Einstein Museum in Bern

For a brief while I lived just a few hundred meters from here,

Nobody really knows how Switzerland’s capital city Bern got its name, but the favorite story that the locals tell goes like this: a long time ago the King was looking for a good name for the city, so he sent a team of hunters into the surrounding woods, promising to name the city after the first animal that a hunter could kill and bring back. That animal happened to be a bear, so ever since then the city has been named Bern – or, as it is known in the local Alemannic language (a more evolved form of German), Bäärn.

The amazing roundabouts in Barcelona

If you’ve ever spent time driving around Europe, you’ll notice a few trends that depend on geographic location.  One of those trends is that, the farther south you drive towards Spain, the more lanes the roundabouts will have.

Roundabouts in Northern Germany is likely to have no more than a single lane.

Roundabouts in Northern and Central France are likely to have two lanes.

Roundabouts in South France are likely to have three lanes.

But once you cross into Spain all bets are off, and as this snap shows, the roundabouts can have many, many lanes:


The amazing swarms of Hondas in Saigon

Automobiles are few and far between in the capital city of Vietnam, Saigon – the streets are ruled by scooters, known to the locals (despite their manufacturer) as Hondas:

How do you cross a busy street like this? It’s easier than you might think: you just close your eyes and start to walk slowly. The drivers are so careful and aware of what’s in front of them, that they will easily move to avoid you.

Did I accidentally discover a new Einstein?

I am not the world’s biggest fan of museums, but I had a frightening, emotional reaction at the Einstein Museum in Bern, Museum, when I looked at this grammar school photo of Einstein’s class:

My reaction was frightening and emotional, because all of the dozens of schoolchildren at staring emotionless and straight faced at the camera, with only one notable exception: the young Einstein is smiling:

Interestingly, I’ve noticed this one time before. At a large Indian wedding a group of small children asked me to take their picture with my digital camera. After reviewing the picture some years later, I realized that only one of the children was smiling:

Could it be my path crossed with the next Albert Einstein?

Amazing realization made in Vietnam: what cables tell you about culture

When I arrive in a new place I’ve never visited, my antenna are stretched out, the gain is tuned to high, and I am looking for that first impression moment where something unique and new strikes my interest.

When arriving in the mega-city of Saigon in the south of Vietnam, that first impression moment unwound slowly but methodically in the first 15 minutes, when my taxi cab got stuck in traffic next to a telephone pole. At first, my eyes caught a jumbled mess of cables:

I’ve seen messy telephone cables all over the world, so to be honest this was nothing remarkable or new for me. But as I sat there patiently in traffic, starting at this pole for many minutes, my eyes scanned the area, took in the Big Picture, and I slowly came to an important realization.

This is what I saw as I expanded my gaze:

What occured to me was how much insight you can get into a culture just by looking at its telephone cables.

In this case in Saigon, the cables are all identical: black, approximately the same gauge, and all of very good quality. A stunning degree of structure, organization, and tidiness in the transmission: The cables coming into the pole are highly organized and carefully wrapped into a tight bundle, and the cables coming out of the pole are highly organized are carefully wrapped into a tight bundle. And a stunning degree of pragmatism, acceptance of non-conformance, and low stress at the interface: the cables fixed to the pole are in no way bent or stressed, and the pole almost seems happy to carry this mass of important lines that meet every which way but somehow go exactly where they need to go.

Buddha Flowers

Continuing the series, a snap, then something AMAZING.

First, the snap:

And now for something amazing. This snap was taken in the city of My Tho, near the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. But that is not what is amazing. What is amazing is that there is nothing native in this snap!  Both Buddhism and pink Bougainvilleas have been imported into Vietnam a long, long time ago: Buddhism, by the migrating hoards of Buddhists; and Bougainvilleas by the French during their colonization of this region of Southeast Asia.