January 24, 2009

January 20th photos

A beautiful and inspiring set of photos from Inauguration Day on the Boston Globe site.

January 21, 2009

Curse you, Wissenkerke!

Yesterday afternoon I scrapped my plan to go home early to watch the inauguration and instead went to a cafe near work with a small group of people. Someone had called them to ask if they would put on the inauguration for us and they said it was no problem, so we headed over around 5:30. I imagined the grand moment of Obama being sworn in and us all cheering; yeah, this would be better than watching it on my own at home.

We got to the cafe and found their tv on already to Nederland 1 (boo), but they didn't have the sound on, music was playing instead. We asked if they could change to the sound from the tv and they said they would put it on when he began his speech. Hrm, not really what we were hoping for. Around 5:45 we asked again if they could turn on the sound, and they said "in a few moments". Gah. But soon enough they turned off the music and turned up the volume of the tv -- which did absolutely nothing. Various people from the cafe began fiddling with the remotes and they could not get the sound to come on. We were not happy. So, as the prayer was given, and as the oath was made, and as Obama was introduced as president, we were not really watching, but instead desperately trying to think of a way to get sound to go with the picture we had (I suppose I'm glad we at least had the Dutch subtitles). One girl called her husband and asked him to put the phone next to the tv at home, but then her phone didn't have speaker. Someone else tried to see if they could get online with their laptop. She did eventually -- after buying a wifi access card from the cafe. In the end, we saw most of the speech with 4 of the group huddled around the laptop (which didn't have the most powerful top volume) watching a delayed video stream, and me listening to the girl's mobile that had the connection to her house and the sound from her tv. It was an interesting way of going about things, I guess. The cafe people never did manage to get the sound to work on their tv.

January 16, 2009

Last part of the New Zealand trip

I didn't make it before the end of last year, but no matter, here's the final part of my trip in New Zealand, including a beautiful train trip up a river gorge. Just want to check out the photos? Jump to them here.

January 14, 2009

RIP, Dad

My dad passed away on January 4th, less than 2 months shy of his 90th birthday. I got the news last week and flew home the next day to be there for the service. It's something I had thought about and sort of prepared for for years, but it was still a definite shock to get the news. He had only been in the care home for a couple of months and I certainly thought he would be there much longer, despite the health problems he had. He's had problems for years, plus he's just stubborn, so I didn't expect him to so suddenly be gone.

A simple memorial service was held on Monday at Portland's military cemetery, since my dad was a veteran. They did military honours for him, which was nice, but also strange because I don't think of my dad as a military man, we're not a family that has that close of ties to the service. But they did a gun salute and then folded a flag to present to my mom. A couple of people were there who I hadn't seen in ages (these kind of life events do end up bringing people together) and some people showed up who we weren't expecting because they had seen the obituary in the paper, so it was nice that they cared enough to come. After the little service, some of us drove up to his burial site. It's a nice location, well, the whole cemetery is on a hill, so it's quite pretty. It was really foggy all day, which added a certain mood to everything.

I don't think I've really processed everything, I've been too preoccupied with flying to Portland and back, but it is hard to know that I won't see my dad again. The Alzheimer's made him so unlike himself anyway though, so it's hard to think back on the last few times I saw him. And for a good portion of my growing up, I didn't get along with him. But things were pretty good for the few years after I had moved here, but before he started developing Alzheimer's. At first he didn't understand at all why I wanted to live in Europe and he would ask me what I found so great about it. But it was because he loved Oregon so much (and I'm sure also feeling hurt that I was living so far away). He had fallen in love with the Northwest and left his family in New York to move out West, and when I moved away, he couldn't understand how I could leave Oregon (something I wonder myself sometimes). He eventually realized I was happy here and then seemed to brag to people that he had a daughter living in Europe.

Despite us not seeing eye-to-eye for years, I can't deny that my dad was one of a kind, and I know many people will remember him for his creativity and humour. My dad was a talented artist who would always be sketching ideas, or painting, or drawing plans for the home renovation work he did. He was creative in so many ways, from writing a song that he convinced my grade school teacher to teach to my class, to writing a short story about a ship crashing into the entrance of Depoe Bay, to building things and inventing games and making intricate 3D birthday cakes for me and my brother. He couldn't resist cracking cheesy jokes and he loved playing with kids, who he usually made giggle endlessly. These are the things I'll try to remember about him, and I hope he is in a better place now.

January 4, 2009

New addition for the new year

I seared myself on the tosti machine a couple of days ago. Perhaps I've gained a new scar.