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Sailing on the Baltic Sea


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Have you ever spent your vacation in Germany? Have you ever been sailing? Until a few days ago I only could answer this questions with “no”.  Especially sailing never has been an option. Too much summits still are on my hiking list. But you never should say no?

Because of this and because of my family I finally spent the last week in September on  a sailing boat at the Baltic Sea.

In Heiligenhafen we took over the 50 foot Bavaria Cruiser 50 called Marijana1. Since I´ve been never sailing before I do not have any clue about boats. But what I can say is that this boat is huge. Cabins for up to 10 persons plus additional 2 persons backup beds in the living room. 3 bathrooms, kitchen and a lot of storage space. All of this of course in boat size design. Our beds have been in the back where I had to crawl into to avoid abutting my head. Nevertheless everything was bigger compared to other boats laying next to us.

From the harbor we first made a test trip to check if everybody feels comfortable on the sea. So far this test on the first day went well.

On the next day our destination was Laboe which is a little and very nice village at Kiel bay entrance. Beside a submarine you also can visit the marine memorial or simply hangout in one of the numerous bars and restaurants.

On the third day our journey went to Eckernfoerde. This city has been one my highlights at this tour. First time that we have been swimming and relaxing at the beautiful beach. Beside this there is a beautiful center full of shops and bars having a great flair.

Damp has been our destination on day four. Damp isn´t really a village. It is a huge hospital joined with a huge holiday resort. Unfortunately there is no flair. Even the skyline looks like a standard 70s concrete architecture. Nevertheless there is a beautiful beach and some great bars for a relaxing evening.

The next day we went over to Maasholm. This little village stood in a total contrast to Damp. It is a very little Fisher village full of flair. We felt very comfortable and had a great time. Dinner we had at the Schunta restaurant which I can recommend. Here we had wonderful fish.

From Maasholm we went to Orth harbor at Fehrman island.  And from there back to Heiligenhafen. Orth isn´t really a village. It basically just is a harbor having some restaurants and a surf shop. Nevertheless even there we had a great time and wonderful food at the “pirates nest”.

Conclusion:
Sailing is wonderful. With a great crew and an outstanding skipper as well as a seaworthy stomach you will have a wonderful time.

Below please find some pictures of the trip. For bigger resolution please click here.

Three days at Pitztal Austria


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Since ages I´m a member of the German Alp Association (DAV). Getting special discounts when sleeping and eating in alpine huts was the only reason for me to join. In the beginning I never met any other member of my section. This I wanted to change by frequently checking if potential trips do match my schedule. Finally this happened just a couple of weeks ago. A trip to the Austrian Pitztal has been announced by the Baar section.

The tour announced almost matched my preferred hiking level and my company was closed for summer vacation. Due to another Alp trip I missed the preliminary as well as to get to known to them. But since I´m very open minded and love meeting people there wasn´t any doubt that I will find some nice guys in this group.

Once we finally met last Sunday everything went fine. As a result a group of 8 people between 32 and 72 traveled down to Austria having a good time.

In Mittelberg (1740m), below the Pitztal Glacier Cable car station the trip begun. Passing Taschachtal we slowly hiked towards the Taschachhaus, our first destination of the Trip. First half of the path is almost like walking on the highway. Not very steep and well manageable for almost everybody. This does change when reaching the supply lift base station. From there a new created path does bring you up to the hut within one hour. The previous way got damaged by a rockslide recently. This new way is well created. It is a little bit steep and exposed which makes hiking more fun.

The Taschachhaus does belong to the section Munich. Beside accommodation it also is used as a mountain training center. The fittings are outstanding. Sometimes you feel more like being in a hotel than in a hut. For the group we had booked a 10 persons room including breakfast and dinner. Our served meal has been wonderful and more tasty than some food I had in international hotels.

Since we arrived quite early there also was time for a short hike towards the glacier. It takes another 45 minutes to get there. Especially in summer seeing a glacier is overwhelming. Underneath some dirt you can see 20m deep crevasses. From inside they are shining deep blue. Please note that you need to be absolutely gutsy and sure-footed when going there as well as well equipped if you also want to walk on the  glacier.

On the second day our plan was to walk on the Fuldaer Höhenweg (Fulda trail) toward the Riffelseehütte. From there our final destination was the Kaunergrathütte. From Taschachhaus you need to climb up another 200m to reach the Fulda trail. From there it takes you along the Taschach valley giving you a beautiful view on glaciers and summits around. Due to the rockslide here also some areas have been rebuild. Secured by chains you can easily walk this areas.

From the Riffelseehütte our path went up another 300m. Now the real adventure started. This trail is called the Cottbuser trail. And whatever exposed path you have seen so far in this trip now becomes ridiculous. The first 5km are very exposed including a well secured climbing section (Video). For everybody not being 100% gutsy minimal climbing equipment is recommended. Once you have managed this the trail keeps challenging but also gives you a phenomenal panoramic view.

On the final 350m it gets a little boring. After all this ups and downs all you see is a steep way up. Since there is no adrenaline involved for this section you need to have a good fitness. Once you reached 2817m every effort is gone. Looking at the glacier and the panorama makes you feel happy.

Kaunergrathütte is the highest alpine hut at Pitztal. Supplied only by a helicopter you can imagine that everything is build for a low resource consumption. Some of the equipment seems to be almost 100 years old. Nevertheless it is very comfortable and the food is good.

 

On the final day we went up another 200m to pass the Steinbockjoch. From there we had a beautiful view and a good position to say good bye to this area. The trail than takes you down to Plangroß. 1600m above sea level this is the final destination.

Have fun when doing this three days hike.

Review – Written in Bone by Simon Beckett

20120810-235037.jpgIt took me quite some time until I started reading this book. I bought it in 2009 at an airport somewhere in the world. For some unknown reasons it packed it in the shelf to all my other books standing there and waiting to be read. Finally a couple of weeks ago And after some biographical books I decided for this Thriller to be my next.

A lot of books need a lot of time until the story finally speeds up. It takes almost ages until you know the persons and their history. Not so in this Book. You get tied up within the first pages.

Written in Bones is the second Book about David Hunter, a pathologist living in the UK. Due to not enough manpower he gets asked to support the police for investigating a potential crime. But at this point, I don’t want to go into more details. There are tons of websites out there giving you a brief synopsis of the story.

Here I will tell you if this book is worth to read or not. To make it short and simple. Yes it is! as written above it tides you up real quick and it does not let you go. Simon Beckett has a wonderful style to write his stories. You can easily follow his characters and sooner or later you start guessing who the murder might be. But of course this seems to be planned. I’ be no doubt that this is one of the biggest aspects Simon Beckett is considering when writing his books. Knowing this you soon will realize that he also is playing with you.
Without telling to much I bet that no one reading this book ever would have expected the final end!

All over all I can recommend this book to everybody looking for an exciting thriller that makes you wanting read the whole night long.

You can get this book all over the world: ISBN 978-0-553-81750-8

For the full story I would recommend to read his first book first: The chemistry of death.

Enjoy reading.

Continental who´s who – are they serious?

A couple of days ago I did receive a letter from a company called “Continental Whos´s Who”. Content of this letter basically was a list of compliments regarding the goals that I did achieve in my profession. I now should feel honored because they are about to approve me becoming part of the “who is who” in my industry.

Indeed I did feel honored and I did not doubt that this is a serious association interested in having me in their group of successful professionals. Since they are based in the US we scheduled a meeting at 3pm to avoid inconveniences caused by the time difference.

In this call a Lisa started to ask some questions about my career and about the way I´m doing business. At that point I still had no doubt about their professional attempt. After 20 minutes she finally congratulated me. “You are a real professional that we want to work with, having you in our exclusive group of executives and professionals from around the world”. Man, I really felt proud about this. After all the years of hard work finally somebody was proud of having me as a member.  I almost felt like a celebrity.

Unfortunately this conversation did change dramatically.  After a couple of more questions she than explained that there are two different memberships. Lifetime which goes for $ 899 and a five year plan going for $ 599. Of course all professionals are choosing the  Lifetime plan.#

At that point the red light in my head already did shine and blink like on judgment day.

I was angry at myself. I knew best that nobody in the world ever will give you something for free. Everything in live does cost. Even for death you have to give your live.

Lisa lost in the second she mentioned the amounts. Nevertheless I did want to see how far she goes. It was impressive how much she did push. It became extremely intrusive. Fortunately I already knew how this is going to end up. I kept on playing. During the conversation she came up with new plans that she only can offer for me and that almost will cost her job.  For some reason it seems that they can´t postpone decisions. They want to close the deal during this call.

Ok, I finally agreed on a $ 99 plan for 2 years.

I could hear her breathing out when she finally nailed it down, she thought. She didn´t knew that I was playing since the second she started to talk about money. What came up next almost would have been good enough for an oscar. But I don´t want to go into to much details. At the end even after not closing the deal and not getting my credit card details nor personal information she stopped the conversation by saying:  “It was my pleasure to talk to you”.

Finally I´m not sure about this company. Online I did found tons of reports accusing them of fraud or even scam.  I don´t want to go that far. I just think the way they did approach me was not the way I want to be approached. In my opinion  becoming a who is who simply should be something that can be achieved  instead of bought.

The funny side now will be that I will laugh for myself whenever I see “who´s who” listed in someones profile. Now I know that this person did not achieve it, he simply did not manage to stand against the pushy sales person of that company. Something that I would not be proud of.

Please feel free to leave a comment.

Seven easy things you need to do to become more productive.

Recently I did find an article explaining 7 things you need to know to become more productive. In this article Ilya Pozin explains what he did learn from his meeting with Tony Wong, a project manager whose client list includes Toyoto, Honda, and Disney, just to name a few. This rules are easy to follow. So if you want to get more productive, here is how it works.

  1. Work backwards from goals to milestones to tasks. Writing “launch company website” at the top of your to-do list is a sure way to make sure you never get it done. Break down the work into smaller and smaller chunks until you have specific tasks that can be accomplished in a few hours or less: Sketch a wireframe, outline an introduction for the homepage video, etc. That’s how you set goals and actually succeed in crossing them off your list.
  2. Stop multi-tasking. No, seriously—stop. Switching from task to task quickly does not work. In fact, changing tasks more than 10 times in a day makes you dumber than being stoned. When you’re stoned, your IQ drops by five points. When you multitask, it drops by an average of 10 points, 15 for men, five for women (yes, men are three times as bad at multitasking than women).
  3. Be militant about eliminating distractions. Lock your door, put a sign up, turn off your phone, texts, email, and instant messaging. In fact, if you know you may sneak a peek at your email, set it to offline mode, or even turn off your Internet connection. Go to a quiet area and focus on completing one task.
  4. Schedule your email. Pick two or three times during the day when you’re going to use your email. Checking your email constantly throughout the day creates a ton of noise and kills your productivity.
  5. Use the phone. Email isn’t meant for conversations. Don’t reply more than twice to an email. Pick up the phone instead.
  6. Work on your own agenda. Don’t let something else set your day. Most people go right to their emails and start freaking out. You will end up at inbox-zero, but accomplish nothing. After you wake up, drink water so you rehydrate, eat a good breakfast to replenish your glucose, then set prioritized goals for the rest of your day.
  7. Work in 60 to 90 minute intervals. Your brain uses up more glucose than any other bodily activity. Typically you will have spent most of it after 60-90 minutes. (That’s why you feel so burned out after super long meetings.) So take a break: Get up, go for a walk, have a snack, do something completely different to recharge. And yes, that means you need an extra hour for breaks, not including lunch, so if you’re required to get eight hours of work done each day, plan to be there for 9.5-10 hours.

Hope this one helps you to increase your productivity. Further I would like to recommend a book that is even more effective than this seven rules. It goes far beyond them. Please be aware that you need to be willing to change your way of doing business completely. Are you ready? Ok, than go and get this book.

REWORK by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson. 

By far the best business book on the market. Enjoy the rules as well as the book.

How to make a woman happy!

Today I found a wonderful video on youtube that I want to share with you. Giorgio, singing in this video, is the lead singer of a band called “The interstate life” . He and his friends are stopping at a drive through counter to place their order. Three minutes and seven seconds later they have made a woman´s day she never ever will forget. Sometimes the small things in live can make the difference. Thanks Giorgio for making my day.

But see yourself and feel free to share this!

Good friend having me in his New York article

Today I just would like to share an nice article about the Photo Plus Expo with you. The article is written by my dear friend Darrell Young. He is writing about the Photo Plus Show in New York as well as about his time in Town. I enjoy reading Darrell´s Blog. So I hope you do.

Here is his article.

Brad Berger, Me, Joerg Muehle, Julian Buhler - Picture taken by Darrell Young.

 

DSLR doing extreme outdoor – the BOBLBEE review

If you are an extreme sports enthusiast, you will find almost every gear toting accessory suited for your particular passion. One of most common of these accessories is the standard backpack, the ergonomically perfect carrying device dating back through history to when a few enterprising individuals first realized strapping your possessions on your back was an easy way to carry a load while keeping your hands free to handle walking sticks, spears and clubs.

It didn’t take long to modify these backpacks, adjusting the size of shoulder and adding padding to reduce contact point pains along the shoulder and back. The truly modern evolution of the backpack came when someone finally realized the design of a pack can also be influenced by the particular material or equipment being carried.
Thus began the highly specialized branch of backpack design and manufacture specifically tailored for particular applications plus the gear needed for those endeavors.
Soldiers needed packs to carry personal belongings, rations and weaponry. Hikers needed lightweight materials and heavy load carrying adaptations. Photographers needed specific extra padding to protect valuable and sensitive equipment.

But what happens when you are looking to mix applications?

In my case, I’m an enthusiastic digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) photographer with a Nikon camera and a few lenses who happens to be a lover of extreme sports like snowboarding and off-road biking. If I want to travel to a specific location and take pictures a photographer’s backpack is fine. But what happens when I want to “travel rough?” What happens if I want to combine snowboarding or biking plus do some photography along the way? In most cases you have to choose either going out taking photos or going out on an extreme ride, to avoid damage to valuable gear.

Last year at Los Angeles, California, I met the guys from Boblbee who showed me it was now possible to combine those two choices.
During our conversation I mentioned that I’m a passionate snowboarder and that I avoid taking my DSLR with me to prevent it from damage. As a result they suggested I try the Megalopolis backpack matched to their Internal Cargo Camera Insert.

This Boblbee backpack features an injection-molded one piece (monocoque technology) ABS plastic hard shell with a back protector. To open the backpack you simply remove a soft cover, attached by a rubber strap. Both are made of high quality materials designed to protect your valuable gear, even in heavy rain conditions. The system had originally been developed for motor bikers. It has since been rigorously tested by bicyclists, skiers, snowboarders and skaters. I ordered the optional cargo net to attach my snow boots or my snowboard outside and also added the Lumbar Cassette. The Lumbar Cassette is an additional attachment bag attaching to the bottom of the pack which dramatically increases the total transport volume, while comfortably cradling it in the area surrounding the small of your back and waistline.
Everything arrived well packed a few days after my order. For a DSLR they offer two sizes of cargo bag. The Cargo Medium is good for a D60, D90, D5100 and other similar cameras plus two lenses (one mounted on the body and one next to it). While you are using the DSLR insert there still is enough space to handle a rain jacket and a small lunch. It appears to be very small at first, but I found it had plenty of space for my needs. The Cargo Large is good for everything already mentioned plus an additional lens or accessories such as gear flash units, cables and chargers. For my tests I used the medium most of the time, carrying a Nikon D60 (with AF Zoom-NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4-5.6G lens mounted) and an AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II lens unmounted.


On average, a regular review test on a product like this should take a few weeks. For me this was impossible since I wanted to test the backpack in the snow as well as being out with the bike. At the end, my test went one year long.
Going out with the bike:
As mentioned before, the backpack was originally conceived with motor bikers in mind, so I wasn’t surprised when I felt like it was made specifically for me. I am six and a half feet tall which often presents me with fitting problems. Not here. The straps easily fit me well, and they are obviously capable of handling any body types comfortably. Also the weight of the backpack, filled up with my gear and some clothes, felt very comfortable and suitable.
For my first biking trip I decided not to go too far. In a nearby canyon called Gauchachschlucht I found perfect conditions. This canyon is very good for hikers and according to www.hikr.org it is rated as the only hiking path with high alpine conditions in southwest Germany. It tends to be very dangerous in some spots for bikers but in my case that means it would be great for testing under rigorous conditions. After all, the purpose of the test was to see how well it would protect my camera gear while also being comfortable enough to wear on a bumpy ride with having rocks on one side and a long way down on the other side.
The experience was awesome. The backpack felt very good and comfortable even after hours. I was able to get great shots and never had worries about the safety of my gear. If you ever come to southwest Germany, don’t hesitate to contact me. It will be my pleasure to guide you through this canyon.


During the summer I made several other tests, like going out with the bike in heavy rain or participating at a mountain bike downhill race. To be honest, at the beginning sometimes I did not pack the camera in the backpack. The challenges of bike racing can be extreme and I was hesitant to pack the camera while still testing the backpack for fit, comfort ergonomics and movement restraints.

That hesitation went away after a few months. With each new bike event I became increasingly confident that nothing would happen to my gear in case of an accident.
The camera and lenses joined me on my bike trips and eventually got the torture test. At the end of summer last year I had two major accidents. One was at a regular bike tour due to my speaking to my girlfriend instead of watching the streets. As a result I missed the path and started sliding sidewise down the hill. Luckily it was not too deep and I was able to separate myself from the bike. The separation was successful with but I walked away with a bruised red leg after it had taken a strong hit from my handlebars.  Another one happened going downhill in Ischgl, Austria. Just a few minutes away from my hotel in Austria I missed the path and crashed on a batch of loose rocks. This time I wasn’t able to separate from the bike. This resulted in a slide of a few yards, a scratched knee and shorts, a very dirty shirt, and some blue stains. The bottom line for the purpose of my test: in both cases nothing happened to my gear.

My testing continued through the summer and fall with the biking, leading up to the main event. Park the bike and grab the snowboard. The challenge: Take your DSLR with you on the snowboard without the risk of damage. Now it was time to find out of my friends at Boblbee had advised me well. I realized from the start that it is impossible to reduce the risk of damage to zero in winter conditions.

My first trips went out to France (Chamrousse ) and Switzerland (Flims Laax ). In France I simply checked if it is possible to go snowboarding with this kind of backpack. As with the bike it felt very comfortable and made me feel protected. Unlike the summer testing, the challenge now was wearing it on warm and thick winter closes with having a lot protection gear underneath.


In Switzerland I increased the testing up to free riding. For all of you who are doing skiing or snowboarding I don’t need to tell how cool it is to walk up the hills, enjoying the beautiful view and creating your own track in the deep powder snow afterwards.  For all those who never had this experience please get a guide and check it out. There is no better way to feel nature and pure freedom.


Going back to my test. As a snowboarder it is most likely that during a run you fall on your back. As a free-rider it is daily business. Sometimes you are simply trying to avoid damage due to an obstacle recognized too late or trying to do some cool jumps. Both very likely can go wrong. The only thing you than can do is tuck your arms as close as possible to your body. In the best case you simply fall into the snow causing a big cloud of snow. In the worst case it flips you around a few times. As you can imagine all of this happens several times.
Winter turned out to be a much harder testing environment than summer. Just as I suspected from the start, freezing temperatures and accidents on pure ice (or at least on very hard snow) are inevitable. Since I felt confident from the tests in summer no day passed without having my DSLR with me, safely carried in the Megalopolis. I had wonderful days in the snow. The whole season passed with   luckily no damage and no serious injuries —and then came the last ride on April 9th.

We were in Stuben (Austria) for a gathering of snowboard legends from all over the world. The sun was already shining strong and there was no blowing snow. I decided to go boarding for only one reason. I wanted to go boarding in shorts and a shirt. It’s a great experience and a lot of fun but it can lead to plenty of pain without your usual covering of protective clothing. Early in the morning I lost control on a spot which even in these warm conditions was still frozen. As mentioned before I quickly applied my closed tuck position, bringing my arms in tight to my chest to avoid injuries. In this case it was a mistake. I did not have any clothes on to protect me, so I picked up a nasty bruise.
I got a few nice pictures of my accident results and in those pictures you can see me smiling. Why? For starters, I survived. And (as a bonus) this particularly violent crash still had no damaging result on my camera gear!

I was able to capture awesome shots in areas where most likely only free riders have access, and when the occasional falls had me eating snow and ice while muttering a few chosen foul words as I dusted myself off I quickly learned there was no need to check inside the pack to see if I was now carrying a dead DSLR and shattered glass.

Pros and Cons.
The pros and cons segment of any review typically starts with the pros, but in this case, I have only one small con and here it is: I know that many DSLR shooters are accustomed to carrying heavily loaded bags full of cameras, lenses, filters and other equipment. This backpack is not big enough for all this. So, it definitely is not made for those who can’t leave home without a lot of gear. Maximum is one camera with a lens mounted plus two additional lenses. Using the Lumbar cassette reduces this issue a little bit.
That’s all I have as cons.

Pros: if you are a looking for an opportunity to take a DSLR with you while you are engaged in an action sport, this is the product you should consider. In terms of quality I strongly recommend this backpack. If you think back to all the impacts mentioned you won’t believe that even after this year the complete backpack has no serious damage except for a few hundred scratches. But those scratches  can simply be considered as a cool new design.
The pack is surprisingly comfortable for long periods of time under harsh (bumpy) conditions when you consider the fact that it is after all a hard shell carrying weight.
I know that this is not an average review for the normal needs of a photographer. But I hope that for all outdoor and extreme sport photographers this is has been valuable.

See you in the European Alps!

Sincerely,
Hendric

The “no response means go” strategy.

If you are in business you often have to deal with another team members. Sometimes a decision simply can´t be made because of one team member was not able to reply in a regular time. Not being able to make decisions slows down your efficiency, interrupts your workflow and simply prevents you from being successful. In my business life this happened several times until I found a solution that really works.

Once you send out an idea, a plan or just a guideline for the upcoming strategy you simply need to enter one single sentence. “If no reply till XXXXX at XX am it means that you agree to the plan”. I could not believe it. But after having this started years ago everybody involved has started to take my emails into the first row. Everybody knows that I have already a plan, or at least I plan to make a decision. If my team members don´t reply in time it means that they have agreed as well.

No worries. In average I don´t get any replies since most of the time they agree with my plans.

Some of you might think that this reduces the creativity of the team members. To be honest, I don´t care! We have to work on time, we have to decide fast and we have to do a perfect job. So if you can´t follow the speed of the team you might want to change your team. But please don´t ask me to wait for your input. But talking about team and writing a sentence like this does not really match. Of  course this guideline has to be used by every member. This does mean that of course also I have to reply in the given Time frame. At the end it´s also a sign of respect giving the your team player a high importance in the row of tasks you follow.

 

Looking for an easy way to upload photos to Facebook, even NEF?

When it comes down to an easy way to upload your pictures to a face book account you probably know that this used to be some sort of difficult. The upload opportunities on facebook are working pretty well as long as you have your picture in the right size and in a common format.

But you don´t need to care about this any longer. From www.obviousidea.com there now the “Easy Photo Uploader” is available. This little tool helps you to upload al your images (even if they are NEF) to your Facebook account.

All you need to do is open the Software, select your images and press “next”. The uploader starts working. In the next step it shows you existing albums where you can upload your pictures too. Of course you also can create a new one. Final step is the third next. As a result all you pictures now are in the folder you want them to. Of course also an information on the wall about your recently uploaded is posted (based on the setting).

This is the link to the software.
http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=145396065475860

But of course you also can see the product in action. Here is the link to a great youtube video.