Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Feeling Okay

The last couple weeks have pretty much been a whirlwind.  People coming and going from the US, lots going on with the datacenter, trips to other countries, entertaining guests, it has been non-stop!

Tonight starts my vacation.  I leave for Poland tomorrow.  I have no idea what to expect, but am hoping for a good time.  This will be my first time in Eastern Europe and am looking forward to seeing what is different there.  So far are plans are to go to a party that the Cap helpdesk is having for us, see Auschwiz, possibly shoot AK-47s, eat pierogies and kielbasa, drink Polish vodka and beer, and who knows what else.  This will be a nice break from work, especially after finding out that the whole datacenter has to be ripped out and started over again...

When I return, it will be basically square one with the datacenter the same way it was when I returned from Tenerife.

Also tonight, I had to long overdue talk with a friend and feel much better.  My new goal is to not let shit build up over time and work things out immediately when they happen.  Probably easier said than done for me, but I'll give it a go.  Anyway I'm glad I had the talk and feel like I removed a big weight that's been on my shoulders for a little while.

So overall, I am feeling pretty okay tonight :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Hand Throwing" with Marisa



Yesterday, Marisa and I went to Antwerpen, Belgium for the day.  It is really cool to be able to go to places like that for just the day, a lot nicer than a day trip to Ohio for example.  :)

About the hand throwing.  When we were there, we found out that Antwerpen means hand throwing in Flemish (Dutch.)  [h]and = hand amd we[o instead of e]rpen = throwing.  It has to do with a legend about a giant cutting off peoples hands and throwing them into the river.

Anyway, the city was very nice and we got to do everything we wanted to do.  First we had Belgian waffles which were not exactly what we expected but still very good.  We saw the big church in the square (biggest church in the Lowlands,) and walked around the city checking different things out.  We also tried some fries since apparently Belgium is where "French" fries originated.  They were good.  We had them with mayonnaise and some kind of American sauce.  The American sauce (though we had no idea what it was,) was great.

We ducked into a café during a short downpour and drank some Belgian Beer, also very good.  After some more walking around we bought some Belgian chocolates.  Wow is about all I can say.  These chocolates were some of the best I've ever had.  Even though they were quite expensive, they were well worth it.  Also at the chocolate store, we bought a liquor called Elixir D'Anvers with is native to Antwerp.  The lady at the store let us try some and we both liked it.

Finally we had diner at and then drove back home.  It was a good day.  I need to start taking more of these day trips.

One interesting thing that I noticed was there was a lot of English signs outside but not much English inside stores and restaurants.  I was being a translator for Marisa and I was actually doing an alright job (I hope.)  Some of the waiters/waitresses were speaking to Marisa in English and me in Dutch!  That was a pretty cool feeling.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mijn Nederlandse Blog

Just wandering, is anyone still reading (or trying to read) my Dutch Blog:

I haven't heard any feedback from anyone in a while and would like the help if anyone is still interested in reading it.

Ik zal heel blij zijn als je me helpen.  :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An American (along with Canadian, Dutchie, and 3 Frenchies) in Paris


Even though this past weekend did not turn out to be a"heel druk pub crawl," it was still pretty cool.  Although I was planning on going to Paris for the weekend, I actually got to go a bit earlier for work.  I found out on Wednesday and left on Thursday.  Kris, Dan, Justin, and I took the van to Paris, dropped our stuff off at the hotel and started to explore.  One of the first famous things that I saw was the Eiffel Tower.  Did you know that it shimmers?:

We had some beers and then called it a night.  We were hoping the datacenter work would be quick, the next day but it ended up taking all day until about 5.  After that we went back into the city, did some eating and then met up with the Frenchies.  We had some champagne on the Champs-Élysées and pretty much just hung out at one bar after that.  Kris and I ended up spending an extra night at the hotel because the Frenchies were not sure if they were going to make it into town or not.

The next day, Dan, Justin, Kris and I went to the Eiffel Tower before they took us to Julie's house in the burbs.  We did not end up making it back to Paris until about 4:30.  We saw some really cool sites and we returned to Julia's house later for a BBQ.  One thing that I really enjoyed over the course of the trip was all the bread I ate!

Sunday, we had another BBQ when Julia's parents returned and they made some really good food.  It was also kind of fun because they did not speak English so it was like a bit of a game to figure out what was going on.  Strangely enough, this was not frustrating at all to me.  I think because I knew they could not speak English.

One thing I will say is that it really was crazy being in a country where I didn't know any of the language.  It was kinda like how I felt when I first came to the Netherlands.  It really made me realize that I at least have come along at least a little bit with Dutch and that made me happy.

Sunday, Kris and I had to ride the Thalys (300km/h train) home since Dan and Justin took the van to Belgium on Saturday.  It was nice to ride on a fast train, it was my first time.  I would take this over flying any day!

Although I had a good time, it was much too short, there is so much to see in Paris and I definitely will be back.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ouch!


Maybe I am getting a bit too aggressive on my bike now like all of the visiting Americans at work are saying about Dutch bikers.  Today I was riding to the library to return some books and in order to get to the library, you have to turn into a small passageway shown above.  I just turned the corner quickly as usual but this time there was someone else there on a bike coming out!  I slammed on the brakes and started wobbling.  I blurted out "pardon," and then fell to the ground scrapping the hell out of both legs (I was wearing shorts since the gym was my next stop.)  The girl was just looking at me like I was crazy then asked me if I was okay, I just mumbled "het is goed" and stumbled away.  Man that was embarrassing...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September, what? Whoaa...

Man, time is really flying by.  August changed into September while I was in Spain and wow, I looked today and September is already half way over!

Things have been really busy at work now that the datacenter project is in full swing.  We have visitors from the US, Europe, and Asia to help out with it.  We will be having people coming in and out for the next month or so (at least.)  I don't mind this though because it is nice to have a change from the normal day-to-day activities.

Tomorrow I go into work and leave straight from there to go to Paris.  Friday I will be working in the Clichy datacenter and from there will be going straight to Julia's with Kris for the Paris Pub Crawl Weekend.  I am really looking forward to this since Paris was on my list of places I had to go once moving to Europe.  We are going to be crawling the bars and night and seeing the sights during the day.  Even though it will be a quick trip, I think it will be a good one; a great location with really cool people.  Me, Kris, and Erik with three French girls :)

I'm still not sure if I will be going to Belgium or not next weekend, that is still to be seen.  But the week after that is our trip to Poland.  That should also be another fun one for sure.  And once I get back from Poland it will already be October!  Jeeze!!!!

This reminds me, I still need to book my tickets to Pittsburgh for December!  Maybe I will look into that again now...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Space Brownie Day

Sunday I made space brownies, and these ones worked way better than the ones we bought at Bulldog café.  The process was pretty easy.

  1. Buy weed
  2. Cook the weed in butter
  3. Strain the weed out of the butter (you now have weed butter)
  4. Make brownies as normal substituting weed butter for regular butter.
I was not sure if it was going to work because everyone said the butter was supposed to turn green mine did not.  The whole apartment did smell like a stoner's paradise though... And the butter smelled and tasted like weed as did the brownie batter when it was done.

I cooked the brownies and they were ready for everyone.  I decided I would eat two since nothing happened the last time we tired.

So we ate our brownies and had some coffee and then hung out for a while.  They were actually pretty good!  Everyone was like "ya I kinda feel something."  I thought I was feeling a little something after 15-20 minutes, but I also thought it could have been the placebo effect.  Then after about one hour, BAM, it hit me really fast!  I immediately knew they worked this time.  Then it hit some others as well.

I should have only eaten maybe 1 1/2 because I kept wandering if things were really happening or if I was just imagining them...it was really strange.  We would talk about something and literally right when we were done talking I would say, "Where we just talking about ___ or did I imagine that?"  So next time I know definitely not 2! Not that this is going to be something I do all the time, but hey, you gotta try it right?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vans


This week I've been driving a lot.  It's been kinda nice and makes me feel so much more independent.  First Kris let me use the bang bus while he was in Paris and also at the same time Jeroen let me use the datacenter project car (van) since I had to go to the data center so much.  I must say it was really nice to be driving again.  Only bad thing was that both cars I've been driving have been vans.  I can't wait to get back into a small car.

The car I wanted to test drive tomorrow has been sold so I am going to go around again and see what else I might want to buy.  I really want to get a car soon, especially now that I'm kinda used to having one again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Holiday in Tenerife

I'm Back!


Sorry to all of those who missed me, but I was having some fun in the sun and had very little time for blogging.

I last left you feeling terrible about Lowlands, Tenerife briefly started out bad, but I blame Lowlands.  The plane we took there was a charter plane from Amsterdam to Tenerife so everything was in Dutch.  At that point I had had enough with Dutch and was so pissed off every time I heard someone speak.  I convinced myself that I did not know anything they were saying.  When we landed I felt a bit better but still not great.  That night, Dutch was still on my mind, but luckily by the next day I was in vacation mode and forgot all about my bad experience.

The first day there was my first PADI lesson at Tenerife Dive.  Erik and Kris came along with me so they could do the review class since they haven't dove in a while.  The first day we were all in the pool.  I was suited up and ready to go.  Everything was going well with putting my face in the water and breathing though the regulator but then we were all had to sit on the bottom of the sallow end while breathing through the regulator and I was not liking it.  I did not panic or flip out but "this is not for me" kept running through my mind.  Then after about 1 or two minutes under the water I was fine!  I had to do a bunch skills that day in the pool and was able to do most of them with no problem.
The next day I went back on my own to go into the ocean for the first time and work on some more skills.  It was really cool being underwater in the ocean while looking at fish and volcanic rock formations.  When I got back to the dive center I had to take the written tests and I passed, but I was still not certified yet.
On our third day, I went back for my final day of training with Erik and Kris (who just dove.)  That day I got to see some huge rays which was really cool and by the end of the day, I was a certified open water diver!  I can now dive without an instructor pretty much anywhere in the world up to 18 meters underwater.

Friday I got to sleep in!!  We were all planning on having a relaxing day at a remote beach.  We got in the car, got out the map, and started driving.  We found a beach that looked pretty remote so we decided to go there.  We had to drive through these crazy mountain roads with twists and turns and huge drop-offs, this picture does not even do the roads justice.  It was very cool though with all of the sites along the way.  When we got to a certain point a road that was labeled on the map turned out to be a hiking trail.  There was a warning label saying that the hike would take three hours.  We said "fuck it, three hours?, that's for old people!"  All we had with us were our board shorts, flip flops, and about 1//2 liter water each.  The hike down was about 700 meters down over mountainous terrain.  The hike down was really nice, so much to see.  We ended up making it to the beach in two hours, take that three hour sign!  The beach was small but nice, it was a secluded black sand beach.  The only problem was, there were a ton of people who brought their boats to the beach!  We were pissed and felt like they cheated.  We hung out at the beach for not even an hour because we knew the hike up would be much longer.  We were already getting thirsty and of course there was no where to buy anything.  The climb up was terrible.  We were stopping every 15 minutes and eventually we had to stop every 5 steps (literally.)  We were so dehydrated.  I was probably the worst out of the group.  I never had the feeling in my body before where I could physically not walk.  When we finally made it to the top two hours and 45 minutes later, Erik went ahead to get water.  I could see him with the water and he was literally steps ahead of me but I had to sit in the middle of the road to build up energy to make it there.  Scary feeling and I'm so glad that's over.  Needless to say, we did not go out this night!

Saturday we finally did relax all day and it was great.

Sunday, Kris and I got massages.  It was soooo nice and much needed.

Monday we drove up to the volcano.  It is amazing how much the temperature changes and how all of the plant life changes as well.  When we got to the cable car that goes to the top we ended up not riding it because it was way too expensive.  But I did not mind, we saw some pretty cool sites along the way anyway.  After that we drove to Santa Cruz and were not impressed so we did not stay.

Tuesday we did some off road quading but it ended up being so intense and not fun that we cut it short.  There were no real open areas to go fast and the terrain was so dry and rocky that there was dust everywhere.

Wednesday we did two final dives.  On the first dive, we saw a big school of fish which was cool, but on the second dive I got to touch sting rays and a turtle!

Thursday was another day of relaxing and Friday we came home.

I had a great time on this holiday.  It was the first time that I got to take a real vacation (one at least a week long) in a very long time.  This was also the longest vacation I've ever been on (thanks European vacation time!)  Thanks Erik and Kris for an awesome and much needed holiday.