31 July 2005

We interrupt this program

I know I promised more stuff from Belgium, but between the big huge thunderstorm on friday night, a saturday that seems to have disappeared before I knew what happened and a sunday filled with other fun activites, I'm running late.

Until then, enjoy the couple of things I saw today:
Sun & Clouds
This is actually a photo I took during a moment of temporary insanity, where I pointed the camera towards the sun and snapped away. Actually, I knew there was a cloud there, so I figured I was safe, but I didn't know if my retina would melt or something. Don't try this at home people!

Trappensee Schlößchen
We had heard about this Schlößchen (== mini-castle) at this body of water called the Trappensee at the edge of town and decided to ride our bikes out to it. It didn''t turn out to be the swimmin' hole we had thought it would be, and the mini-castle was a little disappointing as well. But at least I got to try taking pictures in difficult light with different settings. There were lots of crap pictures.

This is my first attempt at photographing a spider web. It isn't the best web, but I figured I should practice & learn now, so when the ultimate spider web comes along, I am ready.

Bee & Flower 10
Man, those bees just get covered in pollen!

Bee & Flower 11
More bees on a flower.

Funny Sign
And finally... If you are going to use a foreign language to form the words and, more importantly, abbreviation for your organization, maybe, just maybe, you should get a native speaker to look at it so you don't embarass yourself or your (probably very high-quality) organization. And, another free hint. You should try to make sure your URL isn't something that will get eliminated by most adult-content web filters out there.

28 July 2005

Eeeeeexcellent! (or, Belgium, Part 2)

Mr. Burns' Sarcophagus
I just couldn't help but think of Monty Burns when I saw this sarcophagus of some saintly soul in St. Baaf's Cathedral in Ghent.

Ghent Architecture
Over the next couple days, I will share a few sights from our recent Belgium trip. Today's stop is Ghent, which is full of great architecture.

Stairs & Spheres
I like these stair-steppy buildings, especially when there is a nice background like a blue sky. And the white spheres were just a great addition.

Jeannette, Warrior Princess
Ghent also has some nice museums, here you can see Jeannette admiring a two-handed sword that is taller than she is. I think she is considering how nice that would have made her halloween costume a few years ago when she was Xena.

In another part of the museum, there was a guillotine, the preferred capitol punishment of the rich & famous (the poor people got slow, agonizing and humiliating death sentences). The descriptions of the punishments and torture that went on in the dungeon of Ghent's castle over the years was pretty creepy, and helps me understand why the founders of the US included that no cruel & unusual punishment clause in the bill of rights. (And I don't think this happened only in Ghent, I am sure it happened all over Europe, they are just brave enough to talk about it in Ghent).

Flag 2
Yep that's me, and a one of the many flags flying at the castle in Ghent. If I had been thinking, I would have posed like the beast on the flag.

The lovely Ghent skyline, as viewed from the castle. Interesting how every European skyline has at least 3 cranes visible at any time (I count at least 6 in this one)

The Ancient Art of Genital Origami
The Puppetry of the Penis, the Ancient Art of Genital Origami. For some reason, I didn't see many ads for plays like this in the US, especially Colorado Springs.

OK. Now you have seen Ghent. I'll take you to Brugge or the beach tomorrow!


23 July 2005


Last weekend we took a short trip to Belgium to visit some friends of Jeannette's and to do some sight seeing. For the most part, the weather was great and we had a great time. I took a bunch of pictures, but I need to edit many of them due to a nasty something that got inside my camera and left splotches all over the images. When we got to the Atomium (partially pictured here), the sky was clear and blue, which means that the splotches were very visible, but easy to clean up. While I was at it, I got rid of some of the cranes and cables that were cluttering up the images, since the Atomium is currently under rennovation (the last ball in this picture has no mirrors on it!) The ful-sized image is so much nicer, so check it out and the others on Flickr (just click the image).




We went to Belgium last weekend, and I was quite disappointed to find out that I had a big glob of something on my CCD, so all the beautiful blue sky images I captured (we had GREAT weather!) are all flawed by a big booger (or something of the sort) - right in the middle - so it isn't easy to crop out. So, after cleaning everything, and seeing some fabulous pictures on flickr taken with a 50mm 1.8 lens, I decided to play with mine. Hey, no dirty thoughts, I mean my 50mm 1.8 lens!

The good news: It looks like the slime blob has been cleaned off my CCD.
The not so good: I forgot that my 50mm lens is primitive and doesn't send info back to my super flash. So the flash fired away at full power, which had some interesting effects, as you can see here.

10 July 2005


Here is the tower of Kilianskirche, the main church in downtown Heilbronn. Ever since we visited and moved here, it had been covered with scaffolding. The renovation is nearing completion, and the scaffolding gets removed a little bit every day. This was the first day that enough was exposed and the weather was good that I thought it was enough to capture on digital film. I was surprised at how well the gargoyles can be seen, and I like the exterior spiral staircase. Soon we will be able to climb it, which should be fun, too. I am sure the view of the city is nice, as well as getting face-to-face with those gargoyles.

Jeannette and I had a little walkabout through Heilbronn, and what started out as taking pictures of the newly exposed church tower in the not-so-harsh evening light, turned into an adventure where I found lots of picture-worthy things (and several that were not so picture worthy). Anyway, here's what we saw on the walkabout.

"One must always be drunk". This is on the wall of a pub. Nice to have someone famous like Goethe to encourage people to visit your business. Or is that really what Goethe is saying?

I have seen condom machines in bathrooms of bars and truck stops, but never on a street corner under a dentist's sign. Billy Boy. The thrillingly different condom.

I actually saw this sign when we first moved here and had a rental car. We finally walked there tonight. I think a winking demon head is a strange symbol for an Irish pub.

A "don't give Nazis a chance" sticker and a big lever that is marked "main train station feed", which is in the 'on' position.

Kids playing on a street sign. Between cars driving by and the kids eventually jumping off, I couldn't get an angle that I really liked. But this turned out OK, I guess.

I really liked this ivy-covered streetlight with a clock on it. Not sure why the clock is there, however.

A gnome in a box. This particular gnome box is a couple meters off the ground, and nowhere near a garden. In fact, it is very strange, just floating there in a back alley...

A nice fountain that Jeannette described as "the man in the moon". It was located in a secluded park behind a church where young teens would go to drink.

07 July 2005

A note from a neighbor...

Dear Neighbors on Bad and Unteren Neckarstrasse

Technically, we don't live on one of these streets, but we're essentially there.

Because of the heightened noise pollution and ruckus lasting several
days due to more drunken groups of people on the shores of the Neckar,
[after my query to the police] I was informed by officer Mr. xxxxxxxxx
that I should move out to Wartberg, and please don't complain about it
any more.

Find a Realtor and move away as soon as possible.

Welcome to the new Germany.

"The insanity will be invisible, when it has taken on enough mass!"
- Bertolt Brecht

"You may deceive all the people part of the time, and part of the
people all the time, but not all the people all the time."
- Abraham Lincoln.

With kind regards,

That was a welcome change from the boring stuff normally crammed in the mailbox. There have been a lot of people hanging out along the shores of the Neckar (though not the last few days, because of the rain), but I haven't been disturbed by them. Mostly they are quiet and keep to their own groups. The river bank is a public place, as far as I know, so there is no reason why they shouldn't be there. Sure, there was one day when about 8 police cars & vans showed up, but it wasn't like there was a riot or anything. But in general, I assume that between the water and the shady trees, it is a cool place to be in these very hot last few weeks.

I have never been or felt threatened by them in my apartment or walking by, and the noise they make is no more disturbing than the occasional ambulance siren, honking horns or church bells you would hear anywhere. So what's this guy's deal? Well, I guess it is the police response, which, if true, is somewhat disturbing. My guess is that this guy complained during the Neckarvergnügen, which was much louder and more crowded - but it was at a limited and known time.

It reminds me of the people that move into a place because of its "cool factor" and then complain about the byproducts of that cool. For example, 6th Street in Austin was the heart of the "Live Music Captiol of the World". It was an incredible collection of clubs, and any night of the week you could find a huge variety of live music to satisfy your musical cravings. As the inevitible gentrification began, people would move in to new "loft apartments" in the cool zone, and then bitch & moan about the loud noise emerging from the very clubs that made their "cool zone" cool. When you move into a house on the San Andreas fault, you would be a bonehead to think that you would never get hit by an earthquake.

I'm not trying to claim that this area of Heilbronn is as cool as Austin's 6th Street or anything, but it is interesting to me. The very thing that drew us to this apartment in this area draws tons of people every day, and at least 95% of them are not drunk & disorderly.

I am guessing that there is more to this letter than what was said. I can't believe that the police would tell the guy that after one complaint. If so, that's a big problem. If that was the response after his 10th complaint during the Neckarvergnügen, I could see why they would say that.

In any case, it is interesting that someone would go to the trouble and stuff the malboxes of everyone on Bad and Unteren Neckarstrasse. I am guessing that the guy who wrote it is the same guy who went out of his way to tell us how bad we were when we ran across a street against a red light to catch our bus.

03 July 2005

A Break From The Heat


Thursday night, Friday and Saturday morning it rained. A lot. With some gusty winds and thunder, too. The result is that Saturday afternoon was cool enough to go outside and not feel like I was about to melt. As Jeannette checked out her new rollerblades, I tried to keep up with her, but stopped to take a couple pictures here and there. Not really much turned out well, with the grey sky and all, except this nice slug. There were several like it, but (s)he (or are slugs asexual?) was the only one that was in focus, so I took a picture of this one.

An interesting note. In German, a snail is a Schnecke (and so are anything that is spiraly, like a pastry or coiled-up sausages), and a slug is a Nacktschnecke, which just means a "naked snail". Which is kind of true, it looks like this slimeball just ran off without his home. Probably popping over to the kiosk around the corner to get beer and smokes, and couldn't bother to bring the ol' shell with him. The change in texture on the back half really adds to that, at least in my mind. All those ridges are where its skin was wrinkled up and squeezed into a cramped shell.