Schöne Wadeln

Sarah and I headed down to Munich on Saturday to spend some time with her choir and orchestra in a non-rehearsal type of setting for a potluck picnic/grilling on the Isar Flaucher. On our way down to the Regensburg Hbf to catch a train to Munich Hbf to catch an U-Bahn to walk to the bridge to the picnic island (whew!) a native Regensburger dude walking his two very nice dogs overheard us speaking English to each other and deduced that we’re not natives, despite my Lederhosen bought at the Dult this spring.

“You look nice,” he said gesturing at me and my garb.
“um, thanks!” I responded, if a bit quizzically.
“Nicer than a real Bavarian*.”
In wie fern?” I asked.
Die Wadeln,” he responded.

I raised my eyebrows blankly to signal a new vocabulary word.

“These ones,” he explained as he reached down to pat my exposed calf.

“Ah, danke.”

First time for everything, I guess.

Side notes:

So here are some shots from the Isar Flaucher yesterday with the choir and orchestra people. It was unseasonably cold. I might need to invest in a Weste or Strickjacke for all-weather festivities. Also, the first attempt at grilling our homemade Merguez, based on this recipe but stuffed into lamb casings was pretty much a success — we’d like it to be a little moister, which might mean more fat in the mix next time (meaning we’ve got to get friendly with a local lamb-supplied butcher; this batch was with pre-ground imported New Zealand lamb).

*For the very international-fashion-aware: that shirt I’m wearing is not Bavarian or otherwise Alpy at all (but I think it works well with the ‘hosen). Know what it is and where it’s from?

All aboard for WEBMU 2011!

The lovely and talented CNHeidelberg remarked this week that WEBMU 2011 is fast approaching, like a locomotive, chugging along down the track, which we are powerless to impede.

Speaking of which, you can buy train travel to there from anywhere and back, now that we’re less than 90 days out. It officially gets rolling on Saturday, October 22. If you’re an English-language blogger, living in Germany, come on out and put some faces and voices to those fonts and images you’ve been reading.

For our tranpsortation, we personally were leaning toward flying, thinking that would be cheaper in terms of outright cost or at least time spent traveling, but this turned out not to be the case for us. We’ll be spending perhaps an hour more in transit each way in total, but saving more than 50% off the travel costs associated with air travel for us.

We’ll be training it out Thursday afternoon to Cologne, in plenty of time for the Friday pre-event — whatever that ends up being (a visit to some palaces in Brühl, the Aachener Altstadt, or perhaps some swanky shopping, all hosted by local residents).

Details are on the bulletin board at Register there, if you haven’t already, get access to all the accommodation recommendations and forthcoming agenda. Don’t forget to mention your location in Germany (roughly, at least) and your blog’s URL, so that I can approve your membership.

I got a new camera; I think I’m going to like it.

I got a new camera recently, thanks in part to some recommendations from the fine folks at and I had an Olympus E-500 before (still have it, looking to get rid of it, leave a comment if you’re interested in an aging DSLR with moderate use and a fair number of accessories) and really like setting up shots. But, even as one of the smaller DSLRs on the market (at the time in 2007 and even now), the schlep factor was starting to get to me. I wanted DSLR-like control over exposure and aperture and white balance and stuff, but without having to wade through an endless mess of menus and scrolling, and without all that weight on my neck. The Micro Four Thirds format is really a great compromise in that regard. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to upgrade downgrade modernize my camera. But I wasn’t ready to commit to more Olympus gear, and I wasn’t ready to jump into a whole new line of other gear (most likely Canon or Nikon). I definitely wanted some better high-ISO performance than what the E-500 could offer and wasn’t opposed to the dimensions of a full-blown DSLR; but those Micro Four Thirds cameras were another class smaller and though I am loath to admit it, those PEN models sure look slick. And I’ve discovered

  1. my Metz 48 AF-1 flash works with through-the-lens (TTL) metering on this PEN, and
  2. one of the kit lenses for has a threaded diameter of 58mm, the same as the lenses for my E-500, and matching my circular polarizer

both of which mean I get some re-use of previous equipment purchases.

So I pulled the trigger on an E-PL2 after pricewatching at for a few months and pestered Herr J and Frau A at about low-light performance, lack of a viewfinder, and other stuff like that. I am seeing much better (though still not excellent) low-light performance, and playing with the art filters (for example, Dramatic Tone, like in the two larger shots above) is pretty fun. I like that I get that effect in-camera or by applying it to the RAW images in the supplied Olympus software. And the video quality seems great (to me, because I’ve never had an HD-capable video camera before, much less as a secondary feature on a DSLRish camera).

I think this little camera and I are going to have a lot of fun together.

To Yelli and the 50 percenters…

I haven’t said much about it, but I’ve been watching your tweets counting down to your return. I’m sad that you’re going, but hopeful that you’ll love it and thrive there, just as you have in Berlin. We didn’t get to see each other very often, but we both enjoyed the hell out of the time that we spent with you all.

Gute Reise, viel Glück und viel Spaß!

Random Scenes of Regensburg

There’s something happening at the renovated building on the corner of Andreasstraße and Stadtamhof where Netto pulled out about two years ago. Looks to us like they’ve removed the step and are rebuilding the entranceway into a … ramp? Perhaps one intended for shopping carts?

This was a great day for sitting out in the sun watching the river cut its slow swath between the islands, and they picked a perfect spot.

I thought this was a kayaker at first glance; didn’t notice until I got home that he’s paddling a surfboard of some kind upstream.

Just downstream from the Schifffahrtsmuseum (I love that triple-f) there were three river cruise ships parked. That’s fine for a weekend. I just hope they’ve all unmoored and motored off with their cargo of bike-path-sheeple before I head into work on Monday.

I keep seeing this guy all over the place in Regensburg — at festivals (of which there are plenty) and just in the course of running errands, like at the grocery store. My nickname for him is The Admiral. I have also seen him in a glorious purple jumpsuit, but no other outfits.

Our Asian market kicks butt!

A weekend in Prague with Michigan Matt

Our pal Matt from Michigan came to visit the same week our pals Sara and Luke departed Regensburg for the next legs of their European Adventure. Maybe it was the stress from their travel bleeding over onto his trip, or just having two groups of houseguests in quick succession, but we goofed his arrival date at the Munich Airport. Sarah went down a day early to pick him up — and I’m sorry to say, I think I am culprit here, since my calendar entry for his arrival was on the wrong date and all the rest of the information we had was correct.

Well, he arrived with none of the stress that Sara and Luke had to go through, but as a result of my miscalculation, he got out of a plane, into a bus (to Freising), into a train (to Regensburg), into our apartment, into a bus (to Hertz), into a rental car to Prague. Poor guy — crammed into all those vehicles (he is a tall one, that Matt).

The drive to Prague from Regensburg would have been totally easy and relaxed but for the torrential rain and plentiful one- and two-car accidents we saw lining both sides of the highway. That inspired slow and careful driving on my part. Parking was also slow and careful — I enjoy the occasional highway or back country road trip, but I abhor city driving. But we parked and checked in at our beautiful rental apartment and felt a lot better about all of that after a dark Kozel.

We got as much outdoor stuff in as we could on Saturday, knowing that the rain would catch up with us again on Sunday. So Saturday yielded us all these glorious outdoor pictures, and Sunday was devoted to the Cathedral and the museum complex of Prague castle.

Sara & Luke’s Visit

There was a whole potato on that stick five minutes before I snapped these pictures. I hope this wasn’t the best part of Sara and Luke’s visit to our town/region, but then again, she seemed pretty happy with that potato, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Or maybe the comfort-food aspect made all the trials and tribulations of the travel over here seem survivable.

Weather at the first stop on their flight itinerary prevented them from taking off on the day of departure — but only after having spent seven hours in the plane waiting for clearance and runway traffic jams to clear up. 350 flights were cancelled that evening, but Sara and Luke were lucky to have relatives in the area with whom they could spend the night and try again the next day. The next day, they did manage to get on a flight, but it too was delayed for three hours, risking a missed connection in London on their way to Munich (final destination for the first leg of their trip to Europe).

When they finally stepped through the immigration security barrier at Terminal Two in Munich, they were exhausted and dismayed to find they would be wearing the clothes they came in for at least a few more days — somewhere between their last stop in the U.S. and their arrival in Munich both of their bags got lost. Or at least delayed.

In the end, both of their bags were finally delivered to our apartment in Regensburg, but we were never sure when that would be. Sara and Luke called the airline(s) every day trying to get an estimate of when their bags would show up, because waiting around here for them was not part of the plan. So we ended spending a lot more time in Regensburg, waiting for the magical phone call with their luggage drop-off window, hanging out at the Bürgerfest. Which, by the way, was a lot of fun this year despite the weather. It was nice to see Tammy and Sarah cut loose in front of a ska-punk band shell down by the Weenie Shack.*

Maybe that downtime was for the best, since they had a very heavy itinerary — two stops in Spain and a few days in London — after their short visit to Regensburg. We sure enjoyed having them.

Henry & Pete

These are some of Sarah’s cousins. We don’t get to see these guys very much, but on our trip to the U.S. last month, we did a three-car caravan road trip down to Oklahoma City from Kansas City for a wedding in another branch of the family. We have pictures of them as near-babies on our family picture shelf in our apartment and I still think of them as being that size.

I was hoping to get my photographic tech nerd on and do something nice for my wife’s family simultaneously at the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, but the flash sync to the camera wasn’t working correctly. I have an external flash made by the Metz company (and a mounting bracket) for my Olympus E-500 and for whatever reason, the camera’s shutter speeds were way longer than necessary with the flash, which washed (almost) all the images out. The flash also appeared to fire at random intervals, even without pressing the shutter button.

These images were pretty much the only two I managed to salvage (applying a little saturation adjustment and red-eye reduction thanks to UFRaw and the GIMP). I think I resolved the problem of the flash and camera synchronizing improperly only by making sure to do these steps in the following order:

1. With both devices off, connect everything.
2. Turn on the camera.
3. Turn on flash.

Then it seemed to work normally. Unfortunately I figured that out too late. Incidentally, the instructions specify that you shouldn’t connect/disconnect the flash and camera while either one (or both) of them is switched on, but they don’t say the camera should start up first.

deafening crickets

It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to write about, really! In contrast, there’s probably been too much to write about and too little time to do it since we got back from Kansas City and Oklahoma City.

    We’ve had

  • two different sets of U.S. visitors
  • airport, airline, and luggage follies
  • a rockin’ Regensburger Bürgerfest
  • some unforeseen business travel

…all since the last week of June. Today after work we’re headed off on another weekend adventure — details when we get the chance!