Posts by: "Matthew Stevens"

If any one out there can help me out I would love to hear from you. These are a pair of Gokey Botte Sauvage boots I bought off of Ebay. Based on this boot code one should be able to determine the size and age of the boots. Can you decipher the boot code and tell me how old they are? The stenciled code reads: 410 534 74. I now know the top number “410” refers to the width (4, which is narrow) and the size (10) which is a bit unfortunate as I am more of a size 11. ūüôĀ These are also NOT the snakeproof model of this boot. So I am still on the hunt for a pair of vintage Gokey Botte Sauvage boots with boot code 411. Perhaps you know someone, or you ARE that someone willing to trade or sell.

You can buy these Gokey Botte Sauvage boots as well as beautiful pair of 18″ size 13 wide Gokey Botte Sauvage Snakeproof boots or a pair of 16″ tall size 11 EE Weinbrenner Snakeproof boots¬†from my Etsy store shown in the sidebar on the right.

If you want to see what all went into making a pair of boots like this, check out this great story about Macrostie Leathers, the only people still making them this way. These are some great American cordwainers.

410 534 74

The Gokey stenciled boot code: 410 534 74

Gokey Botte Sauvage Snakeproof Boots

Vintage Gokey Botte Sauvage Snakeproof Boots

 So I am living here in Vienna along the banks of the Danube, or the Donau, whatever you like to call it.

Danube, New Danube, Old Danube Deutsch: Donau,...

Danube, New Danube, Old Danube Deutsch: Donau, Neue Donau, Alte Donau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topography of Europe, with Danube marked red

Topography of Europe, with Danube marked red (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vienna is a great city, according to the recent results of the Mercer Quality of Living survey. But the Danube river is an under appreciated part of that quality of life. It has been greatly improved where it flows through Vienna. Vienna has the Danube Canal that curves through the city center and meets up with the river proper in the south east of the city. Additionally, the Austro-Hungarian government in the 19th century had the forethought to gouge a protective floodplain which would be further developed in the 80s to become the new Danube, leaving a 21 km long thread of an island, the Donauinsel, to split the old path off from the new flood stage path of the Danube. This narrow but very long island is essentially one single park which runs down the length of the city. It’s fantastic. Perfect for bike rides, swimming, concerts, running with your staghound, or anything else that requires open green space. But wait! There’s more! One section of the river is completely closed off and forms the old Danube, a man-made oxbow lake, which is also a public space but this one has private tennis courts, water slides, playgrounds, canoes, paddle boats, parks and some cute little garden houses all along it’s shores. This is where it seems most of Vienna goes when the weather gets hot. It is a big enough lake that I sometimes think it could support the entire population of the city if it chose to sunbath all at once. These are the two largest outdoor attractions within the Vienna city limits for water lovers.

English: map of the national park Donau-Auen, ...

English: map of the national park Donau-Auen, Austria Deutsch: Karte des Nationalparks Donau-Auen, Österreich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However nice these parks may be, they can’t hold a candle to the National Park that basically forms the southern border of the river where it exits the city limits. Nationalpark Donau Auen is more than 30 km long and gives one access to pristine river wilderness within 10 minutes of leaving the docks in downtown Vienna. This is the major protected wetlands for central Europe. It is situated such that between Vienna and Bratislava you have almost nothing but national park along the boat ride. It is really a fantastic amalgamation of water resources, fantastic natural features, and plain old practical navigability. You would think the Danube would be the highlight of the whole city, but you would be wrong. It seems everyone thinks of Mozart and Schönbrunn when they think of Vienna, but this is one amazing river city. You can take the Danube all the way up to the North Sea, thanks to the Danube Rhine Main canal, whose current version was only completed in 1992. Going down river one can head all the way to the Black Sea thanks to the Romanian Danube – Black Sea Canal completed in 1987.

Danube (in blue) and the Canal (in red)

Danube (in blue) and the Canal (in red) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)a thanks to the Romanian Danube – Black Sea Canal completed in 1987.

It is a wonder that one doesn’t see more traffic along this river. There are commercial ships but it is nothing like the Mississippi or the Elbe, two rivers with major ports on them. There are basically five places for docking a vessel. There is the Friedenau harbor, which is the biggest. In Friedenau they have facilities to unload cars, and load and unload containers. Friedenau can store 10,000 cars and process them for shipping via rail. So this is a big harbor, that can support a great deal of the shipping needs of a small country like Austria. Ships coming up river to this port never pass through Vienna, since Friedenau is down river on the edge of town. 

Just below the Friedenau harbor is the Albern harbor which handles commodities such as grain, steel and building materials. It has silos for storing 90,000 tons of grain, which is a lot. Once again it is also outside of town, so commodities from the east coming up river into Austria never need pass through Vienna, before getting unloaded and put onto rails.

Almost directly across the river, on the eastern shore is the Lobau oil terminal, where they receive 1,200  tankers of oil products a year. There they can process it in the refinery or load it directly onto rails. This is a big facility. It is easy to spot on Google Earth.

Further upstream, is the Donau Marina for private boats. It’s a small marina for a such a big city with only 246 berths and winter storage for 168 boats. It seems like a city of 1.7 million people sitting on one of the world’s great rivers would have a substantially larger marina that would allow the public to store their private boats. After all, you can reach 10 different countries and the Black Sea by boat from Vienna, and yet there are only 246 berths in this marina. 

Part of the reason may be that there is also a passenger terminal within the city at Reichsbrücke, so you don’t necessarily need a boat to go by boat to Hungary. But you can’t fish or ski or drop anchor and barbecue on a passenger ship.

Reichsbrücke in Vienna, Austria; view from rig...

Reichsbrücke in Vienna, Austria; view from right shore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obviously there are other alternate methods for getting around, such as rail lines and air travel, that have become well developed. The canals have not been open nearly as long as the rail lines. It is also interesting to note that the Danube runs from West to East. No other river will take you into eastern Europe. So Austria and a number of other countries along the Danube really are well-situated to deliver goods to both the West and the East by boat. And yet, it appears they prefer trains, aircrafts and trucks for this job. says “water transport expends 433 BTU per ton-mile versus 696 for rail.” So it seems folks should be taking advantage of the Danube, yet aren’t. As a comparison, a city of similar size, albeit poorer, is Memphis, Tennessee. It has 68 loading facilitites and capacity for 437,000 tons of grain storage silos. Even if you take into account the much larger export capabilities of that region, it would still seem that Austria is under -utilitizing the riverway. Shipping West to East may not have the tonnage that the East to West routes have but one would still expect to see healthy volume along the Danube here in Vienna. Perhaps the harbors of Friedenau, Albern and Lobau are sufficient and well enough situated that additional traffic within the city and further upstream is unnecessary. Perhaps there just isn’t enough demand for the products being produced in Germany and Austria among the 10 countries along the Danube, but I would at least expect enough demand from the countries of the Black Sea, such as the Ukraine, Russia and Turkey such that we see large container ships headed down river with German and Austrian goods and commodities.

So where’s all the traffic on the Danube? As it turns out according to the Bloomberg article listed below, some of that traffic has disappeared because of a failure to maintain the riverway to international waterway standards of 2.5 meters. Drought and variable water levels has forced automakers to ship their vehicles via alternate methods. Current volume of shipping is said to be half what it was during the Soviet Bloc era. Dredging of the lower Danube needs to be done before we will see large container vessels and auto barges heading all the way to the Black Sea. Receiving through-traffic between the North Sea and the Black Sea via the Danube and it’s canals is the big goal, and right now it appears to be out of reach until the necessary maintainance is completed. However, in the meantime, for a wealthy city like Vienna, there should be far more boaters on the water than what one usually sees in the Summer. Perhaps some people prefer to head down to the Neusiedlersee (Lake Neusiedl). I may be biased, having grown up on a lake, thinking of course you would want to get out on the water when possible. Maybe this is just a cultural difference. I’d be interested to know what folks think is contributing to the low number of boats on the Danube here in Vienna. Share your thoughts.

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Did a lot of walking yesterday. Perhaps I am spending too much time walking but it is the best way to pass the time while listening to an audiobook. I just finished listening to Norman Mailer‘s “The Castle in the Forest“. “Der Waldschloss” was a term used in this fictional account, at the very least, by some of the jewish prisoners at some concentration camp during World War II. It was meant to be ironic. To say their home in the woods was not a prison but a castle was an attempt at preserving a bit of humor after having had all other luxuries taken from them.

The book transports you to pre-World War Imperial Austria. I found myself listening to the narrator wondering what of the story was dredged up from Mailer’s own meandering mind and what came from his research of Adolph Hitler‘s actual forebears and childhood. His main character, a demon, inhabits the minds of some variously perverse old world Austrian ancestors to Hitler. While doing so the demon describes their inner thoughts and weaknesses and his role in promoting and engendering their perversions in the run up to his final product, a young Hitler. How much of this is coming from the author’s own psyche and how much is he fabricating from whole cloth? Is this a window into the mind of an old Jew from Brooklyn? Does it give us some sense of how an old Jew might have demonized Hitler? After all, for Mailer Hitler was a figure that was a contemporary popular culture figure at a formative time of the author’s life. It is surprising to hear the detailed extent of this exploration of various demon-harangued minds. Mailer himself is so far removed from these people in geography and lifestyle that he must have been quite some time in the research phase of this book to understand the equipment, and daily chores that would have made up the lifestyle for these people. Understanding what would a late 19th century teenage Austrian boy really treasure, and how would he speak too his mother and father is really about understanding what could they have even *owned* and had as possibilities in their lives back then. Mailer makes some believable characters, but they still appear to be presented at arms length as a result of being only periodically inhabited by the narrating demon, as opposed to the author himself doing the inhabiting of the characters, and narrating the story from their perspective. So one never really see the world *as* Hitler, but receives reports from the demon as he is sometimes the internal viewer of the events and sometimes the external viewer in young Adi’s life. 

So we learn a great deal about the feelings and stresses of being a mid-level demon. This part Mailer certainly *has* made up whole cloth and I think he has done a wonderful job. Mailer’s creativity is a force of detailed exposition. The intricate methods of ‘The Maestro’ and his henchmen are the kind of ingenuity that make for great fantasy or science fiction. Demons are henchmen forced to do the bidding of ‘The Maestro’ and are required to inhabit the minds of their ‘clients’. The idea that performing the Devil’s work has a certain fiscal consequence that has to be accounted for is hilarious. But they are capable of a few other interesting tricks. They can inhabit food, such as honey. They can etch new dreams for their clients as well as review past events witnessed by fellow demons as if they themselves were there. Some of the temptations and abilities of the demons have analogues with modern living. We are certainly still struggling with some of the same temptations as we always have been. But the non-local awareness aspects of the demon’s abilities does remind one of the voyeuristic capabilities of modern communications and social networks. We can all now monitor to a greater or lesser degree various people from within and without or own social circles. Who influences who and to what purpose is always debatable.

English: Norman Mailer, Miami Book Fair Intern...

English: Norman Mailer, Miami Book Fair International, 1988 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The book gives the Hitler family a long history of perversion as if to make the boy Hitler an unwitting sum of families poor breeding. As if to say he is so evil, he cannot be a normal man, he must have required great preparation, such that the end result was almost inevitable. It makes a great story. And to be honest, listening to the audiobook on Halloween, riding Strassenbahn 1 from the 5th district in Vienna through the Ringstrasse to the Hundertwasserhaus was wonderfully creepy. It made me suspicious of who might be inhabiting the various characters on the tram with me that night. Isn’t this what a good book is supposed to do? It makes you look at the world around you and wonder if its not quite another world than what you thought it was before you started the book. If you are a fan of this period of history already, Mailer’s The Castle In The Forest is great for that purpose. Here’s a link to a sample from the audiobook

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ESO publication statistics compared to other o...

ESO publication statistics compared to other observatories (Photo credit: European Southern Observatory)

So I woke up this morning to find this article sitting in my queue purporting to have raw data indicating that as the population of a county increased so did the percentage of votes in the primary GOP election that were directed to Mitt Romney. The authors of the article are basically pointing out that this anomalous behavior favoring a single candidate is characteristic of a form of voter fraud called vote-flipping. Please send feedback if you have some insight into this kind of statistical analysis or voter fraud.

Additionally, if this shows prior voter fraud for the primary, we should be even more concerned about the potential for more voter fraud in Ohio. Votes will be counted in Ohio electronically, and without a paper trail to back them up by a company which Romney’s family, former coworkers and supporters have investment ties to according to this article. 


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Had a great time helping out with the exhibit at Gallerie Steiner when Zeev came to Vienna. He is a lot of fun to work with and it turned out to be a good idea that he brought his friend Armando to help with the setup the day before. We had a pretty good turn out. Visit before the show ends November 5th. Contact me if you are interested in any of the prints in other formats or framed.

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