Thursday, January 15, 2009

I would equip skiers with bells

Ice Hockey on the Alte Donau

I am having such trouble with separable verbs that I am really considering not using any of them at all. I have worked out that it is entirely possible to avoid using them -although you sometimes have to approach the subject in a fairly oblique manner and have to hope that the person to whom you are addressing yourself does not doze off before you get to the punch line.

For example if you want to say ‘I am getting out of bed early tomorrow’ without using the appropriate separable verb for ‘getting up’ you can say:

‘I will be in bed early tomorrow’ and ‘A short time later I will not be in bed’. Both of these are easy to say and do not require a separable verb. You have explained the situation neatly. Of course you will get some strange looks but that happens to me anyway.

It snowed heavily yesterday and I went to play in it and had a wonderful time. I wore my hiking boots which proved to be ideal. It gets very sloshy once it has been walked on and driven on – and then becomes very slippery. Being as sure-footed as a cougar with the reflexes of a mongoose - I of course had no problems.

Everything is covered with a blanket of snow and the city and Stadtpark look fantastic. The ducks are taking it in their stride and still have a pond in which they can paddle about.

I am not sure how this happens and think that when no one is watching the ducks must jump up and down on the freshly forming ice to stop it from getting hard. I have never seen a duck jump but I suppose it is possible. I think you need knees to jump and I am not sure that ducks have knees. Wikipedia is silent on this subject.

I can’t think of any other reason apart from duck jumping why most of the pond would freeze over quickly while a little pond remains unfrozen.

On the whole it would probably have been better if we did not live next to Stadtpark so that I would not have become obsessed with the ducks.

There were lots of people out cleaning snow off the streets and scattering kitty litter everywhere. I saw my first kitty litter scattering machine which is like a cement mixer on the back of a tractor. I am now wondering what happens to the kitty litter after it has been scattered.

I know that it gradually disappears (from my experience with the snow before Christmas) but where does it go. If it gets washed into the drains then surely there will be a massive build up and one day all the drains in Wien will become clogged up and there will be a catastrophe.

Thank the Leaping Llamas we are on the sixth floor as we will certainly escape a hideous death. As soon as my German is up to it I will warn the neighbours of the impending doom and help them move their furniture to higher ground.

Yesterday was our first drive to and from work in heavy snow and we crept along with all the other traffic. I was surprised at the care which drivers seemed to be taking as they usually drive like lunatics. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be but of course at the moment it is just snowy – not icy. That will present us with another problem altogether.

The roads are far better than the slopes where crazy skiers are killing each other in droves. As far as I can tell, 6 skiers have been killed in Austria in the last week, one by a ‘hit and run skier’ and there have been hundreds of injuries requiring visits to hospital.

I quote from the Austrian Times:

“The spate of winter-sports accidents continued over this past weekend, with two more deaths reported.

On Saturday, two 13-year-old Slovene youths collided in Bad Kleinkirchheim in Carinthia, with one dying in the snow of a broken neck. And a German woman died near St. Gilgen in Upper Austria while touring on snowshoes when she fell off a cliff.

On Sunday, a 16-year-old Dane suffered a fractured pelvis when she skied into a pylon near Innsbruck, and a snowboarder collided with and severely injured a 61-year old woman and then fled the scene near Mittersill in Salzburg.Surgeons who have been attending to victims of winter-sports accidents are calling the situation in ski areas "warlike." Some 400 people have had to seek medical assistance daily, with many remaining hospitalised for some time.Surgeon Siegfried Nagl at Kitzb├╝hel Hospital in Tyrol said: "Our outpatient clinic has been filled to overflowing."

Some 51,600 winter-sports participants received hospital treatment during the 2007/2008 winter season, and the number this season is expected to be higher than 60,000.”

If we exclude the German woman who fell off a cliff – you can hardly blame anyone else for that – there is still a formidable array of deaths and injuries.

There is a move in some quarters to make people wear helmets but there is significant opposition: I quote again:

“There is opposition to mandatory use of skiing helmets, however. Austrian ski-lift operators are the group most-recently expressing opposition to it.Erik Wolf, the head of the ski-lift association in the Federal Economy Chamber, said last week the best solution would be to allow individual skiers to decide whether to wear helmets.Wolf said: "It would make no sense if a person failed to understand why he should wear a helmet."

Wolf also rejected the idea of making lift operators responsible for the wearing of helmets by skiers. He asked: "What could be done if a skier went up wearing a helmet and then took it off and skied down without it? Who would be responsible in case he were injured while not wearing a helmet? And what about people who take a lift up the mountain because they live up there?"

No – I have no idea what Erik is talking about – but if you think of something please let me know.

It strikes me that Erik lacks imagination and that in an IQ playoff with Muffin and her horse he may come third.

Me? I would equip all skiers with bells like the ones they have on bicycles. Then at least the ancient men and women who are annihilated on the mountains can shuffle off the mortal coil with a tinkling in their ears.

Cate wants me to go skiing but – you know – I can think of many, many better things to do than be killed by a 13 year old snowboarder travelling at 120 kilometres per hour.

Call me Mr Old Fashioned but I would rather merge with infinity while sitting in front of the fire with a glass of 2004 Gruner Veltliner from the Wachau Valley.


  1. Maybe the Austrian government should start requiring skiing licenses, since the people seem to ski as badly as they drive. And at 13, who can do either very well?

    I had a pet duck when I was a kid, but I don't remember if she had knees or not. Seriously, I don't know.

  2. Maybe skiers (austrians and foreigners alike) should recall that there is such a thing as "10 rules on the slopes"... :o)... apply those rules and be triple C again: cautious, conscientious and corteous!!

    And besides, how in the world can parents let their child ski withouth a helmet?? Can't be a question of money, if you ask me!They can afford skiing passes of EUR 30,-- a day, so EUR 100,-- for a decent helmet shouldn't be a problem either...

    I was always proud of living in a country, whose government is not half as patronizing as in other countries, but it seems that the people's growing stupidity and lack of personal responsibility sure calls for it...