Sunday, September 28, 2008

A step back in time

Who would you be if you lived 100 years ago?

Grand Circle in 15 days

Hello! Hello! Did you behave while I was gone? :)

I had a wonderful time during my holidays and after such long time away from the bench it would probably be difficult for me to get back to work if it weren't for the fact that I have an important deadline approaching soon. That means that I neither have time to organize all 3'000 photos that Agnieszka and I took during our trip nor to write reasonable blog posts about the places we saw.

Still, I wanted to let you know that I am alive and back, and soon I will start posting again. Here is the list of subjects on which I plan to post in near (but not immediate) future:
  1. Valley of Fire SP
  2. Zion NP
  3. Grand Canyon NP - North Rim
  4. Antelope Canyon
  5. Powell Lake & Glen Canyon Dam
  6. Betatakin Ruins
  7. Canyon de Chelly NM
  8. Monument Valley
  9. Mexican Hat
  10. Moki Dugway
  11. Natural Bridges NM
  12. Mesa Verde NP
  13. Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway
  14. Arches NP
  15. Delicate Arch in Arches NP
  16. Devils Garden Primitive Loop in Arches NP
  17. Dead Horse SP
  18. Canyonlands NP
  19. Capitol Reef NP
  20. Scenic Byway No 12
  21. Bryce NP
  22. Peek-A-Boo Trail in Bryce NP
  23. Cedar Breaks NM
  24. Las Vegas
  25. Red Rock Canyon, NV
  26. Lizards of Canyons and Deserts
  27. A Step Back in Time
My best friend, Nikon D40 and I:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Muir Woods in wide angle

As I still had Anil's car yesterday I took Agnieszka to Muir Woods that she can see the Redwoods. I think it was also the first time that I was there with my wide-angle lens thanks to which it is almost possible to see a whole Redwood tree on one photo. Below are few pics demonstrating that.

Little deer with blue eyes:

Agnieszka with a huge Redwood in the background:

Fallen tree:

Monika and Redwoods:

Redwoods like to grow in groups:

And sometimes they form this kind of burls that in favorable conditions give rise to the clones of the original tree:

Most Redwoods have extremely straight barks, except for this one:

Agnieszka inside one of the Redwoods:

Me, the tree witch!

PS On Saturday we are leaving for our road trip, so do not expect any blog posts for the next 2.5 weeks. In meantime, do not do anything that I would not do :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

third time is the charm...?

Did I pass today's driving test? - No.
Did I fail it? - Also not.
Was I allowed to take the exam? - No. (hysterical laughter in the background)
What was the reason this time? - The car that I took for the exam was missing a current registration sticker.
Why is that important? - No idea. Especially that I had with me current registration documents for the car, as well as other required documents.

It seems that universe does not want me to drive a car in this country.

Don't you sometimes wish that things would be easier?

free rice revisited

In case you have not played FREE RICE yet, or you took a break from it for a while, you should definitely check it out: It got largely expanded and now you can also check your knowledge on other than English vocabulary subjects (e.g. art, geography, chemistry, go here to see the full list of subjects). And for every answer you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated for the hungry.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

behind the wheel

Tomorrow I will make the second attempt to obtain CA driver's license. And no, I did not fail a drive test the first time around - I was not allowed to take it.

In California (and I guess in other states as well) you need to bring your own car for the exam. I do not own a car (and I do not intend to own one in the foreseeable future), so it is difficult for me to show up for the exam with a car... Of course I could borrow it from somebody, but not so many of my friends have cars, and the ones that do, actually need them to commute to work.

So last time that I tried to take the exam, I rented a car from Hertz. That would have worked out well for me, if I had only known that (on top of all possible insurances) I needed to bring with me an additional letter from Hertz that stated that I was allowed to use their car for the behind the wheel test. Unfortunately, I did not know that and I showed up at the DMV office without the aforementioned document. On the day of my exam, I still tried to obtain the appropriate letter from Hertz, but it was not possible as I was not assigned as a primary driver (I co-rented the car with one other person and he was the primary driver) on the rental contract for the car...

Today I tried to rent a car from Hertz for my exam tomorrow morning, but somehow, all of their cars all over the city are rented out. (Yes, I was too stupid/arrogant/naive to get an idea of booking the car in advance.) I tried to rent the car from other companies, but all of the ones that I called did not allow for their cars to be used during the drive test.

I ended up borrowing an SUV from my bf, but I have to say that I do not feel 100% comfortable driving it. Well, actually driving itself is not a problem, but parallel parking is. This car needs really a lot of space to be parked easily. Of course I can park it, but not always at the first attempt, which I am afraid is necessary during the exam. Moreover, I will be taking the exam in Oakland (as to get an appointment for the exam in SF you need to wait around a month), in the neighborhood that I have not been driving before. Also to get there I will need to take a 7km long bridge. Alone. (And in case you do not know I have a strong bridge-phobia). Taken all that into account I really wonder what my chances for passing the exam tomorrow are. In any case, keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Twin Peaks

I am very fortunate to live in an extremely beautiful city. During last few days I had a chance to show part of San Francisco's beauty to Agnieszka, one of my Polish friends. Some things taste the best when they are shared :)

Here are few photos that we took tonight at Twin Peaks, from where you can see almost the whole city.

San Francisco, the beautiful, as seen from Twin Peaks:

Agnieszka and I at the top of Twin Peaks:

Anil, our driver who forgot to shave :) and I:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Poland 2008 - Gdynia

During my recent trip to Gdansk I managed to convince my father to visit Gdynia. Initially, my father was more inclined to visit Sopot and stroll on its wooden pier (apparently the lonest one in Europe) as he thought that Gdynia being an industrial city had nothing to offer. Luckily, Gdynia proved him to be wrong and we had a great time there. Especially, we enjoyed visit to the harbor and watching a few of Polish most famous historic ships/sailboats.

"Blyskawica" (destroyer "Lightning"):

"Dar Pomorza":

Pirates' Ship:

"Zawisza Czarny"

Joseph Conrad Korzeniowski Monument with Musuem of Oceanography in the background:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Berlin 2008 - the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe/Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

Holocaust Memorial is a huge (19'000 square meter) memorial in a center of Berlin dedicated to the memory of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It consists of 2'711 concrete slabs or "stelae", arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The stelae are 2.38m long and 0.95m wide and vary in height from 0.2 m to 4.8m. They are suppose to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and walking between them surely makes you feel uneasy. Interestingly, nowhere inside or around the memorial you can find information on what it commemorates. Apparently, this is a deliberate attempt to encourage visitors to reach their own conclusions.

Berlin 2008 - Neue Synagogue

Beautiful neo-byzantine Neue Synagogue is not easy to photograph, still I thought that I will give it a shot:

Berlin 2008 - German Parliament/Deutsche Bundestag

The Reichstag, the seat of the German Parliament, is another one of Berlin's most important historical landmarks. It is close to the Brandenburger Tor and before the unification, it was located right next to the wall. Today, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions of Berlin, mostly thanks to its glass dome, which is accessible to the public and from where you can enjoy the beauty of Berlin.

View of the west portal of the Reichstag Building in Berlin:

Architecturally impressive, the Marie-Elisabeth-Lueders-Haus, one of the official buildings of the complex:

Berlin 2008 - Museum Island/Museumsinsel

Berlin’s Museum Island was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in the year 2000 and at the same it was designed to be “a sanctuary of art and science.” There are five museums located on the island formed by the river Spree: Old Museum (Altes Museum), New Museum (Neues Museum), Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie), Bode Museum and Pergamon Museum. During this year's trip to Berlin I did not have time to visit any of these museums, but I had visited them during my previous visits to Berlin and I had enjoyed all of them a lot. If you have time to visit only one of them, go to the Pergamon Museum. It has an absolutely amazing collection of antiquities, the most stunning of which is Ishtar Gate of Babylone.

Spree and Bode Museum:

My personal favorite, Pergamon Museum:

Berlin 2008 - Brandenburg Gate/Brandenburger Tor

The Brandenburg Gate is one of the main symbols of Berlin and Germany. During the Cold War, the Brandenburger Gate was the symbol of the city's divide as it was located just at the border between East and West Berllin. After the fall of the wall, it became the symbol of a reunified Berlin.

Its design is based upon the Propylaea, the gateway to the Acropolis. On its top you can see the Quadriga, the chariot drawn by four horses driven by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory.

The Quadriga is facing to the east, in direction of Unter den Linden:

View to Brandenburg Gate from the western side: