Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blogthings

So, there's this website.....Blogthings. It has lots of random quizzes and things that you can share with your fellow bloggers. A lot of times I'll take the little quiz just for fun, but then feel absolutely no compunction to share the results.

This one, though, made me smile. I actually like Will Smith - as an actor and I like some of his music as well (though as a general rule, I don't really like that rap/hip-hop genre). I saw his recent movie "Hitch" on the plane ride back from London -- it was pretty funny!

So, apparently, here is my Summer Anthem:


Your Summer Anthem is Switch by Will Smith

Back at it, this cat is the wit and the charm
Taking you higher, like a syringe hittin' ya arm
Bringin' the fire, making your Benz ring the alarm


This summer, you bring the party (and attitude) with you wherever you go.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Over 12,000 Hits

Ok, so I am officially blown away...... There have been over 12,000 hits to my little corner of cyberspace in the past 10 months. That is more than 1,000 per month!

Of course, I'm no Mike Cope who has nearly 290,000 (in about 22 months) or Brandon Scott Thomas with over 35,000 hits (in about 15 months). But still, I'm amazed. People actually are reading what I am writing here. And, I've developed some blog-relationships where, I'm certain, if I was visiting in another part of the country where a blog-mate lived, I could drop by for a visit.

So, thanks, y'all for reading....for writing comments.....and for generally encouraging me and building me up. I appreciate it. And yes, I know, there have been things posted here that some of my family/friends have wondered why I've been so open and transparent and honest. But, in the end, if I've encouraged one other person with my being "real" here on this blog, then I think I've accomplished the work of God.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Home Again

Well, folks, I am officially home again. It is almost surreal -- did I really just spend the past few days across the pond? I guess I did - my expense report certainly reflects it!

Anyway - just thought you'd all like to know that I made it home safely. Now, off to continue the unpacking and resettling! (Laundry will come tomorrow.....)

From London.....again

So, here I sit, in the Departures Lounge of Gatwick airport yet again. It is 8:15 am London time, I've been up since 2:00 am London time and there are many hours in the day still to go before I hit Dallas this afternoon.

All in all, this has been a great trip. Although I was annoyed with the people sitting around me on the flights over, the flights themselves were very smooth. I'm hoping to be able to sleep a bit on this next flight - if I don't, I'll probably be quite grouchy tomorrow.

I have learned that it isn't quite so much fun to travel all by myself. While I do enjoy my quiet time by myself, exploring a new place and seeing interesting sights just isn't quite the same without someone with which to share the experience. So, from now on, I'll try to bring a friend! And next trip across the pond, I really want to explore London. So, that will be the tentative plan.

For now, off I go to explore the terminal a bit more, people watch, and catch my plane back to home sweet home.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Packing

As comes the time on every trip, it is time to begin packing to head home. I cannot say that I have jam packed my time here in Amsterdam, racing from sight to sight. However, I have had a nice little holiday and seen enough (some things that I didn't really need or want to see) that I don't feel the need to come back. Probably ever.

I walked this morning over to the Museumplein to see the
Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. I am typically not a museum lover - by that I mean that I'll go (and often actually want to go), but I tire of them pretty quick. I move fairly rapidly and generally am not compelled to read each and every description and watch each informational video. This is one reason that I never pay the money for the audio tour -- much too much information for me. So, although the Frommer's guidebook that I have indicates that you could easily spend hours and hours touring, I think I spent maybe a grand total of 1.5 hours in both museums - and gift shops! But, I can now say that I've visited. And I did get some fun souvenirs.

So, now, I'm going to pack and take a little siesta. Then, head out for one last dinner and check out from the hotel. I'll sleep a bit and then head out for the airport about 4:30 in the morning!


(4:05 pm Amsterdam time)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Amsterdam....continued

So, after sleeping very well last night, I get out and about an explored Amsterdam a bit today. It has been unseasonably warm here the past several days - with the high predicted at 80 degrees F today - but right now it is actually 90! This country, like many other European countries, just doesn't have the prevalence of air conditioning that we have in the states. So, it is quite miserable when it gets hot.

I decided that today was going to be the shopping day, and tomorrow (when it is supposed to rain), I'll do the museums and perhaps a canal boat tour.

First, I spent a while exploring the Galleria d'Arte Rinascimento - a store full of Delftware. I had seen it last night when I went over to the Anne Frank House, but it was closed.

I found the Nine Little Streets - an area over in the Jordaan district (near my hotel) where there are supposed to be loads of little shops. There truly were, but it was more antique type shopping than what I was really looking for.

I looked next for Rose's Cantina - a supposedly good Mexican food restaurant. I was really curious to see if they did it justice! Alas, it was closed for renovations. So, no luck there.

Then I found the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) along the Singel canal -- where there are rows of floating flower shops. I bought a few tulip bulbs to bring home. Mostly just really enjoyed looking at the flowers and people watching.

Finally, found Kwekkeboom, a little bakery/pastry/ice cream shop. Had an ice cream cone for a treat.....yum!

Now, I'm just resting a bit (and cooling off!) before I head out again for the evening.

(4:30 pm Amsterdam time)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Amsterdam

So, here I am now, in Amsterdam. We spent the day Wednesday in the offices in Zoetermeer again, then moved to a hotel in Den Helder to be close to the airport for our offshore visit to the platform today.

So, we headed out from the hotel at 5:30 am -- which came very early! I went to bed a normal time last night, but I'm not sure it ever got full dark. It was still light around midnight and when I got up at 4:30, it was light out. Not sunlight by any means, but certainly not full dark.

We headed to the airport and learned how to survive if the helicopter went down, then we got suited up in these lovely survival suits:


Let me just say, I am so very glad that it was not too warm today!!!

Then we hopped onto the helicopter and headed out to the L10A Platform (about 65 km offshore):


I took this photo from the helicopter -- this platform was originally built about 30 years ago by Placid Oil International, which was one of the first companies to explore in the Dutch sector of the North Sea. It is amazing to me that it is in such good shape and still in regular operations!

Once we got on the platform, we got to take off the helicopter survival suit, but we had to don more fun safety gear:

then we started a tour of the facility. It was amazing. The guys that work on these offshore facilities work 14 on/14 off shifts. As technology has progressed, they have been able to incorporate lots of ways for them to pass the time - a great workout facility, internet room, movie rooms, etc.

The production manager, Kick Sterkman


led a lot of our tour, assisted by Hank and Tom, who have both worked for Gaz de France (and it's predecessor companies all the way back to Placid) for over 20 years.

All in all, it was a great day and I learned a whole lot more about this industry that I work in. The last thing we did, was load up back on the helicopter to head back onshore:



Then we headed into Amsterdam and here I am now, ready to be a tourist for a couple of days!

(10:00 pm Amsterdam time)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tuesday

So, today was our first day of work.

We headed out from the Sofitel (located next door to the train station in Den Haag)


about 8:30 and caught a train from



to



We spent the day in the offices of Gaz de France - our partner and the operator of our interests in the Dutch section of the North Sea. This sculpture (made out of offshore platform and drilling/wellhead parts) was outside the office:


Isn't it cool??

Another thing I've already noticed is the plethora of bicycle riders here in the Netherlands. This is a bicycle rack outside our hotel/train station -- there is an even bigger one just about 500 feet away! It is nuts.




There are so many people on bikes - as you can see from this picture. You really do have to be careful - they will run you down! And it seems as if they have no fear - riding all over the sidewalks and streets with little regard for what is in the way.

Well, it is almost dinner time over here, so I'll sign off for today (unless there is just something that I have to share from the dinner experience!)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Den Haag

So, here I am now in Den Haag (The Hague) Amsterdam. I really do love technology! I love that even now, halfway around the world (and 7 hours ahead of my normal), I'm still able to be connected to my family and friends.

So, the flight from London to Amsterdam went fine - we were a little late, but nothing to worry about. Landed in Amsterdam and spent about 45 minutes getting through passport control and baggage claim.

Then I waited.....and waited.....and waited some more. Wandered and explored the "Arrivals Lounge" of Schiphol Airport for about 2 hours while waiting for my boss's plane to arrive. Finally, Steve made it and we set off for the train. Steve has been here before, but I have not, so I was following Steve. Linda told me we needed to take the Sneltrain (no stops) to Den Haag Centraal Station. Somehow Steve and I ended up on the right train, but going in the wrong direction -- and we had bought tickets for Amsterdam Centraal Station. So, we ended up buying new tickets from the conductor when he came through. Oh well, you live and learn! Next time, I'll make sure and pay closer attention to what Steve is doing! :-)

For now, I'm ready for some dinner, a shower and bedtime (I've only had about 1 1/2 hours of sleep in the last 30).

Goedenavond (Good evening)
(I'm leaving the blogger time stamp as my normal Dallas time, but it is really 4:45 pm on Monday in The Hague.)

Blogging from 35,000 Feet

Ok, well not actually. I didn't drag out the laptop on the plane, but I did start thinking about this post.

So, right now I'm sitting in the Departures Lounge of the North Terminal of Gatwick airport while waiting on my connecting flight to Amsterdam (using the really cool Wi-Fi built into this new laptop!). The flight over was fairly uneventful, except for the guy in front of me who decided to leave his seat fully reclined the entire trip -- and squirm around -- a lot. Made it difficult for me to get even remotely comfortable since I could barely move. Oh and the girl next to me who juggled food and drink the whole time. I was several times quite afraid that she was going to dump her drink. So, although I have never flown first class, or even business class, I would really like to make that the plan for my next international flight. Somehow I'll figure out a way to afford it!!!

Sadly, I didn't really get any sleep -- maybe an hour. Which is going to make today a VERY long day. Right now it is 7:22 am London time (8:22 am Amsterdam) and my body thinks it is 1:22 am Dallas time. I will be desperately needing a nap soon -- but maybe I can sleep on this flight to Amsterdam.

I'm intending to post several times this week and perhaps will even get some pictures up along the way. Have a great day!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Saturday Afternoon Musings

While I should be busily packing, I can't help but post.....

A blog that I drop by occasionally recently posted this list of things the author wishes she could change about herself. I read that post and identified with so many of the things she listed. It makes me wonder sometimes what it would really take to change those things about me that I don't like.

What I am particularly wondering about today is: What would it take to erase the fear? I've been single for so long and done quite well at building an independent life for myself. Why am I afraid to let someone in that might share my life with me? Why do I run and hide behind the comfortable "busy, single gal" lifestyle - when it reality I have, at times, been quite miserable living that life? Why do I look for the qualities that might be negatives, rather than highlighting the positives? Why am I afraid to open my heart? Will I be able to recognize when the "right one" comes along?

I wonder sometimes, why it is that I've never really dated anyone. I recognize and realize that it is not a bad thing that there aren't scars on my heart - it has never been given away, therefore never been returned bruised and battered. At the same time, at the ripe old age of 29, it is difficult to jump out there into the dating world. Yes, folks, you read it here first. I am actually dating someone (who, incidentally, reads this blog :-) for the first time in my life. We have been out several times and seem to have a lot in common and enjoy each other's company. Regardless of how this particular relationship goes or doesn't, this experience is definitely making me think about a lot of things.....the one major thing at the moment being: am I holding back? Am I afraid to open myself up? Or is it just the "unknown" of the world of dating someone that I am really afraid of?

I have grown so content in my world of work and church where my (completely) real self and desires don't surface so much, that I think I am afraid to open up to someone new.....to share my life, my worries and concerns, my joys and excitements. I hope and pray daily that God will bless me with a husband/soulmate that will be my constant companion throughout my life, but secretly (and now, not-so-secretly), I am terrified of that new relationship and the soul-baring that will have to take place.

So there it is today ...... another insight into my soul...... regardless of who reads it.

Now.....off to pack.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Quick update

So, I thought my life was going to slow down back to "normal" after all the wedding craziness?? I guess not. This week has been busy at work and I've had plans every evening with friends, so I'm just now tonight finishing up laundry that I started on Sunday! Don't get me wrong, it has been a good week, but I'm looking forward to getting on the plane and resting!

Unless there is some major earthshattering news before I leave, my next blog will be international!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Tired

Wow, I really am tired. I guess it is just really all catching up to me. All the wedding preparations are over now. The actual events have come and gone. Can I get back to my normal routine now?!?

Well, almost. Next Sunday I leave for a work trip to the Netherlands. My boss and I are going with a couple of other folks to visit Gaz de France, the company that operates the gas wells in the North Sea that our company has an interest in. I am very excited about the trip - it is one that I have been wanting to go on for the past several years. I really think it will help me to put a face with the name of some folks that I deal with over email and phone when we have questions. Plus, we are taking a field trip out onto one of the production platforms -- survival gear, a helicopter ride, and a tour of a deep-sea oil/gas platform! I can't wait!!

Then, because it was cheaper for me to stay through Sunday than come home on Friday, I will have two days to play and be a tourist in Amsterdam! I am looking forward to the mini-vacation and think it will just do the trick to getting me back to normal. Of course, when I get home and jet lag hits, I may wish for a vacation from my vacation, but isn't that how it always works? I'm hoping to be able to blog from overseas, so I'll give you a play-by-play as we go along!

For now, I'm off to take a nap before a celebration dinner for a friend's defense of his PhD!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Another Wedding Weekend

So, it is another wedding weekend. My friend Jenny is getting married tomorrow to Jack and I'm one of eight (yes, you read that right - 8) bridesmaids. I think it will be a fun wedding, but I know it has been an ordeal for Jenny to get everything together, plus the stress of finishing a crazy school year, buying a new house, and finding a new job!

Today we had the Bridesmaid's Lunch at
Bread Winners Cafe and then I took the afternoon off. Had time to go get a manicure and just some time for myself to relax and breathe. I know that most of the other bridesmaids were helping with the decorating of the reception this afternoon, but I just couldn't do it without going crazy. I just needed a little break. I feel a little guilty for not helping, but oh well....

Both of these weddings, as well as conversations with several friends have continued to solidify my opinion that simple is the way to go. The older I get, the less I think I will be so concerned with a lot of things that I would have been really picky about if I had gotten married straight out of college. Every bride is different and absolutely deserves her day to be how she wants it to be. But I want it to be simple and easy. At least that's what I say today.....

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mexican Food

What is it about Mexican food that makes me want to eat and eat and eat until I completely explode? Is it the company -- we are talking so much that I just have to eat while we talk? Is it the margaritas that makes me want more chips and queso? I just don't get it. But I do so love my weekly Tuesday night ritual of dinner at Casita Domiguez with my Dallas mom, Martha.

Tonight both her daughters, Jennifer and Jill, joined us, as well as her niece Lana, and our good friend Kelly. It was so much fun - six girls sitting around the table talking, laughing, telling stories. I do so love my adopted Dallas family!!!

Brain Teaser

So, here's a brain teaser for you (courtesy of my friend Holly).

Japanese Brain Teaser
Click on link above, then click on blue circle to start. The trick is to get everyone across the river.

This is going to do your head in, but it can be done. I've worked it out, but it took a while! And I'm not sure I could repeat it. Apparently this is an IQ test given to job applicants in Japan.

It is, of course, all in Japanese, so here are the rules in English:

The following rules apply:

  1. Only 2 persons on the raft at a time.
  2. The father can not stay with any of the daughters without their mother's presence.
  3. The mother can not stay with any of the sons without their father's presence.
  4. The thief (striped shirt) can not stay with any family member if the Policeman is not there.
  5. Only the Father, the Mother and the Policeman know how to operate the raft.
To move the people click on them.
To move the raft click on the pole on the opposite side of the river.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Monday

So, it truly is Monday today. It didn't help that I am so tired that I wanted to fall asleep at my desk. By about 10:30 this morning, I really thought that I'd have to come home early and go back to bed! But, I made it through the day. I did leave work about 4:15 - there was a really bad accident near my building and they were having to close almost all of the ramps up out of our garage and were encouraging anyone who could leave early to do so.

(Here's a photo of the wreck taken by our resident fanantical amateur photographer at work .... this is out the 28th floor windows of the
Cityplace building just north of downtown Dallas)



So, now I am catching up on stuff at home .... then in a little while, I'm off to my weekly Dinner Club. I'm joining (this week for the first time) a group of friends from church that have been doing this for a while. Each person takes a week to host and prepare a meal. If everyone is able to make it and the schedule works out, you get 11 free meals for each 1 that you prepare/host. I won't be able to make it every week because I have a prayer group that meets bi-weekly, but it will definitely be a way for me to hang out with some friends that I haven't got to spend a lot of time with lately. Should be fun!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Wedding Photos

For a lot more pictures, click the title link...note that these are up to the point that the pro took over and I had to start doing my job as maid of honor!


Heather - the beautiful bride!!


Sisters!


Sisters, again!


One more!


Heather & Mom


Summer, Jenni & Cara with Heather


Heather with Flower Girls


Heather's bouquet


Favors - Hershey miniatures


The Wedding Cake - chocolate inside....Yum!


It's over!

The wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch! Thankfully. We are all very, very tired. I'm sure Heather and Phillip are still bouncing along on adrenaline and excitement for their upcoming trip, which is to......a fun-filled romantic week in Italy! They'll spend a few days in Florence, then a few in Venice before heading back to start married life.

Pictures to follow as soon as I get home and get them uploaded.....now off to pack up the car and head back to Dallas.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Big Day

Well, today is the BIG DAY. My little sister's wedding...... We're all rehearsed, reception set up, everything organized, and now we just have to get ready.

Hair at 10:00
Makeup at 1:00
Dress and final touchups
Pictures at 5:00
Wedding at 7:00

Say a prayer for continued calm weather and relaxation!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sleepless middle of the night

So, for the first time ever in my life that I can remember, I woke up about 3:20 this morning and COULD NOT go back to sleep. I don't have a clue what woke me, but I laid there for about 25 minutes trying to no avail to go back to sleep, then got up and went out on my tiny little patio to watch the rain. After watching the rain for a while, I decided to try again to sleep. Still wide awake. About 4:30, I turned on the light, got out my prayer journal and spent some time with God. Maybe that's what woke me! I think I finally went back to sleep about 5:15 - and my alarm started going off about 6:00. Blech. Should have just stayed up.....but there are far too many things that I need to get accomplished today so that I can head home tomorrow for Heather's wedding and I thought I needed more sleep than the 4 1/2 hours I already had. Hopefully, I'll be able to check everything off - and I won't forget anything (like Phillip's ring - Heather would KILL me :-)