Tuesday, January 31, 2006


One of my shows I always try to watch is the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Its on at 12.30u after Letterman on CBS. Very funny, just a great show to end the day on a fun note.

Tonights episode, however, was very different. Craigs father, Robert Ferguson, died of cancer at the age of 75. The show was done in the form of a Scottish / Celtic wake. Not a seance, but a show about the person with all its quirks, idiosyncraties, etc..

For whatever reason this show struck a serious nerve. The strange thing is that - fortunately - my dad is still very much alive. I guess hearing Craig talk about his dad made me miss mine. The reality of living on the other side of the Atlantic never really gets to me much, but this time it hit me hard.

He talked about the time he spend with his dad when he was a kid, the little things like watching TV together and his dad putting a hand on his hand. Thats a true male way of saying 'I love you, kid'.

Watching Craig do a bit of a tribute (with a touch of a roast...) to his dad made me aware of the great bond I have with my father. We don't talk for hours over the phone or otherwise have long conversations, we don't really need to. We just 'get' each other. We get along perfectly. But at times like these I truely miss the oppertunity to just 'drop in' on my dad and hang out with him for bit.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: 'I love you, Dad....'

Your son.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The sound of (good) music

Today I tried the sound-system for the first time. Short version: After some initial tuning I was absolutely blown away... Man, that one sounds good. Those of you who have been here to Cleveland know that I'm a bit of a music lover and have some nice 'tune-reproducing' equipment sort-of-speak.

This car-audio system (the factory-upgrade) sounds superb. Very detailed, clear sound with an excellent, pronounced but not overpowering, clear bass. Very good reproduction of the higher-range frequencies and an overall clear and detailed field-of-sound.

Initially, with having no CDs and only FM radio as a source, you might be a little dissapointed. But as soon as you load a good CD (it holds 6 discs, either CDs or MP3) it starts to shine. And how it shines. I don't get 'hyped-up' about something easily, but this system is one you gotta hear to believe.

For all of you looking of getting a new Ford (Fusion) or Mercury (Milan), spend the extra dollars for the upgraded soundsystem. You will not be dissapointed...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

New car

I've taken the plunge and bought a new car in the States. First time buyer on this side of the Atlantic. I was basically looking at a 4-door sedan, not to big, but not entry-level either. Since I don't like a car that is in the shop a lot either I opted for a new car.

After some initial broad list I'd narrowed it down to two cars; the new Ford Fusion (NOT the same as the European Ford Fusion - entirely different car...) or the new Hyundai Sonata. After looking at both of them in more detail I decided to go for the Fusion. Eventhough the Sonata was nice and had the better warranty, I liked the look of the Fusion beter. And since I was able to use the Supplier Discount Program at Ford I got a good deal on a top-of-the-line, fully loaded Fusion SEL V6.

It's got a black exterior and a tan interior with faux wood inlays. Looks really sharp. I could have driven it off the lot if I wanted to, but I'll take delivery early next week. I test-drove two versions, one with the 17" wheels and one with the 18" wheels. Both drive nice and firm and with the 18" wheels you hardly notice the lower tires and the overall stickiness improves over the already above-average handling (see various reviews). I like the 6-speed automatic to get quick accelaration if needed and nice low revs once on cruising speed.

If you wanna check out a few pix: Click here

It has all the tools and toys on it, so 'daddy' is happy now...;-)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Staying a little longer - Permanent residency application filed

After receiving the new L1b-visa back in May I'm able to stay in the USA until July 2008. After working on that visa for a little over 3,5 years the time has come to take a next step and commit towards a Permanent Residency permit (better know as a 'Green Card'). It used to be a green-colored card but after they changed the color the nickname kind of stuck in the minds of everybody. Even the Visa Diversity lottery being held every year is unoffically still called the Green Card lottery.

Penske has offered to start the process. It is a long and drawn-out process which is expected to take at least 1,5 years. The biggest hurdle for the process is the 'Labor Certification'. That used to take over a year but a few months ago this process changed to an all-digital, 45-day process. I'll believe it when I see it. Anyway, since my current visa is valid to 2008 I've got some time.

I'll keep everybody updated on the progress, but I don't expect too big of an issue getting the certification and the subsequent approval of the permanent residency application.

This permanent residency was something that was always in the back of my mind as a possibility to explore once I was working in the States. Most co-workers in the Maastricht office joked that as soon as I left Europe I would probably not come back. I guess they were right... To be honest, I might have lead them on a bit to that thought.

Like I said, I'll keep everybody posted on any progress.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Building an Igloo

A view friends had an idea to build an igloo. They are from Canada (at least most of them) and while everybody in Canada is working hard to breakdown stereotypes we decided to push back a little and actually build an igloo.

You don't need much, a good amount of sticky snow, a mold to create the building blocks, a saw to mold the blocks when needed and a general idea of how to build it up (the walls should continuiously slope inward for the dome shape).

We started by using the full blocks out of the mold for the first two layers, then moved to 2/3 for layer 3 and 4 and then moved to 1/3 for the final layer and roof. We continuiously enforced the joints by creating as much touching points between the blocks and filling up any spaces that were left.

With 4 guys it took us about 2 hours for our first attempt and it actually worked. Here is a link to the photos...