Food turned out to be less of a problem than in Berlin, oddly enough. There seemed to be lots of vegetarian restaurants, and we found a vegetarische imbiss at Schantzenstrasse and Susannenstrasse. I also got the impression that people were more friendly than in Berlin. Then again, perhaps it was my imagination, a side effect of my becoming more used to Germany. Josef had an original LP from the first release of Autobahn.
When Josef showed us to our rooms, I couldn’t help noticing the Spitfire. It was a model, painstakingly constructed from a kit. Unlike the models I had built as a child this one was painted properly, and of course it had the correct RAF insignia. It was in a glass display case next to a model of a Messerschmitt, and one of some kind of US fighter plane I didn’t recognize.
I’d always been more into tanks as a child. I had a book about them, and a die-cast German Leopard tank that I would frequently disassemble and reassemble. When we visited Bournemouth in 2003 I got to visit the nearby Tank Museum and admire their collection. If it was OK for me to have an interest in World War II tanks, I told myself, surely it was normal for a German of roughly my age to have an interest in World War II aircraft?
In fact, we soon learned that Josef had worked in the Navy, as a liaison officer for groups of British sailors. I tried to imagine being a German in charge of a bunch of drunken English sailors. He’d probably heard slurs I couldn’t even begin to dream up, but I didn’t particularly want to talk about them, and dodged a couple of conversational gambits.
Once it was decided that we were going to Hamburg, I decided to do some research and see if there were any of the famous Germans I knew of were from Hamburg. In particular, I wanted to know if any of the musicians or bands I’m a fan of happened to be from the area. The answer, unsurprisingly, was yes. Holger Hiller was born in Hamburg. He played in various local bands, founded a band called Palais Schaumberg, then went on to a solo career in which he created the first album to be constructed entirely of samples from other albums—and a length of plastic drainpipe.
At ASPO’s recent conference in Berlin, companies such as BP and Exxon and men such as Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, began to talk to the proponents of the peak oil theory. Whilst they may not agree with Dr Campbell’s theories, their attendance highlighted ASPO’s emerging importance in the oil debate. In public, Mr Birol denied that supply would not be able to meet rising demand, especially from the buoyant economies in the USA, China and India.
eBU is in Las Vegas for the first time. Previous years it has been held in Orlando, Florida, in Disney World; and also in a European city, Berlin one year and Barcelona the next. The move to Vegas has allowed IBM to consolidate and have everyone from around the world attend one huge show. To be specific, there are 17,000 IBM people in Las Vegas at the moment. That’s enough to fill the conference facilities of the MGM, Mirage and Venetian, with a few hundred excess people at the Paris and a couple of other hotels.
As far as work goes, today was a change of pace, as I was asked to travel to Virginia to give a presentation to a bunch of sales account managers. These are the guys who handle the big customer accounts and keep the million dollar deals flowing, and the company needs to make sure they know everything there is to know about Lotus software… so I was asked to go tell them where they can find everything there is to know about Lotus software.
Burnt a CD of Aphex Twin MP3s. All legal stuff—I own the CDs, I just find it convenient to have a few CDs of MP3s to listen to in the office. That’s freed up some disk space. Now I’m sitting and annotating all of the scanned photos of our trip to Berlin in 1998. Once that’s done, I’ll make a slideshow of them and burn a couple of gold CDs. Oh – registered yet another piece of shareware so I can make nice big OS X custom icons of hundreds of files at once.
Lunch date with Mark. He wasn’t dressed quite as Newbury Street this time, and didn’t seem as incongruous in the mall. Filled in the forms to get my visa made permanent. Tomorrow I have to take a bunch of documents to work and get them photocopied—insurance forms, tax returns, apartment leases, and other things to demonstrate that sara and I really are married and living together, and not just pretending so I can get a visa.
I was lucky enough to visit Russia about a year after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the summer of 1993. My girlfriend at the time had lived and studied in Leningrad, and had made friends with a family there. We decided to go visit them. Day 1 We arrive at Leningrad airport. It has “ST PETERSBURG” on the top in obviously brand new letters. I see row after row of identical Aeroflot planes.
I had had a great deal of difficulty finding a plane flight to Berlin. The mystery was solved when I arrived and discovered that I had randomly and unknowingly chosen to be there during the Berlin International Film Festival. It was too good an opportunity to miss, especially as the films were being shown in their original languages, with German subtitles. The general practice in Germany is to dub over in German, which would have made going to the cinema a fairly pointless exercise for me.