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Greetings from Vienna, #36

August 24th, 2004


In this Issue:


Greetings from Vienna
Part the Thirty-Sixth: The Last Push

Well, we're coming down to the wire[1eng] for the move. One more week and we have to be out of the apartment in Vienna. We've had another trip moving large furniture. On that trip, we borrowed a small van and trailer from one of Karin's relatives, and managed to move most of the bed (disassembled), eight of the nine bookshelves, and other large furniture. After this trip, we cleared out the living room and moved everything into the bedroom. Why? Because the landlord wanted to show the place and we needed to make it clear what is being left behind and what will be taken away.

For example: Karin installed a wooden floor after she moved in. This floor does not belong to the landlord. If the next tenant wants the floor, s/he will have to negotiate this with Karin separately, and Karin can take the floor away if she so chooses. This can also go for just about every fixture in the apartment. And that's why we had to move our remaining stuff into the bedroom, to show that that stuff doesn't come with the apartment. It's all a bit complicated by American standards, and I am still unclear as to the amount of "change" a tenant may make to the space. It appears that a previous tenant decided to split the bedroom so that their child (or children) can have a separate bedroom, with its own light and switch. It seems that they were able to put up a partition wall, as well as make a new doorway, which is still there, though the door and frame are long gone. If any of the Austrian readers of this newsletter can give me a more complete explanation, I'll be happy to share it in a future issue.

But in any case, we have one more trip to make with the borrowed van, which should take care of 99% of the stuff in the apartment. We'll leave cleaning supplies behind for a final visit or two to deal with the bathroom, kitchen, and floors. We also need to un-install the phone, which is another story entirely, and will have to wait for the next issue.

I haven't bothered to take pictures of the empty apartment. It's an apartment. It's empty. There are nail holes in the walls. Really not very exciting. However, Karin points out that I showed the apartment without the piano in the last issue, so I should provide a "before" picture. Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures from the same vantage point to show the living room before the move. Fortunately, there is a picture of the piano in that space. So I'm setting the Way-Back Machine[2usa] to March, 2003, one month after Karin & I first met:

On the other end of the move, here is the promised picture of the finished living room, with some unpacking started:
On the lower right side of the picture, you can see dirt and dust that I hadn't mopped up. As soon as all the furniture get here, we'll start arranging them to see how they look when placed according to our floor plan. We'll also get the piano in there, though there won't be any practicing until we can get the piano tuner out for a much needed overhaul.

The tile person did show up on Friday. You can see here that we've got tiles in the bathroom:
And as of the end of yesterday (Monday), the kitchen, all but about half meter of the hall, two walls and the floor of the bathroom have been tiled. The rest will be done after this newsletter goes out, so we'll have a tile wrap-up in the next issue, as well as a discussion of what can happen in a remodel when you're missing a couple of right angles in your rooms.

Diapers, diapers, every where,
In blue or green or pink.
Diapers, diapers, every where,
And all the boards did stink[3eng]

Well, that's not entirely fair to Tobias. Not all of his diapers stink. However, we are going through them at a pretty quick pace, so we're always keeping an eye on the "pampers" supply. If we're lucky, Tobias goes for three to four hours between feedings. This is especially welcomed at night. However, he has his grumpy moments, which sometimes lasts from one feeding to the next. Other times, he can be hungry again after ninety minutes. This has added another complication to our packing and moving, but we're keeping up for now.

After the relative drought of Tobias pictures last week, I ended up taking some two dozen new ones. There are the obligatory "Tobias with a relative" photos. This week, it was with Karin's maternal grandmother:

A number of pictures also came about at the instigation of my mother-in-law; one from after he'd just been freshly bathed:
and another after he'd we put him in some new clothes (from Grandma):
I should note that that is a picture behind Karin & Tobias, not the way out to the garden. (The picture is on the bathroom door, actually.)

There are also some pictures where I experimented with the point-and-shoot camera while keeping him on my lap:
or while he's in my arm:
There are many more pictures of Tobias this week, which can all be seen at:

What's In A Name? Third in a Series
A funny happened while picking up Tobias' birth certificate. At the city hall in Neunkirchen, the Nice Man at the magistrate's office wanted to know what Xiao-Shan meant. It turns out that there is a law in Austria which prevents people from having "stupid names", as Karin describes them. Thus, it is illegal for Austrians to change their name to, say "Toilet", or name their kids "Moon Unit"[4]. This not only applies to the German part of the name, but technically, we would need to give them a certified translation of "Xiao-Shan" before we could be given the official birth certificate. However, Karin was able to convince the Nice Man that "Xiao-Shan" was a perfectly reasonable Chinese name. That, my face, and my American passport with my own Chinese name in it, I think, convinced him that we weren't trying to foist off a potential new Austrian citizen with a name that might've mean "Great Leap Forward" or "Happy New Year".

How is Fatherhood Like Going to College?
After the first flurry of congratulations on Tobias' birth, I've gotten quite a few emails asking me how I was enjoying fatherhood. In replying to one of them, I mentioned that being a new father is lot like going to college. I thought I'd share a revised version of that list:

So that's my view of fatherhood so far. Ask me again in my sophomore year to see if my perceptions have changed.


That's all for now. I hope to report on the completion of the move (or at least our successful exit from the apartment in Vienna).


Bis Bald



[1] "Down to the wire": When a task reaches completion right at or very near the deadline for it. The phrase comes from horse racing, where it describes a very close finish between two or more horses. The "wire" marks out the finish line for a camera which takes a picture just as something crosses that line. The position of the horses relative to the wire indicates the winner. The same technology also gave English the phrase "photo finish".

[2] "Way-Back Machine": From "Peabody's Improbable History", a segment on the "Rocky & Bullwinkle" cartoon series. Peabody is a very intelligent dog, who, with his boy Sherman, gets to see history in the making by using the "Way-Back Machine".

[3] "Diapers, diapers, every where:" Apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and his "Rime of the Ancient Mariner".

[4] "Moon Unit": See footnotes 1.1 and 1.1.1 of issue #15.



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