26 August 2007


Hi folks, just quick one from my Auntie's luxury pad in the Midlands. (Eng-al-and) . I've been to London the past few days, done a stint in a suite with my ernest listening face on followed up by frantic typing and organising, battled the rain, the suffocating tube, the monstrous city. But I've also seen that eye-popping fluorescent green countryside that looks like it has been painted, mysterious chalked horses in the hills, a double ring of standing stones, and played a quiz show on the Ps2 that I felt oblided to lose to a 9-year old. Back to the 'dam on Tuesday, I'm enjoying the proximity of things here in the old word, and may get the train to France next week. La di da. By the way, the train from Amsterdam, to Brussles, to London, took about 5.5 hours. Flying back though - about the distance to Melbourne. Half way there with the carbon load. Oh yeh, remind me to tell you about the big push here to 'buy british' and to reject additives, etc,etc.

Altering history

First the CIA get busted, now the PM's office.

"Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary." —1984, George Orwell, pg 36

10 August 2007

Cheese, boats and floats

You know, I really wish I had something insightful to share here. You move to a whole new continent and its meant to bring out deep revelations about culture, about being a "foreigner" about the underlying similarities of us all and the amusing differences.

But mostly it's beer, cheese on toast, going for walks in the afternoon, working remotely from my clients, and trying to remind Mr B to have dinner most nights. Just like home.

Oh yes, you read right, I've picked up a wee little bit of work. Actually the continuation of work from before, so that's all right. It seems as if the official emigration "to do" list is now:

- Get SoFi Nummer (like medicare/taxfile number combined I think)
- Register with Town Hall (requiring Birth Certificate, yikes, thanks Dad for filing that one!)
- Register as a "zelfstandige zonder personeel" (freelancer) with the Chamber of Commerce. Otherwise known as zzp.

As the Ginger would say "they don't mind a bit of a long word over here, do they?" Appointments booked for the first two, and seeking advice on the third. Yipeee.

So for this weekend our former housemates, the above mentioned Ginger and Jess are here. I'm surreptitiously blogging while they are looking at Van Gogh paintings. Soon we shall attempt to completely tire them out by riding in circles around Amsterdam.

Last weekend was hot, hot, hot in more ways than one. It topped about 28 degrees (sunbaking weather for sure) and there were lots of hot oiled bodies on display at the annual Gay Parade.

Here's a photo of a tiny fraction of the people that rolled out to watch it all afternoon. Note the significant audience who have rafted their boats up and were drinking and snacking on all afternoon. Click the photo to see the some of the boats tricked out for the parade. One thing that was a bit different from Mardi Gras at home, was a couple of big, well organised barges entered by companies, like ING finance, with their employees wearing matching t-shirts and doing co-ordinated routines. The TNT guys (courier and post service here) even had brown cardboard boxes in theirs. That was cool.

3 August 2007

Tooling around amsterdam

Today I went for some lap swimming in a real pool close to 50metres that was even outdoor. With NO heating! It was only 23 degrees here today. (Summer my ass) It felt really good to stretch out and swim, even though there were no lanes, it was pretty dirty and included children on floaty tubes.

At the moment, the lack of space isn't really bothering me - our apartment actually has more floor space than the pad by the beach and quite a big bathroom. For those of you who haven't shared a flat with yr ol' Aunty B, by way of explanation, the bathroom is a crucial private space/getaway/thinking zone/sulking area etc, and I come from a long tradition of bathers.

But I can understand the warnings of my Aussie friends with dutch connections who say when bad weather comes you can feel incredibly claustrophobic, and a ride in the park just doesn't help. So although today's pool was open air, I've found another one on the net - other side of the city, 50m and covered in winter. We're talking about 20 minute bike ride down the "bike freeways" as we dub them - the bike lanes tricked out in red asphalt and separated from the traffic usually with their own little curb. So that's something on the list for a winter remedy.

Funnily on the space and crowding theme, after the swim me and miss K headed straight for the sauna, a tiny room with so much steam you could hardly see, and proceeded to sit there sweating in close proximity to a pair of strangers, who had a quite Euro approach to personal space. That is, they don't give you much.

The other fun Amsterdam thing I'm looking forward to is Gay Parade on this Saturday. Like Mardi Gras but on boats. They say there's 70 or 80 boats this year. Looks like you peg out a place by the Prinsengracht (Princes canal - heh heh). There's a map of the route here. Without wanting to announce my address to the whole internet, lets just say there's a place on that line that is only a 2 minutes walk from ours. Will give a report and maybe post photos later..

1 August 2007

Life online

Alt title - The strange adventures of Betty Sharp on the internets. I just wanted to give all you readers an update that I think I finally managed to exorcise the on-line profile of Betty Sue, Peabody High, class of 73 . Now please don't think I've stolen the real Betty Sue (of the big bad city)'s moniker and started weird imaginary yankee versions of her on reunion sites.

Simply, about a full year ago I started getting email newsletters from Classmates.com to Betty Sue (who is probably a real actual flesh and blood lady from Utah) .

There was no obvious unsubscribe button , I just deleted them, hoping that she'd realise she hadn't got her confirmation and hence log in and change the damn email address. But no, I continued to get these crappy newsletters every week for a year. When I did try to unsubscribe it forced me to "register" and so then I had a user name and password, hence "Betty Sharp". At this juncture I had to rush to the mirror to check I hadn't sprouted a perm with frosted tips, or overly-plucked eyebrows, such was my identity confusion. How can this be, that I, Bee Sharp of Bondi, had a password for poor old Betty, in Nebraska or Omaha, or wherever the hell Schenley is? (that's the other school she entered to her profile in the optimistic hope of finding old buddies). Someone had even signed her guestbook this week.

Firstly, clicking "unsubscribe" just came up with an error message every time. I'm sure that kind of thing is illegal. Anyhoo, yesterday I finally manged to delete the whole profile - take THAT, Classmates dot com. Ha HA!

I do worry what the ramifications are for out Betty however. Does she feel an inexplicable emptiness or loss now that her online self is dead? Did she get a sharp pain in the liver when I pulled the plug? Are those actual classmates going to contact her in RL now that her profile just disappeared like that?