It's been a while since I've sent anything out, but I figured now would probably be an okay time to send out an update to anyone who's subscribed.
Unlike Alaska, which has definitely had a white Christmas this year, Vienna, Austria has had a distinct lack of snow during my visit. Over my winter break from university, I've been fortunate enough to able to travel a bit and visit my girlfriend who lives here. Traveling internationally during the current global situation has been many things, interesting and nerve racking only scratching the surface. In the end, all the woes of traveling were worth it and I've been able to enjoy spending the holidays with my amazing partner.
This is also the first Christmas that I've not been with my immediate family to exchange gifts. It feels really strange and not quite like the Christmas season without all the traditions that I'm used to. No crepes on Christmas Eve, no reading of the biblical Christmas story, no large Christmas dinner with ham, potatoes, and pies afterwards. Instead, there have been some other fun traditions I've been able to take part in - browsing Christmas markets while sipping Punsch, opening Advent calendars a day at a time, and others. Overall it's been a really nice Christmas season, and even if I'm not able to be close to the ones I've grown up lovings, I'm happy to be able to spend time with someone else I love for these holidays.
One of the things that fascinates me most about Vienna is its public transportation service. It's amazing to me that I've been able to travel so many places within the city with a single ticket, and with rarely a waiting time longer ten minutes. Trams, trains, and busses have gotten me everywhere that I've needed to go - assuming I couldn't just walk in the first place. Compared to what I'm used to in the U.S., the city is so much more walkable and easy to get around than anything I've seen before. I've really enjoyed being able to see how the public infrastructure works together and how seamlessly everything works into the city's environment..
One of the engines that Austria's public transit uses frequently, the Siemens Taurus, does something interesting as it accelerates - due to how its engine is designed, it creates different tones as it switches to higher gears. You can hear an example of that here. My girlfriend and I both thought this was really interesting (we both have a bit of train nerd in us, though her much more so than I), but at one point I made the comment that it bothered me that the last note of the scale is left unresolved. It's now turned into a bit of a joke and I get teased about it a little bit every time we ride in a train pulled by one of those engines. There is a bit more information on these locomotives on Wikipedia, but unfortunately the dedicated page doesn't seem to be available in English. There is a bit of information on the general Eurosprinter page.
I've really enjoyed my trip so far, and am looking forward to the rest of it. Hopefully we'll be able to explore more outside of the city, but a lot of that depends on how COVID numbers look in the future. Regardless, I'm sure I'll have fun spending time around Vienna, riding trains and trams wherever I need to go.
Some other things I've been up to:
- Up until I left for Vienna, I participated in Advent of Code. AoC is a really fun set of programming puzzles that release over the course of December, just like an Advent calendar. I've wanted to come up with a similar set of puzzles that build on each other for a while now, maybe sometime I'll find the motivation and time for it.
- I've been learning a lot about the Domain Name System over the last few weeks, doing research for a project for UAF's Cyber Security Club. It's fascinating to me how the system as a whole works, creating user-friendly names for everywhere on the world wide web.
- I've tried to clean up and streamline my blog and publishing process a bit - hopefully things are a bit easier navigate for those who want to subscribe to updates.
- Some readers may notice that the name I'm publishing under has changed. No need to worry about that, if you're curious about it feel free to reach out to me.