Archive for April, 2016

The other day, I wrote that I had to buy a new hat while here in Germany because my current one wasn’t warm enough for a European spring.

24 hours later, I lost it.

I can’t remember exactly where it was, but the wife and I were coming back from the town of Baden-Baden in southwestern Germany. We had a session at the spa (warm water baths, the non-nude one), caught the bus and then caught the train.

While back in Frankfurt, I started looking for my hat. I checked my pockets, and then my backpack.


I must have lost it somewhere on the bus or something.

Even though I was annoyed I lost it, I wasn’t that upset. For one, it only cost me €3. For another, the hat was kind of small. It hurt my head when I put it on. I tried stretching it out but it wasn’t working. Maybe over time it would have expanded a bit. I don’t know. But it was squeezing my head, giving me a headache.

So… meh.

I ended up buying a new one today while in Rothenburg. Fits much better.

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An optical illusion

The other day the wife and I were traveling in Germany along the Mosel River Valley in western Germany where, in one of the towns, we came across a strange sight.

The following street performers were acting as statues, but they are in a position that is impossible to hold due to gravity. Here it is from two different angles:



As you can see, there’s one guy sitting on the ground and it’s a real person. He’s holding out a ball, and another guy is sit-standing on it. The illusion is that this should be impossible. That’s also a real guy, and it’s his real hand holding the ball… I think.

He’s doing the same thing, holding yet another ball with a third person sitting on that. That ball is definitely his real hand, I could see the fingers moving. The person on top would appear to be a woman. I couldn’t tell for sure, though, I think it’s supposed to look like a woman but I think it’s actually a prop.

I was trying to work out how this worked. My guess is that the lowest ball is a steel support structure that goes to the ground with a platform, and the lower guy is sitting on it to make sure it doesn’t tip. The middle guy is sitting on a chair made of steel and there is a brace which he rests his arm on. The person on top is a prop and is reasonably light.

I like the illusion, it’s hard to see how it works.

A few days later I came across this illusion:


This one I can figure out, I think that the guy is standing on a platform hidden by his clothes on a pole that goes up to his arm, across to the green pole, and counter-balanced by a base on the bottom which is covered by a blanket. The whole apparatus needs to be strong which suggests that it is heavy.

Looks convincing, though.

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The wife and I are currently traveling in Germany. Before we left, I checked the weather. Since this is currently the end of April (late spring), I figured the weather may be cool.

In Seattle, it was warm the day we left, going up to 24⁰ C. By contrast, the city in Germany we were going to – Cologne – was only going to be around 12-14⁰ C. Less warm, but not so bad. The forecast was less accurate as time passed, but it seemed to be dropping.

Well, we got to Cologne and it was colder. It warmed up during the week but towards the end it started cooling down.

We left Cologne and headed to the Rhine Valley and Mosel Valley in southwest Germany where it got even colder. Below’s a picture of me overlooking one of the castle. I’m wearing all of my warm clothes but I’m still a little uncomfortable.


Today, we headed to Frankfurt and while walking around town, it was really cold, windy, and rainy. I threw in the towel and bought another toque. The one in the picture is too thin (I lost my thicker one shortly before we left and didn’t have time to replace it).

I was prepared for cold weather. I brought a rain jacket, a heavier(ish) jacket, gloves, and a hat for my head. I also dress up in layers (I’m wearing four on my upper body in the picture). But the fact that didn’t have a warmer hat came back to haunt me. I figured that since it was later into spring I may be able to get away with it, but I was wrong.

I tested out my warmer hat today. It worked. But I hope that today is not the last day I need it.

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So, I’m currently traveling in Germany and the other day we made a quick trip to Luxembourg City. Luxembourg, the country, is a small little area between France and Germany, the two powerhouse countries economically in Europe (with Germany being the strongest).

While in Luxembourg, I discovered that the European Union (EU) has not one, not two, but three capital cities: Luxembourg City, Brussels (in Belgium), and Strasbourg in France. Strasbourg is located in the area known as Alsace Lorraine in northeastern France, which borders Germany (in blue below):


Aside from the fact that I didn’t know that either of these two cities were capitals of the EU, they are all in a particular location – they are between France and Germany.

The recent history of Europe is a series of struggles between France and Germany:

  1. In the 1800’s, Napoleon of France invaded the Holy Roman Empire, the pre-cursor to Germany, dissolving it. He took over a lot of territory in Germany before being repelled back.

  2. In 1871, Germany clobbered France in the Franco-Prussian war and took over Alsace Lorraine, and France never forgot that.

  3. During World War I (1914-1918), the western front was a stalemate between Germany and France. But Germany tried to go through Belgium (where Brussels is), dragging England into the war.

  4. During World War II (1939-1945), Germany invaded France again.

Look at all those three capital cities of the EU – they are all regions that flipped back and forth during the recent conflicts between France and Germany. Was the EU set up and these places deliberately chosen so that if one country tried to take over that city, it would invoke the rest of the EU against it? That is, if Germany ever takes over Strasbourg/Luxembourg/Brussels again, they cause all of the other nations in the EU to unite against it? Maybe these three cities and regions are acting as a buffer between the two big countries?


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On jetlag

A few months ago, I was talking with a friend of mine about jetlag. He was saying that in his younger days, he had no trouble with jetlag but as he got older, it started to affect him more and more

I’ve been thinking about that because we’re currently in Germany and suffering from it. You know the symptoms – awake at 5 am and fast asleep by 9 pm. Or, in my case, taking a nap at 6:15 pm and up by 9 pm, and then looking to go back to bed at 11:30 pm and up again at 6 am.

Looking back over my life, I think to myself – do I deal with jetlag worse as I have gotten older?

I first remember getting it when I went to England at the end of 2000 when I went to check the place out, as I was moving over there at the end of year. I remember laying on my hotel bed, staying awake all night because I couldn’t sleep.

That was my first experience with jet lag (6-hour time zone shift).

My second experience I can remember was when I went to Singapore traveling from England in early 2002. I remember getting off the plane and thinking to myself “Man, I feel pretty good!” but by 10 am, I thought to myself “Oh, I need to go back to my hotel room to sleep.” I did, went back and slept for six hours, and felt better. This was a time-zone shift of 8 hours or so.

Every time since then, whenever I head over to Europe, I have a hard time with jetlag. I can’t stay awake past a certain time, and it’s usually quite early in the evening. And, it’s always been this way, it hasn’t gotten worse as I have gotten older, it’s the same.

My cure for jetlag – not fighting it. I just accept the fact that I’ll be getting up quite early and going to bed quite early for 7 days, and then I will adjust. Until then, I make sure that my schedule will allow for me to get back to my hotel room so I can fall over on the bed late at night.

So, in a way, because I now come to expect the time zone spreads as an inevitable part of traveling, I deal with it better. My body gets over it in due course, and then I feel fine. But until then, I simply adjust my schedule.

Who says you have to feel worse as you get older?

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