14 September 2014

Neuchâtel Art Expo at Galerie 2016

Cool paintings right now at our favorite contemporary art gallery in Neuchâtel, Galerie 2016. They're showing the work of Belgian painter Marc Kennes.

















We love the expos at this gallery because the owners -- our friends, Ella, Marc and Jade -- bring interesting artists to an interesting space.






08 September 2014

The Natives of Plaka on Milos island, Greece.


During our explorations of Plaka on Milos island, we encountered a few of the natives.

Volumes shall be written about the charming, savvy street cats of Milos.



Artists Natalia and David of Kymbe Ceramics.

Dimitris and Manolis, son and father owners of Two Doors
taverna, where I had stewed goat and didn't regret it.

A habitué of the Archeological Museum.
The original donors of the the Plaka Folk Museum. He a harbor pilot, she a
housewife. Oddly, they had no children.

Co-propietor and expert tummy cooler at the Plaka Taverna.



Just an interesting manhole cover.

02 September 2014

CERN Preps to Smash More Protons

In 2012, the physicists at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), outside Geneva proved the existence of the Higgs boson, the extremely tiny and enormously important sub-atomic particle that gives mass to the matter of the universe we can see.
The CMS collider will search for dark matter.

Now, after shutting down in February 2013 for planned maintenance and upgrades, CERN is again powering up its Large Hadron Collider to fling protons in opposite directions around its circular 27-km accelerator at nearly the speed of light before smashing them into each other to form new even tinier sub-atomic particles. And this time, the LHC will be operating at nearly double the beam energy.

Why is more energy important? You can find out in my new article for swissinfo.com

21 August 2014

Lunch with Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I had lunch with Jean-Jacques Rousseau yesterday. We were on the tiny Îsle Rousseau right where Lac Léman pours into the Rhone. He and I had a pretty one-sided conversation, partly because he was writing, and partly because he's made out of bronze. 

Geneva claims Jean-Jacques as a native son with good reason since he was not only born here, but he also drowned one of his fictional heroines in the lake.

I begged him for just one quick quote, and finally he relented, even translating it into English: 
"I may be no better, but at least I am different."

19 August 2014

Swiss Playgrounds

Why am I not surprised? Swiss playgrounds with practical equipment that's totally fun.

Hand-eye-fun coordination at a lakeside park in Bienne.
In Burgdorf a boy pulls up sand from chain, 
pulley and bucket. Later, wild ride on the 
spring scooter shall ensue.

01 August 2014

Bonfires Signal Switzerland's 723rd Birthday

Last night at the annual party our neighbors, the Leuba family, threw in celebration of Switzerland's birthday on August 1st, there was the usual huge bonfire and fireworks. Didier Leuba explained to me that the bonfires that are still lit around the country on Swiss National Day hearken back to the ones that burned on the mountain tops back in the 13th and 14th centuries when the powerful Hapsburgs were the overlords of the loose network of communities that would eventually form the federation that would become Switzerland.

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According to Didier, whose family with its sprawling properties spread across our patch of farmland and forest, is more or less our beneficent châtelain, the mountain-top bonfires were a way for the future Swiss to give the finger to the Hapsburgers. "We're still up here," was the message of the bonfires. "Come clanking up our mountain trails in your heavy armor if you dare, and see how you like our avalanche of stones!" According to legend, in 1291, the warlords of three communes, Uri, Unterwalden and Schwyz, swore an oath to band together and form a confederacy to fight the Hapsburgs. It took a couple hundred years, but now the Hapsburgs are gone and the bonfires remain.

15 July 2014

The Castle Gates are Open

On the edge of Canton Vaud, halfway between history and legend, there lies a castle.


 Last weekend and next (19-20 July), le Chateau d’Aigle takes you back to a colorful, idealized vision of medieval life, complete with comely inviting wenches.


 Actually, these three beauties were beckoning the king to a bath. He had merely watched the clash of swords and pikes that had just occurred on the field below …




… but the king was nevertheless sweaty and odiferous, and in need of a refreshing bath.

 Some of the king’s subjects received less cordial treatment.
 

 Others continued with their daily labors, whether it was making metal, music or 
magic.




All the while, we modern-day time travelers could walk along those lanes that led between history and our imaginations.








But there is more than make-believe to the Chateau d’Aigle. Its earliest enclosure was built in the 12th century by the Savoyards ...


... and periodically enlarged. In 1475 the castle was taken by soldiers fighting for the Republic of Berne, and later further expanded.


 

Today, surrounded by vineyards of chasselas grapes...
... in the heart of the Chablais wine region, the chateau is home to an excellent museum of wine-making with exhibits ranging from interactive computer displays to historical artifacts.


 Entry to the wine museum is included with the Fête Médiévale ticket (Adults: CHF 15, kids: CHF 5; families CHF 35, students: CHF 12.)


Well worth it for such blessings from the past.