Usability Question 3

This is a dryer. What does the 5 mean? Hint: It came on after the dryer had been running for an hour.


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How I travel (Part 4)

I like small towns. I also like cities, but as I am not a huge fan of being a tourist, often big cities wear me out. They also can make me feel guilty. They also wear out my feet, cost a lot, and many other things. But most people don’t go to small towns. This is a) because they are hard to get to and b) there is not a lot to do there for tourists.

However, because I’m a little crazy, I tend to go to a lot of small towns. I think that the smallest town I’ve ever stayed in was Brackenheim-Botenheim, Germany (pop. unknown) in 2004. It is the location of this picture and the longest time it ever took me to pay a hotel bill. (And by me, I mean my mom. For the record it was about 6 months. But it got paid.)

Spring Break

It may or may not be the case that I end up in small towns going to concerts. This trip, I went to Meldorf, Germany (pop. 8,000) and Lüneburg, Germany (pop. 72,000) for concerts as well as a suburb of Hamburg. To be fair, Lüneburg is a substantial town, but it is a tourist town for Germans, not really anyone else. The main museums in town are only in German and other than cycling, there’s not much to do. Other than eat ice cream.

This is my post to convince you that small towns are cool. I will also refer you to this ancient post if you have forgotten how cool small Swiss towns are.


In Lüneburg, you can park your motorcycle in the middle of a field/forest.


There are also cool buildings. Like the water tower. I think I could have climbed it, but I spent too much time not knowing how to check into my hotel, so I failed.


Yet another cool building. This was across the street from my hotel and looked oddly zebra-esque. Apparently Lüneburg is known for salt mines, but this also led to unstable soil and so a lot of the buildings aren’t exactly straight. This one is more than some…


Luckily, even in small towns, the restaurants are on facebook!


I have no clue what rubber duckies have to do with optometry or eyeglasses, but obviously they are a critical marketing point. And is it just me or does the guy on the left look a little like Carl Kasell?


I thought this was a cool windowsill, so I took a picture. Then the dude poked his head out and said something to me in German. It wasn’t angry though, so apparently he was happy I took a picture of his birds and clog.


Church towers are very important, even in smaller towns. Lüneburg was somewhat confusing to navigate because it had not one, but three cathedrals!


Here is the cathedral I went to a concert in. It is the cathedral J.S. Bach grew up as a choir boy in. It is pink inside.


More churches!



Because I was worried about how to occupy my time in Meldorf after the Ag Musuem, so I preemptively rented a bike. The rental store was very nice. They charged only 6 euros for a whole day and took care to explain to me (with consultations with folks who spoke better English than others) that if my bike was stole I had to pay for it and that’s what I was signing. Here I am on my bike ride.


Apparently you can keep donkeys in your yard in Meldorf. (I was sneakily taking this picture because the dude had just come to move the donkeys.)


Also, if you bike down the right street, you will find a windmill. I think there was a restaurant in the windmill. It was very random.


Also, every town should be required to have buildings with sayings on them in Latin. And another building with Latin characters on it (e.g. Ovid, Aristotle).


The Dom (Cathedral) is in the middle of the town square and is surrounded by parking lots, cafe tables, and very strange street patterns. I never understood why the cars could drive in the pedestrian area, but apparently they can. And then they end up entering the parking lot and hopefully no one dies in the process.


The Meldorf Dom and the location of the evening concert.


Inside of the Dom. Very pretty and with phenomenal acoustics.



This is a town of about 3 people. I was there for the workshop that brought me to Europe in the first place. We all stayed at Spiedel BrauManufaktur which had a hotel, restaurant, and conference rooms.

I love that this was the view from our balcony. (This patio is where we ate lunch every day. The open windows on the second floor of the yellow building are from the room where we met every day.)


The only open shop in town that we could find claimed to have a lot of items. They did not, however, have the pervasive European Ice Cream bar. There was another shop just down the road, but it was suspiciously always closed. The church is in the distance and the city hall (for all five of the villages of Hohenstein) is on the right.


The front of the brewery/hotel/restaurant/conference center. I love the painted buildings.


So, in summary, small towns are good! You should go to one.


I finally got Google and Blogger and WordPress to all come together and be happy. So for now, you’ll see all my posts from my previous blog on here. The categories may be changing as I do some maintenance, but everything that was here is still here and then there’s more as well. Sorry for the bother!


Southwestern Quinoa

Taking a break from all the vacation stories, I thought I would share a recipe I altered last week. With all the fresh produce around from the farmer’s market and the warm weather, I wanted a meal that was heavy on the veggies, but light in feel. This fit the bill perfectly.


Southwestern Quinoa

Adapted from Serious Eats and Making it with Meleyna

Makes maybe 8 entreé servings


zest of a lime

juice of a lime

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon oregano (Mexican preferred, not Mexican is fine)

1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper, ground

1/2 teaspoon (or more) ground cumin

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Not Dressing:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed or pre-washed

1 teaspoon veggie bouillon base

1 ripe avocado, cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

3 small summer squash or zucchini, in bite size pieces

~15 oz. corn (canned, frozen, or 2 cobs fresh)

1 block extra-firm tofu

Cilantro to taste

Chipotle to taste

Cumin to taste

Salt to taste

~15 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed

1 handful chopped cilantro

4 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)

Grape tomatoes (if you like tomatoes)



1. Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl.

2. Drain the tofu. Set between paper towels and heavy things to get moisture out.

3. Cook the quinoa. Directions vary. I followed the directions on the Making it with Meleyna website, with slight variation. Add the quinoa to a pot of boiling salt water with the bouillon base. Cook for ten minutes then strain in a fine sieve. Add an inch of water back to the pot and place the sieve over the water. Put the quinoa in the sieve, cover it with a kitchen towel, put a lid over it all, and bring the water to a boil. Steam the quinoa for about 10 minutes. Then remove it from the heat, but leave it in the pot with the lid and towel on for five more minutes. After this, fluff it with a fork.

4. Add the avocado to the dressing. Cut the avocado into pieces and put it in the dressing, this will mean the avocado doesn’t brown nearly as easily.

5. Fry things. Add the oil to a large frying pan and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add it to the dressing. Add more oil if needed and fry the summer squash and corn (if wanted). Add it to the dressing.

6. Season and fry tofu. Because tofu is bland, add spices to it. I used the spices from the dressing, but you could add other things too. Then fry it until it is to your liking. Set asside.

7. Add the black beans to the dressing mixture and stir. Add the quinoa to the dressing mixture, fluff gently with a fork. Add the cilantro and raw scallions and grape tomatoes and continue to fluff. Then add the tofu (because it is fragile and will break).

8. Eat it.

Info: The first time we made this we left out the tofu and beans, but it was severely lacking in protein, so this version remedies that.


Helsinki Football Fields

Eleven pm. July 23rd. Helsinki overlooking a soccer pitch. The skies are artificially dark due to weather. Moments after I took this, the street lights came on. I love the north.

Usability Question 2

What is the red button for? I never figured it out. It seemed to be popular in Finland, but not in Denmark, Sweden, or Germany. Sometimes the button was green, sometimes it was on the back of the faucet.

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Also, I do not know the answer, just by the way…

How I travel (Part 3)

Sometimes, I am slightly more normal than others. (Albeit, rarely.) One of these times came on my evening in Copenhagen when I ventured to Tivoli, a 150+ year old amusement park. Now granted my reasoning for visiting was probably different than many people’s, but I enjoyed it greatly.

When I was little, I read a book called Lotte’s Locket. I read it about 10 times or so, but all I remember is that Lotte got lost in Copenhagen and she and her class went to Tivoli. So when I was going to Copenhagen, Tivoli was at the top of my list.

I went for about 3 hours, including part of the Friday Night Rock Concert and dinner. I will say that while the screaming people on rides is one thing, the atmosphere at Tivoli at night is something different altogether. The lights combined with the concert are very special.

Tivoli is an amusement park, but not like Six Flags or a place like that. You pay for admission and rides separately and it’s quite possible that you’ll only pay for one ride, not a ride pass.

First, Tivoli loves recycling. If you recycle your plastic drink cup, you get a small refund.Very cool.


There’s a lot of cool looking gates and stuff. This door makes me think the most of “Tivoli Garden” the way I thought of it in the past.


Then there’s the Arabic looking castle. With cool fountains and roses…of course.


And amidst the rides and the chaos, there is a row boat on a lake.


The lake also has fountains. The steeple you see in the background is from the City Hall. Copenhagen (like many European cities) is very good at preserving trees. Go Green!


This stretch of Tivoli made me think of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley. Anyone else see a resemblance? Anyone know if J.K. Rowling had been to Tivoli before writing the Harry Potter books?


The open space area in front of the stage lit up for the concert. The palace is lit up in the background.


Norwegian flags and a statue…and roses.


The City Hall and the lake. At night.


One of the craziest roller coasters, all lit up, with screaming people aboard.


I would go back to Tivoli in an instant. Preferably with some friends so that I have people to hang out with and go on rides with, Obviously I should go back to Copenhagen soon.

How I travel (Part 2)

One of my big foci for travel is food. I think I started planning my Copenhagen eating 2 months in advance. (For a 24 hour trip.) While I am often not willing to pay money for souvenirs or museums, I am almost always willing to pay money for good food.

Actually, amusingly, absolutely none of my plans panned out, but I was thrilled with my decisions. The only food I think I haven’t been happy with on this trip was the night when I got cheap Tex-Mex in Estonia. Lesson learned.


Grilled pineapple and chicken “quesadilla” with cheese sauce and yogurt-esque guacamole.

But to give you an idea of how I eat while traveling, I’ve decided to share my last 24 hours (relative to when I’m writing) of food with you. Figuratively. I’ve been super geeky and taken pictures of everything I’ve eaten, so this should be pretty easy.

Lunch at Kanal Caffeen:


Smoked Salmon Smørbrød on white bread. (With cucumber, dill, asparagus, tomato, lettuce, and lemon)


Some kind of lamb Smørbrød on rye bread. (with cress, aspic?, onion, tomato, cucumber, and lettuce).

This lunch made me want to only eat smoked salmon smørbrød for the rest of my life. It was pretty spectacular. Sadly the lamb came out second and that was ehh, in comparison. BUT WOW. SMOKED SALMON SMØRBRØD I HEART YOU.

Snack at La Glace:


Hot chocolate (literally) with whipped cream and a variation on sachertorte.

The chocolate was amazing. Actually better without the cream than with…AND it came with two glasses worth in the pitcher. Sadly, the cake was super boozy. Like the whipped cream was probably not cream but booze. Is it possible that you can create whipped cream out of 100% booze? But the cherries and chocolate in the cake made me happy. And it was purdy.

Dinner at Paafuglen:


Fanta and a cheesy, spicy, salty, red pepper bread with Lurpak butter.


Gazpacho with chopped onions and green peppers and cream cheese?


Tagliatelle with shrimp, red pepper, onions, peas, and dill.

I ordered the “Summer Menu” because I wanted the tagliatelle, but I was not really that excited about the gazpacho. That said, the whole dinner was fantastic. Fan-freaking-tastic. And I got vegetables which I’d been short on since/in Germany.

Breakfast and snack from Lagkagehuset (and 7-11):


        Poppyseed bun with almond fililng. (Christiana store) And Skim Milk. (7-11)


Traditional Danish. (Christiana store)


Greek yogurt with rhubarb compote, berries, and granola. (Airport store)

This place is my new favortest bakery ever. My computer tells me that favortest is not a word, but I know it is, because this place is my favortest. First off, I worried that at 8am on a Saturday morning, they might be busy. I waited, maybe 3 minutes to be served? Second of all, they make delicious goodies. Bread, sandwiches, pastries, yogurty-goodness. All delicious. If they opened a franchise in Minneapolis, I would buy from it all the time. i would probably go broke. Come to think of it, that is a very bad idea.

How I travel (Part 1)

It has come to my realization that I am strange. For many reasons, but, in part because of how I travel. The way I put it is “I’m not a very good tourist,” but perhaps it’s better to say something along the lines of, “I’m different than most tourists.”

I think I’d been to London 3 or 4 times before I went to the British Museum. I’ve been to New York at least three times and have never been up the Statue of Liberty or to the Met. I visited Seattle twice in the past six months, but in my life I’ve never been up the Space Needle. This is a part of the equation: what did I not do. To be honest though, I usually don’t worry much about this. If the city is worthy, I will return and finish out the list I created of things I want to do. I also am pretty good with prioritization, so the things I was dying to do get done.

So with all the not-typically-sightseeing, what do I spend my time doing? Well, part of it is spent doing obscure sightseeing, part of it is spent aimlessly wandering exploring the town and shops (not souvenir shops, but real shops), part of it is getting hopelessly lost, and part is spent eating. Because I may not have see the most famous landmark in a town, but if there’s a famous bakery, I will have eaten there. Probably enough for 4 people. (And by that I definitely don’t mean that I ate two pastries and a sandwich this morning and have three more pastries in my bag.)

My aimless wandering lets me explore things in a new way and find things I never would have known to be interested in. For example, yesterday, I had seen that the Danish Design Centre was in Copenhagen. But I assumed that it was some crazy modern art-y, new age furniture type museum. Then I saw this sign:


Can Design Save the World?

No, But It Can Help.

This made me realize that there was an exhibit at the DDC that was actually entirely about Usability and Usability Processes. The Exhibit, entitled Challenge Society, introduced basic design principles and tools and the premise of User Centered Design. There were movies and artifacts and it was a steal at 30 dkk. (In addition I bought the best book ever which I won’t name here because my mom is reading. I’ll have to read it and then I can write an actual review.)

There was also an exhibit of the history of Danish design – ranging from chairs and shoes to hearing aids and colostomy bags.

To me, this museum was pretty much the coolest thing ever. It was basically a museum of my field. Katie’s Dad:Agriculture Museum::Katie:DDC. I had no clue that this existed. And I’m not patient enough with tourist brochures to sit and read everything before I go, so I wander, as I said earlier. And sometimes…there are amazing things that come about.

(Super geeky note: They had little blocks about all the usability processes and tools and I was really sad that they weren’t on sale. I would’ve bought almost everything in the exhibit. The exhibit made me think that perhaps I should go live in Copenhagen and do research with designers when I grow up. Plus then I get to live in Copenhagen.)

More on how I travel to come later…

Best Dessert Ever

Quark-Joghurt Creme (Vanilla) with fresh German Blueberries. WOW. Just. WOW. And since the Quark-yogurt was only about .60 euros and the blueberries were 3 euros for 500 grams, this was a steal. I want more. Now.