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Bill Wisniewski: Everything in Moderation

The stacks of paper in Bill Wisniewski’s office attest to the time he spends working. But, like the rest of us, the BaBar technical coordinator balances his professional life by pursuing outside interests.

A man of peculiar tastes, Wisniewski squeezes in stimulation by going to the opera, sampling wine and studying Gothic architecture.

"I was always fascinated with the Middle Ages," he said. "Gothic architecture was a natural outgrowth of that."

Gothic architecture captured Wisniewski’s attention in grade school. Growing up in Brooklyn, he explains, there were not many buildings to supplement what he learned from books. Since then, Wisniewski has visited cathedrals, abbeys and churches all across France, England and Germany.

"In Burgundy it was interesting to see gothic elements that I’d read about, in action," he said "That’s when it clicked that what one art historian had written wasn’t crazy."

In grad school, a neighboring student would occasionally pass opera tickets to Wisniewski. But it wasn't until he saw Giuseppe Verdi's "Otello" with Plácido Domingo in L.A. that his affinity with opera took concrete shape.

"Looking back to Domingo's performance—in his prime—I think 'My God! If I'd only understood more,'" he laughs. "Soon after that, I became a season ticket regular"

As a result of living in California, Wisniewski developed a passion for wine. This began with impromptu get-togethers of Mark III experiment folks and grew into co-organizing the BaBar collaboration meeting tastings for a decade.

"The best opportunity for defining your taste occurs when you're with a batch of people," he said. "Everyone enjoys themself and learns from each other."

Wine, opera and Gothic architecture are not the only things that drive Wisniewski's vacation plans, but they certainly come up.

"The amount of time you can spend with anything on a first round is three or four hours—about the same length of time as an opera," he said, "though sometimes you run into five-hour Wagner operas that can leave you brain dead."

Matt Cunningham, SLAC Today, April 2, 2008

Above image: Bill Wisniewski (Click image for larger version.)