new adventures

it’s been over six months now that @jmdhh and i moved back together again and i started a new career back here in erlangen, germany. six very interesting and exciting months!

the new job is exciting: i can make use of my skills to the fullest and can extend my horizon into areas that have always interested and fascinated me. i work for a small project engineering company that does high tech jobs in the nuremberg-erlangen-fürth metropolitan region — an interesting and very refreshing experience when coming from a comparatively humongous international company with over 400000 employees: we are just about 60 in total now 🙂 and it certainly helps to have extremely interesting colleagues with a good sense of humor 🙂

after roughly 17 years of commuting back and forth between germany and switzerland every weekend (@jmdhh mostly in the last 5 years) and having led a very scheduled life, it felt like getting de-pressurized these last 6 months and we look back in awe at the past 17 years. life has been easy… 😉 we’ve started on new adventures, though: exploring the franconian mountains, visiting old and new places on the southern shores of the baltic sea, joining a new church …

— oh, and we bought a house. 🙂 as you can see above it’s still under construction and will take another year until it’s finished and we can move it — but we are very excited and very much looking forward to it! it’s close to where we live now, so we’ll stay in the current part of town 🙂

goodbye switzerland!

after almost 17 years living & working in switzerland i am traveling back to germany for the last time today.

it’s been a fantastic time. we learned a lot about us and about the swiss. we became friends with a number of people here, become even very good friends with quite a few folks!

we discovered the mountains and walking.

we lived in a suburb of zurich and we lived in the middle of the mountains.

we became members of the local churches.

i discovered singing in a choir and even had the honor of being part of the stiftschor of the abbey of einsiedeln!

we learned that swiss culture and german culture are two very different beasts. we learned to understand (not speak) swiss german. we became huge fans of the swiss transport system. we each had our own postfinance accounts.

we learned snow shoe hiking.

we were amazed by the strict rules on one hand and the flexibilities in applying those rules (or not).

we were welcomed by lots of folks. we learned what it feels like to be part of a nation that is slightly disliked by the swiss german media. we learned what it means to be foreigners. we learned how open and warm hearted the swiss people can be.

we shall miss switzerland, we shall miss einsiedeln, we shall miss the friends we made. we shall miss the benign mountains of the voralpen, we shall miss the awe inspiring mountains of the alpine regions. we shall miss the abundance of snow in winter, that first snow morning of each winter!

i will miss the stiftschor, the friends i made there, their kindness of taking me into their midst — most of all pater lukas with his kind humor. i shall miss our friends at the reformierte kirche einsiedeln who accepted us as we are and showed us new views on live as a christian. i shall miss the friends from the spedakel group of the chaernehus and the many shows we literally staged together.

@jmdhh and i have quite a lot of tours that we’d still like to do — it will be a bit more difficult now, but we’ll do them nevertheless! 🙂

we are looking forward to living together after almost 17 years of weekend commuting! we are looking forward to a less regimented, less planned life. we are looking forward to having more time with each other, to having a less complicated lifestyle. we are looking forward to living in our own house (eventually, hopefully, sometime in 2014). i’m very much looking forward to that exciting new job in erlangen! i’m looking forward to taking evening strolls with @jmdhh! i’m looking forward to being able to talk face-to-face with her instead of through a VoIP line. i’m looking forward to fall in frankonia, to winter together, to weekend hiking and walking excursions.

after almost 17 years living in switzerland, i’m on the train home tonight.

goodbye switzerland! take care until we meet again!

time to go…

for the last couple of months every morning at 8:00 a tweet like the following has been showing up in my twitter timeline:

no, i haven’t gone that insane: it’s a python script running on our server and calculating the difference to 13 september 2012. what’s so special about that date? well, it’s the date of my last day at work here in switzerland.

after almost 17 years in switzerland — i started working here back in 1996 – we have decided to call it a day for our “swiss adventure” and join forces again back in erlangen. i’ll start working for a very interesting and exciting high tech company in erlangen (more on that in the future). @jmdhh and i are very excited about this new chapter in our life and really are looking forward to living together again (we’ve been commuting over the weekends between germany and switzerland for the last 17 years). no longer 16 hours train travel on the weekend, just one apartment to support, much more time together!

and, yes, we’ll miss the mountains, the fantastic landscapes, the many walks we’ve been able to undertake, and we’ll miss those really good friends we’ve made. the stiftschor of the abbey of einsiedeln with its weekly choir practice followed by pizza and beer in the klostergarten will leave a gaping hole in my life.

there is an old german saying about moving on with a weeping eye and a laughing eye: in our case the laughing eye is, admittedly, larger than the weeping eye and we are looking forward to come october.

as you can above see i’ve started wrapping things up and packing the boxes. the movers will come and pick up our stuff on 19 september, deliver it at @jmdhh‘s place on the 20th, i’ll stay behind for two days to hand over the apartment and then leave switzerland on friday, 21 september by train — the same way we arrived back in 1996.

time to go.

shipping forecast

having just updated our squeezebox radios i re-found the BBC iplayer plugin. it’s been lingering in the depths of the squeezebox radio menus for ages, i guess, but i had never really checked it out. while waiting for @jmdhh to return i decided to give the iplayer plugin a spin.

for some reasons i narrowed in on BBC4 and encountered old friends such as “the now show” (which i regularly listen to via their podcast) or less known shows such as the intriguingly named “life: an idiot’s guide” (need to check that one out). the one that takes the biscuit, though, is the “shipping forecast”. not the 5:20 GMT one — too wordy the context of that one — but the 0:48 GMT one, nicely framed in music — the ante-music being Sailing By, the post-music being the british national anthem concluded by the BBC pips (all according to wikipedia’s Shipping Forecast entry 🙂 — and being the fully extended version.

i found it rather soothing 🙂 you can give it a go via the BBC iplayer.

a time trip to the 1950s

even though the place we live at here in switzerland has a rather rural character — there are several livestock markets throughout the year down at the station square, very few regions regularly vote more conservative than ours — einsiedeln has a surprising cultural live. one of the driving forces is the chaernehus, which several times a year hosts cabaret, an exhibition, and stages a play.

this year’s play is kino etzel — which @jmdhh and i went to see tonight. kino etzel is played in the old cinema, kino etzel and is a tribute to the old swiss rural cinema of the 1950s. until the of 2010 einsiedeln’s kino etzel was still operating and it had been lovingly kept in the style of the 1950s — i loved it. unfortunately, the end of 2010 was also the last curtain for kino etzel — until this year when the chaernehus theater group decided to make it the subject of their 2012 production.

we had made seat reservations and when we arrived at 20:00 were greeted by cloakroom attendants in 1950s outfit — the price to leave our coats was 1950s as well: CHF 0.20 (tickets were 2012-ish price-wise though 😉 we had not only reserved seats in the show but also in the pre-show restaurant: the gallery had been turned into a typical 1950s swiss restaurant complete with a 1950s swiss menu, lovingly decorated with furnishings from that era. due to running a bit late but still had time to have an einsiedler beer and something to eat before the show started.

the play itself is a mixture of cinematic, theatrical, and musical elements — sometimes intermixed (the initial showing of a piece from the 1950s schweizer wochenschau about the bad wolf in wallis1 was aborted by two 1950s policemen storming the cinema and reading out the regulations of the canton of schwyz regarding cabaret shows. all elements of the play work together to re-create the 1950s — and for most of the show it works quite well (the football piece was a bit drawn out and trying to imitate loriot but not quite achieving that really).

all in all: a very entertaining and interesting show, well worth a visit!

“kino etzel” is on until 11 february 2011

  1. nothing really new then. 

smells & memory

the other day @jmdhh and i were out shopping. while i was waiting at one of the shops i was “hit” by a smell of coffee — and immediately taken back to the apartment of my grandmother in the late 60s, early 70s. she lived in bremerhaven, one of the german sea ports, and had a penchant for coffee.

her apartment always smelled of coffee in a certain way — the smell of coffee emanating from that shop at which i was waiting for @jmdhh must have hit my olfactory memory at just the right spot and triggered that flashback to my childhood. all of a sudden i could remember how her apartment looked liked, the milk bar she sometimes would take me to for late lunches (milk rice with fruits and cinnamon!), the trips to look at — from my child’s perspective certainly — gigantic vessels moored at the columbuskaje, one of the oversea’s ports of bremerhaven. the visits to wremen where i played as a little kid on the beach and even remember taking a dip in the river weser — probably unheard of today. or, the visits to one of her friends who lived in a high rise close to one of the ship yards in bremerhaven, whose apartment had panoramic windows looking out across the north of bremerhaven and in particular over the ship yard. i also remember that there was a huge toy store in the bürgermeister-smidt-straße (huge, from my perspective as a little boy, that is) — which was a great place to be, certainly in the time before christmas 🙂

it’s interesting, how smells can cause an immediate memory flashback. i’ve googled for “smell memory” to find out more about it. jonah lehrer quotes in his post smell and memory the french author marcel proust

But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection. — [marcel proust: swann’s way, translated by c. k. scott moncrief]

— and goes on to explain that

[…] the olfactory cortex has a direct neural link to the hippocampus. in contrast, all of our other senses (sight, touch and hearing) are first processed somewhere else – they go to the thalamus – and only then make their way to our memory center.

so smell (and taste, really, since it’s connected to our smell sensors as you’ll find out once you have a severe cold) enjoys a direct link into our hippocampus which seems to play a, if not the, major role in what we consider to be our memory. the only other sensory input i can think of which seems to have some kind of unfiltered access to our brain and emotions is music.

interesting stuff.

recipe: slow-roasted pork butt (blade)


  • 1kg pork butt (blade)


  • 1 glove garlic
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons italian herb mixture
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico)

pre-heat the oven to 80–90°C

wash the pork and dry it with kitchen tissue. incise the pork butt all around in a diagonally criss-crossing pattern.

strip the garlic glove, place it together with the teaspoon of salt in a mortar and crush it with the pestle until you end up with a smooth paste. add the herbs, paprika, olive oil, pepper and vinegar and give it all a good mix.

next, rub the mixture on to the pork, making sure to cover all sides. place a casserole large enough to contain the pork on a high heat and once it’s hot, place the meat in the casserole and sear it on all sides for about 1min 30s on each side. once it’s brown on all sides, place the casserole into the pre-heated oven.

leave in the oven for 2h30m. serve with mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes and vegetable.

the joys of creative commons licenses

i’m in the process of re-working both this blog and my photo site. for the photo site i’ve switched from zenphoto to jalbum — zenphoto didn’t really offer any decent support for displaying geo-tagged pictures, had at the point in time of switching too many security issues for my taste, and didn’t have such a slick looking theme as jalbum’s turtle skin.

for a couple of sub-albums i wanted to make use of the background music feature offered by the turtle skin. naturally, just shoving in one of the thousands of MP3 that we have on our music players wouldn’t do as the license for those tracks didn’t allow that. a couple of google searches for “free music” later, i ended up on the fantastic page which has an interesting range of music licensed under one or the other creative commons licenses.

browsing through their stuff, i quickly found two albums that i wanted to use: “the four seasons (vivaldi)” album by john harrison with the wichita state university chamber players and “the cup of tea” by sláinte. adding both to jalbum was easy — download and drag-and-drop to the folders —, adding the license information was a bit more involving. adding a caption to the MP3s caused the turtle skin music playback to ignore the MP3s. i ended up adding conditional footer code via turtle’s header and footer tab:

<ja:if exists=”musicLicense”>
<p>music © ${musicYear} <a href=”${musicArtistURL}”>${musicArtist}</a>,
album <a href=”${musicAlbumURL}”>${musicAlbum}</a> licensed under a
<a href=”${musicLicenseURL}”>${musicLicense}</a></p>

what this does is that if the user variable musicLicense is set, it then will include a music attribution in the footer of the sub-album page. you add user variable for a sub-album/folder in jalbum via the edit button for that and then selecting the user variable tab on the right hand side.

here are the variable that i’m using:

name of the music license; for example, CreativeCommons-ByAttribution-ShareAlike
URL for the license
name of the artist(s)
URL for the artist page
name of the album
URL for the album page
copyright year

the resulting footer then looks like this:

@jmdhh admiring the views…

at the beginning of june @jmdhh and i spent two fantastic weeks in the english lake district — one of our walks took us up on top of silver how. the photo below shows @jmdhh enjoying the wonderful landscape and views, all of them at once it seems.

[photonav height=400 animate=1 mode=drag url=’’]

recipe: vampire ears tortilla with cherry tomato chutney

tortilla1 ingredients:

  • 300g potatoes
  • 140g dried tomatoes in olive oil (aka vampire ears)
  • 40g pitted black olives
  • 5 large eggs
  • clove of garlic
  • 2 + 1 tablespoons olive oil

chutney ingredients:

  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 2 pinches basil
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • salt
  • pepper

start with making the chutney: wash the cherry tomatoes and quarter them. heat the olive oil in a small pan and add the quartered tomatoes, then add the rest of the ingredients. cook over medium heat for 30min then reduce to the lowest setting to keep it warm.

for the tortilla peel the potatoes and cut them into 5mm wide slices and dry them using kitchen tissues. slice the olives. chop the clove of garlic. next heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan at a medium heat. add the vampire ears aka dried tomatoes along with the garlic and olives. cook for about 5min. next add the potatoes, stir well to get all potato slices covered with oil. cover the pan and cook at low heat for 20min.

after 20min slightly scramble the eggs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, add the potatoes and mix with the eggs.

turn the heat of the large pan up to medium, add a tablespoon of olive oil and then add the egg–potato mixture back to the pan. cook — without cover — for 20min. preheat plates in the oven at 60°C.

at the end of the 20min turn the tortilla over and heat at medium heat for a further 5min. then cut into quarters, place two quarters each on one of the preheated plates, add half of the tomato chutney on top.


  1. the tortilla part of the recipe is inspired by the spanish tortilla recipe by delia smith.