Saturday, September 27, 2008

A taste of Germany

I spent the past couple of days up at a Steel conference near Chicago. Sound exciting? I had a blast. My company sent me, a lowly part-time programmer to this huge conference party so that I could learn a bit more about my job and network both with the hosting company (Peddinghaus) and with our customers in attendance.

As the name suggests, Peddinghaus is a German company (though it's now based in the USA), and they really wanted to live up the German-hood of it at this party. It's called Oktoberfest (even though it was in September), and they provided tons of German food, German music, German beer, etc.... My company had a booth in the "Teknohaus", breakfast and lunch consisted of foods that I generally don't remember the names of (knockwurst and spaetzle - I remember those two names) in the "Biergarten" (which, as you might guess also had unlimited drinks of all sorts available to attendees). Supper was a formal, three course dinner with entertainment. The night I was there, we ate an incredible salad, then a main course of braided salmon on mashed potatoes, chicken-fried-chicken (I think) and potato pancakes. (Yes, meat, potatoes, meat and potatoes. And oh yes, three green beans and two carrot halves as garnish). Then apple dumplings with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. Heavenly. Then Lou Holtz, who noone could believe I'd never heard of, spoke. Then I got to go "home" to a hotel to find out that I'd been bumped to a jacuzzi room. Incredible.

I'd love to know how much beer us 3600 guests consumed. I didn't do my part in contributing, but I saw others drinking beer with breakfast.

Besides all the food, I actually had an incredible time too. I met with customers - most of whom had a question relating to CNC (Peddinghaus is a CNC machine company, and I'm the CNC programmer in my company). I answered their questions, and wrote down bugs that they reported, promising to fix them (and I will). I gave several of them my direct number so that they can call me when they have a question, rather than having our support department tell them there's no way to do what they want. I also met with Peddinghaus programmers, so that I can make our software interface better with theirs. I felt like I built a pretty good rapport between us, which was a major part of the goal.

And finally, after programming CNC for nearly two years, I saw a CNC machine. Make that several CNC machines. I was awed. I'll spare you the details, since I'm sure I would consider them horribly boring if I didn't work with them. I think you can watch videos at the Peddinghaus website if you're dying of curiousity. The Ring-Of-Fire machine wowed me the most. Judging from others' comments, I wasn't alone in that.
If their site was working for me right now, I'd post a picture, or at least a link. To culminate my experience, I watched a machine make a beer stein shaped piece of steel out of a 3/4 inch thick steel plate in under 1.5 minutes. I was so amazed that they let me keep the beer stein as a momento. Here it is:


  1. This is an interesting and humorous commentary on beer gardens:

    How come the conferences I go to don't have an Oktoberfest theme? Drat. It was funny to hear Selma talk about her dad talking about German food (we're in CA now) . . .

  2. Did I mention that the band was, indeed wearing real lederhosen? I had no idea that they were actually leather shorts. Oh, and wool socks. Very cool.

    Hmm... Oktoberfest Urbana... LOL!