Hear Me Sing

Last night I went to choir practice for the first time in over a year. Mentioning the fact on twitter naturally led to the question what we do, so I went on youtube to see if they had a few examples of the music we like. Turns out they had, and not just of the music, but also of us performing.

A word of caution: These are random recordings that don’t show us at our best; although I really don’t think youtube is right to link to Jimmy’s Infantile Spasms in the related videos column.

In 2009, a few of us went to Milan to take part in a festival called Politicanto. It was great fun and we met a lot of wonderful people there.

In Vienna, every Friday the 13th is celebrated in it’s own unique way. It’s about having fun, but it’s also a political statement, taking back the public space and making parts of society visible that tends to stay hidden.

Summer in Vienna, part four

Today, I tried to find a few locations to see Vienna from above. The city is not known for its many skyscrapers. There are a few elevated places, however.
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Millennium Tower on Wikipedia
The Donauturm on Wikipedia

Of course, a blog post like this could never be complete without a few pictures of the Riesenrad.

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As usual, all images are available under a Creative Commons License

My Trip to Berlin

I spent the days between Christmas and the New Year in Berlin. The weather was horrible, so I stayed indoors most of the time. That gave me ample opportunity to play with the new camera I got for Christmas in an environment with which I’m as yet totally unfamiliar.

U-Bahnhof Wittenbergplatz
Who would have thought London Transport would have a station in Berlin.
Haus des Lehrers
Haus des Lehrers (Teacher’s House) in Berlin, Alexanderplatz. A good example of GDR post-war architecture, the house was built as a replacement for the earlier Lehrervereinshaus.

Hello, Mr Crab.
Can you see it?
Are you watching me?
Just because I look like a leaf doesn’t mean I have no feelings!


Vienna by Night, part two

Vienna Opera House (Detail)
Vienna Opera House (Detail)
The Michaelertor is the "backdoor" of the Hofburg, the former residence of the emperor.
The Michaelertor is the “backdoor” of the Hofburg, the former residence of the emperor.
The Michaelertor is accompanied by two fountains. This is the one nearer Augustinerstraße.
The Michaelertor is accompanied by two fountains. This is the one nearer Augustinerstraße.
The Looshaus, constructed in 1909 by architect Adolf Loos, is one of the beacons of the Wiener Moderne, or Viennese Modern Age.
The Looshaus, constructed in 1909 by architect Adolf Loos, is one of the beacons of the Wiener Moderne, or Viennese Modern Age.


Vienna by night, part one

Now that it is getting dark earlier and earlier, I figured I could shoot a few pictures of Vienna by night. I plan to do a few more of these sessions, especially because I love this light and the wonderful contrasts. And it’s an additional benefit that, with an exposure of several seconds, you cannot see people walking through the picture.

Zanoni – Arguably Vienna’s second best ice cream parlour. Open all year, and they do really speak Italian.
Lugeck. The statue is Emperor Friedrich III, the one who still baffles the nation with his unexplained acronym AEIOU.
Jesuit Church
The two towers of the Jesuit Church from behind. If I’ve got it right, the bright star in between is the planet Jupiter.
Old University
The same church, front view. It
Schönlaterngasse, where they had a basilisk in 1212.
In my opinion, the Haas-Haus, facing Stephansdom, is grossly underappreciated. This picture shows the Haas-Haus from a rather unusual angle.
The Ankeruhr has its name from the insurance company (Anker, now Helvetica) whose building it belongs to. Every hour it shows a different historical character. The person shown is Johann Andreas von Liebenberg. He was mayor of Vienna and died during the 1683 Battle of Vienna. By the way, it’s 8:38.

This Kind of Slacktivism Is Addictive

Following a half-hearted recommendation by Stephen Fry I started to play http://www.freerice.com today. It’s one of the more compelling ideas I have seen lately, largely because it’s so simple: Play a quiz. For every answer you get right, 10 grains of rice will be donated through the UN World Food Program. Easy, if not very much. The whole thing is funded through advertising on the site, which seems to be lacking totally.

The site has been around since 2007, so don’t expect any to turn up soon.

Now, how much are 10 grains of rice? I’ve counted somewhat around 315 grains of rice in one teaspoon. To get to 100g, I needed sixteen of those teaspoons. I did my math and found out that you needed some 25,000 grains of rice to feed a person for a day. So, don’t expect that your making a big difference. Still, a small difference is way better than nothing.

And it’s entertaining. You can choose from a number of subjects; arts, chemistry, geograph, math. And several languages. My favourite is the English Vocabulary quiz. I soon found out how much I have yet to learn. It’s no so much the words of Latin or French origin. We have a lot of those in German, and mostly they mean the same. No, what really gets to me is the high number of rarely used or colloquial English words you just don’t learn in school.

And it’s educational value is raised by the fact that you are presented those questions you answered wrong again a little later. So, even though I’m aware it’s no more that slacktivism, I’m going to continue playing.

Summer in Vienna, part three

The Viennese are world-renowned for their sort of macabre disposition. My siblings and I felt very Viennese last wekend, so we decided to visit the Kapuzinergruft (Imperial Crypt), where most members of the Habsburg family are buried. Well, not exactly buried, really. More like exhibited.

Kapuzinergruft Pietà
Why this Pietà near the entrance is crushing the heads of babies is beyond me.
Emperor Franz I Stephan and Empress Maria Theresia
Emperor Franz I Stephan and Empress Maria Theresia
Another detail of the sarcophagus of Emperor Franz I Stephan and Empress Maria Theresia. Gives the word "stick figure" a whole new meaning.
Karl VI
This skull wearing the crown of the Holy Roman Empire is mounted on the sarcophagus of Emperor Karl VI. Note how a few teeth are missing. Creepy.