Tuesday, October 30, 2018

High Grass

Celebrating the two jubilees - 50 years Mundenhof and 30 years partnership between Freiburg and Madison - Susanne Eckert, director of Freiburg‘s animal park Mundenhof, had invited the press on-site for the inauguration of two ”prairies” measuring 600 square meters each. The project is supported by the city of Freiburg as it will make the American sister city "visible" to Mundenhof visitors.

On two occasions Red Baron already reported about the Freiburg-Madison prairie project, here and here. Last year the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft had a Stammtisch devoted to it.

Here are my yesterday's photos.

In spite of the still persisting draught in Freiburg part of the prairie is still in blossom
All excited Susanne Eckert shows some American sunflower seeds to
Günter Burger, Freiburg's chief of protocol, and
Frauke Feix, vice president of the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft.
Mundenhof's bison bull had noticed the massed visitors and was moving towards us, ...
... checking that there was no danger for his females, ...
... eventually turning his back on us, ...
... and slowly moving on in disgust.
What does constitute a prairie?
It‘s the high grass, stupid.
Following the extremely dry summer, the grass wasn't so high finally.
Where is Susanne Eckert? Can you find her?
On our way back. The bull had joined his flock.
Here as a bonus:
A picture taken by the photograph of the ©Badische Zeitung with Red Baron turning his back.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

What's Brewing IV

Red Baron attended the fourth edition of What’s Brewing, a workshop about beer and brewing, organized at and by the Carl-Schurz-Haus.

I vividly remember the inauguration of the series in 2014, missed the second beer seminar in 2015, and still have some good recollection of the third workshop in 2016.

The scientific background of those seminars is supported by the periodic table of beers.

The initial masters of ceremony from 2014 had reunited for the 2018 edition, or shall I write vintage. The difference between the first and the fourth workshop was that the man from Los Angeles, James Tutor, has developed into a well-known and respected authority of the craft beer brewing scene while the multilingual and literate guy from Gent, Frank Geeraers, has become an international know expert and writer on beer brewing and its history.

As a nostalgia, Frank showed my slide of 2014 presenting the parade of beers tasted then.

Not only James and Frank have developed but between 2104 and 2017 the microbrewing scene as well. In the States, the number of microbreweries has doubled from 3500 to 7000. While in the south, their density is low, in the north, there are not only red and blue, but brew states too, notably Montana and Colorado, as Frank explained.

The audience of the 2018 workshop, or should I write my drinking buddies, were mostly young people, possibly one reason why discussions only slowly shifted into a higher gear. It required the tasting of some beers before the keywords taste, yeast, and Reinheitsgebot fired up a lively exchange of views.

The alcohol content of a beer is a flavor enhancer. Red Baron regularly makes the experience when drinking the ideal isotonic beverage, alcohol-free white beer, for lunch in a restaurant. Its taste does not compare to that of the regular stuff.

Although the first two beers presented at the workshop were low in alcohol, they were still full of taste. Jester King Le Petit Prince (2,9%) is a wild ale with a touch of lactobacillus. Its fermenting is delicate for care must be taken that the “delightful interplay between noble hops and farmhouse yeast” does not turn sour.

Schneeeule Glattwasser (2.9%) is a farmhouse wild ale too. The meaning of Glattwasser is related to the brewing process when water is passed through the mash to extract the wort. Further runnings contain lower and lower concentrations of wort but may still be used for brewing a low-alcohol beer. Schneeeule (snow owl) was brewed on the 2nd running of a bock beer. Some beetroot was added to intensify the taste.

Braupakt is brewed in a collaboration between Weihenstephan, the oldest German brewery of 1040, and the Sierra Nevada, a former home brewery in Chico, CA, of 1980. This fruity wheat beer with 6% alcohol is most interesting because of its aftertaste of pale ale.

Frank is distributing the collaboration beer.
In my opinion a Mexican Standoff Stout is a contradiction in terms and so is the taste, or in the words of Bill Clinton’s modified dictum: It’s the taste, stupid: "Stout brewed with oat flakes and smoked malt, fermented with tonka beans (the vanilla of the poor) and cinnamon sticks;" an aroma bomb. The Mexican Standoff Stout is not a beer to be drunk but a liquor to be sipped.

Stone White Ghost, the "true authentic Berliner Weisse served only in cans, for Cans are better. Period." The Stone brewers used the traditional lactic acid cultures of the 1920s and write that this particular Berliner Weiße with 4.7% alcohol is a bright and sparkling thirst-quencher.

How true; there is no need to upping its taste with raspberry or woodruff syrup. For me, Stone White Ghost was the revelation of the evening. The quest for new strains of yeast that are reproducible is on. However, that a young craft brewer combed a sofar unknown yeast strain out of the beard of an old beer brewer, I regard it as fake news.

Kitchen Brew/Braukollektiv is a New England Indian Pale Ale (NEIPA) using London Fog yeast. Its bitterness is remarkable with a Plato of 14.8⁰ (about 70 IBU > International Bitterness Unit).

The Stone/Hanscraft Quince Essentialtakes the haze craze with the apple-pear-citrus flavor of the oft-ignored quince fruit." Goodby Reinheitsgebot, just for some extra individual taste?

Not so for the Spencer Imperial Stout with an alcohol content of 8.7%. It only blends US malts, and the US hops with a selected Belgian Trappist yeast strain. The description reads like one from a wine tasting: "A massive, roasted, malt-forward American Trappist take on the Anglo-Russo Imperial Stout Tradition. Luxuriantly frothy foam, waves of coffee, chocolate, and caramel sensations, a generous blend of dark fruit flavors. Intense and robust."

Following this heavy taste, the Emma Heimspiel (home match) was a relief. Craft brewer Almut Emma Zinn from Freiburg was present at the workshop. Her hallmark is Beers without beards. In spite of rinsing my mouth, it was difficult to fully appreciate the subtle taste of Emma’s light summer beer.

The utter thrill for a craft brewer is the creation of a beer using the ultimate combination of the four terroirs of brewing: malt, hop, water, and yeast. In this context, Frank showed his un-ingredient list. On it are fruit, coffee, dry hopping, beard yeast, and haze. Note that dry hopping now is the standard in mass beer brewing.

With the un-ingredient list on the wall, James is enjoying his beer.
With 10 p.m. approaching Red Baron had to leave and did not taste the tenth beer. Anyway, I safely arrived home on foot and by streetcar with my blood alcohol not being excessive.

Here is the parade of empty bottles and of one can of the beers professionally presented at What’s Brewing IV.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Red Baron was invited by Freiburg’s Lord Mayor Martin Horn to attend yesterday night's ceremonial signing of the sister city agreement between Freiburg and Wiwilí in Nicaragua. The city of Wiwili extends over 30 square kilometers on both sides of the Rio Coco so there is Wiwilí de Nueva Segovia on the western side of the river with about 19,000 inhabitants and Wiwilí de Jinotega on the right of the Rio Coco with about 75,000 people.

Lord Major Martin Horn greeting the guests.
Note the wood paneling of the old city council chamber.
The friendship between Freiburg and Wiwilí was set up in 1998 remembering two Freiburgers murdered by the "Contras”. These national guards of former Dictator Somoza have been fighting the Sandinista revolutionary government since 1980. The first Freiburger killed in 1983 was physician Albrecht "Tonio" Pflaum who had been working in Wiwilí on behalf of the German Development Service since 1980. He was there helping to improve the living conditions in the poorest area of one of the poorest countries in Central America. The second man was Berndt Koberstein who was murdered in 1986 while working on a drinking water project that was eventually achieved. There are many more projects in Wiwilí in the areas of agriculture, education, and culture. About 40 percent of the population can neither read nor write.

Applause by the mayor for all those people engaged in the Wiwili sistership
For the signing ceremony at the historical chamber of the city council both Reyna Esmeralda Hernandez Mairena, mayor of Wiwilí Jinotega, and Santiago Castillo Lazo, mayor of Wiwilí Nueva Segovia, had come to Freiburg. With the act completed, Wiwilí is now officially Freiburg's 12th sister city.

The signing of the sister city agreement.
To the left of Martin Horn Esmeralda Hernandez Mairena to the right Santiago Castillo Lazo.
Lord Mayor Horn is examining some of the gifts
while Esmeralda Hernandez Maire is undoing a t-shirt and
  Santiago Castillo Laz is struggling with his earphone.
Freiburg’s first bridge spanning the railway tracks near the main station was called Blaue Brücke because of its paint. Built in 1886 it was renamed Wiwilí Bridge in 2003.

Freiburg's blue Wiwilí Bridge serving as a logo for a workshop with the title:
Join us designing Freiburg's digital future. Red Baron will attend.
The Wiwilí people are dreaming to bridge the Rio Coco establishing a solid permanent connection between Wiwilí de Nueva Segovia and Wiwilí de Jinotega.

Crossing the Rio Coco at present (©La cara de Wiwilí)
The projected name of the bridge: Puente de Freiburgo.

At the following reception. Who is going to eat all this?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Lord: It Is Time

Once upon a time, we had one similarity with the States. Two popular parties, the middle-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the middle-left Social Democrats (SPD) dominated Germany's party landscape. When on the federal or a state level elections did not result in absolute parliamentary majorities for one of the grand parties a coalition partner easily was at hand be it the Liberals (FDP), the Greens, or even one of the other smaller parties.
The state elections in Bavaria last Sunday have changed all this. The up to now dominating Christian Socialists (Bavaria’s Christian Democrats) were reduced to 37.2% and lost their absolute majority in Bavaria’s state parliament. Losses were even more dramatic for the Social Democrats. With their votes being halved to 9.7% they only ended up in fifth place in the Bavarian party spectrum. Question: Who still needs old aunt SPD?

It all started with the result of the federal election in the fall of 2017 when the governing grand coalition of CDU and SPD under Chancellor Merkel lost 12,8% of the popular votes. Because the junior partner SPD had suffered bigger losses than the Christian Democrats they declined to renew the unpopular grand coalition seeking to polish their image as a party in opposition.

Merkel instead tried to accommodate Greens and Liberals into a Jamaica coalition. It took those three parties 5 weeks of consultations until the Liberals (FDP) slammed the door on Merkel.

Instead of breaking the deadlock with new federal elections - the grand parties were fearing further losses - the SPD eventually assumed its “political responsibility for the Republic”. Following another 2 months of coalition negotiations and full of frustration the Genossen (comrades) eventually entered into a new grand coalition against a strong opposition in their own ranks.

From the beginning the electorate was upset but the situation got even worse. Instead of taking up work rapidly the new grand coalition, trying to stay aloof from the right-wing AfD, was quarreling about the refugee issue. Why did they not take to heart old Bill Clinton’s slightly modified dictum, “It’s not the migration, stupid?”

So the government had little time to work on already procrastinated issues vigorously; at best they treated burning problems amateurishly as there are:

- providing affordable housing in German cities,
- defending the cheated customers in the diesel scandal,
- building new power lines for transporting wind energy from the north to the south,
- stopping the mortality of the bees by limiting the use of insecticides, and
- enforcing strong measures against climate change in view of the never-ending summer of 2018.

Here not only the first lines of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem Autumn Day* ...

Lord: it is time.
Summer has been very large.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let the winds loose on the open fields.
Herr: es ist Zeit.
Der Sommer war sehr groß.

Leg Deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren
und auf den Fluren lass die Winde los.

... fit well but the Greens come in strongly too. The last report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) boosted them just in time nearly doubling their votes.

The summer is not over yet with temperatures above 25⁰ Celsius (77⁰ Fahrenheit) in Freiburg in the middle of October and still no rain in sight until the end of the month.
*for a full version of Herbsttag consult https://lyricstranslate.com/en/herbsttag-autumn-day.html

Is a new popular party born?

Note: The German electorate is no longer dumb as Stimmvieh (gullable voters or voting cattle) but follows closely what "those in Berlin" do or rather don’t do. In two weeks from now, voters in the state of Hesse will elect their new parliament. Only until then there is Burgfrieden (a truce) in Berlin.

Monday, October 15, 2018


Last week reading in Der Spiegel an article about digital addiction I came across the acronym FOMO. The authors claim that people become addicted to their smartphones out of Fear Of Missing Out. Indeed I often observe kids and adults in the street stooped over their screens texting and bumping into fellow pedestrians an accident that will never happen to me. Still, the question is allowed: Am I an addict too?

Before my retirement, I kept a yearly appointment agenda with hand-written entries on meetings, travel, birthdays etc. When the year changed a new agenda was inaugurated by transferring the already scheduled events from the old agenda into the new booklet. The annoying part always was the copying of addresses and telephone numbers until address lists were delivered separately and could be reused.

During my last professional years, I kept an electronic agenda in parallel that however I never trusted because keeping data between different devices synchronized was cumbersome, did sometimes not work, or appointments and birthdays were simply lost in synchronization.

The situation has changed dramatically since I carry a second memory in my pants pocket. On my iPhone, I keep my agenda, tasks, and addresses. I use Informant 5 an app synchronizing all my personal data that are readily accessible and always adjustable on my i-devices and my desktop Windows PC.

In addition, I keep my whole library of classical music on all my devices although I rarely find time to listen to it. Lack of time also is the reason that I do not arrive finishing an ebook. I am compensating for the shortcoming by reading three books in parallel. Nevertheless, having electronic books always on me is convenient when sitting in the waiting room of a doctor who did not keep his appointment.

Although for short waiting periods, I rather like to consult the news. While I keep the paper edition of the local Badische Zeitung - Elisabeth and I both read at breakfast time - I subscribed to the digital edition too. This allows me to scan the local news at home already the night before (after 10 p.m.) or to read the paper when I am not in Freiburg.

I have an electronic subscription of the NYT receiving NYTimes.com News Alerts by email. Lately, I even abandoned the paper copy of the weekly Der Spiegel for its electronic version. There are three advantages: With the electronic subscription, I deblock the most recent news on Spiegel Online, can follow them around the clock and as an ecological benefit do no longer have to dispose of the paper copy of the magazine.

I must not forget that the weather information, dictionaries, Wikipedia, exchange rates, timetables - you name it - are only a fingertip away. By keeping all essential information on my iPhone I admit being lost without my second memory, but don't forget the information on the iPhone comes in handy compensating for my shrinking brain.

Please, don't call me an addict but a dependent.

Caught in the act on my sister-in-law's iPad.
While meeting with the family in Cologne for lunch at Em Krützche (restaurant at the little cross) on the one but last Saturday Red Baron is desperately looking for departure times of streetcar number 18 running along the Rhine river between Cologne and Bonn on Sunday mornings.

My sister-in-law and my brother had invited Elisabeth and me to their apartment and to a lunch at Da Pino (at the pine), an Italian restaurant at Mondorf on the Rhine. Eventually, I found out that streetcar number 18 was not running on this particular Sunday due to the Cologne Marathon. Subsequently, Elisabeth and I had to take a dull train ride.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Struve in Staufen

Immediately some of my readers will think of Ulli Struve, Associate Director Academic Year in Freiburg (AYF), and the man trusted by students. Still, I will write about Gustav Struve, the spiritus rector of the Baden revolution in 1848/49.

Actually, Red Baron gave a talk about Struve and the first German Republic at the Museumsgesellschaft on September 24. The preparation of the presentation was quite time-consuming, explaining why my blogging recently was light. Those of my readers who like to read German find the pdf file of my talk titled," Hoch lebe die deutsche Republik" here.

Following the fail of Friedrich Hecker's march to Karlsruhe where Gustav Struve at least made it to the gates of Freiburg, both men fled to Switzerland. While Hecker emigrated to the States being fed up by the German tepidness for revolutions, his mate Gustav continued his revolutionary activities preparing for a German Republic.

On September 21, 1848, Struve crossed the Swiss border and proclaimed the first German Republic in Lörrach.

Struve and his men entering Lörrach.
Struve is proclaiming the first German Republic speaking from a window of the Lörrach townhall.
On September 23, having rallied about 8000 men, he started his long march to Baden's capital Karlsruhe. Still, already on September 24, his putsch was stopped at Staufen where 800 grand-ducal troops armed with 4 cannons easily defeated the remaining 4000 ill-equipped revolutionaries.

The Staufen skirmish on September 24, 1848.

The Struve walk, an annual tradition in Staufen.
Dr. Jörg Martin, Staufen's urban historian, guided a small group on the trails of Struve and his putsch.

Dr. Martin showing Struve's picture
Walking down Staufen's picturesque main street.
On the hill in the back, the ruins of the castle.
Grand-ducal soldiers fired their cannons in the direction of the insurgents who fled crossing the river Neumagen.

The fleeing revolutionaries as drawn by an eyewitness.
Staufeners cherish their memories of the revolution in 1848/49. A cannonball in a wall ...

Walking through the Struve Passage.
The cannonball marked 1848 is on the left high above the window shutter.
... or a bullet in a book:

Stray bullet in a volume of the town archive
Well-known is the episode of the Kronenwirt (landlord of the crown inn). When soldiers came to his house to arrest him for his sympathizing with the insurgents, he shouted, "Ich dulde es nicht, dass ich erschossen werde" (I will not tolerate being shot). His chutzpah impressed the soldiers such that they let him go.

We finished our walk at the municipal cemetery.

The Lindenwirt (landlord of the linden inn) was less lucky.
He was hit by a stray bullet and died.
Remembering those five innocent musicians
who were accidentally executed by firing squad.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Old Beauty

©BZ/Rita Eggenstein
What the Old Faithful is to the Americans the Old Beauty is to the Freiburgers. You may have guessed. I am referring to the steeple of our Minster church sometimes falsely called the most beautiful steeple of Christendom.

In 1869 in a eulogy the well-known art historian Jakob Burckhardt rather wrote, "And the Freiburg steeple will probably remain the most beautiful one on earth." Indeed, finished in 1383 the filigree structure of the pyramid sometimes is referred to as a spiritual stonework.

L’age oblige. The steeple had to be restored on several occasions; the two recent major reconstruction works took place from 1913 to 1920 (left) and in the 1960ies (right). Both photos ©Münsterbauverein(MBV).

So at the beginning of the 21st century, the Münster-Bauhütte (Minster stonemasonry) only envisaged minor repairs to the steeple but a dramatic stone fall in 2005 revealed that several construction elements were loose and had to be fixed.

One early morning in 2005 near the main entrance to the Minster church (©MBV)
To their astonishment, the stonemasons found out that some sandstones that were replaced at the beginning of the 20th century had become brittle while original blocks from the 14th century were still in good shape. This fact required a closer look into the material to be used for the replacement of the rotten elements.

More than a decade of scaffolding (©MBV)
The scaffolding went up in 2007 and soon the stonemasons detected cracks in about half of the original 24 cornerstones. It became necessary to replace eight of them while others could be saved by clamping them with brackets made from titanium. Thus an iron ring around the steeple visible from below could be avoided.

A look into the spire (©MBV)
Replacing a cornerstone carrying the weight of the overlaying stone pyramid is like an open-heart surgery as Minster Master Builder Yvonne Faller emphasized in her report to the Münsterpfleger (Caretakers of the Minster). These complications were the reason that it took twelve years to complete the restoration of the Minster steeple. During this period 121 stones were completely replaced while only parts were changed on 225 stones.

Note the difference between the old and new parts (©MBV)
The steeple is composed of 2165 stones of which still 83% are original dating before 1340. The costs for the repair amounted to 11.5 million euros of which 5,9 million were donated. The rest was contributed by the Freiburg diocese, the State of Baden-Würtemberg, the city of Freiburg, and the Foundation for the Preservation of German Historical Monuments.

Again, the replacements are clearly visible (©MBV)
Some other still ongoing work in the interior of the Minster church will be finished by October. Then Red Baron as one of the Münsterpfleger will be invited to the big "re-inauguration" party.

Photo of the "scaffold-free" Minster church taken with my iPhone
during the reception for the students of the AYF 2018/19.