Saturday, July 25, 2015

Filling In Gaps

I feel like I didn't really finish this blog last year.  I suppose that was due to a mixture of time running out to get pictures out and being busy looking for a job.  I'll post some Venice and Vienna pictures now and talk about year later.

So, I went to Italy to visit Federico and his family.  Federico was taking courses at Ca Foscari over the summer and had a room in an apartment in Venice, and I saw this as a golden opportunity to observe life in an incredibly unique place.  Most people who come to Venice only really see a narrow corridor between the train station, San Marcos, and Rialto Bridge and only during daylight hours.  I think the visit re-framed my vision of Venice from a tourist destination, to a place where life continues much as it has for centuries.   People actually carry on their lives here without much thought as to how different life is in most of the world.  Even the trash is taken out by boat.

Trash collection via boat

I also spent some time in Federico's home town of Chioggia.  Much like Venice, old Chioggia was built on islands and is lined with canals and narrow alleys.  Somewhere I have pictures of the spooky cathedral campanile we climbed (still not sure we were allowed up there).

Got in trouble for taking this one.

Federico was brave enough to lean over the side of the clock tower.

After I left Brno I visited the Sonnweber's in Vienna before I flew back to the states.  I had a job interview the day I arrived and they were kind enough to purchase a new wireless router and configure it so I could VOIP into the interview (I think it was with the RTCA, which is funny for reasons I will explain later).

Banana ice cream with candy walnuts, egg liquor, chocolate liquor and more bananas in Vienna

Beer at Shoenbrunn

One last look at my neighborhood in Brno

One last look at the Brno train station

During my day in Vienna I visited Shoenbrunn castle, the home of the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire.  It was a wonderful lesson in a piece of history I knew little about before.  Walked around the museum quarter, visited St Stephens, had delicous ice cream.  Didn't make it to Freud's clinic or "The Third Man" tour, maybe next time.  In the evening I watched the USA v Germany World Cup match and had delicious pizza with arugula on top with Elisabeth and her family.  In the morning I got on a plane and left.  It was an uneventful flight back until I got stuck in Charlotte overnight.  This sucked as the remaining people in Florida had thrown a party and I wanted to attend.  We managed to have a get-together the next night though.  After 3 weeks of being unemployed and bored I talked with my friend and former co-worker Traci and discovered there was an opportunity for temporary employment back at Wichita State while she was on maternity leave.  Sounded good enough for me, so I loaded up my shit and drove home.

Hangout the night after I got back at Sarah and Russ's new house.

I missed the ocean in the morning.  I think it missed me too.

On the 4th of July Sarah introduced me to Mitt Romney.  First presidential candidate I've ever met and he had the personality of cardboard.

Will and I went fishing and saw someone catch a shark.  I threw it back.

Fehlinger ate this.

Getting ready to move back to KS, I had to do some cleaning.

Visited uncle Jack in Tennessee.

Good 'ol Kansas flint hills.

That covers the second half of June and all of July 2014.  The day I started back at WSU I interviewed with NASA Langley and a week after that I had a job offer.  Now I'm in Virginia working on the UAS integration into the national airspace and its keeping me very busy.  We are defining minimum operational standards for a see and avoid system for unmanned aerial vehicles for an RTCA committee (thats the funny part).

On another note, look who visited Kansas for Christmas:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bye bye Wien!

Just had a great day in Vienna.

I'm ready to be back in the states.  This song seems fitting.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bye bye Brno!

Well this is pretty much it.  I am hours away from departing Brno for Vienna, and 2 days away from returning to the states.

Last week I used the bulk of my remaining vacation time to travel to Venice where I stayed with Federico.  Overall it was a great time full of relaxation and walking around.  I will discuss this later as I have a metric ton of photos to review.

On Monday I learned from work that I still had vacation after my trip to Italy, meaning my work would end Tuesday afternoon at noon.  I spent most of Monday going through my files and preparing to transfer all of my work to my colleagues.   The last couple of hours were spent in the sim preparing scenarios for an evaluation.  For dinner my co-workers in the Human-Centered Systems division met for dinner.

Yesterday I finished everything at work and left after lunch.  Set my bank account up to close after my last paycheck is issued and to transfer the money back to the states.

This morning I went to the grocery store to recycle the rest of my beer bottles and buy some snacks for the road.

I do not know what else to say.  I've been ready to leave, but its just strange to close the door on this experience now.  I also don't know what to expect when I get back to the states.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Hourglass

Like an hourglass, my bottle of Tabasco has signaled that time has run out.  I have only 2 weeks left in the Czech Republic or I will die from lack of flavorful "zing."

I haven't been writing much since Seattle, mostly because during the month of May I didn't really do a lot of fun or interesting activities.  I went to work, came back, ate dinner, went to bed.  And although I had plenty of interesting thoughts and ideas for blog posts (notably a rant on the human factors of this country's transportation system), I just didn't feel like writing.  Since the end of May however, I have done some fun things and I'll describe those shortly.

Work has been a steady stream of writing, meetings, and about 2 straight weeks of working on a scenario and script for a simulation experiment.  I wrote my evaluation report from my Redmond trip and made recommendations which I hope will be implemented soon.  I started on a detailed design for a project using Illustrator, however Illustrator interface is in Czech and even my colleagues can't help because most words from the program do not have a direct Czech translation.  I learned to program scenarios using MS Flight Simulator, although it was not easy or fun.

Right after my Redmond trip I visited Valtice which is south of Brno.  The town is part of a large landscaped region known as the Valtice-Lednice Cultural Landscape.  The land was originally owned by the Lichtenstein family, who built castles, hunting lodges, gardens, and monuments throughout the area.  I wanted to bike through the landscape, but couldn't find a rental place on a Sunday.

Valtice Castle

Near the edge of one of the gardens looking back at the town

Throughout May, I kept seeing an advertisement for a "doctor."  Seeing the photo, I figured no one would actually give this guy a license to practice medicine and figured the advert was a "doctor plumber", tongue-in-cheek kind of thing.  The photo is ridiculous.  The man is trying to keep a firm expression, but the photo tells more of a story.  He has long hair, and one of his curls sneaks out from behind his neck.  The curl is kinda like "hello there!"  So here you are: a man with a firm expression, but subtle cues that tell you "I'm being serious for the cameras, but you know how I roll.  I'm cool, I still party."

My colleague informed me he is Professor Jan Keller, a communist party sociologist running for European Parliament.  Figures.

For my birthday I decided to take off work and travel to Cesky Krumlov, a place which was recommended to me.  I booked a bus which connected through Prague and figured the connection would be at the same bus terminal I arrived at in Prague.  Turns out however, I had to take the subway to another bus station.  I did not realize this until about 5 minutes before the bus was scheduled to depart.  So I was stranded in Prague, what a tragedy.

One of my new favorite places in Prague

Arriving in the square next to the town hall I got a surprise:  a dixieland
jazz band.

So I checked into a hostel down the street and walked around the town.  This time I didn't feel the pressure to see everything and capture photos, I just strolled.  I brought a book with me and read whenever I found a suitable seating place.  On my birthday I sat down in the grass in a park and read and subsequently caught a tan.  I also had to eat a delicious birthday breakfast.
Breakfast Kolac on the river Vtlava.  Poppyseed, cream cheese and strawberry.

In the evening I visited a few pubs, mostly ones that served my favorite beer,  Kozel.

How it starts.

Fascinating phenomena.  Beer-rings.

How it ends.
In one pub I saw a  T-shirt that I promptly translated to say "Good Goat, best fireman."  I don't know why but it cracked me up.  The goat is so serious.  Unfortunately they are completely out of the shirt.  Even on the website.

On the night of my birthday I attended a concert of 4 strings and a trumpet playing George Gershwin composed music.  The music was incredible and the venue was the Spanish Synagogue, just as incredible.

Just last weekend, my mentor Daniela invited me to travel to Kromeriz (unpronouncable) with a visiting lecturer.  The castle in Kromeriz was apparently a filming location for the movie "Amadeus."  We didn't see all of it, but the castle has lovely gardens.

Bentley.  Wish I was in Le Mans this week!  (too expensive)

Thats all for now.