December 2004 Archives

The company I keep....

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What my friends in San Francisco did on Christmas Break.

Its a dangerous thing to leave 6 bearded men in a room with a cheerleading movie (Bring It On), liquor, and a webcam. To the uninitiated, link contains lip syncing & men acting entirely too goofy for words.

I really am very, very proud. Chaz and I were rolling on the floor laughing at this. More homemade lip sync videos are here.

Christmas is behind us...

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Here we are dressed up for our Welcome Home for the Holidays party last week.

I've been home for 12 days, and am finally to a point where I can relax a bit and catch up. The family obligations are behind us, and it looks like things aren't in too bad a shape at the house.

Flight home was uneventful, although the train ride to Frankfurt was. Franz climbed in the train and made a semi-spur of the moment decision to ride with me to the airport. Made for a nice 4 hours and a good dinner & a great way to be seen off. Texas has been in a cold-snap since I arrived, with nighttimes around freezing and some days not getting much above freezing.

The party was terrific with about 60 people showing up, tons of food, and lots of cheer. We went through 6 bottles of champagne, about 10 bottles of wine, and lots of liquor & beer. I was a bit ticked that some of my coworkers that are a lot of fun couldn't make it, but it happens. Cleanup wasn't bad, but its not quite over. After the party we went right up to Dallas for a holiday break weekend with my family.

That weekend went well, as did this weekend with Chaz's family. Christmas eve we went to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, a live-music slash gift shopping thing at the Austin Music Hall, and saw the Texana Dames while shopping. Was something distinctly Austin, and made me really glad to be home.

There've been some other moments that have caused me to reflect on things here, but I'm not going to go into great depths here. Hopefully we can get some warmth outside and I can take out the motorcycle.

I'm glad to be here, and at the same time miss some of my new friends in Munich. There's some politics going on with the work project, so I'm heading back there January 15th, though I'm not quite delighted about it. I had an interesting call from the botique consulting firm in CA that I do some work with. They've got a project kicking off in Hawaii. 2005 may be prove to be very interesting indeed.

Best part of being gone for a while..

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Flights were on time, relatively comfortable, and the skies were clear coming home.

Chaz had a roast in the oven & the tree decorated already, so its pretty cozy.

Munich report

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The weekend in Munich was great, with some shopping, a visit from Steve K. from Austin, and a couple of good meals with Franz. Work is going to be slowing down a bit as I travel home and as the Germans do their vacations. Two of the team members that I work with are going to be moving houses this week, so things will wind down.

We've got a party planned for this Friday in Austin, so the week will be busy preparing for that.

Winter is heavy

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For the past two days, Munich hasn't been above freezing for more than a few hours a day. Fortunately, its not been raining or snowing, so the effects are unique. My breath condenses on my mustache and the air tastes crisp when it hits the back of my throat. When night settles, a cold hazy fog descends on the streets heavily, and it feels like it needs to snow, but it can't. Led me to stay in last night and watch TV and drink some tea.

My coworker has evidently shared his cold with me, so I'm doped up on sudafed and popping Halls drops to keep the voice for a conference call at noon. I've got a train booked for the ride to Frankfurt, and will book the airport sheraton so I can get up and walk across the street to the airport to leave on Tuesday.

At work in Munich..

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A bit of a boring day - got my receipts organized but am obviously still missing a few, so I'll have to do expenses tomorrow. The Christmas party was 8 guys around a table at an Italian restaurant, so not that big of a deal. I'm glad to be here though instead of Hannover. Caught up with Franz after the party and had a beer.

I've got to make plans to be back this way in January soon as well. Not really in the mood for it though.

Virtual Friday!

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Sure, the calendar says Wednesday, but its really a virtual Friday, despite the fact that I have to work tomorrow & real Friday. I get to check out of Hannover today since we're having a company dinner in Munich tonight, and I'm a bit fired up about that.

Swimming wasn't bad last night - we did 2100 meters (1.4 miles or so?) and she didn't make us do silly shit like 5*200s. I hate those. I liked it as well cause I got to clear out my head a bit, both in terms of thoughts and of snot. Its pretty disgusting when you think about it, but the chlorine kills most of the nasty stuff. I needed it as well, as at the office today, the unorganized one was blowing and hacking and dripping cold germs all over the place, explaining how bad it was that his daughter & wife were home sick, and he was here with the team. I flat out told him that if I get sick before my trip home, I'm not going to be much fun to be around when I get back. He took the hint & went home a bit early.

I'm excited about getting to fly home next week.


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I had reindeer from Finnland for dinner last night. Rudolph was quite tasty.


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The Deutsche Bahn has got a few good things going for it. Taking a 4.5 hour train from Hannover to Munich isn't as ideal as flying, but for the cost & flexibility its really not too bad. What makes it a little better is having a 220 outlet at the seat with which I can plug in the laptop and watch a video CD of "The Incredibles". Probably a couple people behind me enjoyed the show as well, although they missed out on the rumbling of the explosions in the bose headseat. I need to see the film in a theatre now to get some of the nuiances of it, I'm sure. I can see why some of my friends on the west coast just went nuts over the film - was probably one of the funniest things I'd seen in a long time.

Tonight's a 'beer bust' with the guys in Munich, so that should be a fun & social occassion before a short week back in Hannover Monday through Wednesday. Wednesday night is a little company dinner with the German coworkers in Munich, then a couple of days till I head toward s home for the holidays.

Weihnachtsmarkt in Hannover

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Today I got to see Hannover by daylight for the first time. Until today, I've only spent daylight hours in the office & wandered the city in the evening. Its kind of nice, especially in the old part of town. The sun was bright and low on the horizon, low enough that walking south you could see things ahead, but people were colorless shadows with edges of their heads shining as they moved in all different directions. The market smelled rich and herbal from the gl├╝hwein & the grills cooking meats, and at times walking by a candy stand the smell of licorice was overpowering. I didn't really buy anything giftwise. There's not too much appropriate for taking back that direction.

One thing I couldn't resist trying was on the Finnish Christmas market. They were smoking Salmon right there on the market and serving it up.


They had Reindeer sausage and meat available as well, but that wasn't nearly as tasty as these beauties were. And they were tasty indeed with some Finnish beer.

Notes From Hannover

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Reason #7639 why I miss home from time to time

Occassionally at home, no one else has their stuff in the locker right next to mine at the gym

The Fitness Company chain here typically has about 240 lockers in their locker rooms. What always happens however, is that upon arrival, when I pick a locker in an aisle and start changing clothes, someone comes out of the shower and has to get in the locker right next to mine, or above mine, or below mine, or diagonally from mine.

Likewise, when I get done with my workout and get to my locker, there's already someone getting dressed or undressed at the locker next to mine. The entire rest of the locker room could be empty, just somehow I've picked *the* spot everyone is in.

Trying to 'second guess' this system seems to be fruitless as well. I've tried different corners of the locker room, I've tried getting the one locker where all the lockers around it are already full, as well as the one where they're all empty. I've tried in the middle of an aisle, I've tried in the high traffic areas and in the low traffic areas.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not shy about changing clothes, not in the least. The problem with the closeness here is the behaviors of the people around me. There are some that spend hours rubbing lotion all over themselves after a shower. There are some that create a cloud of deodorant spray around themselves, choking off oxygen for the rest of us. Then there are some that spread their wet sweaty crap all over the bench, leaving no room for others.

When you grow up in a society so close, I'm sure this is commonplace and isn't particularly noticable. And I'm sure other gyms have a bit more room in them, but its at moments like this when I miss having space to myself at the YMCA.

Good & Not So Good

As noted above, I was good this evening and made it to the gym to do arms/back and 30 minutes on the cross trainer.

Shortly thereafter I was not so good. On the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market), I ate a portion of mushrooms fried in the pan with garlic sauce and had a crepe with nutella, bananas and Grand Mariner for dessert. It was delicious, but I'm sure more than counteracted the goodness of my workout.

Fun & Games update.

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So the customer wouldn't give us the modem. We went to a T-Com retail store and bought one.

We load the new firmware, and the modem blinks all its lights nonstop. Like a Christmas tree. Not a good sign. It won't connect. We're in for another fun-filled day!

Chaz is busy wrapping up school & then the weekend I get back, we've got a holiday party planned at our house. Will be a mixed crowd, with some coworkers & lots of our friends from the neighborhood. I've got to go get some serious booze when I get back, as well as bring some of the good brandies from here over.

Fun and Games at work

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So two months ago, our schedule was built based on the availability of a function on the customer's modems.

Then we find that that feature is not available. The customer says "Sure its there, you're testing wrong".

We demonstrate that we're testing fine. The customer sets up a meeting with their supplier.

The supplier says, "Uh, yeah, our next release of the firmware will have that feature - check with your customer cause we can't give it to you."

We get the firmware update today from the customer, and its for a modem that we don't have on our supported modem list.

We ask the customer for one of those modems to test on. They say we can't have one.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and we rework the schedule. Fun, no?

Swim practice was good last night. We did 2300 meters in the hour:
300 warmup
4*50 crawl
4*100 IM
100 easy
5*200 stroke/crawl
100 easy
2*50 sprint
100 cooldown

On the first of the 2 sprints, I was trying to beat Heinrich, this tall lanky guy. I shoved so hard off the wall I got a serious cramp in my right leg. One of the guys heard me yell underwater when it happened. Its feeling much better today, but I know its still there.

Steely grey day outside, and while I know Texas is having a freeze as well, I'm missing my hottub bitterly.

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