Sunday, July 29, 2007


The dragon slept. For eons he had slept. All around, a glowing-red blackness engulfed him and warmed his scales. Currents of molten rock swirled around his body and gently supported him deep deep inside the mountain.

It is true that dragon's lairs are often large chambers deep inside volcanic mountains. But dragons don't sleep in large caves atop piles of gold coins. Dragons sleep in the warmest reservoirs of magma. The fact that molten gold plates to their scales while they sleep is simply a trivial point of interest. The dragon rarely cares how it appears to mortals and is neither helped nor hindered by the extra layer. (Dragons have also awoken to find themselves plated with cooper, platinum, diamonds and more.)

Garshm had chosen his most recent hibernation spot for the warmth and the peace. He had had to punch through a particularly thick crust of rock to reach his liquid bed chamber. And he knew that it would be a long while before the volcano finally told him his welcome had worn thin. Eventually the mountain would spit him out in a flow of lava, or perhaps more spectacularly an explosion of rocks and soil and ash. Either way, waking up was a rude experience at best.

By and large, dragons are happiest when they sleep. Or looked at from the other perspective, dragons are terribly nasty creatures when they've just woken up.

As it turns out, Garshm would be soon awaking in a very nasty mood. And his ire will be all the worse when he discovers that Unicorns, his primary source of nourishment, have been wiped from the Earth by something called people.

Indeed unicorns and nearly all magical creatures had been gone from the Earth's surface for quite some time. The platypus and dolphin remained, but they had evolved and become as "real" as animals and fish and even people. No longer creatures of energy, they lived only in the world of the physical and material.

Dragons are "real". But they exist in more than a single reality. They are creatures of both mass and energy. The mass of their bodies, as yours, is simply condensed energy. But unlike you and I, dragons retain control of that energy and can direct it with a mere thought.

This leads to some pretty spectacular feats of power. For example, Pangaea, the planet's one and only continent was fragmented and sent adrift one night during an argument between two dominant dragons. A similar incident a few million years later left a crater in the Earth worthy of a giant meteor strike. Ninety-eight percent of the species alive at the time were lost.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I'm Home

I love coming home. Travelling, the actual airport stuff, is now just a lot like time spent in a dentist's chair. Just concentrate on happy thoughts and eventually it'll all be over. Time spent away is, pardon the pun, neither here nor there to me. I've spent so much time in so many hotels that my routine, laying out the clothes from the suitcase, etc., is now followed subconsciously. But after travelling I always feel happy to be home!

I've spent the day unpacking and packing, with ample vaccuuming in between. My travel suitcase was emptied and clothes were washed. I then I took advantage of the temporarily free floor space to pull out of the scuba gear and vaccuum in forgotten places. Then I packed my gear from the suitcase it stores in to the gear bag. I talc'd the seals on my drysuit and waxed the waterproof zipper. Lastly everything (save for the two bags of dive gear) got returned to storage under the bed.

No matter how nice away was, I enjoy just being, at home. Except for tomorrow afternoon when I'll be enjoying being underwater. Oh, and tonight, when I'll be out enjoying a full-moon Saturday night. *evil grin* But this is all just part of "home". Where I am.

Update: Must have been the moon. The warmth of home is preferable to the cold of a stormy day so today's dive has been called.

I Had a Curry!

I don't know whether to title this post "I'm Home", "The UK was Okay", or "I Had a Curry!"

My coworkers and I enjoyed two days of training at our company's office in Horsham, England. About half way between London and Brighton. Our nights were spent at the lovely Wimblehurst Hotel.

That said, I'm not convinced that the Wimblehurst was really a hotel... as much as just some old house. And while the sign on the front proclaims its a two star "small hotel" I think what that means is its a one star bed and breakfast.

A strange point... of the 6 people involved in the course, 4 flew in from Holland, 1 from Germany, and 1 from the U.S. So uhm, why were we in England? I've got no idea!

While logistics might not have been "spot on", I am pleased to report I still managed to learn things. Stuff I can actually apply directly to my job! That shouldn't normally be exclamation "worthy" but honestly, it is.

Thankfully some fun happened too! We went as a group to the New Curry Restaurant in the sleepy centre of Horsham and I think it was great. And that's a strange thing, since I despise the taste (and especially the after-taste) of curry. Heck, even the smell of it can curl my toe nails, but this experience was completely different. I told the waiter to make something so spicy hot that I simply wouldn't be able to taste the curry. They did a great job!

One of my Dutch colleagues tried a micro-dab (that's a scientific term) of my hot sauce. That was hilarious! I ate it like ketchup. And I heard about it all the next day. I've made spaghetti sauce hotter... albeit by mistake. But people were shocked by (surprised by, scared by?) what I considered medium spicey.

But the moral of the storey is that I can enjoy "a curry". And for more than just the Kingfisher beer.

The trip home was mildly uneventful. Downright boring actually. Due to reasons of taxi-sharing and different flight times I was at the airport at 3:15pm but didn't fly out until 8:20. Nasty! Although I did take this opportunity to buy my copy of the new Harry Potter and had a proper Fish & Chips.

I also saw a Gatwick sign that I thought sent all the wrong messages. Attempting to tell escalator riders to watch their step, instead I think it perpetuates nasty stereotypes about penguins. By no means a clumsy or foolish animal, I think penguins deserve a little more respect than this sign (and the one in the background) gives them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Doubling my England time...

Officially I'm working from home this morning. Really I'm packing and preparing to head to the airport after lunch and hop on a plane for the UK. Wow travel! It's been... weeks!

This will double the total amount of time I've spent in England, having previously spent a weekend and a lot of separate airplane connections. I'm looking forward to fish & chips in a good pub, trying all kinds of different beers and ales, and maybe learning something in my training course.

Cool temperatures, light rain, and a bit of sun are all in the forecast. I hope that means "flooding" is not. It's ironic leaving the Netherlands, way down here below sea level, and going some where with terrible flooding problems! I'll make sure they don't give me a ground floor room at the hotel.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Missing - One lead belt

Sunday's diving was great, and nothing can change that. But... we did have a few glitches. Equipment problems and rain were normal. But what I find shocking is the weight belt theft!

Okay, I think it probably wasn't a real theft. Just a mix up. So I'm hoping that this poster, which I shall post at the dive site, will help my weight belt find its way home.

In the mean while, I read an article from a Dutch newspaper which reported that researchers found the Dutch to be some of the least honest people in the world. The article describes a test involving leaving cell phones on the sidewalk and recording how many of them are returned. (Calling either of the two numbers in the phone's memory would reach the "owner".) It turns out of 31 countries tested, Holland ranked 29th. Most people pocketted the lead, erm, phone and walked away.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I discovered a website today called Here's a few selections of their's that I liked:


Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory. Albert Schweitzer (1875 - 1965)

The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase; if you pursue happiness you'll never find it. C. P. Snow (1905 - 1980)

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. George Burns (1896 - 1996)


Electricity is actually made up of extremely tiny particles called electrons, that you cannot see with the naked eye unless you have been drinking. Dave Barry

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)

Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water. W. C. Fields (1880 - 1946)


I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty. George Burns (1896 - 1996)

In America sex is an obsession, in other parts of the world it is a fact. Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992)

Life is a sexually transmitted disease. R. D. Laing

Seduction isn’t making someone do what they don’t want to do. Seduction is enticing someone into doing what they secretly want to do already. Waiter Rant

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Students and Buddies and Diving and WOW!

This has been an incredible day! We went diving! Real diving, in open water, a lake, right here in Holland!

Ingrid and Adam and I, after a brilliant Thursday in the pool, got to blow bubbles in Vinkeveense Plas today. A little divers park in a "lake" in Holland. Park-like in that it is buoyed to warn away boats and surface dangers, and filled with sunken "stuff" placed there for diving fun. (My favourite is the bus with the seats and windows removed.) Lake-like in that its a piece of land that didn't get drained. The lake is visibily metres higher than some of the houses around it. Hats off to the Dutch!

We spent a whole day for 40 minutes underwater. Seemingly nutters! But it was amazing! The anticipation before a dive is worth paying for... and the high that comes afterwards just makes everything fall into perspective... as in, nothing's too wrong if I can spend my weekends doing this.

What's mildly ironic is I've just used my Divemaster credentials to "build" two new buddies. Ironic in that I needed to be an instructor to get these guys in the water, but actually didn't have to be. Divemasters can do the Scuba Review course they agreed to. What we ended up with was three friends enjoying diving. (They're both already certified, but out of the water a while.) Technically, no course or credentials were needed at all for us to go diving.

That said, I think being an instructor, and running through some basics made a difference in whether my buddies got wet or not. So in a very real way I've just built two buddies whom I can go diving with and who feel comfortable diving with me. Perfect!

Now I have to find out if they want to write the test and visit the pool once more to get the "official sticker" (oh!) for the course. At one point, Ingrid, looking through her log book, realized she had her decorative PADI certificate which had never been signed. It was heart breaking that I couldn't actually fill it in and sign it for her. Hopefully I'll be able to sign lots of other, better certificates for her in the future!

And there are still a few courses I can teach Adam. (He has more than 3X as many dives as me.) In the end, today was an incredible start! Students, buddies, and diving... Wow!

Friday, July 20, 2007

All signs point to mayhem.

Mayhem and silliness are serious dangers in tonight's activities. Mike, who's been gone way too long, is finally back and free for a beer. And Joby is also in town and joining.

I'd make guesses about what might transpire but right now I've got to get ready and get out. There's fun to be had!


In the end... *sigh* ... I must report my friends are far too old. Mike called it quits at 9pm and Joby agreed to stay for one more beer. *yawn* At least I got my sleep for diving Sunday. And there in was the real storey.

We Blew Bubbles!

Woohoo! A month and a half after returning from my Instructor course, I finally spent some time diving with students! Almost.

As hoped and promised, Ingrid and Adam did indeed join me yesterday at the pool. A crazy bit of logistics (work to scuba shop to pool) was involved and we were in the end too late to hold proper training. But we blew bubbles and it was great! My students are both certified... the plan was for reviewing their skills and rebuilding confidence before Sunday's planned dive in a local lake. When all the equipment problems were done we only spent 30 minutes in the pool. But oh what fun those minutes were!

I can't explain it; it's an addiction. Hours of rushing and preparation are completely worth the hassles just to get minutes underwater. And I'm sure we'd, all three, agree. We practiced a few skills, we swam, we hovered carefully in the shallow water, and we had tons of fun!

I believe Ingrid is mentally ready for her first ever "cold water" dive. And after months and years of stalling, I think I've got Adam hooked on scuba again.

So I've finally been in the water with my first two students. And soon I'll have them so addicted to diving I'll have regular buddy's for weekends. *evil laugh* I love it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Working from home...

In the past I've had many days working from home. And I always felt a strong sense of professionalism and worked really hard. But today I'm doing my normal office work from home and of course my "normal" office workload is very low. It's tempting to give up trying and head to the gym or the scuba shop. My lunch of pasta and homemade sauce was much better than the cafeteria average. That's a plus. But even hovering over my email, I can't will people to send me the information I need to do some serious work.

And thus, I'm blogging.

Today being July 17th, I would be remiss if I didn't say Happy Birthday Minka!!! I imagine she's in the air now on her way home. Hopefully with lots of time tonight to enjoy her special day. (She might also be on the late flight which arrives after midnight.)

Other exciting things include plans for diving. Adam and Ingrid are two friends of mine, niether of whom have been diving for years now. We're doing a PADI Scuba Review course this Thursday (pool) and Sunday (Vinkeveense plas). The logistics will be a challenge, but it's certain to be a lot of fun!

Last but not least, I'd also like to say "Welcome home Mike!" My friend who took over work in Boston from me last year has only just now returned himself. Way too long away.

With both Mike and Joby in town I can imagine upcoming silliness.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Gas Lamps

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Royal Visit to Amsterdam

Amsterdam - WC News - Dutch royalty, local media, bloggers and generally knowledgeable people gathered today at Amsterdam's Centraal Station to welcome the Ice Queen as her royal coach arrived.

Delayed by German rail workers, Hollywood analysts report the Queen's delay falls precisely on "fashionably late". Beatrix, queen of the Netherlands, reported her understanding that Germany was reluctant to part with their all-too-seldomly enjoyed visitor.

The visit included a canal-based parade through the central part of the city as waving onlookers lined the banks to view the passing procession. Onlookers were heard to exclaim that the animated and energetic Ice Queen was indeed far more beautiful than her pictures capture. Later on, the Ice Queen took a walking tour and revisited some of the same locations. Most appreciated was the fine art of sitting in a cafe watching others walk to and from other cafes.

Officially deemed a sight-seeing tour, think-tank researchers report that telecommunications vendors and Icelandic scuba shops could end up the big winners if connections between the two kingdoms are strengthened.

The royal visit, part of a European tour, boosted the local economy. The overly generous Icelandic tourist purchased ample souvenirs for herself, her friends and family, and in one case for an anonymous person in a washroom. Swedish authorities pledge to match the contributions.

Train Stikes in Germany?!?

Do you ever feel that plans just aren't worth making some times? I've currently got plans to host a tour of Amsterdam. And I'm really looking forward to meeting my guest. But apparently union workers in Germany had plans to stop the trains there.

Also apparently, the German courts have ordered the workers back and the trains to run. So right now it's any one's call.

Thankfully I made plans that didn't involve times, such as a canal boat tour. They leave every 15 minutes or so. Now we'll have to see if the train delays affect my flexible planning or not. They will if they cancel the trip all together. But hopefully, tomorrow I'll have a much more interesting set of stories to blog about.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

So Busy

There's been precious little time to blog this weekend. Two social events for work, and meeting up with friends, has kept me out all weekend and the pace is slowing as I move into Sunday evening. Nice. But tiring.

Borrels means drinks in Dutch. It's common for employers to host borrels after work from time to time. And for my employer that's the first Friday or each month. Shut the computer down, leave your desk early, and get your weekend started, before ever leaving the office.

Saturday was a once in a long-while type event. We went to the beach! While attendance was way off the numbers who said they would show, a good time was had by the more than 2 dozen sun burned and sand blasted coworkers.

The North Sea coast of Holland is mainly sandy dunes. Many many miles of sand. So it's only natural, given the beautiful beach and vast vistas that people flock to the coast. Unless you also factor in the weather. Then the totality of the sea-side industry becomes incomprehensible. It's cold! The water is cold, the sand is cold, the wind blowing with gale force intensity is really cold. Where on other beaches people lay nearly naked and turn brown, in Holland groups in sweaters, jackets and long pants huddle together to avoid turning blue.

The intrepid attitude at least makes a "season" possible. As without a tolerance for cold, the beach would only be appropriate on about 3 days a year. And that wouldn't support the extensive areas of restaurants, surfing schools, bars and night clubs. So my colleagues and I did our job yesterday in the wind and cold and supported the modern maritime economy. And in just a few more days, we'll no long be picking sand out of ears and from between toes.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A walk in the rain

There are times when walking in the rain is simply the right thing to do. Times when pathos has more value than comfort and warmth. An obviously enjoyable thing, to children (rain is for getting wet), adults tend to shun rain as if, like the unfriendly coven member of the west, we would melt.

I've seen recent news footage of floods and some truly terrible aquious-based disasters. But none of these has involved people actually melting. Drowning, sure. The occasional washed away scenerio. But rarely, if ever, spontanious liquifaction due to hydrogen dioxide contamination.

Today my body is trapped inside a flourescent prison of desks and papers. But my mind is out wandering in the rain. I wish I could follow it right now, as later I will surely have better things to do. And I will surely prefer to do those things in a state of dry comfort. But right now, this would be a great time to go for a walk in the rain.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I never bought a TV before

Before yesterday, I didn't own a TV. Instead I had a roommate with a TV and a TV tuner card in my computer. However last month, said roommate broke my monitor. So yesterday I went out and replaced it... with a 32 inch LCD flat screen. A little crazy big for a monitor, but it allows me to read the fine print in my WinAmp playlist from across the room! And of course it's a TV. Aside from a combination boom-box, cassette player, TV I bought when I was 14, this is my first.
In the mean time, I'm happy to announce that Sneaky has arrived and has fully recovered from an ailment he had in transit. He sits now on the right speaker, enjoying a wide view of the room.

He keeps asking me if we're moving to the Caribbean soon. I keep telling him to enjoy being here and in one piece and that it won't be very long before it's time to get packed up again.