Stories and news
There is so much I've wanted to write in this past week, but lingering jetlag or adjusting to the early dark or just plain laziness have prevented me from doing so. But I have some quiet at work now which I'm taking advantage of.
A couple of stories about the US:
In light of the frustration every air traveler has felt over the past few months with the new liquids regulations, I actually have a positive story to tell.
(First, a digression to say how peeved I am to hear today that from 6 November, Europe will be also banning liquids on flights. Silly of me to think we'd have normality for within-Europe flights, of course the EU caved to the UK and US rules. I read the regulations on Schiphol's site and I'm curious now about the transparent bag thing. The rule is that containers of liquids and gels with 100 ml or less can be carried on board if they are in a transparent plastic bag which "must be re-sealable." As an American, I instantly think of Ziploc bags, but Ziploc bags, or something similar with the sealing top, aren't sold here. They even acknowledge this might be a problem: "Transparent plastic bags that meet the European requirements are still hard to obtain in shops. During the introductory period, free transparent plastic bags will be given out at all Dutch airports." Of course they don't say how long this "introductory period" is or what can be used after that time is declared to be over. I assume using a normal sandwich bag with a twist tie wouldn't be suitable, though technically it is resealable. God only knows, it's all such a bungled thing. I just read this page that has some stories, and you know if the US can't manage some consistency to the rules, imagine what it'll be like when 25 different countries are all meant to be enforcing these things.)
On our way home, at the San Francisco airport, we headed over to the dreaded security area and joined everyone else in the snaking line. There was this security guy yelling a bunch of stuff about what you should and shouldn't do as you go through security, but I eventually realized that he was sending out the message with a sense of humour which helped the situation greatly. First of all, the guy had a clear, booming voice that easily carried out over the crowd, and he seemed to be able to yell like that all day without his voice giving out. Second, he was actually helpful: "do take out your laptops from their bags"; "please take off your shoes before you get up to the x-ray machine, and yes, everyone's shoes come off"; "put your boarding passes and passports away, we don't want to see them, you don't need them out here, and it's common for people to lose their passports at security." But then he'd throw in humourous additions: "take out your laptops, but not smaller electronics. If it's a Blackberry, blueberry, huckleberry, whatever, please keep it in your bag." Or joke about people with stinky feet having to take off their shoes, or about people having to take off their belts and then walk around holding up their pants. It was "one of them" pointing out all the real annoyances of the rules, while insinuating that there's no way around it, so let's just try to keep things moving quickly and smoothly so we can get to our planes. I wanted to shake the guy's hand or give him a tip (probably not allowed), something to say "thank you for being one person in the TSA who's not an ass and/or moron." Just before O and I headed through the metal detector, he was taking a break from reciting the rules and asked if anyone had a birthday. He said he was serious in saying that if it was your birthday, he'd move you to the front of the line. No one came forward, so he proceeded to tell the story of the time when an old guy said it was his birthday, his 100th in fact, and he was flying out to be on the Tonight Show. The security guy said "Wow, 100... What's your secret to old age then?" And the 100-year-old pointed to his 96-year-old wife and said "I like younger women."
The other story is about O looking for some new Carhartt pants to buy, especially some to replace the ones he damaged when he fell off his bike. We saw some Carhartt jeans when we were at a sporting goods store and we were shocked at how cheap they were. Most were about 30-40 bucks, outrageously cheap when their jeans are usually at least 70-80 eur over here. But none were in a style O liked, so he said he'd look in other shops. We did see some more elsewhere, but they were always jeans made more for working, not the skater style that O is used to. So in San Francisco, we went to a Macy's and found the hip, cool "young men's" department (as opposed to the suits and pink dress shirts department) and did a circle of the area and didn't see any Carhartt stuff, so O asked the guy at the cash register whether they had any Carhartt pants. The guy furrowed his brow and said "I don't think so." Then he turned to his colleague and asked if they had any Carhartt stuff, and she said "Carhartt? I've never heard if it." Enh?! We left, wondering what the hell was going on. I'd never heard of the brand myself until O bought his first pair of Carhartt pants a couple of years ago in Antwerp. But in the years since, I've seen people wearing the brand more and more, and it definitely has a skater/streetwear look to it. It was nowhere to be found though amongst all of the similar brands at Macy's. It turns out, as I found via their website, that in the US Carhartt is strictly a worker's brand and even comes in worker's styles like carpenter pants or overalls. The streetwear style is only available in Europe. And this, despite the fact that it's an American brand. It's just so weird, that it has these two different sides and one is so completely unknown in the US. Maybe they feel they'd have too much competition in the US market, especially with brands like Dickies already making that worker/skater crossover, but O was certainly disappointed he couldn't get some cheap new pants.
In non-trip news, one piece of mail awaiting me when we got home was the letter from the IND saying my application for a permanent residence permit has been accepted. Yippee! At some point I guess I get a letter letting me know when and where I can pick up my card, which is a bit of a mystery at the moment because our local Bos en Lommer gemeente offices are relocated due to the Bos en Lommerplein closure.
We're so with things this year, we already have New Year's Eve plans... O bought tickets today for a Presidents of the USA show on 31 December in Paradiso. Yes, I find it a bit odd that I'll have seen this band 3 times in 2 years when I've not really listened to them since 1996, but they put on such a manic show that you can hardly leave disappointed. And it'll be even madder on NYE. I've never gone into the center of Amsterdam on NYE, and I am a bit wary of having to venture out, but it should be a bit more interesting than our usual night in watching tv til it's time to light the fireworks.