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Greetings from Vienna, #28

June 29nd, 2004


In this issue:

  • Concerts: Karin's own and her students'
  • Baby Update: T-minus 8 weeks and counting
  • Baby Contest: Guess the sex and the name
  • House Update: Absolutely no ditches


    Greetings from Vienna
    Part the Twenty-Eighth: Semester's End

    This week is the last of the school calendar, and so it is a good time to give a summary (and show some pictures) from Karin's various concerts over the past month.

    Diplomprüfung ("Diploma Examination")
    Back on the 14th, Karin underwent an examination for her recorder studies. As I understand it, these examination is similar to a "jury", which is what music students in the States undergo. In this particular case, the "diploma" associated with this examination is equivalent to a Bachelor's Degree at a regular college or university. More importantly, to continue her studies at the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien (and eventually get her "Magister" or Master's Degree), Karin has to pass this exam. She ended up performing a slightly abridged program, but only because of time—the instructors have been doing examinations all day and there were more students after Karin. After some back and forth between the instructors on which movements of which pieces they wanted to hear, Karin finished her performance, and got her grades almost immediately afterwards: three passes with distinction and four regular passes. (There are essentially only three grades: pass, fail, and pass with distinction—"Auszeichnung".) So she is set for two more years of study, to be continued after a one-year maternity leave. My in-laws came to Vienna for the jury, and we had a small, celebratory dinner just around the corner from the school.

    Now for the pictures. Karin performed most of her program with a harpsichord for accompaniment, but she played the first two pieces—Fumeux Fume (Rondeau) by Solage and De toutes flours by Guillaume de Machaut—with her recorder ensemble:
    Unsurprisingly, we needed tuning breaks for the harpsichord:
    But there was plenty of playing by Karin:

    Student Concerts
    While preparing for her own exam, Karin has also had to prepare for two different class concerts, one for her students in Bad Fischau-Brunn/Weikersdorf and one for her students in Vienna. On top of that, both music schools[1] have end-of-school-year concerts in which some of Karin's students take part. Due to the close scheduling of the music school-wide concerts to the class concerts, her students ended up playing the same pieces for both, which made it a little less work for Karin. However, it still meant that there were two concerts she had to prepare for, but was not in charge of.

    Vienna #1
    June 5th. I was not feeling well and ended up not going to this concert, which was the music school-wide one. Karin had only one student who played in this concert, who ended up missing her own class concert.

    Bad Fischau-Brunn, #1
    June 6th. This was the music school-wide concert. While I have many pictures from this, I chose two to share with everyone. The first is of Karin and two of her "recorder tweenies":
    The second is for my best friend Syd, a musician/programmer whose main instrument is the baritone saxophone:
    I should note that all the members of this quartett are students.

    Bad Fischau-Brunn, #2
    June 25th. This was the class concert, which was held in Bad Fischau, since the winter class concert was held in Weikersdorf (see newsletter #3). Due to unfortunate timing, we could not set up in the school's atrium (where the last concert was held), so we had to squeeze some 25 students and their families into a normal classroom:
    The students did their best to brighten things up, including this welcome sign on the chalk board:

    Like the previous class concert, this one had a theme, which is the continuing story of "Anna" and "Chris", thinly veiled versions of Karin and I. This time, instead of being saved to the end of the concert, I was brought out for the second number to dance with Karin to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", from "The Lion King".[2] I have no pictures of us dancing, but that might be remedied by any number of parents who had their own cameras there. The story of "Chris" and "Anna" continued with "Anna's" pregnancy, which will be concluded Karin's next class concert, scheduled for December 2005. I should mention that Karin's students are highly curious about her pregnancy, and asks her for details on the baby's development. To that end, Karin put up a series of life-size drawings in class, illustrating the height and weight of the baby from each our visits to the doctor:

    At the end of the concert, she handed out grades, which meant that everyone was looking at a piece of paper instead of taking a final bow:
    Afterwards, Karin was swarmed by parents and students, who were all trying to give her presents, arrange a get-together in the summer, exchanging emails, or all of the above. It prompted someone to suggest that this was our "second wedding reception". Karin got some lovely flowers as well as baby clothes, chocolates, and children's books:
    IMG_5130_all_flowers IMG_5146_all_non-flower_gifts

    Vienna #2
    June 28th. Final concert. There were only eight students, but we had a correspondingly small room, so it was another tightly filled class:
    You can see all of the students in these two pictures:
    IMG_5178 IMG_5176

    The "surprise" guest for this concert was Laura Bradley, who attended our wedding. She will be taking over Karin's teaching duties in Vienna next year, so Karin took this opportunity to introduce her to the students and parents:

    Baby Update
    Our most recent appointment to Karin's Ob-Gyn brought this picture:
    While Dr. Geiger did try to see if he could determine the sex of the baby, the baby was being shy. We will try again in a couple of weeks.

    In the meantime, I am proposing a little contest. Normally, people try to guess the day of the birth and the length of labor. In trying to propitiate whichever powers are in charge of these things, I will not tempt any of them and offer an alternative: Guess the sex and name of the baby. Now, there isn't much of a challenge in guessing the sex, which is why I'm including the name. To make things a bit simpler, we're accepting all reasonable alternate spellings. For example, John, Jon, Jan, Jean, and Johann are equivalent to each other, but not to Hans or Hannes. First prize will, or course, go to the correct guess for both name and sex. Second prize will go to the correct guess for name, but the opposite sex. (No, we have no plans of giving a traditionally male name to a girl or vice versa.) Winners will get signed photos of the baby (appropriately altered in Photoshop for the second prize). There will be an extra prize for anyone who can come up with the correct Chinese names for the baby. (My brother Eugene is ineligible for this part of the contest.) Lastly, one entry per person. Good luck, and let the games begin!

    House Update
    Twenty-six bags of portland cement. That's how much we used to for the new living room/bedroom. The bags weighed 25 kilos each, which works out to 650 kg of cement, mixed at a 1-to-6 ratio (by volume) with sand. The sand is somewhere between twice and three times the density of cement, which suggests that we used somewhere between 1.2 and 1.8 metric tons of sand.[3] However, the surprising thing was that at this was much easier by far than the ditches. I have no idea how this can be true, but I'm happy to make and pour more concrete rather than dig more ditches for the time being. Here is a picture of the newly poured sub-floor:

    Since I made about four-fifths of the concrete, my father-in-law decided that we needed an "action photo". This was taken at the end of the day, which accounts for the empty wagon, which was filled with sand that morning, and holding a half-palette of portland cement:
    I'm told that it will take at least two weeks for the concrete to fully set, though we can walk on it in one week. In the meantime, I'm at the beck and call of my father-in-law, who may or may not have tasks which he can delegate to me. To be continued.

    And lastly, a souvenir of the ditch digging. I found this bullet casing, and am waiting for some friends to identify it for me. It is just as likely to be German as it is American, so I will put an update in a future issue:
    IMG_4971_bullet_casing IMG_4973_bullet_casing_detail


    That's all for now. Until next week.

    Bis Bald.



    [1] The Musikschule Bad Fischau-Brunn serves the villages of Bad Fischau-Brunn neighboring Weikersdorf. The Johann Sebastian Bach Musikschule is run by (but not exclusively for) the Protestant schools of Vienna.

    [2] I love Elton John songs, but most of his ballads are not particularly good for social dancing, except of the "clutch and sway" variety. "Can You Fee the Love Tonight" is, unfortunately, a "clutch and sway" song.

    [3] We can also do the other calculation for the amount of concrete we made: the room is 6.9 meters by 5.5 meters, and the sub-floor is 8 centimeters thick. This works out to just over 3 cubic meters of concrete (3.036, which we can round off to account for the rebar).



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