Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas gifts for mom

So this year the family decided to do puts name in the bucket and draw who was buying who a gift. I ended up with my mother. I love my mom, but buying her a Christmas gift is probably the hardest thing in the world to do. I know all the things she likes - do you realize how hard it is now to find an antique cookbook for her collection, or a tin that she hasn't already found. Forget it.

So this year I decided to raid my photographs and pick two that I thought she might like. These are the two I picked. I am a few days late, but I am getting them printed and matted and will ship them off as soon as possible. She knows I can barely remember to tie my own shoes most days - shouldn't be a surprise I can't mail Christmas gifts on time.

Something about the colors in this one. I am going to have it matted with a rust border, similar to the beads in the picture.


This picture - wow - I might have this one matted for myself.


So there you go - mommy's always like something their babies made for them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just sitting at my desk in Seattle

I was just staring out the window and kind of amazed at my location in Seattle. There are some crazy views from the windows on the 68th floor.

Here's what it looks like from my desk:

This is the view from the back office:

and finally here's the other side of our space:

I will be back with something of value in the coming days.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

planes, trains and my mis-adventures...

So where did I leave you last - oh yes - I shared my experience with Hertz and then my visit with the awesome Expat bloggers that I follow.

So last Monday my colleague Demon and myself flew back from the States. We had made the trip home for Thanksgiving. Demon and his roommate came over for dinner with my family.

I served my "martha stewart" turkey (it should be on the cover of a magazine it looks so yummy), bourbon sweat potatoes, green bean casserole, wild mushroom stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and turkey gravy. Typing this up is making me hungry for more turkey. Oh I can't forget my pumpkin cheesecake - this is my favorite - I make two of these because I want a piece every night from the moment I cut it till it is gone.

I wish I had pictures of all of us crowded around our little table with plates full and giving thanks for friends and family - next year I promise.

Monday morning creeped back around and Demon and I had a driver pick us up and deliver us to the airport. We cracked our standard, how do you tell an american in europe jokes? "take their shoes off, wearing ball caps, etc" as we worked our way through security. The pilot in front of us was laughing and enjoyed our company. We breezed through the airport, bounced through the business lounge and once again longed for the things we have in Europe. I tell you I am getting corrupted living abroad.

Our plane flight was uneventful until somewhere around 5am. Demon had long been asleep. His several drinks had worked mine hadn't - argh! I had finally given up on sleep and had converted from a bed back to a seat. I was looking at the available movies for the 90th time that night and then it happened. A smell so awful, it slinked along the floor, clawing it's way up the seat and then attacked my sinuses. Someone had died on the plane - not literally but something inside of them had ripped it's way free of their internal control and had taken it upon itself to find me and pummel me stupid. Were it possible to identify the owner of this wretched smell I would have woken them with my smiling slightly lunatic face pressed very close, minus my front teeth and asked then politely to find the nearest WC/bathroom and rid themselves of whatever demon had possessed them. Instead I sat in silence and wished a thousand camels fleas upon them.

I have begun to hate flying. I have been doing this constantly for 7 months or so. I don't mind short little hops here and there but these long hauls are going to turn me into crazy man. Some would argue that I am closing in on that status without much help from the airline industry.

It isn't really the airplane or crew - I am flying business class - they serve me enough alcohol and food to put me into a coma - they know what they are doing. What is making me crazy is the time. Once a month I have a 12 hour day. Somewhere in there the other 12 hours just completely disappear. I go from it being Monday to it being Tuesday somewhere over the Atlantic. I am young (shut up peanut gallery) this shouldn't effect me but it does. I lose time, where did it go? Who is taking this time? May I have it back some day? The BDA is bothered by this. Then the reverse happens on the return I get a 27 hour day. Someone throws some time back at me. This kills the nice organized sections of my brain that care about things like that. Time is all relative - I know I know, but this isn't right. Just let me whine alright - I was granted permission to do that by lumping in with Whiney Expats.

Trains - now that's a decent form of transportation. Well decent as long as they aren't on strike. You can book a seat without needing a degree in expedition planning by simply heading by the local train station and talking to the nice people who just want to help you. I know - I was just as surprised - it was amazing (hand wave) customer service. Supposedly I could do all this on the web but after attempting by myself and then procuring the help of a german colleague to book the tickets I just gave up and headed to the train station. It worked out in the end.

So back to trains. They are just cool. You are relaxed, room to walk around, pleasant atmosphere and if you splurge you can even get a cabin by yourself. There is a bar car, restaurant and a guy wandering the aisles bringing hot coffee. I love it. I wish we had more trains available in the states. We have a quick ride between Seattle and Portland that I will probably take a few times in the coming months while I try to accomplish some work in the States. Rumor has it that this is one of the few corridor lines left on the west coast.

I fell in love with trains when I was younger. My father loved them, and by proxy I felt love for them. My son likes them too. I like how that works out. My love affair with trains continued as I grew older - I had a young lady friend (sounds more romantic than girlfriend) living in Delaware and I would catch a train from Georgia or North Carolina up to spend long weekends with her. Of course we slept in separate beds - what kind of guy do you think I am. Alright I was lying about that part but the rest is true. I would leave late on Thursday night 9pm or so out of this little train station and would be in Delaware in the morning. She only had one class and would be done about the time I arrived. The romance lasted for a couple of semesters and I rode the train a lot as a starving college student. So now I find myself in Europe and have the opportunity to ride the train and then I discover that the train is as expensive as a plane sometimes more expensive. Oh well, I will ride them when I can.

Demon and I are headed off to Amsterdam (riding the train!) for a conference on PCI DSS in Europe. I should be an expert of sorts on this - I recently sat on a panel and shared the good and the bad of the practices around protecting credit card data. However my current client is going to need all the help I can get them so I am off to meet the people running PCI in Europe. Should be fun. I doubt I will blog about the conference - the few followers I have bribed to follow me could care less about the scary things I do. Even fewer are interested in the assessment procedures for validating whether a control has been properly implemented safe guarding said credit card information. These people want to know their data is safe and that the bad guys can't get it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

i know i know - you don't post anymore - you don't love me

My schedule has been a little hectic lately. I was in Zaragoza, Spain for a week performing a security assessment and obviously wandering the city. I love Spain - I will be back. The food was amazing (hand motion), the people were friendly (I was labeled a "kissy slut" because I enjoyed the european kiss on both cheeks so much), did I mention the food was amazing.

My Spanish slowly began what we fondly called Sprench by the end of the week. I learned to speak French when I was younger - unfortunately when I have had a round or two and the brain gets slightly twisted I assume that you can use French for Spanish. So when I couldn't think of the word in Spanish and there were several I couldn't think of I used french. Makes for interesting conversation with people - fortunately at one point in my adventures there was a french man with us and he and I stood in the corner speaking a foreign language I can sort of communicate in. Please remember that my French still brings a smile, not quite the laughter that my broken German brings people. The party I was with wouldn't allow me to grab my translator so we stumbled along in my broken Spanish and there english. Red wine and tapas will make everything good. After a wonderful week I headed back to Germany.

Ahh Germany how I had missed you so. I landed in Nuremberg (Nürnberg) a little over an hour late. I had stopped in Frankfurt at the Hertz rental and had them confirm for me that my rental car was waiting for me in Nuremberg airport. Sometimes I worry about silly things like this. The pretty young lady smiled at me, checked the reservation, said things were good and I wandered off to find my plane. I arrive in Nuremberg excited to go jump into the BMW 7 that I had rented previously from Hertz.

Instead here's the conversation I had with the Hertz girl.

me: "Hi I am Ward Spangenberg. here's my confirmation and my Gold Card Number."

her: "You're late."

me: "Well yes I am."

her: "We don't have a car for you."

me: "umm I confirmed in Frankfurt that you had a car for me. I have a confirmation number. I am a Gold member. Where's my car?"

her: "We don't have a car for you. You were late."

me: "I understand I am late. That's part of why we use credit cards and join the Gold service is so that you guarantee the car will be here for me."

her: "We don't have a car for you. You were late."

me: "So what do you suggest I do"

her: "Rent from someone else."

me: "alrightie then - thanks for your help"

her: "danken sie. auf Wiedersehen."

I kid you not. A friend would tell me later that weekend to remember that in Germany, "you are paying for the service, not the customer service." It should be noted that my brain is a bit weak on exact quote that J provided me with but hey you get the idea.

I wandered over to Avis and they had a car I could rent. I ended up with an Audi A3 from Avis. A cute little Audi with enough pep and most importantly a navi system.

I grabbed my friend, who in a week's time had managed to garner one new nickname from our client "demon" and meet a wunderbar Glas washer - no good german translation for that. We jumped in the card and headed off to Dresden for the 3rd Whiney Expat German Meetup. That by the way is not an exact description about this group of people. I don't think we whined at all the whole weekend. Well I may have but I am just a big baby.

Half way to Dresden I gave up the car keys so my buddy could drive on the Autobahn. Somewhere in that I tweeted with worry about "Demon" having that maniacal look in his eyes and the speedometer pegged. On the return I heard him mumble something like, "it won't go any faster - I have had the pedal stuck to the floorboards since we got outside of Dresden." (I took some creative license with his mumbling.)

We arrived safely in Dresden and wandered off to find the other Expats at the ice cream shop. Umm yummy ice cream - so I ordered a cappuccino.

After introductions - meaning I walked right into the middle of the people speaking english and said, "Hi I am Ward". I naturally assume that everyone no matter where I am in the world knows the "Big Dumb American" (need to trademark that - hmm wait did I just trademark that.) Guess what I am not near as famous in reality as I am in "ward's world."

Needless to say we were off and running. I am sure I scared a couple of people - it could have been me talking about all the scary things that "Demon" and I do with security - or it could be that I am a BDA. Everyone was polite and slowly slid away from me.

Our illustrious leader J arrived and the group wandered into the streets. You now have 10-15 (counting has never been my strong suit) americans/canucks wandering the streets of Dresden. We were also graced with two very tolerant germans.

I have several pictures. Here is one of my favorites as wandered along towards the river and our boat trip.


I can't say enough about how wonderful it was to meet everyone. The entire group brought new perspectives, insights and humor to the meetup. I have received several compliments in their posts about the weekend. I thank all of you. There are several memories from the weekend - others have put them to words - I have just cataloged them for reference in my future stories. Literally translated this means Ward really needs to start carrying his Moleskin with him again and taking notes.

It was a blast to meet the people behind the blogs - I get sort of star struck when meeting writers. I consider myself a hack and follow bloggers who write far better than I do. My fond hope is to one day be one of those bloggers people refer to and laugh about. You guys all rock - thanks for letting the BDA and the LDA follow along (little dumb american - he is really a medium - so going forward I will stop with the jokes about his learning disability aardvark.)

So where was I?

Oh so Sunday rolled around and MDA and I jumped in the car - and as stated before barreled down the Autobahn towards Herzo and my apartment. I went to sleep - I wasn't driving what do you expect from me?

Monday morning creeped around and we both caught planes back to the states. Details that should be mentioned here include the fact that we visited the neighborhood mexican restaurant and drank towards stupidity. Hint: don't tell a German bartender his drinks are weak.

We hit the states for T-day, me appearing on television to talk about the scary things called RFID (still waiting for them to put the video up - will link later) and me cutting down a Christmas tree.



I will leave you here. More misadventure on the return trip to Germany to follow.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

where you been kid?

So it has been awhile since I have posted, felt like I should get an update in before I head off next weekend to the meetup in Dresden.

I am currently in Zaragoza, Spain. It is a beautiful city - come to think of it I haven't been anywhere in Europe yet that has been ugly. I am staying at the Hotel Palafox. It is a great hotel, super service and centrally located to everything so I can walk around and get lost.

I slept in this morning, had an amazing (hand effects - ask me sometime) breakfast. The breakfast buffet introduced me to so many wonderful things and the variety of fresh fruit will bring me back. I then wandered off the hotel lobby to finish my book. I felt like taking my time today and was rewarded with a beautiful afternoon to wander the streets. The Spanish seem to have had better planners working on the designs for the road layout than most of the German cities I have been getting lost in.

Unfortunately my spanish is as bad as my german, so I spent a long day building up the nerve to enter a restaurant and get something to eat. I eventually chose Pasta Nostra. The food was good and their Tiramisu made me all warm inside.

As for my language skills - I have been in denial for several months now. I am scared to try my limited language skills - well shy - somewhere in my life I decided that unless I can speak the language it is better to keep my mouth shut. I wonder if that was drilled into my head by my french teacher. I pissed her off on a regular basis and have managed to only be able to read and write french - my pronunciation is horrible.

This actually explains a lot to me - I take language much like any of my other skills - if I can't do it perfectly then I practice till I have it well enough that I feel comfortable - and comfortable for me is defined as better than average. I refuse to play the guitar for anyone because I don't feel that I can play it well enough to sit with anyone - I am missing the opportunity to learn from others because I am shy/scared/stupid. The same goes for my language - I won't attempt to use it because I don't feel like I have enough of a grasp to be understood, and I want to be understood. First step is realizing you have a problem.

I read an interesting post the other day about learning a language. His ideas follow a scientific approach that makes sense to me. Suddenly I am filled with new confidence to try things out and see where they go. Wow - all this from wandering around Zaragoza - scared because I don't want to be insulting for not speaking the language.

okay then - guess that's done.

I have some questions now.

Why don't they have instruction manuals on bidets? The BDAB isn't up to date on the proper use of such devices and is curious. Maybe google holds the answer.

Why is Russia Television (RT) in english?

Why do the Spanish rename American things? i.e. New York = Nueva York, Cookie Monster = Monstruo de las galletas

Just wondering...

Monday, October 22, 2007

whatcha doin?

I see the light - well okay really it's just the end of October and I am going to be bounding off to Seattle for a week on Friday. I am happy to be heading home - it has been a long month and I am looking forward to seeing everyone. I did my prerequisite gift shopping for everyone - chocolates, Legos, Cinderella Barbie, and Thomas Sabo.

I managed to catch the England vs. South Africa game. I was disappointed that England lost - just can't be a Bok fan. The try after careful consideration was really not a try - I agree with the video judge - hate video judges now for that reason - when did we decide that we needed them?

The referee on the field called the try but the Line Judge said nope - so off to the box the Referee goes - as we the hunched crowd in Finnegans screamed TRY TRY TRY - Prince and other Prince Brother both shared our views - and - BAH the Line Judge was correct! As the french would mumble, "C'est la vie!"

I received a compliment the other day when I responded correctly in german. The gentleman said that my accent was correct and I had responded perfectly. The first and last time I pull that off. I have been trying to practice ordering my breakfast and coffee in German - I am trying to pull it off.

All right it has been a really long day so I am going to take off

Saturday, October 13, 2007

absence makes the heart grow fonder

So I have been in Germany for 3 months now. You know that you have been away for too long when you watch a silly television show and watch two people kiss and your breath catches and you wish that it was your wife/husband that you were kissing like that. That's all the embarrassment I am willing to suffer for the day. So enough about my television viewing habits.

Life is good. I fall in love with Germany a little bit more each week.

Since my blog is more of a rambling account of the silliness that invades the area where I am residing I tend to browse other people's blogs with more intelligence and better observations and then comment on them. There have been several stories back and forth lately among the crazy ex-pats and their experiences living abroad. Do the Germans like us or not? Do we care? How do we make friendships? Is the Nuremburger better with mustard or without?

One of my favorite posts in the past couple of weeks was about Americans and Germans interaction. This post was great and also disheartening to me. One it finally helped me understand why I am having such a hard time building friendships with Germans. Basically I am going to need to be here for awhile and get invited into the group. I can deal with that. I discussed this with one of the German fellows I work with and he generally agreed with the article and the points made. His comment was that even Germans have the same problem between cities. The north not liking the south. Wow sounds just like being back in the states. Craziness!

The disheartening part of the article was me taking a moment to reflect about the generalized behavior associated with Americans and our social groups. I say disheartening because it made me examine my friendships and realize that their basis was very fragile and really only related to the circumstance we were in at the moment, whether that be career choice, sporting activity, or coffee shop (bar) we hang out at. I have only had 5 really good friends. People outside of what we did, where we were, that I could call at any moment and be on the same track within moments of hearing the other's voice. My friends are scattered around the US; Washington, Kansas, NY, NC. I have the friends in the same town, neighbors, etcetera but these are built around our current time, place and circumstance. The Germans have it figured out, "Enormous warmth, compassion, and helpfulness permeate the private sphere, while the public realm is generally characterized by social distance and purely functional exchanges with only formal involvement. Conversely, all 'impersonal' values - particularly those indigenous to the economic and occupational spheres such as achievement, competition, and goal-attainment - are strictly banned from the private sphere. Nor are public sphere relationships characterized by these values viewed as capable of being transformed easily into ones of friendship. Thus, frequent contact in the workplace - the major 'recruitment' arena for friends in the US -- does not lead, to the same extent, to the development of close ties." (copied from German Joys via American sociologist Stephen Kalberg)

I like this. It makes sense to me. These are the people you want influencing your life, your children, things within your sphere. I really like this. If you have a moment check out the post - I have read it a couple of times - some would say I am slow I prefer to believe I am being thoughtful.

As for whether German's hating us - I strive daily to be a positive representative of the US. This doesn't mean I am not still the BDAB ("big dumb american boy") My german sucks, but I am trying Tee sounds just like Tea to me but the Der Beck girl laughs at me every day. The Germans I work with love my BDAB stories - some of them even want to introduce me to their wives - guess I can't be that bad. I understand that the politics associated with my country are a bit absurd but hey I didn't vote for the knucklehead either time.

Oh by the way - you should always have the spicy mustard on your Nuremburgers - it's just plain yummy!

eeps almost forget - the 3rd Whiney Expat Blogger in Germany Meet-Up is just around the corner. I will get to meet people who at first glance appear to be much smarter about this living abroad thing than me and maybe they can laugh at my BDAB stories, or at least laugh at my attempts at learning German. See you there.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

McDonalds saved my life

Okay so it really didn't but for whatever reason this morning when I woke up (actually it was almost 11 when my lazy body decided to finally open my eyes) I was homesick - I mean really homesick - I needed something - so I got dressed climbed into my car and started driving - low and behold was a McDonalds.

I know that there is a McDonalds here in town - I have driven by it countless times and refused to stop and get anything - we have them on every corner that Starbucks hasn't bought in the US. Anyway back to my story...

I parked walked inside and got into line. Lines are a foreign thing it appears everywhere I go in Europe - in Paris there are no lines on the streets. A gentleman told me that because of the lack of lines people were more careful when driving - yeah okay whatever you say - crazy frenchies!

Another great example that leaves me boggled is while waiting to board the plane, there is always a mass crowd that surges forward and is forced into a bunch that eventually settles into a single file sort of line - but only after the crowd has been forced into this.

What's the deal - why are lines an issue? Is it the forced compliance to stand behind each other? I know they aren't complicated to form - I have seen local children all following along behind each other with little to no jostling to get to the front - when does this stop making sense, I must have missed that lecture in school. (my father is grinning right now - yeah just one more lecture you missed Bubba)

After a 15 minute wait and jostle I managed to approach the counter and attempt to order in my broken german. I don't claim to be very good, actually I suck when it comes to speaking german - I can say Hello, Thank You, and Goodbye, and Please. I am frustrated with myself that I have not forced myself to learn more. I have not been overly impressed with the Rosetta software - it seems well a bit slow to actually teaching me things of value - although I know how to say dog, cat, horse, man, woman, boy, girl, and airplane.

So I order a Big Mac, 0,4l Kaltgetränk und Mittlere Pommes - well that's what i tried to order - the young lady serving me laughed and started to speak to me in english - I give up - if I try my german and I get laughed at, I am not being successful - but no I continue to plug ahead and attempt to order Griechischer Salat (greek salad) and she laughs at me again. This is not going my way.

Anyway I manage to get my food and eat it. Big Macs taste the same all over the world - I know this because I was having a panic attack one time while working in Hong Kong. I had gotten tired of being yelled at by a million people for being the big dumb american boy and needed something to bring me back to reality - McDonalds and the Big Mac saved my life there too.

So I am back in Germany, happy to be here but miss the family. At least I have McDonalds.

Friday, September 07, 2007

another long flight and all i got was some ear plugs and a blindfold

So I lost on the seatmate roulette on the trip back. The gentleman next to me said 3 words the entire flight - I noticed he was carrying a speech concerning DRM so I didn't really introduce myself - I figured something about how DRM was really a waste of time wouldn't be a good conversation starter.

I did get to enjoy a beautiful sunrise over the Netherlands this morning. It is amazing to be flying along above the clouds and see the sun slowly rise, warming everything up. It made the fact that I was awake at 4:00 am a little more bearable.

I saw the first Starbucks in Amsterdam on my way through the airport. I will take my customary picture on the return trip. I was in a rush to get to my plane and didn't stop for my customary iced americano.

I am off to Paris for the weekend. It is Rugby World Cup and I have premier tickets to the Samoa/South Africa game. One of my best friends is flying into Paris and we will go the game on Sunday. Our seats are almost on the field. The Boks are expected to win but Samoa is going to come out and play hard.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My trip back across the pond

I like to fly. I still have the romantic image of flying from when I was a child. My parents dressed me up; you always dressed nicely for a flight. You got to the airport, waited patiently (as patient as a small child who loves airplanes can be); boarded the plane and off we flew. The experience was amazing. Well that’s what I remember, and since it is my memory I am going to keep it that way.

I am flying back from Germany. One of the little games I play in my head is called “Seatmate Roulette.” Sometimes I am really lucky, there was this one time where I sat next to a dancer from Cirque du Soleil, other times I am presented with well the bullet.

Today however was a lucky day – I was fortunate enough to be seated next to a 17 year old young woman who gave me faith that my own little girl has a chance. This young lady was amazingly polite, yet managed to give her little brother a hard time when he couldn’t actually figure out what country were leaving (in his defense he is 13 and well he is 13.) I smiled and settled back to read whatever men’s magazine I snagged in the airport and this young lady pulls out “Freakonomics” For the crowd reading at home – not necessarily the reading you expect out of a 17 year old, heck I read it and most people would wonder what I was doing carrying the book around. I was amazed and congratulated her on her selection, and she began a conversation with me.

Let be known that I talk to everyone. I like hearing about peoples’ experiences. I like to hear their stories.

So I discover that Katie is being moved back to the US. She has spent the last 13 years living in Belgium. She like any high school’r is a bit worried about things: her boyfriend is still in Belgium (he will visit in October and December), the fact that she has been able to enjoy a glass of wine with her family since she was 16 (we tend to frown upon that in the States), she has never even driven a car and will have to get her permit in the coming month (her brother failed the first time he took the test and he was a freshman in college), she played sports at her school in Belgium and now she has to start the whole process over again (volleyball, basketball and track – no Futbol.)

It was refreshing to talk to this young lady. She was a confident young woman who had grown up abroad, understood that she would have to deal with cliques and silly girl stuff that just isn’t as important outside the US. She was scared but also aware that she could conquer these fears.

We talked off and on as we flew from Frankfurt to Washington, DC. I asked questions about growing up abroad. She said that going to International Schools were amazing – you constantly got to meet new kids. Everyone was always open to new people joining the group. She talked about how amazing it was to be part of sports teams that traveled around Europe. She told me about shopping trips to Singapore with her mother. I enjoyed every minute of the trip, listening to her stories.

When we got to DC I was able to commend her mother on having such a wonderful daughter. I wish I had gushed more. Her daughter is something wonderful.

I can only hope that my wife and I can raise our daughter to be this confident and sure of herself. The world needs more young women like this and the Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton crowd aren’t creating them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

5 second post

So while I was chilling on the couch Sunday afternoon - (Note: This is a rare occurrence for me however Germany is attempting to teach me new behaviors by closing everything and rolling up the sidewalks on Sundays. Well except for the sidewalks heading towards a Gastehaus) - anyway back to the point of the story I invested some time on google and discovered that I was not alone and that there are lots of crazy americans who have packed it up and moved over here - Expats is a better word but I remain one of those crazy americans to my workmates.

So I have invited myself along to an Expat meetup in Dresden in October/November.

Thanks to my new found blogger friends.

Germany Doesn't Suck

Oh and I also found an online grocery store that will get me those things I crave from the states.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Still alive and eating too

So another week and I managed to get to the grocery store twice and not make a fool of myself. You need to weigh the vegetables before coming to the checkout. If you don't hopefully there is a nice german woman standing behind you that shows you how to get things done without slowing the line horribly.

I have managed to learn to say hello (when the german girls say al-lo makes your heart go pitter patter.) I am practicing my little vocabulary and trying to learn new words as quickly a possible. I need a friend - wonder how you advertise that. Would you be my friend and teach me german while you are at it - I just need a walking translator that I don't annoy, that shouldn't be that hard to find. (my friends are laughing so hard right now they can't see straight.)

I can order a beer ein gross Pils (the really big beer). You should also know that there are breweries within a stone's throw of everywhere you are located. Some crazy number like 3000 breweries. My father warned me of this - along the lines of, "Ward you really don't have to sample all 3000 the first week you are there."

I have learned that you can order meals without something fried included.My father also warned me of this. He forgot to mention that they make this potato dumpling with bread crumbs inside and covered in gravy that could only be eaten with a slab beef that made my heart skip a beat or two and me smile for two days about how yummy it was. If it only came wrapped in bacon too...

My car makes me giggle every time I get in. Someone thought it would be funny to rent me a Peugeot 107 My Director was in town at the beginning of the week and he and I couldn't sit shoulder to shoulder in the car. It was a funny sight. Someone made the comment that at least the trunk could hold two cases of beer. Is everything is measured in beer?

What else? Money - Us crazy Americans and our credit cards. Mine is worthless over here. I have found one place that takes my card, well besides the outlet store. So I carry cash for everything, not a problem but then they really throw me a curveball - 1 and 2 euro coins. Craziness I tell you, I have 50lbs of coins in my pocket that I never seem to get rid of. I actually counted it this morning and I was carrying 25 euros in my pocket.

So to all those that are considering a trip to Germany, drop me a line, at the very least I can take you out for beer and wurst.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Where in the world is Ward?

So for those that don't know it - I took a 5 month assignment in Germany. I got to Germany last Wendesday morning and managed to work almost a full day before turning into a zombie. It took a few days for me to recover from the flight. Who knew partying like a rock star in Vegas for 3 days before jumping on a plane to fly around the world was a bad idea. Who knew?

I spent my weekend in my new home...working... I spent almost the entire weekend writing up a report for a client in the US. Oh well, work seems to follow no matter where you are in the world. Late on Sunday morning I wrapped up and managed to get into town. I am currently in an apartment provided by Hotel HerzogsPark in Herzongenrauch

The town is cute. I know, people hate to hear that, according to something I read the first recorded mention of the town was in the year 1009. When town's are celebrating their 1000 year anniversary you have to be impressed. Yes I know that it is only 2007 - just pointing out that - oh forget it. The town's first recording was 1009, sure it was around before that.

So I am scrambling to learn enough German to be dangerous. If you have any recommendations let me know. I own RosettaStone, "Complete Idiot's Guide to LEARN GERMAN Your Own, and an english/german dictionary. I really need someone who wants to practice english while teaching the big bescheuert american boy german...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'm coming back!

I have been gone for awhile, however that's all about to change. I am heading off to Europe for 5 months of work and fun and I will be updating and sharing my adventures once again. Stay tuned!