Europe current locationAt 5 am, my eyes suddenly popped open. I donít know exactly why, since I went to bed so late. It didnít take long to realize something was amiss. My right arm wouldnít bend. I had worked out yesterday in a hope that the exercise would push through some of the pain and stiffness I was experiencing and allow me to function normally. In this case, I was completely wrong. It was utter agony to try and bend my left arm, but my right arm just simply was *unusable*. My pecs, too, were sore, but nothing like the anguish that seemed to originate from my triceps. I carefully was able to check the time, realized it was still very early and attempted to find a position in which I could sleep. This was not a simple procedure, but I managed to get back to dreamland before my alarm went off.

I briefly remember the cell phone screaming at me, but I also know I hit snooze. Itís okay, I have it set early on purpose. My arms werenít any better when I rolled my way out of bed, and I was really worried how I was going to function at work today! I located some pain killers in my backpack (also not an easy procedure), and took them, hoping this would help.

I started a hot shower and closed the drain so that it would slowly fill the tub. I was going to use the water now to try and loosen the muscles in my arms and when the tub was full, soak for a brief moment. The water helped some, and I was able to get some movement back into my useless limb. The left arm was definitely still better and I used it to help me bend the right one back and forth, gaining a little mobility each time. The water pipes in the hotel are apparently shared across several buildings, and every time anyone flushes (I assume, based on the time period it happened) the shower became not just hot, but boil-the-flesh-off-your-bones scalding. I kept jumping in and out of the water, desperately attempting to adjust the temperature with my non-functional stump. Every time I did this, however, the water would suddenly become frigid, and Iíd leap back out trying to save myself.

The water level became high enough to lie down in, so I carefully lowered myself down. Once I was in the water, I realized a slight miscalculation on my part. The water wasnít deep enough to cover my entire body, and as such, some of my torso was exposed to the spray from the shower. Now that I was down, getting up was a real chore, but I knew that the second someone flushed the toilet again, Iíd find myself burned beyond recognition. Crap. To make matters worse, certain ďdelicateĒ parts of me were also exposed in the shower, and they would be first to get poached when the catastrophic event were to occur. I decided to accept the lesser of two evils, and I covered that area with my hands, hoping that I wouldnít go to work with second-degree burns.

Fortunately, the water stayed acceptably warm until the level rose enough for me to dunk the exposed areas beneath it for insulation, and when the water did in fact become dangerously hot, I was safe beneath the layer of cooler water. I could feel the heat being transferred though, so I wasnít about to get out. I continued to work with my arm and managed to get it to about 100 degrees of bend, which was enough to wash my hair with. I rather ineffectually lifted myself out of the tub, quickly finished bathing, then got dressed, also with a terrific amount of effort. Without the warmth of the shower, my arm began to become stiff, but I kept bending it in an attempt to retain as much mobility as possible. I rinsed out the things in the sink, packed my things and winced my way down to the car, and subsequently breakfast. Initially I didnít see Annie, Tom, or Andrew, so I left my coat at an available table and got my muesli. This time I went for choco muesli, which had what looked like Cocoa Krispies mixes in with the various oats and grains. When I picked up my sausage and bacon, someone called my name; Tom was sitting in the back. I dropped off my plate and moved the remainder of my things to his table.

As I approached, he said something in German, which I didnít understand. He had thought I had told him I also studied German, which I refuted. He had been learning German by listening to tapes and said he was retaining quite a bit, so the method he was using seemed to work well. He asked about why I studied Japanese, and I gave him the standard story. As we chatted, Andrew came by and joined us. Andrew apparently had African food last night, which consisted of a three-meat plate, including some very exotic ones like zebra. He said it was very tender and tasty, once you got past the idea that you were effectively eating a striped horse. Tom hadnít gone because his jetlag has never gone away, and he was afraid heíd eat something that disagreed with him and we would lose even the three hours of sleep he was able to get each night. I kind of felt bad I havenít been out anywhere yet, but then again, I never seem to run into these people when Iím just at the hotel.

All the while I kept working with my arms, which still were fighting me every step of the way. I nabbed a small glass of fresh wild berry juice, which was tart and pulpy, then said I had to head to work. Tom is leaving for Japan tomorrow, and as usual, I was jealous. I said goodbye and returned to the car, as I only had about fifteen minutes left before I needed to be there at 8.

The drive was easy, but the walk into the plant from the parking lot was rather chilly. I always listen to BBC Radio on the way in, and I end up talking to myself in a British accent afterwards. Itís kind of funny. While Iíve been here Iíve been mimicking both German and British accents, trying hard to get them down. I love being able to do that. :) After signing in with the attractive ladies up front, I headed up to the Dublin konferensraum. The room was just as crowded as the day before, and so I found what little space I could locate, then risked life and limb to find a power outlet. We were already into our reserved testing time, so Michel and I headed straight to the lab. Itís taking longer than Iíd expect to set up, and I lose about half my time slot trying to get the thing Iím testing back into a condition to test. Thatís really unfortunate. The slot end came way, way too fast, and we were back upstairs before we knew it.

Another guy from Austin Iíd worked with, Doug, arrived shortly thereafter, bringing the person count to the room to 8 now. Dirk said weíd probably need to get an additional room since Michel and I were staying until next Friday. Iím down to a corner of a desk, now, next to Michel on the neighboring corner, and Michael. Michael, every so often says, ďZO!Ē loudly when heís getting back to work after doing something else. I guess thatís his way of saying, ďSo, whatís nextÖĒ Janice bursts into laughter every so often when she reads something funny, and it adds to the odd cacophony of sounds in this room. She walked by me at one point and asked about the SIM card. Apparently she *did* want to go last night, but I was already gone. She was busy, so didnít think she wanted to go! Ah well, she said weíd do it tonight.

Lunch time rolled around again at 11:50, while I was posting my last log. Everyone left without me, so I had to huff it to catch up near the new cafeteria. I donít see any good way to take the nice coffee with me, and I really donít want it during lunch, so I donít know what Iím going to do about that. The machines make espresso you pay for inside, and the cafeteriaís not always open either. This time I picked the least weird out of the three things they had available, roast goose Ė yes *goose* - potatoes, and purple cabbage. This time I knew to say I had mineral water, and I loaded my card correctly. I think I have this part down now. The goose tasted okay, but it was a little dry, and since it was a leg and thigh was remarkably difficult to eat. Rene said, ďvell, mehbe ze goose waznít ze bezt choiceÖĒ and I have to agree. We finished lunch up and returned to the room to get our coats.

Rayko and I discussed Fryís, Bluetooth headsets, the funky weather in Dresden and Texas (it was now partly cloudy and cold), and more American cars. He had been in Austin not too long ago and saw a stretch Hummer limousine, which he and I both think is bizarre. When we got back to the room, Michel, Rene, and Dirk started looking up the Opera and whether tickets would be available next week. Michel didnít go yesterday after all, and so they were planning on going if there were tickets. I couldnít miss such an opportunity, so I joined as well, along with Janice, Rayko, and Doug. Should be fun; itís probably Wednesday of next week. Iíll finally get to experience good European culture! Janice is going to go with Dirk to get tickets, but this means sheís leaving at 5:30. Since I have a conference call at 5, it might be difficult to go to the SIM place tonight, however. We shall see. She said weíd definitely do it before I go to Berlin, which reminds me, I need to reserve my hotel!

My second testing session rolled around, and I didnít have a good one. I was pretty frustrated by the time I left, but managed to get at least something done. Michel and I had a conference call at 5, so we raced back upstairs to find an empty conference room. As we passed Dublin, I poked my head in and asked when Janice and Dirk were leaving so we could try and get a SIM card. She said 5:30, so I hoped the meeting would be over by then.

The meeting ended at 5:34, and I raced back to the room, but Iíd already missed them. Drat. Well, tomorrow then. I shut down my laptop, packed up, and returned to the car. As I got to the car, I realized I never emailed Andrew about meeting them for dinner, even though Annie had sent me his address. Oh crumbs. Maybe Iíd run into them at the hotel. I stopped by the grocery store and picked up some food in case I couldnít go out with anyone to dinner tonight. I still canít make anything super complex, so this was pretty much a restock of soup and hot dogs. Kind of lame to be eating this kind of stuff since Iím in another country, but I really, really, hate eating alone.

When I arrived at the hotel, I also realized Iíd not made a plane reservation for Finland, nor a hotel reservation in Berlin, so I pulled my laptop out to try and make reservations. Hopefully the Internet access wouldnít be so bad since it was just barely 6pm. No such luck. I wasnít even able to bring up Travelocity, much less make any reservations whatsoever. Iíd have to wait until tomorrow, or else get industrious and find one of the HotSpots Iíd looked up. I took a quick look around, but realized Andrew was probably still at work. I returned to the room, but decided not to work out and give my aching muscles a rest.

I needed to call my office, as I had to talk to someone there about a project I wasnít around to work on. Since I had no way to contact Andrew, I ended up making dinner first and watching the next episode of 24. As I was making dinner, however, I watched part of an episode of the Simpsons, as usual, in German. That was really interesting. The only voice that sounds the same is Lisa; in fact, she sounds exactly like Yeardley Smith if she was speaking German! I also snacked on cheese and bread and ate the pickles Iíd bought at the store. They had a big wood bucket and you could get pick out the ones you wanted. The pickles were absolutely fantastic, and I really wished Iíd gotten more! Slightly sweet, but with a decent amount of heat. I ended up finishing them off, vowing to go buy some more. Dinner was hot dogs and soup again, and afterwards I had a chocolate pudding and some yogurt.

I called Eureka, and outside of a glitchy connection (it would go static on my end, although they could hear me) it wasnít too bad. My other goal, after finishing work, was to call Cingular and get my phone working. I tried to call them directly, but the system wouldnít let me pay by credit card to call a toll-free number! I then thought maybe if I called Eureka and had them conference me in to a call to Cingular, I could hit the right buttons on the phone here. Apparently our PBX filters out touch tones when youíre on a conference call, however, so I ended up using Deb as a mediary, and she did all the dialing for me. Iím not sure if they changed anything on my end; the initial woman I talked to said everything was set correctly and passed me off to technical support. She told me to power on my phone, then, while it was *on*, yank the battery. I put the battery back in, powered it on, and whammo, I was online! I even got a voicemail notification immediately. Itís expensive, so I canít really use it much. But it does in fact work, so thatís something. I called my mom and sister on it briefly, just to say hi.

After this massive process of work and technical support, it was already 10pm. I took another hot bath for my muscles, since Iíd missed the hot tub close time (doh!), and watched another episode of that horribly addicting show. I *almost* watched a third, but fortunately I managed to convince myself to save it for later. I set my alarm on my phone, no longer worried about the battery draining since it was actually talking to a network now, and passed out in pretty short order.

No pictures againÖ I WILL have some Saturday, maybe tomorrow if I manage to get out of the hotel.

-- Hik