WEBMU 2010 gets a shout out

Check out Young Germany’s article on this year’s meetup!

I took a look for the first time at their site today. I think that might have been a real help for us about 10 years ago when I was young applying at German companies in the Detroit area, hoping for a ticket to a return to life in Germany. Just clicking around, I watched a short video about Currywurst — when I saw Curry 36 in their montage of various Berliner Currywurst joints, I smiled remembering our visit there to/with alumni of our first meetup in Bremen.

Oven Fries

I’ve been trying to get these right for a long time. After combining elements from several different recipes, I think I’ve finally hit on a winner. This recipe will probably make enough for four adult portions.

1 1/2 lbs medium potatoes – mealy or waxy, I don’t think it matters. Use what you like.
3 T olive oil
1/2 t coarse salt
1/2 t pepper

1. Preheat oven to 500°F. If your oven doesn’t get up that high, turn it as high as it will go. Seriously, do the preheat, because you want the oven ready as soon as you’re done dealing with the potatoes. Use a baking sheet with low sides (if the sides are too high, the fries with just steam; no sides and you’ll have an oily mess all over your oven). Line the baking sheet with heavy foil, shiny side up, and put it in the oven while preheating.

2. After washing and allowing the potatoes to dry, slice them into fries (peel the potatoes if you want to – I don’t). You want them to be roughly the same length and not much thicker than 1/3 inch. Toss the fries with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Take the baking sheet out of the hot oven and arrange fries, cut side down, in a single layer (they will sizzle upon hitting the pan).

3. Turn the oven down to 450°F and bake the fries for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, take them out and carefully turn them with a pair of tongs (they will probably stick a little), then bake for another 5-10 minutes on the other side.

4. After baking, toss the fries with more salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately.

Note from Cliff on 2010-11-07: Use parchment paper instead of foil as the layer separating the taters from the cookie sheet and they won’t stick or otherwise make a mess when it’s time to flip/serve them.

Meetup 2010 Planning Begins

The new planning threads are open for WEBUM (Whiny Expat Bloggers Unmissable Meetup) 2010 over on the discussion board.

For those of you new to this experience, it’s a chance for the English-speaking expat bloggers here in Germany to get together and put faces to screen names. We’ve previously met in Marburg, Bonn, Dresden, Bremen and Munich and mostly in late summer or early fall, but first poll is up now if you want to weigh in or pitch your city as our next destination. The board does require you to have a login, but, if you’re a blogger in Germany, getting one is easy:

1. Click on the above link,
2. click on ‘Register’ at the top of the page and
3. wait for approval (usually takes less than a day).

Where and when will we end up this year? You can help decide!

Attention local Friends of the Funk

funky_good_time_anthology.jpgThis just in (though I think Sarah told me about it some time ago and today I was reminded of it again): Funk legend Fred Wesley and the New JB’s are playing at Alte Mälzerei in Regensburg on Friday, April 16th. Do you know who this guy is? He was James Brown’s band leader, composer, arranger, etc., and later went on to collaborate with Parliament / Funkadelic and Bootsy Collins. He is working on some neat Klezmer-Funk fusion stuff under the moniker Abraham Inc.

This show promises to be one not to miss. Who’s with me on this one?

Here’s a sampler:


This totally just happened. See the comments for hints on the German parts if you like.

I was enjoying a light snooze on a train ride back from Hannover home to Regensburg. From Göttingen to Würzburg there was a couple (Arbeitskollegen? BF/GF? Mann u. Frau? Schwer zu sagen…) sharing a four-seat table group with me on our ICE. I had been struggling with my work computer, trying to get my cellular modem to work, and fall behind in the daily battle against my inbox as little as possible on this trip. But in the end, fatigue won out — I never sleep well on business trips — and I zonked out a little.

I awoke rolling into Würzburg with the guy next to me saying “ja, es war immer komisch, mit ihm zu sprechen. Es war Deutsch, jedoch war es irgendwie anders.” And she said “ich bin froh, nicht mehr mit ihm sehr viel zu tun zu haben.” He nodded, “ja, Amerikaner, so egozentriert, wie sie sind.”

That’s where I piped up. “Was sind wir?”

“Oh, Entschuldigung!” he stammered, obviously surprised.

“Egozentriert war das, oder?” I clarified.

“Ja, hm, direkt halt, meine ich.” “Direct” and “egocentric” are not the same thing. I know this, and I am pretty sure he knew this, and I would have loved to rub his nose in his Zurückrudern, but I needed to change trains, so I kept it short.

“Verallgemeinerungen gibt es für wirklich jede Nationalität. Die Deutschen, zum Beispiel, wissen nicht, wer neben ihnen sitzt.” I grabbed my stuff off the rack above our seats and wished them a “Gute Weiterreise.

Dear Mr. KLM*

So Cliff got this nugget of preciousness in his e-mail today (click on it to make it readable):


Isn’t it cute how they photoshopped the seats that they’re touting out of the picture entirely? I especially like the lady by the “window” who looks like she’s snoozing in a comfy armchair. Why bother with pesky realities like a 1.5° recline or armrests? We got fares to peddle!

Wow, KLM. Just wow. I knew that the balkanization of the economy cabin was coming (and KLM isn’t the only offender on this score, UNITED), but I thought it was going to be isolated to exit rows. Spreading the upcharge fever to the bulkhead rows as well is really slimy. I’ve only flown KLM a couple of times and, in terms of service while in flight and in the airport, I have no complaints. But their frequent flier program is atrociously structured, they are rarely the most competitively priced option (and they don’t appear to offer any extra comfort, amenities or reliability to justify the higher price) and now they’re pulling this stunt?

It’s still economy. I still need a shoehorn (butthorn?) to get in and out of the seats, whether in the center row or a bulkhead row. I may very well pay a little more for bulkhead seating now, if only to avoid your planes.

*Thanks Ianthis cracked me up so much that I just had to give a shout out!

Never the same crap twice

Hey, there's an 'E' back there!So, following Jentry’s lead, we hit up the German version of T.J. Maxx which just opened up last weekend on Kassiansplatz (which is mostly just Neupfarrplatz’s appendix). Sarah and I spotted this less-than-tasteful arrangement of assorted letters in the housewares department yesterday. I don’t think we would have actually arranged them into that position ourselves, but we’re also not too mature to have a chuckle.

Oh, and Jentry’s right about two things:


The Kasse and Schlange setup causes more than a bit of a faff. We witnessed it ourselves, even in a low-traffic situation. Didn’t see the indicator lights she mentioned, but witnessed the confusion 2 and half working registers cause when there’s not a clear line for customers to stand in. One shopper almost managed to out-flank us, but we squeezed her out at the last second as the half-open cash register operator waved us over, signaling his readiness to take our money.


The housewares (and hardware odds and ends) section is a bit lacking by comparison, but the offers they had were better than good and I am most likely going to have to fight the urge to pop in and browse on weekend shopping trips.

Four-year Renovation Project on Regensburg’s Steinerne Brücke

Regensburg’s most recognizable secular landmark (according to me, anyways) is getting a built-on detour for Fußgänger (pedestrians) and Radfahrer (cyclists…sounds so much more intent than “bikers,” doesn’t it?). We’d been watching some construction activity on the North (our) side of the bridge for a few weeks, but only became really interested when they started to erect a structure in parallel to the bridge. That finally inspired us to try and figure out “what that should” (Was soll das!?). We got the scoop from our favorite local news source, TVA. Admittedly, we’ve cut ourselves off from local news a bit of late.

Turns out it’s going to be a big ol’ project to renovate it in four phases. And this is only the first phase. On the one hand, I’m just glad they’re not isolating Stadtamhof residents even further by completely closing the Steinerne to foot/bike traffic, given that the Protzenweiher Brücke is still closed to car traffic following its barge-collision meltdown several years ago (and it looks like they’re building a new foot/bike bridge in parallel to the existing wooden workaround). And don’t forget that what used to be our Netto is still at least the better part of a year away from being a usable grocery store again.

On the other hand, I wonder if such a project really can only be carried out in such a manner, and whether that is really in the spirit of Denkmalschutz and whether emergency vehicle traffic (Notarzt, Krankenwagen, Polizei) will finally also have to be re-routed around the Steinerne Brücke. Of course, if this renovation project will allow taxis and buses to use the bridge, then maybe it’s worth it. I’m sure we’d use the bus more if the three or four lines which used to stop at our Netto would become viable options again.

Anyone got more scoop?