Netherlands - Round The World Tour 2003 T-33



Thursday 8th February

Yesterday, I received a note in the post from the Dutch police. Apparently, the documents regarding my registration with them are complete and I can swing by and pick it up. Hooray! “Ah …”, I thought, “… this must mean that I should now be correctly registered with the local authority!” Off I trundled, then, down to the local municipality building (town hall) to get my driver’s license renewed - again. Wishful thinking as it turns out. Perhaps the code in the computer system will be correct ‘after’ I actually pick the documents up? We’ll see next week.

Yesterday evening’s entertainment was provided for by Frank and Wiel. Not necessarily intentionally as far as Wiel was concerned, however. Whilst visiting Frank for the Nth time to send & receive e-mail, the two of us were ‘helping’ Wiel configure his PC correctly. This we did remotely over the Internet (Wiel lives about an hour away by car in a town called Venlo) using nothing more than a chat window for communication. Unless you’ve worked in or had experience with a computer department’s help-desk, you won’t fully be able to appreciate the humour in how the evening progressed. If it wasn’t difficult enough trying to diagnose an obscure problem remotely, doing so together with Frank and his practical jokes made the whole proposition pretty much a complete waste of time. Frank ‘never’ misses an opportunity to pull your leg. His sarcasm and slicing wit are something of an art form. What with answering questions with more questions, stating the obvious, ‘pretending’ to not understand and throwing complete red herrings into the situation from time to time, I could practically taste Wiel’s steadily rising frustration and could barely contain my outbreaks of laughter as Frank taunted him over and over. Wiel never caught on that we were, at times, winding him up (or at least he never let on that he knew). I kept picturing the classic situation of the help-desk employee trying desperately to keep his composure whilst on the other end of the line the end-user makes statements like his coffee cup holder (CD-ROM drive) is broke. Oh how we laughed, Frank and I, as we kept the fish on the hook for as long as we could. It was like shooting dead fish in a bucket with a canon at close range – twice! At one point, we had established a visual of Wiel’s computer and could see his screen, mouse and keyboard activity as Wiel was seeing it on his screen. “Type in your password in the password field!” Frank would say. As Wiel did so, the characters were, of course, represented as dots on the screen (in a password field, the characters are never shown as is – for obvious reasons). We saw the same dots on the screen as Wiel did but Frank would then say something like, “No, back up, the second character is incorrect!” And, sure enough, Wiel would delete the password and re-type – not realizing that there was no way that Frank could know that the second character was incorrect since he could see no more of the dots on the screen than Wiel did. The fact that Wiel never saw through Frank’s deception only stimulated our hunger for tomfoolery, and so the evening continued, unabated, with no opportunity to drag the poor luckless target on the other end through the mud still further. Happily, Wiel appreciated the humour at the end of the evening but I walked home almost in agony from the split sides.

Today we returned the car. With an additional €8 charge for being 115 Km over the allotted 700 weekly allowance, the final cost of the week’s rental was about €180. Not too bad but probably a little more than it would have cost in the US. For a VW Lupo (a very compact 2-door), it was not cheap, but it was necessary.

John Ashley is definitely going to pick us up on Wednesday. Or at least he is coming over on Wednesday and staying the night to avoid too many hours behind the wheel. Our time in Holland is slowly drawing to a close. We’ve been here now for exactly 1 month. We expect to be in the UK for about 3 weeks and hope to be on our way to Africa by early March.

Another visit to Diana & Lei this evening was a welcome break. Lei and I spent some time tinkering with the home network whilst Sandy went to work with the camera trying to snap some nice shots of the cats.

Spoke with Annemarie on the phone this evening. It turns out that she will be in India this year. Hopefully, we will, be able to time things so that we can meet up 🙂 I asked her how long she will be there. “About a month” she said, “One day with the family and the rest of the time with you and Sandy” 🙂 It would be great if we could swing it and I really hope we do.