Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Back to Basics

When I started this blog, it was intended as a public journal consisting of my observations as a foreigner in a foreign land. A lot has happened in my life since October and it has become more of a catch all for anything I wanted to say or observe about anything. So...I decided a post about Germanities was long over due and really what better time than now, as the sun stays out longer and summer makes its way in Germans are showing me a new side of their culture. The major sign it is summer in Germany is the ice cream. This time of year, it is almost impossible to walk down town without seeing a variety of people strolling along eating ice cream, each cone more delicious looking than the previous. It is so hard to not stop at the next Italian eis shop and get a scoopfor myself. Which leads to me eating ice cream just as much as the next German. The most distresing thing I have discovered anout summer here is that A/C is not standard! My first car was a 1993 Mazda Protege (and I loved it!) with manual windows and locks but it had air conditioning. Patrick's 1997 Audi A4 has power locks, power windows but no A/C. It is not that the A/C is broken or needs a recharge, it simply does not exist. This is unheard of in my world where my dad called to ask if my A/C was broken last summer when he borrowed my car and couldn't get the cooling system below 65*F! I've become accoustomed to an sirconditioned life in my parents' home, the office I worked in for years and in cars. Even if I didn't use it, it was always an option. I don't expect my apt. to have air con but the language school I work in doesn't even hav it! To make things even hotter, the doors and windors must be shut during lessons to avoid noise pollution AND Germans are of the belief that if a fan blows on you, you will get sick, then you will have to wear a scarf to heal and who wants that in the summer. Seriously, I had to face the fan towards the closed windows! Nothing porductive came out of that but we had :air circulation" haha welcome to Germany. The thing I find the oddest is that in the middle of companies focusing on being environmentaly friendly, air con is just begining to catch on here, to hell with the environment, Germans are inconsistant anyway!

Friday, May 25, 2007

My hair

I straightened my hair the other day. It is so long! I've decided that I'm going to wait until the end of summer to cut off the 12 inches for donation. I like long hair in the summer.

London Loves Leggings

…But that’s a whole other entry. I sat in seat 1A, my favorite seat on a plane looking out the window, dreaming about sleeping in my bed and trying to determine which country we were flying over. I remembered the first time I was ever on a plane. I was 14, a freshman in high school and on my way to Orlando, FL for a family trip to Disneyland. I recall looking out the window (I was in the window seat with my grandmother sitting next to me) and thinking I could do this for work. At the time it was a random thought and I’m not sure why that was in my 14-year old train of thoughts and daydreams. Today I looked out the window and recalled that moment as I was flying for business and in fact in business class. I felt so naive and happy at the same time I regretted the fact that I’ve only had 10 hours of sleep in 3 days. I realized then that while it is work, I have a really great opportunity in front of me to travel Europe. I guess this holds a bit more excitement for an American as it does to a European. I’ve found that Europeans find FL and CA and NYC much more glamorous than Paris or Spain or London. Reflecting on my journey, my job and my future in this under slept state left me to realize my internal optimism. I think I will never be that over-the-top, happy every second of every day kind of girl but I believe I will also never be a miserable person and that in itself makes me happy. I also remember a good friend once saying to me that I don’t carry baggage, this is true in life and in flight. I don’t see the point of holding feelings inside and I am an amazing packer when it comes to luggage. I do have a terrible job packing when it comes to moving out of an apartment or to another country. So, I’ve been thinking about my upcoming work-related travel ventures lately. In June I have Brussels, Frankfurt, Rome and Paris. The thing is I am literally in Brussels for one day, the day of the event and I’ve already been to both Rome and Paris so I guess I am most excited for Frankfurt since I’m traveling by train and can possibly add a few hours to my day for exploring the city and maybe I’ll even convince Patrick to come along . Rome actually scares me a bit, not because of the city at all but the event is in about 3 weeks and the agenda is being finalized tomorrow afternoon so registration will only be open for about 2 weeks and this will be my first event without a partner and to top it all off, my boss is most likely going to be in South Africa at the time AND the big boss happens to be in Rome so she’s going to come to the event so it all comes down to nerves here. I do have a friend in Florence and the event is on Tuesday so it may be possible that I fly in over the weekend and hang out with her before the event. I guess it really depends how prepared I am going into the event. I was told once I get through June I’ll have survived and the job gets easier from there and I believe it. There’s that whole learning curve thing but also I still playing catch up from my predecessor. She should have had most of the Rome event planned when I took over but she had done nothing so it feel into my lap under time pressure. Travel lesson of the day: Trains will always be delayed, even if you are in Germany but more so in London. Planes too, even if you board the plane on time, as a rule, you will sit on the plane for 20 minutes or more, anticipate extra waiting time if flying into or out of a major airport like Heathrow, Miami or Frankfurt. Don’t complain, all of these delays are out of your control, anticipate them ahead of time and prepare accordingly. Be pleasant and smile and thank all of the employees you meet, it is not their fault. P.S. I’m pretty sure I saw a Russian mail order bride being returned to Russia via sleeper train today. It was great! (though not for her) P.P.S This is my 100th entry!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wildfires are in FL too

I lay here in a haze of smoke. On a dock in Miami beach listening to the ocean splash against the beams beneath me. I can look out across Biscayne Bay and see the amazing homes on the other shore. I can turn my head a bit to the left and see the skyscrapers in the distance but they are clouded by the smoke. A plane flies overhead carrying a banner, undoubtedly marketing directed at the tourists laying on a not so distant beach. I can’t read the message, not because I have bad eyesight but because the sky isn’t clear enough. As I lay here and thing of all the stuff going on in our atmosphere at the moment, I realize I didn’t apply sunscreen. I don’t like sunscreen. I need to wear sunscreen, in my case, not to prevent a burn but to prevent skin damage. Unlike the dry landscapes; in Georgia, in the Everglades and throughout Florida, my skin does not easily burn. This is why I neglect sunscreen. Skin burns as a sign; protect your skin. The wildfires are burning as a sign that the land was too dry. These fires are at a current state of uncontrollability. They have been burning since I arrived over a week ago. While FL may be the lightening capital of the world, wild fires are becoming more common as of late. This bit of knowledge prompts me to consider what causes wild fires. Lightening, along with arsonists are the two biggest catalysts so humans and nature. That being said, one must also consider the necessary conditions for a wild fire; dry grass, leaves and trees. If wild fires are more prevalent now, one could reason that rainfall to the same areas has decreased. Can we relate this to global warming? I’m sure everything can be blamed on global warming these days and that’s not what I want to do. The point that I am trying to lead into is the fact that humans have an obvious impact on the earth and vice versa. These fires have caused roads to close, people to stay indoors and in the extreme for people to evacuate their homes. Since I wrote this on May 12th, I did a bit of research. As of May 18th there were 174 fires, down from 190 the previous day. Here's a bit of a report on a few of them, notice the cause was lighteing forall. "WILDFIRE OVERVIEW Florida Bugaboo Fire –Yesterday, fire crews dug into a four-foot deep peat bog and found an active fire burning. There are many areas like this within the fire interior, so the fire will be here for sometime to come. Firefighters are widening the fire lines by dropping fire retardant (or “slurry”) from air tankers. These bombers can spread retardant over an area 50 foot wide by 500 foot long. At 10:00 a.m. today, mandatory evacuations were lifted for the area from Lassie Black Road south on the west side of US-441 and Burlap Road (forest road 263) south on the east side of US-441. Residents were allowed to return home but were urged to stay packed and ready to leave if conditions change. Mandatory evacuations still impact between 400 and 500 homes from the Lassie Black Road north to the Florida-Georgia line. A portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail from Olustee to White Springs is closed. There are more than 25 Florida counties and cities that have provided personnel and equipment, which does not include the forest fire fighters which come from all over Florida and the United States. Cause: lightning. Dairy Road Fire –The Dairy Road Fire is in Bradford County. Total is presently at 15,000 acres. On May 8th, one residence was damaged and two outbuildings were destroyed. Cause: lightning. Balsa Fire –The 18,027-acre Balsa Fire is in Collier County about 12 miles east of Naples. On May 8th, 12 residences at 54th Avenue & Lee Williams Road were evacuated. Three homes & 3 outbuildings were destroyed. Cause: lightning. Deland Complex –The Deland Complex is composed of three fires – the 6,575-acre WF Airport Road Fire in Flagler County (85% contained), the 850-acre Red Oak Fire in Lake County (95% contained) and the 2,600-acre Lee Fire in Lake County (95% contained). This complex has been managed by the Division of Forestry’s Blue Incident Management Team since May 4th. Two outbuildings were destroyed on the Red Oak Fire. Causes: under investigation. Middle of Nowhere Fire -The 6,500–acre Middle of Nowhere Fire started on May 3rd in Charlotte County. General location is off Highway 31 behind Fire Station #9. Fire is in cypress swamp with heavy fuel. No immediate threat to structures. Cause: lightning. " from

Lizards in Miami

There’s a cool lizard outside, I run and get my camera. Upon my return, I am excited to see that he has not moved. I tip toe slowly over to him pointing my camera and ready to shoot once I am satisfied with the view. He shimmies over the side of the banister, I must get closer. I have him right where I want him so I plant my feet, lift my camera and splash, he’s in the ocean. I missed my opprutunity so I wander around, camera still out looking for another lizard. I am in Miami beach, there should be no shortage of lizards here. I notice one through the fence. I’ll never be able to get close enough to that one, but wait he looks wet….it’s the same lizard resurfaced and ready to sun, I try to get closer and he scampers off, running like lizards do with their legs so far out from their bodies. I’ve now lost the same lizard twice so I turn my attention to the pool. It looks swim able so I get closer and there’s a larger lizard out on the dock. The pool is not removed from my mind, I’m focusing on getting close to this guy without losing him. This one is about twice the size of the other and dosen’t look like he wants to go for a swim so I consider myself lucky. As he allows me to get closer and closer, I start to think about my safety. Lizards are related to crocs and they both swim so they must be closely related. Do lizards bite, will he lunge towards me if I get too close. Clearly lizards don’t live in Germany and despite our close proximity to the ocean in lil’Rhody, the cold winters are not suitable for lizards so I don’t know much about proper lizard protocol. In the end, I conclude that I’m still bigger than him so it can’t be that dangerous. I approach, I take the photo, and another, he turns his head, I get closer. I need to lean over thabanister to get the full shot that I’m aiming for, I do. He belly flops into the ocean legs spread out and instantly disappears with a small splash. I lean over the edge looking for him but there is no sign, the water is cloudy which leads me to believe it is also pretty deep. Do lizards know how to swim? Or do they just sink to the bottom and walk from there? I realize, I know very little about lizards. The only thing I know for certain is that they are cold blooded and must sun themselves to det energy, kind of like a solar panel. I also know there are no lizards in the pool thus, there should be a Jen in the pool!


I made it through my first Global Conference. I was the baby so everyone kept asking if I was okay, that made me a bit nervous that I looked like something was wrong. I did feel I was doing okay because my boss took me around for the first day or so after we arrived but by day 3, she let me free. If I wasn’t doing okay, I think she would have kept me by her side. I met a lot of people, some more useful than others. I also got to know the entire staff. There are a couple of points that should be noted about the staff. First of all the entire staff is only about 30 people, including the web designers and representatives of another company we outsource our printed materials from. Looking at the HQ staff, one quickly notes there’s only a single male in the office. There is actually one more male on the team but he is the director of Asia Pacific and thus a contractor who never works out of HQ. In addition, there are a lot of new people. I think this is a mixture of the organization’s growth and the fact that it is a non-profit organization which may hinder salary increases thus attracting recent grads. In addition, people are often hired on short term contracts and only renewed as needed. However, one overwhelming thing I noticed about the staff is that EVERYONE loves their job. I feel that it is too early for me to make a definitive decision, but, so far I also love my job.