Archive for November, 2014

Last Day

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Tomorrow morning I head to the airport, to home, to the family.

Tonight, I try to sleep.

The last few nights, I’ve had a persistent cough, the kind that keeps waking you up every 30 minutes. I think I finally went to bed at about 11:30 last night, and I got up at 4:11 and then read all the Ferguson stuff, and couldn’t get back to sleep. So that’s two days in a row with about 4 hours of cough-interrupted sleep.

I was more or less fine until I got back to the hotel, and then felt like someone dropped a sack of bricks on me. My eyes are stinging from tiredness, my whole body’s just sort of spent. I ended up getting dinner at the hotel, because the nearest place is about half a mile away by foot. Had some schnitzel & fries – the schnitzel was delicious, but the fries were too salty. Ah, well.

Work went well. Very productive, I think. So, yeah – back in East Berlin. Got a 30 minute ride to the airport tomorrow for a 9:15 flight, so that probably means I’m leaving here around 7:45ish. Getting home at something like 2pm PST, but there’s 12 hours between those two points, somehow. 12 hours of misery, if the way here was any indication. Whee. ๐Ÿ™‚

Szczecin

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Fun day today, but mostly work. Got up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep (which meant about 4 hours of cough-interrupted sleep, total). Headed to the breakfast buffet at the hotel which was shockingly good. Really high-quality food – meats, cheeses, pastries, fruit, all delicious. I was feeling lazy & so I didn’t want to go far, but on Wednesday morning, I know where I’m getting breakfast. Weird.

We took a car to go from Berlin to Szczecin, and it didn’t occur to me until we were going 115 that this was an autobahn. The car ride was about 2 hours, even still, but we made it, and I got to meet the team I’d be working with. Solid folks, honestly. They all spoke English, which was… super useful, as if it was gonna be Polish, I’d be pretty well useless. (I have literally *zero* Polish vocabulary, and even looking things up, I can’t figure out how they’re pronounced. I only got “Szczecin” by getting Google to say it for me a few times (Stet’zin, sort of)).

We spent theย day working, and I feel like things went quite well.

It’s funny, though – I am *very* confident at this point that I know how to run a team. I know how to run a very *specific kind* of team, and it’s weird realizing how much of what I know works works because of some fundamental assumptions you make about who you hire, why you hire them, and what you expect them to do, and if you’re in a different context, *everything* has to change again. So a lot of today was trying to reframe some of my assumptions about what would work in a different context, where the variables both on the team and what they’re building and who they’re building it for are all quite different than my natural assumptions. But again, it was really good stuff, and it’s neat to see a bunch of smart people working in their native environment. Can’t say any more than that, of course, but it’s been a good experience.

We went to dinner at a local restaurant (whose name again I couldn’t possibly remember, and even now, can’t figure out how to look up). I had a traditional Polish “sour soup” and it was delicious. I just had that and a small dessert, because my body clearly thinks that it’s some other time than what it actually is here, and everything’s a mess.

I’ve been trying to kick this cough, and it’s frustrating, because I can be lying down and totally fine, as long as I’m not trying to sleep, but the moment I *try* to sleep, I start wheezing, and am then unable to actually get to sleep. So that kind of sucks, given that this is a week where I have a legit opportunity to actually *catch up* on sleep. Argh.

Still, another day of solid work tomorrow, we drive back to Berlin in the evening, and then I fly out Wednesday morning. I can’t wait to get home – I miss the kids (and Ei-Nyung) a LOT. Mobi, too. ๐Ÿ˜€

But the little I’ve seen of Poland has been beautiful. Parts of Szczecin feel like Berlin, parts feel like Osaka, and then parts of it are, “Oh, of COURSE that’s what Poland looks like.” Hard to describe, but when you see it, it’s obviously “correct”.

That’s it for today. Time to try to get some sort of sleep. Whee.

East Berlin

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

A few years ago, I started having some trouble with my tailbone. Apparently started around the time that J was born, when we spent a lot of time bouncing him on a yoga ball, but basically when I have to sit on a chair for hours at a stretch, my tailbone starts to hurt, and the longer I sit, the worse it gets. So 10 hours on a plane isn’t my idea of fun. After about six hours, it’s just basically agony.

I also had to sprint to make my connection, hustling quickly through customs in Frankfurt. Was told the wrong gate by the agent, so I ran halfway through the terminal, then had to run back the other way to just barely make my connection.

All in all, things were sort of as good as they could be, but I wouldn’t want to have to make this trip particularly often. ๐Ÿ˜›

Arrived midday yesterday, but the hotel room wasn’t ready, so I called up the guy I’m visiting (consulting for his company over the next few days) and we went to get coffee. Walked through East Berlin – it’s a very Oakland-like place, where the transitions between “nice” and “not nice” are abrupt – and got the best latte I’d ever had at a place called “No Fire No Glory”.

After coffee, I went back to the hotel and zonked out for a few hours. First time I’d slept in about 35 hours at that point, and I don’t have any idea how some people work shifts this long in any situation without fairly rapidly losing their minds. Had dinner at a place called “Umami”, which is weird because it was fairly obviously a Vietnamese place. Good, not spectacular. Walked over to a club made up of shipping containers, where we got a drink, talked a bit more, listened to some music. Lots of people smoking here, which I’d almost forgotten is still a thing people do.

Went back to the hotel, got to sleep around midnight, and woke up at 4. Was fully awake for about 2 hours, then back to sleep, woke up again at 11.

Headed over to Mauerpark, where there was a big park, a flea market, some food. Got a bratwurst, which got currywursted, ’cause I think the guy didn’t understand what I was saying. Which was fine – it was tasty, just not what I tried to order. Also got some fresh-squeezed orange juice, which was nice. Stopped off in the park and listened to a pair of drummers that were really good – had a very odd bass drum setup – sort of like a marching band drum mounted sideways, and the pedal was attached to the frame & hit the drum from the bottom-up. Guy had his pedal hooked up with something like the 2nd pedal in a double-bass setup. Weird. But it was neat – one drummer played sitting down (with the bass drum), had a snare, a weird stand w/ 6 cymbals on it, and a bunch of differently-pitched cowbells on the other, and a snare. The other guy played the *top* of the bass drum, what looked like 4 bongo drum heads without any kind of bodies, and two other low toms.

They made a lot of noise, and it was a lot of fun to watch. I tossed a couple Euro into their collection jar (an overturned djembe), and then decided to walk back to the hotel. Which was a bit of a dumb idea, because I didn’t actually know how to get back, other than a quick glance at a map before I’d left. I also knew that I was staying at the Leonardo, but there are apparently *two* Leonardo hotels in Berlin, and I didn’t know how to describe to someone where the one I was was vs. the other. But I knew the general direction I was going, and I knew where the giant radio tower was relative to the hotel, and figured I’d seen a few landmarks the day before so maybe I could find my way around.

If I had cell phone/data, it’d be no problem, but I’d forgotten what it was like trying to navigate around a new space without that as a crutch. Took about 40 minutes, but I made it back. It was nice to walk around and just see what the city is like. There’s a lot of graffiti – some of it is good – high quality art that people have invested a lot of time into, but a lot of it is just shitty vandalism that really brings down the atmosphere and makes things feel junky.

There are also a lot of interesting parks for kids. Stuff that wouldn’t fly in the much-too-coddled US environment. Stuff where concrete sections have built-in trampolines. Yeah, if you do something dumb, you’ll break a leg. If you *don’t* do something dumb, you’ll have a blast. Tons of families out and about. Made me miss my family, even though it’s only been a day and a half. This will be the longest I’ve been away from them in a long time, and the longest I’ve ever been away from K.

After Mauerpark, went back to the hotel, and met up with Anton. We went on a boat tour of the Spree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spree), and got to see a bunch of buildings from the river, basically a lot of juxaposition of old & new, which in East Germany is a lot weirder than in many places, I think. After that, cabbed over to Checkpoint Charlie (the touristiest of the places I’ve been so far), then over a bit more to get a kebab & some coffee. Walked back to the hotel, and here I am.

I’ve got an awful cough, which is kind of suck. Will be meeting up with Anton and Wibe, who’s coming in to town, for dinner. Strange – I met up with Wibe for coffee a few months ago in Oakland, and met Anton for the first time a month and a half ago, and now we’re all in Berlin having dinner. Also had a number of “small world” moments talking with Anton, just because since he’s a Finn, he knows a lot of the Finns in the mobile game scene. I don’t know many of them directly, but there were a lot of second-hand connections.

Tomorrow, we head over to Szczecin for a couple of days, then back here Tuesday night, and heading back home Wednesday morning. Can’t wait to get back to the family, but it’s been an interesting trip so far to be sure. Will post some pics when I get them off my phone (something weird is happening w/ iCloud ATM).