Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I was wearing very complicated pants (sorry, trousers) today. They require four buttons on the outside, two on the inside and one zip to complete the dressing process. Well, 'require' is too strong a word. I'm pretty sure that at least 5 of those buttons are decorative more than constructive, but they're there so they have to be undone and done every time I go to the loo.

Needless to say, with all the unbuttoning and buttoning, I forget to do the zip nine times out of ten...

I think it reflects my life at the moment. I've got so much on, I keep forgetting the minor - but rather important - bits.

We're off to Boston and New York on Thursday morning. Not sure if I'll get a chance to blog before then. If not, see you well into October... and THEN I'll resume regular blogging. Promise.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I don't like birds, especially not the vicious pigeons and seagulls that hover malevolently over you when you're trying to enjoy a quiet bakje of patat. But if I did have to pick a favourite, it would be coots.

Yes. Coots.

a) Their massive feet are comical.
b) Their fishing style depends largely on bouyancy. From a floating position, they propel themselves down under the water only to then bob to the surface like a balloon released from a weight, complete with 'bloop' noise as they break the surface. It amuses me.

I saw two having a mating/territorial fight the other day. There was squawking and pecking and flapping of watery wings. Other coots were swimming in and squawking at the same time, as if egging the culprits on. If I could speak Coot (and I've watched them enough to think that I can), they would've been saying, "fight! fight! fight!"

Coots are funny.

In other news, I got a new blender from my folks. Mills and I have been experimenting with all sorts of smoothie concoctions. Great fun all round. I am being ESPECIALLY careful around the blades, considering the fact that I recently lost the skin off my top knuckle in an unfortunate grat(er)ing incident. It was pretty... there were pieces of gore caught in the grid. Naaaice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Me again

Yes, it's been my birthday for a long time. It's still my birthday month and the birthday balloons have dwindled to about a dozen sad limp (sometimes rather rude) sacks. They aren't allowed to be thrown away until they pop, mostly to annoy Mills.

It's going to be long. Please know this is abridged, and I'm tired so I hope it sort of makes sense.
Here we go, kids.

It started with NCF's wedding about a week and a half ago. The day before, it was tipping down with rain and the car which was supposed to transport bride, bridal assistants and bridal gear to the venue... broke down. Okay. New car was borrowed and things were back on the move.

Unfortunately, the replacement car was accidently parked overnight in a restricted area and so, come the wedding day, the bride found herself sans transport. Again. Groom was sent to retrieve towed car from police station and frantic calls were made to find a third replacement car to get the bride to the venue.

The third car, loaded with bridal gear, popped open the boot just before heading onto the highway... so we decided this was the third in the list of bad luck incidents. To the sounds of "I'm getting married in the morning... get me to the church on time..." we hummed our way through to Apeldoorn without too much further incident. The rain stopped and the sun came out - a true blessing in this country.

The bridesmaid dresses were... interesting. Lovely colour and the matching jewelry was stunning. Unfortunately not many of the (four) bridesmaids actually fitted into our 'fitted' dresses. My dress was so bad that my nipples would have been showing - nothing like detracting a bit of attention from the bride. Fortunately the self-invited bride's great-auntie was there to do some emergency darning and last-minute stitching. Nobody's meant to be looking at the bridesmaid, and she certainly took centre stage, so dress woes were soon forgotten at the party afterwards.

My folks have been visiting since then, which has been lovely - and trying - at times. You know what they say - fish and family go off after a few days. Hey, I'm allowed to say things like that... it's what my mother says every time I go to visit them!

Things we did in the week that my folks were here:

- Visited Apeldoon in Gelderland (we had to, this was where NCF got married). Beautiful part of the country, even has mild hills. Very exciting to see change in altitude in the landscape.

- Visited Utrecht to show the folks NCF's new canal house. Dad added a little excitement by getting himself well and truly lost on the other side of town. All he had to do was follow the canal, but he ended up in another district, in the rain. His free-walking rights were revoked after I had to fetch him from under the Dom Tower (the very main and noticable landmark in Utrecht).

- Toured The Hague is almost entirety: Mauritzhuis (Girl with the Pearl Earring), Escher Museum, Madurodam, Binnehof (buildings of Parliament), queen's palaces, watched Queen Beatrix parading through The Hague to open Parliament... walked through Spui and the Passage... visited my office area, picnicked in Haagse Bos and walked around Clingendael (where dad ran away from the big scary cows. Mooooo)... had dinner up the Sapphire Tower to watch the sun go down over Rotterdam Harbour, amongst other things.

- Viewed the beaches: had drinks in Scheveningen, patat in Kijkduin (where we were attacked by vicious pigeons and malintentioned seagulls), cycled through Wassenaarseslag (the dunes, another hilly area in the Netherlands)

- Walked around Leiden, went in a windmill

- Went to Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank Museum. The actual location of the Frank's hideaway, the walls still plastered with pictures she stuck up in an attempt to make up for not breathing fresh air for over two years. Yikes.

- Toured Rotterdam, visiting the Cube Houses (yes, people actually live in these buildings!), the Witte Huis (one of the only pre-WWII buildings remaining after Rotterdam was bombed to shit in the 1940s), the Erasmus Bridge and the Euromast. We even managed to drag my acrophobic parents right up to the top of this tower. Fortunately, my mother had just had her prescription glasses stolen, so she wasn't able to see how high up we actually were. I joke. She would've been able to see, had she opened her eyes. We followed this visit with a tour of Rotterdam police stations (to report fore-mentioned stolen glasses), in an attempt to find one police station still open after 16.30. We didn't succeed. In the Netherlands, crime stops at clock-out time. Apparently, the criminals go home when we do.

- Finally, we visited Delft. Walked through the Old Church and New Church (where the Dutch royal family members have been entombed since something-centuries ago. The New Church was originally built in the 1400s, dunno when the Old Church was built). We also made an attempt to visit one of the infamous Delft Pottery Houses. No success there, plenty of signs but no Pottery warehouse materialised at the end of our wandering. After a number of attempts, we decided that they could keep their hand-painted secrets and just bought a few things from the closest tourist shop. Klaar.

Right, I thinkt that's most of the update from this side of the equator. I have a headache now from thinking too hard. Good night - will try to update more regularly from now, I promise!

(well, after the upcoming holiday to the US... next week. Too much to do, too little time. Yes, I know... life is hard.)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Happy birthday to me

You know you're getting old when... you really, really don't feel like doing anything in particular. Is that pathetic, or just a fact of life? Alright, alright... I know the answer already. I'm happy with being pathetic. No really, I am.

Mills woke me up at 20-past-sparrow's fart (I refused to open my eyes) by singing happy birthday to me in Afrikaans, Dutch and English. I succeeded in ignoring him and he let me go back to sleep until a normal hour. I then got treated to a second redition of all three verses.

I decided to get to the shops, first thing in the morning to take the computer to be seen to (yes, I hate crowds so much that I would rather run errands before opening presents on my birthday, just to avoid the masses from 11.30 onwards). The computer needed to be fixed so that I could use the photoshop that I had gotten for my birthday the week before, and also be able to use the printer (which I knew I was getting from Mills). Yes, an electric appliance. But not just any printer. A photo/copier/scanner/printer.

Anyway... so for three hours on the morning of my 27th birthday, we stood in a computer shop trying to explain that we did not know why our CD-Rom was no longer working. It. Just. Stopped. Working. These things happen in my house.

Eventually, we were able to retrieve the computer in full working condition, but not before I managed to drop kick my phone across a street and go over on my ankle, splaying my shopping across a tram stop (two separate incidents). Let's just say the day didn't start off spectacularly.

Mills made up for the late start by filling the house with 27 balloons, and producing a fluffy pink tiara complete with BIRTHDAY GIRL in pink lettering. I loved it. This is how a birthday should be. I unwrapped my prezzies (which mostly consisted of printer accessories) and we followed up with an attempt at home-made sushi. Interactive, but messy. We ended up eating all the ingredients separately.

The day culminated in rented movies, home-made fudge* and popcorn. Of course, during the making of the popcorn, I managed to set off the firealarm, but besides that it was a very quiet night in. Sometimes being boring is just so.... nice.

* Future reference: do not attempt to catch liquid hot fudge with bare fingers. Hot fudge burns like fuck and does not let go. Noted.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

When does naivety become stupidity?

When I was young... back in the good old days... I believed that people were clever because of the simple reason that humans are smarter than monkeys. Slowly, through many interactions with fellow human beans, I realised that having opposable thumbs and advanced vocal cords does not equate intelligence.

But people still amaze me.

One example - people who need a smack on the back of the head before they remember they have to pay for their goods at the supermarket. While their goods are being swiped, they stand with their heads lolling slightly to one side, vacantly gazing into the distance as a string of drool slowly dangles from their mouth. The teller rings up the total and then - only then - do they stop excavating their nasal passages long enough to produce a wallet (which inevitably holds nothing but 5c pieces or saving coupons). Does it come as a surprise that you have to pay? Are you hoping that if you take long enough, the teller will lose interest and wave you through?

Another example: some of the candidates that I deal with on a daily basis. At the moment, I am being stalked by a particularly bright speciman.


Delphine applied for a position, which she wasn't qualified for. I phoned her to explain that she didn't fit the bill because speaking native French was not the same as speaking native Dutch, but we discussed her experience in more detail. Standard procedure. At the end of the conversation, I told her to keep checking the website, apply for positions that she is suitable for (including language requirements) and wished her all the best with her job search.

Del decided that we were best friends. She called me twice a week. She emailed me three times a day. She asked me what I thought of jobs which were not advertised through our agency. Should she apply one at a time, or should she apply for more than one? Do I think she should focus on positions in Dublin, Amsterdam or London? I gritted my teeth and explained that I was not her personal recruiter, that she should back up a bit. She did. For a while.

Then, Del came back to tell me that she had been offered a job. Fantastic - I was genuinely happy. Now she could stop harrassing me. She was a bit confused though, because she didn't remember actually applying for the position...

Del had received an email. In email was a 'contract' (one page in block letters) detailing the following: she was offered a position of Secretary to Beck's Beer General Manager in London. Five thousand pounds a month. Five year contract, two weeks notice period. Twelve weeks holiday per year. She didn't apply for the position and she didn't interview for the position, she just received a job offer. Please sign on the dotted line and send us your details. Warning bells, anyone?

Then, she admitted, she had called me (in my personal recruiter capacity) to discuss the fact that these people wanted four hundred pounds from her, in order to secure her work permit. "But I thought you said I don't need a work permit for England because I'm French?"

You don't, Del, you blessed imbecile. Please do not send any money.

Here's the kicker. Del is 44 years old. According to her CV she has worked in several different countries, including South Africa. When does naivety become stupidity, and how can someone like that actually reach the age of 40 without accidently driving over her own head?

Anyway, Delphine is back. She sent me one email, which I chose to ignore, having more pressing things to do with my time. She sent me a second email, asking if I had received her first email. I replied that I had and explained, again, that I had other candidates and clients to deal with on a daily basis and would get to her inane query in due course. She replied to that very email, sending me the third in one day, asking if I had received her first two emails.

I replied, with the blessing of my manager: "Del, please see my previous answer (email below yours). We cannot justify responding to any more of your emails. Good luck with your job search."

Is this woman stupid, or just emotionally retarded?