Wednesday, May 31, 2006

All the Highs and the Lows and the To's and the Fro's They Left Me Dizzy

The best therapy for the soul is to get out there and get exposure to something other than yourself. The posting wraps up a series of posts about my 'adventures in Deutschland.'

Often people in life take shit for granted, I'm probably one of them. Often people get caught up in mundane details in life, and maybe lose the big picture, or lose vision. A hop across the ocean helps people acquire vision, if they chose to accept this help, and they choose to accept a vision.

Throughout the trip, I've done like Ben Kweller says, "I want to see everything TWICE." I've covered the same ground, and its great to see what's changed, what's not changed, how you've changed, and how you haven't changed. It's great to see old friends, how they've changed, blah blah blah. It gives me the warm and fuzzies to know that things are how they were left, a mutual respect and admiration of friends who are living or are from a different culture. That's a world flatten-er, and something that I believe teaches you tolerance, on a global scale. There should be a freakin' 'travel to a different country' requirement in today's education system.

My boss always tells me I'm a communist, I'm not a communist, but I'd like to think that they had some things right, and the people who have grown up under communist control seem to have a lot of character and appreciation for what they have, which we seem to have lost as a nation. Maybe the only way to get this appreciation back is thru crisis.

I always hear people bitch about 'Mexican immigrants' around here, but putting it into perspective, Germany has immigrants from Poland for cheap labor, Turkish people who seem to not want to integrate into the German culture, or at least 'speak German', and the older generations that have a communists ideology. That seems like a real challenge, the re-unification, or unification of Germany, and O wait, then there's the European Union, and the struggles for the heart and soul of that organization. That's some challenges, so please no more complaining about Mexicans.

Well that's it for now, have a great day all my internet friends. Bye Bye

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Turning and Returning to Some Secret Place Inside

I read the departure time wrong on the flight so another night in Berlin. I'm walking the streets disgusted with myself for missing the flight, but after a few hours I settle down and take in all the scenery. I love Berlin, the people, the feeling, the vibe.

This was home base for me, Alexanderplatz, the TV tower is now sponsored by T-Mobile and painted pink, perhaps one of the aesthetic values brought to the city by Berlin's gay mayor.


The Brandenburg Gate, one of the few touristy pictures I took. I sat there for a good while, in front of the Russian Embassy and sorta just soaked it all in. Of course I ate a few Currywurst, and drank my typical Coke (the only time I drink this is on vacation).

Last but not least, the Europa Center and the church next to it. This is located in the Zoolischer (sp?) garden, lots to walk around and see, just leave the checkbook at home, because you can buy any and everything around this area.


Travelling is very therapeutic, I'm blogging a few weeks later since I've been back, and for the sake of keeping up with life, I've cataloged much of what I can in a reasonable amount of time.

It would take way too much time to put it all into perspective into words, and I'd be more than happy to do that, but that damn thing called life and work is always popping its head up to demand your time.

Hence, I look forward to talking with all my buddies about the trip, the stories, the experience and the exposure.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Reebok Classics and Canons at Dawn

For the last time this round in Germany, I ate some killer BBQ, this time with Franzi and Marco, in their hometown of Lehnin. The night before I ate some killer pizza with Frazi and her parents.

The crew for that evening, Marco and Leipold, Franzi, Patrick and his girlfriend, and Christin.


Earlier in the day, Marco and I went to a soccer game, he speaks very little English, I speak very little German, but hey, have a beer, it's all good! hahaha


Marco cooking the steaks and braut. I suppose I gained about a million pounds on this trip.


For lunch we went to a place near Lehnin that served white asparagus, pictured are Franzi and her lovely daughter Charlotte.


Later in the evening the liquors came out, and the guys pressured me into taking a bunch of shots with them, always saying, come on this will be your last shot in Germany, and so on and so on....


The worse thing that could ever touch your mouth.


I could elaborate on the 'feel' of these events probably to a fault, instead, check out the pictures -- hanging out with old friends is always a great feeling.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

There's Nothing Wrong with Me, This is How I'm Supposed to Be, In a Land of Make Believe That Don't Believe in Me

This would be my last day visiting friends in Neunkirchen. Frank, the long haired dude, and Martin's (who used to be long haired, but now looks a lot different) mother had her 70th year birthday party. In Germany the 70th year is a big deal, there is a big house party, and all the friends, family and neighbors show up to wish them their best.

Frank, Martin, Alex and I, took a similar picture 6 years ago, it's great to see these folks again. Frank has a pop / rock cover band called Prozac, check out their website.


Later in the evening, we would go to the only Hooters in Germany. That isn't a factory or industrial stuff, that is a Hooters in the picture.


Frank and the hooters girl, the entire time there Frank was worried that his girlfriend Alex as going to kick his ass! hahahaha


Also ran into Andrea, Manuealabor and I spent a lot of time with her and her husband Martin last time around. Now she has a beautiful daughter, almost 3 years old.


To round out the trip, the next few postings will be from Berlin, and a small town Lehnin, about 70 km outside of Berlin to the east.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bit by Bit it comes back to Him, A Bunch of Belgian Businessmen and a Strange Drinking Game - O God Why?

Friends always tell me, you go to small town in Europe, and soon you will be talking about American Culture, Miami Vice, the Chicago Bear, stuff in Minnesota, Las Vegas, etc, etc, etc.

On this night we hung out with the locals at K-Zwei, Mike and I were sitting at the bar by ourselves, and we were invited over to the big table for drinks, we wouldn't have to buy a drink the rest of the evening. Very nice crew, all around great people, the K-Zwei regulars.

The owner of the joint, Dieter, a very nice guy, shares my haircut, we got along just great. He had a huge screen tv, and tons and tons and tons of music performance dvd's, so till about 4 am we watched classic Bon Jovi, Doors, Pink Floyd, and we watched most the Beatles Help, as we blissfully entered the wee morning hours.


Came out of the evening with a commemorative Bitburger World Cup mug, and then we started the long walk home.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Only Weeks Before the Guns All Came and Rained on Everyone

On this day, we took a day to Luxembourg to check out the scenery, and ummm, to say I've been there? They are one of the most socialized nations on the planet, and they seem to be going thru an identity crisis, they speak German and French, and their own language 'luxemburgee' or something like that.

Towards the drive we stop at Tina and Jim's campground on the lake, which I hear is amazing during the summer, and I look forward to going and hanging out on day soon.


Signs of home, as Jim has his 'Texas Trailer' plates above the outhouse.


Typical European beauty. I know many people who go to Europe and snap nothing but these sorts of pictures....well this scenery is everywhere, and even bozo with digital camera can take amazing pictures, that's why I try to focus on people, or odd things. If you want to see more like this type in Europe on Flickr, and let those pictures do the talking for beauty.


One reason we go, the gas is about 30 cents cheaper, about a Euro for a liter, 4 liters in a gallon, $1.35 for Euro times 4, hmmmm, we should do that math and quit complaining I suppose


A touristy place in the city right by the border, there's a river, on one side is Germany, other Luxembourg.


A statue in front of a restaurant where the waiter had his feet propped up reading the paper, eventually he got up to wait on us. Tisk Tisk Tisk, having to get up and actually work.


Trip was a success, I refrained from buying anything touristy stuff this day, and for the most part, the entire trip.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Over the Mountains, Of the Moon, Down the Valley of the Shadow

From Munich I head to Neunkirchen, which is a stretch across the country from East to West to visit some old Shiner friends who have relocated to Germany. Trip trip is a few hundred miles, and I go thru places like Mannheim, Heidelberg, and Homburg.

I haven't seen Mike, Jim and Tina in about 5 years, in many ways they are like second family to me, they always treat me like a king when I visit. Jim met Tina while he was in the service, and Mike is about my age, he recently reclaimed his German citizenship, after big time hassel-hoff.

Mike and Jim in the backyard of their place in from of the Texas style BBQ pit.


That evening we took a moped ride thur a few villages, Spiesen-Elversburg, lots of scenic hills and such, take a gander at this video from a place called the Elversburg Turm.


Well the moped doesn't look impressive, and yes, the engine is 50cc, a little bit bigger than your average lawn mower, but it gets about 75 mpg, and for small trips around town its perfect. Don't I just look sexy in front of that machine!


Later that night was Bratwurst time, those suckers were so fresh, we had to boil first, then pop them on the grill. There's something to be said about the food and beer in the country. Sure we have German beer and sausage we can buy here, but most of the time its not as fresh as it can be, especially the beer. Eating that stuff and drinking the beer when it's fresh is amazing. **We still make better hamburgers, it's like us having to ship Burger Tex hamburgers to Germany, they wouldn't be fresh by the time they arrive.


The next few days I'd hang out with my old friends catching up on life, gossip, and other things.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I've seen the Brightness in one Little Spark

Stories are stories, and here's one of the things that stand out, a train ride from Prague to Munich.

The ride starts in a creepy rail station, in a beat up old train. I had a crummy window that kept banging open and closed for the tenure of the trip. I rode in a compartment with a girl from the Czech Republic, turns out she could speak great English, and we talked for about an hour about the state of affairs in the area. Later, a woman and her child enter our area, and proceed to eat corn, hot dogs, and other goodies. When I mean eat, I mean hardcore pigging out.

The train ride is beautiful, and we arrive in a small Czech village, the train stops, and we are advised to get out of the train and hop on some charter buses that will carry us to the German border. I'm like 'OK', so after a series of nearly misses, and after about a 50 km jaunt thru the Czech countryside, we arrive at the German border and hop on another train.

The train is in much better shape, and this go round I have more people to speak with. In the compartment I was sitting, there was a Czech woman who taught English for a living, a ear, mouth and throat doctor from Munich, and a kitchen specialists who resides in Ingolstadt (where Frankenstein lives). Well I get them all talking English, about various different topics for the next 3 hours. All great people who I hope to see again in the future.

Christian the doc said it best, as we pulled into Munich a bit after midnight. "If it wouldn't be so late, we would have to hit the biergarten." Instead of hitting the biergarten, I found a hotel close to the rail station, booked a room, and after the long 9 hours of travel by bus, train, etc, this was a sight for sore eyes, my hotel in Munich, the TV welcomed me! hahahaha


I took a night tour of Munich after drinking a beer in this seedy place which was right by the hotel. Hungry as hell I devoured a Donor Kebab and Coke and for the next few hours just marveled at the scenery and beautiful weather, however a lot of the random pictures I took didn't turn out very well.


It seems like every 5th building in Munich was named after Goethe, I didn't know his work very well, and since I seen all these buildings about him, I've taken an interest in seeing what he was all about. Calling him a pimp I think would be a massive understatement.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What was Sent to the Soldiers Wife, From the Ancient City of Prague -- ?

Prague is an amazing city, no one can deny that. However, under the surface there is a lot of social tension, as the fall of communism leaves a blurry form of capitalism, where tourism runs rampant, and the exploitation of cheap prices and the mockery made of communism leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The vibe from the city, in my opinion is creepy, dirty, and full of un-authentic touristy shit, the doesn't really represent the Bohemian culture well. If you want a good representation of this, I hear frequently 'anywhere but Prague.' Once the allure of staring at 800 year old churches, building and castles wears off, I'm left with a feeling of a guilt for my fellow westerners taking advantage of the city.

The rail station where I'd take a train to Munich.


In the rail station, the dreaded 'pay toilet', for about a quarter you could take a piss. For some TP provided by the bathroom attendant, it was about a buck. Strange black light stuff too.


Next time I visit the Czech Republic, I'm heading for the rural areas, opting for serenity rather than tourists and mystique.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The DJ Band

Germany I suppose is well known for disco and house music and innovative DJ's and such, and I'm glad to have had a proper experience. 'Prong 3' of the evening featured a band of DJ's, 4 to be exact, meddling with all sorts of gadgets strewn out all over the table, and a sitare player in front of the table.


Waaaay off the beaten path, a truly authentic experience, check out the videos of this madness.
Berlin DJ's 1 --- Berlin DJ's 2 --- Berlin DJ's 3

An amazing night, was grateful to spend the evening with wonderful people, exhausted from the evening, I begin the trek home around 4am, the next day would be Prague, HERE WE COME!

Bicycle Bicycle Bicycle

Prong 2 of the evening, I met some wonderful people, Katherine and her fraternal sister, and Craig, at The Divine Comedy show, who were actually there to see Jose Gonzales , who I believe to be from Sweden. He is a great artists you should check out.

After discussion, we were going to meet some of their friends in a park, so I saddled up on the bicycle and we headed east, in what seemed to take forever! We took turns peddling each other on the bike, and by the end of the evening I had bruises on my bottom from bumps and jumping curbs etc. In the park party, there were 100's of people hanging out, drinking beer, and listening to jam boxes, an amazing experience. Amazing because this could never happen in America because some meathead would get into a fight with some other meathead, or someone would vandalize something, or whatever.

This is Craig, a cool Scottish lad now living in Berlin, we had a lot in common, small town, talked about rednecks, and the difference between Scottish and Texas rednecks. I told him we should take a 'pissed off looking' picture, and that's the best he could do. We'd be heading next to an underground disco party, which will be described in 'Prong 3' of the evening.

For about an hour off and on till we got to the park, this is how the scenario panned out. It looked pretty awkward, especially passing hip clubs and stuff. I thought it was very cool how many of the youth ride bikes, and have alternative forms of transportation other than cars.


We leave the park around 2pm and head to a disco type place, in which there is a 'DJ Band.'

More to come....

The Divine Comedy - Haldern Pop Festival - Berlin Germany

Truly a religious experience for me, kinda like Moses seeing the burning bush. I've gotten so much joy and inspiration and insight from this guy over the past years, seeing him live was something I can't explain. This was a three pronged night, this gig being 'Prong 1.'

I'm eating white asparagus before the gig with our new friends Christoph and Bela, bout 10.00 I start booking it to the 'Haldern Pop Festival,' which was a logistical nightmare to find, come to find out its a tent in back of a music venue off Alexanderplatz. Yea easy you say, but try finding this stuff one day. The outside venue looks like something from WW2, an amazing looking venue, some of these places, I've never seen anything like it.

I arrive and The Divine Comedy is 20 minutes deep into the set, the door dude tells me I can just skip the entrance fee of 30 bucks because it's late, I'm like 'f*ck yea!' I head to the back of the building and see the tent and 'Generation Sex' is blarring from the tent as I run frantically inside. Inside is pure joy, as Neil and his 8 piece band produce a full rich sound.


Many old favorites were played, and the new stuff sounds amazing. Neil and his sweet Martin, a brilliant keys player, violin, upright bass, skins and misc instruments made this a magical night.

50 minutes deep into the set, the music stops, some butchy German lady says the show must stop because of noise. This was met by a deep "BOOOOOOOOO!" by myself and other Divine Comedy hardcore fans. Neil could barly get out any closing sentiments, and unfortunately his subtle wit flew right over the German speaking audience.

I met some really cool people at the show, will describe in 'Prong 2' of the evening. And for the record, I did do the tourist sh*t the first two days too.

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Video - Generation Sex - I did manage to capture this short video, the rest of the time the goosebumps were too out of control to manage this camera.

The new album comes out Juneteenth, go out and make a record store visit for this one, it won't be a disappointment from the stuff I heard. Tracklist is as follows.

1. To Die A Virgin
2. Mother Dear
3. Diva Lady
4. A Lady of a Certain Age
5. The Light of Day
6. Threesome
7. Party Fears Two (cover version of The Associates's song)
8. Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World
9. The Plough
10. Count Grassi's Passage Over Piedmont
11. Snowball in Negative

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Babyshambles - Columbiahalle - Berlin

Let's see, how do I write this gig up. Columbiahalle, a pretty bland venue in the perspective of many other historic buildings around the area, was to host Pete and the Babyshambles, and all of us in the building were not sure as to if he was going to show up or not, he didn't show up for the opening stop of the tour in Cologne.

I'm eating some bland food at the tourist stop of choice until a bit after 11, I hop in the cab and head towards the gig, thinking, hmmmm, I'll get there right on time. However, getting there, the locals say 'the plane is late' to arrive. Well the Berliner Pils is flowing, I'm talking to some folks about music, and about 1.45 A.M. Pete FINALLY makes it to the stage, and the performance about to be done was f*ckin' brilliant.

Singing songs of Babyshambles and Libertines, the show was amazing, the intangibles added up to be one the the best shows I've ever seen. The dude is in the news all the time, it's all marketing bullshit, but behind all that it's a substantial experience.


There's a lot to be said about his charisma and appearance. Some highlights of the evening were Albion, What Katy Did, and old school libertines 'Time for Heroes.' Many songs got the crowd hoppin', and there were many that were slow, there were yet more where Pete just eek's out weird sounds, and many subtleties that made the show / band unique


12 liters deep into the evening, the show ends just after 4pm, 2+ hours of playing. Yea, then began the adventure of finding my way home without the address of the hotel.....Ummmm, cab to TierGarten Park please.......(which is the size of Central Park New York) --

Night ends slightly after 5am, with blurry visions of perfection in my head.

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Some videos of the performance. I couldn't get close, it was a rough crowd.

1. Pipedown (Opener)
2. Albion
3. La Belle et la Bete
4. La Belle et la Bete 2
5. What Katy Did
6. Time For Heroes
7. F*ck Forever

Monday, May 08, 2006

To Live and not to Breathe -- Is to Die in Tragedy

Tomorrow we begin our trek to Deutschland, via VDub ride to Houston. What will I miss while I'm gone?.....Hmmmm, a hectic learning curve of identity management with MIIS and some knock off of active directory, 'customers' petty little requests, and meetings meetings meetings, or as the grinch would say....O the noise noise noise!

I'll miss my little nephews, although Collin will be happy to have his room back for a spell, and I prolong dying by 2 weeks in suburban traffic, where at one point the flow of traffic is 70, and the next second it is 20 --- simply can't understand that!

It's 11.33 pm, and I haven't packed a single thing yet, but I do have the clothes in the wash! Yay livejournal yay. It's been a busy crazy hectic hard on the bones last seven days or so, but once I hop on that plan, or hop off that plane rather, all my troubles will vanish for a spell while I look at castles, and, um, museums, and um, other old stuff.

Berlin I'm hyped about the two gigs, Divine Comedy and The Babyshambles (download the acoustic torrents on the site, they are good). Seeing a good ol talented druggie in a seedy East Berlin venue will be a real treat, and the next night my modern day hero when it comes to lyrics in music, he's got it all. I'd like to go the the Technical Museum, its the biggest in the world, and another art museum, not modern, the old stuff. The Brandenburg Gate and checkpoint charlie are going to be awesome too.

Prague I'd like to go 'clubbin,' drink some Absinthe just like Kafka did back in the day, which probably made him go nuts, try to find Radio Free Europe, look at all these big churches, and get a 'legit' massage, in a spa, while drinking a pint or two, this is becoming popular in Prague from what I read.

Munich, touring the BMW plant, Olympic Park, ummm, going to so high place and looking down on all the cool colored buildings. Then on to Snow White's castle, right after clearing the throat from the concentration experience.

A hop down to Salzburg, hopefully a stop at the Eagles Nest, and then a drive up The Romantic Road, which summed up was a trade route in the middle ages, lots of old cities, way too much to blog about, but read about that sh*t, its awesome.

Well that's about it folks, I'll try to keep y'all updated if nothing other than a 'holla from this big a$$ medieval castle' or something to that effect, and also my GPS coordinates so yall can look it up on the map, I'm geeky that way.

Signing out for the next few weeks for the most part, but check back for some killer pictures and hopefully humorous commentary when I'm back to rest at work!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

----

I was going to quote a cheesy White Lion lyric for the title, but lyrically I'm at a loss for a night hanging out with the nephews.

This was a challenging night friends, a night in which I was for two to three hours with a four year old and a two year old. Lets see, things that freak me out, merely because I'm not used to dealing with kids....

  1. The boys want to go swimming, I say no because I wasn't informed of this, the pool is not inflated, and there is sand all over it. Kyle puts on his trunks anyway, Collin gets mad kyle puts on his trunks. Both insist on swimming, I hold firm.
  2. Collin pee pee's in his swim trunks, starts to cry, I beg him to put his pullup back on, which I find to be wet also, so I get a new one, he's royally ticked off he's got to put this back on while Kyle is pimpin' his swim trunks
  3. Later Collin loses his band aid on his toe, starts to cry till I agree to go push him on the swing.
  4. The boys get antsy and rowdy, and I tell them, 'if you are nice to me and don't give me a hard time, since I'm new to this, I'll take y'all on a wagon ride.' They both become nice to me and we go around the block.
  5. Getting home, general things keep me busy with these dudes, until mom and dad finally make it home and offer some relief and wisdom as it applies to parenthood.

Can't really understand the kid thing AT ALL yet, If I ever have kids, I'll be in for a rude awakening one day.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

As Luck Would Have It

Finally got to view the pictures from the Rivera Wedding a few months back. The first time EVER I caught the garter, thought I'd share a picture.

Pictage.com has all the goods, even me playing Rambo with the headband around my head.


Fun times, the wait staff at Ashton Gardens are great too!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Said I - I Don't Know Where There's a Box or the Bag

Exactly what are the lyrics the Yellow Ledbetter anyway, can someone make that out, or is Mr Vedder speaking in tongues? My bags are not nearly packed and ready to go, and in 7 days I'll be landing in Berlin, very little preparation, but lots of reading. I'll have to laptop and a killer GPS unit too, so I have no worries.

I also bought some luggage today, a steal of a 3 bag deal at Academy for 68 bucks! The same smaller bag was 150 in Whole Earth, maybe it was organic or something, but big time overpriced. Usually I buy some one use Wal-Mart crap, and then I'm sad the zipper broke, or something else crazy happens, or I use someones 1962 model.

Mentioning the bag was bigger than Collin, we decided to test it out and see and sure enough he fits in with room to spare.


Tonight I played guitar guy to my nephews, Puff the Magic Dragon, and the ABC's song, which actually works good with the D-A-G-D-A-G-D-G chord progression, luckily, no one threw a chicken at me.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Play Masters - Project Playground

Well our class is pretty much over, we had our big presentation today, and it went very well, due in full to the amazing people around me. I had to speak about the Risk Management pieces, I had a few slides and a shitty graph, and very little preparation.

We handled the building of a playground for Spicewood Elementary, handling scope, schedule, cost, quality, procurement, risk, human resources, and, ummm some other stuff.

The guru's are as follows, Karla, Mark, Sandy, Christina, Mr Fat Head, Mike and Stacy. Since the class is over with, I can get sentimental on you guys and say I've enjoyed working with you all and wish you the best when you go back to your camps and say "Show me the Money!" == hahahaha -- We took this picture Sunday, today we all dressed up in red shirts, brown pants, basically looking like Target employees!


Mark you a budgeting bada$$, Mike same goes for you with the scheduling, and damn ladies, y'all sure did keep me on my toes, and I appreciate all the guidance and knowledge you passed on. I'm really inspired by y'alls hard work, and only wish I could have contributed more to the team.

I'll leave the class knowing the terminology and somewhat prepared for the PMP Exam, putting the principals learned to work in a 'real world' environment, well I suppose we'll see.

I hope you all keep in touch, and look forward to happy hour this week possibly!