Monday, April 30, 2007

Bike = Rad

no, seriously, its true. look it up.

its very cool that Berlin is a bike friendly city. everyone rides bikes here. men in business suits, women in dresses, people going out for a night on the town, casual or dressy, kids cruising to the park, whatever. you go to a club for a show or to hang out, and there are bikes everywhere. it's excellent. this weekend Kyle, Alex and I took out bikes out to Spandau on the train, and then road them down to the Luftwaffen Museum, which was pretty cool. i love riding my bike through the now super green Teirgarten, and all over town.
i love having a bike, the city is much more accessible. my friend Jan let me borrow this bike for the durration of my stay here, and i cant thank him enough. i love riding my bike, and it makes me dig Berlin that much more.

Slow on the Draw . . . or Write, or, Rock and Roll Stops the [internet] Traffic

so, i suppose some of the 2 or 3 of you out there reading this might wonder why i dont post very often. well, apart from having crappy internet reception (see below) and not having time to post while at work (too much work to do, too busy trying to find a schwalbe), its because i've been going to too many concerts at night, and doing too much awesome stuff on the weekends . . .

let me list for you, for example, the concerts i went to last week

Thurs - Amon Tobin
Fri - Dragon Force
Sat - The Blood Arm
Mon - Fujia and Miyagi and !!! (Chk Chk Chk)

Thurs - Jeans Team, The Pipettes, and Klee

and i dont even remember if there were any i forgot. this weekend has had less concerts, even though my man Andy wanted me to go check out Malcom Middleton with him tonight. . . i need to try to start the week off right, even if it is a short week. i'll probably kick myself in the morning, but, hey, thats the way it goes.

but, i do need to say that Amon Tobin was a nice surprise, Dragon Force was excellent, and i am in love with all of the Pipettes . . .

also, speaking of music, i must mention that, thanks to keith, i have been introduced to coconut records, and have been wearing it out on the ipod all week, like i've made a new friend. also, i have to say that i find sufjan stevens to be more and more like a soundtrack to my life. call me cliche, but whatever. the music is so contemplative, that while i'm just cruising around, say, on the subway or in the airport, or whatever, it makes for the perfect soundtrack. like i'm watching silent movies, or music videos the whole time. nice.

also, i love myspace, and i love emusic.

why my hotel rules and sucks all at the same time

for one, i live right in the heart of berlin. litterally. the actual center of the city, and that rules. however, the internet never works well . . . i mean, it's supposed to be high speed DSL, but puh-LEASE! although, i guess in the land of 4 hour dinners at restaurants, DSL that goes slower than a Soviet junker at an Italian car auction is not unusuall . . . however, this IS the land of the no speed limit auto bahn (on which i rode shotgun at 137 mph today in my friends Audi), and super fast go carts (yeah, i rode those today too) you'd think they could keep up on their technology at a hotel.

however, i cant get too mad at the hotel. i mean, the girls at the front desk are cute, and they do leave my excellent chocolaty treats, like this bear, from one of the best chocolatiers -ever - on my table for me, just for being here :)i was just going to nibble off one of his ears, for a taste, but then i ended up eating off half of his head . . . so sweet and tasty . . . . he didnt last very long . . .

also, today i saw this place, but didnt "go" there, yet. just went in to check it out . . . and it was amazing . . . there will be more on this place at a later date, be assured of that . . .

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I Ate the False Rabbit, or Chicken: The Other Pork

or, "wrong rabbit" or "meatloaf" as the case may be. It was tasty and delicious. it came with some veggies and some mashed potatos, and that was my lunch on . . . thursday, at the Bistro Tasty, just accross the street from the office. no, seriously, just accrosst the street. look out your window, and accross your street, and Bistro Tasty is probably closer to where i sit that whatever you are looking at is to you.

I find it funny that Germans call meatloaf "false rabbit" - that being the litteral translation, of course. they will, when asked to translate "meatloaf" call it something like "hackbraten," but if you point to meatloaf and ask what it is, you will get "falscher Hase," or, "false rabbit." that is also how you will see it on a menu, as falscher Hase.

i wonder where that came from. did someone want rabbit for dinner one day, and he found instead some mystery loaf of meat on his plate? is it because the typical shape of a meatloaf is somewhat bunny like? did someone once bit unsuspectingly into what he thought was supposed to be rabbit, only to find a loaf of nameless meats on his plate, thus prompting him to shout "this is false rabbit!" ? i may never know. . .

but that brings me to a few other fun food facts, which seem to have been my theme for the week. . .
Berlin claims little as a regional food specialty, or even significant to the region, other than Curry Worst, which it loves and is very proud of. if you want a worst, you will always see the curry worst option at the top of the list at the sausage stand. and, let me tell you, it is delicious. it is basically a sausage with a curry katsup. the recipie for the curry sauce is, apparently, much like the recipies for bar-b-que sauce in america. carefully gaurded from place to place, claiming to be always different, and better than the next guys. personally, every curry worst i have had has tasted exactly the same, the only difference being the worst that i get under the sauce. p.s. curry worst and fries and coke light is a super tasty lunch.

very rarely is there a pepper shaker on the table at a restaurant. there is salt, but it is lonely. there is also never any butter, but there is sometimes some sort of bread. where did we, as americans, get the idea for butter with th rolls all the time . . . was it a marketing ploy? is it english?

wiener schnitzle is good. big flat fried veal. mmmmm . . . .

there is no such thing as a McGriddle at McCafe here . . . Kyle and i were very excited to get one the other day on the way to work . . . but it was not to be. they have "Indian" burgers (like, as if from India), but no McGriddle. now, c'mon, i know Germans love them some pork . . . and some pancakes . . . how hard is it to add and egg and eat it for breakfast?

which brings me to breakfast. most mornings i get a breakfast sandwich from the bakery on the studio lot. and by breakfast sandwich, i am not speaking of anything even remotely similar to the afore mentioned McGriddle, but a sandwich which i happen to be eating for breakfast. these sandwiches are available all day, and seem to be available in most bakerys in Germany (from my limited experience). i usually go with a turkey and cheese. it has lettuce and usually some red bell pepper and slice of hard boiled egg on some sort of nutty roll. many mornings i wake up and think: "what should i have for breakfast? not another stinking breakfast sandwich, thats for sure. . . " but, as soon as i get to "the office" the pavlovian responses kick in, and i crave a nutty, lunchmeaty, cheezy delight. sometimes i even go for the salami.

the bakery also has these little almondy horseshoes, which have had their ends dipped into dark chocolate. yeah, those kill me. i love them.

chicken: the other pork. there is a serious lack of chicken in Germany. you cant go to a restaurant and assume that there will be chicken there. i saw a rotiserie chicken place the other day, and the German guy i was with couldnt begin to understand my enthusiasm, after all, "why eat chicken when you can eat pork" is the mantra here. it also reminded me of the time i wanted eggs in Mexico, where the mantra seems to be: why eat eggs when you can have steak. well, cause i freaking like eggs, OK!? the English guy i was with understood my want. and i thought of my friend Tom, who would choose chicken, if he had to choose one meat to subsist on forever. i would chose fish, myself, and i have had some excellent fish here. and duck.

there is a bit of a rivalry between the Prussians (Berlin) and the Barvarians (Munich). apparently Barvarians eat a lot of meat. and when asked, from time to time if a certain restaurant is good, they might respond "no, its barvarian food. . . " which is interesting, because that does not so much objectively quantify the quality of the food, which is usually excellent, as it speaks to the bias of the person, who is also usually excellent.

in my neighborhood, there is a Pizza, Pasta, Salad place on every corner, it seems. there is also one of the best chocolate shops i have ever been in. The Rauch Schokoladen, which has its own factory for hand made chocolate, as well as importing chocolate from around the world. i got some chocolate with black pepper from peru. it was wierd, but oddly tasty. i also procured from this establishment 4 of the best truffels i have ever eaten in my entire life. One with balsamic vinegar (yes, you read that correctly), one coconut, one tiramisu, and one that was red and i cant remember what it was called, but it was probably my favorite. . .

there is a grip of Turkish food here, being that Berlin is home to the third larges Turkish population in the world, the other two being in Turkey. turkish food is delicious.

i have had three o.f the best Italian meals of my life in two Italian restaurants here. . . i guess its because they are run by acutal Italians. sorry Spumoni . . . i dont know if you're going to cut it any more. . .

oddly enough, i have also had excellent sushi here.

but it is hard, sometimes to find some food on the go. . . Germans always like to sit down to eat. which can be a serious pain, because you have to be ready to commit some time. if you sit down, they assume you will be there till they close, you die, or you trick them into bringing you the check. which is better than getting rushed out of a restaurant, but makes for a hard time if you are on a schedule at all.

food is good.

We Might Have Welcomed Him . . .

two words: dacron polyester

Monday, April 16, 2007


i have just heard about the tragedy at Virginia Tech. many people have died, and many other lives have been disrupted due to the deranged actions of a single person. i have been to Blacksburg, where the school is located. i have spent time at the school. many of my high school friends continued their education there. i have spent lots of time in the general area, in small town southern Virginia. if the number is correct, 32 fatalities, then according to the news, it is the worst mass murder, not to mention school shooting, in the history of the United States of America. even halfway around the world, this story hits close to home. how bizzare. this will invariably raise questions about gun ownership and gun control. i wonder if the shooter accquired the gun legaly, myself. i wonder what the gunman was thinking. i wonder how incidents like this occur, what could possibly be the catalyst. some questions will be easier answered. others will take some time, and may never be answered. regardless, my thoughts and prayers go with the victims families and friends. a sobering moment indeed.

Curriculum Vitae

Monday, April 09, 2007

. . . can you spare a smoker?

so, i've decided to take up second hand smoking. i'm pretty sure it will help me feel better, smell better and look cooler. you could say that this decision coincides directly with my move to Berlin. it seems like everybody smokes, and since the packaging of the cigarettes here makes is so obvious that smoking is bad, i figure i will only smoke second hand, cause that cant be nearly as bad, and i will look cooler.

i've been doing the good majority of my second hand smoking at these two places: Wild at Heart, a punk rock club where i saw a pretty good punk band,

and Magnet Club, where i saw a couple of ok bands (see pic) and danced the night away. literally.

of course, i also get to second hand smoke at every restaurant and public place, so i think i will have plently of oportunity to not light up, but still breath through that burt tobacco laced air.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Why I Love the Internets

for one thing, this digital communication link provides instant access to friends and family world wide. NEAT-O!

also, it is an archive for excellent things like this: the original opening sequence to Mach GoGoGo! the original japanese version of Speed Racer.

and this: the opening to the [aparently] lame remake of the seriese in 1997. i guess american audiences didnt really go for it. other than that, i dont know anything about it, but i love theme songs. and i love speed racer.

thank YOU, Japan.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Call a Bike and Collections

took some more pictures this weekend, and flickr made a new collections tool. i made one for Berlin, and it lets you make this cool little representative collage. nice. way to go flickr, yet again.

and rode a Call-A-Bike! these bikes are everywhere throughout the city. they are locked and unlocked with a security code that you get over the phone, and tracked by GPS, so they can't "escape". and they are strangely reasonable. $.08 a minute, with a $15 day maximum. so, you pick it up wherever you find it, and leave it wherever you want. pretty cool!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Berlin Chronicles, pt 1

this may be the longest post ever . . . if you just want the highlights, click on the links, otherwise, read on lonesome wanderer, read on . . .

On Monday I boarded a plane for Berlin.

I woke up early, to finish packing a few last minute things, Dan came and picked me up (what a guy) and I got to the air port at around 12:15 for my 2:45 flight. You might be thinking that sounds early. Well, ever since I missed my flight to Brazil that one time*, I have made it a point to be a little extra early for international flights. (No, I don’t take that many international flights, but its still a good idea.)

Upon entering the international terminal at LAX, I found the Lufthansa check in area, and waited in the long line to check my bags. It moved pretty well, and I was up to the front in about a half hour. When I got to the front, they informed my of 3 things, which would have been nice to know earlier. 1) I was flying business class, so I shouldn’t have waited in that long line (but how was I supposed to know, the itinerary never specified . . . and nobody ever told me, and you know what they say about assuming). 2) that in business class I had a 70lb weight limit per bag, as opposed to the standard 50lbs for “regular people.” Also would have been nice to know when packing, as I took extra stuff out of the bags for fear of the weight. Still it ended up better, because I probably left out some superfluous crap that I would have questioned my sanity in bringing anyways. And 3) I should have brought my bike. I had wanted to, but I was sort of scared off of it by the people on the phone who warned me that I could be looking at huge extra baggage fees and over size fees. However, the girl checking me in made two points in her little German accent: A) - the people on the phone know nothing. And B) - “ . . . besides, how big can be a bike?” So, I had no bike. Oh well, I figured I would just find a cheap one when I got to town.

I made it quickly through the check in line, and receive a voucher for some food, since I wouldn’t have time to visit the Business Class Lounge (there’s a “Lounge” !?) only to find out that I had to wait in the baggage screening line. You know, that annoying step where you have to take your bags over to the TSA so they can scan them. I don’t understand why I have to take my bags . . . what’s that stupid conveyor belt for after all? So, I waited in the line with a little Irish kid, who must have been about 5, and, who, even though he was pulling his sister Dora Explorer bag, still looked like he could head butt me unconscious. Man he looked like a bruiser. But he was actually pretty shy. I guess my weird English through him off.

So, after you give the TSA guys your bags, you then have to wait around for them to screen then, so you can make sure that they give them back, and that they end up on the plane. Yes, the TSA guys give the bags back to the bag checker people, who then put the bags on the conveyor belt. Well, at least the belt is being used . . .

So, I took my food voucher, thought about using it at the Daily Grill (that place is great), but since I wasn’t hungry, opted for a Hagen Daz Macadamia Nut Brittle Milkshake. Oh, I’m sorry, does that sound too amazing for you to comprehend? Well, it just might be. It was freaking tasty. I’m still craving one today, 5 days later. Gotta love the international terminal. It’s a far cry from the news stand and Jodi Maroni’s Sausage Kingdom.

So, I got on the plane, and prepared to leave LA behind. Not a minute too soon, if you ask me. And just when I thought that I was free of all things LA, that guy from Idiocracy, and the hot dark haired chick from Brick got on the plane and sat just across from me with some nameless dude. At least, I didn’t recognize him. I did, however, recognize Tom Arnold, who I can only assume debased himself to come down from first class to talk to this motley crue about some show they were doing in Frankfurt. Tom Arnold shook like he was on crack (?), and the Idiocracy dude was totally loud and annoying. Yes, we know you were on Saturday Night Live. No, nobody but me and about 5 other dudes ever saw Idiocracy, and no, most of those guys don’t even know your name. And, no, the ones that do know don’t really care.

Man that guy was driving me crazy. And just when I thought I was getting away from LA . . . it followed me to Frankfurt on the plane. Although, I do have to say, even though I thought the guy was retarded at first, I saw him working on his show for Frankfurt during the whole flight, and that’s gotta take a little dedication, right. Plus, he was awesome in Idiocracy. Although, he seemed to be playing the same guy on the plane. . .

Well, at least I was in business class, so I just reclined my chair and watched a couple of movies (that’s right, you can chose your movies in business class), while the hot Euro stewardess brought me hand towels, tasty food and a table cloth for my dining table.

After all the food and the movies, I reclined my chair flat (yes, they recline flat in business class) and went to sleep for some hours. I don’t know how many. How long is that flight, 10 hours or something? So, two movies, some food, and some general looking out the window time, not to mention perusing the Duty Free cart, and I think that leaves about 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. . . nice. Oh, and did I mention that flying business class international is, maybe, one of the coolest things ever? Well, it is. I didn’t even have to open the entire huge backpack of stuff that I brought to keep myself from getting bored.

Well, I changed planes in Frankfurt, which was interesting navigating a German airport for the first time. They have these weird exit signs that are green, with a silhouette of a man running through a door with an arrow. Sound confusing? Yeah, it is. I kept expecting to end up on a sidewalk somewhere. . . outside of the airport with no idea of how to get back in. Well, luckily, that didn’t happen, and instead, I got on the plane, got another hand towel (Germans love their hand towels on planes apparently) and sat next to a cute journalist from Seattle, who has been in Germany for 5 years covering the state of the airline industry and, apparently, writing stories about it. Who knew that there was enough news on the state of the airline industry in Germany to have someone’s whole job be reporting on it.

About an hour later, I finally landed in Berlin! Apparently there are 3 airports in Berlin, and they are all smaller than the smallest airport you’ve ever been to. Oh, what, you think the airport in St. Thomas Virgin Islands is smaller? Think again. You go in the one gate, to the one baggage carousel, which is in the one room between you and the street. Well, at least its efficient.

So, I got my bags, and headed toward the street, where I met Sebastian, who would be driving me to my residence, and Matt, who works in wardrobe, specifiable in textiles. I thought that was and interesting speciality, but, unfortunately didn’t get to talk to him much about it. I guess I’ll have to learn more about it later.

So, we drop Matt off at “the hotel”, on the way to take me to “the suites” (Mandala has 2 units), and low and behold, what is the first thing that I see? Why, none other than the familiar pink and orange of Dunkin Donuts, glaring at me defiantly from across the street. “What’s that mister bigshot-got-out-of-LA-guy? Think you can escape Dunkin DONUTS!? Well . . . you CAN’T” apparently, according to Sebastian, Dunkin Donuts is, of course, a great place to go late at night when you have the munchies from your extra curricular activities . . .if you know what I mean. Although Sebastian was quick to have me understand that he didn’t necessarily know from experience . . . cause he’s settled down now. . . he’s going to be 40 this year, after all. . . . Uh huh. Riiiiight.

Well, I finally made it to the suites, where I got checked in by an attractive and energetic young lady, because apparently Mandala Suites only employs attractive intelligent young ladies that speak English as well as German, and who knows what other languages. She took me up to my room, and explained how the whole place works. The gym, the Breakfast, the everything, then left me to unpack.

Well, I checked out the pad, unpacked, and immediately fell asleep for 5 or 6 hours, which was really bad, because it was still only evening. Hooray for jet lag! I woke up around 9 or so, and thought I might just try to force myself back to sleep, to get ready for work the next day. . . Well, that wasn’t happening . . . so, I decided to go find some food.

I headed out for a walk, and found the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, and my neighborhood in general. It was totally surreal, like a strange theme park at night. Suddenly, with not much pre conceived notion about where I was, was standing in front of one of the most historical landmarks in Berlin, if not in Europe as a whole. I wish I had had my camera.

The area where the gate is sort of feels like the Federal area in DC at night. Quiet, a little spooky, nobody around but the random tourist here and there. Except for the large pack of school kids. Late high school, early college, something like that. They seem to be everywhere. They just show up out of nowhere at all hours of the day and night, in touristy areas. Who takes a field trip at 11pm on a Tuesday anyways? Well, apparently these guys.

I headed back toward the place, and ran into some of the crew having some food, and I stopped and got a chicken curry pasta with them. It was midnight. Well, I ate, headed back to the pad, and couldn’t sleep till about 2 am. I trepidatiously set my alarm, assuming I’d be totally hammered. . . Buuuut, no. I woke up at 6 am, and had no ability to go back to sleep.

Well, I wasn’t supposed to meet the van to work untill 8, so I grabbed my camera and walked around some more. I discovered two very excellent things. Checkpoint Charlie, of Berlin Wall fame, and the fact that I actually live in East Berlin!! One of the few places in the world I have had sycophantic fantasies of visiting, and now I LIVE HERE. How cool is that!? I’m still discovering the area, so more on all of that later.

So, I went to work. We actually work in Babelsberg, next to Potsdam, at UA film studios, of Film Studios Babelsberg. This is a famous and historical type of place. Not only is it the oldest running film studio in the world, or something like that, it is the place where Marlena Dietrich shot many, if not all of her films, and holds some dark history as well, as we share the same halls and offices that Heir Himmler used in WWII while creating his monstrous propaganda films for the Nazi war machine.

The studio is not very big, but all in all, it is very cool. Apparently they also shoot a bunch of German TV stuff there, including some soap opera that features some American guy from Kansans, who is pretty big in the show. I don’t know why that is cool, but the guys at work kept talking about it. Maybe its just funny that some guy from Kansas is big on German soap TV. Maybe he’s like The Hoff.

I totally made that up, by the way, calling David Hassellhoff “Hoff” or “The Hoff.” Seriously, I was calling him that way back last year when I was working on Zoom. If you don’t believe me, I will fight you.

Right now, as I type, I am fighting the sleep of bitter exhaustion. Hopefully next week will be a little bit easier on the schedule.

My first two days of were slow and punctuate with frustration at being tired, and having to learn and try to figure out CG tools that are a little bit counterintuitive, to say the least. I think I’ve got it figured out though now, and Friday was especially productive.

Friday night, after a rather productive day at work, for me, hit the town with the dudes. Alex, Stephen, Matt and I went first, with Dan and Kyle meeting us there. I cant remember which part of town we went to. It was some happening kind of place, where there were a lot of restaurants and clubs. We went there with the purpose of getting some food and to catch this punk rock band, the Varanes.

We started by walking around the whole area, to get the lay of the land, then we settled on a Turkish restaurant, where we got kebabs and other food items. It was tasty, and we met a crazy Turkish band from west Germany somewhere who was in town to do a show tonight (sat.) unfortunately their English was very limited (though not as limited as our Turkish, or German for that matter), so I don’t think we ever figured out what the name of their band was, or where they were playing. They were fun people, however, and were impressed that we were from LA, and here to work on a movie. We had a great time talking with them and laughing, too good a time, because I guess we were getting a little loud, and the waiter actually came over to tell us to be quiet. He was less impressed with us - HA! But it seemed unnecessary, being that we were in a separate area from the restaurant. Oh well, it was just funny. We laughed up, finished our drinks, and went to the show.

We went to this club called Wild at Heart - a total hole in the wall, in a great way. It was tiny, smokey, and just the kind of place you expect to see in a movie. The decor was totally over the top, the people were cool, and the bouncer seemed to enjoy that we were obviously American, at least It seemed that way from the huge grin on our face as we struggled to pay the cover and make it in.

The Varanes played soon after we got in. They were a groovy punk rock band, with two guitars, bass, drums, and three microphones for excellent harmonies. They did all of their songs in English, which was funny, but cool. They did an especially groovy cover of Rebel, Rebel, by Bowie. They wore matching black shirts, like button up work shirts bearing the single moniker VAR-312 over the left pocket. The lead singer had a 50's throwback hairdo, updated for today with black dye. The lead singer and lead guitarist were both 20something, but the bassist and drummer were old dudes. The bassist looked like he could have been the lead guitars dad, and the drummer looked like a work camp escapee, he was totally skinny with his head shaved baled, and he looked like he was going to collapse at any moment. He was, however, and excellent drummer. In fact, the whole band was excellent.

After the show, while we decided weather or not to party all night, or go home early (2:30 am) we got some beveredges and decided to call it a night, much to the chagrin of Alex and Michelle, who wanted to party all night. I felt good enough to keep going, but knew if I didn’t go to sleep, I would sleep all day Sat, and I wanted to check some stuff out on Sat, so I opted for sleeping. Which was a good idea.

Got up late on Sat. - 13:20 pm. Not bad though, considering I got to sleep around 3am, and was exhausted.

I started my day with a walk to the TV tower. Apparently a joke to the West during the cold war, now one of Berlins most beloved land marks. It has some interesting history around it, including that on a sunny day, the reflection on the ball makes a cross, which was a huge deal when it was done, grinning snidely in the face of the A-religious communists who erected it. Apparently a lot of people got fired from that one. The ministry was not pleased that this symbol of their technological strength was usurped in the eyes of the people by the symbol of the death of the Son of God.

On the way, I went into this little cathedral by the Humboldt University. It had and interesting design, with all of the pews ringing the center where I presume the ceremonies take place. It also had a multi level design which I didn’t understand, but probably had to do with the old days, and class separation. The best part of the cathedral was the organist, who was playing gothic music on the future-retro pipe organ. A real live organist, whom I can only presume plays there all day. He played the most interesting gothic arrangements, none of them having a particularly “happy” sound. Actually sounding wholly tragic and dark. But, I guess that’s the nature of Catholicism . . . or, maybe that’s too harsh. In any case, I sat and listened for while, because the music was beautiful, and the organist was masterful. I stayed for a little while, then it was off to the tower.

I saw a gullible tourist get taken for 50 euros by a “find the ball” guy. Wish I had pictures of that, I passed the Berliner Dom, which is huge, and amazing, crossed the river, and found a bunch of museums to check out another day. I also got an excellent Nutella and Banana Crepe from the guy in the crepe truck. (Like a taco truck for crepes). It was probably one of the beast crepes I’ve ever had. And I don’t think it’s just because I hadn’t eaten all day, before I got that around 3pm. (Although, I guess I didn’t really wake up till 1:30, so I guess it wasn’t that long)

I finally made it to the tower, didn’t go inside cause now it’s a cafĂ©, and the line was too long to bother with it, took some pictures of some communist statuary, and headed to the store on the way back to my pad.

I went grocery shopping for the first time.

I got:
1 tiny loaf of bread
peanut butter
jelly (strawberry)
ham (I think)
cheese (cheddar and . . . Swiss?)
orange juice
yogurts (3)
shaving cream
some pasta thing for the microwave pene and meatsauce - I hope its meat sauce and not baloney sauce, as the label says tomato bolognese, or something like that . . .
Tortilla chips
baby carrots
and a coke light
cost: 38 euros
--keep in mind that everything is half the size that you think it is right now in your head. Except for the fruit.

luckily, there were several American products in the aisles, and being without a translator, I opted for some of those because I knew what they were, like toothpaste, and just needed some stuff for the apartment.

I love Berlin.

Photos come slow, as I only have my film camera, and have to wait for them to get developed, and put on a CD. I did find a place that will do it for me for 5 euros, and they’re done the next day, and the girl at the counter is cute and knows my name, so that’s not too bad a deal, is it?

There must be some sort of bandwidth problem here at the hotel. Either that or my connection just sucks. Its pretty slow, and it seems to have problems when I’m uploading pics to flickr. It always times out, and takes a looooong time.

a few other thoughts.

I think sales tax here is 19% . . . that’s crazy.

It seems like nearly every block in the city has a “pizza, pasta, salad” restaurant. Though not nearly as popular as bars, they still seem nearly ubiquitous. But, they don’t cut the pizza here. Or, at least not at the place where I got mine. Which makes it hard to eat when you get it to go.

A few thoughts about berlin:.

I love Lufthansa
3 ply toilet paper is awesome
cafe’s are open late, but the cleaners is open early.
Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.
the “no ice” rumors are true
not as many people in Berlin speak English as I was lead to believe
German girls are beautiful
they don’t cut the pizza for you . . . (What is a slice?)
No such thing as “fast food” - you always sit down to eat.
Germans eat late, even with their kids.
People don’t seem to drink much beveredge when eating, unless its beer.
prostitution is legal
so far, no pizza I have had in the world is as good as American pizza, though it is good in a different way, and, admittedly, my experiences are somewhat limited..
You can smoke nearly everywhere in Europe. You know, if that’s your thing.

The Euro coins. One and two dollar coins take some getting used to. You always have change in your pocket, which would be seriously hard for some people I know back home. I will admit, I’m not a huge fan of change either, but its kind of funny, because you get sick of it jingling around, and just when you are about to get rid of it, you take it out, count it, and realize that you have 10 euros in your pocket. . . so, you submit yourself to the power of the coin, put the change back in your pocket, and think twice about wearing the pants with the pockets that change always falls out of when you sit down . . . how much did you want to keep that 10 euros?

Well, after staying out too late last night, I did the call a bike thing, and rented a bike to get home! It was awesome. Something like 8 cents a minute, with a day max of $15. And you can just grab the bike anywhere and drop it off anywhere. All with a phone call. So cool.

I woke up kind of early to get the subway to church. I am geographically in the Teirgartten ward. I forgot it was general conference, but it was pleasant surprise when I got there. There were plenty of great talks today. Though I only heard the priesthood session (live at 11am here) and the sat. afternoon session on tape. It was nice to meet some of the members, and be reminded again that our church really is a world family. Its nice to know that the gospel is consistent no matter where you go. Its interesting to see that the church organization works, no matter where you are, and its nice to see that, no matter what the design, all of the chairs will have the same ugly green ish upholstery.

Now, its 8pm, and I’m about to pass out from tiredness. As soon as I finish this, I thin I’ll consider going to sleep. . . although I might try to watch The Castle of Cagliostro, you know, for work and stuff.

*story for another day.