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Monday, April 29, 2019 5 comments

Monday Musings on nearly a Tuesday


Now that I've made it through the mental crisis that is "Oh dear God, I'm 50 next week," I'm feeling a little unburdened, which is to say, like everyone else, we all have various worries and concerns and this one, while trivial compared to some others, was actually bothering me a bit. Not the aging process per se, but the milestone that the big 5-0 is made out to be.

I had this silly idea (I have a huge imagination, which isn't always the greatest thing in the world to have as it gets me into more trouble than successes, mainly because I don't channel it correctly, but where was I... ah yes...)

...so I had this silly idea that I'd get squished by a tram, flattened by a falling piano or killed by a flying For Sale sign on a dark and stormy night... or some other completely "Oh, that could only happen to Koopmans" way... the day before I turned 50.

Thus, I was a bit careful walking around last Thursday. Come to think of it, all I did outdoors was a quick groceries-run with me Da and even though we walked 20 minutes there and back and didn't cross at any pedestrian crossings, we made it home safe and sound, with all cheap cheese and dodgy wine from Lidl present and accounted for.

It was wonderful to be back in the family home on my actual 50th and fair play to Mirjam for some gentle pushing and me Ma for moaning at me... as I would probably have stayed here and not done anything - which would have been ok, as I hadn't organizesd anything because I deliberately didn't want to get stressed out on my 50th.

And, I did anyway!

And, then it was Saturday. No real hangover, which was a very pleasant surprise and a memory of a couple of pints with some loved ones and a good Chinese curry afterward. (I'm a simple man with simple food/drink needs.)

So, what's next?

I haven't the foggiest, but watch this space and I'll figure out this 50th year and write up the adventures as they happen, which will keep me writing - and that's a goal to be proud of :)
Friday, April 26, 2019 7 comments

The 50-year-old unit (manufacturer's notes/review)


As of today, I've worked very closely with this unit for the past 50 years, so with the manufacturer's perceived permission, (I was unable to discuss this in person although I left several verbal messages) here is my review and what I've learned about the unit, in case anyone comes across this what has many times been called "an interesting piece of work."

Sadly, for the first couple of years the unit malfunctioned on a daily basis, lost fluids and wasn't very user-friendly. These malfunctions, often nocturnal, caused many night's of lost sleep for its handlers, who asked for a replacement model several times, but to no avail as the unit warranty expired on the first day of output.

The handlers searched throughout the main warehouse and surrounding areas for a user manual, but with the lack of corporate support, they went on to figure things out for themselves - and from it's third or fourth year, the unit began to perform as similar models of that same year.

The unit had another major malfunction around its 10th year when it accidentally struck a moving vehicle, resulting in some major injuries to one of its moving parts, but as no replacement parts were changed, the unit was soon back at the warehouse, with newly updated programs that often ran amok during trial runs.

After 19 years of training and testing, the handlers were comfortable the unit functioned correctly and the unit was shipped from the main warehouse to a satellite facility. Without its handlers present, the unit operated at late hours of the evening, took in many pints of fluid and would then rest until the afternoon shift began.

However, as the years went by, the unit completed its tasks, continued to perform to the manufacturer's standards and only visited the main warehouse on select dates to undergo safety checks by its handlers. The unit later shipped out to new and varied locations around the globe, mainly following protocol, but often finding itself in new and varied situations when sometimes logic failed and emergency shutdown procedures were performed.

Two major resets happened in the second and third decades of its lifespan, but as a result of one reset, the unit was refitted with specialized programming that allowed it to watch over and program three smaller units. (One note: When the unit looked for, and could not find a user manual, it asked for the manual used when it was a new unit. The handlers, who were nearing retirement, laughed and wished the unit well.)

Now, on this the 50th anniversary of its first day in operation, the unit is a bit banged up, missing part of its upper covering and generally showing its age, but does appear to be functioning correctly.

While the shelf life of the unit remains undetermined, I would suggest that there's a few years left in its motor, but it does now warrant annual check ups to determine if any inner cogs or working parts need to be replaced.

To summarize, this quirky unit was manufactured in a limited quantity of one (although the handlers produced a similar unit three years later.) All in all, it has worked to much of its potential, and now that its reached a half-century of existence, I recommend its placement in a quiet, rural environment to extend the lifespan and allow others to experience this unit in motion.

(PS: If it's in sleep mode, a gentle tapping on the left side will reactivate the sensory motion devices.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 7 comments

Midweek Moments: Easter-ish


This has been a crazy April with some huge ups and downs, and I won't forget this month for many reasons, both good and bad!

As such, I've slacked on my posts, apologize for the laziness and am playing catch up. Here's a small start, and I hope everyone is having a peaceful and relaxing month.

I never get bored finding ruins in the middle of this bustling town.

Some get boarded off with more vigor than others!  

While others look to have been originally built into the remains of an old hill...

Paris CDG: Where size matters and finding the gate is easier than most airports.

One wonderful reason to fly!

At the Finca, we met the neighbor's new puppy...

Who instantly becomes a hit...

Maybe I forgot to brush my teeth that morning :)

Last week, preparations began for this year's Holy Week celebrations...

And if you have never experienced a Semana Santa...

I would wholeheartedly recommend adding it to your bucket list - especially in Spain

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 9 comments

Midweek Moments: Of Dogs and Dust


Reading the comments from my last post, well I don't feel under pressure at all (!!!) to add a few cute doggie pictures this week :)

So, without further adieu and waffling, here's this week's (happy) adventures in pictorial detail.

Ha! Found the last 3 yellow jackets in France (near where Bordeaux Angers Tours :) (Oh no... no no no... Oh YES I did!!)

"Yes, it's a comfortable blanket thingy, but Irish-guy-with-the-funny-Yankee-accent, I've seen your driving skills..."

"Don't all dogs perch behind the necks of their mamas? Driver dude, play Freebird..."

After the night that was, we made it to the finca and began to unload!

"Yeah, I'll keep an eye on the couch... make sure like, that it doesn't move..."

Stopping only for essential nutrients, the hardy workers (the brothers were nary to be found) carried on...

Later that night... (and these are in sequence!!)

Look, FEBO, (*not its real name), if you're going to hog my suitcase, I want a damn picture!!

"Really. How many pictures do you need? Did you want to wear this shirt? No? Good, I'm sleepy..."

"And, goodnight. Call my agent for more pictures - in the daytime. I've got bunnies to catch..."

Have to admit, Febo wasn't too wrong...It was a long and dusty day...

"One must say that one is NOT amused by this dog-filled post." (c) neighbor's cat. 2019

Monday, April 1, 2019 9 comments

Monday Musings: Of Deux and Karma

 For those who read my last post and wondered what happened to Part “deux”

So, this happened (And I only wish it was an April Fool's joke!!)

Mirjam and I haven't seen each other for nearly a month, but we got 4 days/3 nights this week by driving 1,400 miles (and 5 countries) in 2 days, which was fun as we both enjoy road trips. However, at the last lunch break, 5 hours before getting to her place, Mirjam got a call from a neighbor saying her place was burglarized that morning at 5 a.m.

Because the neighbor couldn't see inside, he didn't know the extent of the burglary, only that he'd come across 2 guys lowering 3 TVs from a semi-exposed first floor balcony to the street below. (The only remotely happy part of this event was that Balcony Boy apparently dropped one of the TVs, which landed (and broke) on the head of Street Boy. And, that, my friends, is karma at its bitchiest best.)

Obviously, getting the news was a bit of a shock, and we were dealing with that as we left the restaurant... only for Mirjam to discover an hour later that she'd left her handbag (with passport and $$) in the restaurant. We turned around and it was hard to find the restaurant, because it was just another hole in the wall off the freeway and I couldn't find the receipt, but we did eventually retrace our steps!

Luckily, the bag and contents were safe and off we went again. Now, 2 hours later getting to the house, we nervously hoped for the best all the way, but unfortunately, the house was completely trashed. They'd ransacked nearly every drawer in the house, upended all the beds, took all the electronics they could (before they were disturbed.)

We are so grateful to our neighbor, because when we opened the door, there were at least 10 bags, backpacks and suitcases full of food, clothes, accessories and stuff that the 2 fuckwads had filled during the hours they were inside the house. The thing that made me the angriest was the half-eaten cheese, meats and snacks they'd left after having a meal in the kitchen. Unbelievable. (Still makes me mad!)

We called the cops and 4 came out, including 2 Guardia Civil, who are basically semi-military police. They did their thing, told us what to do the next morning and said we could now clean as they had pictures, etc. Mirjam was exhausted, so we rebuilt the bed, changed ALLLLLLL the sheets in ALLLLL the beds and then she went to sleep. I was way too wound up, so I literally spent all night cleaning. I didn’t want her to see/deal with the mess in the morning and by 8 a.m., and I know it's sounds funny, but I'd taken back the house, and it was clean, tidy and ours again.

We spent the rest of the day unloading the van we'd driven from Holland, filled with furniture, for the cottage we're renovating and that was a great way of taking our mind off the whole robbery.

One final note on the craziest of crazy days, we were returning to the house, now with an empty van, when we got lit up by the Guardia Civil. I thought I'd just taken a wrong turn and it took a few repeated requests (which turned into gentle commands!!) for me to understand they wanted me to open the back of the van. Oh crap. Yes, no problem. I’m all over that.

The 4 officers were, I think, a bit disappointed to not find stuff in the van, because we later found out that another home (of a foreigner) was burglarized in our town on that same day. Because we had a van, with Dutch license plates, I really think that they thought we were the robbers!

PS: We still love this very quirky place and "Only in Spain" may be my next tattoo.
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