into one. The Autostadt, which opened in 2001 and boasts a hotel, restaurants, a museum, and other attractions, sees over one million visitors per year. Car buyers take delivery of their purchases via a fully automated procedure whereby the automobile is plucked robotically from a cubbyhole in one of the two "twin towers," each of which holds up to 400 vehicles, and brought to its owner on a special elevator."

Image credit notes: The top image has been previously credited in news stories to AP photographer Fabian Bimmer, who in all likelihood is also responsible for the second one.     

 (Kinda odd that he'd happen to have the last name of Bimmer,  since that wouldn't actually be a Volkswagen,  now would it?)


Where was I?


What I do know is,  (and here comes the segue)  we have a similar arrangement here in Vienna that I stumbled upon back in December.

There are no signs outside saying that a parking garage is automated or any other hint (as to how cool or entertaining it might be)  so it was only on the second visit that I made sure I had some way of trying to capture the whole experience.
I took my travelling companion back there on purpose.

Remember those Matchbox parking garages with the elevator?   Always wanted one.

Couldn't do much with the short clips until I had a decent internet connection,  and I dare say that it took me less time to upload four clips to Blip TV this time around than it used to take for one clip when we were in the Netherlands.  Bit of a difference between "high speed"  (phone line)  and cable,  which is what we have now.

Thank-you Telecom Austria,  for being so dim.

This ain't no elaborate production here folks,  but you should get the idea.
I didn't bother to "embed" these clips,  since I fail to see the difference.  You'll just have to trust me that they are what I say they are...

clip number one

clip number two

clip number three

number four

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's snowing AGAIN!

I know.  I know.
I'm lucky to be here.

But the idea of having to be intimate with a snow shovel just doesn't work for me.  They need this stuff in Vancouver at the moment.  Not Vienna.  Not Alabama.
Certainly not Texas.
What's going on with that?
I had this idea that "going south"  for the winter meant getting somewhere warmer.  Apparently heading to B.C. in the winter months should be a consideration.

Either that or just hibernate.

Certainly more cost effective.

Winters can sometimes be unpredictable,  but I do scrunch my face up just a bit when I see the meteorologists from such outfits as the Weather Channel (American all the way)  talking about how it's going to rain in Vancouver for the opening ceremonies.   It's Vancouver ya retards,  it rains.  There won't be any skiing in the lower mainland,  so who cares?
They didn't even bother to put Vancouver on their "map".  Such great coverage.

OK,  I'll get down off my soapbox now.

So what can I tell you about Prague?

For the most part I guess I found it quite compact,  from a getting around point of view.  The tour we took of the old city covered not much more than a five block radius?  I'm just guessing here.
 You don't need to be too much of a history buff and really,  you only need to be semi-concious to be aware of all the "stuff"  that's been going on there over the last say,  1000 years?   There was the foundation of a chapel they found on the site of the Prague castle going back to the ninth century.
There's the notion that the Catholic Religion actually came from the east,  from the Greeks.  There's the answer to the question as to why the Czechs are using the Latin alphabet and not the Cyrillic alphabet.
Many questions were answered.

On the other end of the time line,  Wenceslas Square,  as seen in the photo above,  was where the Russians came in with their tanks back in 1968.  Seems Dubcek was making the Soviets nervous.
Too many liberties were being taking with censorship and the press.  The commies couldn't have that.
This theme of not wanting to be repressed has shown itself throughout Czech history,  since there's a whole list of artists and musicians who ended up in Prague at some time or other to be able to work freely without interference from either the State or Nobility.

Mozart comes to mind.

You could figure that out,  right?

Well,  apart from being a bloody genius,  Wolfgang was a bit of last minute kind of guy,  who wrote out the overture to Don Giovanni on October 29, 1787.   If you happen to watch the movie Amadeus,  there's a scene in there where a messanger is running copies of the overture from Mozart's apartment to the Opera House.   And yes,  it was filmed on location.  No need for a big elaborate set.   Just go to Prague.

The Opera House still looks the same....

Sorry about the objects in front.  Didn't know whom to ask to have them moved.

The apartment was directly behind me.  Didn't get a picture.  Sorry.  Apparently though,  it's for rent.

The only real "problem" I had with Prague,  was trying to fit all the history into my pea-brain.  Even when I was much younger and well,  a bit smarter,  I always had issues with keeping historical facts straight. 
I'm now thankful for the Internet,  since at least now I can look stuff up.  I might not remember it for more than five minutes,  but still....

Now,  if you're somehow desperate for more pictures from Prague,  I've put some on Facebook.  It's OK,  you needn't be a "friend"  to see them here.
It's a public link.

Go crazy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Robertson Screw.

And you're probably thinking,  "wait a minute,  what happened to Prague?"
Well,  we'll get back to that.  I'll probably upload a whack of photos to Facebook and put a couple on here,  but's just another old city.

On to more important things....

The Robertson Screw.  is something I've been thinking of on and off all morning...

On Saturday,  we managed to find three light fixtures that didn't make either of us make a funny face,  and this morning it was time to change over from the bare bulb in the kitchen.  I haven't tackled the living room yet,  since I have some issues with where the electrician left the wires sticking out of the ceiling.   That will be for a later entry I'm sure.

You may recall this fine view....

Charming,  yes?

I'm pretty sure if it came right down to it,  we could very well have gone with the bare bulb program for the remainder of our time here.  The thing is though,  it gets dark and I need to see.  Otherwise,  can't tell what I'm cooking,  not that that matters most of the time,  but I'd still rather be able to see the gorp that I'm coming up with.
So more light was a definite requirement.

I know I had said something about track lighting but honestly,  I couldn't find a thing that was anything shy of completely hideous and/or outrageously expensive.

So this was the answer:

Here's the "all lit up"  version....

Now I do realise that I've touched on this rather amazing Canadian invention in the past,  but I just can't help but go off on a little rant here about just how much I miss something as basic as a means of driving a screw.
There have been way too many times up to this point during our stay here in Yurp,  that I've been forced to use whatever came along,  and that typically is the dreaded philips screw.
Not always a big deal.
Except if you're working over head and only have two hands.  Then it becomes a very big deal.
I managed to not go completely bonkers,  but I did utter a few words at one point there when I had dropped the ground lug for about the fifth time that I certainly can't put into print here,  nor should I repeat if I were to ever make it to the Pearly Gates.

It's all because Mr. Robertson had some unscrupulous partners in Europe before the First World War,  otherwise things might have turned out completely differently on this side of the pond.

I'd feel sorry for the trades people here but really,  they don't even have a clue what they're missing.  I still recall the look on the guy's face in my favourite store in the Netherlands when I showed him a Tapcon screw.  I should have taken a picture.

I can only take solace in the fact that my frustration this morning has perhaps lead to the expansion of your "knowledge of screw".... wait.....I need to be careful how I put this.

"knowledge of fasteners".

This is probably the underlying reason that I've never been a huge fan of Fords or the Ford Motorcar Company.  It's fine to go on and on about Henry Ford and how he came up with assembly line production and bla, bla, bla....But there's just something not quite right about  guy who was willing to use all Philips screws in his Model T. 
Should have never happened.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day two in Prague.

Well,  I suppose it's day three if you count getting here Sunday night. 
I probably only have about a half hour of internet time left,  since it's one of those pay as you go situations. 
Even though the Czech Republic is part of the EU,  their economy is still too weak to switch over to the Euro,  so everything is in Korunas.  At least that what I think they're called.  It's just about as confusing as the Danish situation,  since I really never know how much I'm paying.   Our meals usually run around 700 to 800 Korunas,  and I just put 42 litres of diesel in the car,  and it was 1417 CZK.  
 One Canadian dollar is roughly 17.85 CZK.

So where was I going with this? 

Right,  an hour of internet time was CZK 100.

You figure it out.

Did a one hour tour of Prague yesterday.
Pretty cool.
Well,  it was actually pretty damned cold,  since the temp. was somewhere hovering around minus seven which,  in the grand scheme of things isn't all that bad,  unless you're walking around in it for over an hour.
I did lose the feeling in a couple digits. 
The feet were fine this time,  thankfully.

I didn't mind the tour part at all,  especially since we had a tour guide for just the two of us.   This also meant that she didn't have to wave a flag around for everyone to follow...or a big goofy umbrella.
I think I'd be too embarrassed to be part of any such group.
We've wandered around many a European city up to this point with nary a clue as to what was going on.  Reading about things later on the internet helps of course,  and delving into the odd tour book,  but I quite enjoyed getting the first hand info,  even though I'll not remember every little thing.
I just kept reminding myself that,  if it hadn't been so danged cold,  there would have been parts of Prague that would have been mobbed,  so I guess losing the feeling in some of my extremities was worth it in some respects.

Over the next day or so I'll put up a couple pics.

Meanwhile,  blogging time is drawing to a close.

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Hookup

Not feeling overly chatty today,  so the pictures will need to tell the story.

Apparently,  there's another mess of wires in the bottom of our breaker panel...


And this would be the mess in the box outside our front door in the hallway...





The mystery box on the first floor.....which was the destination for a new wire that they pulled.  They said they couldn't find a signal on the wire that was supposed to be there.
Please refer to the dogs breakfast in the box outside our front door.  Who could find anything?

It's too bad I didn't get a quick clip of this guy using his ladder as stilts....


Somebody needed to go for a smoke break.


Had to pull a new wire from there to the living room outlet,  since for some reason or other,  the signal was too weak.
Note red tape.


Just checking the distance.

Oh,  and it turns out,  the language of choice for this event?.....Polish.

And....the mess of pictures is a direct result of upload speed.   Kind of...."quick like bonny"
No more typing...

....and you believe that?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

We're On!

It was a bit of an ordeal,  and it almost didn't happen,  but we now have internet and phone here.   And it's cable.

Let's see.  We moved here November second....and now it's just past....February second.
(well,  I know it's the fourth,  but you get my point)


I'll simply refer you to this image....

If you've been following along,  you know perfectly well what I'm referring to.

Meanwhile,  it's late,  so I'll continue the saga tomorrow.  I took many pictures....
Oh,  and we're going to revisit a certain Slavic language theme as well.

Aren't you excited?

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The German lesson.

Now you're probably wondering,  just why oh why would I sign up for German lessons,  pray tell?
Well,  here's the thing.
Way back when we made our little journey to Puerto Rico,  there was no such thing as a "Relocation company",  so muggins here (that would be me...) had to use his vast knowledge of grade 10 Spanish to not only find us a house,  but to do damned near everything else,  including all the shopping,  getting various services such as internet and phone etc.,  Talking with the pool guy....

We managed.

There were a couple moments there when to this day I haven't a clue what the heck I said in Spanish to make those people laugh so hard,  but that's another story.
It was all good.
(plus,  you can laugh all you want,  but guess what?  I get to go home.....)

Let's now skip forward to 2008.   We're going to Europe.
Turns out,  the company that cannot be named  NOW has  (after a few folks complained I'm thinking) this vast network of "help".  Cultural training,  language training....not to mention an actual person....remember Relocation Lady?  who will help with all that other "stuff".  Trust me,  there are forms to be filled out...

My first response to these Ex-Pat goodies?   "Sign me up!!".    "Whatever it is,  dammit,  I'm takin' it!"

Of course,  that meant in the Netherlands that we'd be taking Dutch lessons which,  in the grand scheme of things was something I took in stride,  and sort of added to the "portfolio"  so to speak.  For my travelling companion however,  it was really pretty tough,  and I'm not so sure she learned too much at all.  It's all good mental exercise,  so no harm, no foul.  It's not like waking up one morning with say,  a tattoo or something along those's just some extra knowledge.  It won't hurt.  Really.

Besides, she's a "math type",  and language learning sometimes just doesn't compute.

We did decide that we didn't really need the "cultural training",  since we've pretty much figured out the "culture"  around here.  I'm not going to go down that road,  since we won't be indulging in any sort of negative banter today.

note:  culture shock....there's no heat in the churches here....would that be included in the "cultural training"?  (rolls his eyes)

I doubt it.

Where was I?


In the case of my travelling companion, she has set a certain goal when it comes to learning German, and's not my place to divulge.  Not unless I'm on the next plane outta here.  Let's just say it's a lofty goal and I'll have to leave it at that.

Goals are good.

So naturally she signed up for the whole enchilada of 100 hours of language training,  while I was more or less wondering if I should do anything at all,  and eventually a decision was made that perhaps I should take say,  20 hours?
The relocation company got wind of this,  and were quick to point out that in fact,  I'm entitled to the same 100 as the big boss.   So there you go.

Do they get a cut,  do you think?

Now let's skip forward to today.

Had my first "lesson".   What it really consisted of,  was sitting over coffee and yakking in German for almost two hours. 
I know!  Where did the time go?  I didn't even know I knew that much German.  Who thought I could yak that much?

Just a minute there,  don't answer that one.  There's some genetic predisposition in there somewhere,  but I'd rather not go into genealogy at the moment,  thank-you.

Mind you,  since I haven't really been pressed into speaking German for neigh on 30 years,  there were some "holes" from time to time,  and it was at that moment when my teacher would make some suggestions, as well as take some notes,  so that I'd actually be able to make some improvements.  I'm told I'll  be getting a nice neat copy of the notes at our next visit.

See,  that's where we're going here.

 I also made sure I pointed out that there were some things I need to know in German,  the words for which I really and truly haven't much of a clue of in English either.  Going to the butcher comes to mind.  It's just a bunch of meat in there.  With the exception of perhaps tenderloin, I don't know what any of it is called.
And no,  we won't be always buying tenderloin either.   Not chopping that up into hamburger meat!

Though having the lofty goal of studying German literature for four years at McMaster was all fine and good,  it doesn't really help at the grocery store when you're looking for the equivalent of say, Tenderflake?

There,  I said it.

My whole reason for taking language lessons.

I need lard!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Off to Church.

And you're probably wondering about that.
Yes,  you've tuned in to the right spot.  We'll get to that in a minute.
First of all,  I have to say,  it's turned out to be a really spectacular day,  since it's not only above freezing by a couple degrees,  but also sunny.
It's also not that easy to take a picture looking up the Danube from a moving auto mobile.

Seems my demeanour is very much connected to the weather.

Just one of those things.

The weekend was a little less bright and sunny,  but it didn't snow at least.  We seem to be in some sort of weather island,  since there was some nasty weather in Germany just north of us,  but if it were not for the paper or little snippets on the net,  we would really have no clue.

I'm fine with that.

So Saturday consisted of a trip to the car wash,  with the usual line up that one encounters at just about any car wash on a Saturday after some lousy weather.  It's not like we were in a hurry or anything,  so we were willing to wait.
On the way in on the Guertel,  we thought we'd stop at a shopping centre called Lugner City

The only really positive thing I could say about this place was that the parking was free.  We did go to one of the restaurants for lunch.  It was OK,  but unfortunately,  the Austrians can still smoke in restaurants,  so I took a shower and put on clean clothes as soon as I got back home.   That whole "smellin' like an ashtray program"  doesn't work for me.

So in addition to the somewhat mediocre food and the fact that the place was mobbed,  we really didn't come away with a very positive impression.  Well,  I do seem to recall using the term "shit-hole"  on our way out,  but I might have been getting a tad impatient by that point.

One of our other stops was a joint called Media Markt,  which is actually a German company,  (not putting in a link to their website,  since it's just pitiful)  and I would compare it to say,  a Futile Shop or Worst Buy.   It's the kind of place where,  when it comes to certain items,  you probably should just go there to look,  and then go buy it somewhere else.

We were looking for a stand alone external dvd burner.   This is going back to the problem I'm having with the drive in this laptop,  which I'm not going to bother to mess with,  since there's a very good chance that I'll bollocks up the computer completely or....have to do without it for several days while someone else tries not to do the same.

Here I am setting up the one we bought from the Niedermeyer store right outside our front door downstairs.  I made sure we had an understanding that,  if it didn't work to my liking,  I could bring it back.  The clerk said I had until Monday.  I told him if there was a problem,  I'd be back within the half hour.

So now we can once again watch episodes of "House"  or any of the other disks in whatever format in which they happen to be.
One of my little jobs over the next day or so is to load a Divx program on to an older laptop that we have kicking around,  and then we won't have to tie up this one.

Now for our feature presentation:

On Sunday morning,  it was "decided"  that we'd go to church.  I can see you furrowing your brow.  Yes I know,  one can usually count on one hand the number of times I show up in a house of Worship in a decade.  Let me just say this,  I'll go to a church in Europe from time to time simply for the experience.

This was one of those times.

By the way,  I've actually been to Notre Dame in Paris on more than one occasion.

I'm just saying.

We went "on the line" and were able to establish that the church that is about a 10 minute walk down Mariahilfer was the right kind,  and that there would also be in fact,  services.
After the whole Dutch experience,  we don't automatically figure every church to have services on a Sunday.
Oh,  and you need to go to that site,  and look at the pictures.  It is truly a beautiful building...

Here's the thing.   I can't seem to find the actual website of the Church anymore,  but it did list all the services,  and we made it there and got in the door in a timely fashion.
Now,  my Russian is a little rusty,  and my Polish is even worse,  but within a very few minutes of getting there,  we quickly realised the service was in Polish.

OK then!!

Between Gabe's Slovenian,  and my weak grasp of Russian,  at least we knew when to stand up or sit down,  along with a few of the regular parts of the program such as the Lord's prayer and the Rosary. Well,  I think that's what that was...
There was also a reading from Corinthians.

Other than that,  I'm pretty much empty.

Got no clue.

Oh...and on the walk down,  the temperature was perhaps hovering around the freezing mark.  Turns out it was about the same in the church.
Started to lose feeling in one of my feet since,  even though the seats were heated,  that didn't do much for some of the extremities.
And yes,  I said,  the seats were heated.

That's one way to get them in the door I guess.

We were certainly glad to get back to the apartment,  since by the end of the service I was losing feeling in more parts than just my feet.

Next time I'm thinking long johns and winter boots.