Monday, 30 April 2007

Restaurant De 2 Grieken, Amsterdam

Last night was Queen's Night (the night before Queen's Day, we will use any excuse to party.....). Had dinner in a very nice Greek restaurant ("De 2 Grieken" / "The 2 Greeks"). Had mousaka and tzatziki. We were lucky to find a table because Amsterdam is packed with tourists. May 1 is a holiday in most of Europe so a lot of people took the opportunity to travel for the long weekend. Here in the Netherlands, today 30 April is a national holiday but on Labour Day we need to work..... After dinner met the entire gang for the street party but I was wise (again) and went home around 1:30am. Today more Queen's Day partying in the afternoon, but I don't want to start the new job with a hangover so moderation will be the theme of the day. Now I need to go and search for my orange clothes!

No "Western" haircuts for Iranians

Police in Iran have warned barbers against offering Western-style hair cuts or plucking the eyebrows of their male customers, Iranian media said Sunday.

Don't we all love these countries where ordinary people may not lead the lifes they wish to live, because corrupt leaders use 2,000 year-old fairy tales to control their subjects?

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Jeffrey Wammes

Since returning from the US, I have had a minor flu and cold, so in order to recover yesterday I was wise and did not go out. Instead, I watched the European Gymnastics Championships which were held in Amsterdam this week. Jeffrey Wammes was the best performing Dutchman, and a pleasure to look at.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Ho-Pin Tung

This is Ho-Pin Tung. I watched an interview with him on Dutch TV this morning. He is Dutch-Chinese who is making his marks in the GP2 (the last stage before Formula 1) racing circuit. An interesting guy; he was born and raised in the Netherlands and is now trying to conquer the Chinese market which of course is much more promising in terms of the $$. He is currently racing for China and was part of the China team that defeated the Netherlands in a recent race in Sydney. So we educate and feed him for 24 years, and then he joins the enemy and defeats us? Ho-Pin, you can come and say sorry tonight in April bar. Hehe

Friday, 27 April 2007

Blue, black

Last day at work - pack my bags - surprisingly little to take home - bye, bye work - home 2:30pm - go to April bar for happy hour - hot sunny so go on bike - so many guys out and about - meet SO - he is from Congo he is so black he looks blue - (you know what I mean) - funny guy - we talk and talk - MA, CH, FR and OS are also there - summer night city feeling - remember Olivia Newton John? - happy hour - beer and drinks - SO talks and talks also about MT his boyfriend - who is also nice - 9:30pm - enough beer - the sky is the limit - SO also on bike and lives in my direction - bike together - bye, bye SO - home - fortunately leftover food from yesterday - eat, eat - and MA told me I am gaining weight - he has a sharp eye - watch TV - our crown prince celebrates his 40th birthday today - documentary - tired - should sleep - was a good day.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Hot and dry

The normal temperature for the Netherlands in late April is 13C. For the last couple of days, it has been 27C. Yesterday I visited my mom and her friend and we spent the whole day in their garden. They expect the good weather to last at least until mid next week, so Queen's Day (Monday) is likely to be one big street summer festival. It really feels like summer and people behave accordingly, ie. no work is done and every excuse is valid to take leave, go and have drinks, have fun and party. Last night GO and WI texted to invite everyone for drinks, but I was still in the car driving back from mom so I had a good reason not to extend my drinking sessions to a Wednesday......
In other news, I signed the "voluntary resignation" from my company today, which means that in exchange for 2 years of salary they got rid of me. Everybody happy.

Poodles and lambs

ER sent me this story:

Thousands of Japanese have been swindled in a scam in which they were sold Australian and British sheep and told they were poodles. Flocks of sheep were imported to Japan and then sold by a company called Poodles as Pets, marketed as fashionable accessories, available at $1,600 each. That is a snip compared to a real poodle which retails for twice that much in Japan. The scam was uncovered when Japanese moviestar Maiko Kawamaki went on a talk-show and wondered why her new pet would not bark or eat dog food. Japanese police believe there could be 2,000 people affected by the scam, which operated in Sapporo and capitalised on the fact that sheep are rare in Japan, so many do not know what they look like.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Is Lee Kuan Yew homosexual?

Since he has so many opinions about the topic...........

Another question posed to Mr Lee - will the Singapore government eventually decriminalise homosexuality?

Mr Lee said: "Eventually I cannot put a finger on it. But I would say if this is the way the world is going and Singapore is part of that interconnected world and I think it is, then I see no option for Singapore but to be part of it.

"They tell me and anyway it is probably half-true that homosexuals are creative writers, dancers, etcetera. If we want creative people, then we got to put up with their idiosyncrasies so long as they don't infect the heartland."

Haha. Mr. Lee, for your information, gays are everywhere, certainly also in the Singapore heartlands. I have fucked in Ang Mo Kio, and in Potong Pasir, in Toa Payoh and in Aljunied. Singapore is one of the gay-est cities in the world.

Mr Lee added that Singapore had to respect the views of the people in the heartlands.

He said: "We are not promoters of it (homosexuality) and we are not going to allow Singapore to become the vanguard of Southeast Asia."

Mr Lee said "We would follow the world. A few respectable steps behind."

Sickening comments from a man who should be in some retirement home. Yuck.

Earning my salary

Today I made my new bosses happy even before officially working for them. I managed to convince my old company to transfer some work to the new one, and the fees are already almost twice my salary! So they should be very happy when I join them next week. In the process I also had to promise to take my first business trip for the new job, to Egypt in early May. I just hope that I won't need to travel too much, and that some more interesting destinations will ask for my presence soon.

Inspiration "The Beer Store"

Monday, 23 April 2007

Jacques Brel - Ne me quitte pas

One of my favourite songs

Ne me quitte pas
Il faut oublier
Tout peut s'oublier
Qui s'enfuit déjà
Oublier le temps
Des malentendus
Et le temps perdu
A savoir comment
Oublier ces heures
Qui tuaient parfois
A coups de pourquoi
Le cœur du bonheur
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas

Moi je t'offrirai
Des perles de pluie
Venues de pays
Où il ne pleut pas
Je creuserai la terre
Jusqu'après ma mort
Pour couvrir ton corps
D'or et de lumière
Je ferai un domaine
Où l'amour sera roi
Où l'amour sera loi
Où tu seras reine
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas

Ne me quitte pas
Je t'inventerai
Des mots insensés
Que tu comprendras
Je te parlerai
De ces amants-là
Qui ont vu deux fois
Leurs cœurs s'embraser
Je te raconterai
L'histoire de ce roi
Mort de n'avoir pas
Pu te rencontrer
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas

On a vu souvent
Rejaillir le feu
D'un ancien volcan
Qu'on croyait trop vieux
Il est paraît-il
Des terres brûlées
Donnant plus de blé
Qu'un meilleur avril
Et quand vient le soir
Pour qu'un ciel flamboie
Le rouge et le noir
Ne s'épousent-ils pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas

Ne me quitte pas
Je ne vais plus pleurer
Je ne vais plus parler
Je me cacherai là
A te regarder
Danser et sourire
Et à t'écouter
Chanter et puis rire
Laisse-moi devenir
L'ombre de ton ombre
L'ombre de ta main
L'ombre de ton chien
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Out and about in dry Amsterdam

There has not been any rain for 32 days now here in Amsterdam! For those of you that know the Netherlands, this isn't normal. Now we have global drying after global warming. Today I soaked up the sun in the back garden and later at a new terrace called Blok 4 in IJburg, Amsterdam's newest neighbourhood. I am reading The Kite Flyer by Khaled Hosseini which is a wonderful book. A real page-turner and highly recommended.
Friday and Saturday evenings were spent in April, Soho and Exit with the usual gang. Fortunately on Saturday I drove into town so I had a very good reason not to drink alcohol. Around 3am MA, RO and HE all disappeared to the top floor of Exit and I decided I really had enough.

Singapore's CEO on homosexuality and the Dutch

Singapore's CEO and Head of the Ruling Familee said some interesting things during a meeting on Saturday:
Quote 1: "Singapore has to be as cosmopolitan as other world class cities like New York and London, for its own survival and success." Well, what about introducing freedom of speech first?
Quote 2: "On the taboo subject of homosexuality, he said Singapore needs a practical and pragmatic approach and adjust without upsetting segments of society and their sense of propriety of what is right and wrong." Hey, Mr. Lee, brave politicians go for what is right, even if it upsets "segments of society".
Quote 3: "To counter the rising sea level from melting polar ice caps, Singapore has approached the Dutch and is learning about building dykes here in the warmer climate of South East Asia." Waiting for your call. Make me an offer I can't refuse and I'll build some dykes for you.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

The gay bars of San Francisco

I owe you a description of the bars in San Francisco that I went to. This picture is of Esta Noche, DA's favourite place since he is totally into Latinos. I found this fairly accurate description on the Internet: "This definitely is not your neighborhood hangout. A bit of a dive located in the heart of the Mission, it's a primarily gay bar that attracts Anglo men looking to hook up with hot Latinos, lisping Latinos with limp wrists, and Latino drag queens that call to mind the cha-cha character John Leguizamo played in the film "To Wong Foo . . ." Second-rate shows performed in Spanish are good for a laugh or two but become very tired very quickly."

I also went to Powerhouse, supposedly a leather bar. Nobody there wore leather, and generally the bar had a very tired feel to it. Not worth making the trek to Folsom Street for.

'N Touch has a bunch of very, very hunky waiters but doesn't seem to attract many customers. There were only a few guys every time I was there.

The Bar and Badlands are the best places in San Francisco. Conveniently located in the Castro, busy, and a nice mix of guys of all ages and races.

Good news: beer to become cheaper

Beer drinkers have been paying too much for years because of pricing agreements between the four biggest brewers in the Netherlands, the European Commission's cartel investigation division said on Friday. The European Commission has given Heineken, Grolsch, Bavaria and the Dutch arm of Belgian company Interbrew two months to respond to the allegation. Dommelsch and Hertog Jan are labels owned by Interbrew.

Now Freedom Party Member of Parliament Dion Graus (better known for hitting his girlfriend) wants the brewers to halve the price of beer for the coming three years "as a gesture to the public." "Millions of people drink beer each day. Millions who have been systematically taken for a ride by the pricing agreements between Heineken, Grolsch and Bavaria."

I fully agree. Halving the price of beer will save me at least 500 euro per year.

Friday, 20 April 2007

McCain wants to bomb Iran

American (Republican) Presidential candidate John McCain said today that his country should "bomb Iran". During a campaign meeting a man — wondering if an attack on Iran is in the works — wanted to know when America is going to “send an air mail message to Tehran.” McCain began his answer by changing the words to a popular Beach Boys song.
“Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” he sang to the tune of Barbara Ann.

Haven't these idiots and war criminals learnt their lesson yet? The Iraq war is a huge failure that has made the world a lot more dangerous. Bombing Iran will add more fuel to the fire. I sometimes wonder how stupid some politicians can become, but maybe growing up with rednecks in Iowa or Nebraska we shouldn't expect these people to be able to think properly.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Making money, spending money

Today I submitted my resignation letter to my employer of the last 19+ years. I am entitled to more than 2 years' of salary, so sending that letter was the best financial move I have ever made. To celebrate, I bought a new (well, second hand) car as I will have to return my current lease car to the company on May 1. A black Renault Megane 1.4 16v from April 2003, 59,000 kilometers driven. My colleagues were surprised that I bought the car during lunch hour, but my friends know how I hate shopping.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Japanese Organic Restaurant Minako, San Francisco

While we were driving through Indiana, Nebraska and Wyoming, DA and I would talk to each other about good restaurants, that are in short supply in these areas. According to DA, there was a lack of "lesbians running a nice restaurant" in the heartlands. So when we finally left the culinary Neanderthalers and made it to San Francisco, DA took me to organic Japanese restaurant Minako, at 2154 Mission @ 17th. Some of the other guests looked as if they only ever eat in organic Japanese restaurants, which I guess is too much of a good thing. The menu was very confusing: with some of the items it was totally unclear what you would get, and other items didn't have a price. When I asked how much a certain dish would be, the waitress said "it depends on today's fish". My next question was obvious, her reply wasn't: "I don't know what today's fish is." I didn't want to confuse her, or myself, more, so I went for one of the few dishes for which a) it was clear what I would get; and b) I knew how much I had to pay. The meal was yummie, and I felt good that our raw, dead fishes had been raised organically. The service was as if they had guests over instead of running a restaurant, and friendly. Minako is highly recommended, especially if you have just returned from a trip eating burgers, fries and gawk Applebee meals in Middle-America.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Home sweet home

Arrived home around 11am after a good flight. My seatmate was a cute Frenchman who travels to the San Francisco area every 6 weeks to visit his girlfriend. We talked for 3 hours, I read my book, and as a result of tail winds we arrived early. Below are some pictures from the trip. Had a great time, thanks to all who made my visit so nice, particularly DA.

The Golden Gate Bridge

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Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

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Welcome to Wyoming

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A Wyoming section of the I-80

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The Great Salt Lake, Utah

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Leaving Nebraska behind

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The Golden Gate chained

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Monday, 16 April 2007

Time to go home

It is 10:45am on Monday in San Francisco. I will check out from the hotel at noon and make my way to the airport where KLM 606 to Amsterdam is expected to depart at 3:10pm. It was a very nice trip but I am also happy to go home. I am at the Apple Store now and will keep this post short. Colin, I will post some pictures when I am home. Note to myself: tell the world about the Porsche drive, Japanese retaurant Minako, the bar "Esta Noche" and the Powerhouse, Badlands and 'N Touch. See you all in Amsterdam!

Sunday, 15 April 2007

A little tear

I just came back from my Sunday morning walk around central San Francisco. A beautiful sunny day, I have been lucky on the 2nd part of the trip with good weather all around.

Had a very nice evening with JE. He drove me all the way West along Geary Boulevard to the Pacific Ocean where we watched the sunset sipping a beer. Apparently, it is foggy 90% of the time there, so we were really lucky to have clear views. After a good Chinese dinner JE showed me his recently renovated house 3 blocks from the Castro. Just one word: WOW. What a house. Went to a bar called The Bar which was packed and proceeded to Badlands to meet JE's boyfriend GR. They seem to be so happy together which is good, but I had to shed a little tear thinking about my loved one who is so far away. After JE and GR left I hung around for a little longer but didn't feel like partying so was back at the hotel at a reasonable time.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

It is Saturday 5pm and I am just back (in my hotel in San Francisco) after visiting my uncle and aunt in Calgary. It is a miracle that I made it to Canada, this is what happened on Wednesday night: I met with CH at my hotel, he came straight from work so we went to his place so that he could change his clothes. We proceeded to 'N Touch (an "East West" bar, where, by the way, they have the hunkiest barmen in the world). Met KE a local San Franciscan who was nice to talk to, and before I knew it I had downed 4 gin and tonics. I WILL NEVER DRINK g&t's again. Finally CH and I went to a (bad) Thai restaurant for dinner, but CH got sick after ordering and I had to put him in a taxi home. After eating a bit I went back to 'N Touch but the place had emptied so they told me to go to Badlands. I remember chatting to the guy and after that there is this huge blank in my mind. Next thing I remember is to wake up in someone's bed and panicking because it is bright daylight and I thought I had missed my flight to Canada.......Fortunately, it was early and I was still on time, and my host MI informed me that yes, we had met at Badlands, and after going to his place I had used his bathroom extensively. Did I say I will NEVER drink gin and tonics again?

It was good to see my uncle and aunt. They are old but still healthy and I think we all enjoyed our time together. We chatted a lot about their son (my cousin) AP who was gay and died of AIDS in 1996. We looked at pictures and I realized again what a very handsome guy AP was. He was two years older than I and being so handsome I suppose he must have been popular in the gay scene. He must have picked up the disease before all the safe-sex campaigns started. They always say that loosing a child is the worst that can happen to parents and my uncle and aunt are still very, very sad about their loss.

Had a smooth flight back to SF and am going to have dinner and drinks (BUT NO GIN AND TONICS) with JE later. I met JE in Singapore two years ago. I am looking forward to seeing him again, but alas he informed me he has a boyfriend now so there will be no hanky-panky.

Oh, I did something stupid with my handphone (cell phone, mobile phone) and it is no longer working since Friday. So I won't get any calls or messages.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

in San Francisco

I am in the APPLE store in San Francisco near Union Square, where they graciously provide free Internet access. This morning we left Lake Tahoe around 8:30 with freezing temperatures and snow! After about 5 miles there was a sign "snow chains required" and of course we did not have any so were afraid we would need to turn back. But the good old jeep is a 4 wheel drive so we were allowed up the mountain pass. Soon the weather cleared up and snow changed in to rain and later into sunshine. Had lunch with DA's partner JO and DA's friend ST after unloading JO's mother's stuff at her house. We found out we had been transporting a dog's tombstone all the way from East to West! After lunch ST dropped me off at the hotel in SF. Will have dinner with CH later. Called my uncle in Calgary and they are expecting me tomorrow. Have to be at the airport around 9:30am on Thursday morning to catch my flight to Calgary. Back to SF on Saturday. It is such a nice city, finally some interesting people to look at. Well, tomorrow back to the "homophobic prairie" as my late cousin used to call Calgary.

A new princess

The wife of Dutch crown Prince Willem-Alexander, Princess Maxima, gave birth to their third daughter today. That gives Queen Beatrix her 8th grandchild.

South Lake Tahoe, California

This is such a beautiful place! We took an easy day today just driving some 3 1/2 hours in the morning. Approaching Reno the traffic got much busier. For those of you that don't know Lake Tahoe, it can be compared to the beauty of Geiranger Fjord in Norway, or the Queenstown area in New Zealand. After lunch (it is possible to get decent food again here in California after all the greasy junk in Middle-America) we went to see Emerald Bay and had a few short hikes in the area. As Lake Tahoe is on the border of California and Nevada we will cross back into Nevada tonight to visit a casino and eat there. (casinos are known to serve cheap, good food)

Just watched the news on CNN (American edition) and all they talk about is 1) some guy who uttered some racist remarks and now is vilified by the entire nation; 2) some guy who is the father of Anne-Nicole Smith' child (DNA proof); and 3) new data show there are 6 million Americans who are more than 100 pouns (45 kilos) overweight. As if there is no Iraq war, global warming and Singapore government pay robbery.

And the best news today is that both DA and I were asked if we are 21 in a casino in Winnemucca this morning! Well, the lady who asked was 70 and had thick glasses, but I was very happy all of today anyway.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Winnemucca, Nevada

I just learned that this town is famous for legal prostitution, so I'll make it a short post hehe. We are staying at The Red Lion which also doubles as a casino, like all hotels in Nevada. We had lunch in Wendover (which we nick-named Bendover) on the Utah/Nevada border and right at the border there were huge casinos already. Driving in this part of America is beautiful, almost nobody on the roads and impressive views of empty landscapes. In the morning we spent some time in Park City, a winter sports resort, before driving near the shores of the Great Salt Lake which I liked a lot.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Salt Lake City, Utah

It is 7:30am on Monday and I have just woken up in Salt Lake City. Yesterday we did 427 miles, average speed 71.1 miles, for total driving time of 6 hours and 6 minutes. We woke up in Cheyenne and looked out of the window to see a thick fog. It was only 21F when we left, but fortunately soon after leaving the weather improved. Wyoming was the most beautiful state so far with very good views all the way. Very sparsely populated and only a few small truck-stops that are called towns in this part of the world. Driving into Salt Lake City provided for more good scenery. We are staying with DA's cousin and her father in a nice house in a suburb of SLC. Yesterday they took us to a local Chinese restaurant that was very good, and after dinner we walked around in the downtown area to see the Mormon temples. DA was afraid we would be proselytized but no such thing happened.

Singapore top boss insults Denmark, Finland and Switzerland

Singapore's CEO and President of the Board, so-called Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew insulted a few European nations today: "I am putting a simple question and asking for his clarification. He has compared Singapore as if it were Denmark, Finland or Switzerland. Their systems and governments never produced the kind of transformation that we have, and their system and government have a broader base and can afford a mediocre government," said the Minister Mentor.

Everything is apparently allowed to get a few more $$ in his pockets.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Cheyenne, Wyoming

So here we are at the Fairfield Inn in Cheyenne, the capital of the state of Wyoming. We left Des Moines this morning around 8:30 when the temperature was 21 degrees Fahrenheit (that's about minus 7 Celsius) and arrived in Cheyenne around 6:15pm with a temperature of 22 degrees Fahrenheit. During the day we only had a few moments with temperatures above freezing. On top of that, the wind is still strong and the air is very dry. A good day to do many miles: 628 to be exact done in 8 hours and 49 minutes of driving time for an average speed of 73.2 miles/hour.

Most of today we drove through the state of Nebraska. I have nothing nice to report about Nebraska - it is an endless plain of corn fields, very small towns and nothing but chain restaurants. I was telling DA that since leaving Philadelphia I haven't seen anything yet worth stopping for! 3 days and 1700 miles and nothing interesting ...... No wonder this is called "fly-over country" by the East- and West coast Americans. Oh, one more thing: entering Nebraska there is this big billboard with the text: "I questioned homosexuality. Change is possible. Discover how. Call 1-800-......"

We just finished dinner in a good restaurant called Poor Richard's. The waitress made DA's day by asking him for ID when we ordered our gin and tonics. He was born in 1957 so quite an honour to be ID'ed! I had to promise him to post this on the blog.

The Jeep

We are driving a Jeep cross-country. It is a bit bulky, and when the wind is blowing hard like yesterday you really have to keep the steering wheel steady with two hands. DA's mother-in-law's stuff is in the booth and on the back seats, so there is just enough room for the two of us and the luggage.

In other news, the guy from Worldbank called back and told me I am in the "top 3" of candidates. He really sounded like they want to interview me. But do I want to work for an extremely bureaucratic organization like the Worldbank? And do I want to pack up again and move to Washington DC? DA tells me to just go for the interview (nothing lost if I go) and see what they have to offer. I promised to call them back on Tuesday latest, so if you have any advice please let me know.

Happy Easter to everyone!

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Des Moines, Iowa

Today's travel stats: 567 miles driven, average speed 66 miles per hour, driving time 8 hours 36 minutes. Which means we covered a lot of distance again from Ohio via Indiana and Illinois to Iowa. Still very cold, most of the day below 0 C, with snow flurries in the morning and some sunshine in the afternoon. Very strong winds, so strong that driving became strenuous. We are now staying at the Renaissance Savery Hotel in Des Moines. The city reminds me of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, just as inhospitable and cold. The pictures are of the State of Iowa's Capitol building.

The highlights today include: 1) DA got a truck-driver stalker. I was driving and DA spotted a cute truck driver and the cute driver spotted DA. After they smiled at each other, the truck was playing hide-and-seek with us, passing us at times and then slowing down again. For the rest of the day, DA wanted to go to every truck stop to try to find the cute driver. We even passed the "largest truck stop in the world Iowa 80" but didn't stop...2) a cute young Asian guy looking at us when we were checking in to the hotel. He was definitely interested but as we had to go to the room first to drop off our luggage nothing happened.

Friday, 6 April 2007

A job in Washington, DC?

Received a voicemail message on my mobile phone today: "Hi, this is David XX from Worldbank in Washington. This is to let you know that you have been shortlisted for the job that you applied for. Can you please call me back as soon as possible?"
I sent an application in January for a job with the Worldbank in Washington and now they get back to me?? I think I will thank them for the honour.

Perrysburg, Ohio

I am writing from the Best Western Hotel in Perrysburg, Ohio, just South of Toledo. Our travel stats today are: net driving time 8 hours 35 minutes, distance covered 530 miles, average speed 61 miles/hour. This morning in Philadelphia the weather was very nice, but between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh more and more clouds appeared and driving into Ohio we had snow storms and temperatures below zero! So much for Spring having arrived. It is really COLD with a strong wind making it unpleasant to be outside. A first impression of the "real" America is that everything is bigger than in other parts of the world, especially the food and drink portions. Even the lattes and muffins are much larger than for instance in Singapore. Tonight we had dinner in a traditional American bar annex "diner" called Fat Jack's and one burger there would feed 3 people in Europe and about 5 in Asia. DA just did his exercises and I should do the same or I will be seriously fat very soon.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

In Philadelphia

Greetings from the Hyatt at Penn's Landing, Philadelphia. Had a good flight with 4 gay middle-aged flight attendants. Watched "Notes on a Scandal" and "Blood Diamonds" on the plane so time passed quickly. After dinner we walked around Philadelphia and saw the Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Penn's Landing. So another city crossed off the list! Tomorrow the road trip will start. It is now 10:40pm Wednesday local time that's 23 hours after I woke up this morning so I am gonna sign off.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Going transatlantic

I have packed my bag, cleaned my carry-on bag from all liquids (no more toothpaste allowed on a plane!) , and prepared my documents for the US immigration, customs and security processes. So I am all set to leave the house tomorrow morning at 6:45am and board flight NW67 to Detroit connecting to NW1766 to Philadelphia where I hope to arrive at 5pm local time on Wednesday. I will post en-route trip reports whenever I get the chance. In the mean time, happy Easter and don't eat too many eggs.

Nice friends to have

"Myanmar has suggested to Singapore that it could be a long-term supplier of sand, cement, granite and other construction materials. This comment came from the State Peace and Development Council's Lieutenant-General Thein Sein. He made this suggestion to Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo when the two met in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday. Singapore has been looking for alternative sources of sand after Indonesia imposed a ban on land sand in February."

What to do when your lover wants you to clean the toilet?

Monday, 2 April 2007

I signed the contract

I did it! Today I signed a contract for my new job with a small start-up company. From May 1st, I wil join them at their office near the Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam. I will leave my huge, multinational, bureaucratic firm after giving them 19 years and 3 months of my energy, brainpower and all of my many other skills. ;-) It feels like chains have been opened and I am free again.

After signing the contract my new bosses and I had a few beers to celebrate on a terrace at Rembrandtplein. I think we are going to have a nice time together.

I also received bad news today. JM called and told me his father suffered a brain hemorrhage. The doctors have told the family that his remaining life expectancy should be measured in days, not weeks. JM is one of my best friends and he and his family are in my thoughts.

A little quiz

In which country (hint: it is rather small, calls itself a democracy, and gay sex is illegal) could the chief of the labour unions says something like this to defend a raise of his own salary and that of other ministers? (by the way, this country already has the highest salaries in the world for its leaders)

"I think looking ahead into the future as workers as union leaders, we are fully aware of the kind of competition that we will be facing in the future. So in other words we have to run very fast and running very fast means that we must have leaders both in the government, in the civil service, in the business community as well as in the labour movement. So from that regard, I would say that progressively more and more union leaders and workers will accept and realise that actually it is to the interest of the workers, to the interest of the labour movement to ensure that the government will do whatever necessary to attract the fair share of talent."

Sunday, 1 April 2007


Watched 300 just now and what a mistake.

300 is a recent film adaptation of the graphic novel 300 by Frank Miller, itself partly inspired by another film, The 300 Spartans, and is a semi-historical account of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. The film is directed by Zack Snyder with Frank Miller attached as an executive producer and consultant, and was shot mostly with bluescreen to duplicate the imagery of the original comic book.

Spartan King Leonidas (no, not the chocolate guy!) (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fight to the last man against queeny Persian King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his army of more than one million soldiers, while in Sparta, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) attempts to rally support for her husband.

Well, if you like an orgy of blood, killings and chopped off heads and limbs, you may like this movie. The story is extremely thin and is glorifying "real" manhood and war and destruction.

Even the guys are not cute. Yes, I can see that they all went to the gym but the results are very, very disappointing.

Worse, the film is quite racist. The "Asian hordes" are shown as being stupid and lacking culture, whereas the Greeks are all noble, freedom loving men. George W. Bush can be happy with this movie.


I went to "De Keukenhof" today. It is a world-famous flower garden in Lisse, the Netherlands. It is open every Spring from late March until mid-May and attracts tourists from all over the world. Now you may wonder that visiting flower gardens is something for 54 year old women. Come to think about it, I am almost a 54 year old woman myself......

It was a brilliant day and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit. The grounds are huge and OS and I spent a good 4 hours there. The only bad thing was that OS dropped the camera which seems beyond repair now. Will need to get a new one before the trip to the US.

Canceled meals

Saturday was the day of canceled meals. KO called to have a late lunch at 3pm, he then called to change to 2:30pm, and I was running a bit late. He called at 2:30 sharp to ask where am I, and I said "give me another 10 minutes, I am on my way". When I arrived at 2:45 he had already left...... Took the opportunity to walk around in Amsterdam and enjoy the wonderful weather, and ran into AH and had a drink with him.

OS and I were supposed to have dinner with MT from London (also known as "the fake accent guy") and his friend HO. But they had been shopping all day in The Hague and the girls were running late. Too late for dinner so we had Chinese take-away at home before meeting them in April. Last time I saw MT was in February 2006 in Singapore, and he seemed to have good memories of that meeting (ha!) as he kept on telling me such a pity you don't live there anymore and we can't meet in the same way wink wink.

Proceeded to Exit where there were more Asian guys than in Tantric on a good day. One muscular guy in particular was so hot that when he took his shirt of I had to wipe MA's face clean.

Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now

ER sent me this song. He is right, it is beautiful.
It is one of Joni Mitchell's best known songs, written in March 1967, inspired by a passage in Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow.
In addition to Mitchell's own recording of the song, Judy Collins recorded it in 1967 (shortly after Mitchell wrote it); Collins' version reached the top ten on the U.S. pop singles charts and won a 1968 Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance. Rolling Stone ranked it #170 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, i've looked at cloud that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things i would have done but clouds got in my way.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions i recall.
I really don't know clouds at all.

Moons and junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real; i've looked at love that way.
But now it's just another show. you leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know, don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now,
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions i recall.
I really don't know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud to say "i love you" right out loud,
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, i've looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say
I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day.

I've looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose, and still somehow
It's life's illusions i recall.
I really don't know life at all.

Monument for prostitutes unveiled

A statue for prostitutes was unveiled in Amsterdam on Saturday. A noble and important profession finally has been given the respect that it deserves.