Archives for August 2010

Chinese buffets ask you to avoid waste

A pair of scales with rice and coins - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / pisuIt must be a sign of the times, that Chinese buffets have started asking their customers not to waste food.

In case you are not familiar with the concept: Chinese restaurants in Germany offer you a buffet for a set price, from which you can eat as much or as little as you like.  The only thing you usually have to pay extra for are the drinks.

You might think of it as an “all-you-can-eat” type of offer.

Except that some customers take more than they can manage, meaning that food gets left on the plate and thrown away.

This is, of course, a waste and it must be something that is on the increase, as I have now seen two restaurants that have signs up about it.

The first one had a large sign over the buffet asking you politely not to take too much, but to come back as often as you liked.

The second one took a more draconian approach by way of a sign on the door, informing the patrons that they would be charged an extra 2 Euros per 100g of food left over.

Whilst I can understand the principle, I think this may be taking things a bit too far.  Perhaps a quiet word from the waiter might be better?  Or a polite sign at the buffet as in the first restaurant?  Although it is a shame that they even have to resort to such measures at all.

But considering the speed at which some Chinese restaurants clear the plates during the midday rush (resulting in the diners using multiple plates from the buffet), I can see discussions ensuing along the lines of “I was going to eat it, but you took the plate away before I could” to avoid paying the fine.

So whilst I would never myself consider intentionally putting too much food from the buffet onto my plate, I might invest in a pair of pocket scales.  Just in case.

Why the Germans are fussing about Street View

A street in Fuessen, Bavaria - ©iStockphoto.com/trait2lumiereFor several months, one topic has been in the news regularly in Germany: Google Street View.

This has several reasons, but to put it bluntly: Google didn’t ask permission.

Germany has some very strict privacy laws, many of which come as a result of the country’s recent history.  Those residents that lived through the period of the GDR are especially aware of people knowing too much about them.

There are, for example, rules on how photos of people can be used, and until a few years ago, you needed special permission to take an aerial photograph.

But whilst these situations are fairly clear cut and something that every photographer here needs to be aware of, taking a photograph of a building is different.

Many people take the opinion, that you need permission to photograph and then publish pictures of someone’s home.  On the other hand, I know of experts who say that this is not the case.  If taken from a public area, ie. the street, without any form of technical assistance, they say it is not a problem to take that photo and publish it. [Read more…]

KiKa Summer Tour returns to Wiesbaden

Today I visited the KiKa Summer Tour in Wiesbaden with my daughter.  This was our third visit to one of the tour events, having visited Wiesbaden and Cologne in previous years.

With temperatures forecast for around 30°C it was the perfect day for it, even though there was a chance of thunder storms in the afternoon.

Juri and Singa welcome the cast onto the stage

Juri and Singa welcome the cast onto the stage

The amount of attractions laid on had either increased in number compared to the event two years ago, or were spread out more.  I certainly felt that there were not as many people there as there had been two years ago, but maybe that really was due to having a larger area and two different stages.  Certainly the queue to climb up “Bernd das Brot” was not as long!

The audience in front of the main stage

The audience in front of the main stage

In fact, the queues are the worst part of the day – that being reminded with subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) hints that KiKa is funded by the license fee.

Everything else is well done for the children.  There is an area in front of the main stage where only children can enter.  On entering, the mobile phone number of one of their parents is written on their arm, so that when they want to leave, the crew can contact someone.  Obviously the phone needs to be turned on and audible for this to work!

But this year, for the first time I saw the security crew making sure that the smaller children got to the front of that area so that they could see, and also that the children were offered water to drink whilst they were in there and out of the reach of their parents.

The active stage

The active stage

The smaller “active” stage is lower, so that the children really can go almost up to close to it.  At one point, a number of children – including my daughter – were allowed onto this stage to dance!

And dancing certainly was the order of the day.  We danced to the A-E-I-O-U song a total of 4 times, with my daughter having the slight advantage that we had practised the steps together the previous day!

Towards the end of the afternoon with less than an hour to go until the finale, the thunder finally arrived and aptly interrupted the Tabaluga show, whose cast were slightly caught off guard by the fact that it wasn’t their thunder sound effect!  It rained for about 10 minutes, and then stopped for all of the stars to gather on the main stage for one last dance.

The summer tour is well worth a visit.  On the way home my daughter cited dancing on the active stage with the presenters Juri and Singa as her favourite part of the day, with meeting Juri himself (to have a CD autographed) coming a close second.

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