Dainty face

Rental car company consolidation

I was reading this article on Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64347I20100504 , and noticed that conspicuously, Alamo/National was never once mentioned, but Enterprise was said to have 3 brands under their company - without mention of the other two.

Well, it turns out that a full year prior to the fated Eurofurence Fiat, Enterprise BOUGHT Alamo/National. It's all owned by the parent company, Vanguard.


What does all that mean? It means that the company that fu**ed me on that rental car thing is the same company in existence now and controlling all three brands. So now I expand my blacklist of rental car companies to include enterprise. Those fu**s! Why do I refuse to give them my business? Because they *gave me the business* back in summer of 2008 - read all about it in my older entries.

Hertz is in talks to gobble up Dollar/Thrifty - which is interesting, because Hertz and Dollar are the two companies from whom I always rent. Avis is pushing a deal too - but it is possible NO deal will happen, because both are maneuvering takeover bids anyway. Dollar does not want to be bought, at least, not on the cheap like Hertz is hoping. Good for them, I say - I like Dollar's Dodge Caliber as a cheap rental car, it's the only consistent hatchback/economy car in any of the USA rental fleets.

Death and taxes

So far, not worried about the death thing happening any time soon... Taxes caught up with me hard this year, though.

I have just yesterday paid my first 2000 euro lump of back tax to the belastingdienst. Last month, to avoid an inspection of my premises for back business tax (office location, which also happens to be my home address), I paid approximately 700 euro. This month, another inspection was scheduled for personal back taxes. Just 4 short months ago, another such inspection was carried out and the inspector determined my personal property was insufficient to justify a liquidation. When I moved from Nieuwegein to Hilversum, the file moved with me. New people in the new office handling it had NO history in the file, apparently. They were not aware this other inspection occurred.

Nevertheless, since I am now co-habitating with two other gemeente registered persons, an inspection is more of an invasion. Further, since I have FINALLY come in to possession of my rent deposit bank guarantee from the old house, I had bank balance to spare, and was ready to begin settling this debt.

Within 8 months, I will have fully repaid the nastiest of the back tax, and 16 months from now, will have paid ALL back taxes. If business is good, it will be sooner, as penalties do continue to accrue - and I don't like having this gray cloud following me.

Sadly, spending the rent deposit on back tax means it's very unlikely I will be seeking a new place to live of my own within the next 6 months. It's a good financial move to stay put here in the attic, though it does mean liquidating my furniture and other items in storage. It is not a good value to pay hundreds of euros to store items worth hundreds of euros. It will be a painful process sorting all that junk, deciding what to try and sell, versus what to try and keep.

turning dutch-inese

I really think so, think so think so.
For sex, no drugs, some wine, no women, for fun, for sin, some you know-when there is dark.

Ok, that's enough of that.

Update: I shall remain permanently in the netherlands, and am on track for citizenship within 18 months to 2 years. I have re-structured my finances in such a way that the tax debt I need to pay, plus other burdens, will all be paid in correct order. Already in the last few months, I have found myself in better state financially then the previous 3 years.

I reside with Hyper, two danes, and 6 serpents in the attic of a friend. Hilversum, not too far from where I was before, is a wonderful city filled with joy, crime, crazy drivers, ludicrous amounts of shopping, and a huge post office (where I can get my registered mail during normal business hours, not just 0800-0930 in the morning), all within an easy walking distance. There's also anna's hoeve, a giant nature preserve, where the dogs can go for a serious romp, only 2.5km from our front door.

Before the month of November passes us by, the bathtub comes in from the garden (that was my project last weekend, acquiring the freestanding 200kg beast). Oh, it shall be grand. I have burdened my hosts with all sorts of changes, but for the most part, they are improvements for everyone. At the very least, these changes keep my junk out of the hallways leaving just enough room for feet.

Guests are a bit problematic, for overnights, because our attic is crammed with the essentials of business, dogs, snakes, and home cinemas. However, if you like the intimate setting of bedfloor, and want to take some long dog walks, then do ask about a weekend :)

Not yet sure how long it will be for finding a new place in my own name again, as I have to fight some battles on return of my rent deposit, and also be creative with paperwork. Lots of landlords now want some oddly high income proof before they rent. I guess the flood of immigrants from other EU nations has everyone changing their terms. Or perhaps they loose the standards when they see the "right kind of tenant". Eh, who am I to say. When I can, I will have my own home again, but for now, this is quite comfortable, and things are going smoother than I expected.

The final benefit of this new arrangement, fitness. All the stairs and dog walks are keeping me from the sedentary schedule I would often keep, and my muscles are thanking me for it by showing through more than ever!

carved what?

The bell pepper production in the Netherlands never ceases to amaze me. 3 peppers for 1 euro? wow! And they come in red, yellow, green, orange. So, I took the opportunity to do a holiday themed carving of one of these, before I sliced it up into ribbons and ate its dead flesh. MMM, taste the horror.

Happy Halloween, all!

My worst travel experience on Continental Airlines to date is...

Hell is Houston, heck!

Thursday - 16 April 2009
15:00 - awake and begin my day
21:00 - begin packing for Denver

{no rest for the wicked}

05:00 - cleaning snake cages just before shower and departure
06:20 - walking to tram, then train to AMS
07:30 - Schiphol Check in
09:00 - wanting sleep, waiting for meal service to end
<<<--- shift time zone plus 7 hours --->>>
13:30 - (time at departure location is now 20:00) Arrive Houston. I had ok, 3 hours of sleep.
15:30 - it looks like night at the airport. Sky is BLACK. Next hour, rain is relentless. Flights are delayed or cancelled, no ramp activity, no flights landing or leaving.
18:30 - my scheduled flight #399 to denver pushed back. I check the new gate and am told by the gate agent that the time on the board, 20:35 will not happen, that crew and equipment are not there yet. Expect 21:45, 50/50 shot of that. Sitting in the boarding area of the gate next door (because the gate for that flight is jammed with people, no seats available), I wait and chat and use tethered data to surf the web.
20:50 - my mate tells me that my flight has left! WTF?
20:55 - back at the gate, oh, yeah, it left. NO, I could not hear the announcements, naturally. "sir, please go to the customer service center to get a new flight"
21:00 - about half an hour later, I am scheduled on the 21:45 flight #299. Bonus! first class upgrade.
22:45 - equipment finally arrives, it was held in San Antonio or something like that.
23:05 on board at last, drink arrives shortly after. 4 of us somewhat socially lubricated upgrade-ees begin chatting about everything travel related. Next comes the weird long "why have we not left yet" talk, and about 20 maintenance crew members come and go.

01:15 - coats are handed back to first class passengers, and we hear the cargo hold door open. Bags begin rolling off the aircraft on the luggage belt.
01:25 - after 2.5 hours at the gate, with the aircraft door open, we get the final word: maintenance issue is un-resolveable. Get off, and go to this other gate here.... (15 minutes walking away!)
01:40 - at the new gate, waiting
02:15 - flight finally cancelled, crew "timed out" - meaning they can not fly, they have been on the clock too long. And they crackled over the loudspeaker that the "other reason" we were not flying was "weather in denver". Yeah, right. If we had left without mechanical delay, weather was no issue. So, no compensation offered. Time to fight - but first, book the next leg. Next, the mad scramble to the customer service counter. Forget THAT line!
02:30 - in the E-terminal, where the customer service line is um, 2 people. I stand in line with one of the guys from my conversation in first class earlier. He got his new 07:55am flight, and I squeak in with mine too. Wow, only 3 seats left! Glad I did not stay in that super long line.
03:00 - in a taxi with my namesake (what are the odds of that...), on the way to the apartment of a colleague of his, for a nap. Beats sleeping in the terminal, and having my stuff stolen.
06:00 - iPhone alarm goes off, time to get back to IAH
07:00 - at the gate, ready to go... finally.
08:30 - goody, late departure! and then begins the longest flight to denver from Houston that ever existed. We circled for a half hour in addition to the other delays and strange flight path. Arrived about 75 minutes later than scheduled.
<<<--- shift time zone plus 1 hour --->>>
10:30 - been traveling for 36 hours. Yuck.
Collapse )

FCN Convention Report

Arrival, Wednesday 22 April 2009 - Furry Connection North Convention
Flight was mostly uneventful from Houston to Detroit, with the exception of some turbulence near the ground. The pilot told us ahead of time that it might be rough. It was not a bounce out of your seat type of rough, but definitely pitched the aircraft around a bit. The wing extension was at full, which made for an interesting view *through* the wing itself

Collapse ) they are so nice to abuse from time to time. Hugs and 1.5 bagels later, I was on my own, flying back to Denver. The saga of what happened when I landed is food for another meal.
gator eye

Colorado Gators

Who knew that there were over 400 live gators living outdoors in colorado? Kaa, it turns out! This place is quite teh awesome... Not fancy awesome, but filled with awesome animals. I spent the morning and early afternoon photographing the prehistoric beasties, and also had the opportunity to hold a runt (5 years old, they tell me!), and touch *while no one was looking* the sleeping beauties.

If you are ever in Denver or Albuquerque, and have 5 hours to drive each way, plus time to spend, and $12.50 in your pocket, check it out:

http://www.coloradogators.com or http://www.gatorfarm.com

Nice write up here:

And my gallery of photos from this safari: http://gallery.me.com/burmese#100026

see this same image larger by opening in a new window

Must go back. they call to me.....

Vegan Sushi

I was so busy with the holiday weekend and dog play, that I neglected to post about my sushi. Thanks to cranphin, I now have an awesome knife sharpener, and I get 8 pieces out of each roll, instead of just 7. I can razor off the ends (stubs), which was not possible before with the dull state of my chef's knife.

The rolling mat you see here has stretchy string binding the bamboo, so even though this new one *feels* cheaper and less well made, I am able to get much tighter rolls out of it. Everyone is appreciating the difference with my super compact tight rice. The rolls are easier to cut, too.

10 sheets of "roasted sea vegetable" (seaweed) now produces 80 pieces. I would have 7 before on a plate, as shown in this picture from March, but now do 8 per meal. Quite satisfying! Best served the day of or after, I find the rice gets a bit crunchy on the third day. No fish here, so day 3 is no problem for spoilage.

I prefer to lay out my ginger and wasabi at time of serving. Now no chopsticks are needed.

We'll be having a bbq to celebrate hyperx's (13 May) birthday, on 16 May, so if you are feeling left out of the sushi thing, please do come by and enjoy some! I will be making not fewer than 20 rolls, so you are definitely going to have a portion with your charred meat :)