Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sound Mixing

Right now I am using Audacity extensively. It is a sound recording and mixing tool, available for several OS and pretty intuitive to use.

It is really fun making audio CD-s. I found an old sound bite CD from a former colleague (thanks, Juergen). He gave it to me as a gift once with hundreds of little WAVs to add effects to the recordings. As the end products of my little projects are intended for our own use or to give to friends, I added one song from a pop CD as a background to one of the tracks. That comes out really nice. And for sure, the internet is a huge archive of sounds I started to use:
Sure, there are always challenges (how do you convert a wma into a wav file without iTunes?), but I love challenges. The last one is pretty tough as we don't have the book from the recording any more. As a result I don't know where to place the 'turn page' sound bite. I think I figured it out with the little breaks in the recording, let's see what the feedback is:-)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Just a small quiche

Full grain flower, a little butter, some oil for the dough. Carrots, chicken, a little bacon, 2 eggs, milk, salt, pepper for the filling. Some cheese on top and 20 minutes in the oven. Yumm.

Monday, October 05, 2009


I had something to do with newsgroups and newsreaders recently. As a preparation I researched some newsgroups / news posts and I remembered: One of the best things about newsgroups are the incredibly funny signatures people use.

Sure, I thought about what to use myself. A few days later it came naturally, as I experienced something funny when logging into my laptop one morning, so here my signature:

You know you're online too much, when you wonder why your windows log-in looses its password constantly.

Please share your's!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kermit Parking: School nearby - parking ground signs

I just could not resist. I am sure this way the sign would help children start the day smiling - and a little exercise in photoshop for me.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Smithsonian Book of Books

Just a few minutes ago I finished reading the 300 page letter sized The Smithsonian Book of Books by Michael Olmert. Awesome.

As you can guess, this book is about books, and it covers many aspects:
  • From Scrolls and Scribes
  • People of the book (about readers and writers)
  • Illuminating the Dark Ages
  • The Gutenberg Revolution
  • Yes we now have bananas (about Typography with Zapf and Gills)
  • The bookman’s craft (about printers and printing)
  • The infinite Library. Timeless and Incorruptible ( about Science and revival of medieval book craft)
  • A Picture’s worth… (about illustrations, woodcuts and artists)
  • Every Word for Everyman (about the book business)
When I first saw this book in the library I was mainly attracted by the topic (about books!) and the many pictures. There are pictures of books, book making, printing, illustrations, and what pictures! Olmert shows many treasures of the Smithsonian and other institutions and museums, and Oh! so beautiful.

Fortunately the text proves to be interesting and easy to read. Olmert succeeds in writing entertaining enough to keep me reading 300 large pages. The book is stuffed with facts, but wrapped in little anecdotes. Out comes, what could be named a travel report through time and books, a book lover’s diary, a narrative written by a master of the language and still light and easy.

Some of my favorite pictures are the Arabic Initial on page 50, the girdle bible on page 70, to be wrapped and hung from the belt, the page of the ‘Book of Kells’ on page 93, the colored etching by William Blake and Catherine Sophia Boucher on page 242, Rockwell Kent’s Moby Dick on page 253 and many more.

I do a little bookbinding myself, and have enjoyed this wealth of information on all these topics related to books and book making.

And I it gave me the next topic I am going to read about: Typography. Sure, I have read a book or two on this, and having done some print jobs I learned a little about it, but this chapter made me curious.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book binding

Just finished my first book where I used yarn to bind the pages together. That came out fine, although I could not find a description of how to do that best with 4 holes to bind. But that was what I prepared.... The manuals online are for 3 holes when just binding several pages to one fold, and 5 holes when getting several times several pages, and folders need to be bound together.

So, the binding came out fine, and after I got new paper to cover the cardboard, I measured, cut and glued. Should not be that difficult, but had to repeat a cut because it was crooked. Sigh.

And then I made a mistake and switched the gluing order.
I glued the book block into the binding first, and then folded the corners all around. Should have done the other way, now I have some not nice areas where I can see the paper cut. Well, I am still happy I finished my first 'sowed' book.

BTW, I don't really know what I should use this book for, so I just look at it from time to time ;-) It is small with ca. 3 by 5 inches, and it feels nice in my hands.

I am looking forward to the next meeting of the Austin Book Workers to see what other people did over the summer.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Well, I guess I have to admit it. I don't just love cooking and baking, but I love eating, too! I like a lot of things and having traveled some I was lucky enough to try many different tastes and dishes. Fortunately the healthiest is among the best tasting stuff: Avocados, nuts, full grain bread, spices and herbs, fruits of all kinds. Hm, how delicious a red or black currant, a goose berry or a ripe date. How rich an anchovy or tuna with avocado, hot sauce, mustard and onion.

Well, and then there is sweet stuff. Cake is ok, pastries usually to sweet. How about some Haribo or Katjes? Hmm. And chocolate, the darker the better. My favorite has been the 70% or 85% Lindt dark chocolate, but I discovered the new 90% Lind supreme dark chocolate today, and I am stunned by the rich taste, deliciously lingering in my mouth for 10 minutes after swallowing. AWESOME. Tried some other brands, but this is the best so far. (Feel free to recommend other!)

I guess it is even to new for their Lindt website, as they don't show it yet. (Uh, oh.....)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Charles Stross - Glasshouse

So, I just finished another Charles Stross, and I love it.

Glasshouse is another Science Fiction from Stross who can invent settings very different yet in the same moment frightening similar to our everyday life projected into the future.

As with 'halting state', Stross defines a society which seems in reach,. There is a likelyhood that our future will bear some resemblence to the society Stross describes. How do people behave in different settings, with a different set of norms, just slightly modified or exagerated? Sublte pressure, hidden enemies, new terms in a similar language - and depression, desperation, hope and anger are close once the reader indentifies with the hero.... or the heroine?

Excellent book, just the ending is a bit greasy, tacky, happy ending. Don't missunderstand, please, I love happy endings, but either real kitsch with a rosy red sunset, or without words, just happening as a natural, inevitable extrapolation in my head.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Settling down and learning about the region I live in - Texas Hill Country

We moved here about a year ago. Here is Austin, but very close to the Texas Hill Country, and I have heard this part actually belongs to that geographical region, although the dominant landscape feature are streets ;-)

So, I finally make myself time to learn about the nature, trees, grasses, animals. When living in Germany, I was not only able to tell animals and trees apart, but I could actually go into the forest or nature and come back with healing herbs and food plants. Some of that food is very, very intense in taste, delicious and healthy.

Here in Texas, this knowledge is not very useful even though some plants are similar. An oak tree in Germany is very different to a Life Oak here in the Texas Hill Country. Like everything, every plant is optimizing the water usage with small, hardy leafs and different growth. I did not recognize these trees as oaks up to the point when they carried acorns, and it took me a good look into several books to figure out that they are life oaks.

The best book I have found so far? Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of the Texas Hill Country. Many of the other books around have sketches instead of pictures, to few and to small pictures. Even this one is not perfect in this aspect but the best I have seen, and I have checked quite some in various libraries and bookstores. It has a good section on landscaping, juniper ashes and the ever present cedar and how to deal with all aspects related. Very informative not just for recognizing plants, but also as a guide on how to deal with plants on your own ground.

I checked it out at my Austin library, but at least when redoing your garden or ranch it will be worth buying, IMHO:
Trees, Shrubs, And Vines Of The Texas Hill Country: A Field Guide (W L Moody, Jr, Natural History Series)

(Buy from Amazon-link)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Book binding and book arts

Book binding and book making is fun, and I am glad I started doing this again.

First I joined the Austin Book Arts Meetup. I actually took my daughter to it as Jerome, the organizer recommeded. And it was fun. We learned a bit about Zines. How to make them, what they are and how they started. And then we actually made a zine on our own.
Great fun, and I have some pictures of mine. It really helped that we had a little starter kit from the artist of that session.

Highly recommended for book lovers, book binding and book arts lovers!

P.S. This online editor from Google is .... Integrating pictures I have to go into html mode to be able to sort.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I do exercise regularly.

I run, swim if the water is warm enough, bike, a little weights and stretching, different each day of the week. I am not using a regular program, but try to focus on one cardio per week and have a little bit of the rest in it.

Try bodyweight exercises
So I tried some other stuff, push-ups (pew), squats, lunges, bicycle crunches, burpees, pullups, chinups, russian twists and so on, for half an hour. I am beat! The burpees are killers, I had to stop very soon and just did some pushups and jump squats, that was definitely enough! Found nice info on this at zenhabits.net, liked some videos on crossfit.com and especially liked the description at Sandeep, although it is not as designed as the other ones.

So I guess this will help me get fit again, I was a little stunned when my daughter ran faster on short distance than I did! I guess she is training now too, as I told her that's not going to happen again. She has a healthy attitude to competition... Might be that it hurts getting there, I feel the crunch even when sitting. A little pain, but a nice feeling anyway!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A fresh start with a bow

I want to make a new bow again. After having done that once, I always wanted to do that again. The eternal question is ..... "when". When would I have time enough to do that? All the tools and materials? Now I have the time, but do I want to spend the money?

Either having time - while searching for a new job - or having money while having a job, but hardly ever both, this can be quite challenging.

Anyway, I decided to go ahead. I started taking a course (beginner) at K.C. Outdoors on Saturday mornings, and it is just great. First time I had quite some bruises on my left arm from the string hitting it, but second time was much better. And I think I am pretty good, I really hit the target sometimes.

So, I placed an ad on craigslist, someone responded and I felled two small elm trees, the straightest we could find. (THANKS, Daryll!)
Home again, I split them with an axe and two metal wedges, and then skinned them with my knife. They are pretty crooked and have some big, many small branches, but I'll just give it a try. I cannot wait (hope I can, though) to start cutting the bow out of the trunk, I wonder how long I have to wait for them to dry. They seem pretty dry from the start, may be because of that long drought they are relatively dry already. Hm.

(I need a draw knife still, but that's not that easy to find. )

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The bent stick

Just finished 'the bent stick' from Paul Comstock about how to build a traditional wooden bow and arrows. Lovely. I've actually read it in German. I was always interested in how to build and shoot a bow, but these high tech bows never really caught my interest.

So in 2007 I went to a place in the Eifel close by Cologne and took a course with Juergen Junkmanns how to build a bow. And I actually built a traditional English longbow out of North American (white?) hickory.

Very, very nice bow, and it shot wonderful - until I broke it. I don't know if it has
 been that there was a problem with the wood, I don't think so. I don't believe I did something wrong in making the bow, my teacher had a keen eye on that. And I don't believe it broke because of the climate change from Cologne to Texas, although that could have played a role.

I think the bow broke because I drew it too much, it was to short and to thick for me. I'd done some exercise and was able to draw much further, and the draw length was to little because the bow was too short, to thick and not wide enough. Well, what do you do.

So, I have been reading a lot about making a new bow, some books like 'the bent stick' and I can recognize quite some of it. Getting the tools is not giving me the headaches, some things are easy like saws, others like blades are much more difficult, but in need I could still buy that online.

Question is, where do I get wood? Comstock recommends to use a tree trunk or a wide branch, fine, but living in the city does not make it that easy. Guess I have to do some research.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Southwest History

Just finished the first chapter from 'A.D. 1250 - Ancient Peoples of the Southwest' by Lawrence W. Cheek. Great book on the Southwest cultures from around 200 B.C. to 1500 A.D..
I actually started digging into this history reading some months ago, when I had Anasazi beans the first time. Love to cook and they are just delicious, better then any other beans I had so far. Tender, sweet and a little nutty, just wonderful. So I wondered and researched a bit and learned they had been cultivated, bred, by the ancient people of the Anasazi. They lived in today's East Texas, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico and were artful in using the dry areas scarce resources to make a living.

The book not only has texts which are rich in information but easy to read and understand, a real pleasure when being a little tired in the evening. And the pictures, AH, the pictures and the sites. Stunning. Got to see some of these places.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Visit the endangered cultural treasures the Smithsonian magazine highlights in their March 2009 issue

‘Some of the world’s most precious historic and artistic sites can be visited today – but might be gone tomorrow’ states the Smithsonian Staff in their Smithsonian, issue March 2009.

Concerned about the damage on historic sites they point to 10 sites. These sites are endangered and damaged by desperate, ignorant or religious people, people with different priorities and by nature: Wind, earthquakes, water. Pictures, reports, interviews from all over the world describe the sites, decry the loss humankind will suffer if these artifacts are lost.

Traveling for Tree-Huggers
I decided to follow this call to visit these sites, but choose a sustainable, non damaging way to do so, not to mention the savings in time, money and carbon footprint.First, I just thought, well, yes, this is so much less impressive than traveling itself, but bit by bit, byte by byte it became increasingly more valuable. Sure, real travel gives a whole range of experiences nothing can substitute, but this ‘eagle perspective’ has its own charm.

Google Earth discovery
Sitting feet up and laptop leaving burn marks on my legs, a comfortable 70s Fahrenheit breeze coming in through the open window, I started looking on Google Earth to look for these sites and was impressed. Impressed by the sites, and how clear some of them are on Google Earth. Some, most, don’t have much information on Google earth, which was another surprising find when I checked quite some GE (Google Earth J) layers.

Fenestrelle Fortress, Italy
The Fenestrell Fortress (Google Earth KMZ) is in Italy, by Turin, the ‘Great Wall of the Alps’, covering 320 according to the Smith’s.

I would love using the ‘historic view’ feature of Google Earth 4, to see the fort with snow and without, but there seems to be only one picture from December 2005 – with very little snow.

The report and a nice collection of pictures and links on the

Some nice pictures on Google image search to the Fenestrelle Fortress: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=fenestrelle%20fortress%20italy&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi .

Check it out!
(more sites to come)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Book of Longing

after Leonard Cohen, composed by Philip Glass, Austin, TX, February 22, 2009

Nice. Really liked it, especially it is one of the ‘easy listening’ pieces Philip Glass has done. It was very comforting to hear and recognize several of his very typical fortissimos in some songs and poems. And a nice story to follow with the little handout.

The performance started somewhat slow, and people kept to themselves. Then, at some point a better know, faster passage ignited some frenetic (frantic?) applause. From that on, everything was too late, or better, too early. After every song, the last tone not subsided, clapping started.

For me, Glass pieces need some silence before and after, be it only a few seconds, to ground them, to base them, to value them. What a pity that everyone seems in a rush, seemed to either barely control their enthusiasm or ignorance.

I liked the poems, the spoken text and the drawings, even though they were clearly made by a generation not living on the net but rather grown up in an analog world. The pictures held a big charm and were authentic to the time the poems recall.

A very nice evening, the tickets a wonderful gift to my birthday. Glass is wonderful.

Book of Longing with support from Cohen
(at least the site states this. A webring, who knew they are still around!)
Book of Longing, Wikipedia.com
Book of Longing, Glass website
Book of Longing, Google Books

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Got to do something

With the little time left on my hands....

Made some boxes for my love to take to the office. Don't they beat most prefab ones?

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Now that was something. Went to a petco where people met for a dog rescue meeting. I cruised a little through the store afterwards and they had a huge tarantula, bigger than my hand.

A nice service guy showed up, and told me he would get it out sometimes, and did exactly that!
Put it on his hand. I had come close to that in Cologne's aquarium one day with Aly, but we finally were not allowed. So I asked if I could hold the tarantula and he made it move it onto my hand.

Again, this was bigger than my hand, very, very light and with very soft hair, really nice.
And I am SO COOL!-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This is NOT all about food!

OMG, I just took a look at this blog, right after linking it to my professional blog (andreas-wpv) and website (directorinternet.com). This is nearly all about food!

Folks, this is just half of the truth, or even just one third. You can see the making of food - I definitely love that.
Second, I love to eat it too and having polite friends and family the eat the stuff too.
Third, I work it off in 4 to 5 hours of slow running, biking or swimming!

So, no worries about all that food, and wait 'til I show you my latest breads!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


What a moving day. I listened, watched on the internet, read Obamas speech (here on yahoo) and liked this part very much:

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace. "

Guess why?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sweet Snails

Called 'Schnecken' in German, these are really good!
Came out a little dry and dark, have to watch this next time.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


So, this time farfalle. The first time ever I made pasta myself, except some gnocchi. And for sure, half of the flour exchanged against whole wheat. Quite some work I have to say, especially bending the farfalle!
Tasted good, had them with parmesan, salt and pepper only.

Next time need to spread thinner (cookbook 2,5 mm is too thick) and make them more even. And I guess I'll try with bigger pasta shapes :-)

Monday, January 05, 2009


Started dinner with empanadas, with some filling out of pork, peas, onion, carot, some sauces. Tasted good, but filling was to hot and wet and some of the empanandas broke while making them. And I still don't have a brush for the eggwash, got to get one!

And then I made som 16 heidesand, some German cookies (guess who loves them?). Chino helped me make them pretty much. I could not restrain myself and had two and a half :-)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Nice to be out, nice to be home again

That were nice 2 weeks off, but I am glad to be home again. And it smelled of sweet Christmas tree when we came in.
Today I made a sweet bread, German recipe. Changed half of the flour to full grain wheat, and that actually tastes a lot better even. We ate half (!) of the bread right away, still warm, with some butter and a bit apricot jelly. Hmmm. Like it. First a slightly yeasty scent, then more and more we could smell the full wheat in it, this is so rich, a little nutty. I'll make it again soon, for sure!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Another Dish

Oh, so this time it was a chicken pie with leek and sausage. Covered with a nice crust of fluff pastry. Yummy. Next time I'll put the sausages in earlier, so the taste is stronger.

Had some new apple pie for desert, with frangipane in between the apples and apricot jelly on top. Goooood.
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