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That Was Weird

So, something happened to me yesterday that I’m having a difficult time understanding. Unfortunately, I have to be quite vague about this because I don’t understand the long-term ramifications of what happened (and what didn’t happen) yet to put any details into a public forum such as this. I probably won’t ever detail it much here.

The problem is that I’m very disturbed about what happened and I get to think about it for the entire long holiday weekend now. Since this happened yesterday, each time I try to calmly think through the event I get angry, saddened and frustrated to the point where I have to distract myself and go on to something completely different.

So, I apologize for being so very vague about what happened. I hope that someday I can speak of it publicly… but not today.

Are you kidding me?

As a follow-up to the smash-n-grab stereo theft saga just prior to Labor Day, let me first say that Allstate performed admirably in getting everything resolved. The window had been replaced about 14 hours after the crime and the next morning I visited Allstate’s drive-in claim center near my house armed with the original receipt for the stolen Pioneer stereo system. The claim agent transferred the numbers into his document without any deductions, added in the paint scratches and damage compensation figures and cut me a check on the spot. Took about 20 minutes total. I was then able to get to the stereo shop that morning and have everything replaced by lunchtime. So, great work Allstate! At least until I pay my next 6-month premium and then it will be back to “scum-sucking bastards.”

So I was up late last night/this morning watching TV and surfing the web, doing some research for my upcoming vacation. A cold front had come through the area so I had closed the windows and front door to cut off the cool breeze. About 1:40 I heard a car alarm, slightly muffled since the windows were shut. I jumped up and ran out the front door to see it was my alarm. I saw no person(s) or vehicles out there and hadn’t heard anything prior to the alarm sounding. I grabbed a flashlight and my mobile phone and headed out to see:

I guess I had ran outside fast enough, along with the alarm sounding, to scare off whomever had been screwing with my truck. Unfortunately the driver’s-side window was shattered. Nothing was stolen this time but still a pain in the ass.

An hour later, police report filed and having removed tools and other personal items from a now insecure vehicle, I tried to lay on the couch and fall back asleep. Did you know there is a version of the Today show that airs at 4 AM local time here in Denver? And would you believe it’s nearly as bad as the regular Today show and its late-morning variants? Dozed off a bit after that but didn’t really get any sound sleep until about 6:30.

The auto glass guy was just here to replace the window. I look forward to the increase of auto insurance rates.

It might be cooler *over there*…

I took the girls up to Golden Gate Canyon state park today in search of some cooler temperatures. We found some low 80’s at altitude but the blazing sun and thin air made it feel pretty miserable up there, too. We took a hike through the forest and enjoyed the shady areas wherever we found them.

We drove back down the hill and met 100 degree temps back at home.

Better

We visited Dr. Stubbs again today and he removed the bandage. He also said Lucy was okay for short walks around the neighborhood and a little activity, but certainly she needed more recuperation time. She’s done well so far on our walks.. we’re working our way up to two miles for the Denver Dumb Friends’ League Furry Scurry charity walk event.

I guess my dogs really love me

I was working in the yard today and when I came back in the house I turned on the computer to purchase some camping gear from REI before their annual Member’s 20% Off Sale ended. After a while I noticed I had not seen the dogs in the house but I assumed they were in the back yard playing.

Thirty minutes later it dawned on me I had not heard them barking at each other or running in and out of the doggy door so I went to check on them. They enjoy laying in the grass in the back yard on nice afternoons so I was a little surprised when I did not see either of them from the back windows. I went down the steps to the back door and I suddenly realized I left the gate open while doing yard work and it was wide open. The dogs had escaped!

I ran around to the front yard and expected to see the worst (Lucy hit by a car after chasing a squirrel across the street) or at least have to drive around the neighborhood looking for the girls. Instead, I found them laying in the grass in the front yard watching cars drive past the house and generally being awesome doggies. I guess they either decided they love me enough to stay or they didn’t feel like getting jobs to pay for food. Either way, I’m glad they stuck around.

Day 1: Berlin

day 1
Friday started early, as I had a 7:45 flight and a 4:50 reservation with Super Shuttle.  The ride to the airport and check-in was uneventful, and I was on the plane with no major issues.  The pilot started the engines and started to taxi for a takeoff when he suddenly shut down the engines and informed us that he was seeing a malfunction in the starboard engine.  We were towed back to gate and the mechanics came out to see where the problem was located.  After about 20 minutes, we were cleared to leave again (we never heard if they fixed the issue or not) and were on our way to Newark.
I had over four hours to kill in the Newark airport, so obviously my first stop was a bar near my departing gate.  Did I have a few whiskeys?  Of course!  I also tried to make a few phone calls while I had some time to kill.  Be warned, I’m about to go off on a rant here:
Goddammit AT&T!  It should not take 15 attempts to make a single call!  From a major airport!  Seriously?  WTF are you doing over there?  You’re certainly not trying to run a mobile phone network!  I tried for over 40 minutes to download my e-mail on my phone and I think I eventually uploaded one photo, even though I kept getting “network connection reset” errors.  When the iPhone moves to another carrier, so will I.
On board the plane to berlin, I found myself sitting next to a mid-40s couple from Berlin.  They were very nice and we had a nice long conversation about many things.  The only thing that ruined the flight for all three of us was an older couple in the row in front of us… yes, they were Ugly Americans.  Apparently the man and his wife were in a competition to see who could slam their seat back the most times in one flight, and they also competed in such events as How Many Times We You Go to the Lavatory and my favorite, My Seat Sucks So Trade Places With Me.
Upon landing at Berlin Tegel Airport, I changed some dollars for euros and grabbed a transit card so I could take the TXL bus to the main train station, where I had planned to take the U-bahn (subway) near to my hotel.  I made a bit if a mistake while looking at the transit maps, as I thought there was a U-bahn line from the Hauptbahnhof to Friedrishstraße station.  It turns out it’s an S-bahn line (commuter train)… I had been traveling for the better part of a whole day and was sleepy, so I spent a while walking around the Hauptbahnhof looking for the U-bahn line  I needed.  I finally figured out thet the only U-bahn line there runs only to the Brandendurg Gate (it’s the beginning of the U-5 line that’s still under construction.).  Eventually I made my way and got to Freidrichstraße station, and then to the U-6 line south to the Stadtmitte station,  A short walk later I was in the hotel.
Hurrupmh.  I know I used Marriott points to book a free hotel stay and saved at least 140 euro, but I don’t get the point of charging for internet access.  Both the in-room connection and the wi-fi in the obby were pay-only services, and at  16.95 euro per 24 hours it was not a bargain.  I decided to skip it here and will upload from Leipzig.  Just because business people are likely to expense this cost does not make it the right thing to do.
I’m getting older, and slightly wiser, so I have started planning a little wiggle room into thew beginning of my trips to allow for some time to acclimate and sleep off the jet lag.  My first travel day started at 4 am in Denver and ended the next day at about 10 am in Berlin (with only a little sleep on the airplane during this time).  10 years ago, this would not be a problem for me, but the extra nap time today at the hotel was very welcome,  I took a shower and laid on the bed by the open window for a few hours because you never really sleep well on a plane.  My original plan for today was to go out and explore Berlin, but in hindsight this was an overly ambitious plan.  Luckily, tomorrow (Sunday) was going to be a day where I took as quick train ride to the Polish border (because I was so close) and then back to Leipzig, so instead I will just do some exploring in Berlin and take my scheduled train from Berlin to Leipzig in the late afternoon.
After a few hours of napping, I went for a walk around the neighborhood.  A cool front had blown in and the skies at 5 pm were gray with a brisk wind whipping from time to time.  It felt very comfortable to me, but many people were wearing jackets, coats and even scarves.  I headed east and found Checkpoint Charlie, still full of tourists at this hour on a Saturday evening.  I turned north and walked up Friedrichstraße to Unter den Linden and east to the Fernsehturm.  By this time it was dark, and I came to a realization:  I need a better camera.
For the longest time, I’ve been content to use a Canon point-and-shoot camera due to its small size and relatively excellent picture quality.  However, I realized that many of the shots I wanted to take in the fading daylight along Unter den Linden just did not turn out at all.  There were many good shots of building lit in various dramatic ways that turned out blurry or worse due to the low light conditions.  Any movement of the camera while the shutter is open are amplified in low-light conditions so most of my shots become undecipherable blobs.  The one question I have to ask myself is: Am I willing to be “that guy,”  an obvious tourist walking along with an expensive SLR hanging from my neck and a collapsable tripod in tow?  Perhaps I’ll leave the photography to the experts.
I headed back to the hotel, fully intending to grab a bite to eat along the way.  Surprisingly, there were not many restaurants open and the few I did see that were still serving were italian and thai places, not “german.”  I made it back to the hotel and hit the bar for a Berliner pilsner and some chips (fries), which was really all I needed before crashed for the night.  I expected I would need to rest up for tomorrow…

Friday started early, as I had a 7:45 flight and a 4:50 reservation with Super Shuttle.  The ride to the airport and check-in was uneventful, and I was on the plane with no major issues.  The pilot started the engines and started to taxi for a takeoff when he suddenly shut down the engines and informed us that he was seeing a malfunction in the starboard engine.  We were towed back to gate and the mechanics came out to see where the problem was located.  After about 20 minutes, we were cleared to leave again (we never heard if they fixed the issue or not) and were on our way to Newark.


I had over four hours to kill in the Newark airport, so obviously my first stop was a bar near my departing gate.  Did I have a few whiskeys?  Of course!  I also tried to make a few phone calls while I had some time to kill.  Be warned, I’m about to go off on a rant here:


Goddammit AT&T!  It should not take 15 attempts to make a single call!  From a major airport!  Seriously?  WTF are you doing over there?  You’re certainly not trying to run a mobile phone network!  I tried for over 40 minutes to download my e-mail on my phone and I think I eventually uploaded one photo, even though I kept getting “network connection reset” errors.  When the iPhone moves to another carrier, so will I.


On board the plane to berlin, I found myself sitting next to a mid-40s couple from Berlin.  They were very nice and we had a nice long conversation about many things.  The only thing that ruined the flight for all three of us was an older couple in the row in front of us… yes, they were Ugly Americans.  Apparently the man and his wife were in a competition to see who could slam their seat back the most times in one flight, and they also competed in such events as How Many Times We You Go to the Lavatory and my favorite, My Seat Sucks So Trade Places With Me.


Upon landing at Berlin Tegel Airport, I changed some dollars for euros and grabbed a transit card so I could take the TXL bus to the main train station, where I had planned to take the U-bahn (subway) near to my hotel.  I made a bit if a mistake while looking at the transit maps, as I thought there was a U-bahn line from the Hauptbahnhof to Friedrishstraße station.  It turns out it’s an S-bahn line (commuter train)… I had been traveling for the better part of a whole day and was sleepy, so I spent a while walking around the Hauptbahnhof looking for the U-bahn line  I needed.  I finally figured out thet the only U-bahn line there runs only to the Brandendurg Gate (it’s the beginning of the U-5 line that’s still under construction.).  Eventually I made my way and got to Freidrichstraße station, and then to the U-6 line south to the Stadtmitte station,  A short walk later I was in the hotel.


Hurrupmh.  I know I used Marriott points to book a free hotel stay and saved at least 140 euro, but I don’t get the point of charging for internet access — it should be part of the cost of the room.  Both the in-room connection and the wi-fi in the lobby were pay-only services, and at  16.95 euro per 24 hours it was not a bargain.  I decided to skip it here and will upload from Leipzig.  Just because business people are likely to expense this cost does not make it the right thing to do.


I’m getting older, and slightly wiser, so I have started planning a little wiggle room into thew beginning of my trips to allow for some time to acclimate and sleep off the jet lag.  My first travel day started at 4 am in Denver and ended the next day at about 10 am in Berlin (with only a little sleep on the airplane during this time).  10 years ago, this would not be a problem for me, but the extra nap time today at the hotel was very welcome,  I took a shower and laid on the bed by the open window for a few hours because you never really sleep well on a plane.  My original plan for today was to go out and explore Berlin, but in hindsight this was an overly ambitious plan.  Luckily, tomorrow (Sunday) was going to be a day where I took as quick train ride to the Polish border (because I was so close) and then back to Leipzig, so instead I will just do some exploring in Berlin and take my scheduled train from Berlin to Leipzig in the late afternoon.


After a few hours of napping, I went for a walk around the neighborhood.  A cool front had blown in and the skies at 5 pm were gray with a brisk wind whipping from time to time.  It felt very comfortable to me, but many people were wearing jackets, coats and even scarves.  I headed east and found Checkpoint Charlie, still full of tourists at this hour on a Saturday evening.  I turned north and walked up Friedrichstraße to Unter den Linden and east to the Fernsehturm.  By this time it was dark, and I came to a realization:  I need a better camera.


For the longest time, I’ve been content to use a Canon point-and-shoot camera due to its small size and relatively excellent picture quality.  However, I realized that many of the shots I wanted to take in the fading daylight along Unter den Linden just did not turn out at all.  There were many good shots of building lit in various dramatic ways that turned out blurry or worse due to the low light conditions.  Any movement of the camera while the shutter is open are amplified in low-light conditions so most of my shots become undecipherable blobs.  The one question I have to ask myself is: Am I willing to be “that guy,”  an obvious tourist walking along with an expensive SLR hanging from my neck and a collapsable tripod in tow?  Perhaps I’ll leave the photography to the experts.


I headed back to the hotel, fully intending to grab a bite to eat along the way.  Surprisingly, there were not many restaurants open and the few I did see that were still serving were italian and thai places, not “german.”  I made it back to the hotel and hit the bar for a Berliner pilsner and some chips (fries), which was really all I needed before crashed for the night.  I expected I would need to rest up for tomorrow…