Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pittsburgh National Aviary

On Sunday, I visited the Pittsburgh aviary, which has around 600 birds on display.

The white-headed wattled lapwing.

Two inca terns .

Three strange birds. :-)

The female taveta golden weaver selects the male depending on the male's ability to build a nice nest.

A sloth, demonstrating the climber's wisdom that hanging straight downwards costs the least energy.

The bird is called "shrek", however I don't know its species.

A roseate spoonbill .

A red-crowned crane .

A blue-crowned pigeon, the largest kind of pigeons.

A hyacinth macaw flying.

Esther, the cormorant.

A visitor feeding a bird during a bird-feeding display.

An african penguin.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Meet me at the Pridefest

On Saturday, I went downtown to see the last day of the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh. However, when I got out of the bus close to Wood station (a train station for the light rail "T"), I saw this:

Well, it took me a while to realize that this is NOT the arts festival, considering that the first guy I met was a musician fluent at german! It's the pridefest .

After a good hour of pride I finally spent a few minutes at the arts festival (after I went in circles within downtown, it was harder to find than the pridefest).

The oldest remaining structure of Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh is the so-called blockhouse. Inside is a souvenir shop.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


That rabbit is tiny! I saw him on Monday evening at the intersection of Darlington Rd and Darlingotn Ct.

I had to follow this squirrel a while onto the golf course, after it took me too long to get my camera out.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday Night

On Saturday, I was shown around Shadyside by a nice japanese PhD student. We saw a pharmacy with a very famous name. :-)

On Chatham campus, we encountered a squirrel hill squirrel.

Finally, we went to a dance event at Chatham university.

Friday, June 13, 2008

More Pictures

After a dance class on Wednesday, I took a nightly shot of Hammerschlag Hall at CMU. The second picture shows the scenery during the day. The skyscraper in the background is the cathedral of learning , which belongs to Pittsburgh University. On Thursday, I got a shot of a squirrel while riding back home from CMU.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My office window

My office is in the basement, the with the window right in the middle.

Got a chain and tires? Here comes your new bike... :-)

I saw this on Sunday June 8th. Unfortunately, I had already bought a used mountainbike. In Pittsburgh, bikes are either mountain bikes or race bikes - other types are completely unheard of :-)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Delayed Bag with United Airlines

Today my delayed bag arrived from my United Airlines Flight to Pittsburgh on May 29th. Fortunately, nothing has been stolen from it!

Here's the short story of what happened:

* May 29th, 3pm: Flight UA941 has landed at Chicago O'Hare. I have to go through immigrations (which takes over an hour, since there are clearly too few immigration officers to deal with all the arrivals), and customs. Therefore I have to claim my luggage, bring it through customs, and check it in again. I do get both of the bags I had checked in in Germany, but one is half open. I suspect something might have fallen out, but since immigrations has taken so much time, I decide to check later when I finally arrive in Pittsburgh. I check in my bags again, go through security again and board the flight to Pittsburgh just in time.
* May 29th, 7pm: Flight UA5962 lands in Pittsburgh on time. At the baggage claim, I only find one bag. Mrs Holly P. from UA explains to me, my other bag is still in Chicago. I should describe my bag for her in order for her to write a report and leave a phone number (I give her the number of my future roommate), my bag would be delivered with the next flight from Chicago (that is, 10pm the same day). There is a second guy at the counter who is also missing a bag from the same flight.
* May 29th, midnight: my bag hasn't arrived
* May 30th, morning: says that my bag has not been located (huh... it was in Chicago lately...!). I call the customer service. An indian woman explains me that UA does not know where my bag is. I explain I need my bedding equipment. The woman explains that UA can reimburse some of the cost if I have to urgently replace the items in my luggage, but that whatever I buy, I should notify them of before buying. Talking on the phone takes about half an hour.
* May 30th, afternoon: I want to buy bedsheets and the like, and call the UA customer service. Since I am right at the shop, there is no public telephone. An agent from Verizon is friendly and allows me to phone from a phone they have on display in their shop. I end up talking more than 20 minutes (in the shop, with everybody listening) to the indian lady from UA customer service. I then go ahead and buy my stuff.
* May 31st: no sign from my bag
* June 1st: no sign from my bag (and I check hourly)
* June 2nd: no sign from my bag. I call an indian lady from UA customer service, to no avail (but again, over half an hour of talking).
* June 3rd: the information on has changed, it now says I should write a more detailed report, listing all items contained in my luggage (including purchase date, where purchased and original price) and give proof of ownership for items over 250$. I am busy doing that the whole afternoon, and contact my mother for the details of some items
* June 4th: I am ready to send off my report - however, I have to wait for mail collection on the next day
* June 5th: my report has been sent via registered mail. However, the information on has changed - it says my bag has been delivered! How comes I don't know about it? I call the UA customer service again. The indian woman says my bag has been delivered via a delivery company, and she will check with them. Then she comes back to me and tells me they are unreachable. I repeat the process a second time (with a different lady), again with the same result. I provide the ladies with my office telephone number, which I have gotten recently. They are located in a callcenter in New Delhi. Apparently, all calls to the customer service directly go to India.
* June 6th, 11am: The delivery service (called "Wespax") calls! They want to deliver my bag in the evening, but I should call them before they come.
* June 6th, 8pm: As agreed, I call the delivery service. Nobody picks up. I leave a message that I am home and ready to receive the delivery. I call them seven times that evening, nobody picks up.
* June 6th, 10pm: The bag is not there, nobody picks up the phone. I decide to wait at home nevertheless.
* June 7th, 9am: I call Wespax. For some reason, somebody picks up (Allen). He says he is sorry I didn't reach anybody, and that my bag would be delivered today between 10:30 and 14:00. However, they would call me before delivery to make sure I am there.
* June 7th, 11am: Nobody called, even though the delivery guy should be on tour already. I call Wespax. Allen says sorry nobody called me, but my bag would be underway.
* June 7th, 12 am: My bag is finally there! After 9 days!

Conclusion: Better don't fly United Airlines if your luggage is important to you. If you do, don't take any luggage to the check-in. If you do, make sure your luggage carries enough information, and that you have a telephone number in the U.S. where you are available all the time. Re-check the information/slips on your luggage when you re-check-in: the staff from United Airlines will not check.

Update (July 3rd)

I have received a cheque from united airlines for 47$ (expenses for the bedstuff)! Frankly, I was surprised they'd treat me fairly. I will stop my boycott and probably consider flying united airlines again.

Baker Hall - what a historic place to work in

For the next two months, I am a visitor of Prof. Sieg at CMU. He assigned me a nice office in Baker Hall (the office number is 139B) on the ground floor. The picture shows the main entrance of Baker Hall, which is one of the oldest buildings of what used to be the Carnegie Institute of Technology. The corridors are reminiscent of train stations in the 19th century, with steel handrails and tiles.


On this blog, I will collect experiences, pictures and other items from my trip to Pittsburgh, Pensylvania. Keeping it with the title, here's a first picture, showing an original Squirrel Hill Squirrel.