travel

Technology is Applied Magic

A few hours ago, Rebecca and I were walking through the Schwabstrasse S-bahn stop in Stuttgart, and as we reached the escalator to go up, we felt a cold wind coming down from the street level. I was wearing only a short-sleeve polo shirt and a pair of light pants, and so we stopped to put on warmer clothing. Only a few hours earlier, we were having paella on a warm Malvarrossa beach in Valencia, Spain. As we were putting on our jackets and gloves, Rebecca made a comment that reminded me of one of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. She observed that we had not been outside since stepping out of our friends' car and into the Valencia airport, and had we instead taken the Valencia metro to get to the airport, we would have been able to step underground in downtown Valencia and then return above ground in downtown Stuttgart, having not been outside and exposed to any sort of weather or natural light the entire distance across three countries. We were completely comfortable in the clothing we wore in the warm Valencian weather up until the point of reaching the Stuttgart street level, and that to me is amazing. So I was pleasantly surprised as I came across this image while catching up on some of my RSS feeds: It’s a great little drawing, based on the London Tube map, that shows all of the worlds metropolitan mass transit systems either currently in existence or in the works. The culmination of our technology, ranging from efficient metro systems to air travel to client control systems, is indistinguishable from magic for nearly everyone who’s lived before the 20th century (and even for certain people living in the 21st century, for that matter). Image via strange maps.

Auschwitz

auschwitz

Rebecca and I went to Poland a few weeks back, and visiting Auschwitz is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had.

Stuttgart's Besenwirtschaften

Stuttgart has these wonderful little hidden little charms that make it a really great place to live. One of our favorites are the Besenwirtschaften, which are traditional Swabian wine houses. They’re operated by the families that own the numerous vineyards around the Stuttgart area, and by law they are allowed to open 4 months out of the year. They are scattered throughout the city and its surrounding towns, and if you find one you can enjoy very simple (and cheap) Swabian food and fresh wine from that year. One of my favorites is a place in Degerloch that a German woman introduced me to. It is essentially a living room that overflows into a side room, so the atmosphere is wonderfully warm and intimate. At the most, 20-30 people pack into these two small rooms, and the close quarters means that you are forced to meet and talk to your fellow wine drinkers. Two out of the three times we’ve been there, we’ve had Germans who were young kids during WWII come tell us about their first experience eating bananas and oranges given to them by American GIs. It really is quite nice of them to tell us this, and it makes us feel welcomed in Stuttgart, where our social circle mainly revolves around the large community of expats working for the many international companies based in Stuttgart. Anyway, so we went last Saturday, which happened to be the same night as the big lunar eclipse. Between 5 of us, we had about 6 liters of wine, so by the time the U-Bahn got me home, I wasn’t as steady as I needed to be to take some good eclipse photos. I managed to shoot two frames before passing out. My next one is really a drunken picture, and the following night I took a few more frames since my camera was already out.