This and That

Random bits of my life

Brno, Czech Republic

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 27, 2017

I went to Brno in the Czech Republic last week on a business trip, to meet my boss (yes, she lives in Brno — welcome to the modern world of remote working) and her team. Brno is the Czech Republic’s second largest town (about 600,000 people), the capital of Moravia, and the center for a lot of high-tech R&D. Its eleven universities, five of them specializing in IT, provide an abundance of student labour!

This is the Vegetable Market in the old part of the city, very close to where my apartment hotel was located. I was lucky with the weather. It was mostly sunny, some clouds, no rain. I took these photos with my new mirrorless camera, a Sony A6300 with 16-50mm kit lens.

Vegetable Market Square, Brno

Špilberk Castle, literally down the road from where I was staying. It’s surrounded by a network of paths that are popular with joggers. Actually, the joggers stick to the gravel paths rather than the cobblestones.

Špilberk Castle, Brno

At the end of my first day at Red Hat, Brno, I went out with a couple guys I had met at NHO in Munich for beer. Afterwards we walked around the castle at night. They told me that Brno is a very safe city and I noticed lots of people wandering around after dark or congregating in groups and drinking beer. Technically, it’s not legal to drink in public places but if you’re not creating a disturbance, the police tend to ignore it.

Špilberk Castle, Brno

Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, literally next to the apartment hotel where I was staying.

Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, Brno

Brno’s most famous son is Gregor Mendel, the geneticist. He was abbot of St. Thomas’s Abbey and conducted his plant-breeding experiments in the abbey’s garden.

St Thomas's Abbey, Brno

Art nouveau building on Verevi street, #14. I passed by this building every day on the #12 tram to Technology Park, so on my last day I walked along the tram route for several kilometers and photographed buildings.


Typical painted apartment buildings that you see all over the Czech Republic. They’re very cheerful and when the sun is shining, the streets look like boxes of pastel macaroons.

Painted Brno apartment buildings

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Munich Architecture

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 27, 2017

Munich architecture is a very interesting mix of styles. This colourful glass wall (“Bühnenfenster,” an installation by Olafur Eliasson, of Narima glass, by Schott) is the back of the Bavarian State Opera’s rehearsal hall.

Rehearsal Hall of Bavarian State Opera

The Max Planck Society, a research center, has a very cool interlocking stone sculpture flanking its main entrance.

ax-Planck-Gesellschaft, Generalverwaltung, Munich

Across the the street from the Max Planck Society is the Bavarian State Chancery, which was destroyed during WWII and rebuilt in steel and glass. It’s so wide that I would have needed an extreme wide angle lens to photograph the entire building, so you’ll have to settle for the middle section.

Bayerische Staatskanzlei (Bavarian State Chancery), Munich

The New City Hall (Neues Rathaus) from the outside, below the tower. Our guide told us that the glockenspiel performance isn’t worth organizing your schedule around, but if you happen to be passing through Marienplatz just before 5 p.m., you might as well hang around for a few minutes to watch the mechanical jousting knights.

Neues Rathaus, Munich

Courtyard of the new city hall, in typical neo-Gothic style.


Highly decorated oriel windows in the courtyard of the new city hall.


Accordionist playing in what we would have assumed was a beer garden. Our guide told us that to be considered a beer garden (a place where you are welcome to bring your own food as long as you purchase the drinks), it has to be a permanent set-up. Since the tables and umbrellas are only out in good weather, apparently it’s not a true beer garden. The accordionist let out a yelp after each song so that people would notice and applaud.


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A High-Level View of Munich

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 26, 2017

Frauenkirche, or Church of the Virgin Mary, photographed from the Neues Rathaus tower.

Frauenkirche, from Neurathaus tower

I was in Munich last week, as a participant in Red Hat’s New Hire Orientation (EMEA) program. We spent two days watching presentations and were presented with our brand new red fedoras! Well, most of them got the hats. Those of us with very small heads will have to wait for our to be delivered.

On the second day, after the presentations, a number of us went back to Marienplatz in the old historic center of Munich to do some touristy things. These photos were taken from the tower of the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), which is accessible by elevator for 2.50 Euros.

St. Peter’s Church also has a tower with a magnificent view. You pay 3.00 Euros for the privilege of climbing 300 stairs to the top. It is a bit higher than the Neues Rathaus tower, however!

St. Peter's Church, Munich

View of the Alte Rathaus, which actually dates back to the 14th century, despite its “new” look.


Looking down into the Neues Rathaus courtyard.


Tower of the Theatine Church (aka the Yellow Church) on the left, with the Siegestor (Victory Arch) beyond.


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More from the Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 11, 2017

“RGB3D” (Ido Scherf and Shai Shtarker, Israel) was a clever installation. At first glance it looked like a pretty but meaningless display of coloured lightbulbs behind a fence. In front of the fence were three steps, coloured red, blue, and green. When viewed from the top of each step, the lights spelled the name of the colour. I took this photo from the RED step.

|RGB3D, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

“Moon Haze” (Feng Jiacheng and Huang Yuanbei, PR China), or the far side of the moon, literally. I walked around it to the other side to photograph the inflated moon at a reasonable distance, away from the crowds. I included the guy with the phonecam to show scale. The moon is sitting on the 3,000-year-old Broad Wall, one of the ancient city walls of Jerusalem.

Moon Haze, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

I’ve seen some weird things in the Muristan but “Oasis” (Gil Teichman, in collaboration with Nitzan Refaeli and Ronen Nadjar, Israel) tops them all. The installation “includes a special performance of favorite elephants from previous festivals.” Previous festivals? Does that mean previous Jerusalem Festivals of Light? Did anyone see the elephants performing? I saw inflated elephants with a soundtrack of elephants trumpeting. If someone managed to get elephants into the cramped streets of the Christian Quarter, that would have been quite a logistcal feat.

"Oasis," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Batei Mahsei has had some stunning video-mapping installations projected onto its distinctive arched facade in the past. This was not one of them. “Dream Machine,” by Liron Gavish, Shootzi, Tal Heuberger, and Ido Ramon, Israel. It was pleasant but not stunning.

Dream Machine, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

“Drawn in Light,” by Ralf Westerhof, The Netherlands, was simple but surprisingly effective. The three-dimensional wire house, trees, and other elements, suspended as a giant mobile, comprised a constantly changing landscape. The house’s rotation revealed new details and perspectives. It’s difficult to show scale in a photo. According to the description, the installation was 13 meters wide.

Drawn in Light, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

“Cathedral of Mirrors” (Mads Christensen, Denmark) was an interactive installation with motion sensors. The colours shifted and pulsated when people walked between the columns or touched them.

Cathedral of Mirrors, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

“Fly,” by Itzik Ilus, Israel. Clear plastic birds lit by coloured lights. This year the route was marked by orange arrow signs. They were much more difficult to locate and follow than the strings of LED lights usedat  past festivals. Please bring back the light strings! You have no idea how many people missed the sharp right turn down the stairs to Batei Mahsei, walking from the Cardo to the Hurva by accident.

"Fly," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

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“Solaris,” Hurva Synagogue – Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 6, 2017

“Solaris” is a video-mapping installation by Visualsupport, Poland, incorporating the Hurva Synagogue. The festival brochure describes it as the show’s “world premiere in Jerusalem.” It was pretty, but not amazing. Scroll down for the video.

Solaris, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Solaris, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Solaris, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

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Concert and Candles in Zedekiah’s Cave – Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 6, 2017

Where else could you see a piano concert at the bottom of a 2000-year-old cave? “Interactive Shadows” (Studio Insight, Guy Romem, Israel) refers to the cameras set along the path to the bottom of the cave. The cameras project images of the viewers on the walls, with different effects (line drawings, coloured silhouettes, etc.).

The musicians are listed as Yoel Shemesh and Achiya Asher Cohen Alloro. I have no idea who was playing that evening. At one point there was a loud cracking sound. The pianist, without missing a beat, looked over his shoulder at a bench that had collapsed in the middle from the weight of the children.

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017


Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Interactive Shadows, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

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The Tribe – Fire Dancers at the Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 4, 2017

Fire and dance show called “The Tribe” (Lital Natanzon, Israel), in the open auditorium on Tsanchanim Road. I can’t say that I noticed any characters or encounters with figures from other worlds, but it was fun to watch. There are only two performances, at 8:30 and 9:15. I recommend you try to get there early, maybe first on your agenda, because it does get crowded.

Long exposures are not easy when handheld at a significant distance.

The Tribe, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

I call this one Headless Nick. Strange effect!

The Tribe, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

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Peacock and Greek Folk Music – Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 4, 2017

It’s that time of year again! I love photographing the annual Festival of Light in the Old City. This is the festival’s ninth year. I think I’ve missed only one.

The Peacock (Tim Scofield Studios, USA), was one of my favourite installations. It’s located on Chabad Street, close to Zion Gate. Comprising more than 14,400 individually addressable LED lights, it measure more than 12 m. wide and 6.5 m. high.

"Peacock," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

"Peacock," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

I think I was playing with longer exposures when I took this photo.

"Peacock," Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

Here’s a video of the Peacock:

Two Israeli musicians playing Greek instruments. The bowed instrument is a lyra creta and the other is an outi.

Greek Folk Music, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2017

In this video I shot, the guy on the right has bells attached to his bow. It’s very cool how he’s able to shake his hand to make them ring in time to the music.

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Flowers from Work

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 4, 2017


When I got a text message this afternoon about a flower delivery, I thought that it might be a hostess gift from my sister-in-law, who is staying with us for a couple nights. Baruch thought the flowers might be from friends wishing me luck when I start my new job at Red Hat tomorrow. I was stunned to discover they were from Red Hat. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an employer doing that!

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From Cisco to Red Hat

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 19, 2017


Same satellite dish, as NDS and Cisco. I’m not sure whether this dish will be around next year, so I’m glad I got these photos. If you’re wondering how I did it without a helicopter, HR asked me to record the changeover of the signs and dishes. I spent two days taking photos on the roof and in front of the building.


Just before Passover I was laid off by Cisco. It was hard, not having looked for a job, um, ever…. Seriously, my previous jobs all fell into my lap. Of course I had the usual worries about my age, my less-than-fluent Hebrew, and my hodgepodge training. I sometimes tell people I went to YouTube Uni to learn engineering. I decided to return to technical writing because (a) there are way too many good engineers looking for jobs and I can’t compete with eng. degrees and certs, (b) I stand out more as a tech writer with Integration&Testing and DevOps experience than I do as an engineer who can write well, and (c) bottom line: I can earn more as a senior technical writer than as a junior engineer.

I started interviewing at two companies, a well-known automotive tech company in Jerusalem and Red Hat in Raanana. I was concerned about the killer commute, living in Maale Adumim and not having a driver’s license, but Red Hat’s policy is to allow workers to work from home, especially if they live far from the office. They made me a very good offer and I’ve accepted.

I finish at Cisco on May 28 and start at Red Hat on June 5. Sometimes things really do work out for the best!

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