Friday, 28 February 2014

Head in the air

Dear readers,

this week I had my head in the air:

Admiring the new hot Perrault tower in town (DC1), right at the Danube river in the 22nd district.

I have no clue how he did it, but monsieur Perrault managed to created a public space with the feeling of a harbour in Vienna, which is unusual. Usually you need to travel to Hamburg for atmospheres like this. I sensed a very distinctive Elbe feeling. Can you see it, too:

Heavy winds have always been a problem in this area close to the river Danube. I really like he way the architect addressed the problem: Bold and visible, by facing the problem. Those glas panels are wind protections shields. Not more, not less. And: they don't pretend to be anything else, nothing to conceal. What a lovely statment. Merci, Dominique! I really appreciate everything you did, besides the impressive tower. 

This blog is leaving the architecture-only zone and heading towards pasta, espressi and fountains. See you later!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Hi, my name is Paula and I am in love with the Funkhaus.

The "Funkhaus" was built in the 1930's. It is located close to Karlsplatz, in the centre of Vienna, and hosts various national radio stations in Vienna. Today it is known as the "ORF Funkhaus". Funk - as in radio, not as in James Brown.
The central stairway in the Funkhaus, facing southeast.

I started working for the cultural radio station Ö1 more than 20 years ago. If someone would have told me back then, that the Austrian national broadcasting company wants sell the building to survive, I might have raised my eyebrows and wondered what on earth this person is talking about. It seems as if my life at the Funkhaus is likely to come to an end in the near future. Not because I quit. No. It's the ORF who wants to quit the Funkhaus. 

As a consequence all editorial departments and studios will move in at the TV-headquarters in the suburbs of Vienna.

Last weekend when I left the building at the usual late hour, after having spent hours of editing, got on my bike and a profound sadness struck me. Usually when I leave the building, I am very content, having done my job, ready for a good night of sleep. Not this time. The moment I pedaled away on my bike - just like hundreds times before -  I suddenly felt a pain. Not in my knee, not in my neck. It was the pain of loss. I was surprised, how much the mere possibilty of leaving this place (it has not been decided by the management yet) affects me so badly.

Fence in front of the Funkhaus

You probably noticed it by now -  I want the radio departments to stay at the Funkhaus for sentimental reasons. No other building has been with me for such a long time span as the Funkhaus. I grew up in the Funkhaus, career wise speaking.

This is where it all happened: The long  nights in the studio with tapes hanging down from my neck, covering my feet on ground, two Revox machine in front of me. Yessss, I wasted a lot of tape. *swoosh swoosh* was the sound the floor made, when I made my way through the cut pieces of tape. Then came the evolution from tape to DAT which I luckily missed, due  thanks to some quite important exams that needed to be done ;-), I returned to meet the MiniDisc and for now it is flash drives and SD cards. 

Even though the summers in the Funkhaus get unbearable hot and the air in those tiny offices becomes airless, because there is no propper air ventilation, and the windows squeak every time you try to open them and some windows even are so skewed, that you can open them, but you will not be able to shut them again - still the departments wants to stay here. 

We are not talking about a building, that has lost its purpose, due to the lack of interest of the public. f.e. like old movie theatres. No. Hundreds of people work here day and night. Millions of people listen to the programme, via radio and online. Hundreds of people come and visit the building and book guided tours. School classes come here. The architecture builds the unique framework for all this. 

The programmes depend on experts to give us their time for free. The station does not pay for expert interviews. Those guests as we call them happily visit the studios at the Funkhaus for free. The environment is a key asset to this fragile relationship of us depending on them: the location but also the architecture. Many guests come, because they don’t want to miss the chance to see the building from the inside. In the future  – if the management decides to give up the Funkhaus – those guests would have to drive all the way out to the suburbs of Vienna and the departments don’t even have budgets to cover the bill for the taxi and the public transportation there is slow. So you can say the decision will directly affect the quality of the programme.

Another reason, why it would be is wrong to give up this building, is is maths. Many calculations are floating around. Depending on whose side the calculators are on.

This building, built for the sole purpose of broadcasting radio programmes* provides all the infrastructure the programmes need. (*later they added the (quite small) local TV station) Moving all the departments and establishing a new infrastructure will cost ... did anyone make that calculation by now? 
A listed doorhandle

How will the new owner deal with the old (infra)structures? Of course this last question will not bother the ORF, because it will be none of ist business. The building is listed, so there is some protection. As long as no one thinks about a "hot restoration". They are quite popular in Vienna, whenever investors restore listed buildings. You know - accidental fires and so. What is gone does not need to be restored. 

I guess I can call myself lucky, having had the opportunity to fall in love with a workplace. Not everyone can say this. And it seems as if I am not alone with my love for the Funkhaus. Noble prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, the artist Valie Export and many more also want the ORF to stay at the Funkhaus.

Lets fade out with some more photos ...

Sunday, 23 February 2014

whereabouts: Meidling

This is the southern part of Meidling. Meidling is the 12 district in Vienna which is famous also known for its peculiar accent. Be aware: those who are able of speaking Meidlingerisch will beat you in any Russian course. No Viennese will pronounce Yalta as sweet and lovely way as the Meidlinger does. Classic exampe for a disadvantage becoming an advantage.
Huge spotlight from the right

Speaking of disadvantages: I did not want to leave the house late, because I was missing a beautiful day out there. Unfortunately work kept me busy at home and it was already late in the afternoon when I got on my bike. The disadvantage turned out to be a wonderful advantage, speaking in terms of light. On my way to my parent's place I was just in time to catch a late glimpse of this day full of sunshine.
 Who would have known that dirt can lead to interesting structures and effects on glass?!

The building is the underground station "Meidling Hauptstraße" in Vienna, designed in the 1970's, opened in the 1980's. In case you are from Vancouver and this station looks familiar to you: You are right! The AGU (short for Architektengruppe U-Bahn) from Vienna also designed the stations in Vancouver.

In case you don't see why I halted  - and you were hoping for nice photos of Schönbrunn and other scenic spots in Vienna -  my apologies, you might have to come back another time. btw: Schönbrunn is only one stop away. 
This is my understanding of scenic and nice and it looks exactly like this:
Some say dirty windows. I see layers of light and shade. You can't see what you see, even though you know what you see. Confusion and calm together.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I did enjoy the light and being in the right place, at the right time. 
And this is the full picture:
I really did catch last glimpse of sunlight. By the time I arrived at this spot, the sun was already set. 

Across the stream you find the remains of the Jugend&Volk publising house. (not exactly Meidling any more, but "Rudolfsheim Fünfhaus") Today the colour of the storage building and the pale blue sky above the building reminded me of the flags I found to be draped around so many balconies and poles in the Ukraine, back in 2013, in another world. 
Back in the 1980's, this publishing house hosted a book club. Together with Sabine, Walter, Norbert and Martin I joined the club, (wow, I actually do recall their names! Do those names only sound serious to me? I mean Walter and Norbert.) These where our pre-teenage years:
It is amazing, how we always seem to be 1 decade late. The 1980's look quite 1970's.
What you also can tell from the photo: We were serious about books. Totally normal, no? A group of 11/12yrs old children, talking about books for fun.
Just kidding - this does not seem normal at all. It seems to come from another world. Our understanding of fun did change over the period of lets say 30 years.

Sentimental greetings,

PS: I happily inaugurate a new label. I have been thinking about "Vienna" for some time, it did not feel right for postings like this one. The Vienna you get to see here, does not ressemble the Vienna, which people usually have on their minds, when they picture their "image of Vienna". Long story short, from now on, "whereabouts: Vienna" will present you the not so touristic views. Maybe I will go through the archive and re-label old postings. The still tiny "whereabouts: Vienna" will grow in no time.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Bloody Iron!

When I went vegan, I planned to check my blood levels after lets say, the first year, so I could make sure the the diet does no harm to me. Every time someone approached me with praise – how wonderful it is, that I am a vegan (what did not happen very often as you can imagine) – my answer was "Wait until we see the blood results."

So here I am sitting with my new numbers from my first vegan blood result.

I had expected the cholesterol levels to improve over the 15 months, what they did. So the cholesterol did improve. Which is no surprise.

This little buddy lifts weights 10-times his own weight. Read below what his secret is.

But how about iron? Women before and after menopause get told to take extra care about the iron level.

Iron. As in red meat. And more meat. And even more meat. That's what the doctor's tell their patients: Eat more meat.

When I became vegan, I expected to develop a hunger for red meat. The hunger as an indictor, that I am missing something in my diet only meat can deliver.
Only that hunger never occured. I kept waiting ... nada.  

Another iron-aspect is related to milk. In school we hear how important milk is. It makes us strong. What most people don't know because no one educates us: milk actually limits the assimilation of iron. So with every glass of milk of scoop of cream or slice of cheese, you hinder your body to get the most out of the iron in your diet.

Sorry, cow. No milk for me. 

The healthy iron range (at least that the doctors say) is between 40 and 150.  Before becoming vegan, my iron was at a decent 66. Rather low, regarding the healthy range, but still healthy.

You can imagine my surprise and to a certain extent when I read the blood test result. My iron number did not just stay at the level where it was before, when I was an "omnivore", it  improved to impressive 99. Well, this might not impress you, since we are talking about my iron, which is really not the most impressive topic, but I can tell you, I AM impressed!

99 is excellent. Does it prove that those established opinions are wrong?
I would not go that far. What I do say though is, that this number proves how contraproductive the regular milk-intake is - iron-wise. Not just iron-wise, but for today I stick with the iron.
Ok, I've ruled out the disturbing milk. Only leaving out the milk alone won't do the job. 

To be able disturb any intake, you have to have an intake in the beginning. So where does my plant-based iron come from? I can assure you, there are other iron sources besides rusty pans.

The following friendly aliens supply me with iron. "Aliens", because I assume that most of you will not be all too familiar with those products:
Any lentil is good. Lentils de Puy deliver the best taste and stay al dente. No soaking required. 
Simply boil them as you would boil potatoes or noodles, just a little longer.
 Sesame. They add a nice flavour and make any salad complete. Plain or roasted, comme tu veux!
 Chickpea flour -mostly in form of a backup for fancy recipes. I don't really need it, but I keep using it.
 Canned lentils - the most backup'y a backup can get.
 Cashews above hummus. The hummus is made of chickpeas, sesame and olive oil.

Skeptics and doctors (the same? ;-)) point out, that the plant based iron is not as valuable as the iron that comes from animals, that the body can not absorb it properly. Non-heam and so ...
That's why I like convetional tests like the blood test. Looking down at those numbers any skecptic can not deny that plant based iron does the job.

A nice side effect is that all these iron sources also provide a decent amount of protein, in case you worry about my protein intake. ;-)


Any questions?

Friday, 7 February 2014

Rejuvenating during lunch break

On busy days I usually start off my lunch break with a plate of fruits. After finishing the plate I see how much hunger is actually left.
An orange, an apple and the remains of a pomegranate. 

Those of you who have not peeled and picked a pomegranate before should really give this fruit a try. It is a quite sensational fruit to me. Picking pits from a pomegranate fruit adds isometric training qualities to your lunch break, having spent hours at the computer desk.

Only if there weren't the sucking part. Sucking the juice and flesh from the cores of the pits just is not socially acceptable. I am fully aware, that swallowing pomegranate pits is totally acceptable for millions of people. Just not for me, Paula – aka The Princess and the Pea.

Now that I suck the seeds, I notice how this social unacceptable behaviour provides isometric training effects as well. It is quite challenging for the facial muscles. Rosy plump cheeks as a result. I bet you won't recognize me after my lunch break.

While I am happily making faces. loading my mouth with more spoonfuls of pomegranates, I wish you a nice weekend!


Saturday, 1 February 2014

1 in, 1 out


for weeks I have been circling around the idea of getting this boot repaired. The sole is still in a mint condition, but the zipper broke. For the 2nd time in 3 years to be precise.

The first time the zipper broke, the boot was still new and the shoestore repaired it for free. Not this time. 1cm (about half an inch) costs 1 EUR. This zipper is 22cm long, equals 22 EUR. Hm. 22 EUR for just one boot, with a ticking time bomb on the right boot (yes, another old zipper).
These crunched boots could easly sum up to 44 EUR - for worn (out) boots with fine soles. 

How can a simple zipper become such an issue? You can tell, I don't easily turn goods into trash. I recently mentioned the boot-case to my parents. My father laughed out. His reply: "That's why I never buy boots with zippers, because they tend to break!"

I feel the need to do zippers justice: Not ALL boot zippers break. Those with dilettante linings, that get in the way of the zipper, do for sure.

It is not that I can't afford those 22 EUR or 44 EUR. It just does not feel right to invest in crunched boots. On the other hand it also does not feel right to trash boots only because one zipper is broken. A dilemma? Not any longer. The boots made their way into the trash bin. Add a [somehow therapeutical ;-) ] posting: problem solved.

In case you can't read the title of today's posting: 1 in, 1 out refers to my shopping principle #1: Every time something new makes it to the household, something old has to go. This principle allows any apartment to stay calm and clutter free. If you want to move towards minimalism you might want to try "1 in, 2 out".
In case you have not tried neither of these, I recommend giving it a try.

On to the living room.

The manifestation of our sofa-quest.

To the left you see our sofa. approx. 40 years old. I have been sitting on this sofa ever since I was able to sit. Back then my feet did not touch the ground yet.

To the right you see the replacemet for the old sofa. Unfortunately it did not stand the test. It was impossible to slouch on the sofa. It supported only an upward, straight and stiff sitting position, with your hands on your knees.

I feel a bit sad that "us and the new sofa" did not work out, because the sofa did deliver some slapstick qualities to our home. Everytime time Mr Paula and I dropped on the new sofa, it bounced us back, almost like a trampolin, leaving us in laughter. Ok, not nearly like a trampolin but you get the picture, right?

Now that I think about it I realize how much a sofa has in common with shoes: new shoes rarely are as comfortable as old pairs. Did I tell you how little I enjoy buying shoes? I guess we will slouch on the old couch a little longer.
Paula and the Autoharp, 1975

Have a fun weekend!