Sunday, June 29, 2008


Somewhere in Sweden, near Stockholm, there is this deep man-made cave. About 100 meters below the surface (well, maybe not that much, but it's gotta be deep!) I have had to spend my days this past week. The data center in which I am installing this new equipment is deep in the heart of a rocky hill in Sweden. I am doing this work as a part of PROJECT TITAN.

As much as an adventure as this may sound... This actually sucks. It has been a beautiful weather here. We spend the whole day underground where there are no windows. The room in which we are installing the equipment is deafeningly loud with the white noise of air conditioning units, computers. I wear industrial ear-plugs to reduce the noise, but it still has an effect after a day on your feet diagnosing and solving problems with the software installation, configurations, connections and so forth.

We emerge twice a day, climbing our way through a circular ramp to the outdoors. Once to break for lunch, once to end the day's work. As I emerge, not unlike a Neanderthal emerging from his cave, the sunlight blinds and shocks our group, reminding us that it is a beautiful day -- another lovely day lost to the cave.

Like all of these other trips, they lave little time for fun. The lone benefit of this site trip over Amsterdam, is that our escort has a life outside of work, and would also rather not babysit us in the cave for the whole day. We get a reprieve as our hosts usually cry for mercy around 6 PM.

Like all of these other trips, I eat too much. Faced with the prospect that there is a long day of work ahead of me, I dare not go the mission without the sustenance of breakfast. And when presented with the option of "FAT AMERICAN BUFFET" I must yield to its magical power of crepes, scrambled eggs, and endless coffee.

The flight over here went through München (Munich), and flew right over the Bodensee -- I could clearly see the city of Konstanz, Hard and Bregenz. I strained to see the farm we stayed back in April, but we were flying so directly over it, that it was not able to be seen. I took some pictures, which may have gotten a better angle than my face pressed across the window could muster.

As Murphy would have his way, the camera battery decided to start complaining of low charge, while I snapped aerial shots of the Bodensee. Unfortunately, this camera is not powered by a set of AA batteries, but instead by a flat Canon LiON battery. I did not pack a charger. By the time my flight was over, there was not enough juice to take another shot. So no pictures of Stockholm for you! (or me)

The Swedes clearly did not attend to perfecting their cuisines to the foreign palate, as all restaurants are based on foreign themes. Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, American, etc. No Swedish food. Stockholm has many of the American chain restaurants that I have not been exposed to since I left the US. We have attended the Hard Rock Café (twice). It has been a long time since I have had good Nachos.

Another favorite of my coworkers is this fast-food restaurant called "Tasty Thai", which really isn't the Thai food I've been used to in the past; but sort of a Chinese food restaurant with vague Thainess.

With each of our daily emergences from the bunker/cave, we found ourselves at a nice little lunch buffet, which was also enjoyed by the locals. I managed to avoid the "Fisk". It was reasonably priced, at 90 SEK for a hot meal. I guess that is reasonably priced; the currencies here are all difficult to calculate in your head.

Next Steps
Due to logistics, and timing issues, I had my trip here extended by a few days. Since the family is now back in the US, and the neighbors are watching over the house, I will extend my trip to Lithuania, to work on one of our Project Titan sites. The work should take about a day. Hopefully, I will find some sort of solution for my camera battery problems before I go to Lithuania. I may never get to go back to that country any time soon.

Back to America
The other 5 members of the family have returned to the US for several weeks. Stacy stepped off the plane and immediately was reminded that Virginia is a very unpleasant place in the summer. "I want to go back to Switzerland" she quickly announced. I am considering a trip back to America in the end of July, but I am not really be looking forward to it. The Summer is the most excellent time in Switzerland, and wasting it by going back to the US is .. well... a waste of precious Summer.


MJ said...

Come on now, 95 degrees with 100% humidity doesn't get you excited and wanting more?

Hope the family is doing well back here. If you make it back (as you mentioned you might) let us know and perhaps we can all get together.


Bookstore Piet said...

Sorry your family had to come back here to this weather. We used to have a 8-10 weeks of weather in the spring and fall here in VA that wasn't so miserable. Now we only seem to get 4 or 5 weeks of tolerable weather before the humidity drives us inside.

It's funny, people ask me what it was like to live in Zaire back in the day. I reply that it's not so much different than here.