Law and Order in the Park

Several months ago while driving in Berlin, I was passed by an official-looking car that caught my attention.  I snapped this photo of it at the next intersection:

Ordnungsamt vehicle

Ordnungsamt vehicle

The word Ordnungsamt on the back of the car translates literally as Orderliness Department, although a more meaningful rendering might be Office for Public Order.  I know that Germans have a reputation for being orderly, but still I was surprised to see that a public office was devoted to maintaining order.  And I wasn’t really sure what members of the Ordnungsamt do.  Today I found out.

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District Heating System in Flachau, Austria

[A version of this article was also posted at].

Annette, our daughters and I just spent a week in Flachau, Austria with Annette’s family. Flachau is not far from the Austrian city of Graz, where Annette lived until she was twelve years old. Over the years I have heard stories about Flachau, because it’s where Annette used to go skiing with her family when she was a child.  I was pleased that we could give our daughters a version of the ski experience that Annette and her sisters had as children. I say “a version,” because thirty years ago Flachau was a sleepy farming village, and today it’s a bustling ski town.  We had great conditions for skiing, and I am posting some photos in the Gallery section for anyone who might be interested.

district heating plant tucked into the landscape

district heating plant in the distance

2 close-up of buildingOne morning Annette and I looked after our two year old nephew Jonas so that his parents — Annette’s sister Doreen and her husband Stefan — could go skiing together.   We pulled Jonas in a sled along a cross-country ski trail that brought us by a large industrial building flanked by huge piles of logs and chips.

“Holzwärme Flachau” read the sign on the front of the building — Wood Heating Flachau.  The building is the heart of Flachau’s “Fernwärme Netzwerk,” or district heating system. Locally sourced wood chips are burned to create hot water that is pumped throughout the village to provide heat and hot water to residents.

A few days later I was back at the facility, asking for a tour.  What follows are notes and photos from that tour.

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