Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Idle chit-chat at mid-week

Nothing momentous on my mind today; just a few bits and bobs to share...

My daughter arrives tomorrow...

I'm finding myself acting a bit like my mother does when we visit: cleaning, buying food I think she'll like, thinking about things we can do together. I also remember that I usually disappoint my mother in this regard: it never goes according to script and there is never enough time to do it all. I'm deliberately lowering my expectations from "things to do" to "time I'd enjoy if she would": I am not going to let this become a marathon.

If bad things will happen, they happen in the first 10 minutes of the day. E-mail and text-messages were full this morning: My wife discovered a few half-empty liquor bottles in her room and, while there's no evidence that she's drinking them, it's heightened my sense of responsibility here. So, I've cleared out all of the liquor bottles that the apartment owner left. Unfortunately, my work-mates tell me that Dutch children can drink liquor at 18 and beer and wine at 16 (I'm sure my daughter already knew that).

Windows Live Writer fix

A couple of days ago, Windows Live stopped posting pictures to Blogger with an Internal Server Error 500. I tracked through Knowledge Base, posted queries on Help, and re-installed Writer. Finally someone on Windows Live Help pointed out that Blogger pictures are actually posted in Picasa Web Albums, which have a limit of 500 pictures. The fix is simple (thanks, Bruno at Simulacrum).

'Stupid of Blogger not to post this in their Help. It was also *miserable* trying to use the native Blogger posting interface all week: I'm so happy to be back to Writer.

Video on Demand

Although I subscribe to a "triple-play" UPC media package, the TV has always been a bit spotty. Channels sometimes break into digital pixels, several channels (Al Jazeera) never came in at all. Test Channel 999 revealed that the IP connection wasn't working, so I called UPC customer service. At 10 cents a minute, I got put on hold at multiple stations before being told to check the splitter. Indeed, the ground shield was shorting to the signal wire: my work improved but did not fix the situation.

Rather than continue to troubleshoot (at 10 cents a minute), I asked UPC to send out a tech ("He'll arrive between 8 am and 1 pm"). Definitely the right move: He spoke English, isolated the problem, replaced the splitter, checked all the cables, got the TV (and even the On Demand movies) working, and did not break the Internet. I celebrated by watching "The Firm" on-demand: perfect, and only 2 euros.

Renewing the Visa

'Paperwork went in March 19: there is a lot of evidence that has to be collected for the submission. I got the government bill today (188 euro), and notice that it will take two months to complete. Since my residency permit expires on May 1, this is a problem. Fortunately, the Dutch government will give an extension while they complete the processing: I need to appear in person on April 29. Still, no problems, fingers crossed.

...and the Ark is gone....

The full-sized Noah's Ark that was moored by the drug-rehab boat near Arnhem city center vanished aver the weekend. Unfortunately, the 40 days and 40 nights of rain continues...it took almost 3 hours to drive through the rain back from Schiphol this afternoon.


Nick said...

It's funny how visits never ever go according to plan. Two old friends who stayed with us had turned into obsessive health faddists and had endless sleeping needs, food needs, medicine needs, exercise needs. They're very bright and entertaining but I must say by the end of the weekend we were quite glad to see them go and relax into our normal lifestyle.

Even with the liquor, I'm sure your daughter's visit is easier to handle!

Dave Hampton said...

So far, off to a great start, thanks!

I just bit the bullet and we all had a half glass of wine to celebrate their arrival. If I didn't raise her right by now, I won't fix it by locking her in the apartment fro 10 days...