Friday, March 17, 2006

Leaving on a jet plane

Tomorrow is the big trip to Germany. We have to be to the airport around 7 pm tomorrow for the redeye to Paris. From Paris to Strousburg, France. Kehl, Germany is right across the border from Strousburg, so we'll drive from there. From all that I'm hearing, Kehl is pretty westernized. It has the GAP, McDonalds and an 8 tiered car dealership. Strousburg on the other hand, is supposed to have some really interesting (and old) churches and fun little shops and markets.

The trip should be a little more relaxed than Brazil was. We're staying in one place the entire week, and the evenings will be ours to do with as we choose, rather than being forced into 4 hour dinners every night. I imagine we'll spend most of our free time in Strousburg. We also have a "free" day on Saturday and I hear that the Black Forest in Germany is pretty interesting.

I'm excited to be going, although I'll really miss Ryan. If only he'd fit in my suitcase. So far, working for Gerdau has added two new countries to my traveling and many new cities. Cool. It's nice to see the world on your company's dime!

Ha ha, I'm winning!

This just in ... I'm whooping Ryan in the NCAA BB Tournament Bracket. Not that I'm entered in any kind of illegal office pool or anything.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Having a heat wave

Today it was 75 degrees outside. Love love love that it's almost spring time. Of course there's supposed to be another snow storm the first week of April. There are several things that bother me about this. First, who has a snow storm in April? Second, how can the pathological liars known as meteorologists possible know what the weather is next week, let alone 3 weeks from now? Are .... you .... kidding me? Donne moi une .... break.

In other news, I'm catching a cold. I'm really freaking tired of getting random illnesses this week. My company nurse and our admin assistant have started taking bets on what I'm bringing home from Germany. Yeah, I'm a side bet. Meh.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

An honorary Canadian

So I made it back from Toronto with no ill effect. Our training was actually very good ... actual training, not just talking about issues. I also really enjoyed being in Canada.

The Toronto airport is huge, and when I got in on Wednesday I literally walked for 15 minutes before getting to the customs agent. Then I had another 10 minute walk to the rental car place. After getting off a flight, it felt really good to walk, but it made me realize how coddled US travelers are. Aside from O'Hare, most US airports are more compact or if there is any walk they have a train to get you there.

Getting used to driving in kilometers was a kick. It makes you feel like you're really getting somewhere! Most of the highways around Toronto were 100 km/h, but like all big cities, no one was going slower than 110 km/h.

I also got a lesson in Canadian temperatures while I was there. Our trip was about 10 Canadians and 3 people from the US. The first afternoon of the training we were discussing the temperature. I'm not bad at converting C to F in my brain, so I actually knew how cold it was. Anyhow, we were discussing the temperature and I said that my car said it was negative 5 C ... and oh how my Canadian counterparts laughed. It's minus 5, they told me. As I listened to radio stations for the next two days, I realized that indeed, no one says negative 5. Another of my US colleagues said the same thing about 5 hours later ... so at least I felt better about that.

It also seems that Canadians are far more concerned about environmental issues than most in the US. As we toured the mill, our tour guide mentioned several environmental issues that they were working on. About 50% of the energy they use is provided by methane from a landfill a mile from the plant. Cool huh? They said that have about 20 years of methane left.

I really enjoyed my trip and my colleagues made me an honorary Canadian (they were going to give me a hat, but alas I had to leave and come back to NJ). All in all, I liked Toronto better than NJ. Of course, they all wanted to come to NJ so they could visit New York City. I guess you always want what you don't have.
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