back home

Yea I know … it’s been a while since my last post.

Local Culture

I made it home well, right in time for quite a few late summer / autumn festivals. The first and biggest was the traditional Wasen, a few weeks later I visited the Fellbacher Herbst for the first time. A pretty nice wine festival in the heart of, you guessed it, Fellbach with live music and many booths selling local wine and food. The last local festival in that row was the Krautfest, a festival around Filderkraut, which is typical for the Filder region and only produced here.

Good old Friends

Two weeks after I returned back home some good friends from highschool times and I went to Switzerland. The first day and evening we spent in Basel, joining with one of our friends who had worked there for his studies. After we finally decided on a restaurant I had a really nice wild boar roast which I won’t forget for quite a while.
The second day we drove to Luzern and started hiking up the Pilatus with fog all around us, one could barely see 50m. Overall the elevation difference would have been 1600m in one day, but in my corrent condition I gave up at about 1000m and took the cable car to the top. There we had a reservation for the hotel and enjoyed a relaxed evening (the others were totally tired as the last 600m were the toughest part).
Sunday the fog had cleared and the view was really marvellous. After a brief sunbath we took the cable car back to the lower station where we had parked the car and spend the rest of the day browsing around the inner city of Luzern.

panoramic view from Pilatus

The Studymates

The last weekend of October my group of best friends from the aerospace studies in Stuttgart gathered in Hamburg. The first day had a bar crawl through the Schanzenviertel and along the Reeperbahn.
After everyone had recovered from the night before, we went down to the pier (Landungsbrücken) and took a boat trip around the warehouse district (Speicherstadt) and the harbour. After that we just walked around downtown a bit and found a really nice and small mexican restaurant where we managed to get a table for the nine of us. After a good meal and some Tequila we retreated to Oli’s place where most of us stayed and had a rather calm last evening.

My Grandma’s 88th Birthday

As we planned the gathering in Hamburg quite a bit ahead, I could arrange that it would be the same weekend as my grandmother’s 88th birthday. So Sunday I got up a bit earlier, took the bus to the main station to get a few fresh flowers and visited her. It is truely amazing how clear her mind is, everytime I really enjoy talking to her. As usual I ate quite a bit more than I had planned, but I guess that’s a universal fact for grandmas all over the world!

German Bierfest 2007

We arrived at the festival around 3pm with the sun burning down on us. Hoping for a nice big German stein of cold beer we were pretty disappointed by the tiny glasses. After we got to the front of the first queue (which spanned across the whole street), we really got angry because those tiny glasses were only filled half way, because of some “sampler” regulations.
nice weather and long queues tiny glass half filled
After standing in the queues for a while, downing the small sips they would give us, the atmosphere got more relaxed and the queues dissolved into scattered groups of random people chatting. We even won a free t-shirt by spinning a wheel, which was really good at protecting our heads against a bad sunburn. The Americans were really interested in getting in contact with the many Germans gathering at the Bierfest, so in the end it all was a really nice afternoon chatting with many people and teaching Americans the interesting sides of the German language (swearing 😉 ).
The funniest thing happened when we were just standing in a queue: Someone accidentally dropped his beer glass (which was the ticket for free beer) and everybody in a range of about 50 yards started screaming and booing (watch the video).
German Bierfest 2007 the American view of Germans

The small glasses and the lack of authentic German food aside, this Fest was definitely a good experience.
Cheers, Tim.

Long due Update

Yeah, I know it’s been a long time since the last post … a tip for the impatient: I update the photo-gallery more regularly.
As quite a lot has happened in the meantime, I’ll just start in the past, working my way to the present, sipping on my icecold sweet tea.

Victor Wooten Concert
Ben and Zach had been telling me about Victor for quite a while, claiming he is one of the best bass-players ever! As always I was a bit skeptical.
Arriving at the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points, Ben first went to the Turkish place next door for some falaffel. Sitting in front of the snack bar, we started chatting with the owner, who told us that they just opened that weekend. A little into the talk he realised where I was from and started talking German! He and a few more of his staff had spent a few year in Germany before coming over to the US. Being a really nice guy, he offered me a free falaffel, which I couldn’t refuse, and it indeed was very good!

With some food in our bellies we went back to the Variety Playhouse to see the concert. And I must say Ben and Zach were SO right with their raving! Victor Wooten really is one of the best, if not the best, bass-player I have ever seen performing! Toghether with a really amazing band they just blew my mind away! Every single musician was so good and as they seemed to be playing just for the fun of it, the whole concert felt more like a jam in some friends livingroom.
You can find the photos i took right here in the gallery.

In the meantime I switched from sweet tea to Pilsner Urquell, but lets just go on …

Graduation Day in Columbia
Three weeks later Zach and I drove over to Columbia for a weekend, as it was Mitul’s graduation day.
This being the second trip to Columbia (we went there for St. Patrick’s Day as well) I must say I really like this city with its central bar district and pretty much all of Ben’s and Zach’s friends living really close to the downtown area. One funny thing that evening, highlighting the absurdity of some of the regulations over here, was that we got refused to enter a bar because Zach and Steven were wearing “Gang Style”! Yeah! Those two guys really look dangerous! 😉

Everybody being a bit tired from the night before (hanging out at Chubby’s) we just went to a nice spot at the river and relaxed there, playing with Jerry, Janna’s crazy dog. In the evening we went to a nice restaurant where they were brewing their own beer and got some nice southern food.

Plum Hollow Bluegrass Festival
Steven, who I just got to know on our recent visit to Columbia, told me about this Bluegrass and Moonshiners Festival in northern South Carolina and that he planned to go there. As I always liked small festivals and Bluegrass we planned to meet there and camp out for the weekend.
After a relaxed ride north to Spartanburg on the interstate 85, I arrived in the area around noon and soon realised that this is as cliche as it gets! When I had to ask for directions I could barely understand the heavy southern accent. The whole town was decorated with US flags and on the roads you could only see pickup trucks. After a few extra turns I made it to the Plum Hollow farm, where Steven was already setting up his special campsite. A nice hidden spot, with quick access to the whole festival.

As I expected sitting around a campfire at night, i had prepared some stick-bread, which is mostly unknown in what the Americans call the world and the rest of the world calls the Unites States (sorry i couldn’t resist 😀 ). So the first evening Steven and I were wandering around the campsite, joining different groups around their fires, spreading stick-bread and trying moonshine people brought along. Soon I was known as “The German with the stick-bread” all over the festival (around 200-300 people I would guess).
The stage was set up nicely right in front of the forest with a well needed tin roof providing some shade for the listeners. So bluegrass bands were playing pretty much all the time till around midnight, when people would move to their campfires and start playing their own music, jamming with others.
I managed to record two songs with my camera and converted them to mp3-format:

the first two pictures below show that scene at about 2am around a pavillion.


Overall I must say this was all I hoped it would be! I really enjoyed spending the weekend with these friendly and down-to-earth people sharing food (thanks for the fresh-hunted deer burgers) and a great time!Well … that’s about it … hail to those who made it all through this long post, I know how short the average attention span these days is.
Hope I manage to get my lazy bum up and write more often, so I don’t end up with these almost “half-year-reviews”.

To cite Tony Blair: “That is that, the end.”

Soccer Worldcup 2006

Though I’m not a big soccer fan, I must say that I got carried away by the general athmosphere!
It’s just amazing to see so many people from all over the world, roaming around my hometown, with really big celebrations after each match.
It’s a bit like traveling without the need to leave. Really “A time to make friends”!

My friends and I started the Worldcup with a nice barbie at Oli’s place.
BBQ & Soccer BBQ & Soccer
Especially the night out after the match Poland – Germany was amazing, around 70000 people partying in the city. The best thing is that there’s hardly any violence or aggression!
crowded streets of Stuttgart cars trying to get through

But I think after that night I’ll need a few calm days without these crowds!

Cheers,
Tim.

long due update

Hi everyone …

As I haven’t written much in a while, I’ll just give a brief overview of the last events.

As the new version of Ubuntu was released this month, I organised a small release party in Stuttgart. Though this was quite spontaneous, we ended up with a group of six Ubuntu interested people.
dapper release party

A few days later Kathi and I randomly got to watch a pre-worldcup soccer theatre performance in front of the new castle in Stuttgart. Especially the pyrotechnics were really impressive!
performance performance

I also started working on my assignment, focussing on evolutionary optimisation of rule based designs. Ask me in person if you want a more detailed description of this. 😉

So far for this update, cheers …
Tim.