Archive for May, 2011

Princess of the streets of China

May 30 2011

Back when Darrell came to visit me, we encountered a Gypsy lady on the 239 Bus that takes us from Heilengenstadt (Wien) to Klosterneuburg.  She kept talking to Bei, asking her if she wanted a lolli and calling her the princess of the streets of China and told her that all of them men would want her in China since she would be the princess of the streets.  Now, I think this was a complement, and she was saying that Bei was very pretty.  (Perhaps the Gypsy lady just thought Bei was a prostitute … who knows).  I never saw that lady again … until yesterday.

I was at Heilengenstadt waiting for the bus (I had 15 minutes to wait).  Then, I go to sit down on a bench.  And, literally out of no-where, this lady sits on the chair underneath me.  I nearly sat on her. So, I go somewhere else to spend my time.  But, the lady was familiar to me.  Then, I am waiting outside and she moves to the bench by the bus stop.  And, she gets onto the 239.  She sat two rows behind me.  As the bus took off, it clicked. She was the Gypsy lady!  So excited, I wanted to take a picture.  So, I took out my cell phone and attempted to take a “self-portrait” well, there is a flash and a loud shutter sound.  I quickly aborted that option.  Then, I realized that a video would be more discreet.  So, I changed seats so that I would be facing her and took this video:

Thai Restaurant in Vienna

May 28 2011

The other day I shook hands with David Mumford, a Fields medalist.  This is the first person who actually won the Fields Medal that I have met.  (I met Andrew Wiles a few times, but he was too old to receive the Fields Medal at the time he proved Fermat’s Last Theorem).  Mumford’s talk was about diffeomorphisms of maps.  At the end of a talk, he focused on an ancient Chinese map that was very detailed (and etched in stone).  They had parallel horizontal and vertical lines.  Due to the curvature of the earth, these lines do not correspond to lat/lon lines.  He said that it is amazing that they did not realize the world was round after making such a detailed map of such a large area.  Perhaps they recognized it but refused to acknowledge it …

After the talk, Filip and I went to myKai, a Thai restaurant on Franz-Josefs-Kai.  Neither of us had been there before, but it looked good.  We sat outside.  He ordered a calpico to drink, since neither of us knew what it was.  I think it had coconut milk and lemon juice and water.  Sounds strange, but it was quite delicious.  I was jealous that I only ordered a Soda Zitrone.  We shared two entrees, the chicken a la mykai and the Knuspriger Entenbrußt.  We liked chicken a la mykai dish the best.  It was quite delicious.  We picked it because the dish shared the name with the restaurant, and so we figured we couldn’t go wrong.  The name chicken a la mykai is quite funny to me actually.  I was in a Thai restaurant in a german speaking country ordering a dish with the english word chicken and the french phrase a la mykai.  For dessert, we tried to order Maronitasche (tasche is the german word for bag.  maroni is a nut), but the waiter said that we should get Bonnentasche (bonnen=beans) instead since it was better (although it wasn’t on the menu).  Sounded strange to us, but we ordered it anyway.  In the “tasche” was a bean puree and some fruit.  The dish came with a scoop of ice cream and was drizzled with chocolate and raspberry sauces.  Quite good!

Right now, I am sitting at Cafe Drechsler.  This is one of my favorite places to come to do work.  Today, I am just drinking a Soda Hollar (hollar is a flower), but I might soon get my 1 euro 80 glass of wine before I head out.  Usually, you sit at a cafe until you can grab someone’s attention to pay the bill.  At times, this is harder than you’d expect.  But, if you are here and the shifts change, the former waiter/waitress will come over to ask you to pay.  You don’t have to leave then, they just need to settle their checks before they leave.  This just happened to me.  It reminded me of how you pay for things in Austria.  When you pay, they tell you the cost “3 Euro 80”  then you give them money.  If you don’t say anything, they give you exact change back and it is assumed that you will not give them a tip.  If you want to give a tip, you say “4 Euros bitte” when you hand them the money.  At first I was a little confused about this process but now I understand.  Sometimes I’ll see someone try to tell the waiter how much change they want instead, and this just creates a confusing scene.

NY Philharmonic

May 22 2011

The other night I saw the NY Philharmonic perform in the Großer Sal of Musikverein.  This is the golden room, best known for “the new year’s concert” that takes place there every year.  It is gorgeous. Alan Gilbert was the conductor, and Lisa Batiashvili played on the violin.  Although I liked the violin + orchestra piece a lot, I think I liked the second half better (they performed Beethoven).  Of course, there was an encore as well … after far too many times of the conductor coming on/off stage.  In the end, my back was hurting from standing for so long, but it was defiantly worth it.  🙂

Michael, a visitor at IST Austria, gave me his standing room ticket for the event.  I arrived about 45 minutes early.  Early enough to be among the first half of the people there, but not early enough to be able to lean against the railing.  Luckily I met a guy in line who was a music student and was meeting a large group of people there.  I spoke with them before the concert began, but they disappeared after the intermission (perhaps they only came to see the violinist?).  Anyway, after they left I notice that someone was reading about topology.  So, I asked her what she was reading and why.  Then, I learned that she was finishing her PhD in algebraic topology and wanted to learn about Homology after attending one of Herbert’s talks.  Small world. Now I have a friend to go to concerts with, so I will probably go to many more in the next two months that I am here!

(On a side note: it amazes me that the English and German versions of Wikipedia are not just translations of each other.  They can say very different things, and even the pictures are often different!)

An Encounter

May 15 2011

Olga and I were in Vienna the other day.  We were walking on Maria Hilfer Strasse and wanted to cross the street.  It was red for pedestrians, but we went anyway since there were no cars coming.  As we were crossing the street (I think), someone started to yell at us.  Since I was looking at the building that we wanted to go to, I didn’t notice the yelling at first.  Then, I noticed that a man was yelling at us.  I tried to ignore it by walking to where I was going, but he persisted.  So I looked up and noticed that the man was a police man, and he was furious that we did not stop when he told us to stop.  He was telling me to come to him.  I looked at him questioningly and he told me (in German) that when a policeman tells you to do something, you must do it.  So, I walked over to him.  Then, he lectured me about not listening to policeman.  I apologized.  He told me I am not allowed to cross the street when it is red.  I apologized again.  Then, he yelled at me again to tell me that I must always follow the orders of a policeman.  Finally, he asked me if I speak German.  I said “nur ein bisschen (just a little)” and then he said some complicated sentence that I did not follow.  I was worried that we would have to pay a ticket for jaywalking.  Olga was worried that we would have a police record.  Luckily, the policeman had his thrill of terrorizing us and did not give us a ticket.

On another note, I am addicted to Toffifee.

Craigslist CAPTCHA … Gone too Far?

May 10 2011

I wanted to post an ad on Craigslist.  After creating the ad, it sends you an email.  Then, you have to go to another website where you enter the words you see in an image.  Usually, these images have letters and numbers that appear in the English language (and our keyboards).  The one I received, however, contained a partial derivative:

security code in image on craigslist

Thank Yous

May 9 2011

Dave and I created Thank you cards with our photos on them!

5×7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.