Saturday, March 31, 2007

hey

What did people do in their free time when there was no youtube, wikipedia or internet at all?

zazdrosc - live 1994


moja i twoja nadzieja - accoustic 1993


eksperyment


[sic!]


cudzoziemka w raju kobiet

Friday, March 30, 2007

don't mention the war

I simply love it...




Fawlty Towers: Germans

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Something that made me very happy

San Francisco banned non-biodegradable plastic bags

San Francisko wprowadzilo zakaz wydawania w sklepach nie-biodegradowalnych plastikowych toreb

EDIT 04.04.07: I realized yesterday that if you pack your shoppings into your own bag, BI-RITE subtracts 5 cents from your bill. Isn't that sweet? Now I know why I always liked this shop.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Stanislaw Lem

Why is Life on Earth Impossible?
A fragment of THE TWENTY-SECOND VOYAGE from The Star Diaries

Then the examiner asked:

"Can the candidate for graduation demonstrate why life on Earth is impossible?"

With a little bow the youth commenced to give an exhaustive and logically constructed argument, in which he proved irrefutably that the greater part of Earth is covered with cold, exceedingly deep waters, whose temperature is kept near zero by constantly floating mountains of ice; that not only the poles, but the surrounding areas as well are a place of perpetual, bitter frost and that for half a year there night reigns uninterrupted. That, as one can clearly see through astronomical instruments, the land masses, even in the more temperate zones, are covered for many months each year by frozen water vapor known as "snow," which lies in a thick layer upon both hills and valleys. That the great Moon of Earth causes high tides and low, which have a destructive, erosive effect. That with the aid of the most powerful spyglasses one can see how very often large patches of the planet are plunged in shadow, produced by an envelope of clouds. That in the atmosphere fierce cyclones, typhoons and storms abound. All of which, taken together, completely rules out the possibility of the existence of life in any form. And if concluded the young Andrygonian in a ringing voice-beings of some sort were ever to try landing on Earth, they would suffer certain death, being crushed by the tremendous pressure of its atmosphere, which at sea level equals one kilogram per square centimeter, or 760 millimeters in a column of mercury.

This thorough reply met with the general approval of the board. Overcome with astonishment, I sat for the longest while without stirring and it was only when the examiner had proceeded to the next question that I exclaimed:

"Forgive me, worthy Andrygonians, but : ... well, it is precisely from Earth that I come; surely you do not doubt that I am alive, and you heard how I was introduced to you ..."

An awkward silence followed. The instructors were deeply offended by my tactless remark and barely contained themselves; the young people, who are not as able to hide their feelings as adults, regarded me with unconcealed hostility. Finally the examiner said coldly:

"By your leave, sir stranger, but are you not placing too great demands upon our hospitality? Are you not content with your most royal reception, with the fanfares, the tokens of esteem? Have we not done enough by admitting you to the High Plystrum of Graduation, is this still insufficient and you wish us in addition to change, entirely for you, the school program?1"

"But ... but Earth is in fact inhabited ..." I muttered, embarrassed.

"If such were the case," the examiner said, looking at me as if I were transparent, "that would constitute an anomaly of nature."


The links below will direct you to the official page dedicated to Stanislav Lem and his work that is written in English by his son.
link 1 and link 2

linki po polsku
Ten wywiad jest niesamowity. Kto go nie czytal niech przeczyta! A tu mozna znalezc wspomnienia syna Lema o ojcu. A ten artykul zostal opublikowany tuz po smierci Lema.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

learning to fly

My sole intention is learning to fly
Condition grounded but determined to try
Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies
Tongue-tied and twisted just an earthbound misfit eye


Pink Floyd

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

by Robert Frost

Friday, March 23, 2007

my father

My father is the most fascinating person I know. He is probably the only person in the world that did not manage to bore me (and we know each other for 29 years, so that's pretty an achievement). I just gave him link to this page, so say nice warm hello to him.

Here is a photo of my father and his fantastic wife:


And here is one of many krokus' photos that I received from him recently (they grow in our garden in Poland, and I think that they are a substitute for the children that they do not have... but do not tell him that!):

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mt Tamalpais State Park

On Sunday, 18th of March, Andrzej (aka Itey) and I went for a hike in Mt Tamalpais State Park. As you can see from the pictures it was amazingly beautiful and we were also lucky with the weather. Although whole San Francisco was covered in the fog (notice how low clouds are on most of the pictures), Marine county was cloudless and sunny.

We started our hike at the Rock Spring point and first we took a Cataract Trail to Alpine Lake. The Cataract Trail offered what its name promised: it was leading us from one waterfall to the other.





Some of these waterfalls were truly spectacular with water falling down more than 30 meters (well, you can not really see that from this picture...).



The other nice thing about this trail was that it was going through evergreen forest offering us both beautiful views and (at least partial) protection from the sun.



From Alpine Lake we took Bolinas Fairfax Road to the Coastal Trail, which - as the name suggests - was leading us along the coast offering beautiful views of the bay and ocean. On this trail we had a chance to admire many beautiful flowers as we were mostly hiking through open grassy areas. Here we also saw many red-tailed hawks circling in the skies in the search for the prey. (Actually, they were passing so close to us that we started to wonder if they think that they could eat us...)





We finished our hike by taking a Campfire road back to the Cataract Trail and the Rock Spring point, where our car was parked. All in all we did around 17-18 km with the elevation change of 800m.

After the hike we went to Stilton Beach, which was also lovely even though a bit too crowded as for my taste:





On the way back we could already see what will meet us soon - the infamous San Francisco fog:



And there it was, eating the Golden Gate Bridge:

la donna e' mobile - bonus


Thanks Itey...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

time - la donna e' mobile

The photos that I used to make a collage for the post "time" were taken when I was: 1 month old, 6 years old, 9, 12, 17 and then more or less every year until I reached 28. Many people claim that I hardly changed after finishing 17, and if I look at the photos myself I have to admit that it is partially true: it seems that I always had the same boring long blond hair. Yesterday I decided to do something about it. I started with the hair (eyes will be next):

20th of March 2007, San Francisco (corner of Valencia and 24th)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

do not freud me

The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is "What does a woman want?"
Sigmund Freud

italians

just found it and could not resist not to share it:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

time

falling

I, scream


Under One Small Star

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.
Soul, don't take offense that I've only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can't be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and each man.
I know I won't be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.

by Wislawa Szymborska

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Some People Like Poetry

Some people--
that is not everybody
Not even the majority but the minority.
Not counting the schools where one must,
and the poets themselves,
there will be perhaps two in a thousand.

Like--
but we also like chicken noodle soup,
we like compliments and the color blue,
we like our old scarves,
we like to have our own way,
we like to pet dogs.

Poetry--
but what is poetry.
More than one flimsy answer
has been given to that question.
And I don't know, and don't know, and I
cling to it as to a life line.

by Wislawa Szymborska

Max Planckers in San Francisco

Visit of Alessio and Mareike provided an excellent excuse to organize yet another reunion of ex-Max Planckers who work and live in SF. There are seven of us living here by now: me, Sebastian, Assen, Martin, Anne, Ganka and Denis, and around summer three more should arrive (Anne, Imke and Thomas). I was impressed that everybody showed up for the meeting, even though I had sent an invitation only a day before. It also made me feel very happy (and proud) that nobody could say anything bad about living in San Francisco, even though Mareike and Alession were asking about it many times. I also realized that we stopped comparing our institute in Dresden to our new institutes in San Francisco. It seems that by now we all got acclimatized well in our new working environments, and we do not miss our "lost paradise" that much anymore...

Here are some photos taken during the meeting in Casanova bar on 13th of March, 2007:

Guest stars:


Group picture:


Not everybody likes to get flash into the eyes...


Ganka and Denis:


Alessio and Sebastian:


Anne and Martin:


Ganka, Mareike and me:


Professor Atassio:


Where are you from?


Classical beauty:


Mareike:


I usually look stupid after two beers...


Sebastian, serious as always:

Friday, March 16, 2007

the auguries of innocence



To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

...

by william blake

a full version is here

Sunday with Alessio and Mareike

Is there anything better than sharing the things you love with the people you care about and having a chance to observe how they also fall in love with the same things? I love San Francisco and it made me very happy to have a chance to show part of it to Alessio and Mareike during our walk on Sunday. We walked from my house in Noe Valley through Castro, Buena Vista Park, Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, Richmond, Presidio to Golden Gate Bridge, and then further along the beach to Fisherman's Wharf. It was great to see that they both enjoyed the walk and that they liked SF so much that they would seriously consider moving here.

Here are some pictures from that day:

Breakfast on the veranda


Lost tourists on Castro Street


My little world


Buena Vista at Golden Gate Bridge


Siesta in Golden Gate Park



What would be Sunday without calling your ma?


Little boy’s fascination: cables in Richmond district


Golden Gate Bridge from different perspective

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Metamorphosis Edward Stachura

A mountain
clouds were bursting black
ever more black
like terrible herds of Phrigian horses
until thunder
pierced the still unfinished painting
and the model was falling
head down
into the canvas
and grew into
the still warm contours
of sudden dazzlement

It was morning already
and you were laughing to me from the portrait


Metamorfoza

Gora
chmury pekaly czarne
coraz czarniejsze
jakby koni frygijskich grozne tabuny
az grom
przeszyl obraz nie dokonczony jeszcze
a model spadal
glowa w dol
w plotno
i wrosl
w cieple jeszcze kontury
naglego olsnienia

To byl juz ranek
a ty sie smialas do mnie z portretu

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Are we all in the end having sex with each other?"

The sentence that makes the title of my post I saw today written on the door of the girls' restroom in Casanova bar and I am just amazed how well it fits with the theme of my post.
I escaped early from the meeting with my friends to work on my lab presentation for tomorrow (or should I say today?), but of course I made the same mistake as yesterday - I checked the news on onet. And what did my beautiful eyes see? Well, this highly interesting article on the sexual life of Polish people. Unfortunately, the article is only in Polish, but I pulled out of it the key facts for your entertainment:

Poland:
90% Catholics
60% uses condoms
3% "natural methods"
25% of people in the relationships cheat on their partners
4% of people in the relationships think that their partners cheat on them
10% of kids have different father than the one that they think is theirs
80% of Polish people are satisfied with their sexual life
49% practices oral sex
19% practices anal sex
1.2 million people met somebody via the internet and 320'000 of these people had sex with each other (wow! that's 25%!!!)

And now the highlight:
17 min 48 sec is an average length of the sexual intercourse (without the foreplay) in Lubuskie district, but only 11,5 min in Swietokrzyskie district

I would like to know how on earth did they measure that? Did they give timers to all tested couples? And if so, how come 80% of these people are still satisfied with their sexual lives?

test sample: 3'200 people from the age group 15-49

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

oj misiu...

No Second Troy William Butler Yeats

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great.
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

radzik! buy a kayak!


You promised....

Should I even bother?

I promised to myself not to write about politics as it raises my blood pressure. But I simply have to let it out this time, or I will not fall asleep (Note to myself: never check news just before going to bed).

I do not want to go now into details of Polish political scene, it should just be enough if I tell you that at this moment it is dominated by the coalition of ultra-right, ultra-catholic parties. And if I say ultra I mean ULTRA. To give you some flavor how bad it is I will just give you the names of the three parties that are forming the government right now: Law and Justice (this is a party from which both the president and the prime minister come from; as you also surely know they are twin brothers and their name means “duck”-ynski), Self-defense and League of Polish Families.

The hero of today’s post will be the leader of the last of these parties, Roman Giertych. On the 1st of March, speaking at an informal meeting of European education ministers in Heidelberg, Germany, he told reporters that “Europe needs changes” and that “abortion needs to be banned immediately”. He called abortion “a new form of barbarism,” and warned of the impending demise of Christian-based culture in Europe. He said: “a nation which kills its children is a nation without a future. A continent which kills its children will be settled by people who do not kill theirs.” He also criticized the European cultural scene, calling it the result of “unwise political correctness.” And also said that “homosexual propaganda must be limited so children will have the correct view of the family.” He continued “If we will not use all our power to strengthen the family, then as a continent there is not a future for us. We will be a continent settled by representatives of the Islamic world who care for the family” (link).

(BTW: Poland has one of the toughest laws on abortion, allowing pregnancy to be terminated only when it threatens the life or health of the mother, when the baby is likely to be permanently disabled or when pregnancy is the result of a crime, such as rape or incest. And even in these cases it is extremely difficult and basically impossible to find a doctor willing to conduct an abortion. The League of Polish Families wants to ban abortion even in these rare cases and the ruling Law and Justice party also wants to change the constitution to make a liberalization of the abortion law impossible in the future. As for the sample of the attitude of Polish government towards sexual minorities (and minorities in general) see the movie from the post tolerancja).

On March 6th, Giertych was called to meet with the prime minister (Jaroslaw Kaczynski) and there was even a chance that he will be asked to resign from his office (he is a minister of education) as regardless of his personal opinion he should still present the opinion of Polish government while representing it abroad (link). Obviously, he was not fired, as that would undermine the stability of anyway weak coalition of his party with the ruling Law and Justice party and could potentially lead to the collapse of the current government.

So what did Giertych do today? He presented a project that soon will be considered by Polish parliament, according to which if the headmaster of the school will allow for "a homosexual propaganda" in any form to be present in his/her school, he/she will get fired immediately for that. (link)

The cat inside me

I rarely have dreams and even if I have them, I usually remember only pieces of them during the “wake up” phase and I completely forget them by the time I leave the bed. So it is kind of special for me to remember my dream from the last night and even more special to remember having it dreamt also the previous night.

In my dream I was a cat. I had a beautiful fur and no dignity. I was wandering from one person to the other begging for a bit of love and attention, preferably expressed by stroking me on the belly ;-) But the best thing about this dream was that it felt SO AMAZINGLY REALISTIC. I actually would argue that I did experience the sensation of being touched. Some neurons must have started a party somewhere in my brain and we all had lots of fun.

If we believe Freud all our dreams are the way in which our unconsciousness communicates with our consciousness, so I decided to investigate what my ego is trying to tell me with this dream. According to Calvin S. Hall “a cat within a dream symbolizes a need to use one's intuition”. But according to a different resource “being a cat denotes stealth, agility and luck”. Yet another resource says that "cats represent power, freedom and the animal self, especially for females. To dream of being a cat means you will triumph in an upcoming conflict." The fourth one claims that “a cat expresses feminine qualities and the positive, sensuous, creative aspects of femininity”. And the fifth, after which I gave up, states “if the cat is beautiful you will meet an attractive person who will become your mate.”

To summarize: I should use my female intuition, act with stealth and agility to triumph in an upcoming conflict (with other female presumably) to win “an attractive mate”. Hmm, I think tonight I will tell my ego to shut up and let me enjoy my dreams for what I want them to be: simple impressions of the moment…

BTW: Bartek sent me yesterday this info on Toygers. Even though I agree that those new cats are cute, still I find it somehow disturbing how far, we people, seem to be willing to go to satisfy our idiosyncrasies. And it all happens even before genetic manipulations of animals are accessible to the wide public. I fear that the future will be scary. But I hope that not as scary as in GATTACA.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Alessio and Mareike

One of the greatest things about living in SF is that sooner or later your friends will come here either for holidays, conference or job interview (especially if most of your friends are biologists or computer scientists). Today I picked up from the airport Alessio and Mareike and we had very enjoyable time together. I always find it amazing that even though you do not see your friends for several months, once you meet them again, you can just continue the conversation at exactly the same place where you left it.


3rd of June 2006: Alessio and Mareike at Jochen's leaving party


16th of November 2006: Alessio and I at my Dresden leaving party

Friday, March 9, 2007

universal sense of humor


31st of August 2006: Border crossing between South Africa (Nakop) and Namibia (Ariamsvlei).

bisons are cute

On 2nd of January 2007 Jochen, his family and I went for a short hike in Antelope Island State Park, The Great Salt Lake, UH. As we initially planned to visit Mormon's temple and changed our plan in last second, I ended up hiking in the skirt and high-heel shoes. You have to admit that it does look ridiculous:


Anyway, hiking there was amazing: the views were spectacular, the air was fresh and crisp, we did not meet any other people, but instead we saw several bisons and lots of antelopes. Even though the island on which the park is located is called "Antelope Island", it seems that they are more proud of their bisons, as there were several sculptures representing these animals scattered throughout the park.


Still, I was much more impressed by the art created by nature:

morality

Inspired by tonight's discussion I tested my "morality index". It seems that not only my morale is low, but also it is not clear what are my underlying motives in deciding what is moral and what is not. And how about you?

A situation arises where you can either save your own child from death or contact the emergency services in order to save the lives of ten other children. You cannot do both, and there is no way to save everyone. Which course of action are you morally obliged to follow? morality play

A man goes to his local grocery store once a week and buys a frozen chicken. But before cooking and eating the chicken, he has sexual intercourse with it. Then he cooks it and eats it. He never tells anyone about what he does, never regrets it and never shows any ill effects from behaving this way. He remains an upstanding member of his community. How do you judge this man's actions (assume there are no ethical problems with meat eating!)? taboo

other interesting games

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Women's Day

This is a postcard that I received today from my father. Isn't he a smart guy?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

tolerancja

Tolerancja Stanislaw Sojka

Dlaczego nie mówimy o tym co nas boli otwarcie
Budować ściany wokół siebie marna sztuka
Wrażliwe słowo, czuły dotyk wystarczą
Czasami tylko tego pragnę, tego szukam

Na miły Bóg
Życie nie tylko po to jest by brać
Życie nie po to by bezczynnie trwać
I aby żyć siebie samego trzeba dać

Problemy twoje, moje, nasze boje, polityka
A przecież każdy włos jak nasze lata policzony
Kto jest bez winy niechaj pierwszy rzuci kamień, niech rzuci
Daleko raj gdy na człowieka się zamykam

Na miły Bóg...

marsz rownosci, Poznan 2005

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Those were the days...

Predocs of 2001


proudly present:

War dance!


Sebastian as Wieland in the emergency plan (notice the shoes!):


The games: PI's


contra predoc candidates


The loosers lie on the floor...


The winners get the chicken:


Mad Max Awards


Francis - the "enlightenment*" Mad Max Award winner!


Marino's Award speech...


Le grand finale: We want it all...


And we will get it!


enlightenment* - I completely forgot why we gave the award to Francis and only last week Sebastian reminded it to me. Apparently during his predoc course lecture Francis had problems adjusting light levels in the auditorium, and after being done with pressing all the buttons and not achieving expected result, he rose his hands to the heaven and said: "Light!" However, that also did not help... heavens must have been busy with the more important issues...