#weeklyreview 30/23

road trip

On Sunday we took a road trip to the north around the “Feldberger Seenlandschaft” and northern .

Unbelievably beautiful landscape. A lot of forests and lakes. Some vast fields in rolling hills.

Quite a few cyclists on the roads, but far from crowded. Of course there are tourist hot spots like Carwitz which are almost bursting of tourists.

#RegEx

Had to write a parser for some config files which don’t seem to adhere to any common standard. That involved fiddling with a lot of regular expressions. Still amazed how powerful they are and bow towards the setting sun to worship the work of Stephen C. Kleene, the inventor of regular expressions and of course Noam Chomsky who formalized the concept of regular languages a little later.

A tool thats very handy for dealing with RegExs is https://regexr.com

The code I’m writing is to automate some tasks on a production system for which we don’t have a test system. It’s a little bit “open heart surgery” and thus requires extra careful handling to not fuck things up for thousands of users. 🙈

Friday – Surprise

On Friday my wife organized a surprise birthday party for me. I usually don’t party at my birthday as in summer most friends are usually on vacation anyway and other reasons.

But this year my wife took the effort to secretly organize a party with our friends from the village. That was really nice and the last guests left at 4am 🙈

We were really lucky with the weather as it was rainy all week and also the forecast for Friday wasn’t that good. But the rain perfectly stopped Friday morning and it was sunny with just a few clouds the whole day and even Saturday until after lunch.

Saturday we took a little slower as we didn’t had much sleep. Cleaned up and consumed left overs and chilled the afternoon when the rain set in.

Got a very cool pouch made by @cole@wandzeitung.xyz filled for colorful nail polish from my besties @stulli@wandzeitung.xyz and @b30@wandzeitung.xyz 🫶

#weeklyreview 29/23

Monday – long drive

Delivered kiddo to his WWF summer camp to the south of Saxony. Saw a burning truck trailer on our way down. Pretty spectacular. Fortunately the firefighters got it under control before it took over to the nearby forest. On my way back that whole side of the autobahn was blocked for cleanup.

A burning truck trailer on the autobahn

Tuesday – we have a signal

Finally the construction company was there to connect our house to the telephone network. Eventually we’ll get our own DSL line in the . Just a few more weeks until it’s finally working I hope …

technician seals the connected cables to bury them under the road again

Wednesday – car maintenance

The bloody car demands oil check. Next contractual garage is about 50km away. That means loosing half a day with driving and waiting. At least I was able to work during the waiting time. Still annoying.

My password Manager 1Password lost a password. I’m 100% sure it was there last week as I used this item a lot in the last few weeks. Today it’s nowhere to be found. Very mysterious. Opened a support case.

Our painted ceramics arrived from “Paint your style” shop. I like my new shiny cup a lot

Thursday – Forest

maybe we bought a piece of forest

A slice of forest with an almost dried out pond

Saturday – meeting of the locals society

Living in the countryside also means there are more activities with the local community. To say that everyone knows each other would be an exaggeration. But it’s close to that. You know your neighbors and usually have regular chats over the fence. And our local village also has at least two organized communities (Verein) where we’re member of.

Every once in a while there are meeting to discuss the upcoming community projects. Everyone bring some food or beverages to these gatherings and it’s usually a lot of fun. Despite occasional heated discussions

#weeklyreview 27/23

Kids had their last full week of their school year. K2 on a class trip to Hamburg and K3 had “project week” with various activities.

On Monday the infamous Beer & Burger crew met. We gave “Five Guys” burger a try. Good burger, but less than stellar ambience. We were so focused on the burgers and complaining about the surroundings that we forgot to take pictures 😉

The drinks afterwards in “Schalander” were good. Nice venue with a beach like sand pit and deck chairs.

night view of Warschauer Straße Berlin

Also in Monday we had the first attempt to get our phone landline connected in our house in the countryside. When we originally built the house we installed a cable for phone and DSL but didn’t connect it to the grid actually. Back the house was meant as a mere vacation home and not having a phone or internet was a feature.

But that we spent more time here our own internet connection seems to be appropriate. Our neighbors were nice enough to let us use their WiFi for many years now. But at some point we wanted to have something ourselves that we also have a little more control over.

Thought it should be pretty easy to install. The cable on the outside comes out of ground near the garden gate fence post. Inside the house it’s hanging out the wall in a small storage room.

But the Telekom technicians eventually said that those two loose ends do not belong to the same cable.

I was slightly puzzled as that was the only cable I knew since a decade laying there. But it turns out that we actually had two cables installed. One for the DSL line and one for the doorbell. The latter hanging off the garden gate pole but not visible inside the house. The phone cable hanging off the wall inside the house but must be buried somewhere near the street at the gardens gate.

So the Telekom technicians had to leave the site unfinished and I had to find that other end and make a new appointment.

Fortunately I took me not too long to find the buried spool of cable we were looking for. Now hoping to get a new appointment with those technicians again soon.

Tuesday in the office I tried another coffee fanciness : Espresso+Tonic Water

Looked weird, tasted weird (as expected) but not enough of the good weird to have it again.

A small Glas of Espresso + Tonic Water

Wednesday I took a trip to the other side of the city to pick up a new recipe from a doctor. Always a bit of a trip. At least gives some nice views over parts of Berlin from the Ringbahn.

View towards Berlin Mitte from Ringbahn crossing a bridge in Treptow

Slowly but surely getting rid of old stuff in the flat. Thursday I gave away an old VHS video tape recorder to a guy apparently still using those.

Kiddo created a funny Simson poster during her project week

Simpson gender swap

#weeklyreview 24/23

What a week … my work project is in its final phase of hopefully successful completion. But it’s taking a few over hours to push it over the finish line. Not because I’m forced to, but because I like the technical challenges and also working with people and solve their problems.

I also get to write some Python code again. Not that I’m good at it. But I love automating tedious tasks with code. Thats what computers were made for – take over jobs that can be automated, so you’re free to do stuff that the computer can’t do.

Lunch break

spontaneous in-person lunch with @moellus on Wednesday. Forgot to take picture as the distracted me with conversation (I know, quite unusual for him)

K2 odyssee

K2 got an invite to the university of Saarbrücken and the Max-Planck-Institute for Computer Science to attend the “Forschungstage Informatik”. This was his first (almost) solo trip by train across the country. The journey to Saarbrücken went, apart from a hour delay on the last leg, OK. The event itself was apparently quite interesting for him. Finally meeting a bunch of likeminded nerds to converse about math and computer science problems….

The journey back but gave him the full dose of german railway incompetence. The first train had to stop at a rather rural train station as the way ahead was blocked by some accident. So they (fortunately there was another kid from Berlin that attended the same event and was traveling together with K2) had to find and alternative route. Since trains were not operating anymore on this station, they had to take a bus to the next bigger city. There they tried to catch the next train to Mainz and Frankfurt/Main. But of course these trains were overloaded and delayed as well. Getting much too late into Frankfurt that evening, there was no fast train going to Berlin anymore. Instead they were parked with an overcrowded train a bit outside Frankfurt for half the night. Just to get back into Frankfurt very early morning and then try to head east towards Berlin. But of course that route didn’t go smooth either. Train had issues and got cancelled to continue to Berlin in Leipzig. Another change. Eventually after almost 24hrs he safely arrive at home.

Reunion

On Thursday evening two ex-colleagues had organised a reunion of our teams at Nokia/HERE in a beer garden. It was quite a large turn up and heartfelt meeting with all the good friends we made over the last almost 20 years.

It was really nice to see all those folks again and chat about the good old times. I’m tempted to say this was one of the most competent and powerful teams I’ve met in my professional career. And the other folks seem to agree as well, now that they have moved on to other companies. Many realise that despite the complaints we had back in days together as a team, we were rather advanced and at the forefront of technology and witchcraft. In their new companies they stepped back several years and have to start all over again to convince people about certain technology and ways of working advantages.

Roofing ceremony

On Saturday our neighbours invited us to the roofing ceremony of their barn building. That was lovely and funny. Their property is like a fairytale garden with so much stuff laying around and being collected and arranged. Chicken pens and gardens, wood carvings, playgrounds, herbs and flowers etc.

One native guy got drunk and excited about a new drink he “invented”. Eventually he had too much of it and we had to carry him home. As he’s in his 70s already, we wanted to make sure he makes it back safely to his bad although it was just across the street.

Random Pictures

#weeklyreview 23/23

Oh, magic week number 23/23

Last weekend I attempted my normal swimming distance on the local lake. The lake is small, about 250 m – 300 m in diameter, and got 3 beaches. My usual track is to start at one beach and swim a triangle across the other two beaches. The total distance is usually around 800 m due to some drift etc.

During the winter swimming the distance is too much for me to cover in freestyle. And since I didn’t manage to go to indoor pools for longer distance training over the winter, I lost my condition to some extend and have to build it again.

But on the weekend I managed to cover the full distance two days in a row at around 22 minutes. Getting back into it feels great.

I’m swimming longer distances with these swim pads on the hands. They keep my hands relaxed as I otherwise tend to get cramps in the hands on longer distances.

The work week was rather busy. Monday we had a „surprise“ doctors visit with the kid. Surprise only in that way that we messed up our calendar almost forgot about this appointment which we had waited for for almost half a year.

Did quite some overhours this week as the migration project I‘m working on is in its final phase. Unraveling technical challenges and dealing with users finally waking up to do the needed changes on their side despite several weeks of notifications and announcement about the upcoming changes. As our company has office around the world, there is always someone awake and pinging me with question.

Also experiencing they „joy“ of outsourcing and different levels of competence. Some services affected by the migration are outsourced to a large service provider with their main workforce in India. They are supposed to operate those services on our behalf. Many of them really have no clue what they are doing there. They neither know the service, nor the basics of operations or network. They just follow instructions and some short notes someone provided. There is absolutely no sense of ownership or understanding for the systems. If just a single character in their notes deviates from what they find on the systems, they throw their hands up and can’t figure out how to continue.

I‘m not blaming the individuals. They are all friendly and try to work with the conditions they find and they hired for. This is some dudes renting bodies for cheap to other companies that don‘t want to have people on their payroll. It is super inefficient and I can‘t imagine that it is cheaper then doing this yourself with competent people.

But the situation reminds me a little to what Reed Hastings wrote in his book about Netflix hiring and operations strategy. In knowledge work (and I consider the majority of IT work as knowledge work) the difference between an average person and a good person is orders of magnitudes larger than in other professions. A really good engineer will do the work of not just 2 or 3 average engineers, no they might be able to replace 10 or 20 average engineers. But companies usually have a hard time admitting that.

And you also need to make sure that those high potential engineers are working on the proper problems. Of course you can keep them busy with mundane tasks like creating PowerPoints and filling out reports. But maybe thats not the best use of their powers.

WMDEDGT

On Tuesday I tried what my friend Assbach does on a more regular basis and captured what I did the whole day as a blog post. Apparently there is a whole community.

But of course I did it slightly wrong as there are apparently rules for (of course there are rules, this is Germany. There are rules for everything). Somehow the day for is the 5th of every month.

Well ….

Pizza steel

This week i finally got myself a pizza steel. That’s an 8mm think slate of steel to put in the oven for making pizzas and other dough things like bread and rolls.

The tip came from my friend Ali who doesn‘t mess around with stuff but always takes serious science based approach. He of course had lot of evidence that steel just has the better heat capacity and transmission features to produce the proper crust etc.

Steel also has the advantage that you can heat it up really high and it’s almost indestructible with your normal kitchen equipment. You don‘t need to worry about it when using a knife or other sharp tools. But it’s rather heavy, you wanna watch to not drop that somewhere. It will for sure damage your floor and limbs.

Will take it to a test drive on the Weber grill on the weekend.

Random Pictures

#weeklyreview 22/23

This was a rather short workweek. Somehow. Monday was an official holiday in Germany. So we could stay one day longer in the countryside. And since the kids in Berlin also had Tuesday off, we could prolong our stay until Tuesday. Although I had to work in Tuesday, its still nicer than working in Berlin 😉

Due to the prolonged Weekend we had two swimming sessions with the ice swimming crew. Of course it’s nowhere near to ice swimming anymore. But we enjoy the company and there is some sort of “competition” going on. Who’s got the best gear (swim pads, buoy etc.) and who brings the best cake and tea. Water temperature is well over 15ºC now the beach almost gets crowded with people taking a bath.

On Sunday my wife had some old friends from school over. People she hadn’t seen in person for almost 30 years. It was wonderful to see them immediately get back into their old vibes and enjoy their company. One person brought a dog which apparently felt comfy rather quick and slumbered under the table.

Back in Berlin I finally got my car tires changed to the summer tires. While its rather sunny since about 2 weeks. The nights were still rather cold. Sunday morning started with 3.6ºC at end of May. I guess some days before we might even had frost over night. So, good I stuck with my winter tires until now 😉

Music

The second Peter Fox solo album got released this Friday. I like it. Doesn’t sound much at first maybe, but it gets better and catchier with every play. He definitely still got it and is a league of his own in my eyes.

Favorites so far:

  • Celebration
  • Toskana Fanboy
  • Zukunft Pink

but really the whole album is good.

TV

Finished watching all 4 seasons of “Killing Eve” and I liked it very much. Go watch it on ZDF Mediathek while its still available.

#weeklyreview 21/23

phew week 21 is already almost 2 weeks ago. So I’m definitely late with this post. Again. And admittedly its hard to remember what happened. Because I’m old and because so much stuff is happening all the time.

I refreshed my nail polish

Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to make it proper. Since I’m working a lot with my hands, the normal nail polish wears off rather quickly.

Cooking

A very nice vegetarian dish I recently discovered: Zucchini/Aubergine lasagna. Dunno wether its actually called like that. But its relatively simply and very delicious:

Cut Zucchini and Aubergine into 3-4mm think slices along the long side. Put in a bowl and season with salt and let them rest for about 10 minutes. That will get some water out. Then fry them in a pan with oil until they show signs of brown frying marks.

In a bowl mix some canned tomatoes squash with salt, pepper and garlic (shredded, squeezed etc.). Now alternating layers of tomato sauce and fried veggie stripes in a cooking pan (must be good for oven use) like a lasagna.

Grate some cheese on top and put into the over at 200ºC for about 25min.

#weeklyreview 20/23

Dorfdisco

On Saturday we attended a short live concert of a queer-lesbian country-punk band in the next village. The venue was an old GDR restaurant that has been lovingly conserved by a artist Frank Suplie. He’s inviting every once in a while for an evening of dance music and drinks. Its just lovely and cool to meet so many diverse people from the village and beyond.

Friends

On Saturday we finally had good old friends over for lunch. Due to the illness of my wife we weren’t able to invite friends over to us for about 5 years now. But since her conditions are slightly improving we finally able to have people over and enjoyed a wonderful reunion with a couple from France/Turkey and her lovely kids. This was long needed 🙂

DIY

This week we had to take some blood samples for a lab test. Living on the rural countryside it’s quite a trip to the next town for a doctor. Also… you’d have to wait in a crowded room for a while. Not really something a patient with severe ME/CFS condition can do. While we have support from a care-taking company, their staff doesn’t have the proper training to take blood samples.

So eventually I do this kind of stuff on my own. Its not rocket surgery and just takes proper instructions (learned it from several ER nurses) and a bit practice.

Oak Blossoms

Ever wondered what oak blossoms look like? I did. As I couldn’t remember to have knowingly seen oaks blossom. This year I was lucky to see this period of the oak vegetation period and took a picture (slightly out of focus though). The blossoms are rather unspectacular brown feathered strings hanging down under the edge leaves.

Movie/TV

After finishing “Doppelhaushälfte” I moved on to finally watching “Killing Eve“. It’s brilliant. A few years old already, but still gold. Many episodes are produced by the brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I love the play between Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in there.

Links

Some assorted bookmarks I collected over the last week:

go-meteologix – Go packages for accessing Meteologix/Kachelmann Wetter/WeatherUS data from Lord Neessen

Solar-Akku für Alle – Wie du einen 15 kWh Solar-Akku selber baust!

ARTE Doku über die Geschichte Chinas

#weeklyreview 19/23

Reunion

On Saturday we celebrated the reunion with the Ukrainian families we helped to find accommodation in our village last year when Putin started a war on Ukraine. They have all found new places across Europe meanwhile, some went back to the Ukraine even. It was great to see them again and have good conversations over dinner and drinks.

We’re still amazed that the help for those four families basically sparked a whole bunch of new relationships in the villages. Beside meeting new friends in those people from Ukraine we also made new friends locally that we hadn’t met before. Despite living their alongside each other for several years already.

Helping those families helped bonding as a common cause and we enjoy the new company very much. Of course its sad that it took a war to start this.

Woodwork

a few weeks back I cut, split and stacked my wood. Was rather proud of my round stacks and how well they stood stable. Of course I was too lazy or busy to set up some stabilization around the stacks. And then the sunday before last sunday we heard a rumbling noise. One of the stacks collapsed as I had put a metal firepit on top to protect the stack from rain.

So I had to remove all the loose layers (almost to the ground) and restack the whole thing again. Took about 3 hrs. This time it put some fence around the stack right away to not touch that wood again this years …

Appliance failure

looks like this week was the week of appliance failure. Our fridge/freezer combination in Berlin doesn’t work anymore. So I had to order a new one. This is, beside the oven, probably the most important device in the kitchen as we need it store food and freeze the meals I’m preparing for my wife during the week for the next week.

Finally tuesday the new device was delivered and installed. So good to have chilled drinks again 😉

In our house in the the water heater broke finally after the 14 years. The magic smoke escaped and it has to be replaced now.

I hope this was the last bit of equipment that suddenly stops working…

Sunglasses

few weeks ago I lost my beloved sunglasses in the Baumarkt. Fortunately I found the same model on Kleinanzeigen and picked it up on Sunday evening. They ware dirty but fortunately in very good condition otherwise. A thorough cleaning and the look like new. No scratches anywhere.

And as the weather finally feels like spring or even summer, I could have lunch on the balkony and put them to good use right away 😉

Doppelhaushälfte

Started watching “Doppelhaushälfte” in the ZDF Mediathek upon recommendation from @klappstulli. This is brilliant TV once again. The stories are super funny and intelligent and the cast is really outstanding. We love it.

#weeklyreview 18/23

As mentioned in the last post, we were preparing a party for the night to May 1st. We decided to have pea soup for main course as we were expecting around 40 people. I tried the soup a week before and decided that it was good. But now the dimensions were much bigger. We scaled up the recipe and figured that we didn’t have pots large enough in size and quantity. Although we already had quite large pots with 10 and 7 litres each. Anyway… it was more than enough food and we had a lot of leftovers.

We lit the fire and had a wonderful evening with many friends. Some of whom we haven’t seen in person since about 6 years.

Although it was May 1st, the night still had frost. But the next day was beautiful and sunny so we could have a “Frühschoppen” with the leftovers 😉

I took some of the leftover pea soup to Berlin to converse it in the freezer. But I noticed that in the last couple of days the fridge didn’t seem to get really cold inside. I put a thermometer inside to confirm it’s not properly workin 🙁 Didn’t got the temperature below 13 ºC in the fridge part.

I’m all for repairing stuff, but this fridge/freezer is old and ugly. I think it had its time and its about time to get it replaced with a new one. That’ll hopefully arrive on next Tuesday so I can finally store some fresh produce again.

Beach cleanup

On May 1st the village society has the tradition to clean up the beach of the local lake. That is a fun event were we rake the beach area and clean it from the debris and junk that have accumulated over winter. We even clean the several meters into the lake and remove branches that have been fallen or thrown into the lake and remove reed thats growing too much into the entry.

Beer & Burger

On Thursday our local beer & burger “Selbsthilfegruppe” had it’s regular gathering again at Hirsch & Eber in Prenzlauer Berg. It didn’t disappoint.

As always – great conversations and fun, good food and good beer. best burger crew ever 😉

3D Printing

I saw something useful on Printables that I had to try out. The magnetic clips to hold together curtains. My curtains also don’t properly close and would leave a gap in the middle. With these clips I can hold them together easily.

I have to adjust the magnets a bit. Currently I’m using rather strong neodym magnets which are a bit too strong. When opening and not holder the clip fast to the curtain, one side would just slip off before the magnets would release.