Tuesday, November 30, 2004

In Propagating Barong Tagalog & Filipino Cuisine


Manila’s WEDDING of the Century

I received last night the wedding invite of my younger brother. He, finally at 32 is jumping into the marriage bandwagon. What’s interesting is, his fiancé is 37 years old just like my Dutchman, but heck she looked way younger than my brother anyway

The wedding and reception will be held in a very chic, convivial and romantic place – The Kasalikasan Gardens, Global City, Fort Bonifacio in Makati City. Now, that’s a really nice place.

Dutchman and I will be doing the “Chord” (of love) in the wedding. This will be Dutchman’s first real Filipino exposure where he will play a significant role. I don’t know if he is keyed up about the forthcoming event, but he already warned me, since the very first time he laid eyes on THIS piece of Pinoy men’s fashion, which was by the way 4.5 years ago… that no one, I repeat, NO ONE can ever force or coerce him to wear the dreaded exotic see-through-suit ---The Barong Tagalog.


I’m guessing it will take him probably a few light years before he can yet entertain the idea of wearing it. He even asked me one time these, “Why Filipino men don’t tuck-in the Barong Tagalog in their pants?” and, “What to do if your nipples are transparent since the material is made of see-through elements?”. Goodness heavens, that makes me pee. LOL! Gawd, these are the kind of questions when you must juggle to answer when you have an imported partner.

The Filipino Barong Tagalog by P.Moreno, the Philippines national costume for men worn by unabashed foreign men. This is the ornate version for special occasions such as weddings, parties, inaugurations and such. A less elaborate-simpler version is worn daily in the corporate setting.

And so, while I was busy examining the entourage list, I had to go through a maze of names to locate ours. I thought it would be easy to spot since Dutchman’s name sounds like Schwarzenegger or Van Damme, but heck I couldn’t find it! Don’t get me wrong, their invite was top, very impressive, modern and original. It’s not your usual gaudy invite with embossed 80’s designs and frilly ribbons… but it literally left me dazed. Dazed because this is going to be a hell of an entourage!

Get this --- The sponsors alone are 20 couples, the groom’s men and bride’s maids are 13 pairs plus 2 pairs of junior’s groom’s men and bride’s maids, totaling to 15 pairs. What is this? I didn’t know there is a senior and junior groom’s men and bride’s maids? That doesn’t include the 2 pairs of best men and maid of honors. Then to light their path, 10 pairs!!! The flower girls and boys (yes they have flower boys!) are 3 pairs! And it’s not enough to have 1 officiating minister, but 2!

Oh dear, I hope my brother and his fiancé won’t spam me when reading this entry. But damn, this wedding can match Princess Charles and Diana’s entourage in the 80’s!

Speaking of this wedding of the century, I haven’t found a dress -yet. Heaven forbid that I will be wearing those usual flowing satiny nuptial gowns, they are too blissful and sugary, that will definitely stain my image. I want to be in a suit, an off white or crème suit with a tudor inspired embroidered bustier and a ball of green corsage. Green by the way is the color theme. I only have 2 weeks to hunt for this. I’m afraid that I have to succumb to my vanity tendencies, I should or must be the 2nd prettiest there at least, after of course the bride, hehe.


In Propagating FILIPINO CUISINE

My sister in law is a bona fide social cat. She has networked herself successfully in many organizations and clubs in her area, well I think. Amazing, she always finds time to ferret and dabble on little things here, there and everywhere. So last Sunday during the birthday of our niece, much to my surprise, she gave me some wonderful news.

What do you think of handling (teaching) a course on Filipino Cuisine?” Sister in law asked, grinning. “Oh… a what? I will teach a course on how to cook Filipino food?” I asked with eyes wide open and ideas running amok in my head. My brains can run a marathon so I was already on my 5th sprint on recipes and stuff while asking this question.

Yes, that’s it. We have had in the past Indian, Indonesian, etcetera and currently we are offering Spanish Tapas and Japanese Sushi lessons for this school term. Filipino food would be a great refreshing change for next year” She said.

Wow, splendid. Let me borrow what she said, this too will be a refreshing change for me!

Ensalade de Lato (Seaweed Salad), a typical seafood salad from the central and southern regions of the Philippines. My favorite!

I actually love to cook. In fact the kitchen is my kingdom. Dutchman fervently reasons out to my friends, his friends, his colleagues, my family, his family that he is giving me the ultimate favor of my lifetime by giving me the reigns of command in the kitchen. After all, he would say, it is my hobby.

Nevertheless, I accepted the offer. I will get paid by this which is GOOD. I get to conduct the lessons on a weekday evening or during the weekend, once a week. I also have enough time to formulate my course plan since the next school term will be on the half of next year. In summer we begin enrollment for interested participants.

Isn’t this a good way to propagate our very own Filipino Cuisine, at least here in NL?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Rewind: The FLIGHT BACK 5-6 October 2004


A continuation from the entry, Rewind: NAIA Drama

Still in NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport)
I only have 45 minutes to go through immigration --a quickie; the series of security check ups --the larger-than-life phenomena in NAIA; to the toilet --after that grueling episode, I need a pee and some make up touch; to smoke --you bet I need this more than the pee!; and to find my gate --well fortunately NAIA is small unlike for example Schiphol airport.

While I was balancing my weight with my heavy laptop bag and 2 other hand carry bags, I heard someone spoke.

“Shall I help you, Miss?” A voice of a man said.


I was startled. I looked up and saw this Filipino man obviously gifted with age dressed in impeccably sharp dark blue suit. What ran first through my mind was, “What do you want now, mister D.O.M.?”, an infamous acronym for -Dirty Old Man- LOL. It didn’t took me a long time to realize that he must be a man of importance because of the train of people behind him, which half of the group looked like bodyguards.

I flashed my biggest smile and said, “No, thank you. I am alright.


Are you sure?” He said, his entourage quite amused.

“Oh yes, yes... I am but thanks anyway.” I replied.

I smiled back again at him and quickly gathered my bags and left their group.

Oh well, what do you think? Could that have been my fat chance of milking a D.O.M? But then, I am such a coward, I can never be a gold digger. Hah, so much for that ambition, I don’t think I can even survive the thought of flirting with an old man. I am too decent! ROARS haha!

Later, I figured out that he is on the same flight as me and that he is the Philippine Commissioner of XXXXX. It was quite easy to avoid him, he was in Business Class, I not.

The FLIGHT to AMS (Amsterdam)
Ugh. I have the same seat, again. I badly wanted the seat by the window so I can partake the spectacular views during take-off and landing but... oh well.


Anywhoo... I thought to myself, “Since I am in the middle seat, might as well be-friend my seat neighbors”. That’s a good plan rather than staring fixed to the TV; pretending to read and scan the magazines a hundred times; or sleeping through the whole flight with an agitated back. I was resolved, I can use some company.

The Filipina woman beside me on the left was a bit aloof, so I started with the Filipino guy on my right. He was actually a pleasant introduction. He helped deposit all my 3 bags in the overhead compartment. A closer look at him reveals that he is in his 30’s.

“Where are you going?” I asked nonchalantly.

“I’m going to Sudan...”, He said. (actually I forgot, it can either be Cameroon or Namibia, sowee!).

“Wow, Sudan... that is in Africa right?” I said.

Nodding he said, “Yes, it is in Africa but I do not know where exactly.”

The next thing I did was to take out the Dutch in-flight magazine from the rear back of the seat in front of me and showed him the African continent.

I then learned that he is a U.N. (United Nations) volunteer. He got the volunteer job via the internet –see the powers of applying online. He was one of those minimum salaried types back home, who holds on to deliberate dreams of going abroad to earn better wages for their families. In this UN job, he doesn’t have a real salary but an allowance + other benefits, which he said is already good enough. Once his 6 months temporary contract is over, he then can be taken into permanent employment.


I offered my unsolicited advice, “Once you get your permanent employment, ask for a transfer to another country that is safer, perhaps South Africa or outside Africa.” I said with concern

“I thought about that too...” He answered back with a void look in his face.

FYI. Many parts of Africa are torn and stretched apart currently with civil wars. Just check BBC and CNN. Though right now, I am wondering how he is doing. I hope he is safe.

Dinner served.

Hmm, it’s time to be-friend the neighbor on the left since she somewhat loosened up after dinner was served. She looked like someone in her late 40’s... and I am guessing, a successful businesswoman.

“Hi, are you going to Amsterdam?” I asked. I thought it’s alright to ask these somewhat privy questions since she and the other guy were Filipinos. Though, I would never dare ask a foreigner these types of questions, more so if they are Caucasians.

“No, I am not.” She said with an infectious inviting smile.

“Oh, where to then?” I asked again in my friendly voice.

She smiled again and stretched her arms, “I am going to 3 different countries, it’s actually a package tour... Hungary, Bavaria of Germany and the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia)”.

“That’s quite nice, but you are traveling alone right?” The nosey me asked.

“Yes, I am traveling alone” She replied.

The Czech Republic is well known to boast of many castles. But this isn't the reason why this woman is going there... I later on found out her tragic romantic story, so get your tissues ready.

She and her husband have a thriving business in Batangas, Philippines. They earn very good money to be able to travel abroad every year. In fact, they have been to the most beautiful places in the world. And last year before her husband got sick, he told her incessantly that he wants to go back to East Europe and visit the Czech Republic. They had been to all countries in East Europe before EXCEPT the Czech Republic... and he knew what he wanted for that year (2003). But life is rough, he died of cancer before he can realize that small wish. It was too soon.

While listening to her story, a tiny knot in my insides bled, well not literally but it saddens me and caught me off guard.

Hence, she’s sitting there in the airplane to fulfill the wish of her husband - to visit the Czech Republic. It's been a year from his death anniversary and she made a promise to him when she visited his grave a few months ago that she will fulfill that wish.

She also told me that she brought with her his picture so she will not feel alone. With his picture, it’s just like -he is there with me- and that its just like the -old days being together in their travels-. I almost cried my heart out upon hearing her say this. Mush-mush *wipes my tears*

But I learned something that moment. I saw the strength in this woman. It’s only been a year since she lost the love she had, but it seemed that she had sufficient courage and resolve to move on and fulfill the wish… even during her time of grief.

Incidentally, I watched the movie, The Terminal before I left for this business trip. It made me smile to actually meet someone in real life having almost exactly the same message in the movie --to travel to a far away place in order to fulfill a wish of a person who no longer lives.

This so far, was the most interesting flight I have ever experienced...

Thursday, November 25, 2004

At Work, November Verdict


In my previous blog entry, Money Talks, Money Walks, I talked about a real prized win at work. Something that we get to wear and show off (aside from the commissions!) and supposedly take us to great heights of repletion.

Moreover, it is something that will make Puff Daddy, Nelly and oh yeah right, that black woman rapper in jogging pants – Missy Elliot (thanks Jeroen for the tip!), green eyed with envy! Whew, finally I got her name right! Well I’m sure they would trade places with my colleague below just to have this thick glittery necklace with a titanic €uro gold medallion.

My colleague JV is our November top man. He closed a really titanic deal this month. Just looking at this euro necklace castigation, makes me think of an excuse to not perform, or am I sourgraping? Hehe.

Essentially, if you get to be the top Sales Manager of the month, you will be the recipient of this penalty, at least for a whole day.
This must be what they call as the Dutch's attempt at humoring everyone (or encouraging us to score? hmm whicheva!).

Dutch reverse psychology of sarcasm at work.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Rewind: NAIA DRAMA, 5 October 2004


I was careful to pack light because of the 20 kilos KLM limit, but I can’t help squeezing in my favorite salted eggs, aji-ichiban dried sea foods, dried pork & beef tapa, lucky me pancit canton, omega pain killer, efficascent oil, on top of some clothes and gourmet wares that I bought in Cebu.

Well, the 1 hour flight Cebu to Manila was uneventful, but not my arms and my shoulders. They were dead beat from dragging my heavy suitcase + laptop bag + big handbag from Mactan Cebu Airport to Centennial Airport to NAIA.

Manila – NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport)

I was 4 hours early for my flight. My wallet only had PHP 650 – enough to pay for the PHP 550 airport terminal fee. Off hand I knew my ticket was without the Philippine Travel Tax since it was booked and bought by my company in Amsterdam. But then I read somewhere, well I thought I knew (stupid me, to the readers: never assume anything) that I will be exempted from the travel tax simply because I am a balikbayan (Filipino from abroad visiting).


Anyway, to make sure, I dropped by at the Philippine Tourism counter where my case was evaluated. And what did I found out? I AM NOT EXEMPTED! The lady who attended to me was really nice so it was hard for me to bitch her around, LOL. She carefully explained that only ONBEPAALDE VERGUNNING (indefinite residency) is exempted and since I have a BEPAALDE VERGUNNING (definite residency), I am not, helaas. She carried on asking me more questions….

“Are you working?” she asked. Of course I said yes, in fact this trip was all about business.

“If you are NOT working, then you could have been exempted”, she added as if I just committed treason.

Oh gawd, *realization hit me* *slaps my face*, stupid me, I should have declared I am a housewife! But that is lying?

Off I went dragging my stuff down where the ATMs are to get money and pay for this hassling travel tax, only to find out that there are no lifts! Damn this ^&*%$@! NAIA. I had to go back and plead politely to the lady if I can leave my suitcase. Much to my satisfaction, she obliged.

I quickly ran hop down to the escalator, found the ATMs, and jabbed my card and password in. Grunt. Not working. I tried the other ATM, not working too! What the hell is going on? I mean, this was exactly the same ATM I withdrew money from a week and a half ago!?

So pissed now and wanting to pull my hairs, I went to the banks in the adjacent corner and asked if they can charge my credit card against cash. The answer was a big NO. I then asked the other banks, same, a resounding big NO. Fuming, I went up while thinking of a plan.

I was at the KLM counter explaining my dilemma and asked them if they can help me by charging my credit card against cash. Voila, the 5 stars ever-friendly staff of KLM assured me not to worry and informed me of the procedure. So technically speaking, this case will be solved.


But before I can settle the travel tax annoyance, I had to check-in first for my flight. So there I was, lining up. I glanced on my right and saw a long queue and thought to myself, “Boy, am I so lucky to be in a short line.”. Then I saw the sign: BUSINESS CLASS. Ugh, I am flying economy.

The long queue was like eternity because KLM was pre-weighing everyone’s luggage before check-in. After 45 minutes, came my turn. Confident enough, I placed my luggage on the weighing scale: ooops, 3 kilos overweight. I charmed my way with the KLM personnel but he gave me a pleading please-don’t-make-my-job-hard look. I wanted to switch to bitch mode but like the lady earlier, he was very nice to me.

So I resigned and stepped aside. There I was in my full glory unpacking my luggage in the shiny floors of NAIA. Out came my shoes, salted eggs, magazines, and aji-ichiban stuff. Since I have an extra paper bag, I had luck. But really what's the sense of taking out 3 kilos from my suitcase when I will just hand carry it anyway? It’s not going to make the plane any lighter, is it?

When I was done re-packing, I gave a flying nod to the KLM personnel and in return he shot me an approval look. I mean hello, I am not stupid to line up for 45 minutes again.

But before I could fall back in line, I heard someone at my back say, “Miss, please get your line at the back.” --Huh? Who was that?

I turned around and saw this girl. My first impulse was to bitch. Instead I sternly but politely said, “I was already standing in this line long before you came. I was just asked to step aside to re-pack my luggage.” --She gave me a blank look and I gave it back to her before I moved on.

Finally at long last, it was my turn to check-in at the KLM counter. Time check: 2 hours before my flight.

After doing the check-in, the KLM personnel told me to proceed to the next counter where my credit card will be processed to charge against cash for my travel tax payment. The nuisance is, the person before me had huge problems with his ticket, hence the bottleneck. The long check-in queue beside me had already vanished, but there I was, seemed destined to wait forever.

Then came a guy (another KLM personnel) asking us what he can do. He wanted to help since there were a couple of us busy waiting in the line. He eyed me first, and being the cooperative me, I explained my situation. The next thing I heard from him was a bitch rant:


“You know, we don’t usually do this. You should have withdrawn money. You should have settled this beforehand blah di blah blah...” He said in a sarcastic tone.
“Yes I understand, I just didn’t know that I wasn’t exempted and the ATMs below were not working.”, I replied explaining but was quite surprised by his strong come on towards me.
“Well, it was in the first place your responsibility to check this out. All Filipinos must pay the travel tax even if they live outside the Philippines….” He quipped sharply.

And to my horror he continued lecturing me like as if I am his 5 year old kid while slamming down his pads and pen, his face resembling like I just snatched his boyfriend (well he is gay). My inner bitchdom, like a ruthless volcano, was awakened, now brimming with smoke and lava. I can handle a civil discussion but don’t start lecturing me in public whilst slamming stuff down. Where is his etiquette towards customers? And who the hell is he anyway?

So, in my well modulated but sharp voice I said, “Excuse me but I already had this discussion with your other colleague and I had no problems.”

He still continued to yak and bitch. To complicate matters, the bakla (gay) started screaming that he is an American citizen.

My eardrums went flapping to the 7th heavens. Huh?! What?! What does that got to do? What is he trying to imply?

That got me in a fit. My fuse just blew off and I stepped over to the dark side of my reasoning. I didn’t know anymore what I spewed at this pathetic creature in front of me, though I still remembered that I did it civilly with poise (haha). Anyway, I think all my lava discharge coated his miserable face that he excused himself while all the KLM personnel just shook their heads and kept quiet.

Then one of the affable KLM staff came to assist me after the little melee subsided. He offered his sincerest apology, for the wait and for the behavior of his disturbed colleague. Afterwhich, the lady behind me offered a somewhat sympathetic albeti funny comment. Well, I do not need sympathies really. He, the gay KLM staff was over the border with his prized customer service behavior. Good thing that I am not war freak or I would have written to KLM.
I left the check-in counter 45 minutes before my flight... to think I was there 4 hours earlier.

NEXT: The interesting people I met during the flight.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Corporate Life: Stepping Stones


I subscribe to this Intermediair Magazine, a weekly publication with a targeted audience supposedly in the ranks of HBO opgeleid and up, meaning Bachelors and up educated. The articles they have, which are obviously written in Dutch, are very educational and informative in nature. In fact it is good dosage for any professional who is always on the lookout of what’s currently brewing in the Dutch corporate world.

I was meaning of sharing the cover story, -Hippie Ziektes-, some sort of Burnt Out Disease, which as many say is a new phenomenon in the Netherlands. But then something else caught my attention. See below...

Intermediair Issue: 47 Date: 18.11.2004

The Top 10 Best Companies to Start your Career with in NL:

1. Unilever - (Food & Packaged Products)
2. Shell - (Oil)
3. PricewaterhouseCoopers - (Consultancy/IT)
4. ABN Amro - (Bank)
5. ING - (Bank)
....McKinsey - (Consultancy)
6. KPMG - (Consultancy/IT)
7. General Electric - (Electronics)
8. Philips - (Electronics)
....Rabobank - (Bank)
9. Accenture - (Consultancy/IT)
10. Deloitte - (Consultancy/IT)

They are supposed to be good -stepping stone companies- in the Dutch business market, where you can set and perhaps lock your foot in, then later progress further in climbing the corporate ladder of success.

Incidentally, the Dutchman works for one of the companies on that list, and if I am not mistaken, the company was voted and awarded last year as the -employer of the year- in NL.

Oh well.

This brings back memories, 10-11 years ago when I started my career in Makati, the Central Business District of the Philippines.

At 24, armed with untainted dreams, unyielding audacity, just 1 year work experience in marketing and design, sheer perseverance, a bachelors degree and license that I didn’t want to pursue, I was at a crossroads. The art of juggling my solitary existence and survival in the big city while trying to sympathize and strategize with my inner self on what I really want with my career life... was not an easy challenge.

I left home at 22 to seek myself, develop my own identity, experience the ultimate freedom, have the reigns of responsibility behind the truest sense of independence, and to fulfill my obstinate desire of this term: achievement (which is relative by the way).

So, bye Cebu, hello Manila.

Nonetheless, I was very desperate. I need to start somewhere. And without the help of friends and family, who by the way are a hundred miles away (to be exact an hour by plane ride, hehe), I was left alone to fulfill the daunting task of my dreams.

Then I had a break and landed a job in this promising IT firm in Makati. As a beginner in the corporate rat race, they said it was the RIGHT company to be a part with. Like all starters, I was naive but they were right.


My manager that time, a mother figure though only a shy of 5 years older than me said, “J, use as a stepping stone, a training ground for you to move forward to gaining employment in large multinational IT firms or to bigger and higher responsibilities.” She added, “Just to let you know, this company is sought after for new talent by the big fishes.”

During that time, 1994-95, only a handful large multinational IT companies had offices in the Philippines.

I guess... we all started somewhere, didn’t we?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Don´t Trifle with my PESO


This afternoon, my colleague who takes care of the daily FX update was sneering his way to the white board (the divine white board where we tally our targets is behind me) as he swiftly changes the company internal Euro - Dollar rate. A record breaking climb for the Euro(!), US$ 1.00 = € 0.76

So, I then quickly checked how our very own martyr Peso fared in the currency exchange game. As per FXConverter at Oanda.com, Thursday, November 18, 2004...

1 Euro = 73.52304 Philippine Peso
1 Philippine Peso (PHP) = 0.01360 Euro (EUR)

Median price = 73.41665 / 73.52304 (bid/ask)
Estimated price based on daily US dollar rates.

Oh my gawd! PHP 73++ exchange rate! I don´t know if I should lament or be gleeful but sure my wallet will celebrate when I go home next month (to the Philippines).

When I was in Pinas the other month on business, the foreign exchange rates that I can remember were the following:

Money Changer Rates:
(in the malls)
1 Euro exchanged with a € 20 bill and up = PHP 68++
1 Euro exchanged with a € 10 bill and below = PHP 67++

Someone tipped me that there is this Money Changer in Ayala Makati giving PHP 70+(?). Does that mean he will be giving PHP 75+ now?

Bank Rates:
(when you use your European Credit Card and Bank Card ATM)
1 Euro = PHP 65++ to PHP 66++

Hotel Rates:
(you will be stupid to exchange your Euros here!)
1 Euro = PHP 62++ to PHP 63++

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Authentic Fast Food


When we think of fast foods, we think of McDonalds (and Jollibee)...

As a matter of fact, the fast food concept embraces the ultimate crux in business efficiency: SPEED. Food served while you wait, food that you can take away, and food in a snap. That's what many of us want... the 20th century form of instant cuisine, self-service fast food.

But do you really think that McDonalds, Jollibee and [insert other fast food chains here] have ideally achieved the SPEED theory that they strategize to emulate? Well, they or I, thought so… until…

Introducing in the Netherlands, the authentic speedy fast food!

The Dutch Fast Food, “De Automatiek” and how McDonalds should envision themselves - the unmitigated freedom of the fast food self-service industry. The Dutchman actually argued with me tonight that there is no translation for the word, “Automatiek” into English. He said that this doesn’t exist in the English language? Now go figure how illogical Dutch is!


Smullers and Febo, the two successful ubiquitous Dutch fast food chains deliver your burger or kroket without having to order and wait in the line. You just drop your Euro coins, grab the food, and off you go. That easy, that fast and perhaps this is the last hurrah in the name and glory of self-service.


Trust me, these types of food chains scour so much money in a day - by the bags! McDonald's and Jollibee's P&L will glimmer through even during the gloomiest Dutch winter if they decide to tread in this route, well maybe. Its like that paradigm BS shift, the sales process simplified.

Kroket, a typical Dutch meat and gravy filling wrapped in deep fried sausage look-alike crust.


This type of fast food do NOT boast of overhead: NO large crew to maintain and NO large space with a sea of tables and chairs to put up in front.

A small space to fit a kitchen and a counter for the fries and drinks is enough. As you can see from the pictures above, the rest of the food are stored and offered for public viewing and consumption through and by the WALL! I guess that’s what the Dutch have in mind on the word, improviseren (improvise).

Knowing how Filipinos in literatim party on snacking, right 18 hours a day, but leave out 6 hours for sleeping, I somehow thought this idea would be a good business proposition (start franchising, perhaps?) in the Philippines?

So, our lesson for the day:

IMPROVISE and SIMPLIFY

On the other hand, how unhealthy kroket is… is another story.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Wired WIRELESS Life


Oh boy, I am experiencing the after shocks right now of the wired wireless life!

Dutchman finally bought (last Friday) and installed (yesterday Saturday) the wireless network in our flat. He was at this HCC Dagen exhibit, incidentally HCCnet is our ISP, where they sell and showcase all sorts of software and computer gadgets. He bought the brand, US Robotics high-speed WLAN modem to replace our ancient USB Alcatel ADSL modem. So, the glorified techie in him spent yesterday and today configuring the wireless facility and security on the three computers at home: my laptop, his laptop, another extra laptop and our desktop in the study room.

The WLAN modem (Wireless Local Area Network), which is the internet access point is located in our living room right behind the TV. With our laptops, it makes our life easier, or let me rephrase that, convenient.

(1) No more telephone and ADSL cables that can cause you to stumble and break your laptop, worse your back!
(2) No more fighting who gets to use the internet and for how long. Dang I get so pissed off when Dutchman has to hug the line for himself because of some trouble shooting at work! We only have 1 ADSL cable connection.
(3) No more having to disconnect the internet line because someone called on the landline! You see the splitter of our ADSL had some problems.

So now I am really reeling on the after shocks of the pampered wired wireless life. I can do virtual stuff and carry my laptop anywhere in the flat. Talk about mobility and independence from the cable and wire system. Yup, I am wired in the bedroom, in the kitchen and even in the toilet while sending THAT big message, haha.

This afternoon too, I changed my mind and didn’t go to H&M. My Ph.D. in laziness attacked me. Thought I will do it later of the week, I think Karl Lagerfeld can wait – now you see how women can just be oh sooo fickle minded.

Anyway, I propped up my laptop in the kitchen table while I was preparing for our dinner. Oh dear, so savvy, I was internetting and listening to the music of my laptop while chopping the vegetables, thawing the meat, cooking, making salad, loading dishes into the dishwasher, washing up and preparing the dinner table. It just feels luxurious doing that, something like systematic grandiosity.

And now I am in the living room watching TV beside the Dutchman while we both are typing away in front of our precious laptops.

Later, after uploading this blog entry, I will bring the laptop to the bedroom and continue my addiction.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

House and Fashion Bonding


House Bonding: “I feel good...”

I feel good today, well because I cleaned the kitchen. I cleaned the grimy fat filled stinky oven-microwave. Dutchman has been exercising his tonsils at me by screaming why the heck can I live with the gruesome fat deposited at the bottom of the oven. I normally do grilling (healthier), so that explains the filthy deposit.

Well the answer is pretty easy: “Can we hire a help?”

I am also not handy with dishwashing even with the aid of the divine dish washer of a technology. I know, I should be lectured a hundred times that dishwashing is just loading the dishes and pushing the button.

I also minimized the knick knacks on my kitchen counter. I almost took half of them into the closet. I want space, space, space... ah, it now looks immaculate clean, all white everywhere with silver and black accessories as accents and a wood laminated counter top. I am very pleased.

Tomorrow is another big domestic day for me. Its time to attend to the mountainous load of clean clothes in the other room. They desperately need to be tucked in their homes: in the closet shelves, drawers, or in their hangers.

AND oh, yehey, we now have wireless network installed at home! Bye-bye ADSL and telephone cables!

Fashion Bonding: “From Chic to Cheap.”

Karl Lagerfeld with model for H&M

I don’t think
Karl Lagerfeld needs an introduction. The name alone speaks for itself. But… H&M, also known as Hennes & Mauritz, the Swedish trendy clothes maker who happen to invade the economical side of the fashion world in Europe.

They are very popular here in NL because they are dirt cheap, as cheap as this: Blouses between € 9,90 - € 14,90! Knowing how the Dutch are, H&M should be raking a hell lot of money.

The consolation for me is nothing near to economics but sizes. They have the south EU sizes of 34 (S for Asian/French) and 36 (M for Asian/French), which are I believe almost a needle in the haystack find here in NL. The EU 36 is fitted for a standard North European girl/woman who stands at least 5’6” tall (about 168cm?). Poor me, I stand 5’2” only (about 158cm)! Just imagine what I have to go through? Everything is LONG for me!

But who would guess that Karl Lagerfeld will design for H&M? And at their price tag? Makes me wonder who’s going to be next? Galliano? Cavalli? Hmm, I like Carolina Herrera by the way.

Anywhoo, I am going to check H&M tomorrow afternoon. Thank God the shops are open on Sundays now, just this month until the end of December. I will see if I can manage to sneak at least one of the H&M - Karl Lagerfeld collection.

When they opened yesterday at Amsterdam, the whole Lagerfeld collection was SOLD OUT in less than 15 minutes! Dang, beats the ants eating the left-over cake eh. It was actually on the TV headlines last night. The eager Dutchies were camping by the shop’s door and when it opened, it was wham bam full throttle.

Oh well, wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Euro – US Dollar Plight


“The exchange rate Euro VS US Dollar is one of the most watched financial indicators in the world. Thousands of businesses and millions of individuals need to be up to date on the fluctuations of the currency pair’s value”. --Quote from Forex-Guide

Here is the conversion as of today at Oanda.com:

1 US Dollar = 0.77429 Euro

1 Euro (EUR) = 1.29150 US Dollar (USD)

The USD continues to slide against the Euro. Speculations by economic analysts are quite ambiguous due to the numerous and variable reasons one can scrape behind the volatile mood of the market (and politics). But a somewhat solid theory (?) was said that the USD has yet to depreciate mainly because of the lack of a clear catalyst to reverse its decline. You can guess, but it has something to do with the country’s deficit and national debt amongst others, which I heard is US$ 80,000 per US citizen!? Gurus say that the Euro appears poised to move towards 1.30 - 1.33 in the next few months against the US Dollar.

The mood here in Europe is however haphazard, like a two faced puppet drowned in mournful jubilance. With Euro purchase power you feel sheltered from the savvy strength of the currency. On the other hand, the US Dollar’s drop has tremendously affected the market’s disposition. Negatively.

Analysts say that the European market will be adequate only if the US Dollar will decline languidly across a long period of time. If it will dramatically change its course, for worse, then difficulties will arise quickly in the horizon.

Oh well...


My American friend here in Utrecht is going to New York this weekend and if I may quote her (I hope she doesn’t mind because she knows this blog!), “I'm going to try to shop a bit and take advantage of the weak dollar.”

Hmm, maybe I should go to the US too...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Men and Ironing


Today, the Dutchman was surprisingly in the other room ironing, well I assume his clothes only…. while yours truly was sitting like a princess in his favorite black leather fauteuil glued to the screen of my laptop, busy surfing - blogging – foruming - chatting, yeah all the works. Just the perfect lazy Sunday that I want.

Out of guilt trip (because he did the laundry, the washing and drying yesterday too) and after seeing Dutchman snacking on potato chips… basically because he was hungry from the ironing chore, and I forgot, it was 7PM --- I haven’t cooked anything!

While we were sitting in the kitchen eating our dinner, (we have a breakfast nook there where we normally eat unless we have visitors or are in for a formal dinner then we eat at the dining table), Dutchman went on to tell me the new things he discovered about the art of ironing.

“Baby, do you remember that spout detergent container?” (Spout – Sprayer) Dutchman asked.


Me: “Yeah?”

With excitement brewing in his face, “I used it.”

You see, the water spout of our iron doesn’t work anymore so he became creative and used the detergent plastic container with a spout mouth.

Me: “Okay... and so?”

“It really works great baby, in fact it works better than the water spout of the iron itself!” he exclaimed.

Me: “Okay...” *uh, this is such a trivial thing?*

Dutchman, still getting worked up with his new discovery, “Baby, it was really better than… it was, blah blah blah di blah and the rattling never stopped”.

Goodness heavens, he sounded like one of those domesticated women in Stepford Wives movie! So I just stared at him blankly, wondering if this is the effect of oversleeping until 3 o’clock in the afternoon.


Stepford Wives Movie – Watched this in Crete, Greece for FREE in one of the bar restaurants.

Globalization Shit



(For those who are sight challenged, the white text is this: No wonder the Middle East is in deep shit)

Oh dear, Europe is very near the shit hole!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Blog Permutations


I am just in the mood today to deviate from the normal rut, so I decided to add a FOTO blog in this journal, that I will be updating WEEKLY (in the weekends of course).... but wanted it to be somewhat different. So I came up with 2 things:

1. FLASHBACK Foto section (right above Tagboard) - This is where I will post personal pictures that I or Dutchman have shot. It could either be me in the foto, or me and Dutchman (he paid me not to show his face on this blog!), or some scenery - subjects that we fancied during our trips. I will also be posting really old foto's if I can still dig and scan them up!

2. DUTCH Foto Glimpse section (right below Tagboard) - Here I will upload foto's about Dutch life and just about Holland. It could be anything from scenery to normal daily life, people, events or what have you. The idea is that you will catch a glimpse of what Dutch Lifestyle is.

I have also re-arranged the rest of my side bar. I'm thinking of changing my layout but don't know how?!?

Link Within

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