Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I've been learning how to kayak in the past few weeks.  It's lots of fun.  I find it relaxing as well as being really good arm exercise.
It's not exactly related to my Austrian experiences, except that while I was there I was more active.  I walked, hiked up and over mountains, used the on-site gym, and did yoga, to name a few things.
I wanted to stay active when I got home.  I have not done as well as I hoped, but mostly because I have less 'exercise' time since there's things like cooking, cleaning, shopping and the damn drive.  I think I miss my commute to the schloss more than anything else.  Yes, lazy.  But it did reduce my carbon footprint a little those 2 months. :D

So back to kayaking.  I've been 3 times so far.  The first time I really liked it.  However there was the maritime disaster. I will say that it wasn't totally my fault.  Really.  Thank goodness I grew up in those waters and knew how to swim.  Briefly I tipped the kayak(there were circumstances....) and didn't know how to empty it.  (I do now.)  I had to tie the waterlogged kayak to my mom's and hope we made it in.
We had help from different sources, some of which were helpful and some, sadly were, not, but we made it in safe and sound.  (A piece of advice for everyone, learn how to swim.  Even a dog paddle stroke!) I had better luck the second time out.  And I went out again by myself just today.  I stayed out a good hour paddling around and getting comfortable.

This time I headed down the beach to Bradley Point and back.  It was the back part that was harder.  The current and the wind were in my face.  Or bow, if you want strict nautical terms.  It took some time to adjust to the waves breaking over the bow on occasion and the sun in my eyes.  But once I got it I enjoyed it.  Good workout for the shoulders and arms, and I like being on the water.  Hell, I grew up on that beach so it'd be stranger not to be out on the water and the beach in August.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fiscal Sustainability

I don't usually post stuff on politics here.  I don't want this to turn into a political commentary blog.  But lately I've been thinking about it.
My last few weeks in Austria I searched for articles about fiscal sustainability for a session they were holding at some point.  It has been on my mind in the last few weeks.  And especially this weekend with the Iowa primaries gearing up.
I fear for the country if the so called Tea Party keeps hijacking government for their own agenda.  I wonder how they expect us to get out of debt if they refuse to raise taxes at all?  I mean it's sorta the first rule of paying down debt is to increase the money coming in.  Yes, limiting your expenditures to fit your income is something everyone who works within a budget needs to do.  But when you have more debt than income you need to get another job or get a raise somehow.
But this is a foreign concept for some members of the elected government.  Yes, we should cut back certain areas of spending in government.  I know there have to be some programs that have run their course and are no longer useful or can be sustained without government money.  An independent audit would be the best way to go.  We need people who aren't influenced by political ideology, future power, or the media spotlight. 
Yes, what we need are (brace yourselves) experts.  I know, horrors!  It's unheard of.  Having people who are trained in these things and have spent years perfecting their skills helping people, businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, churches, and smaller governments live within their means advise the federal government to do the same. 
It's only common sense, which the Tea Party claims to embrace.  But their actions this last week or so make their words a lie. 
I don't want my plumber doing my taxes, or a car mechanic giving me a physical.  So why do we trust a journalist to tell us about religion, or a professional athlete to be a military strategist?  When did education and expertise become anathema?  And a better question is why?

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Leopoldskron history

There were several interesting stories that I learned about the schloss that I just had to share.  One was in the Reinhardt days and two were from WWII.
The first one was about a particular statue that Reinhardt bought to furnish his palace.  Remember the schloss had changed hands often and the art work was sold off through the centuries.
Max was a director and an artist, but he also was a businessman.  He had enough money to buy and rebuild the schloss...
He had seen this statue over a building in Vienna and liked it.  He thought it would be great for his entrance hall(the Great Hall we call it now).  He wasn't able to buy it himself, so he sent a trusted cousin(female) to do the transaction.  No one is sure exactly why, but maybe because she would be underestimated by the owner of the statue.
So she knocks on the door and says that Max Reinhardt really likes your Madonna and would like to have it.  The owner of the house refuses saying the Madonna is protecting my girls.  The cousin(who's name I never got) is a bit taken aback and realizes the sign is advertising a brothel.  So oops.  But after going back to Max and then back to the owner of the brothel(realizing maybe that she has a price for this along with everything else).  She did.  So Max got his Madonna.  I don't know what he paid for it in the end, but it is very nice.

So the next little vignette takes place in the 1940's.  The Schloss was seized by the Nazi's after the Anschluss.  The schloss was fought over by member of the Nazi party.  It was used a staging area for people who were going to the Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgarten.  (Berchtesgarten is on the other side of the Untersberg so close...) But a Princess who was a fan of Reinhardt managed to finagle the schloss for a while and shipped out most of Max's things to him in California.  I don't know how, and would love to know.  Because it was 16 crates of stuff.  She got 16 crates of an enemy of Nazi Germany(and a Jew) stuff across war torn Europe to California.  I mean this wasn't just a few suitcases of clothes and paying a extra baggage fee on Lufthansa! 
This blows my mind.  16 crates of stuff!  Across war torn Europe!  To a Jewish director in the USA!

The final story had evidence scattered around the schloss.  This was late in the war.  An American bomber was flying over the area and was looking to drop his bomb.  Engine trouble I think.  He saw the lake and thought, Oh good a lake.  So he dropped the bomb.  Well the lake isn't really deep.  So he blew most of the water out of it and the concussion broke all the windows in the lake side part of the schloss.  So many areas have holes in the walls.  My favorite is in the White Room.  One of the portraits looks like he has a GSW in the forehead.
I don't have a photo of that, but here's one from the Chinese room.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


One of the other interns told me about this great chocolate shop near the center of town.  Zotter.  Or as I call it, the most dangerous shop in Austria.
The stuff they sell is sooooo good.  They do have some very unusual flavor combinations.  Rose and basil?  Pineapple and cashew?  A bacon chocolate bar? Rose flavored chocolate? But there are also more traditional flavors like hazelnut or rum coconut chocolate.
Those are the handscooped chocolate bars they sell.  For different seasons they bring out different and limited edition flavors.  I was there for the Easter flavors.  There was one with strawberry ganache and strawberry chocolate.  The best one was called (English translation) Easter Fire.  It was dark chocolate with eggnog flavored filling with chili peppers.  AMAZING.
Okay not everyone liked it.  But hey that's life.
One of the things I really liked about the bars(other than the chocolate itself) was the artwork on the wrapper.  I have some shots of them.  Fun and attention getting.  Although if you don't speak German and you haven't tried that one before it could be risky.

They also make handmade chocolates and have something called a ChocoShot(it's a syringe filled with chocolate) for those days when you really need a pick me up.
And the best part about Zotter? Two words...free samples.  Ah, Zotter. 
And they are very conscious about the whole fair trade deal.  They say they buy right from the farmers mostly in Latin America and also use other organic products to make their chocolate products.  That's very typical in Austria.  The very organic and local mindset about their food.  They have 2 markets in Salzburg.  The main one near Schloss Mirabelle and the Green market near the University Square.  Two farmer's markets everyday!  Except Sundays.  It's great.  I realized it can be very easy to be vegetarian in Salzburg because of that.  Lots of fruits, nuts and veggies of all kinds.  Cheeses and breads fresh made and in the case of bread still warm.  But that's another story...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Leopoldskron part 2 or is it 3?

So now that we have some background on the owners and history of the schloss you understand the context of the place.
And as any good archivist knows, "Context is everything."
I mentioned that Max spent a great deal of time and money renovating the schloss.  He created the library and redid the dining room with a Venetian theme.
And just in case you wondered who built the library he had a signature of sorts plastered into the ceiling in the very classic sign for the theatre.  The mask on the left is a portrait of Max himself.

He also built an ampitheatre in the park so he could stage plays.  Sadly the theatre was not built on solid ground and sank years ago, although there are still signs of it if you know where to look.
In fact the schloss itself was not built on solid ground, but the Archbishop took a page from the builders of Venice and used supports in the boggy ground to be the bedrock and foundation of the place.  A problem with waterfront property, I guess.

After the Second World War was over the schloss was returned to Reinhardt's heirs.  His widow offered the use of the place to several Harvard(yes I know...)grad students who came up with what is now referred to as the "Marshall Plan for the mind" to get former enemies to share ideas, cultures, and trust each other again.  The Seminar was supposed to be a one time thing, but it was so popular with the participants that it continued on.  Obviously.  There have been some rather important people who attended sessions there.  The Prince of Wales, and Ralph Ellison were two that I knew about from research(and cleaning) in the office.  So it's very diverse. 
The organization that runs the Seminar bought the place in the 1960's and so here we are.  At least when it comes to ownership.
It was designated a historical place of interest by the Austrian government sometime back.  From an artistic and historical standpoint you gotta love that.