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Handstand Blocks, Hikes and Wrocław

Went to a balcony party, went on a hike, made some handstand blocks and went to Wrocław.

Bianca's Balcony Birthday

Bianca invited some friends over to her place for a balcony birthday evening. Her apartment had been renovated a while back, during which living had been made tricky with intermittent water flow; trips to the bathroom had to be outsourced to the restaurant downstairs. On more than one occasion the restaurant cleaners took Manu for a burglar, no matter how many times he insisted he lived on the first floor - even showing them his keys didn't help apparently. Later a gas leak in the water heating system was ignored by the owners for long enough for one family to be hospitalised with gas poisoning. After a lot of irritation and a rent-hike, Bianca and Manu at least came away with a new balcony.

Bianca and Manu's balcony, narrow and nice
Bianca and Manu's balcony, narrow and nice

Manu had prepared some quiches for the guests. They were really good and fitted the fancy champagne Bianca was serving out. The only issue was with how narrow their balcony is - you almost touch noses standing looking at each other. This issue was solved by sliding with a limbo manoeuvre through the low railing and sitting locked in on the edge. It was perfectly safe. You could pass out and still stay hanging, knees locked in place by the rail.

The sun set and the quiche ran out (far too quickly, it was really good) so you all adjourned to the lounge. The original plans of "going out" fell appart as people were already falling asleep. It was just too comfortable you guess.

Handstand Blocks Ver.1, 2, 3 and 4

You, along with your lovely lady, can't always make it to ASVZ Menage (gymnastics) after work and so you sometimes do little fitness routines at home. Handstands are always included and it'd be nice, you thought, to have your own set of handstand blocks.

Back in 2013 you decided to make a set for Meike's 30th birthday while in Matranovak, Hungary. She'd listened to your plans to make giant steel unicorn statues, and so forbid anything welded to be brought home. You got around this restriction by making them bolted rather than welded :) The metal parts were sourced from the same Hungarian company who supplies bogie frame jig threaded fittings for your factory. The wood came from Ikea - the only thing big and thick enough was an entire table - and you cut it with a jigsaw. After a lot of loud noise and sawdust, you had made a set of handstand blocks. They did what they were supposed to, but were too damn high and inflexible. Version 1: too complicated

Version 1 Version 2
Version 1 and version 2

The second iteration was to be simpler and more flexible. You cut two disks from the table, fastened the same threaded brass fittings into the wood, stuck some rubber on the base, cut some grips from a plank and screwed it together. It worked magnificently! You could place the blocks at any distance or angle and they were small enough to store. The only issue was they grips were not angled and so your wrist was a little strained. Meike loved them, so her present was essentially the back-up option. Version 2: better

Fast forward to the present. It was warm enough again to do woodworking on the veranda, so you get to making some sloping grips. You worked two new grips down to about 10°-15° which was actually a bit too much. You covered them with climbing chalk and all was good. The edges needed some more work but it already felt far better for your wrists. Version 3: pretty good

Version 3 and version 4
Version 3 and version 4

The forth iteration was something a bit different: some low parallel bars, the same as in the gym. Using the same original Ikea door and some thick wooden rods from Coop Bau & Hobby you cut together four clamps, inserted and bolted them to the rods and mounted them to a base* (at the time of writing still on your to do list). Version 4: almost done

Iberge Hike

Although not feeling 100% due to a slight cold, you decided to join Sandra, Steffen and Meike anyway on a day hike near Schwyz. You all took a train from the main station, arrived in Schwyz and then got lost before starting the hike up the hill. It was warm overcast day to stroll through some low lying farms - it wasn't really clear what they were farming there actually - until the path turned up the hill to follow a small stream. The flowing water had irrigated a garden of bearlauch in the forrest and the smell was quite strong.

Bearlauch forest Out of the forest
Bearlauch forrest and out of the forest

The rest of the day was spent going up the hill and taking intermittent drink breaks. It was warm enough that running out of water could have eventually become a problem. Past the restaurant by the hairpin turn and up another hundred meters, there was a good view of Grosser Mythen - a very pointy mountain with a hut on the top. It was hard to imagine how they got it up there. The way down was muddy, slippery and followed by icecream near the bus stop. Your anticipation was bigger than your hunger in the end, and you felt sick from overeating.

Wrocław FAI

To get some experience about how FAI's run for welded structures, you went to Wrocław for the three-day week and sat in. The cheapest air connection there left Zürich at a comfortable mid-morning time and arrived in Wrocław the afternoon. What was saved in flight costs was wasted in lack of working time, since arriving after 4pm meant the factory was already empty and you couldn't go in. Travel costs vs. working time is almost never factored. At least it made for a relaxing day and you could read your book about two Germans who hid in the Namibian desert to avoid the war. That night you went for a swim in the army pool - Wrocław's only fifty meter pool.

The meeting had a lot of familiar faces from your time in Poland. The Germens who came for the meeting were nice blokes - some new and one you'd not seen in five years; the latter surprised you could speak German now (...right) and continued to make odd comments implying you were the new guy: "First time here, yeah?" Not quite. His college, who was in fact new, avoided all such commentary, probably due to his superior beard. Why do all welding engineers have beards?

Frame examination Heavy rain
Frame examination, and heavy rain

The meeting seemed to function entirely via acronyms. Rarely was anything spelled out and it became incredibly confusing for those not used to it, as to what anyone was referring. "We got the E-Loc UG3 material cert. acc. IWE approved DVS guidelines? The DG PT & MT ZfP signed? How about the WPS TPS report?" You weren't the only one confused.

After inspecting the frame for several hours you broke off and checked your emails. Outside the heavens opened and an intense deluge drowned Wrocław. The nearby buildings - old, decaying brick-built factories - were overwhelmed by the downpour. Their gutters had burst and were spraying water like fountains, while the floodwaters filled the lower levels. Getting to your car meant giving up and hopping through ankle-deep puddles. You offered the guys a lift but didn't get far; Wrocław roads had all shut down due to multiple accidents. Your passengers waited half an hour before deciding to walk the four kilometers to their hotel, while you practiced patience sitting in the traffic.

Not much happened the next day. You left feeling reassured that your colleges in Poland had their shit together and all was well. When buying duty free in Poland there's an additional discount for non-EU destinations (e.g. Switzerland). Gotta love one liter of fine Polish bison grass vodka for 13chf.