Sunday, 31 December 2006

The year 2006 - a review

The year has passed with a speed, so fast, I can hardly recall what I all did. A short overview and review from my side.

During New Year, I was in Reykjavik, Iceland with Christina and I have never seen such a deserted, but beautiful country. End of January, I went to France to organise the Dutch Student Skiing Championships and it was a blast. Imagine: 850 students packed in a small french village, drinking every night till late, making the slopes unsafe and having superb competitions. It was a blast and I hope the new board will do a terrific job this year too. In February and March, I went to Moldova for 2 seminars and it was a blast too. I combined March with a election observer mission in Odessa, Ukraine. You can watch the movie here. Kiev, Ukraine was my next destination in May and I had a blast there with my superb guide Irina. July/August meant coaching in the USA again and I want to go again!!! I am really looking forward to this summer to visit my kids and coach again. My parents invited me and my brother for a 4 week trip to Namibia in August for their 30th Anniversary. The magnificent pictures of that trip and those from the USA, can be found here. After August, I haven't been abroad anymore and I am craving to go somewhere again.
Besides all the trips, Christina broke up with me, met a gorgeous other girl, worked my butt off, stopped with coaching hockey in the Netherlands, setup a new institute regarding democracy in eastern Europe, drove the Finnish president on her visit to Groningen to open a new exposition of the Groninger Museum, still haven't bought a car, still didn't graduate, applied to the military (the national reserve), missed a couple of birthdays (happily no weddings this year) and in general some amazing experiences.
The prospects for 2007 are fairly OK. Financially I am getting on the better side, university is progressing rather well, possible trips/EOMs coming up to Armenia and Russia, going for sure to the USA again in July/August, a wedding to attend in Albania in summer, HAVE to visit Ukraine and hopefully Georgia and am thinking of buying a car and finding a good paying job. All in all, not so bad, I would say. Anyone who would love to come over, or have me over: just let me know.

Looking back, I can't really say that my life has been that bad. Actually, I has been a blast and I have had the opportunity to visit a lot of new countries and have gained a lot of new friends. I thank you all for that and hope that more and better things will come this year.

Saturday, 30 December 2006

Elections / Tolerance

You probably heard all about the devastating elections in the Netherlands last November. Far left and far right won and the center parties lost. We now have cows in parliament (the animal party), have socialists who had theories of Marx in their programme just 10 years ago (socialist party) and a party who wants to kick out all Muslims (party for freedom...).

I don’t have a clue what is wrong with my lovely and once so tolerant country. The last 4 years we had to come out of an economic depression, but everyone gained and all is fine. Unemployment is at an all time low, social security is one of the best in the world, we have a stable currency, are respected all over the world and have liberties some people in other countries would love to have. No clue why our country so suddenly polarized. I fear that our budget deficit will increase, due to extra expenditure from the government and we will turn (even more) away from the EU, and may become the outcast of Europe.

Perhaps the time has come to thing about moving... Read the links if you are interested.

http://cafebabel.com/en/article.asp?T=A&Id=2160

http://cafebabel.com/en/article.asp?T=A&Id=2161

http://cafebabel.com/en/article.asp?T=A&Id=2156

New Year's Eve

My life is strange. This year, for the first time in 4 years, I will be in Holland with New Year's Eve. Lack of money causes my obligatory stay at home, although I have invitations from friends to come to Barcelona, Munich and other places. What is even worse, is that I have to work in the 1st of January at 8am (!!), so I will watch some fireworks and go to bed. Can it get worse?
In 2003 I celebrated NYE in Rome/Italy, in 2004 Cape Town/South Africa and in 2005 Reykjavik/Iceland... Looking back I have to say that I had rather exciting places and days there and it was marvellous. Thanks Christina for accompanying me there.
Next year I will have to find an original destination to go to and I will make sure that I am able to go abroad. Not only do I find NYE here a bit boring, but being abroad makes it extra special and thrilling for me. Any suggestions? :-)

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Söhne Mannheims

On Saturday the 13th of January the Söhne Mannheims will have a concert in the Melkweg, Amsterdam. I have 2 tickets and will go there. Anyone wanna join me to enjoy some superb (German) music?
For more info check their site.

Monday, 25 December 2006

Merry Christmas

First of all: merry Christmas to you all and may it be a happy event with your family and loved ones. I, myself, had to work today and will have to work tomorrow as well, so I had my family gathering yesterday already. Good thing is that they pay 200%, else I probably would have declined.
On the left the (digital) Christmas card I sent to most of my friends (some I don't have an address of...) and I got quite some comments on it. It was never my intention to let you believe that the picture shows you Groningen. Not at all, as my province is one of the flattest in the whole country. It was more as an example of a nice winter scenery and with a little Christmas touch. The photo is actually made in Moldova last February, when I was there for a seminar. So to all those who told me: thanks, but I know. To all the others: just an explanation and some more blog-filling. Enjoy your dinners, enjoy your friends, family and lovers and don't get too fat and drunk. Yours truly from a lovely, grey, flat Groningen!

Saturday, 23 December 2006

New Years Eve

The last 3 years I spend New Years Eve abroad in some of the most fantastic countries in the world: Rome/Italy, Cape Town/South Africa and Reykjavik/Iceland. Unfortunately, I don't have the money this year and am not together with Christina anymore, who was my travelpartner the last 3,5 years.
Anyway, I am not going to be abroad this year, so who would like to spend NYE in Groningen at my place? You are more than welcome!!

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Medical Test

Went to the Naval Base in Amsterdam yesterday for a medical test. Yesterday evening the medical tests: ears, eyes, physio, complete health check, blood, urine, dental, etc. I'm still trying to get into the National Reserve, but the process takes a while. There appeared a glitch on my heart scan, so they weren't sure to let me participate in the sport test and I had to stay the night at the base and get up at 5.45 this morning... Then the doctor told me in a 2 minute chat (!!) that I have to go to the military hospital in Utrecht and be examined by a cardiologist first, before I am allowed to participate in the sport test! So another month passes, before I am finally in... You really have to be patriotic and crazy to want to join the army...

Monday, 18 December 2006

Work and my brother

My brother didn't get the job he was first told to get... They suddenly decided to hire someone with more experience, although my brother was first assured that he got the job. There was some miscommunication within the company it appeared. Big bummer, but I hope he will find something new soon.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Brother

My brother got himself a job in Amsterdam as a database manager/ office manager for a telecommunications/training company. It will be his first real job, so he is rather excited and he will need to search for a place in Amsterdam, where prices are not funny at all and where space is limited.
Redmer: good luck with both your new job and finding a place!

Money

I am rather furious right now, as my employer hasn't transferred any pay lately... To be honest: I am rather broke and have a pile of working days that still need to be paid! No clue how I am going to pay for my bills, as the company says they passed on the hours and the payment agency says they didn't received them. GRRRR

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Meetings

Last Friday, I was supposed to have some meetings with 2 friends, but the first sent me an SMS, that she couldn't come for dubious reasons. The second friend I had to SMS myself as he was 30min late (which he usually is), to hear that he was still in a meeting, and that it would take another 4 hours. So I had a rather free afternoon. Crap...

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Work (2)

Work is crap, not fun and boring. Not work in general, but what I am doing at the moment. Surrounded by nitwits and idiots I have to do the same job, listen to people's complaints, listen to my co-workers weekend stories and somehow survive it all. God, wish I was done with it all and had a good, decent job. A year of my life for that to happen anytime soon. However, guess it's my own fault, so I shouldn't really complain. Should have done more in the first years of my university-career, but not much to do about that now. Life goes on. If some day my braincells have died out of boredom and stupidity, you know why. This is my legacy.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

The Winschoter Chamber Choir

Just creating some publicity for my mother's choir. :-)

Practice Match

On Tuesday, my team played against the 1st team of our club. Just a nice practice match, although no fun and pretty useless for us. First of all: we lost with somewhere between 7 till 10 to 0. Second: we don't have teams like our first men's in our competition, all the other teams have a totally different game, so for us this wasn't a good practice. I am glad though that I didn't join the first team. The atmosphere in our team is way better and I really dislike the coach. Good choice after all.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

EIDP - the battle

As you might have read in an email or on my weblog: I started a new adventure with 2 other idiots. The three of us have a common interest in eastern Europe and combined a whole lot of experience in participating and organising projects, living and working, and travelling in eastern Europe and the Caucasus. My companions both worked for another organisation before; the one that I joined as a participant to Moldova, but due to miscommunications, or better the lack of communication, the dictatorial style of how the president was leading the organisation, and the kind of projects the organisation was organising they decided to leave the organisation and we got in touch and talked about a new, better one. :-)
Of course, it is always easier to say than to do, but we do want to do things different and we do have a clear vision and goal in our minds. We do communicate and we want to do the more difficult projects in regard to EU funds etc. Not only the week drinking and cultural exchange in Turkey or Hungary with 40 foreigners. Of course, this is also fun, but it doesn't provide us with the incentive to make a change and to stand for a challenge. We would like to do the Election Observer Missions, the TACIS-grant projects, the working-experience exchanges/study groups, and more. It may take some time, but we have a very wide network already and are all born (sorry to sound a bit posh) networkers. Besides that: we are highly motivated and ready to do some work.
The other organisation has some problems with us, in regard to our existence, as it is not highly appreciated. Some background information to understand the matter. The other organisation, DiDEE, was formed out of 2 liberal youth organisations in the Netherlands, but operates independently. The liberal organisations (of one I am a member of) didn't have much to say and "lost" control over DiDEE. Not a problem, as long as the organisation works, but lately some bad publicity harmed the image of the organisation. A participant complained that the president didn't pay his bills, gave false information, and only goes on seminars to party instead of participate. Now I am not going to comment on that, but the complaints made it to 2 different university papers in the Netherlands, in which also the dubious financial reputation of the president was discussed. This all, coincidentally, came up at the same moment we were about to launch our organisation. Now the battle started about which organisation the 2 liberal organisations would support: the new, motivated one (EIDP), or their old, dictatorial, baby (DiDEE). Some sentiments play a role, in trying to rescue the old organisation and to revive it, but this weekend, 2 of the remaining 3 board members resigned, explained that some statements made by the board did not have their support, and the president stands now alone. I give him credit for being so optimistic and continuing his struggle, but it seems like a hopeless task. In my opinion he is still bluffing and trying to regain control, by making statements that this weekend a new, full board will be presented, they will have an office and a full time employee etc...
In the meantime, are we setting up our first projects, contacting our friends, professors and other acquaintances to start to build a new and great organisation. Wanna join? :-)

European Institute for Democratic Participation (EIDP)

Dear all,

A couple of months ago, the idea, and vision of an organisation that deals with east-west cooperation were formed in our minds. We have been involved in different organisations before and have gained a lot of experience with (running) projects in Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia. Now the time has come to do something with this knowledge and our common enthusiasm for working on these affairs.

It is this enthusiasm that gave birth to the European Institute for Democratic Participation. (Please visit the preliminary website at EIDP).

The goals of the EIDP are:

• To support young Europeans in democratic participation

• To serve as a platform where young Europeans can jointly develop and conduct projects that stimulate democratic participation

• To promote east-west cooperation

• To support and develop civil society

We have been writing our first project proposals and concurrently we are studying ways how best to organise ourselves, in a way that we could create an organisation that would be able to both inspire and retain enthusiastic people to work on issues of democratic participation and East-West cooperation.

The idea with the EIDP is to not only organise YOUTH projects, but also the more extensive, adult and difficult projects in regard to MATRA, TACIS grants and EU/EC tenders. Projects financed under the YOUTH programme often lack its intended impact and tend to be more of "trips" or "holidays." With the EIDP we want to have a more professional and experienced approach, covering all the topics and possibilities concerned.

The reason for writing to you is to inform you of this new organisation and perhaps to make you consider working with the EIDP as a participant in a project or even as a project leader for any of the (upcoming) projects.

We offer our cooperation to you. It is our belief that in good partnership we can make a difference in the countries of the Former Soviet Union, and generally Europe as a whole

If you would like to know more, just reach us personally (Leander, Luc, or Olaf) or send an e-mail to the newly established office.

By all means, we look forward on cooperating with you, and finding common ways to act as citizens in our ever-changing world!

With regards,

Leander van Delden
With Luc Vocks & Olaf Koens

Kid

My dear friend Sönke became a father a couple of months back and I usually don't post pictures of kids or babies here, but for him I will make an exception! :-) Here's the kiddo.

Sony Bravia Commercial

I simply love it. No other words...

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Theory of International Relations

I have to follow the subject of Theory of International Relations and I simply hate it. I like International Relations, but I despise the fact that you have to break it all down to theories and schemes... Who cares if it is Realism or something else? This is something you will NEVER use again for the rest of your life and still they want you to learn it and, even worse, write about it. I now have to take a topic and write 7 pages about it. No problem, and I will happily do that, but what I don't like is that I have to incorporate a theory in it. I have to have a topic hat deals with a question including a theory. Now I came up with: "In which way does R. Gilpin's theory about the role of warfare in change, supports the (possible) use of Private Military Companies by the UN?" Exciting isn't it? I can say a lot about the UN, PMCs and the combination of both, but not a clue what I have to do with the theory. This is not going to be a nice couple of weeks. On a side-note: the guy who gives the course is younger than I am. How much should I take from him? :(

Another win + party

Played against GCHC Gents 7 today and beat them with something like 6-1 or 7-1: I lost track somewhere. Not really an exciting match, but another 3 points and still heading straight to the championships. :-)
After the match, my team was responsible for today's party. Which means that we had to come up with a theme and had to handle the bar and kitchen. It was a blast. Everyone was dancing, good DJ and a great atmosphere. Our theme was "Ultimately Real" and we were walking around in shirts and with horrible, flashy green ties. Some even brought a jacket, but I didn't want to spoil my good jackets on such a beer throwing and bumping evening... ;-) Looking forward to the next party. :-)

Saturday, 11 November 2006

Ranking

1 GHBS H4 :)
2 Gron.Studs H5
3 GHBS H5
4 Gron.Studs H6
5 GCHC H6
6 GCHC H5
7 GCHC H7
8 Daring H2
9 Groningen H3

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Winning streak

Forgot to mention: we won our match with 0-2 at Daring today. We played against my old team, which I left in 2002. Was a bit strange, but I for sure didn't want to lose. We didn't and we played superb at moments, but still need some improvement. We are #1 in our league now though! :-)

YER

Wednesday after the psychological test, I had a job interview at YER. YER is an international recruitment & selection agency that focuses on Professionals and Managers with a Bachelors or Masters degree. Well, it wasn't really a job interview, but more an informative talk about what I would like to do, what I have done till now and what would suit me. I have to say that it was a very good and enlightening talk. For the first time, someone criticized my CV, had good questions about what I would like, want and am good in. I had for myself the options management and consulting in mind, but consulting turns/turned out not to be my cup of tea. I am way better in general management and am more the person who keeps the overview and doesn't go that deep into details. I do have to work in an international environment however, but am not a very "student-like" type, so not all companies would suit me. I was labelled as the red frog in a pond with only green frogs. All this he said, not me, based on what we talked about, my answers and my CV. He hadn't seen a CV like that before from a starter (flattering of course) and he didn't see my long study time as a problem (what I feared a bit). Overall, it was a good meeting and I revised my CV and mailed it to the recruiter again. Now see what he comes up with. It will either be a management trainee ship or a intern job at a company to grow in. Both options are fine, as long as it is a nice environment, I can make some money and can work internationally.
I'll keep you posted!

Armed forces

Last Wednesday, I had a psychological test at the army naval base in Amsterdam. I signed up for the national reserve (Natres) and am in the process of being accepted. There is the psychological test, the medical and sport test, the 2 week basic army training and then you're in. :-) Sounds easy right? On Tuesday evening, I took the train to Amsterdam already, as I had the test at 7AM, and there is no train at that time leaving from Groningen. Got a bed at the base together with a whole bunch of other guys, also trying out. Either for the Natres, the regular army, naval, or the special forces and both soldiers and officers. The first test was 133 questions on which you had to answer Right or Wrong. I finished it within 10 minutes. After that we had to wait for a talk with a psychologist. I had to wait 2.5 hrs before, they called me. The talk was a piece of cake: questions like "how was your youth", "when was the last time you were emotional", "do you have any bad or traumatic (sexual) experiences", "were you bullied or did you bully others", and more of that crap. (answers only available on request) It lasted about 1.5 hrs and then I was asked to step outside, so she could evaluate the talk. After 10minutes she called me back in and said I was accepted and mentally healthy (she has no idea... :)). The only thing was that I was very down-to-earth and businesslike in the talk and I could show some more emotions. On the question-test I scored extremely well, but I on the scale of being dominant my stats went through the roof. Apparently, I am a very dominant person. Never knew that... :-)
There was no time left to take the medical and sport test as well, so I have to come back the 27Th to do those and then I will know if I can proceed to the training.
Maybe a question you would ask yourself: why is he joining the army? Well, first of all I would like to do something useful in my free time, they pay OK and it's a rewarding job. Secondly: who doesn't like to play soldier and also have the opportunity to shoot with guns? Besides that, it doesn't take that much time: only a Saturday and an evening per month.

Sunday afternoon

I took a shower, made an expresso, put on some comfy clothes and am ready to post a couple of updates on my blog. :-)

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Work

Today we had to do an exercise at work to look up some data in the systems we use. I was paired up with a drop-dead gorgeous girl. Not such a bad thing you (and I admit, I) would think, but she has some issues. She is extremely shy, she is a kind of Barbie-girl (make-up, clothes, etc), has little to no knowledge of computers and was irritated most of the time. She is really beautiful, but sadly there is not much inside her head. Such a waste...

Skype

I am becoming a more and more frequent user of Skype, also because more and more of my friends have installed it. (a hint for all of you, who haven't yet...)
Yesterday evening I was bored and tried to find some random users who had their status on "free to chat". Lately people found me that way as well and had some very strange people talking to me. So, I search and the only people I could find, were bots, horny men or women working in the industry... The men can be explained, the bots less, but I guess Skype is being spammed as well with fake-accounts. The women were more curious. I tried a couple and all were busy or hung up on me. After checking their profiles it became clear that they were either working or fake as well. The links in their profiles, containing their homepages were all links to sex-sites.
I ended up talking to a Ukrainian, but after exchanging the standard sentences about the weather and where we live, I was out of knowledge... :-)

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Overqualified

I applied for a position of student-member of the education commission of the Faculty of Arts at my university (the RUG). The commission reviews the current studies and curricula and advises on new policies and new (methods of) education.
The talk I had was very positive and fun. They asked me how my friends would describe me, so I gave them Arnoud's phonenumber and asked them to call and ask him. They did that right away and Arnoud was very positive I would say. :-) I had good hopes.
On Thursday I received an email, with the message that they thought that due to my experiences, work, traineeships and adventures, thought that I was overqualified and wouldn't find a challange in the position. They asked me to reply and comment on their thought. I did and thought that I would still get the position, as I replied rather well and positive. Why would I apply if I wouldn't want to do something 100%? On Friday, I got a voicemail, as I couldn't pick up my phone: I wasn't selected and they were sorry to tell me by phone, but they had other, better, candidates.
OK, if they have better candidates, fine, no problem. But if you are sory to tell me by phone: call me back in 30minutes or something. Also find the reasoning strange, but ok, their pick...

Arnoud

Arnoud (one of my best friends) became a Master of Science yesterday, as he complete his master's course in cultural geography. It was a nice ceremony with good cake afterwards and some nice moments. We are getting old...

Backaches

And again: backaches. On Thursday I had training and halfway I did nothing strange, but suddenly my back started to hurt enormously. The night following was a drama and I couldn't sleep the bigger part of the night. Went to bed at 23.00, was still awake at 2.30 and had to get up at 7.00... Imagine. It is getting better, but still not fantastic. Don't a clue what is wrong, but I think I need physiotherapy again.

Friday, 20 October 2006

My Name

I admit: my name is sometimes a bit difficult to pronounce, if you never heard it before. The HR department at KPN made it even more difficult though to write it as "Leaneart". Never heard and saw that before. Doesn't even look like it. Now I understand why the first days no one could pronounce it... :-)

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Local Liberal Council Meeting

On Tuesday, my (local) liberal movement had their annual meeting, where the new board got elected , people could ask questions to the current board etc. I left rather early, as the kind of people wasn't really my cup of tea. OK, I am a bit posh and a "rich-kid", but these guys were way worse and not in a good sense. Too many double collars, double tongues, crazy stories and strange ideas. Besides that: the kind of questions asked and the way the meeting went I have seen too often. With the Law Faculty Organization, Rudolph and I attended many meetings and we even disturbed some (what a great evening was that) and they were exactly the same. The old board(s) complaining about what the current is/was doing and other idiotic questions and interruptions. Not my thing.

Monday, 16 October 2006

Friends' news

Some of my friends are further on the path of life with all the things you come across, so here a little update.
  • Kate (Georgia) got a baby, but I don't have a clue is it is male or female and no idea about the name.
  • Aida (Albania) is getting married next summer and has invited me, so I will for sure have to be there.
  • Arnoud (NL) will get his master title this Friday, so that calls for a huge party!
  • Olaf (NL/Belgium) will move permanently to Russia, to chase the love of his life.
  • Christoph (Germany) is currently working in Frankfurt at the prestegious firm Linklaters.

Good luck to all. :-)

My Albanian Speech

Excellencies,
Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On its road towards European integration, Albania lost much time. The reasons come from an inherited communist legacy and poverty, to regional conflicts and internal crisis. During the difficult years of transition, Albania had to face the challenges of turning an ineffective planned economy into a market economy with social responsibility, of creating a stable constitutional system, of regaining public confidence and social cohesion.

Between 1990 and 1992, Albania ended 46 years of Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. This transition has proven challenging, as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a challenging infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure. Albania has played a largely helpful role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in south-eastern Europe, and is continuing to work towards joining NATO and the EU.

Ten European countries, sharing a common aspiration for integration, were admitted into the European Union in 2004. Albania, too, is pursuing the realization of the same aspiration.

The Albanian Government and society are engaged into a widespread European integration process, being fully committed to carrying out the necessary reforms. We have the political will and drive, to carry out these reforms. At a ceremony held in Luxembourg last summer, the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, and the Republic of Albania, was signed. This shows that Albania is on the right way in the process towards European Integration and is determined to comply with European standards and democratic values.

Albania is working to strengthen the institutions and capacities of the central and local government, and to enhance the efficiency of the reforms. Albania has made significant progress in its democratic development since holding the first multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies still remain. So far, international observers judged elections to be largely free and fair, especially since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997.
Following a period of instability due to internal quarrelling within the former ruling Socialist Party, the government went through a period of relative political stability. A number of significant new strategies and a new resource planning system were put in place, and the effectiveness of the Ministry of European Integration was highly improved. The 2005 election campaign, and the ensuing political polarization, used up a great deal of government energy and slowed the reform progress. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges of reducing crime and corruption, promoting economic growth, and decreasing the size of government. The parliamentary elections were lengthy and showed some shortcomings, but were conducted in a fundamentally sound manner. This election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward. The parliament has remained a real forum for political exchange. Significant changes to its internal organization have improved its functioning and steps were taken to enhance the coherence of new laws.

We are also truly convinced that the respect and protection of human rights and freedoms are the main pillars of a democratic society. The Government of the Republic of Albania has constantly demonstrated that it fully implements the standards laid down in the Council of Europe Conventions, as well as the relevant documents of regional organizations, such as the OSCE. It will continue to do so in the future as well. Albania has associated itself with the countries that are implementing a number of national strategies and programs that focus on specific population groups such as women, children, persons in need, minorities, etc.

On the road to European integration, our region still, is facing challenges such as the future of Kosovo. Albania greatly appreciates the recent democratic and integrated developments in Kosovo, thanks to the efforts of the people of Kosovo, its self-governing institutions and the activity of the UNMIK. The Albanian Government has the view that the time has come for a rapid and clear implementation of policy of standards and status. This would be the key to the solution of a number of other issues. We really hope that the question of the final status of Kosovo will find its final solution soon for the sake of the Kosovo people and for the whole region as well. In the meantime, we are convinced of the need to build a democratic, multiethnic, and multicultural society in Kosovo governed by the rule of law, mutual tolerance, and understanding.

The road towards European integration is not an easy one, but the results are rewarding. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe have proven that while it is possible to reach the final destination, the process can be as important as the event of joining itself.

During fifteen years of transition, Albania's history of relationship with the EU can be seen as a history of building a state of law, public order, justice, and infrastructure. We are fully aware that the key to integration process is to build a sustainable democracy that respects the institutions and the state of law. However, we will need the help of the European institutions in succeeding with that. The EU should be willing to give advice and offer assistance in any matter and help to speed up the process towards European Integration. Not to dismiss or delay the possible accession of Albania to the EU, due to unfounded fears of increasing unemployment in certain West European countries or possible threats of Muslim extremism.

I thank you for your attention.

Glorious victory

Today at 11 we had a match against the number 4 in our poule. We won with the stunning numbers of 2-7. :-) It was a nice day, with my whole team coming to drink coffee at my place at 9.30 and a nice match after that. Had the defence rather tight, except for the first countergoal in the first minute... :-( We are now second, but with 2 matches less played. Champions we are. :-)

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

PRA

Today at 8AM I have a post-health check for the test I took the last 2 weeks. So I have to get up early and am not looking forward to that, as today was early as well and I am really tired. Will be a nice day though as I have my training to hit some decent balls and let out the anger and after that a friend will come over for a drink.

Idiotic people

Had an interview at KPN today together with a whole bunch of people. As I am a little short on cash, have some bills to pay, and business isn't that flourishing yet, I am taking up another part time job. At a help desk that is. Not the most high standing and exciting work, but all I can get at the moment. I visited all the employment agencies in town, but I am either over-qualified or not full time available, so they don't have anything for me.
The selection was a peace of cake (a test with the reader next to it...) and I will probably start next week; I am curious how it will be. The IQ-level of the people participating wasn't that high (15 multiple choice questions, max 6 faults, reader next to it and still 50% dropout), but one lady really didn't know how to behave. She got accepted (very surprising) and immediately started to call her whole family and friends, shouting through the room that she had a job. Her (loud and nasty) voice, her appearance and the conversation an sich were all too much to bear. I controlled myself and didn't step up to ask if she really needed to do that, but by god, I hope she is in a different team...

Monday, 9 October 2006

Sunday: hockey day

Yesterday was a fine hockey day for me, my team and the whole world! :-) At 10.30AM I was at the club, drank a coffee and reffed an interesting match of Gents 7 against some other men's team. After that I had my own match against the number one in our poule. We won with the glorious numbers of 4-1. We are definately going for the championship this year. Looking forward to that. After our match, our first men's team played and it was a thrilling match as well, which they lost with 3-4 against Tempo from Zwolle. The club bought a beamer, a sattelite and a screen and at 5PM we watched the dutch women win the world cup final in Madrid against Australia. God, never seen such a superb women's 2nd half. It was amazing and nice for showing next summer at some camps in the US. Do I have to mention that it was late when the light at the club went out?
PS even though Spain didn't make it to the final. Conratulations to Borja for winning the Catalan Cup! Go Borja! :-)

Some more frustration

Over the ELS-NL email-list (ELSA Lawyers Society) came an urgent request for a chair and vice-chair for the upcoming ELSA ICM. Even though I have been very critical all my active years towards the International Board, about their way of working, their way of communicating and some other idiotic, silly little things, I have always supported the organisation and always offered to help. So, this time I also offered to help to act either as a chair or vice-chair. What surprises me: never heard a word from the IB again... Not a thank you, no sorry-we-found-someone, or anything else. Guess they didn't need someone that urgent... I tried to reach the secretary general on MSN, but she doesn't reply, even though she is online and active (= chatting with someone I was also chatting with). Do I understand this? Should I even? It is just frustrating as I only want to help and still see other similar organisations, like AIESEC, being so much more professional and progressing.

Sunday, 8 October 2006

Books

What women have with shoes, clothing and jewelry, I have with books. Yesterday was another fine example of this. I went to a bookshop to buy an ordered study book and came out with 3 other books. I need a new bookshelf. :-)

Ipod

Yesterday I bought a new battery for my Ipod, as it was dead for a couple of weeks already. I first thought that I would leave it there and they would replace it, but they sold me a battery and 2 plastic screwdrivers in a package and I had to replace it myself. It took me a while (using a knife), but it now works perfectly again and even with my whole harddisk still full with mp3's! :-) The inside of an Ipod looks funny though.

New Template

I have been thinking about a new template for a while. I have searched the web for some nice ones, but me being a complete html-noob, only wanted a fixed thing. Now Blogger moved to Beta Blogger and they had some new templates. The switching was easy, but inserting my site meter and world map was an ordeal. Moving from html to XML is not so easy, but with some help of Florijan and a lot of trying, it now seems to work. The clock and tagboard have been abolished, as hardly anyone wrote something on it and the clock was just for fun. Let me know what you think of my new template and if you miss something.

Fitness

My brother started to fitness a couple of weeks ago and he let the club call me, if I wouldn't be interested in a try-out or joining; so he could get a present. :-) So, yesterday I went (it is actually around the corner) and did a nice 1.5 hr workout. This morning I went again and spend a full 2 hrs there. I don't really need the stamina (that is what I keep saying to myself, and maybe someday I will believe it), but I go there to get a somewhat better body. I haven't trained and played in a year and I am getting some fat, I don't want. :-) So I am doing the abs, the upper body muscles, the arms and more. Now I have muscle aches in my upper legs (of course I do some stamina exercises). Do I even like sports?

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Hockey

The Dutch female field hockey team is performing rather well during the Worldcup in Madrid, Spain, at the moment. They won their first 3 matches and are leading group A and have good chances to reach the semi-finals. They won from England, Spain and India. The matches weren't the most exciting once, hardly I would say, but it is a trend in nowadays hockey that it is getting more and more "professional". With professional I mean down-to-earth/plain/business-like. No more exceptional tricks, special moves or dashing shows. It should all be straight, safe and simple. I understand that it is imperative to win and to consolidate the advantage. Also the differences between the teams are getting smaller and smaller. The golden years that the Dutch were dominating the world (as the Pakistani before them) are over and countries like Australia, Spain, Germany and some Asian ones are at the same level and give fierce competition. The game itself has changed (more zone defense and less man-to-man for example), but the physical state of the players has grown tremendously. In this field the Dutch were behind, as countries like Germany and Australia started with more physical workouts way before the Dutch.
I do miss the magical passes, tricks and moves though. It makes the game so much more vibrant, alive and fun to watch. I love the sport, but it starts to get a bit boring.

PS quoting a spanish hockey friend of mine: "Women's field hockey is not a sport. You can't compare men's and womens's hockey by far." Should I agree?

Monday, 2 October 2006

Foreigners in Groningen

The university paper of Groningen (the UK) published an article in their English section 2 weeks ago about foreign bloggers in Groningen. These are students who are in Groningen for a semester, a year or a whole bachelor and they write about Groningen, the Netherlands and their studentlife. As it is always nice to read about how others think about and see your city, I checked all the featured blogs and here are 4 links for you to read as well. Just to show another perspective of my (somewhat) subjective opinion and thoughts. :-)

Enjoy...

1 Mirja
2 Water Shed
3 Pieter
4 Haley

Violence

Today in the newspaper: violence against the personnel of an ambulance who arrived to help someone during a night's out. Police has to come to set them free and gets mobbed as well. Three police officers get hurt, 10 people get arrested.

What is wrong with this world? Why, in godsname, would someone attack or hinder the personnel of an ambulance. Those people are there to help and should be supported and applauded... There is a trend in attacks on and hinder of ambulance personnel lately in the Netherlands. No one seems to know where it comes from, but more and more of these incidents are reported. One of the political parties asked for police escorts every time an ambulance has to ride out, but that has been rejected by our minister as there isn't enough police capacity to do this.

To all the idiots (both in the Netherlands and in the rest of the world): let those people do their jobs and get a life!

Saturday, 30 September 2006

Testbunny

I am a testbunny again and therefore haven't posted for a while. I am in a clinic since a week ago and am here till Friday. Not a clue what I am testing, as I never really care. I am just here to make some easy money. We all die some day, so why not risk a bit more (although I do not see this testing of medicines as very risky)?
Being here you do start to appreciate the simple things in life: open toiletblocks, decide for yourself how many slices of bread you will take, how much needles can hurt, and getting up when you want (or sometimes have to..).
It is fun here though as I can study, read my email and the newspaper, watch TV and DVDs, play pool or pingpong, play games and sleep. :-) You are being lived here though, as I have to eat at specific times, give blood, lie on the bed for an ECG, get my bloodpressure measured, and more stuff. The fact remains, that I make more than 100Euro/day here, so why not? :-)

PS: I haven't been sick or anything and only had to throw up during one study of the 10+ I have participated in.

Monday, 18 September 2006

Pictures

As you can see from the pictures I just posted, I love to take pictures of people when they are not aware that they are being photographed. It makes the pictures a lot more natural and real in my opinion. A friend of mine told me once: "Lily: a picture needs to hold a story in order to be good." I agree that for a lot of pictures, a story is needed to give an explanation or extra meaning/dimension, but pictures of people can just be beautiful by itself. In my humble opinion that is...

Himba woman. Posted by Picasa

Himba Unawareness. Posted by Picasa

Music in the Wind Posted by Picasa

Slovenian Unawareness. Posted by Picasa

Unaware Jaume. Posted by Picasa

Another sneaky one. Posted by Picasa

Just a sneaky-shot. Posted by Picasa

Just a nice picture of Borja. Posted by Picasa

Hockey season

My team is determined to end first in the competition this year and I have to say that we have some good chances for that. Unfortunately, we dropped some points yesterday, as we drew 2-2. Not the best of matches I agree, but my team got nerved by the referees and got rather frustrated. At a certain moment we even played with 9 for 5 minutes, so I am just happy that we drew 2-2, but it could and should have easily been 1-3 for us. Hope we will get some decent referees when we play them at the home match.

Questions

Usually you get the basic questions from people who don't know you very well. Like:"what do you do, how old are you, where do you come from, which music do you like, etc. Today I got a strange question from a far away friend. Did someone ever ask you:
"Aviane: are you a serial killer?"
To the ones who didn't know: No, I am not. Sorry.

Visitors

In general, I don't have many visitors over who also stay the night and come from abroad. Last weekend was an exception, as Christoph, my fellow board member during my ELSA Germany year, came to visit me here on Saturday and Sunday with his girlfriend. Was nice, as none of my former board members had visited me yet after the end of our year in August 2003. Not because they don't love me (well, they might not, but they never said that :-) ), but more because I am/was away often and live in a different country. All the other board members were (and are) Germans.
But it was fun to have someone over and I showed them the city and we made a tour to my part of the province where I originally come from. On Sunday they joined me to my hockey match and then went back to Eindhoven, where Christoph's girlfriend does her PhD. More visitors are always welcome...

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Russian course

I am taking a Russian course at the university. For one, because it helps me to get into the election observer team of the foreign ministry. They see Russian as a huge asset and since I was not let in last time, I hope this helps and hearing from the ministry it hopefully will. Secondly, I would like to be able to understand, read and even speak a little the next time I am in Russia or the Ukraine. I know some very basic words and can read very little, but I hope this will change and for sure improve after a couple of weeks. The course is till December, so I still have a couple of months to learn it all, but it is much harder than I hoped and expected. For the writing I know mostly the print-letters and we use also the handwriting letters and it gets me confused quite a lot.
In the course some people take it because they have some free time, some need a language for their studies or have to fill up some free space in their curricullum and some have a girlfriend who speaks Russian. It is mostly men in the course though. Strange... :-)

Monday, 11 September 2006

Relocation

Cas is outside the normal round being transferred to the embassy in Pretoria, where he will start in November. He will become the new head of the Development department, so it is a step up from his current position. It is sad though that now the 4th person I worked with in Tirana is moving. Not many Dutch I know are still in Albania, as some already moved to Washington, Pretoria, Bamako and Belgrade. Only my Albanian friends are still in the country. I love the country and I got really attached to it during my work there, but there are less and less reasons to go again. Perhaps when the Netherlands plays against Albania during one the qualification matches of the EC...

Sunday, 10 September 2006

Video

I added some videos on my blog as you can see, but it is not to my satisfaction yet. My template is not wide enough to fit the videos in, so the sidebar moves way down the page (at least in my browser, please tell me if this happens with you as well). I might have to put another template on, as I cannot change the current one. I can make it wider, but the colours (the grey) don't move with it, so it wouldn't make sense.
I do hope you like the videos I put on though. So far they are from the field hockey camps I coached this summer in the USA. I opened a YouTube account and added some more on there. Too bad that the maximum size is 100MB, as the most funny videos are larger. :-(

Thursday, 31 August 2006

Ill

Ate a greek yoghurt last Monday and got a food poisoning from it. Not the best thing to have when you are trying to get in the first 15 of the team's selection. I couldn't hold any food or liquids and am totally empty within. Today started ok, but in the afternoon it turned bad again and am out again. What a hell of a way to start my preseason and could smash something now... Think my chances have gone. &)%*$(^&*';[.%

Sunday, 27 August 2006

GHBS preseason

Just came back from a weekend tournament in Ede. It was a hard weekend and we lost 2 matches and only won one. It was a preparation for the upcoming season and our coach wanted to test some different plays and players. I am on the cut. I haven't trained and played decent matches for over a year, so it is hard for me to both catch up to the current level and get used to the different style of playing. I am a pure man-to-man player and this team uses zone-defence (as most top teams nowadays I admit). I have blisters on my feet and I hope that says something... :) The cut is in 2 weeks, but I fear I will not make it.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Pictures of my summer

All my pictures of the last 2 months taken in the USA and Namibia are online under http://uk.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/buable79/my_photos Take a look! :-)

Statistics

Flat tires: 5
Leopards seen: 0
Pictures taken: 324
Kilometers driven: 5131
Springboks seen: couple of hundred
Postcards sent: 60 (got in return 3 so far... :-( )
Suitcases lost at Heathrow (London Airport): 4 (= all)
Most impressive sight: the dunes at Sossuvlei or the endlessness of the roads

#$%^&* Heathrow

Our flight back from Windhoek to Amsterdam took us via Jo'burg and Heathrow. All went fine till Heathrow. Not only did we have to remove all liquids from our handluggage, but we also had to take off our shoes. If we had bought a bottle of whiskey in for example Jo'burg, we would have had to leave it at Heathrow without any compensation. The BAA is getting crazy and idiotic. I got into an argument with a security guard that there was nowhere a sign that we had to take off our shoes, but he claimed there was, so I had to take them off. It took us 55 minutes to get through the security checks (incl. the queues) and caused us to almost miss our plane.
This was not the worst part though, as our plane had a 60min delay and NONE of our 4 pieces of luggage was transported to Amsterdam, where we waited for an hour to finally hear that half of the people's luggage in our plane didn't make it. Not only is all my shaving equipment in my suitcase (both electrical and normal), but also my mobile. I cannot be reached for that sense... No clue when TNT will transport our luggage to my parents and when I will get my suitcase back... One advice: don't fly through Heathrow, go through Paris or Frankfurt for that matter!

The Story (3)

Day twenty-one and we are in Etosha National Park at one of the three campsites and just returned from watching game at one of the few waterholes. Here the animals go to drink when the sun went down and at this campsite they made a viewpoint at a rock close by to watch the animals. We arrived when there were no animals and before the lights went on (they have 2 big lights to illuminate the waterhole). A whole bunch of people were already sitting there with their cameras, binoculars, and sweaters. It was a funny sight seeing all these people reacting on each other and the slightest movement they thought to see. I stayed for about 1.5 hours and saw 3 rhinos and some jackals. During the drive to this campsite this afternoon we saw wildebeests, kudus, giraffes, springboks, warthogs and an impala. So we added quite a few animals to our see-list and hope to add more tomorrow and the next days as we are staying here for 4 days.
The last days we went to the Epupa Falls and stayed there on a nice campsite at the Kunene River. Palm trees shaded our camping spot and the river floated by. In the distance we could here the falls thundering down the gorge. We stayed there for 2 nights and visited a Himba family on the next morning. A local guide took us to the family and we could witness up close how (very uncomplicated) their life is. We were allowed to enter their hut in which hardly anything was present and their bed was a cow’s skin on the floor. The habits and traditions were also explained and both sides asked each other questions. The women couldn’t believe that Redmer (23) and I (27) weren’t married yet and didn’t have children. In their culture there would be something terribly wrong with us. Women also have nothing to say about whom they marry. The groom-to-be goes into negotiation with the father and they agree on a bride treasure. A general treasure is about 6 cows and a couple of goats or sheep. One goat is about 35€… In the afternoon I went kayaking on the Kunene River. I first tried to get to Angola over the semi-border post, but that was an unofficial one, only meant for locals to cross the river. On the trip with me were a couple of Spanish from the next campsite and 2 guides/instructors. It was a nice trip down the river with a couple of level 2 rapids (I know: not very impressive, but they were my first rapids!) During the trip we saw a couple of crocodiles and stopped on the Angolan (!!) side of the river (as the river separates Namibia from Angola) and had some refreshments there. Country 44 to my slowly expanding list! :-)
The next day we went a mere 200km to the east along the river to the Kunene Lodge where we enjoy lunch and dinner on a terrace overlooking the river. A beautiful sight and very peaceful and quiet and perfect for reading and going on a sun downer tour which my parents did. In boats, floating down the river, watching birds and drinking a glass of wine while the sun slowly went down. Not the most exciting experience for Redmer and me, so we stayed at the lodge. Redmer and I wanted to make a quad bike trip, but all the quads were occupied, so the next morning we were on the quads at 7 and had a 2 hour tour before breakfast and leaving to the next lodge. I have been terribly dirty before, but I don’t think I have ever been that dusty in my whole life. I drove behind the guide and Redmer closed our little group of 3 and we got all the dust over us. Only the guide stayed clean, but it was a great experience and we had a lot of fun driving through water, dry river beds and over rocks. They have 4 days trips as well and I am sure that such a tour would be magnificent. They had kayak trips as well with some bigger rapids (class 3 and 4), but Redmer fancied the quad biking more, so I joined him in that.
Yesterday we drove to Oshakati, which was about a 4 hour trip. The first 1.5 we drove along the river. Not that exciting you would say, but if I would say that it was only 55 km, it might sound a bit different. The road was a perfect one for 4x4’s and we even saw a crocodile on the shore of the river. My hunger for 4x4 driving has only grown bigger after this trip as we have had some perfect roads for that and it has been a blast. Oshakati is a regional centre, but apparently full with (small) crime. Everyone warned us not to leave our cars unattended and not to carry any valuables when walking through the city. So when we entered the city (which is actually rather boring and not worth stopping in…) and drove immediately to our lodge and didn’t come out again till this morning when we went shopping at the local Spar (a big worldwide supermarket, but here with only few customers and all white) and drove on to Etosha. I stayed outside to guard the cars even though the local “guards” also watched our cars. To explain this: local guards are present in every (major) city and are men or women (in this case women) with jackets on and they ask you if they can guard your car, put a piece of paper behind the windshield and you pay them an amount you chose when you leave again. Although there was an official security guard with a shotgun on his back in front of the supermarket and the women were “guarding” our campers, we didn’t totally trust it and I went outside again to show any potential criminals that the campers were guarded. Of course my not so impressive posture might not scare them (for that we would have needed Joao), but it is always good to give them at least one more obstacle.The next 3 days we will be game watching in Etosha and after that we will leave for the Waterberg plateau to relax a bit and see some vultures and cheetahs before retuning to Windhoek and flying back home. When we will arrive the 22nd back in Holland we will be picked up by a cab and driven home. In the evening I have my first pre-season training for the 1st men’s team of GHBS. They already started the 13th, so I am behind a full week and have to make that up. Besides that: I have been doing sit ups and push ups the last weeks, but I hardly did any running, so I hope I will be in shape and won’t be cut immediately. Will see.

Day twenty-four and we are the second campsite in Etosha and it is not funny anymore. We are doing our best to see animals during the day and stop at every thing we see (well, not the springboks and zebras anymore as they are abundant here). Then we arrive at this campsite and they have an artificial waterhole as well. We walk up there and dozens of springboks, zebras, kudus, Oryx and an elephant are standing there in broad daylight drinking and playing in the water. We have been on guard every second to see something, have stayed for hours at the other waterhole in the cold dark night to see some animals and here you see them up close and during the day. It is an amazing, surreal, and a bit frustrating sight. It is our second day at his campsite now and we didn’t bother going out in the park again by car as we can see everything here as well. So we just chilled a day at the campers, getting some tan, reading a book, walking up and down to the waterhole and sleeping a bit. Redmer, mom and I are all red from the sun and we just bought to 2 big piles of wood to make a campfire and get some warmth this evening as the nights are cold here again. Tomorrow we will leave for the Waterberg Plateau, where we will stay in a fancy lodge and will spend a day there watching cheetahs and vultures. I am looking forward to that.

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Himba family at the Epupa Falls. Posted by Picasa

Dune 45. Posted by Picasa

Amazing dunes at the Sossusvlei. Posted by Picasa

Endless roads. Posted by Picasa

Deserted old mine town (Kolmannskuppe). Posted by Picasa

Deserted roads. Posted by Picasa

Our cars on one of the many gravel roads. Posted by Picasa

The Story (2)

Day fifteen, at least I think it is day fifteen as I lost count. I know, because I asked today, what day it is, but traveling is at its best as you lose track of time. Which I officially have now, so it must be good. I am writing this at the second story of a lodge where the bar is situated and it is made of wood, stones and with sheer roofs. It is like the pictures of very expensive places you see in travel brochures. We are now in a fancy lodge (but not so expensive) near Twijfelfontein and we have lounged a bit at the pool yesterday and today. Redmer and I did go cycling this morning in the fog and cold at 7 for about 1.5 hours, but the rest of the day was rather lame. We went to see some rock formations around here in the morning and at 15hours we went on a 3 hour drive to try to see some elephants. They passed the lodge a couple of days ago and the guide has tried to find them since and follow their path, but he hadn’t succeeded so far. Until today of course, as we found the family of 18 with a couple of young ones. I have never seen my mother so ecstatic and happy. It was a great sight though and much better then in South Africa. Now we had a lot better (and more) light and this herd was so much bigger. The weather happily also changed and from the cold south (and coast) we are getting into the warmer zones where the temperature starts to rise to a decent 34degrees C at mid-day.
Tomorrow we will leave north for the Angolan border to see the Epupa Falls. After that we will move to the east and enter the Etosha Park for 4 days to see lions, giraffes, rhinos, buffaloes, elephants and hopefully some leopards. Leopards are the only animals of the big 5 that I haven’t seen, so I am really hoping to see them in Etosha, but they don’t show themselves so often, so I will probably not be so lucky.
Along the road you see a lot of women and children selling stuff. From puppets to gems, and from necklaces to wooden carved elephants. We can’t stop everywhere, but we did a couple of times and bought something. My dad then also always takes the opportunity to make some pictures of locals as he has bought a HUGE telelens for his brand new Nikon D200 (he also dropped his normal lens on day 3, which broke in 2 perfect halves). Quite a few times we are also asked for food and/or water. Yesterday my mom gave away a package of macaroni and spaghetti and these people were so happy with it. On the camp site 2 days ago, Redmer and I were asked for T-shirts as well and since we have plenty, we gave the local youth 2. When we handed them over the T-shirts they also started asking for pants and shoes… The downside of this handing out is that their friends now also want a T-shirt and you can start a full time job, by just handing out T-shirts and other clothes. You do see a lot of youngsters walking in rather expensive shirts and a lot of Arsenal-wear. Strange.
Day sixteen was a bad day as my parents had a flat tire in the morning, which had to be fixed first and then the rest of the day we had a very bad gravel road. Normally the gravel roads aren’t too bad, but this one had too many big stones and ups and downs. I have a headache now simply from driving all day. We went a bit back from the lodge to the Petrified Forest, which is a “forest” that turned into stone. Tree trunks were swept inland with floods and covered with sand. This sand caused the trees not to disintegrate, but to change their cell-structure and they became from stone. We expected more or less a real stoned forest, but it was trunks lying between rocks and not so impressive as hoped. We are now in an old German fort where my parents stay in a suite (they were too tired of the trip as well and didn’t want the hassle of building the beds etc) and Redmer and I occupy both a camper.

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Namibia - the story (1)

It is my second day in Namibia and finally I find some time and energy to write as traveling makes you tired... :) I try to keep you up to date as much as possible, but options are limited here, I already discovered. Internet is hardly to be found and when it is a slow dial-up connection, but I will do my best.
Then the journey: the flight to Windhoek was fine, but long: first a cab of 2 hours to Amsterdam, flying to London, flying to Johannesburg and finally flying to Windhoek. In Johannesburg we almost lost Redmer as we were dropped at the wrong plane. The bus that was supposed to drop us off at the plane to Windhoek made a mistake and dropped us of at the plane to Zambia. Also nice, but not really what we had in mind. Redmer had gotten on board before we all were stopped and directed back into the bus. The doors of the plane were even already closed when the mistake was discovered and had to be opened again to let some passengers including my brother off.
At the airport in Windhoek was someone waiting to take us to our cars. We thought that we would get a small 4x4 in which we would sleep in the back, but now we have a small camper with a fully equipped kitchen as well. It is always nice to get a free upgrade! Then we drove to our first lodge in Windhoek and took a shower so longed for and we all relaxed a bit. It was a beautiful guest house where most things were made of concrete and copper, but in a way that it all looked very fashionable and expensive. This morning we took our cars and filled up the gas first: around 120 liters per car!!! We drove south towards Marienburg and decided to make small detour as we had enough time. This meant that we would use the 4x4 also for the first time, as the detour was only gravel and I followed my father’s car in a dust cloud. We had lunch on the bottom of a river that had fallen dry during this season and followed the road for miles and miles, where most of the time we could see the road going straight in front of us. Now we are in a lodge on a private game park where they have springboks, zebras and other animals, but so far we haven’t seen one and it got dark already. We could do a morning game drive to see some animals, but it starts at 6 and ends around 8(.30) and we have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow, so we probably just hit the road even more south.
So far Namibia resembles South Africa where I was 1.5 year ago during New Year. The people, the landscape, and all kinds of different things remind me of that holiday. Not very surprising though, as Namibia gained independence only in 1990 from South Africa. We can even speak a bit of Dutch here since they speak some Afrikaans here which derived from Dutch, when we once had South Africa as a colony. But most people speak English (the official language) and German (it was a German colony as well), so we mixed the languages up a bit as well.

Day six and we are well under way and now at the west coast of Namibia at Sesriem, near the famous SossusVlei. The last days we first drove to Lüderitz where we visited the coast, but that wasn’t really very spectacular. The evenings got colder already and we were glad that we slept in a hotel. The last days we drove towards this place and arrived here yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful if not magnificent drive with red dunes on one side of the road, mountains on the other and fields of yellow grass in between. Just perfect and how you imagine Africa. As soon as the sun goes down here though it becomes very cold and last night it was 3 degree in our little camper! I was freezing and even had to get to out go to the bathroom. When I got back I put on a sweater, pants and socks and was still shivering for 15 minutes. Now it is again dark and turning colder, so we packed ourselves already and made a campfire to stay a little warmer. I will for sure wear double tonight in my sleeping bag. My parents (and especially my dad) suffered most as they are more the luxury kind of campers. They have a caravan (as half of the Netherlands), but not a normal one, but one made and tested in Sweden with temperatures below -20 and still being warm inside. It even has floor heating (like my parents’ bathroom) within, so you can guess how it is camping in a country where NO ONE has heating and where we didn’t bring our own stuff. :-) My dad is glad that the next 2 days will be a guesthouse again, but is not really looking forward to the week of camping that comes after that. J We also got 2 flat tires already, as the roads here are for 80% gravel ones. I probably got one and my brother one, but we aren’t sure as we only noticed the next morning when we got up. Fortunately, we have 2 spare ones on each car, so we are doing fine until we run 2 flats on one day… Today we visited the SossusVlei and watched and even climbed the mighty dunes where this desert or even Namibia is so famous for. It was a beautiful and impressive sight, although the photos you see in magazines and books are always “tuned” a bit to make it look even more impressive. You do have to be there at sunset or sundown though, as then you can capture and see the beautiful play of the sun with the sand and dunes and the shades that make it all so gorgeous. We didn’t get up at 5.15 to go into the park at 6 and watch the sun come up. We had breakfast at 9.30 when the rest of the campsite was already abandoned and empty. Since we have 2 days here, we just wanted to relax a bit as well and just went into the park on our own and by our own time schedule and we had a great day. Now it is dark again and cold. The campfire is burning again and I sit at it to write this. My moms sits next to me and reads a novel about an area very close to here and my father and brother just came back from doing the dishes. We have such an understanding that whoever cooks, doesn’t have to do the dishes and since my brother helped my mother the last days, I wanted an evening off as well and prepared some of the dinner too. Tomorrow we will head towards Swakopomund and will stay there for 2 nights and visit the area. After that we head even further north to the border with Angola and then head east towards the Etosha Natural Park. We have seen zebra’s, springboks, and some other animals so far, but in Etosha we will be able to see lions, elephants, giraffes, buffalos etc. My parents are mostly looking forward to that, but as I have already seen it in South Africa I am not that anxious. Although it will be nice and beautiful again for sure. We had an option to go ballooning here in the SossusVlei, which is supposedly one of the most beautiful things that you can do here or even in the whole of Namibia, but my parents and brother preferred to spend that money on something in Etosha. We will have some coffee now, so I will close down (as I need to charge my battery as well, but that will only be possible tomorrow I hope) and write again later.

Monday, 24 July 2006

Camps at Stowe and NYC

I came to NY and took the cheapest way to get to my sleeping spot: by taking 3 different subways from the airport. It was very well doable, but it just took a lot of time and I had to carry my 20+ kilo backpack all the time which is not my favorite thing to do. I am not build to carry a backpack hat heavy and long. I am more into the delicate things and suitcases with wheels… ;-) But of course I am a though guy and survived it! I got more respect for my brother though, as he hikes like this in the mountains for days... I had a great place to stay in Brooklyn at a very nice guy. I got his address and contact data trough the internet community I am a member of, where you can offer people to stay over. It is for free and since I wanted to do it all low budget, it was the best option. I tried to see a friend of mine a couple of blocks away, but she wasn’t at home, so I walked 30min in the pouring rain back, as I didn’t know which bus would take me back to my sleeping spot. The next morning I took the train to Vermont and it was a beautiful train ride. I could have gone faster (1 hour by plane instead of 9 hours by train), but since I am not that fond of flying and I just love to travel by train, I just did it this way. I wasn’t in a hurry anyway as I arrive 1 day early to the camp.

The camp at Stowe, VT itself had the first week around 45 campers and the second week some 75 ones. All girls in the ages of 14 till 18 and all with very different levels of skill. They play here on grass and that is something totally different from what we play in Europe like on astro turf. The game is here so slow and difficult, because the ball gets stuck in the grass a lot and even the coaches can’t do it all perfectly. We had some good coaches around though, from the Spanish National competition, from the Scottish national team, some American coaches (who don’t have the same skills as we do) and me. I might play in the best country of the world with the best club competition, but they play for better teams or even the national team. They were good fun though and we have a lot of laughs and have nice games between each other.

The schedule was so tight and I was busy all day on the fields that I simply didn’t have the energy to write on my blog after it all. Breakfast was at 7, the first training session starts at 8.15, then lunch from 12 till 13.30, second training session and a match till 17.15, dinner, more matches till 20.30 and then an evening activity till 22.30hrs. Besides that you had to prepare your trainings for the next day, see what exercises you would do and write them out and plan them with the other coaches on your field. It is tiring and I can’t see myself doing this for more than 3 weeks. Some coaches do it for 7 weeks and go to a lot of camps to make money, but I guess I would go mad by doing that.

Blair Academy

In the Netherlands we hardly have private schools, but in the USA it is rather normal. I had never visited a private school before, but had some idyllic images in my head from the movie The Skulls and what I know about private schools in England. Now was the last field hockey camp situated at Blair Academy, NJ and I was very impressed. The campus was wonderful and very impressive, just what I had imagined. Take a moment to browse through the campus shots to get an idea... (Note: the yearly fee is a staggering $37,000.00 though)

Namibia

For all of you that don't know yet: on Tuesday I will be leaving to Namibia (Africa) for my vacation with my parents and brother. My parents celebrated their 30th anniversary and wanted to go one last time on vacation with their sons. After lonbg discussion we found a compromise in Namibia. My brother didn't want Asia, my father was more for Canada and I opposed against Europe or the USA.
We rented 2 Adveturer 4x4's with which we will travel one month throughout the country and will stop at all the major (for example the Etosha Park and the Skeleton Coast) and not so major sights (for example Damaraland) of the country and it will be a blast. Sleeping will be half of the time in the car and half of the time in a hotel or lodge. I am looking forward to see some more wildlife, some beautiful nature sceneries and meeting new people. I don't think that I can blog a lot about it all, but I will for sure try to do so.

Back home

I am back home from 3 weeks of coaching field hockey camps in the US. I miss it already. When the last camp in Blairstown, NJ was done I was relieved as it is a rather hard job to do, as you have to combine mental and physical activity. Not only that, but also was it more than 38 degrees Celsius (100+ Fahrenheit) during the afternoons. So it was hard work, it was very hot, my shoes had tremendous holes in them and I got up every day at 6.45am what is something I never do. Looking at the (short) list, you would say that I should be glad being back home, but I ain't. I miss it. I miss being around with those girls; who sadly often can hardly hit a ball, who cannot stop talking about the Spanish (male) coaches and who are sometimes a pain in the ass. But it is great spending time with them, to teach them new things and learn them things outside hockey about Europe, Holland, culture and habits. Not only that, but working abroad for me always feels like holiday, eventhough I sometimes have to work really hard. It was so in Germany, in Albania and now in the USA. I just love being in a new surrouding, meeting new people and doing stuff I like.
I am doing on vacation to Namibia with my family on Tuesday and am really looking forward to that, but I wish I could have done the camp in Sauk Valley as well to see some old friends and be a longer time around those crazy Spanish.
I had a blast working 2 camps in Stowe, Vermont and 1 camp in Blairstown, NJ and I would like to thank you all, campers and coaches, for the great time. I really hope to see you either here in Holland (equals The Netherlands) as my guest or next year again in the US of A.

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Germany

For all my German friends who were so kind to send me an SMS after Holland lost the match against Portugal, I can only say the following: "Ohne Deutschland geht es zu Berlin..."

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

Wireless again

I have a wireless connection here and I can receive my email here, but I can't send any from here as I need a different protocol for that. Just that you know... :-)

Vermont

I am in Vermont now after a long, but very nice trainride. The scenery outside was marvellous and the company on the train was great too. We had a crazy guy working at the bar and some crazy girls in the same wagon. We played a couple of card games and had a laugh. Always nice to meet people on the train and have some talks and discussions.
I was picked up from the trainstation together with a Scot, who happened to be on the same train as I was. He played for Hurley for a year and plays in the Scottish national team, so we have a real pro here. The hostel is ok and we are expecting the other coaches between now and 2 hours. The girls will come tomorrow and for the first week there will only be 50. The other 2 weeks will be fairly crowded though. It is hot out here and I am enjoying myself with this wireless connection. :-)

Monday, 3 July 2006

Hot NYC

The guy where I am staying has wireless, so I take the opportunity and get online with my laptop. It is so hot here that we have a storm now with lots of rain. All is fine and for a change was the flight also pleasant, although I still don't like to fly. Tomorrow around noon heading for Vermont. My Dutch simcard doesn't work here, but my Ukrainian does... Strange...

Sunday, 25 June 2006

We are out




As expected and feared: The Netherlands is out. Again another tournament with a deception and again no cup for us. We have a couple of the best players in the world, but as a team we simply can't make it. How strange it is...

Saturday, 24 June 2006

Odessa

Thijs made a really cool movie about the Election Observer Mission (EOM) in Odessa, Ukraine last April. I'm not in it, but I was in the group and participated. :-) I liked the movie a lot and I hope you all will do as well. Enjoy watching and I hope you perhaps get a better idea of what I all do.

Friday, 23 June 2006

Networking

People say that I am a networker, not in the bad sense of the word, but more like I have a huge network and I know people everywhere. It is true, no doubt about that and I really don't want to brag, but it does take a lot of effort to maintain such a network. The amount of money I spend on calls, sms, emails, letters and postcards to foreign countries is probably way higher than what a normal person spends on these things. I do it with pleasure though, as I like my friends and I want to be a good friend to them. However I do not get the same back from them, but I don't expect that and don't blame them.
The reason why I got to this point was a chat with a friend in which he said the following: "but I or anyone can't beat you in regards to communication, the networking miracle". Yes, I do care about communication and networks. He mentioned an occassion where he talked about an election observer mission in Albania and some funding in regards to that. There was some misunderstanding about it all and after I sent one sms to Albania, I got a reply back within 10 minutes and the matter was cleared. Another friend mentioned the following when he referred me for a job: "The second is Mr. Leander van Delden. Rarely have I seen such a good and effective networker as Mr. van Delden. This man, although with 26 years still very young, has shown himself to be remarkably effective in my previous dealings with him." I admit: it is a bit over the top, but it is how people see me. I can't say I dislike it. :-)

Thursday, 22 June 2006

Ironing

Is it normal that someone irons his or her shirts for about an hour and only manages to do three? I did that yesterday and within an hour I only succeeded to finish 3 shirts. I mean, the shirts look fabulous now, but only three: that should have been more...

Monday, 19 June 2006

Golf

My parents both bought 2 golfsets, so it will finally happen that my parents will start playing golf! As I don’t have a clue what I will do next year, sports wise I mean, I might also join them and start golfing as well as it is not as snobbish and boring as I thought it would be.

Sunday, 18 June 2006

US Update

I will be leaving for the USA the 2nd of July and will return to NL the 22nd. I will first fly to NY, then take a train the 3rd to Stowe, Vermont, coach 2 field hockey camps there, go to Blairstown, New Jersey for another camp (no clue yet how to get there), stay 1 night in NY again and fly back.

Saturday, 17 June 2006

Topics

I usually forget what I want to blog about, so I made a list the last 2 weeks about what to blog and he result is now visible. I have been typing this in Word first, as I am in the train, and within 30 minutes I have 2 pages full with all the rubbish I want to bore you with! Now just hope that someone actually reads it. Bad thing: it’s only in English so I also have to translate it to Dutch for my other blog…

Nerd

I am taking a resit in English as I am not satisfied with the 7 I got for my oral exam. It pulls my average mark below 7.5, which means that I don’t get an 8 on my list. I have worked rather hard on the assignments I had to hand in and got a 7.5 average now, so I will for sure try to do better on the resit debate. It is still possible for me to graduate Cum Laude, so why not? My friends were highly astonished that I could still make that, but although I might be not the fastest student, the courses I do pass are with good marks. Bert even hates me now for this and is really hoping I won’t make it CL. :-)

 

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