It's an Exciting World

The life and times of David Geisert

Paris, May 2023

Steph and I took the Eurostar from St. Pancras to Paris. The check in was a little hectic, but we made it through just in time for the boarding to start. We weren’t able to sit next to each other based on booking separately and the train having last minute seating shuffles, but we were close. Steph was stuck with a family of two young kids and a sick mom. I was in a seat next to a quiet older woman. We grabbed some food in the ‘dining’ car, which didn’t have seating or cooked food, just a snack bar. However, the snack bar was very well stocked and not crazy prices. I really enjoyed the travel, and it was way more convenient than flying.

We got in and headed to drop our bags off at the hotel before walking to the Tomb of Napoleon and the military history museum. We went through the sections on the French resistance during WWII, the section on the Royal arms and armor, the suits of armor, and the Napoleonic sections. We walked through a few more parks before heading back to the hotel. We grabbed dinner and a glass of wine at a local bar before calling it a night.

Saturday we started with l’Orangerie, which was not my favorite kinds of art. We followed that with Musee d’Orsay, which I really like. I’d been there once before, and it was as great as I remembered it being. I like the building and even though they had some of the same artists as l’Orangerie, I think the works displayed in Musee d’Orsay were ones I liked more. For example the Monets shown in Musee d’Orsay were the studies of light, like Le Pie, and the waterlily paintings were the ones with the other interesting features, like the famous bridge. I just think the artworks and format were better at Musee d’Orsay. We went through pretty much the entire museum, then grabbed a drink by the river. We headed to the Champs-Élysées and walked through the parks and saw some crazy fashion. I think the military boot style is a silly one. We headed up to Sacré-Cœur area for dinner and looked out over the city for a bit before heading back to the hotel.

Sunday we headed out of Paris to Versailles. It was easier to get there and back than I remember it being previously. I skipped the palace as it was looking packed and I’d been through it before. I decided to spend some extra time in the gardens and relax a bit. When Steph joined me we walked out to the Grand Canal and had lunch under some trees nearby it. Then we walked over to the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon. The gardens are massive in land area, and in vegetation. The hedge walls went up to 20ft in the air in some sections. Everything was also meticulously maintained. We walked for many hours through the gardens, including the quaint village. Steph made the perfect comment that it felt like a Disney resort park with how it was laid out perfectly to be visually stunning while not really being of any substance.

Monday Steph and I had a lovely breakfast at the cute cafe with all the teddy bears. Then we took a short walk along the river. We then headed into the Louve. We first went to the Denon wing, then made our way to the Sully wing, finishing in the Richelieu wing. We didn’t see everything, but we saw quite a bit. We headed straight to the train station afterwards and were there with plenty of time to spare.

London, Week 26

This week was extra short, as we got back from Zurich late on Monday and headed to Paris early Friday. I still got plenty done at work, even if it wasn’t what I was planning on doing.

Tuesday I had a nice soak using the bath bomb Steph got for me from Lush. They are Mario mystery bock shapes with a soap inside. I enjoyed the soak and listening to a good book.

We went to the Shard for afternoon tea to celebrate Steph’s position with the Zurich company, as well as my birthday a little. We were probably about one third of the way up the Shard, but the views were still amazing. The high tea was themed around peter pan, and they brought it out on a pirate ship.

Wednesday I had dinner with Nancy and Punit, while Steph went to the BSAC club and tried out her gear. She said it was packed and she got to talk to some great people. Nancy and Punit made some great fish curry, and samosas. I brought over some berries and smoothies. Punit seemed to like the smoothy, but Nancy politely only had a sip, and I think she was put off by the chunkiness.

I had a great playtest with Brian for their new game. I like the direction they are taking, and I’m impressed by the multiplayer.

Munich and Zurich

Two friends of ours, Michael and Yutong, contacted us a few weeks ago saying they had last minute business trips to Europe. One was gong to be in Munich on the weekend, and the other was going to be in Zurich at the start of the week. We had a late Friday flight planned for getting to Munich, but I was an idiot and forgot to take my passport with me. I had to go back to the house and missed the flight. I grabbed one the next morning and met them in Munich for lunch. It is nice that it is so easy to get around, and missing the flight wasn’t a huge deal. We had a great walk around the English Garden and saw the standing wave in the canal. It was the kind of thing that I think should happen in more places. We got to see a ton of little chicks of all sorts of birds, some of them we didn’t even know what they were. We drank at the Hofbrauhaus, and saw the Nymphenburg Palace. The gardens at the palace were amazing, and we especially liked the grotto and carriage collection.

Steph and I said bye to Michael, and hopped on the train to Zurich. We didn’t have nearly as much time in Zurich, but had the Lindt chocolate factory tour booked. We got in a little late, and had a great lunch with Yutong. It was so great to see her. I love how infectiously happy she can be. The chocolate factory tour was great, especially with all the included chocolate. They had three chocolate fountains, eight machines chopping up chocolate bars, eight different types of chocolate truffles, and two places to get chocolate squares. It was a truly decadent experience, and we all left on an incredible sugar high. I was shaking slightly from all the sugar. We chilled at the park for a bit before heading to an amazing Syrian dinner that Yutong suggested.

We said our goodbyes and trained back to the airport, and got back to the kitties around midnight. It was such a great weekend, especially because we got to see Michael and Yutong.

London, Week 25

Steph and I had a great climbing session with Punit. We did one of the gyms that I’d been to once before, and Steph hadn’t been to yet. They had some competition routes posted, and I was able to do up to 7, and then 9. 8 had a tricky part that I didn’t have the grip strength to get past. 10 and above I couldn’t even start on the wall. I had a great time of it.

We also went back to the diving club and are now thinking of doing a dive trip to Turkey in the fall. It would be great to go with the Turkish guy who is organizing the trip, as he knows the area really well. The dive club is full of really friendly people.

The restaurant Kaki is quickly becoming my favorite, as it has a dish that is very similar to our favorite dish in the bay, magic chili tofu. It is the same mix of spicy, sichuan peppercorns, ginger, garlic, and crispy chilis. I’m really happy we found this place. The crazy part is that it is one of the closest restaurants to our flat, and has a great view of the canal. We hadn’t tried it until recently as we have a few places that we pointed at and said, “That would be great once the weather is nice enough to sit outside.” We’ll have to try some of the other nearby places like that.

London, Week 24

We continue to see lots of young chicks of all sorts of birds in the canals and lakes. Steph and I went to a meeting of a London dive club together. It was great getting to meet people there, and to hear how the diving is around the UK. It is much harder to get to the water from London, since we don’t have cars. I suppose it would have been just as hard for us to get to the water without a car in California, but we had more of a network for that. Steph is planning a dive with them, but I won’t be joining for the first dive since they only had one extra spot. Their meetings are great, in the top room of a tavern, and they have all sorts of little ceremonies and traditions that make the meetings great.

One of my corworkers and I took most of the weekend to do a game jam with Mini Jam 132: Severed with the restriction of having multiple endings. We called the game Severed Heads, United Hearts. It uses AI NPCs that you must convince to join your side instead of your rival’s. They vote several times and you can chat with them to convince them to choose you over the rival, Henry. I was pretty happy with how it turned out, but it is obviously not the kind of experience that the game jam crowd would appreciate.

London, Week 23

Monday was May Day and Steph and I took advantage of it by going to Little Venice near Paddington. They had a lot of houseboats as well as floating restaurants there. They had a festival going on, but it was kind of generic festival booths with the small addition of being able to ride on the canal boats. The funny part is you can do that on normal days anyway, so it was just longer lines for the normal activities. We decided to continue the walk along the canal and found a gorgeous garden area next to the canal near Regents Park. It showed that the wisteria was starting to bloom, so I looked up places we could find some good wisteria vines. I found a place that we ended up visiting on Thursday afternoon, which was a gorgeous house completely covered in a huge wisteria vine. It was on a quaint alley that you get to through a gorgeous arch. It was one of the most picturesque houses I’ve seen in London.

In addition to all the flowers, there are all the baby animals. The main ones we see are the baby birds. I’ve seen a few different types and they are all adorable fluff balls.

Friday we went to the sauna and steamroom at better St. Pancras. Then in the evening we took a nice walk along the canal to dinner at the Feng Shang Princess, a restaurant floating on the canal. The walk there was really nice and we were surprised as we got to Camden Market that it wasn’t crazily packed with people. The food was mediocre, but the restaurant was a nice atmosphere. I probably wouldn’t go again or recommend it. It is probably more worth walking by than going to. On the way home there was a downpour like I haven’t seen since I lived in the southeast US. We both got hit pretty hard, and our pants got soaked. I had brought an umbrella from checking the forecast, so it wasn’t too bad. We ended up tubing it back, although I was pretty confused by the Northern line out of Camden station. We also saw later that the Northern Line going the other route had a train car start smoking and people had to break the glass to get out.

Saturday was a chill day and I played around with more AI. I tried the Alpaca and Vicuna models as well as some other spinoffs. I was amazed that they ran on my macbook, but they aren’t nearly as good as GPT4. They will get to be very useful soon, but aren’t quite there yet. The depth maps to 3D meshes worked pretty well. I had fun making a 3D version of my kingly picture from last week.

Sunday I went on a walk and saw another fox. It was on the other side of a fence and then it walked a little way down and poked through. We crossed the street together and went into a park that had some woods. Steph and I then went to Lightroom, an exhibit in the basement of the building I work in. It was ok, but it didn’t feel all that immersive compared to VR.

London, Week 22, Oxford and Blenheim

I had a pretty lonely week in London. People backed out of hanging out or didn’t respond when I asked. Steph was still in Zurich, so I just put all my time into the hackathon at work. They had outside participants come in to use the presence platform. That included Avatars, Dictation, Text to Speech, Anchors, Interaction Toolkit, Eye and Face Tracking, and Room Scanning. I was there because I was one of the main designers for Colocation and Room Scanning. I was surprised to find that my work featured in the public materials along with a photo of me.

I also published a stable diffusion animation article. I’m really happy with how the animations turned out:

Steph got back very late on Thursday, and on Friday we watched some Voyager. She was excited to be able to talk to some of the actors from that series, including one of her favorites. She compared the Tom Paris character to me, and herself to Belana Torres. It fits pretty well.

Saturday we headed out early for Oxford. We didn’t have any issues and got there mid-morning. We started with a nice coffee by the canal, then headed to the Ashmolean. The museum was being redone when I was last there, so it looked very different. The exhibits were the same to the ones I was able to see last time for the most part. I got a picture in front of Worchester, and in front of the kebab stand we used to go to and sent those to Robert, who I had studied with in Oxford over the summer.

Steph and I had a nice lunch in a little restaurant/grocer in a small alley. We then walked around the city before heading to Christ Church. We did the tour at Christ Church and relaxed for a bit at the AirBnB before going to a few pubs. We hit three pubs including the White Rabbit, and the Lighthouse.

We watched some Voyager that evening before passing out. The next morning we took it easy and then went to Blenheim Palace. We walked around the palace and gardens, but the main event was the joust. I was hoping for an actual competition, but it was a performance. The costumes and horses were better, as were most of the jousting acts. They weren’t as cheesy as the renfair in California. The stunt riders in California were better.


Steph was working in Zurich for two weeks, so I visited her on the weekend between.

I had an early morning flight on Saturday so I got up at 4:30 and headed to the airport via Victoria station. There weren’t any major issues getting in so I met up with Steph at the train station in Zurich in the morning. I was in a desperate need of a coffee so we found a cafe before heading up the mountain nearby. We took the trolley up to the lookout point, and had a long walk through the park. There were some great views of the lake and Zurich. We walked through the park to the next trolley station and went back to twon for a nice lunch next to the lake.

At the lake we walked along the waterfront and saw some of the migratory birds that were just returning. They were great to watch as we sat by the lake and had a lovely lunch. We continued our walk to downtown Zurich, stopping at the opera house square. We also stopped by the cathedral, which had some pretty windows made with slices of geodes. We’d wanted to go to the Lindt factory, but hadn’t made reservations in time and they were sold out.

We relaxed a bit at the hotel before heading to dinner at one of the great fondu restaurants. It was delicious as expected, and we walked along the river a bit before heading back.

The next day we med up with Amy and Adelaide for coffee. They brought their young daughter Heloise, who was adorable. She was very active for most of the time until she passed out in the stroller.

Then we headed to the park north of the train station next to the museum. It was really nice and in full bloom. We wanted to take the glass top boat along the river and lake, so we went to the train station to get the right ticket. While there we walked around a food truck area that had some interesting international food. Some of it was interesting because of how vague it was, like the “Asian Food” stand.

We went along the river in the boat, then out onto the lake. The marathon was winding down, but it was still nice to see everyone along the lakeshore. We did the full round trip and it was really lovely.

We then wandered the alleyways some in search of some postcards, but eventually made it back to our hotel and decided to just relax until dinner time.

We went to a beer hall for dinner, and it was a great atmosphere. The food was mediocre, but the beer was delicious. That is what I would generally expect from a beer hall.

Monday I went in to the Zurich office, although I had to hang out at Starbucks for an hour before I could get the right permissions. It was pretty easy, and I went to have lunch with one of the teams I had worked with before. The office there was very small compared to the London offices.

Steph and I had dinner at a nice Vegan place before I hopped on the train for the airport. My flight was somewhat delayed, so I got back a little after midnight. The kitties were so happy to have me back and were amazingly cuddly.

London, Week 21

Steph flew to Zurich for this week, and it was a hard week. Everyone at work was getting nervous about the planned layoffs that we expected to happen on Wednesday. Monday I was hoping to have some people over to play around with AI. I had stayed up to 2am the night before getting my new animation system working, but everyone ended up pulling out last minute. It made for a really lonely night since Steph was also gone for the first time since we’d gotten to London.

Tuesday was better with some MTG Commander, and I had a great time playing the deck I always play. I didn’t win, but I did make everyone go after me a few times. I purposefully didn’t play the deck to the limit, as some of the things it could have done just wouldn’t have been fun.

Wednesday was the reckoning at work. It was a hard day. I still got a sizable amount of work done, despite it all. The announcements were timed for US West Coast friendly times, so it was a lot of waiting for everyone. I had some coworkers back to my place and we played Codenames. I really enjoyed having people over and chatting with people over a few drinks at a bar a little later on. I came home somewhat relaxed and pretty sure I wasn’t getting laid off. I also got to have some much needed conversations with my siblings on Wednesday afternoon. I had a night of refining my AI animations a bit more, and then had a long soak in the tub. Archer cat was worried about me and wanted to cuddle me, he is so sweet.

I called my parents the next day, and the prepared for the Zurich trip this weekend to visit Steph while she is there. I also relaxed with the Archer kitty while listening to a book in one of my favorite series.

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