Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Year #2, Country #2

Well, the time has come. After a year in sleepy Liechtenstein its time for my to make the big move to Switzerland. You remember Switzerland right kids?...Cheese, chocolate, watches...i think thats about it actually. Calling it a “Big” move of course is a relative term since i'm only talking about a 10 km move. But still, it means packing up all my stuff (2 suitcases, 2 boxes, bike, skis, guitar) loading everything into my polo driving 10 Km and then reversing on the other end. Thats allot of work!

Over the years I've become exceedingly efficient at helps that i've lived in 9 different cities in the last 9 years. I used to have a Crown Vic and that was pretty good for moving with. The trunk could fit a huge trunk, 2 cases of Goebels and still have room for a few drunk friends. From the Vicky i upgraded to a 2 dr blazer which offered a bit more room and the possibility to tow and more easily carry things like bikes, ski's etc. My accumulated belongings continued to grow form there until for my last move i actually required a Uhaul. Truth be told it was mostly full of car parts..but nonetheless all important thing to move. Now however i can fit nearly all my belongings in a that progression or digression?

Don't answer that.

Anyway everything must be out of my current place up by Sunday night. That works out well in one sense since starting next Saturday I'm travelling for 4 weeks..but on the other hand the ski mtn's open up this weekend. What a dilema.

For anyone that's visited me you can probably imagine how claustrophobic I'm getting in my current apartment. It was nice to be able to come here and not worry about finding an apartment, buying furniture etc, but I've basically been living in a bedroom for a year. It's time for a change. My new place is about double the size of my current apartment and its right in the middle of town. Should be a great location and allot of fun since a number of friends are living right in the area. The town's even got a bar that serves proper beer...Guiness! I'll snap a few pics once i get moved in.

Let's just hope they like loud guitar's!

Monday, November 20, 2006

And then this..

Never underestimate the power of personal responsibility...and fear. I read this today and after writing that blurb yesterday about speeding in Europe, i just coulnt get over the irony of the timing.,1518,448747,00.html

...accidents are actually down. Milton Friedman (RIP) would've believed it, as do i. Lets try it in NY City!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Geschwindigkeit ist Spaß

Its never easy to forgive someone. Take the Germans for example...World War I, World War II, The whole holocaust thing..they've done allot of pretty questionable things over the years. But i am ready to forget all of that now...ready to offer a fresh start and forgiveness all because of one simple thing...the autobahn. I love it. Any country that offers the chance for unlimited speed with no recourse from the law, well, they're alright in my book.

My first experience on the autobahn was in the Koln area. I had a Mercedes E class rental car for a few days which made a good first car for a first time autobahner. Not too much power that one could get into trouble with. That car would do about 220 (kph) or so but that was you might be saying who in their right mind would want to go faster than 220? Well, aside from that being a dumb question, the fact that i was getting passed on a regular basis shows that i'm not the only one.

Last week i had a meeting in Stuttgart which presented me with a second opportunity to drive on the autobahn. This time though i had a BMW 7 series from work. 2 more cylinders can do wonders to a vehicles topend and this car was still pulling when the needle passed 240. I guess i hit around 250 or so but the numbers ran out on the speedometer. That...was....Awesome.

The Nurgurgring is one of the most famous racetracks in the world and during the summer its occasionally open to the public. For anyone willing to pay 25 euros per lap you can try your hand at its 13 miles and 100+ turns. “The Ring”, as its commonly known, is calling my name. Before I leave next year I want to rent a Porsche or some other fast car and blast up the autobahn to the ring and then make some laps.

My goal is 320Kph...that's about 200 Mph. And its totally legal. Gotta love the Germans.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Read this....

...its good. Rarely do we see a challenge to the "generally accepted" assumption that not only is global warming happen but its caused by human activity. Perhaps its not so cut and dry though...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Old Man Winter

It’s barely November but i can safely say that winter is (finally?) here. Fall came and went like a fart in the wind; in fact most of the trees here are still clinging to their leaves. But despite fall’s lingering presence old man winter won’t be stopped, he arrived like a freight train last week, snow bitter cold and all. Over the course of 2 days we went from warm days and cool nights to cool days and frosty mornings. It came fast and I say, bring it on!

Was that too many similes for 1 paragraph? You know what they say about similes right…they’re a dime dozen. An analogy about a simile…Ok that’s enough.

We had a vacation day last Wednsday that also just happened to be the last day to buy discount season pass’s for the Montafon in Austria…coincidence? I like to think not. Sure the Church may have had a hand in originally creating the holiday but I’d much rather use my day off to buy a season pass then get right with the lord. That’s what Sunday are for, so I hear anyway. Around 9 I fired up my Polo (not audi…story for another time. F*cking europcar) and ventured to Austria to pick a season passes for a couple of friends and myself. We debated about where to get a pass this year…Austria or Switzerland. I was leaning more towards Switzerland since I already skied most of the Montafon last year. But I was outvoted and besides things are significantly cheaper in Austria. My wallet will thank me later. So its Nov. 5, I’ve got my season card, my ski’s are waxed up, everything’s finally dried out from last year…bring on the snow!

Here are some pics of the trail to Hocher Kasten. I hiked it with a few friends in early October, but I think the scenery is much better with some snow.

Oh, one more thing....who the hell is Borat? Apparently I've been out of the pop culture scene way too long. He's on European MTV every 30 seconds!

The tower in the distance is Hocher Kasten. Well worth the 3 hr hike in normal weather...but on a day like this its even better.

Snow on a tree.

This pic might be upside down.

Looking South towards Italy.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rounding Second..again

The same post but this time translated for my inner city peeps, courtesy of the ebonics translator....

I’ve come ta da conclusion dat da Swiss peeps gots uh bettah appreciation o' tyme than da rest o' da world. No doubt da sheer number o' clocks dey iz surrounded by on uh daily basis plays uh part in dis here, but it mus' be mo'. The world here seems ta move at its own pace. Not necessarily slower cuz procrastination an' running late don’t seem ta be traits o' da peeps here, just steadier. If you’re rollin' in da country an' dere iz traffic fo' nahh logical reason (like uh cow in da road, or uh tractor broken down..which I see on uh nearly daily basis), da smart money would be on da fact dat uh Swiss driver iz at da head o' da line. It’s almost as o' da peeps here expect brothas else ta run by they schedules, dey do make all da watches afta all.

I’ve found it ta be uh rather nice change. I wasn’t typically late fo' things 'bfoe, but I wuz known ta miss uh flight or two, an' muh ma fuckin rollin' has definitely slowed down uh bit. Perhaps da 55hp `64 an' speeding tickets play uh part in dat though. Of course predictability can be pimp-tight an' bad but thus far da clockwork Swiss lifestyle has been fine ass decent. I don’t wear uh watch, which over here iz comparable ta walking around naked. But really what’s da point, between computers, cell phones, iPods it’s uh redundant piece o' equipment. However despite da predictable, clockwork like lifestyle tyme still seems ta be speeding up. Possibly even exponentially but I wont bore anyone wiff dat nerdy theory.

Next Wednesday marks 1 year living overseas. I can’t believe it, muh ma fuckin colleagues an' niggas can’t believe it, muh ma fuckin wallet doesn’t believe it…but despite logic seeming ta say otherwise, da calendar doesn’t lie. Hell, it wuz only last month dat I graduated from high skoo, last week I finished college an' only yesterday dat I moved over here wasn’t it? It’s incredible fo' me ta th'o't dat it wuz actually nearly 10 years ago dat I finished high skoo, nearly 6 years ago dat I finished college an' as o' next Wed, 1 year since I moved over here. Where da hell do da tyme jet!

I started here uh year ago wiff uh laundry list o' expectations, things ta do, places ta see, niggas ta make, ho's ta date, cars ta gank etc. As ya can prob'ly imagine reality wuz much different, not pimp-tight or bad, just different. Over da past year I’ve done an' seen quite allot an' despite da ups an' downs da overall experience has definitely been well worth it. I wuz so miserable at muh ma fuckin job 'bfoe leaving dat I truly can’t imagine what I’d be doin' now if I hadn’t jumped ship from Detroit. My position here iz has been great so far, I actually feel like I contribute somethin' ta da organization, afta all filling da ketchup dispensers iz an important job! I’ve even got uh few other companies here dat gots asked me ta consider changing jobs.

I almost hate ta admit it but dere wuz some days while working back in Detroit dat I would jet at noon..just take muh ma fuckin cellphone an' jet home, jet ta da bar, jet hang out at da pool (thanks kovax’s’s’s), lunch on 8 mile, jet cruize muh ma fuckin cars…anything but werk. What made it worse wuz dat it didn’t really matter. As fun as dat wuz sometimes I really felt like I wuz largely wasting muh ma fuckin tyme dere, even fo' those 4 hrs I actually wuz working. Think o' “Time” by Pink Floyd an' dat wuz fine ass much muh ma fuckin life. Thinking back now, da bomb job I ever had wuz pumping gas at uh marina during summers back in high skoo. Sadly at 27 I don’t th'o't I could git away wiff dat any mo'. If I could though, I’d be back dere in uh heartbeat. Sun, water, bikini’s, da smell o' 4 bone gas, colt 45 fo' tip’s…if only I could incorporate some o' dat into muh ma fuckin job taday. Imagine da possibilities…..

So I’ve rambled on fo' long enough an' in uh few hours I gots ta catch uh flight ta Germany. Am I half done or only half started here? In da end who cares. With da 50% mark fast approaching I can honestly say dat dis here past year has been one o' da funnest, most interesting years o' muh ma fuckin life…next ta ’96 o' course but that’s uh story fo' another tyme. what 'chew thinking man?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Rounding Second

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Swiss people have a better appreciation of time than the rest of the world. No doubt the sheer number of clocks they are surrounded by on a daily basis plays a part in this, but it must be more. The world here seems to move at its own pace. Not necessarily slower because procrastination and running late don’t seem to be traits of the people here, just steadier. If you’re driving in the country and there is traffic for no logical reason (like a cow in the road, or a tractor broken down..which I see on a nearly daily basis), the smart money would be on the fact that a Swiss driver is at the head of the line. It’s almost as of the people here expect everyone else to run by their schedules, they do make all the watches after all.

I’ve found it to be a rather nice change. I wasn’t typically late for things before, but I was known to miss a flight or two, and my driving has definitely slowed down a bit. Perhaps the 55hp car and speeding tickets play a part in that though. Of course predictability can be good and bad but thus far the clockwork Swiss lifestyle has been pretty decent. I don’t wear a watch, which over here is comparable to walking around naked. But really what’s the point, between computers, cell phones, iPods it’s a redundant piece of equipment. However despite the predictable, clockwork like lifestyle time still seems to be speeding up. Possibly even exponentially but I wont bore anyone with that nerdy theory.

Next Wednesday marks 1 year living overseas. I can’t believe it, my colleagues and friends can’t believe it, my wallet doesn’t believe it…but despite logic seeming to say otherwise, the calendar doesn’t lie. Hell, it was only last month that I graduated from high school, last week I finished college and only yesterday that I moved over here wasn’t it? It’s incredible for me to think that it was actually nearly 10 years ago that I finished high school, nearly 6 years ago that I finished college and as of next Wed, 1 year since I moved over here. Where the hell does the time go!

I started here a year ago with a laundry list of expectations, things to do, places to see, friends to make, girls to date, cars to buy etc. As you can probably imagine reality was much different, not good or bad, just different. Over the past year I’ve done and seen quite allot and despite the ups and downs the overall experience has definitely been well worth it. I was so miserable at my job before leaving that I truly can’t imagine what I’d be doing now if I hadn’t jumped ship from Detroit. My position here is has been great so far, I actually feel like I contribute something to the organization, after all filling the ketchup dispensers is an important job! I’ve even got a few other companies here that have asked me to consider changing jobs.

I almost hate to admit it but there were some days while working back in Detroit that I would leave at noon..just take my cellphone and go home, go to the bar, go hang out at the pool (thanks kovax’s’s’s), lunch on 8 mile, go drive my cars…anything but work. What made it worse was that it didn’t really matter. As fun as that was sometimes I really felt like I was largely wasting my time there, even for those 4 hrs I actually was working. Think of “Time” by Pink Floyd and that was pretty much my life. Thinking back now, the best job I ever had was pumping gas at a marina during summers back in high school. Sadly at 27 I don’t think I could get away with that any more. If I could though, I’d be back there in a heartbeat. Sun, water, bikini’s, the smell of 4 dollar gas, beer for tip’s…if only I could incorporate some of that into my job today. Imagine the possibilities…..

So I’ve rambled on for long enough and in a few hours I have to catch a flight to Germany. Am I half done or only half started here? In the end who cares. With the 50% mark fast approaching I can honestly say that this past year has been one of the funnest, most interesting years of my life…next to ’96 of course but that’s a story for another time.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Listen to Your Mother

Despite what your mother may have told you, Never Drink and Fly. This applies not only to the flight itself but also a 12 hr (plus/minus) window before the flight.
Alright, my mother never actually told me to drink and fly. In fact she probably would've told me the exact opposite, if solicited for her opinion. But i'm searching for excuses here..can't i play the blame game.

Flashback to Sept. 29th. It's Friday afternoon and in just a few hrs, specifically 3AM, i've got to wake up and drive 2 hrs to the airport for my 7AM flight. Now consider that my boss's boss has decided to throw our whole department a little party, BBQ, swuaray, grill abend..whatever you want to call it. Great idea, bad timing. A night of free beer and fool inevitable ends the same no matter where its going on. You do your best to behave and be responsible. Half your brain, stomach and half the people at the party are constantly reminding you that you have to get up in four hrs, but inevitably that other half of your brain and that other half of the party win out.

Weak American? I'll show you a weak American!

Famous last words.

Well, you can guess the result. I woke up (somehow), drove to the airport (although i probably shouldn't have), made my flight (barely) and nearly showed the business class section what i had for dinner the night before. I said nearly...i told you i wasn't a weak American! Stupid? Perhaps, but definitely not weak.

By the second flight i was back in the zone and even managed to enjoy a few movies on the way over. Nacho Libre (or Super translated on the air France flight) was actually surprisingly funny. As for the second one, well I assume i enjoyed it but honestly i don't remember which movie it was.

To round off my Saturday i managed to catch a ride down to a party in Ohio where the best band in the world was rocking the suburbs. Calling it the suburbs doesn't quite do it justice as apparently Eric Clapton live in the neighborhood.

Anyway, I finally crashed around 2AM on Sunday following 6000 miles of flying, 5hrs of combined driving, countless cokes coffee's and redbulls, and even a few visits from the friendly Police.

The rest of the week was actually allot more of the same...with a bit of work thrown in for good measure (and to make things billable). I got to hang out with some work folks, see some friends i hadn't seen in a while and even beat on, i mean drive a friends new Sky Redline. Which is already for sale in case anyone's interested (Jed, that'll cost you a 5% commission).

So thanks for a good week Detroit.

Disclaimer: This trip was for work i just choose not to talk about work here...honest.

Shot luge. it was all down hill (pun intended) from here.

Anyone with even a childs knowledge of photoshop could really have some fun with these. I'm cards.


Best band ever..rocking the suburbs. Eat that clapton. He's probably the one that called the cops.

I think this was before the cops came the first time. craig says to the guy "sure, can you show yourself out now?" one 180 ticket later and the party was back on.

I think this was right before the cops came. The second time. with three officers. "no sir, i have not been drinking"

Dance off? what are we in a friggin after school special?

Then came the worm. Or at least a good attempt.

BandAids...i mean Groupies...i mean fans..i mean sisters.

Still awake....thank you Busch Lite

Thursday, September 28, 2006

And the winner is...?

Rennen. I suppose it was predictable, but in case there was any doubt i went to the race last weekend. The weather was perfect for racing and despite the high ticket cost it was well worth it. I was actually rather impressed at the variety of vehicles that showed up including some really cool classic bikes. Europe is earning my respect more and least on the car front. I went up with a friend from work and his family so it certainly wasn't as much of a party as Oktoberfest would've been, but his kid can pound some serious beers! Who would've known a four year old could drink so much.

But now its back to the states. Saturday morning i have to get up at 5 to head to the airport and catch a flight to Detroit. Good timing too, i need some new versatile solutions for modern living and the catalogues on the plane are just the place to find such priceless items. Radio's for the shower? Check. Rollable tie machines? Check. Combination laptop stand and tote bag? Check. How I've made it this far is beyond me.

My only complaint with this trip?...i have to go back through Paris. Damnit. I hope my bags make it since i plan on smuggling large amounts of contraband.

Just kidding..?

Despite the shopping opportunities, this trip actually comes at a bit of a bad time since i should be getting ready to move to my new apartment. The Liechtenstein police (thats singular by the way..i think there's one cop in this country) will kick me out at the end of October. Something about to many tickets and to much loud rock and roll. Their loss i say!

Actually i was only able to get a 1 year living permit so now i must move to Switzerland. Truthfully, I'm looking forward to it. Not only do i get a bigger apartment, but its in the middle of a much bigger town. It should be allot funner. Because my current town has absolutely no nightlife, anything would be an improvement.

The race runs up through the valley. If you want to run a hill climb..doesnt get much better than this.

View down the track.

America representin'

Some old bikes.

Not sure if the brick road helps for fact i'm pretty sure it hurts. but it added to the ambience.

it probably shouldnt be street legal...but thank god it is.

if it aint for speed..take it off.

View to the starting grid.

another old car. watch out for that exhaust. i dont know what it is.

An old bike. I know it looks strange, but the bike is small, the guy is normal size. not the other way around.

You will be mine. oh yes, you will be mine.

Nothin but the basics.

Buuugatti. The french got these right.

Nice Healey 100

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Big 27

No one can embarrass a child quite like their parents. Whether it's a little spit in the hand to fix that wayward lock of hair, the pants jiggle while school shopping or the jacket with your name inside it, parents seem to find endless ammunition to supply a child's friends with. Luckily as we grow up these things tend to become less embarrassing and much easier to ignore. Every once in a while though, parents still seem to come up with something to remind their children that they're out there, especially on Birthday's.

Today is my Birthday....

NOTE: this pause is to allow you time to click on over and write me a mail saying happy birthday or better yet..send me a gift. I like my corvette's in velocity red please. Black is a suitable alternative too.

Back so soon? Anyway, today is my birthday and I'm reminded of a birthday a few years back in which my Mom managed to embarrass me from over 500 miles away, truly an impressive feat for any parent. I was working in Memphis at the time and as usual i was doing my best to forget the fact that it was indeed my birthday. Another year older with nothing of substance to show for cynical side showing there.

So I'm sitting at my desk and from out of nowhere one of the dudes who worked up on the phone lines comes back and says “Is it your birthday?”

Me “Um, Yeah. How did you know?”

Dude “well your mom just sent a mail to the company inbox telling everyone up front that its your birthday and we should all come back and wish you happy birthday”

Me “Great. Thanks” don't shoot the messenger...don't shoot the messenger.

Looking back now i realize that it was not meant to embarrass me, but at the time i was embarrassed as hell. Ahh but time passes and we get older. Nowadays i get the option of embarrassing myself for my birthday.

I bring this up only to highlight an interesting tradition here in Europe. Here, whenever anyone has a birthday they bring all sorts of food and eats into work and send an announcement to the company list. “come on over and eat my food, help me celebrate my birthday”....something to that extent anyway. I just couldn't bring myself to do that though. It feels a bit pretentious to me. When i told the people here that the tradition in America is the opposite...people buy YOU things for your Birthday, they thought it was just as odd. It probably didn't help when i told them a Rolex was a typical gift.

For everyone that sent me Birthday wishes, thanks! For everyone that didn't and were only going to send after reading this and being reminded...well, i know who you are and i have a long memory.

What was i talking about again? Ahh yes, to drink or not to drink, that, my friends, is the question. It's September and that means Oktoberfest is upon us. I know, doesn't make sense to me either but the Germans don't seem to notice a problem so why bring it up.

Oktoberfest is underway and although i didn't reserve a seat anywhere i got invited to go up this weekend for a few days of, well, drinking. The only problem is there's also a classic rally going on here in Switzerland. It's actually a pretty tough decision. Sure i can drink anytime, but not in 1 liter quantities in a tent with 500 other drunk people. And sure i can see races any time, but this one is only run every four years.

My plan of action is basically to procrastinate until as late as possible and then make a decision.

Will i go to the race?

Will i go to Oktoberfest?

Tune in next week to see the exciting conclusion of “The Weekend of Sept. 23”.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cant think if a witty title.

...and i'm back. There's nothing like returning home to a nice surprise or in my case, 2.
I've said it before and i'll say it again, Paris De Gaulle airport sucks. Despite flying through there 5 or so times i've managed to avoid running into any real problems beyond it annoying the hell out of me with the general atmosphere and attitude. However coming through Paris this past time was by far the worst time yet....the bus rides were longer, the people ruder and to top it all off, they lost one of my bags. It wasnt a particularly important bag, it had an inflatable bed some along with some books and DVD's, but its the principal of the matter. Murphy's law got me this time.

The other surprise though was a bit better. Normally my company leaves me a little sh*tbox at the airport but this time i arrived to find myself the new destroyer, i mean driver of an Audi A3 Sportwagon. As cool as that sounds it sounds even better when you say it like the Germans.

Say it with me...Shportvagen.


Its much faster, handles better and has significantly less plastic than my previous ride, the venerable VW Polo, always a favorite of the ladies. I need to figure out how to keep this Audi...Fast.

As far as my vacation itself, it was great. I know what you're thinking, “Corrigan, isn't two and a half weeks is rather short for a vacation?”. Yes yes, but i managed to fill the time. During the first week I spent a few days in NY getting my haircut, doing some shopping, working on my cars, catching up with Family...all the usual stuff.

The second week brought a few more hours of flights and 7 days of diving in the Caymans. The Cayman islands, for anyone that doesn't know, are basically a pinnacle of coral surrounded by 6000ft of deep, dark water. Needless to say the wall dives are phenomenal and provide ample opportunity to see some big wildlife in some deep water. But despite having 6000ft of water underneath me, I was not able to get the deepest dive of the trip. My 131 footer was 1 foot short. Thanks Doran. Asshole.

I didn't have an underwater camera this trip because 2 other people i was diving with both had housing for their cameras, well, at least for the first half anyway. Who would've thought underwater camera housings were so sensitive to pressure. The dive yielded some good pics but as usual the sharks were the most exciting to see, for me anyway. We did see some stingrays on the trip. I'm not sure what the hell Irwin was doing but i was able to grab on and ride them like a jet ski without any problems. Maybe he forgot his name was the crocodile hunter and not the stingray hunter. Too early? Below are some pics. As soon as i get some of the underwater ones I'll post them too.

And now it's back to the grindstone at work. I've got over 350 mails to delete, i mean read, so i should be able to spend at least the next 2 or 3 days avoiding work. This will be a busy fall with some trips to Italy, Birmingham, Detroit and Koln coming up, but luckily there's a classic Rally in there as well.

View from the dive boat.

Storm at night...thank you long exposure.

Storm damaged mansion. Million dollar view on a (formerly) million dollar house.

Sunset before a night dive.

Home for the week pic 1

Any Stingray's in there? I hear they're friendly.

Home for the week pic 2

Storm Damaged house. fixxer upper??

Crab. They run sideways and bury themselves in the sand. Kind of like the french.

The dive boats.

Sunset before a night dive. Even without the sun the water was still in the 80's.

Europe has nice view...but so does home. Or as brian called it, the "hellhole in northville". Brownie points for kevin.

I think i put more miles on my cars in 1 week than my dad has all summer. Probably didnt help that the brakes hardly work(ed).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hindsight is...anyone? anyone?

I'd like to personally thank the terrorists for f'in up my vacation.


Sarcasm doesnt come through well in writing, but if it did, it'd be dripping off this page. Last wed. I booked a last minute trip to London for the weekend. The weather was looking so bad here for the weekend that i decided to bail on the street parade. Zurich to Heathrow for 4 days of London fun. Yeah well, that was the plan anyway. No sooner had i booked it than the fuzz anounced on thursday that they had foiled a terrorist plot at..anyone? Bueller? London Heathrow of all places.


So with the prospect of being out a bunch of money i sucked it up, thought up the best BS story i could and called travelocity. After an hour of arguing with some Indian guy they agreed to refund all my money. Somehow i had them convinced that their website had an error in it which resulted in the wrong hotel booking. Damn i'm good. Well, that or he was just sick of arguing with me.

Equipped with my refund i sucked it up and headed to the street parade despite the forecasted rain. It was actually allot of fun....the rain actually may have helped. White shirts..rain...hey, i'm just saying. One of my friends got some good pics but i need to sensor them before posting.

I do consider myself a nice person though and i'll give you terrorists a second chance. Next Wed. i'm heading to the states for about 3 weeks of well deserved vacation.

Don't 'f it up Osama!

NOTE:if any travelocity representatives are reading this, this is a work of pure fiction. I'm not even a real person.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

So..its hot then?

I hear that the east coast is in the midst of quite a heat wave. Well, i'd like to tell you that i feel your pain but frankly, i dont. It's been cold and cloudy for the last 10 days or so with no end in sight. Given the option of hot or cold...i'll take cold.

Not much else going on, next weekend is a 4 day weekend and up in Zurich they have the "Street Parade". Hopefully the weather is better for saturday.

Here's some random pics of Europe during vacation season.

Brown Swiss...that must be where chocolate milk comes from.

What are you looking at?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

See you in September

Friday officially marked the beginning of vacation season ( yes, season ) at my company and in Europe as a whole. Here in Europe there's Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall and Vacation season. Thats five for anyone who doesn't care to go back and count.

When i was working in the states for my current company i found it rather annoying. For 4-6 weeks every summer our European office became a ghost town. Need some cost info, need some quotes, need some prototypes?..forget it. Tell your customer to wait. After all, shouldn't he have vacation season too??? It wouldn't be so bad if it was spread out over a bigger portion of the year, one person taking vacation here, one person there. But no, it's all grouped together between June and September. There are a few people at work who literally walked out last Friday and said “Bis September”....”Until September”.


To be fair this vacation season is pretty common throughout Europe. That is one reason they are able to get away with it. When your customers and suppliers are also taking time off then its much easier for you. But don't forget, its not just B2B businesses, it's consumer businesses as well. The bike shop down the street is closed till August 11th and the Kebop place next door is closed nearly as long! In my mind this would be the best time to be a shop owner, but try telling that to the shop owners. Actually I think that the vacation season here is an excellent illustration of the overall mentality towards work here. The world can wait, we've got vacation.

Is it really any wonder that most European economies cannot match the US for growth or output? When you add up all the time off they have allot of catching up to do. I'm an engineer by degree so lets do some math. Take 4 weeks and multiply over 100 years, thats 400 weeks. Now subtract out the average 2 week vacation in the states and that means that Europe's economy is ~2 yrs behind ours!! Rest easily my fellow Americans, our position at the top of the economic food chain is secure. Well, assuming China or our own government doesn't screw it up.

But now I'm on the other side of the fence and i can hear you asking “but corrigan, has my view changed?” But of course, from this side of the pond i can honestly say that it's great! I'm working the next few weeks because i cant afford the time off from my projects, but it should be nice and quiet around work. Come in at 10, 3 hr lunch, leave at 3...and i bet i still get more done than i normally due because of the lack of distractions. I've already taken about 8 days off this year and in September I'm taking about another 10 days. I suppose I'm a hypocrite, but I'm comfortable with that.

I sleep better.

Particularly knowing i have so much vacation.

Now get back to work you lazy Americans!

Oh, one more the BBQ went well, except for the Margaritas. First, i had trouble finding the Margarita mix. Tequila wasnt a problem, but the mix was nowhere to be found. After a few calls i got a line on a store that might have them but before going i thought it prudent to make sure i could find ice. Believe it or not, this is a huge challenge. When i was at LeMans there was no ice to be found. If i go next year, I'm renting a truck and a generator and carting along an ice maker. I'm telling you, that idea is pure gold!

Anyway, back to the margarita issue, so i called a few people asking where i can find ice. The best answer i got was “try McDonald's, i think they have an ice machine”. Well, i decided that Corona would have to do.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


One constant with the arrival of summer is mankind's desire to get out in the sun, drink cheap beer and cook meat over an open flame. Europe is no exception, they may have a slightly different take on it, but luckily the fundamentals are the same. Over the last few weeks I've been to quite a few BBQ's over here and it's been quite allot of fun. My standard BBQ greeting was “anyone tap the keg yet? I'll pump...” but unfortunately that doesn't work here. It's generally greeted with blank stares or questions along the lines of “whats a tap”, or worse yet “whats a keg?”.

Although i haven't been asked (yet), overall i would give Europe a B+ for their BBQ's. They've got sun, beer, bikini's, fire, and meat. All the essentials are here but to get their marks up they do need some improvement in a few key areas.

One area where Europeans have not mastered the art of BBQ is in timing. No, it seems that weekdays and weekends are equally popular for BBQ's which any BBQ veteran such as myself would tell you is a bad idea. To properly hold a BBQ you need an open time table, and more importantly you need nothing planned for the following day, least of all work. We all know what a lethal concoction cheap beer, the sun, food and volleyball (or in the case if Europe, soccer) can be. It saps your desire to do anything the following day. Word to the wise, for any aspiring BBQ'ers out there this is your first rule, all BBQ's should be open ended. Typically its best to not send a formal invite as that defeats the purpose but if one is needed a simple start-? will suffice. The key is the “?”. That ? has found me sleeping in many a backyard lawn chair.

The second area where Europeans have not mastered the art of BBQ is in their meat selection. Pork is good, but not for BBQ'ing. The other white meat should always be reserved for indoor dining. Red meat is a rarity here and you might be surprised to hear this, but i received more than one blank stare when i asked where the 'Brats were. This place invented the f'in thing but i should have remembered that they have a strange aversion to shortening names here. (Word to the wise..this applies to people's names as well. Thomas is never Tom, Bernadette is never Berny and Peter is never Pete etc. I did meet a Wolfgang that was a Wolfy, but that ones definitely questionable). Back to Brats, apparently they are too low class for a European BBQ, reserved more for fast train station cuisine. By contrast, in the states you cant have a proper BBQ without Brats. The spicier the better and in true American fashion we even put cheese in some of them. Now thats a heart stopping good time. Actually, as a general statement i think you could confidently say that Europe seems to have a strange aversion to any portable food.

Now I know what you're thinking though, “Corrigan, why not throw your own BBQ and show these neutral Swiss how we do it in the states!”. Well, I'm way ahead of you...mostly. After making so many comments about the differences in the BBQ methodology next weekend I'm doing just that. So far here's the shopping list...

-Charcoal...lots of it. No BBQ'in over wood.

-Steaks. Lots of them.

-Cheap beer. They don't have Natty Lite here..nor Natty Lite Ice. Unfortunately you'd be hard pressed to find 30 beers for 9.99 here (man i miss good old Farmer Jack), how they've survived this long is beyond me. But i think i can scrounge up some Corona or Coors, maybe even some Margaritas.

-Brats. Lots of them.

-BBQ sauce. Too bad i didn't think of this when i was in the states last, but along with Ipods and blue jeans you could make a fortune importing proper BBQ sauce. (Ketchup is not BBQ sauce, despite what many people here think).

-Lastly, a V-Ball court. This ones a bit tough, but I've got a line on a court over in Austria..that's the target location. If not there then we'll head to one of the many open BBQ pits near Feldkirk.

Thats the plan. Simple, yet effective. Results? TBD I feel as though i am an ambassador of good will, spreading the best parts of America throughout the world. I really should be getting paid for this.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Some Random Funny Videos

Nothing like a little humor to cure a hangover. Well, that and gatorade. This week brought the 200 year anniversary of Liechtensteins soverienty as well as the Feldkirk Wine festival. Sorry, but i dont have the patience to google the correct spelling of soverienty. I'm not sure i can handle another night of homemade wine and umpa lumpa music. But i'll take one for the team and represent america well.

So hear's a few videos and fun links for you in case you're sitting around today nursing a hangover. I particularly like Urkel quest.

My kind of football!!!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Thanks for trying USA

Despite a respectable showing, the USA is no longer in World Cup, or rather the WeltMeister Cup. As you can imagine this gave ample opportunity to my colleagues and friends to bust my bal..i mean chops.

Random coworker #1 “Hey, good job American. I thought you guys were supposed to be good at

Me, “Give us 4 more years.”

Random coworker #1 “Didnt Ghana beat you guys”

Random coworker #2 “And the czech republic too?”

Me “Yeah.“

Laughing ensues.

Me “laugh it up, but we aren't the ones who started WW deuce”.

Laughing stops.

I've watched quite a few of the games and people take this stuff SERIOUSLY here. Rarely does a company allow jerseys to be worn at work but the last four weeks all rules were off. Swiss jerseys, German jerseys, Brazil jerseys, New Jerseys (nyuck nyuck) and of course Italian jerseys. It was pretty colorful around the office. I had a very special Tshirt made up that said “Real football requires padding”. No i didn't,but maybe i will next year. I must admit though that i took a small amount of pleasure when Germany lost the other day taking them out of the running for first place. The ego's were getting a bit out of control around here.

Its 4 more years till the US has another chance to play in the world cup. If we're lucky maybe Ghana will be having a civil war or something. Seriously, where the hell even is Ghana? How does a third world country outplay us? We've got to step it up for the next World Cup. If the US really wants to “win” respect back in the world, how about kickin some arse in the world cup. Nothing fosters good relations more than going to another country and beating them at their own game.

I'm not just a talker though, i'm practicing what i preach. My company had our football tournament last weekend and i, Corrigan, Mr Soccer, played on one of the teams. The tourney is a pretty big deal within the company, particularly this year as you might imagine. One might even go so far as to call it our own World Cup. We had teams from divisions in France, Germany, Liechtenstein (i just recently realized i've been spelling that wrong...for the last 8 months), and of course me. I like to think that i showed the Europeans a thing or two about how to play Football, REAL football. But apparently tackling and checking isn't allowed in European Football. Who'd have known, in America tackling and picking up the ball is allowed. That excuse only worked in the beginning though.

Well, the last game is starting shortly and i'm off to the beer tent at the Coop to watch it. Italy vs. France....Italy has Ferrari and Pizza, but France has...Airbus? So i guess its go Italy.

Oh and sorry Ma, but assuming the deal doesnt fall through I'll be the proud new owner of an '83 RZ350 by the end of the week....thats a motorcylce. I promise i'll be safe. Could've been worse Ducati's are pretty affordable over here.

Friday, June 23, 2006

24 Hueres Du Mans

When I think of France, i think of champagne, wine, fries, toast, dressing, napoleon, that creepy robot dude from Europtrip, and a slew of other rather uninteresting things. Now however, i can expand that list to include good racing.

France isn't generally known for racing. When gearheads meet and talk shoop, the talk generally turns to SpA, Hokenheim, Indy, Monaco, Daytona....those are the big well known and well followed races/tracks. But this year, for the 74th time France hosted one of the slightly lesser known but incredibly fun races, namely the 24 Heures Du Mans.

Think back to what you were doing at this time yesterday. Now imagine that you and 2 friends spent the time between then and now driving nearly non stop at breakneck speeds around an 8.5 mile course. That, in essence, is LeMans. (sounds like Les Mawn when the french say it. sounds like lemanz when i say it). The requirements on the cars, drivers, teams (and fans) is pretty intense. By the time the 12th hour rolls around fully half the field is usually out for engine trouble (or failure), crashing, or any number of other problems that can arise during such an excersize. This held true this year as only 27 of 50 teams finished.

Anyway, i took about 250 pics over the course of the week, the night pics being by far the most challenging. Sometime around midnight on Saturday i jumped on one of the continuosly running buses with my camera and a backpack full of beer to take the 5 mile journey to the other end of the track. Nothing like a few beers to make new friends.

Although i had a grandstand pass (directly across from one of ferrari's pits!) and i was camping on the porsche curve (with a bunch of crazy brits!) i really wanted to see "indy corner" and also the "Mulsanne kink" at the end of the Mulsanne straight. Indy corner is famous because its one of the fastest and most challenging portions of the track, and the Mulsanne straight is famous because its just that...a big straight. Mulsanne is the fastest portion of the track while the "kink" at the end forces cars to break from over 250mph to around 65mph to make the turn safely.

I arrived at indy corner first and found that i was not the only one with the desire to check out this corner...It was packed! But i was still able to work my way down pretty close to the track. After a few hrs there i got back on the bus and headed to the infamous Mulsanne kink around 3AM. Mulsanne was incredible at night...the sound of the cars, the glowing turbo's of the Porsches, the red hot brakes of all the cars, the 3 foot flames from the exhaust when they get off the throttle.....intense is the word that comes to mind but does not do the experience justice.

Night pics are tough and most of the ones i took didnt come out that well, but i got a few. Following Mulsanne i headed back to my grandstand seat to watch some of the action in the pits at 4AM. Although it might seem crazy to be up at this hour keep in mind that sleep is nearly impossible due to the noise. Besides, some of the best action is at night! Nothing like a 250mph race car and a groggy driver to make for some interesting racing. Sorry, but its the truth!

Over the course of 24hr race i slept maybe 3 or 4 in total. Luckily the weather held up the entire weekend as i was unprepared for anything other than warm and sunny. The Audi diesels (yes diesels) won the race placing first and third. The first place car bested the next closest car (Pescaralo) by 4 laps. More importantly, in the increasingly popular GT1 class one of the factory backed Corvette's bested the Aston Martins and even some of the supposedly faster "Lemans Prototypes" coming in 4th overall.

Lemans is known as the biggest race in the UK thats not actually held in the UK. There are so many brits that you would think you are at Silverstone. Despite this enormous contingency and the huge presence of the Aston Martin's in the race, nearly everyone i talked to agreed that the three Corvettes were the best sounding cars there. For anyone who cars it was sort of a cross between the thunder of a Nextel Cup car and the whine of an F1 car...but louder than both.

I had quite a few firsts this past weekend. First time on a night train, first time camping in europe, first time building a beer mountain, first time at lemans, first time surviving on nothing but beer and sandwiches...well actually that last one wasn't a first, thats pretty much my life. More importantly would i recomend it? Absolutely. Am i goin back next year? hell yeah!

3 Days of hardwork, and this was the result.

I camped with some brits over the weekend. They called themselves a racing team...but i have no idea what they raced, except eachother to the bottom of a beer bottle.

At the start as the cars are lined up. An Aston, a C6R and a Saleen S7.

A Ferrari headlight.

At the Porsche Curves.

Although their uniforms were from BP (British Petroleum), i have a sneaking suspicion they werent here to sell oil.

A GT40. A REAL GT40.

One of the Lemans Prototypes.

Audi Diesel.

The Pits at night. Still bustling with activity.

The corvette pits.

I've got a lot more pics...but i'm out of time now. Ciao for now!