Yearly Archives: 2013


After Nuremberg our next stop was Regensburg, which we approached on the Danube.  The town is at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers.  We moved out of the Main-Danube Canal into the Danube a couple of hours before reaching Regensburg, here’s a shot of a town along the Danube.  I didn’t get the town name.

Town along the Danube

This is the only good picture I got of one of the vacation camps we saw all along all the rivers:

Vacation camp on the Danube

Apparently Germans love to camp by rivers in their travel trailers.  Looks pretty permanent, doesn’t it?  The banks of the Danube are just lush like this, all along.  There are more Danube photos, and many more photos of Regensburg, in the Regensburg gallery on my SmugMug site.

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Posted in Personal, Photography, Vacations Tagged |

Damn you, Hewlett-Packard!

I haven’t done a tech rant in a while so I guess it’s time.

We have a several year old HP printer, a PhotoSmart C7280 all-in-one (print/fax/copy/scan).  The printer runs like a clock.  The HP software just died on me and as far as I can tell I can’t re-install it.  I use the HP Solution Center about once a month to scan documents for a project I work on.  Suddenly yesterday when I needed to scan some pages, it said (loosely translated) – I can’t run, I’m not completely installed.  Re-install me.

I’ll spare you the intermediate (endless) details. I’ve spent at least 3 hours on this, that I needed to spend on other things.  I have now downloaded the Win7 drivers for this printer from HP 3 times (311 MB), and every time I try to install them the install process tells me it’s missing a file, and it won’t tell me what file it’s missing.  HP’s automated system then generates a “solution” – which mainly comes down to checking that the network is hooked up, the printer is working and findable, etc.  I’ve done all that.  I even did the part where they tell you to turn off everything in the Startup menu and turn off your firewall!  (Do you know how fast Internet malwarebots can find a honeypot?  Fortunately there’s also a firewall on the router.)  Every time the installer runs it immediately says, “Missing file.” Whatever isn’t there is something it needs right away.

I’ve opened a question on the HP forum, but since both my printer and my PC are out of warranty I don’t expect much help.  I’ve concluded that their driver file is defective and they don’t know or don’t care or both.  Fortunately, the basic drivers are still there and I’ve been able to re-install the printer as a printer, but I can no longer scan to PDF, at least not with any control over the formatting.  The infuriating thing is that the software still runs perfectly on my husband’s nearly identical HP Pavilion – we bought them at the same time (but I’ve added different stuff).

This is sad.  Back in the day, H-P was the gold standard. If you had H-P equipment, you had The Best.  Now they can’t write working installer software.  Sic transit gloria mundi.

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Lunch in the Yard

On a beautiful day like this – sunny, light breeze, 82° – I often have lunch in the back yard, surrounded by plants and, occasionally, critters.  As I was eating today’s lunch, I heard a noise and turned to see a scrub jay land on the board edging the rose bed.  It’s hard to miss a scrub jay.  They’re almost a foot long head to tail, with a 15″ wingspan, and most of the bird is bright blue.  Since he (assumption, I can’t tell them apart) was only 10 feet or so away, I expected him to take off, but he hopped around the brick patio a bit, poking his beak, and finally extracted a string of dried grass.  Then he took off, heading for the mass of greenery at the back of the yard (an English laurel, 2 camellia bushes, 2 full grown trees, a shore pine and a live oak, and a ceanothus).

Hm.  I wonder.  A few minutes later he swooped by again and perched on top of the garage, again digging with his beak in an indecipherable glob of gup on top of the insulator where the electric wire enters the garage.  Can’t you find something nicer than that, I wondered.  But he picked up something he liked and vanished again.

I think we have a nesting pair of scrub jays.

Posted in Nature, Neighborhood, Personal Tagged |


The afternoon of June 22, we toured Nuremberg.  Nuremberg has quite a history, going back to the 11th century (see the linked Wikipedia article); but of course what we remember it for today is the huge Nazi rallies that were held there in the 1930s and 40s, and later the war crimes trials of the Nazi leaders.  Read the medieval history, though, and you’ll see that the Nazis chose Nuremberg because it had been a center of trade and government for most of 800 years – the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire met there.  It was an independent “Imperial city” for many centuries but became part of Bavaria in 1806.

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We had a little excitement this afternoon.  My neighbor knocked on the door and said, “We have bees.”  What?  I said.  So he pointed to the tree in parking strip, ornamented with dark clumps of swarming bees, buzzing loudly.  As we stood around and wondered whom to call (Animal Control in Oakland is basically hopeless, though I think there’s a local guy who will remove swarms), the swarm moved from our tree to his tree, then swept onward to a yard about 3 houses down the block.  The whole thing took less than 10 minutes; I saw them last, through binoculars, orbiting around each other just short of the overhead freeway, a block away.

I wonder if they ever found a place they liked, to build a new hive.  The yard at that end of the block is posted as an official wild nature reserve, maybe they settled there.  Better them than me.  I like and approve of bees but I don’t want to raise them.

Posted in Nature, Neighborhood Tagged |

The Brewer’s Star

In my post on Bamberg and its breweries, I said that the Schenkerla brewery had a star of David hanging from the sign and I didn’t know why.  Jim said he thought there was something about that in Miltenberg, and I noticed that my photo of the sign for the Hotel Zum Reisen in Miltenberg also had a star of David hanging from the sign.  But I didn’t have any notes on it.

I got curious, and I googled “star of david german brewers” and came up with a fascinating explanation from the Museum of Beer and Brewing:

The Six Point Brewers Star

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Footnote:  for the record, I edited the link to the Museum of Beer and Brewing and corrected a typo.  It should work now.

Posted in Personal, Photography Tagged |

Beer and Cathedrals

After posting yesterday, I realized I’d left out the beer.  Can’t do that.  Bamberg is famous for its Rauchbier (aka “smoke beer”), “which has been likened by some first-time tasters to drinking ham from a glass.  No, I didn’t taste it; even when I drank beer, I preferred a medium red ale.  They roast fresh barley kernels over an open beechwood flame to make the malt.  They’ve been doing this for centuries, as you can see from the sign below.

Schenkerla brewery

Schenkerla is one of the big breweries.  There are several, all packed in together in the same small district.  The sign below is for Brauerei Heller-Trum, and it wasn’t 4 doors away from Schenkerla:

Brauerei Heller-Trum

Schenkerla did have an interesting sign on their main brewery site, I never heard any explanation of the star of David.  In fact, I didn’t notice it until I looked at the photo.

Schenkerla brewery sign

The breweries are all right down the hill from the Dom.  Here’s the back of the Dom from the foot of the hill, looking up the alley:

Bamberg Dom

Bamberg, being in Franconia (part of Bavaria) is very Catholic.  My Bamberg photo gallery has more photos of carefully painted religious figures on the outside of buildings, but here’s an example:

Religious figures on building

The Bamberg Cathedral was consecrated on May 6, 1012, so 2012 was the cathedral’s 1,000th anniversary.  The cathedral had a year long celebration.  This is the front with its two towers:

Bamberg Dom

The wheel you can see at the bottom I found very interesting.  It’s a replica (I think – the signs were all in German) of a tool the medieval masons used to lift stone, a man powered treadmill:

Medieval replica

The guided tour took us around the Domplatz, the square in front of the Cathedral, which is framed by the New Residence, where the prince-bishops lived, the wall of the bishop’s rose garden (more on that later), and some buildings used as residences for the Dom priests, plus an old inn (now a museum).  The Residence wasn’t very interesting externally but I liked this building:


My notes aren’t clear but I think the priests who served in the Dom lived here.  And remember, five stories, no elevator.  The courtyard of the old inn had a very elaborate gateway.  You can see the banner for the celebration on the right.

Courtyard gateway

After the tour we visited the Dom rose gardens, which are on top of a hill and let you look down into the town below:

From the Dom gardens

The Dom gardens have a little cafe serving drinks and pastries, and we had some, then toured the rose garden.  This is probably heresy, but I’m just not very thrilled by a rose garden, I like roses mixed with other plants.  They did have a nice fountain, though:

Fountain in the Dom gardens

I got a picture of St. Michael’s Abbey from the Dom gardens, but we didn’t get any closer than this:

St. Michael's Abbey

After our snack and garden stroll, we went into the Cathedral by the “Adam portal,” flanked by statues of Adam and Eve on one side, and Heinrich II and Cunigonde on the other.  You can tell who is whom by the clothing.

Bamberg Com, Adam Portal

Inside the Cathedral, of course we looked at the famous Bamberger Reiter, or Bamberg Horseman, plus numerous other statues, several of which are in the photo gallery:

Bamberg Horseman

But we also got our second musical surprise of the trip, after the little fanfare in Miltenberg:  as we walked into the nave, we heard a chorus, singing something that sounded like very early Baroque – Schütz, maybe.

Bamberg Dom chorus

It was a delight, and we listened for a few minutes – and then the second chorus came in, above and behind us!

Bamberg Dom second chorus

You can see they’re in street clothes.  By scraping my extremely rudimentary German (fortunately I knew the word Sänger) against the almost nonexistent English of the nice lady on the information desk, I learned that this was the dress rehearsal of the Dom choral singers – the following day they would perform a concert, a thousand years of music in the cathedral.  Before they closed the cathedral at 6 PM (much too early!), we heard them sing something that sounded like Josquin des Pres, and something that sounded much later Baroque, possibly Vivaldi or Telemann.  I considered it one of the best moments on the trip, to hear that music in the sort of cathedral it was written for.

After they threw us out of the Dom, we walked back down to the Green Market to wait for the bus, as I described yesterday.  Still, we did eventually get back to the boat, and we got dinner, and I’ll close this post with a photo I took during our evening cruise along the Main-Donau Canal:

Along the Main-Donau Kanal

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Bamberg on the Regnitz

More delays in the blog, as we wrapped up the remodel, moved back in and unpacked everything.  Almost everything.  But I’m finally ready to go back to my vacation and consider our visit to Bamberg, the capital of the Holy Roman Empire under Emperor Heinrich II (that’s Henry to you) in 1007.  Yes, that’s over a thousand years ago.  Heinrich chose to build Bamberg on seven hills, like Rome, with a church on each hilltop. It was also laid out in a cross, a standard medieval city plan, with churches at the cardinal points.

What I noticed first about Bamberg, though, was the rivers.  This is the Altes Rathaus or old city hall, which is on an island surrounded on both sides by the Regnitz river.  As you can see from the eddies, the Regnitz carries a stiff current.

Altes Rathaus on the Regnitz

If you think you see something sticking out at the bottom of the fresco, you do – it’s the leg of a cherub.  The painters and plasterers who built the fresco thought it was funny.  You can see closeups in my gallery on Bamberg.  There’s one up under the roof, too.  The bridge at the bottom is the Untere Brücke or Lower Bridge; I took the photo from the Upper Bridge.  Here is the Upper Bridge, taken from the Lower Bridge.   The force of the current is a little clearer here.

Upper bridge over the Regnitz

Near the Lower Bridge is this gilded statue of Queen Cunigonde, Henry II’s empress:

Queen Cunigonde

The name is familiar to anyone who’s read Candide, or seen the Bernstein opera.  As far as I can tell it was a pretty common name in medieval Germany.

We spent most of our time in the old section, of course, but Bamberg has a more modern section too.  I like the decorative rooflines.  I notice most German towns don’t waste any space between their buildings.

Downtown Bamberg

This elegant fellow is known as the Gabelmann or “Fork Man:”

Fork Man

He is the landmark in the local Green Market, everybody meets “by the Gabelmann.”  We did too, this was where we were told to assemble after our free exploration time, following the usual guided tour.  We spent more time with the Gabelmann than we expected; I’ll get to that later.

Also just downstream of the Lower Bridge is a line of houses right on the river:

Houses on the Regnitz

The one at the right, with the arches right into the water, was once a slaughterhouse.  I don’t think we’d site one like that now.  I also wonder how all those houses did when the Regnitz flooded.  They’ve been there a long time, though – Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it was not bombed in World War II and its medieval Old Town is intact.

I found the Leschen Brunnen interesting – a Brunnen is a fountain.  I don’t know what “Leschen” means.

Leschen Brunnen

The sign, which isn’t very clear from this angle, says 1554.  For the non-German readers, “Kein Trinkwasser” means, “No drinking water.”  But I believe this was once a municipal well, you went down the steps with your bucket or jug to get fresh water.

We passed this memorial plaque, reminding people that Hegel lived here for a couple of years:

Hegel's house

There are some quieter sections of the Regnitz, and they even have gondoliers.  The riverfront is a very popular place.

Gondolier in Bamberg

Since the Bamberg Dom was celebrating its 1,000th anniversary, I feel it deserves its own post.  I’ll close this one with an account of our misadventure in Bamberg.  We left the ship and boarded busses at 2:30 PM to come into town.  We had the usual guided tour, followed by the usual free exploration period.  They told us to meet at 6:30 by the Gabelmann (remember him?) to be bussed back to the ship for dinner at the usual 7:00 PM.  At 6:20 we were all sitting around, and Timea the tour director arrived with the news that the boat was queued at a lock.  It had 2 ships in line ahead of it.  (Remember The Day of Locks?)  There’s nothing to do and no place to sit at the port, so she suggested we hang out in Bamberg until 7:10, when the busses will take us back and they’ll have dinner ready when we get there.  Jim went off to explore the riverfront.  I sat under the Gabelmann and read Great Expectations on my smartphone.  (Yes, I did.  My feet hurt.)  Then she came back and said, go and wait in the busses; the lock has a problem.  We never found out what.  We eventually got off the busses in someone’s driveway, and walked down to board the ship at the edge of the lock approach.  That’s the captain leaning on the white support.

Back to Embla

I was touched that the whole ship’s complement turned out on the deck to welcome us all back – I wasn’t the only one who took a picture.

Welcome back

Here’s a better look at Captain Anne Jacob Sijbranda (yes, that is his name), in the red tie, he’s much taller than he looks when photographed from below:

Captain Sijbranda

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Würzburg and Rothenburg

I stopped blogging for a while so I could go through my remaining photos and identify the subjects before I forgot every detail of the trip!  It’s awful how fast things slip away.

With everything now identified, I pick up the tale at July 20, the day we toured the Würzburg Residence in the morning and drove to Rothenburg op der Tauber in the afternoon.  It’s also the day I assumed wrongly that it wouldn’t rain, although the day started out (as you can see below) very overcast.  The full gallery of this day is at Würzburg and Rothenburg.

Würzburg is on the Main River, we’ve left the Rhine behind.  The Main is smaller than the Rhine:

Main River at Würzburg

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Lights Out

Last night was a mixed experience.  The first part was great.  We had tickets for the San Francisco revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.  We rode BART; no agonizing over parking.  We had an excellent Italian dinner at 54 Mint; I recommend it if you’re taking in a show.  The evening was warmer than it has been.  The show was amazing.  The show was fabulous.  The production number of Anything Goes that ends the first act has to be seen to be believed.  (Yes, I liked it!)  Rachael York, singing Reno Sweeney, out-belted every other voice in the cast (unfortunately including the male lead, who was good but not in her class) – a great singer, a great dancer.  Musicals like this are the 20th century equivalent of the grand opera, and I love them even if the plots are silly (and they are).

The show over, we rode BART back, picked up the car, drove back to the condo in Adams Point where we are currently living while we remodel the house, and set about going to bed.  Time, about 11:45 PM.  I shut down both computers and started over to the couch to cool down with a crossword puzzle – and the place went black.  I was just realizing that I’d heard a kind of a thump – when I heard another one, more clearly an explosion, and I realized the power was out.  I probably heard a transformer (or two) blowing up.

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