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Der Schwedenplatz-Wettbewerb und die 6 Entwürfe

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Summary for English readers: The city of Vienna has presented the shortlist of six projects for refurbishing one of the city's central areas - Schwedenplatz. This blog entry specifies my own thoughts about what the main criteria for such a refurbishment should be, and comments on the six proposed entries.

Im Wettbewerb für die Neugestaltung des Schwedenplatzes wurde jetzt die Shortlist von 6 aus 60 eingereichten Gestaltungsentwürfen vorgestellt. Wie nicht anders zu erwarten, sind die Entwürfe irgendwo zwischen brav und pseudomodern angesiedelt und sagen mehr über die Vorstellungen von Architekten über urbane Plätze aus als darüber, wie sich solche Gestaltungen auf die Bewohner und Nutzer dieser Plätze auswirken.


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Everywhere else this would be considered either a joke or cruelty, but in Vienna it's the sad truth: the sign reads "playground".

Kinderspielplatz / Playground

Alles gut überstanden

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Summary for English readers: No bad surprises on my birthday. No clownfish, ants, ponies or yetis.

Keine Clownfische, Ameisen, Ponys oder Yetis. War ein sehr angenehmer Geburtstag.

Quelle: Melanie Watt, Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party (französische Ausgabe).

No certificate

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When I took the law exam that was part of my professional training course as a government employee, the examiner asked me what rights civll servants had as opposed to regular government employees. I came up with all sorts of things, from health insurance to pension schemes and whatnot, but he still kept on asking me the same question over and over again. When I finally couldn't think of anything anymore and gave up, he said: "well, the right to use an official title of course."

Any book about Austria will dwell upon the Austrians' obsession with official titles, be it the obsession over academic degrees or titles that denote your status in your profession. Every nation has ranks in their police force and military force, such as sergeants, captains, colonels and so on; in Austria, even civil servants in administrative positions have similar titles. Even though the law regulating civil service did away with the ranks of Kommissär (commissioner) and Rat (councillor) ten years ago, there are still Oberrat (senior councillor) and Hofrat (court councillor) -- the latter despite the fact that the court was abolished along with the monarchy as long ago as 1919.

Anyway, when I was made a full civil servant a couple of years ago, I received a certificate signed by the Minister of Higher Education stating the fact that I was now a civil servant and had the right to use the title Beamter (civil servant), which was nice in principle, but a somewhat anticlimactic title; it was kind of weird that the certificate should even mention it.

Two weeks ago on July 1st, if my maths is correct, I should have been promoted to senior councillor. In fact, the staff database says that this is indeed what I am now. Curiously, I have so far not received any kind of piece of writing confirming it. In a country as obsessed with titles and formalisms, this seems very, very odd. Either they forgot about it, or they're all on holidays already, or - God forbid - they might even have come to their senses.

Whatever the matter, a piece of paper would still have been nice.

The past

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Some things reveal their significance immediately at the first glance; others are highly significant for one person, whereas they are an impenetrable mystery for everybody else.

Essential exam accoutrements

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Revision bears, Study skills for dummies, Red Bull, Caffeine pills

Revision bears, Study Skills for Dummies, Red Bull, caffeine pills.

Seen at a bookshop that's affiliated with a university library. Not our library, but we might be considering.

Flower power

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An unknown man tried to mug a 51 year-old woman from Linz at her grandmother's grave. She managed to chase him away using candles and flowers.

My imagination is running wild.


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"You don't smoke," the doctor said after he had looked at my ECG.
"No," I said.
"I can see that," he said.