Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Helicopters and octuplets

Today, during our morning meeting, an emergency helicopter landed outside our office door. Helicopter was followed by two ambulances, four or five police cars and a fire truck. Naturally, we assumed that there had been yet another accident at our intersection.

But the emergency personnel weren't paying much attention to the tram tracks. In fact, we couldn't find any particular reason for their appearance... until we looked in the other direction, three doors down from our office. People were rushing in and out and we established that someone had hanged themselves. Successfully.

Sad, desperate and a conversation point to say the least. What I couldn't understand was if it was 'just' a hanging (I don't mean to be callous, but as far as death goes there are certainly more violent stories listed in history), what was with all 20-odd cops and paramedics? I can understand that they needed a rescue chopper in case the dude/chick survived with a spinal injury and had to be airlifted to a hospital. But the two other ambulances? Were they each planning on taking a limb or appendage?

Poor bugger.

Moving on. I know I've been particularly bad at blogging regularly... my entries are starting to read like an Adrian Mole (aged 17 and 7months) extract.

March 22: I missed my mother's birthday again. It's hard to remember, especially it's on the same day as actual Mother's Day.
April 12: I am definitely going to write in my diary EVERY DAY...
April 25: I got to work today and realised I was wearing odd socks. Am I losing my mind? Fortunately eccentricity is expected when one is an intellectual and a genius at the same time.

... So, not blogging as regularly as I promised, but today I found something to get me fired up. This woman.

This really irritates me. It is dillusional, irrational or just plain selfish? When I first heard the hoo-hah about her having 8 babies, I thought "poor woman". Now it transpires that she's had 14 - FOURTEEN - children since 2001. I can understand (but cannot relate) to a childless couple wanting children. I can almost understand a single, lonely woman wanting a child to love, nurture and fill a gaping hole in her life (paraphrasing).

I cannot understand a woman having six within less than a decade of each other and then still proceeding with IVF, knowing full well the chances of multiple birth. Is she addicted to labour? Hi doc, I'm back, hook me up with some more of that sweet epidural you do so well.

She is one of the reasons why I do not want children. I don't want to breed while people like her are populating 14-fold. What is your life goal? "Let's just have babies... because we CAN!"
Consequences? What consequences?


Monday, February 16, 2009

Animal euthenasia?

As I type, Miller is trying to hang frames on our wall. I've helping by staying out of the way. Aside from him having to reconstruct one of the frames, it seems to be going smoothly.

On to bigger issues (while Miller hammers away, my participation not required), I learnt of another idiosyncrasy in Dutch bureaucracy this weekend...

Jejo's cat has developed severe bladder infection, gallstones and other ailments (including old age, obesity and having a particularly small penis. Poor bugger). He expressed these ailments by peeing and pooping everywhere around Jejo's apartment. Literally, everywhere. One of the side affects of all these afflictions is that the cat refused to wee where it had already wee-weed. So every part of the flat was being marked.

The vet's diagnosis was not good: medication, tranquilisers, and keeping the cat somewhere isolated for the rest of its life. Apparently it is suffering of something that can only be medicated, not cured, so the best thing is to keep it in a quarantined area and resign yourself to the smell.

Jejo and her boyfriend simply do not have space to designate a whole confined area to kitty litter. Now from my experience, the best decision would be to put this sick pet down with a simple and humane injection. The owners could choose to be present, or not, depending on how close they are to the pet.

But apparently in the Netherlands, you cannot put down pets. They die of old age or illness, but are not put down. If they get too sick, or cannot be cared for any more, they have to be put in a pet 'asylum'. From there, I'm not completely sure what happens. I think the asylum carers just look after them until they die, but I'm guessing... sometimes the pet must get put down. Surely.

Apparently, as an owner, you are not legally allowed to make this decision for your ailing pet. It seems very strange to me - especially in a country that has legalised euthenasia.

So Jejo sent her cat to a dierenasiel this weekend - which I think is more traumatic than putting your pet down. It's almost a case of 'out of sight, out of mind.' Don't you think it's vierd?

After hearing this horror story of a cat-gone-wrong, I've decided that I don't want a pet just yet. The smell would be a bitch to get out of the carpets.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Getting connected

Recently Little Big Sis moved to the arse-end of nowhere - I mean, Limpopo - with her hubby. Obviously, this is a big move for a trendy young couple with two puppies. They had to get used to waking up to beautiful sunrises, drinking sundowners on their farmhouse patio, listening to the cries of the wild...

Anyway, when she's not sipping on G&T's and commiserating about how much she misses sirens and taxi's hooting through the night, Little Big Sis has been trying to get internet connection set up from home. As you might imagine, broadband is not handed out by the local petrol attendant in Limpopo. It took her four months to get a satellite internet connection, but by the sounds of it, she's been successful. She's back online.

Now, switch to the Netherlands. Third most populated country in Europe (after Malta and Monaco, but you knew that of course), hub of business and travel. The Hague, situated right in the middle of the Randstad region - international headquarters of oil conglomerates, EU judicial bodies... fairly central location in terms of first-world living.

And yet, it took us two months to get internet.

First we had to choose a provider - one of the joys of healthy competition. But wait... of the four or five 'competitive' providers, only one actually provides service to our area. In the middle of The Hague. Difficult location perhaps? Does the queen's palace get in the way of the signal?

Okay, so much for choice. We'll go for that one then. Now for a time line...

6th December: request internet and telephone connection. Receive confirmation that our request will be processed 8th January.

30th December: receive confirmation that our signal has been activated. Phone provider to ask if that signal comes with a telephone connection/modem, or should we just shove stripped wires into the back-end of our phone. Book technician appointment for 19th December.

19th January: sit home waiting for technician "between the hours of 11am and 6pm". Would hate to be too specific on this one. Techie arrives, rips hole in wall and informs me that he can't find the right wire to connect our internet up.

20th January: call landlord to request information on general phone set up for apartment block. Landlord yawns and says he's "99% sure that it's somewhere in the grey box downstairs." Thanks Dipshit.

23rd January: call provider to arrange new installation appointment, based on 99% information. Provider says they can't use their system at the moment, but they will call us back "within 5 days" to arrange a new appointment.

30th January: call provider to enquire about the call back we never received. Provider says they have a problem with their system and will have to call back. I get snotty with underpaid service rep and give up hope of getting internet before Easter.

4th February: provider actually calls back to arrange appointment for 8am tomorrow morning. I think it's a hoax call due to promptness of response and immediacy of suggested appointment, but accept anyway.

5th February, 8am: techie arrives, can't find general phone connection in "grey box downstairs" and quotes 400-EUROS for digging up the street in search of missing connection point. I convey quote to landlord. Landlord has a sudden rush of blood to the brain and remembers that there may be another point around the side of the flats, on the outside, behind the bike parking. Maybe. Isn't it just amazing how quoting a large payment can jog the memory?
5th February, 10am: technie locates 'maybe' telecom connection around side of house, re-rips a whole in our wall and within 15 minutes we have internet and landline access.

Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

The moral of the story? No matter where you live - 50km from the nearest ox-wagon watering hole, or next to Renaissance royal blood in urban overpopulation - you're likely to get the same service.

Globalisation. What a great leveller of the service industry.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

It's A-LIVE!

I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm back I'm bac.

God, I've missed it. So, despite what you might think, I did not fall off the face of the earth, was not eaten by flesh-chowing sheep and have not run away with Roger Federer (but only because he was in Australia and I wasn't). No, instead I've just been fighting with first-world customer service and bureaucractic bullshit to get telecom connections set up.

It only took two months. We're actually quite delighted to be online today because we were only on our third attempt to book an appointment.

Anyway, short story - back online. Christmas was spent in England and the rest of the time I've been freezing my little tits off in Holland. We are successfully relocated into our new apartment close to the Dutch Queenie's working palace, which can prove slightly inconvenient when she has dignitaries over while I'm on my way to work.

So this is a very uninspired entry simply to say, I'm back baby. I'm back!