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  I guess that phrase is as outdated as going out to "hitch up the team".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