Zurich’s Radium Theatre, or Another One That Got Away – The Hunt For Long-Term Digital Storage Options

I posted this picture before a few times –my apologies to those who have grown bored with it. It’s one of my favorites because it wasn’t at all what I was planning for or expecting. I also didn’t plan or expect for the original, like this one posted a few days ago, to disappear forever.

It was a simple plan – to quickly, furtively and efficiently snatch a quick snap of this porn theatre’s ticket-taker on a smoke break, a mildly seedy street scene from one of Europe’s wealthiest financial capitals. I then remember being slightly pissed off when the car drove by, seemingly ruining said seedy scene. I couldn’t have planned that framing and positioning if I tried.

But the original was wiped out when the external hard drive mentioned here decided to roll over and die one day, inexplicably and without warning. I have a low rez version on my flickr stream, a few smaller versions on scattered folders here and there, a printed post card version as a second place prize in a contest, and one framed A4 print on my wall. Thankfully, it was done by a pro lab and should last a while.

I heard from and read about others who’ve encountered similar problems with back-up hard drives just giving out. Has anyone else experienced this?

Wanted: Reliable Long-Term Storage on the Road

About six months ago I started a dual back-up system, essentially backing up everything on two separate drives. That should improve my odds at least a little bit, no? I’m also thinking about an additional system using CDs, for select photos only.

These aren’t by any means new dilemmas. They’re ones we’re stuck with and have to deal with, problems those working solely in film never really encountered. With film –earthquakes, fires, floods and nasty divorces aside– storage and archiving was entirely under the photographer’s control. Negatives were lost or trashed due to the photog’s neglect. Now we are far too often at the mercy of the technology we’re forced to trust.

I’m mainly ruminating on this now that I’m beginning to prepare for an extended period of travel beginning in January, when I may be on the road for up to 18 months. (Or maybe indefinitely.) I take lots of photos –and have recently added video as well– which means the gigabytes can and do add up quickly. And adequate, safe and reliable storage is crucial.

I’ve only done a limited amount of research, but it seems that most long-term travelers today are going one of two ways: carrying around the newish durable and pricey travel hard drives or choosing to go the cloud route and uploading when they cross paths with a fast connection. I’ll post a follow-up on this at some point but in the mean time, I’d love to hear some experiences from others. Sharing is nice. :)

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August pic(k)s

You may have grown tired of seeing this last month, but I never tired of going there every day for two weeks. This is the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, one of my personal faves shot in August 08.

A busy month; besides Beijing, August included annual stops to Lausanne and Zurich, and a brief visit to Radovljica, Slovenia.

Previous pics of the month: [July 08] [June 08] [May 08] [March 08] [February 08] [January 08]

Beijing 008, originally uploaded by pirano.

Musee Olympique Philatelic Collection

LAUSANNE — For my fellow stamp collecting fetishists, here are a few stealth shots of the Olympic Museum’s Philatelic collection rooms, to give an idea of how they’re displayed.

The museum owns copies of every Olympic stamp ever issued –donated by former IOC boss Juan Antonio Samaranch– and the vast majority are displayed in mint blocks of four. There isn’t much for sale in the Musee’s giftshop but it’s just as well, since what’s there is tragically overpriced.

And speaking of tragically overpriced, stamps have been been part of the Olympics’ bottom line since the inaugural modern Games in Athens in 1896. Organizers wouldn’t have been able to balance the books without income from the sale of the first Olympic commemoratives. Most of the 12 stamps issued for the Games in 1895 and 1896 had print runs ranging from 2 and 3 million.

Here’s a searchable database of all Olympic theme stamps.

In Search of Katarina Witt at the Musée Olympique

LAUSANNE — Less than six days ago I was still in Beijing, stuffing my suitcase with Olympic t-shirts and other knickknacks, trying to come down from an exhausting two weeks. This morning I saw stacks of that exact same officially licensed merchandise being sold in the Musee Olympique gift shop for three or four times the price. I didn’t come here to shop though.

To be honest, I’m not sure what exactly brought me to the Olympic Museum. I love museums and I’ve had an Olympics fetish for as long as I can remember, but just wasn’t in the mood to wander about five marbled stories of Olympic memorabilia. Seeing the speedos of a gold medal-winning swimmer whose name escapes me didn’t seem that important, and I assumed that photos of Katarina Witt’s Playboy shoot wouldn’t be a part of any multimedia display.

Nor was I in the mood to spend time browsing the museum’s current temporary exhibit which focused on Beijing 2008 (through 26-Oct). Even the best that the IOC museum staff could muster wouldn’t remotely compare in size, scale and scope to everything that was on display in the Chinese capital. I was tired and simply Beijinged out. All was passé. No thanks. Maybe next time. Nor did I have the energy to have this kind of fun in the sprawling Olympic Park, delicately carved into a beautiful hillside that gently rolls northward from the shores of Lac Leman.

So I dozed instead on one of the park benches near this reassuring sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reutersward (which I also saw a version of in Gothenburg a few years ago) until I was woken up by a passing couple feuding loudly in Serbian; she calling him a bastard, he calling her a bitch.

At last, I thought, I’m in Europe, I’m home.

The museum grounds suddenly seemed friendlier, more inviting, bristling with life. The leaves on the trees swayed back and forth in unison with the couple’s exchange, which reached its crescendo just as a strong gust of wind blasted the shore of what Deep Purple called Lake Geneva. After a slight pause, the man looked the woman in the eyes, exclaiming, “Oh, how I just love my little bitch!” She smiled, and just before looking away, uttered a playful “fuck off” in his direction. A peck on her cheek followed, they joined hands and began walking towards me. Both glanced my way briefly as they passed, smiling, her dark eyes glistening as her long straight brown hair fluttered in the wind. Even without ice skates and a revealing tight-fitting top, her resemblance to how I remembered Katarina Witt was uncanny. My reason for visiting the museum was finally realized.

The library in the museum’s basement level houses some 25,000 books and journals, and was conveniently empty of researchers on this Sunday. The librarian, perhaps bored or lonely, was all too eager to offer any assistance I required.

“Is there anything specific I can help you find?” he asked.

I wanted to say that I’ve always been an admirer of Witt, but couldn’t manage to come up with anything that didn’t come across as stalker-like, so asked about the museum’s stamp collection instead.

After browsing a bit on my own, I made my way up from the basement towards the museum’s main exhibit rooms. Surely the two-time Olympic champion, Socialism’s most beautiful face, left something for the museum’s collection.

The second from the last level is divided in two, the right portion devoted to the summer sports, the left half winter. I walked towards the left. And in the midst of the collection of antique cross country skis, old skates and bobsled uniforms of yesteryear, was that shiny, provocative and evocative blood red dress Witt wore when she defended her Olympic title in 1988 in Calgary. It had an almost flimsy, ethereal beauty, as if it could melt to the touch. Among other things, I pictured her trying to climb into a Trabant without the dress getting caught on a renegade screw or protruding bolt.

Witt was involved in the official grand opening of the museum in the summer of 1993; since, about 200,000 have visited annually. The first level houses an extensive history of the Olympic movement, from ancient Greek artifacts, to mementos, souvenirs and memorabilia from each edition of the Games.  Its holding of art is impressive as well, particularly the extensive collection of sculptures that are scattered throughout the surrounding park. Among my favorites was this piece by Fernando Botero next to the terrace restaurant.

Open daily year round, admission 15 CHF (9.40 EUR)

[18 photos of the Olympic Park are here] [Official site] [wiki]

Olympia, originally uploaded by pirano.

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30 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Lausanne

crosiee-view.jpgLa Croisée
Avenue Marc Dufour 15
Lausanne, Switzerland

Stayed one night, 10-July 2007

If there’s anything cheap in Switzerland, I have yet to find it. So La Croisée, at 110 CHF/night (66 EUR) has to be considered a good deal. A pleasant 10-minute walk from the main station (except if it’s pouring rain and unseasonably cold like it was the morning I arrived). Very friendly staff, comfortable rooms, AND FREE wi-fi throughout.

Entirely smoke-free, but you can light up on the balcony with a great view of Lac Leman, the lake Deep Purple calls Lake Geneva. It also serves as a boarding house for international students.

I shall (absolutely) return.

La Croisée’s Venere.com page.