Posts Tagged ‘travel’

A change of air. Once more.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

I like all seasons in their own peculiar ways. During the last years, summer has been Berlin–Germany–home in-between time. Work obligations and monetary restrictions did not allow for real holidays, so that July and August became a mix. A mingling of places: refreshing apartments so that they can be sublet once more without a bad conscience; reading and writing and applying for jobs and wrangling with deadlines; hanging out on balconies; visiting family and seeing friends and trying not to get caught up in obligations too much to not enjoy seeing all of these; enjoying Berlin nights; saying goodbye again to the place that you miss but do not want to miss, because this only makes things harder; riding the bicycle through warm summer fields; trying to keep an eye on expenses; looking out for good deals on necessary and not so necessary stuff; loving to be where you are right now, while trying to be looking forward to where you will be tomorrow, and not being too sad about where you left the day before… Tomorrow, I will let the wind will carry me back to Oslo.

Leaving Boston and re-enabling comments.

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Well, well, the stay in Boston has been very nice – new friends and old friends together created a very rich social life. And I even got an article finished! (More about that in another post sometime in the future.)
I had disabled the comment function after a massive spam attack and forgot to turn it on again afterwards. Now comments should be working again!

Last train to Darmstadt.

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Strange. This is the last time I am driving the ICE route to Darmstadt. After almost six years of commuting back and forth between Berlin and southern Hessia, it feels strange to look out at the landscape passing by. The interior of the trains, even with their changes over the course of the last years, may not be home, but it is a well known place to be. Bye Darmstadt, bye ICE, bye bahn.comfort status.

The smell of sulphur.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

early morning at the harbor in Reykjavik, IcelandMany people know that Iceland is a volcanic island: the rocks and the beaches are grey-black, there are many geysirs and hot water pools. However, that is only part of the story. Think about other places where you would find black stone and perhaps a small stream of lava here and there. Pretty hot place, said to be somewhat on the uncomfortable side. Dude with horns is bossing people around. Got me? So, what would you expect of the smell in this place? Kinda sulphurous, right? Correct. But what does that mean: kinda sulphurous? Well, a bit like rotten eggs. The funny thing is that here, you inevitably encounter this smell in the place where the smellscape is supposed to be on the opposite side of rotten: the bathroom and the shower. Ugh? Yup. I guess this is because the hot water here is not ground water that is being heated in the house, but instead comes out of the ground being pretty hot already. Heated by your energy-providing friend, the vulcano. Thus the sulphurous smell. Enjoy the island!

Bye bye Oslo.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

tracks and a loipe in the snowMy two stays as a guest researcher in Oslo are coming to an end. The day after tomorrow I will fly back to Darmstadt, where I will move into a new apartment. It has been a good time. Not only have I been productive, I have also had the chance to get to know some very nice and stimulating people. As if that would not be enough, I have also been able to get rid of the problems with my lower back and my shoulders – over the course of the last months they have all but disappeared and I cannot say how relieved I am that life without pain is still possible. I will certainly pay attention to avoid getting into such a state again, even though I will miss the fine hikes through the Nordmarka, which certainly contributed to my recuperation.

Back from the island.

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

sunset on the beach, North Sea island JuistAfter a long absence, I used the first opportunity that I could find for a visit to the island which is the focus of my new research project (which is still in development and funding-acquisition stage). It does not get any more off-season as it was during the last two weeks… which gave me plenty of time to catch up with work, reading, and the ever-changing geography of the island – and it made it much easier to repeatedly encounter and have some small interactions with those who live on the island the whole year through.

Buzzing around before settling down. (For a while.)

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Last week, I moved most of my everyday stuff to Oslo, where I will be a guest researcher at the University until the end of this year. The last days I was in Berlin, most of the time cleaning the apartment and packing the rest of my belongings. But I also took the time to participate in the performance festival Abwehr, organized by Svenja Moor and Shahram Entekhabi (officially as a discussant but in truth more as a photographer – which suited me fine). The locations of this festival Wachturm and Kunstfabrik were excellent and I think the whole thing worked out really fine. You can read more about this festival in Stralau-Blog (in German). You can also see more about this festival. In my ipernity album.
Tomorrow, I will buzz off again. This time going to the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society in London. I’ve been there last year and enjoyed it quite a bit. This year, Katie Walsh and I will host a session, to which I am looking forward very much. Except for the fact that we have been put into the last time slot of the conference: Friday 16:50–18:30. I wonder how many people will make it through a whole week of dense and stimulating sessions, beverage-laden evening programmes and then still attend some session late Friday afternoon, when they shcould be heading home to tea and biscuit…
On Saturday, though, I will finally enter port: Oslo. *sigh* And there I will stay with only one interruption until the end of the year. That’s what I call a welcome prospect!

Norge, jeg kommer.

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

The semester is finally over, giving me time to spread the good news that have been brightening up my days for a while: beginning in September I will be a guest researcher at the TIK senter in Oslo. The TIK is a research institute that is part of the University of Oslo, mostly focusing on science and technology studies, the field that is commonly called by its acronym STS. This in itself would already fit my training and research agenda nicely – since my class with Tom Gieryn at Indiana University Bloomington and even more so since I worked at the Max-Planck-Institute for the history of science in Berlin, science and technology studies inform my theoretical and empirical work. However, the TIK senter fits my agenda even better, because there are several people who are involved in studies or beginning research projects on climate change and its relation to society. I am looking forward very much to participating in this setting for last third of the year.
As you may know, this is only one part of the story. I am also delighted by the fact that I can stay there because Kerstin and I will be able to actually live together again for the first time in about four years. If that isn’t fabulous, then I don’t know what is. And both of us will be working at the same place, for the University of Oslo, our offices only a two minute stroll away. Grand. I even have a glimmer of hope that I will be able to get rid of my diverse back related problems during my stay. Domus Athletica, Sognsvann and, depending on the weather, a bit of nordic skiing during the last weeks… that should help.

From Fog to Frühling.

Friday, April 13th, 2007

This morning at 6:15, Kerstin and I left our cozy apartment on Juist, entering the thick fog outside. During the walk from the Loog to the harbor, we collected dew on our brows (and sweat on our backs because – surprise, surprise – we were somewhat late-ish). The fog started to lift while we were riding the train through East Frisian meadows. When we made a stop in Oldenburg, the sky was clear and the sun showed off its regained strength. We have never been to Oldenburg before, but it seems nice enough to visit even when the sun is not shining. In Bremen we split: Kerstin is testing the newly established Ryanair connection Bremen–Torp, while I continued on to Berlin. In Hannover Hbf I stowed away my jacket. Arriving in Berlin I encountered people in T-Shirts, realized that the cherry tree is opening its first buds, and now at 19:20 I am sitting here on the balcony and am astounded by the fact that I do not freeze even though the sun is setting on the other side of our house. And the best thing is: this summer I won’t have to stay inside, sweating into the towel wrapped around my chair and writing my dissertation! Ah, mercy to those poor souls who still have to finish their dissertations… (The word chuckle comes to mind.)

Dunes, wind, the whole package.

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

dunes on the island JuistAh, what a wonderful time. This year we spent our new year’s break on the North-Sea island Juist. The weather was a perfect mixture of wind, rain and sun. Sadly, the last grains of sand have been washed away during yesterday morning’s shower. Since my new research project will take place on this island, you can expect more pictures and a story or two in the coming two years…

The aftermath.

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Back to the screen. I definitely needed to take a break from the screen for a while. Strolling through the Odenwald, bathing in the North Sea, cycling through Schleswig-Holstein and now breathing the clear air of Oslo I recuperated from the stress of the last months.
Thus I am now up to the task of catching up with all the things that accumulated over the course of the last months. Luckily, there is no desperate need to hurry anymore. And going to the dentist is not exactly something I really missed while I was working on my dissertation…

Von wegen Meckern über die Bahn.

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

Schon dem guten Herrn Gintschel war ich für meine Vergeßlichkeit bekannt – der Hausmeister meiner Grundschule hat mir des öfteren Zutritt zur Grabbelkiste mit den Fundsachen gewährt, wenn ich mal wieder meinen Turnbeutel liegen lassen hatte. (Oder meine Zahnklammer.) Heutzutage lasse ich andere Sachen liegen. In der vergangenen Woche zuerst meine BahnCard auf dem heimischen Schreibtisch, so dass ich im Zug nicht die Gültigkeit meines OnlineTickets nachweisen und auch keinen reduzierten Tarif für den neu fälligen Fahrschein Berlin-Darmstadt nutzen konnte. Dumm gelaufen. Aber immerhin gab es einen netten Zugchef, der mir einen entsprechenden Eintrag auf die Rückseite meines neu gelösten Fahrscheins anfertigte und mir riet, noch am gleichen Tag bei der OnlineTicket Hotline Bescheid zu geben, dass ich meine BahnCard vergessen hätte und ein Ticket nachlösen müsste. Er sagte, dass in meinem Fall wohl entweder 15 € oder 8 € Gebühren erhoben werden könnten, je nachdem, ob mein Fall als vergessene BahnCard oder als vergessener Bezahlungsnachweis für das OnlineTicket behandelt würde. Ausserdem solle ich in jedem Fall eine Kopie meiner Fahrscheine machen, bevor ich selbige an die Bahn schicke. Nett und auskunftsfreudig der gute Mann.

Doch damit nicht genug. Am Freitag bin ich dann von Darmstadt nach Freiburg (Breisgau) gefahren und musste in Mannheim umsteigen. Es war heiss. Portemonnaies in der Hosentasche bei heissem Wetter sind eine unangenehme Sache. Also lag meine Geldbörse neben mir auf dem Sitz. Wo sie natürlich liegengeblieben ist, als ich ausgestiegen bin. Glücklicherweise fiel mir der Verlust sehr bald auf, denn als ich in die Lounge des Mannheimer Bahnhofs ging, griff meine Hand ins Leere. Zum ServicePoint geschickt berichtete ich mein Unglück, eine Verlustmeldungsbestätigung wurde ausgefüllt, die nette Dame am ServicePoint nahm meine Handynummer auf und sagte, sie würde sich melden, sobald sie mehr vom Zugchef des betreffenden Zugs gehört hätte. Wenn die Börse gefunden würde, könnte ich diese wohl entweder in Saarbrücken (der Endhaltestelle des ICEs) abholen, oder sie mir per Post zustellen lassen. Doof. Aber selber schuld., dachte ich.
Ich musste nicht lange warten und der Zugchef meldete sich persönlich auf meinem Mobiltelefon und sagte mir, dass er das Portemonnaie gefunden hätte und es an der nächsten Haltestelle in einem anderen Zug wieder gen Mannheim schicken würde. Famos! Leider hat das nicht geklappt, wie mir ca. 20 Minuten später mitgeteilt wurde (ich sass derweil angenehmerweise in der DB Lounge und konnte mich mit Getränken versorgen), ich solle also nicht auf den nächsten Zug warten, sondern statt dessen einfach so nach Freiburg fahren, wo ich um 23:10 das Portemonnaie in Empfang nehmen könnte, denn eine Kollegin würde noch am selben Tag zufällig nach Freiburg fahren. Hei! Wie nett!
So bin ich dann ohne Fahrschein oder Portemonnaie aber mit Verlustmeldungsbestätigung ausgestattet nach Freiburg gefahren (was man aber vorher mit dem Zugchef absprechen sollte) und habe ein paar Stunden später mein Portemonnaie von einer freundlichen Angestellten der DB AG überreicht bekommen – nicht ohne mir vorher die Scherze eines witzelnden Kollegen anzuhören. Den Spaß gönne ich unter solchen Umständen sehr gerne. Das Überraschendste war allerdings, dass das Portemonnaie voller war als vorher! Drin steckte nämlich eine Visitenkarte:

Mit freundlicher Empfehlung
Herr A. Schmidt

Vielen Dank, Herr A. Schmidt! Ohne Portemonnaie wäre der Aufenthalt in Freiburg und insbesondere die Rückfahrt wenig erfreulich gewesen…>

Hotel, City, Maghreb.

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

To give you a first impression of my experience of life in a conference hotel in Algiers, I recorded a brief video clip with my mobile phone – I recommend paying attention to the sound also.

Algiers as seen from the Hotel El-Aurassi. Cliplength 43 seconds

PS: The webserver did not deliver the video clip with the information that is necessary to interpret the video data type – this has been fixed now. If you still have problems seeing the clip, please e-mail me.>

How would you like your arrival in Berlin to be?

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

Think about it…
My arrival two days ago was perfect. Entering the plane in Oslo in cold and cloudy weather, rising above the clouds to fly while the sun is sinking down. Then, landing in Berlin. Evening sky, warm breeze. Not a lot of people around. Walking to my platform at Schönefeld station, I was asked by a somewhat drunk mid-forties working style man: Wo jehtsn ſzur S-Bahn hier? And I gave the correct, easily-followed answer. Good deed.
After waiting for fifteen minutes enjoying the pleasant weather, the S-Bahn arrived and transported me graciously and rockingly down to Alexanderplatz, where I changed to the U-Bahn line 2. Leaving the U-Bahn at Senefelder Platz, I wandered over to Kleopatra, bought myself a decent Döner Kebab for € 2.30, and walked over to my apartment, passing people who sit outside of cafés and bars. Entering my apartment, letting down the book-heavy traveling backpack, opening the balcony door and sinking down into the comfortable camping chair, watching people pass by below, munching away at the Döner, and sighing happily from time to time.
That’s how I like my arrivals in Berlin.

Umzüge, Umzüge, Umzüge.

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Besonders in der Aneinanderreihung ein unterhaltsames Wort. Weniger allerdings in der praktischen Ausführung. Selbst bis in Ausland verfolgen sie einen – gestern erst hier in Oslo beim Umzug geholfen. Und – Überraschung – mal wieder ganz nach Art des letzten oder besser nahezu einzigen Helfers in der Not. Wenn man schon sonst keinen Sport macht. Zumal das Wetter ganz famos war und Kerstin und ich nur schubweise (immer zur Anlieferung neuer Kartons) schuften mussten. Zwischendurch Zeit für Balkonien und poofen auffem Sofa.
Gut ist, dass hier ein normaler, wenn auch später Frühling durch die Lüfte flattert. Daheim scheint der Übergang ja mehr so vom Winter direkt in den Sommer zu gehen.
Gut ist auch, dass es sich derzeit ganz angenehm schreibt und ich zuversichtlich bin, meinen Einzelbeitrag für den von Lars und mir herausgegebenen Band noch hier in Oslo fertig zu stellen. Vielleicht schaffe ich es danach dann ja auch wieder, etwas fleißiger zu bloggen…

In America’s heartland.

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Sorry for not posting for two weeks – I am currently in the United States. The conference that I attended was very good, my presentation went fine, I think, and now I am sitting in Soma, a café in Bloomington, Indiana, trying to write an application to get funding that would allow me to participate in the Crossroads 2006 conference in Istanbul. My scholarship might end soon (just one more month to go, actually), but I do not intend to end my scholarly activities. To the contrary! We won’t let ourselves get grinded down in the academic wo do not have any jobs – either you get depressed, get a one Euro job, or work until you get sick machine. Loitering for the right to loiter!


Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Die Vorfreude steigt jeden Tag: bald geht es in die USA. Um in dieses Land gelassen zu werden, benötigt man einen Reisepass (von üblen Dingen wie dem Abnehmen von Fingerabdrücken und Irisscans wollen wir hier gar nicht erst reden). Ich bin natürlich schon seit längerem im Besitz eines solchen, habe ich doch für mein Auslandsjahr in Bloomington besorgen müssen. Reisepässe sind zehn Jahre gültig und ich war 1999 bis 2000 in Bloomington. Alles gut.
Alles gut? Nein! Wie mir wenige Minuten vor unserem Aufbruch nach Oslo in der letzten Woche auffiel, als ich der Unterhaltung halber einen Blick in meinen Reisepass (zur Einreise nach Norwegen braucht man nur einen Personalausweis) gewurfte, ist mir das Blut in den Adern gefroren. Der Ausweis ist im Frühling 2004 abgelaufen. Und es ist nach 18 Uhr. Ich fliege gleich nach Oslo. Da bleibe knapp zwei Wochen, fliege dann zurück nach Berlin um Wäsche zu Waschen und umzupacken und dann nach Chicago weiter zu düsen. Wo soll ich da einen Reisepass herzaubern? Schon etwas zittrig habe ich Olli um ein schnelles Hochfahren seines iBooks gebeten, um noch auf den letzten Drücker zu prüfen, ob ich in Berlin bleiben und dort alle Hebel in Gang setzen muss, um doch noch die lang ersehnte Reise antreten zu können, oder ob sich auch was in Oslo machen läßt. Einige Webseitenlektüren später entstand der Eindruck, dass es eine Chance gäbe, die Sache in Olso zu regeln. Also Riskio. Also Abflug.
Ein paar Tage später – Wochenende und Schlumpfigkeit meinerseits haben die Sache noch weiter verzögert – komme ich rennend drei Minuten nach Ende der offiziellen Öffnungszeiten bei der Deutschen Botschaft in Olso an und werde nach einigem Bitten und Flehen noch hineingelassen. Mit fürchterlich schlechten Automaten-Gangsterbildern ausgestattet. (Habe hier in Oslo keinen Scanner zur Hand, die Bilder werden zur allgemeinen Unterhaltung also später nachgereicht.) Die Auflagen zu Passbildern wurden verschärft, weshalb ich den schäbigen Fotoautomaten zweimal mit Kronen füttern musste. Aber die Mühe hat sich gelohnt. Ein paar Warteminuten und unschuldige Augenaufschläge später wird mein ganzer Krams (Passbilder, der abgelaufene Reisepass und eine in Berlin noch schnell eingesteckte Kopie der Abstammungsurkunde) mit gefälligem Gemurmel angenommen. Es müssen nur noch die Berliner Behörden um Bevollmächtigung ersucht werden. Uiuiui. Das wird an diesem Tag nix mehr, ich solle morgen doch vorbeikommen (möglichst etwas früher…). Das tue ich. Morgens, keine Wartenden im Konsularbereich der Botschaft und die Angestellten sind freundlich, ich nur milde konfus. Nach der Zahlung von 526 Norwegischen Kronen bin ich um einen Vorläufigen Reisepass reicher und um unwägbare Mengen von Seelenlast ärmer. Gute Güte. Aber ich muss sagen: Tipptopp, so nette Menschen in der Botschaft. Da fühlt man sich doch mal als Staatsbürger gut aufgehoben. Ausserdem rult es ja wohl, als Aussteller “Deutsche Botschaft Oslo” in seinem Pass stehen zu haben. Das war’s dann doch wert, nicht wahr?

Enveloping myself.

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

I like to travel, but there is one major downside to traveling: noise. It is worst in airplanes. Even if the flight is just an hour long, I feel totally knocked out during the flight and probably for the following hours too. The noise inside the plane is just too much for me. In trains the noise is more subdued, depending on where one sits, depending on the train, and on the quality of the tracks. Nonetheless, after more than four hours the noise starts to nag at me, producing a certain feeeling of unrest – a feeling between being tired and being over-sensible.
More than a year ago, I read about a new generation of consumer headphones that have built-in active noise cancellation technology, which was said to reduce noise by neutralizing it with anti-noise (you should know a bit about the nature of waves to guess how this works). Since then, such a noise-canceling headphone has taken one of the highest priorities on my gadget wish-list.
A few weeks ago, after finishing some tiresome work optimizing the HTML code for a friend’s website I decided I’m in for a reward, checked the current offerings for noise canceling headphones, and decided that the Sennheiser’s PXC series is what I am looking for. After doing some price comparisons I decided to place a bid for the 250 model on eBay. I got lucky and bought the thing for 78 € including shipping.
The PXC 250 is a foldable headphone that is designed to be easily transportable. The one thing that differentiates it from other portable headphones is a stick about as thick as my thumb and about twice as long. This stick is home to two AAA batteries and (at least I would guess so) the noise-cancellation electronics. The cable from the headphone jack goes into it and another cable leads from the stick to the headphones. The stick is probably the biggest drawback to the whole thing, because one has to decide where to put it. At least it has a clip that allows attaching the stick to your belt or, as I usually do, to one of the pockets of my pants. The length of both cables is a bit less than a meter. If you’re not taller than 2.10 meters this should work for you. The headphone itself is light and comfortable to wear. It is, however, not as comfortable as my Koss Porta Pro, because the earpads exert a bit more pressure on your outer ear. This is necessary though – the pads will passively filter out the higher frequencies thus they have to fit tightly enough to not let sound pass by unobstructed. Still, after several hours of wear it is a relief to take them off for a while and massage your ears a bit.
On the stick there is a well-designed sliding button that turns on the noise cancellation. Before turning it on in a train you will hear rumbling and other lower frequency noises. After turning it on you will hear … less. The rumbling fades away to a gentler, smoother lower frequency noise. This general reduction of volume along with the smoothing has a soothing effect. The noise is definitely not gone, but it surely is less bothersome. You can use this feature without having the headphone plugged in to another device. This noise reduction is also great if you want to listen to music: you don’t need to turn the volume as high as you would have to without the noise cancellation. This makes listening to music less stressful too. Great stuff. Excellent investment.
If you turn the thing on in a silent environment you will notice a subtle hiss in the speakers. This hissing noise is, at least to me, practically inaudible in a train or a similarly noisy environment. If you want to use the headphones without the noise cancellation turned on you will be disappointed. The bass will be much to low – there seems to be some kind of loudness function associated with the noise filter. Other than that the sound quality of the PXC 250 is very good; I would say it is in the same league as the excellent Porta Pro. All in all I can definitely recommend this device. I am looking forward to test it in an airplane, but I am quite confident that it will make flying a less bothersome experience.
The only real drawback that I am feeling is that this thing will make the envelope that I build around me while traveling even less permeable. Of course I can work better and listen to music in a more relaxed manner when wearing these headphones. Nonetheless, it also lessens my contact to my surroundings. I am less approachable, won’t hear people having a conflict, won’t hear the chatter of others around me, won’t hear nice stories people might tell each other. Some chances will just pass by without being noticed. *sigh* Such is the nature of envelopment.

Post-conference hiatus is over.

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

The conference was quite a success. Nice people, interesting talks, no major disasters. I did not leave Darmstadt immediately to have opportunities for socializing and joining the one-year Diskothek anniversary party in the 603qm which was quite a bit of fun. On sunday I took the night train to Copenhagen, where I … became ill for a few days when the post-stress relaxation set in (probably enhanced by the less than ideal sleeping conditions in the sleeping coach and potentially infected co-sleepers in same coach). However, a few bins filled with handkerchiefs, visits to the local sauna and hearty meals later, I recovered. And now I am back in Berlin. I did some work after the conference though, as you will see in the next entry to this blog.

Geography, Chicago, and disorderly materialities.

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Well, this is some of the best news of this year, I must say. After being reminded by Mr. Meier that there is a potentially interesting session at the 2006 Meeting of the AAG I wrote an abstract and applied for the session called Ordering / Disordering Space and Matter. Yesterday, I received the confirmation that my paper has been accepted… YAY!

I am so looking forward to being in Chicago again – I will be able to visit old pals in Bloomington again. I was hoping for an opportunity like that very much. And I must say that reading the other abstracts for this session was quite exciting. Very imaginative and captivating subjects – this will be an excellent session, I am sure. Counting the weeks until March next year…