tracking suits…

no, i didn’t mean to write “track suit” 🙂 the astronauts on the ISS will be releasing a used astronaut’s spacesuit filled with a radio and sensors into orbit. according to NASA’s suitsat page explains how the russian cosmonauts came up with the idea of stuffing “three batteries, a radio transmitter, and internal sensors to measure temperature and battery power” into used (and, one assumes, retired) spacesuits. using a police scanner (hmm, now, who’d have one of those?) or a ham radio one can tune in: 145.990 MHz FM 🙂

now, if we could just release all suits into space…


just watched BBC1’s insideout, especially a feature about the “development” of london’s portobello road. “development” in quotes because it’s really about driving out old, established small shops and businesses to increase the yield through rents that are 100% higher and can only be afforded by the big chain stores (just noticed that my hands wanted to write “chain saws”…fitting, though, as these chain stores just mercilessly cut through established societal fabrics, destroying local culture and colour wherever they appear). the term the presenter sumi bose used was clonetowns — very appropriate!

growing grass on jute bags

just read an article in the german edition of february’s technology review about the work of harmut koehler on the revitec(tm) project. the revitec project tries to stop and reverse desertification by using jute bags (recycled coffee bean bags, bremen is one of the major german coffee importing and processing ports) filled with sand, compost and other organic material. the jute bags are then used as “breeding ground” for weeds, grass, and even tree. the jute bags decompose over time (after two years they apparently have completely disintegrated) and the plants then tend to spread further and further — and stop desertification! a nice project.

reminds me a bit of my attempt to create a pair of grass trousers back in 1985 as a kind of running gag for our high school graduation week — i took a pair of old jeans, a can of spray-on glue, applied the stuff to the pair of jeans, then sprinkled grass seeds all over it and kept the whole appliance wet for a couple of weeks. well, the only thing running was my nose: i had applied the spray-on glue in a closed room and my nose had not taken that assault kindly, causing me to sit through my verbal exams with a case of a badly running nose…the grass pants didn’t really work out as planned. (it would have looked cool though 😉

lessons learned back then:

  • gardening was not my forte
  • reading the manual is sometimes a good thing to do

worship service in erlangen

this morning had us a bit worked up: we had planned and then this morning led through today’s worship service at our baptist church here in erlangen. all a bit exciting and we certainly had a bout of stage fever. everything worked out fine and even the sermon was well received (sigh of relief 🙂

over lunch we were invited by friends, which we enjoyed very much. the rest of the afternoon is spent working on the missing pictures of last thursday, friday, saturday, and sunday… (you might notice that saturday’s picture technically is not really saturday’s picture: the date & time recorded in it’s EXIF data is already past midnight and would thus indicate that it’s been taken on sunday already: not so, the clock on my digital camera is still running on summer time [and i can’t be bothered to switch it, not with another summer time rushing towards us]).

p.s.: due to numerous requests i’ve now added a “quick link…” section to the right side bar on…

a picture a day each day…

this is exciting! as i wrote earlier this year, the idea of taking (at least) a picture a day had me hooked…i’m still at it (yeah, it’s really early days, but still) and it’s exciting and tough at the same time:

  • exciting because i have to keep looking for new views, new “photo ops” each day, and each day is in that way like a surprise —
  • which is also the tough part: if i’m on vacation it’s kind of easy to find new photo ops each minute, however, being in my every-day-life environment at home and at work (where there might be quite a number of very interesting pictures but those i can’t take or publish) makes this a challenge.

as i said, so far i’m still at it…:-)

“zur sonne brüder, zum licht!” (a trip to zugerberg)

it’s sunday…yesterday we attended a full day workshop on “aufatmen und frei sein” (roughly translated as “breath again and be free”) which was organized by the united methodist church of switzerland and took place in zurich. it was rather refreshing and provided lots of encouragement not only to take a positive, christian view of the world but also to try and make a difference in other people’s lives. the workshop was done by robert seitz (contributing excellent texts, giving much food for thought) and christof fankhauser (accentuating and amplifying seitz’s texts through his musical meditations and songs). excellent stuff.

today, we are off to take a winter walk. originally i wanted to take a walk on top of rigi — to which my beloved wife objects on the grounds that it takes too long to get there…hmm…the argument that there’s a very pleasant boat ride from lucerne to vitznau included somehow does not find a lot of purchase — instead an alternative is proposed: zugerberg. at first i’m quite sceptical. “zugerberg” sounds like a lot like “üetliberg”, the favourite local mountain of all of zurich (with good weather up on üetliberg and bad weather down in zurich, that is quite often in winter, you almost have to queue to take a walk)…but: it only takes 1 hour 10min to get there by public transport. as my wife (as always 🙂 has a point about the travel time required to get on top of rigi, we finally agree on zugerberg.

so, after a nice sunday morning breakfast we take the train at 10:55 to sihlbrugg, change into the train from zurich to zug, take a local bus up to the ground station of the zugerberg funicular railway and then the funicular railway up the mountain. while it’s all grey in grey down in the plain, once we pass the 900m mark we break through to the sun! up at the mountain station we have a fantastic view across the alps, with pilatus to our right, followed by rigi and a bunch of other mountains (sorry, pilatus & rigi are about the only ones i can identify — unlike mr r who knows the silhouette of every swiss mountain from any direction at any time of day).

we take the large walk combining winter walks #2, #3, and #4 into one long walk. quite a number of people are up here, but it’s not crowded yet. part of the high plateau up zugerberg consists of moor land: and the vegetation looks rather like the moor land of northern germany transplanted to the alps! cool! 🙂

all in all a very nice day — thanks to dorothee!

welcome to 2006!

a happy & blessed 2006 to you all!

on 21 december spiegel online had an article about a young photographer, lisa frischemeier, who had done a rather interesting project in 2005: she’d taken and published one picture a day every day in 2005! quite a challenge…but worth the try. above is my first. taken on the way from church to the railway station (getting tickets back to zürich for tomorrow). erlangen once had a thriving glove industry, this picture shows one of the few remaining guild signs.