Info ~ travel musings for the masses

Posts from the Life Category

A delay. We’re sitting in the Bremen train station trying to figure out what is going. We have run down one set of stairs and up another to get to a new platform and now it looks like our train will actually leave from a completely different platform. Welcome to regional train travel to remote parts of Germany.

Originally, the goal was to make it to Bremerhaven, a port city on the northern coast of Germany west of Denmark, before 2pm. Why you ask, are we going to Bremerhaven? It is the city where my wife was born. Her parents were stationed there as Air Force personnel and we wanted to see the city, the barracks, and just visit a little bit of our family history.

Everyone is standing around a Deutsche Bahn employee. I try to listen with my minimal German skills and hear what is keeping us from making it to our destination. Sadly, it sounds like an accident on the tracks to Bremerhaven ended in a fatality. The official assures us that the train will leave in 15 minutes.

Sure enough, 15 minutes later and we are onboard a train and moving toward Bremerhaven. The train is packed with all of that day’s passengers to Bremerhaven being onboard. We stop at two or three stops and everything seems normal. At the last stop, in a town called Lunestedt, an announcement is made that this is the final stop and everyone must leave the train. What I had missed in the earlier discussion with the Deutsche Bahn official was that from Lunestedt all passengers would be required to take a bus the rest of the way to Bremerhaven.

The tiny train station in Lunestedt is overflowing with people, a light rain driving them to take cover under the shelter for the bicycles. It becomes clear that only one bus is in use to shuttle passengers to Bremerhaven and the roundtrip for the bus takes 30 minutes. There is no queue for the bus, when it shows up people just scramble for it.

I start asking around to see if anyone speaks English and happen upon a woman about our age. She explains that it is going to be a long wait but that her boyfriend is coming to pick her up, then taking pity on us, asks if we’d like a ride. Normally, I would hesitate, but she seems like a nice lady and the line for the bus is overwhelming.

Twenty minutes later and the woman’s boyfriend drives up. At first I do a double take, then a triple take. The car is a four dour sedan with a hatchback but there are three other people already in it, the boyfriend and his two friends. The hatchback area is stuffed full of luggage, clothes, and other small items. The boyfriend gets out of the car, kisses his girlfriend, then shakes my hand and takes our suitcase, shoving it on top of the stuff in the back of the car.

I look at my wife. I am sure she is trying to telepathically communicate her uncomfortable feeling but at this point, we’re committed. We stuff ourselves into the car and the music starts. No one in the car is talking, just listening to death metal as we drive through the northern German countryside. My brain was trying to do the math on how to escape should these good Samaritans turn out to have nefarious plans. It, my brain, came to the conclusion to push my wife out of the car then quickly follow.

Thirty minutes later and we’re arriving in Bremerhaven and the first real conversation with us is started. “Do you know where your hotel is?”. “What’s it called? Oh, we know that place”, and five minutes later, there’s the hotel. We get out and I am trying to figure out the proper thing to do. I pull out 30 Euros and hand it to the boyfriend, thank him for driving us and my wife and I breathe a sigh of relief.

Looking back at this experience a couple of years later, I wonder if I would do the same thing today. In one word, probably. We were desperate. Was it the right thing to do? Probably not. But we have a funny story to share with you and our kids. And last but not least, these were actually really nice people who went out of their way to help us, who would have otherwise been stranded in a small town in northern Germany.

Elemental Blend

During my sophomore year of college I came across an ad looking for a web developer to work on sites for a small company. I decided to give it a go and sent in a resume. To my surprise I was granted an interview and showed up at the business, which, at that time was situated in a house on 24th and Boston in Lubbock, Texas. I was skeptical, but when I met Tim and Josh and saw the motivation they had to make the company succeed, I was sold. They saw something in me too and gave me the job.

There were some long days of coding back then but we had a good time and enjoyed hanging out as much as we enjoyed work.

I left what was then Segars Communications to try my hand at the corporate world and during that time, Tim, Josh, and Brandon, a developer who I met at Tech and became friends with and later referred to Tim, have grown the business, moved out of the house, moved from Lubbock to Austin,  and according to Tim, no longer work all day Saturday and Sunday. I think that’s a huge measure of success and the team at Elemental Blend have a lot to be proud of.

Ten years for any company is a long time, but as they point out in their blog post, a small business surviving that long is quite a feat. Their hard work, persistence, and positive outlook is proof-positive that small businesses can and do succeed. I am glad we got to catch up with them this past weekend and hopefully we’ll be able to see each other a little more since Houston is only a few hours away.

Congratulations guys! Here’s to ten more years of success!

Another year has gone by and I have aged a little more.

Jessica and I share a birthday. Well, kind of. We are a year and a day apart, her birthday being February 28th and mine falling on the 29th. This year of course, is not a leap year, so we kind of share a birthday. I say kind of because I think the leap year concept really confuses a lot of people and they end up asking me when I celebrate my birthday or tell me it’s crazy (sometimes both). The truth is, I’m not a big birthday person so this year it was a nice quiet dinner at home and that’s ok with me.

It is a little strange being 27, it feels like just yesterday I was graduating from college. Time flies. I’ve traveled a lot, eaten a lot and met a ton of great people. Thank you all for the birthday wishes on Facebook and Twitter!

And happy birthday to my lovely wife!

I am not one for bidding everyone a “Happy New Year” or even resolving to do anything differently. But, I do think 2010 was a good year, and hope that 2011 will be even better. Better not just for me but for my friends, family, city, and country.

2010 was a good year for my wife and me, but I know for a lot of people out there, it was difficult, stressful, and for some, downright depressing. Here’s to 2011 being a year of blessings for those who have endured tribulations and tragedies. Here’s to 2011 being a year of economic clarity for our government, local, state, and federal. And finally, here’s to 2011 being a year of people showing love for others.

Let’s do this year right.

Yep, you are reading that right, this year all four hosts of the SitePoint Podcast will be together in the same room for the first time. Patrick O’Keefe, Brad Williams, Kevin Yank, and myself are all headed to BlogWorld & New Media Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada where we’ll hang out with listeners (and non-listeners) and will also record and live broadcast a few shows. This is actually the first time we’ll meet in person since Kevin lives, works, and records the show from Melbourne, Australia.

There are also some other exciting things being planned for the conference which I can’t go into just yet. But be sure and check here and the SitePoint Podcast page for more details. If you are going to be at BlogWorld Expo this year, be sure and stop by, say hello, and stay for a chat.

There is a new documentary coming out on Sky1 in the United Kingdom called “An Idiot Abroad”. Ricky Gervais has taken a non-traveler and sent him to explore the Seven Wonders of the World. Hilarity ensues.

In some of my travels I have encountered people like the subject of this show. They’re not really idiots, they just do not have the desire to travel or leave their comfort zone of their home country. I’m sure some of it has to do with self-preservation and not putting oneself in harm’s way. Going abroad is intimidating for a lot of people, so I don’t hold it against this guy. The show does look hilarious though.

[A warning – there is nudity and foul language in the previews below]
An Idiot Abroad – Preview Part 1
An Idiot Abroad – Preview Part 2