Friday, October 31, 2008

Trying to be sunny.

And I'm not just talking about the weather.
Gabe is home....and sitting at the dining room table trying to get on to different conference calls.
Lemme 'splain.

I picked her up at the train station this morning at 11:00 in Hengelo, and she was already supposed to be on a conference call, so there was obviously no post trip debriefing in the car, since she had her crackberry plugged in to her ears and was making notes in her big red book (apparently, it will be a "red" book until they make a profit....curious to see if she fills that sucker) and then when we got in the house (she's still on the call) she carries on all the while setting up her computer. Unfortunately the key fob she was given to be able to do this (gives you a little secret code that you put in) didn't work, so she had to call some person to sort that out.....and then was unable to get on a second call 'cause nobody bothered to call in.

How can that be?

As and aside, I just find that the amount of cr*p people get away with in a large organisation is utterly baffling. I mean, I realise that I'm sure as heck no ball of fire, but when I was invited to a meeting, whether it on on site, or at a remote location. I made sure I was there. How hard is that? We didn't have the luxury of such a thing as conference calls, and I'm pretty sure that would have meant most participants would be sitting around in their pjs. (I was going to somehow do a pun on participants, emphasizing the "pants" bit, but nothing was forthcoming...underpants?......whatever.)

Btw, Gabe doesn't particularly appreciate being photographed as she exits various airports and train stations, so that's why I try to make sure she's sort of off in the distance. Just after she spotted me, she thought she'd hide behind that unsuspecting guy just there. It was too late.

Meanwhile, I think I'll pedal myself into town and grab a couple things, since I have no particular supper plans. At this point in the day taking anything but a bike is complete idiocy, since it's market day in Delden and the parking is at a premium.
Oohh...I just realised, I could actually take a picture with the new camera, and it might actually turn out. The HP is sitting somewhere. Not sure what to do with that P.O.S. It's not even heavy enough to be a decent door stop.

Now let me tell you about hanging around here on ones own for a few days, particularly a couple words about cooking for one.

It sucks.

Here I am about to slap some chicken on the grill....

Do I make sure to have a meal? A sandwich? Better have some fibre!

I did manage to spend some time on the guitar (my fingers hurt) since it had been a long time since I've picked up the thing, which is why my fingers hurt. Did I mention my fingers hurt?
Not to mention the fact that my brain hurts too, due to the inability to remember a danged thing. Not sure if it's because I'm getting old (like that's a surprise) or if I just didn't have all that much to work with in the first place. Possibly a deadly combination of the two.


I should mention that, yesterday I decided to go into town by car, which turned out to be a bit of a drag, since it turns out that they are indeed working on the Salt Museum, where Anna, Harry and I went for a visit back in September. As it happened we were there on the last day before they were about to close. The visit was just so exciting...


Um, for those of you for whom it needs to be pointed out....that was sarcasm, since it was boring as hell..... because really, how the heck are you going to thrill me with extracting salt from the ground?? It's not like the Dutch discovered the whole process. I mean, the Romans were using salt as a means of payment way back when...but I digress.
(look up the entomology of the word "salary")
The part that I found most amusing, or perhaps baffling, not sure which, was the seriousness with which the ladies who were manning the front counter chose to conduct themselves. Like, my Gott in Himmel! This is the Salt Museum!
I'm pretty sure most folks who live in Delden tend to just give it a sideways glance and that's about it.

Anyway, it was much easier today by bike, let me tell you....

You can see why...

So the road to the Doctor's office (he's just around to the left) is completely blocked, and the traffic on Langestraat (the main drag in Delden) is only open to one lane of traffic.

And look....the picture is actually clear and easy to look at. (I hope you know enough to click on the pics....they are hyperlinks after all)

I might have to go back and retake a whack of pictures. Too bad the guests that were the victims of the previously fuzzy photos are already back in Canada.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New wheels

Well, there it is.
We'll see if it was worth waiting six months for. I'm reasonably certain that it is, even though I'll be taking it quite easy until the thing is broken in.
Missing a couple features that would have been nice, like power seats and an iPod jack thingy. No big deal.
You're probably thinking, "what, can't adjust your seat, ya whimp?" Well, with two drivers who have completely different ideas as to what is comfortable, power seats with a memory button is a pretty useful feature. The person who has our previous car (a Volvo S60) is no doubt happy to have such a convenience.
What it does have, is gobs of torque. I haven't come close to opening the throttle and it just goes. I thought a two litre diesel would be whimpy, but not so.
As anyone who has ever followed the American Lemans Series can tell you, Audi does have a way of getting lots of power from a fairly small engine. This idea goes back over thirty years as I recall.
The manual sez the top speed for this particular vehicle is only 210kph. The six cylinder 3 litre tdi will do 247.

Gee, I....feel so cheated.

Then of course if you want to really zip along, you need to go with the gas model (4,2 litre) which is limited to 250 kph. Of course, it probably doesn't get the reported 50 mpg that this thing can. (go to the internet, read the bulletin boards)

I'm pretty skeptical about the reported mileage, but who knows? I won't be doing any extended highway driving just yet, although we need to go to Bonn in mid November. Plus, a trip back to Brussels has to happen some time before Christmas.
I already said to Gabe that there's no way we want to stay at the Best Western, and not just because the room was stinky and small, but the underground parking is really, really cramped. As it was I was tempted to back in when we had the Honda. I would happily stay at some place outside of town, since driving to the location is no longer such a mystery.
And btw, just went out to grab the manual, and some bird had already crapped on it....


Meanwhile (yes, there was a bit of a break there) I've been off to pick up Gabe and take her to the train station.
The train was leaving at 18:05 and I had arranged to pick her up at 17:30, and of course she had to print something out at the last minute, (it's that whole profit plan thing) and then started getting stressed because I wasn't driving fast enough. (??) This is when we're still on the plant acreage, and I didn't think it would be all that cool to run over some poor bastard going home by bike. It's also one of those times when I could very well spit nails, but instead I try and remain calm. Let me repeat that, I try and remain calm. Best not to say anything regrettable when confronted with an obviously stressed executive.
Made it to the train with about 10 minutes to spare. She already had her ticket, since they have them at work, and all she needs to do is have the thing stamped at the machine before she gets on. (otherwise big trouble...) She just called that she was already at the airport and that the conductor didn't even get a chance to make it up to the first class car, since it was so packed. Working on the train is quite easy, and they even have electrical outlets in case your computer is running low on juice.
They say it's been snowing in the UK so it was a good thing I sent her off with her coat and mittens.

I swear I need a check list at the door.

Nothing else going on, not even any decent football.
Maybe I'll see if there are any half decent podcasts or whatever on the net.
'nuff said, I'm starting to even bore myself....

Keep yer collective sticks on the ice.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Long Days.

And half the time I wasn't sure if it was day or night.
For those of you who may have flown over seas heading east, I'm sure you know what I mean.
Europe has done their "fall back" time change already, so the difference now is five hours instead of six. Ontario isn't changing until some time in November it seems, since we're "following the Americans".
I don't want to upset any of my American friends, but I've never been overly keen on "following the Americans". It's just that whole Canadian national identity thing that we sometimes get a little anxious about is all.
So we got in to Schipol at something like 5:15 a.m. local time, partly thanks to some big-assed tail wind. Right along with it was about three hours of turbulence. I could have handled being on time without the turbulence though, since after about an hour and a half I had this recurring image of me puking on the annoying little bastard that was sitting behind me.

Projectile vomiting has never been one of my favourite activities, but I'm pretty sure I could have managed.
Hey! Sometimes these things just "happen", so why waste a perfectly good opportunity?

Got our luggage in short order (it wasn't Toronto, remember?), breezed through customs and had our tickets in hand for the train by about six, and headed out on the 6:51.

I hate to say this, (but I have to) 'cause it's really pretty sad, but you can't do any of those things in Toronto. You never breeze through customs, rarely get your luggage in a timely fashion, and there are no trains to anywhere.

In typical fashion for the newbies, there were a couple moments of confusion, mixed in with a hint of apprehension since the train was marked "DB", which I knew stood for "Deutche Bahn"....but it was the only one pulling up at 6:51, and it was going to Hengelo. It just also happened to be going on to Berlin.
Hey, I didn't know the German trains came all the way in to The Netherlands, but I guess with the whole EU thing going on, they don't just stop at the border like they used to.
There was one fellow who was switching trains and going on to Denmark, but he couldn't get that portion of his ticket until he got to the Danish border. They're not part of the EU, so that sort of makes sense. In the case of this particular service, the stops are announced in first Dutch, then German and then (if you really haven't figured it out by then) in English.
It was dark for an awfully long time it seemed, and finally started to get light when we were about half way.
Took a cab home from the station in Hengelo, even though we could have taken the train to Delden (we came by way of Almelo) but by then we had no desire to schlepp our luggage down the street to the house.
Plus, we figured it would be a better plan to get the cabbie to arrange to come back in the morning, since we had no wheels at the house.
Turns out that was double stoopid. First of all, when I bought the train tickets at the airport, there was some sort of "deal" where the second ticket was only €.50 and you could travel anywhere in the Netherlands for the day. So the trip to Delden would have been free. We had no desire to travel any farther, so that whole concept was a waste. The double stupid part is, flippin' cab didn't show up in the morning, so we ended up calling for a cab anyway, which wasn't that big a deal after all. We'll certainly avoid that cab company forever and ever, amen.
I'm certainly not going to mention here which cab company it is that has a bunch of chimps at the wheel, but I will mention the very reliable company that is used by all the Eaton people.
It's Teiwes , and it's the only one we'll ever use, thank-you. Simply didn't have their phone number when we arrived at the train station is all.

We'll be better prepared next time.

I figured I had better get on the bike and hit the bakery before I collapsed, plus I knew they were only open for a short while on Sunday mornings. Turns out they don't put out a lot of product, but I got there in good time.
Struck out when it came to buying milk though, since I was counting on this one little store that's attached to a service station around the corner, but they didn't have that particular liquid. I certainly wasn't going to ride to Hengelo for milk.

Had a brief phone conversation with Gabe just now. She's been out to see the new set of wheels, but who knows how late she'll be tonight, since they're in the final stage of preparing next year's profit plan. Wouldn't mind seeing it in the daylight, but that might not happen until the weekend.

My trousers have dried out now, so I might go back in to town. I did a little trip this morning, (the milk?) and when I went to head out later, it was threatening to rain, but I put on my new rain coat that the kids gave me for my birthday and booted it up the street.

Note birthday pic....and I'm trying to figure out why there are six candles on the cake. Seems we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves.
The cake was fabulous btw, and the two types of ice cream didn't hurt.

So fine, perhaps if I'm going to boldly go, then I need something for the legs since, by the time I made it back home with no new groceries and no cash (bank machine out of service) it was coming down pretty hard.
And now....the sun is out.


I must say, and this only seems to work particularly well here, that I can jump on the bike, get to a grocery store, get "parked" and in and out so much faster than I'd be able to if I were using a car. It's pretty darned neat, actually.
Now admittedly, I do have a huge assed case of Grolsch empties that I have to take back (four Euros!) so I'd use the car for that kind of thing, but otherwise the bike program seems to work just fine.
(and meanwhile, I've been to the store and back, since the sun did come out for about a half hour or so)
One of our guests that was here a few weeks back said that for her, living here is "the life", since she's a pretty avid bike rider to start with. I just might have to do an upgrade in the bike department is all, since I find my present ride to be just a tad small. I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Now, since I don't have a whole lot to say in the way of relating things in the "adventures" department, I figure I'd pass along a few pics of what I've been up to while over at the Homestead.

For many years now, I've been tempted by the notion to build a wall cabinet for tools. It's only been a little over twenty years that I've been mucking around with woodworking, and I'm a pretty good beginner, but I've never had the chance to get something started. I decided that last week was the time.

This is what I have so far.

It's still missing it's doors, and a whack of tools.

I figured I had better mount it on the wall where it will stay.

Now that I look at that pic I realise that that wall could certainly use a coat of paint, but there's enough work in the rest of the house, so I'm not sure when that will happen.
It's kind of like the mechanic who never gets a chance to work on his own car.
It won't take long to fill it with tools, since I do in fact have most everything one could imagine, it's just that everything is scattered about in drawers.
The bottom two areas will house six drawers, much in a similar fashion as the little cabinet just to the left. Plus I just realised that I had installed the two inside doors after I had taken these pictures, and I didn't do a follow-up.
Oh well.
Also did a little sailing on the Sunday the 19th. Was a pleasant way to spend a birthday. The sun came out, and there was a bit of a breeze, so the boats did move along, so all in all, just about perfect.
I did have a tuque in my sail bag, but chose not to wear it. Our skipper for the day was prepared for much cooler weather than it turned out to be.
(This particular two day regatta is called the "Die Hard's" for good reason. Most times the weather is down right nasty, with easterlies churning up twelve foot swells....)

Very fetching attire I think.

Ok, to be fair, here she is back in the summer time without the tuque...

You'll notice that the spinnakers aren't exactly straining
under a huge load, but we didn't care, since we were flying white sails anyway.

There are no pictures of us because well, I was on the boat, and no pics have been posted yet on the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club website.

So other than cleaning out some eaves troughs and blowing out the irrigation pipes, that was about it for my trip to the Homestead.

Six weeks until our Christmas visit.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beginning to settle down.

A week has gone by, and I hear from my "peeps" that a blog entry is long over due.


Turns out I have a life here after all, and the days simply fly by.

Took Angus to the airport yesterday morning at a rather early hour.
I was the one with the alarm clock, so I dutifully woke up before it was supposed to go off at 4:30 (does this come with getting old??) and went in to wake him up.

Of course, he was already awake.
(note comment above)

Next thing I know, he's in the front hall, dressed and ready to go out the door at roughly 4:32 and a half....
I just said, "ok, I think you were in the military just a little too long....and don't you think you'd like a little toast or something?"

We ate some breakfast.

Traffic was great at that time of the morning, which is the only good thing about a flight at 7:45 a.m.
Punted him out of the car* at about 5:20 or so, so he had gobs of time.

(*just means I dropped him off, ok?)

When I called his place later that day, he was back home, and had already been out to see the horses and all that kind of farm boy stuff.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday we went up to Mennonite country, since that's also a place where there are a couple really decent suppliers of horse equipment. The stuff you get around here is fine for horse back riding and such, but if you want the real goods you need to go where they use horses every day.
Headed for Elmira, and then on to Wallenstein.
We were there once before, but it was quite a long time ago, and there was no way I could find these places from memory. The gps was the most useful for simply telling me the quickest way to get back home again, since it doesn't do well with rural addresses.

He bought a couple collars and had them shipped home.

These places had every thing you could possibly imagine, and a couple that went beyond that.

(If you've ever smelled "Absorbine Jr." that's available in the drug store....this stuff is even stinkier.)

Here's Angus at our dinner table pursuing one of his favourite activities.
Now in his defence, he is dishing out some salad, since long gone are the days when we could eat just about anything willy-nilly.
We've even gone over to the yogurt and Grape-Nuts program in the mornings.
Anyone reading who hasn't hit the half century mark and doesn't know what that's all about, all I can do is quote Liza Doolittle from "My fair Lady" when she says, "Just you wait".

Even though I had said that I had nothing planned for the Saturday, that didn't mean there was nothing to do.

The bride to be had a whack of things to get off her list. Here she is on the left putting together the centre pieces.

...with her Mom on the far right, and her cousin Ljuba.

You'll notice that Angus is on the computer.

Poor bugger has dial up back in Nova Scotia and, although he was a complete Luddite only a couple years ago, ever since he got a computer, he's been trying every which way to get something a bit faster in the way of upload speed where he lives.
He may end up having to go with some sort of wireless program, but he's not sure if it's going to work for him or not.

So he spent almost every spare minute looking up things to do with draught horses and how to judge them, along with a You-Tube video thrown in for good measure.

Just so happens that he was invited to judge a horse show just last week.

That's him there in the black hat, with the competitors lined up ready to find out how they place....

The wedding on Sunday was just fine. Everything went off
without a hitch.

The bills are still coming in.

I might have to go back to work.

The horror.

(ok, so I've never actually had to do that, but you know what I mean)
That's not actually me, but the likeness is a bit scary. I'm not into that whole pocket protector program though.

There were scads of wedding pics taken. I'll throw in a couple here for good measure.

Yes, that's an actual wedding photo.
They're competing to see who gets the centre piece.
Ah, the things you can convince otherwise perfectly normal people to their good clothes no less.

Here the newly weds are doing the signing.

They do have serious looks on their faces don't they?

Tomorrow I'll head down to the plaza in the morning to put some finishing touches on some millwork that my nephew and I were working on today. I might have to take some pics....
He and his wife are opening a massage therapy type place, and he needed a little help, so we had some fun today in my shop.

Stay tuned..

Friday, October 10, 2008

Didn't fall off the planet.

...just went half way around it, since we're back home in Canada for the upcoming wedding of my younger daughter.
There have been many preparations going on in our absence, and I don't really feel all that left out. Funny 'bout that.
Rehearsal tonight at six. I'll get a chance to have a look at where the event will take place.
Among the preparations, there was one that not everyone has to deal with, and that was getting the cat "prepared".
Ok, let me explain, it's not like he's part of the ceremony.
I think it was Monday morning, Kathryn (bride to be) and I were chatting about something or other and the cat emerged from wherever he had been sleeping and proceeded to barf on the floor next to her feet. Not sure what he ate, but we're pretty sure there was cat hair involved. He's a hairy so and so.
I said, "Ok, that's it...he's getting shaved! " I don't need him making those kinds of contributions when we have guests over the weekend.
The thing is, we've only tried this activity ourselves one time, and decided it wasn't for the faint of heart. He doesn't like getting shaved, so he's very combative and besides, we came a little too close to some sensitive bits with the clippers.
So the combination of guilt (there was only a little blood, I swear) and a sense of dread pretty much rules out any home hairstyling. So he goes off to the vet, where Anja is pretty much one with the clippers.
As a side note, Anja is also one with the Dutch language, so if need be, I can send snippits to her and she'll translate.

The entertainment value of the result is certainly worth the

I should say that, I did take a second couple shots with a new camera that I recently purchased.
Huge difference in the result.

He still looks just as goofy, but he has a sharper image, so to speak.
Don't think I'd heard my brother laugh that hard in quite a while.

We also needed our spare bedroom, since we shipped a couple beds to Yurp, so I brought it home and installed it in the driveway.

The wedding rehearsal was relatively painless, as was the fetching of the rental garments.

I don't think the fitting was actually as painful as the traffic we had to endure getting to the venue. Seems to be a common theme lately.

I took a few rather uninteresting photos of us trying to figure out what to do, and with the exception of them being of much better quality, there's no merit to sticking them here, with the exception of this one, since I'm pretty sure if involves thinking of cake, and how to get to it.....

No plans for all..

Thank-you very much.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

If you set it, they will come.

There have been claims by the womenfolk that there are
indeed unwelcome guests in the attic.
Personally, I haven't heard them, but that doesn't necessarily absolve me from having to somehow deal with the situation.
So I learned a couple new words and headed up to the dollar store equivalent here in Delden.
Also managed to come up with swiffer cloths for the one that was left behind by the landlord. Too bad we didn't bring one of the four or so that we left back in Canada...
Must say, I was actually on the cusp of an actual conversation with the lady in the dollar store. Never know, those lessons might just do the trick.
It wasn't until I got home that we noticed the company name on these contraptions.
I guess mice are not held in the highest regard.

What d'ya think?
These guys even have their own Maybe a good business to invest in, who knows? Probably doing better than most of the stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange or the NYSE these days.

Our guests now have their rental car, which we picked up in Enschede. They'll do the same as we did, and drop it at the airport.
Turns out not to be a VW product, but a small Fiat. Even on the smallest of cars they always manage to put in four doors.
Wandered around Enschede for an hour or so before heading back to Delden. It was a bit of a blustery day, and Anna was getting cooled down considerably, so we made a brief stop for some coffee and a quick trip to the WC.
It can be a challenge to find a washroom in public places so we didn't mind sitting down for a coffee. The place was hopping, since it was right around lunch time.
Enschede does seem to be a little rougher around the edges. We might stop by the market there on Saturday.
I couldn't for the life of me find the proper entrance to the underground parking, so we ended up parking close to the train station, which thankfully looked familiar.

Unfortunately, this entry is going to be a day late, since I just didn't have that much to say yesterday.
Somehow my old man's ability to talk the ear off an elephant was being suppressed, along with my ability to sleep through the night last night. Not sure what's up with that, but I woke up at around three and didn't really get back to sleep until later on. CNN had those goofy debates on, but I didn't want to upset my stomach any worse than it already was.
Spent the day snoozing in front of the idiot box, since I've discovered that snooker is definately a game that can knock you right out.
Our guests meanwhile, took a little drive over to Deventer, and the reports are good. It's right on the Ijssel river, and is quaint. Might be a place worth visiting.
The disadvantage they have of being the first guests is that we don't really have all the info required to be the ultimate hosts and make informed recommendations.
When we lived in Puerto Rico, I had the time to go around and check out some of the places the locals would rave about, and subsequently discover if a place was worth a visit. Gringos and Puerto Ricans have very different sensibilities it seems. Our friend Jennifer in Switzerland can certainly attest to that. She's more of a world traveller than I'll ever be, and was living on the island at the time. Any advise she gave for where to go or what to do was well heeded.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Trip Planning

After much consternation and consultation of both paper maps as well as the various trip planning bits of software such as Michelin and Google, our guests have decided against travelling all the way to Lyons, France.
Well, it's in that neighbourhood anyway, but you get what I mean.
No matter how it was calculated, it was just an awfully long way to go, (some 900 km) only to turn around in a couple days and come all the way back.
Plus, the weather around here has been bad, bad, bad.....since it's been raining almost nonstop for the last couple days, and it looks like it will continue to do so on into the next few days.
Yesterday afternoon a couple of the streets in Hengelo were closed due to flooding, and there was a report that came back from the plant that the parking lot was a bit of a pond this afternoon.
Somehow I thought the Dutch had that whole water management thing down pat, but maybe that just goes to show how bloody hard it has rained at times.
When the rain and wind wake you in the middle of the night out of a sound's really coming down. Big, loogie sized raindrops!
Just a couple minutes ago, the sun came out, but then it rained again. There's no point getting one's hopes up, since you'll only get caught in it and get drenched. A tender subject on which we choose not to elaborate.
So they'll pick up their little rental car tomorrow as planned, and they'll tool around the Netherlands for the next few days, while using our digs as a home base.
We won't be here, since we're heading out on Sunday for across the pond.
My trip is pretty straight forward: direct flight to Toronto, and then straight back on the 25th of October.
Gabe's is a little more convoluted, since she's going first to Virginia by way of Chicago, then on to Toronto (there's that whole wedding thing) then back over this way to Birmingham, then back over to Pittsburg, up to Toronto to fetch me, then we come back to home sweet home here in Delden.


She's certainly racking up those air miles, which will come in handy at some point in time I suppose. Nice thing is, she's now considered "elite" or "gold" or some such thing, which means that, if anyone is getting punted up to first class, she's it. That happened back in July for some mysterious reason and she was a quite the happy camper.

Since the car needs to be serviced anyway, and there is the hope that our new car will be ready when we come back, we'll take it to the plant and drop it off on Saturday. Previously we just figured we'd need to take a cab back home, and then a cab to the train station the next day. Now with the change in Anna and Harry's travel plans, they've offered to be our surrogate cabbies for those situations. They've even offered to take us to the airport, since they'd like to wander in to Amsterdam and have a look around.
I'm pretty sure a VW polo is a bit of a small car, but how bad can it be?
I'm most definitely packing light, since I'm simply going from one house to another. I made sure I left some clothing behind, and unless someone has been into my underwear drawer or that wretched cat has had a chance to somehow infitrate my belongings, everything should be fine.
The understanding was that our master bedroom was to be kept as a sort of a shrine, to which we could return with very little effort. (and without having to vacuum either cat hair or the remains of someone's snack that they might have left behind on the bed)
I changed those sheets before I left back in August, so there had better be nice clean sheets on my bed when I get home is all I'm gonna say.

One of my sailing buddies offered me the use of her car while I'm there, since she has been in for some foot surgery and the car is a standard. The poor thing has had to go and stay with her parental units in London while trying to recuperate, and offered to somehow get her car back to Burlington for me!
What a dear soul!
I just told her that that was out of the question, and I'll manage.
I have the impression that she may have had a reaction to the anesthetic, since it wasn't just her foot that was giving her trouble.
Gabe was able to work from home today, since we now have that whole wireless thing figured out. I also discovered that the printer that I brought from home not only will accept voltage ranging from 110 to 220, but I just plugged the sucker in to my laptop and it works! The two machines had a little chat of some sort, and it was all good. No need for that whole irritating installation wizard thingy, or having to download a driver or anything. I didn't even have any issues with the paper that's in use here, since it isn't the same size as the stuff we get back home.

Since my usual experience with technology results in disappointment, it was rather refeshing to have that pleasant little surprise.