Sunday, May 29, 2011

German Keyboards

So you all know I have a job at DIL, more on that later, but what you may not know is that it's a desk job and I spend eight and a half hours each day sitting in front of my computer (I just got mine, more on that later).  Normally, this would be inconsequential--I have a long association with computers and, though I don't know much in the way of programing, I'm pretty good and I continually make efforts to learn more [Minecraft has actually been a minor course in the technicals of how computer filing works, I have to manually place the texture packs into the proper folder {took me forever to figure out *windows button + R* and search appdata}]--but in this case it amounts to something because I have to use a German Keyboard.  

What did I just show you a picture of?  This is what I have to deal with every day.  At first glance it actually looks normal, the F and J are in the right places so you don't have to alter your hand positions or think too much about where things are on the keyboard.  But, before you say anything, do me a favor--look down at your keyboard, and back at the picture.  Notice the "y" and "z" positions are reversed.  Just those two.  Zou have no idea how annozingz this can be.

That being said, I submit my further observations on the design.  The "up arrow" key can be correctly inferred from relative position to be the "Shift" key.  "Down arrow" is similarly "Caps Lock."  "Strg" is "CTRL," there are some extra letters you don't use, but they're not in the way (and end up being downright convenient when you have to type "Quakenbrück").  The ' key is aggravatingly hidden behind the #, whether you can see that from this image or not.  

But the only thing you might really be confused about is something called "Alt Gr."  Notice the upper row, with the numbers.  There are three symbols per key.  The "Alt Gr" is a kind of 'second shift' key, that lets you  stack numbers and letters in groups of three--actually a good idea if you desperately want to fit all the German letters and symbols onto an American style keyboard.  But it makes hunting down "[" "(" and "@" very difficult.  

I don't know how many 'alternate shift' keys you'd need to fix this, 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Deutsches Insitut für Lebensmitteltechnik
Edward Carley

This report documents the process through which I went to find a usable setup for a pulse signal and the subsequent tests I set up in preparation for calibrating the probe to the analysis of meat. 

Initially, I thought the TGP110 10MHz Pulse Generator would supply the pulse, but the setup was somewhat complex and the analog knob for the amplitude was libel to change accidentally.  Also, the pulse it generated had secondary peaks besides the desired reflected pulse, which were probably pulse echoes from the apparatus.  Since extra signals are undesirable, it being unclear where they come from, I continued to look for other ways to generate a pulse. 

The Handyscope HS3-100 has a function generator feature, but no pulse function.  However, by setting the square function to the max 12.0V DC Offset, max 12.0 Volt amplitude, 0.2MHz Frequency, and 0.1% Symmetry, I achieved what was effectively a pulse.  The Out cable was attached to a coaxial T adaptor at the CH1 In port, leaving a long cable out the other side attached to the probe.  The Handyscope displays several measurements a second, resulting in turbulent appearing data.  To reduce random error, I set the program to perform an averaging of 128 measurements before wiping the results and I record the waveforms generated by the probe only when they are over 115 measurements averaged. 

A long cable for the probe is needed to separate the pulse from the reflected pulse and the accompanying signal.  At first I connected several smaller cables together with female to female coaxial adaptors, but concerns were raised about possible error due to cord arrangements.  It was supposed the close contact of coiled cables could create a small magnetic field, affecting the pulse.  So, as the experiment in the Excel spreadsheet ‘Cord Arrangement’ in the ‘rn’ folder of ‘Eddie Data’ shows, I set up an experiment to compare positions of the cable and the order of the individual cables. 

To determine if these differences were significant beyond random error, I created the experiment which can be seen in the nearby Excel spreadsheet ‘Random Noise with Air.’  I took measurements of air with the probe, isolating temperature and cord position, approximately every thirty seconds to see what error could be attributed to random noise.  What I found was that the probe in the most consistent environment I could create has differences on the order of 0.1% of the amplitude.  Comparatively, the cord arrangements have differences greater than 1% of the amplitude, over an order of magnitude increase. 

When I switched to the new cable, which is one line of cable with no adapters, the differences between the arrangements shrank dramatically.  While the doubled over and quadrupled over cable arrangements had differences with the straight line greater than 1%, the other arrangements had much smaller differences.  The differences between the straight and jumbled cables were on the order of 0.1%.  I used the jumbled arrangement for subsequent experiments.

I began using the probe on solutions of salt in water, beginning with the Open Office spreadsheets ‘Salt Test Range,’ ‘Salt Test Range 2,’ and 3.  I wanted to examine the reflected signal waveforms generated by high and low concentrations of salt in these experiments.  Later, I also tested how the waveforms responded to changes in temperature at different concentrations, with tapwater as a base of comparison.  I have yet to mathematically analyze these results, but it currently appears there is no interaction between the variables of concentration and temperature. 

I note here that it matters where in the liquid solution where you hold the probe, but this is not a problem as long as you are consistent.  The probe senses less salt, and the waveform rises, when it is in contact with the sides or bottom of the container.  Holding it in the middle of the solution seems to give a consistent reading, but this is conjecture and will be tested.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Yeah, Artland Dragons.  Andrew may remember the Artland Dragon, considering we had lunch in their brewery a year ago.  The Dragon on the side of the beers we drank is the symbol for Quakenbruck's Basketball team.  Why not a frog?  I'm not sure.

But Dr. Figura had an extra ticket, and I was in a mood to do whatever anyone gave me the opportunity for.  Anyone who knows me, knows I don't talk about sports much.  That's because I'm not much into them, and my greatest exposure probably comes from a Baseball game with Gompie.  That was until a year ago, when I watched the World Cup in the bar beside the Manneken Pis.  Sports are nothing to be afraid of, they might even be a little fun.  So I'm feeling pretty good about this basketball game, despite not knowing many of the rules.

I get directions to the Stadium from Oliver, and end up following the general masses anyway.  I meet Dr. Figura, his wife (whom I met the day before at the Lowen Apotheke), and his college-age son.  Figura buys me a drink, and his son leads me into the Stadium.  Through the cave of aluminum benches he leads me, while the speakers pump Katty Perry's ET (Do they understand the lyrics?  I wouldn't have if I hadn't bothered to look it up), a beer in one hand, my jacket in the other.  It's hot in this room, and my jacket is worthless, an unfortunate burden.  I discover later that Quakenbruck's stadium is the loudest in Germany.  Apparently, they've hit the golden mean of building volume and crowd density--the Stadium is enclosed, small, and always packed with people.

The Artland Dragon runs out, does a flip, and lands on his butt with the costume's head staring up at him.  Not sure if they could have rehearsed that.  They have cheerleaders, the floor is lined with scrolling advertisements, and the crowd is wild.  About 1/10 of the audience is cheering for the other team, the Phantoms.  The other 9/10 is fiercely devoted and carries a clapping noisemaker meant to distract the opposition during free throws.  I'm told that this is where the American players who couldn't make it into the big leagues go, when I ask about the American flags next to several of the players on the handouts.

The game begins.  The Artland Dragons shoot into the lead early on, leading by fifteen points at the peak of their game.  Eventually, the Phantoms begin to catch up.  At the first sign of the Phantom's strength, they stop the game and deploy the cheerleaders.


Did I just hear Freddie Mercury in Germany, with the whole crown singing along?

The Phantoms tie the Dragons at half time, and Figura talks about how this is one of many games between the two teams this season and how last time the Dragons won by thirty points as he buys me another beer.  The Artland cheerleaders put on a brave front, but the Phantoms smell weakness.  They pull ahead slowly but, by the long and short of it, the Phantoms are leading near the end of the game.  EMERGENCY CHEERLEADERS!!  but it's not enough.  The game is lost, and vengeance is promised Tuesday.

Figura takes me out with his family to a local pub near my home, whose owner I recognize from the game, and my jacket finally comes in handy.  We have a couple beers with peanuts, which is incidentally one of the first times beer has really and truly come together in a way most wonderful with food--the icecold beer, the warm and salty peanuts, the sunset view over the train tracks--it was all good.

Sunday passed sweetly, yet uneventfully.  My next blog will be about Monday.

Adventure Time

Saturday was a good day.  I woke up late, refreshed and peaceful.  I decided to walk around the city, going over some of the places Dr. Figura had showed me before, maybe plan my route to the Stadium that night, definitely walk by DIL.

So I set out with my backpack, camera, and jacket.  I put my jacket in the backpack five minutes later, it can get hot in Germany.  It was a beautiful day, by most standards (I kind of like the drizzly gray sky and spooky howling wind through the balcony of today), and I took advantage of it.  I intended to walk in a U around DIL to see the neighborhood, I ended up to the right (from my front door facing the street) of where I started walking towards DIL when I expected to come out to the left.  See, when I look on the mapquest guide to the city, I find there's a road the crosses diagonally past the road I started from--I made only two left turns but found myself to the right of where I started.  Don't worry, I figured it out and I never made the mistake again.

I saw some interesting houses, and then took a walk through the center of town.  I stopped in the K&K, a larger version of the Netto (a German Kwik-E-Mart, basically), grabbed a few things, and took some pictures of the river.  The frogs you see in the pictures are similar to the Lakeland Swans, each colored differently as variations on a theme, in reference to the frog origins of the town's name (explained previously) which you also see in the frog-feet tiles in the road occasionally.  It was a fun little excursion with not much more to tell.  I saw a gym, interestingly enough, but found out later DIL has a private gym (something like 10$ a month and I can't think this other place is cheaper or easier to get to).

Oliver and Company

My sincere apologies to those who checked this site multiple times a day over the last week.  I feel like a blog is a promise, and that I have been neglecting one of my (self imposed) responsibilities.  The only thing I have in my defense is that I've never before worked a proper eight hour day in my life, and the subsequent exhaustion of thinking for someone else has left me spent in the evenings.

Minecraft has been a small, yet significant, blessing during these times--it's a simple form of artistic expression, allowing you to make things out of polygonal blocks, yet is complex enough for talented individuals to craft fascinating spectacles (I'm certainly not spending the kind of time it takes to do that on it)--where I can relax with something not mentally challenging but still artistically stimulating (ultimately, Minecraft is a toy, like Legos, but just youtube 'lego sculptures' to see what, exactly, can be done with a toy).

Returning to the evening of the 6th, a Friday, we meet Oliver--my roommate.  Or flatmate, as you might think of it.  We have a rather spacious flat with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large kitchen, a large living room, what I can only guess is a second story gazebo, a hallway that could pass for a dance floor, a mysterious locked staircase going down outside my room, and a staircase going *literally* nowhere outside Oliver's room.  It's a second story flat, overlooking the Netto and the Rewe (pronounced 'Rever'), and is rather nice.  It just doesn't have many pillows, a dryer, a wardrobe, or a tv, not that I'm complaining.

Oliver.  Oliver was mostly out when I arrived in Quackenbruck, but he was there Friday.  We talked some, and he wanted to go out to get acquainted.  I had been warned against the local 'disco' by Dr. Figura, who believed there might be some unsavory Russians hanging around the dark road home late at night, so I politely refused that idea.  Initially I rejected his other offer, it was crazy.  But I really did want to socially extend my hand to my flatmate, so I accepted.  We saw Fast and Furious 5 in German.

He led me through the eleven o'clock Quackenbruck easily enough, and we came to the Theater--nothing really special about it.  We met a friend of his, who wanted me to travel to another city Sunday, and wasn't sure when we'd get back Monday (the day I would meet my employer).  The potential disaster of being late to my first day of work is what gave me my reasonable excuse to Oliver later, at the moment I avoided it with my best, 'maybe,' meaning, 'no.'

We sat down in the dark, each row had a bar with dim lamps on it attached to the row ahead for setting down drinks and snacks, and the movie started.  It had only been one night since I arrived from my long flight, and the "The Rock" Johnson  and Vin Deisel were speaking in German with no English subtitles, so I nodded off.  During the parts of the first half I was awake for, you didn't really need words to understand what was going on.  These guys are mad at each other.  This guy wants that girl.  We love fast cars.  We love fast cars.  They like fast cars, but don't love them.  And so on with a few minor shootouts.

What I wake up in time for is the real reason people came to see the movie at all, an action scene so over-the-top it should win the gold in pole vaulting, that can be summed up by the words, "Wrecking-Vault-Car Fu."  Two masters of Car Fu lock their fast cars to a multiple-ton safe (large enough to house a small family) and drive it through the city, using momentum to crush pursuing police vehicles in the most imaginative manners.  I was downright impressed.  Even if I slept through half the movie, I got my money's worth.

Oliver walked us back, and all we saw were a couple of Russians riding their bikes at 1am.  It was a decent Friday.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lost in Osnabrück

I'd been invited to a guest lecture at 9:00am in the University of Osnabrück (I've learned that "Osna" comes from the phonetic pronunciation of a river that runs through this part of Germany [something like the 'Hausna,' I'm not sure how to spell it], and the 'brück' means bridge, so it means 'bridge over the Hausna river') so I had to wake up at 7:00am.  I probably wouldn't have done it, considering the hour and coming so close after my flight, but I realized how much I would be needing Nadine's help, so I went anyway.

I followed the directions, boarding the 7:52am train (free for students), and expecting to get off at 8:33pm at the Osnabrück Hbf. stop.  It's 8:38pm, I'm jumpy from the frequent stops and feeling like I should already be there, and I see Osnabrück Hbf. out my window.  So I get out, and I'm in the middle of Osnabrück--just not the middle I wanted to be.  See, when I saw 'Osnabrück Hbf.' I was seeing the next stop, and I didn't know there were two stops in Osnabrück.

My first clue was that I couldn't find the 21 bus.  The nearby leaderboard showing approaching buses and their times didn't have the 21, so I started walking in the opposite direction--hoping I'd see something familiar.  Osnabrück is a much larger city than Quakenbrück, and it's that much more difficult to find a part that's familiar.  So I get to the bus stop on Nonnenpfad, and I admit to myself I'm lost.  I call Dr. Figura, my new best friend, and he gets Jessica to call me (since I can't get my phone to work for her number yet) and I tell her I'm on E.-M. Remarque Ring at the Nonnenpfad bus stop and she says she'll pick me up in 15.

I take the time to study the map on the board I'm standing by, and I have a revelation.  I don't have to actually understand the names, as long as I can memorize them to the extent of visual recognition.  I follow the colors to their ends, and see the numbers identifying them.  I check a list of stops by name (in order) to make sure I'm reading it right.  I see I can take the 31 to Neumarkt and then the 21 to CaprivistraBe to get where I need to be.  Right then, Jessica walks around the corner.

I apologize, attempt to be charming, we chat, she drives me to campus, she comments on how DIL will probably be willing to buy me a wardrobe, we arrive at the guest lecturer.  He's a Japanese man speaking in English with a thick accent (I started wondering if it was more difficult to understand a Japanese accent if you had a German accent), talking about the Nuclear disaster after the earthquake and tsunami.  Apparently, they had assessed the probability of a significant earthquake and a tsunami happening at the same time as being very small.  He showed statements showing concerns for this sort of disaster from 1975, and how people didn't much care to do anything about it.

Afterward, Nadine and I went to lunch.  Not either of the cafeterias we went to last year in Osnabrück, but the nicer one they'd been hiding from us the whole time (they raised a wooden portcullis when it opened [really, a portcullis]).  The food was fantastic as expected (fried fish filet with dill sauce, feta cheese salad, cherry/chocolate pudding, apfel juice).   I'd never even been in the area, but it was somewhere practically in the middle of town because we walked to the inner city area where they hold the Mayfair (we went there often, even after Mayfair, to shop) and looked for something to hang my clothes on.

Yeah, my room is kinda sparsely furnished.  Nadine said there really wasn't anything like what I was looking for in Osnabrück or Quakenbrück, but there was an Ikea outside of town.  We bought coat hangers (8 for 4euro).  When we were done she took me to the train station so I could go back to Quakenbrück, and told me a little late that it only runs once an hour.  We have ten minutes.

Nothing like adding in a little drama.  We hop on a bus, get to Neumarkt, run up the stairs, down the stairs, and get there right on time ("Wow, excellent planning to get us here on time."  "Plan?  Yeah, I totally planned this.")  I make it back to Quakenbrück with no trouble.

At 6:30pm, I leave the flat for the Lowen Apoteke (Lion Pharmacy, AKA 'Golden Lion') to meet Dr. Figure.  His wife owns the pharmacy, and he introduces us briefly.  Dr. Figure and I make our way around town, and he introduces me to the owners of all the restaurants and bars.  He shows me the Im Eimer, and explains how it means 'in the bucket' and how people say 'Ich bin im Eimer' for a laugh--'in the bucket' being a similar phrase to our 'to kick the bucket.'  We have pizza and beer at a local place, which is fantastic (I get the ham and cheese pizza, but the cheese is definitely different from what we're used to).  He shows me the Coat of Arms on the restaurant, going back to the seven orders of knights who guarded Quakenbrück hundreds of years ago.  Ya just trip over history here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sleepless in Quakenbruck

The hours before my delayed 1:10pm flight pass easily in the Amsterdam Airport.  I decide to wait by the gate.  But I can't find it.  Gates 15-30 one way, Gates 10-14 another, Gates 1-7 somewhere else.  Where are 08 and 09?  Near the security exit of the Terminal, there is a smallish sign that says, "Gates 08-09 -->" pointing to a door sealed with a key-card lock.  An employee comes along, opens the door, and when I try and follow he says, "No, no."  Apparently, the door to Gate 09 doesn't open until an hour before the flight leaves.

Sometime later I return with the door open, and descend a flight of stairs to the secret gate.  We bus to the plane, and I realize my sense of déjà vu stems from the fact that Andrew and I were delayed to this same gate a year ago.  Uneventful Flight.

In Munster I head to the help-ish desk to find my delayed flight luggage, making friends with the old German woman I saw back in Frankfurt being delayed to the same flight.  To my astonishment, the luggage followed my progress perfectly and I walk out in time to catch the 2:30pm bus.  But the bus costs money, and there's no Currency Exchange in this airport either.  I ask around, find a Geldautomat, and bus to Osnabruck.

Nadine meets me at the stop, and we bus to the secondary campus--which I remember from the barbecue party last year--where I meet Dr. Figura.  He drives me to Quackenbruck--which I learn comes from the onomatopoeia of the German frog croak, "Quack," (I don't mention we think that's what ducks say, but I do say we think frogs go 'ribbet' [much smaller frogs in Florida]) and the "Bruck" which means "bridge," together referring to the noise made by crossing a bridge sounding like a frog (he didn't show me a specific bridge so I don't know if it's a certain place)--while I try to stay awake.

He drives me all around Quackenbruck--literally, the whole town--in under an hour while pointing out restaurants and shops.  He shows me where I live, and how to get to DIL.  I'll show you in a picture, there are signs up in the shape of arrows so I can't get lost on the way to work, they knew I was coming.  Inside DIL I meet several people and the janitor/caretaker, who hands me the keys (1 for the outer door, same for the inner door, 1 for my door, 1 for the balcony [really], and 1 for the mailbox [I'd say, 'send me letters,' but I'm not sure of my address]) and shows me around my new home.  It's quite nice--I'll send pictures--and he proceeds to show me around town.  All of it.  Again.

But, I'm tired and probably need to see it again to remember anything, so I welcome it.  He shows me the train station, which I'll need tomorrow (this morning), and a local pub where we drink a coffee.  He leaves, and I realize what my room is missing.  A closet.  (more on that later.)

I spend the rest of my time that night trying to unpack while fighting waves of intense sleepiness.  I manage, mostly, and go to bed early enough to wake up at 7:00am the next morning.  You'll see why soon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Endless Day

I’m writing this in a word document because, as expected, there is no free internet at the Frankfurt Airport.  We begin at Tampa Airport, early afternoon of the 4th. 
I was packed, forgetting nothing, and prepared for anything.  I had my touching goodbyes: friends and family over the weekend, Dad the night before, and as my mother clutched me for the final hug she said, “I’m not leaving until you get through security.”  I hop on the monorail to the Tampa terminal, and see the line.  “Sorry, mom,” I think to myself as I walk to the end of the line separating me from my 1:35pm flight. 
The only advice I can get is to beg for a spot further in line.  I talk to the woman in uniform, she can’t do anything.  I ask a person twenty people ahead if I can move up, he says yes but the woman in uniform says it’s unfair to the other people in line if I move up without their permission.  She tells me to ask everyone in line for their permission individually.  Did you bring enough gum for the whole class?  Sure, this is the fair way to do thing.  But as I’m standing outside of line with my backpack on and clutching my jacket, feeling slightly humiliated, asking people one at a time in the stock-still line, I get several comments on how I should be asking someone far enough ahead for it to matter.  Yes, I know, but the lady wants me to do this. 
Finally I hit someone, twenty five people ahead, who won’t give up their spot.  I wait a few minutes, the line moves forward, and that same woman in uniform isn’t happy about what I’ve done.  “That’s not fair.  Did you ask everybody?”  Yes, I did, and it is fair if everyone willingly gives up their position.  But she doesn’t pull me out or arrest me so I continue forward. 
I talk to people who are also on my flight and are equally time-pressed and equally stressed by the painfully slow security check.  I know there are whispers about Osama’s death going around, but it’s not just the size of the line.  It’s the full-body spinning scanner that’s on the fritz.  I get pulled for the scanned, and I wait as people who I got permission to skip in front of pass around me and walk through the free-standing metal detector that I’m not allowed to go through.  Finally, a guard pulls me out of the full-body chamber spinning scanner and puts me in the walk-though. 
I run to the Gate with shoes untied and a backpack half open—only to wait in the huge boarding line for five minutes.  So I guess it didn’t really make that big a difference.  I switch seats with another group of people at their request, the flight in uneventful.  Charlotte Airport is uneventful, a simple deal—though I don’t have any time to grab something before boarding. 
The eight hour flight is uneventful; I catch an hour of sleep in the dark.  Hitting Frankfurt Airport, I’m feeling good—like a 100%—like I’m going do everything right.  I do everything right.  I’m still five minutes too late.
If I felt any small lingering traces of resentment at Andrew for leading us astray last year at the Frankfurt Airport, which I shouldn’t because it was equally my fault, it was burned away today by my conviction that it is completely impossible to make that connecting flight. 
I walk out of the airplane; all I know is my destination and my flight number, and I need a boarding pass.  I don’t know what gate I’m supposed to go to.  So I ask the guy giving everyone else directions in English, this guy looks like exactly the person I need to talk to.  I hold this is not a mistake.  If I hadn’t spoken with him, how would I have learned what my Gate letter and number was?  He tells me my gate is probably in A (vague) but I should go to B to be sure.  So I go to B, and I hurry past the big Passport line down the other hall. 
Minutes of walking later, I’m talking to a woman at a desk in front of the Lufthansa signs.  I’m actually not all that afraid of international travel now, because I’ve realized that 90% of all survival-related communications are entirely possible without a common language.  I’m choking.  I’m having a heart attack.  I can’t swim.  I’m in a foreign country lost and confused trying to communicate in a language I don’t know and I just want to know how to get to my connecting flight.  All that last one takes is a facial expression, which the woman at the desk knows very well.  “Shh, I know,” she says, or seems to say, as she interrupts my explanation and takes my paper.  She writes A17 down and sends me on with a, “They give you a boarding pass at the Gate.” 
I’m back at the passport line, and there are fifty people waiting on two guys looking at passports at a rate of 1 per 45 seconds.  There’s no CONNECTING FLIGHTS sign here to mark it—it’s rather easy to miss next to the unguarded hallway.  There’s nothing I can do, there’s people in similar situations all around me, the whole thing just stinks.  I pass through and hit the main room—the familiar and enormous room that connects the different wings and has enormous leader-boards.  Perhaps I could have looked on there for my flight, but I question just how much time I could have saved using it. 
So now I know to go down A, and I hit the Lufthansa security.  Why I need to go through a second round of security I’m not sure, but it takes about as long as the Tampa airport’s.  The line is enormous, but moves fairly quickly so I’m still optimistic about getting there on time.  I get pulled over for my laptop, “This will just take a minute,” and we get taken to a special room where it’s dusted and I’m told to continue on.
I run to A17, but it’s still a hugely long way away.  I come up just behind an old German woman, who is in the exact same situation as myself.  We’re told it was moved to A18, so we go there.  We’re told we’re too late, by however many minutes, and we have to go to the service desk do not pass go, do not collect $200.  
At the service desk, the woman cannot believe I had an hour and it wasn’t enough time to make the connection (like it wasn’t ever more crowded than at eight o’clock in the morning), so she asks me twice to be absolutely sure I’m a lazy American idiot.  Asking why you didn’t make the flight is company policy; the tone and double-take are freebies.  But she gives me the 1:10pm at no charge, so that works out fine—except now I have to call Nadine and let her know I’m not making it to Osnabruck by 11:00am, and I can’t figure out the US exit code.   Turns out what I thought was a ‘busy’ signal was someone’s idea of a ringing phone, and I was able to get to Nadine, with a little help from the family awake at 3:00am. 
All that aside, Frankfurt is the place you want to be delayed.  An hour isn’t enough for the place regardless of circumstances.  I was trapped on the other side of security, so I couldn’t even do a currency exchange, but I was on the side with the panini.  Rows of stacks of them, piled up with nametags and descriptions in English, meat + cheese + tomato.  I pick out one, they panini-press it on the spot and I say, “To go.”  I walk out with a hot gooey meal and when I open the bag to eat the cheese gets everywhere—and I love it.  If they made paninis like that in America, crystal meth would be out of business in a week. 
I picked up a cherry tart because, what harm could it do?  Staring at it after the panini, I wonder if it was really worth it—it doesn’t look quite so spectacular as I thought.  Let me tell you—if the panini was crystal meth, this stuff was hard cocaine.  I had not imagined there was such a crunchy yet tender, mildly sweet yet tart, crumbly buttery treat (without a custard filling or a filling of any kind beyond a half-dozen cherries baked into solid crust) in existence.  I thought, “I’m back, baby!” 
There’s way more to tell about this day, so I’m already lagging behind as I call it quits for the day here in Deutschland.   

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

German Trip Eve

As the first post on Eddie's free blog, I'd like to welcome you to a warm place of honesty, frankness, and discussion--but I'm an inanimate collection of words and letters.  The following posts will chronicle Eddie's journey to and journey(s) within the country of Deutschland and his semi-exciting job as an Intern at the German Institute of Food Technology (Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik e.V. - DIL) and all the ensuing difficulties and/or exultations therein.

On this German Trip Eve, Eddie will pack and prepare himself with the traditional Last Meal.  Good evening to you, and safe travels.