Straubinger Gäubodenfest and a weekend in der Schweiz

Matt came and picked us up; then we scooped up Alex, headed off to the Gäubodenfest, where it was mobbed. Some locals tell us that this is the “real” Oktoberfest because there are very few foreigners (only the die-hards, like us, I guess) who attend it — as opposed to the more famous beerfest in Munich at the end of September. We’re grateful to Matt for driving and for the suggestion, and I’m glad we did it, but man…there was a lot of noise and crowd going on there. And, surprisingly: the food was pretty darn good.

Kerstin picked us up the next day and we headed down to Zurich, Switzerland to stay with Simone. Sarah and I took advantage of the fabulous train system to visit my former boss Bernd and his family in their new home there. Details on the pictures will appear gradually as I find the time to insert descriptions and titles and stuff. The weather was kind of iffy in Zurich, but great on the day we hopped down to Zug / Root / Lucerne and back.

It’s nice to have friends in beautiful places and/or who don’t mind driving us to them.

couple of pictures

Here are a couple of pictures taken recently. We tried out a new (to us) Indian joint in town and were impressed with the waiter’s friendliness (as opposed to Ganesha’s typical surliness) but less-than-wowed by the food’s flavor and especially with the how long it took to arrive (note the beverages at critical levels before even digging into the chow). But the presentation was nice:
Indian Palace

Also, pretty much none of our local pals know this yet, but we’ve recovered our living room furniture — gives it a whole new look on the same old chairs. I wish I could say we carefully chose fabrics and measured them out and stitched the slipcovers ourselves and stuff, but…we didn’t. made it much easier.

back from Hannover

Maschseefest The weather was a little iffy on this trip, but it mostly worked out. The Maschseefest — one of the largest events in Northern Germany — was pretty good on Friday night (it was a little weak on Thursday night).

Hannover: just kind of meh. I definitely need more time there before I can form an opinion (I experienced the train station, the hotel, the Fest, the inside of a conference room, and nothing of the city itself). But after a few glimpses around, especially of the Fest itself, I found myself wondering: Where’s the tradition?. There seemed to be no connection to the past there, the way there is in Regensburg, Nuremberg, or Munich. I am sure there are various and sundry historical, political and cultural reasons for that, but we’ll need to compare Hannover with other Northern German cities to be sure. Next up: Bremen.

Fare thee well…

…through these sweet fare sales, that is.

We haven’t had that many visitors lately. My parents (hi Mom & Dad!) came for a good, long visit in May, but other than that our guest bedroom has remained empty for long stretches of time. And this displeases us.

So imagine my delight when my usual barrage of travel newsletters in my e-mail were screaming about Fall fare sales! There’s a United sale that you have to move on – it ends tomorrow. I’m more intrigued by the Lufthansa sale. You have until August 20 to purchase and it covers flights well into 2009 (until March 25, to be exact).

So look at your calendars and think about a trip to Germany! The Christmas markets will be in full swing after December 1. Come skiing in the Alps sometime in January. Or we could touch base here in Regensburg and then jaunt off to somewhere warm – Greece? Sicily? Turkey?

Give it some thought, U.S. peeps. And comment or e-mail me if you want to talk about specific dates.

Cripes, just say what you mean!

Hot off the presses from

SACRAMENTO — Anti-gay marriage groups say California Attorney General Jerry Brown is twisting their words.

Supporters of a ballot measure that would ban gay marriage want to amend the state Constitution to say “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

But last week, Brown’s office changed Proposition 8’s ballot title and summary to say the measure seeks to “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

Project Marriage coalition spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns says her group plans to sue to get the language changed back.

Uh, why? I don’t mind putting words in her mouth. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that she’s worried that might seem discriminatory. Or hateful. Or — and this is a rough one — less likely to get voted in.

Doesn’t the fact that saying what you mean on the ballot decreases the chances it’ll pass point toward something that’s bad for the voting public? And does Project Marriage think that they can successfully sue to euphemize their ballot without appearing to deceive the very voters they want to woo? What does that say about their regard for the voting public?

My problem with that is completely in addition to and beyond the usual argumentation:

  • It undermines marriage!
  • There are serious consequences!
  • Such as undermining marriage!
  • …which has…uh…serious consequences!

Anyone against same-sex marriage (you can call it anything you like – same-sex marriage, gay marriage, homosexual matrimony, whatever — the terminology in this regard is unimportant) reading this, please listen up. I’m trying to help you — especially if you live in California — by pointing out how you are being Animal Farmed out of legitimacy. The Protect Marriage coalition doesn’t think you’re capable of noticing that “only between a man and woman is valid or recognized” means the same as “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

Oh, speaking of legitimacy: please explain to me again how anyone’s heterosexual marriage gets undermined when two men or two women tie the knot?

I know two things:

  1. Same-sex marriage has zero effect on my own marriage.
  2. Same-sex marriage, legal throughout the country, would be a tremendous boost in pride for me as a citizen. It would mean that we treat people fairly by offering all the same financial benefits and a shot at being happy together.

Organizations like “Protect Marriage” really get my dander up because “Marriage” is not under attack and does not need protection — except from those who would seek to use it as a tool of bigotry.

Cherries — help! / English Vacation Schedule

We’ve got to be doing something wrong.

There are some lovely cherries on sale at pretty much every place you can buy food around here. Stalls out on the square, produce mongers of the wine-and-cheese and imported meats variety, even plain old supermarkets are all offering beautiful, luscious, juicy, dark sweet cherries from places like Turkey, Italy and even Franconia. They’re good — really, really good in yoghurt or just rinsed and pitted as a snack.

Seems like fruit so excellent like these cherries are would be great candidates for baking into cobblers and muffins and all sorts of things, right? That’s what I thought too. But after two attempts, we’re still having no luck. Somehow we’re baking all the good flavor out of those cherries.

We’ve tried a cherry cobbler recipe (last year, and we had high hopes for it; so high that we were traumatized and couldn’t even speak about it until now). It came out of the oven looking and smelling pretty darn nice, but upon digging in, all we could taste was the oatmeal-based streusel over the top of it. It was very disappointing.

Tonight we tried these muffins and we were skeptical, having tried something similar with some fantastic blueberries lately (and being less than nonplussed with the muffin results), but they smelled great while cooking, looked great coming out of the oven (in spite of our odd oven), and renewed our hope. And then:


Actually the muffiny part of them was much better than we expected and we’ll be using that recipe again in the future. But again the cherry flavor is Just. Not. There. At least the muffins stand up on their own. But how can I bake with these dark sweet cherries and hope to preserve any of their flavor in the finished product?

English School HolidaysIn other news, it would seem that the English and Germans’ royal relationships* are still manifesting themselves in the school holiday schedule.