Sunday, 18 February 2007

Our little bumblebee

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael @ 23:21

Just a quick post with a picture of “Hummel” (German for bumblebee), our new family member.

She’s been with us a week now. Both blackcat and I are very glad to have this new little “Wesen” (being, creature) sharing our home. We have the feeling that Hummel is happy with us too. It is obvious that she was mistreated in the past but she is quickly learning to trust us and that is good feeling.

Monday, 12 February 2007

The world turns…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael @ 0:30

Today, Sunday, we adopted a cat. Yesterday, my wife, blackcat, opened the bi-weekly newspaper for our neck-of-the-woods and turned immediately to the section that more often than not contains an article from the local “Tierheim” (animal shelter). There was a picture of “Hummel” (bumblebee). The description of this cat seemed to match what we had discussed as our desire for a new member of the family exactly. She was an adult cat (~six years old) and had had a less than pleasent life and needed a new home that was quiet and where she would be the only cat.
blackcat called the Tierheim the next morning and well, a short while later Hummel was being introduced to her new home. She seems to adapting well to her new surroundings. It will take a few days before she really feels at home. And she is at home. We made the decision to bring her into our life and she is now our responsibility. We can not, like those before, simply throw her away.
Follow-up and a picture will follow.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

The State of Audio

Filed under: Music,Uncategorized — Michael @ 23:26

Music has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. I don’t play a musical instrument but I do listen to music of all kinds both live and recorded. (Well, that’s not strictly true. I don’t listen to all kinds, just good music.) Since I listen to recordings I have also had a parallel interest in sound reproduction. You know, hi-fi and all that. I have a technical background and am fortunate enough to have the skills needed to have built some of the electronics I currently use.
But of course I can’t build a CD-player or pair of headphones (well, I suppose I could if I had the necessary equipment but then that would cost way more than the items would) so that means occasional product research and purchase at the HiFi store and/or on the Web. Some of what I see there just amazes me. I don’t mean in the sense of the current state of the art in sound reproduction. That has steadily improved to a point where a modest expenditure can give you a system that will produce fantastic fidelity. No, what amazes me is the complete disregard for physics, and logic, that permeates the “high-end” audio market place. Vinyl records played on 10.000 dollar turntables. Tube amplifiers. (“Vastly superior” sound than from a CD or transistor, respectively.) Shielded power cords. Specially braided speaker cables. CD demagnitizers. And all for LOTS of money.
I recently ran across a Web-site,, by Bruce Coppola that does a good job of bringing together information for the rational among us that just want the best fidelity for our money (and a laugh at the expense of the “golden ears”). Check it out.

I’ll cross that bridge…

Filed under: Cycling — Michael @ 22:03

Every year since 1996 Hamburg has hosted a bicycle race, The Cyclassics, for professionals and amateurs. The amateurs can choose between a 55km, a 100km, or a 155km route. For the first few years I did this race I did the 55km course. Last year a friend and riding partner, Volker, convinced me we should try the 100km route. I was a bit concerned going into it. I mean I have ridden 100km and more in a day many times but had never done such a distance with the point being to do it in as short a time as possible!
Well, the short story is, we did it and though it was hard work it felt great. Certainly the high point of the 100km course is crossing the Köhlbrandbrücke, a rather impressive bridge over the river Elbe. It is a high point because, well, it’s high, it is very cool to have the opportunity to cross this bridge on a bike, and it marks the beginning of the home stretch to the finish line.
Here’s Volker and I (I’m on the right) as we begin the descent. Just a few kilometers more!

The picture was taken by a service company, First Foto Factory. I only just recently saw it because it was filed under their “unidentified” category. I bought a print for each of us. There we were on the Köhlbrandbrücke!
So, the registration just wrapped up for this years race. 22.000 particpants with 10.000 doing the 100km course! Volker and I will be among them on August 19th. I’m already looking forward to it!