Snow

22 Jan

We woke up to snow yesterday and it has been snowing off and on since then. Beautiful. 😊

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Stories from the Trafik

14 Jan

This morning, as on every Saturday I’m not teaching, Maylo and I went to the Trafik on our way home from our morning walk. He got his treats and I got mine (newspaper and instant lottery ticket). Then because it wasn’t busy we got into a chat, quite a heavy chat as it turned out.

The Trafikant, nearing 80, was born in Vienna during the Second World War and told how his mother would wrap him in a blanket and carry him down to the air raid shelter in the cellar.

One of his employees then started talking about her experiences during the war in Bosnia before her family fled to Vienna, how she, too, spent time in bomb cellars. From her accent, I could tell that she wasn’t Austrian born, but we had never talked before about where she came from. (I personally am so allergic to the question “Where are you from?” when I have lived here over half my life that I very rarely ask it of others.)

We had gotten onto the topic of how each time we thought it was the last war in Europe and how the whole misery is being repeated now in Ukraine when another customer came in and Maylo and I left.

I think Trafiks are often microcosms of the world around us.

Makery Vienna – Vienna Makery

7 Jan

https://makeryworld.at/

I have just discovered that there is a DIY restaurant in Vienna. That’s right — you pay for the privilege of cooking your own meal. I just wonder who gets to do the dishes …

Pelé

30 Dec

One more great lost this year. Of course, his soccer playing was incomparable, but I will miss most his smile, his humanity, and his humanitarian efforts. I’ll never forget that the day David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles with great fanfare, Pele was playing in a match to benefit UNICEF. The article in the NYT reminded me of the beauty of Rob Hughes’s (essentially philosophical) writing about soccer and introduced me to that side of Pelé’s greatness.

Haiku 2022

26 Dec

With warmest holiday wishes also for a healthy, happy New Year full of peace!

How refreshing

10 Dec

I have just bought replacements for my hiking boots, which served long and well until the bottoms dropped off. (We could get up to 5 cms of snow tomorrow so this seemed like a good moment.)

What was refreshing about this experience? When I asked if they had already been waterproofed, I was told yes, they were ready to go so I didn’t need to buy the waterproofing spray I had in my hand. Even in Vienna, many businesses have succumbed to what I call the McDonald’s mentality. You know, if you only order a hamburger, they ask if you want fries with it; and if you order the hamburger with fries, they ask if you want an apple pie with it. In German, you could call it the “Dazu-Mentalität” because the phrase is “Pommes dazu?” or “Apfeltascherl dazu?”

I was really grateful that Jack Wolfskin, the shop where I bought my boots, has not succumbed.

Pension office

22 Nov

I went to the pension office this morning to clarify a few points and saw that some things have really changed in Austria and some things haven’t.

One thing that has changed: the woman in front of me in line at the reception desk was talking about her “Partnerins” (female partner’s) appointment. When there was some confusion about her name, she explained that when they had married she had taken on her partner’s family name and officially changed it on all her documents. Then I overheard that she herself isn’t self-employed but rather her partner, and she would like to be covered under her partner’s insurance.

This would have been unimaginable even five years ago (Austria enacted “Ehe für Alle” or “Marriage for All” on 1 January 2019, building on the civil union that became possible in 2010). For anyone who would like more information, here is a website (in German) giving an overview of the history of same-sex marriage as well as legal details: https://www.familienrechtsinfo.at/eherecht/ehe-fuer-alle/

Something that hasn’t yet changed? When I came out of my appointment, there was a man waiting, with his large, well-behaved, non-service dog. Wish I’d known I could have taken Maylo!

NYTimes: Robert Clary, Who Took a Tragic Journey to ‘Hogan’s Heroes,’ Dies at 96

20 Nov

Robert Clary, Who Took a Tragic Journey to ‘Hogan’s Heroes,’ Dies at 96 https://nyti.ms/3GwlErL

My brother and I used to sneak “Hogan’s Heroes” because (a) we were limited in how much TV we were allowed to watch and (b) my mother, having grown up in Nazi Germany, objected to making light in any way of what happened. Would she feel differently if she knew that one actor was a concentration camp survivor and three were refugees? Perhaps. Or perhaps the reminders of those years would all still be too painful.

Three refugees, you ask? Robert Clary’s obituary only mentions Wilhelm Klemperer and John Banner. They left out Leon Askin, who played General Burkhalter. He was born Leon Aschkenasy in Vienna and lost both his parents in Treblinka. Ever since I learned that, years ago, I’ve thought how therapeutic it must have been to play the bad-tempered and quite repulsive General.

64,440 Names

13 Nov

I have finally gotten around to creating a blog article I have been meaning to post for over a year. It is in the form of the first, and possibly only, video I have filmed for my blog. Because of the size of the file I am putting a link here for those who wish to take a look. Warning: It is on an emotional topic.

Some links to additional information:
The official website
The ORF report from 9 November 2022
Every name stands for a world that was killed

World Champions

5 Nov

Having already pointed this out in four different years, I didn’t want to mention again that Austria once again did extremely well at the WorldSkills championships, where young people compete in the trades. (You can imagine that young Austrians do especially well in trades related to tourism and gastronomy.)

This year, though, something really special happened: the Gold medalist in stone-cutting was Austrian — and female. The Kurier this morning had an interview with Anna Karina Feldbauer (only 21 years old) about how this came about. Like most people who excel at something, she was simple fascinated by the idea of making things — even gravestones, a large part of stonecutters’ work — out of stone.

In a time when ever more businesses are seeking the next generation of skilled craftspeople yet ever more young people are going to university so that they have access to more prestigious jobs (and not necessarily because they’re really interested in, say, business administration), it strikes me that Anna Karina Feldbauer can be a really good role model.