Jan 4, 2010

things that happened

palm pre
gray hair
apple ginger plum quiche
Fever Ray
Ricky Gervais
Blood Red Shoes
living in one room
mexican wedding

... are some of the highlights of last year.
It feels like it will be easy to top those for the coming one.


Oct 15, 2009

macbooks are awesome

I totally Barney-fied myself with the constant use of awesome for everything that is... awesome.

My MacBook is awesome and I finally figured out why and also why not.

The battery time is... fabulous as long as Chromium is not the used web browser. That little sucker is a power vampire. An awesome browser but where are my (at least) 5hr battery time when he's around? They're gone and shrunk to 2 miserable little hours.

Safari could be better.

I love the screen, so bright I could be tanning with it. Awesome Warp 5!

It's still heavy. Not so awesome.

It does fit my awesome KATA 3N1-20 Camera bag (-that-does-not-look-like-a-camera-bag) like a glllloooove with the camera and extra stuff like lens, charger (mac), moleskine, a book, food, water... and more! Super awesome.

It's proving to be a great, hum, awesome travel companion.

The speck cover makes it look even more awesome and I can't wait to customize the lid with a stencil.

The speakers are not too bad either.


PS: it has been a long time since I've posted on me good old blog that nobody reads but tales of my time in NYC, Toronto and Montréal will surface soon.

Jun 11, 2009

The things I did in Ess-Eff

I am a strong believer that getting things done is the best way to keep a clear head. Once old tasks are over and the mind does not have to think about them anymore, they're just done, over, finiti, precious time is not wasted anymore. A believer does not make me a follower though.
I come to conclude that I can be quite lazy, more than I like to admit, but things do eventually get done. A long-delayed task is the "Tales of San Francisco (cont.)" episode. Since the last post, I've been to Heidelberg (twice), Madrid and then Lisbon and it's night-scene hood called "Santos". I won't be going into the how and why for now, I'll just resume where I left last time and get that story done.

Couchsurfing can be a marvelous thing, it can be enjoyed from different perspectives, as a host, a guest, someone meeting people or a site contributor - it's an organization driven by voluntarism after all. Being a guest requires a different kind of efforts than as a host. Lessons learned as one can be applied as the other - take dish washing for example, I can't think of anyone actually enjoying that chore! As a host, it's just lovely when guests have the initiative to get that done for me after dinner. As a guest, it's a no brainer and it takes max 15mins if there's really a lot to clean. In a scale of 1-10, I would rate cooking at 10 and dish-washing at 7-8. Comparing the hassle, dish washing has the best effort/reward ratio! One important detail is to RINSE the dishes, I hate to see my dishes put to dry with foam on them... yuck!!!
Yes, in SF, I did the dishes and we all had dinner at my hosts' place.

So, the first night, with me totally jet-lagged and my muscles hurting from the excellent United Airlines ride on coach - after this one experience, I don't recommend that company to anyone - we went out for some drinks and enjoy local bars & beers. In the Heights, Magnolia (beer experts) and Trax, the gay bar were the first boozing up spots.

Next day, after some more hours of sleep behind me, I was ready to face the city. I met up with Jeanne who drove me around and we spent the afternoon checking out China Town (and discovered the deliciousness in portk buns), Sutro Baths, the GG Bridge and even had the chance to try a slurpy (slurpee?) and enjoy a paralyzing brain freeze. Well, that was a day well spent in company of really cool people. We ended up at a CS meeting which according to the habitués was one of the best and busiest.
This was also the coffee revelation day. J, my host, gave me the local tip, where to get the best coffee. From that day on, Phil'z Coffee was my morning pitstop. The night ended up with Jeanne and her friends at night to check Revolution (live Jazz bar) and the Makeout Bar. Revolution has a cool social feature, a single toilet. Standing in the queue is a great oportunity to start some small (very brief indeed) talk.

The following was a rainy day and Yuri's night. The California Academy of Sciences (CalAcademy) organizes once a week an evening for grown-ups only. Meaning, you need to be 21 and still get a Nightlife ticket if you want to enjoy a museum of natural sciences with a theme (Yuri Gagarin's birthday this time), live DJs and a bar! This kind of museum is usually the place for children, spending a day there is not that easy when all those high-pitched voices decide to scream, yell and party. That night was not less quieter, it was just so much fun, everybody happy and boozed up, checking out animals, celebrating the lizard's wall climbing prowesses, the albino aligator and other wildlife samples. We finished up at Jay's place and had the best cheese toasts.

Herzog & DeMeuron are famous swiss architects. Their contribution to the city is the deYoung modern art museum, just across CalAcademy. The building is EFFIN' fantastic, it has a freely accessible tower with a great view over the city, too bad the exhibits were... oh well, not as good as I expected - the YSL was unfortunately gone by then:(
The night was celebrated with a nice veggie dinner at my hosts'. I brought some recipes and proposed the excellent mango-ginger-tofu. It just happens that my recipe, taken from a webpage was the exact copy of one inside S' (the other host) vegetarian recipe book. It was a fab dinner, crowned by a cleansing shot of delicious bavarian Schnapps!

I was alone in the city for 2 afternoons I think, I dedicated 3 tasks to one of them: find an electronics store to compare netbook prices, find a certain coffee shop (bluebottle) and visit SFMOMA. I only managed to get the 3rd one done and wow... was that one cool museum. Like any other modern art museum, the building caused some controversy when it was built but now it is just well integrated and easy to spot. The first exhibit was ironically about the graphic designs for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Too bad the pictures I took sucked but the pieces, as few as they were, had quite an impressive quality considering the period (for me, everything before 2000 is old). Needless to say that I had a great time at the SFMOMA and spent a lot of time walking with my eyes wide open, enjoying the quality of the building and its exhibits.

Easter Sunday, a children's day spent with grown-ups. I heard that there are more dogs than children in the city. I am not sure if the gay population has anything to do with it. What matters is that grown-ups having fun is equally enjoyable. The Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence celebrated that day their 30th Birthday. Like for the past years, Hunky Jesus is one of the events at their Easter day spent on Dolores Park. Several blokes (or even chicks) dress up as Jesus and go on stage to announce themselves. The winner was Brokeback Jesus, an announcement welcomed with applause from the happy crowd. There were concerts, the sisters, drag queens dressed up as nuns, walked around talking to people and collecting money for the cause.

Facebook played a role at the end of the event. I had announced my trip to SF on my FB Wall and a couple of CSers I had met in Berlin at Susi's would join us at Dolores tomeet up. It was a win-win situation, they saw an event they never heard of and Y and I went to the BYOBWR (Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race). Imagine grown-ups on little 3- or 4-wheel carts riding full speed down a very curvy slope, Vermont St (even curvier than Lombard St).

This was another day alone in the city, that I ended at Grace Cathedral. An intriguing building with lots of interesting single elements, the Virgin Mary vitral, an AIDS Memorial piece by Keith Haring.
The night was spent in lovely Marin County, up north of SF after the GG-Bridge. Dan and Jeanne were so nice to take me back to the city after we missed the last bus which we did not even see drive past.

It has been a long time since I posted about a travel. I do hope to be able to report about NYC and Montréal this year still. I'll do my best to prepare myself and have enough cash to finance it. The last 2 travels and my first DSLR, the fab-fab Nikon (pronounced Knee-khon and not Neye-kon, like Nike) D90 kind of used up my travel fund:P

live long and travel a lot,

Apr 23, 2009

If you’re going, to Saaaaann Fraaaancisco….

I noticed that Twitter is the blogging tools for either lazy or people with ADHD. I am more the latter than the former (btw, TwitBin is a must-have Firefox add-on for any twitter). The same difficulty as with long e-mails persists, staying focused is hard! But I will make an effort - like I always did - and report about my latest travel, one week in San Francisco.

First and foremost, I agree that the city should not be called Frisco (too whack) nor SanFran (too lame). Emperor Norton was right when he promised a 25USD fine for anyone calling his beloved city, Frisco. He was a nutcase but some people consider him a genius. Didn’t they [the people] say the same about King Ludwig II or any other eccentric figure? Well… moving on!

After spending a week in Seattle, a must-do for any Microsoft employee (now ex-, thank you very much), I was not sure I wanted to get back to the US of A. As a Couchsurfer, the story changed when I met some really cool people from across the pond. Two of them live close to SF (this is how I am going to call it from now on). I initially charted 3 American cities to check out before I die, NY, Chicago and SF. With the spring-break’s cheap fares, SF sounded reasonable even if the fare was not that cheap (the flight-company was) and instead of taking 3 weeks to visit all three of them, I split the plan and decided on the furthest one for a week around Easter .

The first thing I thought when I was back… ok, the SECOND think I thought when I was back was “It’s so great to be a CSer!”. Two weeks in advance, I started looking for people to host me, many were not going to be there (consequence of the spring-break) but I did end up finding a place where they even allowed me to hang out for the WHOLE week, woohoo!!! I was ecstatic, happy to have everything fall into place which it did!The first night, I was introduced to some local beers, the Haight District and a gay bar playing the music along with their videos (a personal dream of mine come true… I am talking about the Music and Videos in case you’re wondering).

That was the first night, the following ones were pretty similar, made of meeting friends of friends, going out, have some beer, enjoying the scene and the people.

I am THE worst tourist in the world, but I love to go to places even if I hate traveling alone. My curiosity for the local tourist spots was equal to zero, I could not care less! You think I went to Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 63 or whatever it's called, , etc... ? Think again!

If it wasn’t for Jeanne, Scott and Yaffa, I’d be left strolling through the city like an idiot. I did not check all the “must see” boxes in the tourist guide, but I checked those in mine and they are related to hanging out with people.

I’ll leave the intro for now and promise to be back later with some of my stories in the city.

The travel bug is definitely in, I am going to Heidelberg this WE, a place many people describe at first with “Americans love it…”. Honestly, is that supposed to tell me something? I am not going there influenced by that highly descriptive and very influencing impression. It’s supposedly a very nice place and living in good old Germania for 3 years now, I should know more about some of the national spots than I actually do. So yes, this is a cultural effort!



PS: I am taking my flashing new D90 for a spin up there!!!! yeeeehaaaaa!!!

Mar 29, 2009

The whole Mac vs PC is a discussion I experience almost every day. Ever since I started working as the internal IT in a consulting firm (with some really fantastic people), the discussions are usually about usability.

It's like a tennis game, every feature played like a ball being hit back and forth between the PC and the Mac guy. So when Quicksilver was mentioned, my reply was Launchy. Although not as powerful, it still remains a decent tool to run applications (I'll be trying another one called Skylight). When I want to open Word, I just hit the shortcut combination, the box opens and I start typing W, O, R... and hit enter when the app I was looking for shows up. The same goes for Microsoft Expression Design: D, E, S, I... and there it goes.

The app is Open Source and I have to contribute to the project considering that I don't even let their ADs show up thanks to Add-Art and NoScript in Firefox and they know it, judging by the message in the AD placeholder...

I am happy that the keyboard is being given a chance to make work/life with a computer a liiiittle bit less annoying.


Mar 8, 2009

it took a while but I finally did it

Going up...

It took 3 years. 3 busy years to finally do what almost anyone from Bavaria or Munich experienced more than once.

One of the perks of working for a company owned by snow fans, is the nature of the team-building activities. So, with a couple of months of anticipation, came a great.. no, a fantastic weekend in the snow in Tirol, this time at the Stubaier Glacier.

The last time I expected to crash my nose in some snow was almost 2 decades ago, when at primary school, we'd travel to Fiesch in Switzerland for winter holidays. Back then, I basically learned how to do the snow-plow... and it sucked!

The plan for this weekend was to try to be part of the "cool" crowd and give Snowboarding a shot. Circumstances dictated that I'd be going for ski and I have to admit that it was awesoooome (to be spoken out with a high-toned voice)! Wow, what a rush. All of a sudden, those 2 plastic and metal laminated feet extensions just chewed that snow and took me down-hill. It was then that I realized that the whole secret of skiing is to know how to turn and brake.

One 2h ski lesson for beginners was a bit short for some of the stuff we exposed ourselves to and of course, we felt the consequences. They were just not bad enough for us to keep on doing it more and more and in the end, I am proud to announce myself as a skier! A basic one, but still a skier and I will NOT be looking into snowboarding for a while.

I am totally open to skiing now. Without any gear, it gets expensive: pants, gloves, goggles, jacket, boots, skis and helmet for the hardware. Then comes the ride TO the mountain and the skipass to be allowed all the way UP, around 3011m today.

My current leg muscle pain is attached to good memories so I don't think I'll be complaining about them.



Feb 11, 2009

I learned what a Bloc is...

In England it's what they call a case of beer! I won't be going into details about what a bloc party is then. Last monday the band with that name delivered a great performance! It was a f'in great gig!

The joys of attending concerts are just unique. Everyone is there for the same reason, beer can fall on us but we won't really mind, there's a lot of pushing, pulling, jumping, grabbing, eyes-closed head banging, sweat, yelling... and all thos can be obtained fora a fair price at a Bloc Party concert. Just listening to the albums can give a glimpse of what it can be like to be in that crowd. I did get some nasty evil looks fromtrying to stay in the front (as in the 3rd row), but it's part of the game.

Oh, the video is here. The sound is much better than the film, it was a bit hard to keep steady in the crowd.

The upcoming gigs I am attending are totally different though, The Romeros, Bat for Lashes and The Dø. Everybody's welcome to join, you just have to be in Munich at the right date and time.


Feb 5, 2009

my bathroom needs pixels

CPLUV never ceases to amaze me with the best design ideas collected from all over the world.

The following reference just opened my eyes to a whole other application of pixel art!

Absolutely brilliant! I'd love to take my morning (afternoon and evening) showers in a place with pieces of art like those!



Jan 23, 2009

Downadup aka...

... Conficker.

It's the name of the latest and greatest evil to daunt Windows computers. Just ask the British DOD, Hospitals, a couple Million people what they think about it and you're likely to be smashed in the face.

Living in a German country and thus speaking the language does permit me to draw a smile every time I read another news about the Conficker.

he's sneaky - link
he's nasty - link
he's everywhere - link
he's skilled - link


Jan 5, 2009

how to go nuts about a white box

Dude, I love the Wii, but not the least as much as these guys do:

Those kids' reactions (hum, hysteria attacks) are just a blast!
Check out the crying one at 2:55...

I could have gotten a Wii and a Balance Board for a fair price, but then I realized I really don't have the space and don't really NEED that additional gizmo B)
This means I'll continue playing on Jana's and compete against her on Wii Sports and Wii Fit.

Wiiiiiiiii into the new year...