Europe current locationThe Internet connection at my hotel is all but useless from the hours of 8PM to 12AM. It’s driving me batty. If you read yesterday’s update, you’d notice there were only two pictures, and this tiny, tiny update took me an HOUR to get online. Ugh.

I got up this morning a lot less groggy. I think jetlag is slowly wearing off, despite me still only getting about 6.5 hours of sleep. I just can’t seem to get to bed before midnight! I have noticed three things interesting about Germany now:

1) Everyone walks really fast. When walking into the building here, I feel like I’m in a Volkswagen Beetle on the Autobahn in 1970, while Ferraris and Lamborghinis are passing me in the left lane. (This is a dig at my father. :) ) Even walking at full pace, and trying to flash my lights as fast as possible, I can’t keep up with these people! There’s one guy here I met who’s all legs, it’s a little unnerving.

2) All the security guards here are really attractive women. I don’t understand why this is, but hey, it’s not a horrible thing. Even at passport control, the woman watching the way out looked like someone was doing a photo shoot in the airport.

3) My car closes its mirrors when I lock the car. Okay it’s not really about Germany, but it’s cool. When I click the remote, the mirrors go whzzzzzz and rotate against the car. I had heard the buzzing noise when I first unlocked the car, but I didn’t know what it was.

I quickly got dressed, gathered my things, and went down to the car. My plan was to go park in front of the hotel in the little lot along the driveway, get breakfast, drop off my heavy-ass key, and then head to work. However, when I got to the lot, it was full, which I didn’t expect. I briefly considered driving all the way back to the parking garage, but decided, eh, screw it, and parked in the driveway. There’s enough room for people to get past, and it’s early enough in the morning I shouldn’t be in the way. Inside, I delivered my key, then walked to the restaurant for breakfast.

The girl at the front asked for my room, and I told her, “Augustus 24”.

She scanned a list, with several highlighted entries, then asked, “Haff you just checked in?”

I said, no, I’d been here for two days, and repeated, “In Augustus 24”.

“Ah, Augustus. That’s okay, go ahead.” I thanked her and found an available table. At the gorgeous breakfast buffet, I got my muesli, some fruit, and a croissant with three different kinds of jam. I also opted for some sausages for protein. This, along with some “multi-fruit” juice led to a hearty breakfast. I’ve noticed, though – I don’t like croissants for the most part. I don’t like the texture, mainly, and besides, when I got up, the French pastry dandruff fell all over the place. Another carb rush later, I walked back to the car and drove off, vowing to stick to one form of carbohydrates the next time. I get rushes and lulls of blood sugar, and eating that much at once makes me buzz like I’ve had 6 cups of coffee.

I returned down the I Love You road to the highway and went to the building, which is near the airport. I did misjudge the exit lanes however, and nearly missed my turn off. They have two exit lanes from the freeway, but these only turn into merge lanes for oncoming traffic. The real exit is in the middle of the right lane and stands alone. I dove across effectively three lanes of traffic to get to it. Fortunately no one was nearby.

Work went fine again, although in the morning, the equipment I was using broke down, and the second we got it working again, our reservation time was up. When we returned to the conference room, a new guy, Michael had shown up and seated himself in the tiny space between my wired workstation and Janice’s laptop, which was to the right of her workstation. I pulled my stuff aside to make room for him, feeling bad about the lack of space.

We went to lunch about 11:50, and headed to the brand new cafeteria. I looked at the back of my “currency card” and started reading in German, telling Janice that I liked to try and pronounce things in other languages, even if I don’t understand them. I said I’d had a little overview of several languages at my high school (The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts! – HSPVA) in Houston, since I had taken vocal training there.

The new cafeteria has only been available since Monday, so this was the first time anyone had eaten there. It’s pretty swanky, by comparison to places I’ve worked in Austin and the cafeteria we ate at on Monday. It seems that very few people go home for lunch, so the cafeterias get pretty packed. I had some chicken in paprika sauce (“capsicum sauce”) with rice and vegetables, which I chose over the “goulash von schwein” or pork goulash. They also had sandwiches, fruit, soup, yogurts, and all sorts of other things, so the variety is pretty good. While we were sitting, Janice noted that since I was interested in music, I should go see the opera while I’m here. Michel is going on Wednesday, and she said if it’s all possible I should try to go at some point. My Mom kept telling me that “Dresden is the cultural center of Europe” so I’d imagine it has to be very good. We discussed my trip to Berlin, and Janice asked, “Why Berlin instead of Dresden?” I told her that I was here already and it made more sense to take the time when I was definitely off work to go somewhere else, when I might have time during the day to run around here. We’re also going to go together and get European SIM cards for our phones; she needs one as well. My phone still isn’t working. I reminded myself to call Cingular when I got back to the hotel.

I ended up working until nearly 7PM, as we had more trouble with the equipment I was working on. This trouble looks like it’s going to make my job more difficult as I’ll have to bug people to help me more often. I hate bothering people all the time, when it’s not hard for me to do it, I’m just not allowed.

I headed back to the hotel directly this time, using the reverse path from what I used to come here. I’d never actually taken that route, and it’s really the fastest – only about eight minutes to the hotel. I noticed that my car has a sixth gear, and at 130KmH (about 75MPH), I’m only at like 1800RPM. This likely means my car can go much, much faster, and I’m really curious how fast. Maybe when I get on the Autobahn I’ll find out. Hehe.

I dropped inside to get my key and also to figure out where the gym was. I knew it had to be downstairs, and since there were people checking in at the desk, I went there first. I dropped inside, but no one was there checking IDs or anything. I had my hotel ID card with me just in case though. I noticed little rooms everywhere that had long German names, and a lot of them were segregated by sex. Massage? Saunas? Dunno. I found the gym and took a peek inside. It wasn’t crowded, so I decided to come right back and work out. As I left something occurred to me. The paintings on the walls showed lots of impressionistic people doing various exercise things, but what was interesting was that they were not just strange figures swimming, aerobicising, and what not, but they were also, and quite obvious so, completely naked. There were patches of pubic hair, nipples, and of course dangly things on the male images. This threw me off, and reminded me of the naked people in the pool. Funky.

I returned upstairs and got my key, and vowed to learn how to ask that in German. I was tired of making everyone switch to English for everything. Back in the room I quickly changed clothes and nabbed my wallet and key for return to the gym. It was only a short walk to the main lobby and wasn’t that cold, so I just wore shorts down there. As I was about to step out, I realized that on my wall was yet another impressionistic naked man painting. These people have a real fascination with nakedness!

The gym was pretty nice; it was stocked with all sorts of bikes, treadmills, weights, and machines. I have decided it’s time for me to start lifting weights again, as it’s been well over a year since I stopped. Plus I read you can burn 500 extra calories a day by adding 10 lbs of muscle. Lift, I shall. I realized when I got downstairs I’d forgotten my gloves, but it wasn’t worth the trip back upstairs, so I just started lifting without them. I became aware that the techno music going on in the background was actually a techno remix of Equinoxe 3 by Jean Michel-Jarre and laughed. I know that CD really well. After working myself to exhaustion, I walked back upstairs, kind of woozy. I usually eat before I work out now, and I was VERY low on blood sugar. Dinner was definitely necessary. I walked past the restaurant menu just for kicks, and couldn’t read a word on it! I’ll bet they have an English menu though. I guess this is how people feel in Japan… I saw a Anthony in the bar, but since I was so woozy I decided not to stop and say hi.

I cooked up some hot dogs and split pea soup using my little kitchen. I felt bad when I came in; the hotel information states they don’t do dishes, but someone had done mine when I got there. I hope they weren’t annoyed. I don’t have any soap though, and had intended to buy some. I’ll have to find out where the Wal-Mart is here. Yes, they have a Wal-Mart in Dresden.

While I was waiting on my soup, I opened up the blueberry yogurt I’d bought the night before and took a taste. WOW, it was GOOD. I had a couple more “tastes” then decided it was what I was having for dessert. I then unwrapped the French cheese Michel had suggested I buy at the store, got out a roll, and spread some on. Superb, simply superb. Really amazing that it was only 99 euro cents, since it was such good soft cheese. My soup was finally ready, and I brought that, the hot dogs, and some hot mustard I’d also bought to the table, then turned on the next episode of 24 to watch while I ate. The hot dogs were really, really tasty. I guess Germany knows how to make its sausages! I made my dessert out of the yogurt and some of the cereal I have for crunch. So very…very… tasty. I should probably eat out at some point, but I hate eating alone, and this food has been very good regardless, well outside of the room service anyway. Besides, I’ve heard eating out is a lengthy, most of the night process, and I’ve been too tired for that. Nobody here has been wanting to go out either.

At this point I decided it was necessary to upload the latest log file as well as call Cingular and get my phone working. I took my laptop, headset, and cell phone with me (still in my shorts) down to the lobby. I noticed something as I walked to the lobby – the sky was beautifully clear. It was like this yesterday too, and I thought that was remarkably weird since it was mostly overcast all day. I wonder why it keeps clearing up at night. It was also much colder than when I went to the gym, and it hadn’t really been very long. This time I was wearing a jacket, but it was rather chilly regardless. In the lobby I found my quiet spot and booted up my laptop again. I connected up without issue, but despite having a pristine wireless signal, I wasn’t able to get even passable Internet service. It would send a few packets, then hang, then send a few more, and took upwards of 20 minutes to send a 2 meg file. I can get better speeds on a *modem*. I’m really going to have to find those hotspots and just bite the bullet and drive out if I have any really large log files. Since I know I’m leaving early tomorrow, I think I might the following day. I finally managed to upload the log file, then I hooked up Skype and the headset and dialed Cingular. The call went through, but it kept cutting in and out, most likely due to the crap service I was getting. I couldn’t even get through the menu system. Bleh. I hung up. I realized I’d made a slight error in my log file archive, so I ended up having to fix it manually. What sucked in this case was that the connection was so slow I…couldn’t….e…..v…e….n…….t…y….p…e single letter with out a long pause. I ended up typing commands in notepad then pasting them all at once. At least that way if there was a burst of connectivity it would get them in from the buffer. Still, this process ended up taking me an hour, and meanwhile my clock was tick-tick-ticking away at the rate of a few euro cents a minute. I should complain.

I finally got everything up and tested, so I shut down and headed back upstairs. I was already starting to get sore from working out, so I decided to take a hot bath. The bathtub is pretty deep, so I filled it as much as I could, meanwhile moving the laptop onto a chair in the bathroom so I could watch the next episode of 24. I’m trying not to watch more than one in a night, since I only have, well…24, but it’s hard! If I had more TV to watch, that wouldn’t be a problem, but everything is still in German, no matter how much I will it to be subtitled/in English. I find that interesting in some ways; I mean all the movies and TV say “Starring Keanu Reeves” or whatnot, but only the visual performance is that actor. The vocal performance is someone entirely different. If they never really hear the vocal performance of the actor in question, how can they say that person is starring in it? Maybe “Half Starring Charlize Theron!” It’s not so much a problem with animation, but they don’t say “Chobits Starring Chi” either. One more reason to love subtitles.

The water, as it turns out, was scalding, and it took me about 15 minutes to get it right. Even then I can’t sit there for more than a few minutes before I want out. I was brilliant though – I used the secondary shower (there are two water valves, one spout, and two showerheads, one on a hose) set on cold water, then dunked this directly in the crab pot of a bath I’d created. This kept the water moving and added cold water directly to it. Smart, huh? After I’d cooled it down I tried to keep my arms under to get them heated, but I don’t think it was helping much. I gave up after my requisite 15 minutes. At that point I brought the laptop next to the bed, set up my phone alarm, finished the episode I’d started, then fell asleep for work in the morning.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I promise there will be some tomorrow! Told you work time would be boring. :)

-- Hik