24 February 2008

Amsterdam update

Hi everyone - I've been a bit lax in posting about the Euro-experience recently. Because I know that you're all gagging for more about Ollebolen, bitterballen, bicycling and terrible bureaucracy.

Anyway, there was a brief chilly spell, but this week we haven't had any more below-zero temps. Oh yeah and the big news is that I got a real job! For three whole months. As a press officer with an NGO that is having a big international conference here in May. My first time 9 to 5 in a real office in more than two years. And oh yes, office politics, they still exist.

Mostly though it's bags of fun. People talking on the phone in several languages every day (my team consists of Dutch, Italians, a Latvian, a Cherman, couple of brits and me the lone antipodean). And it's in a great location. This is a picture of the buildings across the canal, where I park my bike. Reflected in the ice on the one morning that the canals froze a bit. Only a thin layer on top mind you. Pretty, huh?

In other news, we made a trip out the edge of town to the Amsterdam Ikea. I was sooo excited, being quite concerned with having a gezellig home environment these days.

But it was actually a bit like the seventh dimension of hell. At the buying area they have these towering shelves up to the 20-foot ceilings, numbered from one to 67 where you have to go and find your precious flat pack. And when I finally got to my new office chair, the one that we had chosen after trying all the models for good back support and arms at the right price.... the bloody arms were out of stock. The base chair was there, but I had to switch to a totally different model at the last part of the epic Ikea odyssey in the bowels of the labyrinthine warehouse. A bit like Jason and the argonauts, I thought.

Biz nearly gnawed his own feet off he was so oppressed by the consumerist binge. I'm actually amazed he didn't grab a toddler out of (one of many) bugaboo strollers and yell "I am confiscating this human in the name of sustainability and human rights until you put all of those wretched mass-produced items back THIS INSTANT." At least I think that was the source of his moral outrage, he was a little too mithered to be quite so precise.

23 February 2008

Birthday Party (The)

Uh huh chuckle chuckle, rock fans. As a nice treat for the BSharp annual milestone, the Guardian has posted a lovely, long biographical article about Nick Cave. And in it, he even talks about aging.

Actually, he says, there is so much rubbish talked about age - as if, when you hit certain landmarks, you start to think and act differently. He's getting quite worked up as he talks and it becomes apparent that age itself is the new authority figure to rebel against. "There's a certain wisdom we are supposed to get, and I'm not really convinced that happens. I mean, you're wiser to a degree. But there's a certain archetype - a tried and tested road for artists in their autumn years: more meditative, less concerned with temporal things and more concerned with spiritual things, all that sort of stuff - I was looking forward to that, but it hasn't really arrived."

And I'm still looking at Cave's hair. Is that really his natural colour? He bursts out laughing. "I've been dyeing my hair since I was 16."

What colour would it be? "I hate to think."

For someone who's actually read the whole 200-odd-pages of the biography "Bad Seed" that's just pure birthday gold.

6 February 2008

Super sonic

New British Jet could reach Australia in under 5 hours.

That would be so awesome. I mean, if it really was less carbon emissions than the current long-haul flight. And if I ever earn enough to afford a first class fare.

Why do these spin-types always have to go that step too far though? "Day trips to Australasia" - what total bollocks. It would be enough of a miracle for us pilgrimage-making types.. less carbon.. less pain.. less gas from remaining seated for 24 hours. The joy. No view though.

Passengers would have to put up with having no windows, due to problems with heat produced at high speeds.

Instead, designers may put flat screen televisions where the windows would be, giving the impression of seeing outside.