August 27, 2011

What a Great Idea!

If I had millions upon millions of dollars, I would donate money to BYU to build one of these.
This is a hammock house that was put up in the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna. It's called the Flederhaus (a play on the word Fledermaus, which means "bat"). The public is invited to come in, choose a hammock, and chill out. Best of all? It's free! Seriously, how cool is that?

Even though it would probably be most convenient to place a hammock house in the quad in front of the library, I think it would be lovely near the Carillon Bell Tower. I'm sure it would be a huge hit among students, faculty, and staff alike.

Katie, the boys, and I decided to try it out. The verdict? Heaven.

Unfortunately, I doubt if I'll ever be rich. I'll probably only be able to afford to pay for one hammock. So, someone else will have to step up and fork over the money.




Pretty please?

August 26, 2011

Danube Art

Each day as we took the subway into town, we would pass a section of the Danube. Out the window, we could see some interesting works of art made from junk displayed on raised platforms. I had always wanted to get a closer look, so one day Tomas and I hopped off and went exploring. Along this part of the Danube, they have a really nice pedestrian/bicycle path.
I forgot to write down the name of the artist, but I remembered the names of some of our favorites works.
(click to enlarge) Mother's Little Helpers is classic. We decided it was Katie, Liam and Tomas.
After we looked at the sculptures, Tomas and I decided to walk along the Danube. In this area, graffiti is legal along the walls lining the river and beneath the underpasses. I think this is a great idea because you get some really neat stuff as opposed to just gang tags and swear words.

Plus, it makes for some cool photography.

Tomas wanted me to take this photo because his nickname is "Mouse."
Are they cooking or playing tennis with eggs?
Tomas thought we could play the "Where's Waldo?" game.
Where's Tomas?

We came upon this guy just as he was beginning to paint. We sat down for a while and watched. It was fascinating. Just before we left, this is what he had accomplished.

We came back a couple days later to see the finished work.
Tomas and I discussed what it could all mean. We decided he's really upset because he has bad breath and is in real need of an Altoid.

We also spotted these two painting.

Unfortunately when we returned, someone had already painted over most of their work. It's an ever-changing gallery of art.

Tomas and I each chose two of our favorite works to put on the blog. Here are mine.
Blue's my favorite color. I would have loved to have my bedroom walls look like this as a teenager.

I love the old cartoon look. This was very well done.
Tomas chose this work because it reminded him of his amazing first grade teacher, Mrs. Karlsven, who collects frogs.

It looked like the frog was added afterwards to someone else's work. It was very well done and so realistic that it seemed to be crawling through the graffiti.
Tomas dedicates this one to his friend, Julie. She is a coworker of mine, and when Tomas comes into the office he raids Julie's office for candy and then they play games.

Vienna is home to some of the most amazing art museums in the world. Tomas and I just felt like we were strolling through another gallery. We are looking forward to returning to "Danube River Walk Museum" to see what's on exhibition.

August 24, 2011

Going As Fast As We Can

Tomas was such a great helper. He loved to help push Grandma around all over Vienna, even over the cobblestone. But sometimes, as he likes to put it, his leg batteries ran out. This is when he'd hop on Grandma's lap for a ride.

Whenever I pushed Grandma, Tomas thought I was too slow. And when Grandma and I had to take the elevator at the subway station, Tomas and Lori would take the escalator. This is what always greeted us as the elevator doors opened.

Smart alecs.

August 23, 2011

We Interrupt this Program

I promise I'll get back to blogging about Vienna. It's been a little difficult lately. Not only have I been battling jet lag and trying to play catch-up at work, but our "wonderful" HP laptop has once more crashed. Luckily, two amazingly talented student employees at work helped bring the computer back to life.

Now, I can get back to blogging. But before I continue with Vienna, I thought I'd share photos of the kids on their first day of school.

Tomas is in second grade. Just look at the sparkle in his eyes, and that tells you how he feels about school. I asked him what his favorite part was, and he told me he loves everything about school.

Tomas makes me wish I could go back to second grade.
Liam is in eighth grade. Not only is he big man on campus, but he has some really cool classes. He has his favorite teacher once again for history, and he was one of a few handpicked students chosen for the young astronaut class. Liam also has a percussion class. He's living up to his nickname, Boom Boom. 
Liam is growing like a weed. He's already passed Katie's shoe size, and will soon catch up to me. Also, we're taking donations to help feed him.

I got to see Chloe for a few seconds this morning, long enough to snap this photo. I probably won't see her much at all this year because she is now a senior. She has a busy schedule full of classes she loves, choir, ballroom dance, and student leadership. She will also be busy this year preparing for and taking the ACT, applying to colleges, and trying to get lots of scholarships. Plus, she's going to have to get a job to help cover the costs of all her activities. Will she still have time for a social life? Oh, yes. And she'll juggle it all just fine (I hope).

What? Did Chloe get glasses? No, they're not real. Reminds me of when I wore fake "Buddy Holly" type glasses back in the 80s. But, I think Chloe looks cooler.
I think all three will have a wonderful year will lots of great things in store. And, Katie and I will have a busy year just trying to keep up.

August 18, 2011

BOOM!—a Military History Musuem Postscript

This video belongs with the last post, but I had problems getting it to load.

This was one of the scary highlights of the Montur und Pulverdampf festival. I'll explain the scary part after the video.

They had four groups representing different eras firing off cannons. I should have known something was up when they handed out earplugs as you purchased your ticket to the museum. I've seen and heard cannons fired off at reenactments, 4th of July festivals, football games, and such. However, I think they must tone things down a bit back in the States. As you can see at the beginning of the video, I was quite surprised and unprepared by the sound and force of the blast from the Austrian canons. They are definitely extra strength.

Notice how much the camera shakes when the first couple of cannons go off. Even later when I was totally prepared and ready, I had a hard time keeping the camera still.

Now for the scary part. Take a good look at this cannon.

Under the command of Prince Eugene of Savoy, this cannon was used to defeat the Turks back in the 1600s. This cannon scored a direct hit on the Turks arms supply and did a lot of damage.
If you go back to the video, you can see one of these types of cannons. One time as we watched the men load and pack the cannon, it fired off accidentally right in the face of one of them. It took me a second to realize what had happened, and after I did, the man was completely surrounded by the people firing off the cannons that I didn't see how badly the man was injured (a good thing).

But, here is another example of how things in Austria are different from our very litigious American society. There was no ambulance or any EMTs stationed nearby. After the accident, they asked audience members for bottled water. All I could think was, "This is crazy!" It took about ten minutes for the ambulance to show up (no siren or lights), and they took the injured man away. I could at least see he was alive.

After the ambulance left, the show went on and more cannons were fired off.

August 08, 2011

A New Record

Tomas and I took Grandma and Aunt Bita to Vienna's huge Military History Museum. When I went two years ago, Liam was with me. (And this would be Liam, who loves all things military and all things history.) I promise you there wasn't one item in that museum we Liam didn't thoroughly study. After four and a half hours, we finally emerged. This time, I thought for sure we'd be able to whiz through the museum in just a couple hours. Tomas doesn't have the attention span, and the rest of us don't have the stamina. It was going to be quick and easy. Right?


I can't believe it, but we actually broke our previous record.

Five hours. Yes. Five hours.

However, they were actually a fun-filled five hours. We lucked out and showed up for the Museum's "Montur und Pulverdampf" (uniforms and gunpowder) festival. Hundreds of people representing different eras and groups from seven centuries of Austria's military history set up camp behind the museum. Along with a market, there were demonstrations, mock battles, music, dancing, crafts, and more.

I will admit I was a bit dubious at first. I've seen the local Society for Creative Anachronism back home that meets at Veterans park. You know the ones—dress up as knights, pretend fight with swords, and talk in British accents. An interesting group to say the least. But, the people at the festival were very serious about what they do and very good at it. Not to mention, they seemed, for the most part, normal.

Tomas posed with several of the costumed participants.
My favorite was the guy in the bottom left. He seemed very authentic for the  Middle Ages, even down to his smell. I was amazed by the guys in full metal armor. It was a very warm day. I'm sure being a knight wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
Here are some of the different people we saw as we walked around. There was so much going on. Every time we turned around, something new was happening.
Take a look at the guy in the top right. Pretty funny. It reminded me of a peasant in a Breugel painting.
Tomas and Lori tried on some of the hats for sale in the market.
Had the price been right, I would have insisted we buy them.
 We didn't sample anything, but we enjoyed looking a all the culinary delights.
The sign on the left says, "The Devil's Drink." My guess is that it's probably against The Word of Wisdom. The sign on the right says, "Royal Court Cheese from Stinkenberg." I like that.

They had lots of activities for kids. Here is a video clip of Tomas' favorite activity. If I could figure how to make one of these contraptions, I'd take it to places like the Payson Scottish Festival and make bank.

Tomas really wanted to try the real crossbow shooting. Luckily Unfortunately, he was too young. So, he begged, pleaded and cajoled until I caved and bought him a play crossbow. However, I soon discovered that even though it's a toy, it shoots hard wooden arrows with great speed and force. I have a feeling this will be a toy used only in wide open spaces and with a supervising adult.

This may look sweet, but let me tell you, that thing can leave a nasty bruise.
After wandering around for a couple hours, we finally made it inside the museum. As is typical here in Vienna, the museum buildings are equally as amazing as the collections they house. I especially liked the hall of heroes. I specifically searched out the statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy. It seems like we learned a lot about him in the museum, and I've been to his palace/art museum, the Belvedere. Prince Eugene was the one who finally sent the Turks packing in 1697. We saw his clothing (he was a tiny man), armor and weapon, and the ornate cloth that draped his casket.

Click to enlarge and see the detail
Here are photos of some of the other things we saw. I'm pretty sure I took some of the exact same photos last time around.
A popular item is the car Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in setting off World War I. There's also a Turkish tent Prince Eugene took as he defeated them, one of Emperor Franz Joseph's uniforms, and a portrait of Napoleon.
Well, there you have it. Five hours of the Military History Museum wrapped up in one long blog entry. Those five hours should do me for a good long while. Maybe I'll bring grandkids there someday. Katie has yet to visit the museum, and Liam wants to bring her later this week. He is determined to break our record. I say, "Good luck."