new phone for Cliff!

My new phone!This week, the company shelled out for me to get a mobile phone. It’s neat. Check it out by clicking on the picture.

I dig it. It’s Bluetooth-capable, so that means the Bluetooth USB card from my parents a few years ago means wireless connectivity between my phone and my computer(s). And that also means I can be one of those borgy-looking dudes in public places having conversations with people no one can see, thanks to the headset present from my inlaws. Or, as my boss pointed out, that means I can have conference calls from my bike on my commute into work (after all, the phone is intended for me to work even more productively). Maybe I should have kept that Bluetooth headset a secret.

It’s my first mobile phone with a contract since having moved to Germany, and that means big upgrades for me as a user. I can read PDFs with it, play music (even use my MP3s as ring tones), even stick one of those nifty micro-SD cards in it for expandable storage. Thanks to Vodafone (the provider) and my employer (another kind of provider), it also has a DuoBill feature, meaning I get one phone with one SIM card but two phone numbers and two different billing addresses to keep business and pleasure separate (though lately, work has been more fun).

If you need one of my new phone numbers, just email me and I’ll be happy to give it to you.

Fürstliches Brauhaus

Fürstliches Brauhaus

Originally uploaded by cliff1976.

Had a nice meal at the Fürstliches Brauhaus in Regensburg last week with Tammy and Matthias. It was nice to spend some time with Tammy while she was in town.

The food was pretty good, but I really think we should stop going until they start up the…

Schnitzel Buffet


you all have probably already seen this movie…

…but if you haven’t, go see Dream Girls. Sarah and Matthias and I saw it tonight in English at the Cinemaxx (no, not Skinnamax) here in town, since on Monday nights they sometimes show original language movies. Great performances by Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy, more or less as we expected, but we were really wowed by Anika Nomi Rose and Jennifer Hudson. Fantastic show — really moving storyline. The Detroitiness was kind of touching, too.

Traditional Romanian dinner with our Romanian colleagues

Where are Camelia and Orhan?

Originally uploaded by cliff1976.

Got back yesterday from a three-day trip to Romania — this time with my boss (guess which one he is). It was a good trip, but a short one.

I think the next time I go — and I will be going regularly, apparently — I’d like it to be for at least a couple days. That helps justify the time lost in transit.

  • an hour on the way down to the airport
  • an hour spent getting checked in and frisked and waiting to board the plane
  • At least an hour and a quarter in transit to the first layover (Timisoara, Bucharest, or Vienna in that order of preference)
  • the layover
  • Figure an extra hour waiting in line with other screaming P.O.’d passengers at the baggage office in Iasi if you fly Austrian Arrows
  • and of course all the same time spent traveling in the reverse direction

Some might think that I could be working during all the downtime, but honestly — at least up until now — all my work stuff is entirely dependent on a network connection, and the company wouldn’t spring for a cellular modem for me. But maybe now that my guys in Iasi are making it possible to do work that’s more offline in nature (writing application specs, having meetings, choosing programmers, and I see a helluva lotta PowerPoint in future, at which I am really terrible), a bi-monthly trip might not be so bad (especially if I get that company mobile phone we’ve been talking about, and I can telco it up on my layovers).

It was quite nice to be able to take these people out to dinner for an evening of levity after having imposed on them four times since November 2005 for 2-5 days at a stretch (thanks, boss).

But I’m glad to be back home in Regensburg.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This is great when you’ve been hanging around Germans for a while who claim to like spicy food. You can smile and nod and then go home and eat this and smugly chuckle to yourself with satisfaction.

1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tsp. blackening seasoning
3 Tbs. butter
1 small green pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 small red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
3-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
4-8 drops pepper sauce (tabasco works, cholula’s better)
1/2 tsp. each basil and lemon pepper
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
8 oz. pasta of your choice, cooked and drained (we use linguine)

Place chicken, onion and blackening seasoning in bowl and turn to coat. Sauté chicken in butter 5-7 minutes. Add vegetables and cook 2-3 more minutes. Reduce heat, add cream, pepper sauce and seasonings. Heat thoroughly but do not boil. Add pasta and toss.

a fun evening and a small caffeine-related victory

Last night Sarah and I carpooled with (read: mooched a ride from) co-workers on a 2-hour road trip down to Augsburg, where my boss lives (yeah, he lives two hours away from Regensburg and commutes twice a week — really!). We did a Winter Grill evening (I like our apartment, but I really wish we could grill stuff whenever we want like they can). It was a great time and a very relaxing evening. Big big thanks are due to my boss and his lovely wife for hosting, and Nadine for driving us, and everyone else for showing up and participating in the merriment.

This morning, after the (relatively) large number of glasses of Kuchlbauer and Schneider Weisse, I needed some caffeine, and I got it in a major way. Backstory: our pals Gerhard and Uschi (whom we met through Dave Coke back in the day) gave us an espresso maker shortly after we moved in here, but we’d never quite gotten it working right. Mariam, being an experienced barista, offered to get our espresso brewing again. Even she had trouble with the machine. But we were using espresso beans which we ground up ourselves, and it kept coming out pretty weak and watery. Mariam gave us a ziploc bag of “real” espresso grounds (quite a bit finer that what our grinder can do), and either that was the secret, or this morning we shook something loose in the machine, because it delivered me a lovely, rich, dark, dainty little cup of high-powered coffee goodness.

Later today we’re planning on a trip to Exil for dinner with Jessica from work (albeit it from Troy) who is in town visiting — maybe Jan and Nadine will join us. We’re always willing to preach the Exil Gospel, and it’s been several weeks since we’ve eaten there. Maybe they’ll welcome us back with a free espresso after dinner — but even if they don’t, we can now welcome ourselves.

Next up: Frothing the milk for cappucinos. Yum.