Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just Out of Town

Park Gate
Originally uploaded by pschwarz.
Potsdam, Germany

I took me a while to get out of the city. I haven't really figured out much of the surrounding areas, to know what to visit or where to go. Perhaps I've been preoccupied with the newness of my circumstances.

There's some pretty spectacular sites around here, as it turns out.

Potsdam is a relatively close city, under an hour by train from Berlin. Close enough that it's part of the Berlin transit system, actually. I headed out that way early on a Saturday morning.

Historically, it was the capital of Prussia, during the reigns of the Prussian kings. Here they had built the seat of their power. While the main palace of the kings was destroyed in 1945 - one with a not-surprisingly Louvre-like layout - the summer palace of the kings remains.

Schloss Sanssouci is a remarkable piece of roccoco architecture, dating from the mid-18th century. It was built by Fredrick the Great to serve as a summer home for the royal family and their entourages. It was a center of art and theatre for the family, and played host to numerous parties and official functions.

The palace itself is surrounded by a beautiful park, peppered with smaller palaces and outdoor venues. There are ponds and fountains, both of the obviously man-made designs, and some natural (or, at least, designed to appear so). The trees that line the roads give the park a more pristine and natural look. This wealth of trees seems to be a hallmark of German parks.

Just beyond the park lies the Altstadt, or Old City, which is a surprisingly modern grid layout of a two or three story buildings. Here there are shops and restaurants, both small and independent or larger high-end chain stores. It is quite pleasant to walk the streets.

As for my day of it, there was much, too much walking. Having been traveling about by foot and subway, I've been neglecting resting up my legs. I'm enjoying a day off, with only enough walking to go find a place for dinner.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Hardware Failure

Berlin, Germany

I've gone into great detail about my recent hardware failure here. All is resolved now, and I should be able to post, upload pictures, communicate via Skype regularly.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Move Somewhat out of the Blue

Berlin, Germany

Right, so I've moved to Berlin. Not necessarily a shocker for most friends of mine, but if I still have any readers that I don't know, well, that's the scoop.

The question is, what brought this move about?

Hawaii was, well, a nice place to visit - for a year, mind you - but I couldn't see myself living there for a long period of time. Work life was unsatisfying, travel life was extremely limited, and the tango scene, while friendly, was not very exciting.

Berlin, on the other hand, certainly has all three of those things: interesting work, potential for travel, and, by all accounts, a great tango scene. This are certainly reasons why I ultimately chose Berlin as a destination, but it was not the reason why I chose it in the first place.

It really comes down to Jobs at Joel on Software. The job board is frankly, incredible. The number of interesting positions there is surprising, given the size of the list. That being said, all of the replies and interviews I've had in the last two and a half years have been as a result of said job board.

I was looking in Europe as a whole, and New York as a US fallback. My current employer just happened to respond to my resume. That they are in Berlin is merely coincidence, in my opinion. It wouldn't have mattered if they were in France, Spain, or Norway. I would have gone, just to be able to go.

So here I am, getting myself both immersed in the city, the culture and the bureaucracy. I hope to produce more on all three subjects in the coming weeks and months.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Hilo, HI

There have been a couple of minor earthquakes on the island this past month. The first was a 5.2 magnitude quake, on the 14th. The second was a much smaller 4.2 on the 22nd.[1]

I felt the them both, to my surprise.

The 5.2 was enough to show up on the instrument read-outs of the telescope. In fact, the sensors for the positioning of the secondary mirror are sensitive enough to provide a pretty accurate seismograph of the event. Fortunately, there was no lasting effect on the summit facility.

There was a much larger quake in 2006, which caused a considerable amount of damage around the island. This included some severe damage to some of the resorts on the Kona-side of the island, as well as long term shutdowns of many observatories (including Gemini) at summit.

[1] I actually have no idea how long the links to the facts on these earthquakes last. I'll correct the links if they disappear.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Big Island Tango

Originally uploaded by pschwarz.
Hilo, HI.

This is a demo given at a recent milonga in Hilo. Not the greatest turnout, but everyone who came danced every song. A lot of enthusiasm for the dance, even though the community is small.

These sorts of events will help it grow.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by pschwarz.
Hilo, HI

Finally got my second dive in. It was much more interesting than the first one. There were an incredible amount of fish as well as a number of sea turtles. The turtles made my day, really.

Of course, I'm still pretty new at this, so I'm spending much of my time watching where I'm going, looking where my group is, concentrating on my breathing, etc. It pays off...unless you have no idea what you're doing. I hadn't really had any training using my Buoyancy Control Device (BCD). This resulted in me over compensating and therefore shooting up to the surface, followed by a quick drop back to the bottom...twice.

Lessons learned, though. I got the hang of it after the instructor gave me run down of the equipment again (at thirty feet below the surface). I did end up skipping the second dive planned for the day. I've gotten old enough to know when not to push myself.

Yeah, my right ear hurts like hell now. I'm told it'll go away in a day or two. I'll be back in the water after the Holidays.

Monday, December 08, 2008

From the Archives...

Originally uploaded by RobFargo
These ping pong tables are permanent structures in the Dortm√ľnd parks. All you need to provide are paddles and balls.

Not for the easily vertigoed...