The (Almost Forgotten) Pleasures of Fall

Anyone who knows me will tell you that while I love the warm spring and summer months, the dreary, cold and wet fall and winter months tend to introvert me and dampen my mood.

This morning, I rediscovered the joy and comfort of hopping out of the shower and getting dressed in front of of the wood burning stove, in which a quite nice fire was roaring. I’d really forgotten how pleasurable that can be.

It isn’t really cold enough here yet to warrant a fire in the morning (about 40F); however, we had a really wicked storm with sleet, thunder and lightning in the early morning hours, causing a complete power outage at 5 a.m. Being worried about the aquariums, I wasn’t able to go back to sleep so I stayed up, promptly being presented with the problem of how to get my morning coffee without power.

With help of a small espresso cup to support the pot and seven tea candles to serve as a makeshift stove, I was able to get a pot with some water boiling in order to make coffee from some older instant cappucino that I still had in my cupboard. (Because I had stored the cappucino powder without the lid, it tasted quite like the fennel tea residing in the same cupboard, but it was coffee nevertheless).

Since I continued to keep water warm in this fashion, most likely hoping that some cup of coffee I made would not taste like fennel, the bottom of the pot got quite sooty after a while. This, combined with the candles I had lit in order to avoid stumbling over the dog or the furniture in the complete darkness, got the house smelling smoky and sooty, so I left the front door open for quite a while to at least get the place aired out a bit. Thus, I lit a fire to keep the house from cooling down completely.

Cozy.

Young Stuff for Old People

Primarily due to my new iPhone*, I have just recently discovered the merits of iTunes. It took me a bit to figure out how to use it and all that, but once I got the hang of it, I loved it.

I spent an entire Saturday evening sitting around at the iTunes store, looking to fill gaps in my music collection and have a listen at things I just haven’t heard in ages. Can’t believe that back in high school we were listening to Kansas, Boston and Styx. I mean, they’re not bad, but gosh are they dated. Not so Hotel California (imho).

So, I downloaded a couple of things that hit my fancy, (hold on to your seats) Best of Bachmann Turner Overdrive (I loved them way back when and I still can’t keep my feet still when I hear “Takin’ Care of Business” or “Let it Ride”. Also got Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone”.

Some contemporary stuff too, Kid Rock, Gabriella Climli and Winehouse (just so no one thinks I am a complete geek).

My Kingston Trio collection is now up to date, too. :-D

*which I initially didn’t really want and wasn’t so excited about getting, but more about that later.

The Most Dangerous Cake in the World

INGREDIENTS:

4 tablespoons flour (that’s plain, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
Small splash of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
1 coffee mug

Put dry ingredients in the mug and mix well.
Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add vanilla extract and chocolate chips (if using)
Mix again.

Microwave for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed! Allow to cool a little and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT!
NOTE: This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous.

And why is this cake the MOST DANGEROUS CAKE RECIPE?
Because now you are only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at
any time of the day or night!

And because it isn’t any fun getting fat alone, I have decided to share this with you.

Foreign Policy For Beginners

Palin takes tough stance on Russia

“Palin said she supported NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia — a move Russia strongly opposes. She also said the United States must be “vigilant” about larger powers invading small democracies.” (from CNN).

O.k., let me explain it to you honey, you seem to need a little help with some things. How should I best explain?

Let’s say that in 1991 Alaska, no, bad example, let’s say Oregon decides to seek its independence from the United States and obtains it. Let’s also assume that from about 1994 to the present, Oregon’s military are trained by special teams from Russia, and Russia supplies weapons and technology to Oregon during this period of time.

(Just as Georgia won its independence from Russia and was supported militarily by the United States).

With me so far?

O.k.

Now, let us also pretend that the Warsaw Pact is still in existence, and just around about the mid-90′s, Russia seals a strategic pact with Oregon, who by now, with the encouragement of Russia and some other countries, is trying to join the Warsaw Pact.

(Just as Georgia has been supported by the U.S. and other countries in their quest to join NATO).

Still with me? O.k.

So, now it’s 2008 and Oregon decides to launch a military attack against a neighboring state, say Nevada.

(As Georgia did in South Ossetia).

Just how do you think the U.S. government might react? Not much different than the Russian one did in August of this year.

And last but not least, a little lesson in geography. Georgia is located on the Black Sea with Russia bordering on the north and the countries of Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the south. So why do they want it to join Nato? Because of it’s strategic importance and oil/gas pipelines.

All of it had very little to do with democracy in any form.

So please don’t be blowing hot air in the direction of Moscow. It’s bad enough that Bush managed to talk the Poles into letting him install a missile shield there which Europe does not need and only serves to piss off the russians.

Got me?

If you want to have a look at the view from the other side, I suggest this article from today’s issue of the Independent (that’s a major British newspaper you probably haven’t come across yet).

Vladimir Putin: ‘Georgia? We couldn’t just let Russia get a bloody nose’

Still Well

It’s been over two months again since my last post, so please pardon me (once again) for being a jerk and so quiet and silent all of this time.

I actually wrote quite a long post last week about Sarah Palin, but my blood pressure kept spiraling more and more, causing me to trash the entire rant.

Fall has come here in Bavaria, noticable through the meadow saffrons which made their first appearances two weeks ago and through the fact that the nights are again, getting quite chilly. Summer always seems to be so short and pass so quickly. I know that Fall and Winter offer charms of their own, but Spring and Summer are the times of the year that I love.

I haven’t made it to the mountains a single time this year. Something always seemed to intervene, be it work or other things. Ce la vie.

Though our summer was often wet, I did ride my scooter do work quite often. I bought it last year in April, an old Piaggio 125, it will go 100 km/h (not uphill though) and is a wonderfully fun and economically sound form of transportation. Filling her up at the gas station usually entails 6 € and about four liters. Some of the best hours of the summer I have spent in shorts and sleeveless shirts, riding around country roads on the few really hot days we had, looking for butterflies and dragonflies to photograph such as this common blue:

All Is Well

It has all been same-old, same-old here, for the most part.

I have had very little to say, avoiding the computer and the telephone in my spare time where possible. When people are tearing at you all day needing this and wanting that and the administrative work piles up in addition to that which is actually generating revenue, “closing the door” if you will at some point in the day is a necessity of mental survival.

The beginning of May had me undergo a small surgical procedure under general anesthesia at the hospital; it was nothing serious but not pleasant either. The worst part of it was that they ordered me in for the procedure at 8.30 a.m. in the morning with no food or drink. After being admitted, they informed me that they could not do the procedure until late afternoon. My first question to the nurse after waking post-op at 6.00 p.m. was whether or not I was going to get something to eat now. Of course not. The chief physician, after my begging, permitted me to have a small bowl of potato soup back in my room at 8.00 p.m. and it was the best soup I ever had. When I got home at 9.30 p.m., I ate. I mean , really ate.
And discovered why you aren’t supposed to eat so soon after general anesthesia. Within seconds, I felt incredibly ill, broke out in a cold sweat and only my will power kept me from having to vomit.

The end of May I had a minor nervous breakdown, as a few days before the tax return deadline, I realized with horror that my tax software was absolutely refusing to import my accounting information from 2007. I have never missed a deadline, always handing in everything on time. Admittedly, I could have started with my 2007 return a few days earlier than the weekend before the deadline, but then again, who likes doing year-end closures and taxes? I have now hired a tax attorney who will do the returns for me and has filed an extension, however, during these summer months I will have to rebook the entire year, using a completely different table of accounts. I guess that there are worse things, however.

I am hoping to catch up on some sleep in the next few days; the European Soccer Championships has caused me to suffer from a considerable lack of sleep in the last three weeks. Whoever decided that the matches should start at 8.45 p.m. is not an early riser by any means. Getting into bed 1-2 hours later than usual for days has made me just plain tired. Congratulations to the winner, Spain, the title is more than deserved. Germany disappointed with its performance in the final game.

I intend to try to be here more often and stop being such a hermit in every sense of the word, and will be checking in with every one of you in the next few days.

Last but not least, thanks Margit, for checking in to see if I was still amongst the living.

This One’s for Jen

zugspitze

While everyone else in this country was out celebrating “Fat Tuesday” by dressing weird and dancing drunk in the streets, I went out to shoot pictures of the alps.

This is the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak (2.962 meters).

Notice the lack of snow.

Texan Guy is Back

*waves to Mark* Thanks for stopping in! Actually, I think in Dallas it is colder than in Bavaria. Our daytimes have been around 50°F with our night times a bit frosty. No snow to speak of, everything is wintergreen (yellow).

This has become the world’s most boring, most neglected blog.

I must admit, the last few weeks I have been relatively busy with myself. Still not smoking any cigs but fighting the weight battle big time. I have, with a few holiday exceptions, stuck to my müsli and salad and more salad diet, and was very proud to have managed to maintain my weight over the holidays. Since the holidays, however, I have managed to lose 2 kilos (that’s about 4 lbs) and I am very pleased and surprised at my perseverance.

I joined Weight Watchers to get rid of the rest of my weight. It isn’t that bad actually, another 5 kilos (10 lbs) and I am happy; however, my thought was that WW might be of help in getting rid of it without having to starve to death while doing so. So far, so good. I manage to spread my 19 allowed daily points so that I can really eat something decent at lunch, leave breakfast at 30grams of müsli and have a salad in the evening. Will keep posted on that – however, I must admit, losing the weight has, up to now, been easier than I imagined. It just takes one hell of a lot of self-discipline, and a firm resolve to avoid all bakeries and go through the grocery store with blinds on.

Work has slowed, at last, allowing me to settle into my old routine (which was getting up, having some coffee and checking the blogs before I hit the shower). That routine was replaced mid-last year by getting up at six, getting some coffee and starting work. I hope that things continue as relaxed as they have become and that I am allowed to have a life this year. (And to get that dusty old bike out of the garage).

And to be here more often and check in with you folks more often.

Gotta go hit the salad. Yum.