Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bollocks to this...

... I am off to Vienna, for a wedding.

Parliament, Vienna

Friday, April 23, 2010

iphone: photo iii/vii

See also: part i and ii

Demon cat

Rue du Jura

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

iphone: photo

The camera of the iphone is nothing to write home about. Still, they are some that say it is the best camera ever, since it's one you always have with you. Chase Jarvis even published a book with nothing but iPhone photos:

Furthermore, a limited camera can make you a better photographer: Just snapping a photo with the iPhone will result in a crappy picture: small dynamic range, noise, ugh. But you can work with those limitations to  make excellent photos - if your name happens to be Chase Jarvis, I guess. Nevertheless, I tried to use my iPhone camera a bit, and will present two of those pictures per day, seven days in a row. Here are the first two: Snapped with the iPhone, and then edited on the iPhone with the (free!) Format126 app.

Creepy sister.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lock and Key

or: Nothing stands before the Swisstool.

 This morning I had occasion to investigate the comparative quality of a very low budget bike-lock and the awesome Swisstool, my favourite multitool.

While riding home yesterday evening, the key belonging to the above-mentioned lock had fallen off my key-chain, and I lost it somewhere on the way. This did not take me by surprise, since the key was partly plastic, and only hanging on to the key-chain by an increasingly thin strip. I was, as they say, monitoring the situation, staying on top of the developments, etc. I also new that I had a replacement key, and not only knew where it was but also found it later that evening.

The cabin of the elevator in my apartment building has no interior doors. While riding it up and down, you can see (and touch) the wall and doors of the various floors rushing by. Consequently, there is a gap between cabin and the walls of the elevator shaft, a gap that yawns about two centimetres wide and leads to the fathomless and inaccessible depths beneath the elevator cabin.

I think you can see where this is going.

Right in one: This morning, while riding down to my bike and trying to attach the new key to my key chain, I inevitably dropped the former, straight into the gap. There wasn't even a "plink" to mark it's passing - it vanished soundlessly into the abyss. Which leads us directly and finally to the following picture:


Swisstool versus bike-lock: 1-0, 30 seconds. Which is, I'll maintain, a Good Thing. Consider: A better lock would have meant calling the landlord, who'd have called an elevator technician, who'd have billed me. This way, I'll just buy a new lock (20 CHF or so). Everybody wins!
And if my bike gets stolen because of my inferior lock-technology? No worries, now I know that I can get a new one in about 30 seconds...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lamb roast on a bed of leek and potatoes

Ahh, Easter. The perfect time of the year to kill some innocent young sheep, shove them into the oven and have their succulent flesh melt on your tongue - to remind us of our benevolent god, of course. Also, zombie-jesus.

But I digress. Having acquired a piece of dead lamb, a bit less than a kilo of leg to be precise, I proceeded to season it thusly:

Crush some rosemary and thyme (a handful if fresh), two cloves of garlic and pepper and salt in a mortar. Add a glug of olive oil, and pound to a paste. Then, take a knife and poke a couple of holes into the meat. Widen them with your finger, and stuff some of the paste in. Rub the rest on the roast.

Cut some potatoes in slices, and a stalk of leek into slices. Season with woody herbs (I just used some herbes de la provence), salt and pepper and toss in olive oil. Put the bed down in a receptacle and place the lamb upon it. It'll look like this:

Sweet innocent lamb/ how lively thou grazed/ now hacked apart/ about to be glazed

Shove the whole thing into the preheated oven at 250 Celsius. Maniacal cackling is optional. Now comes the math. Yes, lamb roast requires math. It'll need to stay in the oven for 20 minutes, plus 13 minutes for every half kilo of lamb. At least, that is the formula for some medium rare lamb. Use 10 minutes per half kilogram if you like your mutton still bleating (<-see what I did here?), or 16 minute if you are one of those philistines who likes it 'well done' (a misnomer if there ever was one!).

Turn the roast every half hour, but at least once. When done, take it out and LEAVE IT ALONE. On the outside, you may cover it with a bit of aluminium foil. Only after the roast has rested for ten minutes may you carve it, yea, and not before, for it displeaseth the lord and also lets the juices leak out, which displeaseth the palate.

Nothing says resurrection more than some carved up meat

Bon appetit!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A religion I could get behind

I don't hold much stock with religion in general ('Opium for the masses', 'Refuge for the weak mind' I have been known to spout), although I am just fine with other people being religious, as long as they don't bother me.

But this café, right across la cathédrale Saint-Jean in Lyon, France... well, it seems to hint of a religion I could get right behind:

Mais oui, suspenders are part of our traditional habit, pourquoi vous demandez?

O là là, as they say in la francophonie... leave it to the French to spice up religion!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


source: wikipedia
This is the Shag.
The Shag is a bird.
It's normal for blokes to shag birds.
Sometimes blokes shag blokes,
or birds shag birds, that's okay too.
Shags even shag Shags
but neither blokes nor birds shag Shags - it's frowned upon.
You may, however, bird the Shag.
That is all.

(Inspired by a post form Relax Max)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I wish I could say this was on purpose
Lyon, France

but I just turned the wheel on my SLR by accident.

Canon EOS 500D, EFS 18-55 mm II @18, f/7.1, 1/125s, ISO 400

Monday, April 5, 2010

Diverse Birds

We had a very overcast Saturday before Easter, but I nevertheless ventured out with my long lens, to catch some birds.

A Great Cormorant:

Also known as Black Shag. No, I'm not kidding.
 The humble duck:

Goes great with orange

A noble swan

Luckily for him, neither Parsifal nor Gurnemanz were around

And last but not least, two Great Crested Grebes, in love:

Only useable for large feasts - if you don't eat both of them, the other one will be sad/

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Day before yesterday, I saw my first Wagner opera: Parsifal. I have seen (and even enjoyed) quite a few operas - you have to, if you live in Vienna, or else they kick you out, but I had shied away from Wagner, until now.

Grand Théâtre de Genève

The venue was the Grand Théâtre de Genève, and quite nice. It's not the Staatsoper in Vienna, but then again, no opera is the Staatsoper, except the Staatsoper.

During intermission

I was a bit anxious about it beforehand - Parsifal is nearly six hours long, and six hours of Wagner at that. But I was most pleasantly surprised, not only did I not fall asleep, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The production was minimalist, with nearly no props, which led to the very amusing scene were Parsifal is brought before Gurnemanz for having slain a swan, a big no-no at Monsalvat, it being the resting place of the grail and all. Gurnemanz is supposed to confront Parsifal with the body of the swan, but in keeping with the minimalism of his production, director Roland Aeschlimann has Gurnemanz show a photo of the swan instead. From the ranks you can't really see whether it is photographic evidence, or just a photo of the swan Grunemanz happens to carry around with him. I, of course, chose to believe the latter, and dissolved into giggles imagining the relationship of Gurnemanz and his "unschuldiger Schwan". Ahem.

Another very weird thing was the stage setting in the hall of the grail. Here is a grainy photo of it (from the very end of the opera, Parsifal having returned the holy spear is just healing Amfortas):

If you want to find all the letters, you have to stir the blood a bit.

The thing in the back represents the holy grail, with the blood of Christ (sorry, the Redeemer, Wagner never mentions Christ in the opera) - and letter soup? It's the holy grail - it heals, it prolongs life, brings you salvation and it teaches you to read! Now, let's eat the A's first!

An efficient special effect was the semi-transparent curtain in front of the stage - lit by different lamps from various angles, it made for very effective simulations of fog, and nice fade-outs.

In the end, this has rekindled my interest in opera - I'll have to check out what's playing here in Lausanne!