Sunday, March 30, 2008


I went to see the Effelsberg 100-m radio telescope Saturday morning. There isn't much to say about it, but I thought I'd toss up a few photos.

In the photo, it looks like a tiny dish pretty close, but probably less than half the distance to the trees next to it. It's ginormous. I noticed you can see it from a nearby village (wonder what the neighbors think of that view?).

Closer, but still not very close.

The back side of the dish and some of the structure.

We put on hardhats and went up to the platform where the motor that changes the altitude is (the bottom of the black arc on the picture above). You can see all the way down. The telescope sits on four of those red 'feet' (for comparison you can see someone standing not too far from it) and spins around on a track. When the telescope was moving, and the clouds were moving pretty fast, it was kind of disorienting.

The control room is that entire glass wall (with nice view of the telescope from there).

Effelsberg is also a LOFAR site. Not too impressive, is it?


Monday, March 24, 2008

Kreuzberg Kirche

I've spent a lot of time wandering around my neighborhood, yet somehow I never went down one street a mere block from my apartment. I finally tried it a few weeks ago when I noticed (on Google Maps -- although I have a physical map, and I should have just looked at that) that there might be a running trail or something.

As it turns out, it's not long. It ends here, after a block, at Poppelsdorfer Friedhof (cemetery).

You can see that there's a path straight through the cemetery, which is surprisingly large with a lot of very tall trees.

It's very steeply uphill and although the cemetery is on either side of the path, the path isn't really inside the cemetery.

After 10 or maybe 15 minutes walking (it's far too steep to run), I emerged from a wooded area and was surprised to find myself right in front of this church:

I peeked inside.

There's a path around the church's grounds and this (what is it?):

Once I was done being surprised by the church, I realized that I was really high up (for Bonn) and definitely one of the highest points around (it slopes down pretty steeply on 3 sides and gradually on the fourth. By the way, on the way home, I took the wrong path down and ended up pretty far from home at the bottom and had to climb back up and down again). I hadn't been able to tell how high I was while I was stuck on the path. I think that in the future I'm going to spend some time sitting on that bench.

Behind and past the church, there are some running trails through a wooded area. In this direction, the view is very green.

In front of the church, there's a big empty field and a view towards the Rhein (but, of course, you can't see the water).

I think that building in the distance on the right must be the Post tower, the tallest building in the state (it's pretty close to the river, as I recall).

As it turns out, you can see Kreuzberg Kirche from work.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pop Quiz

For no reason at all, I've had this song in my head all day and I thought it be fun to put down the pertinent lyrics and see who can guess from which TV show and episode the song is (Googling is cheating, obviously).

By the way, when I Googled it to double-check the lyrics, I found two distinct sets of lyrics. Unless there were actually two different versions of the song, I feel like one version is clearly more correct than the other (i.e., the lyrics make more logical sense one way versus the other) and all those music lyric websites must steal from each other and propagate bad lyrics. Anyway, just in case, I'll put down both sets of lyrics.

The right:

When it's time to change, you've got to rearrange
who you are into what you're gonna be.
Sha na na na na na na na na, sha na na na na!

The wrong:
When it's time to change, you've got to rearrange
move your heart to what you're gonna be.
Sha na na na na na na na na, sha na na na na!

There are no prizes, just the satisfaction of being right.

[03.24.08 -- No one? Bueller? Bueller? How sad.]


Monday, March 10, 2008

I No Longer Fear Hell

I had a doctor's appointment today at 11am (don't worry, I'm not sick).

I get there at 10:45am. The waiting room is full. That means there are 7 people in front of me. The waiting room is behind a glass (translucent from knee height to over my head, but transparent at the top and at the bottom) door and wall, some sort of weird fishbowl. It's a nice room; they have bottles of water (bubbly, of course) and coffee set out (with real glasses and cups -- they don't do styrofoam or paper cups in Germany). I sit by the wall and wait to see footsteps through the door, signaling the receptionist arriving to fetch someone else. My last couple of appointments have been at the beginning of the day, so I've usually been alone in the waiting room and haven't had to wait for long. I've forgotten that even though everyone in the waiting room studiously ignores each other, when someone comes back to the waiting room to fetch their coat to leave (people in Germany actually hang up and leave their coats in the waiting room), the person leaving always says 'auf wiedersehen' to the room and everyone says, 'auf wiedersehen' back. At first I'm surprised, then unprepared. After 45 minutes, I've become one of the group, robotically saying 'auf wiedersehen' in sync with the rest of the room.

I start to fear that I've been forgotten. But I haven't; it's much worse than that. I wonder what would happen if I started some sort of performance art piece. What would happen if I lay down on the floor or started to bang my head against the wall? At 1 hour and 25 minutes (70 minutes after my appointment time), someone comes to fetch me: she takes my blood pressure. At 1 hour and 50 minutes they usher me into an exam room. The receptionist doesn't speak English and she knows I don't know much German (at least, I think she knows), yet after I confirm that I don't understand what she's saying, she continues to talk very fast, gesturing to the changing area as she leaves. I sit. 10 more minutes. I've now been here for 2 hours. I grow paranoid. Was I supposed to undress? Will a doctor show up if I undress? Maybe I need to perform the doctor-summoning equivalent of a rain dance. Is this all some sort of terrible behavioral/rat-in-maze-like experiment?

The doctor arrives! And the appointment is done in 10 minutes, and I don't have to do this again for another 9 months. When I go back to the waiting room to fetch my coat, it's finally empty.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Label

By the way, I've added a new label, 'sightseeing,' which compiles all the touristy things I've done and photographed, just in case someone wants to do a little virtual world tour. Of course, now it'll be that much harder to get all the labels on a single post.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I went to Lisbon for the weekend with one of the other postdocs a few weeks back. The idea was a short escape from winter. Instead, it rained.

This is the Castle of São Jorge:

It's actually not much to look at: a few courtyards and the castle walls and towers.

But as the castle where you're most likely to kill yourself, the Castle of São Jorge -- of the many castles I've seen -- is now definitely my favorite. At other places, you'll see something cool and wonder, 'why can't I go over there?' Here, you want to walk the paths on top of the walls and climb the towers? No problem. Is it pouring rain and slippery? No problem. Is water running down the steps (nice and narrow and steep) as you're climbing? Sure! Are there only low or no railings/walls? Yup! Is it really windy? You bet. And are you holding an open umbrella? Well ... yeah, maybe I should put this down and just live with getting soaked.

Of course, the rain really started when we got to the castle, and right after we decided to leave, it stopped. Here's the view from the main square of the castle:

We arrived on the rainy Saturday and before and after visiting the castle wandered the city center:

We could actually see the castle from our hotel room. It's the tree in the distance on the right hand side of the photo (very Castle in the Sky-looking, isn't it?). On the last day, we tried to find the nearer tower seen on the left but didn't before we had to leave for the airport.

On Sunday, we went to Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, an art museum with a nice ancient art collection, then took the bus to Belém, a neighborhood west of the city center on the river (the Tagus). We took the bus and the metro to get around; it was all very easy and convenient.

The first thing we did in Belém was locate a pastry shop recommended by a Portugese postdoc. It wasn't hard to find: it's the place with the giant line of people in front of it.

There and every day we were in Lisbon, we ate these pastries (thanks to Sherry for letting me use this picture):

Down the street is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The church:

The cloisters:

By the water, is Padrão dos Descobrimentos, where a few German tourists who were Jehovah's Witnesses tried to proselytize to Sherry in Mandarin.

And further down the water, the Torre de Belém:

So I'm a little low on text today. Hopefully the pictures and wiki links made up for it.