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Eat this

Posted on October 9th, 2015

DSC_3389

This is my trusty, battered, scratched and dusty Samsung E1270. Why do I show you this? Because the picture was taken 10 minutes after I took it out of my trousers after I took the trousers out of the washing machine.

Yes, fully funtional.

Filed under: Tech stuff | No Comments »

I try

Posted on October 9th, 2015

Yes, I try a comeback. My second son was born 2 weeks ago and I’m still a stay at home, child caring, sling carrying dad.
We got married last year and built a house. We just moved in before our son was born. There’s still a lot to do, but the important parts are done.
I really enjoy it that I just can open the door and let my son run without worrying about the streets. We have a nice gate and he can’t escape the garden (yet).

Filed under: House, Kids, life, Marriage | No Comments »

The blog is a lie

Posted on April 28th, 2013

My son was born on April 8th and now I find it far more interesting to spend time with him, than the blog and I simply can’t be arsed to spend time to write about my fatherhood.

So I simply will close it.

Filed under: life | No Comments »

Last minute decisions

Posted on March 1st, 2013

Today we decided to buy a combined fridge/freezer. Our fridge is from the stone ages and uses a lot of electrical power. It also has just a small freezing compartment. We pondered A+++ ones, but they still are insanely expensive compared to A++ and they don’t use that much less power. So we decided on this one.

Gorenje

Filed under: household | No Comments »

New topic

Posted on February 27th, 2013

As the date for me becoming a Dad comes closer and we both start to panic slightly (at the moment Almarna’s panic is greater and I’m the calmer one, roles may be switched), I decided to change the blog’s topic. I’ll continue to blog about all the bits and bobs, odds and ends and music but with focus on my role as ‘The Dad’ and also my experiences as house husband.

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Things that annoy me

Posted on February 26th, 2013

A short conversation on Facebook made me think what is annoying me.

  • Stupidity
  • Don’t get me wrong, it’s not lack of intelligence I don’t like. Just people who walk through life with a board nailed to their heads and wearing blinders and foremost: refuse to learn and grow. Making mistakes is human, refuse to learn from mistakes is stupid and that annoys me.

  • Reckless drivers
  • I like speed, I like to drive fast. I’ve driven over 1 million kilometers (600,000 miles) since I passed my driving test back in 1990. I only had one accident due to bad driving and that was on my first day with a license. I know what my car can handle and what I can handle and in which situations I can drive fast or when I have to shift a gear or two down. But I’m not talking about drivers who go fast, I hate drivers where you can sense, they don’t have control over their cars. Or drivers who put pedestrians to danger and are reckless when kids are around. And I’m really annoyed by drivers who get tickets and whine about it.

  • Lies, dishonesty
  • I really prefer people who walk up to me and punch me honestly in the face to people who walk up to me fake smiling, shaking my hands and talking behind my back.

  • Reckless, ruthless thugs
  • In German there is a term called elbow society. People who just walk by a line to get to the front. I really love the UK for their queuing. It’s impossible for Austrians and Germans to queue properly. Observe it at airports, everywhere are neat queues, except at flights to Austria and Germany. And that’s a symptom for our society, everyone is just looking for their own benefits. Helpfulness is not modern anymore. It also reflects in charity. Austria is one of the richest countries and donates less and less for charity. It makes me mostly sad, but also annoys the crap out of me.

  • Whining and being unable to see own errors and blaming others for own failures
  • Is it really so hard to admit an error? To say: OK, it was my fault, sorry, I will try and fix it and not to do it again? Yes, it is hard, it is always easier to blame everyone else, but oneself. I was the same. I always turned myself the victim when I had a fight with various partners. Until I met my wife to be, she just said: I’m sick of taking the blame, either you fix that or I don’t see much of a future for us. So I fixed it. We get married next year.

  • Impoliteness
  • I just was raised to be polite. To greet people when I meet them. To greet back when I am greeted. To say please and thank you. I guess this is also a symptom of the elbow society. Being rude and impolite is much easier. When I’m ignored when I greet neighbors, I loudly say something along the lines: ‘oh I’m sorry you have such a bad toothache, that you can’t even greet’ or ‘wow, you can’t even afford politeness, I’m sorry you are poor’. A fair amount of people now smile and greet when they see me :p

    I’m sure there is more, but I can’t think of anything. Ah yes, I have a bloody cold, that annoys me too. Also the weather. I want spring, not more snow….

A few additions:

  • Drunk drivers
  • There is taxis, hotels, friends, public transportation. No need to drive drunk. Double annoying: people who caused accidents or lost their license due to drinking who whine and whinge and seek sympathy. I don’t delete people on Facebook easily, but I deleted a few for whining because they got tickets.

  • Drunk people who claim reduction of punishment because they were drunk
  • People who are drunk then fight/rape/damage/harass/threaten/… and later claim that they aren’t responsible because they were drunk. I’m a big advocate for raising punishments when commited under influence of whatever substances.

  • Ignorance and narrow mindedness
  • I was raised to have an open mind and I’m proud of it. I try not to be preoccupied, but sometimes that’s impossible.

  • Extremism
  • No matter what direction. Religious, political, operating system enthusiasts, camera or dog owners. Whenever it becomes an extreme obsession it’s only a tiny step until a (religious) war breaks out. No matter if a flamewar on the interwebs or a bar brawl or genocide. The mechanisms are fairly similar.

Filed under: life | No Comments »

Lasagna Recipe Pt. 2

Posted on February 24th, 2013

I did some pictures while cooking yesterdays.

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The sugo after cooking for several hours. You can see on the top rim that the volume was reduced by about 1/3.

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Butter with added flour. I think it is called roux in English.

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With added milk. I had troubles this time, because it didn’t get the desired texture and stayed rather thin. You can see the lava bubbles if you look closely.

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The first layers. The edges all filled with bechamel.

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Layering done.

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Side view. Everything is filled properly.

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After resting for an hour to let it cool down. Just before I covered it with foil and put it into the fridge. The Mozzarella will be added right before it gets into the oven.

Filed under: Food | No Comments »

Lasagna Recipe

Posted on February 23rd, 2013

My recipe for close to Italian Lasagna. I dared to combat cook against an Italian friend of mine and it was a draw :)

Sugo
1 package of Maggi fix for spaghetti bolognese or similar product
1 packet of lasagna sheets
2 Onions
Olive oil
500g minced beef (not horse or pony)
500g fresh tomatoes, the meatier, the better
about 500ml sieved tomatoes
3 – 5 cloves garlic
2 TBS vinegar (no balsamico, except white balsamico, in doubt wine or cider vinegar)
1TS sugar
Salt, pepper, ground chili (optional), oregano, basil
300g ground Gouda or Parmesan. Buy a whole one and grind it yourself. You never know what’s inside ground pizza cheese or sawdust Parmesan. It’s only a few minutes work and it’s worth it.
1 – 2 whole mozzarella

Bechamel
65g butter
65g plain flour
1l milk
Salt, whole nutmeg (please don’t put in 1 whole nutmeg unless you want to go on a trip. It just indicates use whole nutmeg, not ground one)

Procedure:
Take Maggi fix to toilet, open packet, pour contents into the loo and flush. Seriously, those products only cost money and ruin decent food. They are full of artificial flavor enhancers, salts and E numbers. They can’t do anything you can’t achieve with normal cooking and seasoning. I used them when I started to cook, then I got rid of them and only added a bit of stocked cube but you can leave that as well.
Soak tomatoes in boiling water, peel them while the meat is roasting. This is purely aesthetically to prevent tomato peel floating in the sugo, if you are lazy you can skip this step.
Chop onions and roast them in olive oil, don’t overdo them, they shouldn’t become brown.
Add minced meat and roast until all the meat has changed color but don’t let it turn brown or even black. Don’t add garlic yet, it’s too risky that it turns black and it will taste bitter then.
Add tomatoes.
Add salt, chili, vinegar, sugar and pepper. If you use dried basil and oregano put it on the palms of your hands and rub them vigorously while holding them over your pan. If you use fresh herbs chop them finely before adding them. Add basil just before you put the Lasagna together. Heat will ruin the taste of the fresh basil.
Press garlic into your pan.
Reduce heat to the lowest possible level and let cook for at least 5 hours. I am serious. That is the most important part. While western and northern European cooking has to be as quick as possible, Italian mothers and grannies know that a decent sugo needs time and patience and has to cook until the meat is tender so that it falls apart. Don’t forget to stir every now and then to prevent from burning. If it gets to thick and dry, add some water.

Bechamel:
Melt butter in a large pot don’t let it turn brown.
Once it is liquid add the flour. Whisk thoroughly until the melted butter is soaked up.
Reduce heat.
Add a bit of milk and whisk until it is a thick and creamy mass.
Add more milk and whisk again until it is thoroughly mixed.
Add all the milk and whisk like a madman.
This the most complicate part of the whole dish. Not letting the bechamel burn.
If you do it for the first time and are unsure, start at the lowest heat level possible and go to the second level once you added all the milk. The result will be the same, no matter the heat. It just takes more time.
Whisk, whisk, whisk and whisk until it is a thick and creamy sauce and it is bubbling slightly. You know the big bubbles like hot Lava. Add salt and grind some (again some, not the whole one, ye have been warned) nutmeg into the bechamel. Remove from hob.

Layering:
Use a glass or ceramic oven dish the size of 3 Lasagne sheets and cover the inside with a thin layer of butter.
The bottom layer has to be Bechamel. I know it says sugo on a lot of Lasagna sheet boxes and some recipes found in books and the interwebs, but that is complete and utter rubbish and will result in a seriously burnt bottom layer and possible a ruined dish.
Add a layer of Lasagna sheets and cover with bechamel. The first layer is bechamel, sheets, bechamel.
Important: use enough bechamel so that the sheets are covered properly and also fill the edges between dish and sheets.
Add a thick layer of sugo and put some ground cheese on it.
Add sheets and put some pressure on them to remove the air between sugo and sheets.
Cover sheets and edges with a thick layer of bechamel. Again, remove the air on the edges.
Cover with sugo and cheese.
Sheets
Bechamel
Sugo
Cheese….

Repeat until all your ingredients are used up.
The top layer has to be sheets and bechamel. Again, I know that there are recipes who state that the top layer has to be sheets or even sugo, again: that is rubbish and will result in either burnt sugo or completely burnt and dried out sheets which are inedible and you likely will lose a tooth. My sister called them yum, crunchy and had to visit the dentist afterwards and then was a believer of bechamel top layer.

And now the secret of my tasty Lasagna: Let it rest for an hour to let it cool down then cover with foil and leave it for at least 12 hours in the fridge so the sheets can soak in sugo and bechamel and all the different tastes can mix and develop a brilliant texture.

I know waiting for 12hours after you cooked for hours and hours is pure torture, but believe me, it’s worth it. If you put it in the oven right now it will be a very good lasagna but if you wait for 12hrs and cook it then, it will be the best home cooked lasagna you ever had.

Preheat oven to 200°C, 180°C in a fan oven, no idea about gas ovens.
Slice Mozzarella and cover Lasagna with it, add a few flakes of Butter. Put lasagna in oven and cook until it is done.
OK, that is unfair but I can’t name a time. It’s possible around 30 – 45 minutes give or take. When the cheese on top turns a nice brown color and the bechamel makes bubbles like a volcano, it is done.

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Organizing my music

Posted on February 22nd, 2013

Over the years I collected a lot of digital music. My only means of sorting and organizing them was like x:\mp3\genre\artist\yyyy – album\artist – 00 – songname.mp3 and used drag and drop to play in winamp, never used any software or winamp’s built in solution to make a library. I started with iTunes a few months ago but I soon got pissed because my collection was a big mess with tags. I get familiar with iTunes and then one day update and my beloved album by year sorting isn’t there anymore. A quick internet search proved: it was removed for unknown reasons. WHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYY????

Back to the drawing board, fuck Apple…. I stumbled upon MusicBee and a friend of mine with a huge collection suggested that this baby is the way to go so I downloaded it and tried it. It is brilliant. Proved again that the best software is free. I also use mp3tag to sort out my messed up tagging. It can tag a lot of things automatically and uses a lot of internet databases. One can convert file names and paths to tags and I really love the automated numerator.

Sideflames to people who don’t have a clue how to tag properly:

Artist = Artist and nothing more, there are other tags for album name, composer, contributing artist, CD# and how your Aunt Edna liked this album.

Album = The Album name, simple as that, no CD#, no Artist name….

Trackname = yes, the song title

Tracknumber = should be self explaining, but isn’t, it’s either 1 – 999 or if you prefer it that way 01 – 999 no it isn’t 1/10, because there is a tag for that: track# 1 of 10

disc: it’s so easy, is there only 1 disc, #1 of #1 or leave empty, #1 of 2/3/4 and the album name stays the same, it’s not Hunky Dory CD 1/3, 2/3….

Also the Year is quite a problem, it is the year it was published, not the year when it came out on CD or when you bought it or some fictional number. with classical it’s a bit more complicated, if you are a nitpick the year of the premiere or maybe the date of the recording or publishing. But with modern music, there is (c)1974 and yes, that is the year. If you want to nitpick: there are fields for year when bought or remastered, whatnot…. you can do almost anything with tags.

Tagging is so easy, there are tags for everything, one does only need to make use of it. There is even a comments section if your Aunt liked the album. I don’t make use of half of them, as I really don’t need bpm or gain. Also the genre section is something people really don’t get. I’m very generous with genres and I never got into: but that is speed not thrash metal and this is scream metal…. for me it is metal, it is fast, it has distorted guitars and a lot of drums, metal… But Mozart is not Pop, Rush is not Jazz and German Pop Band Pur is not Metal….

What I really love is album art and live loaded lyrics, even if it doesn’t work on rare tracks.

Filed under: Movies, Odds and Ends, Tech stuff | No Comments »

Influential musicians

Posted on February 22nd, 2013

I already published a list with most influential bands over the decades. After watching the Rush documentary ‘beyond the lighted stage’ and the critics not so favorable words about Geddy Lee’s voice, we went into a lengthy discussion over useless critics and unfair treatment through music magazines, over and underrated musicians and great music overall. Now the hard work: to remember who we discussed and compile a list out of it. The list is without rating or order and I’m sure I forgot a lot, so if you feel someone’s left out, tell me and I consider. It’s also highly condensed and mostly Rock Musicians leaving out most of the great Jazz musicians, or I’d have to split the list into decades, genres and wottnot. But as genres are interchangeable and I generally dislike categories in music, it’s just a big mixup of musicians I like and dislike. :)

PS: The list is absolutely biased and full of personal favorites; on purpose.

Vocalists:

  • Geddy Lee of Rush
  • David Bowie
  • Freddie Mercury of Queen
  • Eddie Vadder of Perl Jam
  • Myles Kennedy of Slash and Alter Bridge
  • Ian Gillan of Deep Purple
  • David Coverdale of Deep Purple and Whitesnake
  • Ronnie James Dio of Rainbow, Dio, Black Sabbath
  • Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden
  • Bobby McFerrin

Most overrated:

  • Axl Rose of Guns ‘n’ Roses
  • Kurt Cobain of Nirvana
  • Joff Tate of Queensryche
  • Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian

Bass

  • Geddy Lee of Rush
  • Steve Harris of Iron Maiden
  • Sting of Police
  • Mark King of Level 42
  • Tony Levin of Liquid Tension Experiment and Peter Gabriel
  • Stanley Clarke of George Duke and Jeff Beck
  • Victor Wooten of Chick Corea
  • Roger Glover of Deep Purple
  • John Myung of Dream Theater
  • Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Marcus Miller
  • Chris Squire of Yes

I can’t think of any overrated bass players, as I usually don’t spend much time listening to bass lines, except they are extraordinary. Don’t get me wrong, the bass is equally important to the band’s sound as drums and rhythm guitar and 50% of the groove comes out of it, but it’s usually in the background. Like John Myung of Dream Theater, hardly anyone knows him by name, even less people have seen or heard him talking, but nonetheless he’s one of the greatest bass players of all times.

Drummers
That one’s difficult, there are too many.

  • Louie Bellson, yes I know, he’s a Jazz drummer, but he was also pioneering the use of two bass drums and therefore had a very large impact on modern drumming.
  • Mach Roach, also a Jazz drummer who is cited a lot as major influence by today’s drummers
  • Neal Peart of Rush
  • Terry Bozzio of Frank Zappa’s Band
  • Mike Portnoy former of Dream Theater
  • Keith Moon of The Who
  • John Bonham of Led Zeppelin
  • Roger Taylor of Queen
  • Thomas Lang of the Vienna Art Orchestra and Paul Gilbert
  • JoJo Mayer
  • Ian Paice of Deep Purple
  • Cozy Powel of Emerson, Lake and Powel
  • Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake and Palmer
  • Rick Allen of Def Leppard, Rick isn’t the most outstanding drummer in the world, what is outstanding is, that he lost an arm and continued drumming
  • Phil Collins of Genesis, yes seriously. He might not be the most technical and versatile drummer, but his drum sound from the 80s Genesis and solo Albums, is outstanding and sound engineers had nightmares reproducing this powerful sound. Nowadays this effect is part of any decent multi effect. It’s called gated reverb and was a revolution.
  • Vinnie Colaiuta of Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Sting

Overrated Drummers:

There are good drummers, creative drummers, outstanding drummers and some who are overrated, where a lot of people think and write how outstanding they are, and they are really not. It was hard but I found a few.

  • Travis Barker of Blink-182
  • Dave Grohl of Nirvana. I have to add I really like Dave’s singing and guitar playing, but his drumming for Nirvana was neither outstanding nor good.
  • Tommy Lee of Moetly Crue
  • Lars Ulrich of Metallica, I never was much into Metallica and his drumming on early Metallica is ok but 20 years later it still sounds the same. And a lot of the famous Ulrich sound (Black Album – St Anger) is Bob Rock’s work.

I heard the outcry: and what about Ringo? I don’t think he’s overrated. I don’t think anyone ever saw Ringo as a brilliant drummer. He’s a solid boom bang, boom bang drummer, nothing else. Oh wait, he was also a member of the Beatles. Same is for Phil Rudd of AC/DC or Stones’ Charlie Watts, not the members of the Beatles part, but the solid work without any fancy things, perfectly fitting for their bands. Ac/Dc is recording the same album for 30 years by now, nonetheless they are successful and I love them, because they just entertain without any claim of something else. Remember, the category is called overrated drummers, not bad drummers :p

Guitarists
Also a difficult one, because of the shier amount of outstanding guitarists over the decades.

  • Jimi Hendrix, not one of my favorite musicians but his impact on modern guitar playing is without doubt. Many people saw the end of the guitar and no further possible developments of that instrument and then along came Jimi.
  • Jimi Page of Led Zeppelin
  • Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple
  • Johnny Winter
  • Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath
  • Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen
  • Joe Satriani
  • Steve Vai
  • John McLaughlin
  • John Petrucci of Dream Theater
  • Steve Lukather of Toto
  • Brian May of Queen
  • Alex Lifeson of Rush, maybe the most underrated guitarist of all times, so questionable for most influential guitarists, but I like him too much to leave him out. I never claimed this list to be unbiased :)
  • Frank Zappa
  • Les Paul, not for his playing, but for the development of the Les Paul and other Gibson instruments.
  • Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits

Overrated shredders:

  • Yngwie Malmsteen of Alcatraz
  • Herman Li and Sam Totman of DragonForce
  • Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. Yes, I don’t think much of Nirvana. Without any doubt they had a great impact on music development in the 90s and did a lot to bring alternative music to the masses, but he was neither a brilliant singer nor guitarist. He had charisma and he was iconic for a generation.

Keyboards
That’s a tough one. I know tons of Jazz and Classical pianists, but when it comes to synthesizers and rock keyboardists I start to struggle but I guess I can at least name a few.

  • Jon Lord of Deep Purple
  • Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake & Palmer
  • Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep
  • Kraftwerk, yes I know, it’s a band. But they all were pioneers for modern keyboard and synthesizer sounds. The are also early users and pioneers of MIDI and digital drums.
  • Brian Eno of David Bowie, Roxy Music
  • Don Airey of Rainbow, Black Sabbath
  • Tony Banks of Genesis
  • Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, both technically Jazz pianists, but they also had a major impact on modern fusion and rock keyboarding. Also on Hip Hop and other electronic beat music.
  • George Duke of Frank Zappa, Jean Luc Ponty
  • Frank Zappa, yes, also here. especially for the use of the synclavier in composing and also live
  • Richard Wright of Pink Floyd
  • Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Elton John, while I’m not overly fond of his music, his influence on later rock pianists and keyboardists is doubtless
  • Rick Wakeman of Yes

Other assorted instruments

  • Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, flute in rock music
  • Mel Collins, session and live musician for Dire Straits, Alan Parsons Project, King Crimosn, Saxophone
  • Apocalyptica, usage of cellos in metal
  • Jean-Luc Ponty, violin in rock and jazz
  • Nik Turner of Hawkwind, flute and pioneering work with midi controllers
  • Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, oboe in rock
  • Miles Davis, also a Jazzer, but also large influence on rock, pop, fusion, funk and countless other genres.
  • Katzenjammer, Norwegian band, who use all kinds of unusual instruments like the contra bass balalaika, toy xylophones,…
  • Sonny Boy Williamson II, blues harp
  • Trilok Gurtu, percussion, combining western jazz with traditional Indian music
  • Ravi Shankar, sitar

Female Artists
Unfortunately female artists are quite underrepresented except as vocalists, singer/songwriter and in the classical department.

  • Jennifer Batten, guitarist of Michael Jackson’s Band
  • Sheila E. drums and percussion for Prince and George Duke
  • Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, representing all those great female vocalists over the decades.
  • Grace Potter, vocalist and organist of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
  • Patti Smith, iconic vocalist, songwriter, painter, poet, feminist
  • Sean Yseult, bassist of White Zombie
  • D’arcy Wretzky, bassist of Smashing Pumpkins
  • Tal Wilkenfeld, bassist of Jeff Beck
  • Kim McAuliffe, guitarist of Girlschool, representing all other members of the longest lasting all female metal bands
  • Barbara Dennerlein, jazz organist
  • Nina Hagen, iconic german punk singer
  • Kim & Kelley Deal, The Breeders and Pixies
  • Ruth Underwood, percussionist of Frank Zappa
  • Siouxsie Sioux, singer of Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Bjork, for just being her
  • Barbara Thompson, Saxophone and other wind instruments

Well it’s a start, I guess I have to rethink and reconsider and expand over time.

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