July 15th, 2000

I'm traveling up the Rhine river in a train. It's 17:00 and we left at 11:00. There are 5 hours to go.

There is an incrediblely beautiful girl sitting accross from me. She's 20, with an expensive dress, matching shoes, and she has a most delightful way of tucking her hair behind her ear.

The river valley's hills are carved up with what I assume are grape plantings at incredible angles on the hillside. And there are splendid castles breaking up the ridgeline of the hills. Most seem very small. And very old. I will have to explore this area some more. Right there is a castle on a tiny island in the middle of the river. This is so cool.

I just woke up from a nap. I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night.

I played in a small 30 person poker tournament at a card room a block from my hotel. I led most of the way, when it got down to the last 3 players I had about 40%, an Englishman 30% and an Austrian 30%. I'd refused a couple of deals. Well, the Englishman knocked out the Austrian and suddenly I was behind in chips, so I accepted a deal where I got a little less than 50% of the remaining prize money. The deal ended the tournament and covered my hotel bill this morning. We switched to the cash games that had started without us. The englishman got more and more obnoxious as the night went on. Bragging about how he had won half of the tournaments he'd ever entered and just being a real pain. I was sorry I didn't keep on playing. I could have beaten him. Oh well, it made sense at the time.

I'm not playing in Amsterdam this summer. Taking a break and exploring other possibilities. Still it felt good to come into a strange club, play well, and then walk away with their money.

More and more castles are showing up as we move on. I love their silhouettes against the cloudy sky.

I don't see any bridges over the river, they must use ferries.

Salzburg was a fun vacation. While the Glesnes were there we took a trip to the Eagle's Nest, Hitler's mountain retreat. Dave, Jerrod, and I went to the top of a huge mountain, above the clouds to see forever. Stunning views and a impressive heights and rocks. Dinner was at a Mozart concert with courses served between sets. Food was fair, but the music was better. I think for a Salzburg musician, Eine Kleine Nachtmusic must be like the scales. The very first thing they learn to play because for the rest of their lives they will have to play it over and over again.

After the Glesnes left on Thursday, I got to practice relaxing. I slept in, wandered the old city, saw quite a few of the sites again, appreciating them more, ate in some nicer restaurants and pretty much was on holiday for 2 days. Had some great seafood. I loved the rocky, hilly, mountainous hillside of Salzburg after the incredibly flat terrain of Holland. Quite the welcome change. Except when biking of course. Then I like flat.

Pretty Brown haired girl got off in Cologne. Sadness ensues. First class in German trains have power outlets for computers. This is a good thing and one I hope is copied everywhere.

I haven't seen many movies in theatres lately. But I'm renting videos a lot. I watched the entire first series of the Sopranos. The executive producer previously did Northern Exposure. This leads to lots and lots of interesting characters. Excellent series and I look forward to seeing the second season. Good films seen lately: Taxi Driver, The War Zone (This list is getting depressing), Austin Powers 2 (Ah, thats better). I'm also making my way through a series of Hong Kong films. Mostly action films with directed by John Woo, starring Chow Yun Phat, Jet Li, and others. Most are in Cantonese with english subtitles and the action sequences in them are astounding. Much of the acclaimed action sequences in the Matrix were lifted right from these films.

I finally finished the latest Tom Clancy novel, "Rainbow Six" I've had it for almost a year, but never finished it because it was so poorly edited. Sections were stuck together incomprehensibly, many naming mistakes (including the second leading characters wife's name switching from Chavez to Sanchez). It was just unreadable. Well, I did make it through and mostly enjoyed it, but it definately was not up to the levels of Tom's previous work and the excellent "Clear and Present Danger". I wonder if the divorce and the Vikings debacle caused him to be distracted as he was writing this book?

Neil Gaiman has been putting out some excellent books lately. Or I should say that I've only been introduced to him lately. I just finished his book of short stories "Smoke and Mirrors" and really thought his imagination was on fire. Highly recommended.

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