if only the US army would go one step further…

sgt-star.jpgon my walk up from home to the lab i’ve been listening to [the world technology podcast][] — [one of the pieces was about the US army now employing an avatar, _sergeant star_, to recruit new cannon fodder][sergeant star]. at first i though, “wow, they are having an office in [secondlife][] now” but then it transpired that it’s a 2D avatar on [their homepage][sgt star]…duh, boring.

[sergeant star]: http://www.theworld.org/?q=node/4588
[secondlife]: http://secondlife.com/
[the world technology podcast]: http://www.theworld.org/
[sgt star]: http://www.goarmy.com/ChatWithStar.do

but that got me thinking: if only they would take it to secondlife — and i mean all of “it”: the recruiting *and* the fighting! instead of wreaking havoc on other nations we could have the armies fight it out on some sims in some virtual world…

two eagles & a frozen waterfall

zürich must have been a lonely place over the weekend: yesterday, when we passed through zürich main station on our way to pfäffikon (sz), the trains leaving zürich and heading for the south were chock-full! i guess all of zürich was on its way to the mountains: the first really good snow situation since christmas last year! we were ourselves on our way to pfäffikon to meet up with fellow snow shoe-ers from the [zindelspitz section of the swiss alpine club][sac-zindelspitz] and then on to [brienz and axalp for two days of snow shoeing!][axalp-tour]

[sac-zindelspitz]: http://www.sac-zindelspitz.ch/
[axalp-tour]: http://www.sac-zindelspitz.ch/angebot/januar/27_sek_axalp.shtml

cow bell collection at bramisegg pubwe were among the first to arrive in pfäffikon but were soon joined by the rest of the group. after making sure that everyone had snow shovel and avalanche beacon, our tour guide fredi declares us ready to go — which is fortunate, as our train is about to leave. via thalwil we go to lucerne, change to the [brünig pass train][] (fantastic view, narrow gauge rails!) and arrive finally at brienz. from here it’s by post bus up a _very_ narrow winding road to bramisegg where we have an excellent lunch at the bramisegg pub!

[brünig pass train]: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%BCnigbahn

lunch out of the way we are itching to start snow shoeing — our hotel landlord (over night we are staying at the very nice _[chemihüttli hotel]_ up at axalp) had come down to bramisegg and arranges for transport up to teiffental by stopping everything on wheels that’s coming down the mountain road: a couple of us are ferried up in the car of the bramisegg’s cook, a couple get to ride on a snow plow that happened to come down for a lunch break — it seems like the whole village is drafted into service!

[chemihüttli hotel]: http://www.chemihuettli.ch/

SAC zindelspitz snow-shoeing up towards hennefidlefinally, at teiffental we mount our gear and set off! the weather is clearing up: instead of the closed cloud cover that we had so far we get more and more sunny intervals. the snow is fantastic — powdery and absolutely no comparison with the harsh and crunchy stuff we experienced two weeks before at st moritz and maloja! we slowly wind our way up the mountain. the tour is fantastic — as is the landscape!

last sunshine for todayabove lake hinterburgseeli we get a lesson in how to descend a rather steep slope: clearly the telemark style is the most elegant alas only two of our group have that skill — the rest either try to step down or very pragmatically sled down on their behinds…lots of fun 😀

once around the lake it’s up the mountain again and then follow a trail through the forest to axalp.

[our hotel][chemihüttli hotel] is quite nice and consists of three huts: one the restaurant, one a bar, and the largest one the actual hotel itself. the rooms are nice and large (mrs d & i share a four bed room with two others from our group) and the landlord turns out to be the cook as well — and a good cook to boot!

after a nice and relaxed dinner (and a whisky in the bar hut), we retreat to our rooms — the night is a bit noisy in spite of very good beds: one of our group of four is snoring like there’s no tomorrow; sigh, i forgot to bring my ear plugs 🙁 (note to self: stock up on ear plugs and distribute them over my rucksacks).

after a very nice breakfast we are off to our second snow shoe tour: up to lütschental then down to bödeli, up again to fangisalb and across and down again through the giessbach valley back to bramisegg — advertized as a “leisurely 3 1/2 hour” tour by fredi.

the weather is even better than yesterday: blue skies! the hike up to lütschental is in places breathtaking: walking on a snow covered narrow ledge the valley drops down below us to our right… after 1.5 hours we arrive at lütschental — and see two eagles take off and disappear into the surrounding mountains! a magnificent view seeing those two birds of prey take to the skies! it seems they had just killed a chamois — whose bloody corpus is just a few meters away from our resting point.

meandering giessbach and friendsfrom lütschental on we leave the road that we’ve been following so far and follow a summer trail across the mountain side. this part of the trail is now crossing avalanche areas (the slope is in places more then 30°). a first gouge we manage to cross one by one, the second one stops us: it’s in the shadow and full of unsettled snow. we have to backtrack all the way to lütschental and then take a different route down to the valley floor. our slope descend training from yesterday comes in handy — it’s a rather long descent and steep descent, quite an ardorous task.

nobody’s been down here since it snowed and we are the first to make our way around the valley floor — which at this point has become a cauldron which is only accessible from above as the only way out is a creek twiggling its way through a narrow gorge. at the end of the cauldron is a large waterfall: it’s front is frozen white-green, but still there’s water flowing in the back! a wonderful view!

the original plan had been to follow the ski tour trail up to fangisalb: on closer inspection it turns out that there’s no such ski tour trail and where it was supposed to be is an overgrown slope that is impractical to follow — we need to make our own trail up! exciting and lots of fun!

our trail up near fangisalb…eventually we reach the top and enjoy some dramatic views across the snow cover high plateau towards faulhorn and the surrounding mountains.

while the views are just great with all the snow up here we have a bit of a problem finding our path — after a wrong attempt and some backtracking we finally make it across the mountain and join the trail back down to bramisegg. we are now seriously behind schedule and it’s obvious that we won’t make the 15:58 post bus back from bramisegg to brienz — unfortunately our delay increases quite a bit: the ski tour trail down through giessbach valley turns out to be another piece of fiction as it winds its way through a wooded gorge and becomes quite a challenge to walk down in snow shoes with all the tree roots to circumnavigate (how one is supposed to do this with ski remains a mystery).

in the end we not only miss the 16:58 but also the 17:25 post bus and arrive at bramisegg at 17:55. despite the effort of the brienz taxi drivers that we summon up the mountain we get to brienz station just in time to see the train back to lucerne leave…bummer! as the next one is not due until an hour later we take refuge in the restaurant across the road from the station and have our first real break today!

we are back home after a long but fantastic day at 22:00. tired but happy!

10:10

over the weekend i stumbled over [cablecom’s latest][cablecom-10] offer: 10mbps downlink/1mbps uplink for CHF 65.00! that’s not much more than what i’m currently paying for my 5mbps/0.5mbps — actually it’s CHF 10 *less*…which also makes it a downgrade subscription wise even though it’s an upgrade bandwidth wise and i end up paying a CHF 50 downgrade fee to get more bandwidth and save money.

[cablecom-10]: http://www.cablecom.ch/internet/hispeed.htm

so, that means that i’m now getting as much bandwidth into the home network as the home network can carry. parity. wow.

LZ neal stephenson I

bit moody at the helm of LZ neal stephensontoday i acquired my first airship! it’s a 1901 lakehurst model — to quote from the _owner’s manual_:
> _The SSA-1901 Lakehurst has the following features:
>
> * 41 meters long nose to tail, our longest physical airship.
> * Capable of carrying 5 passengers (including the pilot).
> * Classic design, shape and texturing to invoke the glory days of the great airship.
> * Engine sounds and textures that vary depending on speed.
> * Moving control surfaces (tail fins).
> * Three different control modes: Flight Sim, Inverted, and FPS (first person shooter) modes.
> * Privacy-glass in the windows, toggle clear or opaque.
> * Body and tail fins easily colored from the menus. (Other parts may be colored or retextured using SL editing tools.)
> * Programmable autopilot capable of flying the ship on courses crossing any number of sims, with or without a pilot or passengers onboard.
> * Ejection mechanism for unwanted passengers.
> * Autoparking feature to return your airship to precisely the position and rotation you like it in when not in use.
> * Mooring feature using the included Mooring Tower, an alternative way to precisely position parked airships, as well as a fun way to park it.
> * Positions itself next to nearest mooring tower on rez (if one is located within 40m of the rez point)._

it’s quite a beautiful airship 🙂 … and also a bit difficult to fly. i’ve already managed to get thrown of it without getting back on — it disappeared over the skies of secondlife. luckily some property owners have “auto-return” enabled: it must have crossed into one of those parcels because about 30min later i got a message that my “LZ neal stephenson I” had been found and auto-returned to my inventory.

i named it “LZ neal stephenson”: LZ for [“luftschiff zeppelin”][zeppelin], [neal stephenson][] as a tribute to the author of _[snow crash][]_ who came up with the idea of a [metaverse][] — back in 1992.

[neal stephenson]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Stephenson
[snow crash]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_Crash
[metaverse]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaverse
[zeppelin]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeppelin

> _p.s.: in case you find LZ neal stephenson I (or II) on or over your property without either bit moody or dr scofield on board: send me an in-world IM :-)_

interesting visitor…

just before going off to work i _had_ to check [who had visited our website][footprints] — and i found an interesting one:

interesting visitor

[ET][] calling? the UN taking an interest in my [recipes][]? sigh, we’ll never know…

[footprints]: http://d2h.net/blog/where-do-they-all-come-from/
[recipes]: http://d2h.net/blog/tag/cooking
[ET]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.T._the_Extra-Terrestrial

close encounter…

early this morning (and i’m talking early early here: mrs d has a week of vacation and intends to explore the unknown, unchartered, distant, and mythical parts of _confederatio helvetica_ aka switzerland — to which extent it behooves us to get up before waking up [always wanted to write a sentence with _behoove_ in it ;-)]) i quickly uploaded the [latest episode of jawbone radio](http://jawboneradio.blogspot.com/2007/01/jawbone-143-cue-season-three.html) to my iPod, sync’ed the iPod, and detached it from the thinkpad…

…only to be greeted by a constantly resetting iPod! the reset spiel (lock switch to _lock_ and back to _unlock_ then pressing the _menu_ and _select_ button at the same time for 6secs) didn’t improve matters at all. bummer! mega-bummer! almost 30Gb of MP3s are on that iPod 🙁 first measure just take it with me to the lab. there i consulted [apple’s support page][] — and found out about _harddisk mode_ (reset spiel followed immediately by pressing down _select_ button and _play_ on the wheel)! trying that immediately with my iPod brings the encouraging result that it stops resetting and appears as a normal USB drive! yeah! that means, that the internal harddisk is still working and the controller is OK as well. phew! my working hypothesis now is that somehow [bit rot][] got to the first partion of the iPod, the one that houses the iPod system image…

[apple’s support page]: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=93651-en
[bit rot]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bit_rot

…hours later, back at home, i test this hypothesis by restoring the [backup of the system image i created back then](http://d2h.net/blog/2005/03/24/i-pod-u-pod-we-all-ipod/) to my good ole iPod:

> % dd if=backup-image of=/dev/sda1
> …
> % eject -s /dev/sda

and — voila! — iPod is well again! 🙂

snow-shoeing…it’s cool, man!

after our boost to the local economy yesterday, we were eager to give our newly acquired snow-shoes a try! originally the idea was to go to amden and try the snow-shoe trail there…following the advice of mr r, our friendly alpine consultant, we changed plans this morning and went for [lenzerheide][] (it had been raining rather heavily during the night and we were afraid that not much snow would be left in the amden region — a fear that turned out to be justified when we had a glimpse of amden from the train: it looked rather plucked, snow-wise).

[lenzerheide]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenzerheide

so, after giving the newly acquired snow-shoes a try on our balcony (just following the instructions), we went via zurich by direct train to chur and then with one of the trusty swiss postbuses up to lenzerheide.

already in chur we had sun shine (in contrast to rainy adliswil and zurich), when we arrived in lenzerheide it was pure blue sky 😉 nice.

cool mrs on snow-shoesi’ve to admit once we had left the bus we were a bit clueless where to begin really. the tourist information centre was closed from 12:00–16:00 on sundays (duh!), the maps and info boards only told us about downhill skiing or cross-country skiing, nothing really about snow-shoeing…we decided to try out a winter walking trail — which turned out to be the right decision: for a while we could just snow-shoe along the trail, then when it turned back down to lenzerheide we continued on the snow covered summer walking trail. **incredible fun!**

eventually we made our way back to the postbus station and caught a double decker postbus back to chur.

sunset, railway station chur

snow-shoeing? “it’s cool, man.” 😀 we’ll be back! soon!