Thursday, 31 January 2008

Thank you, Air Asia

MA and I have been busy planning our trip through SE Asia. Air Asia is running a zero ringgit sale to many destinations, and I managed to book 4 flights - out of an itinerary of 5 flights - for this fare! So for less than 150 euros all-in we will jet through Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Baby boom

After the news a month ago that DAZ is expecting his second child with his lesbian friends, today I got a message from MR and RB that, after waiting more than two years, they have been selected for adopting a baby. They will travel to the US tomorrow to pick up a baby girl who was born 10 days ago. RB is American, and strangely enough it is easier for them to adopt in the US as compared to here in the Netherlands. The baby's biological parents selected MR and RB from a long list of descriptions of prospective parents and apparently didn't mind that their daughter would grow up in a gay family. I am really happy for MR and RB as they had wanted a child for so long, and now their dream will come true.

Americans continue to spend beyond their means

Kindergarten economics: when a person makes $ 1,000 per month and spends $ 1,200, after a while he will have problems. At first, he may find a bank that is willing to lend him the $ 200, but banks are not (totally) crazy so at one point the individual will have to cut his spending and live with the money he actually makes. The US of A as a whole has been living like the person in this example for at least a decade, continuously spending more than it is making. With the recent sub-prime crisis, this period seemed to have come to an end which is good. Americans need to spend less, save more and go back to a standard of living they can actually afford. But the Bush government and the Fed are now doing their best to prolong the good times by giving away tax checks and dramatically lowering interest rates. Which only means that the recession that will follow will be deeper, when it comes. All Bush and the Fed are doing is delaying the process of adjustment. This would have been a good time to force an adjustment: the rest of the world is doing very well and we don't need the Americans for our economies. Asia is growing 10% a year, South America has a boom time, Europe is moving forward nicely and even Africa is making a lot of progress. Soon, the bankers of this world in Asia and the Middle East will no longer want to finance America's overspending, and a reality check will be passed to the American people. In the mean time, the value of the dollar is approaching another all-time low , and as long as some Asian countries currencies continue to be linked to the US$ (not for much longer, I expect), my holiday in Asia will be even cheaper! Thanks Mr. Bush, thanks Fed!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

End of treatment

Today was the last time OS underwent radiation therapy for his cancer treatment. I accompanied him to the hospital and after the treatment we met with all of OS' doctors. They seem to be satisfied with the results so far, but warned that the pain and burns would still get worse over the next 2 weeks or so. His cheek looks terrible as if he has been burnt in a fire, he can't eat, sleeps badly and has horrible pains. I have been given the task to administer the morphine that the doctors gave him against the pain. From the day of his operation more than 3 months have passed. I have seen once again from up close that it is true what people say: having good health is the most important asset in life. Whatever gods or natural order you believe in, if you are healthy thank them for it!

Monday, 28 January 2008

Mixing business with pleasure (2)

I normally don't mix business with pleasure - I mean, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is long enough to spend with even the nicest person, so why would I want to socialize with colleagues? But now I am about to make an exception: I was chatting with CC in the bar last night and he told me he still needs a company that will give him a project for the graduation thesis for his studies in international business. Before I knew it I told him we might have something for him, and when I discussed it with my boss this morning he was immediately enthusiastic as we are negotiating a huge multi-million project in China and if we get it we will need a lot of help. As CC is Chinese his language skills will definitely come in handy. So I arranged an interview between CC and my boss and if they like each other, soon I will see CC not only in the bars but also in the office. I only know CC in jeans and tight T-shirts so it will be interesting to see him in business attire later this week!
Today was sgboy's 26th birthday! (well, actually in Singapore it is already tomorrow so his birthday was yesterday there - whatever) Have a nice year and many happy returns!

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Pain distracts

As I wrote earlier, they have been working on the sewers etc. in my street. Work is progressing very slowly (a 3-week Christmas holiday didn't help), but finally the work is almost done and the new pavements have been laid. As this part of the country is slowly sinking every now and then they raise all streets, this time by some 25cm. Which resulted in my front garden being 25cm below street level which would mean I'd have a swimming pool when it is raining. So most of this weekend I was putting sand and earth into my front garden to get everything on the same level again. Lots of hard work and I found some muscles that I never knew I had. As both of my neighbours are old ladies I did their gardens, too.
So now I have a bad back pain which I hope will go away soon. Until then, the physical pain helps to distract from the emotional pain I am feeling.
With the hard work I didn't go to the bars this weekend. MR and RB came for dinner - they have a minor renovation of their house (picture below), so they are camping out with friends and family for the next 6 months. I offered them my house for when I am in Asia in March/April.

Singapore stops foreigners from singing

Singapore's Media Development Authority (I am always wondering what they are developing except for narrow-mindedness) banned the Complaints Choir from singing as long as there are foreigners amongst the singers. The 60-member "complaints choir", a concept that originated from two Finnish artists, was scheduled to perform at a weekend festival but authorities granted a performance licence on the condition that the foreigners would not participate. I must admit that I never heard about the concept of a "complaints choir" but it is a wonderful idea that I would like to see here in Amsterdam, too. Enough to complain about! In the mean time, Singapore's Censorship Board once again managed to make a mountain out of a molehill and attracted worldwide negative attention. Will they ever learn?

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Blushing and The Kite Runner

I worked from home most of today so I had time to go shopping for clothes, which I normally hate. I found a good jeans quickly and was happy that the assistant suggested I could use one size smaller than my normal size. So with a big smile I proceeded to the (cute, young, male) cashier with whom I had the following conversation:
Cashier: "You look happy, did you find what you were looking for?"
Me: "Yes, very happy. This jeans is good for me. Normally I hate shopping for clothes."
Cashier: "Why would that be?"
Me: "Well, I guess in that respect I am a real man"
Cashier: "So in which respect are you not a real man?" (big smile)
Me: (mumbling and blushing) "Well, youknowwhatimean"
It often surprises me how self confident and straightforward the young people are these days. This guy was probably only 18, but very sure of himself.
I watched The Kite Runner today which was nice. If you have read the book there are no surprises in the movie, but I think they did the film in a nice way and it didn't bore me for a single minute. I had to shed a few tears, being the sentimental bitch that I am.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

An explanation of current financial market movements

Viewing this video is obligatory for all who want a simple explanation why _you_ will be paying for bankers' fat salaries.

Monday, 21 January 2008

January is the worst month

Almost 40% of the Dutch feel more depressed in January than in any other month, according to research. The main reasons given for the gloom are a disappointing pay slip and lack of perspective for the future. British research had shown earlier that 24 January is the worst day of the year. January has been long regarded as the darkest of months, with foul weather, debt, fading Christmas memories, failed resolutions and a lack of motivation conspiring to depress. Here in the Netherlands, only 1% of those questioned said they feel at their best in January. Looking out of my office window today I had every reason to be depressed but I still manage to remain reasonably up-beat.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

My new VM660

This is my new Domyos VM660 on which I am going to lose 10kg in the next two months. I am tired of all the "did you gain weight?" comments by friends and others, so something needed to be done. My old exercise bike broke down a couple of weeks ago after 6 years of faithful service so I bought a new one yesterday, assembled and tried it today, and am going to use it on a daily basis for the next few months. I will also cut down on beer (I only went out one evening this weekend) and have ordered OS to stop buying cookies, chocolate, ice cream and everything else that I can't resist when I find it in the fridge. From now on, I will have a carrot when I feel hungry between meals.
The weekend was nice and quiet, watched two movies: El Lobo which I liked (and Eduardo Noriega is very cute) and The Guardian which is nothing special (but Ashton Kutcher made me drool...). The evening out with the gang was good, too, and we made fun with RO who, yet again, has a new lover whom he told on day 1 that he is "not monogamous". The number of cute guys that RO attracts is amazing (he is a top and the story is he fucks very well), but they seldom last more than a weekend as RO insists on telling them that he likes to fuck around. I think he wants a steady partner but this way it is not gonna happen. I also had long phone calls with DA and AA which was nice. Finally, I watched the speed skating world championship with a nice new champion, Lee Kyou-Hyuk from Korea.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Some people don't age well

The death of Robert ("Bobby") Fischer yesterday brought back memories to 1972, when the whole world was watching the Chess World Championship games between Fischer and Boris Spasski. At that time I was a reasonable chess player (for my age) and was the #2 in our school. The combination of chess and world politics (an American playing against someone from the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war) made for very interesting stories on TV and in the newspapers. After Fischer won the game and became world champion, he disappeared from the public eye and had many crisis in his personal life. He refused to pay US taxes and was finally arrested a few years ago in Japan because he travelled on an expired US passport. He was happy about the September 11 attacks, said that Bush was a "war criminal" who should be "hung", and that the "Jews are leading America". After his arrest, Iceland offered him citizenship and he died of kidney problems at the age of 64 in a Reykjavik hospital. He certainly didn't age well, looking at his pictures as a cute kid, a handsome young adult and as an old man, one can see the problems he has had in his life.
As for me, I was very busy at work this week. OS also needs a lot of attention as he feels very sick from the radio therapy and he can't speak well, can't eat solid food and he feels unstable so I have to help him climb the stairs etc. Hopefully the doctors are right and by mid-February his situation will have improved.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Development aid, mostly a waste of money

In the news today: a majority of Dutch believe we give too much money to development aid. I am part of that majority: having witnessned first hand the corruption, waste and business class travel by overpaid bureaucrats. Quote development aid bureaucrat Ms. Herfkens: "Of course I understand that some people think flying business class is luxurious. Those are people who only fly for vacation. For me, there were practical reasons. If you fly economy class, you have to check in much earlier. I'm not going to waste any time on that...If I work fewer hours, if I'm less efficient because economy class is more tiring _ So I consider that too." Unquote
I fully agree that a large portion of development aid ends up in the wrong places. And I also hate it when you give a few euros to an organization they immediately send you glossy magazines. It is an industry like any other. I'd rather give a big tip to a waiter when I travel to a poor country.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Singapore to have "Love and Pride" Film Festival

While every hamlet in the first world with more than 1,000 inhabitants has an annual gay film festival, in Singapore the word "gay" is on the no-can-use list so they'll have a "Love and Pride Film Festival". It is a bit of a waste of time because all gays (even those in Singapore) will already have seen sweet, innocent movies like Brokeback Mountain and Quinceanera. Will I live long enough to witness a gay film festival in Singapore where they show a movie like Shortbus (which I watched last week) with close-ups of autofellatio?

Monday, 14 January 2008

Brilliant defence of free society against religious intolerance by Dutch comedian Hans Teeuwen (Subtitled)

This is what a free society is all about: these three intolerant Muslim interviewers get an explanation about the concept of freedom.

A consolation prize

I had an interesting conversation with CH and CC in the bar yesterday. CH is 46 and originally from Singapore, and he was telling me that when he came to the Netherlands 25 years ago the only guys interested in meeting him were (in his words) "old, fat men". So he decided to remain single until he met his younger boyfriend FR 5 years ago. CC, who is 26 from China joined in the conversation and told us that he gets lots of attention from young Dutch guys. In CH's opinion, the appreciation of other cultures has developed over the years. I am not so sure that's the reason, and joked that CC is just a lot cuter than CH was when he was young. Anyway, CC's partner is 23 years his senior so all the attention from young guys doesn't seem to make much difference.
I learned on Saturday that MA was the lucky one to have sex with TO, the Japanese, after we all left on Friday. And again on Saturday, and again on Sunday. No wonder MA looked a bit tired when I saw him last night. As a consolation prize I got a rather nice SMS from TO: "Hi Happyamsguy, thank you very much for everything! I was very glad to see you and I'll miss you in Moscow. (TO lives in Moscow) You are very kind guy so I like you very much. I inform you my e-mail Hope keep touch with you and exactly see you again."
The story of my life: others get the sex and I get sweet messages.....By the way, this is the first time I see an e-mail address with tt and rim in it.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Fischer Z - Marliese

One of the nice song of Fischer Z's "Red Skies over Paradise" album. I can't find my favourite, Battalions of Strangers, on Youtube which is a pity!

My album collection

Sgboy posted a video of Grace Jones on his blog, and I was reminded of my album collection. "Albums" as in old fashioned gramophone records, LPs. I had to literally dust them off as I hadn't used nor looked at them for many years, but this is the music I listened to in the late 1970's and early 1980's. In no particular order:
1. Grace Jones - Island Life
2. Dire Straits - Dire Straits
3. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon
4. Gerry Rafferty - City to City
5. Supertramp - Even in the Quietest Moments
6. Gruppo Sportivo - 10 Mistakes
7. Supertramp - Crime of the Century
8. Al Stewart - Year of the Cat
9. Cat Stevens - Teaser and the Firecat
10. Gruppo Sportivo - Back to 78
11. The Dubliners - The Best of
12. Dire Straits - Making Movies
13. Fischer Z - Red Skies over Paradise
14. 10 CC - Live and let Live
15. The Eagles - Hotel California

Saturday, 12 January 2008

A chat gone wrong

I have always been very careful with mixing work and pleasure, and I never chat nor look at dirty pictures at work. Some people, however, are less careful: A class of secondary students at the Martinus College in the Dutch town of Grootebroek was inadvertently exposed to a sex chat in which their teacher was engaged. The computer on which the English teacher was communicating with an allegedly underage girl was attached to a beamer. The school has suspended the teacher. The instructor was unaware that the class was able to look on as he chatted online. Insiders cited by the newspaper Noordhollands Dagblad say the man was chatting with a 12-year-old. The child was not a student at the school, the general director of the Martinus College said on Friday.

The Japanese

So tonight we went to Soho as a try-out for a new bar but it was almost empty, we proceeded to Montmartre which was OK but around 8pm we needed a change of scenery and I had the brilliant idea to go to Krokodil which is a bar with cheap beers and old men so we felt right at home. There was this cute Japanese tourist TO and we spent all evening with him taking turns talking with him and feeling his hard body and nipples and all. But he plays hard to get so we will meet him again tomorrow as he will be in Amsterdam until Monday.
Today is ER's birthday: happy birthday sweetie have a great day and lots of fun and I miss you!!! Kiss kiss kiss.

Monday, 7 January 2008

The demolition party

The demolition party was great! Everybody came and it was one big reunion. I have been coming to April Bar for the last 12 years or so, at least once and more often twice a week, so I have spent countless hours there. It was extremely busy and when some idiots started to take the word demolition literally and began playing with the lights and electricity and we found out that the emergency exit was blocked, I decided it was time to go home. Our gang is now officially homeless and we will try various new bars in the weeks to come.

Fewer Americans and Japanese, more Russians, Chinese and Indians

American, Canadian and Japanese holidaymakers are avoiding the Netherlands because of the expensive euro, the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions reported. The number of visitors from the US fell by 3 percent last year. There were also 11% fewer Canadians and 15% less Japanese tourists. The decline in the number of visitors from North America and Japan was largely compensated by the increase of the number of visitors from countries like Belgium (up 11 percent), Spain (+10 percent), Finland (+10 percent), Russia (+14 percent), China (+14 percent) and India (+13 percent).
The new world order is becoming visible in the tourism statistics!

Dutch no longer getting taller

The Dutch are no longer growing any taller on average. Adult Dutch men continued to grow to about 3 cm taller on average, and Dutch women to about 2 cm taller on average, between 1981 and 2000. But in the years that followed the average height has shown little change. The average Dutch man was 1.81m tall in 2006, the average woman almost 1.68m.
I believe the statisticians are wrong. When I see my nephew's friends most of them are taller than me. And I am not exactly small.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

April: where everybody knew my name........

Warhol, work and the end of an era

There is an Andy Warhol exposition in the Stedelijk Museum CS and although people had warned me it was very, very crowded, yesterday I went to see it. It was indeed crowded but the line moved quickly and we were only queuing for 20 minutes or so. The exposition was interesting, especially the art that we all know such as his pictures of reigning queens. Some of the video productions that I watched gave a good insight into the New York art scene of the 1970's. My arty cousin sometimes told me stories about his wild years in New York, so it was nice to see some pictures.
Work is very busy and even this weekend I have been writing e-mails and arranging stuff. January is going to be a very busy month and a lot of the work load will be on my shoulders.
Today will be the last day that April Bar is open. They are going to close for 7 months for a big renovation. Tonight they will have a "demolition party" which will coincide with GO's birthday party. I feel a bit sad that my second living room will no longer be there.

As sang so many times in "Cheers":

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Don't drink or you'll be gay

A team of researchers at Penn State University has used an animal model to reveal, for the first time, a physiological basis for the effect of alcohol on male sexual behavior. The research team administered to fruit flies a daily dose of ethanol to closely mimic the drinking habits of alcoholics and chronic alcohol abusers. Among the team's discoveries is that male fruit flies, which typically court females, also actively court males when they are given a daily dose of ethanol.

Gnome Buttplug cause of controversy

The Rotterdam City Council has decided that a sculpture by American modern artist Paul McCarthy will be put on a public square in the centre of the city. When the sculpture, called "SantaClaus" was first unveiled in 2005, Rotterdamers soon re-named it "Gnome Buttplug" for obvious reasons, and the sculpture was put on a courtyard in the Museum Boymans van Beuningen. Conservative parties in the City Council are against putting the sculpture in the public domain. Picture below: Rotterdam Mayor Mr. Ivo Opstelten unveiling the sculpture in 2005.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Time to get a bit tougher on crime?

Drunken idiots caused 11 million euro damage during the New Year's Eve celebrations in the Netherlands. Very few people were arrested and those who were were in most cases released with a stern warning. I am not your typical "law and order" person, but I believe it is time to be a bit tougher on crime in this country, or else the lunatics will be taking over the asylum and right-wing populists such as Geert Wilders will get too many votes.

Hard core porn in the office

My boss and I received a business e-mail from one of the consultants we often work with. The e-mail itself was innocent, it talked about some travel arrangements to be made. However, our dear consultant (by mistake, I hope) added another e-mail as an attachment, apparently from a girlfriend in a country in which he has worked on a previous assignment. And attached to that e-mail were some 10 pictures that can only be called hard porn. I will never be able to talk to the consultant again without thinking about the things his girlfriend puts in the various openings of her body. Yet another example of how degenerated straight men are. Hehe.

Dolphins are great investment analysts

At the end of 2006, a Dutch TV program asked some professional Dutch investment analysts to pick their 5 favourite stocks for 2007. At the same time, they put 49 balls with names of companies into the pool at the Dolphinarium in the town of Harderwijk, and the first 5 balls that were thrown out by the dolphins made up the dolphins' investment portfolio. The result at the end of 2007? Investment analysts: return -/- 10% (minus 10%), dolphins: + 25% (plus 25%)

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

A good ushering in of the new year

This picture is of the traditional new year's dive which is very popular along the Netherlands' coast. The water temperature is around 7 C so what people do is run into the sea and then get out and get warm as quickly as possible. I participated once when I was 16 or so and it is coooooold.
Last night was a great party at PT and MC place. They are expats in Amsterdam and PT's company is paying for a beautiful apartment at Prinsengracht. We were 18, of which half were Filipino's and the other half white guys. Oh, and one lady. The hard core of the gang were all traveling so I had the chance to meet some new people. We had planned to go to the open air concert at Dam Square or to the bars, but the party was so nice that all of us stayed until 3:30am.
Today the three main gay bars in Reguliersdwarsstraat all had free drinks! The gang, including me, was out from 5pm until 9:30pm and I spent exactly zero cents! The owner of the gay bars, Mr. Sjoerd Kooistra, is making so much money on us that this is just a small gesture to pay us a little dividend!

Happy New Year

Wishing all readers of this blog a year full with everything you ever wanted.