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December 18, 2004
Blonde Joke

blonde calls her boyfriend and says, "Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can't figure out how to get it started."

Her boyfriend asks, "What is it supposed to be when it's finished?" The blonde says, "According to the picture on the box, it's a tiger." Her boyfriend decides to go over and help with the puzzle. She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table.

He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says, "First of all, no matter what we do, we're not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a tiger."

He takes her hand and says, "Second, I want you to relax. Let's have a nice cup of tea, and then..." he sighed, "Let's put all these Frosted Flakes back in the box".

Posted by Don at 01:10 PM
December 16, 2004
Glad to be going home

So today is just flat out COLD! I know it has been colder here in Munich before, but for some reason the chill in the air is just eating away at me. It is currently -4 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit), but know snow. The trees are completely frozen, which makes for kind of a cool site since all the branches are white, but the ground doesn't have any snow. Either way, it'll be nice to get some warm(relatively) California sun shortly!

Posted by Don at 01:35 PM
December 14, 2004
Challenger World

This past weekend I was invited by some colleagues to join them in the World Challenge...which is basically an adventure race consisting of 5 stages over two days. To get here, you had to qualify at one of the previous races, which my colleagues had already done. Unfortunately, some of their previous teammates couldn't make so I got invited. :) The event took place about an hour outside of Valencia, Spain...which should be warm this time of year, but it pretty much stayed overcast the entire time while we were there. Anyways, here is what happened.

Stage 1
Mountain bike race in Tollos...ie. the mountains! You had to basically read a map, and go to different embassy points and get a visa, then go to the corresponding "Wonder of the World" point and show the visa card to get the bonus. Bonuses are time bonuses...therefore, 25 minutes per bonus, with 7 in total possible. All of this had to be done within 3 hours, but you did not get a penalty if you didn't reach a bonus point.
So the race starts, we look at the map and decide our best route. We split up into teams of two and will meet up at certain Bonus Point on the map after a while. Unfortunately for us, both of our teams got lost trying to read the map. Me and the guy I was with actually ended up starting completely over after over an hour b/c we couldn't find the way! Needless to say we met up with our team members way too late, and didn't get back in the 3 hour cutoff time, so we had major penalties enforced...including a 2 hour penalty for using a mobile phone, which was prohibited, but the volunteer said it was ok for my colleague to use it to call a customer. Either way the hills killed me and us!

Stage 2
Take a bunch of pieces of wood, nails, bolts, bungy cord, etc., and build a machine to launch oranges into designated areas. There were three 6 feet deep areas where you could land your orange for bonus points, the first being about 20 yards, the second about 40 yards, and the final about 55-60 yards away. If your orange landed within the 6 foot area you got either a 5, 10 or 20 minute bonus (depending on which area).
Well, there were basically two ways to build a machine...one was a catapult style, the other was a slingshot style. After much discussion we went with the catapult. We only had 2 hours to design, build and fire off two oranges from this thing. After finally getting everything ready, we gave it a blank test fire, and wouldn't you know it, the catapult arm snapped in half from the force of hitting the ground on the way down! So, after creating another catapult arm, and using the work gloves as cushions, we were ready to go.
Our first orange fell a few feet short of the first bonus area, so we tightened up the bungy cord for more strength, and wuala, we nailed the 2nd orange. Unfortunately the 3rd orange didn't make it, so we made a minor adjustment to the catapult...basically getting rid of the only thing that could possibly change from one shot to another...and fired off our 4th round which ended up being a little short. After some tightening of the bungy again, we nailed the 5th, and subsequently the rest of our oranges for a total of 7 of 10! We ended up winning this stage, unfortunately it only gave us a total of 35 minutes bonus time.

Stage 3
This stage you had to run along the beach at night and pick up questions/puzzles, each of which was located 1km apart. There were 5 questions, with the furthest being 5 km away and also worth 5 points. After getting the questions you had to run back and onto the golf course where you would run to different points to submit your answers. The goal was to do this as fast as possible. Questions were valued at 1-5, and you got penalties or bonuses depending on how many you were able to answer. Therefore, if you got questions 1-4 right, you got 4+3+2+1= 10 points, which was worth a 30 minute bonus. This is the route we went, deciding not to run for the 5th question. We actually ended up finishing around 12th in this stage, so we were happy. Kinda fun running along the beach with head lamps, then having to run all the way back and go running around a golf course to answer these riddles. Luckily one of my colleagues was very good at these. There was actually one with a word search, and I couldn't help but think how good it would be have Kathie with us for that...since she is the queen of word search.

Stage 4
This stage was a hike through the mountains where there were checkpoints and bonus points. The checkpoints were required otherwise you got an hour penalty for each one you missed. Unfortunately this stage required reading a map again, and after finding the first checkpoint and 2 bonus points we ended up getting completely lost! We ended up finding another bonus point, but we didn't know which one it was, so it really didn't help too much until someone figured it out. Either way getting lost caused us to only get one check point, and thus finish near the bottom of this stage also. :-(

Stage 5
This stage had a little bit of everything. There were 4 checkpoints like in stage 4, question and answer points like in stage 3, canoeing, swimming and running. We broke off into teams of two and began trying to collect as many of the points as possible. First Raphael and I went for a swim in the mediterranean to get one of the questions...and lets just say it wasn't Florida warm. Plus you had to wear these outfits for the entire race, and mine was a little big, so everytime I kicked my pants would end up down by my feet. Either way, after the 20 minute swim, we got in the canoe and paddled to the other side of the harbor and began running along the beach stopping at check points and answer points. Unfortunately, we forgot that both people had to check in (or dip as they call it) for the bonus and check points to count. So after about an hour of this we headed to the canoe and realized our mistake, but it was too late, since we didn't have any more time to go back. Therefore, despite all of our running around and doing everything, we got no bonus, and penalized for not visiting the checkpoints. Plus, our other teammates didn't run to one of the checkpoints b/c they thought we would be back sooner, so we didn't get that checkpoint either. In the end, we came in last place on this stage to b/c of another stupid mistake.

Conclusion
I had a blast! It doesn't matter that we came in last place...well, yes it does, but it was still fun. If it were not for some seriously dumb mistakes we would have finished in the top 10. But, as Nick used to say..."If if's and but's were candy and nuts, we'd all have a very Merry Christmas!"

Example Questions

  1. A rich aristocrat decided that he would give every man $45 and every woman $60. Only one ninth of the men and only one twelfth of the women collected their dues. Can you tell me how much money the aristocrat spent if there were 3553 people in total?

  2. If it costs 20 cents for an orange, 6 cents for an apple and 28 cents for a mango, what will a coconut, fig and lettuce cost?

Posted by Don at 04:33 PM
December 08, 2004
Nuernberg

Barbie and I headed up to Nuernberg this past weekend to enjoy the Christkindlmarkt, which is a tradition here in Germany. The Markt is the largest one in Germany, and people come from all over to see it. Unfortunately this meant thousands upon thousands of people crowded into a relatively small area.

We actually got there on Friday night, with the plan of hanging out and relaxing until Saturday afternoon when our other friends would join us at the Markt. However, at dinner on Friday night, we met a couple of German guys who decided they needed to show us the their town. Needless to say we, or at least me, had a decent amount to drink, and the only damper on the evening was that one of the guys' girlfriend just found out she was moving, so the one guy got pretty depressed and left early. Anyways, by the end of the night we had some Gluehwein, Long Island Ice Tea, shared a Meter of beer (which is basically about 12 .2 liters) while playing Liars Dice, and eventually started playing poker! Where are the gambling people in Munich?

Saturday morning was our relaxation time, which meant getting a massage. However, it became a necessity as the stress levels of dealing with all the people at the Christkindlmarkt were enough to even upset the holiest of saints. Either way it was a good time, and well worth the two day trip!

Posted by Don at 03:26 PM
December 07, 2004
Another bad weekend for Miami

Well, this past weekend was another heartbreaker for football fans in Miami. First, the once mighty Hurricanes, fell to Va. Tech, and then on Sunday the Dolphins fell to Buffalo. Somehow I care more about the Fins at this point though....Go FSU :)

Posted by Don at 02:00 PM