Thursday, 29 July 2010

Many plants were harmed in the making of this post

I've tried to expand my sowing/growing repertoire this year. To supplement our random assortment of green, non-flowering plants, we brought back some chili seeds (habanero and something called ping - which I think should be referred to as ping! - a la stereolab) from australia.

It all started off very well. Seeds were germinated. Sprouts were transplanted into small pots. Then bigger pots. 10 ml plastic pipettes were appropriated from lab to stake up the rapidly growing stalks. Even Kate, who normally has zero interest in house plants, began to talk about harvesting home-grown chilis. The only hurdle was that no matter how big the plants became, there were no flowers. Thus, no chilis. Internet research revealed that something called "fertilizer" might induce this much-anticipated transition. As such, a large bottle of mysterious green liquid was obtained from the local garden shop.

At this point everything came crashing down. Rather than carefully reading the instructions (which smart people would normally do) I haphazardly mixed a big dollop of the green stuff with some water and started dousing the plants. With the following results:

The plant on the left avoided the first pass of the fertilizer=death express, and represents one of the few surviving chili plants we have left. The heap of rotting vegetable matter on the right now serves only as a cautionary tale against over-fertilization. Here's another view, which more accurately captures the swath of destruction brought about by my idiocy.


Next post: Tomatoes in peril!

Monday, 26 July 2010


I've obviously fallen off that "posting after every Indians wagon." Good timing too, since they just won 7 of their last 10 games.

Not much really to report. The Berlin Heat Wave of 2010 broke last week. Which was nice since it meant we could stop using our bathtub as soaking pool. And I could return to sleeping in the bedroom instead of on the spare mattress in the (much cooler) back room.
The flora in the apartment has started doing funny things. If I get around to it I'll snap some pictures tomorrowish.

The only thing that I really want to mention is that today is my little brother's birthday. Here's a relatively silly photo of him at the recent wedding. I think he's celebrating having ditched the newborn twins at home with Abu.

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

In which i talk about computer crap...

I'm afraid to mention that with their win last night, the Cleveland Indians are a scant 2 points above .400. Terrifying. Curious to see if this trend continues after losing yet another starter to injury. choo down!

I got an ace new computer a few weeks ago (thanks mom and dad!), a nice little macbook pro, which is wicked cute and runs just as fast as the top-of-the-line desktop PC I bought a few years back. Crazy stuff this technology.

At any rate, I've been spending a bunch of time getting this little dood up and running, and decided to splurge on some cool new software i came across. One of the best parts about using macs is that people are writing really fun programs that are incredibly useful and don't cost that much money. First off, there's the folks at mekentosj, who are pretty focused on tools for researchers. Won't bore you guys with that - but trust me, they're pretty rad.

What I'm more fascinated with at the moment are the folks at Flying Meat, who have a nice little bundle containing two pieces of software - Voodoo Pad and FlySketch. Voodoo Pad lets you construct mini-wikis on your computer - you write out your plans/thoughts/whatever in one document, then link to other files on your computer that you can pull up pretty much instantaneously. Sounds complicated. but it's not. and very cool. The other one is FlySketch, which makes grabbing and modifying images from anywhere a total snap. Case in point:

While this is very lame, it took me about 15 seconds to do. I won't bore you poor blog readers with any further details, but trust me, it's the coolest thing since they started selling bacon packets with 15% more bacon.

I think it would be hilarious if the Dutch squad took to the pitch tonight wearing wooden shoes.

Monday, 5 July 2010


hi hi hi. So the Indians won on Saturday, but since yesterday was a Sunday (not to mention 4th of July, blah blah) I declared it to be a day of blog rest. Good thing too, because it remains stinky hot in Berlin, even with our new fan (I'm thinking of calling him Vince the Ventilator) installed. So stinky hot in fact, that for the first time in my life, I woke up this morning to find my sheets wet with sweat. Ick.

And yes, I'm aware that having spent quite a bit of time in Australia, the low 30's that we've been experiencing here (about 90 for you Fahrenheit folks) pales in comparison to the 40+ that we had over Christmas. There are, however, two important concepts to consider. First, air conditioning. Two, humidity. Nuff said.

Here's a picture. Graffiti is omnipresent here in Berlin. After a while, one ceases to even notice it. There are exceptions though. For example, here's a real cool snake cut-out that someone pasted next to our front door. Sssssssss...

Friday, 2 July 2010

And here we go again...

If you guys get sick of these now daily updates, just let me know.

I went out to the MDC (the institute where I used to work and where Kate currently works) today for a seminar. The seminar was cool, mechanotransduction in worms - yay, but I was particularly looking forward to the chance to do my old bike commute back into town. 50 min. on average, through cornfields, large plots of city gardens, and finally into downtown. A really nice ride. Maybe I'll take photos someday.

So now I'm back home, hot and sweaty, and about to hop into the shower before the Holland-Brazil match.

Here's a photo of my mom when we went for a bike-ride during her last trip to Berlin:

This was the now-legendary mum-mom trip, where we had two maternal units visiting us at the same time! As part of the holiday we went up to Stralsund on the Baltic Sea, where we found this little gem.

Resulting in these satisfied looks:

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Bloody hell

I knew this was going to happen. If the Indians go on the longest win streak in MLB history (as if), then this blog is going to get boring really quickly.

Kate is arriving back from London today, and I have a bunch of errands to run before she gets in (item #1 - buy a fan). I don't have the time to search through pictures and compose witty, albeit grammatically incorrect, text. So here's a comic that made us both laugh.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Another victory, another blog post

This whole situation could get old very quickly.

To conserve photos of our recent trip to the states (in full anticipation
of some ridiculous Cleveland Indians win streak), we're going to travel
back in time (cue science fiction sounds and bendy screen effects) to this
past Christmas in Adelaide. When the sun was shining and the
temperatures were soaring. Sort of like Berlin today. The odd thing about
spending Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is that the whole approach
to the holiday changes to match the weather.

For example, here's kate giving the all clear after checking in on Trevo, the Australian Christmas turkey (not to be confused with Trevor, the German Christmas turkey):

Turkey on the grill for Christmas is still a little weird for me. Although not as odd as working through the Christmas lunch while sitting outside in 35 degree weather wearing a sun hat and shorts.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

I can't believe the Indians won again

Nevertheless, a promise is a promise. Here's Kate feeling optimistic before the Australia's World
Cup match against Germany.

We won't talk about what happened during the match.

We even got Eila, the daughter of our friends Scott and Dawnnica, to get her Aussie spirit on:

Not that it helped them all that much...

Monday, 28 June 2010

Dudded Up

Good morning blog people! Right off the bat, I'd like to note that, true to my word, Cleveland Indians victory = new blog post. I am nothing if not dependable. I had actually hoped to bend the rules a little bit and post one last week after the US football/soccer squad beat Algeria. However, an inopportune rearranging of the Stool Internet Empire (resulting in absolutely no access to the Tinternet) made that impossible.

One of the main reasons for going to the states was my sister's wedding. Huzzah! We presented us the rare opportunity to put on nice clothes for a change. Check it out:

Of particular note are Kate's fantastic red suede shoes and my dashing paisley tie. It should also be mentioned that 2.5 year old nephews in mini tuxes make awesome fashion accessories.

Update: along the lines of the laser-queen-muppet debacle. Would you go see Prince in concert? I saw him about 12 years ago and it was a ridiculously good show. I just saw a poster up that he's coming to berlin in a few weeks. How old is that dude? can he still play 20 minute bass solos? Will he sing 1999? i'm torn.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Spoon

Hi hi hi. We're back. After 2.5 weeks romping around America, we have returned to Berlin to watch the football and eat the sausage.

The holiday was great. Friends and family were visited. Sushi was consumed. And sunglasses were purchased. The only real bummer was that wicked insomnia was the name of the game for much of the trip. But don't worry blog friends! In a classic lemon -> lemonade situation, I took advantage of the many sleepless hours to rethink my approach to the whole blog posting situation. Or lack thereof, as you may have noticed.

So here's the new plan - for the remainder of the season, every time the Cleveland Indians win a game, I will write a blog post. As you may have guessed, they won last night (check here), so here's your post. I wouldn't get too excited - the way those pack of fools play, I seriously doubt that the frequency of random Stool bursts will increase that dramatically.

While there are numerous stories to relate, and many fun pictures to caption, I think I'm going to keep a promise to a certain Chop Brother (hi dougie!!) and talk about a spoon (pictured above).

The background here is that my Dad has really gotten into woodworking the past few years (to the extent that we bought him a hunk of super-duper Australian wood for Christmas). He makes, among other things, spoons. We have a lot of his spoons. And use them all of the time.

This past Thanksgiving, we had people over for the traditional turkey feast. Among the guests were our friend Paul and his daughter Lotte (if you can't figure out who is who, then you have problems). Lotte became quite enamored with one of my dad's spoons. To the extent that we decided to give it to her. Like I said, we have a lot of handmade spoons. And who wouldn't want to make a small child happy? As part of the gift though, we explained that my dad made the spoon, and that it was very special.

Later in the evening, Paul asked Lotte if he could this spoon to make pancakes the next morning. Lotte replies very firmly - "No. Because Jeff's Dad made this spoon for me."

As it turns out, Lotte's affection for this spoon has not cooled off - the latest report is that she sleeps with it at night, and still won't let Paul use it for pancakes.

And that is the story of the spoon.

Friday, 16 April 2010

holy crap

via. via our friends chris and danielle.

i hate to resubmerge our blog in the greasy morass of meat/bacon porn, but this picture was just too over-the-top to ignore.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Friday, 9 April 2010

Fun things in the mail!

Last week was a bit of a bumper crop for packages here at the Stool homestead.

First up, we received an awesome box from brothers and sisters in the states - sushi trays!
sweet-smelling goodies to make our skin smooth and radiant! hand-held video games so that we can practice our ninja skills!

The only hitch was that this package was intercepted by the lovely people at the German customs office - meaning that we had to go pick it up at the dread Zollamt. Otherwise known as one of the most soul-destroying locations on the planet. Upon arriving there, you get a fantastic little ticket:and maybe think to yourself - "this won't be so bad. Certainly the Germans, with their well-founded reputation for efficiency, will have optimized this process." Over three hours later, you realize just how wrong a person can be. But hey, three hours of my life is a small price to pay for a box of awesome gifts. So hooray!

On the very same day as the Zollamt adventure, we also got the fantastic new cookbook assembled and written in part by our good friend Kiyo!

I think that the cover really says it all. Cooking eafood has been a bit of the final frontier for us here in Berlin - mainly because it's not super easy to obtain high-quality fish, not to mention shellfish. But hey, now that we have a book chock full of yummy recipes, it is on. Gravlox here we come!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

a quickie

We haven't posted any food pictures in a bit - here's one from this past Thanksgiving, featuring the critical first step in the making of our "triple sausage assault" stuffing. That's right, three different kinds of sausage in ONE stuffing.

And here's one of me, many hours after the turkey came out of the oven. Looking skeptical about something. I have no idea what.

Coming soon: A story about a spoon.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

a great year for pies

Hi blog friends.

Yesterday was our four-year wedding anniversary - hooray! We don't really go for the more traditional anniversary events - year one was the tatoo anniversary, followed by schnitzel, then donuts last year. This year started out as the sushi anniversary, but was quickly redubbed the scotch and soda anniversary after a trip to a nearby bar. oof. We also avoid the whole concept of "anniversary photos" like the plague. But it seems like something a little cheesy is in order, so here's a photo of us on a gorgeous australian beach.

Given the fact that it is still ass-cold in berlin, this photo is more than a little heart-wrenching.

In other news, I was in Denver last week, hanging out with my brother and his family. Fun times all around, in particular since the last time I saw our nephew Jack, he was just a little fleshy bundle who didn't do much besides drink formula and sleep. He was much more interactive this time and we partied pretty hard. In a well-intentioned attempt to introduce him to some Australian traditions, I decided to do my best imitation of an authentic meat pie. Because we Stools do love our meat pies. Exhibit A:

Jack was not quite so excited:

Consider my spastic giggling in the background an added bonus.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

We love the Kiwis. And their accents.

While in Dresden last week, everyone was talking about some Youtube video starring a beached whale that was soooooo funny. Alex sent me the link. I forwarded the link to Kate. And the rest is history.

True to form, the Stool household went a little overboard with the whole "beached az" ouevre this weekend, spouting off over-the-top Kiwi accents at the drop of a hat and ordering a lot of fish and chips. While potentially annoying our mates (especially those actually from New Zealand), we laughed about this video (and the 11 follow-up videos. And the making of videos) for a good long time.

More pictures from Australia coming soon, accompanied by insightful and entertaining commentary.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Photoshop was not used anywhere in this post

We're back! Many tales to tell and a few pictures to share. I'm feeling oddly committed to temporal order at the moment, so for now you'll have to content yourself with some pictures of where we spent our outbound layover in Heathrow. The Pod!

It was essentially a cubicle with a bathroom (including shower), a foldable bed, a tv and wireless. Which is all fine and good. But the best part was the door which shut out all of idiots who run around in airports. 4 hours for 40 pounds? Worth every penny (or pence actually)

It also came with a dazzling array of light settings. This crazy blue look, in addition to adding to the podness of it all, was labelled with a mini-cartoon of two pairs of feet perilously close together. We dubbed it "sexy-time" lighting, although I reckon that David Cronenberg is the only person on the planet who would even consider getting it on under these conditions.