Thursday Morning, 5am

That’s when I had to get up in order to make the 6am bus to the airport for my 9:15am flight (the next bus wasn’t till 7:30, and if anything went wrong, I might’ve missed the flight, which was just not acceptable). So I did.

Of course, that was 5am CEDT (UTC+2), and it’s now 5pm PDT (UTC-7), so I’ve been up for 21 hours and shouldn’t go to bed for at least four more.

The trip home was uneventful if very slow (we had to wait in Munich for them to unload a suitcase from the plane since the owner didn’t want to come to San Francisco with the suitcase, and then we had to circle a while before landing), but I’m finally home.

And I think that’s going to do it for today’s exciting Weblog entry, because my family is arriving home, too.

Good night (or Guten Abend, if you prefer).

And now for something completely different

After I got back to my room last night, I flipped on the TV to make some noise while I got ready for bed. The Maritim only offers one English-language channel (CNN), and I didn’t really want to know what was happening in the world, so I started channel-surfing (I wonder how you say that in German?). Naturally, there wasn’t much on that was of interest to me, but as I was about to give up and go back to CNN, I suddenly saw something very familiar: Monty Python’s Flying Circus. But the voices weren’t right, because, of course, the show was dubbed into German.

I was still able to enjoy the visual humor, but it just wasn’t the same as watching in English, and I wasn’t always able to figure out what was going on. When I get home, I’m going to have to dig through my tapes and see if I have this episode (the one with “It’s A Tree”).

Morning came early today. Tomorrow will be worse. Off to the meeting!

Like no other museum in the world

Tonight, we had dinner at the DaimlerChrysler (pronounced “Mercedes-Benz”) museum in Stuttgart. Before dinner, a friend and I took a self-guided tour (they offered audio wands, but that would have been more regimentation than we were in the mood for) and a number of pictures.

Here’s the first car that Benz created. They actually started the motor for us — it was loud.

First Benz:

I liked their 1895 Benz Victoria:

Benz Victoria:

Mercedes doesn’t just make motorcars; they make fire engines, too:

Mercedes fire engine:

With so many cars in the museum, they have a hard time keeping up on maintenance. Note the flat tire on this car:

Flat Tire:

Some cars don’t need maintenance, though; they get divine intervention. Here’s Pope Paul VI’s Popemobile:


Some designs just don’t seem to work, even though they’re awfully attractive looking:

Gull Wing Mercedes:

Tomorrow, it’s back to the all-day grind.

Very well, thank you…

I slept well last night. Very well. Too well, I guess, since I awoke refreshed and relaxed at 7:55am, with the conference scheduled to start at 8:15. So much for being relaxed!

I thought I had set the telephone alarm for 6:30am, but apparently I hadn’t hung on long enough to confirm that I really wanted the wakeup call. But I also heard from some of my colleagues that their phones hadn’t rung, either, but that the hotel staff had knocked on their doors instead!

I managed to rush through my morning routine in record time, and was pleasantly surprised to find the hotel flexible in enforcing the deadline for collecting laundry and in not closing the breakfast room right on time, so I was able to arrange for clean clothes and eat; I got to the meeting a few minutes late, but I was in time for the first main speaker.

This hotel is a very pretty place, but I wish their interior decorators would have allowed for clocks in the rooms. You’d think it was a casino or something!

London to Stuttgart

I never did figure out how to connect to the Ethernet in my hotel at Heathrow — once in a while, I’d get the in-hotel infomational pages, but I never got the opportunity to spend money for a fast connection. Their loss, I guess.

Actually, the London Heathrow Marriott was awfully disorganized for a Marriott; not only did the Ethernet not work, but I couldn’t get to the help phone number that was supposed to help me. And the mattress was not in very good shape. And the breakfast buffet was incredibly badly managed — it shouldn’t take 10 minutes to get coffee, and there should always be glasses available for juice. I would have walked out without paying (there was no cashier when I left, either) if it hadn’t already been included in my room cost. On the bright side, they didn’t charge for parking (deliberately — I asked).

My flight to Stuttgart was uneventful, as flights should be. It was on British Midland; even though the flight time was only 75 minutes, they managed to give us a hot meal (nothing I wanted, unfortunately) and two drink services. I wonder why US airlines don’t bother feeding people for less than a two-hour flight (and not always then), and, maybe more to the point, why no one complains.

Martim Hotel (try 2):

There were about eight of us on the flight going to the IBM Academy of Technology meeting, so we shared cabs to the city (the taxi, of course, was a Mercedes). My cabmate travels to Germany periodically, so he had Deutsche Marks, so I didn’t have to buy them at the airport. Instead, I changed a $20 bill at the hotel, undoubtedly at a rip-off rate, but I wanted some walking around money for lunch and didn’t feel like finding an ATM.

Lunch was a typical German meal, I guess — Doner Kebab (which I would have called gyros), Pomme Frites, and a beer. The whole thing cost me about $5. Interestingly, the beer can gave the volume in milliliters and in US fluid ounces — I would have expected Imperial measure if anything but milliliters.

Then I took a quick walk around parts of downtown Stuttgart. Like all cities, it has its share of incomprehensible art on the streets:

Public Art: Like all cities, Stuttgart has its share of incomprehensible public art on the streets.

Public Art 2:

but some of it just hangs around:

Art on the fly:

There are also lots of fountains. Sometimes they even come in flocks:

Three Fountains:

It was starting to get dark, so I headed back to the hotel, where I will remain for the next three days. They let us out once for good behavior, on a field trip to the Mercedes Museum. But otherwise, it’s going to be non-stop enlightment until Wednesday afternoon.