gummibears

Stop! Gummi Time!

Those who have known me for a long time know that for most of the last twelve years or so, I used Flintstones chewable vitamins.  I wanted to take a daily multivitamin, but I cant stand the pill form vitamins I’ve tried, and the Chewables seemed like a nice compromise.

(And before you protest that Flintstone’s Chewables are for kids, I will inform you that they are often suggested by doctors for pregnant women who can’t stomach neonatal vitamins without nausea.  If they’re good enough for pregnant women, they’re good enough for me.)

When I got to Germany, I found that it was difficult to easily find the sorts of things that I used to just walk into Walgreen’s for back in the US.  The brands just aren’t always available.    When I ran out of my Flintstone’s, I had to decide what to do about my vitamin intake.  This is what I decided on:  Gummi Bear vitamins.  I eat a few of these every day.  It’s fun.  And tasty.  And it’s theoretically healthy, too.

Please pardon the downtime.

A quick explanation for why the blog has been down a lot over the last few days.

On Monday, I discovered that my WordPress installation had been hacked again.  I spent a few hours cleaning things up, and then I got really frustrated with the Sisyphean nature of the whole process.  Because of that, I decided to move my site from a self-hosted WordPress installation to WordPress.com servers, so that constant vigilance against hacks and software updates would be Somebody Else’s Problem(tm) for a change.

The annual fees for WordPress.com hosting were, I thought, well worth the one night a month I would gain in not having to clean out my blog’s infection and reset everything.

The last two days during which the blog was completely down were due to a failure in my nameserver change from Dreamhost to WordPress.  This failure is ongoing and Dreamhost support is working on it-  I’m actually using an http cloak to load the WordPress site directly without properly mapping the domain name.  It’s a kludge, but it will at least bring me back up for the time needed to resolve the real problem.

As a nifty bonus though, WordPress.com hosting does a few things natively that it took me several plugins to get working on the self-hosted variety.  Things like the direct connections to Facebook and Twitter to notify of new blog posts.  The only functionality I lose is the LiveJournal crossposting, and I have a different solution for that once this is all sorted out.

The downtime is not the fault of Dreamhost, although their initial communication infuriated me because they misread my question three times.  The downtime is also not the fault of WordPress, although their documentation could be a little bit more clear.  The real fault for the downtime is a combination of my poor understanding of DENIC’s strict rules and an as yet to be determined problem with Dreamhost’s third-party registry vendor, Logic Boxes.  That support request is ongoing.

Technical Note (If you’re bored by the technical stuff, skip this paragraph): DENIC, the registry for .de domain names, has very, very strict rules about things.  It requires that you have a valid zone file on the name servers you want to change to, and this was not clear to me at first.  I realized yesterday, after I discovered an “unexpected RCODE failure” on their nameserver check at http://www.denic.de/en/background/nast.html that I needed the zone on WordPress servers to make this happen.  WordPress is used to this, and they get support requests to create zones manually all the time, so this was a piece of cake to fix once I knew that it was needed.  However, the nameserver change is still not going through because the Dreamhost panel thinks this domain name isn’t registered.

In any case, there may yet be some additional hiccups to the DNS here, but once this is all sorted out I’ll get back to posting about life outside of the command line.

Please stand by.

My wordpress install got owned *again.*  Less than two days after I re-added the ‘Faster Image Insert’ plugin, so I’m pretty sure that was the entrance vector.

Same as before- random javascript, redirection, base64 obfuscated code in my templates and php files, and the reappearing .logs directory.

I’ve had it with this; I’m going to look into hosting my blog on wordpress.com so that I don’t have to spend one night every month or so cleaning the infection out of my site.

wallhalla_5

Where the brave and wise may live forever.

About ten minutes from my office, in the hills of Donaustauf overlooking the Donau (Danube) river, is a monument called Walhalla.  (In German, this is pronounced just like Valhalla in English.)   Walhalla is modeled after the Parthenon in Athens.  It was built in the 1800s by King Ludwig I of Bavaria. (Well, it was built by people who built things on the orders of King Ludwig I, but I think he still gets credit.)

Whereas the Valhalla of legend is the home to deceased warriors only, this Walhalla also has busts of royalty, musicians, artists, scientists, and philosophers.  Here’s a short list of people memorialized in Walhalla that you  might have heard of:

  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Nicolaus Copernicus
  • Johannes Kepler
  • Albrecht Dürer
  • Georg Friedrich Händl
  • Richard Wagner
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Albert Einstein

…and that’s just eight of the nearly two hundred plaques and busts within the main hall.

Best of all, though, is the view.  Walhalla has an amazing perch.   This is a place where amazing photographs can be taken.  I’m told that in the warmer months, it’s not uncommon to find people sitting on the steps, having picnics, and generally enjoying the hell out of overlooking the Donau.  I took a few pictures on a recent visit there, and despite the small amounts of restorative construction going on, it’s still amazing.  I look forward to going back there after we’re in proper springtime and there’s more sunlight and greenery.  Here’s a brief look at the place.

spinat1

Short Post: Spinat!

I’ve done several posts on how the food and grocery shopping experiences here are different than what I’m used to, but I’m still constantly finding more.  For example, frozen spinach!

In the US, frozen spinach is typically in a pouch that can either be boiled or microwaved.  Here, the frozen spinach is actually in frozen cube form.  Pictured here is a sleeve with two cubes of frozen spinach.  There were four in the box.

This spinach is also microwaveable, but in this case, you just spoon five or six spoonfuls of water over the spinach cube before you microwave, and then cook it for the specified amount of time.  The end result is spinach that only requires a little bit of fork-on-greens action to change out of a cube form into something that is more recognizable as a leafy green vegetable.  Here they are in their cooked but still cubed state:

Best of all, however- this spinach was absolutely delicious, and it couldn’t possibly be easier to prepare.  I feel healthier already.