• Web 2.0 is...

    ...to organize a birthday party on Upcoming

  • Something's wrong at the moment

  • Fatblogging: 95

    This is great! The scale now displays 95 kg. It's in the upper area of 95 kg, but let's not be overexact. I wasn't exactly 100 kg when I started fatblogging, so I can claim to have lost 5 kg of body weight so far. I have to admit that I dreaded weighing myself this time, because I hadn't been that strong lately when it came to sweets. But seeing that I reached 95 nonetheless, I feel extra idiotic because I could have achieved even more weight loss by not caving in to my cravings.

    Apart from sabotaging my fatblogging success, I managed quite well to separate the intake of carbohydrates from the one of fat. I really haven't changed my diet drastically, I just try to rule out food that combines fat and sugar/starch. This doesn't affect my breakfast, because I use to have sweet breakfast with bread, honey and jam. I don't like eating sausages or bacon this early anyway. By having my muesli with fat-reduced yogurt, I bend the rules a bit; I think I can afford that. For lunch, I have to be a bit more careful. Our company restaurant usually mixes noodles or potatoes with meat and a sauce made of oil and starch -- totally off-limits. If there's noodles with vegetables, I ask to leave the sauce. Today, at the Chinese restaurant, I chose the buffet lunch, which gave me the opportunity to take some meat with vegetables and hot sauce but no rice. So, in summary, there are two alternatives: first, carbohydrates from rice, potatoes or noodles with vegetables and, on the other hand, fat from meat, sauce etc. with vegetables. With a bit of looking around, those aren't too hard to find.

    My running progress is steady. Today, I ran my route for the last time divided into three parts of 9 minutes running and 2 minutes walking. Next time, there will be only two halves with 14 minutes of running and a short walking break in between. That's actually the last phase before running 30 minutes in one go! Unfortunately, the weather has been really bad in the morning most of the days lately. If there's just slight drizzle like this morning, I don't mind. But I don't like risking my health by running in the pouring rain. I hope that the sun will fulfill its summer duty reliably again soon, as I'm slowly getting into summer shape!

  • Turned (it) on again

    I've been a Genesis fan for at least 20 years now, unfortunately I wasn't there in the early years when Peter was still with Phil, Mike and Tony. I've never had, or at least taken, the chance to go to a concert, but I've watched the video footage of several of their tours. When my friend Jürgen made me aware that Genesis was coming to Hannover in June, I immediately got tickets.

    So last Saturday, I took the train to Hannover to meet Jürgen at his sister's place. Isabel, who is also my ex-girlfriend, lives in Hannover -- a convenient coincidence. Unfortunately, Carolin wasn't able to find a lift. Paying more than 200 for the train ride would have been over the top, so she decided reluctantly to sell the ticket and stay at home. When I left on Saturday morning, I didn't mind her staying home very much, because we had had a bit of an argument at breakfast.

    After meeting up with Isabel and Jürgen and having some ice cream at one of Hannover's best ice cream parlors, he and I made our way to the AWD Arena, Hannover's football stadium where the concert took place. There were people all around the place that helped you find your way, very nice. We had been sitting on our seats (yes, I seem to be in the age where one appreciates not having to stand for 4 hours in a row) for about an hour when the band finally came on stage -- and the rain started to pour down. We had a glass ceiling above us, but the people on the field who had no rain coat, no tarp and no umbrella must have got awfully wet.

    Genesis started with the theme song of their tour, "Turn It On Again", and I was immediately amazed of the sound and their stage technology. Before, only the two elliptical screens on the far left and right of the stage had been used for video, but now I realized that the whole stage background wall was one huge video screen! Even before saying his first words to the crowd (or should I say "to the Krauts"?), Phil Collins made everyone smile by sporting a sweater of Hannover 96, the local soccer team. He held his introduction in German, which heightened the spirits of the soaking wet audience another bit. One could tell he wasn't happy with the weather, either.

    But after their third song or so, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out again. From this point on, our mood got better and better, everyone was having fun. Oh, and talking about the people -- this was one of the rare events apart from family reunions where I didn't raise the age average. In fact, there were only a few teenagers in the audience; probably most of them accompanied their parents (and thus created the opposite situation of a Robbie Williams concert). It was funny to watch a father in the row before me getting more excited than his seventeen year old son beside him and his wife.

    When they brought on "Hold On My Heart", I realized that I was missing Carolin and how stupid our morning argument had been. So I just called her number on my cell phone and let her listen to the whole song. It was too loud to talk, but there was no need for words, anyway.

    Genesis played a nice mix of songs, from classics like "Home By The Sea" over "Land of Confusion" to the encore "We Can't Dance". Experiencing their older songs live for the first time made me realize that Phil Collins just isn't Peter Gabriel. Peter simply has another vibe around himself, and Phil's interpretation, while really not bad, seemed to me almost like cover versions. This feeling was especially strong over their last song "Carpet Crawlers" which they ended their gig with after more than 2 hours of nonetheless great music.

    I enjoyed the concert very much and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to witness Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, completed by Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson, turning it on again.

    Update: Jürgen sent me a link to this video slide show with photo impressions from the concert. Thanks!

  • Great earbuds that suck: AKG K 324 P

    When I started using my iPod for running, I bought the Sennheiser OMX 70 headphones because they're made especially for athletes. They have adjustable clip-on earphones and are sweat- and water-resistant. But over time, I discovered two problems. First, they're not as rugged as they should be. A few weeks ago, one of the cables got twisted and tore open right at the earphone. And yesterday, the grip of the plug got loose.

    I already had a replacement, because there's a second issue I had with the OMX 70: because the earbuds hang outside over the ears, not inside the ears, they don't irritate them -- but they irritate the people around me on the train if I turn the volume up too much. And I hate being an annoyance that people have to ask to please turn down my music.

    That's why I bought the AKG Acoustics K 324 P in-ear headphones. They were advertised as having a great sound and effectively blocking outside noise. And that's true. When I made my first steps outside with them on, I almost walked into a car because I couldn't hear it coming. (I normally rely quite heavily on my hearing when I'm in traffic.) If you press them slightly into your ear canal (and there are three different sets of rubber buds to fit many ears), outside noise gets almost completely blocked, and on the other hand, the music only goes into your head, not into the environment. And when I apply a bit more pressure, I even get the feeling that there's a kind of suction that keeps the earbuds tight in the ear.

    There could even be an effect on battery life, because while with the Sennheisers I had to fullly turn up the iPod when I was listening to a podcast in traffic, the AKG earbuds get really loud already at the half setting.

    After the first day of using the K 324 P as an Environmental Stupidity Shield on the train and in the office, I can really recommend them. Let's hope they last longer than their predecessors.