Fußball Fieber

Oh man, the drunkies are going to be at it all night tonight.

I took a large part of the afternoon off today after getting frustrated at work with my internal and external service providers and chilled out at one of our favorite local Biergärten called “Alte Linde.” Sarah and I staked out a table in view of one of several TVs set up specifically for viewing Germany’s World Cup game today against Argentina. Here are the pics and a video showing the crowd’s reaction to a German goal.

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23¼ days — what would you do?

So, my department at work recently confirmed and verified its commitment to a long-standing guideline by the Betriebsrat (“works council”, if that means anything to you)* to not pay out any accumulated overtime in monetary form. The only way to balance out a positive hourly balance in my overtime “bank” is to take time off.

I currently have 190½ hours sitting around waiting for me do something productive, fun, responsible or goofy with them. What would you do, and why? I am interested in your feedback. Please post it here. I am kind of at a loss. Here’s what I’m kicking around in my head:

  • cleaning up around the house (goodness knows we can always do more of that)
    • day-tripping to Munich or Nuremberg to do things like

    • shopping for a new (used) computer
    • shopping for a digital SLR
    • hitting those museums we otherwise only go to when someone from out-of-town visits
    • shopping around for a bike like this for Sarah
    • getting a frappucino
  • catching a mid-morning or early afternoon movie
  • catching up on my programming projects
  • installing smoke detectors (oops, still got to do that)
  • catching a tan
  • scoping out a good place among the parkier spots on the island in the Danube for a portable grill/picnic session
  • go with Sarah to her voice lessons as a spectator
  • have some extra breakfasts with Natasha and Sarah and Tammy and whomever, making the coffee house circuit
  • hit some local attractions I’ve never had time to fully investigate
  • sleep in (not likely, but I’m putting the option out there)
  • buying a set of Trachten like Narg & Sam’s

Part of the downer is that when you have some time off, you often want to spend it globetrotting, shopping, taking in a matinée, or otherwise spending money. This is the motivation behind the fact that I actually get paid more when I take vacation time off.

Note well: I am by no means complaining that I have all this overtime available. When I worked for the same company in the U.S., there was no such thing as overtime. I routinely worked more than my promised 40 hours per week and usually donated it to the shareholders (of which I am one, don’t get me wrong). Overtime was converted to comp time only by special arrangement with the Boss.

*I don’t know of an American equivalent to the German concept of the Betriebsrat. It’s an organization built into the company’s structure made up of a council that is supposed to limit the power of the executives and board of directors. Typically members of the council take up certain topics relevant to the company’s employees’ everyday activities and well-being, such as transportation, dress code, or in my case, overtime regulations. The bad news: they add to the red tape (Germany has vast, untapped red tape resources). The good news: it’s an elected council.

herzlichen glückwunsch zum geburtstag, Natasha!

Had a great evening tonight with our pals the Lees and our new pals Jutta and Jan (first picture). Natasha and Tommy provided a virtual smorgasbord (second picture) of barbecue and grilled meats and vegetables and three wonderful salads (Sarah wants the recipe for the goat cheese one, please!). There were three or four digital cameras in play all throughout the evening (third picture), which means those posing were often unsure where to look (fourth picture). Michael was showing support for the German World Cup team; his hair is normally a bit more traditional.

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Big thanks to Jutta in advance for jotting down the recipe to her Strawberry Tiramisu…that was lovely.

Germany celebrates (another) victory over Poland, and we (grudingly) participated

alte_linde_fronleichnamToday is the holiday of another World Cup victory for Germany Fronleichnam (sometimes jokingly called “Happy Cadaver” by many Germans, known by the Latin name “Corpus Christi” to English- and Latin-speaking Catholics). The victory last night over Poland must have been a coincidence. Either way, the fans’ jubilation and the general up-whoopings that occur the night before a state holiday led to a pretty loud night.

To add insult to injury, it’s getting mighty warm around here and we absolutely needed the windows open. Oh well. We pampered ourselves by sleeping in, and taking a stroll over to one of our favorite Biergärten for lunch. It’s on an island in the middle of the river and offers a great view of the old city.

Tomorrow’s going to be a very quiet day (with any luck) in the office for me, since just about everyone will have taken that Friday as a Brückentag (“bridge day”) leading them over the unpleasantries of a real work week directly from the religious holiday endorsed by the state into weekend bliss.

more travel — this time with Carolyn and Max!

Regensblog » Itinerary suggestions for Carolyn and Max Nov. 2006

That’s link to the travel ideas we’ve been growing with Carolyn and Max for their trip in November. If you click on the link, you’ll see some firm stuff and some experimental stuff, provided you know the password (it’s Carolyn’s street name). If you don’t know it, just ask me in an email and I’ll tell you.

Here’s the best part: 1 € flights from Vienna to Nuremberg on Air Berlin!

So yeah, we’ve just got back from a great trip to see family and friends in KC/Puerto Vallarta, had a swell time driving around several regions of France, and are now planning a trip to Austria with Carolyn and Max.

construction update

fire_escape_plus_flowers.jpg I don’t know if this is kosher, but now that we’ve got a fire escape out through the window in our shower, and the sister apartment on the other side of the building does too, I noticed today that they’re using it as planter shelf. I’d consider that, if only I were sure it wouldn’t incur the wrath of the fire department who required it in the first place.

schnupftabak_fabrik_20050827.JPG In other news, check out the progress on the old snuff tobacco factory across the way from us. The pic on the left was taken on August 27, 2005 and the one on the right was taken today. It’s looking a lot nicer! schnupftabak_fabrik_progress.JPGHowever, I was saddened to see that the pretty new coat of yellow paint has already been marred with graffiti. I **hate** that! What freaking idiots are compelled to do that to a brand new renovation of an ancient building?! Beyond that, my aggravation at their senseless vandalism makes me feel old, and I chalk that up to them, too.

garlic overload

So on the CBYX mailing list recently, alumni were reminiscing about German food that they missed from their CBYX experiences. Inevitably, döners came up, and the poster even linked to this site as a reference. On that page, I found a recipe for a garlic sauce, which sounded to me like the spread of garlicky goodness my pal the Malge introduced me to back in the day at the Pita House at Maple and Rochester (it has since been renamed to the Grand Chateau and I don’t know if/how its menu has changed).

Anyhoo, this almost-waxy garlic spread had the kind of flavor that let you know immediately that you were going to be best buds for the next few days at least. And heaven help those in proximity to you. I was really hoping the garlic sauce recipe there would be exactly what I remembered from the Pita House.

Alas, it is not so. I just got done following the recipe they suggest, and my tongue feels like I just had two scoops of porcupine gelato. The sauce was not creamy and white with roughly the texture of mayonnaise. It was glowingly green and oily like a Bernini salesman. I had to flood my whole mouth with milk to get the burn to subside.

I think I finally hit my too-much-garlic threshold. This boundary has existed, theoretically, since I started making my own hummous, but I had no idea it existed in nature.