May your wheels never break. 

BigRed
Goodbye, Big Red, your time in my life is at an end.

I purchased Big Red when I was about to move to Germany, and I knew that I would have to live out of a suitcase for a month or more while the rest of my stuff floated across the Atlantic Ocean.  This suitcase is gargantuan-  it comes up almost to my waist, and I’m a fairly tall individual.  It has a strong extensible handle, and four spinning wheels that make it a dream to maneuver around airports.

For most of my time in Europe, Big Red sat in the corner because it’s just too huge for most trips. For a suitcase this large, it’s just far too easy to break the fifty pound limit the airlines impose.

The first year I visited Florida after moving to Germany, I used Big Red. I had rented a convertible for my birthday, and the suitcase couldn’t be loaded into the car unless the top was down.  It was just that big.

Since I returned to the U.S., I’ve been storing other suitcases inside Big Red, like those Russian nested dolls.

The thing is, I’m never going to travel in quite the same way again. I will never need a suitcase quite this large again.   That part of my life is over.

I’ve found you a home, Big Red- a home with someone who is only now discovering their wanderlust, so that you will still get to travel on.

Goodbye, Big Red. May you continue to be Samsonite-tough for many years to come.

Home, Soon.

I’m in my fifth week in Tokyo, my final week. This week will be fun.

Fun thing #1: I get to see some old friends from Germany. Tuesday is dinner with Tuuli and Henri, friends from Regensburg, who moved to Japan a while before I left Germany. Wednesday is probably dinner with Charlotte and some of her friends.  Charlotte lived in Frankfurt, moved back to the UK a while back, but she’s traveling through Japan for two weeks on vacation with a friend.

Fun thing #2: My supervisor from Mr. Company is replacing me here, and she arrives on Wednesday night. We overlap for two days, which means I get to show her around. I like playing tour guide, and I forgot how much fun that can be.

Fun thing #3:  In five days, I’ll be back in the air, headed home.  I’ve missed home so much.  I’ve missed my girlfriend Amelie a ton, and I’m looking forward to having proper snuggles.  The most human contact I’ve had since my arrival in Japan has been the occasional handshake.

I fly out of Narita on Saturday, and I’ll land in Detroit an hour before I left.  International flight time travel for the win!   Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to:

  • I mentioned Amelie up there-  I’m super stoked that I get to go see movies with her again- movies and dinner are one of our favorite dates.  I missed out on Pitch Perfect 2 and Tomorrowland.  Ant Man is coming up though, and that’s excellent.
  • I’m looking forward to catching up with my family in real time.  I missed a lot of things while I was here-  my oldest niece had a birthday dinner at Melting Pot with almost all of my family, and I hate that I missed it.  My youngest niece had a recital, and I hate that I missed that too.
  • I get to go back to Tijuana Flats!  After five weeks, I’ve got Taco Lust like you would not believe.
  • I miss driving my car.  I kinda forgot what it feels like.  Last week, I remembered very suddenly that I have satellite radio in  my car.  I’d forgotten.

In a week or two, I’ll start to post more about my time in Japan.  I saw a great deal here, and I have a lot to share.  Until then, I’ll leave you with this picture of me at the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) in Kamakura, just outside of Yokohama:

hangin-with-Daibutsu

Away from keyboard…

I’m sorry that I’ve been away again. I have a bunch of posts from my short trip to Minneapolis that I need to finish up.

There’s also this: 

Yup, I’m in Japan!  I’ve been here for two weeks, and I have another three to go. I’m here for work, but that still gives me the weekends to explore.  The picture above was taken at Osaka Castle.

Once I have some down time to sort my photos, I’ll talk a lot about what I’ve seen while I’m here.   Be seeing you!

Have you ever been to Japan? (Charlotte, you skip this question.) How about Minneapolis?

A rare post about my job.

I don’t usually talk about my job online for a bunch of different reasons.  For one thing, I deal with confidential data.  For another, I think that “what do you do?” is the least interesting question anyone can ask me when they first meet me.  For the two or three of you who don’t actually know what I do, I’m a Systems Administrator for a hosting company.  When most people ask me what I do for a living, I usually just say, “computers.”

Despite the low frequency of my work-related posts, my job is an incredibly large part of my life.  I’ve worked at Mr. Company1 for almost thirteen years, starting in the summer of 2002.  I was 29 when I started working for the company.  When I started working there, my cell phone was new and large and awkward, and I still had a pager for emergencies.  (Remember pagers?)

The company sent me to Hong Kong for two weeks in 2008.  This was my first trip outside of the United States other than Canada and the Bahamas.  My employment there is the very reason that I lived in Germany for three years, working for our European office in Germany.  Working for Mr. Company is what allowed me to travel all over Europe for the last few years.

In a week’s time, however, the company won’t exist.  Not in its current form, anyway.  We’re being merged into our sister company, and we’re taking their name.  My health benefits are switching companies.  We’ll have a new CEO.   I’ll be given a new e-mail address.

On the first of April, the name of my employer will cease to exist in North America.  That’s a hell of a thing.

I’m excited though.  So far, the changes coming down from on high have been good ones- they’ve separated our different offices into separate product lines, which means that our Utah office gets my least favorite platform, while I still get to play with my favorite products every day.   My department has also gone from a 24/7 schedule to a 24/5 schedule, with nobody in the office on Saturday or Sunday.

Since my return from Germany, my responsibilities and workload at my job have increased a great deal.  The company keeps me very, very busy, and that’s going to continue.  Some time in the next few months, the newly merged and re-named Mr. Company will be sending me to Tokyo for about a month.  In theory, I’ll go in May or June-  the schedule isn’t fixed yet, so it could be later.   Alas, it will likely be far too late to see the famous cherry blossoms.  It will be my first trip to Japan.  It will also be my first trip to another country for the new-and-improved Mr. Company, and I think that’s going to be pretty nifty.

In just five more days, it will be time to say goodbye to the company that I’ve always known, and hello to more or less the same company in a newer, shinier form.  More or less.

Mr. Company is dead.  Long live Mr. Company.


1I always refer to my current employer as Mr. Company online. Always.

Auf Wiedersehen, 2014.

2014_out

2014 was a hell of a year.  It was the last third of my time in Germany before my contract ended there.

In 2014, I visited old favorite cities and the friends that resided in each- Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin.  I visited new cities in Germany that I had not yet seen- Dresden, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Rothenberg ob der Tauber, Heidelberg.

In 2014, I visited cities in other countries that I had never seen before-  Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Egypt.

In 2014, I saw concerts by Ellie Goulding, Gary Numan, Baskery, Hayseed Dixie, Air Supply,  Eels, the Alan Parsons Live Project, and Lewis Black.  I saw stage productions of The Little Shop of Horrors (auf Deutsch) and the Book of Mormon.

In 2014, I saw America play Germany in the World Cup.  I saw Germany lose its collective mind with joy when they were victorious in the final game.  I attended beer festivals and blogger meetups.

In 2014, I went hot air ballooning over Bavaria.  I rode a camel through one tiny corner of the Sahara desert.  I rode Segways twice, and found them to be much smoother than a camel.  I saw the Great Pyramid at Giza.

In 2014, I saw two dear friends wed to their beloved, one in July and one in October.  I saw my Aunt Florence laid to rest over a funeral home’s live Internet video stream from my apartment in Germany.

In the last three months of 2014, I came home and began to reset my life here. My books and movies have been boxed up for four years.  and I feel like I have been too.   I’ve been stuck for a long while.

2015 is going to be a grand adventure, I think.  I’m starting the year off by taking my girlfriend with me to California in late January to see one of my all time favorite bands.  There’s other stuff on the calendar, but I won’t list it all out here.

I’m just glad to see 2014 on its way out.  I’m ready to be unstuck.

What are you looking forward to about 2015?