Evening stroll

So, having given up on the laundry situation (see below... yes they are still busy) I went down to the Duisburg Rathaus and Innenhafen. The weather had cleared up from the earlier thunderstorms, but there were still some pretty dramatic clouds hanging around in the sky. I had a nice walk, and took a few pictures. I also managed to get an ice cream on the way back. :) I love that Germans love ice cream and even when everything else is closed you can still get it.

Here are a few pictures from my walk...

Dramatic clouds... definately.

In the Innenhafen.

Of the Innenhafen.

I thought this looked a bit like a surrealist paining... except that it's real.

The Salvatorkirche, next to the Rathaus.

So, Duisburg might not be the prettiest city in Europe, but give a bit of nice weather and it's really not so bad! Everyone here seems pretty down on it, and has most tried to send me elsewhere for sightseeing. I'm glad I walked around tonight. There is a nice green space along the canal and it really is a great place for an evening stroll.


So, it's my last weekend in Germany, and I am doing laundry. I got up early (for a weekend) to get a "jump-start" on the washing machine situation. You see, at the guesthouse here there is ONE washing machine, for what I would guess are ~30 apartments. Ok, that's not so bad you might think... but I must first explain some points about the functioning of European washers and dryers.

Firstly, 60 min is fast for a small load of laundry to go through the washing machine. I go through and change all the settings such that the time comes down to 65 min. My clothes get clean this way... maybe they have a bit more soap than they might otherwise, but I'm ok with the result. However, when I went downstairs today at 9:30am there was a load in the washing machine scheduled to be completed in 144 min... and it was already going for a while because there was actually water in there already. Oy-vey! Are you kidding me?? Two hours to wash (not dry, just wash) a load of laundry???

Ok, so at least these Euro-washers give the time remaining. This is convenient for sharing as I can keep track of the time and hopefully sneak my load in just at the end. So I go back down to put my wash in a little after it should have been done (I got distracted by knitting and Civ and lost track of time) and the clothes are still in the washer. Ok, no problem, anyone who is going to put their wash on for 2 hours deserves to get it dumped on the table. Plus the table is clean, so really it's no big deal at all. But, man-oh-man, did they ever pack that washer full!! I guess that's why they went for the super every option mode, there was way too much jammed in there. So as I start trying to pull everything out it be comes clear that this load of laundry has morphed into a giant tangled mass of fabric, the only free pieces being tiny little childrens' socks which proceed to fall all over the floor. In fact, I rescued a few socks that got jammed into the door seal.

Anyway, I put my load in on my amazing super-fast 65 min mode, but alas the dryer is not free. Because those are incredibly slow too. Actually I haven't fully dried my clothes since arriving here, I just get them started for about an hour and then drape them all over the place to finish drying "naturally". It's just not worth the wait. And this is if you remember to clear the lint trap and the water trap (yes, European dryers collect and condense the water instead of venting it to the great outdoors). I'm not sure others here actually do this as last time I cleared the lint trap there were at least 4 layers of multicoloured lint. No wonder these machines are always busy.

So: status is 2:38 pm here, and I have one of two loads washed but not dried. I'm giving up for now. Going to shower and head down to the Duisburg Innenhafen. Maybe get some "Eis" (that's ice cream... and Germans seems to be hopelessly addicted to it... no complaints here).

I'll post something real on my next attempt to do laundry later today.


New Pictures: Aachen, Munster

So, I have finally put up some more pictures!

I went to Aachen the first full weekend I was in Germany. It was quite nice, and quite interesting. Certainly there was a lot of impressive architechture. Here is part of the Pfalz:

I got to tag along to Munster on a scientific journey to learn about quartz tuning fork sensors. The discussion was in German, so I didn't get to much out of it, but we did have some time for sightseeing.

So, if you'd like to check out more photos, they can be found with the others:

Sarah's EuroTrip 2006

Enjoy! There's lots more to come, I have two days in Cologne, and more from Zolverein and Essen, and Osnabruck, and pictures from the Duisburg Zoo!!!


shuffle: in the lens, on the continent, on the needles, indulgances

I haven't forgotten about posting pictures! I haven't even really been so busy that I would have thought I wouldn't get them up for so long... the problem is that it takes me some time to get them ready for public viewing. I have a few "reasons" (read: excuses) for this...

  1. I feel like a lot of the pictures I've taken have potential, but if they were just processed in black & white / faded / blurred / colour enhanced... they would be so much better! Meaning? I have been sitting in front of my computer sliding little bars around until I can hardly tell the difference anymore. Result? Probably I am overprocessing the photos and will go and reset them all.
  2. I need to learn the following: " I do not need to shoot everything in RAW format ! " Yes, for some reason, I keep leaving the camera on RAW. While I am now convinced that even with a fairly basic processing programme RAW is a superiour format for any post-processesing, not everything is an art photo, and as such can be taken in JPEG and left as is, especially since the camera for the most part does a damn good job of getting the colour balance correct in most cases. And since RAW has to be converted before posting on the web... really, it makes more sense in a lot of cases.

That said, I have put up some pictures, and have images processed and ready for captions to post some more. Here is the address where everything so far can be found:

Sarah's EuroTrip 2006

As I add to the site, I'll put updates here. ;)

Next up: knititng. I brought a bunch of yarn with me with grand intentions of getting lots of knitting done in all that spare, lonely time I was going to have over here... um... that hasn't really been the case. I have done a little bit of knitting though.

Here's the result, and a preview of what's up next (maybe not all while I'm here...)

Seed stitch stripe washcloth in cotton (from the book "knitter's stash")... testing the pattern so I know what I'm doing before I go and get the linen yarn recommended. I like the seed stich... good scrubbies!

My first sock! My very first sock! Ok, so it's just a training sock, but it's so cute! it has a real heel and everything! I can't wait to find sock yarn!!!

Ok, so I actually knit this test swatch before I left. I got the yarn on sale... I bought a lot of yarn that day... and so began my stash. Anyway, after knitting the swatch, I know exactly what I want to do with this... but it's top secret! I'll let you know when it's done, and safe to tell. ;)

This yarn was part of a birthday gift from my parents. The first scarf I finished on the hottest day of the year... ironic timing eh? This one I'm dying to start, but requires 200 stitches be cast on... OMG I hate casting on... starting this project is going to be hell... but I think it will be fun once I get going. Such beautiful yarn!

So, dishcloth, coming along slowly, but I like the pattern. The sock was so easy! I used Kate Atherly's training sock pattern (found here on Knitty.com) and in a few hours I had already turned the heel. And to think I'm in Germany, land of sock yarn! Except... I can't seem to find a yarn store!? :S Oh well, there's some time left. As for the other projects, don't know if I'll star them here. Maybe all that yarn will just come back with me as yarn... not knit goods as I had planned.

Tomorrow I don't have to go to the lab. Yup. It seems they've decided to turn the ventilation system off on us which means the temperature is all over the place, and we have drift up the wazoo. No good measurements in sight. Major bummer, since next week is my last week, and we haven't really gotten anything good yet. On the bright side however, since the group is having a meeting (um, in German) to discuss project ideas and directions, it was suggested I just take it easy. So, tomorrow, I go to the Zoo! Supposedly there are cute little monkeys!!! Oh yeah, and I have to look over my talk for Osnabruck... but that's ok, at this point it shouldn't be such hard work.

Speaking of going over my talk... I had planned to do that tonight. But today was a pretty long stressful day... with little coffee (I've cut back since I fear I'm coming down with a cold)... lots of German discussions about electronics, and no good data. So instead I indulged myself a little and while picking up groceries I got this:

It was ok... less decadent than I was really hoping for, but a treat none-the-less. :D

And on that note, I will say goodnight, as it is now past bedtime here.


one of these days...

... I will learn not to take the hard road.

So, somehow I always manage to find ways to make life more difficult for myself. Example, I am in Germany, trying to do a difficult experiment in a short period of time, not to mention get in some sightseeing. Ok, that's not so bad, but I've decided to add on top of that... just "for fun"... to give a few talks while I'm here: one at the university I'm working in and one at another university where I was invited to go speak some time ago. This all sounded like a great idea several months ago... now it feels like a lot of work, and I have to prepare an abstract and settle on a title when I'd rather just go to bed right now. Meh.

I keep telling myself at times like this that I don't really need to do all these extra things, and next time I should just step back and say "no, I'm just a grad student, it's ok not to give a talk everywhere I go, it's ok not to start up collaborations with groups around the world". But, no, I always get "excited" about all these "opportunities" and my brain and my mouth take off at a gallopping pace before my common sense can catch up.

Really, it's all ok though. Things are going fine to well here (which in science is pretty good), I'm enjoying my stay, and I'm sure the talks will go well, and I'll get some interesting feedback. Sometimes though I just think it would also be just as good to be at home, getting my normal, thesis-progressing work done, and spending Saturday morning sipping coffee with my hubby instead of being a globe-trotting mad scientist who barely even keep straight where she needs to be when... but then, what the heck would I blog about??

Photos up on Flickr!

My photos from the ICN+T 2006 conference are now visible on Flickr in the ICNT 2006 Pool! Lots of Swiss National Day fireworks and some pictures from the excursion to Interlaken! :)

Flickr: The ICNT 2006 Pool

Enjoy! I'm really proud of some of the fireworks pictures, so I hope you like them!


More Basel... mostly photos

Here are a few more photos from Basel... some of the ones I am happy with and played around with to make interesting. (Above is the Lallekonig... um... the tounge king. A wooden replica of a mechanical statue that rolled its eyes and stuck out its tounge at the citizens of "KleinBasel"... lower Basel... across the Rhine.)

Basel is home to several major pharmaceutical companies and as such, the old town is flanked by fairly large, fairly prominent smoke (or whatever) stacks. This statue by the Rhine seemed to be looking rather whistfully off towards one in the distance. I suppose things have changed quite a bit for him over the years.

Statue on the front face of the Muenster... from on the face of the Muenster after climbing the bell tower (ie. rather high above the street... roof-tops...). The sky was so beautifully blue that as I reduced the saturation to fade out the colour to black & white the blue was still quite prominent, so I left it like that.

Again, the Muenster cloister... I really liked the colour of the ferns and the tiled roof. If you look really carefully (um... at least in the high resolution file) you can see the glass from the window distoring the far bank of the Rhine.

One of the two Muenster towers. I love the red stone, and the bright sky makes it look like it is really piercing the heavens.

The pulpit of the Muenster. Beautiful carving. The light was pouring into the church then too which was quite beautiful.

And last but not least! Two of many pictures I took at the fireworks for Swiss National Day. Big party, tons of fireworks. I've tried to post a whole collection on Flickr, but they don't seem to be viewable yet... I'll post when they are.

That's all for now, though I have lots of other photos waiting to be posted somewhere!

I am in Germany!

So, um, while on my European excursion I planned to post quite a few pictures here and some stories about the conference, traveling, playing in the lab here... but I didn't have internet access for awhile, so I've fallen quite far behind now. I'll put a few up today, and try to catch up.

The conference: ICN+T in Basel, Switzerland

Flying into Basel there were some really spectacular clouds! I took a lot of pictures. I'm sure the people around me thought I was nuts. The decent was pretty bumpy, but the clouds were beautiful and I actually enjoyed it. I guess this means my fear of flying was temporary, and is lifting. Not that all this mess in Heathrow (which I have to fly through to get home) is helping me enjoy the air travel experience. :(

So... Basel is a pretty nice city. The old part is quite small and nicely maintained. Unfortunately they are in the process of replacing many of the old tram tracks so the roads were ripped up in a lot of places, but I could still get a feel for the ambiance. I liked it quite a lot. So, I'll put a few pictures here, but most will go up on another website later (not too much I hope)...

The Muenster in Basel. Really impressively tall! Lynda and I went up into the bell tower and around on the outside. It was really high. I have more pictures... so I'll tell the story in detail later. Note the flags in the foreground. The red and white one is of course the Swiss flag. The other is the flag of Basel.

This is another picture of the Muenster tower from inside the cloister... it seemed to need black & white.

The Spalentor. A mediaeval gate of Basel with glazed tile roof... also impressively large. Note again the Basel flag.

The Rathaus (or town hall). Yes, in German, the town hall is called the "Rathaus"... is this some kind of cynical statement? I don't know. Does it seem apt? Definately. Anyway... the architechture is quite impressive. The stone looks extra red here because the sun was setting, but both the Rathaus and the Muenster are constructed from this reddish stone.

Basel as it sits on the Rhine.

Ok... so that was Basel, now maybe someday soon I'll post a few stories about the conference and then move on to where I am now!