Friday, June 06, 2008

Grüße aus Germany, Teil 2

Ein wunderschon guten Abend wünscht der Bear.

Once again I find myself overseas, this time for a week only in Germany with a side trip to Gothenburg, Sweden. Tomorrow it's time to go home to the land of internal espionage. I mention that because it's recently become quite the hot theme here as several companies, the Deutsche Telekom among others, have been shown by the magazine Der Spiegel to be spying on their own employees and on reporters.

The similarities are amazing. Once discovered, the Liberal parties immediately wanted to strengthen the Datenschutzgesetz, the data protection law. The Conservatives, of course, think the existing laws are quite strong enough. The difference is that both think what happened is wrong and the people are quite upset.

I've had to earn my pay this trip, working pretty much all the time I'm awake and not traveling, so not much to report and no pictures to show. Even on the trip to Sweden I got to see nothing. Advice: Never fly SAS. That airline has perfected the art of the flying cattle car, the only thing missing is use of cattle prods to speed the boarding process. On the trip to Gothenburg, I was stuck between two rather large Swedes in a middle seat over the wing. There were plenty of seats a bit forward but those were another class, as the flight attendant told me, a class with a bit of leg room, although the seats themselves were still small even by southeast Asian standards. Anyway, in the back where I sat, you even paid for a drink of water. Same thing coming back except I was stuck in the very back seat of a MD-80. When I got the ticket I realized I was in the middle and asked to change. The agent lied - I could see the computer screen - telling me there were no others available. As a result, I think my right ear, the one closest to the motor six feet and two cigarette wrappers from my head, is a bit deaf now.

Again the differences in behavior are striking. You don't take your shoes off at screening. I didn't even show my passport to enter Sweden nor was there anyone at Customs. Walk through and you're free and clear in the country. Our branch there even joked they probably had a few illegals working there. And I got meatballs for lunch. Gothenburg is a beautiful city full of attractive, friendly people and I'd love to spend some more time there. Preferably in June - winter lasts seven months.

So, tomorrow, back to the Land of the Spied and the Home of the Paranoid. I won't be shocked this time going through Denver customs by the faces of those my ancestors stole the land from - an ironic joke that their faces grace the entrance hall to the country formed from their stolen lands, a country called free that spies on its own people, a land proud of its courage made paranoid by an attack and a fear-mongering president, a land where orange is the new green.

A land where, when I'm in Europe, I'm sometimes a bit ashamed to call home.
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