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A quick visit to Verona

May saw myself travelling once more back to Europe. Before joining my Automattic colleagues in the hills around Florence for a meetup I spent a couple days in the city of Verona with Philip. The city was alluring, as well as all the talks we had while walking around the charming nooks and passages. We stayed right around porta Borsari, at the gates of the old Roman city.

It’s a fine place to just walk with no particular direction and let yourself discover places as you go. The history and character of the old town are captivating. The hand of Carlo Scarpa on Castelvecchio is quite beautiful to behold. The Roman Arena remains standing and proud — unfortunately there was no event at the time we were staying (other than one we desperately wanted to avoid) to experience in situ how the place sounds and resonates. Next time.

Munich and Dresden

This year has been hectic travel wise. So hectic, in fact, that I haven’t had a chance to post any pictures or thoughts from the places I’ve visited. So I want to start remedying that — at least so I can keep a mental map of where I’ve been to. First, back in March, I went to Munich for a user experience conference. It was my first time there and I enjoyed the city quite a bit. We were staying fairly close to downtown so it was easy to get around walking.

During our last day, Sheri, Takashi and I found a nice and cozy café place located at the Literaturhaus around old town. We stayed there for a bit before venturing again into the city to wander around the historical locations, royal palaces, and Bavarian food.

After Munich I went for a quick visit to Dresden where I stayed for a couple days with Héctor Solari, a dear friend. I had visited Dresden in 2011 with Belén during the autumn season. At the time the woods were entirely scarlet, ochre, and yellow — now that it was winter everything was instead completely covered in snow.

Dresden is a very calm and enjoyable city, not very dense in population. Héctor and Sabine took me for a hike towards the mountains surrounding the city to enjoy the sight down the valleys of the river Elbe. That’s the exact area where the artist Caspar David Friedrich painted some of his landscapes while he was living in Dresden.

Hawaii

The last team gathering from the Theme Division at Automattic took place on the island of Kauai, in Hawaii. As usual, it was a great time—full with conversations and good friends. (And good meals.)

For a scenery that is more or less present in our collective mind, it was captivating. What made the biggest impression on me was how deep and full the star field looked at night. The fact you could see stars reaching far away where the ocean meets the sky was remarkable. It gives a sense of depth that’s inspiring. Sadly, it’s something you can’t experience anymore near big cities—even when you go to the more remote places.

The sound also took me by surprise. We get so used to how the place we live in sounds, that we incorporate it into what we perceive as silence. Yet, this was a particular kind of silence—the absolute lack of any distant background noise. And you can clearly hear the difference.

Tonesque

During hack day—a day devoted to trying things and exploring ideas at Automattic—I created Tonesque, a script that allows you to get an average color representation from an image. It’s inspired by the Duotone theme, but I wanted to make something much easier to integrate with any theme. It also uses a bit of a different color processing logic. I’m putting it to test here for my image posts to see how well it behaves.

On a plane

No matter how many times you board a plane, there is always something peculiar that draws your curiosity. I think it’s a good thing to keep a sense of awe for all the things that occur around us—I’m still impressed by the fact we are flying through the skies.

I redesign this place more often
than I write on it.