Sunday, December 12, 2010

Warm-er weather

As the title says, the weather is a bit warmer.
The past week the snow has been slowly melting and the ice on the canals has been slowly returning to its liquid state. It is kind of weird to realize that the ground temperature is warmer than the water temperature. The snow was melting very fast, but there are probably canals that still have ice on them now, after 7 days of no cold temperatures. Well, it's still chilly.
The highest temperature was 6 degrees probably once or twice this week. Today it's been 3 degrees all day and at night seems to be going to 1 or maybe a bit lower too. We'll see how it goes over the next couple of days.
If you haven't already, you should go look at my pictures on Facebook. Sorry for the weird order, if you want to know the order I won't explain it again, but you can see it on the post just before this one.
Wanna know something interesting? I almost got in trouble at a supermarket for taking pictures :-P It's all because they have this very interesting and efficient system... You pay like 50 euro cents for this wireless scanner and you take it along with you in the supermarket. Every item you pick up you scan and so it tells you how much money and what items you're spending on. No longer want an item? Press delete and it's out of your list. When you're done, you go to a separate area next to the registers. There all you do is you hang the scanner, the machine detects how much it has to charge, you pass your credit/debit/pinpass/whatever card, you print the receipt. You walk up to the doors, scan your receipt, and the door opens to let you through.
Well, I took a picture of the little scan and where you pay and all. And the manager of Albert Heijn came to tell me you can't take pictures without permission. But I answered in Dutch so he just spoke very fast in Dutch too. Then Esmee said I was a tourist from Amerika and he said how he didn't think the system would be in Amerika for another like 20 years or so with how slow it is in a lot of things, so I showed him the pictures and he said it was fine.
Funny anecdote I guess, haha.
This last week we didn't have to babysit again. I don't know how, but the computer is repaired. Apparently after McAfee was gone the 2nd time, those viruses were erased too. Trend Micro hasn't found any again either. We'll see how it keeps going.
Friday we ate fries from the snack bar. I also ate a kaas suffle, really good cheese thing. Tomorrow I'm going to make empanadas, so we'll see how that goes!
In other news, I have been applying for some temporary jobs, all Christmas season and stuff. Hopefully I can work soon.....
And I want to go to the Escher museum in The Hague. Maybe this or next week I'll go, hopefully with Esmee.
Also I think this week we're going to go to Ikea. I always love going to Ikea, loads of fun and get to eat some swedish meatballs, hehehe.
For Christmas there are some different plans, seems like we had invited Oma and Opa for dinner and all, but they might go to Appeldoorn to Gerard's house to celebrate it. So we'll see what happens in the end.
For New Years, called OudeNieuwe in Dutch (Old New... weird name), Imke and Marc have invited us to their New Years Party, so I will be buying some fireworks this week, either at the Driesprong or back at the Intratuin.
Intratuin by the way is such an awesome shop! Imagine a Lowes where a lot of the products change seasonally and they have like Christmas decorations. But not just Christmas decorations. The whole place felt like I was entering a theme park or something. It was so cool! So many Christmas things all over the place. Trees, Santa Clauses. They even had a manger and some goats. Oh, and this VW Minivan with a train track running through it and with more Christmas decorations! Oh, and since there is a gigantic pet section, people go shopping with their pets. Yes. People had their dogs with them. I guess it makes sense to be able to try a jacket on your dog before you buy it. But probably the best thing of Intratuin was that I FINALLY SAW CLOGS! Like real clogs! Wooden clogs! It was awesome!!! I almost bought some but I didn't really have the money for them at the moment. Maybe later. Would be a great thing to have as a decoration. Maybe for my parents house :-P
Also, let me tell you about the Internet/Cable/Phone here. They pay like 58 per month. The Internet every like 3 days stops working. UPC really sucks apparently. And its supposed to be fiber with 25mbps or so but running speedtests I only get like 2.75 mbps... So yeah, Esmee says they get screwed by UPC. I wonder why they don't switch ISP's. I guess the rest of the things work pretty well. Except the phone seems to lose calls very often. I don't know, just kind of odd to me I guess.
Oh, also, there is no 24 hour support line. Dutch people should really request that. It's good and can be very important. What if your phone stops working and you have no cell phone? I do wonder if other companies have that here.
Anyways. For this week I guess I'll see about some temporary work and will look forwards to going to Ikea and the Escher Museum.
Oh, want to know the stupidest thing of going to Den Haag to get my sofi to work here? My camera died before even leaving. Yeah. Sucked. I finally go to Den Haag and the battery dies. But I promise photos when I go to the Escher museum!
Anyway. I hope you all had a better and warmer week than I did. I'll update sometime mid week I think.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sinterklaas weekend!!!!!

Oh how much fun that was!!!!! What a great weekend!
More snow all day Friday and Saturday.
A great day of Sinterklaas celebrations on Saturday.
Went to see Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 on Sunday.
Too bad most of the snow seems to have melted.
But a great weekend regardless.
By now I have uploaded all the pictures I've taken so far. Though for some reason Shotwell didn't upload them in the correct order... So you should look at the first 69 photos starting from number 69 going up to number 1 and then the second half of the photos starting from the last one up to number 70, I think that's the way they are uploaded. I did upload them in two groups and I guess that messed it up more.
But from the beginning.
Friday night it snowed more. And the temperature stayed at -10 on Saturday too.
Saturday we went to Zoetermeer to do some Sinterklaas shopping, since Ramón had not bought his Sinterklaas present yet and I had to buy chocolate for Romeo. Esmee also needed a winter jacket. Pretty much it was the 4 kids crammed into the back of the small Citroen C3 again. It was pretty scary with all the snow on the roads and with more snow falling, there really was a strong blizzard outside. Really sad for all the South Holland Sheep you could see, they were all standing outside and looking for grass to eat.
We got to Zoetermeer after seeing a lot of frozen canals and ponds, and the first thing we did was bought tickets for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 on Sunday. After that we walked on the snow through part of the dorp and then entered the inside shopping center/area. Romeo bought some boots, we looked into some other stores, and then Ingrid and Esmee went to look at women stuff, so the rest of us, all kept walking through the dorp. Ramón bought a set to make tapas, we kept walking and went to the Free Record Shop where Rico bought 2 Jeff Dunham DVD's, then we walked back to the shopping center and met up with Ingrid and Esmee, who had bought herself a new jacket. Then we all had lunch, ate some sandwiches, and kept walking around. After some more walking we went back to the garage and drove through the storm back to Berkel en Rodenrijs.
Saturday night we all went to Oma and Opa's to celebrate Sinterklaas. Arie and Ilona, with Bjorn and Kristen of course, went to Oma and Opa's too, and we all had dinner, then Oma brought the bag of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), the helpers of Sinterklaas, and we all started taking presents from it. I got 8 computer games which I had gone with Opa to buy at the Intertoys. Later we all brought our gifts that we bought for the game, sat around the coffee table, and started playing.
It was a very interesting and fun game. Ingrid set a timer to one hour, and then there was one die to roll. The die was passed clockwise around the table and everybody would roll it. If you got a 1, 3, or a 5, nothing happened. If you rolled a 2, all the gifts were moved to the right. If you rolled a 4, all the gifts moved to the left. If you rolled a 6, you could trade gifts with somebody else and open the gift, if it wasn't open already. The gifts, in no specific order, were a birdhouse, a table ornament to put cookies and things on, 2 Jeff Dunham DVD's, a set of Tapas, a set of chocolate fondue and other chocolate things, a National Movie Theater Gift Card, a Hedwig/White Owl puppet/ornament thing, a set with soap and bubbles and cream for a bath for women, and a Portable Speaker. After some time of playing the game started getting pretty tense, Rico wanted his Jeff Dunham DVD's, Opa wanted the Portable Speaker, Ilona wanted the birdhouse, no man wanted the bath set, and nobody could look at the timer to see how much time was left. Suddenly, in the last move, I passed the bath set to Esmee, I got the Speaker, Rico passed the Jeff Dunham DVD's to Arie, Ingrid received the chocolate fondue thing, Ramón the tapas, and Rico the table ornament thing. You can guess Rico was very sad he didn't get his Jeff Dunham DVD's, haha.
After the game we drank some tea and coffee (well, Esmee and I just drank tea) and then we walked home in the snow. As we were walking home Ramón and Esmee started throwing some snowballs, then Esmee slipped, then we arrived home and Esmee declared a Snowball fight outside on the back street. So Romeo, Esmee, Ramón and I went to the back and started throwing snowballs. A great way to end that great Saturday.
On Sunday we all were very lazy in the morning, then had lunch together and then we all went to watch Harry Potter. By then the temperature had risen to 4 degrees, it was the highest of the week, and a lot of snow was melting already.
EDIT: While waiting for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 at the movie theater, we were listening to Sinterklaas music that was playing on the speaker system of the building. Apparently, all Argentinean kids songs are based on Sinterklaas songs. Or at least they all have the same melody. It was a very weird thing for me to find out on Sunday.
The movie was really good, but the ending kind of sucked. I guess for a book that you have to split into two it is hard to decide where to best split it and how to make it an ending point.
After the movie we went back home and then Esmee started doing her homework. Suddenly all these windows started popping up on the computer with some program trying to write on the hard disk. I realized they had a virus. I tried to get McAfee to scan the folder that the virus was coming from, but McAfee wasn't doing anything. So I uninstalled it and then I installed Trend Micro. I ran it through the night but somehow the scan was stopped in the middle of the night. So today I've been running it again.
On Wednesday I'm getting my Sofi number and then hopefully I'll be able to start working asap and make some money again.
Anyways, I hope all of you had a great Sinterklaas and are having a good December so far. Mine is going pretty well I think. I'll post an update later this week I guess.
If you haven't already, go look at my pictures on Facebook!

El Tano.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snow and freezing temperatures

The Netherlands during winter is VERY cold.
And it has been flurrying for a couple of days now.
But today I saw some really amazing things.
Like the biggest snow flakes I've seen in my entire life.
I'm not kidding, those things were like an inch wide...
It was truly amazing.
At first, I was working helping Rico with some of the mail he has to deliver.
And it was just cold.
Then it started snowing a little, and they were tiny, like 2 mm wide snow flakes.
But they were PERFECT snow flakes! Had a perfect shape, something I had never seen.
And then suddenly the blizzard came.
And the kinda-sunny weather of the morning was gone, and there was wind and colder temperatures.
You know what feels absolutely weird? To go home, notice its -2 outside, and feel that its not that cold.
Yes. It didn't feel that cold. Why? Because during the blizzard it was down to -8 and felt like -16, again.
Pretty much the entire week has been cold.
I've done things I never thought I would do.
I rode a bike to the market in the snow. And more than once too. Even rode a bike to deliver mail, with two boxes full of mail on the bike bags. Worst thing is that I left my snow goggles inside, so all the snow was hitting my face. Oh, and the Dutch wind is still here, and it doesn't help at all, as you would imagine.
The days so far have been pretty good. I called the tax service office and next week I'm getting a number thing like the Social Security Number so that I can work, since the TNT Mail needs a lot of people for the holiday season. Then I'll be making some Euris! Hahaha, at least I'll have something else to do.
I went to babysit with Esmee some more, Nina is now smiling more to me than before, pretty cool! And at the house where we used to babysit on Thursdays now the little boy, whose name I forget but is like Thimad or something like that, was talking with me in Dutch and showing both of us his new firetruck. Also his sister, Feline, was talking with me using all her English she had learnt in school so far and we played Qwartet, a card game where you have to complete sets of 4 cards. I don't think I even have to say that it was loads of fun.
Anyways, on to more personal things, I've really come to the conclusion that I want to keep studying Industrial Engineering. I have been reading more and more of it. I find myself reading previews on Google Books, its actually a whole new thing for me. Really interesting all the things I read about it. Mostly what I like is Logistics, Supply Chain Management, and Ergonomics. A lot of it is because of my work as an interpreter. And for those who don't understand, its all because I see all the patients seem to get hurt because of a lack of importance in the workplace to safety. Sure, big corporations have lots of board for safety and all that. But I believe a lot more places should have safety regulations. And hospitals, don't even get me started. Not just hospitals, but any kind of clinic. The use of resources is SOOO inefficient. Can I just say that if Duke or WakeMed or Rex hired an Industrial Engineer then a lot of their nurses wouldn't get hurt and their doctors would have things to do and the patients would be taken care of much quicker? It would be cheaper and better for EVERYBODY.
I don't know how to explain it more. It's just such a lack of organization. And that motivates me to go and improve it. Yes, sure, it works. But does it really work? Is it effective and efficient? Could it be improved? Definitely. Everything can and should be improved.
I have some pictures to upload, but I'm not exactly sure how to put them on the blogpost. So I'll put them on Facebook, and if you're my friend you'll be able to see them, hehe.
Tomorrow is SinterKlass and we're going to buy some gifts and on Sunday I think we are going to have a game of trading gifts and stuff, sounds like it will be fun. I've already bought all the gifts I need to buy, pretty sure, well, except for Romeo, who wants chocolate so I'll get it tomorrow. Sunday we are also going to go watch Harry Potter! Finally, haha.
Anyways, I think this is the end of a good week overall. Found out about the number to work, had good dinners with Esmee's family and grandparents, even tutored them in English! Also called my grandmother to say hi, its always nice to talk with her.
Hopefully next week things will keep getting better.
I guess I'll write something on Sunday or Monday morning.