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Bill's Trip to Germany
 
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Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in Bill Collins' LiveJournal:

Saturday, September 20th, 2003
11:27 pm
I haven't been able to post for a while because they restricted access to livejournal from work. Somehow they think its a virus risk!

I'm visiting George and Wendy in Vienna this weekend.

In less than two weeks I will be going home. The summer in Munich has been great. I will try to post more about it (and some more pictures when I get home)
Wednesday, August 13th, 2003
1:28 pm
Rain?
Before I came over here I was told to expect a lot of rain. Instead, we are having a record breaking heat wave and drought. It hasn't rained in several weeks and much of Europe is breaking temperature records. (one place in Bavaria had a high of 105F the other day) Highs here in Munich have been in the high 80s and low 90s, but its not humid and cools off at night.

I guess NC is getting all of Munich's rain!
Saturday, July 19th, 2003
7:36 pm
Here are some pictures of Munich

Read more...Collapse )
Monday, July 14th, 2003
2:06 pm
On Sunday, I decided to borrow a bicycle from the hotel and ride along the Isar river. Munich has a network of walking paths and bike ways that follow the river through the whole city and out into the countryside. I probably rode 30km or so, and by the end of the day I could sure feel that I hadn't been on a bike in 12 years!
Friday, July 4th, 2003
3:50 pm
Joerg and I went to the olympic park Wednesday. There's some very interesting architecture there. I'm probably going to go back and take some more pictures of it over the weekend.

Things are beginning to come together at work. There's a lot to do, but it's moving slowly since I'm having a lot of trouble finding stable code to work with and good hardware to run it on.
Monday, June 30th, 2003
10:14 am
I had a great weekend with George and Wendy. On Saturday we went to the Deutche Museum (science and technology museum). WOW! We spent the day seeing a small part of it.

The air and space section had a Soyuz capsule, WWII German jet fighters, a V2 rocket, and other things you can't find in very many museums.

Only a part of the information on the displays was in English, but even so, it was presented much more clearly than I'm used to in US museums.

On Sunday, we went to the Bavarian national museum, which focused on the history and art of Bavaria. Again, WOW! Most of the information was in German, but Wendy had an English guide book for the museum. I'm not sure where to start describing it, so I will post some pictures when I get some technical details worked out.
Friday, June 27th, 2003
1:22 pm
Food
I went to a real grocery store yesterday. Here are a few random notes on things I noticed:

-There's a bigger variety of bread than I usually see in the US. (They even have "American Sandwich" bread.

-McDonalds sells their own brand of ketchup, complete with the golden arches on the label.

-Ketchup seems to come in a lot of different varieties. (so does mustard, at least I think it was mustard i bought....)

-You have to pay a 1 Euro deposit to get a shopping cart. (and you don't see carts scattered everywhere) (I almost wrote "all over the parking lot", but there wasn't one.

-Most product sizes are small (of course, so are the kitchens)

-No cheddar cheese.

-Prices are lower than in the US.
9:57 am
George and Wendy arrived by train last night. I had no trouble finding the station or figuring out which platform the train arrived at.

They are exploring Munich on their own today, since I have to work. Over the weekend we will combine my small knowledge of Munich with their small (but rapidly growing) knowledge of German to see what we can see.
Wednesday, June 25th, 2003
11:44 am
Here's a link to a newspaper article on the layoffs: http://www.newsandobserver.com/front/story/2646079p-2454072c.html
Tuesday, June 24th, 2003
5:46 pm
What a strange day
Today they announced that the entire Sony Ericsson site in Munich will be closed by the end of the year. At the same time there was a meeting back home in RTP announcing that 180 of my co-workers in the CDMA group have been let go.
It looks like there is a contract between the RTP and Munich groups that will require them to let me stay here as planned, but I'm going to keep my return ticket handy, just in case.
Monday, June 23rd, 2003
9:29 am
I'm back in Munich after 3 weeks in the US. I arrived Sunday morning, spent Sunday relaxing, and I'm back at work today.

I discovered that the trains running near my hotel (including the one I take from the airport) don't run on Sunday due to construction.
Friday, May 30th, 2003
11:09 am
Back in the US again
I flew back on Thursday. Everything went ok, but it was tiring.

I will be returning to Munich on June 21 (this time to stay for the summer)
Wednesday, May 28th, 2003
10:00 am
Wow, I got to work two days in a row without getting lost :-)

I'm starting to get settled in a bit. There were a few things that I had to obtain or find out how to do before I could start to feel comfortable here:

-Cash (at least I was able to take care of that at the airport, using the ATM)
-Transportation (Its amazing how many little things there are to learn about the system)
-German mobile phone (provided by work, but it still took a bit to get working)
-Phone card to call to the US. (I got the 'go bananas' card, 3 Euro cents a minute to the US)
-'Casino' card, to buy food at the company cafeteria (at a discount)
-Food (there are 3 grocery stores within a few blocks of the hotel, but, of course, everything in them is different than in the US)



My first goal for dealing with the language here: To understand more German than Joerg's dog!
Tuesday, May 27th, 2003
9:37 am
Work
Yesterday was an interesting day at work. After a day of asking questions and looking at code, I figured out what I'm supposed to be doing! (at least the first part, that they want done by mid June) I think its a reasonable amount of work for the time available.

Just getting to work was a bit of an adventure. When I arrived on Thursday, I took a taxi to work. Friday, the Sony Ericsson shuttle was at the train station, so I rode it to work (it stopped on a different side of the building, but that was a minor problem)

Monday, the public bus arrived before the shuttle, to I decided to give it a try. I realized after I got on that I knew the bus number I needed (so I was at least on the right bus), but I didn't know the stop name. I looked for my stop, but the bus stop outbound was on a different street than the stop to catch the bus to the train station. I ended up riding the bus to the end of the line (not very far), finding out that the driver didn't speak english (and I don't speak German), and riding back after the driver decided I wasn't going to get off the bus. I found the stop on the return trip. (and found it correctly this morning too) It only cost me about 15 minutes.

I do have a backup plan in case I get lost. Munich has an extensive network of trains (S-Bahn), subway (U-Bahn), trams, and busses. The tram and bus stops have a map showing what S-Bahn and/or U-Bahn stations they stop at. The stations all have maps of the entire S and U systems. So, all I have to do is find ANY S or U Bahn station and I'm on my way.
Monday, May 26th, 2003
10:19 am
First weekend in Munich
Saturday morning, I got out the map and figured out how to get to the English Gardens. (it turned out to be easy, I just took the S-Bahn train one stop to the west, then took the tram to the gardens. While I was wandering around, I got a call from Joerg (a friend of a friend). He had the weekend off work and wanted to spend it showing me around Munich. He helped me find some things in the grocery store, then we drove around and saw some of the city. On Sunday, walked around the city center, took in the view from the top of a church bell tower (after climbing 14 flights of stairs!) and then drove around the countryside, exploring some places that he had never been to. At one point, we ended up in Austria.

Today at work I finally have the computer environment set up so I can really start working.
Friday, May 23rd, 2003
5:40 pm
Things are finally coming together at the office. I have most of the software installed on my PC and I have a German mobile phone account.
10:24 am
After a really close connection and some delays, I made it to Munich! At work, they were in the middle of an office move, so there wasn't much to do on Thursday. Today (Friday) I have a PC (it even has a US keyboard!) and should be ready to start work.

The hotel room is small, but it does have a kitchen. I will have a chance to explore Munich this weekend.
Monday, May 19th, 2003
10:07 am
I thought this might happen
Friday, my manager here in NC told me that they were still trying to work out some of the details of my trip. This morning, the manager in Munich called me to find out why I wasn't in Munich! (I told him I was still waiting for his assistant to call to set up the flight, etc.)

The assistant just called. She will try to find a filght Wednesday morning (yes, the day after tomorrow!)
Tuesday, May 13th, 2003
9:59 am
How it all started
For the last few months, there has been talk of sending me to Munich for a 1-2 week business trip. First it was to support a project that was soon canceled. Then, it was to support another project that was also canceled.

One day, my boss said "How would you like to go to Germany for a longer stay?" I said "How long?" He said "TBD"

Its shaping up to be a trip for the whole summer, to work on a project in Munich that is understaffed, and bring back experience with software and hardware platforms that we will be using here in RTP this fall.

As of today, the manager in Munich expects me to start work on Monday, but his admin has yet to contact me to set up the travel details!

I will go to Munich whenever it all comes together, return to the US May 30 to spend a few weeks with my son, then return to Munich for the summer. (of course, it may not all come together by May 30)
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