Becoming Dutch – Phase II, Part I

This morning began Phase II of my journey towards becoming a Dutch citizen. At the beginning of Phase I (before this blog began), I didn’t know if there would even be a Phase II, but I decided there should be and so here we go.

Phase I, in case you’re wondering was titled “Getting a Dutch Residence Permit (Verblijfsvergunning)”. This entailed several visits to the IND (Immigratie en Naturalisatiedienst) in Amsterdam, loads of paperwork, re-doing the paperwork, waiting and waiting and wondering if everything was ok and finally 4 months later receiving my permit. And actually feeling lucky that it was only 4 months when lots of people had to wait 6 months and more for their permits. This was just over 3 years ago when the IND was in an even worse backlog situation than they are in today, and when Rita Verdonk was just becoming a household name.

But I digress. This is about Phase II – Becoming a Dutch citizen and getting the passport and being able to vote. These are two big reasons for pursuing this adventure now. I want to vote in the country where I live and pay my taxes. I haven’t lived in the US for over 14 years and I haven’t voted in US elections in all that time. It doesn’t seem fair to me to have a say in how a country runs where I don’t live and it seems only right that I should have a say in NL. I’d also like to be able to travel on something other than an American passport, not out of fear but out of ease of movement.

But the main reason that I want to become a Dutch citizen is because this is my home. I live with a Dutchman. I’ve bought a house. I have a good job. I’ve learned (and am still learning) the language. I don’t plan to return to the US. This is my home.

Part I entails first having a Registered Partnership (Geregistreerd Partnerschap) with my Dutchman. This was our first surprise since we thought that having a Living Together Contract (Samenlevingscontract) was enough. We got this contract drawn up when we bought our house 2 years ago. It wasn’t a requirement, but the bank smiled more kindly on our mortgage application if we had it.

The Registered Partnership is a bit more “legal” and this is the required paperwork in order to even be ABLE to apply for a passport. Now, this only applies of course if you are legally in this country based on living with a Dutch person. Or we could just get married.

Anyway, we went down to the Stadsdeelkantoor (city administration) this morning to fill out the paperwork. They took my birth certificate and my divorce papers. They took copies of my passport and residence permit. They DIDN’T take my partner’s birth certificate. Since he was born in NL he has to get a NEW birth certificate (instead of using the 3 year old one he has) so we have to go after that now.

What happens now? The Stadsdeelkantoor has to approve my paperwork. THEN they have to send it all off to the IND and THEY have to approve it. All of this should take about a month. And that’s just to APPLY for a registered partnership, which should take another couple of weeks to be final. And only after THAT can I go to the IND and apply for a passport.

Some people say that it’s too easy to immigrate here, that the government lets people in too easily. I say that the bureaucracy alone is daunting enough to keep out those who are not stubborn enough or strong enough or supported enough to get through it. And besides, with the cost of all this bureaucracy (over EUR 400 or $450), it ain’t for the poor either (but that’s another topic….).

Amsterdam Uitmarkt

This last weekend was the Amsterdam Uitmarkt. This event celebrates the opening of theater season in Amsterdam and takes place in the center of the city. It’s over now, but info can be found here (in Dutch, and frankly a pretty crappy website). We walked around and looked at a lot of booths that were handing out literature – not too exciting really. If you want to see something actually HAPPENING, you need to check out the schedule and wait in line to get into a theater. We saw a 20 minute modern dance performance that I liked and DB found boring. Ah well, that’s why you go and try things out. You don’t spend any money only to find out it’s not your thing.

Too bad the weather wasn’t very good. We got SOAKED biking home in the afternoon. Typical! August has been the wettest year in 100 years here. July was the hottest in 100 years. Maybe the winter will be the coldest, which would be wonderful for ice-skaters.

Can’t we all just get along?

You could say I’m naive. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been called that. I thought that I could walk into work with my new MacBook, which will run all the required software better than the computer that I’ve been given to work on, and all would be fine. I did expect to have to do some convincing, but I didn’t expect to be told, basically, to get that thing off the network.

It’s not that anyone has a problem with Apple products per se (ok, my boss has a THING about Apple, and it’s not a positive THING), but it has to do with standards. Company standards. Control. Efficiencies. Safety.

Let’s be honest. If any IT department really thought about it, if they wanted efficiencies and safety they would give the entire company Macs and throw the PC’s into the bin where they belong. But noooooooooo we have to standardize on mediocrity.

I naively thought that we could think outside the very big beige box.

I need to start my own company………..

LowLands 2006 – survived the mudbath

LowLands was this last weekend – 3 days of music, street art, video, theater, sun and rain.

Friday and Saturday were beautiful, Sunday it started to rain and rain and rain.

Best artist we saw (imho): Massive Attack
Best food: pancakes with bacon, cheese and syrup
Best venue: XRAY
Best survival technique: good friends to share it with

There are more photos on flickr and movies (mudbath, kunstlicht, xray) on youtube……….

News from Home

I’ve made it back to Amsterdam from sunny California, jetlagging and culture shocked. I haven’t called California home for over 14 years now, and sometimes I’m not sure which place seems more foreign to me, CA or NL. (more about that in upcoming posts…)

I won’t be writing here for a few days because I’m going to LowLands this morning and won’t be back til Monday. Unfortunately, as I’m writing this it is raining outside so this might be one of those epic mudbath festivals that I’ve only seen photos of. Ugh. I’ll have photos of my own on flickr on Monday. Last year’s photos are already up there.

By the way, after posting my last entry about the Blogger Beta, I was included in the upgrade program. HA! I have indeed upgraded this blog, but haven’t had time yet to play with the new options. I was also included in the Blog of the Day, which is pretty cool for a new blog I’d say.

Blogging Blogger Beta

So, Blogger’s new version is now in beta but I can’t upgrade yet. Darn. I bet it’s because I don’t have adsense enabled on my blog. Probably all those people get to upgrade first. But the new functionality looks very cool and very welcome indeed. I’ve been looking for java scripts to do some of the things that the upgrade will do automatically, thank goodness cuz I’m no scripting guru and can barely find my way through my html template.

Details are here. Hopefully it will be rolled out to all us existing customers before too long. And like the Buzz says, if you just can’t wait you can create a new account to try it out. Hey! That means all the new people have better blogs than ME!

By the way, I was going to change my template from the one provided here by Blogger, but after playing with one of those free templates (see my list of them in a previous entry) I’ve decided to just modify the official Blogger template. The html code in a couple of these I tried was soooo messy that I would have spent half my time just cleaning up their templates before being able to use them at all. I guess that’s why they are free on the web.

I did manage to make a cool header image though (see above). What do you think?

A Parallel(s) Universe

As you can see from this screenshot, I sucessfully installed and am running WinXP inside my MacBook. I feel so dirty.

The installation process was straightforward. I haven’t installed software that came with an actual printed instruction book in a very long time. Thanks Parallels for including the book! There’s enough you need to actually understand in order to install the software and run it correctly, but with the book at hand it’s no problem.

The next step is to install our company ERP system (Navision) into the VM (virtual machine), see if I can install and connect to the network using the company VPN, and connect to the company remote desktop. If I can do all those things then I’ve successfully set up this new MacBook to work in a Windows corporate world that includes software that has no Apple equivalent (like Navision). I won’t be able to do this for another week or so, so stay tuned for more info on this experiment.

Now, back to that Spider game….

MacBook – I’m in love

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve travelled half way around the world to visit family and at the same time pick up my new baby – my MacBook – and I’m in love.

I bought a white MacBook, 2 GB processor, 60GB hard drive, 512k RAM. I also bought 2GB RAM from OmniTechnologies on eBay which I installed myself. The installation was a piece of cake except that I had to push those babies in there HARDer than I though I needed to. It’s not an obvious “feel” when you have them seated in far enough. But second try was fine and now this thing SCREAMS.

What do I like about it?

  1. The feel of the keyboard. It’s a perfect feel as far as I’m concerned. The sound is also nice, no loud clicking noises. I was actually afraid that I’d find the return key too far away but I hit it correctly every time so no problem there. This new type of key is a huge improvement over the old iBooks. A+
  2. The glossy screen. I wasn’t sure about this change since I’d never worked with a glossy screen portable before. I’d never even seen one in action. But I really really like it! I haven’t had any problems with glare and I’ve used this thing outside already. The colors are gorgeous. Also the resolution of 1280 x 800 is a perfect combination of visibility and ease on the eyes. Even though this scree size is smaller than my old iBook, and smaller in height than my ugly Dell work portable, what I can actually SEE is more and brighter and more defined. A+
  3. Speed. I haven’t yet used this machine at work with my huge Excel files, but I’m sure, with what I’ve seen so far, that it will blow away my Dell piece of, well, you know. I must warn you though that you have to upgrade the RAM from 512 if you want to get anywhere. With 2GB this thing is FAST. With 512 I tried to watch a ripped DVD movie which was saved on my hard drive (using VLC) and it just couldn’t show a smooth video. Now with 2GB of course it’s fine. This has to do with no dedicated video RAM in this machine, but as long as you pump up the standard RAM memory it’s not a problem. I’m not really a gamer so I don’t have any info on whether it will run video intensive games with this much RAM installed. A
  4. The usual Apple small touches that make the experience great. Like the magnetic power connection. Like the larger and easier to use trackpad. Like the snap close of the lid. Like the look and feel of the power button. It’s just all so NICE. A+

I haven’t mentioned anything about the ability to also run Windows here because although I’ve bought Parallels software, I haven’t installed it yet, and I haven’t installed Bootcamp (which I probably won’t do). Once I get time to install Parallels I’ll write some comments about that. It was necessary for me to get this software in order to have a hope in hell of using this machine at work (need to run some Windows only software daily).

So here I am in California, visiting family, but all the time wanting to spend more time with my new love. I’m anti-social. I’m a jerk sitting in front of a computer while my parents are talking to me. What can I say? I’m in love.