The last two hotels in which I stayed on this trip offered wifi. In Dallas it was $9.95 a day. In Frankfurt it cost an outrageous €19.99. Here in rural Germany, the hotel offers free wifi. Unfortunately, there is no coverage in my room. To get wifi, one needs to sit in the lobby.

Published in: on 26 February, 2012 at 23:53  Comments (1)  

A Sunday Afternoon Stroll

After lunch in Frankfurt we caught an express train heading South. Our final destination involved a change of trains. We checked the timetable, which was arranged by departure time and found the name of the town and the platform from the service would depart. We went across and boarded the train which sat ready to depart.

After a short journey, the train drew into the first stop. I stood up and headed for the door. My traveling companion told me that was not our stop. It was the correct town name, but the wrong station. I sat down. The train went on and there was an announcement naming a completely different town; this was clearly wrong. We looked at the map on the train. We were on the wrong line, one that ran by our town and not through it.

We disembarked at the stop, hoping to get a taxi that could take us to our hotel. This station could more accurately be described as a halt. There was no taxi. We did not know when the next train that would take us back would arrive; Sunday is not a day universally known for good public transport. A search for taxi firms in the vicinity had no positive results.

Google maps told us that it was a little over 3km on foot. We decided that we would start to walk and we could hail a passing cab, or drop into a bar, get a beer and have them order a taxi. We started the journey, dragging cases behind us. We saw no taxis; the only bar was closed. That bar was across from a bus stop, but the next bus was an hour away. We have since found that the bus not only went into town, but stopped right outside the hotel.

We finally saw a taxi right outside our hotel as we finished our hour long trudge through the German countryside. Stepping out of the cab was our colleague from England, who had boarded his train in Frankfurt just about the time we had disembarked at the wrong station.

I would like to lay the blame at the feet of my traveling partner, but he his my boss, so I shall have to acknowledge that is all my fault.

Published in: on 26 February, 2012 at 23:48  Comments (1)  


I am traveling. I am writing this sat in a bar in a Frankfurt hotel. I arrived here this morning from Dallas. This is my first visit to Germany, the twenty-sixth different country that I have visited in my life.

The hotel in Dallas was built into the airport terminal. My room looked out over the runway. It was a spacious room and had all of the light switches labelled, so I did not have to play that game where you push everyone in an attempt to turn off the bedside light. Unfortunately, this helpful approach was somewhat undone by the fact that some lights were on switches that toggled; press once to turn on and again to turn off. Other lights had separate on and off switches. This left me pressing the on switch in futile attempts to darken the bathroom. I was also confused as the bulbs were energy efficient CFL, so you turned them on and three was a delay. Sometimes,I would press twice, the light going on for a brief moment before darkness returns. Seeing energy efficient lights in Texas was odd, as I thought that such Eco awareness was equivalent to anti-American behaviors in the Lone Star state.

To get through the jet lag and stay awake to a sensible local time, I am watching football in the hotel’s sports bar. All of the screens are showing Köln v Bayer Leverkusen. The sports bar attempts to emulate an American bar – an effect undone by its focus on the beautiful game. However, there is a Mark McGwire shirt over the bar. It is a Cardinals era one and not the green and gold.


Published in: on 25 February, 2012 at 7:38  Comments (1)  

Dessert by the Trough

I have written many entries over the year on the size of US portions. Here is another one. On Friday we went with another couple to Compadres a great Mexican restaurant in Napa. After a delightful meal, a sampler plate of desserts was ordered. We expected to get small samples of several sweet dishes; there is a clue in the name after all. What we actually got was a trough with full size helpings of the desserts.

Desert Sampler

There is fried ice-cream, brownie with ice cream, banana in cinnamon coated tortilla (with ice cream), and a light creme brûlée (oddly enough with ice cream)

Maybe we should not have been so surprised, as the evening started with this drink being delivered to me.

IMG 0529

This is a Cazuela; a mixture of two rums, tequila, brandy, juice of orange, lemon, and lime, topped up with 7-up. Very tasty and not compatible with driving home; fortunately I was not in the role of designated driver.

Published in: on 19 February, 2012 at 10:01  Comments (1)  

Spring is Here

Spring has arrived;  for one definition of Spring. It may only be mid-February, but in Arizona and Florida baseball’s Spring Training has started. Pitchers and catchers have reported for duty. The calendar may claim that spring does not start for over a month, but baseball fans know better


Published in: on 18 February, 2012 at 11:06  Leave a Comment  

Sense the future, once all Jedi could

As predicted in my blog a few weeks back, I went to see Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 3D. I borrowed a pair of twin boys to try and further justify this odd decision. Approaching the film without the high hopes I did in 1999, did help my enjoyment. The myriad problems in plot, characterization, and stereotypes remain. The 3D added little, often just a single object in the foreground against a flat background, which actually reduced the sense of depth. If 3D is going to work, it is clear that a movie needs to be created with the intention of being in 3D; retro fitting it does not work.

However, when Attack of the Clones arrives, I am sure that all the reasons against going, which include the most excruciatingly awful dialog in movie history, will be outweighed by the “It’s Star Wars” argument.

Published in: on 13 February, 2012 at 21:38  Comments (2)  


On Tuesday we had an event to celebrate the completion of a project milestone at work. Food and drink were provided. After eating, there was a trivia quiz. We made teams of four. My team was well balanced, with every member contributing important answers.

At the final reckoning, we were tied in first place, so it came down to the tie-break question: “How many Star Trek movies have been made?”. Both times knew the answer, so it came down to listing them. Fortunately, our opponents could not recall the one that came after Star Trek: First Contact, whilst I knew it was Star Trek:Insurrection.

The win is yet more proof that Geek knowledge is useful.

Tonight, my wife and I are going with one of the other members of the team to spend our prize; a gift card for dinner at one of our favourite Napa Valley restaurants, Hurley’s in Yountville.


Published in: on 11 February, 2012 at 9:58  Leave a Comment  

Film Club

Fortunately, the first rule of Film Club is not “You do not talk about FILM CLUB” so I can write this post.

At work a group of us have started a film club. It will work like a book club. Over the course of each month, we will watch two films, then meet and discuss them. The movies need to be available streaming on Netflix, so that all members have access to them. We each suggested several films. The names were dropped into a hat, well a coffee mug as there was no head wear to hand. The two drawn for the month of February are Trollhunter and Delicatessen.

I have seen the latter a couple of times, but it is worthy of watching again. I have heard good things about Trollhunter, which is why it was one of my nominations


Published in: on 4 February, 2012 at 12:43  Comments (1)  

Not Able to Read English

I was talking with a coworker yesterday about films. We had both seen and enjoyed The Artist, about which I blogged at the weekend. She sadly shared her opinion that few people would see it, as they would be too close minded to see a silent black and white film. She then recounted a story from when she had worked at Blockbuster. People would return Pan’s Labyrinth and demand a refund because the film was in Spanish and subtitled. Somehow this was a shock, despite the cover bearing the proud claim that it had been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. There is irony that those renters insistent on English in their films could not comprehend the English on the box.

Published in: on 1 February, 2012 at 6:41  Leave a Comment