October 2004 Archives

Ad hoc

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Every time, I say I'm not going to do it again. Then at when its too late and I'm already doing it, I realize I said I wasn't going to do it again, and I'm stuck.

"David - would you mind just giving a quick demo of the prototype?" said the unorganized one. Sure, I think - it's done & delivered, can't be too bad. They're paying for it, right?

Never again.

Comments from the 'board' that saw it:

  • "My, but it is slow." (My whole box is slow. Notepad lags)

  • "Is that all the FAQs we have?" (What part of 'prototype' did you understand to be 'fully capable deployed system'?)

  • "It looks awfully 'square'."

  • "The text isn't very clear"

Obviously, not a group that has 1) been prepared to view a prototype-quality application, or 2) understands what the software does. And the unorganized one didn't have much control over the meeting much less over their prior expectations of what the software would do.

We've got bigger issues ahead of us, and it frustrates me to no end that I let myself get pulled in to something where I get kicked around and there's no plan.


BeepBeep! BeepBeep! And then, just like that, I'm in the Netherlands. I'm on a train from Hannover to Amsterdam, and my phone beeps with an SMS.

Welcome to T-Mobile NL - insure you dial a country code, and use this number to load more money on your card.

Informal, just like going from Dallas to Fort Worth. But the license plates are yellow instead of white; the other trains are yellow and blue instead of white and red; and the first language to come over the PA now is Dutch. A border crossing is pretty much a non-event, as it should be. Rumor is that Ryan & Lily are there tonight - might run into them this weekend, considering how small the city is.

Me on the train, setting sun on my face as we head west.


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Laundry Day


I picked up my laundry from the cleaners across from the hotel this morning so that I could have some clean socks to wear. 39 Euros to get it all done, which was cheaper than the hotel, but more than I had intended to pay. I suppose I'll have to find somewhere I can do it myself. Meanwhile, I'll drop off some more tomorrow so I have clean gym clothes next week.

Yesterday we had a project setback. We assumed (wrongly) that their modems supported UPnP methods of gettings & setting the configuration. They don't completely do that though. They never specified to their vendors that they should do that, so.... it never got done. Without those methods, we've got a boatload more work to do, so today's been spent insuring that the project manager understands the ramifications. They probably still won't.

I'm going to get out of the office at a decent hour today and actually go into the city tonight I think. Have to get a train ticket for either tomorrow evening or Saturday to AMS and might as well see what else there is to see.


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Short entry. Today sucked. 6 hours in train, 3 of which at 7:30am in smoking section. Dumb meetings. Got stuck in the worst hotel room on the planet. Missing home. Its cold.

On the plus side, I'm getting some good compliments on my German, and I made it to the gym.

The Hannover gym..

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My colleague Marcel walked just a bit south of the hotel last week, and found a brand spanking new gym. "Fitness Company" - they're owned by Fitness First out of the UK. I went ahead & joined for the 2 months that I'm going to be here. Something to do aside from eat! Anyway, it felt really good to lift some weights and do some cardio; the facility is immaculate, and wasn't crowded 8-10pm when I was there. They've got some locations in Munich as well.

What I found really great was that right in front of it, was a Burger King (where i had dinner last night.. no 4 courses for me), on the diagonal corner across that was a "Bauhaus" (Home Depot), and across the street from that was a Walmart! No seriously. With the little star between the L and the M even. I could have been in Round Rock!



Sunday photos

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Click below to open the gallery to the few phonecam shots from yesterday:

YAY! Sleep is good!

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I'm about astonded at how good I feel about things at the moment. I'm back at Kraftakt where I had a big ass tuna salad for dinner, along with a couple of beers and a cappucino. Yummy! My cold has cleared up, and it was another incredible fall day here full of sun and clear skies.

I got a good 8 hrs in, undisturbed by alarms or neighbors, or anything else, and it made all the difference in the day. I did email and checked some websites in the morning, and headed out to Michaelibad for a good 1KM swim and a quick 7 minutes in the tanning bed. After the swim, I snapped some pics with the Siemens phone and then much to my surprise had a quick call from my friend Don in Austin. The connection wasn't for shit, but simply getting a call out of the blue, that was pretty cool. I checked in with him and Chaz after I got back to the hotel, and it sounds like things are going ok at home, which makes me happy too. When I get reconnected with my other computer, I'll put the photos in an entry.

Tomorrow is another fun filled day travelling and working in Hannover. The one thing I have to do there is find a laundry where I can get my clothes clean, and then avoid stuffing my face with the work colleagues. I think that might have been part of last weeks sleeplessness - 3 above average sized meals a day. Finally, I have to decide where to head next weekend - the 1st of November is a holiday in Germany, so I'll have a 3 day weekend coming up. I'm debating between heading to Amsterdam for the weekend, or going to Berlin. Amsterdam is in the lead right now, as I know some people there, and would really like to have dinner with some people aside from the coworkers for a change. That might help ward off the 'lonesome stranger' feeling that I've felt creep in a few times in the past few days.

Purple Tupac


Seeing this reminded me to email a few friends thave have 2 year olds now. I'm sure they're seeing plenty of the Purple dinosaur.

Barney Raps

Early bird wanted the morning off

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Note to self: remember to turn off cell phone alarm clock on weekends. I went out to a couple of places last night, wound up in the hotel at about 2:30, and as programmed, my mobile phone woke me at 7:20. Dammit. It does have options to check the days you want it to go off.. I never unchecked Sat/Sunday prior to today. They are unchecked now.

Its a warm summer-like day here in Munich - and there's tons of tourists out enjoying it, wandering around the city and eating ice cream. I'll head out in a few minutes as well after having caught up on some long overdue emails. I've gotten a few project things out of the way, and have some expenses nearly ready to submit as soon as the credit card online statement gets updated to tell me how many dollars those Euros really cost.

After having caught up on things last night I stopped into a little corner store on the Max street just to pick up a couple bottles of diet coke to drink. Turns out I found a good time to go into this guy's little store as he gave me a tomato & mozarella sandwich to go along with it for free. :-) Given the hour it was, I imagine the sandwiches were going to go to waste, so he wins a bit, and I got me a bite for dinner as well. I like it when someone pays a little kindness in a land where there's not much you can get for free.

The lack of getting to sleep in may mean a lazier day than I had originally anticipated.

The work week has ended...

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I flew back to Munich, took the train back in to town, and checked in to the Hilton where I'll be crashing this weekend. Its going to be so nice to have a big bed, and a heater that works.

The walk from the hotel to the office to do some paperwork was beautiful. I went along the Isar under changing trees and feeling some warm sunshine on my face. The afternoon was beautiful and mild for late October. As I went about my way, the church bells across the river rang out for 6 o'clock, and after the chimes, came the peal of the deeper bell for about 10 minutes. I'm sure there's a specific theological reason the bells ring on Friday evening, but I like to think of it as a celebration of the weekend finally being here. I took a short movie as I walked along. The quality of it doesn't convey the mood very well, but you hear the bells & the water and see the Isar. Its a start.

Rough day


We kind of had a 'come to jesus' meeting with the deployment manager on the project today, cause he's asked us to build basically without requirements. Its a bit tricky, as I know from the Motive side we really shouldn't do it that way, but on behalf of the manager, I know that the Germans/manager are more concerned with meeting dates than with the correctness/usefullness of the product.

A good example of that occured when we left the building today. The guards stopped us and had to do a 'bag inspection' cause they turned on the light to stop us. They opened 1 bag, peeked in, and let us go. It wasn't that they really had to check all the bags for hardware walking out of the building; it was that a video camera had recorded the stop, and as a result they had to check a bag on camera, even if it was superficial. That's what they were going to be evaluated on - if they stopped someone, they should do the check. The check didn't have to be meaningful, but it had to occur.

Its been a frustrating week all around. I didn't get to get to the pool other than Tuesday. Will have to go Sat/Sunday in Munich.

Charles bough his ticket to come over for Thanksgiving. I'm going to email the dutch part of our crew & see if they're staying in the same area as we are again. That will be a fun weekend.

Ballot got off in the mail this morning. Tomorrow afternoon Marcel & I fly back to Munich. I've really got to do expenses saturday as well. ugh.

Off it goes...

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Absentee ballot will go in the mail today, provided I can find a stamp around here. Please vote in support of the Capitol Metro rail plan if you're in Austin.

Mmmm.. Minibar beer!

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I'm on dialup this evening, from the beautiful Wienecke hotel. OK, beautiful, but cold. Last night when I got here, the heat wasn't on, and didn't come on until about 3am when I went & jiggled the handle of the window to get it all the way closed. Damn German efficiency... invisible switches not turning on the heat until the window is all the way closed. In addition, there's a little switch by the door that's activated by a card being shoved in it to prove that you're there: the switch turns on the electricity to the room, and it seems to also turn on the heat. This evening when I went to swim, I left a library card in the slot, and tonight the room is almost warm. Not quite, but almost. I've defeated their ingenious little system. MUAWAHAHAHAH!

Workday was uneventful while onsite at Deutsche Telekom. Met two guys that work with our software, but we didn't talk much about work. Rest of the time was up in our little office connected to the world via a linksys that would drop the signal every hour or so. At 4:30, after the second time it dropped signal as I tried to push content out to a server, I headed to the hotel. THERE I had a reliable T-mobile hotspot signal that hadn't gone down at all. The shoemaker's children are the ones that are running around barefoot all the time, donchya know.

Finally the highlight of the day was getting a workout with the "Leinebagger" swim team or club as it were. Its a gay/lesbian team that meets at the "Stadionbad" about 30 minutes by tram & bus from the hotel. I left at 7:30, got there about 8, around 8:10 the members were gathering, and we were in the water by 8:30pm. We swam 1750 meters (bit more than a mile) and I was in the 2nd fastest lane, which totally took me by surprise. There were some fit, skinny guys & girls that couldn't keep up with me, the fat American. A couple of the guys were pretty flirtatious as well, which made it all the more interesting. We'll see if I run into them Wednesday night out and about as well. We swam till 9:30, I caught the 9:46 bus back toward my tram, and made it to the hotel around 10:10. The kitchen in the restaurant was closed already, so here I am with a couple of mini-bar beers for dinner. Its good beer mind you, but I could really go for a plate of nachos or some chicken wings.

Things that don't happen in Austin..

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The walk back to the office from lunch was interrupted by a motorcade escorting an Austrian dignitary.


Am off to Hannover today for Deutsche Telekom work.

Sunday in Munich..

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Today was a pretty good day all in all. You're wondering I bet...

  • Did I go to the German Museum?

  • Did I watch the Glockenspiel?

  • Did I drink for hours on end at the HofBrau House?


I'm really there



Short update.. Here I am in Munich! Looks just like Austin, right? It is only colder, compacter, and German. Actually, I'm including it cause its my first picture with my new mobile over here. I'll forward my 888 number to it in a little bit. Its a Siemens CT65 prepay plan, so expensive for me to call out, but can get calls from anywhere for free; the caller pays for the call. If you need the direct number, email me directly.

From the 'small world' file: went out last night and saw someone I recognized from Galveston last May- who was there with a friend of mine from Austin. I won't be able to get away with a damned thing over here.

This aint so bad

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I made it to Munich and am in my company's office at the moment. Sunny & brisk outside, not at all unpleasant.

The long haul flight was mostly miserable. On the 777, American has the seats arranged: AB_CDEFG_HJ

I was in 31 F. 31 C & E were a early twenties German couple, and in D was their probably about 15 month old child that whined & cried for a good 5 hours. After the first hour, mom and dad bored of tending to the kid, and watched movies instead.

After landing, I hopped on a InterCityExpress train from Frankfurt to Munich. That was much more pleasant, with cars quiet enough to get some sleep in, and room to move.

Noones here in the office right now: they're travelling back in from Hannover & Austin today, so might get to see the work colleagues later this evening. Once my hotel room is ready, I'm going over there for a shower & a nap.

Gotta pack

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In 24 hours I'll be landing in Frankfurt, Germany. I really should be packing, but it hasn't quite gone that way. Mom's here and in the guest room, having gone to bed at 9:30p, and the suitcases are in there as well. *shrug* I've got to travel light since I'll be basically bouncing between hotels for 8 weeks, so I suppose I can throw it all together in an hour. A few warm things, some dress clothes, couple of weekend shirts, some gym wear, the leather vest, and I think I'll be set.

I've been wishing to see a storm for days on end, and a cold front is finally pushing through as I started writing this. A good cathartic gully-washer, bringing some lighting, strong winds, and maybe a change of attitude as I head over that way. I sat in the hottub and watched it rain for a little while; I've got a nice little nest here and I'm going to miss it while doing this gig. The timing of heading out when the first real cool snap of fall approaches Austin leaves something to be desired, but it'll be a great opportunity.

Last night was our company's customer conference dinner at HQ, which I got to attend. [gallery pics here] One woman viewing them asked if there were only 6 women that worked at my company. The answer was really 7, but one couldn't make it.

Sometimes it takes 5 games..

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But the 'stros have their first postseason title after creaming the Braves tonight!


While I watched the debate..

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I gave my work keyboard a bath! It was pretty disgusting...

What men are wearing this fall...

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Our Seattle trip concluded today when Chaz's Utilikilt arrived.

He wore his kilt & duds out to a show at Texas State this evening, and was the bomb.

I've been working 10-12 hr days on a project for Bell Canada and its nearing the finish line finally. It hasn't been too much fun - have missed some working out and have been slow to handle some neighborhood association things.

The weather is a bit cooler and that's made riding the bike more fun.

Chaz and I have also been busy playing an old "Jak & Dexter" game on the PS2. We never really played it till we moved it in the front room. That was probably a mistake. The game is addictive.

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