First off, some housekeeping. Thanks to everyone who is reading and enjoying this blog – please contine to comment!, and i’ll try to respond to all the comments. Also, I may make some changes to how the blog is set up in the next couple days, so you may find a completely new layout or format when you come here next time – don’t worry, all the content will be the same! I’m using blogger.com for the blog management right now because they are fast and easy to set up, and very popular. But now that I’m using it, i’m not very happy with its flexibility or robustness or the comments setup, and it’s slow and unreliable. So I’m looking at some more servies, like WordPress, b2evolution, MoveableType and LiveJournal to see how they work. If anyone has any experience with those, or other services, please let me know what you think. Not that any of you care about any of that, so now back to the fun stuff!

So, it so happens that the first Thursday I got here was a department “Team Event”. Actually, it was originally scheduled for the Thursday before I arrived, but lucky for me, it had to be postponed to this week because of rain. But before I get into the ride, I have a thought I’d like to share. Last summer, the Infineon office in Cary did a team event of going to Busch Gardens (an amusement park in Virginia) for 2 days. My department in Munich went bike riding in the Bavarian countryside for a whole day, and another department went hiking in the mountains the day before. Can you imagine what the response would have been if a manager in Cary had said, “for our team event this year, we’re going to ride 50 miles on our bikes around Raleigh in the middle of July!” HA – he would have been laughed out of the building, then the rest of the office would have gone to Six Flags for the day. It’s strange – I don’t know if the people here are more healthy or fit (they eat less fast food, but they eat a lot of fatty meat and drink lots of bier, and many of them smoke like crazy), but the mindset certainly is different. Even people who are not athletic at all are still up for biking or hiking for a full day.
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So I’m going to try to get a quick post out of the way before I forget everything, because I’m sure I’ll have plenty to post about tomorrow (more on that later). I started work on Monday – nothing too exciting to report on that. I didn’t realize what a presence we (Infineon) have in Munich. Apparently we have about 5000 employees in Munich, and about 3000 at the office I’m at. Actually, we have more of a campus, taking almost a whole city block. The office is a much different environment than we have in Cary. For one, they are much older buildings, and whereas the Cary office is abuto 60F year round, the Munich offices have no AC at all. This hasn’t been a problem so far, but they say it will get quite warm next month, so everyone will start wearing shorts and t-shirts. Also, in Cary the building is basically just a big cubicle farm, with very few private offices. Here everything is walled off into offices, but they are maybe 10m x 10m to 10m x 30m offices with no walls, and several big desks set up, so you have workers right in front and behind you with no walls. Not necessarily better or worse…. just different.

Beer really is as pervasive here as is the stereotype in the US – it is everywhere. Every little gas station or pizza place has a wall for bier, and not 6 packs of Bud – liters in heavy duty glass bottles with porcelain tops. They serve bier at all the public gatherings – and none of it in plastic. All bier I’ve seen has come in large glass mugs, even at the street festival I happened upon on Sunday (so, yes, your conclusions were correct 😉 ) They also have beer on tap at our company cafeteria, right next to the coke machine. I was talking with an American colleague that summed it up pretty well saying that they think of beer as food, rather than alcohol, so that makes sense.
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UPDATE: See photo gallery of the City of Munich here.

I spent another day exploring the city on my bike, this time with a map in hand though so I could get back to my apt. It was cool today, overcast with pockets of rain. I stayed dry the whole day until I was about 2km from the apartment and the sky opened up and it rained like crazy. I did bring a rain jacket with me, so at least I kept my map and camera dry. Saw some cool sites and took a good amount of pictures – some of them i’ll post here, but i’m going to make a gallery sometime to manage all the pictures that I’ll link up later.

Just some general observations about the city:

  • The dogs must be really well trained, or something, because I saw almost no dogs on leashes. The owners were just walking down the city streets, and their dogs would trot along beside or in front of them. Even at cross walks, the dogs would just stop with the owner, and nobody seemed worried that their dog would dart into traffic or anything.
  • The cars are comprised probably 85% of Audi, VW and BMW, with the remaining 15% mostly Mercedes, Opel, and the little tiny cars that are about 6 feet long.
  • Every single stop light has a walk signal, and a number of them have a dedicated bike-signal.
  • There’s absolutely no question that bikes and pedestrians get the right of way. I haven’t been cut off once, and every single car has yielded every time to me at all intersections.
  • The city is very clean. I’ve run across no slummy neighborhoods, all the sidewalks and buildings are clean, there is no litter (come to think of it, there are not many public trashcans either….), and I haven’t seen any beggers or homeless people, despite the reported 12% unemployment in the country.

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Today was a full and eventful day as I explored Munich. I just arrived this morning, but I didn’t want to waste the day catching up on sleep or hanging out in the apt. After setting up my computer, I was unable to get onto the wireless network, so I went down to the front desk and they moved me to another room that was in the wireless range, and I connected with no problem. I bought a new Mac Mini a couple weeks ago to bring along with me (because it’s small enough to fit in a carry on bag), so i guess i’m gonna try to become a Mac guy. We’ll see how it works out, as this will be my primary computer for the next 6 months. When i get back home, I guess I’ll either be ready to get back to Windows, or will throw away all my other PCs.

Anyway, I set up the computer, and flipped around the TV to see what was on. The Tour de France was just getting started (around 11AM, France time) and it was on 2 channels – one in French and one in German. So I couldn’t understand anything they said, but I know I didn’t hear the names “Armstrong” or “Discovery Channel” nearly as many times had I been watching it back at home on OLN. There appears to be about 3 english channels – CNN, BBC, and, wouldn’t you know it – MTV. Actually, I think there are a couple MTVs.
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Hello all –
I decided to start up this blog as I was riding around Munich, Germany today, and I wanted to be able to share my experiences and thoughts, because 1) some of you might care, and 2) I seem to have a terrible memory, and events don’t take long to fade, so this will be my little thought-archive.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know me, so I’m not going to do introductions or anything like that. I figured a good first post would be to explain why exactly I’m in Munich. The short answer is, I am on a 6 month delegation for my company, Infineon Technologies, which is based in Munich. Infineon is a large company (35,000+), but only about 3,000 in the US, so they often send engineers to HQ’s in Munich to get training and learn new products. I will be working on a brand new memory product for about 6 months, then when I return to Cary I will be the “technology expert” for that product for the office. This all came up, though, because my wife, Alisha, who is a professional bike racer, had several European races on her schedule in August and September, so I asked my manager if there was any way I could get over to Germany around the same time. I was thinking maybe for a couple weeks or a month, but he came back and said “how about 6 months?” At first we balked because she has more racing, we have a house, etc, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized what a good opportunity this could be for both of us, so we jumped on it! This will help me with my job, and Alisha will get to train like the Europeans do – in the Alps!
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