My Diary

I've split my diary now to individual months - so - the default page will be the diary of the current month. Here are the links to the other entries so far:
August 2010 July 2010 June 2010
May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009
November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009
May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008
November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008
May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007
November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007 June 2007
May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006
November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 July 2006 June 2006
May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 December 2005
November 2005 October 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005
May 2005 April 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 December 2004

July 28th

Getting Ready for Canada
The last word on my SCAM issue is that I haven't been able to connect with my friend yet - but I keep trying. I have also exchanged emails with the service provider whos servers were used to send those SCAM emails - wonder if this is going to help - lets hope.
Alright - back to the real important thing: Canada. Yeah - tomorrow evening, Stephan and I will get into the car and drive north to our friends in Canada. Its a 12 hours drive in total which we break up in two parts. We want to get as close to the canadian border as we get tomorrow night - crash at some place that we find along the road - and then drive to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The plan is to spend two days/nights in this city before we drive back to Maine to visit our friends Tina and Tony in Deer Island (they run a B&B there). If all goes according to plan we will be back monday night. As it proved to work really well on the recent trips - we havent made any detailed plans about logding or stuff we want to see & do. We will just - show up in Halifax and take it from there. This worked exceptionally well on all the trips we have done in the past :-)
I hope to bring lots of nice pictures with me. There are two pictures for today.
a) a 2 Dollar-Bill: first time I saw this bill. Its a really rare note - so I had to take a picture :-)
b) sunday morning breakfast: I did the eggs :-)
Thomas Jefferson on the 2 Dollar Bill 2 Eggs Sunny-Side Up

July 25th - BEST OF my "Communication with a Hacker"

Shit happens - and when it does its good to see the funny side of it
So - I got scamed today as described in the previous two messages. The disturbing/funny/hilarious/frustrating thing that happened today was that I exchanged emails for about 2 hours with the guy who sent me those scam messages.
Once I figured out that it was a scam I did some research on his origin - reverese lookup of his IP-Adress (sorry if you are not too technical - but - basically I could figure out where from the email was sent from). So - it turned out that he was using a Dial-Up connection in Lagos, Nigeria. Here are some of the email messages that we exchanged (again - actually not really funny - but - I just lost a lot of money - so I at least want to see it from the bright side):
Me: Hey - how is the weather in Lagos?
He: Fine, My Air Condition makes me felt happy....Im in a deeply feeling code.
Me: You should use your talent for a real job instead of robbing other people.
He: How much do I get from you?
(after some emails) He: Go back to the Western Union where you send the money....Tell them you want to cancel the transfer. I have only picked up the first transfer......I love you, That's why I'm saying all this...Much Love. Let me know when you receive it back.....Okay?
Me: called western union – and they told me that both transactions have been picked up. Do you just want to send me back to western union again just for the fun of it?
He: Lol, How do you came across their number?
So - there is this kid (I assume he is a kid) that is hacking into email accounts and committing fraud. And then he is bold enough to communicate with me in this way. I know - he is in a safe place and there is no way I can get my money back - but - I wonder whats going on with people like this.
Well - it was an interesting lesson learned. I contacted the internet provider that he uses - but - not that I want to be judgemental here - they are located in Lagos - not sure if they are interested in locating a person like this.
Its been a good lesson for me - and I hope you wont run into the same problem. Cheers

July 25th - IT WAS A SCAM!!

Please watch OUT for the SCAM that I fell for :-(
Well - these are hard lessons. First time in my life I was a victim of internet crime. It seems the happy ending in my last post is just a happy ending for some asshole who hacked into the email account of my friend.
I assume this may happen to other people to - so - please watch out for emails like described in these online reports: Help, we are robbed, GMail account hacked.

July 25th

A story to remember - hopefully one with a happy ending
I thought I need to write this down - as I want to remember it. Either as a reminder that it is good to help people or as a reminder that I got really screwed. Here is what happened:
Saturday - around 3PM: I sit at my laptop doing some work. Then I get this email from Sabrina. She is an old friend of mine from Boston - havent seen and talked to her in years. The subject of her email read: "Urgent Help needed!!". Before reading the mail I thought it is either one of those mass forward emails or maybe that her email account got hacked and her name was used by spamers. I opened it and the text described an incredible story: Sabrina was on a trip in europe and she and her friends got robbed at gun point - with all their money and credit cards gone. They made it back to their hotel where they fortunately had their passports in their safe. In order to get home earlier (no intention of them to stay the remaining days with no money and this especially after this experience) she asked her friends to send them some money. So - what to do here? Is this a fake email? Or is it real? So I responded asking her whether this is a joke or for real. A couple of more exchanged emails later I was on my way to the next Western Union agent to send them the money they needed to rebook their flights. I biked their - filling out the forms. Then they told me - hm - you can only pay cash or with your debit card. Damn it - biked back home - got my debit card (only had my credit card with me) - and back to Wester Union. Send her an email that the money is ready to be picked up. 10 minutes later she responds that she got the money - but - because of the exchange rate and the additonal fees they were still short a bit :-( -> So - I did the same trip again (this time with my debit card :-))
So - after 3 total round trips to Western Union (I think I became an expert in international money transfer) she got all the money she needed to get their flights rebooked.
Now - I am pretty confident that this story really has a happy ending. I hope I didnt exchange emails with somebody just pretending to be Sabrina who hacked her email account. But - with my positive attitude I am sure I did the right thing - I either helped a friend in a very bad situation - or - somebody will have a really good time on my costs :-)
Alright - back out to the patio. It is 10AM and we almost reached 30 degrees - lets enjoy the sun before its really getting too hot out there.

July 24th

American Cuisine Experiences on a busy week
Its been a week with many great culinary experiences: Thanks again to my roommate Stephan who always manages to prepare the best meals. I think it was tuesday night when we put really good steaks on the grill. The monday night before it was time for a visit to our local bar - Bella Luna and Milky Way. Thursday night was Tapas night at Masa. And last night (friday) - Stephan had his friends over (the newly married Sydney and Ross, Sam and Hans). As both Sydney and Stephan work in the culinary world it was a pleasure to watch them and experience their food: Smoked salmon, smoked trout and shrimp as appetizer. Lamb as entree and cheese as desert. Tonight its going to be "back to basics": Christohpers :-) before heading over to Havana Club.
There is more interesting stuff that happend this week:
* The son of a colleague of mine just released their first CD -> check it out - really nice tunes: Pernikokff Brothers.
* Second time in my bike commute career that I got drenched by rain. I thought a 30% chance of rain means that there is 70% chance of no rain - damn it - it poured like crazy. My 45 minutes ride home was not as easy as my other rides: the rain filled up the pot holes so that it was harder to spot them. Cars on the road are a bit more dangerous in rainy weather - well - and rain doesnt work well with bike brakes either :-)
* People are leaving: yeah - its not only me that's going to leave Boston for good - seems that others (just like me) - have the desire to go home again - closing the "distance gap" to their friends and family. Distance just challenges friendships. It is an interesting experience how distance changes a lot of things. Even with our so advanced technology world that we live in - where it is easier than ever to stay in touch - the lack of real face-to-face time has an impact on our relationships we have with different people. This is probably one of the reasons why in the end - people tend to move back home - to their long time friends and their families.
Time for some pictures. I am sure I will always remember these evenings with great food in our home in JP.
Steak!! Cooking the Shrimp
Food is even better when nicely displayed Hans giving us a taste of his self-made banana rum
With Hans, Ross and Sidney Desert plate
Yeah - Austrian wine :-) Stephan and Sidney getting the food on the plate
Dinner's ready!! Later that night at Havana Club :-)

July 19th

Different ways to fight the heat
In temperatures like these there are different ways to keep you head cool. Find a place with good air condition or go sailing: I did both on the weekend :-)
On saturday - instead of burning in the sun - Stephan and I decided to do a movie-double: we saw The Sorcerer's Apprentice followed by Inception. The first one was nice - an easy to digest Disney fantasy movie. The second one - Inception - was - well - just amazing. Since Titantic - when many people called Leonardo DiCaprio "Titanic-Poldi" - DiCaprio produced one great movie after the next (at least from my perspective). Inception is no exception :-) (what a word game). Almost 2 1/2 hours of a very interesting story line - filled with action and nice special effects. Hope you get to see it.
On sunday - instead of burning in the sun - it was time to get another item off my "bucket list" - Sailing on Jamaica Pond. Courageous Sailing is the club that offers sailing boats for rent for only $15/hour. In order to get the boat you have to pass a very hard test - you have to explain what Tacking (Wenden) and Jibing (Halsen). I've sailed many times before but I am not familiar with the english terminology. In the end the girl who tested us put a piece of paper on the table and starting drawing. After we explained how to maneuver a sailing boat it was time to set sails - it was great!!
Now there are only a few things left on my list - such as "Sailing on the Charles", "Seeing another concert/show in Boston", "Exploring New England". Sailing on the Charles looks good - Bobbie has a membership at one of the boat houses and offered me to sail with her. Concert/show - yeah - seems like Cirque du Soleil comes to Boston next week - guess that will count. And - exploring New England - Stephan and I are going on a trip all the way up to Halifax - starting next friday.
Time to close the laptop for tonight and join "the old guy" on the third floor. We got HBO for a trial period of 30 days - need to make use of that as long as we have it :-)
Is that Tacking or Jibing? Well - guess its just Smiling :-) Many calm periods out there on the lake
Other sailors on the pond A view of the boat house

July 17th

Our last visitors are gone - great last day in Jamaica Plain with them
Ulli, Robert und Guenther are back home in Linz by now. It was great having them over having the opportunity to show them my current neighborhood Boston / Jamaica Plain. After the great dinner on thursday night it was time to explore Jamaica Plain. We walked through "Downtown JP" - to and around Jamaica Pond - through the Arnold Arboreteum and through other parks that belong to the Emerald Necklace back to the Sam Adams Brewery. Before we got on the free brewery tour we made a quick pit stop at ULA Cafe for a sandwich.
I think I've done the Sam Adams tour 3 or 4 times by now - but - it is always interesting and there is always new stuff to learn. Many times have I been asked where the name Sam Adams comes from - well - yesterday I heard the story. Jim Koch - the founder of Sam Adams wanted to revolutionize the american beer landscape. He found an old recipe from one of his ancestors that he started brewing in his kitchen -> thats how Sam Adams Boston Lager was born. He chose the name Sam Adams after Samuel Adams - who as a leader in the american revolution.
Whenever you make it to Boston - make sure you get on a tour at Sam Adams. It is free - you learn something about beer brewing - and - you get to taste 3 of the Sam Adams beers. In our case we tasted the Lager, Summer Ale and Brick Red. Best of all - you get to keep the small Sam Adams glass they give you for tasting.
I always thought that I am pretty busy with my camera - but - Ulli proved this week that he is even faster with his camera making so many more pictures than I did. Therefore I am looking forward to his shots - probably soon to be found on Facebook :-)
Guys - it was a pleasure to have you here. I hope you enjoyed your time and I hope you got a good impression about the united states, the friendly people, the great food, the awesome beer and the hospitality. Unfortunately - most people that have never been to the US only know stuff that is shown on the news or on TV. As we all know - bad news sell better than good news - therefore people have a total wrong impression about the US. I know its not a lot that I can do to change this picture - but - my small contribution is to spread the world about my experiences in this great country.
Time to go - its saturday morning - 28 degrees at 10AM with a high of 34 that is expected today. The grass needs to get cut on the lawn and the "grass" on my head needs a trim to :-)
Adios - good bye
Sailing Club on Jamaica Pond People enjoying the wind on Jamaica Pond
The three Austrians walking around the Pond No Swimming :-(
Boston in the distance - view from the Arnold Arboretum Same shot - different zoom :-)
Ulli enjoying his ULA Sandwich On the tour at Sam Adams
Watch out on Forklift Traffic :-) Glad we had you over

July 16th

Austrians in Town!!
We just had another great evening here in our Jamaica Plain BB&B (Bed, Beer and Breakfast). Right now we have 3 Austrians staying over (Ulli, Roberrrt and Guenther). Thanks to Stephan they got to experience was american hospitality means: great hosting, great food and a good time.
They have one final day here in Boston before they fly back to Linz. The plan is to check out the Sam Adams brewery and then I will show them "Downtown Jamaica Plain", Jamaica Pond and whatever else I believe is worth showing them.
Time for pictures (some leftovers from last weekend)
Watching the World Cup Final at GameOn @ Fenway Spanish Celebrations :-)
My Sam Adams with my new "Silly Band" Nachos - "almost" as good as those at Christophers
Our three Austrian Visitors: Robert, Ulli and Guenther Nobody should leave our house thirsty :-)
Oysters on the Grill - a new experience for me Mahlzeit!!
Ulli working on his Oysters One of the many special beers we tasted tonight
Awesome main course. THANKS STEPHAN!! The whole group we had over tonight

July 12th

My First Time - not as I expected it to be
My first time turned out to be different than what I had in mind. It didnt take as long as I thought it might be. Guess I can blame myself for that - I was just too excited and rushed through the whole thing. There was lots of new territory to discover until the finish line. Even though I had similar experiences before - it was - well - the first time - and it was special. When it was over all I wanted was to close my eyes and fall asleep - well - maybe after taking a shower as I was drenched and a little sticky too :-). ...... So - my first BIKE RIDE to the new office was really shorter than expected - only 45 minutes for 21km (the old one took me a little over an hour and it was 26km). I hit the pedals hard to get to the office before the sun got too strong. The new route however is refreshing - its good to see some new neighborhoods (Brookline, Brighton, Watertown, Waltham) on my way to work. Thanks to the humidity and the warm temperatures I really sweated like crazy when I arrived. The shower felt like a blessing :-)
I hope you enjoyed my story about my first ride - I am sure thats what you all in mind while reading the first part of it :-)
Viva Espana - guess thats what we all heard last night after the world cup final match between Spain and Holland. I watched it in a bar that was clearly in favor of Spain. I think I only saw 2 people wearing Orange amoung the 100+ spanish fans. I got to the bar at 2PM without having lunch at that time. Because the bar was too crowded there was also no chance of getting food - just beers :-) -> well - beer is nutritious too - right? ;-) (thats the end of the story)
Bye bye

July 11th

Heat, Flood, Party, Tour with 7 Austrians
Its sunday morning - and - as every sunday morning I am sitting here at the kitchen counter - sipping my cup of coffee - watching Sunday Morning on CBS. Its our sunday morning routine - whoever gets up first grinds the coffee and with that wake the other person up. Today it was me getting up early - really early in fact because I wanted to get a run around Jamaica Pond before it gets too hot to do any sports outside. Its been really hot the last couple of days. We had a heat wave with up to 37 degrees. Yesterday we got the first real thunderstorm coming through which caused some severe local floodings. The rain started just in time when we walked into a bar on the waterfront. Who is we? Well - it was me and 7 other folks from Linz who are in town this week for a conference. They got in on friday night and I volunteered to give them my "Grabner Tour". My tour highlights: Boylston Street, Newbury Street, Boston Public Garden, Boston Public Library, Mass State House, Old State House, New England Holocaust Memorial, Faneuil Hall, Boston Harbor Walk, ... After 3 hours of walking through Boston it was time for a drink and food anyway. Just as we stepped into the bar it started pouring. 2 hours later we left the bar :-) - not only did we get our share of beers but we also got to see the world cup match of germany vs. uruguay - great game!!
In the evening Stephan and I were invited to a party at Rocca Kitchen and Bar. Chez organized a surprise party for Birdy who - besides turning 30 - successfully fought cancer over the last couple of months. The surprise really worked. She had no clue that there will be about 30 people (family and friends) waiting for her in the restaurant. It was a great evening - meeting old friends and making new ones.
Now its time to finish watching CBS Sunday Morning - and later today it will be time to watch the world cup final match. In the coming week I will be spending some more time with my friends from Linz - after their conference is over two of them (Ulli and Robert) will stay over at our place for 2 nights. The original plan I had for the upcoming two weeks was different (insiders know what I am talking about :-)) - but - even though I would have really liked the original plan I am happy it turned out the way it turned out.
Time for pictures: there are some left overs from last week - like - hanging out with Ardy or Stephan and Hans getting our new Audio and HD System up and running. Last word of the day: May the best team win the world cup!!
With Ardy on 4th of July Frog Pond in Boston Common at Night
Working on our new audio system Great weather sets the stage for BBQs
My Austrians walking through the Holocaust Memorial Beautiful old sailing ships in Boston Harbor
Kids enjoying the water on Surface Road Ulli taking pictures of the group while watching the world cup match
Outside of Rocca - the restaurant we had the surprise party Surprise - Surprise - family and friends waiting for Brooke
Chez picked the menu -> well done!! New friends: Little 11 year old Leah

July 6th

Biking through the Heat Wave
+31C - thats what showed today at 7:30 when I turned on my laptop. I didn't even bother to go outside and check if this is for real :-). It got up to 37 during the day. I didnt get the chance to bike into the new office today - thats going to happen on friday. However - I managed to get on the bike later in the evening. The interesting experience that I made was that I couldnt tell if the heat from the early evening sun or the heat from the Asphalt was harder to take.
The heat wave is going to continue - the 10 day weather forecast doesn't show any big change coming up. Guess we just have to live with it - drink lots of water - and hope that the power grids can stand the additional demand caused by all the AC's in this country.
The good thing about the warm weather is that it basically invites us to sit outside in the evening - put meat on the grill - open a bottle of beer - and enjoy the time with friends. Yesterday we had "The Austrians" over - both Ardy and Manuel were here. Ardy left on a trip to Europe today - so he "sponsored" all his leftovers from his last party. Manuel - who has been here for 10 days - finally got the time to visit us in Jamaica Plain.
Tonight it has just been me and Stephan - more leftovers from Ardy on the Grill - beer from Pennsylvania - talking about our upcoming trip up to Maine and Nova Scotia - my remaining schedule in the US - and my plans for when I move back to Linz. Its great to have friends like him that share their honest thoughts - will miss him.
Thats it - two more days onsite with a client are waiting for me - lets hope their AC works well :-) - after that it is time to welcome our next guests - Ulli is coming to town for a conference on friday and will stay with us for two nights next week. "Grabner-Tours" has already been booked for this weekend :-)

July 4th

Pepe's Annual Pork Roast Salsa Party and Craig Ferguson Live in Boston
I've been to many parties in my life - but last nights party made it to the top of the list. It was Pepe's 8th Pork Roast Party at his house on Cape Cod. We drove down early in the morning to be there before the first world cup match started at 10. Pepe built 2 dancefloors in the back yard - a tent with food and drinks, a bar and lots of outside seating for the 150+ people that were expected that night. Oh yeah - and there was the pig that slowly roasted over open fire all day long.
Got to spend the afternoon on the beach and was really surprised when I first got into the water to find it pleasantly warm (and thats not because so many kids or grown ups pee'd in the atlantic :-)). The next surprise was a little sunburn I got after falling asleep for an hour or two - yikes.
Coming back to the party. Pepe did a terrific job in organizing this party - with help from his lovely parents and his closest friends. Thanks PEPE - its going to be a night to remembar - I am glad I could make it this year and it is definitely one of the things that I will miss when leaving Boston.
Changing topics: Craig Ferguson - the host of the CBS Late Late Night Show - is doing his 3rd annual appearance in Boston today. He is opening the 4th of July Boston Pops Concert on the Charles River Esplanade. Being in Boston for this event also gave him the chance for getting on stage at the Wilbur Theatre on friday night. We got tickets and enjoyed his show. He started by explaining that he is not allowed to swear or tv - so - we shouldnt be surprised if he is doing it a lot during his standup comedy show -> IT WAS AWESOME!!
Today is the 4th of July - and - as you know - the US celebrate their Independence Day. There is going to be a big firework on the Charles River which I am looking forward to see. 500000+ people are expected along the river - on both the Boston and Cambridge side watching the show and listening to the music of the Boston Pops. The US don't celebrate as many holidays as we do back in Austria - but - the good thing is that - in case certain holidays fall on a saturday or sunday - we get the following monday off -> we get a 3 day weekend.
Time for some pictures from last night. It was great seeing so many faces - and especially some faces that I haven't seen in a while. Besides all the joy and happiness it was also time for melancholy - 10 more weeks!
10AM - the pork is already slowly rosting On Smugglers Beach on Yarmouth
Haven't had a toe picture in the sand for a while :-) Kite Surfers and fisherman enjoying the great day
Families trying their luck with crab fishing 6PM - time for the first salsa moves
Happy 4th of July!! More dancing
THANKS PEPE!!! Open Bar :-)
Short brakes during dances where used for posing :-) Christian and Jessica - great to see old friends again
More time for pictures after they had to turn off the music On the left: Pepe and his family. On the right: REALLY TALL DUDE!! :-)

July 2nd

Last day in the old office
The last day at 95 Hayden Avenue in Lexington is history. Starting with tuesday we will be working out of Totten Pond Road in Waltham. Got a final bike ride - enjoying the ride through Boston, Cambridge, Arlington and along the Minute Main Bike Trail all the way to Lexington. I captured the last hour on camera. Now its time to focus on something else: Penality Shoot-out of Ghana vs. Uruguay
That was actually from the last evening when Alois was here - great speciality beer Lots of boxes to move
Time for a good bye beer PROST!!
Biking in my old cubical :-) Adios old office!!

July 1st

I am Shipping him back to Austria
There is a great song called I'm Shipping Up to Boston. They always play it at the Celtics games to heat up the audience. Well - today I shipped Alois back to Austria. He has been in the US for 10 days. We had a good trip to the west coast last week and worked out of Boston this week. Just now I dropped him off at the Airport saying farewell. Will be a while till we see each other the next time.
We are also "shipping" (or rather hauling) over our stuff from the current office to our new location this weekend. We've only been in the current location for about 15 months. Thanks to our growth it was time to find a new place. Tomorrow is the last day in the office which is located in Lexington. Its going to be my last bike ride - and the last couple of hours sitting in my cubicle where the last time I can complain about the noise from the kitchen ;-). On tuesday - after the long weekend (the 4th of July is coming up) its time to bike to the new location. It is actually not too far away from the old - just one town over in Waltham. I need to find a different route though as the Minuteman Biketrail would be too far out of the way. Guess it will be fun ride on tuesday morning when I have to figure out in how many different ways I can get lost on the way ;-) (I remember this happened to me on the first ride last year).
The weekend is supposed to be great: the weather is going to be awesome - and - it is going to be a 3 day weekend as we get the 5th of July off (because the 4th falls on a sunday). Pepe - a friend from salsa - is doing his annual pork roast party on Cape Cod. I tried to attend last year but couldn't make it. Seems like there will be a whole lot of familiar faces (based on the facebook attendee list) - lots of regulars that I see almost every week on the dancefloors, but also some that left Boston a while ago and are now back for the weekend.
Time to enjoy thursday evening. Its going to be the 2 men left behind (Stephan and I) watching 2 1/2 men at 7 - potentially followed by some HBO (we got free HBO for a while right now) :-)
Adios - und tschüss