Thursday, March 5, 2009

Running the roads

Which is why I didn't utter a peep yesterday in spite of actually having a couple things to say.
First of all, the delivery from KPN came at around 2:00 p.m. or so on Tuesday.
Two boxes, sign here....bada bing.
I somehow thought I had to show some identification, but when I offered, the driver sort of looked at me like I had something hanging off my chin.

Here's what you get:

Basically a box that receives a satellite signal that you send to your TV. Dead simple.
Oh, and I ended up getting two after all. Not sure what they were talking about in their pre-delivery letter.
All that cussing and muttering, I take it back.

Took a couple tries, since even if all the instructions were in English, if things don't go right the first time, there can be a problem.
Seems that the cable attachment didn't want to cooperate, so I had to use this crazy looking multi pin cable that TVs here are equipped to accept. Didn't take a picture of that particular item, since by this point I was at the head scratching stage and was starting to wonder if this whole concept was just a very bad idea.

However, we now have a TV signal again.

Note the flashlight. Glad I shipped it, since muggins here no longer has the visual acuity to rummage around in the back of a rather dark TV cabinet.
So I get to this point, figure out that I have to let the thing hunt for channels, and I'm only getting about a half dozen or so. Now I know it's basic, but c'mon!
Maybe it was a bad idea?
Well, turns out I have to have the little receiver stuck out in the middle of the room to get all the channels we're paying for.
Boy that makes things look tidy.
Even then, turns out BBC 1 is not one of them. So I'll find out on the weekend, but I'm pretty sure I won't be getting any Six Nations Rugby.
What the hell is BBC Prime??


In the grand scheme of things, the problem lies in the fact that I'm just too bloody cheap to pony up the big bucks you need to shell out on a monthly basis in order to sit like a zombie for two or three hours in the evening, watching the channels we'd like to see as opposed to those that we have to settle for. I've not yet been convinced by any of the signal providers that they truly have a product that's worth the €50-€100 per month for all the great stuff they want to offer.

Let's face it, TV in Europe pretty much sucks, and that's all there is to it.

Need entertainment?

Go look at some old buildings.

Yesterday (Wednesday) was the first time in many a week that I actually had use of the car. I think the last time was back in January when Gabe had to go to the UK, and I was shopping around for "new and shiney".
As it happens when one gets past the age of 50, or for you gear-heads, you might call it the back side of the power curve, it's prudent to subject oneself to some poking and proding in the nether regions on a more or less bi-annual basis. (please note the difference between "semi-annual" and "bi-annual"....I shouldn't have to explain) This is in order to avoid being cut down by some otherwise preventable disease that can be discovered through a simple examination.

For such a thing, one needs to go to the hospital.

I have to say this. Along with the canals, roads and bike paths, the Dutch do seem to have their medical ducks in a row. I called the hospital on Monday, had an appointment on Wednesday, and I can call the doc on Monday again to have a chat.
No waiting for weeks and weeks.
Originally I figured I'd just ride the bike, since we had ridden past the hospital in Hengelo on Sunday. No big deal. The difference was, on Sunday I had had my breakfast and a couple cups of coffee. (note previous reference in Sunday's post to bladder trouble)
So the notion of pedalling home in what would have been a headwind, running on empty after 11:00 a.m. didn't really appeal to me. It was once again one of those "no food or drink for twelve hours" situations.
That, truly was the worst part.
Well, that and the parking.
Holy cr*p!
Ended up parking way over on the other side, so I was a tad late, but they didn't seem to mind. Turns out if you want a little empathy, just mention the parking.

After breakfast, (well it was really brunch) and a quick trip into town on the bike to grab a couple things, I figured I'd best make use of the car to sort out a couple issues.

I've been meaning to get a spare propane tank, since I'm beginning to get the nagging feeling that I'm going to be cooking away on a Sunday afternoon with our one and only tank and will run out.

The horror!

I'm also darned sure I'm not going to take the thing and exchange it until it's bone dry either. (note previous reference to "cheap")
I figure it's more prudent to have a second full tank.
Not that easily brought home on the bike, at least not my bike. This is when I go to my favourite store:
I also had to put in the pic of some guy coming out with a broom. That would be me in my other life. (note title of blog)
Look at all those goodies!
Man I can spend a lot of time in this place and trust me, I have. This time though I was on a mission.
Oh btw, one of those wheelbarrows out front is actually self propelled. When I made that discovery, I was slack-jawed. How cool is that?

But I digress.

We now have a second tank. I can BBQ to my heart's content.

Next on my little mental list, I wanted to further check into putting a trailer hitch on the car. Once upon a time I had stopped by the dealership in Enshede and made an inquiry and was just a tad shocked at the number they came up with. Seems to me it was in the neighbourhood of €800!

I don't live in that neighbourhood.

Let's cut to the chase here. After a bit of driving around and asking questions and getting sent here and there, I did manage to get a little closer.
You can in fact order a hitch with the electrics from an auto supply place, but then it needs to be installed, and um...not by me.
So you may as well go to a guy who can do all those steps. One stop shopping, since he's going to order it from the same place you do anyway.
I think I might have found the guy, and he's here in Delden.
Mind you, we'll still need to think long and hard on this, since it's still danged pricey.

Here's the scoop:

The hitch itself is €253.

Since we're not going to be towing a caravan and only need a rack for the bikes, the electrics are the cheaper version and that package comes in at €193.

See, the bike racks have taillights, and your license plate, so you can't just slap on a hitch.
Some people do go without lights he tells me, and if they're going to the school to pick the kids or whatever, the cops might look the other way. Just don't ever go on the Snelweg or the Autobahn.

Big fine.


See the concept is, put the bikes on the car, go to some place that would be too far to reach by bike, take the bikes and tool around town. I see people doing it all the time. Great idea.

Wait, I'm not done. He figures about four hours of labour, since he'd need to take off the bumper, so that was €180. Then we throw on some tax, and we're still looking at €744.94.
We'll call it €745 shall we?

We're just a couple streets away from that same neighbourhood!

At this point we still haven't bought the actual bike rack. They're in the €200 Euro range. (and up..)
A bit of a large outlay to save a few shekels on parking.

Admittedly, putting a trailer hitch on a car as opposed to say, a pick-up truck is always a slightly dicey proposition. This fellow totally understood what I was talking about when I explained how I could go to a place like Canadian Tire, buy a hitch, take it home and install it on a pick-up truck and only be out about 250 bucks, since he had in fact been to Canada numerous times. His English was also considerably better than my Dutch.
You'll notice that his shop in the photo (click the link) is really clean and tidy. It was pretty much the same when I went there, except he had a couple vehicles he was working on. I've been to a lot of garages in my life, and for the most part they keep them a heck of a sight tidier over here.
He was also willing to explain everything, and that goes a long way. Turns out you can no longer simply tie into the taillights of the vehicle, since the cars these days will then give you a "check engine" light and tell you you have a problem. Once upon a time he says, you could buy a harness for maybe 10 guilders hook it into the taillights and you were done.

Not any more.

This plan may take some high level discussions methinks.


  1. Must be some way that the "provider's" employer could be convinced to pay for the hitch - important missing accessory or some such excuse. Or if not, how about a roof rack? We have one made by Bic. .... Gunnar

  2. Pretty darned sure the provider's employer wouldn't pony up the dough, since the provider would have to be the impetus for that, and we all know what she's like.
    Garage dude and I did talk along the lines of a body mounted rack, which he says they tend to do in France, but he figured it would eventually scratch the paint, and meant you then couldn't get into the boot (sorry..trunk, watching too much BBC)
    Maybe not this year. We'll see how many times we could have used it.

  3. ...also not sure what's up with the time stamp on my note...ain't even close. Have to look into that. It's actually coming up on 9:00 a.m.


Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.