fluffy bread, wild dentures & bread making machines…

i love baking my own bread — especially, as we’ve yet to find a swiss bakery capable of producing half-decent bread: the stuff you get here is of the fluffy “sorry, i’ve forgotten my teeth in the bathroom” quality. nice if you have trouble with your grinders and the dentures have a tendency to get stuck in anything a bit more crunchy than a soaked slice of toast…not so enticing if you are after the more substantial stuff.

unfortunately it takes quite a while to bake your own bread (especially as i’m often working late): prepare the dough, let it rise (the long bit really), work on it some more and then bake it in the oven. hence, bread making machines have held some fascination for me ever since they came on the market years ago.

so, today i decided to get myself a bread making machine.

searching around on the internet i quickly found out that my preferred supplier migros didn’t have anything on offer (at least not listed on their web pages).

hmm…so let’s see which model to choose then: bäcker.org was a good starting point. other pages just confirmed what i learned on that page and i decided to get a panasonic device (mainly because of its safety features).

cranking up google led me to weisswaren.ch…and I ordered a panasonic sd-253.

first bread from the breadmaker…

breadmaker arrived today! so: after work, the first deed is to unwrap the beast, clear space in my micro-kitchen, and {jargon “RTFM”} for it — for once…don’t want to set the kitchen on fire…am a bit scared by the “caution: gets bloody hot and can incinerate all your possessions” sticker on top of it (okay, i just made that one up, but the sticker said something similar, really). all sounds easy enough and i boldy venture into the unknown…

the first bread (issue 1) is the whole meal recipe from the manual — and it’s really simple: just dump the yeast in to the form, followed by the whole meal, sugar, salt, and water. close the box, program it — and walk away. 5 hours later you’ve got a fantastic bred! and it smells like heaven. only “flaw”: the top is not very crunchy…a couple of minutes in the oven ought to fix that.

excellent tool!

sea-fever

While reading gebrauchsanweisung für südengland i came across john masefield’s poem sea-fever which i rather like:

sea-fever

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life.
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

that sums it up rather nicely…

an early start & back south

6:30 i’m awake since a couple of minutes ago, woken up by a car starting outside (well, it couldn’t have started inside the hotel now, could it?). talk to doro and then get ready: shower, packing, breakfast and off to the railway station. struer at 7:15 in the morning is not much livelier than at 23:10 in the night, you will be glad to learn.

my friend, the drizzle rain, has gone as well and a mixture of real rain and dry-ish weather comes along on my way from north of denmark all the way down to hamburg. i change trains in fredicia and padborg and arrive with the FLX by the nord-ost-bahn in hamburg dammtor at 14:16 almost on the dot. interestingly enough the conductors in the FLX don’t verify my online ticket (which really is not online but rather printed on paper and thus as offline as one can imagine, i only bought it online) instead they just take a close look at it and then decide that “it’s just fine, thank you”.

hamburg dammtor station turns out to be much nicer than hamburg main station: the audience is not as “deprecated” (no heroin addicts street worker outside the station, for example) and at the south end of track 4 on the ground floor is dö-bab which does a very decent döner kebab (lots of salad and meat, good sauce, good value @ EUR 2.99). in the bakery i buy two raisin brötchen and at the coffee to go… a tall caramel macchiato. the ICE to munich arrives on time and i manage to allocate a double seat and settle in.

14:56 we leave hamburg dammtor on time, outside it’s raining steadily, the next stop is hamburg main station followed shortly afterwards by hamburg harburg and then it’s roughly 90min through north germany to hannover and slowly it’s becoming dawn and then dark.

a busy day, a happy penguin & a very nice dinner

9:00 after a good breakfast (included) i start “up the hill and keep on going” (the road directions from the hotel) — in the hopes of finding b & o at the end of, no, not the rainbow, but at the end of town. the persistent drizzle that accompanied me to the hotel yesterday night apparently likes it so much here that it has decided to stay and play games: sometimes it comes at me from the left, then suddenly again from the front, just to disappear and lull me in a sense of false security before popping up from behind. although, i’ve to admit it is more of a gentle play, nothing vicious. anyhow, after 20min i still have not seen any sign proclaiming to be b & o headquarters. hmm. i turn around and ask a man entering what looks like a factory building: yep, this is it. i need to go around the building to find the reception. as his badge is not working he comes with me and drops me off safely into the hands of a friendly receptionist.

after a busy day i’m back in my hotel by 16:00 and half an hour later start to explore the roaring town of struer. leaving the grand hotel through the “back” front door i turn right again at the next side street and then left into the pedestrian zone: a couple of banks and a large number of clothes stores and an equally large number of hairdressers. looking at the shopping population at large the questions begs to be answered: why? who patronizes these shops? hmm. anyhow, i’m really looking for something resembling a cafe and also a supermarket to stock up on mineral water for the trip back tomorrow. the road curves around the block and goes up the hill (the same hill i’ve walked up in the morning) and i soon cross the road leading past the “back” front of my hotel and find: kwickly. a mixture of supermarket cum DIY cum bakery.

my friend, the drizzle rain, is back and together we explore more of downtown struer: i’m happy to report that it has a hot dog specialist (tempting, very tempting, but i resist), a chinese restaurant disguised as a cafe (funny that), a couple of more or less weathered pizza places, a nice looking library, an interior design center, and (!) a cafe/pub, the glade pengvin…which i assume to be either a happy penguin or a well-shaved penguin (depending on whether glade is leaning toward the english “glad” or the german “glatt” [it’s the english “glad”, i learn later]). this locality turns out to be rather nice, though i settle for a cup of coffee (invoking the cafe part of the happy penguin) noticing that a pint of tuborg øl is DKK 40 (around CHF 8) and that for a pint of guinness i’d probably have to mortgage our (non-existing) house…

on my way back to the hotel i detour through the kwickly and acquire two 1.5l bottles of water, have to pay DKK 40 instead of the anticipated DKK 32: DKK 8 deposit. oh, well. somehow i doubt that i’ll return those bottles anytime soon (or at all).

at 19:00 a colleague from b & o picks me up at the hotel and we drive to holstebrø to the under klippen, a very nice restaurant with dark wooden floors, white walls, roughly plastered, and wooden tables. i drink a bottle of tuborg beer (when in rome, do as the romans do) and am treated to an excellently cooked turbot — followed by my favored dessert: creme brulê…

northwards bound

7:35 adliswil station: over 15 hours of train ride ahead of me, i’m off on my way to the north today, to the little town of struer in the north of denmark where we’ll find (hopefully) b & o.

8:02 the ICE from zürich to hamburg is — even in first class — chock-full…in basel i move up one carriage as that is only half-full. no power outlets on this version of the ICE, which means i’ve to run my thinkpad on my three li-ion batteries. shortly after freiburg the sun comes out for a brief stint this day, it will be the only time.

11:10 about 20 minutes before we reach frankfurt main station we come to a full stop: true to DB form we have a point failure ahead of us and need to wait for an ICE going in the opposite direction to pass and clear the track before we can continue: we gather about 7min delay.

perhaps Deutsche Bahn should — instead of adding “mobility” gimmicks to the BahnCard — see that travelling by train really becomes an alternative to flying: make sure each and every train provides power to the people (grin), and take a leaf out of the books of the english railways: coffee and drinks for free in first class (the danish railways, i later find out, do so as well). who really needs a car insurance? or cheap car accessories?…give me a break.

16:05 after a medium walk i make it from the south side of the hamburg main station to the north side where the ticket counters are located and get my ticket extension from flensburg to struer and back without problems. when i ask for the DB lounge (hey, we are travelling first class today!) i learn that there’s none. huh? the very friendly DB sales person (really!) tells me that in the 1980s DB had a stroke of financial genius and did a public-private partnership thing when they renovated the main station…the short of it is that now they would have to pay EUR 36 per sqm to the private financiers to get space for a lounge…apparently that’s more than they can afford and so they’ve been looking elsewhere and a lounge is now going to be available next spring. “oh, well,” i think, “there’s always the intercity restaurant” — just to find out that that has been closed for refurbishment: hmm, i wonder whether that is going to be the lounge? the up-shot is that there’s no place to really sit down and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee.

17:16 the EC 174 from prague to åhus is announced as being 15min delayed “due to construction work”…listening to the DB personnel waiting for the train as well it transpires that something else is going on, apparently a breakdown in some switching center or so. i grow slightly nervous as i’ve got only 20min to change trains in vejle…

17:29 the EC 174 from prague has finally arrived and takes off with a total delay of 13min. outside the station it is dark, and the alster and her adjoining shops twinkle through the night. after the almost immediately following stop at hamburg dammtor, the train seemingly tries to make up speed and hurtles through the night, northwards.

21:17 vejle [veij-le]: between flensburg and padborg we reduce the delay down to 9min — thanks to a generous border crossing buffer in the timetable — and i arrive on time in vejle! pheeew!

the IC train to struer actually consists of two coupled trains: the front one goes to åhus, the back part is my train for struer. they detach while still rolling into the station! cool. first class travel on a danish IC is quite nice: you get free coffee and mineral water…

23:10 i’m finally at the end of my train journey today: struer. a small station but still with a little kiosk-shop and a ticket center (both, needless to say almost, long closed for the day). there is but one way out of the station and i follow the instructions of the receptionist from the the struer grand hotel: out of the station turn right and just follow the road for a couple of 100m…struer definitely is an early-to-bed town, almost nobody is out anymore and i bravely follow the dark and wet road (a persistent drizzle is claiming the night) over a traffic crossing into a pedestrian zone: no sign of a hotel. not very uplifting. turning around i notice that what looked like a battered restaurant exterior is in fact also the entrance to the struer grand hotel — or is it? when i try the door, it is closed. hmm. they know that i’m arriving late…hmm…turning back, to try and find an entry from the other side perhaps, i hear the door open: an elderly lady enquiringly gives me the visual once-over…and — after having established that i am mr husemann, i’m let in. the hotel extends from the restaurant front a good way in to the back — which turns out to be the real front of the hotel. i get my key and can finally go to bed.

going to zürich with ICE 183: charging for fort zürich!…

today on the train from stuttgart to zürich: shortly before zürich — just after the ICE disappears into the tunnel — the train stops: nothing unusual about that, it does that occasionally here…though, today it takes a rather long time to get going again…and in the end it doesn’t: not enough driving power to get the ICE up the steep incline towards stadelhofen station! the train manager announces that we’ll go backwards a bit to have more of a runway to gather enough speed so that the ICE train will make it up the hill (i’m not making this up, honestly!).

so, backwards to dietlikon s-bahn station it goes and once the train has the all clear for zürich main station, off it goes again: we charge for fort zürich! this time we make it! yee-haw!

p.s.: once we were in dietlikon, the SBB conductors started printing out coffee vouchers: nice touch that!

the fog & it was obvious…

six weeks ago we had close to 30° — now we have fog, fog, fog: welcome to winter in greater zurich…

however! good news from london: what we have suspected all along, has now been proven: [a] pint at the pub is good for the mind. [the times]

Researchers from University College London have found that while a drink with your friends may be bad for your waistline, it could be good for your mind.

i wonder how many beers it took to find that one out…that’s what one can call real dedication to the job!

so: cheers!

catastrophe strikes… resize2fs, fdisk & fedora save the day

return to work to find my thinkpad locked up…hmph…reset and reboot to find mozilla segfaulting to its heart’s content…rats. a couple of reinstalls later (none of which fix the problem) i declare the bazaar closed for the time being and also that a clean slate would be nice: i resize my /proj partition using resize2fs and fdisk (in that order!) then create a new /home partition, save off the vital stuff in /etc, /var and /boot and go for a clean fedora install.…hours later, still the same evening, back at the ranch: everything is back and back working — unfortunately, it’s now almost 20:00 and i need to hurry back to at least get one load of washing done: tonight is one of my two allocated washing nights where i’ve command over the washing room in the basement of our apartment building.