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Greetings from Vienna, #29

July 6th, 2004


In this issue:


Old Business:

A Decent Descent
Back in issue #27, I mentioned: that "Karin is not in any shape to make the ascent (or decent) by foot...." Randy Matamoros responded with the question: "And why wouldn't your lovely wife be decent in making an ascent by foot? She's a perfectly fine person. She was fully clothed (at least after getting out of the pool)." Of course, Randy was referring to the fact that I should have used "...ascent (or descent)...."

Number One with a Bullet
Several of you sent suggestions about how to identify the shell casing I found. Particular thanks goes to Ruddy Zalaya for the link of a bullet identification website and to Brian Meek for suggestions on cleaning the casing. Taking advantage of my father-in-laws well stocked workshop, I was able to get much more precise measurements of the casing using calipers:

The closest match is the .50 calibre Browning, which is an American bullet used in heavy machine guns. So now we know.


Greetings from Vienna
Part the Twenty-Ninth: O Say Can You See[1usa]

Born on the Fourth of July
The first birthday greeting this week is for the United States of America, which turned 229 this past Sunday. Back in the States, it was a three-day weekend for most of you, and I hope that much barbecue and potato salad was had by one and all. Also, happy birthday to Mike Auth, and a very special happy birthday to my sweetie, Karin.

Karin Update
Actually, there is no Karin update per se, but we wanted to take this opportunity to let everyone know that specific questions for Karin can be sent to her directly, at "". She will be happy to answer any questions you might have, and those of general interest will go into future newsletters. Let the emails begin.

Finding Nemo (and Dory, and Crush)
Karin and I joined our friend Stefan on Sunday for a trip to the Vienna Aquarium, better known as the "Haus des Meeres". It is located in the 6th district in a World War II vintage, 10-story anti-aircraft gun tower ("Flakturm"). According to Karin, several of these structures remain around Vienna because large scale demolition efforts would do more damage to the buildings around the to the towers themselves. I don't know what the other towers are used for, but the aquarium people have been very creative. Due to a lack of planning, my camera's battery only had enough power for inside pictures, so you'll have to go the aquarium's website to get a sense of how brutal the structure really is. (Imagine a 10-story concrete block about the area of a basketball court, with quarter-size helicopter landing pads stuck on the corners about 8 stories up.)

As I'm sure has happened all over the world in the last year, "Finding Nemo" has inspired updated exhibits at the Haus des Meeres. So we saw references to all the main characters pasted up over various displays, and I had to get photos. Here are Marlin and Dory, and some random seahorses:
IMG_4846_marlin_in_anemone IMG_4828_dory IMG_4852_seahorses

They also had a larger tank with a sea turtle and several different species of sharks. The turtle was always trying to swim next to the glass, perhaps thinking that there were more interesting things happening on our side. This changed a little during feeding time, which we also got to see. Here is a picture and a 30 second video of the sea turtle (click on the second picture for the 5.2 MB video):
IMG_4859_crush IMG_4864_sea_turtle_swimming

One unusual aspect of this aquarium is the three-story tropical forest exhibit that is grafted to one side of the building. In it were parrots, bats, and monkeys, as well as a stock of turtles and fish in the lower ponds. Here is a rather blurry picture of one of the monkeys.
(There are much better ones on the aquarium's website.)

There is also a vivarium floor, where we saw this very unusual frog:
I can't remember which species this is, but they are naturally flattened, unlike some of the one-legged tropical birds, which had had unfortunate encounters with the turtles in the exhibit. Another unusual resident is this stonefish:

However, the most important picture was this one:
This is a king snapper, which reminded us that we were going to have sushi for dinner that night. And so we did.

House Update
The jackhammer came back this past week. I got to enlarge the main entry and the doorway between our "hall" and our living room, as well as do some clearing of concrete ledges to make the sub-floor a uniform height. In the meantime, my father-in-law made repairs to the holes in the plaster on the ceiling, and then we put up the steel door frames for the entry and the interior door. Not very exciting stuff, but very important in the scheme of things. Here is a picture of our entry patio/terrace, which shows the remnants of the old workshop, as well as the new entry door (leaning against the light yellow cabinet in the back corner:

I actually spent quite a bit of time cleaning up, in anticipation of the windows, which are being delivered this week. However, they will be installed professionally, so I won't have any interesting pictures there for a while. We might install the doors this week, in which case I hope to have pictures in the next newsletter.


That's all for now. Till next time.


Bis Bald



[1] "O say can you see" is the opening line to the "Star Spangled Banner", the American national anthem.



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