Losing our Grippe?

I gotta go back to work tomorrow after having been off since Thursday evening. The time off was not voluntary — I’ve been sick. And then Sarah got whatever I had after that. We’re not sure if it’s another case of Hamthrax (though that would be an interesting coincidence, nearly six months after the initial entry into Germany from Mexico here in Regensburg — which was not our fault!).

I’m not sure how I contracted the illness. I was working from our Nürnberg office on Thursday, which meant mass transit and plenty of shared airspace and handgrips, but I would not have expected such a short timespan between contraction and symptom manifestation. By the time I got home from that trip, I was exhausted and had a cough-causing tickle in my lungs. I didn’t know I was sick then. I didn’t figure I was anything more than tired from a long work day when I went to bed early (around 8pm) until I woke up sweaty around 1am.

I pretty much didn’t get out of bed until 36 hours later. Incredible weakness and dizziness and dull joint pain throughout, which didn’t subside until the onset of the deep, raspy, waterchestnutty (squish-crunch!) slimelogged bronchial coughs. I requested a doctor appointment right away on Friday morning, but didn’t get one until Monday evening. I got the doctor’s note for the time missed (Friday and Monday) plus today. I’m pretty much better, but Sarah’s a couple days behind me in the cycle.

If you get whatever’s going around — Aporkalypse or not — good luck. Until then, here’re some friendly pre-infection tips from my mom. These sound like good tips especially for the traveling sort:

  1. Frequent hand-washing.

  2. “Hands-off-the-face” approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face.

  3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

  4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

  5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

  6. Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

Chocolate Nutter

We got inspired to try these while quarantined sick yesterday at home and surfing around looking for recipes involving an excuse to turn on the oven and no need to leave the apartment for supplies. GuiltyKitchen.com to the rescue!

  • 1/2 cup butter (105g), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, chunky (how many grams is that? Not sure. Had to measure the messy way. And we didn’t have natural or chunky peanut butter, so we subbed in whatever we had.)
  • 3/4 cup packed yellow sugar (157g — not entirely sure what “yellow sugar” was, we used a light-brown large-granule sugar normally reserved for our coffee — to great textural effect)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cocoa (also had to measure that one the old messy way)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (35g of generic whatever flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup almond meal (another messy measure)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips (note to us: need more of these)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar and salt. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. Sift cocoa, flour, baking powder and soda into wet ingredients, mix well. Stir in almond meal.
  3. Add PB chips and stir to combine.
  4. Roll dough into 1 1/2″ balls, then flatten before placing 1″ apart on baking paper lined cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes (we did 15 total, 12 was obviously not enough in our oven). Cool completely before enjoying!

These practically scream for a cup of coffee to enjoy them with. The flavor is dark and rich and the consistency is nice. I just wish they were a bit firmer or crispier — though Sarah prefers them as soft as they are. The recipe’s source is still working on firming them up, too. She suggests more butter, flour and sugar, but I really don’t want to detract from the richness of the chocolate flavor and am worried that more sugar and flour would do that. I’m wondering if simply LESS butter is the way to go to remove extra moisture from the equation.

nerd love

I like the reminder that nerdy people sometimes have their own hotness scales. I don’t think they’re all in Niedersachsen, or that all Niedersachsener are like that, though.

My attempt, as an exercise in technodeutsch transcriplation, starting at around 18 seconds in:

“So what do you do?”

“Electrohydraulic guidance systems with drawbar sensors.*

“No way…OK, I do stepless precision crankshaft forging.”

“For real?”


“I would love to get a look at that sometime…a stepless crankshaft…”

“And I’d like to see a drawbar sensor sometime…”

“Oh, so what about pets?”

“Harvester robot…a little bitty one.”

“Oh. Too bad.”

*I’m stumbling here a bit with the term Deichsel. Help?

Bookmark this!

Every Thursday, the New York Times Online posts new articles in its Travel section (you have to subscribe to access some of the articles, but I’ve never received any spam from them). This week, they posted this:

100 Hotels Under $150

They only cover hotels in large cities and Prague is the only representative in Eastern Europe, but they have a handful of suggestions for many of the most expensive destinations (Paris, London, Rome, etc.). And for those of us on the Euro, the under-$150 price tag translates to almost under 100€. Just be warned, these hotels were all recommendations of Times readers. As with all user-submitted content, YMMV.


nice canal setting Had a long weekend to spend with our pal Matt (known as Cool Guy Matt to some readers) and some of his pals from England, so we hopped in his car while it was still dark last Friday and drove through the morning to Bruges — also known as Brugge and Brügge. It took about eight hours and when we got there, we were exhausted. And too early to check into the house we rented. So we drove to the seaside in search of some chow and to kill a few hours before checking in with the rented house’s landlord.

our streetWe got all checked in and then set out to procure foods and drinks for the weekend — that’s when the pleasure of reading Flemish really got started. All weekend Sarah and I were reading everything we saw out loud, giggling at the not-quite-English-and-yet-not-quite-German-ness of all the words we saw and quite easily could understand. It was even better than a layover in Amsterdam — that’s usually all the exposure to Flemish / Dutch that we get and this time we got lots more than just airport words.I love Flemish Part II

Bruges is a dense little watery place that specializes in cute. We never did get around to trying any wafelen, but we had plenty of interesting beer and frites. (The rumors are true: those are some darn good fries.) At first I was quite pleased with the apparently abundant willingness of everyone local to speak English with us. Everyone from our landlord for the weekend to the barmaids and even the check-out grannies at the Carrefour switched seamlessly to English for us.canal scene Then I got a little embarrassed, thinking about how they were all at least trilingual. Then I got over that too, thinking about how the town’s livelihood probably depends on it. We overheard a lot of not-French and not-Flemish that weekend.

We got lucky with the weather in that it didn’t rain much while we were out and about exploring the town on foot. The drive back to Germany from Bruges was a non-stop downpour though. Big props to Matt for the use of his car and footing the deposit. If you’ve got a big enough party, renting a whole house for a long weekend sure can keep the cost down. If you’re going by car, bring all that stuff you think you’d need at home for the weekend, like your good knives, and extra bottles of your favorite juice, or whatever — and don’t forget to hit the markets to stock up on stuff you’d have to think long and hard about if you were traveling by plane.

Here’s the slideshow (looks pretty nice full-screen):