Archive for July, 2008

Papers today

July 31st, 2008

The papers don’t seem to get any better over time. But I can’t help but think that that the Yes Minister cast had more fun commenting on them. Nigel Hawthorne is obviously hiding an ‘I can’t believe you pulled that off with a straight face’ grin, while Derek Fowlds is the cheeky chappy who gets to smirk because he said “tits”


via dan

A case of the number 1s

July 29th, 2008

I got a 1 for my test on the Dative case :-)

I had 2 errors out of 30, where I basically mixed up what was Neutral and Feminie gender and so used the wrong prepositions. I should have known that couch is feminine: “die Couch”, but Chuffy tends to monoplise Helga and so my relationship with her isn’t great! Café is a French import and so should be “das Café.”

Roll on the Genetive Case

10 years later…

July 28th, 2008

For some reason the abstract page on my MEng thesis has the title “Control Architectures for an Advanced Mobile Terminal” even though the thesis title is “A Flexible Control Architecture for the UMTS Mobile Terminal”.

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I hope I don’t do the same with the PhD thesis; I wouldn’t want any of the 1.5 people who read it to be disappointed. Although I am pretty sure I know most, if not all, of the people who have read my MEng (its more than 1.5 as I can make people read it!!!) and I can’t remember them ever mentioning this before.


July 24th, 2008

As an addendum to the last post I would like to note that its not a good idea to put beer into the freezer and then forget about it.

And if you do, Helles is not very nice when defrosted. Not even in the semi-defrosted slushy beer stage.

‘i’ before ‘e’ except whenever you like

July 23rd, 2008

We are 3 weeks into the German course today. Although I think the school is treating it more as week 4 of an 8 week course, which is fine. Regardless we are almost finished book 1 and everything seems to have settled down to 3 hrs of German a day and around an hour of homework. After which it can be a bit trying to search out places and opportunities to practice – feels too much like schoolwork.

We had a bunch of new people join the course and that really brings home how much we have covered. Granted its not much more complicated than “Ich habe jetzt eine Wöhnung in München” and “Möbel für die Küche wir schon, aber noch keine Sachen für das Wohnzimmer” but put enough of those together and you can get somewhere. Slowly. I think the next set of tests we have will move towards wriing postcards and paragraphs rather than fill in the blanks. I am consistently getting 2/5 for my Diktats, Tests and Hausaufgaben. 1/5 being good and 5/5 being bad! So I’m making a lot of silly mistakes and very rarely not knowing words or phrases.

Of course its all artificial and I still can only barely cope in shopping or in restaurants when someone goes off script and says “would you like fries with that” or whatever. And we had one embarrassing incident where a group of us couldn’t figure out how to buy cigarettes from a machine – you needed a German credit or debit card for age verification. What kind of course teaches you to say “Mittags haben wir immer von zwölf bis vierzehn Uhr Pause” and then not teach you how to buy cigarettes for breaktime. But on the flip slide, we spent one and a half hours talking about beer. I seem to have sampled more beer than anyone else in the class Of the list we had; I have tried Wießbier, Pils, Kölsch, Helles, Export, Altbier and Bockbier but not Berliner Weiße. Sometimes that extra effort and determination goes a long way. Chuffy thinks we should take a trip to Berlin so I can fill out the list and have some Berliner Weiße. I’m sure hope I can find someone who can tell me if its worth going to Berlin just for the beer.

We reckon we should have a vocabulary of around 400 words, but none of us do. The course is moving fast enough that if you have a problem with cases or gender or pronouns or trennen verbs (damn trennen verbs) you can’t expect it will be picked up on and corrected in class. Now that we are almost half way through a lot of people are using flash cards and lists to keep track of things. I downloaded a copy of iflash to help organise myself. Its not great but it’ll do until I get around to doing something on paper instead/as well.

Sandal Knitting

July 22nd, 2008

It was a busy weekend around town. Munich is celebrating its 850th birthday this year (about as old as Cork says Chuffy) so there was a street party type thing and associated bands and events. I didn’t get to see a lot of what happened in town,  but I managed to roam about a bit here and there.

I would like to say I started the weekend early, but I don’t think that a post midday club sandwich and rugby in Killians counts as much an achievement. Although one could consider it to be more than South Africa managed! In any case the street party festivities didn’t start until after 2pm.

Street parties in Munich seem to mean beer. And more beer, With sausages and bread as ballast and soakage. And so many of the traditional Bavarian arts were on display. Like brewing, and glass blowing, and cask making and horse breeding. And beekeeping for some reason. Its unusual to see two or three hives more or less on the main street and lots of people milling around.

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While there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of overt Bavarian nationalism, there does seem to be an appreciation of Bavaria as a place and a history. So there were a lot of people in Lederhosen and other costumes, including some medieval re-enactors, Napoleonic military dress, Viennese Dress and 1920s attire. Basically covering every period except for the World Wars.

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I didn’t get to wander around town as much as I wanted to as some of us had arranged to go to Tollwood, and that happened a wee bit earlier than I expected. Tollwood is ok, but I wouldn’t go crazy for it. Its supposed to be a cross between a music festival and a hippy get together. Its not really either, being too commercial for the second and not music-y enough for the first.  So more of a trinket-fest with bands and there was a lot of people hanging around, buying shiney things. Overall the atmosphere was good and there was plenty to eat and drink so that all worked out well.

Sunday we went to a real “knit your own sandals brigade” event, and weave, smith and braid them too, if so desired. The Kaltenberg Knights Tournament is essentially a renaissance faire; with jousting and a mediveal market, although without the, come for the stink, stay for the plague; authenticity of the real thing. The jousting is about as real as professional wrestling, but its fun in a twee, disney kinda way. The bad guys wear black, the good guys wear white and der Bayrisch Ritter always turns up on time to save the day.

The market was much more fun with plenty of people selling genuine modern home made medieval stuff including clothes, armour, jewellery, glass and fly swatters. Here’s a tip, if you ever got to a medieval market with a couple, who subsequently buy a fly swatter. It would be handy to know the German for “I’m not with them” or “I’ve never seen these people before in my life. Officer”.

The food and beer was very good and we had fish on a stick and bbq’ed meat (no name just ‘fleisch’) and beer and mead. We attracted some bees with the mead and some of them hung around to get drunk with us.

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Afterwards there was whisky and late trains home and no homework done! And care packages from home. Chuffy had been away for the weekend, and I conspired with John and arranged that he would bring back books. Hurrah!

Ahahahaha!!!!! Der Operngeist

July 17th, 2008

Und er träumte den Traum all jener, die Bücher publizieren:Er träumte davon, die Taschen so voller Gold zu haben, das er zwei Leute einstellen musste, die ihm die Hose festhielten.

Maskerade is once again the book I most own! Having recently purchased a German edition, I now have a audio version, an English hardback edition, probably a US paperback edition and a couple of English paperback editions, including a newly acquired English edition to act as a guide to the German one!

Its probably not the best purchase I’ve ever made, but you can never have too many Pratchett books. And already I am on page 5 :-)


July 14th, 2008

These could make our next party and/or soiree go differently… (via Editorial Ass)

1. Top thick slices of country bread with fresh goat cheese. Sprinkle with herbs and bake until crusty; serve to everyone but Jeff.

2. Vegetarian friends? Try veggie rumaki: wrap a strip of imitation bacon around a water chestnut, spear with a toothpick, and broil—but instead of imitation bacon use real bacon, and instead of a water chestnut use veal.

3. Steal Cheryl’s famous potato-salad recipe. When Cheryl asks, “Why did you steal my recipe?,” say, “I don’t know, Cheryl, why did you break my heart?” Then laugh so she knows you’re just kidding.

4. Blend fresh crabmeat with diced avocado, scallions, and a dollop of mayonnaise for a canapé topping so delicious that it will take your guests a full minute to realize that they’re eating it off dog biscuits. Once they catch on, act mortified and stammer that you must have “mixed up the boxes,” until everyone calms down. Then start crying because the biscuits remind you that today marks exactly eight weeks since you had to put down Buster, and you just miss him so much.

5. Tell Marissa that you appreciate her concern, but in the two years since Cheryl broke off the engagement you’ve grown up a lot, and you’re really in a much healthier place now. Then say, “Speaking of fiancés, how’s Peter’s alcoholism?” (Note: This is not technically an appetizer.)

6. For a taste of the U.K., fry up mini-servings of fish-and-chips. Take it to the next level by wrapping them in small pieces of newspaper, which, oddly enough, all seem to be printed with unfavorable reviews of Jeff ’s novel.

7. Have you ever noticed how sun-dried tomatoes and top-grade peyote look exactly the same? Not a suggestion, really. Just saying.

8. Another one for the vegetarians. If they think they like tofu, wait until they sample your delicious mock tofu—all you need is chicken fat, puréed pork loin, and five cups of piping-hot tallow. Cheryl will never know the difference.

9. Tempura makes great finger food, and the batter locks the flavor of just about anything in a savory, opaque crust. Impress your friends with creative choices, from squash blossoms to mislaid car keys to the two-carat engagement ring that Cheryl gave back to you after she “reassessed things.” Surprise!

10. Guests getting antsy? Head them off with a big bowl of steamed mussels. No one can resist mussels, not even emotionally stunted ex-fiancées and their new poorly-received-novelist boyfriends. Besides, disappearing into the kitchen will give you a chance to collect your thoughts and also to go slash Jeff ’s tires.

11. Homemade sugared almonds make the perfect sendoff, sure to please all your guests, even the ones who would be bludgeoning you with a tire iron if Peter weren’t standing between you. Good old Peter. He may not be the brightest or the handsomest person, but he’s very large.

12. As the party disperses, your guests might seem a little ungrateful, calling you an obsessive sociopath or pelting you with sugared almonds. Don’t worry, it’s probably the peyote talking. Just stand on the porch as their cars pull out, your eyes brimming with tears, and shout, “You know, I try, I really do . . .”

13. Add, “My dog died! He died! And he’s never coming back!”

14. Hepatitis! (Note: This is not technically an appetizer.)

Gardeners World

July 13th, 2008

Did a wee bit of gardening yesterday. Chuffy did most of the digging and being in charge, I did most of the raking and helping. We rolled out some grass and laid some patio stones and generally did a lot of levelling and tidiying up. Its a small garden so it was 3-4hrs work including rain breaks, only for torrential downpours – of which there were 3! Here is an after photo.

I don’t have any before photos, but the nascent flower bed in the centre should give a good idea of how it was – think ongoing trench warfare with the neighbours and you won’t be too far wrong.

Covered in plastic in the bottom right is the rotovator which was used to do some prep work during the week. And the new flagstones, well the pulled up and reused flagstones, were positioned along the right wall and by the back gate.

The shovel and the rake are being used to keep the hose to the sprinkler off the new grass. Apparently when new sod is laid it should be watered generously for a few days, which shouldn’t be too difficult given the weather we are having and expect to have for the next week or so.


July 10th, 2008

Picked up a tube of wasabi mustard today. Now when I get sushi from the local supermarket I can have as much wasabi as I like. Bwahahahahahahaha!

Generally though I just use it for salad dressing as follows.

wasabi – about a teaspoon. You’ll know if you have too much!

soy Sauce – enough to dissolve the wasabi, about 2 tablespoons.

chilli – finely chopped, with seeds if thats your bag.

garlic – a clove, crushed and chopped.

Lime juice – about half a lime seems to work.

Chilli sauce – hot and sweet. If you put in too much wasabi then this can be used to counteract it.

Mix it all together and throw it on whatever you like. This would also probably make a nice marinade for fish, meat or almost anything. I haven’t tried that yet. I am also trying to convince Chuffy to use wasabi on his bacon sandwiches, no joy there yet either!