a deadly mixture…

this morning, i switch on the thinkpad to wake it up from hibernation and go for a shower…just to come back to an utterly buggered root file system…sugar…i try a quick file system check but that does turn into an endless drone of error messages (and i’ve even started the file system checker in automatic “yes” mode), but eventually “declare the bazaar closed”: the system is a goner. fortunately, my /home partition only has a few defects and can be rescued with fsck…i decide to not reinstall fedora 3 but instead try gentoo

installing the gentoo distribution basically means installing everything from source. you start off with a minimum install CD (about 59MB) and then pull in a couple of setup files, configure the build process (i.e., which CPU, which optimisations, which features) and off you go…a day later you have a customised system that only has the stuff you want — in my case i’m really surprised at how much space all of a sudden i’ve left on my drive. it works so well that i decide to switch travelbear to gentoo as well…(and, yes, somehow it’s cool to know that i have a self-compiled mozilla firefox 😉

p.s.: the crash turns out to be a fatal combination of fedora 3/4 with software suspend2

“inside story”

was tempted to post this as “no guts, no glory”, but the whole affair was rather gutsy and had little to do with glory…after our vacation on the isle of wight i’d been to my GP to have my heartburn checked out — and he had decided to have my oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum photographed.

over the weekend i did some research on the internet and learnt that one in 14’000 dies during a gastroscopy (from heart and circulation failure), sometimes the stomach or oesophagus get punctured…i stopped looking further.

so, it’s with some trepidation (and after a nervous night spent tossing in bed) that i went to the specialist this morning. after waiting for about half an hour he invites me into his office, carries out the anamnesis and then explains what they are going to do…then i’m sent into the surgery and the very friendly nurse asks me to strip off my shoes and to lie down on my left side, and proceeds to spray an anaesthetic into my throat and to inject a barbiturate — she just has time to tell me that i might start feeling a bit dizzy and i’m gone…the next thing i remember is being told that i can now go into the adjacent room and sleep out. that was it!

about 30min later i’m awake, get a coffee and a croissant (had to stop eating and drinking the night before) and then get to see the pictures they took from my insides while i was gone. almost everything is fine, no ulcers, no cancer, just a bit of a lazy lower esophageal sphincter that doesn’t seem to close all the way. he recommends a prophylactic low dosage of a proton pump blocker.

phew…i’m quite relieved and take the bus to work.

photos, paper, elephants, colombiers, posters & god

dorothee is back from downtown erlangen, having picked up yesterday’s mystery parcel from the post office: it a tube with the four 40x60cm photo prints i’d ordered wednesday night from bildpartner.de — exciting! they’ve turned out to be quite well, with a matte finish, the carrier apparently being a resin coated paper. the photos do not cover all of the paper, there are 4–5cm white stripes at the top and bottom.

the prints are so good that i discuss with dorothee my next photo project: producing an isle of wight photo poster in A1 format — we get a bit confused about the actual size of A1 and whether it shouldn’t really be A0, so i go to the font of all knowledge, to wikipedia and look up DIN A4 and end up at first at the wikipedia page on paper sizes and then at markus kuhn’s page on international paper sizes — and learn that german toilet paper is mostly DIN A6 in size (but if you are now thinking how typical german to have that regulated, well, as markus points out, the US is not much better or worse), that the A1 format we are interested in is 594x841mm in size and is actually quite close in size to the traditional elephant (711x584mm) or colombier (876x597mm) paper sizes, and that “US paper manufacturers have truly bizarre” ways of specifying the weight of their paper.. also, you might want to check into the relationship of DIN A4 paper and the first and last book of the bible and how the existence of DIN A4 paper is really an indication of god’s existence (thx to markus’s very informative page for the link to that titbit, again) — then, again, you might not…(some of our fellow christians do get up to weird stuff, i have to admit)

returning from this detour and having sorted out that we do want A1 (594x841mm), i proceed to figure out what pixel density is required: the 400x600mm prints look quite good, the resolution was 3264x2448pixels which is a bit less than 6pixels/mm in each direction. that gives me the following values for gimp:

  • pixel dimensions: 3564 x 5046 pixels
  • print size: 594.00 x 841.00 millimetres
  • resolution: 6 x 6 pixels/mm

which gives a base picture size of 137MB (uncompressed XCF format).

SBB online ticket…not

having just booked and printed my online tickets with Deutsche Bahn for the trip to erlangen this weekend, i decided to hop over to the SBB website and try their new online ticket system as well for the schaffhausen–adliswil part…aside from two failed attempts at getting the ticket price displayed (both just waited for a reply from the sbb server), i get as far as the payment step: before i can do that i need to acknowledge that i’ve read the SBB online ticket terms & conditions:

  • i cannot cancel online tickets, ouch — the Deutsche Bahn (DB) variant allows me to do that

  • i can only travel on the day that is printed on the online ticket — considerably less customer friendly than with tickets i buy at the counter, and, again, the Deutsche Bahn system doesn’t make a difference between online tickets or normal tickets here

  • i have to print the ticket on white paper with a minimum resultion of 600dpi, no smeared print, no incomplete prints! (gosh, this starts to sound like a persiflage of german bureaucracy, except it’s not, it’s swiss!) it sounds like i’d be printing stock certificates…

all in all, much less costumer friendly than what is possible (see Deutsche Bahn’s system that has been in operation for quite some time now) and too restrictive for my taste — i cancel the ticket purchase.

why can’t they just use the same system as Deutsche Bahn? smells suspiciously like “not-invented-here”…

oh, and there are conditions under which a ticket might be canceled or returned: if i die before the train journey, i can file a form (available from the SBB web site) in writing with the SBB contract center in brig — either they have the inside dope on facilities available after death (via the vatican swiss guard connection? eternal flat rate? and you’ll probably not care about how much bandwidth you’ll get: you’ve got all eternity to get that download done) or they are begging to be haunted by the ghosts of online ticket travellers…

p.s.: coming to think of it, some internet service provider provide heavenly download rates already in the here & now…

constitutional tagliatelle


  • small glass of pearl onions, drained and rinsed
  • 80g bacon, thinly sliced
  • 200g crème fraîche
  • 60g parmesan/parmeggiano cheese, grated
  • 160g peas (i’m using frozen ones)
  • 180g tagliatelle
  • 25g butter
  • juice of 1 lemon


  1. heat a large pan to high heat and fry the bacon slices for about 2min
  2. reduce heat to medium and add the butter and let it melt
  3. add the pearl onions and let them simmer for 3–5min
  4. now, toss in the frozen peas along with 2 tablespoons of hot water, a pinch of terragon and a pinch of herbs de provence
    • let it cook at a medium heat until the peas have turned dark green
    • add a splash of olive oil in case they get too dry
    • stir every so often
  5. meanwhile, put the kettle on with about 1.5l of water
  6. in a bowl mix the crème fraîche with the lemon juice and salt and pepper
  7. using the hot water, add two pinches of salt & cook the tagliatelle for about 3–4min (check instructions), then drain the water and add them to the pan
  8. quickly add the crème fraîche, the parmesan and stir briskly

serve on warm plates.