Sunday, April 26, 2009

Andrew's Mojito

3 tsp. cane sugar
1 jigger simple syrup (start with 1/2 c. white sugar + 1/2 c. water)
1 jigger lime juice (start with juice of 3 limes)
1 jigger rum (white or spiced)
3 sprigs mint leaves
club soda

  1. make the simple syrup by dissolving the white sugar in water at medium heat; this will yield about 3/4 c., about enough for 3 mojitos
  2. squeeze out the juice of 3 limes, again yielding about enough for 3 mojitos
  3. in a tumbler throw in some mint leaves, add a tsp. cane sugar
  4. add a jigger of simple syrup (my jigger is a 1 1/2 oz. shot glass)
  5. muddle the mint leaves, simple syrup, and cane sugar (I don't have a muddler, I use a mortar, a handle of a wooden spoon can be used as well)
  6. add ice
  7. add jigger of lime juice
  8. add jigger of rum (I actually prefer spiced rum)
  9. top up with club soda (I like my mojitos fairly fizzy)

The above is my recipe for a mojito, based on what I remember of the fantastic mojitos I had in Barcelona. Theirs had so much sugar that you would get some crystals with every sip. My recipe doesn't really come close, but it seems to achieve a similar minty, bittersweet combination that isn't too boozy, which is fairly close to the Barcelona mojito. My recipe is a combination of several recipes I came across for mojitos. I think the cane sugar in the glass is key for muddling as it tends to provide extra friction for muddling the mint leaves. It also makes the mojito sweeter, which appeals to me. If you try this and you find it too sweet, cut back on the simple syrup and/or the cane sugar. Fresh-squeezed lime juice is also important, don't use that fake stuff out of a plastic bottle.

First warm weekend

This weekend was the first summer-like weekend, a full month ahead of the unofficial first weekend of summer (Memorial Day, this year falling on May 25, 2009). I think it hit the mid-80s although it felt warmer. The cats are starting to shed their winter fur. I don't know how Harley handles the heat with her black fur. She finds shade during the day and takes naps. Yesterday we did a bit of yardwork in the morning, mainly cleaning up the weeds behind the house. I used a scuffle hoe to cut out various plants, raked them up, and pitchforked them into the wheel barrow. We need to replace our pitchfork. The tines fell out and I put them in backwards, d'oh! Now they're stuck and the pitchfork now has a really sharp curve to them.

Later in the evening we went to a friend's party in Clemson. Today, we were pretty lazy so we just suntanned on the deck. I decided to make myself a mojito, a recipe I'll describe in the next post that I modified based on what I could remember from the mojitos I had in Barcelona.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yard of the Month

Corey said she put in a lot of yardwork the week I was away. Her spring cleanup efforts must have been noticed by the subdivision yard judges as we were (finally!) awarded with the Yard of the Month. Corey deserves all the credit as she's really put in a lot of work into the yard over the ten years that we've lived here. We've seen this sign up in various yards, bypassing ours from month to month and year to year. The explanation in our subdivision newsletter (not directed at us, but to the community) was that the recognition of the YOTM went to the greatest monthly improvement, not necessarily the best looking yard that month. Or something along those lines. Sometimes we would see some yards get totally redone as the owners would hire landscapers to do the work. That seemed like a sure-fire way to get the YOTM sign to show up (just throw enough money at it and presto!). Perhaps our yard's improvement is more gradual in comparison, as it is mostly the work of one person and not a team of landscapers. (I occasionally help out, but truth be told, like the bumper sticker says, "I'd rather be sailing" :) Well, there's still a lot more that needs to be done. We still have to put in the final section of the brick path behind the house. And every year we should be adding plants to the beds surrounding the lawn. Yesterday I helped plant about 10 new ones—don't ask me what they were though. I don't know how many more plants we'll need to put in before we get the YOTM sign back. It may take us another ten years :)

Velcro boot

Here's Corey's velcro boot. She opted for this high-tech version of a removable cast instead of the traditional plaster to facilitate showering, sleeping, etc. And shopping and gardening of course. I took the shot at Lowe's garden center where we were getting stuff for the yard.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


After the BMW Museum, since I'd already seen paintings, I wanted to take a look at sculptures. The Glyptothek houses Greek and Roman ones, some dating back to 400 B.C. I took many pictures, not sure which ones to pick to put on here. I failed to take pics of the descriptions (they were all grouped on the wall while the statues were numbered, which would mean I'd have to more or less keep running back and forth between the placard and statue to take pictures). So even the ones I post I won't be able to describe very well.

At right is a panther (parts of), at left it's pretty self-explanatory. Below is a nice relief piece.

There were several themes that one could see: hunting and military were two prominent ones. Above right I think that may have been either some kind of crypt or a bathtub. Across the street we found more exhibits, including jewelery, armor, medical instruments, and more sculptures. I really don't have a representative shot that would do it all justice.

BMW Museum

On Friday I met up with my brother and we hopped on the U-bahn to go to the BMW museum (on the recommendation of my friend from the UK who's a bit of a beamer buff). The BMW museum is pretty easy to find. It's not that huge of a place but they have some interesting displays. The cars of course, but I also liked the engine displays. I also had something of an ulterior motive. I bought for my car a mobile phone cradle that powers up your phone when it's in there and also is supposed to boost up the signal (it has some connection to the shark fin on the roof). When I had my Motorolla Razr phone I bought a snap-in adaptor designed for that phone. Then when I switched to the iPhone 3G, of course I had to go get a new snap-in adaptor. But they hadn't made one yet. So I've been waiting for about a year for production to catch up. Then when I saw they were available on the BMW accessory web page, I saw mention of them fitting in 2009 models, which kind of left it vague whether there was a 3G adaptor for the 2008 (what I have). So at the Museum we asked for a nearby dealership and went to find out. They had one, so now I have a functional keepsake that ended up costing me about $50 less than what it would have in the states. I can't wait to snap it in at the airport at home.

I'm not sure which BMW model that is in the picture, and I also failed to take a snap of the description of the engine, but I believe that engine is similar if not the same as the one in my car. Those two large aluminum-looking cans at bottom-left—are those the twin turbos? I think they may be, as I believe the little turbines (impellers?) get driven by the hot exhaust gas, spinning up to draw in air into the combustion chamber. But it's a bit of a guess, I'm not terribly knowledgeable about engines. Another thing to note on this engine: there's no large cooling fan at the front. Interesting, no? I read on the placard that it's an electronically cooled engine. Guess there must be a pump somewhere to push the coolant around.

Here's a neat-looking racer. GT? LeMans? I'm not sure. It looks like a generation older than mine, all souped up though I'm sure. I bet it'd be fun to drive. Later on that day we were commenting on cars and I noted that it's a shame that in the US while you can buy 'em, you can't really run 'em very fast. Unless maybe you go to a track or something. I wish we could have Autobahn-like stretches of the US interstate highway system so that we could try out top speeds. My brother was talking about maxing out his Audi. Sounds like fun, wish I could try my beamer out like that.

EG 2009 Dinner

Here's another shot of the Rathaus in Marienplatz. I took this on the way to the conference dinner at the Hofbrauhaus. Yesterday I found out that they have these figurines up in the tower that dance around when the bells ring. I think only at 5pm, I'm not sure. The conference dinner was a good combination of buffet and sit-down dinner. A couple of years ago EuroGraphics didn't have a sit-down dinner, just the regular kind of walk around from station to station to pick up finger food, then keep wandering with a tiny plate in your hand. Maybe find a small round table to stand up against. Not as good as the sit-down dinner in Saarbrucken in 2002. There we were at round tables where they came around and served food. Then there was dancing. All in this in old steel plant or something. Here, we had long tables at which we sat and then we got up and queued up for the buffet. They loaded your plate up with a ton of food; some kind of pig roast or something they were carving up along with plenty of beer.

During the course of dinner I discovered I was sitting across from my cousin! Small world! He's studying computer graphics at Trinity College Dublin, where I know some people as well. Later I met this lady working at Cambridge who was at Leicester previously; we had a common friend. Pretty fun, but I got so stuffed with food that all I could do after dinner was waddle to the hotel and crash. Well, it did go till midnight, which was kind of late anyway, so it was just as well. I would meet up with my brother the next day so it's a good thing I got some sleep :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Deutsches Museum

My colleague here at the conference observed that "the Germans are all about engineering" and so he added "you have to go see the Deutsches Museum". So I took the S-Bahn and went. The only other similar kind of museum that I've been to is the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. This place is huge, and like the Smithsonian, seems to have a display on just about everything, although yes, the bent is clearly towards science and engineering.

Ok, so I was curious as to how "PC" this museum would be. Specifically, would they display any wartime things? Yup, the V-1 and V-2 were there as were several Messerschmitts (the Me 262, the first jet to be built in series and used in action, and the Bf 109, the standard fighter aircraft used by the Luftwaffe during WWII—these must have been the ones going up against the British Spitfires). I also happened to find nice model examples of a brigantine and the frigate, ships that were used in naval battles some 150 years earlier (although I don't recall whether the Germans had a fleet that figured as prominently as the fleets of Britain, France, Spain). The HMS Surprise was a frigate.

Schloss Nymphenburg

After the Alte Pinkothek, I hopped on the tram to get to the Schloss Nymphenburg. It reminded me of Willa Nova outside Warsaw, but a touch larger. Inside they only let you walk so far down the wings...I should have taken a shot of the main entry hall with its marble (?) tiles, but instead I just grabbed a few pics of various rooms.

Although the palace was more or less what you would expect of a palace, there was one interesting curiosity: King Ludwig's "Gallery of Beauties". This was one room filled wall-to-wall with portraits of beautiful women that Ludwig had commissioned. The writeup said something about Ludwig's selection from various social classes, from princesses to shoemaker's daughters, etc. I dunno, I think this Ludwig may have been a bit of a ladies' man. Maybe this room was his collection of "conquests"? :) Or maybe he was just a bit of a perv and this was his ahem, collection of unmentionable pictures (as they may have been at the time; today it would be walls full of Playboy pinups). Anyway, it was an interesting room.

Alte Pinakothek

Ah! My Canalettos! This one is Piazzetta und Riva Degli Schiavoni in Venedig, but I think Canaletto (and/or his students) may have painted this many times, possibly from several perspectives. Or maybe this is the painting of the Piazzetta and it happens to be in Munich. I wonder which is more likely, probably the former. I found it hanging at the Alte Pinakothek when I went on my museum tour on Tuesday (Wednesday I was mainly at the conference, working on a paper review, then gave my 1 min fast forward presentation, and today, Thursday, I gave my 15 min talk—incidentally, a couple of people came up and spoke with me about the work, and I made contact with a fellow who is doing something similar, so another eye tracking contact!).

Another Canaletto, this is Riva Degli Schiavoni vom Ausgang des Canal Grande aus Gesehen, which I'm guessing means River Degli Schiavoni (?) with exit of Grande Canal...but what's "aus Gesehen"? Anyway, it's one with the dog taking a dump, which I focused on here, but unfortunately this, like many of my photos, is quite blurry. Corey takes better art gallery pics than I do. Anyway, there were only a couple of Canalettos, there were many more Rubens (I think the one at right is a Rubens—I have other shots that I know are Rubens but they're not sharp). Lots of rather voluptuous people in various harrowing scenes. Lot of heaven and hell type of stuff. Really good though.

Besides the vedutisti I also like the work of the Dutch masters, particularly for their realistic depictions, like Van Dyck's portrait of Georg Petel here. The eyes are really well done. And I'm also starting to really like Brouwer as he seemed to have particularly enjoyed depicting "common" scenes like this fiddler in some kind of tavern. There were several others depicting various bars, drunkards, and even fights (there was one of a card cheater being discovered in an "action scene" with the card table in the middle of falling over, etc.). I think I've discovered a good strategy for art galleries: skip right past all the Madonna and Child pics and head straight for the good stuff!


This is Marienplatz, a square fairly squarely in the center of town. It's usually pretty busy and appears to be a central meeting place for people otherwise scattered about Munich. My hotel is just four or so blocks down Kaufingerstr. and then down a couple of smaller adjoining streets. Kaufingerstrasse is a wide mostly pedestrian street cutting through Marienplatz but early in the mornings its occupied by trucks bringing in goods to the stores on the street.

On the other side of Marienplatz stands this ornate building, the Rathaus maybe? I'm not really sure what it is, but I think maybe it houses City Hall. The status is of St. Peter, I believe. Kaufingerstr. is lined by fairly upscale stores, some of which look really expensive. One curiosity is that some of the stores sell what look like to be traditional Bavarian garments, lederhosen and the like. It's difficult to tell whether this is meant to be some kind of costume or whether it's everyday wear.

Typical outfits of what people wear vary, but have that European look: this time of year a lot of the women wear knee-high boots (over jeans), the men have pointy shoes. There's a few "Goth" representatives and these guys—I particularly like the guy at right who is "AGAINST ***ALL*** AUTHORITY". Meanwhile, just off one of the corners of the square is this little market, the Viktualienmarkt, offering various victuals, as the name suggests. It's really quite convenient when you're just looking for a snack, you can find really tasty sandwiches here. I was looking for a quick bite one afternoon, but didn't want dinner yet. This was ideal, just grabbed a sandwich and that hit the spot. I'm glad I picked a hotel close to Marienplatz because of its central location. There's a subway station here that connects everywhere: the conference center (a 1/2 hr ride) as well as the airport (about an hour if I remember correctly). A colleague of mine staying at an official conference hotel says there's nothing there, so he's got to ride the subway in both directions: conference and city center. Not a big deal I guess, but it's nice to have something of interest nearby I think.