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Greetings from Vienna, #32

July 28th, 2004


Apologies for the lateness of this issue. Ended up working on the house on Tuesday, and just couldn't get it all finished in time.

In this issue:


Old Business

Flyed Out[1usa]
Randy Matormoros pointed out that the English expression "on the fly" can also mean "to do something without planning". While I agree that people also use the sense of the phrase, I find that "on the spur of the moment" or just "spontaneous" to clearly mean "doing something without planning." For me, doing something "on the fly" can be either spontaneous or pre-planned (in the sense that the action is a ready response). I'll save for another newsletter the discussion of why I think spontaneity requires planning.

We the People[2usa]
There's been a lively round of emails from many of you on ways of referring to the people of the United States (of America) other than "American". I've received "USan" (pronounced "oo-san") from Robert Duffield and Jacquie Lentz, "USians" (pronounced "yooessians") from Ed Lowenstein, "USAvian" (pronounced like "youse avian") from Harry Rubin, "Yank" (sure to annoy certain people from the American South) from Richard Scorer, and also a not-suitable-for-children-so-I'll-put-it-into-a-footnote[3] suggestion (also from Richard). As the majority of the responses so far are from the US side of the world (and all are current US residents), I'd like to hear from those of you reading this outside of the USA.


Greetings from Vienna
Part the Thirty-Second: The Countdown Begins

In thirty days, our baby is due. This means that she (or he) can come anywhere from twenty to forty days from now. I suppose that Karin & I ought to feel more anxious, but we don't. Of course, we're also trying to move out of the apartment in Vienna by the end of August, and it is perhaps this other deadline—one that cannot be shifted as Karin's given notice—that is distracting us from the other one. Karin continues to be amazed that her belly is still growing, and dismayed that her feet are really swelling now. In other words, a pretty typical pregnancy. We have the latest picture of the baby:
He (or she) is now 46 centimeters long and 2.3 kilograms. She (or he) is also being very shy, so it's likely that we'll not know of the sex of the baby until birth. So I take this opportunity to remind you that the baby name contest is still looking for entries. Check out issue #28 for details.

Birthday Greetings
This week, a birthday greeting to someone who does not receive this newsletter, but is known and loved by many who do: Michelle Nadal: dancer, teacher, Parisienne, celebrates her birthday on the 28th. Join me in wishing her a happy birthday. (Which reminds me, I need to set a card. D'oh!

Vienna Waits for You
My friend Jeff Erickson—newly tenured associate professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne—came through Vienna over the weekend after attending a mathematics conference in Germany. We had a great, though all too short a visit, as he was only in town two full days, arriving Saturday evening and leaving Tuesday morning. Karin noted my excitement at meeting up with Jeff: my English sped up to where she was starting to have trouble understanding me.

We attempted to keep Jeff entertained without taking him to all the usual tourist spots. So no Sacher Torte at the Sacher Hotel, no tour of the Vienna Opera, no ride on the horse drawn carriages. Instead, we went up to Leopoldsberg to get a view of Vienna, and also some exercise as we decided to walk down (and up) to Kahlenberg to get lunch. Here is Jeff and Karin on the trail:
We treated ourselves to ice cream at the Schewedenplatz, and Karin went home for some well-deserved rest while I took Jeff on a quixotic tour of the First District, and dinner at the Witwe Bolte. Jeff got to test out his algorithm for finding a good cafe in a new city: find a Starbucks, then search in a one block radius.

Monday had more "tourist" moments, including the Opera Toilet in the Karlsplatz and the golden statue of Johann Strauss Jr. in the Stadtpark.[4] In the evening, Karin joined us for dinner at the Reznicek—the "Wirsthaus" where she performs regularly with the Liechtentaler Quartett—and more ice cream in the First District. And so a whirlwind visit came to an end. Much fun was had, and Karin is now convinced that most American men have long hair.[5] We are hoping for a return visit later in the fall, when Jeff and his wife Kim Whittlesy are spending part of their sabbatical in Nancy, France.

House Update
Cleaning. I've been doing a lot of cleaning up at the house. We've been preparing for the painters and tilers, and a majority of that work involves cleaning things up: Not much inspiration for action photos, but you can see that it's starting to look like it might be a place to live:
My father-in-law finished installing the boiler, which—I was disappointed to discover—did not go to 11[6usa]:
IMG_4937_boiler IMG_4938_boiler_detail

And as promised: here are pictures of the tiles we picked out for the bathroom:
IMG_4955_bathroom_tile IMG_4957_bathroom_tile_detail

Silly Photo of the Week
Jeff & I saw this in the courtyard of the Museum Quartier complex:
The text on them reads: "Kunst ist Kommunikation. Kommunikation ist nicht Kunst." "Art is communication. Communication is not art." I think a more appropriate description might be "Rosa Betonriesenradiergummi ist nicht Kunst." ("Giant pink concrete eraser is not Art.")

That's all for this week. I expect to be back on schedule for issue #33. See you then.

Bis Bald,

[1] "Flyed Out": This is correct English when applied to certain situations in baseball. The curious are advised to consult their local baseball enthusiast.

[2] "We the People": The first three words of the Preamble to the US Constitution.

[3] "Wanker". If you have to ask, please choose a British person who is a close friend. If you explain the context, that person might forgive you for making them explain this word.

[4] We went by the penguin sculpture in the Stadtpark, first featured in these newsletters back in #4, when they were covered with snow. Here are the penguins in their summer glory:

[5] "Most American men have long hair": Jeff, my brother Eugene, Michael Bergman from the dance week, and Andy Arenson. From Karin's point of view, that's more than half of the American men she's met since she met me, and I use to have long hair as well.

[6] "Go to 11": See the movie "This is Spinal Tap" (with umlauts over the "n").



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