Saturday, 31 January 2009

On economy

Can anyone justify this?

It is counter-intuitive considering the current economic climate and the creeping costs of comestibles to artificially and unnecessarily increase the price of an item with wrapping like this.

Not to mention the environmental cost.

Albert Hein, however, deems it necessary to wrap individual carrots thus, and compels me to buy these plastic-armoured roots! Why? Because the only other way they sell them is by the 1 1/2 kilo, and I'd find it hard to much my way through a whole 1500g before they turn soggy.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Share and share alike

We're a caring, sharing department at work. Great most of the time, but not always. For example, so far this year, colleagues have gone to great lengths to share their sicknesses with the rest of us: one even flew in from the UK to distribute germs. In fact, since I joined the company in October, someone in room of 9 people in which I sit has been sick with a cold or the flu every week; when they get better, the next person falls ill and so on in an infectious circle. Now we have two people down & off work, two falling sick and one just recovered. Today I felt like my turn was starting, so am pumping myself full of fresh fruit and veg and preparing for the onslaught. Save installing an airtight booth with its own climate system, there's little else I can do!

After this week off running with my foot (healing nicely) I don't want to miss another one of training for the 1/2 marathon thanks to a cold.

Just another day in the office

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Rat out, Ox in.

As someone with a Chinese studies background, I'm nigh on obliged to do a Chinese New Year post. So, in summary, it's now the year of the Ox, which apparently means that we will be successful if we work hard, like an ox. The seemingly obvious question of why this applies this year in particular is a matter to take up with a Chinese immortal sage living on a mountain top/astrologer/Hu Jintao. Some seers are predicting economic doom and gloom due to 'a lack of fire' in the cycle (rather than our current predicament it appears).

I had to work hard from the off, as I had been invited to a New Year's banquet by Chinese friends from work, which started at 11.30 this morning. I bravely ploughed my way through the dishes to find everyone scurry off promptly at 13.00 in order to get back home to watch the New Year's eve variety show from the motherland. I wondered if former classmate Daniel 'Da Niu (Big Ox)' Newham would be entertaining them? If we're working on the Chinese's favourite idea of systematic correspondence, then this year should be a good one for him!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Little toe, big problem

Last night, wandering through my lounge in the dark, I had a close encounter with my sofa, and managed to dislocate my little toe. With a minimum of swearing I managed to ascertain it wasn't broken, and, after consultation with my personal physicians, strapped it up, took some paracetamol and hoped for the best. The colour show it has put on today has made me wonder if I have some Chameleon DNA in me somewhere.

It hurts badly to walk on, but the long term outlook could bring more pain, as this injury has come right in a crucial point of my half-marathon training. Well, all of it is crucial in such a short time-frame, as I'm running in mid-March.

I would post a picture of the offending appendage, but believe that Blogger would remove it for breaching decency regulations.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

On punctuality, again!

Repairman arrived today at 5.30 prompt after calls from the property management agency. Fan fixed, all's right with the world.

This morning, I might well have cost the company several thousand dollars through causing impunctuality. Upon trying to enter the security doors with my pass, a repairman (yes, another!) entered through the other side atexactly the same time. Our simultaneous scanning caused the doors' computer to crash, and we both had to withdraw for it to reset. On trying again, neither of us could gain access. But I persisted, finally giving up scanning after 20 seconds of franticly hitting the machine with my card. I turned to the next person in the line to say 'After you, I think it's my card' to find our illustrious CEO waiting. He smiled, turned to me and offered some very sage words of advice before scanning through the doors himself. Unfortunately they were all in Dutch so I couldn't understand a word of it.

Monday, 19 January 2009


Having been given a fair amount of literature about moving to Holland and what to expect from Dutch people, one thing that was repeated numerous times was punctuality. Being 2 minutes late for a meeting is a grave matter; arriving 20 minutes late for dinner, as per the UK norm, a serious insult. You can imagine my surprise then, when in certain situations these rules do not seem to apply. If you are at a restaurant, service is almost guaranteed to come with a maƱana attitude, and you are considered lucky to have food on the table within three quarters of an hour. Several times I have sat waiting for repairmen to attend to my property, and tonight is no exception, having spent nigh-on 50 minutes waiting for a someone to arrive and fix my extractor fans, or call me to explain their tardiness.

Dutch Railways - Punctual

Dutch Lost Luggage Delivery Services - Not so punctual

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Going Dutch

Holland: not as romantic as Hong Kong, not as unexplored or mysterious as China. However, it is where I find myself now, and I'm pleasantly surprised. Even in spite of the 2 month wait for an internet connection at home, I'm settling in fine.

Getting used to a new country always takes a little time; new customs, new food, new work, etc. But moving to Holland, after having been to some unusual places, I did not think I would be surprised modes of transport adopted here.

I'm glad I can still be surprised by some everyday things here in the West!