Wednesday, March 31, 2010

City Life.

I was going to call it, "Life in Vienna",  but really,  some of this stuff is just due to being in the city.

You see things.

Like....some guy hanging off the side of the building fixing a broken window.


Somebody on a Sunday afternoon putting up yet another  crane...

I actually have a whole series of those,  but I won't bore you.

Of particular note,  and I'm sure anyone in a big city can vouch for this, one sees a lot of women who,  for a lack of a better term,  have a "unique fashion sense"? 
Everything from Punk,  Grunge to orange hair. 
You name it.  It's out there.

I try not to giggle.

  It ain't easy.

Oh!  And let's not forget the fake tans.   Oh my GOD!  Wipe that stuff off yer face!  You look like crap!

I have no photographic evidence,  since I don't quite have a long enough telephoto lens on the camera,  and I'd prefer to avoid any undue confrontations....
Of particular note,  since Vienna is such a cosmopolitan city,  they come in all shapes and sizes.
Tall ones,  short ones,  big...small.    Really, really skinny emaciated,  pasty,strung-out tattooed pathetic looking ones....

This is really quite different from the situation in Puerto Rico.
I only mention Puerto Rico since it was our last "outing"  in Ex-pat mode,  and was also a place where there were just hordes of people.
(tiny island,  four million people)

The Puerto Rican women,  or  Boricua, as they would call themselves,  were mostly all under 5' 5" and..,  how shall I put this?   99% of them were due for a proper bra fitting. 
It doesn't help to try and fit those double "D"s into a "C" cup!

I think this was their idea of a "fashion statement",  but it really didn't work.

They definitely did not have that whole "pear shape"  thing going on like North American women, since it was "hour glass"  all the way,   but....there was just a little too much sand in the hour glass....if you know what I mean?

Once again,  this is where discretion is the better part of valour,  and one simply doesn't quite know where to look,  but since I'm just under six feet tall,  I was fortunately able to simply look over their heads.

They also had the annoying habit of crowding in way too close in the shops or in any crowded situation.  I need my space!  Get away from me with those things!

Since it's going to be Easter in a few days,  I thought I'd try and put in some sort of Easter segue,  just in keeping with the "City Life"  theme.

We've named this guy "Rabbit Ears Dude"  and he's been out on Mariahilfer Strasse for a few days now.
Maybe much longer.  We're not sure.  We only really noticed him due to the Easter theme...

Either that,  or he's the Easter Bunny's alter ego,  and he didn't quite change 100% out of his costume.
Kind of like Batman forgetting to take off his "Bat Boots"  ....or something.

Seems he was doing a fairly decent business of selling his tattered magazines.
The story goes that these guys can buy a stack of these magazines called "Augustin"  or something like that,  for a Euro,  and then sell them on the street.  It's kind of another form of begging,  but at least you're getting something for whatever you give the guy.
I've also heard that it's a half decent read. 

Pretty sure I'll just stick to the regular newspaper.

Probably smells better.


Monday, March 29, 2010

The circus comes to town.

OK, maybe that's a bit harsh.
However,  in keeping with our weekly visit to yet another old Church in Vienna,  we (well,  there's really no "we" about it,  but you know what I mean)  decided to head to The Saint Francis of Assisi Church at Mexikoplatz.

It's a building that we've seen many times on our way to the Arcotel Kaiserwasser
which is where we stayed on one of the first trips to Vienna.
Not that you care.

Anyhoo,  this Church was reported to have a service in English each Sunday at 10:00.  Now,  I'm not sure why having a service in English is all that necessary?  The program is pretty much the same each week,  except of course that this past one was "Palm Sunday",  although I didn't see any palm fronds.   Only pussy willows.

I'll have to do some research on that one.

Meh,  maybe not.

Here's a pic I took on my way back from parking the car a couple kilometers away.  Seriously,  I don't mind paying to park in a parking garage.  There just has to be one.   Only street parking around this one I'm afraid,  and street parking just about anywhere in Wienerland is usually a challenge.
Yesterday was no exception.

Here's the thing:

First of all,  it was Palm Sunday.  OK maybe "pussy willow Sunday".  Whatever.
The English service was due to start at 10:00.
I let my travelling companion out at the curb and drove off looking for a place to park.

I think I staggered in the door at maybe 10:10?

No biggie, since they were still trying to get organised.   Apparently there was going to be a service in Croatian at 11:00.    I only know this because of the hordes of Croatians who had already shown up by this point,  and continued to dribble in over the next hour,  during the service in English.
Not only that,  but the priest thought it would be oh so clever to clear out some pews up at the front for all the English speaking people to crowd on up there.

We didn't budge.

This also meant having to find someone who could speak Croatian,  since none of them understood the tiniest bit of English,  and wasting the next ten to fifteen minutes trying to get the front dozen or so pews ethnically cleansed.
Or something.
  I don't know what they were doing up there, but I would have quite happily left at that point without a twinge of guilt.
By now we're coming up on 10:30.   Service should be half over.
My bladder is ticking away the seconds.

What followed what a cacophony of  bleating children,  slamming doors,  shuffling feet....muttering Croatians...

We won't be going back.


And now for today's German lesson.

We'll start with a picture.
Since I'm too lazy to actually go down there and take a picture of the place,  this is a picture of a picture.....

If you look in the lower left corner,  someone has very conveniently written "Rathaus".
And for a non German speaker,  such as my travelling companion,  that's just what it is.
Since it is actually the Vienna City Hall,  one could conclude that it is where all the "rats"  hang out.

End of lesson.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Looking forward to Retirement.

Ah yes.

To sit on a bench on Mariahilfer Strasse  passing the time,  in a drunken stupor.

 Might have some issues coming up with the proper wardrobe however.
I can figure out where to get the crocs,  just not sure about the foil pipe wrap,  or whatever that guy has on his head....

(um,  you need to click on the photo for a real good look)

I'm open to suggestions....

 Apparently there's a dress code.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

More sparkly things.

Pretty sure we've come to the end of the high-end lamp program.   We have a few more bare bulbs to deal with throughout the place,  but they'll quite likely be from something we find at one of the building supply places. (i.e. cheap)

I would have preferred that there had been something there to replace,  since then there wouldn't have been the minor wiring mystery that I always seemed to be plagued with.
The installation of the first lamp in the small bathroom was basically a breeze,  and is now switched on and off by the fourth switch on the outside wall.
As it should be.

So one would think that installation number two would play out in a similar fashion.

Not so.

Turns out we don't know what that fourth switch is for.  It trips a relay in the main distribution box,  but it doesn't do anything to the supposed "hot" lead coming out of the wall.
There were actually two "hot" leads,  if I can figure out their goofy colour scheme,  and the black lead was constantly hot.  Thankfully it just so happens that each of these fancy new fixtures has a built in switch.   Think they know something I don't?
So fine,  it's hooked to that hot lead,  and will get turned on and off with the pull cord.
This is why I like to do my own flippin' wiring.  Then at least I know what the heck is going on.
While I was at the crystal store I quickly took a pic.

This is actually just the front area.  They have many,  many rooms of these things.  Some of which are crazy huge.

Oh,  forgot to mention,  went yesterday morning and picked up my Austrian driver's license.  Now get this.  It doesn't expire.  (??)


I'm not making this up,  and I even confirmed it with Relocation Lady. She was quite surprised to see the expiry date on my Ontario license.   Now,  I have no clue what happens when we move back to Canader,  but they say they sent off my Ontario license to the Consolate,  and then I guess they send it off to the MTO?

Who knows?

I covered some bits to protect the idiot.

In the spot that's marked "4b",  that's where they would have put in an expiry date if any.

My guess is,  that the geniuses at the MTO will simply send out the form for a renewal when the time comes,  since I can't see how any of that external affairs kind of bureaucracy would stand the slightest chance of ever working.
I could be wrong.   We'll see.

So that's the last we'll see of Relocation Lady until we have to move back I guess.

Bureaucracy wise,  we're done.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cookin' with Love.

OK,  other than a picture of this heart shaped potato,  I got nothin'.
It's wrinkled 'cause it's been boiled already,  OK?

You pretty much know that "life goes on"  when there's really not all that much to report,  and a picture of a boiled potato is all you got?

 Waiting for "the call"  from my travelling companion who is coming back from Serbia today.  Direct flight this time.  That corporate jet program was a one time offer,  and may very well be the only time it'll ever happen.  Nice to do it once I suppose.
Now,   on Saturday we thought we'd try the Naschmarkt once again.  Remember how we were there the last time and it was cold? And I made a small prediction?

I so wish I had been wrong.

I don't think I've ever seen such a crowd.  It was unreal.

And I didn't notice until just now,  the astutely placed Jaegermeister ad off to the side there.  Some of us have a history with said libation.  We won't go there.

There was one whole section a little past the far left edge of this photo that was a whole "flea market"  kind of experience.   I think that section was even more of a mob scene than the food end of things.  And what a lot of junk!    I'm pretty sure from the looks of some of the patrons that a quite a lot them went there to buy their clothes,  and all the stuff looked like it had been rejected from any self respecting charity.

So we eventually waded through the crowd to find the place to buy some salmon,  which I cooked up later on the BBQ  (keeping with the cooking theme here)

 Sunday we went back for a mass at 11:00 (had the right time this time)  at this place....

It's Karlskirche,  in case you weren't taking notes last week.

Even though it was a fairly nice day,  in spite of a couple sprinkles from time to time,  with a temperature of almost 19°C,  it was COLD in the church.   Again.
Thankfully the heated seat program was in full operation.
So during mass,   the tourists get punted out, but then start meandering back in at the end.  There were other "annoyances"  like the people behind us whose kid couldn't keep his mouth shut for five minutes.  Not only that,  but I KNOW he wasn't old enough to go up for communion.   Maybe that was his only breakfast.


It's very hard to do justice to the place with pictures,  but I did take a couple shots.

So I suppose on the hottest day of the year,  it'll be quite comfy in some of these places,  so that's some consolation I guess.  I didn't quite have early stages of hypothermia this time,  but it was sure nice to get back outdoors to get warmed up.

That's about the extent of the report from the Eastern Realm.

As an afterthought,  I've added a link to yet another video of Karlskirche


Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Transylvania Report: Part Deux.

Once again,  we know it has nothing to do with Transylvania,  I just like using that title.

It occurred to me today at some point that I probably should give a small update on that whole "Corporate Jet"  scenario.

How shall I put this?

  It went well.

The only slight hitch,  if I would dare to even call it that,  was that it didn't take nearly long enough to get here.  I "got the call" at roughly ten to six,  and our brave heroine was already on the ground in Vienna. 
She didn't check her watch,  but was pretty sure they didn't leave until almost five.

That ain't too shabby.

Especially since it took her nine bloody hours to get there!

Usually with a commercial flight,  I'm always early due to some sort of paranoia on my part,  and then usually "Dipshit Airlines" is running late.   It was a bit of a nice change to actually slide into the pick-up area of the arrivals and make a hasty exit.

See,  here's the thing:  (and I'm sorry,  but you're already painfully aware of this....)  When you fly with "Dipshit Airlines"  or whomever,  you have to get to the airport early since well,  there are so many idiots to wade through,  and then you have to WAIT.   This waiting is usually conducive to making phone calls,  one of which might be to the person who is going to pick you up at the other end.

Didn't happen.  Couldn't happen.

They were doing some sort of little tour or other,  things got put in the trunk of a car,  and well,  the other part of the program is that everyone seems to carry your "stuff" for you.

So no phone call.  No biggie.

I'm also trying to get my head around the notion that the hosts over in Romania had managed to come up with four,  yes four big black Mercedes sedans in which to cart everyone around. 
I have no photographic proof,  but you'll just have to believe me. 
If there's ever a next time,  I might just have to send along a camera.
But of course,  you know that that would never fly.

("Oh excuse me there Big Kahuna,  can I take a picture for my husband's blog??")

Pft!  Ya, right.

Now in case you just crawled out from under a rock (which would bring into question your ability to read,  I suppose)
I'm talking something along these lines....

Bit of a far cry from the Toyota Echo we ended up with one night when we arrived in San Juan....
Funny how some things stick in one's memory,  eh?

But I digress...

So it turns out that the pilot is the one who actually checks the passports.


Kinda makes sense I guess.  Somebody really should,  and I suppose the pilot is ultimately responsible for whatever the cargo might be.

This particular event also included a co-pilot.
Another good idea.

It's that whole "over-seas flight" thing....

Apparently the thing only seats eight,  so I'm guessing it more or less was laid out in this fashion....

Kinda like a comfy RV in the sky.....

I'm only guessing here with these visuals,  since I can only go by the report from the front,  so to speak.

There was some talk about getting a similar piece of equipment for the folks over here in Yurp,  but it was just a tad pricey. 
Nice to know that someone was actually considering it though. 

Maybe we'll have to start looking on the "used" market??

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Transylvania Report.

OK so,  technically my travelling companion isn't really in Transylvania proper,  but only passed through when she ended up in Cluj.
But it's a catchy title,  don't you think?  Better than the "Maramureş Report",   even though that would be more accurate.

What the hell is he talking about?

Well see,  I've been reading about the history of Romania.   Forget about all that Bram Stoker "stuff",  even though there are juicy bits about Vlad the Impaler,  and a really neat old castle.  I'm sure the average Romanian takes a similar view of all that other made up "stuff",  in a similar way that Canadians might worry about polar bears outside their front door.
Sorry there "Hans",  but no,  there are no polar bears on my front lawn. 

(ya,  just poke 'em with a stick,  they go away....)

Anyway,  back to the report.

I'm sitting here writing this,  since I'm not on the way to meet the 8:30 flight coming in from Bucharest.   Seems the corporate jet crowd got stranded in Vienna at some point,  (well,  yesterday) since there was so much snow coming down in Baia Mare.

OK then.

There's probably some other issues at play there involving Visual Flight Rules and the fact that it's freakin' March and just maybe several inches of snow on the runway is a bit of a challenge.
So they decided to hang around Austria for the day and instead took a little jaunt up to Schrems.
I'm sure the folks in Schrems were oh so thrilled to have the CFO from the company that cannot be named show up out of the blue.

So some time today....we're not sure when,  I'll get "the call".

We'll see how she likes the whole experience.

Meanwhile,  there was some discussion about the whole adventure getting there,  and it seems that the folks in Baia Mare are simply going to have a driver waiting at the Cluj airport from now on,  since there just so happens to be a direct flight from Vienna to Cluj.
Who knew?

So in spite of the roughly two hour drive,  there won't be any future issues involving missed connecting flights or possible lost luggage.

But that's another story.

Just to further dispel any preconceived notions we might have about hanging around in Romania,  I managed to find a picture of the hotel where our heroine is staying.

Look.  They have pavement!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Crappy Weather.

What is it about cold blowing rain that is oh so nasty?    I almost think I prefer snow.
We had what I would consider something of a squall come through at around eight this morning and that was... interesting.   When you're up on the top floor,  there's a certain appreciation for the structural integrity of a building that was erected in 1908.
There were a couple wide-eyed moments just the same.
At this point after two solid days of gusty winds,  all the crap that was blowing around on Sunday and Monday has by now been cleaned up,  so the streets are rather tidy,  I must say.

I did venture out to a baker over on Neubaugaße some time in the fore noon, since it looked like things were easing up and I thought I might then take the car out to one of the hardware type stores out in Hütteldorf.

I'd really like to install a decent soap dish in my shower,  since I'm getting a little fed up with that whole bending over for the soap program.  There's just me in there I realise,  so it's not like I'm concerned about anyone "sneaking up on me" but still,  I'm not overly keen.
I realise (if you bother to go to the link)  that Hütteldorf looks like it's a bit of a hike,  but the thing is,  the car doesn't mind,  and there's ample parking.   We have a "Baumax"  not too far away over on Schadinagaße,  not that you care,  but the parking is non-existent.
I've frittered away many a minute circling that place,  and I have no desire to go back.

Meanwhile,  I finally got around to fixing the little issue I had with our flat bed scanner.
I should clarify that,  there was really nothing "wrong" with the scanner.   It had been working fine,  and was put into service from time to time when this or that bureaucratic entity would want a copy of some document of other.  Used it in the Netherlands,   Used it here.

Only thing is,  at some point back in mid December,  I had to scan something or other,  and for a brief moment there,  I completely forgot that,  unlike some computer equipment,  this particular device needs only 110 volts.

(no words.....)

Apart from tripping a breaker (they're made by the company that cannot be named,  and they're actually quite sensitive it seems)
there was nothing else that happened,  but the transformer was kinda pooched.

In case you're wondering what I mean by "transformer",  it's that lumpy bit that gets plugged into the wall.

Looks like this:

In this particular instance however,  it should have been plugged into a second transformer that steps down the voltage.

We have one.

Didn't use it.

( words...)

Funny what 220 will do to a 110 volt transformer.

Funny smell too.


So that was pretty much the end of the scanning at that point.

The slight additional wrinkle is that "flat bed" scanners,  seem to be a bit of dying breed.   Had a look around on-line,  but didn't want some combination photo copier/scanner/printer thing,  and really didn't want to spend too darned much at all,  to be honest.

It so happens that not far from our Canadian home,  there is this one store, called Sayal   that sells a whack of electronics "stuff",  and I thought I just might be able to find something when we went home over Christmas.
(I'm actually a little surprised they have that website,  and I might just have a little look around later on)

So for a whopping $1.99,  (plus tax)  for a new 15 volt transformer,  our scanner is now back in operation.

OK so, I might have procrastinated a little.  What is this,  March?
Big deal.  Bite me.

Also, you can go ahead and call me cheap.

I don't care. 


Monday, March 15, 2010

A little woozy

As promised,  I'll be including some footage from Karlskirche,  which I uploaded to my Blip TV account this morning.
Meanwhile,  just finished my weekly German lesson,  which consists pretty much of yakking for two hours,  and at some point,  going over some of the holes that were filled in from the previous week.
My teacher always manages to come up with three or four pages of expressions or usages as a result of the previous week's yak fest.

My brain hurts.

So between that,  and waking up at the usual stupid assed time that I normally do of around six a.m.,  in spite of getting the final phone call earlier this morning at 12:30 or so,  means muggin's here might just close his eyes for a couple minutes at some point.

However!  Before too many minutes pass,  I figured I had better include a brief update on the travel front.

It's all good.  She made it.

My travelling companion did in fact reach her destination,  even though I could have made it there by car in less time.   We left here for the airport at around 3:15,  and she called from her hotel room in Baia Mare at 12:30. (a.m.)    Door to door, google maps estimates a car trip of 7 hours and 22 minutes.    So it took roughly two hours more to get there by plane!

Now isn't that special?

Turns out a few passengers were shipped up to Baie Mare from Cluj by van,  and what follows are the four messages I received during that fun trip...
(something to be said about texting from a Blackberry)

"I cannot find a seat belt. We are in the van they transport the pilots-- poor guys

There are three other girls and a man besides me an the driver

So I managed to get a seat belt on,.....

The room was nice and warm. I'm tired but OK"


 Le *sigh*

I often think of moments like this when I read some bile on the internet about "executive compensation"  and how some lowly worker bee is getting all bent outta shape 'cause these executives are making way too much money.
Tell ya what,  there simpleton,  how about we drop you off in some sh*t hole former Eastern Bloc country late on a Sunday night and we'll see if you can figure out how to get to your destination?   I guess the good news is,  in keeping with the "Darwinian rules of engagement",  we'd never hear from that simpleton again, so that would be some consolation.

 Certainly no need for any kind of drama on TV,  that's for sure.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming....

In keeping with the weekly Church visitation routine,  we thought we'd head to Karlskirche for the 11:00 a.m. service.
Only thing was,  when we got there at about 10:50,  it looked as though they were already doing communion.  If you're not up on the whole catholic routine,  that's at the end of the service.
That didn't seem right.

Turns out,  the time had been switched to 10:00 a.m.,  because the whole service was being broadcast live on Austrian Radio.
Due to it being a "Family Service",  I wasn't really all that upset that we had missed it,  since the place was packed,  and I do have some slight issues with annoying little spoiled brats interrupting what should otherwise be a fairly solemn undertaking.
I'm sure it's some sort of character flaw of mine,  but I've learned to live with it.
(I'm also sure all the radio listeners were so appreciative of the screams and bleats coming from the cheap seats)

 Needless to say,  Karlskirche is another one of these amazing structures that just boggles the mind.

So I took a couple clips towards the end of the service...

Here's the first clip.

(ya...take off yer hat,  stupid!)

I thought I could get really lazy and suggest that you click on "continue watching"  at the top of that screen,  but it only takes you from the second clip back to the first.

So fine.....I'll put in all the links.

 Clip 2

You'll notice it's suddenly once again in colour.  Dipshit here put his glasses on and figured out what button had been turned...

  Somebody thought there was still going to be an 11:00 o'clock service,  so we dutifully sat down.
 Since the technical dudes from the radio station were busy packing up,  I once again took out the camera.

Clip 3

At least with the scaffolding,  it does give a good impression of the height of the centre of the dome.

Clip 4

We're talkin' lots of marble here kids. (Those columns are solid marble)

Clip 5

We may head back there next week,  this time in time for a service.  I'll be sure and upload more boring footage.

Try not to nod off.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weren't we just here?

That was the question I asked my travelling companion earlier today as we were once again heading to the airport.
Seems to me it was only a few days ago that she was off to the UK for a couple days,  and today she was headed off to lovely Romania.
Next week:  Serbia.

And I'm oh so staying home.

If we were still in the Netherlands,  it would have been a two hour car ride to the airport,  which would have meant leaving Delden around 1:30 for a 5:30 flight, followed by a two hour car ride back home for me.
Actually,  it probably would have meant taking someone to the train station in Hengelo,  but I have been known to do the car trip anyway,  just as some form of solidarity.
So thankfully,  the airport here in Wienerland is only about a half hour away by car,  maybe more if the traffic is not the best.

So that's pretty good,  right?

However, in order to get to Baia Mare,  Romania,  one has to go first to Bucharest.
Study your geography people!   Actually,  all you need to do is go to the map link here,  and look around.  It'll take you to Baia Mare,  and for Bucharest,  you'll need to go south.
It's a bit of a retarded flight plan if you ask me,  since you have to go all the way from one side of Romania to the other.  

The deal is,  she's supposed to call me when she gets to her destination.  Otherwise I don't sleep well.
So the phone just rang,  but it turns out,  she only made it part way.

Some place called Cluj

Whu?  Ruh-Roh.

(and there was a considerable amount of loud talking in the background from some less than happy customers...something to do with someone's goat having a curfew?....needing to get home...not sure.  My Romanian is a tad weak ) 

Apparently,  the flight was delayed for something like 45 minutes leaving Vienna,  and that was the exact same 45 minutes needed to catch the second flight to Baia Mare.  She wasn't  quite sure what to do,  so she grabbed a flight in the general direction and ended up in Cluj.
They're sending a driver to fetch her,  but it's something like a two hour drive just the same.
Them thar Romanian super highways and all that,  don't ya know.

Might be an idea to send along motion sickness pills on any future trips to lovely Romania.

When I was asked if I ever wanted to drive to Romania,  I think I said.....well,  I can't really say what I said,  since this is a public blog.   Put it this way, we won't be driving to Romania any time soon.

I have to say,  this whole "flight delay" situation is far too common all over Europe these days,  and it's easy to fully understand the rationale behind the whole Corporate jet program. 
One of the higher ups from the company that cannot be named is on his way over,  and the scuttlebutt is that my travelling companion is supposed to be on the corporate jet for the return trip to Wienerland on Tuesday night.  Kinda hoping that plan works out,  in light of this recent development.
 If I hold my thumb up to the map and squint just so,  it looks like it shouldn't be any more than about an hour and a bit for a direct flight from Baia Mare to Vienna. 

Plus,  you just walk out and get on the plane.  There's no boarding pass,  no surly airline employees,  and no security.
You gonna blow up yer own plane?  pft!  Go ahead,  see if we care.

If not,  (since these geniuses haven't yet come up with a final tally of occupants)  then she'll simply have to suck it up and fly commercial on Wednesday morning.

 I know she was showing considerable contempt for the whole Corporate jet scheme, and was quite content to fly commercial,  but I'm secretly rooting for her.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the church service we almost made it to.
Had nothing to do with any time change,  we don't do that for another couple weeks.

Sleep tight.

N.B.  For those who are keeping count,  I decided to justifiably add yet another "retarded people"  label.


Friday, March 12, 2010

The Driving License.

You knew I was going to get back to this,  right?

I may have mentioned a couple things on the program up to this point.  Since I don't remember.  (it's that CRS affliction)  I'll just bring you up to speed on the proceedings.
First of all,  my travelling companion had decided when we were living in the land of windmills and wooden shoes,  (no wooden head jokes at the moment,  sorry)  that she would trade in her driver's license for a Dutch version.
Fairly simple procedure,  involving the filling out of a form,  handing over her license and some money,  at which time the clerk photocopies the one being given up, stamps it to be a true copy (in case of meeting up with the constabulary)  and tells us they'll send a letter letting us know when the Dutch version is in.
I should also mention that the Dutch really love  to send letters.  They send you a letter to let you know to expect a letter....

Anyway,  this all happens at the Gemeentehuis.   OK,  sorry about that,  it's the regional office building for the township,  or something like that.   Go to the link,  see if you can figure it out.   Sorry it's in Dutch,  *snort*

Not quite the same here in Wienerland.

I already regaled you with the saga of going for my "Führerscheinuntersuchung",  and now I go to bed each night with the reassuring knowledge that when called upon,  I can in fact touch my nose with the index finger of each hand with my eyes closed.


I just now think I've figured something out!!
While it is illegal in many jurisdictions to talk on a cell phone while driving,  you'll only so much as get a wink and a nod from the constabulary here if they see you "touching your nose".

 Here's the problem.

  The natural progression from the touching of the nose to picking it, is all too easily accomplished!!!
This might explain the considerable amount of nose picking at the wheel that I've seen.  It all goes back to that bloody exam!

I think we need to alert the authorities!

Somehow, I don't think it would help.

Meanwhile,  I received a note from Relocation Lady at some point letting me know which documents to photocopy,  and I had all of these items ready by Monday night.
Tuesday was a no-go for her,  so we arranged to do the deed on the Wednesday morning.
First thing on the list,  was to go to the ÖAMTC to get a translation of my license.
What,  you say?  A translation?
Don't get me started.
The Dutch certainly didn't need a translation.  I mean,  take out your license if you have one.   Give it a look,  does it look that complicated?  C'mon!

I wasn't doing the public transit thing,  since it was morning and I can only do about four subway stops,  since if I travel any longer than that,  I'll most likely hurl.
Doing the deed by car wasn't a big deal,  and considerably faster anyway. 
Turns out,  that was a good thing,  since they added a slight wrinkle to the whole procedure by now requiring a copy of my "Meldezettel".
This came as a bit of a surprise to Relocation Lady,  who takes pride in being up on all these bureaucratic wrinkles.

This is the piece of paper you get after having registered with the authorities.  I couldn't find any links in English except this one...
They didn't need anything else that I had brought along,  just that one document.   See why public transit would suck?
Back we went.   Took me no more than two minutes to find it,  since luckily our filing thingy isn't all that big.  I say "luckily",  since somebody filed it under "leases".


Ironically,  I had thought about this document,  but Relocation Lady hadn't put it on the list.  What do I know?

No biggie, the clerk had my translation ready when we returned.   Paid my money,  and off we went.

Oh,  for those of you who couldn't quite figure out from the link what the ÖAMTC is, it's simply the Austrian version of the CAA or AAA.

Similar crap,  different colour scheme.

Of course,  the clerk thought she'd do a little membership plug,  since I'd get a "discount" if I joined.   Didn't happen.
The company that cannot be named will happily pay for whatever it takes for me to become a full fledged legal resident,  but they won't spring for any memberships.
(I somehow think that limitation also extends to Lederhosen)

The next stop on the quest was the Verkehrsamt

This is the central office for all things to do with traffic...

Man it's getting hard to explain this stuff!!

I've only ever had a driver's license in the province of Ontario,  so I can't speak about other jurisdictions,  but we're used to small,  although sometimes crowded License Bureaus.   The Ministry of Transport issues the license,  but they're really not part of the whole process for the average knob like me.

Not so here in Wienerland.

First of all,  I would have been hard pressed to find the place,  even though I had spotted it on the map,  and if I had been so lucky,  the building itself is a huge array of hallways and offices.   Remember that term "rabbit warren?"

The actual "doing" was something I could have probably done on my own.  I understood 99% of what was going on,  but I was sure glad she came along,  since I would have never made it to the wicket in the first place.

So fine, we get up to the window,   only to discover that we never did have a copy of the flippin' "Meldezettel".  They need one.

Quest number three.  Gotta find a photocopier.

There's a photocopy room in that building somewhere.  I wouldn't be able to find it again. Relocation Lady has done this gig a few times it seems.

Now I have to say,  in spite of my normally 100% befuddlement when it comes to all things bureaucratic,  there are fleeting moments of clarity.  Emphasis on "fleeting".
As we were filling out my form and sorting out all the copies of documents we had,  Relocation Lady suddenly looked at me all "deer in the headlights"  and realised she had forgotten to tell me to bring a photo.

That would have been a bit of a hitch.

  Knowing that picture ID is "de rigueur"  in all parts of Europe, the thought had crept into my pea brain that I just might need a photo..

"No problem",  says I,  and I flipped out a couple passport photos onto the counter like a pair of poker chips.

Le *sigh*

(I really wanted to say,  "there was much dancing and laughter",  but that didn't happen.)

So now we wait.

They don't do the same drill as the Dutch either.  They don't need to take your license there and then (never understood that part anyway) but will call when the new one is in,  and back we go.
Note that I said "call".  They don't send a letter.

Should be a couple weeks.

That's actually not that bad.

Then we do the switcheroo. 

Once again....

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The weekends.

It occurred to some time yesterday I guess it was, that I hadn't really uttered a peep about what we did on the weekend just past.
And since we're well on our way to the next weekend,  time is sort of running out on that one.
First of all,  I'm making a huge assumption here that anyone actually gives a rat's tiny behind,  and secondly,  sometimes the "muse",  has quite simply left the room.
I suppose that's the ultimate form of laziness,  when I can't quite bring myself to operate a keyboard,  but that's not always the issue at the heart of the matter.
(um,  it's also a good idea to have something to say...)

OK,  Saturday:  Bolstered our courage and went to the Naschmarkt.
It's just a tad too far to walk,  especially for my travelling companion (OK,  maybe for me too)  so we took the car.  Wasn't sure about the parking situation,  so I stopped at the closest Tabac just around the corner from our front door to get a "Parkschein"

Don't you love all these links I'm shoving in here?  Saves me a heap of explanation,  let me tell you.
They're not all in English, but at least there's pictures.

Found out from the lady at the counter that the parking was free after noon from Saturday onwards.  Bought a spare Parkshein anyway.
We were exceedingly lucky in that we found a parking spot with very little trouble.  (that's right up there with seeing a solar eclipse in my estimation)  and headed into the crowd.

We seem to have a knack for going to this place when it's quite cold out,  and any of the restaurants we peered into we both crowded and smoky.  Interestingly,  one of the places had live music.  A small three man group was playing "easy listening"  or something along those lines.  I thought that was kinda neat.
Took a camera.  Took a picture.  Here it is.

In a similar situation to most any place like this in the winter months,  I'm sure it's going be simply mobbed in the summer time.   I can hardly wait!!

So that was our big outing on Saturday.  Sunday it was once again all about finding yet another church to visit for a service.
Thought we'd see what  Stephansdom had offer. 

(OK,  that link will take you a while to wade through.   I can wait)



You may have gathered from the pictures and all the information,  that this place is HUGE.   Very hard to even try and capture on camera.
Here's the thing about going to a service in such a place,  since there are so many tourists,  you have to make it clear to the guy standing guard at the front of the church, (well,  behind the fenced off area that you'll notice in the last video)  that you are in fact going up to the front for the 10:15 mass.  Helps to know what time the mass is as well.   Fortunately there were no three questions to answer like,  "What's your favourite colour?"  or "How many letters did Paul write to the Corintians?"  Or "What's a "Henway"?"

We just said we were going in for a mass.

Come to find out,  a heating system had been installed back in 2000,  and even though it only gets up to around 10 degrees,  that was actually heaps better than just having heated seats.
I could still feel my feet when we left.   Didn't hurt that I wore my boots this time around.

A fine time was had by all.

Especially since there was a choir (who get to sit down!)  and we got to hear some Mozart who,  by the way,  was married in this very church.
Bet you didn't know that one did ya?

At the end of the service,  I did whip out the small camera to try and take a couple shots.
It also occurred to me to try and capture some of the ambience in some sort of moving picture format.

Note in the video,  that way over on the other side is the choir,  still seated.   Plus I wanted to keep recording until the organ player was finished,  but I was holding the camera over my head,  and that didn't last long.

Here ya go

And this next one will demonstrate the trouble with tourists.  How I ended up getting it in black and white is a bit of a mystery.  Probably has something to do with operating the video feature on the camera without my glasses on.

Mind you,  anyone coming out of the fenced off area without a camera is most like someone who was just at the service,  but still.  

Please go here....

Maybe tomorrow we'll talk about the driving license situation.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is this civilisation?

Came across this little snippet this morning.  Had to share.

Vienna chainsaw massacre avoided

A quarrel between two Poles and two Romanians at Vienna’s Prater amusement park yesterday (Sun) almost ended up as a chainsaw massacre, police said.

The four men who had spent the day drinking in an apartment across the street from the Prater fell out after one of the Romanians began drinking from one of the Pole’s favourite bottle of wine.

What started with an exchange of insults quickly moved to the street, where the Romanians began laying into the Pole. At that point, the other Pole ran into the street with a chainsaw and attacked the Romanians.

He cut one of their fingers off but during the mayhem accidentially cut his own nose off too.

Several passers-by were also injured before police managed to break up the fight in front of the Prater’s giant Ferris wheel.

Police spokesman Mario Hejl said today: "Luckily the Pole did not have the chainsaw turned on. Otherwise, things would have been much worse."

He added that police had not yet been able to question the men because they were too drunk and interpreters had to be found.


Since it's not April Fools Day,  I can only guess that this is an actual story,  and even if it isn't,  I almost peed my pants.

OK so,  somehow a couple digits where lobbed off,  along with somebody's nose,  and the chainsaw wasn't running?

And what's with the "passers-by"?   I'm pretty sure if I saw two Pollacks mixing it up with a couple gypsies I'd give them a wide berth.

 Thanks for playing along.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Up on the roof.

From time to time there's the odd sound coming from the hallway outside our door,  and I typically ignore most of it.  Half the time it's someone hitting the "ass button" in the elevator.  Now, I refer to it as the "ass button",  since it's the button one pushes to summon help,  but is unfortunately just at the correct distance from the floor so as to facilitate it's being pushed accidentally by one's ass....
....which apparently wasn't the experience of one of our neighbours last Wednesday night,  since I found out that she was stuck between floors for 20 minutes,  and had to be extracated by the company that monitors the "ass button".   Remember how I mentioned that the elevator was not working on Thursday morning when I came home with the chandelier?
Got the whole story.
Apparently you also need to hold the "ass button",  since a quick jab won't do the trick, thankfully.  Probably because they've heard so many people hitting it with their asses up to this point.

I should say,  I was pretty impressed with the fact that it only took someone twenty minutes to get here,  but I guess in light of our having coined the phrase "Tod Falle"  for the elevator,  that's probably a good thing.

Do I need to give another German lesson?  *sigh*

Tod Falle  =  Death Trap.

I'm sure it's not really  a death trap,  but once in a while there's that moment of doubt, just after stepping aboard,  when getting on just doesn't seem like such a good idea.

I try to take the stairs.

So there was some clattering and banging outside the front door,  and I just figured maybe the chimney sweep guys were back?  Who knows?
Well,  turns out the roof hatch must have been frozen,  since these two gentleman asked very politely if they could come through.
Hey,  whatever.

They weren't the chimney sweep Dudes from last week though...

What exactly they were trying to determine remains a mystery,  but I figured I'd need some photographic evidence,  or you'd just figure I was having an episode or something...

(pssst...Bob's gone bonkers!)

No no kids,  I ain't making this shit up....

So you're probably wondering (aren't you??)  just how did the little guy get up on the upper section?

Well now,  let's have a look,  shall we?


Pretty sure I need to put in an "Alley-Oop"  at this point.

Think they practised that one a few times?  "ladders?  we don't need no stinking ladders!"

Actually,  if we're going to rip off a line from "The treasure of the Sierra Madre" properly, it would go more like this;
"So if you're the chimney guys,  where's your ladder?
"Ladder,  we ain't got no ladder, we don't need no ladder, I don't have to show you any stinkin' ladder!"

Fun to go off on these tangents,  innit?

So fine,  they come back down,  traipse through with their by then snowy boots,  and off they go.  No biggie,  since I was going to do a little post weekend floor washing anyway.

That was that.   Or so I thought.

Get finished washing the floor,  and the door bell rings.  I'm thinkin',  *crap*,  they're back!
But no,  it was a third guy.   Looking for the first two.
I'm like,  "Dude,  they ain't here".   (and that,  by the way,  is a direct translation of the German)

So off he goes,  and no sooner had I opened my "Sunday Times*",  but a fourth guy shows up.
In addition to his coveralls, he at least had a piece of paper with him,  and the address he had been sent to wasn't any number in this building,  let me tell you.
Nearest I could figure was that some less than clever secretary had mistyped the apartment number and instead of it being a 31,  it was 91.
31 is way over on the other side,  where they are STILL working on one of the two top floor apartments that we looked at back in September.

I'm not kidding.

I don't think things are going well.  There was talk that a wall had been ripped open and he had been sent to close 'er up and finish up.   (Funny what people will tell you when they're feeling kind of bad for being at the wrong it's any of my business?)

Now,  life is too short to start getting agitated about this kind of thing since well,  although some folks would find it sort of annoying,  I tend to see the humour in the whole parade past the front door routine.
I also realised that if say,  we were out in the "burbs" like what I'm used to,  they would have all been able to see each other already at the street,  instead of playing hide and seek in some building with two elevators that are a half a block apart.

Now,  in addition to the little snippet that he let slip,  how else do I know things aren't going all that well?
Well,  there's the fact that just last week it looked like they had ripped out ALL THE FLOORING from an entire apartment,  since it was sitting in bags lined up at the front door for a day or so.  Plus, remember once upon a time we had to have a visit from the four eyed door installer?
It so happens that when I was down in the garbage room,  I saw one of the workers come down to let his sorry ass in the front door.

This was shortly after the four Marx Brothers had gone through.

Somehow I suspect that it might all tie in to the water leak from a couple weeks back....?

I just have this sneaking suspicion.

*there was no "Sunday Times"  and they didn't really look like this....


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another little job.

It's been many a year since the last time we were "cliff dwellers",   which in the modern sense of that term is an apartment dweller,  but I do recall that any apartment that one moved into was at least equipped with light fixtures.

Not so in Austria.

That ridiculous looking thing hanging down from the ceiling is pretty much the extent of any kind of lighting one can expect.
Since this was a brand new place,  we were probably fortunate to even have that kind of arrangement.
I know you can get those "apartment style"  dish type of light fixtures most anywhere in North America for just a few bucks,  but the most inexpensive fixtures I've ever seen in any of the home outfitting kind of places around here usually starts around €10,  so to put in an entire apartment full of even the cheapest fixtures gets to be pretty costly.

So let's just pass that cost on to the tenants then,  shall we?

Not only that,  but the "cost effective" (read..."cheap")  light fixtures that are at a decent price point are BUTT UGLY.

What that means is that,  one by one,  we're having to go out and painstakingly try and choose something that doesn't look like crap if it's reasonably priced,  or get something that we might like to later have shipped back to the homeland.

A painful process.  Let me tell you.

So fine,  every day on the Gürtel,  we've been driving by this one lighting store that sells Swarovski Crystal  light fixtures and decided to stop in on a Saturday a couple weeks ago.

As a side note,  this is one of the dangers of driving my travelling companion to work.  She has way too much free reign when it comes to looking in shop windows.  This is the secondary reason that I get huffy with the number of traffic lights on the Gürtel .
I've suggested blinders,  she wasn't at all receptive,  so I've just had to live with it.

She's been driving herself on a regular basis for a couple months now,  but it doesn't matter.

It's too late.

Besides,  they've been very cunning in the placement of this store, since it's right at a traffic light anyway.   Not fair.

Now,  as many of you already know,  I'm pretty gol durn cheap.
HOWEVER,   I don't mind something nice once in a while,  like a decent suit,  or nice fitting shoes.  There just has to be some practicality involved in there somewhere.

Really good,  durable woodworking tools or machinery would be something I would probably get a little more excited about but then again,  I already have a cabinetmaker's table saw.

So here's what we ended up with....


Oh wait....

that's what I had to lug up six flights.   The elevator is having some issues today, and the  Service Dude had his head in the control panel on the fourth floor when I left,  and was still mucking about when I came back with the prize.

Here it is installed..


They very kindly gave me a chunk of cardboard with three holes marked for a template,  so that helped.  And for just about the same price as the aforementioned table saw,  that was the least they could do.

Now that I think of it,  it was only due to the fact that the table saw came in at around 225 kg. (um, that's 495 pounds for the rest of us)  that it was delivered,  and even then,  I still had to wire it up myself.
It wasn't that big a deal,  and I never broke a sweat.

Can't say the same for installing the light.  Something about working over head,  holding the thing up with one hand and struggling to get the three screws in their plugs with the other.   Oy.

Not only that,  but it's kind of like finding yourself in the fun house at the carnival.  It's shiny,  there's mirrors,  there's light bouncing around....

I'm still seeing spots.

Here she is all lit up....

Go ahead and say it.  "oooooohhhh"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The protest revisted.

My sincerest apologies that one of the external links from a couple days ago was a dud.

When I uploaded to my Blip TV account,  I think I absent mindedly unchecked a box that I shouldn't have.
You would only see a little "spinning wheel" in the centre of the screen?  That wasn't really the extent of the "show"....

Anyway,  here's a look at the protest for anyone who felt cheated.

Cattle Rustling.

If we had say,  a small herd of cattle on the roof,  I could have sworn someone was up there this morning trying to herd them.....well,  somewhere.
Onto another building?   Don't know.

We had seen the ladder to the roof hatch just outside our apartment door this morning when my travelling companion left for work,  but I failed to realise that this was "chimney sweep" day,  or whatever you'd like to call it,  and that there would be a couple guys scampering around the building opening hatches and generally thumping and banging.

This guy....

was fairly clean compared to his younger companion,  who came to the door a little later to explain that they wouldn't need to inspect our boiler until 2014.
At least I think that's what he said.  He kind of had that whole thick Austrian accent going on there.


Works for me.

Any ideas where we'll be in 2014?

I also immediately determined that the younger dude was the one who ended up with the dirty end of things in this whole arrangement.

He wasn't quite  as dirty as these guys,  but you get the idea.


Meanwhile I took a little journey yesterday to get my "Führerscheinuntersuchung"

I'll let you take a second to try and negotiate that word.   Don't they like their long words?

Well,  it seems I'll be needing to get my Austrian drivers licence,  and the first part of the process is a very brief medical exam.
And no,  I'm not making this shit up.  We're not talking about flying an aircraft here,  or driving a transport truck.
 The "Führerschein"  part is the "license"  part of the word,  and  "Untersuchung"  is the "exam"
(that word is also used to mean an investigation,  but let's not get side tracked here)

That's your German lesson for the day.
No charge.

The first part of the test was finding the damned place,  and I pity the fool who doesn't speak the lingo and can't ask for help.  Seriously.  We could make it into some sort of treasure hunt,  and charge people to try and find the doctor's office!

Somehow the words,  "rabbet warren"  comes to mind?

So after I managed to find the place,  filled out my form,  it wasn't much more than a 15 minute wait before I got to see the Doc. 
Not bad in the grand waiting room scheme of things,  actually.

Turns out it was a lady Doc, which I already knew,  not that it matters,  and the "test" is pretty basic.   I now know I can do at least one deep knee bend,  my blood pressure is fine, (well,  sort of fine, but I had been traipsing up and down the stairs trying to find the damned place)
  I have the same peripheral vision I had almost forty years ago when I first got my driver's license,  and oh....I can still almost read all the numbers on the eye chart.  Turns out my right eye is a tad weak,  but I guess as long as I stick to using both eyes when I drive,  it's all good?

When it came to the reading glasses,  I just explained that my arms were too short, and she didn't hold that against me.

Let's just contemplate this for a moment, and try and put it into perspective,  shall we?

  Forget the fact that I've had my license since 1972,  and that my first summer job was delivering lumber.... (five forward with a splitter) Let's just skip on ahead,  shall we? 

Let's see, I've driven in Puerto Rico,   since we lived there for just over a year,  with nary a scratch on the car I might add,  and since we've been over here,  we've been to some crazy busy cities in Europe.   Going to Paris three times by car comes to mind.   And let's not forget Amsterdam,  Bonn,  Cologne,  shall I continue?
How about driving around the Arc de Triomphe?

 Yup,  been there.....

There are twelve streets that converge...

Here's a view from 35,000 feet.

 Here's an impression of just how "orderly" that whole experience can be.

Fun stuff huh?   And I noticed in that clip,  what's with the white vehicle that's completely sideways?  Where the heck is he going??

Oh,  and if you happen to miss your planned exit,  you have to go all the way around again.   My travelling companion would start to get a little rattled on the second go around,  accompanied by a certain amount of butt clenching.....

Actually,  now that I think on it,  I've driven right up through down town Montreal, Québec in a class "A" motor home!
Probably not the brightest move in hindsight buy hey,  the city buses could do it,  why not me?

And for those who have no clue what that is,  here's a pic.....

Kind of like a bus,  right?

And no,  that part that's hanging out at the side doesn't stay out for driving down the road.  Don't worry.  It's a "slide"....and it "slides"  in...
(in case you just tuned in from say,  Turkey or some other such place)

So where was I?


So now.....what?  If I can't touch my nose with my index finger with my eyes closed (forgot,  that was the other thing) or do a deep knee bend,   I can't drive in Austria?

Are you kidding me??

I guess it doesn't really matter,  since I "passed".  
Oh my,  I'm just so thrilled.

The next step in the puzzle will be to get a translation of my Ontario Driver's License.


Oh yes boys and girls, the fun continues!