20181026 Natural habitat

Martin Sutherland relaxing in his reading chair with the new Charles Stross book The Labyrinth Index

Spent some more quality time with Vodafone this afternoon. (That’s four visits to a Vodafone shop so far, and about an hour on hold and on the phone to customer service.) Alex came with me. We were going to cancel his order for a Nokia 8 Sirocco and buy one from a different shop, because Vodafone don’t have any in stock, and don’t have a date for when they’ll be available. But the sales assistant suggested that we take a look around the shop to see if there were any acceptable alternatives that were in stock, and Alex decided that he could live with a Note 9 instead.

Unfortunately it now appears that after both being upgraded to the “Red Together” family plan on Tuesday, my account control panel now shows that Fiona’s and my subscriptions have reverted to the standard “Red” plans we had prior to Tuesday. So I suspect I’ll be back at the shop again soon.

It’s Frites Friday, and I made some dhal this evening as an accompaniment to the chips. It was good and tasty, but it was also an experiment to see how my digestion will cope with an infusion of onions and garlic, because they normally trigger IBS symptoms.

I’m enjoying The Labyrinth Index so far. It starts fast, and accelerates quickly.

Daily self-care checklist:

  • Sleep: pretty good.
  • Walk: does a walk to the chip shop and back count?
  • Bass: no.
  • Photography: not really. I set my iPhone on a timer to take the shop above.
  • Snacks: some chocolate kruidnoten.
  • Meat: no. Dhal!

20181025 Zuiderlaaik

View back along the Zuiderlaaik from Twiske to Oostzaan. Bare road in foreground, blurred electricity pylons in background.

Abi is back from Berlin, and Alex had an orientation session at his new job. I moved some admin tasks along, and made falafel for dinner.

Daily self-care checklist:

  • Sleep: good, but not quite long enough. Earlier to bed tonight.
  • Walk: eh, out to the pharmacy and back, to request a new prescription. No more than 20 minutes.
  • Bass: yes, practicing scales
  • Photography: minimal, but the view above came out okay
  • Snacks: koffiebroodje, and a chocolate muffin that Alex deemed overbaked.
  • Meat: no. Store-bought falafel for protein, yum.

20181024 Stop taking pictures dad

Fiona lying on the couch in her owl Kigu, giving me the finger

Daily self-care checklist:

  • Sleep: pretty good, for the first time in quite a few days. Although I didn’t get go to sleep until after 01:00, I slept all the way through until 07:30, and then was able to fall back asleep again after that. I think my sinuses have finally dried up after their snot party.
  • Walk: no. Had a quiet day around the house, tidying, archiving, cleaning, and challenging some negative automatic thoughts around tasks I’ve been putting off.
  • Bass: no.
  • Photography: accidentally snapped some nice pics of Fiona in the evening.
  • Snacks: smoked almonds and banana bread. Felt enormous protein cravings just before dinner time, while Alex and I were out at Ikea. Dinner was an informal affair, and I made myself a giant pile of scrambled eggs.
  • Meat: no

20181023 Daw. Jack Daw.

Photo of a jackdaw looking back

I went along to the hospital with Phil again this morning for his follow-up appointment. He is doing a lot better, and was actually able to utter a few words this morning. After that, I headed back to the Vodafone store to mostly finish off the transaction I started on Friday, tried to revert on Saturday, and was told I couldn’t continue with on Sunday. Fiona has a new phone now, and Alex’s is on order. Yay! Despite these hiccups, the adviser who helped me was lovely to deal with, apologetic, and very helpful.

(Just before hitting the shop, I bought a snack and a drink, and sat outside for a little while to watch the birds and take some photos. The jackdaws were a lot less skittish than they tend to be around our garden, and they were almost coming up to take crumbs from my hand. The gulls are bullies, though.)

This week the gemeentes Zaanstad, IJmuiden, and Beverwijk are running a week of activities highlighting the rich industrial heritage of the area. (Week van de industriecultuur.) I was late in booking my tickets, and some of the tours I would like to have taken were all full up. But this afternoon I got to see around the Nauerna site of waste processor Afvalzorg. They gave us a presentation, and then drove us around the site.

After separating out recyclables, Dutch household waste mostly goes to incinerators. Afvalzorg deals with the next step in the chain. They take the rubble and ash from the incinerators, and process it to extract and clean metals and varying grades of landfill material. They contract with gemeentes throughout the country to literally make new land for parks and any other construction projects.

On the opposite side of the canal the indoor ski slope of Velsen Zuid is already built on landfill, and the Groene Schip site will be opened to the public in 2019. The main Nauerna site is going to continue to be filled until 2022, after which they will start landscaping it. In the end it will consist of a brand new mini-mountain, 40m above sea level, with fantastic views out over the harbour and surrounding countryside. I was very impressed!

Daily self-care checklist:

  • Sleep: rubbish. Woke up at 04:00 with a blinding sinus headache, and I stayed awake until about 05:30 when the painkillers had knocked it back enough. Then dragged myself awake at 08:00 again.
  • Walk: not really. I had though that the Nauerna visit would involve more walking, but they took us around the site in a bus.
  • Bass: no
  • Photography: yes, lovely. Birds are my favourite subject right now.
  • Snacks: Pain au chocolat, banana bread, smoked almonds.
  • Meat: no. Had a couple of crispy “cheese schnitzels” for dinner, which are like self-contained grilled cheese sandwiches. I think I’d prefer an ordinary grilled cheese sandwich, though.

Jackdaw in close-up.

20181022 Camouflage

Parrots in a tree near the Amstel at sunset
Parrots in a tree near the Amstel at sunset. How many can you see?

Went in to Amsterdam this afternoon to help Phil navigate the (excellent) Dutch health care system while he was unable to speak due to a throat infection that turned out to be an abscess on his tonsils. Poor Phil! On the way back, I walked past a tree filled with screeching parrots. The light was dim, but I tried to catch some photos anyway.

Daily self-care checklist:

  • Sleep: poor. Tried to get to sleep early, and failed because of sinuses. Woke at 02:00 to pee. Woke at 04:30 with my head full of interesting but untimely ideas about checklists. Awakened at 08:30 by a joiner with a quote for a new window.
  • Walk: a wee bit of navigating Amsterdam between public transport stops
  • Bass: no
  • Photography: a tiny bit
  • Snacks: banana bread. Bought some chocotoffs on the way home. Haven’t eaten all of them (yet).
  • Meat: I didn’t fancy making dinner, so I just called for Chinese food on the way home. I had some chicken saté.

20181021 Alex Noord

Alex Sutherland sitting on a bench and looking around

Alex has got a job! He went in for an interview today, and walked out employed. Very proud of him. Then we went for some McDonalds, and bought him some plain black trousers and a new pair of Doc Martens, because he’s going to be spending a lot of time on his feet.

Daily self-care checklist:

  • Sleep: disrupted, nasal. Ended up sleeping in the guest room.
  • Walk: around Amsterdam
  • Photography: yes, lots of shots around Amsterdam.
  • Bass: no
  • Snacks: Abi made banana bread. I ate banana bread.

Couple on an escalator