Monday, December 18, 2006



Like the title of my post says, I made Christmas cookies over the weekend.

Making cookies is one of those odd things that is very good for the soul and should be attempted at least once a month.The magical equation of simple ingredients combined with warmth go on to create something that makes everyone feel good and be reminded of good times past. I forget who said that "Baking is love" but I believe in my heart that this is the truth.

Baking is also work.

Seriously - after about fifteen minutes of kneading cookie dough with my hands, my forearms began to burn like I was at the gym. If you ever meet a professional baker you will note they all have arms and shoulders like a linebacker from years of kneading dough. Remember how fast and strong Grandma was when she snatched your arm when you were screwing around and she's had enough? That's from making cookies. Here's a little known fact - unless you wear gloves to knead your dough, you are leaving something of your person behind in the dough. Some of you may be grossed out by this fact but it could explain why when you try to replicate a recipe from someone else, be it Mom, Granny, Aunt Nancy, or whoever it never tastes quite the same.

I generally like cooking but I don't bake as often as I would like. The best part of baking is having something wonderful to share with others. Next time you are invited to a dinner, bake a good loaf and bring it along. When your hosts ask the inevitable "where did you get this bread?" you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have created this with your own hands and that your work has gone on to satisfy someone.

I bid you Peace.


Friday, November 10, 2006

The Lounge - Updated

*Check out the new updated photos!*


I am of the opinion that everyone should have a Lounge. Not "just like mine" but somewhere that they can go to and be surrounded by comfortable things to be able to pause and enjoy life for a while. Some guys call this their "den" or "cave" but I like the the way the word "lounge" kind of rolls off the tongue. It's a fairly accurate description of what I do there - I "lounge".

Being a dedicate lover of pipes, cigars, and all things tobacco-related, I have a special room in my home all to myself so that I can enjoy my pastime and not bother another soul (particularly the non-smoking woman I married!) I have my bookshelves so that I have immediate access to my books and novels - another of my consuming pastimes. There is NO television! I dislike television as a rule and having some way to watch DVDs and films down there woudl ensure that I would probably never reemerge! There's a small stereo that I can listen to my music on.

The decor is simple, yet refined. I have numerous wooden vitrines lining the walls which hold my books, my pipes and tobaccos, my flotsam and jetsam. Seating is provided by a big dark brown comfy club chair and there is a leather couch for guests and for when I want to take a nap. Lighting is indirect - I have this gorgeous lamp that I simply cannot describe. My pipe vitrine is lighted to highlight my collection. I also have a Lava Lamp. Tables are wicker and wood chests that help with storage. I have a writing desk with a banker's lamp.

About fifteen square meters of tiled, heated, windowed bliss in the basement. No cats wandering in and annoying me (unless I want them to, of course.) No wife wandering in and annoying me (unless I want her to, of course.) My wife respects this space of mine so much that she actually KNOCKS before coming in! Just one of the many reasons I married her.

Here is where I spend time in the evenings, winding down from the stress of the day. A fine pipe, a cup of coffee or sometimes a whiskey, and a book in my hand. No phones, no computer, just solitude.

I hope that you have such a space.



Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Coffee and Insanity


Don't get me wrong - I love coffee. I mean REALLY love coffee. My life would be without joy and color if there was no coffee.

I hate coffee snobs.

Seriously - those people who go to fabulous lengths to create the ultimate cup of coffee drive me batshit. Buying the finest
unroasted Guatemalan beans that were picked by the hands of blind virgins. Spending thousands of dollars on home roasting machines so that they have unlimited control on how much or little the beans are roasted. Using only Japanese iceberg water to brew with. Unbelievably complex and expensive brewing systems that look like something that was either designed by Salvador Dali or taken from a BASF research facility.

All that over a cup of coffee? But that's not the worst of it. These are the same people that scoff at a cup of "normal" coffee that I make at my house. To these gourmets of Java - sorry that I'm just not that interested in how intricately one can create a cup of coffee. And fuck you for insisting that I should also care that much and being rude enough to refuse what I made!

Coffee has been simplified for speed in my house. I have a Senseo machine, which has sped up the " I need a cup of coffee" fix to about two minutes. It makes a decent cup of joe - nothing to write home about but it's drinkable. One of the big negatives about the Senseo machine is that the pads are painfully expensive. This is offset by the fact that there is virtually no waste. I tried making a cup with a just-used pad and got a cup of coffee similar to what you get when you rinse out the cup after the last few drops have been sitting in the bottom since the morning.

If I REALLY want something special (and I have the time) I'll go the "grind my own beans and use the French Press" route. Otherwise I'm pretty easy to satisfy coffee-wise.

As a counterpoint to my argument I will say that most fo the coffee that you get in the States just plain sucks. Like the "bottomless" cup of coffee that one gets when at fine dining establishments such as Shoney's and Denny's - more in common with a glass of weak tea than coffee. For this reason I can barely understand the desire to go through with the aforementioned time-consuming and arcane ritual of making coffee .

In the mean time, I hope that you cup - whatever you may be drinking - fills your need.



Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Phone Holder...


Just trying to do my part and make the 'net a more surreal and disturbing experience for the rest of you. No need to thank me - cash donations will suffice.

What was I saying?

My damned handsfree device in my car is acting up. This is most annoying, as my handy (that's "cell phone" for you Americans) is recharged in teh handsfree cradle and I didn't notice that the thing hadn't been charging for a week until I was on the phone with my boss who is in the U.S. Now I have to go to the techies and explain that, no, it ISN'T my phone (I tested it in my colleague's car with his device) and could you please just fix the damned thing!

Another annoying aspect is that it seems like the handsfree pillar for my model of automobile is a temporary solution. Every other car I have seen with the device installed has some sort of permanent anchor while mine is a "fits oddly around the console rendering one of my cupholders useless and flopping about" model. I will bitch to the technicians about this but it will most likely be to no avail.

If I weren't such a goof, I would spend the buxx to get the Bluetooth module for my device and tnen I could use any of my phones and not have to worry about missing a call EVER AGAIN!!!!. Being cheap sucks.

Sign of the times...



Monday, September 25, 2006

Energisch aber Sinnlos


I read somewhere that to be a successful and well-read blogger, you need to make sure that you update your content at least five times a week, if not every day.


Every day.

Problem is, I don't usually have so much to write about - unlike most of the cool bloggers out there, my life is relatively humdrum and no one wants to read about my ongoing adventures in CorporateLand. Another hurdle is that I am not blessed with copious amounts of free time. A good example is my pal Joe over at book of joe (see the links). As an anesthesiologist, he tends to have buckets of time to not only come up with cool things to write about, he has people who assist him in his "cool hunting". Obviously, this makes it a lot easier to have a fresh and interesting blog on a daily basis.

Anyhow, my boss just bought an iPod nano for her travels. Pink. With "music soothes the savage beast" engraved on the back in Latin. I have considered buying such a device, mostly because I have an overwhelming desire to belong to the Apple Elite but I hesitate only because I really do not have the opportuinty to isten to that much music. I also don't download music from the 'net - an expensive and sometimes quasi-legal activity that I would rather not waste my limited bandwith with.

I still think iPod's are still pretty cool though. Meaning that they are probably passé and I should avoid them at all costs to avoid being labeled as such.

The point of all this? There is no point.

But I did update! ;)


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Grill Season!


The weather has finally cleared up enough for me to start enjoying one of my favorite hobbies - grilling. some of you may find this to be more of a way to cook things but for me it is truly an engaging, encompassing hobby - a benifit of which is tasty grub when all is said and done.

For those of you who may want to know, I am a charcoal-griller. And when I say "charcoal" I mean it - no pressed wood-junk briquettes in my grill, only bits of wood that have gone through the charcoa-creationl process fire my grill. Call me a snob if you will - I don't care! ;) My grill - my rules!
Mind you, gas is very practical and efficient but I feel that it lacks a certian amount of artistry. If the correct procedures are followed, you can get consistent results every time. Which is exactly what I don't want! I like that fact that there is a variation between meals, even if I follow recipies and procedures to the letter - each time is an adventure.

My Equipment:
  • Weber 47cm "One Touch Gold"
  • Weber Charcoal Chimney Starter
  • Cuispino Pro 18" Tongs
  • El Cheapo Welding Gloves
  • Thuros Grate Cleaner
This is a good basic start - I want to evenually get a remote grill thermometer and a few other small items but this is enough to create some really good food. The best tip that I could give to anyone is to go out and get Steven Raichlen's series of books, starting with "How to Grill". Steven does a great "how to" without making you feel like an idiot and his recipies and techniques challenge you to think of grilling as something more than just a device to burn chicken with and to warm up tube steak and burgers of questionable content.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


ENFJ- The Teacher
You scored 100% I to E, 42% N to S, 23% F to T, and 21% J to P!
Your type is known as the teacher, or the educating mentor. You also belong to the larger group, called idealists. You tend to bring out the best in other people. You lead without seeming to do so. People are naturally drawn to you. You expect the very best from people which takes the form of enthusiastic encouragement which is so charming that people try their best not to disappoint you. You share your personality type with 3% of the population.

You need to feel a deep and meaningful connection to your romantic partners, and go to great lengths to understand and please your mate. Harmony is vitally important to you, and you often put others' needs before your own. You have a pretty thin skin and are easily hurt. Although you strive for harmony, when your values or ethics are violated, you can be very emotional, confrontational, and even punishing. However, you are very insightful about the underlying cause of conflicts, and an excellent communicator, so you have the tools to bring about a quick and peaceful resolution as long as you can keep control of your facilities. You want to be appreciated for your thoughtfulness and compassion. You need your partner to make a real effort to get to know you. Above all, you need to be able to express your feelings and have them taken seriously.

Your group summary: idealists (NF)

Your type summary: ENFJ

Friday, May 12, 2006

My French Automobile


Yes, you read that correctly - I drive a French car.

I'm proud of it.

The first image that goes through everyone's mind when they think of the words "French Automobile" is that horrible little piece of shit that Renault foisted on the American public back in the late '70's - "Le Car (aka Renault 5)". Some older readers might be reminded of the venerable Citroen 2CV series "The Duck" - basically France's answer to the VW Bug. In general, words such as "reliable", "well-built", and "attractive" were never associated with "French Automobile". This was not without good reason - French cars in the '80's were unreliable, ugly little rust buckets that didn't last more than a couple of years and were purchased mostly by hard-up college students who needed a ride and had $50 in their pockets.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case.

In the late '80's, all the major French automobile manufacurers came to the conclusion that they had better do something quick to assure their continued survival in the 21st century. French automobile companies have had a long a distinguished history of bringing significant technological advancement to the public. Citroen designed and marketed the first automobiles with front-wheel drive, front wheel independent supension, and unibody design - and this in the mid 1930's! Peugeot was responsible for thdevelopmentnt of the Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) and 4-cylinder inline engines for racing purposes back at the turn of the century and Renault is credited with designing the worlds first hatchback, patenting the first turbocharger, and numerous other advancements.

But they never sold well in the U.S. after the energy crisis of the '70's was over.

When it was time for me to select a company car, I knew that I wanted a station wagon* - comfortable like a sedan with lots of room for schlepping stuff. I looked at all the available authorized brands ad was only really interested in Opel, as they had the new Astra model coming out and it had been completely redesigned. The Opel dealership did not want to play ball and spent a great deal of time jerking me around about fleet packages and prices. My boss told me to go see the Renault guy, as he had given her a fabulous deal and she was delighted with her Scenic.

But that would mean owning a French car. I was sure there was some law against this for American citizens.

I went anyway - the worst that could happen is that I would walk away and have to deal with the prick at Opel. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. I now own a Megane GT with the 1.9l diesel. Comfortable like you cannot believe, packed with cool goodies like a keyless entry/drive system, pushbutton starter, xenon headlamps, navigation, etc. All this for the same money as I would have dropped at Opel for less car.

Is my Megane ugly? Yes and no - I see it more like that gap in Madonna's two front teeth. It takes a while to get used to but eventually you figure out that it' sexy. Beautiful in a decidedly unconventional manner.

Dare to be different!



*There is no stigma in owning and driving a station wagon here in Europe because there is no market for small pickup trucks.

What Happened?


Has it been over a month? Annoyingly enough, I have been bogged down with "work" and it has made my already permanent cynical mood even more intense and I really had nothing to write about other than various gripes and complaints about my life in general.

Well, on with the show....



Thursday, April 06, 2006

Radio GaGa...


Don't get me wrong - I love living here in Germany. But like many expatriates, there are a few things about my host country that annoy me to no end.

Like the radio.

Not only is there absolutely no reception, there is simply no variety. You get either:

1) Top Forty blended with evergreens up to the Seventies

2) Schlager. This is like schmalzy folk music that is popular if you are over the age of fifty and have lived your whole life in a tiny village.

3) Stations that combine five minutes of classical with four hours of discussion about how global warming will impact the amount of taxes we'll all have to pay into our healthcare plans, followed by five minutes of African drumming. Basically all the shitty bits of NPR.

That's it. There are a few small stations that specialise in things like dance & techno but their broadcast range is roughly on par with a strong walkie-talkie. Combine that with the fact that the same station can be found on about four places on the dial and you have a radio wasteland.

I know that there are some of you out there that are saying "what about Internet radio?" Unlike the States, Internet access costs a bucketful of money and things like High-Speed DSL aren't available in cities outside of Berlin and Hamburg. Flat Rate? Forget about it. Satellite radio is a myth that we hear about on the 'Net.

And if you think THAT'S bad, don't get me started about television!



Tuesday, March 28, 2006

And what did YOU do last night...?


I thought it was the weather that was making me tired. I guess it's the overall lack of sleep that I seem to suffer from...

At the sobering hour of 0245, my cat Apollo felt the need to bring the All-Powerful Can Opener, He with the Mighty Opposable Thumbs (that's me) a LIVE sacrifice in thanks for feeding him.

E. was not happy. Not. Happy.

So I get to spend the next 45 minutes crawling around on my hands and knees trying to herd this terrified mouse into a glass from the bathroom so I can take the poor sinner back outside. While I'm doing this, I have to fight back the cats who want to kill the mouse and deal with my wife who is alternating shrieking (when the mouse runs towards her) and laughing (when my ass is in the air while tring to use a broomstick to un-wedge the mouse from under the closet).

Great. And I wonder why I'm tired.

Seriously, I love my kittehs - I'm thrilled that they have the opportunity to be the mini-predators that they were designed to be. I'm less than thrilled that they have to do this sort of shit in the middle of the night. At least I don't have to walk them at 3 a.m. to prevent them from shitting on the rug in front of the door like my friend had to do with his Golden Retriever.

Moving right along...

I wonder if this kid did this just because the popular kids didn't ask him to go to Daytona?
Wal-Mart Spring Break!



Monday, March 27, 2006

Man, am I tired.


Monday again and I'm about ready to fall face forward into the keyboard. It's gotta be the weather.

Since I'm talking about being tired, maybe I should mention that I'm tired of a lot of things -

I'm tired of my house being a eternal construction site. Seriously, it seems that as soon as one area of the house is finished (or near completion) E. starts looking at another area. Kitchen done? Well, let's start on the bedroom! I love navigating the obstacle course of boxes at 06:00 in the dark trying to get to the coffee machine while needing to take a leak.

I'm tired of people coming to my desk and thinking that I have nothing else better to do than to take care of their needs. I guess that the stack of processes and the 237 windows open on my desktop mean that I've got plenty of time to take care of your meeting room request that will turn up nothing because I've mentioned about a thousand times that a week lead time is needed if you want to find anything.

I'm tired of having to clean the catbox every damned day. Kitties - it's Spring, the door is open all night, can't you two shit outside? And while I'm talking to the kitties, quit clawing the frigging orange chair! If you keep your claws out of the orange chair, I won't feel compelled to try to drown you with the tiny water pistol that I keep on the bedside table.

I suppose that it could be a whole lot worse. On with the day!



Friday, March 24, 2006

Again, we begin


Sometimes you have to take a look at what you are doing and realize that it's time to start fresh.

That's what this is.

Not like anyone actually SAW the old post but it makes me feel a whole lot better to do this. Changing the "green" format was necessary as well.

On with the show...