The morning came way, way too fast. I snoozed once, although I had set about three different alarms to make sure I was going to get up. When Iíd set them up the night before I knew I had something I could use for a good alarm, and in my stupor didnít remember about my cell phone until after I was in bed. Duh, itís the BEST one. I did have to set the clock, however, as I still donít have service.
I got in the really nice shower, got dressed, and cleaned up my stuff. I was running a little late, but not too bad. I just wanted to make sure I had time for breakfast. I was also giving myself 30 minutes to get to work, which was probably overkill. I decided not to leave my camera in the room; it was probably safer in the parking lot of the plant, since there was security. I knew I couldnít bring it inside, however. I walked out to the courtyard and back down to the lobby. I returned my paperweight keychain to the front desk, then went to the breakfast buffet to get food. I wasnít going to eat if it was just a restaurant, but a buffet is quick, and it was paid for. I took a seat and gave my room number to the server, then walked to the muesli station. The breakfast buffet is *gorgeous*; it has everything including cereal, fruits, various breads, jams eggs, bacon, sausage, meats, juices, coffee, teas, and even pickled herring. You name it. I made a bowl of various types of muesli and added some dried fruit into it. I also picked up some fruit and a couple of tiny glasses of juice. I wish it wasnít quite so beautiful, because I donít think I can avoid eating it every morning! I left with a little caffeine, a full belly, and a heck of a carb rush. Back out to the car I walked, which is a heck of a ways off. I decided I would park up front the next day in the morning and go from there.
The drive to work was very short, only ten minutes, this got me there just on time. I left my cameras in the car and went inside, wondering where to go. I didnít have much trouble getting inside, whether that was because they knew I was coming or not I donít know. I went upstairs to the Dublin conference room where Kevin said I should go, found a computer, and was able to log in. Phew!
A little while later I met Rayko, a guy works in the same room, and then another guy, Rene, who was on my list of people to meet. They are both very nice and spoke excellent English. Rene showed me around a little, but there wasnít really anything to do until Michel arrived later in the day. I hung out there until lunch, and then Rene and Rayko took me to the cafeteria for lunch. You have to use a special currency here, which is attached to your badge or you can get a temporary card. Since I donít have the same type of badge, I had to get a temp card for a 2.50 euro deposit. The cafeteria serves two different entrees, and itís very, very cheap. I got a pork cutlet and potatoes for like 2 euros. It wasnít too bad. At the table I also met Anthony, whoís a young guy from the States who has been working here and staying in my same hotel for six MONTHS now. Wow. I asked him what people do for fun after hours, and he said pretty much just go to dinner. Dinner is a big affair here, and it usually takes all night. As we returned to the room, Rene asked if Iíd like to go on a walk with them; apparently a lot of people take a little stroll after lunch for exercise and let the food settle. We walked around the parking lot chatting, and I got to know everyone a little better. They were really amazed to hear that I spoke Japanese; somehow this was more amazing than the fact that *everyone* Iíd met in Germany so far spoke English!
We returned to the room, and a little while later, Janice, a woman Iíd met in Austin for training, showed up, fresh from her vacation in Italy. Sheís really nice and very friendly. Sheís just come in on a train from Milan to Frankfurt to Dresden, so she was exhausted, however. Michel finally arrived about 2:30PM, and at 3 we finally got to do real work. I canít really talk about it, but I will say it was very cool to see in practice what you have been hearing about and theorizing about for months. The equipment Iím working on is much cooler in person. I saw something happen Iíd only simulated before, and I actually cracked a wide grin to see it in action. Michel and I worked until 6, and at that point both hunger and fatigue set in, so I called it a night. I asked him what he was doing for dinner, but neither of us really felt like going out anywhere. I then asked him where a grocery store was, since Iíd seen none. He described one as being on that little road Iíd taken initially from the airport, then decided to go with me. I got some cash from the ATM in the lobby, then we left. I followed his little Ford Festiva to the market, which is not 5 minutes from the plant. He really liked my rental car, and wanted to talk about it, but I donít know anything about Peugeots.
We went into the grocery store, which was pretty small and each took a basket to go around and buy food. Maybe Iím just used to Japan and the prices there, but it really seemed like everything was super cheap to me, even in Euros. I stocked up with some cereal, yogurt, cheese, and soup mixes, but decided not to get any meat. It turns out that 4 Euro bottle of sparkling water is only 79 Euro cents at the store!! I still had some leftover wings from last night, so I just got what I needed. We checked out, and Michel was packing a bag in front of me. When I had paid I asked him where the bags were.
ďYou have to buy them, Iím sorry I should have told you,Ē he said. Crud. He raced off to his car car to drop off his things then come back and help my carry my stuff, but the woman sold me a bag for 20 euros despite the other customers. I apologized in English, the only way I know how. :( We said weíd meet in the morning, and Michel took off for his hotel. Outside, there was a little trailer selling all sorts of roasted meats, and I think Iíll have to do this at some point. They smelled wonderful! I just donít know what anything is called.
On the way back to the hotel, I turned down the street near the highway that I finally located that day. As I drove, I noticed someone had painted graffiti on the road. As I drove, successive words appeared:
Awww, someone vandalized the road to tell their girlfriend they love her! It was actually kind of cute.
I returned to the hotel, retrieved my key and went back to my apartment. I donít have an oven, so I had to use steam to heat up my hot wings. That was difficult. I made some spicy meatball soup from a mix, ate the wings, and had a bowl of ďfitness cerealĒ for dessert. Man, Iím raking in the carbs, to say the least. An episode of 24 later, I went back to work on the website, trying to get it in place so I could finally post an update. I got it generally working around 11pm, packaged it up, and headed down to the lobby to post it.
The bar was packed full of people, chatting and smoking away. I returned to my quiet spot and hooked up. The connection was complete crap. It was connected steadily, but actual access was garbage. It would send a little data, stop for a minute, then continue. I used to time to write a bunch of email and respond, then send them one at a time, but it was still completely buggered. I guess they have like one DSL line for the whole hotel, and everyone wanted on at that moment. I managed to get it up, do a little work, and then was about to get off when my Skype phone suddenly rang. Bianca was calling me! I figured out how to answer the call and it came through crystal clear, even without the headset. We had a long-ish conversation which didnít cost anyone a dime, outside of the actual Internet access. That completely kicked butt. Iím amazed it worked so well, considering the state of the connection; she was crystal clear the whole time, even better than a real phone for most of it. Around the end it sounded a little digital-ey, but was still perfectly acceptable. Check it out, itís cool.
Once I was sure the website was alive, I shut down and carried my laptop back to my room. It was well after 12:30 and I still had to be up in 6 hours. I quickly set up the episode Iíd watched of 24 at dinner for some noise, turned on my cell phone alarm, and went right to sleep in my minimalist bed.
While Iím in Dresden, these logs are going to be boring, since 9 hours of the day Iím probably at work! Iím sure there will be interesting things from time to time though. :)
Oh, something I forgot to mention yesterday: When I opened up my suitcase, there was a paper inside informing me my bag was searched by the TSA. This really didnít bother me at first, but there were two weirdnesses Ė one, that a present my sister had so carefully wrapped for a friend in Europe before I left had been torn open; couldnít they see inside it with an XRay? Second, my deodorant had been opened, extended, and subsequently shredded. Most of it was inside the side pocket of my suitcase, but some of it was missing. Did they think it was packed cocaine or something? Very strange.