This evening I went to the gym after work. It’s in Oberrieden, a ways South down the lake, maybe 10 minutes by train from Rüschlikon. I walked down the hill from IBM to the train station, and had just enough time to run into the Coop and grab a few things before catching the train to Horgen, whence I walked back North to Oberrieden. The contents of my shopping bag included a small wheat roll, a carton of chocolate milk, and some granola bars—enough sustenance to see me through my workout.
The spinning (stationary bicycling) class was strenuous and fun. I relaxed a bit in the sauna afterward, and chatted with some of my fellows. One of them, a lawyer I often chat with in the spa, gave me a lift back around the lake. He lives not too far from my home, and has kindly offered me a ride on several occasions.
When I walked in the door I was just famished. I looked in the fridge and saw plenty of food; only nothing seemed to go together. I would have to be creative.
I had a packet of sliced turkey that was about to expire, so I knew I had to do something with that. I also had fresh (well, two-day-old) mushrooms that had to be eaten or thrown out. In addition, I had some left-over red capsicum (bell pepper). I decided to make a pasta with all of the above as a sauce.
I sautéed the mushrooms in plenty of butter and a bit of salt. I then removed the mushrooms and sautéed the capsicum in the now-mushroom-flavored melted butter. I added the turkey, cooked it for a bit, added some crushed black pepper, and poured the mix over freshly cooked pasta. I topped it off with the sautéed mushrooms.
It was sooooo good. I can’t believe I just threw this together at the last minute. I must refer back to this post in the future, and try to recreate this dish!
A year ago I went to the Polyball for the first time. I didn’t know many people here in Zürich at the time, so I went alone. I quickly found the salsa dance floor and started dancing with an energetic girl named Elisa. She and I danced many dances together and exchanged numbers before the end of the evening. We’ve kept in touch in the past year, but hadn’t managed to go dancing again because she lives in Ticino and is in Zürich only occasionally.
This year I went to the ball with Lilian and Daniela, two lovely women I met at Linea Salsa almost exactly a year ago, one week after last year’s Polyball. As last year, I gravitated toward the Latin music. I danced a couple of dances with Lilian and Daniela. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw someone waving to me. As luck would have it, Elisa—the girl from last year’s Polyball—was about two meters away from us! It’s a small world indeed.
I introduced Elisa and her friends to my friends, and we hung out together for most of the rest of the night, dancing disco, swing, and even a few Viennese waltzes. Throughout the evening, I also ran into many other people I know, including several colleagues and folks from the rowing club. It was a really fun party, and we left only around 4:30 in the morning. I am already looking forward to next year’s Polyball!
Just a quick photo from last Saturday’s inter-club regatta. Together with Magnus, I bought groceries at the wholesaler near the highway in Rüschlikon. Then I helped Sibylle cook an amazing chicken curry in a huge pot, and occasionally ran outside to take photos of the races. 45 people came to the dinner, and the after-party was a blast. I left shortly before three and arrived home just after two. :)
I arrived late to to work today due to chaos in the city. Apparently there was a power outage affecting the trams. I grabbed a coffee and skipped lunch, but got hungry later in the afternoon. I was glad to find a chicken sandwich in the vending machine. Once I had purchased it though, I saw that the expiration date had been written over by hand. The bread was a bit dry in some places and soggy in others. Aside from this though, it tasted okay. Maybe it wasn’t actually expired. I mean, I don’t think it’s too likely that the vending machines are stocked on Sundays, so perhaps someone just printed the stickers with the wrong date. Still, if I get sick and die of food poisoning, let this be used as evidence!
Saturday morning, I got up early and went for a hike near Clariden with Kirsten & Simon. We took a gondola up part of the way from the Klausenpass side, and hiked up the rest of the way to the Claridenhütte, a cabin operated by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC). In this cabin, like many, you can get a hot meal and a place to lay your head for not too much more than fifty Francs. The facilities were quite simple. Water was piped in from a stream of melting glacier water. It must have been filtered to remove silt, but had to be boiled to be safe to drink. There was a tap in the private kitchen only, so if you wanted water, you had to ask for it. A small amount of electricity was provided by solar panels on the side of the cabin. These solar panels charged a bank of batteries, and provided enough electricity to power a few dim florescent lights. These lights were on timers, and turned themselves off automatically after just a few minutes. There was no bathroom, no shower, and no sink save that in the kitchen. There was not proper toilet either, only a very simple outhouse fifty meters from the cabin. So yes, the facilities were quite simple; but the cabin was sturdy, and it kept out the cold.
We dropped off our bags, and made a short day hike up to the glacier. Around five o’clock in the evening, we returned to the hut and enjoyed a couple of beers in the last warm light of the sun. The weather was perfect for hiking—cool but not cold, lots of sunshine, and only a bit of wind. The dinner at the cabin was simple but filling: a warm and thick soup with pasta, vegetables, and pumpkin seeds; a cold green bean salad, and spaghetti with meat sauce. We shared a carafe of wine and some sparkling water too. After dinner, we retired to the communal sleeping room located two floors up, just under the roof. I could hear the wind howling outside during the night, and was very glad to be in a stone cabin and not just a nylon tent. I slept quite well considering the rustic facilities.
In the morning we woke up before dawn. Some of the other hikers had awoken hours earlier to embark on longer treks. I caught a few photos of the sunrise just before sitting down to a simple breakfast of hot tea, bread, and cream cheese.
After breakfast we donned clothing for colder and windier weather. The temperature was still just a couple of degrees above freezing, and the wind that had picked up during the night had not abated much since sunrise. We hiked again up to the glacier and looked for a way up to the pass. There was no easy way up that didn’t cross the glacier; and lacking ropes and ice axes, we opted to err on the side of safety and just call it a day. We retraced our steps back down to the cabin, picked up our bags, and then hiked back down to the gondola for the quick ride back down to the valley floor.
It was a great little hike and my first experience staying in a Swiss Alpine cabin. I look forward to more hikes in the coming weeks.
Sixteen months ago, I went on a business trip to Helsinki. I recently found the photos from this trip in the dusty filing cabinet that is my computer. The photos are mostly of Temppeliaukio, a famous church carved into a granite hill in the city.
- Elinchrom Style RX 600
- Elinchrom Style RX 300
- Rotalux Softbox Deep Octa 100 cm
- Umbrella Wide Reflector 90° 16 cm
- Grid Reflector 60° 18 cm
- Snoot & Grid
- Translucent Umbrella 85 cm
- White Umbrella 85 cm
- Two light stands and a carrying bag
- A carrying case for up to three flash heads
- One EL-Skyport transmitter and two transceivers
- A sync cable
- Lastolite black and white collapsible backgrounds
My good friend Helena Petterson saw my photos of Hannah this morning and gave me some positive feedback. Helena is also a photographer, and so we talked for a while about poses, techniques and ideas for future photo projects. It was then that I remembered the shoot we did together last year. Here are some photos of Helena I took in a studio in Stockholm, just before I moved to Switzerland.
When I was in Stockholm in July, I spent a rainy afternoon hanging out with my good friend Hannah. On the spur of the moment, I picked up my camera and captured a few remarkable photos of her. Impressed with her natural beauty and ease in front of the camera, I invited her to do a photo shoot with me a couple of days later. We spent a Friday afternoon in a lovely villa on Gärdet. We set up a studio in one large room, but also took photos at other locations in the house. We had a terrific time, joking, laughing, and capturing some amazing photographs. I’m very pleased now to share some of the best photos of Hannah.
Recently I selected some of my favorite photos among the thousands I’ve taken in recent years. A recent addition is the photo above I snapped of two new acquaintances of mine, Ray and Jia as we left a bar downtown late one night.
Like many photos that I’m fond of, this one happened spontaneously and without any preparation or planning. I was fortunate to be in the right time and place, and to have my camera handy!
On Saturday I went to Nordiska and attended the surprise birthday party for my friend Magnus. It was a great party and I was among the last to leave around five in the morning. As one of the guests said while toasting to him, Magnus is one of those rare men who is truly, honestly genuine all the time. I try to do this but for me at least, it take a little work. For Magnus, it seems to come so naturally! This is what makes it so easy to be around him.
Here’s to you, Magnus. I’m looking forward yet another party in just a few days!
Next Tuesday will be the official laying of the cornerstone of the new NETL building at ZRL. To commemorate the occasion, I designed a ZRL ambigram. During the ceremony, a time capsule will be placed in the foundation. A print of my ambigram will be placed in the time capsule, along with a bunch of IBM memorabilia and examples of pop culture from circa 2009.
Update 2009-06-04 15:25 UCT—The time capsule has been encased in concrete in the foundation of the new building. Some of my photographs of the foundation-laying ceremony have been posted.
I went to Slussen bus station in Stockholm on my way to José’s party. There, I met up with two others who were going to the same party. When I took out my phone to check the time, the others laughed. They then took out their phones and I knew why: we all had the same model of Nokia phone, only in three different colors. I simply had to take a photo.
This morning I had coffee out in the sun with freinds at Eriksberg, in a little outdoor garden with purple lilac and chestnut trees. At noon, I walked down to Kungsholmen for lunch with Ayse at an outdoor street café. We ate seafood stew with rice, drank sparkling water, and watched the people walk by. Stockholm is great for people-watching when the sun is shining. After lunch, we walked to a café where we shared a slide of carrot cake and drank caffe lattes. I'm tired from spending a few hours outside in the sunshine. When I got back to Malin's place, I crashed on her couch and dozed for a bit.
Now I'm looking out of her sixth floor window as I rest a bit before catching my flight back to Zürich. This has been a perfect trip. I only wish I could have met more of my friends while I was here. I hope to return for a long weekend in June, and plan to spend two weeks in Sweden at the end of July.
I'm excited about returning to Zürich. The weather there has been even warmer than in Stockholm, and there will surely be opportunities for swimming in the coming days.
I'd like to give a shout-out to my friends Joanna and Malin, who kindly let me crash at their apartments for a few days. It's nice to have such thoughtful and generous friends. I look forward to my next visit!
When I first visited Zürich for the job interview at ZRL, it was a rainy and cold couple of days; I wondered if I really wanted to move from one rainy and cold city to another.
I’m pleased to report that when the sun comes out, Zürich is positively beautiful city. On Sunday I joined some colleagues for little hike up to the summit of Üetliberg, from whose lookout tower I captured this photo of the city below.
Way back when in the beginning of December, I went to Linea Salsa’s social—only my second time to go out salsa dancing after moving to Zürich. Since then, I’ve danced at the Polyball, the Zürich Salsa Festival, the Sugar Lounge, and X-tra. But for some reason I had not returned to El Social in Altstetten until last night.
Part of the reason I hadn’t gone to the Linea Salsa socials more often might have been that they are held only once per month—on the first Friday of the month. When I saw that last night’s social would be the last before the summer break, I knew that I had to take the opportunity to do some dancing!
I’m very glad I returned, because I became acquainted with some very nice people last night. Having had the benefit of a second visit, I can say that the atmosphere of Linea Salsa is very similar to that of Happy Feet and SalsaAkademien’s Thursday socials. There are lots of good dancers and most of them are very friendly. It’s possible to buy beverages including beer, wine, and champagne; but most people drink in moderation to save themselves for dancing. For the most part, people who go to Linea Salsa are there to dance. And—importantly for me—the environment is not hazardous to one’s health: the music is played at a reasonable volume, and smoking is not allowed.
I met some of the organizers of the event, including a very friendly chap named Daniel. I also met two more photographers from salsapictures.ch. I think I will learn more about this group; they seem like my kind of crowd—interested in dancing and photography too!
And of course I danced with many charming and talented women—from relative beginners to ladies who were miles beyond me in ability. Lots and lots of fun. I’m a bit sad that I missed all of the Linea Salsa socials in the intervening months since December, and even sadder to know that I must wait until the next one.
Ninety photos from last night are now online.
Tuesday night I went to the spring party arranged by Ehsan of glocals.com, the ex-pat group I joined a few months ago. The party was a big success, with about 400 people in attendence. There were people from everywhere: lots of folks from the U.S., one from Mexico, a few from Russia, some from France and Germany, and several from Switzerland too. I even met a girl from Norrköping, who was a bit surprised that I could speak Swedish. I had fun meeting people and snapping photos. As you can see, I managed to find a couple of attractive women with whom to pose. Check out the other photos from the evening.
Yesterday I joined Kirsten for a bike ride around the lake after work. It was a half day holiday here in Zürich due to Sechseläuten, so we took off around 14:00. We rode South along the lake and crossed the bridge to Rapperswil, where we took a little break and ate lime sorbet by the water’s edge. Then we biked back up the Eastern side of the lake, through hilly rural terrain dotted with vinyards, orchards, ranches and farms. The fruit trees and flowers were in full bloom and the sun was shining. It was simply idyllic.
At 57 kilometers, it was my first long ride of the season. I’m a bit sore today! If you’re interested, I’ve posted a few more photos from the ride.
I went for a ski tour with Simon this afternoon. We skied up a mountain called Glatten. It took about 5 hours to make our way up to the top, and another hour to come down again. Really fun, but incredibly exhausting. After returning to Zürich, Simon treated me to some excellent fondue at his place. I’ll post photos when I have them. Now I shall sleep. Over and out.
Update 2009-03-19: Photos are online!
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A couple of weeks ago I went sledding for the first time in my life. It was a blast! I drove down to Elm, where I met up with a bunch of colleagues at the gondola. We each grabbed a sled and rode the gondola up to the top of the mountain, whence we hopped on our respective sleds and started back down again. The sled path followed a road down the mountain, cutting across the mountain to the right, turning, cutting across to the left, and so on. The turn at each switchback was a challenge, but not nearly as taxing as the bumps! Oh my, I was bruised for several days after that evening. It was a cold and snowy night, and I didn’t have enough in the way of cold weather clothing. I could have benefitted from another scarf or a mask to cover my face. So when I finished my four rides down the mountain, I was quite cold and ready for dinner. We retired to a nearby restaurant where most had fondue or raclette; I ate the fleischkäse. Here’s a photo German took of me in the restaurant.
Safari 4 brought tabs-on-top to a mainstream browser, borrowing the appearance, if not the underlying architecture, of Google’s Chrome browser.
Placing the tabs above the address bar makes sense, because the address is subordinate to and dependent on which tab happens to be frontmost. However, the bookmarks bar is definitely not content specific to any tab; therefore, it belongs above the tabs.
There are other problems too. Because there is no title bar that represents the whole Safari window, it’s hard to move the window easily; one must be careful not to click on a tab’s close box or move widget. The reverse is also true: it’s difficult to click a tab without accidentally moving the window. If the mouse is moved even a tiny distance while the button is depressed, Safari assumes one is trying to move the whole window.
The above mock-up shows what Safari might look like if the window title bar and bookmarks bar were placed above the tabs.
One could argue that the toolbar buttons and the search box don’t belong below the tabs because, like the bookmarks bar, these controls do not represent content that is specific to any single tab. However, the address field needn’t take up the entire width of the window, so the spaces to the right and left of this field seem like a good place for these controls from a purely aesthetic perspective. Plus, moving them elsewhere would mean taking up even more screen real estate, and taking away from the simplicity and balance of the design.
I am glad to see Apple experimenting with new user interface paradigms, at least in beta versions of its software. Let’s hope the experts at the company figure out a way to solve the problems new design without sacrificing its elegance.
A couple of weeks ago I went to IKEA and bought a new bed. I got it for less than half list price, ’cause the packaging was a bit scuffed up and one corner of the mattress was a bit dirty. I don't have a before photo with which to juxtapose this one; but trust me—the after one is much nicer.
My bedroom is located just underneath the dining room, on the Northeast corner of the house. The windows face the street and garden. I’m looking forward to springtime, when the flowers start to bloom!
Late last summer, I made a nice Caprese salad for Janaki when she came over for a visit. I took a photo but didn’t get around to posting it until yesterday. When I’m in Italy, Caprese salad is the yardstick I use to gauge the priciness of a restaurant. The ingredients of the salad are readily available and relatively inexpensive, and the preparation is straightforward and quick; so the price a restaurant charges for the dish largely represents the markup—not the cost of the food per se, but what you must pay for the privilege of dining at that particular establishment.
The distribution of prices is broad. I’ve seen Insalata Caprese listed on menus in Rome for as little as 5€, and as much as 20€.
Another great mozzarella-based appetizer substitutes dried ham for the tomato. Just take thumb tip-sized pieces of the cheese and roll them up together with couple of basil leaves in thin strips of the ham. Use air-dried or smoked ham, according to your preference. Prosciutto and Westphalia work fine. Hold the rolls together by piercing each one with a cocktail toothpick. Serve them with a small bowl of olive oil seasoned with salt, black pepper, and optionally rosemary or oregano. Enjoy!
On Saturday night I drove down to Horgen on the West side of the lake. It had begun to rain and the streets were slick and shiny. It was cold too, and as I neared Horgen the rain turned to snow. Kubilay's place is near the train station in a modern block of flats. He fixed lots of food including little kebab-like meat snacks, grilled Halloumi cheese, and Turkish candies flavored with pistachios and rosewater. It was a fun group of folks and a good time was had by all. Naturally, I brought my camera and took a bunch of photos of the fun. I gave several folks a ride back up to the city around midnight and by this time the snow was falling in thick, wet clumps. The party apparently continued somewhere in the city, but I was feeling a bit tired, so I dropped the others off and returned home early.
Wednesday night I joined some ZRL colleagues downtown to watch Shrubbery, a band whose members include a couple of Googlers and one of my colleagues, Jan. I enjoyed the performance, and had fun watching this normally staid researcher rock out! Several photos of the gig are online for your enjoyment.
This morning I gave Gordana a ride to an appointment in Meilen on my way to work. I continued to work by way of the car ferry that travels every 10 minutes between Meilen and Horgen on the other side of the lake. From there, it's a short drive back up the lake to Rüschlikon. I snapped a few photos from the ferry as we motored across the water. It was a beautiful morning as you can see!
On Saturday, Lilian joined me for dinner at Les Halles with some of my colleagues, including Gregory, Kubilay, and Franz-Stefan & Caroline (pictured above). Caroline is from Sweden, so I take every opportunity I get to speak Swedish with her. Gregory and I were roomies in Hotel Friedegg during the ZRL ski weekend in Wildhaus.
Most had the specialty of the house, mussels and fried potatoes. Gregory (pictured above with Lilian) comes from Belgium, and I asked him how the mussels here compared to the mussels from Brussels. They are almost as tasty, but not as big, apparently. I opted for the steak. It was quite tasty, but also small by the Texas standards to which I am accustomed.
The restaurant was a funky place with eclectic decor. It had the feeling of a converted warehouse, with rough concrete pillars and walls. Bicycles adorned the wall in one corner of the restaurant. Here are all of the photos from the dinner.
This weekend it was time for the annual ZRL ski weekend. I joined my colleagues and their partners, friends, and family for two fun days of skiing in the Alps above Wildhaus, just nintey minutes' drive from Zürich. I made several friends and had an absolute blast on the slopes. Sunday we were treated to an entire day of good snow and glorious sunshine. I cannot wait to return to the mountains for more skiing soon. Take a look at my photos from the weekend.
Friday night, after just a couple of days back in Switzerland, I threw a housewarming party at my new place in Zollikon. I invited a mix of folks from work and friends I have met since moving to Zürich several months ago. About thirty people came, and it was a lot of fun. Andrew & Gordana were there, as well as Anke & Rupert, Lilian, and Franke & Martina. Gordana helped a lot with the party, preparing snacks cakes the day before. Thanks, Gordana! Here are more photos from the party.
I flew out there on the fifth of January, and stayed with Ethan & Kelly at their home in Santa Clara. While in the Bay Area, I met with my Swedish friend Rebecca, visited the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, worked for a couple of days at the Almaden Research Center in San Jose, walked among giant redwood trees in Big Basin park, stuck my toes in the Pacific Ocean on the beach in Santa Cruz, and visited San Francisco with Ethan & family. However, the part of the trip I valued the most was having the opportunity to spend time with my adorable niece Evelyn! She turned one just a few months ago, and is really beginning to develop a personality of her own. It was simply wonderful to get to know her a bit better.
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the world. Should I ever move back to the 'States, it would be near the top of my list of places to settle.
It’s been a while since my last post, so I’ve got some catching up to do. But lest you think I’ve disappeared or become a missionary in some distant corner of the globe, I shall make a post right now, even if it is almost entirely lacking in content.
I’m in the U.S., and have been for two weeks. I arrived on Christmas Eve and spent the holidays in Texas with family. Then on the 5th, I flew out to the San Francisco area to spend some more time with my brother and his family.
I have begun to catch up on my photos. I took the above photo at Heimat using my uncle Ollie’s new D700 and my 14-24mm f/2.8 lens—an amazing combination. My Christmas 2008 in Texas photo set has more photos.