Friday, December 21, 2007

10 Days Later

Sorry, I haven't posted for a while. I promised my sister I would post something. Big news is that I have moved into my apartment on the Praterstern. Hectic day yesterday. Getting the deposit from the bank (a story in itself for a later time), taking occupancy, running around like crazy getting essentials, then getting to bed early so I could get up before 6 to get ready for work and be able to catch the bus to Seibersdorf (where my laboratory, SAL is located.) That's the worst aspect of the new job; having to get up early every morning to take the bus. Still getting used to it, still have terrible jet lag.

Other quick observations about Vienna, store hours are bad. Stores close at 7 (or 1900 as we say in Europe) during the week and at 6 on Saturday. And Sunday? Forget it, everything is closed!

Vienna had a reputation for being expensive even before the dollar took a dive versus the Euro, now it's unbelievable. I spent $5 for a cheap glass. $45 for a bath mat, $24 for a towel.

Oh well, the bread is great here and so far it hasn't been too bad.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Vienna Sixth Day

I did not get the house; the German couple that saw it the day before I did decided to take it. I did get the apartment in the 2nd District though which is a nice consolation. One nice thing is that the landlord has a washer and drier in the basement and allows the tennants to use it free of charge. That saves several hundred euros in having to buy a washer and drier. It is in a great location for the bus to Siebersdorf also as it is only one stop away on the U1 line (there are 5 rapid transit lines in Vienna, U1, U2, U3, U4, and U6, it is not known why there is no U5). I will be going out to Siebersdorf tomorrow. Taking the shuttle out there from the VIC at 11:30.

Also, got more interesting news from the employee orientation. 4 of the 10 IAEA holidays are withing the next 3 weeks. I will have Dec. 20, 25, 26, and Jan. 1 off. Since Dec. 20 is an Islam holiday, I will on that day be able to shop for furnishings for the apartment since stores will be open, unlike the other three holidays. I should be able to move in to the new apartment sometime next week so I will be in it for Christmas. Good news. I should also be getting my post adjustment deposited into my new bank account this week so I will have funds for the 3 month deposit I will have to put down.

Also met a few more people from the lab today as there was a meeting in the VIC for principal players from SAL. I have now met the three unit heads along with the QA officer and met once again the Lab director who I met in June at NBL.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Vienna Fourth and Fifth Day

Vienna Fourth Day

Well, I was going to do some sight seeing today, but the weather was awful. Cold and rainy, I walked to the U1 line transit station at the VIC and turned around and came back to the hotel. Oh well. A nothing day.

There will be plenty of time to sight see on future Sundays. Most stores are closed on Sunday so shopping is impractical. Saturday is for shopping as most stores are only open till 19:00 (7:00 PM) during the week and I won't get home till after 18:00 once I start making the commute to Siebersdorf.

Vienna Fifth Day

First day on the job. It went well enough. Got my permanent badge. Had my entrance interview with the HR person.

Purchased a "handy" which is a Vienese term for mobile phone. If one wants the number, e-mail me but remember that international calls are expensive and also that Vienna is 7 hours ahead of Chicago, so that when it is 18:00 in Chicago it is 1 in the morning in Vienna. Also I am at work from 8 to 17:30 which is 1 in the morning to 10:30 in Chicago and shouoldn't take personal calls then except in emergencies.

I had two serindipitous encounters in the elevators today. First when riding up to SAL's office in the VIC (again SAL is the Safeguards Analytical Laboratory which is in Siebersdorf and when I say "office" I mean literally a room in a large office campus which is the Vienna International Center where the IAEA's world headquarters are located along with several other UN agencies) an old co-worker from NBL, Bruce Moran, got on the elevator. I worked with Bruce in the early 80's and I knew he had recently started (it turns out last week) at the IAEA as a section chief in the IAEA headquarters. I have his office number and I left him my handy number.

Then riding down the elevator to the housing office, I ran into a woman that runs the new employee orientation program. Since she saw that I had a permanent badge and that she didn't recognize me, she asked me if I was a new employee. So even though I am not in the system yet, I will be able to attend the new employee orientation program tomorrow instead of later in the month.

I still don't know if I got the house I want, of if I will have to settle for that apartment in the 2nd district. The housing department will let me know tomorrow.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Vienna Third Day

Saw one more place today. Far away the best place in terms of both quality and value. A little more expensive than the places I waw yesterday but worth every Euro! On a very non-descript street with closed factories and a closed munitions store on the corner, you walk through an older apartment building's entrance into a courtyard where there are two identical small houses. Their owner lives in the right hand one, the other one is for rent. The place is two floors with two washrooms and a living room. The kitchen is small is but well-appointed with gas stove, small refrigerator, small microwave, dish washer, a pass-through into the living/dining area. A room that could be a guest room or an office. A walk-in closet! In Vienna! The second floor has two bedrooms. There's lots of storage areas. It's impecably designed. The owner is now involved in teaching music but used to be an garden architech and said he was a frusterated architech and it shows.

The bad news is that I was a day late to see it. He showed it to a german couple yesterday and gave them till Monday to decide. I think they would be crazy not to take it but if they don't, I will! Otherwise I will spend less money and take the apartment I saw yesterday.

I then had dinner with Drs. Harald and Jane Poths and their lovely 10-year old daughter Patricia. They were employed by Los Alamos prior to the family's move to Vienna and is currently a house husband, although he it thinking about volunteering to teach at a local university in the hope that it would turn into a paying job. He is a native of Gemany and served as my guide the last three days. He is a jovial and nice man and I cannot even begin to express how much he has aided me. Jane is the Mass Spec Section Head at SAL, and if my other co-workers are half as nice as she is, working at SAL will be a dream.

On the way to their apartment, I figured out a sure way to make my luggage arrive. I stopped and bought some underware, socks, and a dress shirt for Monday. Of course when I got to my room tonight, my luggage had arrived! So the hostage saga is over. And I have clean underware!

In computer news, my external hard drive is mysteriously not being recognized by the PC. Not good but maybe I can get it to recognize it again. It seems to be a problem with the USB interface rather than damage to the disc. I also have a problem with the integrated memory card reader with the laptop as it is not able to read my camera's memory card. It keeps giving me a semaphore error when I access the pictures, although it can read the card's directory structure fine. Because of the expense of using the internet in the hotel room I was unable to extensively research the problem, but it seems to be a problem with the Vista driver for the reader, as other people have been reporting similar problems. Hopefully it will be fixed with Service Pack 1 for Vista which I last heard was to be released in the first quarter of next year.

In good computer news though, I realized that the cable that connects my USB hub to the laptop is the same type used by my camera and my mp3 player. So even though I forgot the cable at home and the card reader doesn't work, I can share some pictures with you, I hope. These 2 pictures are of a statue we passed on the street while coming from an apartment viewing. Let's see if I can figure out how to upload them to the blog.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. Soon the posts will become less frequent and more terse as I start work on Monday.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Vienna Second Day

Very Tired and feet are sore.

Still no luggage. I am getting very worried and wonder how I will survive without it. I may have to make an emergency shopping trip tomorrow. Most stores are closed on Sunday in Vienna.

Well the good news: I found an apartment that I think will be suitable, and a second apartment that while not as nice would be acceptable. The first apartment is in the second district. Off a fairly busy street but very well located as far as transportation. A little small but not tiny. Unfurnished. Two bedrooms. There is a small balcony where you can see the Vienna Ferris wheel. A small but functional elevator to the unit.

The second apartment is in a refurbished older building in ninth district. No elevator and on the third floor so problem. Very high ceilings which may mean higher heating bills but tend to be cooler in summer and gives it a nice "airy" feel. Very nice neighborhood though. Not quite as convient transportation compared to first.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Flight and First Day In Vienna

I made it to Vienna! Of course nothing is easy. I was originally scheduled to fly United to Washington Dulles and then fly Austrian Airlines to Vienna. The weather in Chicago was bad yesterday, and evidently the weather was worse out east. I suspected something was fishy, when I couldn't use automatic check-in at United ticket counter. An agent manually checked me then after a little difficulty but she assured me that I was on my flights.

By the time I got to my gate, the flight had been canceled. I then spend a long time in a long line, waiting to get rebooked. Not too bad, I was going to leave 2 hours later than originally scheduled, but now was going to fly United all the way to Frankfurt. There I would fly Lufthansa to Vienna. I would only be an hour and 15 minutes later than scheduled.

All right, next problem was getting in touch with my new boss who is expecting me to arrive at 9:00 and instead will not see me till after 10:15. He gave me his cell number but I don't think I have it. I don't even have his work number handy and my flight is scheduled to leave in 35 minutes. What to do? So after some difficulty, I call work and ask Judy, my secretary, to call my new boss in Vienna. Of course she has to call his office number. He'a gone home for the day since it's after 7 PM in Vienna, but I have to hope he checks his voice mails in the morning before coming out to the airport.

So I finally get to Vienna, while I'm waiting for my luggage, I hear my name being paged. I guess my new boss didn't get the message. (It turns out his parents are in town this week from Wilmette so he hasn't been into the office nor checked his voice mail all week.) Then I have to wait till every piece of luggage is unloaded from the flight because my luggage wasn't on it. Then I get to wait in another line to report it missing.

So here I sit in my hotel room with no luggage hoping it will show up tomorrow. Lufthansa was nice about it. They gave me a lost luggage package with a nice selection of toiletries and even an under shirt.

Good news is that all my computer stuff made the trip intact and it works with a outlet converter and a power strip. While no wireless, theres is wired network in the room and it's only $7.50 an hour to use it. Bad news is that I was rushed in packing and forgot some important things, like banking account information, connection cords for camera, etc. Oh well.

The bottom line of course is that I made it to Vienna and the housing office arranged for me to see three potential apartments tomorrow and two on Saturday. And now I'm jet-lagged and will go to bed to end my first day in Vienna.