August 2012

Summary: Europe trip ends; Stern Grove Festival with Patrick: OK Go and The Family Crest

Dates on this page

Wed 1

Checked out of Radisson Blu Falconer in Copenhagen. Internet worked inconsistently during my stay and was annoying in that each day I had to reauthenticate each device. Speed was about 600 down / 300 up when it worked. Metro to Lufthavnen station at Schiphol airport. Bought snacks for the plane at World of Delights Fine Food: blueberry yogurt beverage, chicken caesar sandwich: about $10. On the flight I also received a small bag of pretzels and a cup of water. CPN to AMS via KLM: 1 hour. Tried purchasing a train ticket to Amsterdam Central but the machine would accept neither of the cards I brought. I went to the train ticket window but was told they would not accept my cards, either. Each of my cards lacked a microchip. I got euros at an ATM, then returned to the train ticket window. I received my ticket and found the right track but the sign wasn't clear to me, and the train that had soon arrived in the station left before I could ask someone if it was the right train. It turned out to be the right train, so I had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. Train to Amsterdam Central. Stopped briefly at the tourist info office, picked up a few brochures. Found the Park Plaza Victoria pretty easily—it's directly in front of the train station. Slightly too early to check in, so I stored my bag with the concierge and walked down Damrak and got some fries and fresh-squeezed orange juice: 4 euros. Before accepting my cash, the cashier ran my bill through a machine that checks for counterfeit money—weird. This street is much more crowded and much cigarette-smokier than the neighborhoods I left behind in Copenhagen. Fewer blonds, a lot more tourists, a whole lot more bicycles. On my way back to the hotel there was some drama in a side alley. I couldn't see exactly what was happening, but it sounded as though a crazy person was causing a scene. People gathered to watch a few minutes, but nothing more exciting happened, and I returned to the hotel. More waiting in line first for my room key then for my bag. Checked into my room, which is in the modern section of Park Plaza Victoria. The room is very Vdara-Las-Vegasy: deep red carpet, floor to ceiling mirror, rocker light switches that I haven't seen before. Colors: dark brown fake wood, black and gray plastic, beige and textured walls, white ceilings, designer chairs. My room, 417, looks eastward across rooftops and is not a very interesting view. My desk chair is squeaky enough to be annoying. The temperature of the shower water is not consistent—it cycles from colder to hotter then repeats enough to be annoying. The shower drains slower than I expect. I measured the internet included with the room price at 236 down / 244 up, which is miserable. I will need to pay for the internet speed upgrade, I think. Unpacked. Nap. Called the front desk to ask about the internet speed upgrade and discovered that if you sign up with Club Carlson (which I did when I was at Radisson Blu Falconer) I'll receive the internet speed upgrade for free. I gave her my card number and she entered it into the system. My MacBook Air and iPhone still connected only at the slower speed, and I spent perhaps half an hour troubleshooting it before calling the front desk again. This time she connected me with an internet support person and he asked me for my IP addresses, made another change in the system, and said it should be fine in the next 5 minutes and last the rest of my stay. Nice, now I'm getting 1715 down / 486 up. Much better. Nap. Dinner with Neil at Brasserie Harkema: Appetizer: we shared shrimp croquettes. Entree: Neil had a lamb dish, I had a fish dish. Dessert: we shared a tarte tatin with cinnamon ice cream. 67,10 euros (about $83) and left a tip of 4 euros. Neil says tipping is not customary, and if you do then no more than 10% is necessary. Barhopping with Neil along Reguliersdwarsstraat and Nieuwmarket: a drink at Taboo where I met Michael and (Jos?), briefly visited or acknowledged Montmartre and a bunch of other bars, a drink at The Queen's Head. Back to the hotel. Another speed test: 909 down / 388 up. Downloaded and installed Spotflux. Upon launch, I received this notice: "WELCOME TO SPOTFLUX. Please note: We are currently undergoing maintenance. Privacy and Malware Filters are currently offline. They'll be back soon!" Handled an important work issue involving admin credentials reset. Another speed test: 122 down / 463 up. Uploaded photos to Flickr.

Thu 2

Caught up on email and Halloween in Mexico plans. Checked out the hotel's gym and pool. Late brunch by myself at Kam Kee: noodle soup with pork dumplings. About 8.50 euros ($10.50). Did a lot of walking around and taking photos. Bought a local sim card at Phone Point. Shopped for umbrellas but bought none of them. Basically every umbrella in the area is between 5 and 9 euros and of very low quality and sometimes has a hokey design. Met Chris and Nate at the hotel. Did more wandering with Nate and Chris, this time in the neighborhood of Jordaan. Lunch with Nate and Chris at Espressamente Bâton aka Brasserie Bâton: Chris had a sandwich with buffalo mozzarella and tomato, I had a chicken bacon sandwich and mango smoothie. 18.90 euros ($24). We walked back to the hotel. I did some shoe shopping on my own and finally found something I liked and which met my insole-removable requirement at Front Runner: Pantofola D'Oro Loreto Low Men in olympian blue, size 40: 95 euros ($117). At the purchase, the man helping me said that these shoes just came in today and that I was the first person to buy them. I had no idea I was such a trendsetter! Hotel. Chris stayed in to sleep, and I had dinner with Nate at Dante. Nate and I shared a margherita pizza and polenta with hot goat cheese. Nate had merlot, I had Chardonnay. While we ate a man played violin well in the street, and after several songs he came around requesting donations and we came him some of our coins. Neil joined us at the end for a glass of prosecco, and Nate and I had another round of drinks. 42 euros ($52). Drinks at Prik with Nate and Neil.

Fri 3

French breakfast at Gebr Niemeijer with Chris and Nate: we shared assorted pastries: bread basket extra with fruit salad, 2 berry scones, 2 pochons (cherry and peach), 1 granola (which was really mostly yogurt with a little granola sprinkled on top). We also ordered something that I don't remember but our receipt says "eenvoudig jonge boerenkaa." Total: 34.10 euros. Hotel. Bought tickets to the Van Gogh Museum from the hotel concierge. Walked to the museum. Avoided waiting in a long line to buy tickets to the museum—nice. At some point today we laughed over a joke we made up: the idea of a breadmaker frustrated because of lack of success who says, "No one understands my pain!" Tram back to the hotel. Rested. Returned to Front Runner to return the Pantofola D'Oro Loreto Low Men shoes I bought yesterday because I had tried on only the left foot in the store, and I had forgotten that my right foot is slightly bigger than my left foot widthwise. The right foot was so uncomfortable that I could not keep them. Front Runner did not have different widths (I think larger widths did not exist), and they accepted returns with only store credit, so I found another pair I liked and exchanged. The new pair is New Balance CM620P in 7.5 US or 40.5 EUR, width D (medium) in pool green with white, 89,95 euros. The service at Front Runner that I received during my original purchase and during this return was excellent. Dropped shoes off at the hotel room. Met with Chris and Nate. We walked to the Zeedijk street party where we met with Jan, Neil, and Duane and had a few rounds of drinks. During the festivities I noticed a couple nearby trying to take a photo of themselves, so I offered to take it for them. After I took the photo my jaw sort of dropped when I saw a piece of paper emerge from the front of the camera. The camera turned out to be a Fujifilm Instax. A moment later he urged us into a photo position and took a photo of us and gave me the instant photo. How sweet! After several rounds of beer, we trammed to (Spui?). Neil's friends' birthday party. Met Maartin, Misaiel (sp?), George, and others. Many Spanish speakers. Afterwards we went to a nearby street party which was packed with partygoers. I got an emergency meal but cannot recall now what I had eaten. The music stopped exactly at midnight, and the rain started at about the same time. Walked back to the hotel, said good night to Neil.

Sat 4

Brunch in the hotel: healthy breakfast for me, French breakfast for Nate, chicken wrap for Chris. Visitor information office for Anne Frank House Museum tickets for Chris and Nate. Tram to the start of the Gay Pride Parade. We had arrived a little over an hour before the parade was to start at 2 PM but others had already gotten all the best seats. Found a spot to watch from under a tree at Prinsengract and Brouwersgract. During the parade it rained a few times, sometimes heavily. Neil's boat was Danserette, #63, pink and with laundry machines. After the parade ended we took the tram to the hotel. Rested for a bit. I downloaded photos from my camera to the MacBook Air. Tram to Spui. Dinner at Brasserie Harkema with Chris and Nate. Sparkling water, shrimp croquettes, shrimp salad, vegetables with curry (Chris), fried sea bream (Nate), parsnip-and-something ravioli (me), a bottle of Dobogo Furmint, tarte tatin, coffee. 109.60 euros. The Wilhelmina peppermints (aka pepermunts) by Fortuin as you exit are delightfully good. Chris returned to the hotel. Nightlife with Neil and Nate: Bump. Afterwards we visited a street party where a live band played. Late snack: large fries from McDonald's. Nate and I walked back to the hotel. Neil biked home. Uploaded photos to Flickr.

Sun 5

Internet speed test. Result: 301 down / 376 up. Turned off Spotflux. Ran another test, which resulted in 1453 down / 487 up. Turned on Spotflux. Ran another test, which resulted in 1872 down / 460 up. So I believe that the internet at Park Plaza Victoria is inconsistent. French breakfast at Gebr Niemeijer with Neil, Chris, and Nate: similar to before: assorted pastries, coffee, tea. Afterwards Neil showed us his place—very modern, a short walk from Amsterdam Centraal. Back to the hotel. Napped for an hour. Spanish tapas dinner at Paso Doble with Neil, Chris, Nate. My notes from today: "2, 31, 18, 29, 22, 6, 11; crema catalan liqueur; wurst, ketchup, roll; imbiƟ = snack shop; pommes = french fries; toilette." Packed. I leave tomorrow for Cologne.

Mon 6

Train to Schiphol Airport took shorter than I expected: about 13 minutes, 3.80 euros. On the train I ate a chocolate-coated granola bar left over from a previous breakfast. AMS to CGN via KLM: about 40 minutes. Upon arrival in Cologne I learned that the sim card I bought in Amsterdam doesn't work here like I had hoped. It says, "Locked SIM." CGN to K Hansaring via VRS, 2.60 euros. A stranger helped me with the train and the transfer and gave me a city map—nice! Transfer at K Hansaring to U15 to Rudolfplatz. When I emerged from underground I would not have known where to walk if it weren't for a nearby sign that said Barceló. Checked in at Barceló Cologne City Center at 11:30 AM. Settled in the room. Complimentary .25-liter bottle of Staatl Fachingen still water. My satisfaction with my hotel room is mixed. Things I like: it's a large room, it has air conditioning, it has a desk with easy access to ports and power. Things I don't like: it feels old and cheap-elegant of the 1970s. The air conditioning is noisier than I like, and the controls look like they are from the 1970s. The furniture is mostly (faux?) oak, brass-plating, and silver-plating. Things that are weird or feel old-school to me: There are two telephone books, there are buttons to electronically and remotely raise or lower a set of louvers for the windows, but the louvers themselves cannot be rotated to be louver-open or louver-closed. Only one of the three windows opens. The room is sufficient, but it sorely needs a complete interior redesign. I was given a set of credentials for the free wifi. I have two devices, and the first one connected successfully, but it won't let me connect the second one. When checking in, the front desk ought to ask how many internet devices do you plan to connect? Internet speed test: 2287 down / 814 up. Woo hoo! Those are some pretty nice speeds. Lunch at Cafe Rico: tomato, mozzarella, and basil grilled sandwich (bikini); 6 ounces of lemon juice (zitronensaft): 6.70 euros. I didn't know what the tipping custom was, and I forgot to look it up beforehand. I watched 3 different tables leave and only one left money behind. I left about 10% in coins on the table. I looked up the tipping custom on Google: the waitperson comes to your table and it's common to tip 5% to 10%, usually rounding up to the next whole euro. However, it's not customary to leave coins behind on the table. There is a good description of this and other restaurant customs on tripadvisor. Hotel. Started laundry across the street at Eco-Express. (Notes: vollwaschmittel = full detergent, weichspüler = softener, colorwaschmittel = color detergent.) Walked to Aachener Weiher, took a few photos. I noticed that cigarettes can be sold from vending machines here. Walked back. Started the dryer. Hotel. Picked up clothes. Hotel. Another internet speed test: 2490 down / 752 up. Dinner at Cafe Waschsalon: wiener schnitzel, french fries, side salad, small Kölsch: 10.50 euros before a 1.50 tip. Bought groceries for breakfast at Rewe City. Uploaded photos to Flickr. I did this via iPhoto because some of the images needed brightening first.

Tue 7

iPhoto had quit unexpectedly. My internet connection also would not work even though Network system preferences said it did. Restarted the computer. Internet works again. iPhoto appears to have completed last night's upload successfully. Breakfast in the hotel room with groceries from Rewe City: spelt flakes, lowfat milk (1.8%), cherry yogurt, a banana. fyi: Google Translate translates "dinkelflakes" into "spelled flakes" instead of "spelt flakes"—funny. Yoga: standing warmup practice, strength practice. Weight training: push ups. Snack at Kamps: egg sandwich: 2 euros. Resolved my problem obtaining cash. Since arriving in Cologne, I had tried to get euros from several ATMs but they all declined my request. I figured out today that I was requesting too much money, and the machine was not giving the correct error. The machine would say "declined due to a technical error" but the decline was because I was asking for more than the limit. I guess the machine isn't smart enough to know the limit and convert the limit to euros so it displays a "technical error" message. Once I dropped my request down to 100 euros it worked fine. (I was requesting larger amounts because i was uncertain I'd be able to get more cash later.) I did self-guided walking tour #4 from Köln Guide, a well-designed guidebook and map that I found in my hotel's lobby where they have different flyers and guides for tourists. I started at Hahnentorburg and followed the tour counterclockwise past the shopping neighborhoods of Pfeilstraße, Benesisstraße, and Mittelstraße. Amerika Haus, Kölnischen Kunstverein (permanently closed?), auction house Kunsthaus Lempertz, Neumarkt Passage. Along the way I got a hot, salted pretzel and mineral water from an amazing bakery called Merzenich. I also ate a banana that I got at Rewe City last night. Passed the entrance to Käthe Kollwitz Museum (but didn't go in). Neumarkt Galerie. At Richmodisturm I wasn't able to find the two horse heads that the guide book mentioned. Encountered a L'Occitane en Provence and bought a 100-gram bar of verdon soap because the soap provided by Barceló is so disappointing. Went on a date with a nice guy named Juri whom I met online. We shared drinks at Cafe Rico: large fruit spritzer for me, cappuccino for him. He helped me with the purchase of a sim card at LIDL. We walked to the Rhine river while the sun set, then took the underground back to Neumarkt and transferred to an aboveground train. He recommended schnitzel at Bei Oma Kleinmann, recommened I try Peek & Cloppenburg for boys clothes, and called the C&A department store by its humorous nickname: Cheap and Awful. Bought loratadine and bandages at Westgate Apotheque. This pharmacy is unlike any pharmacy I've ever seen. The store is a large room at the street-level corner of a building with large glass walls. Inside there are some walls with items. In the center of the room there are some waist-level bins and displays with other items. The entire room is dominated by a grid of 7 by 3 giant flat-panel displays which are coordinated to be a single giant display showing eye-catching, pleasing animations of pharmaceuticals as well as ads and other information. I asked for loratadine and the woman behind the counter punched a few things into her computer, turned around, and picked up a box of loratadine that—unbeknownst to me—had slid down a metal ramp to her a millisecond earlier. Amazing. I made my purchases, then outside I said goodbye to Juri. I had planned to take a nap but didn't. Computed. Left my hotel room too late to easily get a late dinner—many places had stopped serving food. Finally found a place serving food: Barrios. I had a grilled shrimp salad which turned out to be huge—bigger than my head. It came with a small, multiseed baguette (weird). Food was spicier than expected, but I tolerated it by eating the bread in between bites. Service was good until the end when she disappeared completely for a long time. 4 other tables near me were also trying to leave but were trapped like me. On my way back to the hotel I notice a crowd of adults dressed for nightlife gathered outside of a place called Klaps Mühle. It looks like a nightclub, but outside it's decorated like a funhouse for children. I learn later that Klaps Mühle translates to nuthouse. I guess that makes sense. Tried completing the LIDL sim card online setup but was too tired, falling asleep at the keyboard. To bed.

Wed 8

Tried figuring out how to use the Philips-Senseo coffee/tea machine. Finally completed the LIDL sim card online setup, which was very difficult because I don't speak German. Activation took only about 20 minutes even though the web page said it could take 2 to 3 hours. Thank Google for Google Translate—I couldn't have done it without you. Breakfast in the hotel room from groceries: spelt flakes, lowfat milk (1.8%), yogurt (pear with chocolate shavings), a pink lady apple, hot earl gray tea. Yoga: seated warmup practice. Weight training: 3-minute planks. Realized that the activation still didn't work even though I thought it did because I received a notice saying that it was active. At Lidl I tried to get help for the sim card, but I was told that it could take up to 2 days to activate and that I could call a phone number on a poster if I needed help. I said that it appeared to activate but was still not working and that I didn't speak German and they said that they have English speakers as well. I called the number and asked if they speak English ... nein. I then remembered part of the instructions from the web form signup—I needed to turn my phone off then on again. I did that while in the store, and eventually the internet browsing started working but was very, very slow. I did a speed test and it was about 30 kbps. I explained how I got it working to the cashier who helped me, thanked her, and went on my way. Coincidentally, another customer was also there to get help getting her newly purchased sim card to work. She was planning to return the next day in case it still didn't work, so maybe my passing on the things I learned to the cashier will help. Lunch at Nordsee: breaded and grilled cod (kabeljaufilet sebuco) with scalloped potatoes, orange beverage, mineral water. At Richmodisturm I finally happened upon the two horse heads that the guide book mentioned from yesterday. Somewhere along the way I encountered a MUJI store. I had not seen this store in Tokyo when I was there on January 1, 2011, but I had heard about it from friends, so I visited. This is my first experience with it. Essentially, it's as though Japanese IKEA and American Apparel and The Container Store had a three-way baby. I have time to briefly visit only the 1st floor. I walked to Cologne Cathedral (Dom). There are a fair number of tourists taking photos or video with iPads, and they look really stupid. I toured the outside and inside, including the belfry hike. The climb to the top consists of a very steep, very narrow spiral staircase. You need to be in reasonably good shape to climb; there is no elevator. At several points you can look down through windows or openings, and it can be scary if you are afraid of heights. I have done climbs like this before, but this one was particularly challenging, inducing in me a bit of vertigo and panic. It would be a terrible place to be in an earthquake. The view from the top is, I'm certain, among the best in all of Cologne. Since the cathedral wasn't originally intended to be a tourist destination, the viewing platform appears to have been added to the outside of the southern tower. I was told that the round-trip climb and descent would take about 30 minutes, but I spent a little over an hour taking lots of photos. Walked back to the hotel mostly along Burgmauer then along Ehrenstraße. Stopped to shop for clothes at MEC until they kicked me out due to closing time. Again had difficulty getting dinner. I sat at Morgenstern Cafe for over 5 minutes, and no one came to take my order, so I left. I tried again eating at Bastard Cafe but they said they stopped serving food at 6 PM. I tried eating at Sushi Am Ring (Sushi on the Ring) which serves all-you-can-eat sushi for 23 euros on sushi track (which is like sushi boats with with a track instead of boats). Like most restaurants here there is no greeter and no one to show you to a seat, which makes it particularly problematic when you don't know if others are waiting ahead of you and you don't know the layout of a large restaurant. Another problem is that in this restaurant the man in charge wasn't dressed in the same uniform as the servers—he looked like anyone else off the street wanting to eat, so I didn't know he was in charge. We chatted for a bit, but it was clear that he could not find a seat for me, so I asked him what time they close (22:30 Monday to Thursday) and thanked him and left. I finally ate dinner at Hans Im Glück burger grill: veggie burger [abendrot: Oliven-Tomatenbratling mit Grillgemüse (grilled vegetables), rauke (rocket salad), parmesan], fries, schöfferhofer (grapefruit hefeweizen). Back to the hotel. Discovered while browsing the web that a gay dance party was happening right now and only 10 minutes by walking, so I prepared on short notice to go out. Celebrate! gay/mixed dance party at Loom Club (Hohenzollernring 92): 5 euros. 80s, 90s, charts, r&b, house. DJs GinaG and rowDee u.a. While waiting in line a very tall drag queen made her entrance via vintage taxicab—nice. Neither of the doormen bothered to check my ID. Upon entrance I was given a business-card-sized sheet of paper with perforations. It's a punch card for drinks. You order your drink and give the bartender your punch card. He or she punches the price of your drink and you settle your bill upon exiting the club. No messing with cash or credit cards for bartender or customer. Don't lose your punch card, I was told. Large dance floor, but it's very crowded: purses, elbows, etc. There are signs everywhere saying that the smoking area is downstairs, but the no smoking rule is not enforced at all. Many people smoked inside the club, on the dance floor, everywhere. Combined with the fog machine, it is difficult to tolerate. I recognized about half of the songs they played. Some were German songs that everyone knew but me. It could be just this moment of pop, but the DJ preferred playing songs that I thought weren't very danceable—better for listening to in a cafe or bar. For example, "Starships" by Nicki Minaj has about 40 seconds (2 times 20 seconds) where it's really danceable and the rest of the time you're just nodding your head and swaying. It's a very boring song for the dance floor, but everyone loves it and I don't know why. More examples: Good Feeling by Flo Rida, Without You by David Guetta. Mixing was mostly very good; I heard only one sloppy mix. To cover the 80s part of the advertised music genres, they played Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." I didn't hear any other 80s songs, but perhaps some of the German songs were. The crowd was indeed mixed—mostly QUILTBAG and the rest straight friends. I stayed about 2 hours. Late snack at a small fast food restaurant that served döner kabap, 1-euro pizza slices, and french fries: small bowl of couscous, (the equivalent of) vitamin water. It's legal and common for people to drink alcohol in public, so I saw many people walking down the street drinking from beer bottles. Among men it seems fashionable to wear pants that are dark gold or yellow or golden brown or some hue among the three. Hotel. To bed.

Thu 9

Breakfast in the hotel room from groceries: spelt flakes, lowfat milk (1.8%), yogurt (pear with chocolate shavings), a pink lady apple, hot earl gray tea. Snack from Kamps: egg salad sandwich, fruity water: 3.75 euros. I had trouble dialing the telephone number for the bike tour company. The website listed the number as +49 (0) 171 - 629 87 96, and although from my iPhone I tried several variations of this, and none of them worked. I asked at the front desk of my hotel and they said to dial 00 171 629 87 96 and this worked. Tried to shop at Charlottje & Jasper but the store wasn't open at 11:00 like the store hours sign said, so I left. Spent the rest of the day relaxing. Met two locals Michael and Frank, talked about Sitges, Grand Canaria, Playe de Ingles, and something (I can't recall what) being near Jumbo Centre.

Fri 10

Breakfast in the hotel room from groceries: spelt flakes, lowfat milk (1.8%), yogurt (orange with chocolate shavings), a banana, hot earl gray tea. Snack at Back Werk. From a distance I thought this was a chiropractice or massage therapy, but I learned later that Back Werk in German translates to "baked goods." I had a medium-sized chicken sandwich and apple juice: 5 euros. (I selected a sandwich from the row with the sign that said fish sandwich but I guess the chicken sandwich was mistakenly placed in the wrong row. Since they were breaded and fried I couldn't easily tell the difference.) Stopped at Gortz 17 to see some shoes that I saw in the window yesterday when they were closed. The insole was glued in and could not be removed, so I did not buy the shoes. I visit MUJI again today, this time to see the 2nd floor. We learned recently that MUJI is coming to Union Square in San Francisco. From this visit I am not that excited about MUJI in SF. Some of the goods are interesting, but not so aesthetically pleasing that I must have it. If I were moving in to a new home I might be more interested, but I mostly have everything I need already, so essentially all of the home goods are not interesting to me. The clothes seem too simple for my taste, and simple often means styles such as boxy shirts when I would prefer them to be tighter or tailored. Continued my walk to Neumarkt. Observed a large truck trapped in a street too small for it. It was attempting to turn a corner but obviously not going to make it. In the process of trying to extricate the truck, the driver demolished a rear-view mirror of a parked car. Encountered picturesque Alter Markt (Old Market), then continued on to Neumarkt. At this point my camera's 2nd set of batteries died. I had thought that only 2 sets of batteries would suffice, but I was wrong. No time now to buy replacement batteries. Lesson learned: it's better to bring the battery charger and two sets of batteries than only two sets of batteries. Somewhere along this walk I spotted a Smart Car that was a sports car. I learn later that this is a Smart Roadster, last manufactured in 2006. 30 minutes to kill before the bike tour. Dessert at Ital Eis Cafe: one scoop of cherry ice cream in a sugar cone. Bike tour with rent-a-bike (koelnerfahrradverleih.de) with Kathi, Lukas, and Denis. The bike worked perfectly, the route was fun, and our guide Lukas did a great job in both German and English. I loved it! Snack from Fana's Grillspezialitäten: Käsewurst (cheese sausage) with mustard and ketchup: 2.50 euros. Fana's grills over open flame instead of on flat metal like other places, and I think this provides better flavor. Listened to live music and a singer on stage at Altstadtfest (Old Town Festival) in Alter Markt (Old Market). Had a small Kölsch. From a kiosk I bought a set of Varta AA alkaline batteries with an expiration date in 2014 but when I tried them they would not power the camera in either play or record mode. I gave them back to the woman who sold them to me and did not ask for a refund. Bought 3 bananas and a golden delicious apple at Lidl Neumarkt 8-10: .89 euros. Nap. Reconned Excorner, Iron, Ixbar, and Exile on Main Street. Late snack from an imbiss: falafel pocket: 3 euros. The pita pocket is much thicker than I expected, making it a tad less messy to eat and a bit more substantial than I had expected. In retrospect, this is a better value than the 1-euro-per-slice pizza, which also looked good. I did not get a beverage because I already had my hands full and this place didn't have tables or seating. I walked to the courtyard adjacent to Excorner and ate there. The crowds from bars overflow onto the adjacent sidewalks. Even the nearby ATM machines are a congregating place. I witnessed 2 instances of public urination. After finishing the falafel, I wanted a drink. Excorner is crowded and the cigarette smoke is too overwhelming for me to endure even a 5-minute wait at the bar. I feel that at the start of this trip I had grown more tolerant to cigarette smoke, but over the course of this trip I have grown less tolerant. All the hotel rooms I have stayed in have smelled at least slightly of cigarette smoke. I consider getting a bottled beer from the nearby kiosk but decide against it because it might be a faux pas. I stand outside of Excorner observing. Several empty drinking glasses (tumblers) are in the gutter. About 8 empty drinking glasses and a large bottled water are stacked on top of a high window box outside the bar. The music from the bar is "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and a Grease medley. After some time a barback emerges and gathers the glasses from the window box. He doesn't touch the bottled water, and he doesn't notice the glasses in the gutter. There are several groups of people in the street and on the sidewalk; everyone is talking and drinking and drunk. One person finishes his beer and sets the empty glass on the ground in the street. Several minutes later one of his companions accidentally kicks it, and it rolls into the gutter. Several minutes later someone emerges from the bar and steps on it, shattering it and spreading broken glass everywhere, including the base which now has shards pointing up. Everyone sees and hears this happen, but no one cleans it or reports it to the bar. On the way home I again stop to marvel at the 21 giant displays inside Westgate Apotheque. It's even better at night. People buy and wear a lot of Superdry here. Even Superdry bags and duffelbags are fairly common. Germans love it. Another brand I see a lot more of is G-Star. Late dessert: one piece of individually wrapped fudge left over from some meal in Amsterdam, some fruit juice. To bed late.

Sat 11

Breakfast in the hotel room from groceries: spelt flakes, lowfat milk (1.8%), yogurt (stracciatella), hot earl gray tea. Bought AA batteries (Energizer this time), a fruit juice, and snacks for the plane at DM: 18.80 euros. Installed the batteries and they work—hooray! Did more exploring, this time of the gay district in Old Town: Hohe Pforte to Mathiasstrasse, Georgstrasse to Pipinstrasse. Lunch at Cafe Konditorei Eigel KG: Folienkartoffel mit Lachs (baked potato with cream sauce with smoked salmon and side salad), mineral water: 10.70 euros rounded up to 12. The Lidl sim card stopped working, so I gave up on it and got a new sim card from a T-Mobile store: another 10 euros, internet is working again. Back to the hotel. On the walk back I encountered a group of people standing in a large circle who appeared to be part of a dog-training session. At one point one of the dogs began barking at other passing dogs and all the dogs started barking and creating a ruckus. It was tense and exciting for a minute and then all the dog owners finally got their dogs under control. Further along I passed a ceramics fair. Nap. Dinner at Seri Thai: pad thai with shrimp and tofu and a singapore sling, which I found to be a strong drink. I was drawn to Seri Thai because of its enchanting decor. Service, like pretty much everywhere else, was inconsistent but perhaps more pleasant than at other places. Too tired to go out.

Sun 12

Breakfast in the hotel room from groceries: spelt flakes, lowfat milk (1.8%), cherry yogurt, fruity juice, 1 golden delicious apple. I visited the Ludwig Museum. Exhibits: Meisterwerke der Moderne die Sammlung Haubrich, Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties, American Places. I used an audio machine to hear details about the art and liked the experience—very informative. I particularly enjoyed the Claes Oldenburg exhibit, La Gare de Perpignan by Salvador Dalí and seeing works by Ansel Adams, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Paul Klee, and Piet Mondrian. I lunched at the museum's cafe and sat outside in the sun. The forecast high today is 73 F but it feels warmer—perhaps 79 degrees F. Barely any clouds. Vegetable quiche (no side salad), capuccino with whipped cream, slice of apple pie, sparkling mineral water. The server either misunderstood me or erred with my order and brought me a small water instead of the large one I had requested. Also the quiche arrived with what appeared to be a side salad, but she insisted it was the correct order. Nearby choir buskering. Live 3-piece jazz. 2 women at a neighboring table speaking German. Trapped again near the end of my meal because the server disappeared. I think this was the point at which I realized my expectations about restaurant service in Europe were way too high. Relaxed.

Mon 13

Breakfast in the hotel room from groceries: spelt flakes, lowfat milk (1.8%), hazelnut yogurt, fruity juice, 2 bananas. Got to the airport and realized that I missed my flight out of CGN because I remembered the wrong time to be at the airport. For some reason I had remembered the arrival time in AMS (7:25 AM) rather than the departure time from CGN (6:25 AM) and consequently arrived at CGN an hour late. A woman at the KLM counter helped me reschedule my flight. I returned to my hotel hoping they still had space, and they did. Instead of spending another day of activities in Cologne, I decided to try to get on a Pacific time sleeping schedule and slept for 7 hours. Woke at 3 PM. Tested new internet credentials: first test = 230 down / 1077 up, second test = 734 down / 1941 up. Tried to buy Danny underwear that he wanted, but the store wasn't open even though I think the store hours sign said that they should be open. Snack at Kamps: egg sandwich, fruity water: 3.75 euros. Haircut at Arson Hair from Jessy: 16 euros before a 2-euro tip. She uses a different method than I usually use, but it will suffice. Back to the hotel. Speed test with Spotflux disabled: 5246 down / 2021 up. Speed test with Spotflux enabled: 670 down / 906 up. Speed test with Spotflux disabled: 1478 down / 959 up. Speed test with Spotflux enabled: 209 down / 198 up. Speed test with Spotflux enabled: 851 down / 305 up. Speed test with Spotflux disabled: 694 down / 550 up. Uploaded photos to Flickr. Dinner by myself at Moyos, a New Orleans diner: 2 cheeky strawberry drinks (strawberry, mint, lime, havana), multiseed wheat mini baguette with creole sauce, fish soup, coconut shrimp: 24.70 euros, and I rounded up to 26 euros. Soup: tomato bisque with one prawn, lots of shrimp, 3 mussels, and chunks of fish. Beignets were more like popcorn shrimp than beignets.

Tue 14

Woke at 3 AM. Uploaded photos to Flickr. Realized that I had forgotten to request non-feather pillows, so I had accidentally slept with a feather bedding—no immediate bad reactions. Beverages: fruity juice, sparkling mineral water. Packed. Black car service to Köln-Bonn Flughaven airport because trains did not run early enough: 33.60 euros, I rounded up to 36, paid in cash. (He accepted credit card but said there was a 5-euro surcharge for credit card payments). Snack at Red Bar in the terminal: small cheese and egg sandwich, mint tisane. Orange juice on the flight. Amsterdam Schilpol airport. Changed euros to US dollars. We learn our flight is delayed by 1 hour. After 1 hour we learn our flight is delayed by 2 hours. During this time I watch The Truman Show on my MacBook Air. This is the first time I watch a feature film on my laptop. I love the experience. The delay ends up being nearly 3 hours. Flight. Watched The Cabin in the Woods. Nice coincidental pairing with The Truman Show. Watched The Avengers, Jurassic Park: The Lost World. Switched to my MacBook Air and watched Ten Angry Men. Patrick retrieved me from the airport. Home. Shower. Did a bit of unpacking, slept until midnight.

Wed 15

Did some unpacking. Late meal: Patrick's cannelini bean stew, 2 mini corns on the cob, dirty girl scout, TJ's bedtime tisane. Computed. Breakfast: zucchini, white carrot, and Dorot garlic grilled in extra-virgin olive oil, rice pilaf, TJ's bedtime tisane. Uploaded photos to Flickr, more unpacking. Dinner at home with Patrick: fried organic chicken thighs, fried kale, cornbread stuffing with fresh kernels of corn. Patrick and I drove to an art show: Resplendor by Niccolo Cosme at API Wellness Center. Chatted briefly with Jon J, Ben L, and met Miss GAPA and Mr. GAPA. Home.

Thu 16

Woke around 3 AM, couldn't get back to sleep. Rode Muni to work. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. First day at work after returning from 15 days in Europe. Troubleshot problems with my UPS frequently switching to battery power even when no outage or brownout was occurring. Eventually figured out how to perform a sensitivity adjustment and now all is well. Before leaving for Europe I had left with 2 messages in my inbox. I returned to almost 400. Not too bad. Got it down to about 70 before ending the day. Lunch from Carmelina's: bean and cheese burrito, pineapple agua fresca: $6.20. Rode Muni home. Nap. Dinner at home with Patrick: brown rice and cannellini bean stew. Dessert: we split one chocolate-covered pistachio marzipan that I had brought back from Cologne. We watched about 15 minutes of Grey Gardens on Netflix DVD before I felt too tired to watch.

Fri 17

Woke around 2 AM, couldn't get back to sleep much. Yoga: standing warmup practice. Weight training: push-ups, high-steps. Uploaded photos to Flickr. Breakfast at home with Patrick: 2 hash browns, 2 eggs scrambled, 2 Yves meatless breakfast patties, TJ's bedtime tisane. Rode Muni to work. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. 1-on-1 with Rodney. 1-on-1 with Eric. Lunch at Pomelo: solo (indonesian rice noodle soup). Supp app work in Drupal. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: caserecce with zucchini and kale in tomato sauce, hot water. Watched a few OK Go videos that I had purchased from iTunes. We watched about 10 minutes of Grey Gardens on Netflix DVD before I felt too tired to watch. Proofread journal entries from Europe. Dessert: we split one semisweet chocolate-covered marzipan.

Sat 18

Began building a best of Europe trip photo set on Flickr from my 2,200 photos. Got my windshield replaced by Kent at Secureway Autoglass. My feelings about this company are mixed. They don't seem very organized. They had 3 weeks to order the part that on my previous visit we all determined was missing and needed, but when I arrived today the part was still not available. They can't remember who quoted whom what price. They write their daily schedule on a whiteboard by hand, which can lead to transcription errors and isn't easily accessible by all staff at all times. I was told the work would take 90 minutes but instead it took about 2 hours or more—I gave up caring about the lost time. While waiting I shopped for groceries at a nearby Whole Foods. Met with Patrick and we drove to the Mission to attend the San Francisco Street Food Festival. It was really hard finding parking. The festival was crowded but not so packed as to be uncomfortable. The weather was very comfortable—sunny and clear but not hot with occasional cool breezes. Some lines were unbelievably long for what you got. e.g., $3 for 3 meatballs. Great fun for foodies, though. Lots of interesting foods to try at mostly not-outrageous prices. Great graphic design for the festival by Alice Chau. We ate at Il Cane Rosso (deviled ham scotch egg), Hella Vegan Eats (fry bread tacos), Chile Lindo (vegetarian empanda). Patrick took an L train home and I drove to Sunnyvale for my niece's birthday pool party, with Loretta, Kristiann, Ken, and others. I chatted mostly with Johnson, Jessica, and Dex. Home. Weight training: let-me-ins.

Sun 19

Helped Patrick C move with a bunch of other Syndicate peeps. (Accio Pachooey!) Brunch at Millbrae Pancake House with part of the moving group. Drinks afterward to celebrate at Cafe Flore. Home. Nap. Tried to wake up after 90 minutes but could not, slept through until 2 AM when I did some tidying, more journal proofreading, and journal updating. Back to sleep around 5 AM.

Mon 20

Weight training: push-ups. Rode Muni to work. Weight training: 8 flights of stairs taken 2 at a time. Followup with an inquiry from TH. Followup with Cindy, Jina, and Doug C about name change procedures. Listserv management. Minor pruning in monitorus. Sent an email to Michael at Scoot with info about how to get started with UCSF. Followup with external email policy. Alerted Jaime K to the new connection settings following the web firewall installation. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. Supp app work in Drupal: followup on reported issues, added military status reports. Updated cron jobs. Lunch by myself at Perilla: brisket pho special (it was too cold and foggy today to be vegetarian), hot tea, $7.06. SCWG work: responding to Orlando's request about wireless problems. Listserv management. Followup with Orlando about Jazzee costs. Followup with Rebecca about adding Membrane Biophysics. Began updating orientation materials in InDesign. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: buckwheat soba noodle soup with vegetables. Tried watching the remainder of Grey Gardens (1975) on Netflix DVD with Patrick, but it was too uninteresting, so we quit after another 15 minutes. Tried watching something else but was too tired and went to bed early.

Tue 21

Woke up around 3:30 AM. Earl gray tea. Tidied, organized data, caught up on journaling. Yoga: standing warmup practice. Weight training: door pull-ups. My favorite breakfast. Rode Muni to work. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. Supp app work in Drupal: followup on reported problems. Updated cron. Followup with Orlando's question about wireless problems. Supp app work in Drupal: added military service reports. Web firewall launch followup. Supp app work in Drupal: followup on reported problems. Listserv management. Lime Tree: laksa coconut curry special with noodles, tofu, egg, and shrimp; tea: $12 after tip. Pretty spicy, but I ate it anyway. Followup with Orlando about Jazzee costs. Followup with Rebecca about Membrane Biophysics. Snack at the cafeteria: slice of mushroom pizza, small coffee with sugar and half and half. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: grilled salmon, leftover stuffing, small side salad. Together we began writing a pop song only because I thought it wasn't that hard to do. We spent an hour on it so far. We'll see what happens.

Wed 22

Breakfast at home: organic oatmeal with diced, organic nectarine; organic cinnamon; organic, unsweetened soy milk. Rode Muni to work. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. Checked on cron. Minor web edit for Cindy: added cpr page. Helped Cathi D and Monica A with the listserv attachment filesize limit problem. Lunch from Subway: footlong veggie delight with provolone on wheat honey oat, not toasted. 1-on-1 with Eric. Minor web update for Joel: supp app presentations. Supp app work in Drupal: followup on reported problems. Followup with Doug, Jina, and Cindy about the email address change procedure following a legal name change and about same-or-similar name issues with entering students. Snack from Panda Express: two veggie spring rolls, no sauce. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: pad thai noodles with garlic and black pepper tofu with tom yum sauce and vegetables, hot water.

Thu 23

Breakfast at home: granola with organic, unsweetened soy milk; cubed, seeded watermelon. Rode Muni to work. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. Edtech meeting. Met 1-on-1 with Michael W. C3 meeting. Checked on cron. Created accounts for Michael W and Greg H on The Archive at Michael's request. Calendar management. Lunch at the cafeteria: garden burger with cheddar, french fries, water from my klean kanteen. Assisted Michael W with a webcam retrieval and a monitor delivery. Assisted Greg H with access to The Archive. Updated all web calendars, notified staff. Redirected a help request for iRocket from Pat E to Frances. Followup with accounting team about an accidental account closure. Supp app work in Drupal: followup on reported problems. Poster work for Cindy in InDesign. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: Paxti's veggie pan pizza (Patrick wanted the cornmeal crust) ordered in, hot earl gray tea, organic best ale (Sam L. Smith). Dessert: one chocolate-covered pineapple German marzipan. Watched the remainder of Mean Girls (2004) on Netflix DVD with Patrick. Performed supp app updates very late at night when there are no logged-in users.

Fri 24

Weight training: shoulder-drop push-ups. Edited and resposted some photos from Europe Trip Day 01—brightening, color correction, a few different crops, etc. Can't remember what I had for breakfast. Rode Muni to work. Minor edit to supp app presentations page for Joel. Posted updated admissions calendars for Joel. Supp app work in Drupal: resolved problem with Submitted column being unsortable, new import. Followup with accounting team about an accidental account closure. Followup with Lisa on the correct pronunciation of Guglielmo. Lunch at Perilla. Bought bing cherries at 828 Irving grocery for $1.99/pound. Watched the August 9 IT Forum meeting. Began Qualtrics training. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. Uploaded photos to The Archive. Met Will at the laundromat at 17th and Sanchez. Sushi and small hot sake dinner with Will at Warakubune, his first time: about $70 after a $10 tip. Dessert at Sweet Inspirations: we shared a slice of chocolate-banana charlotte, I had a small decaf coffee, Will had a small, single mocha.

Sat 25

Woke at 6:30 AM. Dusting. Laundry. Breakfast at home: 2 hash browns; organic 2-egg scramble with brown clamshell mushrooms, red bell pepper, and green onions; organic orange juice; hot earl gray tea. Did some prep for tomorrow's concert in Stern Grove. Vacuumed. Cut my hair, showered. Errands: Kelly-Moore Paints for empty paint cans, Radio Shack for a gold-plated 1/8" Y-adapter, Bay Area Bikes to show them the damaged part of my bicycle. They said they would need to order the part and it would probably take a couple of weeks. Picked up Will and Ray at their place. Lunch at Flipside Burgers in Oakland. Dropped Ray off at home. Will and I went to AMC Emeryville and watched The Dark Knight Rises. Dropped Will off at home. Drove home.

Sun 26

Arrived at 10 AM for the Stern Grove Festival: OK Go and The Family Crest. The concert starts at 2 PM, but already there were a lot of people. Better to arrive between 9 and 10 AM. Began watching Sherlock Holmes (2009) on iTunes rental. Take out from King of Thai Noodle: shrimp pad thai. Shower. Ate pad thai. Tried to find a way to move a movie rental I purchased (rented) on my MacBook Air to my iMac so that we could watch on a larger screen, failed. It appears Apple doesn't let you move from one computer to another, and it also doesn't make this clear in any way so you can spend a lot of time looking but never achieving what you want. Double fail. Apple: I don't mind paying for what I watch, and I don't mind if you prevent me from watching it on two different computers at the same time. I started watching a movie rental on my MacBook Air. I wanted to finish watching it on my iMac. iTunes doesn't permit this, and it doesn't make it clear that it's impossible. You need to do better, even if that's only making it clear that it's impossible. Watched Sherlock Holmes (2009) on iTunes rental on the MacBook Air with an audio splitter and each of us wearing headphones. Fortune found in my pants pocket today: An admirer is concealing affection for you.

Mon 27

Breakfast at home: organic oatmeal with diced, organic cripps pink apple; organic cinnamon; organic, lowfat milk. Rode Muni to work. Weight training: 8 flights of stairs taken 2 at a time. Answered a computer requirements question for an entering student. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. Calendar management. Reconfigured PharmAdMIT for both Sammie and Joel. Lunch: salami and cheese wrap not eaten yesterday, tortilla chips. Proofread an article for David J. 1-on-1 check-in with Mark F. More Trustwave followup. Supp app work in Drupal: two manual password resets. Minor web edits for Susie: fellowships. Created my first survey in Qualtrics: an IRC survey to students similar to the one I did in SurveyMonkey in 2010. Prepared notes for an IRC focus group. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: vegetarian goulash with quinoa linguine, hot water. Made plans with Patrick for a labor day weekend getaway.

Tue 28

Breakfast at home: organic oatmeal with diced, organic cripps pink apple; organic cinnamon; organic, lowfat milk. Rode Muni to work. Weight training: 8 flights of stairs taken 2 at a time. SCWG meeting. Beverage from Palio: iced grande caffe latte. Supp app work in Drupal throughout the day. Filed pcard paperwork. Helped James J with auth.net credentials. Worked with auth.net to make a change to our account settings for La'Trece. Registered for Sharecase. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. Lunch at desk: leftovers from last night. 1-on-1 with Cindy. Design work in InDesign: congratulations poster for Cindy, orientation handout. Updates for the wireless page. Snack: trail mix. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: saffron-five-spice vegetarian jambalaya, pumpkin ale, hot water. Smelled cigarette smoke in my room—upstairs neighbors? Finally caught up on journaling and posted entries for the last 30 or so days.

Wed 29

Breakfast at home: organic oatmeal with diced, organic cripps pink apple; organic cinnamon; organic, lowfat milk. Rode Muni to work. Linkchecking, kiosk, Flickr work. Followup on small web edit for Cindy: link to complete review of pharmacy book. Calendar management. More supp app work in Drupal followup. Lots of web edits to the wireless page. Preparation for interviews. Pharmchem website account setup followup with Walter S. Lunch from Panda Express: panda bowl with chow mein and mixed vegetables, water from my klean kanteen. Interviews. Web updates for pharmchem for Millo. More troubleshooting for a styling problem on QBC sites: the problem appears only on Safari both Mac and Win: number or bullet disappears in any list with subitems upon hover of the subitem, inconsistent. Patrick picked me up at work in the car. Dinner at Tia Margarita with Romy, Drew, Phil, and Patrick. (Danny is on a cruise with his dad.)

Thu 30

Breakfast at home: Grandma Goodie's super granola with diced, organic cripps pink apple and organic, unsweetened soy milk. Rode Muni to work. Weight training: 8 flights of stairs taken 2 at a time. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. C3 technical weekly check-in. Chatted briefly with Michael W. Supp app project work in Drupal: followup on reported problems, implemented a fix for the problem in which automated messages were not received by Gmail users. UCSF shuttle from Parnassus to Laurel Heights. Bought lunch at the cafeteria: falafel sandwich. Web team lunch meeting. UCSF shuttle from Laurel Heights to Parnassus. Interview review with the staff. Helped Cindy obtain a list of files in a folder. Reviewed zip file creation process with Lucia. Web edits: Pharm Chem, Kidney Project. Removed all occurrences of "Option 3" in relation to the phone number for the IT Service Desk. Rode Muni home. Dinner at home with Patrick: salad, biscuits and butter, hot water. Patrick made a baked fig gratin with organic black figs and balsamic vinegar and after it was finished we ate some of it paired with Green and Black's organic hot chocolate. A fortune from my last Panda Express meal: Your hard work is about to pay off.

Fri 31

Weight training: advanced push-ups. Breakfast at home: organic oatmeal with fresh, diced nectarine; brown sugar; organic cinnamon; organic, unsweetened soy milk. Rode Muni to work. Weight training: 8 flights of stairs taken 2 at a time. Linkchecking, Flickr work, kiosk work. Web updates: pharmchem, added media coverage to the Kidney Project website. Followup with Tina B, Frances K, Steve K, and John G about course.ucsf.edu. Pointed Cindy to social media guidelines set by SCUR. Followup with Leslie F about fellowships. Met with Rodney to test wireless printing in the IRC. Helped others clean our storage closet. I submitted a surplus pickup request for some items. Lunch: leftover vegetarian jambalaya. ICRD work. Calendar management. Supp app work in Drupal: followup on a reported problem. Followup with a student about a listserv request. Will canceled meeting tonight for drinks and dinner. Muni to the Castro. Dinner at La Med with Herman. Barhopping with Syndicate and friends: Blackbird, Churchill, Residence: herman bucy sneeper willkho mikep jerbro rene ping kevin alex albert. Rode Muni home. Late meal to go from King of Thai Noodle: shrimp pad thai. Ate at home. To bed.