Saturday, March 24, 2012

TEFAF 2012

The European Fine Arts Fair (TEFAF) returns to Maastricht each March, a chance to see lots of fine art, sculpture, and antiquities.  These works are of sale from private collections so they are only briefly visible before changing hands.  Tickets are 55 euro at the door (catalogs are 20 euro), allow at least three hours to walk through the exhibition.  This year, InterNations arranged an expat–outing to the event, a nice chance to meet new people with an interest in the works.

Here are a few pictures from the event:


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring quest: Vermeer Gouda

Winter finally broke grip over Europe this week.  Friends tell me the trees are flowering in Cambridge, the umbrellas are similarly blossoming along the Maas.  People are noticeably less bundled up in Maastricht (I’ve taken to wearing a vest over a polo when bike riding) and sunglasses are starting to reappear.  It’s a shame that I have to stay inside to work, but I’m opening the windows to get some light and air through the apartment.

The world also seems to be stirring: our daughter is full of news about her upcoming college graduation, TEFAF is underway bringing the art world to Maastricht, our clinical trial sites are sending great results back  from the US, our fundraising round in the UK is closing with a 20% oversubscription.

And a Dutch cheese has won the World Champion Cheese Contest.

This one came from my parents, who still clip newspaper articles and post them all the way to Kesselskade for me.  (I should do an essay on that vanishing practice as well – it’s nice to get a neatly trimmed and occasionally underlined bit of news from the local paper!) 

Cheese 1 Cheese 2

DUTCH CHEESE REIGNS SUPREME, gushed the AP.  The annual event drew 2,000 entrants from 24 countries and the results are highly regarded among cheese aficionados.  The Swiss or the Wisconsin Germans usually win these contests (no mention of the French).  But this year, the low-fat Gouda Vermeer, took the prize.  It comes from the FrieslandCampina company in Wolvegna (I had to look it up: it’s on the A22 south of Leeuwarden).

Since the company didn’t have a representative at the event: the judges woke up Piet Nederhoed, the plant manager, at 1 am Dutch time to tell him the good news.

I got him out of bed so he was a little quiet, but then he got very excited. said Dutch judge Peter Piersma.  Having called the Dutch after hours, I can attest that this is their usual reaction.

The problem now is to find the stuff: I’m snuffling around the local Albert Heijn and the specialty shops of the Wycker Brugstraat but no luck yet.  I’m in Amsterdam on Monday – any suggestions for a sop that might have it to take back to Colorado?

And the quest is a good excuse for wandering around in the sunshine.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Notariaat: Making it official

“We’re going to need a signature, and it will need to be witnessed,”, sighed my friend, an attorney in Seattle.  No problem, I should be back in May.  Another sigh. “Corporate wants it by Friday, you’ll need to go to the embassy or something.”

When a patent is issued, there are two parties to the agreement, the Inventor and the Assignee, the owner.  I’ve been the Inventor enough times to know the ropes: just like transferring ownership of the house, there is an official document that transfers assignment rights to the company.

And, just like any other deed of ownership, it needs to be witnessed by a Notary.

I’ll do my best.  ‘Off to

A Notary is a legal officer licensed to witness signatures, administer oaths, and authenticate documents. Each country has a system for validating and officiating documents, it is more casual in the US where lay-notaries are common than in Europe where lawyers are involved. If the document has to travel between countries, a further validation, an Apostille, is required: the US Embassy site has a good overview.

At my level, a Dutch Notaris was all that was needed, and a national index is available online.  Simply enter your postcode and a  map of local offices returns.  Notariaat Versteeg was only a couple of blocks walk, so I printed my document and headed out.

The law offices were officious, to say the least.  Wood panels, high ceilings, hushed voices.  A woman came down to open the heavy doors and escort me to another set of doors, then into a small office where we we could discuss weighty legalities.  I offered my two printed pages and my passport.

“This will take about ten minutes,” she smiled, and disappeared.  I took pictures of the historical maps of Maastricht along the walls and waited.

The notarized document was lovely, embossed with a heavy red wax seal, as official as anything I’d seen and totally medieval.  It really elevated my A4 inkjet printer paper to a work of art.

Could I get the two pages attached, I asked, expecting a staple.  “This will take a few minutes,” she smiled, and disappeared.

Now my two pages had holes punched in the corner with a woven red and white cord binding them, affixed with yet another huge wax seal.  A masterpiece for the folks in the Seattle attorney’s office.

25 euros and I was on my way.  The scanned .pdf doesn’t do justice to the beauty of my patent assignment, nor will I sully it with a trip to Amsterdam for further apostille.  For the moment, it just sits out on my living room table where it can impress visitors.  Totally satisfying.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Thriplow Daffodil Festival

With the passing of the solstice, England’s villages put their winter behind them and start opening their doors and gardens for spring.  Mother’s day comes in March as well, rather than in May as in the US and the Netherlands, so the Easter flowers converge with the holiday in places like Thriplow.

It’s a nice celebration: craft and food booths,  Morris dancing (folk choreography with sticks and white outfits), old cars and tractors, lots of open gardens.  The day started out cold and threatening but became much more sunny and warm by late afternoon.  There were more flowers along the roads than in the back gardens, but the animal and bird exhibits were fun and it made for a nice afternoon away from work and out with people.