Archive for the 'Photos' Category

Clearing Papers

June 20, 2009

Today I am proud to admit that I shammed a bit.  Of course, I only did so after I cleared it with my boss, but it felt good to not have to do everything the rest of the office is doing for a day.

I picked up my “clearing papers” yesterday, which means I am in the last 10 working days of my stay in the Army.  For the next two and a half weeks, I will be closing out old accounts at places, coming off duty rosters, wiping my name from systems, and handing out dozens of copies detailing that I am leaving the Army.

This might be exciting enough for just one post to my blog, but wait! There’s more!

Also, I posted most of the pictures I took from Berlin on my Flickr page, available here and over on the left side of my blog. Pay attention to the skies behind the buildings I was taking pictures of, they are simply amazing. I don’t know what I did to my camera, but it took some much better pictures than I am used to for the four days I was in Berlin. Perhaps Berlin knew I was coming, so they arranged for good meteorological conditions for me.

Possibly not. When I got there, I started taking pictures right out of the Hauptbahnhof, noting that there were dark skies coming. I started towards my hotel, about one and a half miles away, but got caught in the rain. I put on the hooded windbreaker I brought as the extent of my rain gear, and then ran all the way to the hotel. I was drenched, soaked, and sloshing when I turned the last corner to my hotel. Magically, the rain immediately stopped and I walked into the hotel looking like a drowned dufus. If I had just stood under an overhang for 15 minutes, the whole thing would have passed me by and I would have been much more dry.

It didn’t rain the rest of the time I was there, so if that’s what it took, then I’m ok with it. I dried off with the hair dryer attached to the wall in the room, and headed out to take some of those amazing pictures you’ll see in my Berlin album.

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I ate waffles with fruit, ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and powdered sugar for dinner!

May 29, 2009

Belgium is a wonderful country. They have their priorities straight. There was definitely that European tempo to life in the city of Brussels, where people would just sit around all day in the park or on benches, as if they were exactly where they needed to be. It’s like they were acting as backgrounds for my tourist experience, encouraging me to loaf along side them. Amazing. The weather was perfect the whole trip as well, being sunny and warm during the days, and just cool enough for pants and short sleeves at night. Everyone was out and about.

I did eat a waffle as described in the title of this post. It was great. I then had a nice hot cappuccino afterwards while sitting outside  in the Grand Market Place in the middle of Brussels.

I went toeach little restaurant in the square, sampling a different beer at each place. Belgian beer is strong, but it is tastier than most beers. I can drink an ale usually, but just plain American beer doesn’t taste good to me. Even nice German stuff gets too strong for me after two, at most. But the Belgium stuff tasted better and was stronger. The average American beer is two to three percent alcohol by volume. German beer sits around five or six. Belgium beer was nine on average, so it doesn’t take much. Good thing I didn’t have a rental car, I suppose. I never would have been able to drive it!

The chocolate is as good as they advertise and have a reputation for. It was curious to see many foreign chocolatier there as well, like Godiva, but as long as they made the products the local way, it all tasted exquisite. It’s pretty hard to mess up chocolate confectionery treats. Gauging from the wide range of product selection, I think the chocolatiers think this way:

Step 1: Find something edible.

Step 2: Cover it in chocolate.

Step 3: Charge Euro for it.

Step 3: Profit!

Speaking of charging Euro for things, I found a tie that said Brussels, Belgium in a pattern over the tie. After finding a nice tie in Paris, France last trip, I think the rule from now on is I must buy a tie wherever I travel on vacation or holiday. If I plan on being a teacher, and will be expected to wear ties, then I need more than the 7 I had when I worked at the bank. No one expects bankers to dress with variety, just nicely. It won’t be anything like Troy Dungan and his bow ties, but it will be a bit of flair. Realistically, if I wanted 1 per school day, I’d only need about 180 ties.

Now that I’ve typed 180 ties, that sounds like a lot. It will be one of those long term goals without any actual significance.

Go check out the pictures I took in Brussels by following the link to my Flickr page on the left side of the blog. The shots of the Market Place at night are my favorites.

Even More Paris Pictures!

May 5, 2009

I went to Paris again, this time with coworkers. It was fun. I actually got inside the Louvre, which was a pleasure denied to me last time. I almost, more or less, made this trip to go to the Louvre, but I also got to see Paris at night from the top of the Eiffel Tower, which was amazing. The city must spend a fortune lighting up all the monuments and attractions so you can see them so well from the top. It was definitely worth the second trip up the elevator lines. You can see those pictures if you click the link on the left side of this blog.

The first time I went to the Louvre, we got there 15 minutes before it closed on a Tuesday, which was 5 PM that day. This time, we got there right at opening, and I spent the majority of the 4 hours I spent inside looking at sculptures and ancient artifacts. The logic behind this is that I can study paintings by looking at pictures of the paintings. Some small details, ones I don’t know enough about painting to appreciate, will be lost on me, I understand. But sculptures are something that are meant to be engaged in a 3D environment, walked around, and studied from different angles. I saw ancient works of Art like Venus de Milo, up to contemporary French pieces, and many masterpieces like the Borghese collection. It was wonderful.

Also, I got to see a lot of half naked marble women! I saw some less than decently clothed men too, but that’s the price I pay for being a student of the liberal arts. Jokes aside, it is suprising the attitude towards the representation of the genders. During times that are classically depicted as sexually repressive, when the “flash of ankle” was scandalous, you could go to the local manor and see a representation of Diana, Hercules, Aphrodite, Mars, Liberty, or a other classical subjects completely naked, or wearing a misplaced sheet.

The one thing I did notice is, hairy men were only in style during the 1960s and 1970s, because every single statue of a man, if he wasn’t wearing a cuirass or some other kind of armor, was hairless, except for his Grecian curls or Roman stubble. I suppose men waxing their chests has a history longer than most other cosmetic practices. Who knew there was the oldest profession in the world first, then hunter-gatherers second, artists third, and a close fourth was someone to give you a good bikini or chest wax?

They really did have it all back then, except for electricity.

Post Vacation Weekend

April 25, 2009

I don’t have a car. The weekend shuttle service the garrison used to provide for us was stopped. The German city bus comes 3 times during the middle of the day on Saturday, and once on Sunday. A Taxi costs 15 Euro to get into Wiesbaden, about 12 for Mainz. There is a bowling alley on post, a library, 4 places to eat, and a store with the selection of a very large convienence store. A bar is on post, and it is cheap as well, but everyone who drinks there is in the Army or a dependent, and probably outranks me. We have playgrounds, but you have to go to the schools to use them.

And people wonder why I’ve taken up running? After going to England and France, stir crazy does not begin to describe this.

Take today for example: I wake up. I edit pictures from my vacation. I play a few video games. I listen to podcasts or music. I eat lunch. I am about to go on a run. I read some of a book. I start and finish a magazine.  I go outside to just sit and enjoy the weather. It’s not dinner time yet. I hear a small cracking sound, which must be the edge of my sanity.

The upside? I do things like clean, and research for my future job. That’s nice.

Also, I post more pictures. You can click the link on the left, “Photos” where you will see more pictures I took on my vacation.

Work, Work

April 21, 2009

I am back to work, officially. The optimist inside of me says that this is a good thing – it means the time to when I take another trip is coming closer. The cynic inside says it might be a while. I sure hope not, because Paris and England were fantastic, phenomenal; a lot more than alright.

If you haven’t started, I encourage you to look at the pictures on the left side of this page and follow the link to my Flickr Photostream where the 300+ pictures I’ve uploaded, so far, now live. I haveanother 100 to choose from that came from London, Cantebury, and other places in England. It takes forever to upload that many pictures, so I do a batch a day, or so. I have to go sort through some more, but I think there might be some Paris pictures left over too.

I really would like to tell you every story from my trip, but there’s too much to recount in one post. I took a travel journal, of sorts, to help me remember the sequence of events and to jog my memory of all the laughs and suprises that accompanied seeing the sights. Instead of a book (which may or may not be coming one day), please email me or send me a message on whatever program of your choice, and I will let you know about the sight you want to see. I love to talk about myself and my travels, so it will help if I can narrow down what story about myself I get to tell. Yay, for me!

May I make a suggestion? Don’t just look at the little pictures of the stained glass. Download the large file, even though each is about 2.5 MB large, and then really look close at them. They scale up very well, and I was able to catch a lot of the detail that just doesn’t show through in the small pictures. The Notre Dame stuff is amazing, and the Cantebury glass is coming today or tomorrow.

I love the idea of a single picture telling a story, and how medieval artists, working with limited materials, could provide a narrative in one piece. Sometimes, the subject of the story appears multiple times in the same picture to denote the different events. It’s a fascinating subject, and something worth study. I just need someone to pay for my Art History degree, is all… as well as food, shelter, health insurance, and keep my son busy.

December 26, 2008

I am back in Texas for two weeks, and waited until after Christmas to do my first post. I’ve gotten a bit reaquainted with my son, Luke, who is more fun than I remember. It is amazing what 8 months will do to a person, especially the pint sized portions.

I hope everyone is having as good of a Christmas as I am, surrounded by friends and family, with lots of good food and exactly what I (reasonably) wanted for Christmas. No world peace or 42 inch 1080p HD widescreen TV with 120hz refresh under the tree, but I got the complete works of Plato and some other books, which I’ve wanted for years. Also, this is the first Christmas in which my child has given me a tie. It has penguins and snowflakes on it. I never thought I’d love being so stereotypical.

I found those Philosophy and Wikipedia articles in my barracks room, which got internet and a international phone line right before I left for Texas, so expect more often posts and perhaps even a call after I return to Germany on the 4th.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year… or Froehe Weinachten und ein glucklich neue Jahr. I need to improve my German…

Merry Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2007

Are you ready for the holidays? Prepared to hear the wild turkey tales of Harold the Red Billed Turkey, who led the pilgrim’s sleigh through the dark and foggy night? Or perhaps you like the tale of Chilly, the Pile of Leaves, who came to life when children placed a magic top hat upon his head? Perhaps Saint Jovial will place candied yams and sweet potatoes in your stockings if you’re a good boy or girl.

Nevermind. Thanksgiving just doesn’t have quite the potential for stories or songs as Christmas does, but it was worth a shot.  It is still a very good holiday though.

I have lots to give thanks for this year, believe it or not. The Cowboys, who you will watch live and I will watch on tape delay tomorrow at work, will extend their record to 10 wins, I am sure.

I ate a ton of good food for Thanksgiving Lunch, to include Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, maccaroni and cheese, green beans, fresh fruit, a salad, sparking grape juice (since there is no alcohol here), Dr. Pepper and Root Beer. I’d like to give thanks that they are also having all the same desserts for dinner, so I will sample them tonight.

I deployed with a bunch of people who I will have more good times than bad times with, and even during the bad times we make each other laugh and smile.

My family is safe and far away, which is better than them being here and in danger. I know they love me because they constantly send cards, packages, and answer all my phone calls, so I hope they know I love them too.

If they know that, then I am truly thankful.

And I am thankful that the work I am doing is meaningful, and that overall, Iraq will have been better off because of the unit I have deployed with and the things we are doing here. Regardless of what you think about how this war started, I am glad to be a part of making the country a better place than what it was.

And because I know there are many more people out there reading this than I know, I hope you are all thankful for something today. And if you really want to tell someone how thankful you are for something, please email me and let me know. I’d love to hear about it.

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