Friday, November 05, 2004

moving on?

hmm. studying for my CMA exam this weekend. Have one exam on monday and the next one in early December. Not my favorite way to spend the weekend. I'm looking for new assignments right now however, and for numerous ones they indicate that you need to have some kind of professional accounting qualification. So I suppose I had better get cracking! Will not be staying in the US any longer, probably moving to Europe, though other locations are also possible. I turned down a job in Rio de Janeiro of all places! sigh. That was tough. The head triumphing over the heart. Maybe I'll get a chance to go down there yet!

I have also syndicated this blog so you can add it to your My Yahoo page etc if that accepts RSS feeds. Not that I have had many or very interesting things to write in the last months! but oh well. Add this link if you want to do that: http://ramonvandijk.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

New York

Just back from a weekend in NY (and who should come out of my computer speakers as I start typing - The Ramones!) Teriffic time meeting friends and doing things with my parents. Played tennis three days in a row for several hours each day. Went to see a performance at Alice Tully hall of a Chinese/American youth orchestra and dinner with my parents. A very good time. Weather was perfect. Had a fun time at Wavehill with a friend and a good night out with some UNIS friends up near Columbia. Pretty much always a good destination.

Bit of a scare on the way back as I almost missed the flight due to the terminal printed on my reservation being wrong. Then sweated for an hour (literally since they turned off the airconditioning in the 35c/94F heat) in the plane on the ground at Houston (for connection) while they tried to decide whether we had too much fuel (somehow impossible to land or some other excuse that makes no sense when you analyze it) or the right amount on board. Very reassuring. Well, we did not crash and made it home in one piece, if delayed. Thank goodness the staff are apparently not quite as incompetent as you might be led to fear!

America

I remember flying to Houston for the first time. We flew over St Louis. You could clearly see the St Louis Arch - the gateway to the "West". As we ourselves flew westward it made me think of the history of the US, the people it has attracted over the years and how they have turned this into a Great country in many ways in a relatively short time. I love the idea of the "American Dream" that you can achieve anything here. In many ways that is true and the pioneering spirit of the people who travelled to the west is quite amazing. I suppose that I feel a connection with them (and many people in the US in general) due to the different but comparable journey made by my grandfather's grandparents to Suriname. A trip to a new place in search of something better than what they had where they were from.
I feel passionate about some of those ideals and what they represent here in the US and in other places where people have travelled to in search of something better. Something that is particularly true of most people in America (in the correct sense of the word), but also in other places. Despite the promise of something better, going someplace where you don't know anyone, may not have a support network is a big challenge and a big risk. I think people who do that for themselves or their family are pretty amazing.
Because there are so many people like that in NY -not just people who have been there for generations, but those who may have arrived pretty recently- I love that city. It's a harsh place but it is so characterisitic of peoples ambitions to improve their lives.
The incredible multicultural aspect of New York is fantastic - so many stories of the pursuit of that dream. It is probably one of the few places where I would want to live without hesitation. Despite everything, I think it is a place where people have not become as insular as they may have in other places about who is entitled to pursue the dream and who is not. In the Netherlands, you sometimes hear the argument that the country is Full - there is no more room for foreigners, immigrants (and to think that the Netherlands are pretty open-minded in many respects). Here you can't really use that as an argument but others are used. It makes me really mad to hear people come up with excuses why others should not be entitled to the same things that they were able to pursue before (I will concede that this is more relevant in the US than in the Netherlands with it's very different history, but who are we to deny others an opportunity to improve their lives).
I was thinking about my future flying back to New York for a long weekend a few days ago and I was not sure where it would go.

I'm not really sure where I am going with this train of thought. On the one hand America makes me nostalgic. On the other I hand I have a lot of concerns about where the country is headed and where it is leading the rest of the world in its quest to do right. Those concerns gnaw at my feeling of appreciation for what the US represents. I'm anxious about where we're headed.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

not as easy as it once was

party yesterday evening. Bruno's house. Goal was to help him put a dent in a wide variety of alcohol he had around. We did a good job. After we left the apartment in the French Quarter, we headed for the Deep South bar, where we were all entertained by a ride on a mechanical (rodeo) bull. I managed 32 seconds. Not too bad. Pretty fun.
To cut a long story short, I was out till about 6am and in bed most of today as penance. Pulling an all nighter is not nearly as easy as it once was - but I had a grand time, so it was worth it.

Friday, May 21, 2004

An update on "my" snake

So Lisa (from the zoo) had a look at my comments in the prior blog entry and gave a little more explanation... (her text below):

The snake is more close to a Common Boa than a Red-tailed though. Because they are kept in captivity and cross-bred, sometimes they are a cross between the two.  It's hard to find full red-tailed boas that are captive bred. Anyway, the people at work were reading the website with me and told me to make sure I corrected you as to what was wrong with him.

All animals come into quarantine and reptiles stay for 3 months. They do normal testing and found that he has cryptosporosis. There are two strains of crypto and one is contagious and zoonotic and the other can occur naturally in most snakes and they are fine. Not all snakes have it, but many do and he has it, but we were waiting to see if it was the ok kind or the zoonotic kind and he was fine. If he would not have been fine, they would have either returned him to his donor or euthanized him.

So there you go - if you read all of that you will know a bit more about the admission procedure to the zoo!!

Nets

And the Nets were beaten by the Pistons yesterday which was not good. In game 7 they lost 90-69. Terrible. Alvin got me hooked. After years of teasing him of switching allegiance from the Knicks to the Nets, I made the switch too. A more inspiring team... but not last night.

turtles

Gullible as I am sometimes -or shall we say trusting?- I was led to believe yesterday that Bruno's girlfriend Lisa had cleaned out her family's pool and found four baby turtles in it and cooked them into a turtle soup. Given that this is Louisiana and turtle soup is regularly on the menu, not such a preposterous claim. Fortunately the baby turtles are safely back in the pond in front of their house.

That discussion came up at the bar in the evening where a bunch of people from work (the "New Faces") had gone for some drinks. I rode my (hybrid) bicycle there in my going out clothes, to the amusement of most of the Americans. Not very common to go places here on your bike when the destination is the goal rather than the exercise. But the route to the Bulldog along Canal street is an easy one, with wide newly asphalted road that is easy to ride on. There is also a new streetcar ("tram") that runs along tracks in the middle median. No one thought to put in a bike lane though. A real pity since now we still have to ride on the road with lots of debris always causing me worry about a flat tire or being hit by the inevitably tipsy or drunk drivers on the road in the evening. Hopefully a good little angel will watch over me!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

lunch

Popped by the apartment this afternoon to have lunch. Had a nice bread that I got from the French Bakery (although it was not a French bread, if that makes any sense) with some cheese and jam. Read my New Yorker magazine for a while (yes, the same one...). One of the side benefits of living close to the office. A nice change from eating out for lunch which is good but gets a bit tiring after a while.

The weather has also improved a bit so this evening it is nice and sunny and quite pleasant. I went down to Lafayette square for a bit and listened to the concert - it's every week for about twelve weeks from April through June - but was not really digging the music and for some strange reason there were very few people there who I recognized so I called it quits and headed home. Maybe I'll head out later for a drink at the bar down the street. It's called the Voodoo Bar II and I've yet to set foot inside - it looks a bit sinister!

I moved offices recently as the result of a reorganisation and that resulted in me getting an "inside" office to my chagrin. One benefit of it seems to be that the temperature does not get below freezing due to the cold air-conditioning because there is no vent in the office. Also no window or view through someone else's window to distract me from my work. Some benefits. Hopefully I'll outlive my two plants in my new cave.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A Snake Called Ramon

Well, Lisa just called me to tell me that the snake she named after me at the zoo is doing well. It is a nice Suriname Red Tail boa constrictor from South America and found also in Suriname. When she heard that she decided its name needed to be "Ramon". Unfortunately he got sick for a while and needed to be quarantined and it looked grim. Now, however, he is healthy and has been given the ok to live in the zoo full-time. He is a nice 7 feet long and weighs 35 lbs (about 2.1 m and 16kg) - a longer skinnier version of me...

Very exciting. Once I get a picture I will put it up on my website to greet visitors.

You can visit Ramon at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans!

Some information I found on the web:

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Animal Description:
The Suriname Red Tail Boa is a fascinating addition to any menagerie and an interesting specimen for snake lovers across the globe.

These snakes can be fairly non-aggressive and calm, if they are handled regularly, and they are generally not fussy feeders. Because of their large adult size, keeping large boids like the Suriname Red Tail Boa can be difficult for even the most seasoned of snake keepers. In the wild Suriname Red Tail Boas feed on small mammals and the occasional bird. In captivity a diet of mice, rats, and rabbits is sufficient, depending on the size of the boa. It is a good idea to feed pre-killed rodents, to prevent the snake from becoming injured by its food. Immature boas should be fed about once every seven to ten days. As adults, they do not need to eat quite as frequently. Mature Suriname Red Tail Boas should have a large enclosure to live in. Since they live both in trees and on the ground in the wild, provide them with a sturdy climbing branch as well as sufficient ground space. Red tails love to soak and should have a bowl large enough for them to coil up in. The Red Tails' water bowl usually requires frequent cleaning because they tend to defecate while soaking. Make sure the temperature in the cage has a warm spot and a cooler spot, so they can thermoregulate, and give them a temperature drop at night. They are primarily nocturnal and live in very humid forests in the wild. The average Suriname Red Tail will live somewhere between 20 and 25 years.

The Suriname Boa Constrictor is a highly sought after boa constrictor. They have pale colors beneath the striking patterns on their skin, typically a soft gray or tan. The name "red-tail" clearly refers to the deep red markings on their tails as well as the red saddle markings along their backs. They are large, hardy, powerful snakes and will be an eye-catching addition to your menagerie. They can grow up to ten feet in length.

The Suriname Boa Constrictor has an interesting name. The term "red-tail" is a misnomer - almost all boa constrictors are called "red-tailed" constrictors by pet shop owners because many of them have red markings on their tails. The species Boa constrictor contains many varieties, which differ slightly in color and/or markings. Some classify the true Red Tails as a different subspecies, and though most people do not make a taxonomic distinction between the South American Boa Constrictors, true Red Tails are less common than the common variety.

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Monday, May 17, 2004

Pouring Rain

It's another day of tropical weather here. It is absolutely pouring down with rain... Monday's I often go to play trivia at a local pub with some friends, but I decided to stay home today - a good thing given how wet it is outside.

I'm exhausted from a long day at work and look forward to sit down and catch up on my reading the New Yorker magazine - somehow the weekend in Florida did not yield as much time as I expected for reading. There is an article about the torture of prisoners in Iraq that I am particularly interested in reading - I think it was one of the first articles on the subject.