Home :: Archives :: Email: dg at dgraver dot com
October 31, 2003
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

So I have totally been slacking on my book reviews lately. I finished Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban about a month ago, and have yet to write my review. So, without further ado, here it is...
I was told my an individual that this was the best of all the Potter books, so expectations were high when I started the book. Just like when someone tells you how great a movie is, it is very rare that it will ever live up to the expectations you have set. I can definitely say that I enjoyed the book, but I still like the first one the best. This book doesn't seem to have the constant suspense that the other Potter books had. The first 2/3 of the book seems to go from scene to scene with an occasional 'scary' moment, but nothing that lasts longer than a chapter. So, I was kind of sitting there waiting and waiting for something big...which is not the good kind of suspense. Anyways, the last 1/3 of the book really picks up the pace and adds a ton of "Harry Potter" type suspense which is what I had come to expect. So, I feel kind of bad originally criticizing, but when it takes 2/3 of the book to get there, and you had someone tell you how good it was, it makes for some tough reading at times. Anyways, like all Potter books it is full of great 'magic' type stuff, along with some new characters and of course Quidditch, the game where nothing matters but catching that darn snitch. I actually found a website with the Quidditch Rules...so check it out. Overall a good book, but I still like the first one the best.

Posted by Don at 06:07 PM
No love for Halloween

Apparantely the Germans don't care too much for Halloween. We have a ton of candy, and so far only one trick-or-treater. From what Barbie and I can gather, Halloween is one of those holidays that is slowly filtering its way into Deutschland, but there is still a ton of hesitancy. For instance, our neighbour upstairs (who has a kid) asked me this morning how to do Halloween b/c her kids wanted to do it. I had to explain to her the whole thing and how it works, even what to say (Trick-or-Treat) when they come to someone's door. It is only about 5:30pm right now, but it's dark outside, and there doesn't seem to be anyone on the streets :-(. Hopefully they will all come around, otherwise I have to eat all the candy...and I know I can't resist it. :)

Posted by Don at 05:48 PM
October 29, 2003
Barcelona (a.k.a. "Var-the-lona")

This past weekend Barbie and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary in Barcelona, Spain...where they speak Castillian (an altered Spanish where 'B' is pronounced like a 'V', and 'C' is pronounced like 'th'). We had always heard great things about Barcelona, so why not visit...plus they have a Mike's Bike Tours there (bonus!). Anyways, the weather was great the Thursday thru Saturday, with some rain on Sunday and Monday morning. It was actually supposed to rain the entire weekend, so we lucked out. Anyways, Thursday evening we arrived and basically didn't do too much except walk around a little and visit a very old Gothic looking church, and then went for a pretty nice dinner. Barbie wasn't feeling too well most of the trip so we usually took it pretty easy in the evenings. Anyways, Friday morning I get up and it absolutely pitch dark, so I'm thinking it is about 5 or 6am, but I look at the clock and it is 10am! Apparantely Barbie had put down the shutters on our window, so the room got absolutely no sunlight in the morning...which made sleeping in really easy. That afternoon we headed to the Picasso museum, which was pretty interesting. It was nice to see that he wasn't always strange since they had a lot of his early works that were normal. It was also nice to see that there was some thought put into his works, and that it wasn't just a weird looking character with a funny nose and mouth. He would take a picture and re-create it with his own twist, so when you saw the original picture and his painting it made some sort of sense...although still strange. After Picasso, we headed out and did the little walking tour that our book had, so we got to see a good amount that way. The evening again was relaxed as we went to a little Italian place on La Rambla (the main street in Barcelona), and then headed back to the hotel.
Saturday morning I woke up and went for a nice hour long run down La Rambla, along the Pier and Beaches, and then back to the hotel. The weather was cool so it was enjoyable. That afternoon we headed to Mike's Bike Tours, which is always fun. We got to see where Queen Isabelle and King Ferdinand lived, the Columbus Statue, Gothic churches, the beaches, and of course a bunch of Antonio Gaudi things...most impressively "La Sagrada Familia". This church is old and "gaudi looking" (gaudi was named after him), but it still has another 120 years before it is finished. Gaudi started it, then died, now another group is finishing it, and you can definitely tell what is from Gaudi and what is the new stuff. Anyways, the tour was fun and enjoyable and we couldn't have asked for better weather. That evening we went to a Spanish place where I got to enjoy some excellent paella, which included shrimp, fish and clams...EXCELLENT!
The next day we basically spent reading our books in the hotel since the weather was bad, but we did go to a new restaurant called "The Attic" which was also very good. It has only been opened for 3 weeks, but everything was great. Monday we came home...and we both ended up finishing our books that day (me on the plane and barbie sometime late that evening...she gets sucked in and can't put it down :) ).
Of course we have Barcelona Pictures thanks to Barbie....although she did include her trip to Madrid which didn't include me.

Posted by Don at 11:22 AM
October 18, 2003
World Series

Could the world ask for a better World Series matchup this year? I must say this will probably never happen again where my two favorite teams in baseball make it to the World Series the same year. What a great time to watch baseball...wait a minute...I live in Europe, so that means I have to get up at 2am to watch the games. Doh! I'm sure you are all wondering who I am pulling for, well, I am going to be rooting for the Yankees. They've been my team since the early 80's, and the Marlins didn't come around til 1993. GO YANKS!

Anyways, there are some great cartoons regarding the infamous Cubs fan, and another about Marlins fans at this
Cartoon Site

Posted by Don at 12:16 PM
October 16, 2003
Kymba is no Timber

As most of you know, Timber was not what you would call a very friendly dog to other animals. She did have her moments when she would be nice, but for the most part she was out to injure and/or kill other small animals. Kymba, on the other hand, just wants to play with everybody and every animal. I don't think there is a mean bone in her entire body. This was proven last night when I let her out to do her business and she started making some whimpering sounds and hanging out under the patio...not a place she normally goes. After a few minutes she come upstairs all excited and kept looking to go back out. Well I followed her to see what all the excitement was about and she had basically found a hedgehog in the garden. Instead of trying to kill it or do anything to it, she had just sniffed it and I guess talked to, and/or played with it for a little bit. Well, we let the hedgehog be, and he was gone by morning, but there is no way that hedgehog would be alive if Timber had found it.

Posted by Don at 01:55 PM

1. I can't reach my license unless you hold my beer. (OK in Texas)

2. Sorry, Officer, I didn't realize my radar detector wasn't plugged in.

3.Aren't you the guy from the Village People?

4. Hey, you must've been doin' about 125 mph to keep up with me. Good job!

5. Are You Andy or Barney?

6. I thought you had to be in relatively good physical condition to be a police officer.

7. You're not gonna check the trunk, are you?

8. I pay your salary!

9. Gee, Officer! That's terrific. The last officer only gave me a warning, too!

10. Do you know why you pulled me over? Okay, just so one of us does.

11. I was trying to keep up with traffic. Yes, I know there are no other cars around. That's how far ahead of me they are.

12. When the Officer says "Gee Son....Your eyes look red, have you been drinking?" You probably shouldn't respond with,"Gee Officer your eyeslook glazed, have you been eating doughnuts?"

Posted by Don at 01:09 PM
October 15, 2003
Brisk run

This morning I decided to get up early and do a quick little 4.5 mile run. However, when the alarm went off at 6am, I was in no mood to get up, but Barbie told me right then and there that I had better get up if I was going to set the alarm and wake her up for no reason. So, 40 minutes later I get up and begin to stretch. I noticed it was pretty cold outside when I let Kymba go out, but I just put on my long sleeve shirt and jacket, along with the some pants and did my nice easy run. I should have noticed it was pretty cold outside when I had to keep my hands inside my sleeves for about the first couple of miles b/c they were freezing if they were left out in the cold. Anyways, to make a long story short, I came to realize that it was actually 0 degrees Celsius outside, which means 'Freezing'!! To think they consider this Fall, and I have to do the majority of my Ironman training during the winter :-(

Posted by Don at 04:04 PM

A couple goes on vacation to a fishing resort in northern Minnesota. The husband likes to fish at the crack of dawn. The wife likes to read. One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap.Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decidesto take the boat out. She motors out a short distance,anchors, and continues to read her book. Along comes a game warden in his boat. He pulls upalongside the woman and says, "Good morning Ma'am.What are you doing?""Reading a book," she replies, (thinking "isn't thatobvious?") "You're in a restricted fishing area," heinforms her."I'm sorry officer, but I'm not fishing, I'm reading.""Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I knowyou could start at any moment. I'll have to take youin and write you up.""If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexualassault," says the woman."But I haven't even touched you," says the gamewarden."That's true, but you have all the equipment. For allI know you could start at any moment.""Have a nice day ma'am," and he left.............

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Posted by Don at 03:55 PM
October 13, 2003
Hurricane fans arrive in Munich

Once again the rains poured down and the Seminoles offense could do absolutely nothing. Last year it was against Louisville on a Thursday night when FSU suffered it first defeat of the season. This year it was in Tallahassee against the Hurricanes. FSU did absolutely nothing on offense, and the defense played exceptionally well given the fact the Canes go 5 turnovers...most of which landed them in our own territory. The FSU defense only gave up one TD, the other coming on a 44 yd. interception return by the Miami defense. This was the first game I actually got to watch of the season...actually it was the first snap I had ever seen this year of FSU. I mean I haven't even seen a highlight or anything. The reason I was able to watch it this time was b/c Jon (who happened to be in town) found out the doorman at the Marriott is ex-military and was able to get the AFN (Armed Forces Network)....which shows american TV. I have been here for almost 4 months and I can't find anything, Jon is in town for 3 hours and finds the game...what the heck?
Anyways, enough about the game. Jon, Jan, Rich, Tamara and the soon to be new Richards (Tamara is pregnant) were in town for the weekend before they head to Italy for a wedding. I think we all had a pretty good time (excluding Friday for them since they had to suffer through jetlag). Saturday we walked through the Englisch Garten and stopped for lunch, then headed to see the surfers of Munich ride the Isar, and then to Nyphemburg palace. After all of this we headed to Jerry's house (ex-military guy) to watch the miserable rain soaked game (but I said we are not going to talk about that anymore). The next day was sort of a relaxing day as we went to Odeonsplatz and stopped for lunch at some traditional Bavarian place, then headed to the Hofbrau house for some beer. They had to leave that evening, so there wasn't much more we could do...but it was a good time none the less. Pictures will be available soon I am sure.

Posted by Don at 09:45 AM
October 07, 2003
A weeks worth of info...

So I have been slacking on the updates to the site, but you will all live so please forgive those of us who do try to keep people updated to our life's happenings. :) Anyways, here is a rundown of the last week's activities:

Barbie had recently informed me that I was to pick up her co-worker and her husband from the airport in the morning. That's right, she sold them out, so I was left to go to the airport and stand there with a sign that had the name of the lucky couple who was about to join for me a ride. Lucky for me I had the sign, b/c there was no way I was going to be able to identify them. Anyways, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful for me, although Nicole and Bob (the lucky couple), did get to go do some touristy things...and Barbie and I met them for dinner at a little Italian place in Marienplatz. It's always nice to find a new restaurant that is pretty good.
Oktoberfest revisited...although this time was with the Cisco people. They reserved us a spot at the infamous Hofbrau tent, which is absolutely enormous and should in no way be referred to as a tent. I ended up getting there a little later than Barbie, Nicole and Bob, (some of us have to work you know)...and so there wasn't much room for me to sit, but luckily they were able to squeeze me in. It's always fun to see your co-workers in a different light...kinda makes you remember that they to have a life outside of the office...although only at Oktoberfest do you get to see 'em dressed up in Laderhosen and drinking Liters of beer!!!
Wednesday and Thursday:
Didn't too much...work, run, learn some Deutsch, eat Weinerschnitzel...you know, the normal routine in Bavaria.
Friday thru Sunday:
So this is unification day in Germany...ie. we get the day off!! So Barbie planned us a nice weekend in Baden Baden to celebrate an early birthday for me since she won't be here for my actual b-day. For those that don't know, Baden Baden is pretty famous for all the luxury style stuff like Spas, hot springs, massages and what not...but they also have Germany's oldest Casino. Anyways, we stayed at nice little hotel called the Hotel Regent. The graciously accepted dogs, but little did they know about Kymba...who over the course of the weekend was probably the worst she has been in quite a long time. She basically was just a brat. Not sure, but I don't think she liked Baden Baden. At one point while eating dinner at the hotel restaurant, the owner came to us and said there was a white dog running loose in the hotel. She had basically figured out how to open the door and had scared a little kid to death. Luckily there were two doors so she didn't go everywhere...just in our area where there were two other rooms...one of which the kids were staying at. She obviously didn't hurt them...just put a little scare into them. Anyways, Friday we went to a local Therme...which is basically a bunch of pools and hot springs mostly in doors where people just relax. We had free passes but forgot them at the hotel so we had to fork over 24 euro for just 2 hours when we got there...doh. Friday night was the dinner I had just talked about...and Saturday was a rest and relaxation day. We basically just chilled in the morning, went to lunch, then to the Schlosshotel for some massages. Barbie arranged an hour long massage, followed by a foot reflexology massage, followed by an 'anti-stress' bath. I don't know about the anti-stress part, but it was cool. Both massages were good, but like always too weak...they just have no desire to make you hurt and really work out the muscles. I guess I have to go to a sports place for that. After all of this we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our night at the casino...where suits are required. Unfortunately I ended up being the only one going since Kymba went absolutely nuts when we tried to leave, I guess she didn't like being in the hotel for 4 hours alone, only to be left again. So Barbie was forced to stay with her while I went to the Casino. It was a shame b/c Barbie was all done up and looked great...and of course I looked good to. :)
So the Casino was everything I expected, and none of what I expected. I expected a very high class, old looking tables and chandeliers, and stuffy people everywhere...which is what I got. However, I didn't expect it to be so small and limited in the amount of games they offered. The had a total of 4 games you could play: 6 tables of roulette, 3 tables of blackjack, 2 baccarat tables, and 2 poker tables. NO CRAPS!! Needless to say I was pretty disappointed about the no craps, guess that would have caused to much excitement for the place. Anyways, the place was packed, and with only a few tables, it was next to impossible to get to one. The craziest thing was the blackjack tables, where people standing would play on the hand of the person who was sitting. So you would have 5 people playing one persons hand, but only the person at the table could make the decisions...so you just put your money down and hope that person knows what they are doing. I only spent about an hour there losing 25 euro on a few spins of the roulette wheel. The crowds, limited games, smoke and plastic chips (they don't use clay for some reason) was just too much to bear for any longer. But I got the feel and enjoyed the experience.
Sunday we headed home from the relaxing weekend, minus kymba, and just vegged until the Dolphins came on TV. It was the first time I have seen them play this year, so it was a great thrill. Funny how I appreciate that now. Anyways, I still haven't seen one snap from a FSU game...not a highlight or anything...so I can't wait for that. So, to finish this off, here are the pictures from the weeekend...although I can't tell if we are taking pictures of ourselves or the dog.

Posted by Don at 11:45 AM