Saturday, May 31, 2008

Getting right to the point

Here's a sign that makes very clear what action is being discouraged. No prevaricating about the bush here.


I imagine even a dog could understand this sign, and hurry on to a Grundstück that is less Privat to do his business. I need this sign for our house.

Groß Sankt Martin

I took this picture while we were at dinner. This is Groß Sankt Martin Kirche, from which I gather there is a smaller one somewhere. It was founded in 960, built into its current form in the twelfth century, was bombed in WWII, and is now restored.

The boss took us all out to dinner at the Haxenhaus (specializes in pig knuckles, very good). I had the Augustus, which was a Schweinshaxe (pig knuckle) with a slab of Leberkäse (literally, liver-cheese, but really it's a meatloaf made of corned beef, bacon and onions, no liver or cheese in it, apparently), some potatoes and a sausage.

I've been trying to get out and run in the mornings, to work off all the pounds that the meat, potatoes and beer have surely been adding on, but I haven't figured out how to fit it into my schedule. So I have focused my attention on the more pressing concern of how to fit into my pants.

View from my window

I have moved from Düsseldorf to Köln, as I mentioned before. This is the view from my window, which unfortunately faces away from the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral), which is quite impressive. I'll probably add a picture of that later.


By the way, my hotel has internet access for the moment. Freitag surfs the web while I'm at work, so he's not as crabby when I get back to the hotel, which is a big plus.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Internet access

The network at my hotel is down. I am shipwrecked, marooned on a island, separated from all I love. I have made a hammock out of my bedsheets, fashioned a trebuchet from my ironing board for my defense, and have befriended a local rat I have named Freitag.

I hope they fix it soon. The network at DRUPA is really, really slow. I can literally see the bits march one by one down the wires. Literally.

Moving hotels

So, yesterday I moved from a hotel in Düsseldorf to a hotel in Köln. In the morning, we dropped off our baggage in the hotel lobby in Düsseldorf and went to work. Our luggage was to be routed to our respective hotels in Köln while we were at work. In the evening, I left work and headed for Köln. When I got to the hotel, I had a reservation, but no bags. So, I called around to the different hotels that I knew HP was using, and tried to get them to look for my bag, all in very poor German and decent English. No luck. So I then called one of the logistics people for HP, and she called around as well, with better results.

One hotel found my bags and told me that they would send a taxi over to me with the bags in 10 to 20 minutes, and I would just have to pay the driver. So I headed downstairs to wait for the taxi. After 40 minutes, I was sure that the taxi wasn't coming. A lot of taxis did come without my bags, each of which I talked to, only to discover that we shared no common language other than mime.

I decided that I would head back up to my room to try to call the other hotel. I stopped by the front desk to ask if they could get me the number of the other hotel, which they did, but when I mentioned my name, he told me that the bags had already arrived and were in my room. Apparently, the driver came in, and a porter brought the bags up while I was on my way down. My hotel put the taxi bill on my tab.

So I ended up with my bags after all. But it was stressful, knowing that I only had one set of clothes. But, alas, Schmidt, my red soccer ball, was lost. It was in a white plastic bag, so if you see it, let me know.

But, hey, I'm pretty happy considering.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hobbits

There are several hypotheses as to why hobbits are no longer seen in our time. One is that they have died off. Or possibly, that they are very, very sneaky, indeed to the point that we underestimate their sneakiness. Or that they intermarried with the Nephilim and produced average-sized descendants. Another, that they live in caves under Sean Astin's house in Los Angeles.

Despite all the data that the Sean Astin theory has going for it, I'm here to tell you that all of these hypotheses are wrong.

I made a horrible discovery today. The reason that hobbits are no longer seen is that Germans eat them.


I was sick, I tell you, sick.

P.S. It's a lame post, I know, but how many other bloggers out there have a category exclusively for hobbits?

P.P.S. If you came to this blog just for the hobbits, welcome.

Local Wildlife

Shopkeeper: I've got a slug.
Customer: Does it talk?
Shopkeeper: Not really, no.
Customer: Well, it's scarcely a replacement, then, is it?


More wildlife. Bigger than people. Actually, not really.


I ate a couple of these this week. With sauce and butter. Interesting texture.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

BierBike Part Deux

So the BierBike was mentioned to one of our logistics personnel, who decided to arrange an outing with said BierBike. So we embarked upon our epic journey down the Rhein on the BierBike.


Things went quite well for a while, going slowly, upsetting the Mercedes drivers who longed to be trapped behind a herd of camels, because at least they would be going schneller than us. Once we got into the Altstadt, the streets were much narrower. Everyone around laughed at us, or with us, and asked for rides. Eventually, we reached a point where we could no longer go any further, stuck between a wall and a pole.


So then, go backwards we must. Rather than help, of course, I picked up the camera and snapped a few shots of the others working.


At the end of two hours of pedaling, the beer was gone, and the snacks well-pillaged, and we were tired, at least those of us who were actually pedaling.

All in all, it was a lot of fun.

Dä Spiegel

I didn't post anything yesterday because I didn't have access to my laptop. What I did have access to was a bar with live music called Dä Spiegel. As the night wore on, you couldn't stand without touching four or five other people. The band was actually pretty good, so I videotaped a part of the performance, which I have posted here for you to watch, if you so desire.

video

Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I also heard Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple) and Cocaine (Eric Clapton). When the band was taking a break, they piped in music as well. There was a group of girls in front of me who, when they started playing Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi, really got into it, singing all the lyrics at the top of their lungs. I taped some of that too, but the audio quality was much worse.

I did hear one German song: Westerland by the Die Ärzte.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lantern Waste

Thany (if no one else) will probably understand this: Walking through dark woods, and seeing a lantern in the distance, and walking towards it to find the path. Felt a bit like one is at Lantern Waste. Like the White Stag should be flying from the trees at any moment.

(If you look hard you can see the lantern burning there.)


It was actually a bit darker under the canopy than this picture makes it seem, but I'm using a little point and shoot camera, so you get what you pay for.

At another part of the park:


I wanted to stay longer in the quiet, and just forget about work, but it was starting to get dark, so I headed for the Altstadt.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Champions League Final

Had an experience tonight unlike any that I'm likely to have again. Watching Chelsea play Manchester United in the Champions League Final for football (not American football) on German TV with a bunch of drunken Israelis and Germans. Man U ended up winning the game with a penalty kick (hope no one reading this taped the game and planned on watching it). This is not a sport I usually watch, but the mixture of unlimited beer and snacks and rabid fans made it very interesting.

Hewlett-Packard New Product Offering

A new crate just arrived, filled with Hewlett-Packard's new line of wet underwear, at least judging from the label on the crate.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Statue at the Düsseldorf Messe

A picture of a statue, entitled "Totally Naked Guy For Whom No Parts Are Shown."

Doodle of the Week

I've been very busy working and haven't been out to take many pictures lately, so here's a little doodle called "Outhouse at Night." Enjoy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Das Königreich des Kristallschädels

Opening in a few days, Indiana Jones und das Königreich des Kristallschädels:


This is an ad outside my hotel.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Schmidt

I don't recall if I mentioned that I won a soccer ball (football for those of you anywhere other than the US) when I bought my Rheinbahn pass. It really wasn't luck, since I think everyone who was willing to accept the embarrassment of actually entering the contest won. I have called him Schmidt, and he will be my companion, should I travel in a FedEx plane that crashes unfortunately on a deserted island.

A German Superhero

With all the beer that is available in Germany, the German people have plenty of ways to relax and kick back. But what happens when everything goes haywire, who can the Germans rely on to help?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

BierBike

This looks like fun. All of the guys sitting at the bar were drinking beer, and singing very loudly, and pedaling to make the BierBike move, while some other guy (presumably not drinking) steers the vehicle. Presumably the inventor of this contraption stumbled onto this idea when SchoolBike and ChurchBike didn't work out. Aren't you glad that he was persistent? What an inspiration!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nachos

I've often wondered what nachos bought at an Irish pub in Germany would taste like. Well, last night, my friends, that dream was realized.


By the way, that is not my hand. It belongs to Uncle Jimmy.

On a wall

From a wall in Düsseldorf's Altstadt:


If I'm translating right (and it's quite possible I'm not):
This fairytale will probably never come true:
Life teaches, be smart and save.

For Michelle

Here are some posters from a wall near my hotel. I took a picture of them for Michelle, the ultimate in Bon Jovi fans.


Enjoy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

First full day of work

Well, today was my first full day working. Lots of sweating, unpacking crates, setting things up. One thing I found interesting was that everybody smokes here. Everywhere. The workers unloading crates? Smoking. Kids going to school? Smoking. People riding their bikes? Smoking. It's mostly strange because you can't smoke in San Diego legally almost anywhere.

Below is a picture of the U-Bahn line that I take to work. This was taken outside the Messe, where I'm currently working.


This is the building that I'm preparing for the show. Great fun. I didn't take a detailed picture of the machine that I'm specifically working on, because I know that my competitors (or, as my German friend Maurice would say, enemies) watch this blog, hoping that I will let something slip.


A picture of the inside of the train I take to work and to the Altstadt (the old city), sometimes referred to as the longest bar in the world, since it has hundreds of bars. Beer is definitely the choice of beverage around there, and it's better than the water. Also, for your viewing pleasure, a picture of the back of MYL's head.


The unfortunate view to the right of my hotel window.


The not great, but still much better than the right side, left side of my hotel window view. Note that I had to climb out onto the ledge six stories up for this picture.


A shot down the street from where I ate tonight. It was raining, but fairly pleasant evening despite the wetness. It's generally humid out anyway.


Auf wiedersehen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Getting there

Quick synopsis of my day:

Fairly uneventful getting out of San Diego. Got to Chicago, ate at Chili's. Got on the plane, and gave up my aisle seat to a grandmother from Iowa who was taking her granddaughter to see where she grew up in Austria. On the other side of me was a Greek grandmother from Chicago going back to Greece. The first thing the Greek woman said to me was "Are you Italian?" But I said that I was American. We talked at length about her grandchildren, and I saw many pictures of the latest edition, a little baby boy named Niko.

I also learned that all the alcoholic beverages were free on the Lufthansa flight. The food wasn't that great (tasted fine, but looked like potluck food), but there was a lot of it. I also watched Dan In Real Life (OK) and Juno (that ain't no etch-a-sketch, this is one doodle that can't be un-did, homeskillet) on the plane.

Finally landed in Germany. Really grumpy guy at Customs when I put up my baggage claim ticket on the counter instead of the passport. But, all in all, wasn't bad.

Took a taxi to the hotel. Half the songs on the radio are in English. Got to the hotel.

Getting into my room was interesting. They put me in room 511, but after dragging my luggage up there, the key card didn't work. Went back downstairs, the key card was reprogrammed, but still didn't work. I figured out that the key card reader was broken. So, they found a room with two twins (room 711), but the key card didn't work there either. Went back downstairs, the key card was reprogrammed, but upon entering the rooms, I discovered that someone else's stuff was still in the room, and they were currently in the bathroom doing who knows what. Finally, they put me in room 623, where I am now. Of course, then the wireless didn't work because the last name was wrong. Got that fixed.

Anyway, MYL and I went into Dusseldorf (2-3 km walk) to look for power outlet adapters, and MYL wanted some food. Discovered that what sounds like German to me is completely unintelligible to at least some native speakers, and that I needed to try harder.

Also, learned that girls in the park by the edge of the Rhein river sometimes sunbathe topless. Sorry, no pictures of that. I'm a doctor, not a pornographer!

Most places don't serve lunch until later than we were out, so most people at the restaurants either were drinking beer, or drinking shots of espresso and smoking.

Some pictures to thrill you:

What city could possibly be complete without the burnt and bitter taste of Starbucks?


This is part of the park at the edge of the Rhein river near my hotel.


This is the always lovely river Rhein.


It's good to know that when you've tasted all the dark beers that Germany has to offer, you can always get a Guinness, made of twigs, grass and the dark, dark hearts of leprechauns. And some shepherd's pie. It's folking great!


The Dusseldorf Rathaus. Hey, everybody, it's an old building! This is not the place where we actually saw a rat run across the floor. No, that was where we had dinner. In the States, that would get the restaurant a Class C rating. Here it just adds flavor (in more ways than one).


Some rat-schnitzel. Just kidding, this was actually billed as the "original Wiener-Schnitzel." At Schnitzel Hubers, which was kinda like what KFC might have been if Colonel Sanders had been an officer in the Luftwaffe.

I'm adding the pictures, but I've been awake now for 30 hours, and I'm ready to get to bed. There may be more tomorrow. Having a good time so far. Much fun.