Monday, September 28, 2009

Pascalian Logic

So Pascal likes to be carried around on my shoulders when we are walking through the city. We call it "Hop-Hop". But Pascal is getting older and heavier and really he should walk on his own two feet. Of course Pascal resists and continues to prefer the shoulder high ride. Every time we go about the city I have to fight with him about if he should or shouldn't get "hop-hop". It's exhausting.

Yesterday Pascal's whining about "hop-hop" led him to completely forget that we were standing on a sidewalk next to a busy street. Complaining about "hop-hop" Pascal jumped in front of me and into the street full of traffic. I was really angry with him about this and I told him that today, and forever more he would no longer get "hop-hop".

Tonight after a day of no "hop-hop" Pascal told me, "I was bad yesterday, whined for "hop-hop", jumped in the street, etc. so that today I wouldn't get "hop-hop" and then you would be happy." "I was bad yesterday, so I could be good today." Hmmmm. There's something missing here. Seems like some pretty tricky revisionist history going on here. But you know what, I'll take it. I just hope Pascal won't actively start looking for bad things to do today, so that tomorrow will look better. I hope instead, his explanation is just his way of putting a story around things. Nonetheless I know Pascal will ask for "hop-hop" tomorrow, and we'll be back to square one again.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mozart Konzerte

This is from a while ago, but Sabine and I went to see/hear a Mozart Konzerte when Oma and Opa were visiting and could babysit Ani and Pascal. The concert is performed in a smallish hall about the size of a high school basketball gymnasium. The performers wear period costumes, so all the men look like George Washington (so it follows then, that the women all looked like Betsy Ross if she ever dressed up for a night on the town). The performance include highlights from Mozart's symphonic works, operas as well as music from other composers of the period, like Haydn. There is no amplification because the room is that small. Sabine and I were sitting in the thin balcony that surrounds the room. It was really quite a pleasure to sit in the opulent room and hear the orchestra churn away below. Very relaxing. (A Japanese man sitting in front of us got so carried away he fell asleep. In the meantime his wife made some pretty good pencil sketches of the singers in her notebook.)

The room is totally ornate, gold this and that all over, bare-breasted women along the walls, adonis like dudes painted on the ceilings, the requisite fat little cherubs playing in the clouds. At some point while gazing around the room I got the impression I was in some sort of playboy mansion from the 18th century, but I think the bare-breasted women and adonis like men were less about sex directly and more about the general idea of fecundity and the pleasure of our senses. Nonetheless judging from the endless ornamentation, and lack of any really serious theme I get the impression that the people of the 18th century (at least the nobility) spent a lot of time thinking about pleasure, and the various ways to be swept away by it. Obviously these people were skating on thin ice (think the french revolution, and the american revolution) but it seems like they were all having a really swell time until reality crashed the party. Although in this neck of the european woods, the Habsburg monarchy seemed to have survived the sweeping changes of history a bit more intact than did their other european cousins.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pascal Talk Deutsch

Pascal is speaking more and more German. At the beginning he hated it when we talked to him in German, he would protest "No, talk...TALK!!!" meaning speak English not Deutsch. Now Pascal is mixing up the Talk mit der Deutsch. Here are some examples:

Telling him we have to stop watching a movie and get ready for bed: "Nein. Nicht fertig. Ich love das (the movie)"

Playing board games: "Du bist dran." "Ich bin's." "Wieder mal."

Basic pre-school phrases: "Ich bin Erste." "Bitte, bitte, bitte..."

I'm sure there's mehr, and I'll have more again soon to add to the list.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Just finished a canvas (~4x3 foot). This one is new for me. It's very loosely based on reality. On one of our hikes through the Austrian woods I knew I wanted to paint a forest picture, all mysterious, trees, branches, roots, rocks all jumbled together. I thought about how in earlier times the people believed the woods were filled with strange secret things (now we've classified all the plants and animals, fenced in the wild beasts, and tagged the trees with signs and numbers).

For me a new idea was to add the shapes of letters, not to hide any secret message but because we recognize letters as special, and therefore we can see them in a jumble of lines and shades, kind of like how we see faces on certain rocks, or how some discover the image of Jesus on the bark of a tree. What actually do you "see" when you see a letter?

There are also several deliberate perceptual anomalies I was able to get away with. They were easier to work into the painting since reality (or photo's of reality) wasn't lecturing me about what I should and shouldn't paint.

The painting was a fun experiment and it gave me lots of ideas about how to paint other paintings. And that's what a satisfactory painting is supposed to do.... make you want to explore again and paint the next painting. I'm also beginning to conclude that I have a serious obsession about rocks. I really find those boring chunks of matter interesting.

I took some pictures during the painting process to see how things changed evolved. There weren't any radical changes, except that I ended up painting the rocks completely differently than I had at the beginning intended. The top photo was taken at the beginning of September, the middle from the middle, and the last photo is the completed painting (I hope) from 21 September.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Foreign Contaminations

O.K. a list of some minor annoyances I've had here. Most of them seem to have something to do with being a foreigner or being perceived as one. Or maybe I just don't like perfect strangers telling me what I should and should not do.

Other people on the subway telling me my kids can't put their feet on the seat, even briefly. You know what? MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS - it's a subway with a million people going in and out everyday, it's NOT YOUR LIVINGROOM.

This annoyance should be offset by the women several seats away from me who observed me searching for a tissue for Pascal's nose, and got up out of her seat and asked me if I would like to use one of her tissues. Very kind, very thoughtful.

Other people telling me what I can and cannot throw away, and then they proceed to chuck their paper waste in with the regular garbage. Really, this old lady told me I couldn't put a rubber tire (cleaning out our cellar) in the regular trash, all the while she's shoving her paper waste in the regular trash with the paper waste dumpster three steps behind her. Later her friend asked me where I was from, and since CA is so nice, why am I here? I told her that yes CA is nice, and so is Vienna that's why I'm here. Why are you asking, is there some reason I shouldn't be here? Welcome to you to.

The above incident perfectly illustrates how foreigners, or outsiders of any sort, are held accountable to a higher standard then the in crowd. Typical, it starts in school and never really goes away. I gotta remember to hold my criticism of "others" in check sometimes too.

POLICE. Need I say more. Today a cop standing on the sidewalk with a radar gun admonished me and Pascal for crossing the street when the crossing light was red. She yelled across the street once I had crossed "Ja, nice role model for your son!" There wasn't a car within 500 yards of us, and we crossed a small one way street, with perfect sight lines of oncoming traffic. Thanks for the info Polizei!! I'm sure you're like a role model perfect parent yourself. The police job seems to attract people who like to tell other people what to do, my least favorite flavor of people.

LOCALISM. Some california examples, like surfers in Santa Cruz. They think all the wave should rightly be theirs because they live in Santa Cruz. Well how long have you lived in Santa Cruz? I lived my entire life in the Bay Area, does that mean they're mine by seniority? Also, I didn't especially like the way the Bay Area was choking on traffic, displays of newfound wealth, and an over crowded housing market during the internet startup boom, but what are you going to do? Tell all the new "foreigners" to go back home?

NATIONALISM. It's bad, usually always a recipe for disaster. Thank god the Bush years are over.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tractor Boy!

We went to a Baurenfest in the innenstadt. Not really that great but, being a farmfest there were a couple of cool tractors. Pascal made the best of making it into a jungle gym (see picture).

There was also a little exhibit of a beehive where you could see the bees crawling around in the hive behind a sheet of glass. Pascal was looking at the beehive with a magnifying glass, and he had the magnifying glass pressed right against his nose. Pretty funny. Then this lady comes up and asks if they can photograph Mr. P. She points to a guy with a big shoulder held video camera behind us. Alright, I say. Then she comes back with a big red microphone with the letters "ORF" (that's one of the TV stations in Austria). She sticks the mic out in front of Pascal's face, and asks him about the bees. He actually repeats some stuff we had been talking about earlier, that the bees cluster into a tight ball to survive the winter and the queen bee is in the center. Very cute. No idea if Pascal made the cut for the evening news.

Wohnung Furnished

From top to bottom: Living room, Kitchen with laptop, The junk table in the hall, Livingroom TV with bedroom through open door, Anika's reading corner, Desk at the window, Livingroom couch

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Our Mistake!!

Oui!!! Today (Sunday) we planned to go to the zoo, but on the way out I couldn't lock the deadbolt to the front door. I also couldn't unlock the door and get back inside. Scheisse!!!! We're locked out! No cellphone too. Damn.

We walked up to the corner grocery store and the clerk loaned us his cellphone. We called the locksmith. The locksmith said I couldn't look while he opened the door. I kind of stood behind a corner on the stairwell with full intentions of sneaking a peak. But the locksmith was finished in like 30 seconds. It's that easy to open a lock, and we have a pretty solid front door lock. The locksmith said it would have been just a little harder if the deadbolt was also locked.

Then the bill - 200 euros!!! Like we were in any position to bargain. Live and learn.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Small California Paintings

I've had time to do a couple of small paintings. They remind me of California. I have a collection of rocks, shells, and one starfish we brought from CA (Anika found the starfish on a beach and I dried it out in the oven). I enjoyed painting the mussels, the starfish was a challenge, and the rocks are just pure fun. The little rocks are actually pretty interesting, there are all sorts of colors and patterns and lines in them if you look closely. How to translate the little rocks into paint is amusing, because there are so many ways to do it. You'd think rocks would be boring, but I like my little california rocks and shells.

P.S. I'm starting to collect Austrian rocks too, but so far they'll have to wait their turn.