Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kein Hundeklo

Sign on a post in my home town

Attention please:
This is not a dog toilet.
That's really unnecessary.
If you are caught, I will press charges.
The home owner

Someone is really upset.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Off to Paris

This time we will actually stay for almost a week in Paris, and not just pass through (1), like the last few times I flew this route.

(1) Technically, that's not quite true since we flew via CDG's awful Terminal 2G to STR ...

... and took the TGV back to Paris.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Commuter Car Set

Maerklin's MHI Q2/2014 item is Nr. 43829, a 3-car set of Silver Coin ("Silberlinge") commuter cars including a "Karlsruhe" cab car, which dates these cars squarely into the mid-seventies. This is another piece of rolling stock I have a weakness for, probably for it's rather utilitarian appearance and ubiquity well into the 90's and even today, after having been refreshed internally, and now sport DB AG's bright red color scheme. Needless to say, I like the silver appearance better.

All cars are illuminated, which also means that I really need to get lights installed in both Umbauwagen sets, and the headlights in the cab car change with direction of travel. The models are well done, and, due to slight length compression, navigate the rather tight curves on the Welztalbahn well.

The prototype put these cars into service in the late 50's, with a rather cramped engineer's cab for push/pull service. Engineers hated these cabs and referred to them as "bunny boxes".
In the mid-seventies the cab cars were rebuilt at the service facility ("Ausbesserungswerk") in Karlsruhe with a more standard-sized engineer's cab, hence the name "Karlsruhe head".

Things you see on Monterey Highway

Sometimes you drive down Monterey Highway, and encounter things like this:

What is that? Looks broken.

Could it be... ?


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hello Karl, nice seeing you

After a quiet, uneventful flight we're preparing for landing at SFO taking the usual route from the north along the coast. A large part of the city is shrouded in fog.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

I'm still amused when automated displays crash...

The plane is here at Terminal 2E.
Looks like we are set of an on-time departure this time around.

αντίο Αθήνα

αντίο Αθήνα. 

Bonjour, Paris.

Friday, June 19, 2015


For dinner we went to Ithaki, a nice fish restaurant in Vouliagmeni. The selection is shown at the entrance.

Mmmmh, looks great! They made one of the big ones for us. I think it's the one on the right.
Either way, this is what they looked like before.

And this once it was grilled and served. Delicious.

Sunset at Poseidon Temple in Sounion

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Deconstructed Cheese Cake

After a long day at the office, we had a nice "modern food" dinner at Abovo ending with Deconstructed Cheese Cake prepared at the table. The white pieces are greek yoghurt "cooked" in liquid nitrogene. Catchy.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Day around the Acropolis

The Parthenon
It's Sunday so I had some time to play tourist again. Jeff and I took the Metro to the Acropolis. We first spent a few hours in the Acropolis Museum, which is surprisingly good and captivating. The history lessons, sculptures, and the Parthenon frieze and pediments are impressive. The museum is built over an excavation site, with openings and glass floors on the first floor, so one can look down and see what's happening.

After a sandwich and coffee for lunch we walked up the hill to the Acropolis.

View of the Acropolis from the 3rd floor of the Acropolis Museum
The remains of the buildings on the Acropolis are very impressive. (Un)fortunately, there are currently extensive restoration projects under way, and scaffolding was covering the East side of the Parthenon (as can be seen in above photo) and large parts of the Propylaea. Nevertheless, it was a great experience to walk among ruins that are more than 2000 years old, and I got some nice photos, too.

The Erechtheum and the olive tree, that was planted in remembrance of the first olive tree given to the city by Athena

The Acropolis with the Propylaea as seen from Areopagus Hill.
Not surprisingly it was hot on the Acropolis, so the frozen lemonade sold across from the exit gate was very welcome. Expensive, but good.

On the way down the hill to the Metro we briefly stopped at Areopagus Hill where above photo is taken, and took a slight detour along the Panathenaic Way through the Ancient Agora, the ancient city center of Athens.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Seriously, Blogger!

I landed in Greece yesterday, and went to the blogger.com admin page to update my Blog this morning. While I really don't have a problem with Blogger changing the language of the admin UI to the current locale when I'm in the US, Germany, or France, it becomes though when the UI looks at me in Greek.

"La ponctualité, notre priorité"

View north somewhere south of Iceland
Boarding for AF83 was delayed by 20 minutes today. Once we were on the plane nothing happened for another 20 minutes or so. Then the announcement: "There is a problem with the brake system. We're working on it. Please be patient."


After an hour they gave us the option to leave the plane as required by US government regulations. I think that's part of the passenger bill of rights. Of course, if you leave the plane, you need to take all your belongings and if you're not back in time when the doors close, tough luck.


A little while later they announced that they will turn off power for 10 minutes. In other words, they rebooted the plane. Very comforting. One of the stewardesses later explained that there was a maintenance done in Paris before the inbond flight to SFO, that changed a bunch of passwords, and a component of the secondary brake system that was worked on in San Francisco, did not come back online in that system environment. "The Airbus 380 is a modern, computerized plane, and just like modern cars with all their computers have problems all the time, so does this plane", she said. Oooooh, that's comforting.


Once that was done, everything was working properly. Yay!
However, we sat at the gate for another 30 minutes or so, because one passenger indeed left the plane and didn't reboard, so they had to unload that passenger's luggage. We finally took off with 2 hours delay.

Since my lay-over to Athens was only 90 minutes, I knew I'd never make it anyways, so I didn't fret about it. In the worst case I'd spend the night near the airport and travel to Greece the next day.
We made up some time along the way and arrived at Charles de Gaulle only 80 late.

Once I got through arrival procedures, got a new boarding pass for the 18:55 flight to Athens, and made my way to Terminal 2F, I was greeted by this sign:

It's nice to know that Air France has its priorities right. They offered a meal voucher for being late and me having to kill a few hours at the airport.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Travel again

I've been on this flight before, and this photo of AF83 at gate A9 at SFO is at least a little bit better than last time.

Going places ...

A walk in the morning before final preparations for the next trip.

Monday, June 08, 2015



I'm in the office early today and caught a nice sunrise across the south bay nature preserve.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

First Schrebergarten done

I finished off the first garden with tomatoes from Scenic Express, and a Heki fruit tree. It's owner enjoys the afternoon sun with a cold beer, and you can tell that he had more than a few beers before ...

I have ideas for the second garden spot. Just need to find some time to turn them into reality.

Schrebergarten: Making the first garden

The paint + sand mix and fences I installed last weekend need more green around them. I started off with some vegetables: Lollo Rosso salad and Kohlrabi from the Busch Nr. 1222 vegetable kit. The planting beds are real sifted dirt from our backyard.

I made a small patio from an Evergreen styrene sheet, added a lawn, and bushes along the fence. The bushes are dark Woodland Scenics clumps topped with Scenic Express SuperTurf. In this photo the lawn is still drowning in glue...

Next I added JTT sun flowers and a path from fine Woodland Scenics ballast. I also glued in some Noch greens and flowers. The flower bushes are overscale for HO, but look reasonable when glued tight together so that it's not quite as obvious how high the supporting fibers are.

Moving on to the Zucchini from the Busch  Nr. 1222 vegetable kit. The plants look great when done, but getting there is a bit painful.

First, paint the zucchini on the sprue. I made them a different green than the sprue and added a hint of yellow. Once the paint has dried it's time to glue the zucchini flowers to the stalk.

I left the flowers on the sprue, and only cut them loose on one side. First glue the stalk to one flower, and cut off the other side of the flower from the sprue. Repeat for the other flower(s). It seems weird at first, but this way it's easy to ensure the tiny flowers go on the stalk instead of your fingers, tweezers, the floor, or you-don't-know-where-else.

The finished plant looks very nice, and almost in scale. I built and planted the plants one at a time, which was probably the most drawn out part of the day.

Hallelujah Papermill: Finished Paper Warehouse installed

I moved the warehouse spur a bit towards the back drop, and the paper warehouse is now set in place in South Hallelujah at Silicon Valley Lines with sufficient clearance to the adjacent track. I spent a good part of the evening to get the remaining Tortoise turnout motors completed and installed, which was made considerably easier with Jeff's help and guidance in positioning.

Having the warehouse in place, it reminded me again just how big this industry really is. I rarely see this kind of setup on model railroads where the rail cars are dominated by the industry buildings around them especially in HO.
The box between the plant office and the warehouse will be some kind of operations building, e.g. a maintenance shop. That could be interesting to build.

The plan is to work my way to the right towards the wood yard and build the various buildings, storage tanks, and connecting infrastructure. Then do a second pass with detailing and scenery. Next up will probably be the paper making building in the background.