Thursday, November 29, 2007

Five Ten in the A. M.

I like that my job has flexible hours, and that with all the travels, I'm almost always home weekends. In addition to the travel to sexy places like Paris and Kuala Lumpur, I've done some local travels. Yesterday I was in Den Bosch, NL at 7:45 in the morning. And for that I had to be awake just slightly after five in the morning.

I don't like five in the morning.

Don't get me wrong. 5am on Saturday "night" can be lots of fun. But 5am "in the morning" is a totally different 5am. And I've never liked... no... I've always loathed waking at 5am. So I really don't like that after seeing 5am yesterday, I'll be seeing it again tomorrow in order to make my early flight to Paris.

Does this make my job suck? No, it's still a good job. Does this make my week suck? No, it's been a pretty good week. Will this make my Friday morning suck? Oh gosh yes and I'm not looking forward to it at all.

I'll just have to keep reminding myself," TGIF", while I sit and eat my lunch and dinner in Paris.

Monday, November 26, 2007

There's nothing on...

There's nothing on the Internet today. Strange, yesterday it seemed full of stuff. Perhaps I should look again?

Or perhaps I should get ready for Paris? Except that aside from the demo, there's nothing to prepare. You're all going to think me foolish, but I traded a weekend in Paris for a one day trip.

While waiting for word on the trip to Germany (timing, confirmation, anything) I got drafted into a meeting in Paris. The first step for any business trip is a "travel request" and so I filled mine out. For personal reasons, I wanted to fly rather than train. So I checked prices. A ticket is a fortune, unless you stay a Saturday. So I priced out a weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Paris with a 2 hour meeting Friday afternoon) and submitted for approval. And they approved it!

So I have budget that allows me to fly to Paris and stay the weekend. Or the same budget allows me to fly in and out on the same day. And that's what I'm going to do.

To all those hoping to travel vicariously or waiting for stories of more than airports, I'm truly sorry. I'm sure I would enjoy site seeing, but I'm so tired of the travels. And this way I don't need to check luggage or pack a bag. I take the train to the airport as normal, and I arrive home quite late. But I won't have to drag a suitcase, and I don't have to sleep a single night in a hotel bed.

So you see, I could prepare, had I need of it. As it is, I won't. And I'm quite pleased by that. Even though I've only left myself 4 hours to see Paris. Maybe I can find something interesting about Paris on YouTube?

The Bus

It's been a strange night. A very strange night. And yet, at the end of it all, I am transfixed upon a Rubick's Cube. I could once solve this puzzle in the time this guy takes to solve it and mix it again. He could have been a hero... just 2 decades ago.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Music for a rainy Sunday

It's song day today. Or it should be. Feel free to disagree.

"Love is a burning thing." Or so the song starts. But is this song really about love, or spicy Mexican food? (Or a venereal disease?) Still, the only guy cooler than Johnny Cash is Johnny Cash from 1963.

Gorillaz is difficult to describe. It's a real band. Except not. Made up of animated characters, this band is "real" in the way the Alan Parson's Project (made up of studio musicians) was real or a boy band (made of genetic clones) is. Believe it or not they even play live shows. While J.C. may have used fire to obscure a song about his medical problems, this song is pretty clear. "Sunshine in a bag". Hmmm.

For some reason, after a ring of fire and sunshine in a bag, a colourful band of light in the sky seems like it must be next. I actually remember when Blondie (Debbie Harry) played this song (1981) on The Muppet Show.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I Still Haven't Seen Titanic

Maybe it's all the travelling. Maybe it's because I hate Hollywood hype. Probably a lot of it is to do with Leonardo DiCaprio. Either way, I still haven't watched Titanic. Who would want to be "King of the world?" That sounds like way too much work.

I'm hoping to conquer the smaller details of my own life, not fix (or exacerbate) the problems of the whole world.

One of the bigger problems in my world is groceries. I'm having a wonderful, warm, cozy and relaxed weekend at home. But I'm almost out of food. Do I really have to go out into the cold, windy, grey winter?

Maybe I could call all my friends and remind them they are coming here tonight for a pot-luck dinner? If I convince them they simply forgot, perhaps I can have food brought to me.

I know I can order food from the same grocery store via the web, and have it delivered to home. But that comes with extra costs and I am slowly becoming more Dutch. Not even rain could inspire me to pay more for groceries.

So I've got a choice. Do I get busy shopping or busy crying? Do I dress in my warmest and step outside to do the groceries, or do I put on my coziest and plug Titanic into the DVD player?

Oh well. I'd love to sit and be lazy. But I'm running low on Kleenex, totally out of chocolate, and in no mood to put up with Titanic. If you'll excuse me, it's time to go out and "enjoy" winter.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's the Moon!

Women have cycles. This is known. This is a fact. This is not up for debate. But tell someone that men do to and they look at you funny.

Well in addition to my daily cicadian rhythmes, my moods and energy levels change slowly day by day. And they do so in a cycle that repeats about once a month. And after many years, I have been firmly convinced that my energy and moods are timed to the moon.

The week before the full moon is the worst... or the best. My energy comes to me entirely independently of sleep or other activity levels. There's a tension in my body. A bursting to do something. Anything.

And others act strangely around me. If a young lady smiles, this is disproportionately the week it's most likely to happen in. If work suddenly falls from the sky, or menace crawls up from the sewers, this is when to expect it.

After a few days I know I'll be worn out and tired. Completely exhausted, I'll be able to sit at home and rest. But for now, rest is not an option. While I know respite is near at hand, it scares me to think of the descisions I may make in the coming days. >:-) The full moon feels like a time of change, and this moon fuller than usual.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Next Trip

Boss: Do you feel comfortable installing X for a customer?

Me: No, not at all. I've only had problems doing it before.

Boss: So you can do it? Great! They need you in Essen Germany next week or the week after.

Me: *sigh*

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kind of bored

I've had my new phone for a while now. A lot of the photos I've taken with it have been posted here. But this is the first attempt posting directly from the phone. Taking a theme I've learned from fellow bloggers I offer you... my shoe pic.

Plans for the "Big" Move

In less than four weeks, I'm moving. Okay, not far. Not, for example, as far as "all the way out of the apartment". I am moving across the hall... from one bedroom to another. (To the BIG bedroom.) And for this there is a surprising amount of stuff to do.

On his way out, Rogier is taking his phone number with him. Indeed the whole phone contract. And with the phone line, goes the ADSL (Internet service) which he's also planning to use at his new place. Lastly, the cable is in his name, and so scheduled to be disconnected.

I'm also going to need to buy some furniture and some home items. The dish towels are his. The couch is his. Rogier will certainly be taking his table and chairs with him. And so on and so forth. What I refuse to live without for a week or a day is access to my telephone, TV, and Internet. Uhm, No!

But we live in a beautiful world. Instead of three bills, I have arranged for these three critical services to be delivered by my local cable TV company. A "Triple Play Bundle", as it's known in the industry. So I'll be able to connect one box to one cable and from there connect my computer, telephone, and TV. Isn't technology wonderful?!?

And now the question... will these services be activated in just the four weeks that remain? Having placed my order through a website interface, I have no "installation date", no email confirmation, and no clue what to expect next. So will technology be wonderful to me? Will a box arrive by mail and work as soon as I plug it into the wall? Or have I just started down a fool's path by putting all my trust in a single company? Let's see.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New Look

After 14 months, I've finally taken the plunge from a standard template to something a little more customized. I'm happy, although not done with the improvements yet. I've lost a lot of important stuff including Virtual Spot!

But the header graphic, I'm happy with. Taken driving through Sinpagore (clear from the photos below) it finally shows how I feel when I think of my "Wandering Consciousness".

South-East Asia Followup

Honestly, it all seems like a fast blur to me now. I'm trying to recall details of my "week" in Asia, and although it was only 2 days ago that I returned it is difficult. So I've taken advantage of access to photoshop and seeing my pics on the big screen at home. Here are a few stories in picture form, to make up for the lack of verbal acuity.

The food was special. Most of the time it could give you an opinion itself. They call that "fresh" although my stomach and brain often rebelled against the "fresh" hot innards dripping out as my fingers fought to remove bits of shell, legs, and heads.In Singapore, I also found the night images far more breathtaking than those of the day. Here's my hotel and some of the things to see just outside it.

I thought it was cool how these lamps looked completely different depending on the angle. The mosque was interesting from every angle.

I'm really surprised by some of the photos possible through a camera phone!

And last, but not least, many aspects of my time were dominated by thoughts of Starbucks. For those not in the know, Starbucks has for years now produced a collection of collector mugs. Every major city in the world that has an outlet has a collector's mug available there an no where else.

A friend's friend is collecting... all of them. And so I was tasked to pick up some of the local varieties while away. For example, I'm really happy with my Kuala Lumpur (new edition) mug as pictured here. I came back with one bag more than I had left with and it was packed full with 6 new mugs.

FYI, I think I've now started to collect these silly things. So far I have one from Singapore, one from Kuala Lumpur, and rarest of all, one from Amsterdam. Amsterdam has only one Starbucks outlet and most people have no idea where.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Okay, I'm getting kind of tired of the "I'm home!" blog post. I'm travelling too much, and while I'm seeing cool things in beautiful places, the best part of travel is always the arrival home.

Both KL and S'pore (learning the local ways) were great. The hotels were incredible, the food was mostly edible, and the work went really well. I had few problems with the 30C equatorial climate (1 degree of latitude north of the equator) and was pleasantly surprised with successful meetings.

The jetlag, however, knocked me out at least half the time I was there. Tuesday, after the incident with the night club in my hotel room, I was useless. I think I did some of my best presentations, and reached some real low spots for working while sick. And while I did that, I played observer to other people going through their own highs and lows. Or more precisely, lows and highs.

The worst often comes out when people are travelling. There was an incident at the airport earlier today yesterday where flustered airline staff were facing two customers with ticket problems. One was irate and mean. The other was polite and quiet. I feel bad for the attendants, but I recognized a motive in their reactions. The loud man got no quarter. He wasn't getting on the plane until he relented his demands. The polite man got his ticket fixed and an upgrade to business class privileges. I think that the ladies, unwilling to help the loud man were also unwilling to think of themselves as mean. They tried to at least balance the goods and bads that they had control over.

I saw it again this morning. The cab I grabbed from the train was pulling up to let out another fare. It took a while for the passenger to step out and once my bags were in the boot and I was in the car the driver blurted out," She was such a bitch!"

He had been stiffed for most of the fare, the lady arguing she wasn't going to pay rather than offering to go inside to the bank machine, or similar. We talked on the short ride home and at the end, as we pulled up to my apartment, he mentioned her smelling of whiskey and that she should just go to bed.

"Yeah, I should have a whiskey and go to bed," I replied, adding "But I don't have any cola to mix it with."

"Oh you want cola?" he asked. I've got cola! After lifting the luggage out he reached into the back of his trunk and pulled a can of Coca-Cola from his private cache, insisting that I enjoy it and sleep well.

The taxi driver had just had someone do him a wrong, and he immediately forgot it and offered someone else a kindness.

And I guess that's the summary for this last leg of the trip. I saw some interesting things and met a few really kind people. The Crown & cola is nearly sipped now. And the dawn is winking in the sky. So it's time to sign off and shut down for a while. Me, not the computer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Singapore City

I had two posts to the blog from KL before my first 24 hours were done. So it felt completely wrong to wait until the last night to post from Singapore. But it felt equally wrong to post a blog entry from Singapore while I was having so much fun here! Get busy living or bet busy blogging. You can't do both.

Speaking of wrong... is this not the wong place to go for changing currencies? Apparently it is, and they are PROUD of it!

I've complained, but no matter what, they won't let me pour my own beer. Okay, I haven't complained a LOT. But honestly... isn't she pretty?

And speaking of pretty, this city is BEAUTIFUL! So much culture, so much diverse architecture, so much much! It's a mostly budhist country but islamic style dominates as the coolest part of the place.... Although perhaps the most striking is the mix of old and new....

So let me end with," Singapore... Wow!" KL was kool, but this is krazy! And to top it all off, there's more exotic excitement here than any where else I've been! But best best best of all, not only is the place comfortable and friendly, and not only did I not need to bring TP along (just in case), but they have some of the nicest washroom facilites I've had the pleasure to enjoy!

Yeah, I travel too much.

Tomorrow, I have a morning meeting and an 11pm flight. Uhg. How to fill the 8 hour gap is currently unknown. Rest assured, I'll take pics. I'm truly looking forward to landing at 5:30am in Amsterdam and hoping (praying) I can get to sleep in my own bed before the sun rises at 8ish.

Monday, November 12, 2007

So there's a catch after all....

The jet lag's been good. Not too bad any way. The work today went well. One very well executed meeting and another impromptu one that also went well. Dinner was excellent, the weather was kind, the people have been nice, and the hotel room has been amazing. So where's the catch? This is a business trip, right?

Ah, at 11pm it started. Apparently there's a night club just behind the hotel. 15 stories beneath my window sits a set of speakers that must rival the voice of God for overall intensity. (Although I'm sure God is generally soft spoken.) There's no way I can sleep through this!

The front desk tells me the club is usually open until 2am. It's 1am now. Although they also repeated the "usually" and added that sometimes they go later. This being a Monday night, I certainly hope it's not a super late one.

KL in pics...

Hi All!

Well yesterday was a long long long day. 41 hours? Ah the joys of an 11+ hour flight and changing 7 time zones. Oh well.

The good news is that I've brought my digital camera in addition to my camera phone, and I've been snapping away when ever possible (not often enough). So here's Kuala Lumpur so far, as I've seen it through the lense.

Lit beautifully at night, the 452m high Patronas Towers are kinda nice.

Up close, the towers are even more awesome.

Yeah, I could show you the day pics... buy why? Isn't it beautiful?

Tonight the group I worked the day with went out to dinner... in the towers! "The Spice of India" or similar was located in the lower levels. I'm no fan of Indian food, but this was a great meal! Must have been the location.

And the prices here are INSANE! I guess local wages are incredibly low, because last night's Surf & Turf dinner (steak and lobster) cost just under 10 euros. Tonight 6 of us ate (with drinks) for a whopping total of 80 euros. And both dinners came with incredible service. I couldn't pour my own beers as the waitors buzzed around providing the highest standards of service at bargain basement prices. Do these guys get paid???

FYI, this is my second and last evening here. Tomorrow we have meetings all day followed by an evening flight to Singapore City. Two sleeps there, then a night on the plane and I'll be home Friday.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Now if only I could get Blogger to work....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kuala Lumpur and Singapore

To paraphrase from Austin Powers III," Hi everybody, I'm going to Kuala Lumpur. Isn't that weird?"

I've been thinking of today and this next week as one more business trip. The passport dealio didn't leave much time for other thoughts. And work's been busy. But last night my buddy who travels constantly was genuinely impressed by going to KL. I have no idea why.

I still see it all as a hellishly long flight and strange new plumbing. And in preparation there's much to do.

If you'll bear with me, I have to enumerate my to-do list. I feel like I'm forgetting stuff. It starts with laundry and clothes to pack. There's stuff to fold, shirts to iron, and then all of it needs to get squished into a suitcase. I need to email the landlord about the change of contract that needs to happen ASAP. I intend to write a blog post before I go... when I will get the time for that I know not! As I'll be gone for a week I really need to clean up some stuff too, such as the network cable strung across the floor. Or should I pack the network cable... just in case? And what kind of plug system to they use there? Which adaptors do I need for my computer and cell phone charges? I'll have to go to the World Fact Book and look that up.

Well, there's about 5 hours left between this word, right .... NOW, and the time I have to get on the bus to the train to the airport. Let's hope I remember to pack my cough medicine (good medicine!), toiletries, etc. Do I need a tie?

And speaking of strange new plumbing... do I need to pack my own toilet paper? Oh God I hope it's not one of THOSE business trips!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Out with the old, in with the new

I was riding the train this morning when I saw the following picture in the morning paper. I couldn't believe a lady was proudly holding up her trusty old vibrator for the newspaper to photograph. And then I realized it was free vibrator exchange day!

Doesn't this truck (red triangle with the 'device' in the middle) visit your neighbourhood? Of course it does. If you're in the marketing area for Mail&Female Sex Accessories that is. This Dutch company is offering an exchange. Bring in your old, tired, broken toys and get a new one free of charge. So regardless of whether it just fails to turn on, or fails to still turn you on, there's hope yet for a girl's best friend.

Out with the old; in and out with the new. (I guess they're making their money off the batteries?)

Passport Part IV - Morgan's Revenge

You know it's an epic saga when it comes in four separate parts! Thankfully this part is the shortest and the last.

I returned to The Hague again today and I picked up my shiny new passport. It's lovely, it has *my* name in it, my date of birth and place of birth are correct... it's a passport!

It's been so much fun waiting that I didn't even bother to complain or make sarcastic comments. Well, more like, I'm so sick I couldn't be bothered to think up sarcastic comments. I believe on my way out of the embassy I may have actually meant it when I said thank you.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

And the phone rang... Passport Part III

The phone just rang. The Canadian embassy in The Hague has received word that my new passport... latest new passport is in transit and may arrive this afternoon.

I've sent an email to Asia and I'm hoping to hear from the embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The question was, "How much trouble am I in if I show up with a temporary passport?" But the answer may now be unnecessary.

Of course, by this point in the story, what I'm told over the phone is only slightly more "real" than what I watch on South Park.

But don't worry, it isn't all waiting and frustration. There's still humour in this. When I (eventually) pick up my passport and turn in my temporary, I'm going to enjoy pointing out the adhesive problem. It seems I'm actually loosing the last page! Not only is the passport temporary in name, it's physical existence is a tenuous and temporary thing. I hope when the self-destruct mechanism ignites the document it isn't (1) explosive, or (2) in my pocket at the time.


Update: At 2pm I got another call. The passport is in The Hague and at the embassy. Tomorrow morning it will be in my hands. :-)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Alfred Lord Tennyson - 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Kezia - Oftentimes we say goodbye to the person we love without wanting to. Though that doesn’t mean that we've stopped loving them or we've stopped to care. Sometimes goodbye is a painful way to say I love you.

Socrates - The hottest love has the coldest end.

Anonymous - If you love something, set it free; if it comes back it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was.

someone - Ah singleness, my old friend. Come what may, I still have you. Wrap your cold bitterness around me and hold me in the stony greyness of days without dreams.


It's not quite as bad as all that, but writing and hyperbole makes me feel better.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mogan's Canadian Passport - The Saga Continues

All fun and silliness aside, the week leading up to my party weekend was seriously impacted by the renewal process for my passport.

Originally I was surprised by the complexity of the renewal process itself. Now I'm dismayed! It all started two weeks ago when I got a call from my doctor's office saying the witness papers (part of the 3 pages of forms) were signed and could be picked up. I thought to myself that it had taken a lot longer than I expected. Indeed, upon checking the calender I suddenly realized I had two-and-a-half weeks left before my scheduled trip to Malaysia but the embassy told me to expect the process to take three weeks.

I scrambled! I made calls to almost everyone involved in the meeting (people in the U.S., Europe, and Asia) and found that the authorities and the airlines (particularly the airlines) strictly enforced the "minimum 6-month validity" on passports for travellers. There was no choice so Thursday I ran off to the doctor's, picked up the papers, then went to Den Haag (The Hague) and delivered the forms, my ID, and my old passport to the embassy.

The embassy was closed Friday and Monday (very unusual). Regardless of how things worked out for Malaysia I still needed a temporary passport to go to Denmark. So I went on Tuesday back to the Hague to have them do the temp. passport process they couldn't do the previous Thursday.

When I arrived I was shocked! My passport was on the way! They had just received communication from Canada saying that my new passport was made and already with the courier. They advised I should forget the (expensive) temporary document and just return Wednesday for the normal one. So I did.

But wouldn't you know, Wednesday the courier didn't show! I left Amsterdam on the train before their delivery was expected. And arrived at the Hague in time for them to verify that they didn't have it.

So they made me a temporary one. No problems... I would just head off to Denmark and the normal passport would be waiting upon my return.

I looked through the shiny new temporary passport and was impressed. It looked quite different from my old one. Indeed, different enough that it was hours later, once I was home and the embassy was closed again, before I noticed that my name was spelled wrong. SPELLED WRONG!

The next morning I called the embassy as soon as they were open. I takes about 3-3.5 hours to get to the Hague and back. I had 4 hours before I was scheduled to be at the airport to fly to Denmark. Surely no one would let me travel with a misspelled passport! So I assumed the embassy was be keen to reprint my temporary... a process that takes 20 minutes.

But they couldn't. They don't have control over the information that the computer prints. That comes from a central database in Canada. And that central database is wrong. After seven separate steps to check and verify all the information in my application, this mistake made it "into the computer".

So Thursday afternoon I went to the airport and crossed my fingers. Clearly (from the previous post) I made it to Copenhagen. But returning from CPH to AMS there there a moment it looked like I wouldn't.

The ticket attendant checking my luggage said," Oh, a temporary passport." *pause to read* "Do you have another ticket onwards to Canada? I only show your flight to Amsterdam in the computer?"

Phew! I was able to quickly produce my Dutch Residence Permit and she had failed to notice that the names didn't match.

So later this week I hope to return to the Hague for my new passport. Then Saturday I'll get on a plane for Malaysia. Or, perhaps I won't. Stay tuned to find out.

Sick, Home, Tired, and Smiling

Wow, I'm so glad I went to Copenhagen! The whole experience, from the work and coworkers through to the weekend, people and partying was all positive. But now I'm home and after one sleep I've awoken with a killer cold.

But besides germy, Denmark was a blast. Even the calm, mature and professional part Thursday and Friday with colleagues was fun. Just check out the picture from the Copenhagen Ice Bar. The bar is made of ice. The walls are made of ice. The glasses they serve the drinks in are made of ice. (Ironically if you ask for ice in your drink they can't oblige.)
And to go with the blue parkas and fuzzy hoods, I offer you the following video. There was a moment when I realized that our fur-lined hoods looked much like a Muppet. And (perhaps due to the numerous vodka drinks) I couldn't resist singing a little song. It immediately became a chorus and ended up looking much like this video.

And that was just Thursday. By Friday night I'd met up with friends and things became silly and irresponsible. If I delete the sections of the stories that aren't appropriate for blogging then I'm left with this... I'm sick now, at home and very tired. But I'm smiling.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Off to Copenhagen

It wasn't long ago that I was last in Copenhagen Denmark. It was a work trip and I saw absolutely nothing of the city and got nearly no useful work done. Not a good trip. But long before I ever knew why, I had a feeling that I would be returning to Copenhagen to visit the place properly. Today I'm doing just that. My flight leaves this afternoon.

I don't do this often. In my nearly 7 years in Europe, I can count my personal trips on a single hand, and most of those where for diving, not travelling. I'm so excited. My flight leaves this afternoon!

Okay, I'm not excited about Copenhagen. It's the people I'll be meeting that are the thing. One in particular, whom I haven't seen for many weeks. But the phone call costs have finally added to the price of a plane ticket... so, plane ticket time. My flight leaves this afternoon!!!

Update: I should have gotten a hair cut. Am I having a bad acne day? Bad hair day? I'm feeling fat, why wasn't there more time for the gym this week? Or for sleep??? (What, me nervous?)