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Friday, May 14, 2004

Effed in Frankfurt

This Marriott's on the second floor of a shopping mall, which means I won't be bored tomorrow, but it also lacks broadband internet. The Marriott in Stuttgart had a business center with a free internet connection. The one here in Frankfurt charges €3 for 45 minutes, just enough time to take care of essential items. We're still cheesed, though, because when we made the reservations we were assured broadband was available. My boss (aka "The Big Guy") is certainly going to have a long conversation with someone at Marriott next week.

Still in that quasi-conscious jet lag stupor. My circadian reset is now about 500 miles east of Iceland, which explains why I'm still waking up at 3 a.m.

Had dinner at a German Chinese restaurant, the only one open at the mall. Reminds me of an old Woody Allen line... an hour later, you're hungry and want to invade Poland. Which is a cheap shot... the folks over here have been gracious beyond description, quite a relief considering the current international turmoil over the Iraq business. As one German said to me, "We like America and Americans. We just don't understand Bush."

And they say Americans and Europeans have nothing in common...

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Silenced in Stuttgart

The flight from Berlin to Stuttgart was uneventful, and we got to the Marriott ok, but we were surprised to learn this Marriott doesn't have broadband internet.

So, I'm off the air until I get to Frankfurt tonight or tomorrow morning. I'm using the hotel's business center computer to post this, but German keyboard layout is different, and I have a full day ahead.

Stuttgart looks just like western Pennsylvania... rolling hills, etc. Hope I get a chance to see more of the area.

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Thursday, May 13, 2004

No time for sightseeing...

Just too much work to do. A couple things:

The hotel is across the street from the location of Hitler's bunker.

All the taxis are Mercedes. Woof.

Had white asparagus (a local specialty) for the first time at lunch, and had dinner at a Turkish restaurant.

Speaking of asparagus, the big television tower here is referred to by the locals as the "Teleasparagus".

There's a huge, tethered helium balloon across the street that takes tourists on sightseeing rides.

Looks like I'm going to have to settle for seeing the rest of the city from the air on the flight to Stuttgart tonight...

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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Meanwhile, a quarter of the globe away...

We made it to Berlin, but our luggage didn't.

A wave of thunderstorms rolled by north of O'Hare Monday afternoon just as the 777 reached the active runway. The half hour ground stop caused us to miss our original connecting flight from Frankfurt to Berlin. We caught the next one an hour later, but our bags weren't as fortunate. Lufthansa, with its famed German efficiency, delivered them to the hotel promptly at 1:30 p.m., as they promised. It seems incredible, but this is the first time in all of my years of traveling that my checked baggage didn't arrive on the same flight as me. I'm just glad I was flying Lufthansa and not USAirways. I've known people who've lost entire wardrobes with Useless Air.

Berlin is lovely. We're staying at a brand new Marriott hotel with broadband internet and all the amenities, in the middle of Potsdamer Platz. In the 90s, it was Europe's largest building site- €4 billion was invested here after the fall of communism, and it sure looks like it. It's like being at StarFleet Headquarters.

This is the cleanest city I've ever seen. I found myself sticking my cigarette butts in my pocket until I could dispose of them properly. The heavy tourist trade guarantees that everyone in the area speaks perfect English. About the only way you can tell you're not in the U.S. is the German signage, and the fact everything works.

I keep forgetting how far north Europe is in relation to the U.S. Berlin's at 52°, placing it halfway between Pittsburgh/Chicago (40°) and Nome, Alaska (64°). The sunrise is at 5:15 am and sunset is at 8:50 p.m.; even at 9:30 last night, it was still twilight. At the summer solstice, there's almost 17 hours of daylight, and it never gets completely dark. The winter has to be incredibly depressing, though... on the shortest day, the sun rises at 8:15 am and sets before 4 p.m.

On the downside, traveling in Germany always makes me feel like an undereducated provincial oaf. Just about everyone is multi-lingual. The staff at the hotel here looks as if they were picked from Central Casting.

And, of course, there are the general effects of jet lag. It's a wonder I can function at all. Yesterday I forgot the number of my hotel room. And despite my best efforts to reset my circadian rhythms, I woke up at 3:30 am local time, which guarantees another day of mild disorientation until I get to do a final reset with eight hours' sleep tonight.

Into the fray...

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Monday, May 10, 2004

Eastward ho....

I made it into the office and it appears the only things I forgot to pack for the Germany trip are neckties. Not a problem... I can borrow or buy a couple in transit.

I also forgot to bring a basecall cap. Coincidentally, one arrived via UPS last week. I won a contest and received a cap sporting the phrase "The Rules Do Not Apply To Me". Nah, not gonna wear that through airport security. It might as well say, "Please Perform A Cavity Search."

Gee, I wish I could speak German. The hotel staffs are all wonderfully multi-lingual, but once out on the street, it's disorienting. I consider it a way of learning to deal with the stroke-induced aphasia that will accompany my inevitable vascular accident.

Deep vein thrombosis. Sorta sounds like a blues singer.

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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Don't forget your free giant shrimp tomorrow...


Long John Silver's President Calls Discovery
"One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Giant Shrimp"

Haven't heard them promoting it recently. I read a story a while back where Long John Silver's took out an insurance policy in the event NASA did find water. Although unlikely, the outfit could be on the hook for a couple hundred million shrimp.

The rules are simple: stop by your local LJS tomorrow between 2 and 5 p.m. and get a free giant shrimp. No purchase necessary, it seems.

The details are here.

I'm going to be on a jet heading toward Germany tomorrow at that time. Sigh. I always miss the free stuff.

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To all you mothers out there...

Some random KGB Quotations file observations:

This is the reason why mothers are more devoted to their children than fathers: it is that they suffer more in giving them birth and are more certain that they are their own.-Aristotle

I have always admired the Esquimaux. One fine day a delicious meal is cooked for dear old mother, and then she goes walking away over the ice, and doesn't come back.-Agatha Christie

I don't always enjoy being a mother. At those times my husband and I hop up somewhere in the wine country, eat, drink, make mad love and pretend we were born sterile and raised poodles.-Dorothy DeBolt

What are we at the park for except to win? I'd trip my mother. I'd help her up, brush her off, tell her I'm sorry. But mother don't make it to third.-Leo Durocher

Sometimes you need a B-2 bomber and sometimes you need your mother.-P.J. O'Rourke

Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the promised land. She prepares a world she will not see.-Pope Paul VI

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.-Oscar Wilde

From Grace McGarvie in alt.quotations:

COLUMBUS' MOTHER: "I don't care what you've discovered, you still could have written!"

MICHELANGELO'S MOTHER: "Can't you paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that stuff off the ceiling?"

NAPOLEON'S MOTHER: "All right, if you aren't hiding your report card inside your jacket, take your hand out of there and show me."

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S MOTHER: "Again with the stovepipe hat? Can't you just wear a baseball cap like the other kids?"

MARY'S MOTHER: "I'm not upset that your lamb followed you to school, but I would like to know how he got a better grade than you."

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S MOTHER: "The next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance good-bye!"

THOMAS EDISON'S MOTHER: "Of course I'm proud that you invented the electric light bulb. Now turn it off and get to bed!"

PAUL REVERE'S MOTHER: "I don't care where you think you have to go, young man, midnight is past your curfew."

ALBERT EINSTEIN'S MOTHER: "But it's your senior picture. Can't you do something about your hair? OY! Styling gel, mousse, something...?"

Happy Mothers Day.

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Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


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