31 March 2016
Back from Paris
... and at home since a while
So, I came back from Paris. I had a very nice and successful week there.
Apart from the business stuff, I also did a tiny bit of tourism. Not too
much, since walking around currently isn't really my strong point. On
the last day I noticed that I had started to limp. Ah, never ending
story with that leg, it seems.
After the "vacation", I needed a few days of rest though. The main
reason was that I spent an overnight at the Athens airport. My plane
from Paris arrived at 23:40, my plane to Naxos left at 7:15. The airport
hotel is ridiculously expensive. So I just whiled away the hours. There
are some places where you can try to get some sleep, but since I was
alone, I didn't fall asleep at all. I re-watched an old movie ("A Sunday
in Hell"), then read up a bit on the Intarwebz, since during the days in
Paris, I was mostly enjoying offline time. The first 3-4 hours passed
quite fast, then somehow the clock seemed to slow down.
The worst was clearly over when I met some friends while waiting for
boarding on the little plane to Naxos. The flight passed really quick. I
had a nice window seat again, but this time I forgot to take the camera
out of my cabin bag, so no propeller pics.
20 March 2016
Paris-Brest (the sweet version)
Cycling and baking united
Paris-Brest-Paris is one of the toughest cycling events that a mere
mortal can attend. It involves cycling 1200km in 90 hours and is a
strictly amateur event. Before it was this "randonneuring" event, many
years ago, it used to be a professional race. At some point, someone (I
forgot who) created a sweet called "Paris-Brest" in its honor. I knew
This Saturday, while shopping with my host here, I was standing outside
the bakery... when I noticed the sweet in real. It's something different
to read about this, and then to see it in person. I probably should have
gone in and tried one, but at the time the bakery was so full that there
was a line outside the door - that's why I was waiting outside.
In any case, I should have gotten one for my friend tralala, who on the
same Saturday rode a 400km Brevet (congrats, man!). One the one hand, he could use the
calories after that monster of a ride, on the other, in a few years he
might be riding PBP itself and then it would be a good preparation.
UPDATE: The sweet things in the pics aren't actually "Paris-Brest", but chocolate Eclairs. Seems that the bakery had misplaced the label. I got a real Paris-Brest a few days later, and saw another one in a restaurant, and they didn't look like this at all. OTOH they were true calorie-bombs.
18 March 2016
Going to Paris
Just jump over
Continue reading "Going to Paris"
So there I was, climbing into the little plane (Dash 8) on the little airport
on Naxos. Heading for Athens... and then on to Paris. The airport in
Naxos is really kind of a family affair. Also you see that road in the
picture? It has the only traffic lights on the island. They turn red
when a plane is starting or landing.
28 February 2016
Attention, Dangerous Curve Ahead
You're in a maze of twisty little curves
You're in a maze of twisty little island roads, winding and curving
through the mountaineous island landscape for kilometers and kilometers.
There's a curve to the left, one to the right, to the left, and so on
forever. But then, you arrive at one curve that is special: It has a
warning sign in front of it.
All the other curves before or after don't have a fancy warning sign.
This one has. I've been wondering for a while now, what's so special
about the 1-in-a-100 (just guessing, I don't keep stats) curve that gets
a sign. I very much doubt that someone checked it and deemed it more
dangerous than others - I know some scary curves on this island, and
they don't have signs. The one in the picture is even easy to see ahead.
Also I doubt that it's the curves where accidents had once happened.
Not that I know that, but I don't think it makes sense. My current
theory is that there was a budget for warnings signs, x number of signs
for y square kilometers. So basically someone loaded a bunch of signs on
a truck and started planting them here and there.
What seems to be put to much better use are warning arrows on the side
of the road. They too aren't everywhere, but when they are there,
usually there is a good reason.
21 February 2016
Pfannkuchen - Breakfast of the champions!
Somewhere between a crêpe and a pancake
This morning I managed to treat ourselves with a real nice breakfast. I
made up some german-style "Pfannkuchen". These are something in the
middle of american pancakes and french crêpes. Not as thick as pancakes,
but also not as thin as crêpes. Their width is somewhere inbetween too.
I think similar things are made in many countries, under various names.
Probably it's one of the simplest ways to make a dough (flour, eggs,
milk), that doesn't need to raise, and then it just gets fried.
Personally I don't use an electric mixer. I just mix things up with a
fork. If you start with the flour and the eggs, and mix up these already
well, there aren't too many clumps of flour in the dough usually. I
haven't got the exact mix down well, each time I do this it's
experimentation to get the consistence right.
Years ago a friend of mine told me that he was dreaming of some
Pfannkuchen, but since he didn't know how to do them, he went to the
super market and bought some ready-made dough in a bottle. It was
horrible. Of course I told him how simple it is to make pancake dough
yourself. I don't think it took me more than 5 - 10 minutes. Today they
turned out nice. Only mistake: I made way too little dough. I could have
eaten twice as many as I did, and I also like to keep some around to eat
them cold in the evening, mjam.
20 February 2016
Katzenklappe, inklusive Lernfaktor
Zwecks Erweiterung der Katerfreiheit und Zwecks der Minimierung der
Türöffnertätigkeiten wurder hiernorts eine Katzenklappe angeschafft. Die
Dinger sind ja inzwischen ganz modern. Früher gab es entweder die
Variante "Bring deine Freunde mit" oder die Variante "Katze hat ein
Halsband mit einem dicken Magneten". Neu gibt es die RFID-Variante, die
mit dem Chip im Nacken der Katze erkennt wer rein darf und wer nicht.
Chip hat die Katze ja sowieso schon, denn auch so eine Katze kann ja mal
Der Probleme gab es jetzt aber zwei oder drei: Erstmal sind ebendiese
modernen Katzenklappen hier in Griechenland nicht erhältlich. Kenn wa
nicht, ham wa nicht. Also hat sie uns jemand aus dem Ausland geschickt.
Der zweite Punkt war der Einbau. Da gab es diverse lustige Vorschläge,
wo das Teil reinpassen würde. Nicht gefallen gefunden hatte das Fenster
im Badezimmer, wenn man da auf dem Ôrtchen sitzt, wäre es unpassend wenn
der Kater versucht an einem vorbei sein Wegerecht wahrzunehmen. Ein Loch
in einer Holztür war dann doch einfacher.
Der letzte Punkt, der hatte es dann aber in sich. Von damals in der
Schweiz hatte ich das nicht so in Erinnerung, aber so ein Katzentier
muss das erstmal lernen wie man so eine Katzentür benutzt. Das Problem
ist einerseits, dass Katzen es vermeiden, Dinge mit dem Kopf zu bewegen
oder zu drücken. Andererseits hat der Kater in der Praxis gelernt
gehabt, dass er Türen und Fenster nicht aufmachen kann und ihm auf Zuruf
geöffnet wird. Also sitzt er grundsätzlich erstmal da und wartet, dass
man ihm aufmacht. Eine unserer Katzen in der Schweiz konnte auch
Zimmertüren aufmachen, ich denke, das hat den Lernprozess beschleunigt.
Wie lernt er es also? In ganz kleinen Schritten. Erstmal Klappe
aufbinden und ihn entdecken lassen, dass er da rein und rauskommt. Dann
Klappe Stück für Stück weiter zu machen, so dass er sich dran gewöhnt,
die Klappe zu schieben. Irgendwann ist sie dann zu, aber dann hat er
schon gemerkt, dass er sie aufdrücken kann. So weit so gut, mit dem
kleinen Zusatz-Spassfaktor hier, dass wir im Dorf eine kleine Bande von
mehr oder weniger "herrenlosen" Katzen haben, die von verschiedenen
Nachbarn und uns durchgefüttert werden, und die liebend gerne reinkommen
um zu schauen, ob unsrer vielleicht nicht alles aufgegessen hat. Also
Katzenklappe aufbinden geht nur, wenn jemand da ist und aufpasst. Das
macht das ganze etwas langwieriger und aufwendiger.
Schlussendlich ging es dann doch, ungefähr eine Woche hats gedauert, zur
16 February 2016
I'll not remove my mudguards till summer is here for good
It's a matter of style
Both my road bikes currently have fenders / mudguards mounted. I've
sometimes received negative feedback about this. It doesn't seem to fit
with some modern schools of bike aesthetics. Too which I reply: "Who
cares?" I'm not going to remove my mudguards till summer is here for good.
Even a bit of wet roads here and there will make my bike (and me) look
bad. And I'm not that fond of cleaning my bike. Not gonna happen.
Even the greatest cyclists of all times put mudguards on their bikes for
training rides. Do you think il campionissimo Fausto Coppi would want
a brown stripe down his stylish clothes on his back? It was something
different in a race (where the rules disallow mudguards and every bit
counts), but on training rides? You think that sweet Bianchi sweater
looks good with road grime on the backside? Not likely.
14 February 2016
Legs, Sunday Group Rides, and the Mystery of Gorgorr
Left, Right, Left, Right
Early this week I noticed that my legs still have a big inbalance of
strength. I've been back on the bike for months now, well, not exactly
training, but riding regularly. When you look at my legs, there is no
difference in width to be noticed (as the doctors had thought there
would). I had assumed the inbalance would even itself out over time.
But it didn't...
Continue reading "Legs, Sunday Group Rides, and the Mystery of Gorgorr"
10 February 2016
How I Clean My Bike
I'm not an expert, but at least I'm swiss!
So, yesterday I cleaned my road bike. Since it has decent mudguards (aka
fenders), there isn't that much dirt all over the bike, but the gears
and chain had a lot of gunk on them. I'm not much into cleaning my bike,
I ususally put it off way too long.
Now I certainly wouldn't say I'm an expert at bike cleaning. Also there
are tons of descriptions what to do around. But this is the procedure I
- Spray WD-40 (see below for note) on gears and chain, and on the pedals.
- Let soak in, meanwhile prepare a bucket with very hot water and soap.
- Clean bike with hot water, using car cleaning sponge. At some point I
also take the wheels out and clean each in turn. Don't forget the
braking surfaces. I use one sponge for the really oily parts, one
(cleaner one) for the clean parts of the bike.
- Flush with clean water.
- Dry with some pieces of old cloth.
- Put lots of oil on the chain, some oil on gear derailleurs and pedals.
- After some hours (better overnight), remove as much excess oil as
possible from the chain, it should be pretty dry from the outside, oil
is only needed inside the chain. At the end, If there is too much oil
on the outside of the chain, it will collect dirt real fast and it
will spray oil on the bike, especially on the braking surfaces.
Note on use of WD-40
Keep in mind that WD-40 is considered the devil's stuff on a bike, it is
meant only for cleaning, as a degreaser. It's not a good lubricant and
it should not stay on. Some people say citrus cleaner is better anyway.
How to clean a bike is kind of a religious topic. It seems everybody
does it a bit different (which is quite ok with me), but it also
seems some people feel very strong about it. I'm open to ideas for
improvement, tips, warnings about something I do wrong in the comments,
but I'm glad if people keep it calm :-)
09 February 2016
Is Technical Diversity a Good Thing?
Not everything is equal
Speaking to someone who is interested to work for our team, he was
surprised that we don't have a standard virtual machine image with all
the tools and setup ready. Well... we don't have that. We have a couple
of README.txt files, and a setup that each time it's attempted causes a
few scratched heads and curses.
But what it also does is ferret out a bunch of problems and bugs each
time it happens. "Oh, this library was updated." Usually this is not
nice stuff. Stuff that should have been taken care of. Stuff that should
have been documented, or even automated. Probably with a bigger team,
you'd assign someone to look after this stuff, but we're not a big team.
So yes, the procedure to install a new environment can be tedious and
But the other reason I like our diversity is that it's basically
following the philosophy of what OpenBSD does in developing for a bunch
of obscure, strange, and old platforms. It brings out to the light the
kind of thing that "works on this platform", but in reality it's just an
ugly hack or an -ism of that platform. Making your environment work on a
couple of platforms will make things more robust.
(At one point we even tried to go as far as having someone being able
to develop on Windows. That simply didn't work out, that "platform" is
simply too complicated and needs too many special fixes.)