21 May 2005

It's been a while...

I know if has been quite a while since I last blogged at ya. Crazy how life gets busy, but when you stop to think about those "busy times", you can't really remember what it was that filled up all that time. Currently, I am in Dresden on a business trip. Jeannette came with me for the long weekend (Monday was a holiday), and the weather was mostly cold and rainy, except Monday. Unfortunately, that was the day Jeannette was sick, and she was barely capable of walking with me to the river and laying on a park bench with me to try to enjoy the sun as much as possible. I am happy to report that she is safely at home and feeling good again. It was awfully hard to put her on the train back home knowing how terrible she felt.

Anyway, to try to fill in some of the gaps since my last time, here is a short list of the more remarkable things that I have seen, smelled, heard, etc., in no particular order. OK, I guess it was roughly in chronological order...


  • At a buiding near our house there is "Germany's largest Parking meter exhibition". There are dozens of parking meters from the last 50 or so years in the windows of the building.
  • An onion field. It smelled like onions as we jogged by. It reminded me of Flammkuchen. (Thanks to Jeannette for pointing that out). It made me really, really, hungry. I'm sure that running 13 km before that had nothing to do with it.
  • A ton of snails. Both in Dresden & Heilbronn, it has been rainy. The snails are out in full force. And these suckers are huge.
  • There was this big truck in a field, with a huge spool of cable on the back. One end of the cable was attached to a car, that drove to the other end of the field. It drove far enough that I could barely see what was happening. At that end of the field, the cable was attached to a plane. Then, the truck fired up a motor that pulled the cable in at a fairly fast rate. The plane lifted off, into the air... (kinda like this) Eventually the cable detached, floating gently to the earth with the assistance of a parachute. It was recovered by the guy in the car, and the process started again, with the next glider.
  • We bought an oven that appeared defective. Nothing would turn on, until we set the clock. Since we bought the floor model, there was no manual included to inform of this tidbit. (Not that that would help, as I was later informed by a coworker that bought the same brand...) That's one way to get around the flashing 12:00 problem - make the device non-functional until the clock is set.
  • Jeannette broke in the oven by making a delicious cherry pie. Since it was a test of converting American recipes to German ingredients and measures, I took the resulting pie to work for my fellow test engineers to ply their trade and test the pie. There was near unanimous approval, with only one "too sweet".
  • The wonderful German towns of Mockmühl, Osterburken, Lauda, Würtzburg, Fulda, Eisenach, Erfurt, Weimar, Leipzig & Riesa. But only from the windows of crowded trains. Twice.
  • OK, I lied. I switched trains in Würtzburg and Fulda, so I saw those towns from the train station too. In fact, in Fulda, there was some sort of emergency rescue train. It had cars with big labels like "fire extinguisher car" and "transportations stuff car 2". Too bad they were all just big red boxes. I would like to have seen a fire extingusher the size of a train car. Since trains go everywhere in Germany, I guess it makes sense to have a few of these in strategic places. Especially since Fulda is pretty centrally located.
  • A hotel brochure that says its 16 Euro per person breakfast buffet is reasonably priced. My @$$.
  • The ruins of a church that is now used as an open-air theater. I especially like the tree growing out of the window at the top of the remaining tower. (Hopefully a picture will come soon).
  • A huge area of a city that has beautiful 100-year old buildings that look like they survived WW2 but haven't been maintained since, surrounded by well-maintained/rennovated buildings of the same vintage full of vibrant shops, restaurants, apartments, artist studios & clubs.
  • A suit of armor for a kid just beyond toddler age, with a tiny little war hammer to match. I can imagine that royal household... "Albert, how many times have I told you not to hammer on the furniture!" or "Boys, put on your play armor and go outside".
  • In contrast to the above, a sword at least 12 feet long, simply labeled "two-handed sword" by the museum curator. I think the number of hands that Jeannette said it would require is at least 4. (Which reminds me, for some reason, about the mathematical "proof" that proves Alexander the Great has an infinite number of limbs.)
  • For all you dark beer lovers our there, listen up. [If you prefer the stuff that passes for beer from the big breweries in the USA, skip to the next item.] I have officially declared the various Schwarzbier (black beer) varieties from eastern Germany, Poland, & the Czech Republic to be the best beers in existence. So get over here and get some.
  • A flea market, where, if I wanted to, I could have bought a bust of Adolf Hilter, along with other typical flea market stuff.
  • A very hands-on museum about human health, including exhibits about aging, nutrition, disease, sexuality, games & sports, etc. Almost everything had some method of interaction that was more than just looking and reading. They would even email the results of your interactions to you. Too cool!
  • A dixieland jazz festival in a place almost as far from dixieland as you can get.
  • Vietnamese restaurant whose menu has names and descriptions of dishes that I know and love, but whose food bears little resemblance to those descriptions.
  • A fire truck and a rescue helicopter in the middle of the skate park near the hotel in Dresden, along with a bunch of people looking concerned. I hope that there was just some safety demonstration in progress, and not a cracked skull or broken neck.
  • Just a few hours later, a smashed up motorcycle in an intersection, with an ambulance racing to the scene. I decided to go home, in case I was causing these problems.
  • A BMW ad featuring Kermit the Frog. It made me laugh.
  • An email from Jeannette explaining to me how she saw a German program interviewing George Lucas, and how at the end, when he said "May the Force be With You", it was translated in the subtitles as "The fourth of May be with you".
  • Two days after Jeannette's nasty illness, I was afflicted with the same thing. Which kind of screwed up my business trip, but not terribly so, since I was only out of commission for a day. But it was a nasty day of being sick.


Well, I think that pretty much covers it. Until next time...

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