Garbage in Lugano

Continuing the series, here are some stunning waste receptacles that I spotted in the southern Swiss city of Lugano,

One of the first reactions I have is buck the trend. There is a trend in the world today – and for some time – to replace well-built, long-lasting products with cheap and disposable ones. You see this trend in almost every aspect of life. So when you see this new trend to replace short-lived garbage receptacles with better built and more longer lasting fixtures, it is a step in the right direction!

Amazing Swiss bunkers

The Swiss set out to fortify Switzerland long before World War II. To me that’s always been a very apt and fitting closure of the circle of fate, because – before the introduction of the long bow – Switzerland had the best and most well-trained soldiers and mercenaries in the world.  Probably, more lives have been lost in medieval battle at the hands of the Swiss than many other kingdoms combined.

Here’s what I see everyday on my long 15 km Nordic Walk through the Winterthur countryside:

But here’s what it looks like if you really zoom in:

That’s a bunker. You can’t see it in the snap, but it is situated in the hills high above the village of Winterthur, and the holes are pointing directly down into the village.

There are many, many tens of thousands of bunkers and fortifications all over Switzerland – so I’ve never really been inclined to start a blog series to photograph them. Just like a few others, this one just caught my eye.

Amazing Red Kite over the skies of Winterthur

Took this snap from my balcony using the telephoto lens on my little point-and-shoot camera. That’s a red kite (Milvus milvus) that lives near my building, and for over three years now cruises around looking for pigeons and crows to eat.    (In fact, I always know he’s out hunting when the zillions of crows somehow disappear.)

Interestingly, the area in which I live is almost entirely devoid of tiny birds, only massive numbers of crows, so I’ve often thought that probably the crows have pushed out the other birds.

Triangle Crane

I captured this snap in Oberwinterthur, next to an indoor “freefall” center where you can pretend to fall out of an airplane:

I never re-touch or edit any of my snaps, so I thought it was wonderful  how the colors of the crane compliment how the sky looked at that moment.

And the crane itself is one I have never seen before: instead of being comprised of triangular truss rods, it seems to be comprised of pieces of triangular sheet metal.

Winterthur: Sprawling megacity with a thousand frogwalks

OK, time to come clean: I may be guilty of a little bait-and-switch.

This is Winterthur, looked down upon from the edge of the forest where I carry out a daily 15 km Nordic Walk:

First, Winterthur is not a mega-city. I visited many mega-cities like Tokyo and Mumbai and Delhi, so you can take my word for it. In fact, truth be told, with a population of just over 100’000 inhabitants, Winterthur is not even close to a mega-city.

Second, I can’t really say Winterthur is sprawling. It has a pretty well-defined boundary, and although there is a bit of growth in the center, sprawling is just not a word that comes to mind.

Third – and arguably the most important – a thousand frogwalks.  I cannot really say there is a thousand  frogwalks. In fact, if I am honest, I’ve only ever seen three frogwalks, which I walk by on my daily 15 km morning Nordic walk.

But what is a frogwalk?  you may ask.

Well, this is what I see on my daily morning walks, hidden in a drainage ditch next to the side of a road:

And if you get a little closer you can see it’s a little ramp – complete with steps! – to help frogs and other amphibians walk up out of the ditch. That’s why I call them frogwalks:

Now, there remains a big question in my mind – and in fact it’s a whopper!  Why build frogwalks? 

In fact, the drainage ditch is next to a road in a residential neighborhood completely filled with apartments and cats. Is this an attempt to genetically purify the race of frogs by taking the stupid ones out of the gene pool?  Or perhaps to keep the cats clean by bringing their food to them?

 

Cow line

You can’t take a bad photograph of a good cow, and that even holds true for a whole line of cows!

I took this snap just outside of Winterthur:

I’m not an expert on cows, but I read something interesting: although they are herd animals, indeed there are “alpha” cows, and in group situations they always arrange themselves in such a way that the alphas tend to be in the center – and therefore much harder to reach for predators.

Swiss Police Cruiser

I thought it would be fun to capture police cruisers in different countries. In Switzerland they paint them with a high-vis orange:

What’s more amazing – even unbelievable – there is nothing inside!  My Uncle is a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio, and his cruiser is loaded with a rifle, a shotgun, several other weapons that I have promised not to publicly mention – a computer, a high-powered search light.  Interestingly, the computer does have games.

A saint, a bear, and a magnificent city in Switzerland

There are a lot of cultures that have legends of “Big Bad People,” such as Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox.  Here’s another one, Saint Gall (550 AD – 646 AD):

According to legend a bear attacked from the woods, but once encountering the saint it became tame and followed him around thereafter.

Anyway, he is the namesake of a truly magnificent abbey, which in turn is the namesake of a truly magnificent city in northeast Switzerland, St. Gallen. I haven’t shown many pics of this city in my blog until now, but I think it’s time to start sharing them – but slowly, otherwise your brain could explode from the majesty of the architecture, as this snap shows:

The Swiss danger is terrifying and – this time – real!

This is the famous Schilthorn nestled high in the Swiss Alps,

And at the cable car station just below this at 2677 m lies the peak called Birg, where they have installed a massive outdoor attraction called the Skyline Walk consisting of chainlink and glass walkways suspended almost three thousand meters above the ground.

You always ASSUME they design these things with huge safety factors in mind. But on a recent visit there part of the glass walkway was cordoned off, and this is the frightening image I saw:

Spot the frog

I work in a building next to a creek – and just next to my building is a small natural spring out of which a stream of water runs into the creek. They’ve turned this into a natural biosphere:

At this time of year it’s filled with algae and water plants and frogs – probably well over a dozen big frogs. See if you can spot the frog:

He’s more or less in the middle:

Weed Shocker

I don’t know how common these things are outside of Switzerland, but at least in Switzerland they are becoming more and more common.

This is it – a weed shocker:

I think their official name is steam weeding machine. Sadly, I don’t know what these machines are called in German, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was something along the lines of Dampfunkrautvernichtungsanlage or Dampfunkrautbereinigungsmaschine.

The idea is to kill weeds dead by blasting them with extremely high temperature steam, rather than by the use of chemicals.  Presently, the Swiss Federal Railways use a carcinogenic weed killer to keep their rails clean and free of weeds – they plan to convert to 100% weed shockers in the next few years.

Possessed artist – or brain parasite?

This is late Swiss artist H.R. Giger (1940 – 2014):

He is famous as the creator of the terrifying extraterrestrial creature in the Alien movie series, which looks like this:

Well, there is also museum in the Swiss town of Gruyère that has literally hundreds of his works spread out over many floors. Sadly, you are not allowed to take photographs inside the museum, so I tried to respect that. But outside of the museum there are a few of his pieces, such as:

And

And

Now to be honest I don’t really know anything about H. R. Giger, although I am sure there are people who do, so what follows may seem a bit absurd – but please bear with me.

The first thing that hits you is that all of the hundreds of pieces are very nearly the same, the Alien creature being perhaps the penultimate version of what you see. But they are all just tiny variations on this theme.

Now keeping this in mind when you see the flabbergastingly huge number of pieces, most of them very large and requiring a signficant time investment to create, the first thing I thought of was obsession – as if he were a mad character with a single image in his brain that he could not free himself from.

And THAT led me to the speculation that perhaps he was not mad. Perhaps he was the victim of a disease similar to toxoplasmosis gondi. There are in fact hundreds of different “zombie parasites” that infect animals and cause dramatic changes in their behavior.  Perhaps a parasite had infected his brain and was creating images he could not free himself from.

 

 

Attack of the cows

Even if when threatening to attack you, good cows make for good photographs:

I simply stopped to take a snap during my daily 15 km Nordic walk through the Winterthur hillside, when not only this cow but all of her sisters started running towards me. Since there was only a very thin single strand of electric fence, and since this cow looked easily more than 500 kg, I didn’t hang around long enough to see what would happen.