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the start of a journey ... is coming to a close
... begins with a first step. we are getting ready to pack up our belongings and move all the way across the country, from cumming, georgia to wilsonville, oregon, but this is not something that one day we decided we do. the first step was taken about two years ago! the seed for that first step was planted even before that.
we started a list of items to take into consideration for the new location we would move to:

after months of researching we narrowed it down to three possible locations:

after a few more months we decided to settle on somewhere in or near portland. the northeast dropped off because the cost of living was just too high. the denver area was eliminated because we could not find a good school district that was also relatively close to the airport. so, portland it was. this was over a year ago.
i signed up for zillow, looked at neighborhoods with good schools and signed up for email notifications. almost everyday i would log into my tablet to look at available houses. some were good, some were not so good, some were cheap, some were expensive. of course, come to find out, the neighborhoods both denise and i were drawn to happened to be the more expensive neighborhoods. still, there was plenty of time.
the hoods we were first looking at were:

in february, after attending our psg conference in santa barbara i flew to portland for two days to look at some houses. not long before that i lucked into a wonderful broker/buyer who would become instrumental in our decisions.
i stayed in tanasbourne, just north of beaverton, to look at houses in beaverton and in west haven-sylvan. one of them was a new development that really tickled my fancy, but the smaller floorplan had just sold out. there was still availability for a slightly larger floorplan, to the sum of $135,000 more than i was willing to pay.
the two resale houses that i visited did not tickle my fancy. on a hunch i decided to look at a few new developments by builder polygon homes. they had 3 developments in beaverton and 1 in north plains. sadly, the floorplans in beaverton were either (too) small or too big (and expensive). the development in north plains, however, seemed to be a hit. one floorplan in particular was awesome.
i traveled back home and showed my wife the materials i picked up and she, too, liked the north plains floorplan. so we asked our broker to inform about availability. they had 1 lot available for which a buyer recently backed out of the contract. we could get it for list price including about $25,000 in upgrades. yes please!
we put in an offer and waited for the response from the buyer. they accepted, but with a contigency on the sale of our current house. this was a problem, since we had not put our house up for sale yet.

so, we contacted a good friend of ours, who just happens to be a listing agent to inform us what we had to do to put our house on the market. turned out, quite a lot. but, we did:

and we put up a for sale sign. and waited.
in the meantime, we lost the bid on our house, because our lender was not willing to underwrite a new mortgage without our house selling first. my debt to income ratio was too high to cover for two mortgages, in a worst-case scenario. the builder, naturally, was not willing to wait for us, so we lost our first dream home.
while our house was being improved on we had potential buyers view the house, but it took a while for an offer to be made.
now, here is where things will start to get interesting ...

this happened on sunday around dinner time. they put an offer in and kept our agent up all evening getting all the paperwork in order. we signed, they signed. we all went to bed around midnight.
the next morning, our listing agent called to say the buyers had rescinded their offer, at 6.30am.
they revoked their offer because their spiritual advisor had come by for an inspection and he noticed that our front door was not facing due south. now, it does not need to be due south, as long as the front door gets the first sunlight. and it does not, because our front door is recessed against the garage, so the garage gets the first light while the front door is in the shade. but perhaps we could move our front door forward to be flush with the garage doors ...

our next offer was from someone willing to buy the house sight unseen. oh, and he demanded all our furniture. oh, and for $35,000 less than the list price. so no, we were going to make sure he was definitely not going to get it, even though he showed up one evening, unannounced (because he saw the for sale sign, or so he said), and my wife recognized him from a google search she did on him, but she was more than willing to give him the full tour of the house so he could see what he would never get.
in the meantime we found out there was another lot for sale in north plains, but our position had not changed yet and neither had the builder changed his mind about accepting a contingent offer. so we lost our second dream home.
our broker, though, was adament that things happen for a reason and that everything would fall into place.

sure enough, after a few weeks of almost no viewings, we had people viewing our house who put in an offer, against another reduced list price.
we got the paperwork in order, we signed and they signed. the next step after all the formalities was an inspection. you would think that this would be the beginning of the end, but really this was just the beginning. things would get really interesting ...

the agent of the buyers came to us with a laundry list of things she demanded had to be done. in addition to a $2,500 allowance towards carpet and hardwood floor replacement, because both were in terrible shape; they are not.
we recoiled at first, looked at the list and meticulously culled the list. only things we felt necessary to do we agreed to do, in addition to only granting an allowance of $1,000.
of course, they threatened to walk. or, at least the agent threatened to walk. i had a feeling the buyers really wanted our house. so the agent came back with a watered down version of her ransom note. and we agreed. and we made appointments to get the items on the list taken care of.
the fun part of this was, that everybody who came in to do the necessary repairs rolled their eyes so hard, people in china could hear it! but it all got done! the close date was set for friday june 10, ironically (or not) the day before we had planned to start our #weirdmovetrip2016 (see blog - traveling schedules)
meanwhile, our broker in oregon attended me to two new areas i should look at:

as fate would have it, as our broker predicted, there were a few new developments in wilsonville, in a planned community called villebois. lo and behold we see a house that denise and i both like, which is not something that is all that common. the great thing about this house is that the square footage is almost the same as our current house while the price is not that much higher than houses with a 1,000 square feet less! the house has 3 bedrooms plus an enormous bonus room on the third floor, which means we did not have to keep our office in the living or dining room!
we contacted our broker and she arranged for information to be sent from the builder. once we received the package for the urban loft, together with 11 pages of availabe upgrades, we knew we had found our dream home. three is a charm, right?!
we put in a full price offer with the request that the builder comped us for the airconditioning and contingent on viewing. the builder accepted, but with a counter offer that would list the house as bumpable rather than pending. what this means is that if someone would come in with a better, cash offer the builder could rescind our offer and we would lose our non-refundable earnest money. since upgrades typically need to be paid for in cash at the time that the builder orders the parts and labor, we also run the risk of losing the money the upgrades cost.
naturally we were not too thrilled with this, but then the builder also noted that the delivery date would be pushed out from no later than august 5 to september 5. this gave us the opportunity to put some more pressure on the builder, because now he wanted to extend delivery with a full month we should get a pending status in return.

so, at the request of our broker as well as insistence by denise, i flew from atlanta to portland on friday may 20 expressly for an appointment with the listing agent selling the villebois urban lofts for the builder on saturday may 21. this was also the day i was finally going to meet our broker, meri, who just happens to be one of the best (if not the best) buyer-broker in the area we found our dream home #3. the time was set for 10.45am. jetlag forced me to be up early that morning and after breakfast i drove the scenic back way to villebois, which not surprisingly looks quite a lot like the backroads of where we are now, just more pine trees!
as soon as i turned into villebois i fell in love:

once i pulled up near the urban lofts i knew that this was it!
because i was early i drove around observing and taking in the neighborhood, only reaffirming what i saw at first glance. i took a few pictures on my cell phone that i texted to denise, who, like me, was trying not to get too excited.
about 15 minutes before our appointment i parked in front of the model home, which is housed in an officer's row home that has the same floorplan as the urban lofts, but without the contemporary look and slanted roof line. i saw the listing agent arrive and not long after i was finally able to shake meri's hand. first thing i told her was that i really enjoyed the neighborhood and that i thought that the urban lofts were already cool as hell, even if it was barely under roof with the woodwork being worked on (yes, builders were stapling our house together). she told me not to be too excited.
we entered the model home, introduced each other and immediately dove into the color board selection. the reason being that the color boards for the urban lofts is vastly different from the color boards of the officer's row houses. great, as a color blind person i should not be in charge of picking out colors!
next to that i was explained what the overhead patio door was, which i saw an upgrade for, but without knowing what it was i could not make a determination: a narrow garage door on the opposite side of the actual garage doors that leads to the patio from the garage. the patio is within the outline of the house, so it is fully under cover, which is nice to have in rainy portlandia!
meri and i toured the house and found that we both liked it more and more as we saw more of the house and its amenities:

upon returning downstairs even meri could not contain her excitement anymore. for our needs, this home offers everything that we need:

you can see pictures of my trip to villebois on my facebook page. if we are friends, because if not then you cannot see it.

we thanked the listing agent for his help and we headed to our home (it is because there is an accepted offer on it) to look inside. drywall is delivered and would start to go up soon, but at the moment they were still working on the framework and woodwork. most of the plumbing, airconditioning, sprinkler system looked to be in place. we looked through the house and marveled at the views from the loft area, which is pretty high because the home also has high ceilings on every floor.
next we made our way to what we call our backup homes. the first one was $70,000 cheaper, but looked completely run-down after only 1.5 years of occupancy. the next one was a model home, which denise and i had seen online for which we both liked the floorplan, because it has a master on the main. the downside of this house, and really any other houses, is that they are smaller square footages and three bedrooms, so we would have trouble finding room for our office.
before going to an open house of a resale home, meri took me out to lunch at the oswego grill, where we discussed a variety of things. the common thread, though, was how awesome the urban loft is and that we should really forge this contract to make it. the open house was another lovely home, much better kept than the first (truly dilapidated) resale we saw earlier. meri and i agreed that all other houses from this point forward are backup homes, in case the unthinkable happens. the idea of a choice of backup homes is also something that our awesome broker was going to use to put some more pressure on the builder to just accept our offer as pending:

in the meantime, our listing agent was able to find out that the appraisal came back without any concerns (if there had been we would have found out immediately and abruptly), so in my opinion, it is all systems go until june 10 when we sign on the dotted line.
as of the morning of may 22, we have an updated list of upgrades submitted to the builder along with a request to accept our offer as pending. the value of the upgrades was also slightly increased, both to sweeten the deal and to make up for a change because it is too late for one of the upgrades i requested but upon viewing did not want. so, at the advise of the listing agent i added a programmable second thermostat on the third floor along with blinds throughout the house to the list of upgrades. we are also still contemplating adding a stack to the kitchen cabinets, which means that the cabinets will reach all the way to the ceiling instead of leaving a space. an obvious downside of the stacks is that even i will need a step ladder to get into those cabinets!
since the agent for the builder is in israel for another two weeks, time is both a disadvantage and an advantage. we are less than 3 weeks from closing on our sale and 6 weeks away from arriving in oregon. this will be an interesting time for sure!

after all this the builder returned a counter offer with the only change being the delivery date of september 5 instead of august 5. as suggested by our broker we declined that offer and submitted our own counter offer:

our broker emailed the signed contract to the builder nicely pointing out that they are delaying the delivery with a full month, costing us additional money for temporary housing as well as storage for our stuff, so the least they could do is meet us halfway and grant us two and a half weeks time to close on our house.
the ball is in their court ...

as of tuesday may 24, 12.45am EST, we are officially bi-coastal homeowners, if only for 2.5 weeks!

the builder accepted our counter offer and next to the earnest money they only require the amount of upgrades they have to order at this time, which is not the full amount. we still are at risk if for whatever reason the close on the sale of our house goes south, but we all believe that this is not the case. even if it did, since the close on our new home will not be until at the earliest sometime in august, we would have time, without losing the house to someone bumping us out! we are excite!

on wednesday may 25, in a whirlwind of productive i managed to:

we are getting closer and closer to having all prep work done, both for the purchase of our lovely urban loft as well as the sale of our current house.
speaking of which, there are a few things still to do:

on thursday may 26, next to attending an egg drop and end of year event at travis' first grade class, we secured the mayflower as our mover, so our stuff will be hauled away on monday june 6 to be driven to a storage space in tigard, or (literally 10 miles up the road from where we will be living), until we tell them to deliver it to our new home. as of now, our home is scheduled to be delivered on monday september 5, but we are still hopeful it can be delivered early, seeing as the house is under roof, most framework and woodwork has been completed, as is the glazing, plumbing, and sprinkler system. the drywall was delivered at the end of the week before i visited our house and there are 3 whole months left until the delivery date, which i think is ample time to get it finished.
to bridge the time between arriving in the portland area, after our #epic #weirdmovetrip2016, until we can we move into our urban left, denise found a 2-bedroom basement apartment on airbnb in north tabor, a neighborhood in east portland. this means we will have some time to pick out new furniture:

step by step we are getting closer to having all our ducks in a row …

on friday june 3 i received a bit of good albeit unsolicited good news when i emailed the closing lawyer to find out if she knew there was time scheduled for the closing ceremony. she replied promptly saying that “per the buyer's lender, we are on track for june 10th closing. please have your agent check with the buyer's agent and let us know the agreed closing time.” of course, our awesome agent immediately emailed, texted and called the buyer's agent but so far crickets.
of course, on saturday the agent asked if they could do a walkthrough on sunday at 1pm. sure, we will be here, however as long as she and her buyers understand that:

so, while we continue to pack the last of our belongings, also keeping in mind that we are going to be in a hotel for almost a week, going on a 3-week road trip, and then staying in someone's basement for approximately 2 months, so logistical planning is of the essence.
but, before we did anything else on this hot and humid saturday, we first got together with friends for our #WeirdBonVoyageBash at midway park!
pictures of this event can be found right here on my facebook page.
with the going away party now out of the way, all that was left to do is pack the remaining items for pick up by the movers on monday between 9 and 11 am.

all day sunday we toiled and sweated to box up the last of our stuff and around midnight we were done. at least with boxing items that were going to be picked up by the movers. we collected all the items that we are bringing with us on our road trip, which will be put in containers and bags after the movers leave.
the movers arrived shortly after 9am on monday and by 10.30am they had moved all 128 boxes from the garage to their truck! this took me 7 months to do! they said that they did the easy part, but i disagree because it is hot and humid right now. i am going to miss this sooooo much, NOT!
the movers left at close to 1pm with a total of 167 items on their inventory list. they are driving it to their local warehouse where it will get transferred to a long haul truck and then driven across the country to be offloaded in storage about 10 miles up the road from where we are going to be living.
at 1.30pm a junk removal company came by to whisk away the furniture we wanted to discard and with that the only thing left was to Tetris-pack our road trip belongings and the mobile office into our respective cars and get ready to check in at our hotel in bustling cumming, across from the waffle house, starbucks and walmart.
it was an emotional and exhausting day. i had to get early for a 7.30am gotomeeting and after that i assisted with guiding the movers through what they were supposed to collect, packing our belongings as efficiently as possible and doing some bits and pieces of actual work. around 4pm we had the cars loaded up and we said our goodbyes to our house. travis immediately was sad and after saying goodbye to the first room he started crying. he really only ever knew this house, and he has had a few breakdowns before where he did not want to leave cumming, because “i love this house”, but during our last tour of his only home so far, he lost it, the poor little guy. but once we were off to the hotel he got over it and even when we drove back to the house to close the windows and check whether the easy off (oven cleaner) didn't burn down the house (it didn't) he was kinda stoic. we had dinner at texas roadhouse and then went back to the hotel, where we are all just lethargic from all the hard work ... and perhaps from the emotions as well.

tuesday, wednesday and thursday were all about making sure the house was cleaned up and straightened up (literally). during those days i worked from the hotel we stayed at, the better than good hampton inn cumming! who knew?! our room was filled with suitcases and boxes we were going to take with us on our cross-country drive, starting on saturday.

but first friday, closing day. closing, after some back and forth, was scheduled for 2pm. denise and i left the hotel around 12 to do a few things:

as luck would have it, we only managed the first, but by necessity we had to add more:

what happened was that after stopping at wells fargo and our old house, when denise got in the car her pants ripped. so instead of taking 400 from exit 11 to exit 8, we had to detour to find a walmart so she could get a new pair of pants. this took some time, but we made it to the law firm only a few minutes late and come to find out, the only one who was on time was our agent. the buyer and her agent showed up after us, which meant that the transaction could start.
paperwork was handed out to be checked for accuracy and from our side everything looked good, the buyer had some questions. in and of itself that was not strange, but we were made to wait until the buyer's issue was resolved and the only thing that we were waiting for was the settlement check. which, by the way, we were expecting to be wired to our account, but after almost 2 hours in the law offices we were presented a live check. for a rather large amount. we bank with usaa, so there are no branches nearby, only a financial center in buckhead, which is really nothing more than a glorified atm slash deposit box.
it goes without saying that i was not able to deposit the check through the bank' mobile app.
however, the ups store offers free check deposits with usaa, so we drove to the nearest ups store, only to find out that a few months earlier usaa ended their contract with them.
there was another problem with the check, though. the law firm had asked us for a forwarding address, which we did not have, because we did not have a new address yet and a po box was not acceptable. therefore, our agent graciously offered her address as the forwarding address. you guessed it, that address was now on the check with our names. this could pose a problem when electronically depositing the check, because it would error out matching the address on the account with the address on the check.
from the ups store we drove to bring campion some cash in order for him to pay for the repairs on his car. from campion we drove back to the hotel to pick up pepper and travis, who had been hanging out at the hotel, to go out to dinner at cabernet steakhouse one last time. campion would meet us there. naturally, since we ran late the entire afternoon we also had to let the restaurant know we would be about half an hour late.
we had a wonderful meal with the nuclear weird family for the last time. we took our time, had a starter, entree and dessert. it was nice rounding out our stay in georgia having dinner in the same place as we had our “rehearsal dinner” the night before we had our wedding ceremony. at the end, we said our goodbyes to campion and we went our separate ways: campion to his place, the rest to our hotel for one more night, for the next morning we would embark on our 21-day road trip.
in the meantime we decided the best course of action was to send the check via registered mail to usaa in san antonio with a brief letter explaining the address.

saturday morning we rose early, packed our cars (and by packed i literally mean packed!) and started our #WeirdOregonTrail, with the first stop being the cumming post office to drop off the check. the rest of the trip went as smoothly as could be hoped for and below is a list of links with facebook albums of almost everything we have seen and done:

we arrived in the portland area on july 1 and we took temporary possession of our, thankfully, quite lovely airbnb basement apartment, which would be our home until our urban loft would be delivered. the truckload full of stuff that our movers picked up arrived in portland on july 7 at which point it went into storage until we let them know it can be moved into our new home. for your amusement, there is also a facebook album related to #WeirdMove2016.
this is not entirely the end of the story, because as part of the mortgage package of our new home we need to disclose our cd (closing disclosure). i have my copy which is signed by me, but the mortgage broker asked if there is one also signed by the law firm. i am not aware of one, so the attorney was emailed and as predicted their response was as helpful and professional as they have been through the sale process. NOT!
hopefully we can get through this new lending process without any more trouble so we can focus on the more fun things, like shopping for living room furniture, dining room furniture, bedroom furniture, office furniture, new cookware, etc.

in the time that we have been in portland we have seen our new home three times. the first time was on our way in from tillamook and when we walked in we were kind of worried that the scheduled september 5 closing date would never be met. the second time we saw our home was a week later and all of a sudden there was progress. last weekend we saw it for the third time, and possibly the last time before it gets locked, and this time a september 5 closing date seemed doable if not even an earlier closing date.
fingers crossed for a closing date of no later than 7 weeks from now!

heard today, wednesday, that the builder's project manager thinks the close date of september 5 is feasible. and that he wants to do a walkthrough on friday august 26 so that he has a whole week to repair/fix/add/remove what is necessary.
guess that means i need to jump on the mortgage people, which i will do as soon as i have a quote for homeowner's insurance in hand, so that can be folded into escrow together with property taxes.
guess that also means we need to get hot on our living room furniture seeing as what we want has a 8-week delivery time …

and did we get hot on out living room and dining room furniture! we ordered a sectional from opulent items and a dining room from west elm. we also wanted to get counter stools (yes, counter stools are different than bar stools … the difference is about 4-6 inches) at the latter website, but upon ordering them there was only 1 left.
#firstworldproblems
but the important and big pieces have been ordered. over the next few weeks we have visited ikea portland twice and we think we know what to order for delivery from them. next to that amazon prime will be utilized to ship us kitchen stuff, like pots & pans, a new coffee maker, a bean grinder, and so forth. we found a lamp at ylighting and we found a really cool set of counter stools at overstock. all of these items will be ordered in the week of the walk-through.

speaking of the walk-through … initially it was scheduled for friday august 26 but it has since been rescheduled for wednesday august 24 (and even for tuesday august 23), because the builder really wants to meet the deadline of a september 5 close. once we all figured out that september 5 is a public holiday, labor day, our fantastic broker and me started pushing for a closing date of friday september 2. this led to panic at the builder, but since we have been so forthcoming and easy to work with, they seem to be going balls to the wall getting the house ready for us. hence the reason for moving the date of the walk-through up, because they need two weeks to clear up any items from the punch list as a result of the walk-through.
since we have been going at least once a week, during the weekend, we have seen the progress and we have witnessed how thoughtful and careful the builder and subcontractor personnel are; they seem to want to take great care of our home. perhaps this is par for the course for this builder, maybe it is attention to detail especially for us. i'd like to believe it is the latter.
all this hurrying up also meant that i needed to get in gear again to arrange for the following:

because travis starts school, second grade at lowrie primary school, on tuesday september 6 we also need a temporary place closer to villebois, so i booked us into a 2-room suite at the best western wilsonville inn & suites for a couple of nights.
the next few weeks will be quite hectic as we finalize all the details for moving into our new home. everything points to an early close date, which would be a record for our broker, because she has never had a new construction close on time, let alone early.
of course, we have already marked the calendar for our very special event, the weirdz party of the housewarm 2.0 to be be held on satuday november 5 at a weird place 2.0 as well as online. mark your calendars!

the walk-through with the builder, with the project manager being the son of the owner, and their agent, whom we finally got to meet, was nothing if an unmitigated success!
there is a 5-page punch list, but there is only one item that is any kind of critical. luckily, the builder was already aware of it and they have been trying to get their sub-contractor to fix it. however, this has been going on for 3 months and it will take another month to get it fixed. (i think this sub-contractor is not going to be a sub-contractor for this builder much longer!) the issue is with the windows being slightly too large for the frame, so there is bowing or bending. only one of our windows, in the master bedroom, is affected.
all the other items on the punch list are typical for any new house: fixes, patches, touch-ups. the great news is that the builder is pooling everything and every resource to make sure our house is ready to close on friday september 2. it serves two purposes:

with the builder doing everything they can it will come down to our mortgage company to make the legal and financial part work out. they have all the paperwork they need to get it done and we know from the underwriter there is likely to be no problem. as with everything in real estate, things can bubble up at the 11th hour, but the likelihood is slim to none. although, our wonderfuk closing lawyers from the sale of our cumming home may come back into play, since the cd (closing disclosure) is not official, i.e. rubber stamped. i hope providing the underwriter of the new loan with the lien release of the previous will be enough. somehow i think getting the cd officiated will be a challenge!
with all this said, over the next couple of days we will be buying furniture (bedroom, library, office, living room), cookwares, and various electronics, because delivery times are right around the corner. gas and electric services have been requested to start on september 2, water can be turned on the day of. the biggest challenge will be cable, phone and internet, because the earliest i was able to schedule for installation was september 16! hopefully we can make something happen sooner, i am even willing to pay extra for that!
on saturday we will go by the house again and if all is right, (some) landscaping and fencing should be done, most of the punch list items should be resolved, so we may have a clear picture (pun intended) of where we stand! :-)

on the last monday in august we found out that a september 2 close was impossible, but we are still on track for a september 6 close. the main problems were that the appraisal was done with 2 conditions which require a re-appraisal (working AC and plumbing) and that there is no certificate of occupancy yet which the builder needs to obtain from the city.
it looks like i will have closing disclosure to sign by friday september 2, which will make the closing ceremony a rubber stamp event for just completing the funding. (damn bankers and their uppity holidays! LOL)
in any case, we will be moving into a hotel close to villebois on sunday to be out of the basement and to be close to school for travis' first day of school on tuesday september 6. so there will be a lot of packing and stuffing cars, shuttling between the basement and the hotel to move all our stuf, as well as (surface) clean our temporary accommodations.
then the closing is on tuesday, we will get the keys and we will start shuttling stuff from the hotel to our new home. on wednesday the movers will deliver our stuff. either on tuesday or wednesday we will also make a trip to ikea to pick up the sleeper-sofa for pepper's room. i have ordered all other ikea stuff to be delivered, but because the earliest delivery could happen was september 11 meant that if i had also ordered her bed to be delivered she would have nowhere to sleep.
the silver lining in quote delaying unquote closing is that the builder will have at least 2 more days to complete the items of the walk-through punch list!
fingers crossed for no further delays!

surpise!
closing is being scheduled for friday morning september 2!
the only thing we are waiting for is the certificate of occupancy, which should be available thursday (afternoon).
looks like our broker is finally breaking a record: closing on a new construction home on or before the scheduled closing date. we were glad to assist her with this!

the continuously changing countdown on my facebook page currently breaks down as follows:

guess i should update y'all on the events on and around closing!
as it turned out, we closed on friday september 2, meaning we signed all the paperwork required for the funding of the mortgage and the transfer of title. we brought donuts (blue star) to the event, because we thought it would be a bigger celebration that it was. it really was just denise and me with the title officer and our mortgage broker. after signing a stack of letter-size papers, it was unceremoniously put in an envelope and rushed to a corporate office in portland.
because of two things, the builder strangely had not signed the paperwork and it was too short notice to release the funding and record the title transfer at the county recorder's office, we had to wait until tuesday for the key exchange. no biggie. we knew and anticipated that the close would be on september 5, but only quite late in the game we found out that this date was a public holiday: labor day.
this meant we could not move any of our stuff from our temporary living arrangement to our new house; we also knew that we would not be able to sleep in our home until wednesday september 7, which was the earliest i was able to schedule delivery by the movers of our stuff from storage. good thing i made hotel reservations for 3 nights in the hotel closest to villebois. we also needed to be close to our neighborhood on tuesday and wednesday, because travis started school the day after labor day as well.

we moved out of our basement airbnb on sunday, after we made a trip to IKEA to pick up pepper's sleeper-sofa. we managed to transport almost everything in two cars, so denise and i only needed to go back with one car to clean up after ourselves and bring the remainder of our belongings to the hotel. sure, we did not have to clean, but we felt it was the right thing to do, especially after we “abused” the shit out of our host's wi-fi. (afterwards, he reviewed us as gracious guests and thanked us publicly for cleaning it like it was done professionally; we reviewed our host positively, because honestly the basement apartment was a great little space with all the amenities for a decent price!)
we rested on monday, ready for the big day on tuesday.

the bustle started on labor day with our broker aggressively going after the builder's agent for not having the builder sign and to make sure that our transaction was recorded as soon as possible. in the end, it was sent to the clackamas county recorder around 1pm (3 hours before their cut-off time), so we arranged to meet up in front of our house at 4pm for the key transfer.
after picking up travis from his new school we decided to just hang on our front porch. around 4pm the builder's representatives, and our broker officially went into OUR new home! our broker brought us a wonderful gift basket and we had brought an alcohol-free champagne with solo cups so we could celebrate this momentous occassion.
the builder walked us through the house to demonstrate the items we had on the punch list were resolved. the builder also changed the keys from the master key to our unique key, so that none of the (sub)contractors could use the master key to just walk into our house.
after all was said and done we toasted and took a group picture.

once everybody left, we walked whatever we had in our cars into our home and after that returned to our hotel to go out for a celebratory dinner.
the next day was moving day. the movers were at our house a little after 8 and even though there were just two of them, they unloaded 167 items (from 4 truck crates) in only 4 hours. after walking everything in they assembled those pieces that needed assembling: our bed, travis' bed and two dressers. they could not assemble two things: our enormous bookshelf, that was moved out of our cumming house in one piece, and the office desk, for which the legs were somehow misplaced. once they were done i gave them both a rather substantial tip.
during all of this, pepper herself assembled her sleeper-sofa with a little help from one of the movers. with this done, we would all be able to sleep in our own beds the same night. provided, of course, we would find our bed linen and pillows and comforters. spoiler alert: we did!
on thursday september 8 our new tv was delivered and 2 days later, on saturday september 10, the geek squad came by and set up the tv and hooked up the stereo system including my trusted weirdzune. we had⁄have no cable yet, but at least we can play (some) DVDs and CDs, as well as the 18,000+ tracks on the zune.

on monday september 12 ikea made their laundry list delivery, minus one item. i felt bad for them having to haul most of the stuff all the way up to the loft and some of the bookcases we ordered are pretty heavy. the item that i knew might not be delivered is one of the corner tables for our new office desk set up, where all 4 of us have their own desk and chair.
the first things that we needed to assemble were the bookshelf and closet organizer inserts for pepper'room, so she could empty her moving boxes. the bookshelf was pretty easy especially after having disassembled, hauled up, and re-assembled our own bookshelf the night before. the closet inserts were a different story. but, after 2 days and a lot, A LOT of swearing we managed to get them both assembled and IN the closet. now she has so much more space to put her clothes than just a hanging rod and one large shelf at about 6 feet high.
over the next couple of days i assembled the new desks and desk chairs and over the weekend i will (start) assembling the bookshelves that will go into the bonus room on the third floor. also, probably a trip to ikea is in the stars, because we need a few more items and hopefully they will be able to help me with the desk legs for a desk that they discontinued not too long ago. fingers crossed.
the one thing we are all desperately waiting for is cable, for internet, tv and phone. we had an installation appointment on tuesday september 13 but when the technician wanted to run cable from the main switch to the box outside of our house he noticed it was clogged or crushed. this means we had to wait for a crew to come out and dig a new cable before the rest of the installation could be completed. normally this would be a wait of 2 weeks, but i think after i contacted the builder, things were accelerated, so hopefully a crew will be out this weekend, or else on monday … #firstworldproblems

a week after all this i had assembled all the wonderful ikea billy bookcases which meant that about 50 boxes with books, CDs, and DVDs could be unboxed.
then a few days after that the patio furniture that we ordered was delivered to our front porch. after moving all the pieces to the patio for assembly we quickly figured out that we received some incorrect parts, namely more left sides of the chairs than right sides. also a few screws and bolts were missing, so even if we wanted to we could not have completed building the set.
sadly, up until this point we did not have cable or internet, because comcast fibbed. after unleashing a twitter war they quickly got their act together and started making things happen faster for us. in the meantime we were racking up data overages on our cell phone plan, since i still needed to be able to work remotely and denise still needed to attend online classes!

finally, on saturday september 24 we got hooked. up on comcast!
as things go, travis' laptop decided to kick the bucket, so i had to order him a surface pro 3 so he would be able to play full-blown minecraft, which he got as a present for being awesome during the road trip and our time in the airbnb basement.
other than that, we started settling in our routines.

a month went by relatively calm, but on friday october 21 our gorgeous flama lamp was delivered. together with the rugs, this piece of design really ties the living room together! i also neatly cabled the different cables that power the lights to the outlet in the shelves to the right of the fireplace. it is the little things …
the next day was unboxing day and we managed to have the books fill up 4 bookshelves, the CDs fill up 2.5 bookshelves and the DVDs fill up 3.5 bookshelves. there are also 300 CDs and 100 DVD downstairs in the shelves adjacent to the fireplace.
when we bought the cumming house, more than 6 years ago, we purchased a glass notice board at ikea. interestingly enough we never got around to hanging it up, so i was determined to hang it up in our new place. once i opened the package three of the four studs that would hold the notice board in place were missing!
so, on sunday i had to visit ikea yet again to get three additional billy bookshelves, two of which would be placed in the loft⁄office to be used as the law library and the weird sex ed library, as well as a replacement notice board. upon my return the bookcases were all assembled and the notice board found its place on the wall by the garage door.

at the end of november, the only piece of furniture we were still waiting for had not been delivered, yet, so in our infinite wisdowm we decided to get a real christmas tree, since oregon is the pine tree state, and put it in the spot where the amish hutch would be. naturally, a few days after we put our christmas tree up, the delivery company called to set a date and time for delivering the hutch …
on wednesday december 7 the hutch arrived, by horse and buggy, from amish country, pennsylvania, and our home was complete.
the christmas tree was moved to the corner of the bar and the dining room, also moving the dining table and benches more toward the living room.
the day after the hutch delivery, denise dropped our fine china into the hutch and thereby officially concluded the interior decoration of our new home!

now, almost 4 months later there are still a few things that need to be done:

even though for all intents and purposes we are done, we still have some work to do, but i guess that is expected if one owns a house!
other than that, i think we have mostly settled into our routines …

and remember, if we are friends, you can see pictures of our urban loft on my facebook page.

i might update this entry a few more times, but also maybe not.

last updated: sunday may 22 monday may 23 tuesday may 24 thursday may 26 saturday june 4 monday june 6 tuesday july 19 wednesday july 20 thursday august 18 friday august 26 monday august 29 tuesday august 30 friday september 16, 2016 thursday march 2 wednesday july 19, 2017


way to start the new year ...
... sick as a dog. started last friday right after the regional call of my company's professional services group. it escalated quickly: i could barely eat dinner, and by the time travis had to go to bed, i was ready for bed as well. so i did.
saturday didn't prove anything better. after more than 12 hours of sleep i was ready to crash again after being up for a measly 4 hours. while most of friday my joints hurt like hell, and really all of them: ankles, knees, hips, back, elbows, wrists, knuckles. by saturday also a blinding headache was added for everytime i moved my eyes and a cough that would indicate i'm a 2 packs a day smoker.since travis also started to cough a nap was taken.
the nap was glorious, as it always is, but i didn't feel refreshed upon waking up: all the aches and pains and coughs were still there, but now enhanced by spiking fever. i could barely last until dinner and pretty much right after finishing a bowl of spicy chili i dragged travis up with me to bed and to sleep.
after a tumultuous night, i got up and felt better. or so i thought. i crashed again after a mere 2 hours upright and facing forward and travis and i took a nice long nap, because he also started to have a spiking fever. we're both up again and i am thinking about watching the packers game and see how long i last ... it doesn't bode well for the first full week of work ... awesome.

sunday january 5, 2014

p.s. oh, and on monday it is supposed to snow with highest temperature being 24F but feeling like 10F ...

happy new year
i wish everyone a great and beautiful 2014 and that you may get the hang of writing/typing the correct year quickly :P

while this blog is still very much under construction i wanted to put it up there, just so it forces me to complete this endeavor. i will need to change all the photo links to point to a folder on my own website (and off blogger), i need to fix a few broken links and i want to add a social plugin to the main blog page for commenting. since the blog is still "hidden" from the main page, i will have to figure out where to put a link to the blog on my website's home page. once all that is done i can disable/delete my blogger account. thank you dreamhost.

by the way, my new year's resolution is to quit smoking ...
(i have successfully quit smoking 45 consecutive years now, so i figure that's a good resolution to stick with :D)

wednesday january 1, 2014

happy 2011
the title says it all: may it be a happy, healthy and prosperous new year for all of you!
(also, new scheduling agenda coming soon, it is going to be a busy first quarter)

january 1, 2011

topsy turvy pt. 9
last day of topsy turviness, woohoo!
got up a little after 7am, pepper was already at my computer, lunch already made. i woke up because travis was fussing, so i made him his bottle, turned on the tv to channel 240 - gbp and got him out of bed. i changed his diaper and then brought him downstairs.
pepper left for school and i let travis roam around and he didn't get in too much trouble, but of course he is still most attracted to the things he's not allowed.

around 9.45am i fed travis his cereal, which he ate in no time and not long after 11am he started to look and act tired again. i kept him up and about a little longer and waited till 11.45am to take him to his room for a nap.
after i put him down i took a shower and started a couple of cycles of laundry and then headed back to work.
i let travis sleep till after 2pm and this is how i found him when i went to his room to wake him up:

he was already awake, but he was just lying there, perfectly comfortable. when he noticed i was in the room, he got up and wobbled into a corner of the bed to rub his eyes:

even though he at first didn't even want to get up, after not picking him for longer than a minute kinda upset him, so this is his "why-don't-you-pick-me-up-already" face:

i changed his diaper and i changed him into another onesie to make a little more presentable for his mommy coming home. he had his bottle and then i let him out of the playpen to roam freely again, while i did some work.
from there time went pretty quickly and a little before 4pm denise texted me to let me know she was on her way home. i fed travis his afternoon banana and waited for denise to pass toll, so i could order our dinner for denise to pick up. since friday is pizza day i decided to order from papa john's because they have a zesty jalapeno pizza!
little after 5.30pm denise drove into our neighborhood and i went out with travis on my arm to wave her in to the garage. before doing anything else i dropped travis in mommy's arms and then got the pizzas out the car and made everything ready for dinner (not a whole lot to do).
after dinner, denise cuddled some more with travis and by the first looks of it, he doesn't seem to hold a grudge:

he was actually very huggy and kissy:

after dinner we unpacked the car, and i started another laundry cycle, which i have to remember to rotate from the washing machine to the dryer. around 7.15pm pepper made travis his last bottle for the day and when it was being very quiet after that i checked on him 15 or 20 minutes later and he was laying down in his play pen ready to fall asleep, so i took him out and proceeded to change his diaper. denise helped with putting cream on his eczema spots and she agrees that we should take him to the pediatrician to have his spots checked out again, because it is getting worse, although he still is not too bothered by them.
a little before 8pm denise brought him upstairs to his room and then it was time to relax ...
november 5, 2010

topsy turvy pt. 8
another not so interesting day.
pepper woke up first and actually did what i asked her to, but then she forgot to make herself a proper lunch, because as it turned out she was smuggling halloween candy in her purse, so that was taken away from her. at 8am i woke up travis, who was still comfortably asleep, with his little but in the air.
pepper left for school at 8.15am and i started work as best as i can. campion got up a little after that, but he had to be at work at 10am for his first day of training (and as it turns out he doesn't even know if he's getting paid for that, so he should ask tomorrow, just to be sure).

somewhere in the middle of the morning, after travis had been dragging his box of toys throughout the house i happened to stumble upon this scene, lily sitting in the box with most of the toys still in it:

yes, our cat is a bit of a retard ;-)
before noon travis started to be sleepy again, so i took him to his room for his afternoon nap at 11.45am, which was better for me as well, because i had a web training scheduled from 2pm to 3.30pm, so by putting him down earlier for his nap i could wake him up before 2pm and have him changed and fed before my call.

the call went fine and even though i couldn't spend a lot of attention to travis he behaved pretty good, sometimes climbing in my lap, staring at the laptop screen in amazement, because the screen was changing without me doing anything.
the rest of the afternoon was pretty uneventful, i worked and chased travis around the house and then at 5pm pepper came home from school. she sat travis in denise's desk chair and then sat down next to him, so i was able to get this shot of both of them:

i know, pepper didn't want to smile or look "normal", but some day she's gonna have to get used to being photographed *grin*

campion came home for a little while as well during his 2-2.5 hour break, but he left before i started dinner and tonight dinner was leftovers from the previous evenings. quick and delicious. pepper opted for the flank steak, i gave travis the mac & cheese and i ate most of the lasagna.
even though travis probably ate more than usual, at 7.15pm he still drank down an 8oz bottle of milk like it was his first meal of the day. unfortunately, after that i got distracted by something and he fell asleep in his playpen, so i had to wake him up to change his diaper and put ointment on his eczema spots. but he didn't seem to mind terribly, and he didn't resist being taken to bed either. haven't heard from him since ... he's such a good sleeper.

pepper took her shower and got ready for bed as well and this time i told her to make breakfast and lunch before doing anything else tomorrow morning, so we'll see how that goes.
i flipped channels for a bit and then talked with denise on the phone for about an hour. after hanging up i pretty much started typing up this blog and getting the photos downloaded to my computer and such and after i post this i am going to wash travis' bottles and go to bed.

last night without denise, because she's coming home tomorrow, yay!
november 4, 2010

topsy turvy pt. 7
today was nothing special. got up at 7.30am thinking that pepper was still in bed, but she wasn't and she had already had her breakfast (or so she says) and made her lunch (i saw the sammiches in her purse). travis didn't wake up till i got him up a little after 8am and he looked like he could have easily slept another few hours :-)

campion helped me off and on throughout the day with travis so i was actually able to do some work as well, but i still got to play quite a lot with my little monkey. his latest thing is that he wants to climb onto the couch, sit up by himself and then slide off again. sometimes without a prop, sometimes with a prop, in this case, a cell phone:

of course he is having a lot of fun being a mountain goat:

campion also had an impromptu job interview this afternoon, at the tin drum closeby and he starts his training tomorrow, so our big boy finally may have a job again :-)

after dinner (lasagna), which was another slice of heaven for our little garbage disposal, i gave travis a bath. just hearing the running water makes him giddy and excited. if i would let him, he would spend the entire day in the water, he loves it that much.

but the second i turn off the water he starts stomping his feet and as soon as i take him out of the bathtub he starts fussing and crying. not for long, though, because he knows what's next: his bottle. tonight he got his bottle a little early, so after he was done (quick, again) he was free to roam around some more, but mostly he just spent his energy climbing on and off the couch. at 8pm it was off to bed without a problem (i also changed the mattress cover) and he is sound asleep now.

i am done for the night as well, coffee for the morning is made, bottles are washed and the trash can is emptied. tomorrow morning, before school, pepper will change the litterbox, so all the trash can be taken out tomorrow, since it is trash pick-up day.
now i am waiting for denise to give me a call and until then i will be chillaxin' in front of the tv ...
november 3, 2010

topsy turvy pt. 6
travis tossed and turned pretty much all night, but he never really woke up, which was good for him, but a little less good for me, because i heard him every single time. but, i had gone to bed early so when i got up at 7.30 i had had a good night regardless.
of course, i woke up to chaos & mayhem in the dining room, because the cats knocked down the vase with the wooden tulips in the middle of the dining room table, breaking the vase, so i spent my first waking hour cleaning up teenie tiny particles of glass. thanks lily and sadie!

pepper had an orthodontist appointment this morning and i had let campion know that i needed him to babysit travis from 9.10am until we got back, but when i went into his room to wake him up, he wasn't there. so i packed things and loaded travis in the car when campion pulled up in front of the house exclaiming he was 1-2 minutes early at 9.08am. but travis was already in the car, so he hopped in and went along for the ride.
the appointment lasted a little longer as well, because in 2 weeks pepper's braces come off (yay! congratulations pepper!) and then she will get a retainer, something she had to make an imprint for today.
since she also was scheduled for a dentist appointment on friday i asked the orthodontist whether she should go or postpone and she said it would make more sense to let the dentist see her after her braces had come off, so once back home is rescheduled her appointment to the monday before thanksgiving.

after coming back i settled in to work, pepper did (part of) her homework, travis traipsied around and campion turned into a preening teen.
at around 3.30pm i rallied all kids into the car and started our trek to denise's hotel for dinner, but on the way stopping at the costco in dunwoody for mexican coke (coke with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, therefore not deadly) and ikea for 2 new floor protectors (since i "broke" denise's floor protector yesterday).
naturally around the time we would be getting on the 78/85 corridor, traffic was reduced to a parking lot, so it took 45 minutes to get to the renaissance concourse hotel.
parked the car and went up to denise's room, where she showed me the presentations she and the team she's in have produced so far and they are serious pieces of work. she, and all the other students, is being grilled and instead of having 12 hour days as per the residency syllabus, they practically have 16-18 hour days.
i am sure she is doing good, though, and only 3 more days and it is over :-)

around 6.30pm we went down to the hotel restaurant and occupied a booth with travis at the head of the table. he is still in a "mad-at-mommy" mode, so he was fidgeting and fussing and talking loud all through dinner.
since he was at the head of the table, naturally he had to be heard, and if he wasn't heard he'd raise his hand and demanded attention:

other times he was distracted by the waitresses, or a light, or a noise ... or, perhaps he just wanted a moment away from his family:



i took two pictures of the entire family, without me of course, but neither of them turned out as i hoped, because everyone decided to move when i pressed the shutter, aaarrrgggghhhhh!

at about 7.45pm we left for home again, and even though the road was once again filled people can't and shouldn't be driving, we were back home a few minutes before 8.30pm.
campion brought travis inside while pepper prepped his bottle and he finished that with a quickness, after which i changed his diaper and put some ointment on his eczema spots. then it was off to bed, on the heels of pepper who was tired and therefore headed to bed early.

i balanced my "check books" and uploaded the handful of pictures and then went upstairs for a shower and a shave, because i was in dire need of both.
it is a little past 10.30pm and i am typing up this blog, thinking that i will be going to bed very shortly ...
november 2, 2010

topsy turvy pt. 5
today wasn't really exciting. except for campion we were all up by 8am, i went to work, pepper mostly baby sat travis, apart from when she was doing her homework.
travis didn't need a whole lot of managing today, because he's been pretty good and was sent to baby jail only twice, both times by pepper for, i think.

in the afternoon, our previous neighbor, lindsey came by, because she missed out on seeing pepper and travis on sunday.
it took travis a few moments to get his barings with her, but soon enough he was babbling away, showing off his pitching and running skills.
in return, lindsey showed him magic tricks and funny faces:

and you can see that travis is totally comfortable around her:

(if you're friends with her on facebook, make sure to congratulate her and jason on their upcoming wedding!)
i had to jump onto a conference call, so i couldn't spend as much time talking with lindsey as i wanted to, but i'm sure that pepper had a great time seeing her.
and so did travis, for that matter.

dinner was an easy win: macaroni & cheese. both kids finished before me. that is something that almost never happens.
travis' evening was quiet and uneventful as well and he went to bed at 8pm after a diaper change and some ointment. i did notice that the eczema or whatever it is (allergies, diaper rash) is moving, even during the day. next time he goes to the pediatrician it will need to be addressed. but, he doesn't seem to mind it too much, even though he scratches at the patches of dry skin, because if i ran my fingers across those spots he doesn't react, other than being ticklish.

i'm watching the giants vs rangers game (go giants!) and i have already had my evening call with denise, who is doing really well, which is something i am not in the least surprised by.
tomorrow, i'm packing everyone in the car and go over to the hotel she is staying for dinner, while on the way over stopping at ikea (and maybe even costco, for some mexican coke).
november 1, 2010

topsy turvy pt. 4 - happy halloween!

today's blog is dedicated to my beautiful, smart and funny wife, denise, who, for the first time in 18 years, had to miss trick or treating.

today started out pretty good. pepper got up at 8am and travis also woke up around that time, so i got a chance to "sleep in".
watched some gpb, played with the bouncy balls and generally did pretty much what we usually do. he drank his entire bottle and he also gobbled up his cereal.
something new he did today was take his rocking chair for a walk:

and i dragged out his afternoon nap till 12.30pm, and he happily went to bed.

travis slept till 3pm at which point i brought him downstairs and gave him his bottle. he then played some more while pepper got impatient, really impatient, about eating dinner, putting the treats outside, changing herself and travis into their costume and going trick or treating. i started dinner at 4.30 and it was ready a little after 5pm. travis loved the escalloped chicken (pasta and cheese) and pepper carefully pushed all the mushrooms aside.

after dinner, i changed travis' diaper and got him into his monkey costume, which wasn't easy, because he really didn't want to and he most certainly didn't want to wear the hat, so that's why he is not wearing it in below portrait:

pepper, of course, did not want to smile.
not even when we went to the other part of the neighborhood to go trick or treating, but at least here travis is wearing his monkey hat:

travis waiting for his sister to retrieve bounty:

at time he was hamming it up, mostly because he had me picking up his binkie every single time i stopped walking the walker. yeah, that was fun, travis, real fun :P

i guess his sister the witch did scare travis a little bit, but not too much:

travis leaning forward to reach for his binkie he just threw away, but i had already picked it up:

brother and sister, trick or treating:

pepper returning with more bounty:

and yes, we started out at 6pm in full daylight, but by the time we went around the entire neighborhood it was already dark, so here you can see the outline of pepper, and especially her witch's hat:

after driving back to our part of the neighborhood, i carried travis and went trick or treating (t)here. our part is a lot smaller, but it still took 30 minutes, so you can imagine i was pretty tired when we finally made it back home.

i relieved travis of his costume and had pepper make him his bottle. he finished the bottle pretty damn quick and then it was time for hugs and kisses. naturally, he went to sleep without a problem, especially not tonight since he had quite the evening.

our night is not over, yet, because i need to leave at around 11.15pm to pick up campion from the airport. he should have arrived around 9pm, but he missed his flight in seattle (not his fault ... of course), but he was lucky enough to be rescheduled, which had him come in just before midnight.
we would have had our former neighbor, lindsey, over to watch over pepper and travis, but i can't do it to her to have her babysit an empty house in the middle of the night, so now our plan is to have pepper stay up late and/or sleep on the couch, so she can hear travis if he wakes. IF he wakes up, which i don't see happening, because he never wakes up in the middle of the night ... but seeing how today has turned out, it wouldn't surprise me if he would ... guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there ...

anyway, this is it for now.
and again, this is for denise, who is "stuck" at her year 3 residency, so she couldn't be home for halloween.
october 31, 2010

topsy turvy pt. 3
today turned out to be a strange day. not bad, just not what i expected.
travis woke up around 7.30am and while i was awake in bed, listening to him babbling to himself, giggling and cooing and laughing, pepper got up and got him up. she changed his diaper on the changing table and then brought him downstairs and made him his morning milk bottle.
i got up as well and had some cereal. then denise called to ask if i felt like a trip to the airport for lunch. turned out she forgot a few items that she needed while on her residency. i thought it wouldn't hurt much, although it would cut into travis' afternoon nap, but that was easily remedied.
while on the phone i gathered the items she needed: her APA manual, a tub of ibuprofen and tweezers, and set them on the desk, in plain sight.
at around 10am, travis had his cereal, which he gobbled up and after that i started preparing for the short trip. got the diaper bag ready, got travis in some "street clothes" (short and socks), packed the camera, put some music on and at 11am i drove the mazda out the garage, put travis in the car seat and the diaper bag on the floor underneat him and i was ready to leave. it was pepper who remembered to take the 3 items we were supposed to bring, but my mind was on lunch and having travis see his momma *blush*

the ride was painless (although the road was filled with people who can't and shouldn't drive), travis slept and snored most of the way and we arrived a little before noon at the hotel, so we sat down in the lobby and waited till denise was done with her class.
when she came down, travis actually reacted kinda cold, like he was mad at her for leaving home.

but then he did the funniest thing ever; he proceeded to walk towards the lobby entrance, a wall of glass panels and glass doors only to be stopped by bumping into one of the glass panels. i know i shouldn't laugh, but that was a hysterical moment and he didn't hurt himself, he didn't even cry. we all laughed, though :D
this is travis looking down onto the first floor of the renaissance concourse hotel:

before we had lunch we went up to denise's room to put down her three items and while she took a bio break, i went onto the balcony and took some pictures of atlanta airport (she is overlooking and overhearing the north 2 runways).
we then went down to the 3rd floor to the restaurant and sat down for lunch. we all ordered something to eat and we got travis a bottle of milk (i brought one of his bottles), but after a few tries drinking like a baby goat, we gave up, because we thought he'd be more interested in the grown-up food we ordered.

of course he did!
since denise only had 1 hour for lunch she had to leave for class again before we finished, so we said our goodbyes and while she went up to the 4th floor conference rooms, we ate all our food ... well at least some of us did ...

sometime after 1pm we hit the road again and once more it was relatively painless (just more people who can't and shouldn't be driving) and when we got home we fed travis his bottle. after he finished i took him to his room for a (short) nap, because his cheeks were flush.

at 4pm i got him out of bed again and started feeding him a banana. approximately at 4.30pm my dad started chatting with me and i could kinda gather that he and my mom would like to do a video chat, so we started a logitech vid call. after 30 minutes, while travis was sitting in my lap, eating his banana, smiling and laughing and babbling into the camera vid gave out, on both ends. since yesterday's skype video chat with my sister went so good, my dad quickly installed skype and after maybe a 15 minute break we continued our video chat using skype.
my dad said the image and sound quality were both a lot better, which means i will probably be dropping logitech vid althogether (also because it wants to use 100% of my laptop's resources, which is a little ridiculous).
alas, that video chat ended sorta abruptly as well, because the sound from my end didn't come through to my parents anymore, but they had about an hour's worth of seeing and hearing travis.

after we hung up, i started dinner. this time i remembered not to use the oven glove with hole in it. by the way, my thumb has started blistering.
we had dinner (flank steak with rice and vegetables) and travis didn't eat all that much, but maybe with the cereal and the lunch and the banana he already had enough to eat.
after dinner i gave travis a bath and like the previous times i was there for bath time he enjoyed the hell out of it. pouring a big plastic cup of water on his head doesn't faze him. quite the contrary: he loves it, he laughs and he giggles, almost uncontrollably. getting him out of bath, dried off and lathered in ointment was a little bit more difficult, but i managed. in the meantime, pepper cleaned up the strewn about toys in the living room and prepped his bottle, so i put him in his playpen and he finished his bottle in about 7 minutes.

even though i wanted him to stay up a little longer than 8pm he was clearly tired, so after giving hugs and kisses i took him to his room and laid him to sleep, which he did without a hitch.
then it was my time for a shower and before i jumped in i started a wash (which i know should rotate to the dryer). this time, the shower actually felt kinda good and now i am finally relaxing. gonna go in the living room as soon as i post this and join pepper for a movie or something.

i will probably also go to bed at a decent time, because tomorrow is going to be a long day with many things on the agenda
october 30, 2010

topsy turvy pt. 2
i slept very well last night, but when i heard travis waking up around 7.30am i wish i could have slept, oh, 12 hours more.
but, i got up, got dressed and went into his bedroom to find him standing up in his crib happily self-soothing:

pepper was already up and dressed so i reminded her to make breakfast and lunch for herself, which she did, after hemming and hawing.
she left for school at 8.15am, which left me all alone with travis. and travis is still recovering from a cold he picked up from the other two kids, so he is all cuddly and huggy and kissy. he still wants to play and he does play, but i can tell from his behavior he is not quite himself yet.
he didn't finish his morning bottle, but he did eat his cereal and at around 11am he was ready for a nap, but i kept him awake a little longer. i took him upstairs close to noon and he napped till a little past 2pm after which he again didn't finish his bottle. his mid-afternoon snack, though, a banana was gobbled up quite nicely.
at around 4.30pm my sister skype video called and we spent about an hour and a half videochatting, which was nice since it has been a while since we last spoke. she got to see travis in rare form: talking, walking, laughing, smiling, giggling, climbing and fussing of course.
she took a couple of screen captures and this is one of them, where travis is hugging me with all his might:

a little after 5pm pepper came home from school and at first she was a little shy around the webcam, but after hiding/avoiding it for 30 minutes she caved and took travis and sat down in denise's desk chair and started spinning him around, giving me the opportunity to snap a picture of them:

we had dinner around 6.30pm, pizza as usual for a friday and travis ate pretty much all of quite a large slice. this boy likes his italian food!
after dinner we played with travis and at 7.30pm he had his third and last bottle for the day and this time he pretty much finished it. i changed his diaper, put some ointment on his eczema spots and took him to his bed after (virtual) hugs and kisses from all of us. save for one moment where he seemed to choke coughing i haven't heard a thing. let's hope he will find it in his heart to sleep in a little tomorrow. i am not asking for much, but 8am would be heaven ...

after travis went to sleep i (tried to) reconcile our bank accounts and so far i am a little underwhelmed with wells fargo (our wachovia accounts were converted to wells fargo last weekend) and the way they display transactions and balances on accounts (a combination of transactions and balances is not possible, which is the only thing i really *need* to see, but i managed to get everything sorted out.

after that mess i talked to denise at around 9.30 for about an hour and she is doing good at her residency now that she is past the initial nerves and i am sure she will excel in this class. she misses travis as well as the rest of us, but she will be so busy the next 7 days that she will not have much time to be reminded of that fact, which is a good thing.
i think i can keep everything in control here at home ... that is, if i don't give myself a first degree burn by touching an oven rack at a temperature of 425F (218C). my concern now is that if i leave the country i may not be admitted back in, because i burnt off part of my right thumb's skin, so my fingerprints will no longer match the tsa database ... i guess we will cross that bridge when we get there ... ;-)

anyways, it's getting close to 11.30pm and i need to tell pepper to go brush her teeth and get ready for bed, and i will do the same, because i am tired.
october 29, 2010

topsy turvy pt. 1
it's strange, being home and denise not being here either. now i get to experience what denise goes through every time i travel for work and i thought it wouldn't make a difference, but it does. and you'd think that it would be easier being home, because now i get to spend time with travis and while that is all fantastic (really!) there still is something missing. when i am on the road i miss travis, and denise, and pepper, and even campion, but for some reason the distance soothes it. now i am home, 2 out of 3 kids are now comfortably asleep in their beds, the third is out of state trying to stay out of trouble, and yet i feel a void ...

after denise left for her year 3 residency in a hotel near the atlanta airport, travis fussed for a while. this will be the first time that mommy has not been there and will not be there for more than a week. last year her residency was not as long and she drove to and from the hotel every day. for travis this was the first time he saw denise leave with a suitcase and i'm sure he was perplexed by it and upset from it. but, after about 15 minutes he figured out that pepper and i were still there, so all was good again. i wonder what he will be like in the morning, when he can't find his mommy ...

dinner was good, both kids ate their plate and after dinner it was playtime for a while and then travis got his bottle, his last diaper change (and i put some ointment on spots where eczema is returning) and off to bed he went, without a problem. little after that pepper took her shower, brushed her teeth, replaced her bands and talked with her mom on the phone, before she went to her bed.

denise will be doing good these coming days and i am proud of her that she has come this far and that she is doing really well in her studies (don't you hate those people who get A's all the damn time?!?) and i am confident that she will do great in this year's residency, even though she is all nervous and shy about it.

well, i'm off to bed as well and i hope that denise is in bed as well, because the next 8 days will be a lot harder on her that they will be on me.
october 28, 2010

101010 = 42
i don't know binary, i have not read the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy (nor do i intend to), but something about 101010 = 42 tickles my funny bone ...

happy 2009
the title says it all, happy 2009 everyone, may the best that you can think of be the least you get!

dave is on the road again
dave being me, of course. this week i'm in miami for 3 days (and the weather forecast looks gloomy, although i guess i should be grateful that there's no tropical storm coming through ...). the 2 weeks after that are still a bit uncertain, i may go to dallas for a couple of days and there's also the possibility that i have to go to columbus for 1 or 2 days. the first full week i am in san antonio again. after that, who knows. hopefully, now everyone has returned from their summer vacation things will speed up a little, because for the last several weeks not much has been going on.
of course, this meant that i was able to spend a lot of time at home, which was a nice change of pace. in that time i even got to play single dad and me and both kids survived, so maybe that means something too :P
during this time at home i have been following the presidential race pretty closely and it is promising to be an exciting election. moreover, this will be a very deciding election, but unfortunately this something not enough americans realize. this election will be split to either restore international relations and with it economic strength or it might plummet the usa head on into a crisis far larger than the great depression. the signs are all there, but a lot of voters are too much creatures of habit and/or brainwashed by societal doctrine, especially in the red states (see this website for a bit of levity ... or not ...)
anyways, just thought i'd update my blog while waiting for my plane to board ... and now i have run out of things to say ...
september 16, 2008

7 years ago today ...
if you can stomach it, take a look at this: [link] we must never forget!
september 11, 2008

like good christians ...
... the almighty and self-righteous government of the usa will let cuba take a BIG hit to proudly slap each other's back for keeping those damn commies at bay ... i am shocked and appalled and this decision is made by those who say they are true christians. clearly, they never read the part in the bible that states that you should help people in need, no matter what. and now the usa runs the risk of electing mccain and palin into office ... i don't know how people can be so blind and deaf to not see the risks this entails.
september 7, 2008

stop mccain
john mccain must be stopped, before it is too late. this man should not be the next president of the usa. this man is disgrace, this man will devaluate the usa even more than w has managed to do. if this man gets elected, the people of the usa can rest assured that their constition is officially worth less than the paper it was originally drafted on.
mccain thinks that if you make $5,000,000 (count the zeros) you are rich. mccain does not know how many houses he and his wife own. mccain thinks that having been a pow means that that justifies everything he says. this man is seriously out of touch with reality and he is showing that more and more. mccain says he represents the people, but in reality he only represents maximum 5% of the people. here's some interesting links:

wise up people, don't vote this 72-year old into the white house! if you're on facebook, join know your mccain!
august 24, 2008

yay for blogging!
i've been pretty active on the innerwebs the last few days, being mesmerized and captivated by what blogging can do.
the first thing i came across, while innocently browsing flickr's interestingness, was this account of a photographer's run-in with hospitality personel at sf-moma. this also used to be at the photographer's personal blog page as well, but since the sf-moma put out an official press release, he has deleted the entries related to the incident. while i don't agree with how both parties involved handled the situation i think sf-moma's response is a great example of ostrich-ism: the director of visitor relations is obviously not suited for his job, as can be verified in several eye-witness accounts, and the prestige and good name of the sf-moma have been severely compromised, but instead of making sure something similar will not happen again, they have done the exact opposite.
the second thing, which my wife actually pointed out to me, is the latest blog by the us secretary of health and human services, which was inspired by the combined actions of people associated with planned parenthood. seeing the comments, which by the way for the most case appal and offend me (see the following piece of drivel: I know that God is the creator of the constituion as it and the Bill of Rights are based on moral values that could only come from Him.), i am afraid this will not yield the result the planned parenthood people were hoping for. the issue with the bill (a very underhanded way of illegalizing any form of birth control) that the current potus is trying to sneak through congress, is that it is in direct violation of the first amendment to the us's own constitution! in my eyes, george w bush is no more or no less a dictator than china's hu jintao or north korea's kim jong-il, by forcing his religious beliefs onto lawmakers, willfully and purposefully dismissing the constitution by which he claims to abide.
potentially dangerous writings are now easily and readily available through the wonders of the internet, where everything is chronicled in real-time without any censorship. maybe tim o'reilly is right and we, we the world's people, need a blogger code of conduct to self-regulate and self-censor what we put out for the world to read. i stand by the opinions i stated above (and i have the first amendment to protect me).
until such time, hooray for blogging *grin*
august 13, 2008

one of dem days
i'm having one of dem days where i'm not really sick but also where i'm not all too well either.it started sunday evening when all of a sudden i started itching and on both of the backside of my upper arms was a rash: red and bumpy. i decided not to think about it and sleep it off. when we woke up this morning, at the ungodly hour of 6am i still didn't feel well. the rash was still there too and i just had an overall "bleh" feeling, so after the kids left for their first day of school i went back to bed and solidly slept for another 3 hours. i got up because i felt like i had to get up and when denise left for a meeting i kinda feel asleep on the couch watching the olympics (guess waterpolo isn't really all *that* exciting). after my wife returned i summoned the strength to get up and go upstairs to get dressed. i noticed that the rash on my arms was almost gone, so i think it must have been a food related allergy, but we didn't eat anything that i am knowingly allergic to. and i still feel a little "bleh" althought it seems to be a little less "bleh" than earlier.
ah well, tomorrow is another day ...
august 11, 2008

080808
and what do you know?! no client engagements for (the) next week(s) ... guess that means i will have to stay at home then ... that sucks ... NOT! ;-)
after having a really bad experience 3 weeks ago with a client in de(s)troit i had two very successful ones since and that made me feel pretty good about myself. it is one thing to possible realize i'm good at something, but it's something else when i got outside confirmation. i needed that, maybe. and i've got another client that asked for a survey. and i've got colleagues who are getting in line to shadow me. gotta say, it almost makes my ego swell. but then i remind myself that in comparison to some others i really don't know all that much, which makes me eager to learn again. and i've still got plenty to learn ... so upwards and onwards :-)
besides all this professional pondering, after this weekend life will return to "normal" with the kids going back to school. they need to be in school again, because they were getting kinda listless and bored. of course i am not too thrilled that our daughter needs to catch the 6.35am school bus! i mean, seriously, what the fuck?! hopefully they will adjust the bus schedule after the first week, because it's totally ridiculous for a 10 year old to get up at 6am to start school at 7.40 ... ah well, guess we'll change our pattern as well *sigh*
it is 080808 today (well, at least it still is where i am), next to the opening of the beijing olympics it was also a day that will show a peak in marriages ... i wonder what the magic dates for divorce are *grin* sarcastic? perhaps. but i also know making a marriage works is more than picking a cool wedding date ...
august 8, 2008

for a change
nothing to report, for a change ... life is being lived, things are being done and all is good :-)
july 27, 2008

root canal anyone?
*sigh*
had my first ever root canal procedure, ever, today. and you know what, even now the local anaesthetics have worn off i have no pain. no pain other than just the pain for having my mouth open for over an hour. my mouth is narrow and i have trouble opening my mouth for extended periods of time, so the dentist had to use one of those wedges. (this also worked in his advantage, because when my jaws, my jaws close!) but even with the wedges my natural instinct is to bite down, so i cramp up, which resulted in the residue pain i still feel. next to that, because he had to do the root canal procedure on the molar on the far left backside of my mouth i had to constantly suppress my gag reflex. and even though having, at times, two fluid suction hoovers in my mouth didn't stop me from almost choking on my own saliva. of course i breathed through my nose, but that does not stop the saliva build-up in the back of my throat. and it doesn't help lying horizontal either. at the start the dentist thought he had to do the root canal in two stages (on different days), but after only stopping him once because i felt pain, he decided to get it all over in one session. now i only need to come back two more times to have a crown placed over my cracked molar. after than my other three molars need to be crowned. nice. seeing the co-pay for each of them, not so nice. this work needs to be spread out over the next few years, because otherwise it means that because of my dentist bill alone we can kiss any holiday plans for the coming years goodbye. and denise, campion and pepper need to have dental work done as well.
*sigh*
dental and, by extension, health insurance is a joke, because for dental costs there is a max of $1500 per year and one crown-procedure is already easily more than that. and this is without the co-pay which even though i am insured i still need to pay. and there is a co-pay on medication as well, so just to keep my asthmatic bronchitis and allergies in check i am paying roughly $300 per year. this amount includes the doctor visit and medication co-pay. back in holland, all i paid was a maximum own-risk amount of $150 per year and that was it. luckily, i have my paycheck set up to pay a small amount into a flexible spending account, so at least some of the medical expenses do not have to come out of our checking account. *sigh*
the upside of our dentist is that he also works on saturdays, so he can also make people suffer in the weekend.
hopefully he will enjoy the new pool he can have installed on my dental work alone!
june 30, 2008

the grind
... i interrupt the most recent broadcast of relaxation and introspection for a message of (inter)national importance: we've come back from vacation, woohoo! expect updates and much online activity ... ... end of message.
june 9, 2008

vacation
... i interrupt the usual broadcast of rants and schedules for a message of (inter)national importance: we're going on vacation, woohoo! expect no updates or much online activity ... when we're back i shall inform y'all!
... end of message.
may 28, 2008

welcome to civilization ... pt 3
so it happened for the first time already, the automatic bill pay set up to pay rent to our landlord failed. and it's only been 2 months since we have been doing it the "high-tech" way. of course this "high-tech" automatic bill pay is far from high-tech and automatic: instead of me writing a check in the landlord's name for the rent amount, our fantastic bank is doing this for me. the rest of the process is still the same: the bank sends the check to the landlord so she can take it to her bank, coincidentally the same bank (!!!), to cash it or deposit into her account. definitely back-fucking-ass-wards.
what probably happened is that the wonderful united states postal service "lost" the envelope with the check, of course resulting in our landlord trying to blame us for paying late, hence opening up the possibility to charge late fees. luckily this shit won't fly, because our bank can actually acknowledge that the check was sent.
but here's the kicker, the bank could do a stop payment and retry, but that would set us back $125. well, fuck that, this is not our problem, but the bank's and/or usps' problem.
of course we could also cut another check for the rent amount, but we don't want to run the risk of both checks showing up in our landlord's mailbox and her cashing both of them, making us out of pocket for a rather large amount.
anyway, my lovely wife found a third solution that leaves us a little less vulnerable, so hopefully everything will work itself out *fingers crossed*
dear fucking buddha, this is so frustrating.
in any case, i'm not gonna leave this up top for long, because i have a lovely, new and exciting schedule to post pretty soon :D
may 6, 2008

welcome to civilization ... pt2
so, we found a car we both like. a car we negotiated a good deal on. a car we could drive off the dealership's premises with. knowing my penchant for ranting you know that this last thing did not happen ...
because there is a big but ... i don't have a credit rate, or it is not high enough.
again, this is fucked up beyond all recognition.
the first bleach blonde trailer park skank ho can get a loan, because she is paying off the debt on her 5 credit cards with the smallest monthly amounts possible, since that is all she can afford to do living off welfare, thus building up a credit score, because apparently all is well in the land of la-di-da.
and here i am, with the annual income to basically technically pay off a considerate loan amount in 24 months! but that doesn't matter!
no wonder the usa is on the verge of bankruptcy: it is ok for banks to loan considerable amounts to people who are already hedging all their funds, but it is not ok for banks to loan money to someone who actually can and will pay it off.
next to the total retardedness of this way of doing business there's also another, even more sick play by the banks going on: of course they'd rather see some poor sap not being able to pay off their debt, because then they can accrue extortionate interest amounts on the principal, only perpetuating the cash flow problem.
and now all big us bank are crying wolf, because they lost all their money, and 50% more that they never even had, in the stock and options markets.
fucked up is what it is; american banks and lenders should get with the program or else australian, european and chinese investors will take over the us ... or pull the plug completely.
so yes, i am still without a car :-( and it was such a pretty car: a stormy blue mazda cx9 grand touring, more or less fully loaded ...
march 28, 2008

welcome to civilization ...
... but alas not as we know it.
last friday i received my first pay check. yes, you are reading it right, a paycheck. never in my life have i been paid with a check, and even my dad started getting his pay direct deposited in his bank account in 1972 already. and here i am, in 2008, in what many people consider to be the most civilized, most technologically advanced country in the world, the us of a. in order to get the money that my employer paid me for working my ass off in my account, i had to do the following:

what the fuck! no wonder america is about to file for bankruptcy! first of all, which hr manager or cfo has the time to sign between 300 and 750 checks every two weeks? secondly, what are the cost related to the person doing something that hardly adds any value to her/his job? thirdly, what does it cost sending pay checks by courier every two weeks? fourthly, how many bank employees does it take to update my bank account? and last but not least, who the fuck does the bank think they are putting my money on hold for 7 days? it isn't their fucking money, it's my fucking money ... and if it isn't my fucking money, it's my employer's fucking money! seriously, what the fuck!
and now that we have money, we can pay bills. and guess what? this is just as backwards as receiving money, really! our bank as an online bill pay option, so we can actually schedule (recurring) payments, but get this: it is not a bank account to bank account transaction. no. what happens is that the bank will issue a check and send that to the payee ... how fucking retarded is that?!
it is not a wonder that us banks make their money through extortionate interest percentages and fees, while still not making enough money to stay afloat. the biggest liability on their balance sheet is their payroll. what consumer banks should do is join the rest of the civilized world and join the swift network. this way, they can cut costs by making online bank-to-bank banking available, and in doing so make the whole payment transaction process far more efficient and safe.
consider that last point and think what can go wrong when sending a check:
1. the check can be stolen from your mailbox
2. the mail delivery/pick-up person can misplace the check
3. en route from pick-up location to drop-off location the check can be misplaced
4. the payee can accidentally throw the check out or misplace it
5. when payee sends the check to their bank we can recycle points 1. through 3.
6. when the bank receives the check they can misplace it
7. the bank can draw the amount from the incorrect bank account due to illegibility
damn, i miss my good old dutch online banking ... but just something else i will have to deal with ... and who knows, maybe us banks will adopt my suggestion and decide to leave the 19th century and join the 21st century ...
oh, and happy easter :-)
march 23, 2008

it is positively amazing
and it is hard to believe, but there actually is a government body that does do live up to what they say: the ssa. today, saturday march 8 of the year 2008 i received my social security card in the mail! never mind that when me and denise went to the ssa offices last monday they told me that dhs hadn't released my info to them yet ... never mind that my ssn was issued that very same date ... what matters is that now i can finally get a bank account, so i can get onto us payroll, so i can finally be paid ... and get a credit card ... and buy a car ... and and and :D
so, does this mean that i am done with all red tape of becoming a merkin? not even by a long stretch! next thing i'm gonna do is apply for a green card, for which i have the time until my visa expires, so this gives me 2 and a half years ... one thinks that this should be possible ... well, let's see :D
march 8, 2008

road rage
< rant > so i'm gonna come right out and say it: americans can't drive their way out of a wet paper bag (of course there are exceptions but these are few and far in between ... and i know, because i married one)!
some annoyances:

again: americans can't drive their way out of a wet paper bag (of course there are exceptions but these are few and far in between ... and i know, because i married one) and i can assure you that the fail rate of americans doing a dutch, or even worse, a german or swedish driving test will be 99.9%, and rightly so!< /rant >
march 3, 2008

still working down the list
update tuesday february 5, 2008
so. went up the ssa (social security administration) in gainesville (quaint little town an hour's drive from here) to check on the status of my application for an ssn (social security number) and what do you know ... dhs (department of homeland security) has not yet released my information to the ssa, preventing them from giving me my much needed ssn ... well, doesn't that make you want to bomb some government buildings? lazy ass motherfuckers!
i was given the advise to wait another week, then call the gainesville ssa office and ask if my information has been released. if so, then i would have to drive up there, again, to get my ssn.
or i could wait till the ssn card is mailed to me
*sigh*
end update

so, this morning i decided to call ssa to ask what the status of my application for an ssn is.
the first time i called i got disconnected (early in the week and early in the month is busiest, so representatives are busy) with a happy "goodbye".
my wonderful wife called a second time and lo and behold, after a hold time of 10 minutes she got through. she told the rep the reference number and then passed the phone on to me.
as it turned out reps are not in a position to divulge such information over the phone and it would be best if i consult with the ssa office where i applied ...
*sigh*
this is retarded, since on the acknowledgement that i applied for a ssn it says that "for general questions and specific questions about your case, you may call us toll-free" ...

but there's good news too :-)
this lovely monday afternoon my stuffs was delivered. it came in a crate that was made out of 5 plywood tightly screwed together on a base of 2x4s ... and boy did they screw the screws in deep ... got blisters on the palm of my hands and my arms are still shaking ...


but at least i got my stuffs :-)

and this morning my beautiful wife was able to settle her lawyer's fee, so that her divorce from st. bea can be finalized. this means that we can get married legally.

after that it's on to the next step: green card!

naturally there's some stuff to be done in between, but the most important dealings are dealt with, woohoo!
february 6, 2008

the next installment
so, i got admitted to the ustated nights of america, without a problem even ... i now can live and work in the US and travel in and outside of the US, at least until it expires in october 2010.
but before the visa expires i will have applied for and granted a green card.
i shouldn't get ahead of myself, though, because the first thing i need to get now is a social security number (ssn). yesterday way drove out to the closest social security office, in gainesville, to apply, in person for the one and only number that counts in this here parts.
the form was simple and straightforward enough, although printing it at the local library presented a little bit of a problem, because of two (invisible) blue lines on the form.
anyway, got to the ssa office, took my number and sat down in a waiting room. after only a 10 minute wait my number was called. i handed in my form, the pleasant ssa employee took my passport to make copies, she entered everything into her system and basically that was it.
of course, since it takes the beautifully efficient department of homeland security (now there's an oxymoron of ginormous proportions) about 10 days to process my visa and concurrent admission the ssa cannot give me my ssn card before this information becomes available.
technically, before the end of this month of january i should have my ssn, but i only hear "horror" stories of how long the wait can be. and without ssn, no US contract, no bank account, no credit card, no car, no nothing ...
keep fingers crossed for me please :-)
january 24, 2008

red fucking tape
update monday january 7, 2008
my parents received the registered envelope with in there my passport! yes, i had to have it sent to my parent's address, because both my sister and her fiance are out to work during the week and i didn't know where i would be (at my sister's place or at the office) and one of my parents is always at home to sign for delivery. of course, if those nitwits would have worked just a little bit harder, it could have been delivered on saturday already, but i guess working hard and satisfying customers is not a requirement when working at the us consulate *shrugs* this means that i need to train to rotterdam on tuesday to pick it up, but at least i have my passport and it has a visa valid until 14 october 2010 in it! guess this will give me enough time to apply for a green card as soon as cookie and i are legally married :-)
end update

most of you know that i am trying to get a US visa so that i can live with my wife and kids and work and travel in and outside of the ustated nights of america. what a fucking nightmare of a convoluted process this is. like a dutch friend who married a us citizen and recently moved to the us mentioned to me before: the usa has more red tape than any other "civilized" country. the sad thing is, however, that hardly anyone seems to know the ins and outs of the process. except, of course, lawyers, because they are well-versed in all the fucking legalese in the reams and reams of documents that one has to go through.
i was lucky my employer was willing to apply for a work visa for me; the only downside to this was that i had to pay the lawyer fees myself, but after talking to an englishman who recently immigrated while doing all the paperwork himself, i quickly decided that any fee would be preferrable to me pulling my hair out and poking my eyes out.
so, after discussing this within my company, i started the process mid-june. i filled out the applications for the first time for a review by the lawyer. they came back with only minor adjustments so i was able to file everything to my lawyer by the end of july. as i learnt today, the lawyer needed to prepare another application form and they were actually ready to send the complete package to the wonderfully efficient uscis by labor day. uscis received the application on september 16, so what happened in the 2 weeks in between is anyone's guess.
normally, a work visa approval takes 4-6 weeks (naturally, for some additional monies, they can expedite it to just 2 weeks, fucking money grabbers), so i basically hoped i would have it approved and everything before december 1, for reasons you also may or may not know. after 8 weeks my lawyer informed me that there were delays at uscis (no shit, sherlock) and that it would be ready any day. of course, i could always bunk my application up to priority processing to have it approved within 2 weeks, or not ... i opted to wait and i ended up waiting another 4 weeks, so the lead time doubled. but, at least, the visa was approved.
but, not really, yet, because now the visa needed to be approved by the consulate in amsterdam following an interview, for which i had to make an appointment, an appointment that would have a lead time of at least 2 weeks ... *sigh* called them and the first thing they ask for, even before saying good morning, is credit card details, because calling them costs 15 euros (22 dollars)! the appointment was set for today, friday january 4, 8.30am. i planned my travel arrangements for my last client-related europe trip accordingly.
again, i had to fill out a couple of other forms, which came with their own annoyances. for instance the question to list all countries i have visited in the last ten years and in which years i visited them. i pretty much know where i've been when, but get this, the box is 1 inch high and 4 inches wide ... *sigh* anyway, forms were filled out, got a passport photo taken, of which the requirements are of course different from the technically more advanced dutch passport picture, and i made sure to make copies of all of them. apart from a comment that the interview would be utterly useless i didn't know what to expect, so i prepared for the worse.
since i am staying at my sister's place i left their house at 7am to be there at 8am, because they told me to be there at 8.15am at the latest. i parked the car in the parking garage closeby the consulate at 7.25, so at least i wasn't late. since it was cold i decided to stick it out in the car for another 20+ minutes or so. around 7.50am i walked up to the entrance of the consulate and my first thought was: paranoid anyone?
2 security checkpoints and lots of gates. the guard came outside and barked to the people waiting they should form a line against the fence ... good morning to you too *shakes head* then he said they'd be ready by 8.25am to let us in. wtf. the line got longer and longer and at 8.20am they actually started taking people in through security. of course, us citizens first: favoritism and nepotism anyone?
luckily i was part of the 2nd group to go through a sweep. outside. in the cold. i brought my backpack, but left my cell phone in the car, because phones and cameras are not allowed inside the consulate. again, paranoid much? after the sweep i was lucky to stand in line in front of the 2nd security check, again outside, in the cold. one by one the people are let in to an annex to the consular building where a very german-like female security officer actually confiscated my backpack *sigh & shakes head*
with the paperwork in hand i was led into the waiting room, where, thank heavens, the airconditioning was running full throttle. good going guys! by this time it was already 8.40am, technically after the allotted time of the interview and by the way the room was laid out i got the feeling that there was not going to be much of an interview, certainly not privately. the number i received was 20 and by 8.45am number 17 was called to the only open counter. also very smart and efficient to have one consular employee to service the roughly 30 people who were already in the waiting room by that time *shakes head*
fortunately a second consular employee decided to help out, by the looks of it a sour gay guy (and wouldn't you know it, it would be him i ended up with ... *sigh*) roughly at 9.10am my number was called and i handed over the paperwork. of course i missed to check 4 boxes so the application was shoved back with a grunt (i think the application resembles the 2000 florida vote ballot, but whatever). i then tried to have my fingerprints taken, but since it was pretty cold inside as well, the machine didn't quite work as it should. after 4 tries he gave up ... i couldn't care less. after that i had to pay the processing fees (94.32 euros/140 dollars), which are on top of the fucking abundant lawyer fee (3470 dollars/2350 euros).
then came the biggest shock: the us consulate needs to hold on to my passport for at least a business day. me requesting if any other arrangements could be made for me to have it back the same day or saturday january 5 at the latest were dismissed like yesterday's news. fucking arrogance anyone? furthermore, they well know it is against dutch law to withhold a passport, but apparently the rules don't apply (of course, being in the politest of moods i didn't mention this) *major sigh* on top of that, even though the passport is returned with registered mail (another 6.50 euros/10 dollars), who's to say it will not get lost? sure, the dutch mail system is one of the best in the world, but mail coming from the us consulate may be an interesting interception for certain individuals ... dumb beyond belief anyone?
as it so happens i was scheduled to travel to warsaw on sunday evening. the client i am visiting happens to be relaxed and flexible enough so i changed my itinerary to leave on wednesday evening, which should be in enough time for my passport to be snail-mailed back to me, disabling me from spending another weekend with my family. i am not bothered by the latter too much, but still, it irks me some *shrug*
after that disappointing exchange i was told to take a seat again and wait till i was called, by name, to another counter and another consular employee. this happened around 9.25am. i proceeded to the counter, where i was asked for my left middle finger fingerprint. this time it did work, or not, but he didn't bitch and moan about it. he asked me what my plans were and i told him i was moving to the us to move in and get married with my fiancee and work for my us employer. he then asked who my employer was, what they do and what i do for them. i answered, but i was thinking, it's right there in the fucking documentation ... *shakes head* and that was it ... the passport with the visa will be mailed, have a good weekend.
of course, the exit is a different door from the entrance, which meant that in order to retrieve my backpack, i had to get in line again. outside, where it still was fucking cold. when a guard came by i asked him if it was possible to cut in front of the line to get my bag, but he just told me to wait in line. great. did i mention it was cold? the same guard then proceeded to let american citizens to jump the queue to which me and another guy who was waiting to reclaim his bag exchanged eye rolls. asshat must have noticed, because he then called us to collect our bags. it took a total of about 20 seconds for the both of us to be out there again, so yeah, that must have been extremely disruptive to the people waiting to get in *sigh*
by 9.45am i was back in the car and at 10.15 i walked into my sister's house. it is good to know that the visa will be approved, although one never knows what happens between the moment i left the consulate and when they actually return the passport, but my fucking god, the sheer number of incompetent and inefficient fuckwits involved in the whole process is just mindboggling and incomprehensible to me, but, i have to do what i have to do ...
the things you do for love ... :-) i love you, cookie! <3
january 7, 2008

honeymoon
yes, my fellow bloggies, my wife and i are going on our honeymoon any minute now, so don't expect me to be active around here a lot till after we return ... for now, buffalo here we come :-)
december 22, 2007

going home
i'm typing this in the warsaw airport lounge, waiting for my delayed (yet again) flight to amsterdam, where i will stay for one night and then on wednesday morning i get to go home, finally. i miss my wife, i miss my kids, i miss being/coming home to family warmth, even though i understand it is really really really cold there, now. sadly, the day after new year's i already have to leave for europe again, but if things go well, i will have an approved visa, so on jan 19 i will return as a resident alien; the whole process only took twice as long as "advertized" so far. red tape, red tape, red tape! but yeah, first go home, then honeymoon over christmas time and then start a new year, 2008, which will be an amazing year, i can just feel it, from balls to bones :-) i love you, cookie!
december 18, 2007

serious stuff
there's stuffs happening on dAt other place ... not so good stuffs ... a certain stalker has severely harrassed my wife and i will not put up with that, so i have asked the good people of dA to take measures ... they dismissed my request ... so now it's time for action, because we all know that action speaks louder than words ...
the following will be posted as a journal on my dA page and it will also be a news item on dA. i didn't want to go there, but dA's unwillingness to cooperate in undertaking action against a proven and repetitive cyberstalker leaves me no other option ...
========= This is my last journal on dA ...
I learnt today that dA not only allows known and proven stalkers, it protects them! This is contrary to dA's own Etiquette Policy (scroll to Prohibited Commentary and Discouraged Commentary) and Terms Of Service (scroll to 19. Conduct). Staff has been notified, both by filing a Harassment Report through HelpDesk and by a note to both Richard Steelyard (which is not even his real name, so that constitutes false advertizing) and Daniel Sowers, providing them with the link to where the abusive and stalker behavior began as well as the following links:

The only thing that was done was dA stating that "we consider Notes to be private communications between deviants. Our privacy policy prevents us from directly accessing your notes so they are not commonly used as evidence in cases of harassment or abuse and we only intervene when the issue is considered severe. I would advise adding this person to your block list as this will prevent any further direct communication."
This is in complete contradiction to what dA admins previously have done, where two deviants were (temporarily) banned because of harrassment through notes. Frankly, I am appalled and disgusted ... How is more than a year's worth of stalking and ban evasions not severe? Did I not offer to send the entire note to them for inspection? Did I not offer them a link to where the abuse began with an explanation of where abuser got certain information that in and of itself constitutes cyberstalking? Yes. Yes. And yes once more. Blocking this person only means that dA washes its hands from its corporate responsibility and does nothing to stop this illegal behavior. Not only is this an unprofessional response, it's immoral, evasive and irresponsible. You have the right to know! Do the right thing! DeviantART Inc and its representatives do not take your security and safety seriously. Question them, question whether you want to be part of a community that disrespects you and dismisses your need for safety. But, legal action has started against the stalker and DeviantART Inc. Consequences will be grave. Note to dA admins: banning me and/or informing the stalker of actions taken against him/her beforehand and/or dA making the names of the people involved public will lead to further legal action against individual dA staff members, DeviantArt Inc as well as the use of mass media. This is not a test ... =========
naturally, this is one of the locations where the journal is mirrored in case dA does the unthinkable and undeniably stupid ...
december 13, 2007

just married ...
yes, my bloggie friends, i got married on december 1 to the most beautiful bride in the history of weddings, ever, really. some photos can be viewed here and whenever we get our photos from the official and unofficial photographers i'm gonna share them, in some way or form.
this is all i have to say for now, other than that i love cookie very very much and that i couldn't be gladder (*wink*) to have her as my wife!
december 2, 2007

almost there
not long anymore till the big day: in less than 58 hours from posting this me and the love of my life will be man and wife :-) today the first guests will arrive in atlanta and tonight we are hosting a small get-together for those in town. of course, we still need to some preparations, but so far things are working out quite well and i think the ceremony and the celebration will go smoothly. it's pretty amazing how we've progressed since september 15 of 2006 ... i love you, cookie <3
november 29, 2007

post thanksgiving, pre dec 1
so, thanksgiving went by with the usual copious amounts of the wonderful tryptophan and other assorted yummies :-) just a little after 11pm me and my boy went to the north georgia premium outlets, because we needed to pick up a few items and we needed to do that at midnight ... just like 10k of other idiots like us :D but we got our stuffs and were back home at 3am; you can imagine that the rest of that day was a wash :P then saturday came around and, lo and behold, all 4 of us did some more shopping, yes, like really ... this means that we are getting closer and closer to being ready for next saturday, because that is the day we have been working towards to for quite a while now :-) damn, life is good ...
november 24, 2007

thankiesgiving day
*GOBBLE GOBBLE*
november 22, 2007

settling in
it's been 5 days and 5 nights now in my new home and other then having the flu (finally it caught up with me after weeks of being on the verge) things are progressing nicely. it's not the easiest to adapt to a whole new living arrangement, but so far no setbacks. the kids seem to be more or less comfortable around me and it's for damn sure the cat is very comfortable around me (of course, because she makes me sick :p). the wedding planning is going pretty good, now it's down to detail stuff, for which we only have 12 days ... meeting the wedding photographer tonight, ironically (or not) at a pf chang's ... also have been working, on and off, on my wedding vows and the music and picture slideshow for the event. and as of tomorrow my parents are in the us as well, vacationing in florida for a couple of days before they come to our wedding. it's their first time over and they are quite nervous yet at the same time very excited. other than that, i am trying to support my one european client remotely, and because my visa hasn't not come through yet (damn red tape) i can't sign a us-based contract, thus i can't get assigned to us clients ... ah well, i know everything will be alright ... at l(e)ast i am here with the love of my life *nods*
november 19, 2007

time is zero
yes, my blog buddies, time is zero hour. the flight over and the ins and customs procedures were relatively painless and now i have moved in with the love of my life ... i couldn't be happier :-)
november 15, 2007

time is nighest
yes, my blog buddies, time is nigh, only 1 day, 1 flight and then i have made my move ... i couldn't be happier :-)
november 13, 2007

time is nigherer
yes, my blog buddies, time is nigh, only 2 days and 1 night and then i make my move ... i couldn't be happier :-)
november 12, 2007

time is nigher
yes, my blog buddies, time is nigh, only 3 whole days and 3 nights and then i make my move ... i couldn't be happier :-)
november 11, 2007

time is nigh
yes, my blog buddies, time is nigh, only 3 whole days and 4 nights and then i make my move ... i couldn't be happier :-)
november 10, 2007

song of the day
Talkin' Me Down (Carlos Guaico / Noelle Scaggs / Chris Taylor / Patrick Bailey / Raul Gonzales / Greg Malone / Mark Cross)
As an angel sighed
She watched me walk by
She asked me in for some company
She smiled away
She had so much to say
Her words to me became melodies
She keeps talking me down
All in her own way
She keeps talking me down
Ah, in such a way
She held my hand
Her eyes I understand
Through her voice lies my history
Sun falls away
As a minute turns a day
She said goodbye With the song she sang
She keeps talking me down
All in her own way
She keeps talking me down
Ah, in such a way
She keeps talking me down
All in her own way
Sun falls, she whispers to me in the dark
It's getting clearer she found me
Changed me with a spark with her hands, with her smile, with her words
Now I understand ==
you found me and changed me with a spark, with your hands, with your smile, with your words ... i love you, cookie!
october 7, 2007

what is bliss?
bliss is ... ... spending 6 days close to the woman that i love so dearly ... getting to know two obnoxious but extremely lovable kids ... having a purring kitty at my side almost all the time ... seeing the house that i will soon call home ... taking in the suburban and semi-rural surroundings our home is in ... knowing this will all be reality only 2 months from now
and buddha knows how much i am looking forward to that :-)
september 21, 2007

song of the day
You Are Golden (Jean-Paul Maunick)
It's not so hard to see the light within you
The inner flame that burns so brightly through you
I look at you and I can see the glory rising
And all at once you seem to be the noonday shining
You are gold, you are golden, you are gold
You are gold, you are golden, You are gold and all that cannot ever be spoken
My guiding hand my citadel, the voice of reason
When my mind's ablaze and life a maze, you see me through
Like a spinning wheel, a carousel, gently turning
You're the circle that protects my soul, the noonday shining
Golden! You are golden
Golden! You are golden ==
you truly are golden, my love ... i love you
october 6, 2007

on a whim
with kiss of life in my ears thinking about p.f. chang's
and the pang i felt when I sat across from you
that day fate and destiny met and decided to live on forever
too proud to admit too blind to see but mom knew what was in store
the next time the coffee was bitter and to see you was sweet the trip back was odd
then came the day that forever will live on as the day we both meant: i love you!
from there things developed cemented realities laid the foundation for a future, so bright
eclipsing the glare forgot about the moon howling's no longer valid peaceful
we took the road less traveled resistance and obstacles overcome in the name of love
and nothing seems impossible we are stronger than the universe our bond will see us through everything
rainbows and sparrows daisies and stars all bow to marvel as i surrender ==
i love you!
july 25, 2007

north sea jazz day 3
last day unfortunately ... it started well, even before entering the festival site: the rhythm junks were funking it up. walked in, walked around drinking some, listened to the 020 jazz orchestra finish up. went up to the roof to listen and watch jules deelder (famous rotterdam poet and jazz connaisseur) play vintage jazz and there i learnt that without the dutch there would be no jazz ... for real!!! went over to see the mike stern band and their fusion was pretty nice. had some dinner and then moved to right in front of the stage where candy dulfer would be performing ... but, since amy winehouse was too drunk (again) to catch her flight she was replaced my marcus miller; first reaction was to bolt, because saw him earlier, but gut instinct said to stay. and that was the best decision, because he basically just jammed it up. he called candy dulfer on stage and he refused to let her get off stage. roy hargrove joined in on the action as well, as did kirk whalum. together they did a rendition of rehab of which ms winehouse can only dream of. (and again, cookie bore witness to the making of history *nods*) ah loves teh fuck you like that :D after this impromptu gig moved over to front stage for candy dulfer and she lived up to the prince/tafkap/symbol/whatever saying: "when i need sax, i call candy"; her band contains a few from prince's crew: rosie gaines, rhonda smith, kirk johnson and chance howard. not bad for a dutch girl :P moved out again and stepped inside the sauna where the hypnotic brass ensemble were tearing it up; these niggaz play at 150bpm, no joke!! moved back indoors to catch a little of sly & the family stone, but left because the arrogant mofo was happily getting stoned in his dressing room. decided to give snoop dogg a miss and chose the joshua redman trio as the last gig of the festival. and it ended just as it started: with real, live jazz. the only thing missing was cookie, maybe next year ... i love you!
july 16, 2007

north sea jazz day 2
the first gig started at 6.15pm and it was fay claassen singing shakespeare sonnets in ye olde english accompanied by ilja reijngoud and his band. cookie can acknowledge that it was actually pretty good, even though i only understood the words "the" and "thou" :P next up was the vanguard jazz orchestra, a big band different from the flock. when walking around looking for dinner, stopped and shook hips while listening to dj manga pay tribute to the godfather of soul, james brown. after that sauntered in on raul midón and, boy, that brother can sing ... all alone on a big stage with just a guitar and his voice he's able to enchant an audience of thousands. next stop would have been the highlight of the festival for me. i have seen the cinematic orchestra before and they create quite an atmosphere, but this time the sound engineers blew it. literally even, because one of the speakers exploded! after that tried to get in to see gino vannelli, but the room was closed and was not opened again, because it was too crowded and too warm inside (apparently people were even passing out), so instead went to see dulfer's new band, who play high energy, high tempo techno sax jazz. only was in the party tent for 15 minutes, but probably lost 10lbs anyway because it was like a sauna in there ... finished the second day in the biggest auditorium seeing india.arie, a wonderful, brown-skinned soul singer/songwriter. for one song she was accompanied by raul midón and that was the actual highlight of the day. closer of the evening was maceo parker, who still funks like the dickens, although he seems to sing more and blow less. speaking of blowing, it sucks that cookie wasn't there (an no, not for that, get your minds outta gutter, jeez!!) because that would've made the second day even better ...i love you!
july 15, 2007

north sea jazz day 1
today was the first day of the north sea jazz festival 2007. it started at 6.30pm with the terence blanchard band backed up by one of the best orchestras in the world, the metropole orchestra, playing soundtracks from spike lee movies. after that there were a few moments to eat a hamburger, or something that was supposed to resemble a hamburger. next up was the wonderful marlena shaw who, at almost 65, possesses more soul and class than any of the poplets of today. of course she sang mercy, mercy, mercy and california soul. after that it was time for different eats, a pancake with chocolate sauce :-) by mistake wandered in the wrong room and heard the roots play, but left quickly again to stand in line to get into the david sanborn gig. since he didn't bring his own band, the backing band was marcus miller's band. apparently they also teamed up on the north sea jazz cruise! about 2/3rds in left again and stopped to see the lincoln jazz orchestra go full steam ahead, which was a trip and a half. after that caught the last 30 mins of the reverend al green; luckily his band can play better than al can sing, so don't quit your sunday job :P last gig of the night was, surprise surprise, marcus miller. left at 2am, stepped back in my apartment with slightly ringing ears at 2.45, took a shower and am now typing this, waiting for my love to come out of the theater so i can give her a call. because, however great this first day was, it would have even be better with cookie right there ... i love you!
july 14, 2007

could i be any happier?
... i think not.
i picked up a special delivery from the airport on sunday morning and life has been bliss ever since, even though we know that's only 27 hours so far, but bliss nonetheless *nods* i love you, cookie!
june 25, 2007

song of the day
Loving You (Minnie Ripperton / Richard Rudolph)
Loving you
Is easy because you're beautiful
Making love with you
Is all I want to do
Loving you
Is more than just a dream come truev
And everything that I do
Is out of loving you
No one else can make me feel
The colors that you bring
Stay with me while we grow old
And we will live each day in spring time
Because loving you
Has made my life so beautiful
And every day of my life
Is filled with loving you
Loving you
I see your soul come shining through
And everytime that we
Oh I'm more in love with you ==
i'm sorry ... i love you!
june 17, 2007

song of the day
Daybreak (Andrew Levy / Jan Kincaid / Ndea Davenport / Simon Bartholomew)
In this life we go through lots of hard times
And we say who knows what the day will bring
We learn to survive 'cause that's the only way
It's kinda nice to talk about the good times
Like the feelin' we all know when the summer comes
That's the reason we all know we are as one
Yesterday is over let's live for today
Good mornin' to the blue skies good-bye to the grey
So come into the sunshine
step out of the rain
A new day is arising at daybreak
Everybody together people come into our world
People everybody together
People come into our world
I think it's time to have a celebration
It is time to find another way
To keep movin' on toward a better day, yeah
Yesterday is over let's live for today
Good mornin' to the blue skies
Good-bye to the grey
So come into the sunshine
Step out of the rain
A new way is arising at daybreak
People Everybody together people come into the world
People everybody together People come into our world
Whoa our world
Uh huh our world
Whoa people come into our world!!!
At daybreak we can live We can love come on people We can get it on
We can live together lets come together
We can live together lets come together
We can live together lets come together
Together at daybreak
Come together
We can live together lets come together
Together at daybreak
Come together
We can live together lets come together
Together at daybreak
Come together ==
yes, it is time for celebration :-) i love you, cookie!
june 12, 2007

today ...
i got my hair cut and boy oh boy does it feel nice :-)
june 9, 2007

song of the day
Wrapped Around Your Finger (Sting)
You consider me the young apprentice
Caught between the scylla and charybidis
Hypnotized by you if I should linger
Staring at the ring around your finger
I have only come here seeking knowledge
Things they wouldn't teach me of in college
I can see the destiny you sold
Turned into a shining band of gold
I'll be wrapped around your finger
I'll be wrapped around your finger
Mephistopheles is not your name
But I know what you're up to just the same
I will listen hard to intuition
And you will see it come to its fruition
I'll be wrapped around your finger
I'll be wrapped around your finger
Devil and the deep blue sea behind me
Vanish in the air you'll never find me
I will turn your flesh to alabaster
Then you will find your servant is your master
And you'll be wrapped around my finger
You'll be wrapped around my finger
You'll be wrapped around my finger ==
i love you, cookie, i love you ...
june 8, 2007

song of the day
B-A-B-Y (Isaac Hayes / David Porter)
Baby, ooh baby
I love to call you baby
Baby, oh oh baby I love for you to call me baby
When you squeeze me real tight
You make wrong things right
And I can't stop loving you
And I won't stop calling you
Baby, oh baby
You look so good to me baby
Baby, ooh baby
You are so good to me baby
Just one look in your eye
And my temperature goes skyhigh
I live for you and can't help it
You know I really don't want to help it
B.A.B.Y. baby B.A.B.Y. baby
Whenever the sun don't shine
You go out to light my hind
Then I get real close to you
And your sweet kisses see me through
I said baby, ooh baby
You look so good to me baby
Baby, ooh baby
How I love for you to call me baby
When you squeeze me real tight
You know you make wrong things right
And I can't stop loving you
And I won't stop calling you
B.A.B.Y. baby ... ==
*sigh* i won't stop calling you baby, ever ...
may 28, 2007

no news
...is good news, right?!
april 18, 2007

what do i do?
what should i do when the woman i love very very much sends me a card with the following text:
When I met you,I had no idea how much my life
Was about to be changed ...
But then, how could I have known?
A love like ours happens
Once in a lifetime.
You were a miracle to me,
The one who was everything
I had ever dreamed of,
The one I thought existed
only in my imagination.
And when you came
Into my life, I realized that
What I had always thought
Was happiness
Couldn't compare to the joy
Loving you brought me.
You are part of everything
I think and do and feel,
And with you by my side,
I believe that anything
Is possible.
Thank you
For the miracle of you ...
you are,
And always will be,
The love
Of my life.
the only thing i can and want to do is just adore her, right? well, i do, buddha knows i do! *sigh*
april 13, 2007

just in ...
... my new boytoy, so i will be pretty busy this weekend, woohoo :-)
april 6, 2007

wednesday before easter
thank you jesus for dying on a wooden cross ... words i thought i'd never say, but hey, despite the fact that religion, any religion, is totally wasted on me, this event that supposedly happened a couple of thousand years ago does mean that i will have friday and monday off. so, jesus for the win ;-)
plans for the 4-day weekend: none! yes, no plans, other than buying a new showerhead, ironing shirts (3 max), a lot of relaxing and lounging.
i am looking forward to thursday evening, my friends :D
april 4, 2007

sunday sunday
finally, a nice and relaxed weekend, i mean, no social or professional obligations. of course that doesn't mean that i can get away with doing nothing at all, because the apartment was in dire need of some vacuuming and there is a stack of shirts that was just dying to be ironed. today i did the hoovering and cleaning; and i did my taxes, because the tax return needed to be filed by april fool's. just came back from seeing the last king of scotland and i have to say that forest whitaker's best actor oscar is fully deserved. i highly recommend seeing this movie *nods* so, tomorrow will have me working the iron for approx 3 hours (if i decide to do all shirts), but other than that i can chill a bit. and now i am off to bed, but not before i make one important phone call ...
march 31, 2007

song of the day
I Surrender (David Sylvian / Steve Jansen)
I opened up the pathway of the heart
The flowers died embittered from the start
That night I crossed the bridge of sighs and I surrendered
I looked back and glimpsed the outline of a boy
His life of sorrows now collapsing into joy
Tonight the stars are all aligned and I surrender
Mother cries beneath a southern sky and I surrender
Recording angels and the poets of the night
Bring back the trophies of the battles that we fight
Searchlights fill the open skies and I surrender
Outrageous cries of love have called you back
Derailed the trains of thought, demolished wayward tracks
You tell me I've no need to wonder why I just surrender
I stand too close to see the sleight of hand
How she found this child inside the frightened man
Tonight I'm learning how to fly and I surrender
I've travelled all this way for your embrace
Enraptured by the recognition on your face
Hold me now while my old life dies tonight and I surrender
Mother cries beneath the open skies and I surrender
An ancient evening just before the fall
The light in your eyes, the meaning of it all
Birds fly and fill the summer skies and I surrender
She throws the burning books into the sea
"Come find the meaning of the word inside of me"
It's alright the stars are all aligned and I surrender
Mother cries beneath the moonlit skies and I surrender
My body turns to ashes in her hands
The disappearing world of footprints in the sand
Tell me now that this love will never die and I'll surrender
Mother cries beneath the open skies and I surrender ==
i surrender ... my love ... to you ...
april 6, 2007

all better now
i think i am all better again ... a week of spending more than 12 hours a day in bed made the flu go away ... i think. i guess i will find out on monday when i go back to work again; i'm sure my health and stress levels will be tested. but on the upside, my new laptop will be ready so i can test it out and see if it fits my needs, personally, because i need a new one for private use as well.
this is it for now, i didn't do anything, so i have nothing much interesting to share. hope everyone's weekend has been well :-)
march 25, 2007

wednesday march 21
spring has sprung, but i gotta say i don't feel as alive as nature should. been down with a weird variation of this violent flu that has been making the rounds the last few months: i am running a fever, all my joints and muscles ache and i feel like my head is fully pressurized. but no snifflies, at all. that is weird, because usually it is the other way around and i go through tons of tissues like there is no tomorrow. hopefully tomorrow i will be able to go to work, because i have been keeping an eye on my email and the work just keeps piling up ... ugh ... i know, it'll be still there of friday or on monday, but you know, clients usually are not as forgiving as you hope they are. anyways, gonna watch a documentary about the north branch correctional facility on natgen now ... i don't know why ... happy hump day y'all !

weekend
finally i am home for the entire weekend and of course i feel like shit. think i musta got a little bit of that lovely flu that seems to be going around; all my joints and muscles ache (like i fell out of my 19th floor window onto the pavement), my head and eyes hurts (like they are pressurized) and i am running a slight temp ... meh, i. must. get. better. dammit. i'm actually thinking about calling in sick tomorrow ... but i have a client fly in from london to receive a little training ... and the company's email server seems to be down, so i can't reach him ... grrrrr ... ah well, i'll just breathe .... breathe ...
march 18, 2007

song of the day
My Love's Leavin' (Steve Winwood / Viv Stanshall)
I can't believe she's going
I said please show me What selfish seeds I plant along the way
Black harvest today
The empty bed she left me, cold on one side
Can't believe, only me
Shadows in purple thrill me I cry myself awake each night
I can't believe that it's true
Here I am, where are you
Can I cope with today
My love is leavin' me
Still I'm hoping she'll stay
My love is leavin' me
But I'll control my feelings
I find faith, healing
And I'll find hope singing
The way is so long
But I'm going to be strong
Oh, what a turn around
Soon, someday I'll be bound
And I'll cope with today
My love is leavin' me
Still I'm hoping she'll stay
My love is leavin' me
Can't believe, only me
Shadows in purple thrill me I cry myself awake each night
I can't believe that it's true
Here I am, where are you my love
Breathing your perfume chills me
Dreams never lie
Is it true, asking you
My love is leavin' me
Still I'm hoping she'll stay
My love is leavin' me ==
we only left temporarily and soon, very soon, i will be bound your way again, forever and ever and ever ...
march 13, 2007

one of dem daze - update 1
yesterday was one of those days that where everything i touched things fell apart, so i ended up working late making sure that other people were doing the things they should have been/be doing. i don't like this part and that is the main reason i am not a manager: i can delegate, but i can't be an asshole and chase people. i have this thing for accountability. whenever i ask someone to do something i expect that they will do it, because if someone asks me to do something i do it and if i can't do it or if i can't make it on time i will let the other person know. unfortunately, not a lot of people can deal with that responsibility, so i had to put on the asshole mask and chase people ... ugh ...
but today is going much better. two out of the three people are actually doing what i needed them do and i myself am knocking down the issues like there is no tomorrow.
and of course during the afternoon the day turned pear-shaped again. aarrgghh, how can some people be so dense ... ah well, taken care of most of the new problems, but this does mean that i am not home before 8pm tonight, possibly even an hour later ... *sigh*
luckily on thursday i will work from home, so i can "sleep in" ...
february 28, 2007

song of the day
Just The Way You Are (Billy Joel)
Don't go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you anymore
I wouldn't leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
I'll take you just the way you are
Don't go trying some new fashion
Don't change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care
I don't want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are
I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take 'till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you
I said I love you, and that's forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are ==
you are perfect the way you are, you are perfect to me!
february 25, 2007

real life
you know how real life can get in the way of this beautiful space we call the virtual world? well, that's exactly the reason why i haven't been keeping up with all yall's blogs. been travelling and working and drinking hard. but, one client decided to put the project on pause for a while, so that means i can get off the ffwd lifestyle for a few days. yes, not travelling to munich on sunday, no having to do training for 4 days next week. doesn't mean i will not be busy, because an other client is accelerating a little bit so i have a few deliverables next week, but i will work from the home office at least for one day. and because i am not travelling i am not going out to dinner and working in the evening hours so much, which means i will be a little more active here ... no, don't all go running away screaming now, i promise i won't behave :D
february 24, 2007

song of the day
Make Me Whole (Amel Larrieux / Laru Larrieux)
Darling I want you to listen
I stayed up all night, so I could get this thing right
And I don't think there's anything missing
Cause a person like you, made it easy to do
I've waited for so long, to sing to you this song
Cause your eyes are the windows to heaven
Your smile could heal a million souls
Your love completes my existence
You're the other half that makes me whole
You're the only other half that makes me whole
I think the angels are your brothers
They told you about me, said you're just what she needs
And I find myself thanking your mother
For giving birth to a saint
My spirit flies when I say your name
If there's one thing that's true
It's that I was born to love you
Cause your eyes are the windows to heaven
Your smile could heal a million souls
Your love completes my existence
You're the other half that makes me whole
You're the only other half that makes me whole
You make my dreams
Come true over and, over again
And I honestly truly believe
You and me are written in the stars
I live my whole life through
To giving thanks to you
Cause your eyes are the windows to heaven
Your smile could heal a million souls
Your love completes my existence
You're the other half that makes me whole
You're the only other half that makes me whole ==
believe it or not, you make me whole!
february 11, 2007

snow
it's snowing, it's snowing, it's snowing! woohoooooooo, yiiiihaaaaa!
on the other hand, i need to travel to paris tonight and at this moment train services are not really running as scheduled ...
... but it does look pretty outside :-) ... and it's already raining, so the snow is slowly being cleared and it looks like the thalys service between amsterdam and paris is still going, even though there might be an hour delay between brussels and paris ... ah well, we'll see how that pans out.
februay 8, 2007

mice anyone?
one of wallpaper*'s design no-nos of 2006 is the body mouse from a swiss company called pat says now. actually none of the mice are cool ... cringingly funny, yes.
working through my backlog of reading, just my belgian tv guide for this week and two novels to go till i am caught up ... but i'm sure in the meantime i will have to face new additions. meh, that''s life :-)
have a lovely weekend everyone *hugs*
february 3, 2007

song of the day
As Long As It's You (Jean-Paul Maunick / Graham Harvey)
Something 'bout April, that makes me come alive
May have been the winter that made my heart so still
It must have been, must have been
What wakens us all to wonder, I don't really know?
But the best days of my life are the one's I spent with you
So continue to surprise me, baby
I'll do the same for you
No I won't question why it feels so good
I'll let the mistery be
As long as it's you
As long as it's you
Any time, anywhere, I don't care
Just as long as it's you
Thank you for your understanding
Cos I know my love can be so demanding
(I know that I can)
Yes I know that it means so much to you
Baby when I treat you right
And I'm holding you tight
Tears of joy come to your eyes
Like stars about to fall
Continue to still want me, the way I still want you
I won't question why it feels so good, I'll let the mistery be
As long as it's you
As long as it's you
Any time, anywhere, I don't care Just as long as it's you ==
the best days of my life will be spent with you, no mystery about that ...
january 28, 2007

billy holiday sang about it ...

... stormy weather! well, she sang it amongst many many others ...
jeez, it hit our fair netherland pretty hard today. 24 hours of full-force storms with speeds exceeding 80mph with gusts of wind up till 100mph.
in hindsight i never should have gone into the office, but i did ... but i also found out fast that train services were being suspended, so me and a colleague left the office at 2pm and we evidently were on the last train out of amsterdam to utrecht. of course there we found out that we didn't find out fast enough about failing train services country-wide.
because of broken contact wires, trees on tracks, debris on tracks, the dutch railways suspended all train services, so i was stuck in utrecht. also, no alternative means of transportation could be arranged because there was a weather alarm announced at about noon that no-one should go out on the road.
yeah. so. hmmmmm.
i called my dad (who works for the dutch railways) and he said that in his guesstimate no trains would be going anymore this day and probably also not the next morning, because they had to survey the tracks at daylight.
so he, bless his heart, proposed to pick me up by car. it took him 1.5 hours to get to utrecht from rotterdam, a drive that normally should not take more than 30-40 minutes and of course about the time he arrived in utrecht all cell phone services were down as well, so we had no way of reaching each other. and i thought to be smart and meet him a long way upon the road he would be taking to the station, but as it turned out i just missed him outside of the station.
the point of contact was my mom, who i was still able to reach sporadically and my dad went to the break room at utrecht station to call mom from there, so she relayed the message back to me again.
we shook hands in the overcrowded station at 6pm. we walked to the car and we pulled up at my parents' house at 7pm. my mom cooked dinner (first time i had a proper dutch meal: potatoes, vegetables and a meatball, since 10 years or so). we drank coffee and dad took me home, which is a 10 min drive.
while watching the news i learnt that tens of thousands commuters were trapped and that the red cross was arranging impromptu sleeping places. in the end 6,000 people had to spend the night away from home.
the storm is scheduled to die down a bit around midnight, but in parts of holland the water level is 3.5 metres above normal sea level, which is 10cm (3 inches) above the critical alert level. two thirds of holland is below sea level ... i am not worried, i live on the 19th floor :D
january 27, 2007

song of the day
Kiss Of Life (Sade Adu / Stuart Matthewman / Andrew Hale / Paul S Denman)
There must have been an angel by my side
Something heavenly led me to you
Look at the sky
It's the color of love
There must have been an angel by my side
Something heavenly came down from above
He led me to you
He led me to you
He built a bridge to your heart
All the way
How many tons of love inside I can't say
When I was led to you I knew you were the one for me
I swear the whole world could feel my heartbeat
When I lay eyes on you
Ay ay ay
You wrapped me up in
The color of love
You gave me the kiss of life
Kiss of life
You gave me the kiss that's like
The kiss of life
Wasn't it clear from the start
Look the sky is full of love
Yeah the sky is full of love
He built a bridge to your heart
All the way How many tons of love inside I can't say
You gave me the kiss of life
Kiss of life
You gave me the kiss that's like
The kiss of life
You gave me the kiss of life
Kiss of life
You gave me the kiss that's like
The kiss of life
You gave me the kiss of life
Kiss of life
You gave me the kiss that's like
The kiss of life
You wrapped me up in the color of love
Must have been an angel come down from above
Giving me love yeah
Giving me love yeah
You gave me the kiss of life
Kiss of life
You gave me the kiss of life
The kiss of life ==
you wrap me up in the color of love
january 16, 2007

the best of 2006

december 31, 2006

song of the day
South City Midnight Lady (Patrick Simmons)
Up all night I could not sleep
The whiskey that I drank was cheap
With shakin' hands I went and I lit up my last cigarette
Well the sun came, night had fled
And sleepy eyed I reached my bed
I saw you sleepy dreamin' there all covered and warm
South City midnight lady
I'm much obliged indeed
You sure have saved this man whose soul was in need
I thought there was no reason
For all these things I do
But the smile that I sent out returned with you
When day has left the night behind
And shadows roll across my mind
I sometimes find myself alone out walkin' the street
Yes, and when I'm feelin' down and blue
Then all I do is think of you
And all my foolish problems seem to fade away
South City midnight lady
I'm much obliged indeed
You sure have saved this man whose soul was in need
I thought there was no reason
For all these things I do
But the smile that I sent out returned with you
South City midnight lady
I'm much obliged indeed
You sure have saved this man whose soul was in need
I thought there was no reason
For all these things I do
But the smile that I sent out returned with you ==
all i wish for is to see you smile ...
december 30, 2006

second xmas day
this day i went to dinner with my parents, my sis and her "old" boyfriend in harlem. when i went to pick up my parents i dropped off a nice box of pralines and upon arriving at my sis's place they received a box of pralines as well. yes, i spread the yummilicious wealth :P dinner was in a cozy little place next to the church in the middle of haarlem and the menu was nice, but not the best. that said, it should not always about the quality of food, but about quality of companion and we had a good time and that's what counts. a little past midnight i was back home and by 1am i was in bed, because the following day was just another monday ...
december 26, 2006

first xmas day
first of all, in holland, and a lot of other european countries, we celebrate christmas on two days, so today was first xmas day. and what did i do today? i changed my bed linen, i ironed 10 shirts, folded away a wash, did another wash, vacuumed my house, cleared most of my dA message center, shot off a few emails, gonna take a shower and shave in a minute and then prepare dinner and watch some DVDs (got The Life Aquatic and Shall We Dance lined up, and maybe i will try to give Cinema Paradiso a go as well) while enjoying a nice californian wine and some snacks. tomorrow i'll really "celebrate" xmas by going out to dinner.
december 25, 2006

little miss sunshine
on this foggy christmas eve day me and a good friend drove to antwerp, belgium to visit the photo museum (which was closed), have dinner (most restaurants were closed or closing early) and go to the movies. we decided to see little miss sunshine and that was a very good choice: the movie is obviously indie but the performances were absolutely stellar as was the writing. ok, the plot was a little thin, but it didn't hurt the movie at all. quite the opposite actually, with a more complex plot the movie would have buckled under its own weight. the comedy borders on the sarcastic, but there's a few nice, society-critical quotes in there that really hit home:
Olive: Grandpa, am I pretty? Grandpa: You are the most beautiful girl in the world. Olive: You're just saying that. Grandpa: No! I'm madly in love with you and it's not because of your brains or your personality.
Grandpa: Losers are people who are so afraid of not winning, they don't even try.
Richard: Oh my God, I'm getting pulled over. Everyone, just... pretend to be normal.
like i said, the movie's just a little sarcastic, but very true to life (as i see it at least) and if this doesn't pull at your heart strings, well then i'm sorry to say you don't have a heart.
p.s. and while i was in antwerp i went by Del Rey and picked up 2 kilos (just a little over 4lbs for you metric challenged people) of the best pralines in the world *drools* 1.5 kilo i will give away as presents, though *nods*
december 24, 2006

foggy xmas
bloody hell! almost got trapped in london till christmas day! tried to fly back home yesterday evening but all incoming and outgoing flights had been cancelled that day. and as it turned out, most of the day before were cancelled too. and check this out, because the fog predictions and the massive amounts of rebooking it would be a possibility that the first available flight back home would have been on christmas day. yeah, i think not. after waiting in line for two hours to rebook my flight i decided to flip royal dutch airlines the bird (the only airline where you had to stand in line for the ticket desk to rebook; all other airlines offered rebooking facilities by phone; fuck you very much air france!) and book a first class ticket on the eurostar for the next morning. checking in for the eurostar to brussels at waterloo station was as badly organized as the mess at the london airports, but i got to my seat in time (just) and worked a few hours on the train. the ride through the chunnel was far less exciting than i hoped, so that was a bit of a downer, but otherwise travelling by train is pretty comfortable and once the thalys tracks are ready in belgium and holland it should be possible to train to london from rotterdam in less than 4 hours, which would make it faster than taking a plane ... and cheaper too. i am home now and for the next 4 days i'm not going to do much else except lounge around. i wish everybody a very merry xmas! mucho love from weird-o :-)
december 23, 2006

dentist free for another 6 months
just went to the dentist and he told me he had never seen my teeth in this good a condition ... guess my philips sonicare tooth brush was a good investment :-) now off to work and a little later on, off to london where i will be staying at one aldwych *nods*
december 19, 2006

one more
just one more travel schedule this year. on tuesday afternoon i will leave for london and i will be back home around midnight on thursday, so i will work from home on friday. then it's a 4 day weekend, thanks to some fellow named jesus being born; on sunday i will go to antwerp (belgium) with a good friend to catch a movie (yes, i do go to another country to see a movie) and then on tuesday i will go out to dinner with my parents, my sister and her new bf. the other two day i will just try to relax and unwind. what y'all got planned?
december 18, 2006

reflecting next year
'tis the season again for merriment and family gatherings and presents and well wishing for the oncoming year so for me there's also no escape in doing some reflections. looking back on 2006 i'd say i had a pretty hectic year, but all in all it was not a bad year with all i've accomplished. that said, i am very much looking forward to 2007, where there will be quite a few, exciting changes and all of them make me happy to the very core. i am not going to disclose what these changes are, but if you keep an eye on this blog in time it will come to you. the one thing i can already say is that i am very, very happy and only a cookie knows why.
december 16, 2006

song of the day
Baby It's Alright (Jean-Paul Maunick / Tony Remy)
We are like the seasons, time passes and we change
And just like seasons, we hope and we despair
There'll be a morning; there'll be another night
Sure as tomorrow, there'll never be another you
When the lights go out and the night begins to fall
I sometimes stumble and I lose my way
When I'm reaching from the shadows
With my back against the wall
I can hear your voice in the darkness say
"Baby it's alright, baby it's alright"
A heart that doesn't break, is not a heart at all
So you taught me how to make a web to break my fall
Some people want to fight you some want to own you
Whichever way you choose to go I'll be right here for you
While others sit and wonder, what it is that lies ahead
You reach out and you take it if you can
It would take the brightest light to reflect what's on your mind
But if your smile you could speak
I know that it would say "Baby it's alright, baby it's alright"
There'll never be another you
No one quite like you
I can hear your voice in the darkness say
"Baby it's alright, baby it's alright"
There'll never be another you, there'll never be another you ==
there never needs to be another you ...
december 10, 2006

worlds keep on turning
i love it when other people make my client arrangements for me, so now my schedule looks as follows for the next two weeks:
dec 9 xmas dinner in the hague (although there's 99% chance i won't go)
dec 10 travelling to munich
dec 11-13 working @ client site in munich
dec 13 travelling back home to rotterdam
dec 14-15 working @ the office in amsterdam
dec 16-17 free, woohoo
dec 18 -19 working @ the office in amsterdam
dec 19 travelling to london
dec 20-21 working @ client site in london
dec 21 travelling back home to rotterdam
dec 22 working @ the office in amsterdam
dec 23-26 xmas weekend
then, thank buddha it's xmas :P
december 9, 2006

offline
more updates to follow sometime soon ... for now i am gonna have to be returning home on saturday, arriving in my cosy yuppie apartment on sunday mid-afternoon, so i will be offline for the next two days. don't worry, like the governor of the great state of california once said: "i'll be back"
december 1, 2006

travel part 5.3
who'd've thunk that so many people would come to the north georgia premium outlet malls at midnight?! we were stuck in a 6 mile traffic queue on ga400 going up there; took us over an hour to get there instead of just 30 minutes. and of course no parking space available whatsoever! but, i did what i came for: save loads of money by spending almost 300 bucks at the polo store, where would i have bought the same amount in holland it would've cost me 700 euros (yes, you do the conversion, i am afraid to). the line for the register in the polo store was 2 hours long and people carried totes of stuff out. the line in front of the coach store was a few 100 people long. at 2am! i always though that only the dutchies go crazy when there are sales, but this just blew my mind. next year we're going around 3am, when the high store discounts are still valid, but most people should've gone home again ...
november 24, 2006

travel part 5.2
so much food, so much food ... and the tryptophane and the wine really are good at getting a buzz going :P
november 23, 2006

travel part 5.1
so, wednesday was a day of relative rest and preparation for thursday: thanksgiving, woohoo :-)
november 23, 2006

travel part 4
yes, tuesday was all i expected to be and more; i got to drive my wonderful pimp daddy mobile around and met a really interesting diaper, i mean really interesting and beautiful and the contents were as amazing. on the way back i got lost getting around atlanta. who's stupid idea was it to call the 285 ring around atlanta east and west, when they are really north and south? and once you're driving in the wrong direction all of a sudden they do get to be called north and south! is it something personal against patrick swayze? aarrgghh
november 22, 2006

travel part 3
today was a day of relative rest as well; we saw someone to the marta station, we changed someone's diaper more than once and we went to see someone else move house, other than we didn't do much apart from cleaning the house (shovelling styrofoam peanuts into garbage bags, for instance) and ordering pizza and watching a TiVo recorded House MD. tuesday will be exciting, for reals ...
november 20, 2006

travel part 2
arrived safely in Atlanta and i managed to rent a Chrysler 300C ... such a cool ride :D today is sunday, and since sunday is a day of rest i will not do much
november 19, 2006

travel part 1
leaving for ATL in a few hours ...
november 18, 2006

off off and away
off to freaking london again for two days as of monday afternoon. hafto do training at my new, fun (no, really) client. perhaps i will update this blog one of the next two days, since i am usually on the interweb all day anyways :-) on thursday i will be very accessible, since i will be working from home again, because i need to prepare for my trip to the united states.
november 12, 2006

razorblades
i just noticed that i really have to change the blades on my razor more than i do normally ... it actually quite improves the end result
november 12, 2006

my recent vacation
It started out in NYC last Saturday after a breeze of a flight and a very quick INS procedure at JFK. The hotel was marvellous and although it is wildly expensive I would reccomend everyone to stay at the chambers hotel once. Had a great meal on Sunday at La Vineria and on Monday I went down to Ground Zero to be there for the 5th anniversary of 9/11 and, just as in 2002, it was pretty impressive to just be there. Other than that I didn't do much but wander through the streets and look, feel and smell.
On Tuesday I travelled to my friends in Atlanta, so I could finally see their baby of 7 weeks old. And he is, of course, the cutest baby in the whole wide world. The sad part is that even though I made a reservation for a Chrysler 300C they did not have one available, which was a very Seinfeld moment. Now I am touring the South East in a white Saturn Vue, not exactly hip and cool.
On Thursday I drove up to Nashville to shack up at The Hermitage for two days, and this is also a hotel that is high on my list of recommendations. The first night I got into trouble at the Oak Bar when a Scottish stag party happened to pass by ... Friday was very special to me, because that day I finally had the privilege to meet the wonderful and lovely bookdiva and as a wonderful surprise also the wonderful and lovely ProsePetals. We had lunch and bookdiva showed me around the Nashville metro area: the Parthenon, the Belle Meade Plantation and downtown, and we finished with a very good Japanese dinner: sushi.
The following morning I took scenic route 70 to drive to Memphis. After New York, Atlanta and Nashville, Memphis is not exactly a nice place to be so instead of me hanging out here for two days I will skip town tomorrow already. (I'm sorry to say that so far Memphis is the most disappointing city I have ever been to). On Sunday I visited the Sun Studio, which was very impressive (I grew up with rock'n'roll, so it was cool seeing and breathing the "birthplace") and afterwards also toured Graceland, which I thought was a bit too much of a tourist trap, but still very cool to see. I especially liked the raquet ball court he put up in the yard, very strange. In the early afternoon I took to the road and made my way to Jackson, Mississippi, a city that actually looked pretty nice.
Unfortunately, the next day it was pouring cats and dogs so I hardly have pictures of the downtown area. But I did finally manage to have breakfast at the Waffle House. So, instead of hanging around hoping it'll clear up (which it did 10 miles outside of Jackson, aarrgghh) I decided to drive down to New Orleans. Without fail I reached my destination, the boutique hotel Le Richelieu, right down in the French Quarter. The same night I had a lovely dinner at Irene's, the hippest restaurant in the neighborhood. On Wednesday I walked all over the French Quarter, drove out to the Garden District and Audubon Park, walked some more through the French Quarter and ended up in the hotel bar, drinking my signature drink: Southern Comfort. For dinner I chose Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville where they have a Perfect Margarita (180 proof!) ... that night I slept very well :p
The next morning I drove out eastward, following the coast line that was so severely hit by Hurricane Katrina, and even now the scars can be easily seen ... in some places it's almost as if the storm hit a couple of days before! I followed the coast all the way to a Best Western Motel in Apalachicola, FL and the next day I drove all the way up to Tybee Island where I got "ripped off" by staying at the DeSoto Beach Hotel. Although not really bad, it was probably built somewhere in the late 60s or early 70s and nothing had been done to it since ... which is a shame on such a lovely location. Had a wonderful seafood dinner watching the sun set and went over to the lighthouse.
Friday morning I went to see the pier and the lighthouse again and in the late morning I made my way to my hotel in downtown Savannah. Since my room wasn't ready yet, I strolled around the area, wondering what was inside the plastic containers everybody seemed to carry (if you've seen Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil you will know exactly what I mean). Actually, after dinner yesterday I took the remainder of a nice bottle of wine with me in a traveller, yes! On Saturday I walked around Savannah, for as long as I could, since it was almost 100F with 100% humidity, and I must say that the Historic District is really a quaint little town and you can just taste and feel the history of the South. On Sunday I drove up to my friends in Atlanta for one night and then my vacation was over ... but another one is about to start: in a week's time I will fly over to Atlanta again for Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping.
november 12, 2006

pimp your city
pimp your city: here's me pimping Rotterdam:

i challenge you to pimp your town too!
november 12, 2006

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