Friday, November 24, 2006

Out of office reply....

My Out-of-office reply a la Outlook...

Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm sorry I'm not hear to reply to your comments right now, but I will be back in "normal life" by December 13, 2006 after which I will be able to make fun of your comments.

I'm so excited!!! I was having trouble on Monday, knowing I was flying out Saturday morning. Now it's Friday night and it's GREAT! And terrible. I think I'm 99% packed. Just my toothbrush and this laptop left to go into bags. (Carry-on for both.)

The laundry is cleaned and packed. My scuba gear has been checked, rechecked, had spare parts packed with it and been repacked. If I stay in, I won't sleep, but if I go out I fear sleeping in. I can't win!

And yet I can't loose. :-) I'm looking forward to arriving in Bonaire tomorrow!!! And to truly relaxing into the place and enjoying fully. I'm also looking forward to taking lots of pictures, perhaps a few underwater, and posting as much as possible to this blog. Till then stay well, and if you get cold, just think of Bonaire's warm sunny weather.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving America!

Okay, I'm not American, I'm not in America, and I've already celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada (a month ago). But honestly, "Happy Thanksgiving" just can't be said often enough!

Turkey Day is an "old" North American tradition. Unlike any of the corrupted church holidays, or any of the "long weekend" banker's holidays, Thanksgiving is a unique celebration. It's modern meaning encompasses ideas of "thankfulness" and "family". And while it marks a milestone in the Christmas-shopping calendar, Turkey Day itself isn't about material havings, givings, or receivings.

Turkey is the traditional meal, served with stuffing, gravy, potatoes, cranberry sauce and more. But really any meal that an entire family can agree to get together for is more than enough. Be it turkey or sushi, creamed corn or salsa, the meal today should be only an excuse to get together .
As this isn't my Thanksgiving day I'll be celebrating with friends, instead of family. Surrogate-family to some who are far from home and family on this day.

For the rest of you, not celebrating a national holiday of family, togetherness, and thankfulness might I recommend you keep it in your heart none the less? Like the "famous old" birthday song says," You did not accomplish much, but you didn't die this year, I guess that's good enough." So if you're reading this, you've got at least one thing to be thankful for.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Checklists and countdowns...

It's Monday evening. Just four more shopping days left to organize and pack before it's time to jump on a plane and enjoy a true vacation! And thus... I'm deep in mental checklists, packing ideas, equipment preparation, etc..

Today I went out for a few unusual items. Sunscreen (Holland in November?) Even just the extra package of hair elastics. Important to any long-haired diver! I've just received my spare fin strap (you can't be too careful) and just bought a new wetsuit perfect for tropical waters. Do I pack my first-aid kit, or assume the place I'm diving with has them? And always, if my laundry takes 36 hrs to hang dry, when do I have to start the first load in order to have only dry clothes in the suitcase? One of life's hardest math problems!

Checklists and countdowns take some of the joy out of the anticipation. A lot of the joy actually!

But the optimist in me always wins. Today I bought milk that expires just after I'm gone. Perfect! Little things can be just as much fun as the big ones. My official PADI card arrived today. So I can flash it around novice dives and provoke awh and reverence. (No, not really.) But basically all the paperwork I'll require is coming together. Insurance is bought. Need more sunscreen. Still need to pack a save-a-dive spares kit...

... shoot, I'm doing it again. Checklists and countdowns. I'm going to need a vacation after planning and having a vacation this long! Ah, poor me. ;-)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Too Busy To Blog!

Sure it's absolutely counter-intuitive, counter-productive, and just plain silly, but the fact that I'm too busy to blog is entirely blog-worthy and thus must be written about!

I'm still on an extended vacation (should I call it a sabatical?) and still sleeping in way too late and going to bed at stupid hours. But I'm managing way more than sitting around. I'm actually busy! Two days ago I spent the whole day (and night) in Gouda visiting an old friend I've missed talking to for ages. This morning I woke up and helped a friend 6 time-zones away by proof-reading a paper. Now I'm off to help another friend set up a WiFi network, then I'll barely have time for dinner before meeting the guys for pool (billiards) night. After that, some time around midnight, another friend is getting off work, and this being Friday that may be reason enough to stay out for a few more hours.

So I'll be surprised if tonight isn't another late one, and if tomorrow isn't late. I'll recover on Sunday. For now, energy is for using, not storing. I've gotta go out and burn some energy!

p.s. I was too busy to wait for Blogger to unglitch itself, so this post actually was published much later in the day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Virtual Spot!

My cat's name is Spot. He's an old black tomcat who now lives with my parents in Canada. He's going a little grey with time (he's like a million in cat years) but still loves balls and string and sticks.

I've seen virtual pets around the 'net for a while now. But I hadn't ever realized the potential for playing with them! It was just yesterday I played with Ferdinand, a blog-friend's virtual pet from Bunnyhero Labs. (Her blog was down and I only had the Blogger sidebar, including pet, to keep me entertained.) At first I was just excited that the pet's eyes were following my cursor. I'd never noticed that before! Then I realized you could interact!!! Pets can be fed. My virtual-spot cat can even be played with. And can be put in and out of his basket. (Please remember to put him back in his basket when you're done.) They follow your cursor, respond to clicks, and are almost as entertaining as some of the real (e.g. fish) pets they mimic.

So go ahead, grab the stick with the ball, or a tin of tuna, and go play with virtual spot for a while. He's just down the sidebar on your right. He'll be happy to have company. And I'm happy to have him on the blog now!

Exercise! At long last!

It had been over a month since I did anything I think of as exercise. No diving, no gym visits. Heck, 6 weeks really! So I'm super energized and happy to announce that I made it to the gym yesterday!!!

Would you believe it? While I was gone some right-thinking individual opened a new gym right beside my apartment! And since exercise is like any good addiction, the first visit is FREE! Free access to the weights, the machines, the big plasma TVs on the wall to help you forget you look like a git running in place. (I like exercise and thus I like the gym. But treadmills are funny looking.)

I went with a friend who had NO clue what the machines did or what to do with herself in a gym. Good thing too, since it cut my workout short, which today is clearly saving me a lot of pain! So I got to talk about muscle groups and abduction and sets and stuff, and that was fun too. Had I done one more set on any of the muscle groups I targetted I would now regret it.

Rather than pain, I've got energy! Not necessarily as hyper as all the exclamation marks might imply, but energy that wasn't there yesterday when I was desperately trying to motivate myself to get some exercise. Today everything's happened (waking, showering, etc.) an hour or two earlier than "normal". And I can't wait to get out to enjoy the next few moments of winter's daylight.

Tomorrow??? Definitely need more exercise! So I'll get up that much earlier and go straight there tomorrow. (In the hopes of meeting staff who haven't seen me use my first free visit.)

There aren't that many addictions that feel this good or are so good for you. Food, water, air, exercise. It's right up there. So I guess if you're feeling winter inside, my advice is to go scam a free trip to the gym!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Living Room

The living room I'm sitting in is an ocean of sites, smells, movement and touch.

I don't think I've ever noticed before, but the wind is spilling through the cracked-open window like a chilly river over a waterfall. The air grabs the plant's leaves and gently shakes them while it spills down to the floor. It then spreads outwards, over my toes and on through the apartment.

It brings with it new smells. Crisp clean air. It sweeps away the smells of cooking and replaces them with all the colours of autumn. Colourful air.

Else where shadows dance. The sun has set and the bright of day has been replaced by the softer glow of bulbs. Shadows began to settle into corners and under chairs, where they built strength and grew. Like watching a young man age to old, the shadows crept in leaving the room and older more wrinkled visage. Normally an invisible change, except with patience.

While the cool wind rolls over the floor, the warm computer sits on my over-warm lap. It's hard smooth form has a bee's buzz to it. It's all exactly opposite from the softness of the couch upon which I sit. The fabric looks grey but the cushions, so soft, make a feeling of yellow and orange.

The TV is spewing it's drivle into the room, but a host of other sounds clamber over and around each other to be heard. The child outside wants to be heard, by some one, and the computer sitting in the corner tries valiantly to drown him out. Then a diesel is started. Yet the fridge still sits in the background, quietly humming his simple one note tune. Always there, never listened to. Even my breathing sounds in; a sighful exhilation suddenly matching a car speeding off.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday, Sunny Sunday

What a beautiful day. Not precisely blue skies and sunny, but the sun is definitely blinding my eyes right now and that's enough. Actually, it's grey and windy and pretty cold outside. But it's also Sunday and it feels to me as though the entire city is resolved to spend a quiet lazy day.

For me that means getting up and going out for a bit. There are just some places worth going out of your way for. Not for what you can do there, but for what you don't do.

Spending a Sunday afternoon in a cafe is about doing mostly nothing. Sometimes sharing the more interesting aspects of that nothing with the person sitting beside you, other times not. When the cafe is also your local it's a lot like having a much-more-interesting-than-normal living room outside your home. It's as comfortable as (1) turn off the TV, (2) turn on some music, and (3) watch the interesting (and sometimes bizarre) cast of characters move past for your enjoyment.

It's a good thing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Two writes don't make a wrong.

Yeah, more that feels right to write about! In a recent (moments ago) comment to the last post, Minka pointed out...

"There are people who look at the sky and smile right back at it, [then] pick up a flower and put it in their button just have to look really hard to find them."

This is absolutely true! And it made me immediately think of a number of times, while working in the U.S., I literally stopped to smell the roses (flowers) and someone was shocked. It made me laugh each time! But I swear that the simple act of taking a step sideways and bending over, just to sniff a freshly-bloomed flower, was unusual in both act and thought.

While I may have worried some of my coworkers (for reasons I hope never to understand) it was a double blessing for me. Those work times were long, hot, high pressured, and really challenging. Work to the exclusion of all else. So the chance to not only "stop and smell the flowers" but also to laugh out loud was a soul building moment in a soul destroying time and place.

At times I really truly disliked the work I was doing and where I was doing it. (I was homesick.) But after it all, I remember the warm mornings, the squirrels and chipmunks acting like idiots, and the flourishing of flowers all around, from every garden, potted plant, and road side.

That's reason number 387 why you should stop and smell the roses from time to time. Because in the end, beauty in sight and smell will be remembered long after the hardships and toil.

Writing feels right right now.

Well I've already spent the morning writing. Emails, blog comments, to-do lists in my mind, so I thought I might as well stop by the blog and write something here. Trouble is, I'm sitting here in the best part of my day and I am without motivation on what to write about.

I've often thought of doing a blog of notions, quips, sayings, thoughts, and ideas. Some dumb, some wise, some so deep they're meaningless. I think up a thought from time to time but never write it down. For example...

"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Ever notice how the author (Bill somebody) completely leaves out any discussion on the idea of loving and "winning"? Hmmm. Maybe it simply is "Best to have loved and lost." N'est pas?

I suspect, however, that if I filled a blog entry with my own thoughts, it would come off as a bit too sarcastic and dark. A large part of my current bliss stems from ignoring all consequences and long-term outlooks. (Well, not normally, but I'm on vacation darn it!)

I guess a happier thought would be something more like...

Why don't adults ever take the time to looks at clouds? Sure here in Holland clouds tend to be homogeneous grey from horizon to horizon, but the days they aren't... why don't more of us stop and enjoy the beauty of a cloud as it blows by far over our heads?

Some of my ideas might come off as preachy, and that's not the goal. But I think a lot about stuff like...

When discussing "sustainable development" does any one get that defacto most existing growth and development is "unsustainable"? So without change, there will be a limit, and hitting that limit hard would be a very bad thing. What would you do if you were suddenly required to live with a fraction of the energy you now use?

I do like to keep my blog often topical to scuba diving. So I'll mention I still need a buddy to go to Bonaire (or any where really) next week. Where I hope to do ample amounts of night diving. But that's all that's to say there.

If it was time for personal information sharing then I'd say that I should be in the gym working off my "america weight". Perhaps I'll just start with a shave and shower and see what happens next.

But as you can see... I can't decide. So I'll just have to close today's blog here. Because I've got nothing to write about. Oh well, have a great day!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The sauce is cooking... an update

The pasta sauce (tomato, meat, and veggies) is cooking slowly on the stove. Starting it at 4pm is just perfect for a 6:30 or 7pm dinner.

In the mean time, there's so much going on all at once, that I thought I should stop and do a personal update, rather than a normal post. I'm not keen to make this blog too much about me. But without an update some of the other blogs might not make sense.

I'm originally from near to Niagara Falls Canada, lived and worked in Canada until 29, then moved to Europe and have been living in Amsterdam for almost 6 years now. Lately, my engineering consulting work has been largely freelance. So my last 2 contracts had me working in the U.S., living out of hotels, and spending 12 hours plus per day infront of multiple computers. In every way that matters to the soul, I'm unemployed at the moment (not on paper) and enjoying and relaxing as much as possible.

Lately I've managed to solve a number of annoying problems, including what to do next for work. I've had a couple of job interviews and have been told to expect a written job offer shortly.

In the mean while, the last dive I had back in September to finish my Divemaster internship is still the last dive I was on. I've already missed opportunities in Canada and Holland to get wet. Frustrated by this state of affairs, I've decided to go away and dive some beautiful warm tropical place. Hopefully Bonaire. I'm planning on just hopping a plane and going without a dive buddy. So if anyone wants to go... just say so!

Pardon me, the sauce needs stirring.

I'm hoping to find a diveshop/resort that can use some assistance so I can gain some divemastering experience. Still, if all I get to do is fly through warm clear water, that's enough!

There is one aspect of life that has been conspiquously missing from my blog as from life in general lately. That would be a companion of the female type. But for now I'll be happy in a new job (based out of Amsterdam!), lots of diving (warm and cold) to look forward to, and finally being home after too too long a trip away.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I'm booking the vacation!

WOOHOO! During my hellish tour of duty in the U.S. I kept promising myself that it would be all made worth while by having a grand vacation afterwards. Well, two weeks after arriving home and I've just called to sort the details on the vacation! Woohoo hoowoo!

I've gotta run now. But long story short is (1) I have a verbal job offer, and (2) I'm using that bit of security to justify all the expenses (and joys!) of a last-minute tropical diving vacation.

*bubble* *bubble*

Life is beautiful. I just hope there's a big enough gap after coming back from vacation before starting work. ROTFL!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

No diving today. ;-(

OMG this sucks! I woke up this morning just before 6am in order to make the long journey to meet the club for a dive day. I shaved and showered and grabbed my two bags of dive gear then made my way via taxi to Amsterdam Centraal Station and then to The Hague. The dive club operates out of a dive shop right next to the train station (as well as also in Rotterdam and Amsterdam).

So I made it there at 8am, expecting to start packing tanks and weights and be on the road by 9am. Alas, shortly before 9am one of the staff (who showed up for a different reason) made some calls and found out that the club had met at and left from the Rotterdam store... an hour earlier.

So I'm home now. It took four hours to make the trip, 23 Euros for the bus/trains/taxi, and I gave up my Saturday night to stay rested and hydrated. Ugh!

I'm terribly dissappointed, but surprisingly not angry. If nothing else this will help with the jetlag tremendously. And I do tend to spend too much money on Saturday nights in Amsterdam during full moons. :-) So I'm sure I saved more than the money I've paid.

Oh well. No big deal as I *WILL* be going out with the club next weekend. For now... a lazy Sunday and an early night to bed.