Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Rain (drops) in Holland Fall Mainly On My Head

Never mix your metaphors. That'd be like putting two weasels in a cage and lighting the fuse. "Your who-whats? What's a meta for?" Well, metas are mostly for indexing and search engines, but they're also for other information, comments, etc..

Coffee would probably never be legal if a pharmaceutical company invented it today. And if it were illegal, I'd have no choice but to be a coffee gangsta. I'd have a van with an espresso machine and I'd sell a demitasse hit for $10 a go. Can you imagine a large latté in a brown paper bag? The criminal moving quickly down the street, looking back over their shoulder ever few seconds? Well if that ever happened, let me tell you I'd be the rather shaky gentleman with the fur coat and gold rings in the van down the alley.

Thank goodness coffee is legal.

While I'm babbling, I think this is a good time to mention adverbs. Use them people! And use them proper. Erm, properly. This bit is actually going out to the network TV execs who are dumbing down English.

Intelligent Person: Hey, how's that plan to dumb down the English language?
Network Exec: Yeah, it's going really good.
Intelligent Person: You mean well. It's going well.
Network Exec: I know how to speak proper.

An adverb is a descriptive word that modifies (describes) a verb (an action) or an adjective. Too often the adjective and the adverb, which often differ by only an "LY", are used interchangeably. In cases such as good and well, where "good" is the adjective and "well" is the adverb, well, things really get confused.

Sorry, that last bit has nothing to do with anyone in blog space. My friends write goodly. I've just had a bit too much coffee. Hey, it's legal, stop looking at me like that!

Next week we'll discuss spelling, and why I feel its rules don't apply to me.

Spring Forward, Fall Back

Last April, or was it March, I lost an hour of my life. Even more precious, I lost an hour of sleep! This hour was ripped from my life when I least expected it and when I awoke to find it gone I was suddenly an hour late for everything. Thankfully "everything" was "everything I intended to do on a Sunday"... so it was nothing really, but still. The thought that some genius in Greenwich or Geneva or Washington D.C. (where do the Time Police have their headquarters?) had taken time from me and forced me to adjust my watch felt like a personal invasion.

But unlike most golf balls, love interests, or lost dive weights, this hour has mysteriously returned to me! Completely opposite to how a cat that's been run over fails to come home, here's my lost hour, waiting for me this morning.

If I knew it was coming back, I would have tried to greet my hour properly, such as with my eyes closed in bed. But regardless of how it's back I'm just happy to have it here. I've spent my summer feeling at least 59 minutes out of touch with the world around me. Now I can be fully in synch with the coming winter cold and rain which I'll be there for every 1/24th day of.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Vomit defines the night train

Last night I rode the night train home from a party in the Hague, and per normal for the night train, I really wish I hadn't.

After midnight, regular train service through the country drops off to an hourly train between Rotterdam, Den Haag (the Hague), Amsterdam, and Utrecht. I had planned to leave the party in time to catch the normal train service, but knew the night train was there if needed. So when 2:30am rolled around and I decided to leave, I thought I had a smooth way home and wasn't at all expecting a 5 hour trip or multi-train marathon.

A bit like the Knight Bus from Harry Potter, the night train has some logic defying properties. For example, because the train leaves once an hour you would expect to need to leave an average of 30 minutes in your plans for waiting. But mysteriously it always ends up that I arrive at the station with 55 minutes to wait for the next train. Always. And last night was true to form.

Also odd, it seems the NS (Dutch rail service) insists that vomit be a part of the night train experience. Perhaps it's a lack of cleaning staff at night? Perhaps its the Dutch themselves who insist on this little decorating detail? One way or another, I've never taken the night train without encountering the evidence of some body's alcohol consumption. I ride the NS nearly every day. No normal train at 6am or 12am has ever had this problem... but the night trains at 1am and 5am seem to use vomit to proclaim "you are now on the night train."

And last night I learned that not all the trains even have conductors. I figured this out because there wasn't a station announcement when we pulled into Amsterdam. From within the brightly lit train I had to put my face to the glass to peer out to the dimly lit station. I was shocked when I realized where we were and went running to the doors just in time to watch us pull away.

Utrecht was a further 35 minute trip. I arrived after the last night train the other way had already left so had to wait an hour (again) for the first trains on Saturday to start. The stop train (named for what it does so frequently) took 50 minutes to get back to Amsterdam, around 7:15am.

In the end, it's a wonderful thing to have such a large part of the country tied together with 24-hour train service. Taxis over such distances are too expensive. And since no other trains are running, the night train service is extremely reliable. Unfortunately many of the reliable aspects include the smell and the mind numbing waits at crazy hours. If you're ever visiting Holland may I recommend to you, check the train schedules carefully and do your best to avoid the night train.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Something gets completed

Wow, finishing something. It sure feels good! I've said recently that I have many things on the go, and that I'm spending a lot of time waiting before I can continue on many of my projects. My passport / travel issues are messed up. Work is busier than ever and filled with undone action items. I'm travelling in 6 days to Denmark and don't have tickets yet. And of course life isn't slowing down in the least. But today, my open-water diving students "graduated"!

Congratulations to Jasper and Sjoerd! You both worked really hard, did well at all the tasks and skills presented to you, and now you've both passed your quizes and tests.

Their log books are signed. Their paperwork will be into PADI by next week. And as of this afternoon, they're scuba divers. I think the only person who could possibly be more excited than either of the two new divers (or their dad) is the new instructor who now has his first certifications done. Woohoo, finally another step has been completed!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

J.D. guest posts...

Today J.D. is guest posting. She wanted to borrow the airwaves to say a few words.


Thanks, Dearest Morgan,

The best way to be ill is when you feel well. When doctors tell you that you are health challenged and your heart tells you that you will be O.K.; when you can still smile and laugh through it all; when your most loved people are beside you, there is still another reason to be joyful……..friends are praying for you and sending happy thoughts to you. I felt those good wishes and get well messages coming from all my blogger friends. Everyday I think of you, friends, and for most I picture your faces, as if you lived next door.

Special thanks are sent to Quilly, Irene, Minka, Charline, Theresa, Becky, Wanda, Neva, and Kryte. Any minute we may meet a special friend…it may take an hour to appreciate her/him…it may take only a day to love that person…but, it will take a lifetime to forget a special friend. That is how I feel about you all and I couldn’t leave it unsaid.

For the next little while, just think of me resting, reading, watching TV, humming or adding to my I Tunes list and enjoying all of my favourite inactivities. :-)

……………….Love, Judy


Thanks and love also from me. It was a tough week for the whole family and your well wishes and prayers really did help.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sort of waiting

I'm trained in a few things. Experienced in others. Gifted in one of two ways. But one grace, it seems, will always allude me. I don't wait well.

Okay, I can appear patient. Really though, if I'm waiting, I'm probably doing it by doing something else. If I'm waiting for a bus I'm actually planning my day, listening to music and having a cigarette just to have something (anything) to do. Now is a good example. I'm working on Friday afternoon but there is very little work I can actually do. I have plans for dinner tonight, but that's still hours away. So I'm waiting. And I do that, apparently, by blogging.

Getting things done requires a lot of waiting. So it's handy to have many things on the go at once. But even with all the projects I juggle, it feels that right now I'm waiting. I've got meetings, training and all kinds of work... starting Monday. I'm super anxious to visit a friend in Copenhagen... in just 2 weeks. I've got an interesting trip to Malaysia and Singapore planned... next month. I've even got plans for diving this weekend, but that won't be until Sunday afternoon. And after that dive, a lot of my regular buddies will be backing out, waiting until spring and sun again.

Some where a wise man is sitting under a tree. Just sitting. Very patiently waiting. And perhaps he'll wait tomorrow and the next day and the waiting won't bother him a bit. If I was told to wait three days under a tree then by the end of the first day I would have fashioned crude wooden tools from the lower branches. By the end of day two I'd have used the tools to fell the tree and split the wood into planks. By day three I'd have the tree turned into a small shelter with a large bonfire in front. And then I'd probably be told that the tree was magical and now, after my 3-day wait, would grant my wildest wishes.... but uhm, hey, where did the magical tree go?

Hopefully wise men who sit under magical (or otherwise) trees have the sense not to trust impatient people with important things.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Morning Hug

I was walking to work this morning in the cold and the rain when suddenly I noticed, right in front of me, the universe was sending a gigantic hug to start the day. Here's a pic.

What? You have a different way of looking at rainbows? Some prismatic trick of separating different wavelengths of photons? Ha, totally laughable! It's clearly a hug from the heavens.


Thursday is perfect for all your pagan celebrations. Named (in English, German and Scandinavian languages) for Thor, the god of lightning and big hammers, this day goes by many pagan names. In Roman languages this day is known as Jupiter's day, Jovis Dies, which became giovedi, jueves, and jeudi in Italian, Spanish, and French. In Hindu Thursday is Guruvaar which derives from Jupiter's name in Sanskrit. Whether culturally you prefer Thor or Jupiter you're still acknowledging the power of a really big tool and a bolt of lightning.

While the worlds "modern" religions celebrate their gods on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday the living earth still calls it's people to celebrate Thursday in older, more traditional ways. For example, Thursday is the best drinking and partying night of the week for those paganically inclined. You can meet new people on Thursday and be on the third date before the end of the weekend!

School taught me to party on Thursdays. In college, everyone went home weekends, leaving the campus deserted. So Thursday night was the time to hit the student pubs. Later in life I learned that weekends can start on Thursday evenings... provided the weekend enjoyer is willing to work Friday (part of the weekend). There's a certain evil pleasure in that moment when you know you're already up too late to get enough sleep for work, but you order another drink any way.

You can have a three-day weekend every week... if you want it hard enough.

Some cultures hold out. In Portugal they prefer to keep cleaner souls and so simply refer to Thursday as "fifth day". Quakers, from whom we more expect this piety, also keep time with Wednesday, fifth day, Friday. I wonder how they capitalise it? Fifth day? Fifth Day? Or do they eschew paper?

Douglas Adams knew that the world would eventually explode on a Thursday. And Last Thursdayism expounds that the world was actually created on a Thursday. Specifically, last Thursday.

In the UK this pagan holiday has it's place in evil tradition with all elections in the last 70 years held on Thursdays. And Thanksgiving in the U.S., their most pagan of pagan feast days, is always held on Thursdays. The fourth Thursday of the 11th month. Eleven, a one and a one. 1+1=2. Two and four?

Even the symbol for Jupiter gives away the true purpose of Thursday. The numbers two and four, together. As any Canadian can tell you, two-four is the universal term for a case of (24) beer. There's twenty four hours in every Thursday and twenty four beers in a case. Coincidence? Don't be so naive!

So the next time your work week feels endless. The next time you lament how boring your life seems. The next time you feel like you just can't make it one more day until Friday... cut loose, go wild, be pagan, and yell," Thank gods it's Thursday!"


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Top Twelve Ways to Beat Jet Lag

Jet lag, herein to be known as jetlag regardless of what the spell checker thinks, is often misunderstood. A bit of yawning, a missed night of sleep here or there and it's all okay, right? Heck no.

As a case in point, earlier this year I was talking to a friend of mine who flew from Vancouver to Amsterdam. She proudly proclaimed that she felt no jetlag whatsoever. Upon questioning she did admit that all the travelling had left her sick. She wasn't hungry, wasn't eating properly, had an upset stomach, and hadn't gotten much decent sleep. But she wasn't jetlagged!

To help travellers, I provide the following list of 12 ways to beat and avoid jetlag.

#10 - Flying west is easier than east. So if flying from Paris to New York, make your return flight via Los Angeles, Hawaii, Thailand, Dubai and then back to Paris. Voila, pas de jetlag!

#9 - Use multiple alarm clocks. Set them to go off 20 seconds apart and place them around the room in such a way that turning them off forces you out of bed and preferably down the hall towards the shower.

#8 - Stick to one timezone with fundamentalist fanaticism. If the sun in the sky says it's 6 hours earlier/later than your brain is expecting, ignore it. Book your business meetings at 11pm and force those you're meeting with to accommodate your timezone needs.

#7 - Drink plenty of fluids. The dry air inside the plane, the airline's chic new fusion cuisine, and the complimentary beer all contribute to dehydration. Said food is going to become a brick in your stomach as they feed you lunch at 2:30am. Water will help smooth the whole process later when it's time to... lay bricks.

#5 - Keep lists. Sleep deprivation will mean a loss of mental acuity. To make sure you don't start missing important parts of life, keep a properly ordered list and make sure not to miss any thing.

#4 - No sleep 'til bedtime! Seriously. Normally I would tell you to sleep when you're tired. (Like eating when you're hungry, or making love when you're happy, sad, warm, cold, excited or bored.) But if you want to get on board with your local time zone, don't let yourself sleep or even nap during daylight hours. Force yourself to sleep at night.

#pi - Eat at meal times. If you normally eat breakfast, lunch and dinner then keep doing that. You may find you aren't hungry but sit down and try to eat any way. Some of the worst symptoms of jetlag are gastro-intestinal. Your stomach expects different things at different times of the day (time to eat and time to rest, a time to laugh, a time to cry, turn turn turn). The faster you can reset the stomach the sooner you'll feel normal. (Note: "Resetting" one's stomach can be painful and/or messy.)

#2 - Coffee, and lots of it! Once the alarm clock trick has you out of bed, immediately flood your system with caffeine. Don't drink coffee? Try No-Doze or similar pills as favoured by long-distance truckers and late-night strippers.

And the single best way to handle jetlag?

#A - Don't fly!

I hope this has been helpful.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

And Now I'm Home Too

It's only midnight at my parents' in Canada, but past 6am back here in Holland. Deep into the middle of my journey of jet lag, I was done my journey of jet yesterday after an 18 hour door to door trip.

This time round the 6.5 hour flight was extended to 9.5 hours instead. KLM gave us a tour of Canada before finally sending us on our way to Holland. It was an unbelievable disappointment when I heard the Captain's announcement about "turning to go back to Toronto". Having been in the air for an hour already, and flying some where roughly near Montreal, some type of mechanical problem regarding on-board water necessitated the plane turning back for repairs. An hour out, that same hour back, and an hour on the ground. We remained in our seats the whole time. And so once we finally set out for our trans-atlantic flight I was already uncomfortable.

Big thanks to Diesel! Your book, Antisocial Commentary, kept me laughing out loud throughout the flight! There were times I was crying from laughing too hard. When ever I wasn't wandering the cabin, eating, or watching the movie I was convulsing with laughter and that made the marathon plane experience so much easier.

Alas, after roughly 35 trips across the Atlantic ocean now, I've never slept on a plane. So taking off at 6pm from Toronto (the first time) and landing at Schiphol at 10:30am meant I missed Friday night and went straight into a sunny Saturday.

After staying up as long as possible (to 8pm) I've now slept 10 hours and have awoken on a cycle entirely reversed from where I was yesterday. No. Not yesterday, Friday. One extra-long 29 hour day ago. Two days ago. I don't know.

While never fun to travel, it is of course nice to be home. And now a sunny day is just minutes away from starting as the horizon turns pink. I think that means it's time to brew some coffee.


Further: The old saying is that the early bird gets the worm. Having watched sunrise I noticed it is actually the water fowl who were flying first. Ducks, geese, and swans took to the sky while it was still dark. Song birds waited until significantly later. So I propose that it actually should be "The early bird gets the fish."

Friday, October 12, 2007

She's Home She's Home!

She's home, she's home, J.D. is finally home! Safe and sound from the hospital, my Mom arrived home just in time to share my last night in Canada... and thank goodness! The family has been going nuts, and it all finally feels okay again.

Suddenly laundry is a priority. Dinner was a group event. The evening is devoted to the three of use around the television.

So what's the prognosis you ask? What did all the test results say? Well, would you believe that the doctors really don't know, but literally sent her home with a perscription for aspirin? LOL! Take two aspirin and call your cardiologist in the morning.

It's been an unpleasant experience. But given that it could have been a lot of serious things, and appears not to be, everyone involved is feeling lucky and counting blessings. Thanks all for the well wishes and prayers!

Peace and Love

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Self Indulgent Introspective Crap

Disclaimer: Seriously, you probably don't want to read the following. It's therapy through writing and unlikely to be of interest to you.


Last week I was anticipating the joy of an eight hour long flight, which I prepared for by buying a book. By chance I chose a favourite author, Richard Feynman, and without any clue as to the nature of the book I bought it and started reading. The whole first chapter was a tribute to his father.

Coincidentally a combination of events came together that day.

Standing waiting for the flight, I heard my name behind me and turned to find none other than my ex-fiancee waiting for the same flight. Going to the same city in Niagara, holding a ticket to sit beside me. Karma is cruel.

The young lady in question, nine years my senior, played an instrumental role in the idea that perhaps I'd live my life without raising a family. And for the three years since our separation I kept that idea.

It was only this summer that I met a friend who made me question that idea. Hell, I abandoned the idea like a hot potato(e) and re-evaluated all my plans in an instant. (Soul mates... infinitely dangerous.) Once I began to question the fundamental tenets of my existence, all hell started breaking loose.

I recently met another new (very special) friend and I decided not to mention to her my idea that perhaps I wouldn't ever have kids. Wow! Suddenly I'm attractive!

Sitting there on the plane, beside the ex, reading Richard Feynman's tribute to his father, I suddenly no longer knew. My life had gained perspective.

And all these thoughts came to me before my Mom spent five days in the hospital for a (suspected) heart attack. Add mortality to the thought of immortality and the whole idea of kids starts looking ... well, its still looking pretty scary.

Thus far I've travelled, had fun and sought adventure. I've done things because they scared me... never avoiding fear. And although I've gone this far in life seeking challenges, this one challenge has always seemed beyond reach, beyond my expectations, and beyond my desires. But now... I don't know. It's all changing. It's all different. It's all far more serious. And suddenly I'm really fucking confused.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Very Scary News

It's been a year since I've been home to Canada. Thanksgiving last year I pulled into the driveway just an hour before the whole family sat down to dinner. This year, I intended to wait until Christmas to come home. Until, that is, I began to suspect that my mother's always-poor health was a little worse than normal. The other day I booked a last minute flight home.

Things actually seemed pretty normal when I arrived. Mom and Dad were both in great spirits. J.D. looked a little more frail than normal but was so happy to see me.

And yesterday afternoon seemed like a very normal day. After a bit of shopping with my Dad, and some time hanging out with Mom, the three of us were sitting in the living room watching TV and chatting.

J.D. is a Coke addict. Coca-Cola that is. She has a glass of the stuff with her all day and all night. It's her preferred way to wash down heart pills, etc.. So it seemed odd when she suddenly asked me," Who's glass of cola is this?"

"It's yours Mom."

Two minutes later she asked," Is this your cola?" and at that moment the day began to fall apart. She really didn't know. She didn't know that she had just asked. She didn't know what she had been doing. She couldn't answer any question about the preceding 3 hours. And she was almost as afraid of that as Dad and I were.

There were no other signs of symptoms of a problem. No headache or weakness or dizziness. No pain or similar. But her confusion was so profound we wasted no time and grabbing only a book and her purse we went to the hospital.

Those first few moments were the worst part. We suspected, but didn't speak about, a stroke. As it turns out, it seems that minor heart-attack is more likely.

J.D. happy she put on make-up before going to the hospital

J.D. is well. She's fine, at the hospital, in good hands, and in high spirits. Mainly she's excited to be able to visit with her friend Carol who's there post knee surgery. We don't even know for sure yet whether it was indeed a heart attack. But from all the tests and probes and scans and monitoring this seems the most likely. And she'll be staying a second night, tonight, to give the doctors time to figure it all out.

By tomorrow I'm sure J.D. will be home again. In the mean time, Dad and I are going to try to cook the Thanksgiving turkey on our own (first time for either of us) so that tonight we can bring her the turkey sandwich that she's insisting on.

Stay tuned for updates. Well wishes can be sent here or here, and prayers are always appreciated.

It was a pretty scary night, but I've never been more glad to be home. I love you Mom!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A new passport... simple.

This isn't the first time I've had to renew my passport since leaving Canada. So I sort of knew what to expect. Even though the process hasn't phased me too badly, it's stunning how complicated it is!

I have to turn in my passport and new-passport application to the Canadian Embassy in the Hague. Even though I'll be in Canada all next week, I can't do it there. Renewals are only allowed in your country of residence. So okay, I fly Saturday and return a week later. I need the passport I have now.

So in two weeks I can go to the embassy. But first I need to go to the dentist! The dentist? Yes, the dentist. Or I could visit my lawyer or my doctor. But I need a signature from a similar notary or witness to sign my application. Fine, I need my 6-month cleaning. So I come home from Canada and go to the dentist to get my passport paperwork filled in.

Then I need to take my passport application and my plane ticket to the Hague. Plane ticket? Yes, I need to get a plane ticket ASAP or else I won't be able to visit Denmark.

I've got plans to visit Denmark 2 weeks after Canada. But the passport (which they'll have and I won't) will take 15 working days... three full weeks. So I also need a temporary passport issued to me before I hand in my application for a real one. And to get the temporary passport, you've got to fill in more forms, pay extra fees, and show proof of travel, ie. a plane ticket. So if I want to leave Holland I need to have a ticket purchased well in advance.

So I'll take my two forms (renewal and temporary), my dentist's signature, my plane ticket, about 160 euros (cash only, no credit) and half a day off work (not including the dentist's appointment) and hand over my passport. Then, just three short weeks (perhaps 2 international trips) and another half day off of work later and I'll have my shiny new Canadian passport.

I'm not even considering the trip to the store to buy new print cartridges as part of the process.

I knew Canadian passports were "popular" but this is silly!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dating Dichotomies

Happy relationships are lovely things; special and important. Songs sound nicer when you're in a relationship. Being single isn't a bad thing though! Singletons (to borrow from Brigit Jones) enjoy more social connections, freedom of choice, and get to trash talk all the stupid mushy love songs on the radio. Problems don't arise until the transition between single and not. The world of dating is a terrible terrible place where all the principles and standards from both sides of the fence meet in a twisted mash of dichotomies, oxymorons, catch-22's and contradictions.

Examples, askith you? Very well. Take for instance this time devoted to "really getting to know" another person... one who was a stranger just a short time before. How does one do this? Why by behaving and acting their very best, of course! Is anyone really good at just being themselves on a first date?

Another example? How about the universal idea (amongst single 30-somethings) that one is only interested in spending time in a relationship if it's going to be long-term and serious, which of course you have to decide upon long before you know whether or not the relationship will be long-term and/or serious.

More? In my humble opinion it's impossible to be 30-something, on a date, and truly totally single. The only truly single people aren't dating, at all. The best you can hope for is that the person on a date with you is simply "not living" with any one. There's always a tiny little complication in there some where!

And none of this is considering the ferms and merms and such. Those poor buggers!

The saddest irony? The best daters have the shortest careers. They get promoted quickly to "relationship" status. So it's the pathetic buggers (*blushes*) who are bad at dating who are condemned the longest to it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Blogging for dollars

I just found out! Quilly is blogging for dollars and wants others to know about Oahu Dreams. I think we can help out. Besides, when ever I'm not home Sneaky reads it.