Props to whom props are due….

30 09 2008

As you may know, my time here in the US is running out. I have exactly four days left until flight LH427 takes me back home – or at least to the place where I happen to live. For seven months, this was my home away from home. And that’s where all the people come into play who make it feel like home for me. Now if that wasn’t a great introduction 😉

First and foremost, I need to thank everyone who contributed to my awesome farewell lunch on Friday and the totally unexpected gift. That totally blew me away and I would once again like to thank everyone involved and especially whoever came up with the idea….(M?)

Which leads me to my personal props section, which I have promised to do for a long time but now finally get to do.

Let’s start with Kate, because she was actually the person enabling me to come here in the first place. Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure working under her for the whole period of my internship. I thank you for giving me this possibility and for the knowledge I was able to gain, not only on the ‚regulatory professional‘ level 🙂 You always took the time to explain if something wasn’t clear (and I guess at the beginning that was quite a lot), and you always provided me with demanding tasks.

Probably, I was one of the few interns who had two managers over the course of his internship. Thanks Mike, I now have to walk to your office instead of just leaning over the cube wall if I need something;) No, seriously. Thanks for always patiently answering all my stupid questions, for letting me work on parts of the complaint process, for giving me the challenge of trying to figure out how to extract reliable information from the ‚random number generator‘ – and, of course, thanks for granting me the extra month over here!!! I guess we’ll just postpone the Kobe-steak dinner to some point when you’re over in Germany again.

Now to my favorite co-worker Meredith. Apart from making me get spoons, fill water bottles and pick up folders from the floor, you did so much more for me. Like waiting until one month before the official end of my internship to set me up for a date;) Also, I think most of our lunchbreaks would have been pretty lame without you (and your talent in choosing always the most appropriate conversational topics).

Then there’s Harald, aka Uncle Bad Touch. Thank you for always being able to lower the standard for any conversation, whatever the topic may be! Spaß beiseite, it was a pleasure working next to you and occasionally being able to switch to German. Some jokes just don’t translate into English (and vice versa)! Also, our consensus about the German ‚Spießbürgertum‘ is probably the best indicator that I should in fact move here.

Of course, I can’t go away without mentioning Joe, who introduced me to American specialties such as the meatloaf. Thank you for sharing some of your tremendous experience, both work related and private.

….and of course, thanks to all the other people I’ve had the pleasure meeting and working with!!!!!

Also, today we had a great farewell breakfast for Richie (another German – but not an intern – who will leave shortly) and me at the office, of which I’ve taken some photos. Thanks Mike for the very touching speech!

Pure awesomeness. I skipped lunch because I was so full.





An evening with….

18 09 2008

Sometimes, you wonder what the odds are in things that happen to you. And yesterday I wondered a lot. I announced in my previous entry that there was an Opeth gig coming up at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. So we went there yesterday and after…well….enduring the two opening acts on the elevated tier area of the theater (the Troc obviously used to serve as a theater, judging from the interior), we ventured to the balcony bar on the first floor level and stood around for a while before we were going to move on to the downstairs pit area. Suddenly a bunch of people walk past us, headed for the VIP lounge area to the side of the stage. I thought: ‚Hey, that one guy looked familiar‘ … next thing you know, 5 minutes after that happened, a guy walks up to me and says something like: ‚Cool T-Shirt, was a hell of a show‘ – I was wearing my „Progressive Nation 2008“ tour t-shirt. Then he adds: ‚Did you see Mike Portnoy is here?‘ – And then it struck me: the guy who looked so familiar WAS in fact Mike Portnoy, drummer of the world’s best band, DREAM THEATER.

Now, it’s not a secret that MP is an Opeth fan – Opeth played on the Progressive Nation tour, and Mikael Akerfeldt did a guest appearance on Dream Theater’s last album Systematic Chaos (the spoken section in ‚Repentance‘). Also, Mike and Mikael did a video log for the Progressive Nation tour, where they discussed their affection for Prog Rock, the beginnings of their musical career and how they came to be fans of each other’s bands. Of course, both bands are signed with Roadrunner Records.

So far, so good. Witnessing Opeth live was again a great experience. The sound was mixed very well, the songs they played spanned a time from the ’96 album ‚Morningrise‘ to the 2008 record ‚Watershed‘ and even some more mellow tunes from ‚Damnation‘ made it into the set (only one, for that matter – ‚Hope Leaves‘). Singer and guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt’s announcements in between songs were short and meaningful, as usual.

After the show, we were just about to exit the building when Mike Portnoy crossed our path once again – only that this time, I yelled „Hey, Mike!“ – so he turns around, sees my shirt, says hello, shakes my hand and agrees to have a picture taken with me 🙂

So here it is…the proof that I met one of the greatest drummers in rock history, one of the most creative songwriters of our time and simply one of the most influential figures in modern rock music.

Of course, everyone was in a hurry and I didn’t get to ask any questions or appropriately express what meaning DT’s music has for me – but I’m sure he got that I’m a fan. Thanks Mike!





BREAKING NEWS

17 09 2008

Yesterday, I drove past a batallion of FOX 29 TV vans on my way home from Malvern to West Chester. The center of town was blocked by police, fire trucks and ambulances and I rode right past a TV journalist, who was apparently at that point preparing for going on air for a live broadcast. After investigating, I found out that there had been findings of a „suspicious device“ in a parking garage on High Street (the one where we usually leave our cars when we go out in WC city and don’t want to drive home).

Now. What is going on in this little town? First, Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson come here to shoot parts of a movie and the whole town is blocked by film crews, then someone tries to blow up a parking garage….has the whole world gone crazy??

Here is the link. If you watch the footage, the pretty lady with the beige dress reporting live is the one I saw on my way home.





Writer’s block or another boring entry

15 09 2008

Just as novelists don’t know in advance whether their new publication is going to turn into a bestseller, I’m not sure whether this entry is going to be a bore. It might turn out to be really interesting and entertaining. But if it doesn’t: don’t complain, because I warned you in the headline….

Well….where to start….first of all it’s been party non-stop during the past few weeks. There was a Red Bull soapbox race that took place in Manayunk two weeks ago. We went there (on a Saturday) still a little off from the night before. After an Advil-and-Beef Jerky breakfast in the car and a long drive, it started to pour. I mean it had been raining on and off all day, but the moment we got out of the car heaven’s floodgates opened. We were drenched instantly and I could have left my umbrella in the car, because it was totally futile to carry that thing around. We got wet from below, from the side and the water came through the fabric of the umbrella. Plus people almost took each others eyes out with the little pins sticking out from the corners of their umbrellas (umbrellae?). So we headed to the racetrack and didn’t really see anything until we climbed into the front yard of a house, where a colleague of another intern was standing and offered us beer. The place was totally packed and the house owners kindly asked us not to pee in their yard. By then, I was already soaked down to my undies. We ended up going to the colleague’s house and throwing our wet clothes in the dryer. Dressed in randomly picked shirts and shorts that we borrowed from the host, we started drinking beer and talking to a lot of interesting people. Too bad I had field duty on the gliderport the next day.

This weekend we had another great night out in West Chester city. This is starting to become an institution. Saturday night saw yet another farewell party and as usual, I was chosen to give a short farewell speech and hand over some memorabilia to one of our leavers. This is also becoming an institution. And anyone who has ever heard me talk in front of people knows how pathetic I am at giving speeches. Especially when I haven’t prepared anything and already had a few beers.

Also, we visited Princeton University on Saturday and took a guided tour around the campus. I wasn’t quite as impressed with the tour guide as with the one in Harvard, but the university as such seems to offer more arts and humanities than the other Ivy League colleges. I even had a look inside the premises of the German department and instantly felt at home. Luckily, Princeton’s admission requirements are way too high. So my dear parents need not worry. The tuition is 40.000 $ a year. But the individual support seems to be very unique and exceptional. Maybe I should apply just for fun.

What more is there to say? Time is running out once more, it’s only three more weeks. I’m having my very own farewell party this week on Friday, of course everyone’s invited. There are various things that still need taking care of. Among these are: 1) Send a postcard. 2) Buy various items. 3) Buy a suitcase. 3) Hope that I get my deposit back from my landlord. 4) Figure out what to do with that deposit. 4.1) Decide whether to spend all of it incrementally on many little things, or 4.2) Buy something big. (Dodge RAM trucks are cheap at the moment). 5) Find my house keys. There couldn’t possibly be anything more embarrassing than coming home and not getting in. It’s got to be here somewhere. Probably I put it in a drawer and just don’t remember which one. Well. Whatever.

On Wednesday I’m going to see Opeth at the Troc in Philly. There’s been quite a number of interesting releases in the last weeks. The Human Abstract put out a new record and I totally dig it. Really complex, demanding, artistic, exceptional music. Tomorrow, All That Remains‘ new record hits the shelves and it’s going to be killer as well, judging from the snippets on myspace.

I will keep you updated on my last weeks.

Peace, I’m out….