Sunday, February 25, 2007


Cafe Central
Originally uploaded by perreira.
Back from Vienna. A week of conference, on detectors and how to build them. Lots of physicists around, some nice, some annoying; amazingly enough there were some good looking female physicists, two from Brazil, one from Poland, one from somewhere else.

I managed to see something of Vienna as well, I think I have got an overdose of culture on friday after visiting two mueums and the theater...

Pictures will appear on flickr as usual.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I am off to a conference in Vienna. Luggage: about 3kg of laptop and stuff for the laptop, about 5kg photography equipment, 5kg in beer, 1kg in food and some t-shirts. Hurray for light travelling...

Defenitely looking forward to visit the Esperanto Museum in Vienna (just one floor beneath the globe museum).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Decimal Day (not to be confused with Domino Day)

On the 15th of February 1971 Great Britain switched from a currency system based on the traditional LSD system (yes, it's called that way - Librae, Solidus, Denarii) to a boring decimal system. The old one was much more logical...:

4 Farthings are a penny, 3 pence a thrupence, 2 thrupence a sixpence, 2 sixpense a bob, 2 bob a florin, 1 florin + a sixpence are half a crown. 4 of these half crowns are a ten-bob, 2 ten-bobs are 20 shilling or 240 pence or 1 pound. One pound and a shilling, or 252 pence, are a guinee.

And now: 1 pound are 100 pence. How boring. Anybody could remember that...

And before you ask: yes, I spend too much time surfing wikipedia.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Wrath of God will come upon you!

Those sinners in Portugal who voted for unchristian and abnormal things shall fear the wrath of god! Todays earthquake shall be a SIGN!

Sometimes nature has a sense of timing which amazes me... Back in the middle ages (and maybe still today in the more rural areas of portugal) this would have made people burning a lot of witches.

Welcome in the less uncivilized world!

Yesterday about a quarter of the portuguese entitled to vote placed portugal on the map of countries being on the way from the middle ages to more civilized times. Though only 43% voted, 59% of those voted for the change of a law, which up to now lead to up to three years of prison for women having an abortion. The law resulted in those considering abortion going to spain (the rich) or doing clandestine abortions (the poor) with horrible conditions, leading to the death of thousands of women each year. A referendum in 1998 failed to change the law, as the supporters of change stayed at the beach and the voters against change were all sent to vote after church by priests who seem to have been stuck in a mindframe appropriate for the year 1100 (and even then considered conservative). (This is my polemic version, your truth may vary...)

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Yes. Just burn those witches. And their family. And their village. They all are sinners and must go to hell. BURN! BURN!

(For those not reading portuguese: the link is about a bishop stating that not only the women considering abortion should be penalised, also their husbands and doctors.) Middle ages are still alive in Europe.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A disgrace to all craftsmen

Today I wanted to get the battery in my watch changed. It is a swatch, so nothing fancy. It eats standard batteries. So I went to a, well, not a clockmaker, not even a shop who sells watches, more like a shop who tries to sell watches but failing.

The sales drone there was the most incompetent sales drone I ever met. He stared at the swatch as he had never seen one before and then said they don't have that type of battery (which might be true) and he didn't want to change the battery because he didn't know how to do it. Well, changing the battery of a swatch is an artform which only the best craftsmen ever manage. You take a 10cent coin, put it in the slit of the battery compartment and then turn the battery holder about 10 degrees counterclockwise. Then it falls out, you change the battery, put it back and turn the thing in the other direction. That's hard to do. I know. But sometimes people master this craft...

Worse yet, in the house that shop is in Emmy Noether was born, one of the greates mathematicians. What a step down.

Then I went to another watch-shop, a very good looking and nice girl changed the battery in about a minute, chatted a bit with me, set the watch correct and was generally nice. Much better...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Invasion of the Brain eaters

Sometimes modern world just pisses me off. I tried to contact ebay that their e-mail server apperantly has a clock going wrong. All mails I get from them are in no way in a correct time-zone or time. (Well, maybe ebay has their servers sitting in a time bubble which is 5 hours into the future, but I think they only have this at google.)

I got an answer by one of the customer satisfaction bots, made of pre-fabricated sentences. It seems they have a very small pile of these sentences, as they were exactly the same as in a mail I got from them on a different problem. Instead of: "well, we have looked at the mail header, you are right/wrong", they sent me some customer satisfaction brabble, at least addressing me five times by name to get that personal touch. Is it only me or does nobody see that this is not taking me serious? Why do they have sales bots? Just put the emacs psychatrist there, that would at least be some 20 minutes of fun for everybody...

In the fear of not being friendly and unsatisfactory to their clients, they hide behind their shield of pre-fabricated sales-blubber. I very much prefer the way they treat me at local workshops. They grunt at you, they are not really friendly, but they take you serious and take care of your problems. They won't bullshit you with these false friendliness of shareholdervalueoriented companies.

Ah, and ebay wanted me to fill out a survey on how to improve their customer service. Luckily it's all multiple choice questions, where neither the question nor the answers fit to anything I would tell them. And when I tried to fill in the free-form text area, it just stopped working. Yehaa.