Farewell party

Today, I gave a farewell party for my colleagues at D2. Mona spent 9(!) hours in the kitchen, baking party snacks and cake for me.

To make a long story short, the party was a great success. Everyone praised the snacks, and they all agreed this was one of the best farewell parties they have ever been invited to. What made me a lil’ bit proud is that even my heads of group and department took themselves the time to attend.

I’ve made some photos to document Mona’s great work. You will find them in a few days in my gallery.

Langen Foundation

We’re just back from a visit of the “Langen Foundation”, a museum located at the former rocket station in Neuss.

It was a very impressive experience. I must admit I’m usually not very interested in arts, but I’ve always loved the works of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. So when I watched a report on WDR TV yesterday about the exposition I thought it could be very interesting to go there. We’re currently visiting Mona’s (my girlfriend) parents in Grevenbroich, which is only a couple of kilometers away from Neuss, so we took the occasion and made a trip to the museum.

Unfortunately, it was not allowed to take photos inside the exhibition, but I took a snapshot from outside the building. I bet you know the sculpture or at least the motive, created by Robert Indiana:

I really enjoyed the visit, and I recommend it to you should you have the chance to get there.

Mongolian BBQ…

Have you ever had a BBQ? I bet you have.

But have you ever had a Mongolian one??? I bet you haven’t. ­čÖé

I’ve been to Mongo’S Restaurant yesterday with my colleagues from our integration team. We had a great evening, and the dinner was excellent.

So what’s so special about a Mongolian BBQ? First, you choose one of 8 marinades. You then choose among a great variety of veggies, fixings, meat, and fish, and put it all into a bowl. You then hand the bowl to the cook. Everything gets roasted on a hot stone plate. The waiter then brings your bowl back to your table. And then it’s your turn: Eat it all up! ­čÖé

They have some quite unusual sorts of meat and fish there. Among others, I had kangaroo and zebra filet, tilapia (some sort of perch,) and surimi. I’ve never tasted these before, but I liked everything I tasted apart from zebra, which I found to be very stringy.

Overall, I can absolutely recommend this restaurant.

Not only an emperor’s daughter…

…but also a great car is the Octavia, a great car built by Skoda.

It plays in the same league as the VW Bora/Jetta, VW Passat, Audi A4, BMW 3 series, Toyota Avensis, Peugeot 407, and many more.

What is so special about the Octavia is that it offers the most value for your (and my ;-)) money. You hardly miss anything compared against the Passat (I can tell because I drove most of the above mentioned cars myself, at least I studied the brochures,) but you pay 3,200 EUR less for the Octavia than for the Passat.

So why am I telling you this? I will probably buy myself a new car some time late in 2005, and if not something very strange happens, it will be an Octavia Elegance with the 105 HP diesel engine. The thing that is still keeping me from buying it now is that you can’t yet order it with a diesel particle filter. Considering that a diesel car without a particle filter is not exactly something I would call “environmentally friendly,” I don’t even think about getting myself one without a filter.

Wind of change…

Ok, I promised you some weeks ago that I will tell you about a substantial change in my life with regard to my job.

I will change jobs and switch from Vodafone D2 GmbH to a group company, namely to Vodafone Deutschland GmbH, our “Global Services Platform (GSP).” The change will take place effective September 1st.

The reason for this quick change is that I have a two-year limited employment contract at D2, and that more than 12 months had already run out. So I applied internally as well as externally. In the end, I had three offers, two internal ones plus one external one. For reasons I won’t explain at this place, I chose the one at GSP.

Again I will work in the field of software integration, but this time I will be employed as a “specialist,” and I will have much more responsibility than in my current job. Our work language is English, which I see as a great opportunity to improve my spoken language. And from time to time, I will have the change to visit our OpCos thruout the world, such as in Milano (I), London (UK), or in Tokyo (JP).

Altho I really enjoyed the time at D2, I look forward to getting started in the new job.

Stay tuned for further news!

Aleae iacta sunt…

I might soon face a severe change regarding my job. At this time I can’t tell you more, but hold on for a few days, and you will get more concrete info at this place. It all has to do with a phone call I received last Thursday… ­čÖé

About screaching hard drives…

I got a feeling of horror yesterday when I noticed strange noise coming from out of my PC. I immediately knew it was one of the harddrives, and I also knew these sounds didn’t mean anything good…

The sounds sounded as if the airlock/headlock mechanism was being activated again and again, the drive made a terrible “clicking” noise.

From how my system reacted when I navigated around with the Windows Explorer I feared that the drive that holds my user data had died. This would have been a catastrophe since my last backup was more than a year old. Yeah, I know, as an IT professional I should’ve known better, but… <insert lame excuse here>

Anyway, it turned out that the drive that had died was just a storage “dump”, where I had my MP3, video, and shareware files lying around.

You ask me what I’ve learnt from this? I’ve started a backup to DAT of all of my user data immediately after I had removed the dead drive, and I plan to perform a regular backup from now on at least once or twice a month.

BTW, the dead drive is an IBM 80 GB drive, and if I remember correctly it’s just over two years old. Still, there’s no warranty anymore on the drive, so I will have to shell out some money tomorrow to buy a new drive. I doubt that it will be an IBM/Hitachi again, tho. ­čÖé

BEA WebLogic Training

I’ve been to a training in Munich last week. To get there, I took an airplane, the airline was dba. My hotel was the NH M├╝nchen-Dornach. NH Hoteles seems to be a Spanish hotel company.

The training was about administering BEA’s WebLogic Server (WLS), a Java application server we use at work. Because I’m working with WLS since more than a year now, I thought it was a good idea to book the “advanced” course, rather than the entry-level course. And I was right — I could easily follow the training. We were five students, and in a group that small the trainer had a lot of time to answer questions and to go into more detail on selected topics.

Altho the training was very interesting, I’m glad that I’m back now, because one week of highly-concentrated learning can be quite tiring.

Sch├╝tzenfest

I’ve been to a traditional “Sch├╝tzenfest” in Rommerskirchen-Eckum, in the near of Neuss, last week, and altho it has been a great experience I’m glad that it is over now, because it also was very tiring.

“Sch├╝tzenfest” is an old tradition present in most parts of Germany. I could not find a proper translation for the term, only things like “shooting match” which only describes a small fraction of what Sch├╝tzenfest really is.

Let me try to explain you what this is all about:

Sch├╝tzenfest is being held by Sch├╝tzenvereins. A Sch├╝tzenverein is roughly a shooting club where you learn to shoot with a rifle. But even more important than learning how to fire a rifle is probably the social activities associated with a Sch├╝tzenverein. You meet to drink a beer, make trips, and once in a year there is a big feast called Sch├╝tzenfest. This is where they target a wooden eagle, and he who is lucky (or unlucky?) enough to make the eagle fall down becomes the new Sch├╝tzenk├Ânig (king of the shooters.)

The Sch├╝tzenk├Ânig usually chooses his wife or girlfriend as his queen, and together they invite friends to their “royal household.” During Sch├╝tzenfest, there are several magnificent parades headed by the royal couple. The shooters wear uniforms, often green, and the ladies wear evening dresses. The parades mostly end at the huge feast tent, where people spend the rest of the evening, singing, dancing to traditional folk music, drinking lots of beer, etc.

I hope this gives you a rough idea about what Sch├╝tzenfest is.

We’ve spent some very nice days, the weather was beautiful (great for the parades), the feast was great (nice live music and entertainment,) the dinners were excellent, but it was also very tiring because we got little sleep, the parades were a real challenge to our feet, and also the heat and the bad (smoky) air in the feast tent were troublesome.

BTW, before I forget, here is a link to the Sch├╝tzenverein that arranged the feast. You will find some pictures about the feast there.

Just another WordPress weblog