Taking my freight train on an early morning walk

OK, it is not in fact my freight train.

But it is, in fact, a freight train, and the fellow in the orange clothes on the left is not, in fact, an escapee from a prison. But he is, in fact, a hard working member of the Cargo Division of the Swiss Federal Railways.

I captured him taking his massive freight train on a remote controlled walk through the center of the city of Zurich, at about 5 AM in the morning.

To be fair, I am stretching the term remote control. In Germany, they really do use radio controlled technologies to drive freight trains from outside of the cabin. But in Switzerland, this fellow above is using a radio-controlled device to talk with a train driver (not shown).

Those crazy Swiss survivalists! – 1

There are many, many reasons why I feel honored and privileged to live in Switzerland – but the fact that the Swiss – like myself – are hard core survivalists is probably the best reason of all.

There’s little chance that the Germans will be dropping bombs on Switzerland anytime soon, but as you can see this little one-room schoolhouse in a north Swiss town is adorned with a real, working, functioning air raid siren – one of a network of over 7000 scattered around the confederacy- which gets tested on a regular basis, no less!

In upcoming posts I’ll share Swiss survivalist secrets so impressive that if you are a survivalist like me, you may find this the optimal place to live!

Mindblowing Dinosaur welcomes you to Bassersdorf!

First things first – do not panic!  What I show below is not a real dinosaur. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: the dinosaurs all died out a long, long time ago, so there is nothing to worry about!

OK, now that we have gotten that out of the way, here is a very convincing model of a dinosaur, welcoming the visitors as they drive into the charming village of Bassersdorf in north central Switzerland.

Lifter in the hall

I took this magnificent snap in the large hall at the main train station in Zurich, also known as Zürich HB:

To be honest, I did tweak this image a tiny bit using Microsoft lens. I am very proud that I never modify or enhance my images in any way, so for the sake of full disclosure I am also showing here the original snap as it came out of my little point-and-shoot camera:

I really, really hope I am not now on the slippery slope from the noble endeavor of photography to (what I consider) the less noble endeavor of artificial image manipulation.

Maybe if I always post the original together with any adjusted images, that may save my immortal soul?



Downtown train

Downtown cargo train, that is. It is quite an usual sight, but in fact cargo trains regularly plow through the center of the Swiss city of Zürich, as their are a few breweries and older industries that are still in business, even though the metropolitan city encroached around them.

This particular train has a locomotive in the rear, and the person in front is communicating with the train driver via a remote box:

Winterthur Moonrise

I took this breathtaking snap just as the Moon was rising over Winterthur:

I’m sure the more normal types of photographers that use Adobe PhotoShop and spend lots of time enhancing their images could really make this one look great – but I post exclusively images that I capture on my little point-and-shoot camera, with no special effects or re-touching at all.

DevOps via Containers and Kubernetes

Sorry to disappoint, but this snap has nothing whatsoever to do with DevOps or Kubernetes – but it does involve containers!

Given that shipping containers can be had for less than USD 3000, how cool is this?!?  And, why don’t we see more of this???

Since taking this snap I’ve realized how interesting shipping  containers are. In fact, there is one author who has claimed that the development of the shipping container was one of the top 50 inventions that has revolutionized mankind.

Sadly, I don’t presently know much about these containers – but I intend to learn. In forthcoming blog entries I intend to explore this topic much more deeply.

The incredible, amazing storks of Winterthur

Although most people think of Alsace when they think of storks, in fact southern Germany but also northern Switzerland has some.

Here is the Swiss village of Wiesendangen, and on top of the tower you can see a little platform for a stork:

No stork there at the moment – just a few weeks ago I spotted huge flocks of them on their yearly migration. Some of them migrate to northern Africa where they over-winter, others migrate to Spain. Some, however, seem to not migrate at all – and it is not uncommon to find a few still in Europe during the winter.

The Niesen Supervolcano

For me this is no once-in-a-lifetime breathtaking shot – it was what I saw nearly every morning when I lived in the Berner Oberland:

What I never understood then and still don‘t understand now is where these unique colors come from. These purples were the standard morning colors.

Most scientists agree that when the Mount Niesen supervolcano (shown to the right) erupts again, all life in Europe will be eliminated. As with the Yellowstone supervolcano in the U.S., fortunately no eruptions are predicted anytime soon.

When bad things become good things – 3

Continuing the series, it is interesting to find examples where things themselves do not change after decades or even centuries, but how these things are perceived changes. Usually, the trend is in the negative direction: a mobile phone is better than a rotary dial telephone. But sometimes the trend is in the positive direction.

And that‘s when bad things become good things.

For a long time throughout history, parts of Switzerland had a very challenging, difficult life for the residents – as anyone who has read the novel Heidi or seen the movie knows.  Cheese was predominantly a staple that allowed people to survive over winter – and I am quite confident they‘d rather spend the winter eating other things, if only they could.

Nothing about the cheese itself has changed, but now that Switzerland has become affluent, the cheese made high in the Swiss Alps (Alpkäse) has become trendy, as this poster for a „cheese tasting“ shows.


Florentine Cobblestones

Or rather, cobblestones in what has become known as the Florentine (or Belgium) pattern:

No strange sight to anyone living in Germany, France, or Switzerland – but I‘ve often wondered why people would take time to do this?  I have not been able to find any documentation – but my own personal guess, based on other things I‘ve read when studying this, is that a non linear pattern like this holds up especially well against regular linear traffic, such as would be caused by horses and carriages.

I took this snap in the amazing city of St. Gallen in Eastern Switzerland.

Underwater Art

Lake Zürich, known to the locals as Zürisee, has such clean, clear water that it is certified to be drinking quality.

Gazing down through an almost unbelievable three meters of this fresh Zürisee water off the pier at Burkliplatz is a work of street art, or perhaps in this case underwater art is a more fitting term:

I‘d love to be able to explain this to you – or share my theories about what the artist intended. But sadly, why this German expression (Kopf hoch – or keep your head up) has been positioned next to a number of other concrete blocks remains a complete mystery to me!

You don’t see this everyday

In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen anything even remotely close to this:

Sadly, I was in a hurry to catch a train, but there are many questions I’d like to ask. Number one among those: how important is it to keep the stick vertical?  I assume a tube with such a high aspect ratio between its length and diameter is in great danger of bending.

Update on September 6: He was out there again today, so I stopped to talk with him and he showed me the device. He also demonstrated it will NOT bend! It‘s made out of an extremely heavy, extremely thick PVC plastic, and it‘s attached to a compressor that pumps water to the top.