Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best part of being home.

With apologies to my friends and extended family,  I find the very best part of being at home is sequestering myself in my shop,  and simply messing about.
Of course,  others might call it a "garage",  but the bulk of the time it serves as a wood shop,  so I'm sticking with that.

There is a certain amount of evaporated time moving things around and dealing with the cobwebs, since the spiders manage to have a fairly good foothold if I don't fight them back every few months,  but then once I decide that I'm actually going to do something instead of tidy up,  I can spend hours doing nothing all day.

Wasn't it Randy Bachman who coined that phrase? 

We're back to the same ongoing project that I've been messing with just about ever time we come home for a few days.  This time I decided to remove the inner doors,  trim them ever so slightly since they were rubbing at the top,  and start putting on some sort of finish.
All I really need do is look around in one of the cupboards and I'm bound to find a can of something or other,  since all it needs is some sort of finish to keep it from getting filthy.

Eventually the hope is to get rid of all that cr*p that's hanging up there to the right,  and find a place for everything.  That "shelf" over the window (which is really one half of an old bi-fold door)  has been up there since I put it up as a temporary measure in 1992.

Yes kids,  that right.   1992.

While I realise that there are simply things (work, travels,  whatever)  that get in the way,  and it could be said that I'm not overly keen on "change",  just the same, we're coming up on twenty years here.
I think it's time to come up with a slightly more permanent solution....

When I figure that all out,  you'll be the first to know.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More catching up.

Sometimes it's not that easy to come up with something that's remotely interesting since,  if I don't make a comment within a few hours of having the thought enter my pea-brain well,  it's pretty much gone.  Evaporated into the cobwebs of my mind somewhere,  only to hit me like a flash in the middle of the night,  or some other time when I have no means of getting it out through my fingertips. 
Funny about that,  my generation used to say,  "getting it down on paper".  I guess that phrase is as outdated as going out to "hitch up the team".
Well,  one of my brothers does go out to hitch up the team from time to time,  but that's not out of necessity,  but only to perhaps bring in a cord of firewood,  or otherwise play around.
These last few days have consisted mostly of running errands it seems.  My sister Alice came down Sunday afternoon for a nice visit.  She's much closer now that she's in Kitchener,  and her grandkids are an hour away (or less)  in one direction,  and we're an hour away in the other.  Well,  that is if we're not in Vienna I suppose,  but let's not be splitting hairs.
Then it was passport photo time on Monday,  then a quick trip to have all the stuff signed to prove you are who you say you are,  (we have a couple lawyers in the extended family)  then a trip to the passport office in Hamilton on Tuesday,  where we plunked down $117 Cdn to have a new passport for Gabe returned before the end of the year.  I think it's normally $87,  but for the rush job,  they want an additional thirty bucks.   She's been travelling so much that there were getting to be very few pages left for stamps,  and the Canadian government doesn't simply add pages,  so she had to get a whole new passport.
Then it was off to Toronto for yet another errand,  which meant it took us just about two and a half hours to get home since well,  Toronto's traffic management isn't any better than any other city I've been in over the last couple years.  I think I'll hold my tongue if I start to complain about the traffic in Vienna.  Toronto is pretty nasty.

Now,  just to add a small snippet to make things a tad more interesting,  I figured I'd throw in a pic of the kitchen at the apartment.  I took a few on the Friday morning when we were waiting for our cab,  just so we'd have something to show the kids.
I have to revisit the whole, "pictures of the apartment" program,  since some of them are sorely lacking in both composition and subject matter.  I used to think I could take pictures,  not sure what happened.

We had to go to Ikea to buy a couple more cabinets since the kitchen has maybe a half meter of counter space,  and we had stuff in boxes needing a home.  I almost think I have everything put away,  and as long as I don't acquire any more "stuff",  we'll be fine.

We started out with the three drawers that came with the kitchen,  but with the two additional cabinets,  at least we have another seven.  (ooooh,  seven!)  I've also added a four more shelves,  just to try and get everything put away.

It still looks pretty sparse I suppose, but I don't mind sparse.  I just need functional.

It's also a far cry from the kitchen here in Canada,  which isn't even that big compared to some,  but still....

 ...and looking the other way.....

 A bit of a difference,  considering there are three sinks,  around 22 linear feet of counter space,  as well as twenty-eight drawers.  

And yes,  they're all full,  but it's not all our stuff.

Speaking of sparse,  the Vienna location of the company that cannot be named put in new offices for the top team there. 
Pretty sure daughter number one,  who is an interior designer,  and does strictly corporate work,  would be underwhelmed.   All they need are a few bars on the windows to complete the look. 
Thankfully the heat works just fine,  so it only looks cold.

It was a Sunday afternoon so no,  she's not dressed for work.

Elegant,  huh?

Seems her office up in Shrems has a little more character,  but I haven't seen that one yet.

Today I'm looking forward to heading off to the Big Bang Boozerama at one of the watering holes here in Burlington to meet up with some friends.

Keep yer sticks on the ice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Catching up.

This is coming to you from the comfort of our comfy couch here in Burlington.

I'm still waking up just a tad early,  and may have the need to crash some time this afternoon,  but for at least the next dozen minutes or so,  I'm bright-eyed.

It's nice to be home.  I try and not muscle in too much into the space of those whose home it presently is,  so that can be a challenge, and I do have a bad habit of leaving my laptop out in the living room.  I'll try and do better.  I promise.

You'll see that I stuck in a post that I had written on December 8th,  since I never did get around to posting it from a wifi hotspot.  The good news is,  my son-in-law tracked down a new battery for the laptop and I'll go and fetch the thing most likely Monday afternoon.  It's just one of those minor inconveniences I suppose,  and I'll fork over the hundred bucks or so to once again have the flexibility one expects from a portable computer.

This time I'll be sure and exercise the darned thing.

I haven't even bothered to check back to find out when the heck Telecom Austria is going to show up.  Why bother aggravating myself?  There are plenty of other things to choose from if I need to cuss and spit.

A few things have taken place over the last few weeks.

I think I mentioned that we had an appointment with immigration.  Gee,  that was fun.
Not quite as organised as the Dutch I must say.  Didn't help that our lawyer was late.
He gave some elaborate excuse about traffic which,  if you know Vienna at all,  will probably fly most of the time (hey, I've used it,  but I had only lived there for about five minutes up to that point....)  but truth be told,  he kinda looked like he had just rolled out of bed,  and ran out to a park bench to rip off a pair of shoes from some local bum.

I think I mentioned this to someone in an email not long ago but it bears repeating:  As a Caretaker (and let's be candid here folks,  for the most part that just some euphemism for a freakin' janitor) I had to be more presentable than this guy.  I was,  after all dealing with the public.  I used to wear steal toed work boots that looked better than this guy's shoes.

I'm pretty sure there are shoe stores in Vienna.

OK, I'll stop now.

So there was some considerable waiting time there at immigration.  Glad that's over with.  The only outstanding item was that the lady at the desk (oh,  and that's a whole other story,  but let's not even go there)  wanted scanned copies of our passports since she couldn't quite figure out where the heck we had been over the last while,  and if you saw Gabe's,  it's a pretty good travelog.  Had it occured to me,  we could have stopped at the Austrian border back when we drove down,  and had our passports stamped,  but I figured once you're in the EU,  that's pretty much it.  Not sure if it would have helped or not.
We'll probably hear something or other in January as to our status.
I don't think they're about to give us the boot.

That would be a bit of a wrinkle,  now wouldn't it?

Meanwhile,  lemme see,  what else?

Gabe took a little jaunt over to Romania for a visit.  She's going to try and hit all locations about once a quarter.  So that means Romania,  Serbia,  Spain....
Oh,  and let's not forget the Czech Republic.
The Romanians didn't exactly carry her around like Cleopatra or anything,  but she was treated very well.  There was some pampering there.  She brought home gifts which,  if you're only taking carry-on,  can be a challenge.
Um,  for those of you wanting to take a little trip to Romania,  it seems that checked luggage has a habit of getting lost in Bucharest if you have a connecting flight,  which she did,  so it was all about the carry-on program.

These little snippets do come in handy,  don't they?

The controllers in these locations that report to her are very appreciative that she's willing to take the time to come and see them,  since there are still a few issues that need to be sorted out.  I'll not bore you with the ins and outs of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act,  but the business world for US companies changed after the fallout from Enron,  and if you suddenly find yourself part of an American Corporation,  getting it all sorted out can be a headache.

Oh,  and we got the new car on December 3rd I think it was.   Bit of a different experience than dealing with the Dutch,  who basically handed over the keys and said something like, "It's out in the parking lot there somewhere".   This involved a tutorial from a guy from the local dealership,  and the car actually has the features that we want and need,  like a decent gps.  Not only that,  but this gentleman set up Gabe's crackberry with the bluetooth in the car,  which we never did get around to doing in the Audi.
The slightly different wrinkle was that,  instead of going to a garage or whatever to sort out the winter tires,  they were thankfully already on the car,  and the summer tires were distributed between the back seat and the trunk.  Since we have hubcaps (saw no need for crowding the budget with fancy rims)  the summer tires are on their own rims,  and I dropped them off at a garage just down the street from us on Zieglergasse.  I just have to give them a couple days notice in March and they'll do the switch.  The secretary there already set up a work order,  so I just have to make the call. 
I have a couple pics,  which I'll be darned if I can find,  but suffice to say it's a BMW 320d,  and is just a tad smaller than the A6 which,  let's face it folks,  is not a hardship in Europe,  since some of the places are not too roomy.  It's sitting patiently in our parking garage on Mariahilfer.   Meanwhile,  the Audi is sitting in the parking garage at the office,  waiting to get transported somehow back to the Netherlands.  That will get sorted out at some point.  There is a fellow who will be moving down from Denmark,  and he's been instructed to just use the thing instead of having to rent a car at the airport.  Once again,  it's all about the bottom line,  and well,  that is kinda common sense,  isn't it?
Now you might be thinking, "Gee Bob,  should you really be talking locations here?"   Well,  good luck trying to get into that parking garage if you didn't take your ticket with you.  We had a little bit of a problem with a really smelly guy sleeping in one of the stairwells,  so there was a phone call,  and now the place is locked.  Hey,  I was told it was supposed to be locked to begin with,  so I don't know who wasn't checking his doors,  but we got that sorted out.
Now let me just say this about that.  I spent a number of my earlier years on a farm,  and I'm pretty sure I've never smelled anything that made me want to gag as much this guy, especially first thing in the morning.  We'd hold our breath as best we could until we got to the elevator but really, I didn't think I needed to do that each and every morning. 
I'll admit that I'm not much of a "city boy",  but in spite of that I can put up with a certain amount of, how shall I put it?  Shit?   But not the human kind.

Gotta draw the line some place.

I guess that's about it in the update department.

Today I'm pretty sure I'll be making a few phone calls here and there.   One of the great things about having a phone line hooked up to the Internet,  is that we get to call anywhere in North America as a local call,  so there will be some phones ringing in a few different States and Provinces.

I hope to be seeing a few of the faithful over the next few days.

Keep it between the lines.

Internet Day (not)

Tuesday, December 8/09

Once again, not sure when I'll post this, since I'm simply sticking cr*p into my computer and then hoping to add it to the blog at some later date.

Monday was supposed to be internet day, since I had ordered phone and internet and was a little surprised when I got word that it would be installed already on Monday. First it was going to be some time in the New Year which, the way things tend to go, would have been par for the course here in Wienerland, BUT, since Tuesday (today) is a holiday, I guess there was suddenly an opening on the Monday. Everyone buggered off for the long weekend I guess.
Now, I seem to recall once upon a time when we needed an additional phone line installed at our house back in Canada that good ole Bell Canada knew ahead of time that it was a physical impossibility, and that a new line would need to be installed right next to the old one. This was many, many moons ago when daughter number 1 wanted a line in her room, and we were already using the second pair of the two pairs of lines that come in each phone line. (So, if you need a third phone line, you need more wires.)
Take a look at your phone connection some time, you'll see there's a red, yellow, green and're only using two of them.

Anyway, as much as I think not so very highly of Bell Canada, it would seem they're just a tad sharper than the nit-wits at Telecom-Austria. (or whatever they're called)
I can't very well blame the guy who showed up to do the installation, since he only had a certain amount of information given to him. It is a big city I suppose, but really, shouldn't someone have known it was a brand new installation, and that the wires had never been hooked up? Apparently we have phone outlets in darned near every room, and he tested them, and they all word just fine, thank you. However, the wire stops at the box just outside our front door.


He was very apologetic, and genuinely a decent guy, and promised to call back tomorrow to arrange to be here as soon as possible with a second dude and a couple ladders.
( I'm not about to hold my breath.)
The hallways in this place have high ceilings, and they'll need to fish some wires I imagine. He admitted that they had a similar problem in the new roof top apartments on the other side of the building.
As soon as he showed up, he said he knew there was going to be a similar issue.

It just occurred to me that my phone will probably ring either at the lawyer's office tomorrow morning, or at the Dr's appointment later in the day. I hate to be one of those "asocial" people that answers their cell phone in the middle of something or other, but if it's Internet Dude, I'm sorry.

We have all our little snippets of info ready for our immigration ordeal. Got our letters from the municipality in Twente saying we "de-registered" and that we behaved ourselves, along with all the other jazz we need (copy of our rental situation, extra passport photos etc.,)

We'll see how that goes.

Once again, not holding my breath.

Speaking of holding one's breath....

I need to send out a blanket apology to those of you who do tune in from time to time. I'm truly sorry that I've been letting things slide. It's a genuine pain in the ass to get myself down to the cafe. There's just something about the whole thing that makes me uncomfortable somehow. There's also the not so small matter of the battery in this laptop being a complete piece of cr*p and running down after about a half hour. Now I know that if I were to ask, I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem to plug in, but somehow it just doesn't seem right. I did plug in once a couple weeks ago, at the behest of the waiter, but I just can't bring myself to ask...

Besides, I was kind of thinking that after the internet was up and running on Monday, all would be right in the Blogging world.

Once again. *sigh*.

That's about it folks. I have no idea when I'll get this posted. Some time before the end of the week I hope.

Keep yer sticks on the ice.\par

Friday, November 20, 2009

Coming along.

Well,  I'm in the pub downstairs,  and the night dude has very graciously allowed me to plug my computer in since well,  turns out my battery sucks,  and the damned thing doesn't hold a charge any more than about 15 minutes.  Just the same,  don't want to abuse it too much.

Turns out this fellow played for the football (i.e soccer)  team in Enschede.  See?  All those lessons I learned way back when I tried my hand at selling Life Insurance do pay off once in awhile.  Something to be said for some sort of commonality.
This may be the beginning of a beautiful friendsship.  Or something like that.
We should have internet in a couple weeks anyway,  but I'm sure I'll still come down for the odd beer now and again,  as I have no problems with someone bringing them to the table. 
Now,  one of our daughters did want to see a pic of me washing dishes in the bathtub,  so I'll oblige.  But that's it!

The Executive Plan...Tuesday November 17,2009

 I'd hate to see how the plebs get treated, but we have to remind ourselves that we are in fact living in Vienna. I mean, really.
Just because the kitchen is no bigger than what I had as a poor student in 1979, and bears no resemblance to the wonderful drawing that we were shown.

But we're living in Vienna.

I just have to be like Dorothy, but instead of repeating “There's no place like home.”, I have to simply say, “we're living in Vienna”.....

Over and over.

I'm writing this using the texting/saving/copying/then later pasting into Blogger program, so I'm not even sure when I'll post this, but I figured there was not much else to do, so here I am.
The kitchen boys have packed up and left, and the “plumbers” have come in. Why there are three of them I have no idea, but Curly Larry and Moe come to mind.
So after several minutes of consultation, they've once again left, since they have to go over to a hardware store here in the neighbourhood somewhere and pick up a couple bits.
Now, I hate to split hairs here, but any time I've hooked up a dishwasher or even a kitchen sink, I always made damned sure I had all the bits and pieces I thought I might need, along with a few extras just in case. Mind you, one does tend to end up with a few extra bits over time, but the time saved not having to go shopping makes up for it.

I think I now understand why we have a leaky drain in one of the washrooms. I think I'll just fix it myself. I don't think I can bear to watch the three stooges try and solve that one.

And who knows? Might not even be their deal. I mean, I thought when the blind guy showed up to fix one of the doors, that he was somehow a regular maintenance dude who looked after the building.

Oh no.

Not this guy, he was only the guy who installed all the doors. It then all made perfect sense.
Not only was he missing part of a digit (some sort of sawing accident?) but his glasses were so thick he could barely keep them on his face. Even with the help of the coke-bottle glasses, at one point he was trying to fit a hex key into what I could clearly see was a phillips screw.

I went and got him a screwdriver.

In a nutshell, these are the reason why, 1) We bought a house. And, 2) I don't let any trades people in the door, unless under extreme duress.

But apartment life is different.

As it is I have a little electrical mystery and no light in the “dining” room. I think I know what the problem is, so I'll just figure it out.
I have a meter. I have eyeglasses.
A brain in my head.

We still haven't managed to come up with some sort of a choice for internet. I asked our relocation lady for “some ideas”, and she sent us one choice.
Coulda done that myself.
It also looked pretty pricey at around €40 per month.
Yes Boys and Girls, that's Forty Euros.

We'll keep looking.

Haven't decided if we want phone or not. Probably going to do it, although I'd really sooner just go with either Sitespeed or Skype. Even the free versions are somewhat acceptable, and there are versions one pays for that are just fine.
Of course, have to get internet first. Don't really want to do the TV thing since, there's nothing but crap on, and there's that whole TV tax thing. Don't want to pay it.
I'm sorry, but Homer Simpson needs to sound like Homer Simpson. Not some generic German speaking dubbing guy. And don't get me started about Side-Show Bob. I mean, seriously! Kelsey Grammer is the only voice I want to hear doing that guy.

If all goes according to plan, I may be able to heat up a pot of gruel tomorrow on the new range. Got one of them damned ceramic things again. What's with that? Had one in Puerto Rico, then once again in Delden, and now here we go again. The boiler runs on gas, so it's not like it doesn't exist, but I guess they figure people here are too dim to safely use gas to cook with.

From what I've seen hear abouts on the roads and well, the plumbing brigade, it's probably best to keep them all far away from anything that dangerous.

That's about it I guess.

The Three Stooges are back, only this time they've replaced Curly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Snippets from Gmünd

If you check yer map.  You'll notice that we're really,  really close to the Czech border here.   I guess that once upon a time,  this was like any other border town,  where people would cross from various reasons,  the way we used to do in some smaller towns between Canada and the US.   That is,  before they got all paranoid and everything.

Funny thing too,  since the Yurpeens have been dealing with folks who want to blow stuff up for a long,  long time.

But let's not get side tracked here.

That's about it for today.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Just a quick update.

What day is it?


Monday, so we must be in Shrems.

OK well, I'm being a bit of a knob here, but I somehow suspect this is the way things are going to go for the next little while.
Gabe has a lot of places to visit, and a few people are going to have some “splainin” to do. Tomorrow or the next day I'll be running her up to some place in the Czech Republic which is about a twenty minute drive from here.
Then sometime next month there's a trip to Romania, and in a couple weeks she has to go back to Hengelo. She can take back a couple of the little items the movers packed by mistake. I don't think the landlords actually want the stuff, but there's no damned way I want to keep someone else's crap.

Got my own.

The apartment is slowing coming along. There's still that huge space where the kitchen should be.
I did put together a glass cabinet that we bought at Ikea, so we have a temporary place for some plates, cups and such.
Functionality is certainly something one must keep in mind when it comes to Ikea, since it certainly is crap. Wowsers.

But hey, if you have minimal tools, and I'm pretty sure, minimal intellect, it's just peachy keen.

Even when we lived like Hillbillies back on the farm, I'm pretty sure we had more amenities. I'm reminded of a visit a number of years ago with one of my then brothers-in-law to Ludlow, New Brunswick, which he lovingly referred to as “Dogpatch”. It's that whole, “everything on the table within easy reach” program.
In our case however it has more to do with having no other place to put anything.

Just the same, even though I haven't come close to figuring out the thermostat (hey, I have some issues with the one at home, and it's in English!) it sure is nice to have as much or as little heat in every single room. Man oh man! I mean, I'm sure we'll miss the Netherlands, but I definitely won't miss shivering in the mornings. (or most of the rest of the day, for that matter)

I'm currently at the Goldener Stern in Gmund, which you may recall was where we stayed when we were in the area back in September, just before coming home. This time however, since we have a set of wheels that we needn't return to the airport, I've done a little shopping this morning. Just a couple things for the apartment.

No big deal.

I think the next chore will be to go down to the desk and ask about an iron and ironing board. One of the joys of living out of a suitcase. Things get wrinkled big time.
That and I'll pony up a couple Euros for some internet, so I can post this. We're doing the “text and post later” plan. Means being on the net just that much less.

There won't be much fancy business other than that, since I managed to forget my wireless mouse back “home”. I'm just about crippled without it.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yes, I'm alive.

Sorry to leave everyone in blogging limbo,  but we're in the apartment.  Everything was straightened out for a Monday morning move.
Haven't completely unpacked, since there's that whole "no kitchen" thing.

Bought a hotplate.
Have yet to use it.
A fridge was delivered Monday morning.  This is good.
Gas was turned on on Tuesday. 

Um,  I had already booked the hotel through Monday night.  I ain't that dumb.

Oh....and there's heat in every room.   Oh my God!

There will be pictures when I'm not blogging from a cafe somewhere.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Miracle of Miracles.

Well,  we're in.
Unfortunately I'm too damned tired to even make my fingers do anything.  So this will have to do.   I'll post some pics and commentary tomorrow when I have a few minutes and my eyes aren't crossing ever few seconds.

Play nice.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Presently Homeless.

OK,  so that sounds worse than it actually is,  and we're not exactly living out of our car or anything,  but we really don't have any keys to an apartment just yet.
Not too sure what the difference is going to be on Monday,  since the banks aren't open over the weekend.
I think I'm just going to leave it in the hands of the relocation lady,  since I'm pretty sure I'll end up just pitching someone off a sixth floor balcony at some point.
On the plus side,  this means I don't have to stress about getting back into Vienna after taking Gabe to work in the morning.
Got no place to go.
Seems the driver has been contacted and told to cool his heels in Bratislava.
Um....ya.   Bratislava.   I guess that's his home base?
Danged if I know.

I just decided to upload the pic I took yesterday (well,  Friday night)  of the bed at the Sheraton in Nürnberg.   Nice place that.  Any time they put a chocolate on your pillow,  that's a good sign.
The place we're at here in Vienna isn't quite so nice,  but will have to do.  They had a decent breakfast at least,  but the breakfast deals on this side of the pond are rarely worth what they charge.   It's €18 per person here.  Do the math.
Having experienced this type of place before,  I made sure of a couple things:  brought my own facecloth and shampoo and brought along extra pillows.   See,  the Sheraton always provide plenty of pillows, along with all kinds of goodies,  but that can't be said of all places,  so we just happen to have our "smart" pillows with us.   Not sure just what makes them "smart". Something to do with warm in winter and cool in summer,  but the jury's out on that one.   Main thing is,  they're huge and they can make all the difference.

For anyone remotely interested,  you can see where we are here, which is within walking distance of the new digs.  Whenever we get to move in of course.

For those following along on Facebook,  I'll put some pics up that I took yesterday in Nürnberg.  Neat city that.
We stuck around until around 1:30 since well,  there was no hurry getting here to Vienna to pick up any keys or anything.

Once again we couldn't rely on the stupid GPS since,  as with the situation in Paris,  finding an actual address that is usable is a bit of a challenge.   At least we had been here before,  so it was a matter of getting on the Gürtel once in Vienna and then finding our own way.  Honestly,  worse GPS I've ever experienced in my life.  When we were about to leave Nürnberg,  I plugged in the saved location for Vienna and hit "start",  and the stupid thing said we were "off road".  Huh?   We were in the middle of Nürnberg!
So in typical fashion,  just had to figure out how to get out to the highway.  Eventually the thing woke up and started giving instruction but man,  I can only hope that BMW has a better handle on installing GPS software,  'cause Audi sure dropped the ball on that one.

Maybe has something to do with the thing being built in Belgium?  Seems that's where those "very smart" lawyers are also from.

Just a theory.

Oh,  and for fun I thought I'd put in the pic of the half way loaded truck....

Too bad you can't see the plate on the truck,  since this guy was from Hungary.  And....I didn't actually get a picture of the finished load,  since they filled it right to the top.

Gee,  I wonder where it all actually is?

We'll see how Monday goes.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In Limbo

Actually, we're in Nuremberg, at the Sheraton....and it's only slightly after four p.m.
And don't believe the time of the post....I wrote this on Friday.
Saturday's post is on it's way....

I'd spell the name of the place the German way, but I'm doing this as a text file which I'll upload at a later time. The wireless here is pay as you go, and I'm not sure I want to pay or not.

Now by limbo, let me explain.

You recall no doubt about the kitchen situation in the new digs, and I've gotten over that, and the plan was for the relocation lady to do the “walk through” this morning at some point. We were still in the Netherlands having breakfast with our neighbours at that point, so that's why she was going to handle that detail. Like I've said before, she's pretty much the only one in this bag of nuts that has been doing a proper job up to this point.
Some where along the way there was some talk about providing us with a small fridge so we could muddle along in the apartment without having to stay in a hotel for two weeks, and I was willing to arrange for one to be delivered or whatever, but the point was, I really wasn't about to pay for the thing. Supposed to have a fridge after all, so why we would want to pay for a second one is a bit of a puzzle.
Well, the very smart relocation people in Irving, Texas thought they'd get involved and figured they'd put some pressure on the landlord to pony up the dough, which would be all fine and dandy, if the very smart relocation company in Irving, Texas had managed to pay the deposit on time.

Therefore, no “walk through”, and no need to worry our pretty little heads about just how to pick up the keys on the weekend, since as of this minute, we have no place to go.

Maybe traferring to Iraq would have been easier?

I think that ship has sailed.

The latest is, the transport driver who is driving our stuff to Austria will be contacted and told to cool his heels for a few hours, with the hope that the transfer goes through some time on Monday, so that the “walk through” can be done that morning, and we can start moving our crap in around noon time.

Could turn out to be long day.

I had this idea that it would be a challenge to get Gabe out to work in Strebersdorf and then get back into the city in time for a delivery time of eight a.m.

I suppose I now don't have to worry about that.

See? There's a positive side!

Hope everyone has a Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coming along.

There was some concern from my travelling companion as to whether these guys would be done by noon,  but I seem to think they're plugging right along.  Apparently these guys only do the packing,  and another truck will be by later to fetch everything.

Don't you love these little updates?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One more sleep.

And I think I'll be ready for it.

Feels like I've been going right out straight today,  but thought I'd put up a short blurb for the peeps.
I hope the movers aren't going to be freaked out when they see the stuff I've accumulated in the garage.  It's all very orderly,  even though it might not look that way.

In spite of some of the minor issues we've had with the very smart lawyers in Belgium,  most everything else seems to be going along OK.
Well,  let's not forget the whole kitchen issue,  but I digress.

 Got a call from the moving company to firm up tomorrow.  Once again,  confidence is high that they'll show up here at 8:00.   The lady even asked if I could keep the phone hooked up so she could call back mid-morning and check up on them.
Now that I think of it,  that wouldn't have worked in Puerto Rico,  since the nitwits at the phone company there shut off the phone within seconds of Gabe telling them that we were planning on leaving.  Silly buggers.  I'm pretty sure I'll have both internet and phone here right up to the minute I unhook.   The modem gets sent back to KPN and I've kept the box for just such an eventuality.

Oh,  and it's prepaid!

We get so used to paying for everything,  that this kind of thing comes as a bit of a shocker.   

We also sent a letter to the relocation lady in Vienna so she has authorisation to give the apartment the once over in our absence on Friday. 
She's once again willing to meet with us on the weekend to give us our keys.  I think the Dutch relocation company needs to wake up on that one.

"We don't work weekends".

Well,  truth be told,  they don't do enough to break the Sabbath during the week either,  but don't get me started.
I'd best leave that alone until I'm safely out of the country.

Meanwhile,  after packing up the BBQ,  I stopped at the place where I had bought each of the propane tanks to ask about what to do with them,  and went back there later in the morning to drop them off.  Same deal as in Canada,  one doesn't simply "dispose" of them.  I told the guy there was some gas left in the one,  and he was welcome to take it home or whatever.
I know I had said something about taking a tank with me to Austria,  but transporting a tank of propane all that way doesn't sit well with me in the fist place and secondly,  it doesn't even have that much left to make it worth while. 
I'll find a supplier when I get there.  Done it before,  I'll do it again.

I made sure I stopped by the landlord's place in Delden under the pretence of dropping off some mail (mostly junk mail)  just to do the polite thing and thank them for the house and all that.
The Dutch comes considerably easier a year later.

Since I have the car I'll be heading out shortly to fetch my travelling companion.  We're already booked in to Het Witte Paard for tomorrow night.  I called them just now to make sure we had a table for dinner,  but Natalie (one of the owners)  had already looked after that when I booked the room last week.

Another nice surprise. 

Friday night we're booked in to the Sheraton Carlton in Nürnberg,  and I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to get online.  Gabe wanted to start building up her Starwood points once again so we can maybe treat ourselves to a nice room some time in the future.

That's it for now.

Keep yer sticks on the ice.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I can't make this stuff up.


You probably figure that I have to dig deep into the barrel once in a while to come up with things to write about since well,  sometimes the subject matter can be a tad fluffy or mundane, but I swear to you,  I do not make any of this stuff up.
Really.  I'm simply not that creative.

Now,  having said that,  I want you to study the following document and see if there's anything there that might cause you to furrow your brow.
This is a document that the very smart lawyers in Belgium were about to submit to the municipality on our behalf so we can get our letters of "good behaviour".

Oh,  and I'm not making that part up either.  We need to have these letters of "good behaviour",  but that's another story.

I've covered up some bits to protect the stupid.  (well,  and to protect us from being associated with the stupid)....and,  there is maybe one blatant hint in there somewhere....
I therefore submit for your perusal:
(you don't need to speak Dutch....and once again,  I'm not making this up)

I'll admit that I might not know all the names of all the countries in all the languages that are spoken in the EU,  but I do know there's a huge difference between "Oostenrijk" and "Australië".
Now maybe it's because in Belgium they speak both Dutch and French?  Not sure.
Where does an idea like this even start?

So first somebody wanted to "re-patriate" us,  then send us to Iraq,  and now it's flippin' Australia!

It's a good thing we actually have to sign something and send it back to these chimps,  since it would be a disaster for them to be doing anything much unsupervised.

Don't get me wrong,  I realise that Australia is pretty nice,  but unfortunately we already have that apartment in Vienna.

So sorry.

Love to go.


Maybe next time.

Actually no,  there was an opportunity to go to Australia a few years back and we gave it a pass.  See, one of the joys of living in a foreign country is having visitors from time to time,  and Australia is just too danged far,  and nobody really wants to sit on a plane for 24 hours.  That's just extreme.

So,  do you think this would have helped?
I was just so tempted to send this....

Did I somehow jinx things by even bringing up the subject?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Airline tactics.

It's turning into a beautiful day.

This is why I was somewhat perplexed when Gabe called to say she had had some difficulty getting a seat on her flight for later today.  She got to the airport quite early,  and figured she might as well check in,  and the lady at the KLM desk said,  "Oh,  so you're going to Charles de Gaulle?"


See,  not only is Charles de Gaulle in Paris,  but reports from fellow business travellers have not been glowing.  The lady at the desk then tried to convince Gabe that the weather in Amsterdam was "bad" and they were sending some passengers  to Charles de Gaulle.

Didn't I previously make reference to the folks in those parts possibly smoking some really good  whacky tabacky?

Just wondering.

We just figure they over booked,  and were looking for few suckers. That wasn't gonna fly. There was some offer of a credit in there too,  but Gabe will be definitely coming in to Schiphol later today.

This is why,  when I answered the phone,  the first question was,  "What's the weather like there?". 

"Um....pretty nice. Why?"

I even went to the web and checked Amsterdam.  Sunny,  15°
Possibility of rain tomorrow....

Meanwhile,  as a result of the previously mentioned nice weather,  I thought I'd head over to the driving range for perhaps the last time.  I have a card that has a credit for a few more buckets of balls left on it,  and I really don't have a clue how many are left.
I don't want to see it go to waste,  so I might try and get over there at least once more before we go.  If I put the card in the machine and get nothing,  then at least I'll know I've used up my 10 buckets.

Only thing was,  aren't they supposed to wash the balls that come off the range? 
Talk about cruddy.  Geez.  I had the thought I'd take a picture,  but I didn't want it to be too obvious that I was somewhat unimpressed.  The place was actually quite busy.
Seems like,  in the summertime when you'd expect it to be busier,  everyone is "op vacantie"  (on vacation)  but now they're back on the golf courses....

I guess there are some things I'll never figure out.

I only take one club with me and not the whole set since,  even though the car is sitting here in the driveway,  there's really not much point in driving,  as the parking area is way over on the other side of the driving range.  If I take the bike I just go in the back way.  Besides,  how many clubs do you really need to simply practise your swing?  I know it's called a "driving range"  but really,  all I take is say,  a five iron,  and then work on actually hitting  the ball....and then maybe trying for some sort of accuracy.

One club can be just as frustrating as the whole set,  so there's no need for the additional baggage.  At least I'm at the point where I do actually hit the ball every single time,  but that accuracy thing is a whole different situation.

I'm sure you care.

Off to the airport.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Took them long enough.

Or I guess I could be humming

"one of these things is not like the other" since,  if you care to look at these waste bins below,  you'll notice the one on the right doesn't have a white sticker on the top,  nor does it even have a proper house number.

Now,  I noticed way back in June of 08 that there was something up with one of the bins,  but I've been putting the two of them out every other week for just about 15 months now,  and they've both been getting emptied.  

That is,  until today.

Seems the green garbage police finally caught to me. 


Well,  there's not really any "garbage police",  I'm being just a tad sarcastic,  but it looks like a proper sticker will need to be attached at some point.
Hm....wonder who's gonna do that?  Ain't gonna be me,  that's for sure.

Oh,  and this was the rain soaked tag the driver put on the bin.  "Let Op!"


Meanwhile,  I must have spent the last couple hours writing a letter to the one and only sibling of mine who DOES NOT HAVE INTERNET.
I know!   Unbelievable!

So, harrumph!  I have to actually write a letter....print the thing out,  and put it in an envelope fer Heaven's sake!
OK,  so maybe I happen to have a couple stamps I need to use up that won't be any good in Austria, but still!

He happens to be living is some backwater in Nova Scotia,  and I've written to him before,  but I'm never sure if he ever gets anything I send,  'cause I never ever hear a peep from the guy. 
We do have our theories about the lady* he's living with,  but I don't want to speculate too much.  Like maybe there's a chance she intercepts his mail?

Oh what the hell,  she's a whack job.  There,  I've said it.

*her self description was,  "I'm fat, I'm flat,  and I got no teeth".

And I've met her, she wasn't kidding. 

So this time I figured that,  since it's snail mail anyway,  I might as well send it to the other  brother in Nova Scotia whom I'm actually in contact with,  and he can hand deliver it when the two of them meet up.   Not sure when that will be,  could be Christmas.  Don't know.  Don't really care.

Like I said,  it's snail mail.

I was really tempted to use some sort of fancy script and make the thing almost impossible to read,  since I've received some rather cryptic offering from this less than lucid individual in years gone by (not for a long time,  thankfully)  but apparently I'm not as mean as I had hoped to be at my age.
Besides,  I was getting way too annoyed just trying to figure all that stuff out anyway,  so that was a non starter.
 I felt it prudent to actually include some sort of map or other, so there wouldn't be any misunderstanding as to our upcoming move.  This goes back to when we were living in Puerto Rico and,  since this fellow was by that point just about as deaf as a post,  he somehow thought it was Costa Rica. 

Should I put that song back in?

Of course,  it's not as easy as simply including a link to google maps or some such thing.  This is snail mail after all,  so I had to rummage through the maps,  scan something and then print it off....oy. 

I nearly broke a sweat.

So OK,  maybe including the map is a tad mean,  since he can read after all,  and the misunderstanding was due to an auditory issue. 

But some things are beyond my control.

Do you think that was a bit juvenile?  Maybe that's why I don't ever hear from the guy.

Oh well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Everyone needs a "Magda".

Well,  I've been mulling this over pretty much all day,  and even after mucking around in the garden for an hour or so,  a brief trip to Ikea, where once again the place was mobbed (seriously,  we need to open a franchise!...)  and then a trip into town on the bike,  (need that bit of exercise) I simply have to pipe up about this.

See,  when my wife was a little girl,  she thought every family unit consisted of a "Mom,  Dad and a Magda",  and was quite surprised to hear that none of her school mates had such an arrangement.  "What do you mean,  you don't have a Magda?"
Madga you see,  is one of my sisters-in-law,  and when Gabe was just at that impressionable age,  Madga was just that much older that she had a job.  With the job came the things that kids love to have,  such as colouring books and treats.  These were not items in the family budget at the time.  So having a "Magda"  was pretty darned nice.

To this day, even though our kids are really no longer kids,  we know that if it comes right down to it,  they can always count on heading to Magda's if there were ever to be any kind of issue that would require assistance.   Anything.
After all,  their parents are a half a world away.

So here's where I'm going with this.

Yesterday there were many many Birthday greetings from far and wide,  and I'm sure I thanked each and every person.
Later in the day,  at the time when I could likely expect a call from Gabe in Vienna,  the phone rang,  but it wasn't Gabe at all,  but Magda.  Just calling from Canada to wish me a Happy Birthday and asking if I'm OK?

Now I ask you? 

Who does that?

Only Magda.

 I'm sure glad we have our Magda.


Now for some fun.

You recall no doubt that I had made mention of a mysterious piece of paper we received in the mail last week some time?  Well,  I just can't let this go,  and I'll try and not go on and on....but really,  I can't help it.
See,  the envelope had no return address,  and the part that got the thing to our mail box was hand written.  I could only tell by the post mark that it had come from somewhere in Delden....

So I just want to show you this thing,  just so you know I'm not making any of this up.
You'll see the piece of paper below.
Now,  I'd call it an "invoice",  except how can that be?  There's no hint as to who gets the money,   or where it's from.

Well,  you can see for yourself:

Now,  I'm not really the sharpest knife in the drawer,  but I know that once upon a time when I used to do a little job now and again,  I made sure that it was well understood just who was supposed to get the money.
It's kind of important.  Otherwise,  what are ya doing??

 And yes,  I realise it's all in Dutch but really,  would it make a difference if it were in English?

I think all that business at the bottom is because the person responsible was moving some items around in a Word document and screwed it all up,  but decided it was fine the way it was,  (or panicked) and printed it off.  Wow.

The long and the short of it is,   I took this bit of info to OUR bank,   with the post-it note of the account into which the money was supposed to go,  and the lady at the bank was able to do something on line or whatever.   All I know is,  she figured it out and I have a signed receipt.  We're reasonably certain they got their €12.40 but frankly,  if they didn't,  I really doubt Interpol is really going to care.....and I could care less.

So now let's think about this.   The "Mrs Doctor",  whoever she is,  has decided to do the billing for the practise.   What would make her think she's remotely qualified?   If you marry a doctor does that mean you can suddenly do things about which you have no clue?


And really,  there are books you can buy,  and if you're an "el cheapo"  like me,  just look it up on the internet!  There are hosts of people out there who are all too happy to share their knowledge,  even if it's only enough knowledge to tell you to put a return address on an envelope! 


(and just for that link)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Just another Monday

I think what I need to get into the habit of doing, is to compose entries in text format and then put that into blogger in one fell swoop.
Or at least I need to practise once in a while.
Now, the trouble with that is, I wouldn't be able to do any HTML editing or put in links, but for those times that I have limited connectivity, which I foresee as being a problem in Vienna,  it will be the way to go...
I tried to do this very activity last year some time in Bonn, but discovered that the text didn't work in Blogger. Turns out all I needed to do was dump all my goofy Microsoft products and download Open Office. I highly recommend it. I'm not able to open the wonderful slide shows that get sent to me from time to time in Powerpoint, but I don't care, since I can simply open the individual slides one at a time anyway....and sometimes skip to the end if it looks a tad boring. I've never taken the time to figure out Powerpoint probably because I've never had to use it.

(on edit,  I've also noticed that I have some type size issues that I'll have to sort out at some point....)

So I spent about half the morning answering birthday greetings. Thanks everyone. Nice that there are those who remember.
I have no huge desire to pig out on cake or anything, since most every day it's more a matter of restraint than anything else, since the scales do tend to be a bit malicious from time to time.
I'm afraid to say, it's the beer. Gotta take it easy, and I have gone days without cracking a cold one, just in order to approach some semblence of restraint.

If it wasn't for the method of getting around being the bike, I'm sure I'd be in some serious trouble. Even with the car sitting in the driveway, which it has been for a few days now, I still take the bike into Delden. I mean, getting through that place by car is a serious challenge and I sometimes wonder at the folks who decide to attempt it on market day.
It's just madness.

So even though I really didn't need to go out for much this morning, since I don't seem to ever need too much when by myself, I did hit the baker and the butcher, and then went over to the Dr's office with a mysterious letter that we received last week....
It looked to me as though we owed someone12.40. But for the life of me I could not figure out whom. There was no return address, only a hand written address on the front, but it had that look about it (where Gabe's maiden name was also used) that led me to think it had somehow come from the Doctor's office.

Gave it the receptionist Amelie, and she had to study it for about a minute there, before she concluded that it had come from the Mrs. (doctor's wife) who had taken over the billing.
Pretty good detective work on my part I must say.

Seems she's still in training.

Aparently the outfit that had been doing the billing was no more, or something to that effect.  Whatever,  just put yer flippin' name on stuff.  That goes back to elementary school!

Now, I've been pretty patient up to now with the Dutch way of doing things, but I'm starting to come to the end.....
Amelie took a photo copy, and wrote down a bank account number on a post-it note for the Rabo-bank, which is just up the street. Now, this isn't “our” bank, which I know for a fact doesn't open until 1:00 most days, so I figured I'd give them a try.

Well no, they were closed, even though the doors were open and someone came out to speak to me. I guess they have to have the doors open for their bank machines. Not sure. We'll see how this goes, since the nice lady was pretty sure they couldn't take cash, and there's no such thing as cheques in the Netherlands.

Judging by the current time,  I think I'll head in to our bank, and see if they can figure this out.  I might just take €12.40 over to Amelie with a preprinted receipt,  hand over the cash,  have her sign it,  and be done with it.   

Now, if I could only figure out what that text was that I just used, I'd go with it.......(getting slightly frustrated here...)

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 16, 2009

All Quiet.

I actually had a slightly different title in mind,  having to do with some lonely guy in a lonely town,  but I just thought that was going to be too maudlin.
So,  here we are,  half way around the world from our friends and family,  and we're not even in the same country.
I thoroughly blame the company that cannot be named by the way,  since there was all that knuckle dragging back in the summer,  which meant that nobody got the "go ahead" to do any thing.

Like,  start the process.

20 months.

That's what we keep telling ourselves.

I had this boneheaded idea that I'd just get in the car and drive to Vienna,  but that would only mean I'd have to turn around and drive back again.  As I mentioned earlier,  it's over 1000 km,  and while I do recall stories of guys from "down east" leaving work on a Friday afternoon from Colour Your World,  (just off Brown's line in Etobicoke) and driving to Pictou county in Nova Scotia for the weekend,  they were all in their twenties,  and took turns at the wheel.   That kind of thing wouldn't have thrilled me all that much 30 years ago,  so it's definitely out of the question at this point in time.

Meanwhile,  in the realm of things over which I do have some control,  the punch list is getting shorter.  We now have snow tires on the Audi and both bikes have been serviced.  I can't think of any other furniture we might need,  with the possible exception of a couple night stands,  but I also may just go out and buy a full tank of propane,  since I haven't a clue where to get such a thing around Vienna,  and I know I'll be using the BBQ a lot after we move in.
I've also heard back from the worker bee that the company that cannot be named may very well have to pony up the dough for a small fridge,  since I can muddle along quite nicely with a source of heat and some place to keep things cool.  Not going to rely on the great big outdoor fridge just yet,  even though it was around plus one in Vienna earlier today.  Yikes.

And yes,  I'll make sure it doesn't get tipped over in the car.  I know all about propylene.

And no,  we're not going to go off in all directions here talking about the different types of "propane" and whether the stuff over here has butane in it or whatever.   It's confusing,  and all I care about is that it lights up when I open the valve to the BBQ.

Meanwhile,  there's enough action on the World Cup front to help keep me occupied.  Gabe hasn't the slightest interest in "football" as it is, and I'm sure my barber back home in Burlington was happy to see Argentina qualify by the skin of their teeth.  I wouldn't hold out much hope for them down the road however,  but that's just my opinion.
No team from Canada.   Gee,  wonder why that is?

Oh wait,  what did it say?  "Status"  "Did not qualify".

Seems they were doing fine until they came up against a couple real soccer teams.

Well,  there you have the extent of the boredom.

Don't worry,  I won't start acting like this guy....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Now I get it.

Now I'm beginning to understand why the take over of Austria in 1938 was such a goll-durned easy thing for The Third Reich.
It was easy-peasy,  'cause the Austrians  didn't know what to do.

Now,  maybe I'm being a little hard on the entire population here,  but you know what they say about first impressions.....

If you read the abridged version of an email I just moments ago received,  you may begin to put it together.
This is from the relocation company in Germany who have a representative in Austria. (Both of which have been doing a fabulous job,  by the way)
I'm sure that the opinion that I have of the Austrians at this point in time is one that is shared by everyone in that (German) office.....since well,  most Germans do think that the Austrians are a bunch of lederhosen wearing,  yodelling boobs...

Here ya go....


We had been informed by the landlord agency that when you signed the Mietanbot (Rental offer not the lease) mid September the kitchen would be ordered. We found out this week that the kitchen was unfortunately not ordered immediately after the Mietanbot was signed, but a couple of weeks later. (editors note:  so basically you're just saying they're a bunch of retards. right?)

The agency also informed us this week that there is a delay in the delivery time and so the kitchen will be delivered and installed on 15 or 17 November, but unfortunately not earlier. (what the hell,  why not just wait 'til Christmas?) This is a most disappointing situation. (do ya think?)

The lease commences 01 November, so we are trying to negotiate that the payment of the rental fee only starts on 15 November, as the kitchen will not be ready before that date.

I have sent C...(the relocation company in Irving, Texas) the signed lease so that the security deposit and tax fee can be transferred by C...(the relocation company in Irving, Texas) in the next few days, so that you can still receive the keys to the property beginning of November.  (Austrian relocation lady)  will get an appointment for 30 October and provide you with the keys on 31.10. or on 01.11. so that your goods can still be delivered on 02.11.09 as planned, however, there will initially not be a kitchen in the apartment. (you said that,  don't rub it in)

We are in touch with the estate agent and as soon as we hear about the November rental amount, we will let you know.

Please let us know should you have any questions.

Kind regards,

(some person in Germany) 

It's kind of too bad that I gave up smoking that whacky tabacky years and years ago,  since they must be growing some pretty good stuff down there.   Somebody's been smokin' some seriously good sh*t.

And what do they mean,  "let us know if you have any questions"?   

First question.  How do I become an Austrian property manager?  Since aparently one doesn't need any skill whatsoever.
Second question:  What is exactly the point of this "Mietanbot",  if it means you're going to do sweet "F" all for two weeks?

And frankly,  I don't really give a rat's tiny behind when or if the rent gets paid,   because we're not paying it anyway.  Why should we care?   All I want to know is,  which hotel are you putting me up in?
Or better yet,  which one of you boneheads will be offering the use of your kitchen?

I think I maybe need to go soak my head now or something.....