international justice and family surprises

I just found out my cousin is also overseas doing some important, meaningful, helpful work with the International Justice Mission. I knew she’d traveled a lot in college, but I didn’t know she got a MSW or was into that sort of thing at all, really. I think that’s very, very cool.

What kind of neat stuff have you learned about your family lately?

we’re back — and we’re sleepy

Hi all,

We got in to Amsterdam very early this morning about 45 minutes early. We were slightly confused about our boarding passes for the next flight (AMS to MUC) so we went to the transfer desk and the lady there was very nice, offering to put us in a couple seats next to each other. Sarah had a killer headache, undoubtedly due to crummy airplane air and lack of hydration and a clerk at one of those Duty Free Guilty Pleasure Emporium (smokes! booze! expensive perfumes!) places kindly directed us to a (somewhat hidden) pharmacy a few hundred yards away. And when we got there, the clerk there was also quite helpful.

Germans — and even Americans — could learn quite a bit from the Dutch (at least the ones at the airport) regarding customer service.

Anyhoo, we finally rolled into Regensburg between 11 and 12 this morning and promptly stretched ourselves out in bed…and stayed there for at least 6 hours. Surprisingly, I almost didn’t sleep at all on the long flight (DTW-AMS), but we both were completely unconscious for the shorter one (AMS-MUC). While I was up all night on the longer one, I compiled this list of “Best-Of”s for the trip (in no particular order). Visiting family and of course the wedding ceremony go without saying here.

  • My groomsman’s pocket watch — thanks C&N!
    • Dinner on Northwest (headed to AMS)

    • chicken breast — very moist!
    • green beans — extremely fresh-tasting
    • mashed potatoes
    • minty chocolate cookies
  • — if you’re a wordgame or trivia junkie, and especially if you like NPR to help you get your fix, you should see this movie. We watched it in-flight. (Gotta love the on-demand, especially if you’ve got a hankering to see Cornelius*)

    • Shooting the breeze with and/or meeting the wives (finally!) of

    • Kurt
    • Flip
    • Chico
    • Sam
    • J. Bonns
    • Matt Miller
    • Chris Santiago

    at Narg & Carrie’s wedding

  • Finally meeting Max
  • Getting the scoop on Heather
  • Old Navy Outlet! I got a bunch of new summer clothes all marked down to ridiculous prices. Sure, I won’t be able to wear those shorts comfortably until the Spring, but the prices were unbeatable.
  • Last but certainly not least: hearing my Aunt Julie sing the praises of Japanese toilets

Ugh, now I’m hungry, but Sarah’s still asleep. I think I’ll go get us a couple of these:

‘Beginning of the end of America’ –

Olbermann: ‘Beginning of the end of America’ – Countdown with Keith Olbermann –

‘Beginning of the end of America’
For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering: A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

I don’t often wax political on the ol’ Regensblog here, but I thought this call to consider historical precedent when it comes to civil liberties and the government’s infringement upon them was relevant and thought-provoking.

jet lag getting you down? it’s (still) getting me up.

We’ve been here in Michigan for 5 days down, visiting the peeps and prepping for Narg ‘n Carrie’s wedding (Holy Cats! Holy Crow! Holy…Matrimony! « Burgansburg), and except for yesterday, when I slept in to a decadent half-past-nine, I have not failed to wake before 6 all this week. Looks like Tammy & Matthias are having some trouble like that of their own.

Oh, there goes Carolyn’s snooze alarm again — sounds like the classical music radio station from Windsor.

We spent the first half of the trip mostly over on the East side staying with my parents (thanks guys!) and the recap so far looks like this:

  • Got in on Sunday
  • Had a nice dinner with my mom’s family
  • Got some shopping in at Costco with my dad on Monday, doing what he calls “sample surfing” (saves money on lunch)
  • Caught up with Heather at Shogun
  • Did my homework for Mom & Natalie’s class presentations
  • Got our shopping on at Lakeside, Great Lakes Crossing, and Somerset (everyday wear plus formalwear for Sarah for the ceremony
  • Tried out Grapeleaves at Mariam’s suggestion (she works with me in Regensburg) with Carolyn and Max
  • Checked out Carolyn’s house — it’s really cute and surprisingly roomy!
  • Caught up on wedding and general stuff with Narg and Carrie just last night and met Fluffernutter and got cool presents (mmm, Pop Tarts and books) and revisited my friends the Atchafalaya and maque choux at Howe’s Bayou
    Yet to come:

  • Haircut
  • Tux fitting
  • visit with Gram & Stevensons
  • a Cuban restaurant my parents are jazzed up about
  • a Burgan-LaMay breakfast
  • the rehearsal
  • the rehearsal dinner
  • the co-ed bachelor party
  • the wedding
  • a date with Sam and Andrea (might have to reschedule that…sorry dudes)?
  • Chow with more family (mmm, chicken & dumplings!)

So far, it’s been pretty low-stress and yet high-activity.

Howe’s Bayou

The Joint

22848 Woodward Ave
Ferndale, MI 48220
Phone: 248-691-7145


Ahh, Howe’s. For me, this is one of the culinary pleasures of returning to the Detroit area for a visit. We used to live pretty much around the corner from it, so my high esteem for the place might be tainted with nostalgia. Seems like the Metro Times doesn’t share my appreciation, but that’s OK with me. I know what I like from them, and it’s the Atchafalaya chicken (chicken breast with a wonderful rub of, among other things, cardamom on a bed of rice and corn and peppers, a.k.a., maque choux). They also have a nice selection of beers — some local (to New Orleans, because after all, this is a cajun joint), and some international.

And who (besides Nargan, I guess) could turn down the jalapeño corn bread? This place will stay one of my favorites.


Missing Howe’s is what drove me to learn to cook Cajun (and import ingredients that the Germans don’t bother with). I was a red-beans-and-rice aficionada, branching out into jambalaya with the occasional po’ boy. Unfortunately, upon returning to Howe’s, I find I prefer my own versions of my favorites now! But their cornbread and baked mac’n’cheese are still favorites.


The Joint

2850 W Maple Rd.
Troy, MI 48084-7001
Phone: +1 248 816 2000

We took Carolyn and Max here on advice from an Iranian colleague of mine in Regensburg (she’s from Troy). She said it would blow La Shish outta the water. I have to disagree. It was good, but it couldn’t topple La Shish down off of the pedestal upon which I have placed it.

We got the Falafel platter for starters and had high hopes after that — it was great. They weren’t shy about the garlic in the dipping sauce, and the pickled beets were a little more…I don’t know “real” looking and tasting than the typical “hi-liters” you get at La Shish. I liked ’em. The bread that came with the meal was good; there were chewy pitas and crispy…um, also pitas, I think, to choose from. I guess I would have preferred the still-warm freshly-baked rolls typical of La Shish, but these were still fine. Even better would have been a creamy garlic paste in which to dunk the bread, but no such luck.

Max (also a connoisseur of Middle Eastern fare) and I thought it fair and balanced to throw Grape Leaves a slow pitch for their first at-bat with us. We both ordered Shawarma with Hummous (he got the chicken, I got the lamb), so there could be an even basis for comparison with La Shish (my fave) and other Middle Eastern restaurants he’s familiar with. I can’t speak for his chicken (imagine though, if I could!), but I thought my lamb was a little on the dry side.

Judgement: pretty good, but La Shish (at least the one in Troy, whose ambience factors in) has got nothing to worry about. Grape Leaves is good (thanks for the recommendation, Mariam), but if I’m in Troy, I’ll go to La Shish next time.

I’m still looking for a contender; Carolyn says she and Max know places in Dearborn even better than La Shish. I say, “show me!”


The Joint

Shogun Japanese Steak House
37750 VAN DYKE
Phone: +1 (586) 268-4882

This was my first time at a Japanese steak house. I had one of the combos our pal Heather recommended (filet and scallops, I think). I liked all the extra grilled stuff (fried rice, grilled vegetables, etc.) that came with the meal along the way. But I am sure glad that she treated us that night (thanks again Heather!); I am sure those prices would have kept me away otherwise. It was definitely cool to watch our meal being cooked right in front of us, and it tasted great too, but I’d just as soon not watch the preparation and pay a smaller price.

Again, good food and interesting to watch, but if you have to pay for it yourself, probably not worth it in my opinion.

This in no way detracts from my gratitude toward Heather for taking us out and (finally) giving us a chance to shoot the breeze with her!

55 mph? What the heck is that?

OK, so we made it safely back to Detroit on a NW/KLM code share flight from Amsterdam that was suprisingly smooth.

A little hassle with the rental car situation, but whatever, we got over it. The only let-down so far: 55 mph!

I hate to sound like one of those Autobahn snobs (because hey — I don’t even own a car!), but criminy. Felt like we were crawling.

i stare because i care

Don’t you just love talking about how you talk about what you talk about?

i stare because i care

(original link:

Please, get myspace off the internets.* It’s hurting my feelings by being so ugly, user-unfriendly, **and** popular and profitable at the same time.

I have found quite a few good comic gems at the site referenced above. The snarkiness is really hot in the mix, which I dig. Also, I find the author’s (artist’s?) license for all us webjunkies out there to post and re-post his material as long as it’s not-for-profit to be very generous. Dig that, too.

whew…what a week

I’m so glad tomorrow is Friday. I’ve been totally swamped at work.

The great thing about vacations is, you have something to work toward.
That “unghnghnghngngnghhhh…just a couple more days…” thing, like when you’re trying to convince your body to stay on the machine for 40 minutes for a change instead of just hitting the 30 minute mark and collapsing, does help you pull through and turn out some amazing stuff right before you head out of the office and disconnect from the VPN for a solid week or more.

The lousy thing about vacations: all the stuff you have to get done before you leave.
Won’t Friday ever arrive? Even though it’s tomorrow, and we depart **early** on Sunday morning, I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be working Saturday evening, making sure the final, last-minute, “wait — just one more thing before you go and you absolutely gotta do this for us because it can’t wait until you get back into German airspace” code tweaks and database extractions are done.

The other lousy thing about vacations is, all the stuff you’ll have waiting for you when you get back.How does the company manage to stay afloat at all while you’re gone? Given the amount of email waiting for you when you get back, you’d expect to have been bought, sold, outsourced, rehired, and merged with the competition several times over. Despite all the stuff you did prior to departure.

The bad news: it’ll be great to visit everyone in the Detroit area, but we have no plans for R&R once we get there. No sirreee, this is going to be a very packed itinerary.