Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sheba is Driving Me Nuts

I tell you this cat is driving me nuts. Normally she gets enough love and attention from Sarah and Lisa but with them being gone all this week she is at the door waiting for me and she won't leave my side until I go to work the next day. She meows constantly and wants to rub against me the whole time. The worst part is at nights when she insists on sleeping on my legs. Normally I would just kick her off the bed but I feel guilty doing that so I just let her lay there on me. It will be so nice to have Lisa and Sarah back tomorrow so the cat can go and sleep with someone else.

So I have to weigh in on what's going on in Egypt. Everyone seems so excited that the people are overthrowing their dictator and Egypt will now become a democracy. While I'm not normally one to support a dictator and as far as dictators go this guy was not a good one but I must say I'm not too optimistic about the future either. Egypt has never known freedom and I fear they will vote themselves right back into a worse situation than they had. A recent opinion pole seems to support my fears.

According to a Pew opinion survey of Egyptians from June 2010, 59 percent said they back Islamists. Only 27% said they back modernizers. Half of Egyptians support Hamas. Thirty percent support Hezbollah and 20% support al Qaida. Moreover, 95% of them would welcome Islamic influence over their politics…

Eighty two percent of Egyptians support executing adulterers by stoning, 77% support whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. 84% support executing any Muslim who changes his religion.

While Arab League states boast a population and land mass greater than the US, they have a combined GDP less than the Netherlands. If oil were factored out of the equation, the Arab League nations would have fewer exports than Finland.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Hero's Welcome

I don't know what I was expecting for my first day back to work but it sure was fun. Of course I had a huge load of work waiting for me since I've been gone for a week but it was fun to get a lot of congratulations. They even had a celebration party at lunch time and Hi-Z bought everyone lunch at Pat and Oscars. I thought that was a much better choice than the champagne some people were suggesting. I ordered the ribs and chicken. Our new president pointed out to everyone what a huge achievement this was because while we all know it was an important milestone in a major deal, I don't think too many people realize how many people have tried to do what we did and failed. Big name companies have spent many millions of dollars on this. In any case it was a fun day and I've received a pat on the back, now I've got to make a whole lot more modules just like the famous module #96.

Happy Valentines Day Lisa, I miss you.

February 14, 270 A.D. : Roman Emperor Claudius II, dubbed "Claudius the Cruel," beheaded a priest named Valentine for performing marriage ceremonies. Claudius II had outlawed marriages when Roman men began refusing to go to war in order to stay with their wives.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Germany Day 8

Last night laying in bed I decided to see if I could find anything in English on TV. That was a good thing about China, they had several channels in English and I could almost always find a decent movie but in Germany I was lucky to find one channel in English and it was a news channel. At least I'm up to date on whats going on in Egypt. Last night however I got to watch winter sports in Calgary. That was fun.

I saw the darnedest thing getting onto the shuttle bus that takes us from the hotel to the airport. That is a picture of the Steinberger Hotel where I stayed and a picture of the Airport is to the left. It was a big bus and there were a ton of people getting off of it so those of us waiting to get would naturally stand back and let them get off before we try and get on. Well, that is all of us except for this one little old lady. She shoved her way trying to get onto the bus but there were so many people that they couldn't stop even if they tried because of everyone behind them. It was so funny to keep watching this woman get knocked back only to shover her way in again over and over again. Weird.

I was just sitting around the hotel waiting so I decided to just go over to the airport early. I got there three hours before my flight so I decided to looking for a book in English. Most of the book stores only had one or two books in English but I finally found one with an English section. I bought myself an old Clancy book that I haven't read yet and I hate to say it but that was pretty much my day.

On the flight home I was quite bummed because I couldn't get a window seat because I was still hoping to see Greenland but I did get an isle seat and when the map said we were over Iceland I went and checked out the window by the restrooms and there was nothing but clouds. I checked again over Greenland and still nothing but clouds. Going home it was daylight the entire time because we fly against the rotation of the earth. Since there was nothing but clouds I'm glad I got the isle seat except the guy sitting next to me must have gotten up at least seven times. How frustrating.

We got into Chicago about an hour early but all that meant was that I had an extra hour to sit and wait at the gate. I called Lisa and had a long talk and then I talked to Sarah for a long time and then I read my book. I finally got on the plane and got home but I was just a bit worried about the shuttle home. Lisa told me that Peter & Maren offered to come and pick me up but I didn't want to bother them since it would way out of there way but I'm glad they offered because if you remember I had lost my credit card and I was worried about finding a shuttle who would take my card number without the card. I had to ask four different shuttle drivers before I found one who would. Luckily he was $5 cheaper than the others too so that was good.

It sure was weird walking into an empty house. It is always so nice when you're gone for a while to come home to a family that is glad to see you but today there was no one but the cat. She did seem glad to see me though so that was cool. Kira had called me when I was just getting off the plane so I called her back on Skype and we talked for a while and then I made by self something to eat and now I'm going to go sleep in my own bed. I'm looking forward to it. It is good to be home, even if I am alone.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Germany Day 7

This morning I decided to make it a nice and relaxing day so I slept in. That was a mistake. I had my relaxing breakfast and then checked out of my hotel and caught the train to Frankfurt airport. There were two trains going to Frankfurt. One said Frankfurt Main and the other said Frankfurt Luchthaven (that would be airport). The one to Frankfurt Main left first so I asked the guy in the information booth if the one to Frankfurt main would also stop at the airport. I would guess that well over half of the people in Germany speak English well enough to be able to help me out and half of them speak remarkably good English. You’ve got to wonder why they would have someone in an information booth in a major German City who can’t speak any English. One of the few other people I’ve come across who can’t speak English was the guy at the gate going into the company I’ve been visiting. Why would they put someone at the gate of the company who probably gets hundreds of foreign visitors?

I don’t know what it is about my directions here but almost every single time when I’ve gotten on a train on this trip it heads out in what seems like me to be the wrong direction. We’ve always made it to where I wanted to go so I guess they’re right and I’m wrong.

My hotel in Frankfurt is just a mile or so away from the airport so I just take a shuttle from the airport to my hotel. On the way here I sat by a guy who seemed like he wanted to talk so I struck up a conversation with him. It turns out he’s been living in China for eight years and is now transferring to Frankfurt. When I asked him where in China he lived he said Xiamen. He was stunned when I told him I’ve been there several times and it is one of my favorite places in China. When I ask him about being transferred back to home he says, “Oh, I’m not actually German, I’m Dutch.” When I start speaking Dutch to him he was even more shocked. It’s too bad we got to our hotel so soon; I wanted to keep talking to him.

I checked in and unloaded my bags and then headed in to the temple. I took a train to downtown Frankfurt and then took the subway to Friedrich’s Dorf. How do like that? The Frankfurt Temple is in Fred’s Town. I’m finding out that I’m quite popular around here.

I got to Friedrich’s Dorf and not knowing where the temple was I headed towards the downtown area then I stopped these three women and asked them if they knew where Talstrasse was. They didn’t know where that was so I asked if they knew where the Mormon Temple was. They then got all excited and said very loudly, “Ah, MorMON (accentuating the second syllable) U turn right here and dan ven u see da golden statue u turn left.

By the time I got to the temple it was 2:30 but to my great dismay the last session was at 2:00. I shouldn't have slept in I then asked if they would still let me do some initiatory and they wouldn’t let me do that. And nope, they wouldn’t let me do any sealings either. I was kind of annoyed because they didn’t even seem to care but as much as I would like to; I know I can’t blame them. It’s my own fault I was late. All I know is if someone came late to the San Diego temple I would be glad to stay an extra half hour and let them do a few initiatories. Oh well, I picked up a schedule so next time I will know.

So I took a few pictures and walk around the temple for a few minutes and then headed back to Frankfurt. I’d picked up a map at the hotel and it had marked tourist sites so. Most of them appeared to be in the down town area so I figured I’d go and see them all.

I stepped off the subway and headed first to the Frankfurt Exchange. I figured that would be a bust but it was actually a beautiful building and best of all it had a giant bronze statue of a Bear and Bull in front of it.

Next I wandered over to the Old Opera house. It too was a beautiful building. Too bad the fountain in front of it was shut down but all of the statues in Germany have been turned off.

I then walked past a building labeled Maintower. It was an interesting skyscraper but I’m not exactly sure why it was on the list. It was just a skyscraper.

I then headed down a cluster of three dots labeled Theater, Opera, Ballet Frankfurt & Theater Frankfurt. As far as I could tell they were all one building. I think they thought they were being all artistic when they wrote the word Frankfurt in reverse but it just made it look weird to me. I give you my picture and I couldn't find any on line that looked very good so you don't get a picture of this building. Sorry.

Next was a building labeled Comedy. It was in behind a wall so I’m still not sure what it was.

While I was in the area I decided to check out the river. The river wasn’t listed as a sightseeing place but it was my favorite. It did look awfully cold though. This river is the Main River and it is pronounced Mine and not Mane.

From there I went to the Roemer house. I think that translates as City Hall and from adds I’ve seen it didn’t seem all that impressive to me. I was very wrong. The Roemer House was in a market area and the entire plaza was very German and very cool. The shops and everything in the square are beautiful. The buildings are 600 years old and I guess the Mayer actually lives in the center of the three buildings.

I then checked out the Kaiserdom which they translate as Imperial Cathedral. It was rather impressive and it looks very old but I didn’t learn too much about it. What was impressive was next to it they had dug out the foundation of some old buildings and you were allowed to walk down and around these old foundations. I think the original buildings may have been bombed out during the Second World War.

I saw a postcard of Frankfurt in 1945 and the entire city was in ruins. It really was very sad. Isn’t it amazing how much wickedness one person can bring upon a nation? Sure, a lot of people were way too willing to carry out his evil orders but I think much of the innocent blood that was shed will be on Hitler’s head.

It was then on to Paul’s Church which was quite ugly and that was the end of the tour. Back at the subway entrance I saw an outdoor vendor selling Bratwurst and I’ve been hoping to find something like in Germany this whole time. It was really very good but I’m not sure it’s a whole lot different than the Polish Sausage you can get at Costco. At least I can say I ate it in Germany. Also in the same area were some street performers. One was rather strange but the other one looked like three Canadian Eskimo’s playing flutes and they were really good. I videotaped them for a minute or two and if I can ever figure out how to get these off my phone I’ll post them for you.

I then hopped back onto the subway and headed back to the airport. Most hotels I’ve been to recently give you free access to the in the internet but the hotels here in Germany charge you an arm and a leg. I finally broke down and signed up for some time on what appeared to be a large networked company called “HotSpot”. It looked like they had a lot of hotspots including on the trains. Guess what, they don’t have a hot spot here at this hotel. Rather than pay even more money to get this internet connection I’m writing this blog in my hotel room and then I’m going to take the shuttle back over to the airport and send it from there. I’m then coming back here and going for another swim. I’m in real trouble for my flight home. I actually brought two books to read but they’re both Lous L’Amour books and so a very quick read. I finished them both on the flight over here. I’ve been awfully busy during the week so I haven’t been too bored but what am I going to do on the flight home? Hopefully they sell English books at the airport.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Germany Day 6

As I walked out of the hotel room this morning and saw that it was raining I was really worried about how much fun it was going to be. While I wasn’t drenched by the time I made it to the train station I was thoroughly damp. Luckily however, when I got off the train in Heidelberg it had quit raining. Thank goodness. I took a few minutes to familiarize myself with the transit system in Heidelberg and then I hopped on bus #33 and headed for what I hoped was my stop. As it turned out I stopped a few stops too early but the extra quarter mile that I had to walk did me good.

The next problem that wasn’t really a problem is that the Heidelberg castle is on the side of a mountain and the bus dropped me off at the bottom of the mountain. They do have a trolley the will take you up the side of the mountain but the “all city” bus pass that I bought didn’t include that trolley (cheap) and I figured I needed the exercise anyway so I headed up the mountain.  

Now you might think I was on a hiking trail but no, these people built roads and houses on the side of this mountain and it was pretty cool to see how they did it. I’d be walking on the sidewalk next to a twenty foot high retaining wall made out of rock blocks and then you’d see a door in the retaining wall. I’m still not certain if the house was behind the wall or of the door led to stairs that went up to the top of the retaining wall and the house was up there. On the other side of the street you would see cars parked on a wooden deck overlooking the valley with stairs leading down from the deck to a house below.

I finally made it up the castle and after scouting around outside the castle I paid my 5 euro’s and went in. This was a pretty fancy place in it’s day. So let me give you a bit of a history of the Heidelberg castle before I go into my tour.

Today I learned that the significance of Heidelberg goes back to more than 500,000 years ago. The jaw bone of a man was found in some guys wall. It is the oldest known human in Europe and I guess they use the world human loosely because this guy was an early Neanderthal. They call him a Heidelbergensis.

The Heidelberg castle is first mentioned in a 1303 document. Prince Elector Ruprecht III expanded it during his reign from 1390 to 1410 and if you’re like me you’re asking yourself what a Prince Elector is. Maybe you already knew but I didn’t. Apparently Germany back in those days actually voted who their next king would be. Of course not everyone got to vote, just a few special princes who were called Prince Elector’s. I think the woman said there were seven Prince Electors.

Much of the castles present glory was built during the reign of Prince Elector Otto Heinrich from 1556 to 1559 and the buildings he added are considered some of the best examples of Renaissance building.

In 1622 Rome got mad at Germany because they were listening to Luther and for thirty years Heidelberg switched back and forth between Catholicism and Lutheranism. During this time the castle was severly damaged and their entire library of 3,500 manuscripts and 5,000 prints were carried off to the pope.

In 1648 Prince Elector to control of the castle and rebuilt it. He also granted religious freedom to the Lutherans. It didn’t last for long however since the French conquered the castle and burned the town in 1693. The French tried for a long time to break through the walls of the tower but weren’t able to so when they finally did get into the castle they were so mad that they found all the gun powder they could and tried to blow it up. All they managed to do was to crack one of the towers in half. The walls of this castle are 25 feet thick. You can this tower in the picture above. Check out how thick those walls are. This tower was actually their armory where they stored all of their explosives.

Once again the town rebuilt but this castle is just not a lucky place. In 1764 lightning hit the castle and it burned to the ground. Now when I say it burned to the ground that doesn’t include the stone walls. I guess I should say it gutted the place. It burned for three days and four nights.

It laid in ruins until the 1800’s when the prince electors of the day started to preserve the ruins. Many of the villagers had been using it as a quarry and several of the houses in town are made from stones carried from the castle. Today about a third of the place has been restored.

When I walked in and checked the place out I was quite upset. I was only allowed to see a portion of the castle and most of it was off limits. I was thrilled with what I saw but I really wanted to see more. One of the cool things I saw was the wine cellar. I had heard that the worlds largest wine keg was in the castle and when I walked into the cellar I was impressed. This barrel was about 15 feet tall (laying on it’s side) and maybe thirty feet long. I then walked around the corner and saw this mother. It is 25 feet across and can hold over 220,000 liters of wine. I first assumed it held water but nope, it was filled with wine. They actually have a hand pump in the dining hall so they can pump wine directly from the barrel to the hall. I guess they typically drank about 200 liters of wine a day.

This picture is taken from inside the courtyard facing east. This wing of the castle has been fully restored. This building is actually the building where the lightning struck and started the fire. So after I entered every door that wasn’t locked and realized that there was a guided tour you could pay for and they went into portions of the castle that were not open the regular guy. I was then able to see pretty much all of the castle that has been restored but there is so much of this castle that hasn’t been restored. It was huge and I really hope they fix up the rest of it.

Do you see the broken down tower in this view? That is called by the locals the "Rarely Empty" tower. That is because it was the dungeon. This tower had no doors and the prisoners were lowered down on a rope through a door in the floor. Most of the prisoners were peasants who didn't pay their taxes and most never came out.  

I was able to get out onto this balcony and see a stunning view of the town and the river below. 

The wing of the castle facing us is fully restored. I was able to walk through most of the other two wings but only on the ground floors since the upper rooms haven't been restored. The broken tower on the right was destroyed by the French. It isn't the armory that was blown in half.

This view is looking at the south wing of the castle from the gardens. I was able to walk through the gardens. On the bottom floor of this wing is a pharmacy museum. It was very cool and there is a lot I didn't now. Did you know that up until the 1700's all medicine was based on the assumption that the health of the human body was all based on a balance of the four fluids in the human body. Blood, phlegm black bile and yellow bile. I'm sure glad we've figured out germs and stuff. The museum was fascinating.

I then made my way to the bottom of the hill and came back to Mannheim. I noticed that it sure gets dark early around here. It was four o’clock and already dark. I don’t think I realized that Germany was that far north. I guess I should have from how cold it is.

Back at the hotel I went for a swim and sweated a gallon of seat in the steam room and then shocked my body in the pool again and now I just realized that I haven’t eaten since breakfast and I’m hungry. The problem is, after the wonderful steaming I’ve had I really don’t want to go back outside. The only thing close to the hotel is a McDonalds and a Burger King. I am amazed how many Burger Kings there are here. I’m used to seeing McDonalds all over the world but not Burger Kings. I think there are more Burger Kings than there are McDonalds. It’s crazy. I don’t want to walk far so I think tonight it’s a Big Mac.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Germany Day 5

Well today was the big day and it went great. We left Mannheim early and headed south. We went through Stuttgart and stopped in Ulm. We had four different modules we could test but after a bit of fiddling around we reached our targeted value on the third try with the first module. Needless to say we were all quite thrilled. The tech called in the upper management guys and the head dude was so thrilled he went out and came back with a bottle of wine and some wine glasses. He told us that we all needed to toast this moment. It was actually kind of funny.  We then took a taxi back to the train and went home.

The picture is a church in Ulm that I saw as we drove by but of course today was cold dreary and a little bit of rain. Not nearly so bright and cheery as this picture. I didn't see the two old geezers either but there are plenty of old geezers.

So that was my day. It was already late when I got home so after dinner I am ready to go to bed. On my way to the train station this morning I noticed a little frituur. In Belgium they sell French fries from little stands much like a hamburger stand or a hot dog stand. They call them Frituurs. French fries in Belgium are called friets and they’re very good. They’re very different than French fries and they have various sauces that you can put on them. This little place looked a lot like a Frituur and while it wasn’t quite the same as a Belgian Frituur it was pretty good.
So that was my day. I’m sorry it was such a boring day but I’m quite stoked. Tomorrow aught to be a bit more exciting. I’m going into Heidelberg to check out their castle. 

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Germany Day 4

I have decided that I could totally learn German if I were to stay here very long. When I first got here I could read about half of what I saw but now after a week I can actually understand about half of what is being said. I almost always know the gist of the conversation. Today was another great day. They toured me around a lot of the plant. I don’t know if I mentioned this (I actually think I did but I will say it again) but this place is 25 km2 and covers 11 km of the Reine river. They actually have their own little refinery on site. They buy crude oil and then crack it into all of the different fractions that they need for their processes. They have hundreds of miles of pipes running all over the place. I also learned that this company has one of the largest wine collections in the world. They have a huge underground wine cellar. They have a team of people that go all over the world tasting different wines and deciding what to buy up and I guess it is more difficult to get onto this team than it is to get onto their board of directors.

While many things here impressed me one of the coolest things is how they try and make the place more homey looking. Even in their machine shop with all the noisy machinery going and metal chips flying all over they have dozens of potted plants. In their glass blowing shop they even have a couple of aquariums with tropical fish in them. I guess since I now have a window in my office at work I’ll have to take a potted plant to work. I remember years ago I had a “creeping charley”, maybe I’ll get one of those. I also had a “wandering Jew” (am I allowed to say that?). I also like those little bamboo plants.  I’ll let you know what I end up doing.

Most of the afternoon I was in a meeting with the thermoelectric team and we had some good discussions. After work one of the guys took me out to dinner (my cash is about done) so I really don’t have much else to tell you. Tomorrow is the big test so I’m a bit nervous. Say a prayer for me.  We’re meeting at the train station at 7:15. Groan, each morning gets earlier and earlier.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Germany Day 3

What a fun day. I think I was originally supposed to go with one of the guys here and do some pre-tests before the big one on Thursday but in the end I wasn’t allowed to go. It was a government lab and me being a foreigner and all made it difficult. I asked them if it would be easier if I told them I was a Canadian rather than an American (yes I know that Canadians are technically Americans as well but you know what I mean). So what we ended up doing was spending the day touring my host company. What a beautiful facility they have here. This place is 25 square kilometers big and I was beginning to get a bit jealous of all the resources they have here when he pointed out that they have been waiting three weeks for a small mold to be built and he also pointed out that it was going to be very expensive. That reminded me of all the red tape involved in getting stuff done in a big company while in a small company I can just go and do pretty much anything I want and if we can’t do it in house I can always get it done at a small shop somewhere and in the end it is usually cheaper and much faster. In house services are not very responsive to their customers.

I don’t think my dinner from last night is sitting too well with me. It was very good when I had it the first time but I’ve been doing those sour burps all day and I’m about killing myself.  I hate it when that happens. My host has been kind enough not to comment on it but I’m sure I’m about killing him too.

So I thought sure that I would be able to get the internet here at work I technically there is supposed to be a guest WiFi service but guess what? It isn’t working in our building.  I can’t go the entire week without connecting to the internet so I’m going back to the hotel tonight and raising a stink with someone.

It is now late afternoon here and after a good time in the labs we’re waiting to make a conference call with Hi-Z so I’ve got some down time. I figured my host could get some work done since he’s been entertaining me all day and I would review my day with you. It looks like losing my card may have been a good thing. These guys are going to pick up my tab at the hotel, buy me a ticket to Frankfurt on the weekend and I think they’re going to pick up the tab for the hotel in Frankfurt. Honest, I didn’t plan that, it just happened and I feel rather stupid about the whole thing.

As you can tell I now have internet. I figured out why it didn't work for me last night, they were raising their prices. Tonight when I went to log in the prices were all higher. It sure is expensive here. Most hotels now days give you free WiFi but not here. We put in a long day at work but now I think I'm going to go for another walk and see if there is something I want to eat. I'm still a bit queasy from that meal last night.

Sorry about the pictures from the internet but nothing seems to be going right on this trip. I'd planned on taking pictures with my cool new phone but for some reason it is telling me that I don't have a data card in it. I do have a card but perhaps it is corrupted. Oh well, the pictures off the internet are better ones anyway and the weather here is so dreary that everything would look sad anyway. The train in the picture is the train I took getting down here. Boy was it a fast train. They tell me it can go up to 500kph and I believe it. It was very smooth and quiet too. You could hardly tell it was moving. 

Well, I'll talk to you again tomorrow.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Germany Day 1 (and day2)

Right now I'm somewhere over Canada heading towards Greenland. The only other time I remember going over Greenland it was such a spectacular view that I will never forget it. I purposely booked an aisle seat because I wanted to see it again but unfortunately it is pitch black outside and I may not see anything. I knew we’d  be flying through the night  but I hoped that I’d be able to catch part of Greenland. What I forgot was that it is wintertime for most of North America and when I get up to Greenland they probably only see the sun for a few hours a day. Before the sun set though I did manage to see that there was a lot of snow on the ground out there. I sure do like living in San Diego during February.

This morning I decided that I wanted to spend a bit more time with Sarah so I asked her if she would drop me off at the airport. That would mean that she’d be late for church but life is all about families so I didn’t mind her missing some church. Perhaps I’m a bit selfish but I’m glad she came with me. Standing on the curb at the airport Sarah gave me such a big goodbye hug that when I headed in to the airport this old man and his wife just down from us gave us a big applause. I looked at him and he called out “Daddy’s little girl!” I answered back, “That’s right, you gotta love it.” And I do love it.
It seems strange to be on another business trip. There are a lot of things I love about working at Hi-Z and one of them is that I don’t have to travel so much. I am excited about going to Germany though, it sure beats China. I’ve never been to Germany before and if I got to choose, I sure wouldn’t have picked February but I’m still a bit excited. I had a very short layover in San Francisco and now we’re going straight over the pole and we’re supposed to land at around 10:00 in Frankfurt. I will then take a train down to Manheim where my hotel is.

A few things have changed since I last flew, the first thing I noticed was when I was booking my flights. It had a comment on the computer saying that this flight didn’t qualify for a cell phone boarding pass. What is a cell phone boarding pass I wondered? Well when I was going through security this guy held up his cell phone to a small glass screen and all of his flight information popped up on a little display.  I don’t know if his info was transmitted with a blue tooth signal or if his phone displayed a bar code but that was pretty cool. I think if I travel very much I’m going to have to learn how to do that.

The other thing that has changed are the metal detectors. They’re gone and we now have those little peep show booths. I had the infamous choice of exposing myself in the booth that can see through my clothes or go for the pat down where they literally shove their hands down your pants. I guess at my age I’m almost beyond really caring but I decided to go for the booth. What is our world coming to?

While I’m flying my poor wife is driving our car back from Utah. She flew up there but she’s bringing our car home because we are down a vehicle right now. I worry about her making that long drive alone but she’s a pretty tough girl. What is funny though is that I left this morning but she won’t be home until tonight so she was so worried about Sarah being home alone that she tried to make arrangements for Sarah. Sarah commented to me “does she realize that I’m going to college in the fall and I’m going to be alone every single day?” I reminded Sarah that she is our baby and it’s hard to let her grow up. What am I going to do when she leaves?
Well since I’m flying through the night and landing early enough tomorrow to do some sightseeing I think I will have a nap so that I’m not too tired in the morning.  Once I get in tomorrow night I will let you know how the rest of my trip is going.
Well I did have a good nap and then woke up in time for breakfast. I’m not sure where I was but I was awake when the sun came up but when I checked out the window It was beautiful white clouds as far as the eye could and that is all I saw until we dropped into  Frankfurt. According to the map we flew over the Hudson Bay and then the very southern part of Greenland. We went directly over Iceland which I’m quite sure it was light for, over Scotland, Holland and then into Frankfurt. There were clouds the whole way. In Frankfurt I stopped at a bank machine and took out some Euros and then I bought myself a train ticket for Manheim and about 45 minutes later here I am. My hotel is a beautiful old six story building with stone walls that are about two feet thick. That is a picture of my hotel. My window faces out onto the park. My room is small and I have a single bed but I kind of like it. It is only about a ten minute walk from the train station so that was nice too. The best part of the hotel is that it is on Friedrichs Plaatz so I feel it was made just for me since it is on my place.

So I’m just a little bit worried. As I was checking into the hotel I couldn’t find my credit card so when I got to my room I dug through all of my pockets and it is nowhere to be found. I know the guy at the train station gave it back to me so all I can figure is that it fell out of my pocket when pulled my train ticket out of my pocket.  Yes, I know I should have put it back in my wallet but my train was leaving in about ten minutes and I didn’t want to miss it so I just shoved the card in my pocket with the ticket. I wasn’t too worried because I have another credit card but when I pulled it out to look at it I saw that it is expired. I’m not sure where the replacement card is but now I don’t know what to do. It is 3:00 in the morning in California and I don’t even know what phone number to call. As soon as my bank is open I’ll give them a call and hopefully they can get me a replacement card before I have to check out on Saturday. Thank goodness I took out some cash or I’d be pretty hungry right now.

After I checked into my hotel I went for a walk and found something to eat. I would have wandered around more but I was freezing so I came back the hotel and read a little bit. Once the banks in California started opening I tried calling them but no one would answer so I called Lisa. She gave me her credit card number over the phone so I can at least pay for the hotel and then she called around and got a number for the bank that I could call. I can’t even go on-line without my credit card.

After hanging around the hotel for a bit I went for another walk. This tower is a couple of hundred years old and is right in front of my hotel. I see it right in front of my window. I'm told it was a water tower. Pretty fancy water tower if you ask me. On my walk I found some dinner. It was a good dinner. Here at the hotel they were going to charge 22euro’s for their cheapest meal and I got way more than I could eat for 6 euro’s. It was a kabob place. I really wanted something German but they had a lamb sandwich made in Pita bread that looked really good. It was good too.

I’ve really wanted to go to bed for a long time now but if I go to bed too early I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and never get through the jet lag. It is now about 9:00 so I think I can go to bed now. I’m going to sleep like a baby I’m so tired. Anyone who has had a baby knows that the phrase “sleeping like a baby” is the worst description you could have for a good nights sleep. Baby’s are the most restless sleepers you’ll ever see. I can’t even be in the same room with them. They are continuously sighing and grunting and jabbering. I think tonight I’ll sleep like a log.

Friday, February 04, 2011


I've always been enamored with space. The sheer vastness of it has always caught my imagination and I've dreamed of what it would be like to be able to fly into some of those beautiful nebula's and other formations. I guess that is one reason I'm a bit of a Trekkie. So when it come's to UFO's I've always tried to keep an open mind. After all, I firmly believe that if God created our world with all of the resources in our universe it would be ridiculous to believe that he wouldn't have created other worlds. And if there were other worlds out there why would he prevent us from meeting each other? That would be like saying that God would never allow people from the European worlds to meet people from the America's. It wasn't until I got much older and acquired an education before I realized that unless there is something we are completely missing about the laws of Physics (and we are certainly missing a lot) it would take a ship generations just to travel to the nearest star let alone stars that are much further away.

Having said all of that however there must be something going on with UFO's. There are just way too many sightings made by hundreds of people to be able to dismiss them outright. Sure I admit that most of them are probably hoaxes or just confused people but some are not easy to explain away. And then there was this sighting made over Jerusalem just last week and two different people in different parts of the city recorded video of it. No, I'm not ready to declare that there are aliens among us but don't you just wonder sometimes?

There have been more than forty major UFO's sightings since the year 2000 witnessed by thousands of people. Witnesses include police, city mayers, airline pilots,  and on one occasions an astronaut on a space shuttle flight. There was one incident in 2004 where a train in Kentucky hit a UFO hovering over the tracks. The engine and two cars were severely damaged.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

I miss her already

As if life wasn't complicated enough, it just got a lot more complicated. Lisa flew off to Utah this weekend for a conference for her new business so Sarah and I are alone. That's no big deal because it is only for a few days.  The week after next week however is winter break for Westview so Lisa and Sarah are planning on making the big college tour. That means that Lisa will be home for a week and then her and Sarah are heading back to Utah to check out BYU, UofU, UVU and Utah Sate. That is a lot of U's. That's also no big deal, I've managed to survive a week alone before but sort of at the last minute I now have a trip to Germany. Our customers customer is making a very big test next week and in the past when they've done this test something went very wrong. I suggested that since this test is very important perhaps it would be wise to have one of there to help ensure it is done properly. They agreed and told me the test in next week. This means that Lisa flew out this morning, I fly out Sunday afternoon, Lisa will be getting home Sunday evening, Lisa and Sarah will be leaving Friday, I get home next Sunday and Lisa and Sarah will be getting home the following Saturday. I won't be seeing my dear wife for two and a half weeks. I hate that. 

Super bowl Sunday has more people making more bets wagering more money than any other event in the world.