Chiemsee Holiday

Like for most people around here, summer holidays for us usually means going south. And that is what we usually did in the past. This year, we wanted something new. The countries north of Switzerland were unexplored territory for us in regards of holiday destinations. We had ideas to go to the netherlands, Belgium or the Provence. The Nordic countries, we wanted to save for later, for a bigger trip when the boys grow older. After some brainstorming and discussing, we settled on the north sea cost of Germany. It would be a long drive, but manageable wit the current age of our boys. Then we found out that Levin is still allergic to fish. So we figured, that going to the sea might be not such a great idea. At least a lake we needed so that we could do some kayaking. Thus, the next best thing was the Bavarian sea: the Chiemsee.
We both didn’t know the area. The closest I was before, was Berchtesgaden, where I was competing in the 2005 German paragliding championship. Lots of people told us that it is a very nice area. So we looked forward to it.
The day we drove there was full of postponings. We left only in the middle of the afternoon, and so we didn’t make it in time to check into the camping. Consequently, we had to sleep the first night parking in the driveway, with all the luggage still in the camper.

Our first canoe excursion was not so pleasant, as Noah didn’t sleep enough, and so he complained all the time. The area was nice indeed with lots of activities for the kids. Definitely the highlight was the fairy tale theme park in Ruhpolding. It is a paradise for kids, full of ingenious playgrounds and stuff to explore. Neither the flyer nor the homepage can describe how good it is. If you’re in the area with children, you have to go there!

The Chiemsee is on the flat land but very close to the mountains. As it’s on the flat, the underground is all mud. I had heard of two nearby flying sites before: Hochfelln and Hochries. One day we wanted to go to the Hochries, but the easterly wind was not suited for flying there, and the one person chairlift was a no-go for Mirella anyway. So we went to Kössen just after the Austrian border. I was very positively surprised of the flying area. It was well protected from the prevailing wind, and had enough room for many paragliders on takeoff and in the air. It reminded me a lot of Gstaad. After about an hour flying in the gentle thermals above takeoff, I decided it’s time to look after my family. Then I found out that landing next to the cablecar was the trickiest part of the flight. There were lots of small thermals close to the landing area.

One day we took the boat across the lake to have a ride with an old steam train. The boys were totally excited by the ancient technology. Next, we visited the castle on the main island. It was built for the fairy tail king Ludwig the second, who also built castle Neuschwanenstein. The castle on the Chiemsee island is a copy of the french Versailles palace, and although not finished, full of excessive splendour.

On the way home, we stopped in Munich to visit the BMW world with our two car fanatics. From every model sold in the BMW group, there was a piece in the exhibition. The kids could sit into all but the Rolls Royce. We had a hard time to get them out again.

Wallis Ski Holiday

Last week we spent a ski holiday in the Wallis. We stayed with Mirella’s mother. Most days we went to Bürchen to practice skiing with Levin, and have some sledge rides with Noah. Levin went to the ski school for half a day, but he didn’t like it at all. He preferred being taught by us.

I did two flights from the Ski area above to Bürchen. Both were in downward wind. At the later one, the wind was blowing down so strong, that I inflated in the lee of a small building, and then skied really fast to get airborne. The icy wind was a good test for my new down insulation layer jacket.

Mirella and me took one day off, and went to Zermatt for skiing. We were mildly shocked when we saw the price for a one day ski pass. That’s roughly CHF 80. But we were never before on the small Matterhorn, and the snow as well as the weather was perfect. The cablecar for the small Matterhorn runs up to 3880 meters above sea level. Well, one could say the Jungfrau Joch is not as high, has no ski slopes and costs even more. We had lunch up at the top and could feel the altitude. Then we descended into Italy before returning back to Switzerland.

And then there was one day with clouds forecasted. As all others had better weather, we made a break. But still, the sun was shining when we walked around the town.

Skiweekend in Hasliberg

Last weekend I was in Hasliberg wih the ski club “Schneefreaks” from Steinhausen. They booked two full days of tandem flights. So I did ten flights with skis and two with snow board. The weather was almost perfect and so was the snow.

Pilot 4 a day with a Jaguar driver

Every once in a while I get to do a pilot for a day. That’s our premium offer at paraeasy.ch, and admittedly the most fun to do. Depending on the weather we either do a cross country flight or multiple flights from various mountains. This time, the weather looked promising, but not good enough for cross country. So we set out to do the first flight early from the Rigi. Christoph, todays passenger came with a beautiful Jaguar E-Type, and he is also member of the Jaguar Driver’s Club. The residual cloud cover that should disappear quickly in the morning was lower and more durable than was predicted. So we spent more than an hour para-waiting in the fog. When the fog finally lifted, we had a nice flight with some weak thermals and a couple of tight circles down to Goldau.

After having lunch on a lakeview terrace in Lauerz, we drove with our two Jaguars to Brunnen. Then we headed to the Fronalpstock. From the main takeoff, we followed the ski slope down to Stoos, flying along the rock cliffs to the alp above Morschach. Next, I took course straight to Brunnen and with lots of excess altitude, we floated around and did some sightseeing. The smooth landing was on the Auslandschweizerplatz, one of my favorite landing zones, near to the lake front.

For the third flight I came up with something very special. With the steam boat we crossed the lake, and took the bus and cablecar to the Niederbauen. Like on the other mountains before, the view was marvelous. Sadly, the wind at takeoff had an unusually suboptimal direction, hence I was not certain if we really could cross the lake. We took off, and heading towards Seelisberg town I grew more and more confident that we would make it. Along the rock cliffs of the Seelisberg mountain we soared with the birds, making ground without loosing altitude. Above the lake, we did another photo session, and we even had enough altitude left to fly to the Auslandschweizerplatz.

Speedflying in Andermatt

Finally we have snow, good weather and I could take a day off. So, I went to Andermatt, my favorite ski resort. I had the intention to do speedflying, paragliding and skiing, all on the same day. It was wonderfull! But see for yourself …

Schächental GoPro Fotos

Yesterday I waited for the fog to disappear as predicted, but it didn’t happen. So today we went to Unterschächen in Uri where there is very seldom fog. When we arrived, I saw that WinWings were there just ready to dirve to take off. Sure enough they had a place left for me in the bus. The flight was nothing special, but in November every flight is better than sitting in the fog. The calm air was perfect thought to try my new toy. I got the GoPro outdoor camera mainly to take pictures during tandem flights so I can sell them. But now that I have it, why not use it for solo flying and speed flying as well? Here are some pics:

Accepting BitCoin

As of today, we accept BitCoin as payment method for our tandem flights at paraeasy.ch

BitCoin is a decentralized online currency. It was in the news lately. While banks and politicians made it sound bad, it’s actually a great experiment. True, it has some shortcomings, but these shouldn’t bother us for the next couple of years.

If you want to learn more about BitCoin, check out these podcasts:

http://chaosradio.ccc.de/cr169.html

http://linuxoutlaws.com/podcast/215

http://chaosradio.ccc.de/cre182.html

http://www.weusecoins.com/

My first Android App

Yesterday, my first Android App hit the Market. Just search for flightpred and you should find it. It should run on any device running Android 1.5 and above. The App doesn’t do a lot so far. Essentially, it downloads an xml file from the flightpred server and displays the predictions for how many kilometers it thinks are possible to fly in the next three days in some flying sites on the small screen. Later I also want to add a GoogleMapsView with the circles like on the flightpred website.

I used to develop some small projects and my diploma work in Java some ten years ago. Since then the language progressed noticeably. I especially like the templatized containers. Back in the days, the containers were not type safe and I always had to cast when accessing elements. Also, the lambda’s look good.

A new flying site "Gebidum"

These days I don’t often discover new flying sites, especially not if they’re so close. Last year when searching for new sites in the Wallis I found something about Giw on the internet. That’s above Visperterminen. The chairlift was closed already, so I went somewhere else.

When thinking about where to go this weekend, that came to my mind, and I decided to go there. From the top of the chairlift one has to walk about half an hour uphill to reach the takeoff. While hiking, I saw the other mountain more north, which I thought must be the goal of the private cablecar from Eyholz. So I went to find out…

The mountain has the funny name “Gebidum” and is indeed where this obscure cablecar goes to. It’s only to service all the antennas at the top. The view was marvelous. Only the take off is not so perfect. One can take off in almost all directions, but it’s very flat, has stones, little bushes and steps. To make it perfect, while I waited and looked around at the top, the wind started to blow softly from the north. I wanted to take off south to fly along the slopes and explore the area where I walked up from the air.

Takeoff went smooth, and it was a gentle autumn flight even with some weak thermals along the way. After following the ridge to the small Giw lake, I crossed to Zeneggen before heading to Visp.

The battery of my phone was empty, so I couldn’t take no photos and no lifetracking. But the good old Garmin could still record.

missing env variables when running from cron

Today I solved another problem that bugged me for a while. Namely, I wanted to run the free flight prediction runs automatically from cron. When I ran it from the commandline or a script, it worked well, but when I tried to run it directly or through the same script from cron, it always failed with the following message : “critical error : basic_string::_S_construct NULL not valid”

Continue reading “missing env variables when running from cron”