Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Keukenhof Gardens

Today's video is from a trip that Roxi and I made to Lisse, the Netherlands when my parents visited on April 22, 2009. A few hours after they arrived at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, we made the short bus trip south to see the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Limerick, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher

Today's video covers my day trip from Dublin to western Ireland to see the marvelous Cliffs of Moher on March 26, 2009.

Guinness Gravity Bar in Dublin

In an effort to continue getting my video editing projects shared, today I present the view from the top of Dublin, Ireland as seen from the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse on March 24, 2009. Although it was a dreary day, the view was very majestic, especially that of the green Wicklow Mountains to the east of the city.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Carnival in Oldenzaal

I have obviously been very bad about posting lately but it has simply been a result of not doing a lot around the Netherlands since we've returned from Louisiana at the beginning of the month. It's not that we haven't been busy, it's just that very little of what we've been up to is worth making daily posts. While Roxi has been busy writing up papers about her work here at the university and doing some gardening on a campus plot, I have been busy with the new blog as well as working my way through hours of home videos that we have shot over the past year and a half. I am using what's left of of my remaining time out of work to catalog and edit the videos and it has been a tedious blast! It has been quite a treat to remember all the things that we have done in the past eighteen months.

One of my most recently completed videos documents our trip to Oldenzaal, The Netherlands on February 22, 2009. My brother Garrett and his fiance Nicole were visiting us during the traditional Mardi Gras season and it just so happened that Dutch Catholics celebrate their own version of Carnival. I posted a few pictures and an account of the trip back in February but now, I can finally post the related video of all the amazing parade floats.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"From Louisiana to the Lowlands"

Roxi made the paper!!! There is a nice profile in the English section of the campus newspaper, the UT Nieuws, about Roxi and her experience here in the Netherlands. Please follow this link to read the story!

Universal Digital Productions Blog

One of my former employers in Nashville has started a blog about the Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) business and I will be making frequent posts there. In case you don't know what IVR is, most people will recognize it as the automated operator that answers the phone when you call just about anywhere for service. Universal Digital Productions works with local voice actors to record thousands of voice prompts every year which are installed in many large companies' telephone systems. The new blog will focus on news and information about the industry. Check it out if you get the chance!

Return to Twin Peaks?

In a story of which I question the validity, Kyle Maclachlan says he would like to bring the beloved Special Agent Dale Cooper back in Twin Peaks webisodes. As with the Futurama announcement last week, I can't help but feel the same about news of a resurrection of Twin Peaks, especially knowing that co-mastermind David Lynch will have no involvement whatsoever. Then again, Kyle Maclachlan has aged enough that he could conceivably pick up where (SPOILER ALERT!) we left off with Dale Cooper stuck in the Black Lodge where he would presumably still be 25 years later. I still don't like the idea and think it would just be better to leave well enough alone.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jupiter on a Bike

Yesterday, Roxi and I embarked on a trip that we have been dreading: taking her cat Jupiter to a local veterinarian for her annual checkup and shots. I checked Google for information about nearby vets and found one a short distance from our apartment. What made the trip difficult was that we would either have to take Jupiter on our bikes or on a bus, neither of which seemed easy. Taking the bus seemed less stressful but would take longer as we would have to take a round-about trip and transfer buses to go a very short distance as the crow flies. On the other hand, the idea of riding a bike with a cat carrier over the relatively short distance seemed like it would really upset Jupiter.

After careful consideration, we decided to ride bikes with Roxi wearing the cat carrier bag over her shoulder. Getting Jupiter into the carrier was pretty easy considering the last time she was in it and she didn't make a peep for the ten minute ride through the wooded roads to the vet in Hengelo. Thanks to Google Maps, finding the vet's office couldn't have been easier. However, the seemingly perfect trip hit a snag when we arrived at the office only to find it closed. We were fifteen minutes early and had an appointment, so we waited and watched a dark cloud in the distance move in our direction. When our appointment time arrived, it didn't appear that anyone was going to show, but I insisted that we wait for at least another fifteen minutes in case the vet was running late.

We've never bothered to get a cell phone while in the Netherlands because we really don't have anyone we need to call, but at that moment, I wished for nothing more. We were across the street from a bustling grocery store and debated about asking a random person in the parking lot to borrow their phone. As I struggled with my anxiety about asking to borrow a phone, a older gentleman crossed the street and began speaking to us in Dutch. I pulled out my most used Dutch phrase and asked if he spoke English. He said he spoke a little and went on to tell us that the vet was closed. We told him our situation and asked if he had a cell phone. He said he didn't, wished us good luck and crossed back to the grocery store. Roxi and I were about ready to leave when he returned a minute later and told us that we was going to drive to his house and call the vet for us. If the vet was not going to be coming, he said he would drive back to tell us!

He was gone for about fifteen minutes and again, Roxi and I were about to pack it in and head back to our apartment when he pulled up in his car with his wife. He told us the vet was not coming, but he talked to another vet just down the street and wanted to take us to him. We weren't sure if we should because of the impending rain and the likelihood that Jupiter would use the bathroom in her carrier immediately upon getting in the car. The Dutch gentleman and his wife were insistent upon taking us so we got in the car. Immediately Jupiter started to whine and used the bathroom in her carrier. Thankfully, we had a towel with her inside so there was no mess but we were worried about the smell it might leave in these kind people's car.

Not far down the road we arrived at the vet and we were greeted by a kind man and his assistant. The vet spoke very good English, which was reassuring and took us immediately into the exam room. Like most pets, Jupiter hates vet visits, but this one was unavoidable because she needed an exam, an annual rabies vaccination and paperwork to be completed by the vet in order to be allowed to re-enter the United States in August. The vet had a wonderful bedside manner and gave Jupiter a clean bill of health after her exam. He administered her vaccine, started our paperwork and even gave Jupiter an official pet passport booklet that looks just like our passports! All we need now is a picture of her to complete it! We thanked the kind vet and paid our bill.

Meanwhile, the couple that brought us had insisted upon waiting until we were done so that they could give us a ride back to our bikes! They dropped us off just as the first drops of rain were beginning to fall. We thanked them profusely and headed back to our apartment. Within a minute, it was raining fairly hard and Roxi and I were getting pretty wet. Jupiter seemed to be doing okay as she was somewhat protected from the rain by Roxi's sweatshirt and she never even uttered a whine. It was a ten minute ride back and we went through a wooded area which gave us some protection, but by the time we were back at our apartment, we were both pretty soaked. But the important thing is that we got Jupiter vaccinated and the paperwork for her travel started. If not for the kindness of three strangers in Hengelo, we would have had to make another trip with Jupiter on the bike and might not have had as good of an experience with another vet. The kindness of strangers is an amazing thing and I only hope to be so helpful if the opportunity ever arises.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Futurama Lives See A New Day (26 New Days To Be Exact)

The rumors of Futurama's episodic return have been circulating for about a week but they have now been confirmed. Comedy Central has ordered 26 new episodes of the show which was most recently revived by four direct-to-DVD movies.

I am not alone in my opinion that Futurama is far superior to Matt Groening's more successful franchise, The Simpsons, the principle reason being that Futurama had a short but high quality run on Fox before being unceremoniously canceled. Meanwhile, The Simpsons is a painfully unfunny shell of the groundbreaking series that it was twenty years ago. There is certainly something to be said for quality over quantity. Before Futurama, there was never a television cartoon that delivered poignant enough stories to actually make me shed a tear. Futurama has several such episodes. I challenge anyone to watch "The Luck of the Fryish" or "Jurassic Bark" and not be compelled to cry like a baby. That all being said, I'm not exactly thrilled about the news of new episodes of Futurama.

I was very excited several years ago when news broke that Futurama would return with a direct-to-DVD movie followed by up to three others if the first was sucessful. With the measure of success being the number of copies sold, "Bender's Big Score" was a hit. However, it was also not a very good representation of the Futurama franchise. The jokes seemed very dated and many minor but popular characters were awkwardly shoehorned into the plot just to give them an appearance in the movie. In short, it didn't work for me. The following three movies continued the trend of mediocrity so much so that when I finished watching "Into the Wild Green Yonder" earlier this year, I was content that Futurama had closure and was finished.

I don't blame the producers for taking this opportunity to create new episodes of Futurama for Comedy Central, but I think that the best days of the show are long past. It started with the movies and now I fear that Futurama runs the risk of heading rapidly into Simpsons territory of substandard stories made simply to keep the franchise alive. It was nostalgia that made me look forward to the direct-to-DVD movies a few years ago but it is now that same nostalgia that makes me reticent about the new epsiodes coming next year. I will give them a chance, but I don't have confidence that they can match the high quality of shows that they were producing seven or eight years ago.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Jet Lagged

I haven't blogged much in the past few weeks for a couple of reasons. Roxi and I made a trip back to Lafayette for the last two weeks in May to attend her PhD commencement ceremony and to attend the wedding of some of our best friends, Charles and Claire. During the two weeks we were in Lafayette, we were busy every day with friends and family but it was great. It was a vacation to a home we had only left four months ago. With the help of our parents, we hosted a spectacularly well attended graduation party for Roxi over Memorial Day weekend. Over those two weeks, I saw more of my friends and family than I have seen over the previous two and a half years of living in Louisiana.

We arrived back in the Netherlands last Tuesday and were both hit hard by a jet lag that I have never experienced before. I've only made three previous trans-Atlantic flights before but have never had trouble adjusting to the time change. Likewise, on my previous trips back to the States, I had no trouble readjusting either. This time though, both Roxi and I were knocked out by the flight. It has taken us the entire week since to readjust to a regular schedule. I'm sure it has not been helped by the ever lengthening days here in the Netherlands (at this point there are only about six hours of darkness each night). It's very discombobulating to see sunlight at 10:00 pm! Anyway, I plan to post more regularly now that I have some semblance of a normal sleep/wake cycle and as we experience more of what the Netherlands has to offer.