Sonntag, 14. August 2011

Going on...

Way too fast, the last day in Berkeley has arrived. So this will probably be the last entry. It has been eleven really nice weeks and we experienced a lot.

The last week was on one side the end of the work. So all four of us had to finish the report, correct the English and send it in on time. But because it was also the last week in Berkeley, we had to see everybody again and say good bye.

On Thursday was the big farewell party. A last time grilling in the backyard and talking to everybody we met. Kean, Baptiste and Yvan had to leave Friday morning to get on the plane to Las Vegas. For me and Marc was Friday the last time at the Lab and our plane departs tomorrow morning.

After having party in SF, today was time to finish the cleaning of the room and prepare the luggage for the next trip.

But we'll keep a lot of memories from California:
seeing a lot of wild animals, eating meat, drinking beers, building the first detector module at LBNL, cooking with cream cheese, listening to unique recordings, driving around, doing shopping, running 13.1 miles, having BBQ until 3am, reading four books and watching all the bond movies, building our own smörgascake, biking uphill, playing the piano, row on a lake, driving a motorboat, walking through the city, getting lost with a bus, missing the bart, sunset, firework and destroying clothes, working until 10pm, speaking all kind of luangages, being asked if we're speaking Russian, having nice neighbors and meeting awesome people

I tried to write about the most parts, but there are still a lot of things left to tell. With over 3500 pictures collected even more to show. Unlucky for you, I won't show them all here, but I'll be happy to show them to you back in Switzerland. But first we go on to Miami and Costa Rica! Until then, I thank you for following my little stories. Have fun and see you in September

Donnerstag, 11. August 2011


The end of our stay is approaching and with it the date to send in the report. After writing for days on the thesis, I got enough and take some time to review the past days and months. Filled with "Röschti u Bratwurst" there is also enough energy. We prepared a swiss dinner for the two girls living with us and were joined also by our neighbors Kara and Paul and their friend Kristin.

Even though there is a lot of work to finish, we enjoy the weekends and visit some places. Last Saturday we've been bathing in the sea in Santa Cruz together with Maryrose and her brother James.
And on Sunday we finally managed to visit Alcatraz.

Instead of writing about the prison or the amusement park, I'll describe another ongoing activation during the last eleven weeks. Almost since our arrival here we've been hunting wild animals. Armed with a Olympus μTough and a Sony α100 camera, we got some nice shots:

16.07.2011 Squirrel in Berkeley:

07.08.2011 young sea gull on Alcatraz:

10.07.2011 Sand worm in Point Reyes:

06.08.2011 sea lions in Santa Cruz:

23.07.2011 deer in Sequoia:

06.08.2011 pelican in Santa Cruz:

23.07.2011 Beaver in Sequoia:

10.07.2011 Elks in Point Reyes:

23.07.2011 Bambi in Sequioa:

10.07.2011 Whale in Point Reyes:

23.07.2011 Bear in Sequoia:

Sonntag, 31. Juli 2011

Worth the hurt - update

For once you have to live with my writing skills, because there aren't any pictures made by us. So you can find them here.

A couple of weeks ago, we met Felix Irmer and he told me that on 31. of July the SF marathon takes place. I said I've to go there and inscribed myself for the second half. For the full the trainings time was too short. From then on I did a lot of training besides my studies. Well, not really. Maybe once a week I did a small run for about 45min average, but not even that regularly. The only real training was the 20min bike ride every morning up the hill to the lab.

So more or less prepared I went this Sunday morning together with Felix, who was also running the second half, to the start in the Golden Gate Park. With the second half we were lucky because the start was only at 8:17am. The first half and the full marathon started at 5:30am. My thanks to Stephano, who offered me a place for the night, a lot closer to the starting point than our apartment in Berkeley.

With a goal of around 1h40 for the 13.1 miles (21 kilometers), we started slowly from the end of the second wave.
The first 6 miles went through Golden Gate Park. They passed by without problems. I enjoyed running through the park and looking at all the trees and small lakes. But I've to admit, that after awhile, the course got slightly frustrating. The course did some circles and back and forth inside the park. So you saw several times the runner half a mile ahead of you, just on the other side of the road.
Out of the park the road got straight and you ran through the city. The course through the city was quite easy with only light ascents an descents. We've already seen much steeper roads in SF, but I didn't had to run uphill on them this morning.
So once between mile 7 and 8, I passed the pacemaker for the 1h40 limit. I felt good, so I just run the way it went.
From mile 9 on I started to feel my feet and legs. Still okay, I kept my pace and headed for mile 10. Reaching mile 10 and 11 I passed my longest distance run in a race so far.
The next few miles, my feet felt like they were burning and entering the harbor the scene became less attractive. Even if some blister were beginning to show up, I could keep my speed and with the Bay Bridge, the goal came into view.
Only about 2 miles left and the hope for arriving soon went up. But to early celebrated, that's still 3.2 kilometers to go. Another 15 minutes to run.
The last part of the race was along the bay, passing by the baseball stadium and coming nearer to the goal, more and more spectators stood at the side and cheered all the runners. Collecting from somewhere some forces, I performed a final sprint and gained another few seconds.

Arriving after 1 hour 36 minutes and 4 seconds, I was exhausted but happy.

Results - look for bib number 30350, that's me

Freitag, 29. Juli 2011

Road trip to Sequoia National Park

The end is approaching and the time running out. Only a little more than two weeks left and then we have to leave Berkeley. Yesterday was a concert from Paul's band for the release of their album. Wednesday was Pasta-Party (Kean cocked spaghetti bolognaise) and we had Paul and Frans as guests. Tuesday was a Chinese dinner to exchange pictures from the last weekend. And Monday I had to get some sleep.

The whole last weekend we were exploring the country. Starting at 6pm Saturday morning and finished around midnight Sunday evening.

With two cars and 10 people we drove south east. Our goal was the Sequoia National Park and the big trees.

General Sherman:
We were talking how this tree, who happens to be the biggest tree in the world, got his name. So our story was this. This general Sherman was in service during the civil war, but he got afraid. So he hid himself on this tree for a couple of weeks. Thats why people called later this tree General Sherman. But that's just our version.

An other tree called Sentinel:

Well after a visiting this tree, we walked back through the forest towards our cars. Finally we got into real forest and there were no more tarred walkways for all the tourists. Inside the forest we enjoyed the nature, while being eaten by mosquitoes. But we all survived and had our fun.

We just arrived in time back at the car to see one of the most beautiful sunsets.

After the sun went down, we drove back to find a gas station and something to eat. After a nice dinner we drove back to the hotel and tried to get some sleep.

The next morning was again early stand up. This time we headed towards Kings Canyon. Well we almost arrived there. We made a stop for lunch at lake Hume. Finally we just stayed there and rowed around the lake with a optimist and kayaks. Having a lot of fun, by sinking kayaks and swimming in the lake, we spent the afternoon there.

Mittwoch, 20. Juli 2011

Squirrel feeding, T-Rex and San Francisco again

For last Friday, Marc and me had to send in a first version of our thesis. So after a long week, we were happy when Friday came. After a long night at our favorite BBQ place, we managed to stay up on Saturday morning and went out to see some bones.

First we made a stop at Oscars for breakfast.

Well fed, we went on to the UC Berkeley campus where our goal for this afternoon was. In the museum of paleontology they have a T-Rex skeleton and some other bones. Under other a small exposition of the human evolution, with an example of the human genome and it's relative. Naturally they took a splendid example for mankind.

On the way back, we met someone who was feeding squirrels. Friendly invited we joined and met a bunch of these funny animals. On the whole campus are living a lot of them and one sees them almost every time driving through the campus. But it's still fun to see them from close and feed them peanuts out of the hand.

Sunday afternoon we went again to San Francisco. Together with Sarah and Lea we visited the Twin Peaks. A windy place with a great view over the city. And after a gray week we were happy to see some blue sky.

Panorama high resolution (6 MB)

Donnerstag, 14. Juli 2011

The washing machine behind the Jazzclub

Some of you may already know this, but it happens that the washing machine in our basement is located behind a private jazz club.

I've already mentioned this jazz club several times and we have been there even more often. So here finally it comes: a insight report of the Birdland Jazzista Social Club

Let's start at the beginning. When we first arrived, we have been slightly confused by the abnormal front yard. But soon our bewilderment was cleared when our flat mates Sarah and Chelsea mentioned: "By the way, there is a Jazzclub in the basement." So since our first Friday in Berkeley we are all proud jazzistas.

You may ask why "Birdland", well there is Birdman Mike for a start, but that doesn't explain anything. A better explanation would probably be all the birdhouses ...

... to show just a few of them. (If you want you could buy them.)
Why are we there every Friday if there are just birdhouses, you may ask. Well let's go through an usual Friday evening...

Around 5pm the grill in the front yard is heated up by one of the grill chefs (Mr. J, Chris, Paul or Ricardo). The Birdman has already prepared some chicken and ribs. They are on big plates ready to be put on the grill. Depending on the work, this is also the time when we come back from the Lab, depending on the stock, carrying a six-pack or more. Thant fits quite well Mikes description of a jazzista: "A six-pack in one hand and a ten dollar bill in the other."
Once the clock turns towards nine, the first chickens have been eaten a while ago and the first band begins to play. This is also the time for us to go downstairs, if we aren't already there.

The Birdman stands usual in the front yard and greets new and old members of the club. The system is easy: the first time you sign the membership and donate a picture of Jackson to support the musicians. From then on the portrait of Hamilton is the one expected. The food and beverages in the back yard are for free and the entry paid goes to the musicians. Another cite from the birdland facebook site: "It is not for profit; it is not non-profit. It is a for loss party, but we have a good time."

All others are listening to music, eating in the backyard, eating in the frontyard, talking to everybody and having a good time.
Around 11pm the ribs get ready, perfect on time for the second band. Everywhere are people standing around or still coming. Also seafood is served in the backyard and more music played in the basement. The music spans from jazz, over latin jazz and funk to blues and whatever you like. Always life, performed with great enthusiasm by garage bands, legends or high school bands.

Soon comes noon and the ghost hour starts and goes as the time before. The last band usually starts around 1:15am and play until 3am or later. At that time the hooka, just in the corner of the Tanduay Rum Club is probably fired up by someone.

Around 3:30am most of the guests have left and the remaining chicken bones are thrown away. The rib bones have been eaten by Hershel. If we haven't also gone to bed, the last beers are emptied during the clean up and the evening ends around 4:30am.

On the right: Birdman Mike

Ricardo at the grill

Chris on the grill

Jerry on the grill

Paul on the grill

and Pinky, the beagle, and not the maid from Birdland

I hope you have now an impression of Birdlands.
Whenever you come to San Francisco or the Bay Area, take the Bart train on Friday or Saturday evening and get out at the North Berkeley station. You will find Birdlands just across the street.