Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category



German language is not safe from English invasion. You just have to get used to it.

Coke is it!

Somewhere in the 22nd District. Just in time for the European football in summer.

The World According to Starbucks


Location: Starbucks Mariahilferstraße

Großmugl’s Tumulus

The Leeberg Tumulus

Today we drove out to Stockerau to get some amazing vegan food at Schillinger and stopped by the Leeburg Tumulus in Großmugl. Here are a few photos I snapped around and on top of it. Of course it’s an extremely old burial mound and the largest in central Europe. If this was really built around 600-500 B.C. then it’s pretty insulting that someone put up a crucifix on top of it, as without even wondering what religion the people who are buried there might have subscribed to you can rest assured it wasn’t Christianity since that wouldn’t even be founded for almost a millennia.

Health Care

I don’t watch movies or films, so I definitely haven’t seen Michael Moore’s much-in-the-news flick about health care in the US, but I’ve read plenty about it online from all of the experts that seem to be everywhere on the internets. Anyway, I’ve been an adult for a long time, used the US healthcare “system”, loved and hated my insurance companies, have very good friends and family members who are doctors or in the health care industry, and just generally have enough experience in that world to have an opinion. And my opinion is that health care in the US is excellent, but insurance is fucked.

I now have some experience with Austrian health care. We recently had a baby here, and we’ve been living here as near-middle-aged adults for close to two years. We have private insurance through my work — not the Krankenkassen, so my experience may be a bit out of the ordinary. But my summary and expert opinion is that health care in Austria — or at least Vienna — is excellent and the insurance is awesome.

I plan to write some comparison and contrast type posts in the future, but I wanted to quickly tell the story that so many US Americans are wanting to hear that confirms an anecdote about EuroInsurance in Michael Moore’s movie.

Correct Change

I am not sure if this is a new thing or not, but lately I’ve noticed that as my use of German for day-to-day transactions has increased, the attempts at ripping me off have increased.

Of course, The Naschmarkt is the Naschmarkt, and one can expect to get scammed there. However, I’d argue that the scamming there is relatively benign. For example, one stall may list a product for €3,50 per kilo while the one next door might sell it for €3,30 per half kilo and smudge the little “1/2” that designates half and thereby scamming those who aren’t careful. But that scam only works on comparison shoppers — and those who hunt for bargains are unlikely to let a scam like that slide by undetected.

The other somewhat friendly scam is the relentless upsell. Only at the Naschmarkt do any Viennese salespeople exhibit this trait. You’re buying a stuffed pepper, and shorty grabs some stuffed tomatoes. “How about a couple of these?”

They look good, so you say, “sure”. He continues down the line until you suddenly have a small plastic container stuffed with €15 worth of antipasti.

But the scams I’m talking about are more insipid and, quite frankly, piss me off. Since one happened to me today, I’ll share the story — but this isn’t an isolated incident.

Shiny Happy People

Expats in Vienna can be a brutal bunch. Sometimes it seems that one of our favorite pastimes is complaining, and saying things are so much better somewhere else.

Of course, many Viennese I know would say that’s just proof that we have been successfully integrated into local culture.

One of our favorite things to bitch about is the unspeakable rudeness of many people in customer service. If you have ever been to Cafe Westend, I’m sure you know what I am talking about. Waiters, shopkeepers and sales clerks who manage to give you the impression that they would be having a wonderful life, really, if it weren’t for the pesky intrusions of all these people who kept wanting to, you know, buy things.

I hate this subway announcer

I hate this subway announcer. You know the one, with the super-energized, format radio amateuer voice, who is always asking me to “actively participate” in “helping public transport” to keep the stations clean or to get beggars arrested. I hate his over-obvious marketing trick of including the consumer in his message, like “vienna public transport is working for YOU to give YOU the best in public transport”. I hate his stupid argumentations like “don’t smoke because it is against home security law” (I don’t smoke and I prefer people not to smoke but this argumentation is just fucking stupid). And I hate the inflection in his voice that sounds like back in the Eighties when the boss asked somebody from the sales department to record promotion spots. Like somebody trying to overdo private radio moderation and really thinking he is doing a super perfect job – no! You’ll never be better than Chris Lohner.Moreover, sometimes in the mornings I hear 3 or 4 of this damn spots while waiting for the train – somebody seems to be really bored at the end of his nightshift, right? Pushing the damn buttons for these messages to waken up again?
Basically, I don’t want to hear anybody talking in this super-pitched marketing voice, that’s why I rarely listen to radio (as if the stutter and stumble of most FM4-DJs would be any better …) This speaker nevertheless makes me even more grantig right there in the early morning.
Please, Vienna Public transport, please stop the announcements! At least between six and seven in the mornings, okay? I have never been bothered by any beggar, nor a thief, nor a smoker nor do I smoke, nor have I ever seen anybody messing up the stations. Thank you.

university life

I had to visit a university library yesterday, which I haven’t done for years. I didn’t even do it while I was studying. Anyway, I made a few interesting observations there:

> students walk slow it is true, I was constantly avoiding to bump into people from behind. Everybody was strolling around the premises slower than my grandma. Some of them I was faster standing than they were walking.

> nowhere without my mobile there was a sign of a mobile in a red circle and crossed out. I would understand that as meaning: no mobiles. Obviously the four or five people I witnessed right next to the sign talking on their mobiles understood differently.

> powernappers Within the two hours I had to spend at this library I saw three people sleeping at their desks.

Taking these in account, the fact that there is air condition and the unbelievable number of good looking girls around, I reinforce my opinion that the student’s life is the best there is and I strongly wish I was 20 again.

The good, the bad and the ugly the articles written by Washington Post and The New York Times raise a few questions concerning their coverage of Dr. Kurt Waldheim. And if you aren’t a careful reader, you would end up believing what you read.

Like any soldier of war, if you desert your troop, you are ordered to be sentenced. And if you disagree to the ruling government or ideology, you better hide or else you are dead. This is more or less the scenario during this era.

Despite the negative mood that the US mainstream media create about him, this memorial tablet goes to show that if you were a non-Jew/non-gypsy/non-gay Austrian and not a pro-Nazi but a communist/socialist that time you would be dead.

Just like the Viennese Viktor Christ, an ordinary citizen who was murdered in 1941 by the Nazis.

Semi-cheesy new trash bins…

…suddenly pop up all over town.


I wonder if I can click them away.

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