I just found a nice picture of my office and decided to put a copy of it on my web site, so everybody can see how it is to work in Catalunya—yes, the tourist office is paying me for this kind of messages… 😉
Notice that this is not a very typical office, most companies don’t have this luxury.
Soon I hope to find some time to gear up my scanner and show you some more pictures.
[Update 31.07.2003]: I updated the link to the photo after changing the location of the photo gallery.
The last two weeks of August and the first week of September, Maria José and I hope to have holidays. If everything goes well, by that time there won’t be a lot of work left in our house, so we probably will take our little tent and leave the country.
Were we will be going? Surprise, surprise… Holland!!!
We expect to stay there about 10–12 days. Most of the time we will be in the house of my parents in Harmelen, but we also plan to spend some days camping on one of the beautiful campgrounds of the NTKC.
Furthermore we are thinking of visiting the Floriade (after all we are tourists from Spain…), and of course the Crespon Tentfeest!! Besides that, we will fur sure visit some old friends and/or colleagues (quite a while ago, isn’t it?).
Anyway, if somebody has more ideas or wants to see us again, just drop me a line and maybe we can arrange something.
It has been a long time ago since I last updated my Geek Code. So I set to work, and here it is:
----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK----
GB/IT d+(--) s++:- a C+++$ UBLAVHIOS>$ P+>++
L++>+++$ E W+++ N++ o K--? w !O- M+ V PS+ PE-
Y+ PGP+ !t- 5? !X- R tv- b++ DI++ D- G++ e++ h-- r++ y z
----END GEEK CODE BLOCK----
Last weekend I had a few moments that I was realising what a great life I live. These moments were not really special, but just small things which I appreciated a lot.
The first moment was Saturday at lunch time. We had spend the morning searching for furniture and just decided to buy the furniture we have seen two weeks ago. Heading for this shop, we stopped for lunch. That morning we prepared our ‘bammetjes’ but instead we went to a restaurant at the beach. The food was great, the wine was great, the weather was great, we were on the beach, so we could take a bath after lunch and we had finally decided which furniture we want. Yes, at that moment we were very happy.
On Sunday evening my very happy moment was more simple. We were sitting on our terras drinking a beer, when I realised that I could spend hours like this.
La Seu Vella is the most important monument of Lleida. It is situated in the middle of the city, on top of a high rock, and as a result you can see it from far away. La Seu Vella consists of an old cathedral and an old fortress. Yesterday the cathedral served as the perfect housing for a baroque opera.
‘Los elementos’ was written by Antoni Lliteres (I also never heard about him) in 1704. It describes the relation between the four elements fire, water, earth and air, together with dawn, harmony, the time and the dead. But in fact the opera is about the political situation of Spain at that moment, where Felip d’Anjou (fire) and Carles de Habsbourg (water) were fighting for the Spanish throne. Fortunately, everybody received the whole explanation on beforehand so that it was easy to follow.
The old cathedral had a beautiful atmosphere, but for the acoustics it was way too big. Also the chairs were really uncomfortable, but what disturbed me the most was the fact that the musicians had to stop in the middle of the opera to adjust their instruments.
Fortunately, the quality of the artists was high, the costumes expressed the right atmosphere and the opera was entertaining. All this made it 5 quarters of listening and viewing pleasure.
So far, things are going well. The worker has done a nice job; he removed one wall, and moved two doors to another position. In the mean time we (or better: mostly MJ) have removed one wardrobe in the hallway and are working hard on removing the paint from the doors and the door posts.
Now it is time to start building up again. We are still hoping to move in shortly after the holidays, but this depends mainly on the moment our furniture is going to arrive. Anyway, I’ll keep you informed…
Just after writing that the weather is alright over here, the sky became grey (or better: black), it started raining a little bit, it started raining hard, small pieces of ice were coming down, and eventually really big pieces of ice were coming down. I’ve never seen anything like this before. The stones were up to 5 cm big, destroying everything.
Just a short message for the people who weren’t present yesterday at Jong Nederland Harmelen when I phoned: Yes, the weather is nice over here!
Although 2 months ago we started working in our new office, the office has been inaugurated officially yesterday. The last week a lot of people have been working very hard to make everything spick ‘n’ span. A new gate, small white stones around every plant in the garden, repair the basket ball net, finish the kitchen in our guesthouse. Inside we cleaned everything and I supplied the two vacant desks with brand new HP e-pc‘s and Samsung TFT screens. We also created a nice screensaver with the ICG logo.
Before the guests arrived, the mayor of Lleida was shown around in the office and the gardens. I was ‘lucky’ enough that he was waiting for our CEO next to my desk, so I could have a short talk with him.
Present were the representatives of the local government, the biggest clients from Lleida, some other relations and our distributors from Andalucía, Madrid, Portugal and Mexico.
The mayor revealed a memorial stone on the wall, the CEO and the mayor held their obligatory speech, and then we could enjoy the cava, tapas and live classical music in the gardens.
Some people already told me that the new office looks like the house off a mafia godfather. Well, yesterday with this set-up and all the people in suits with sunglasses walking around, I certainly could agree.
After some months of preparations, yesterday the big work finally started. OK, we already did some small things, but yesterday the worker we hired for the big works started.
And he started well! In one day he removed the wall between a bed room and the salon, giving us a bigger living room. Besides this, he is going to close one door, move two doors, lower the ceiling of the kitchen and the bathroom and install the kitchen and the bathroom. Plenty of work for the next weeks…
To celebrate, MJ and I went for a drink at Llobregat.
The last month I have been working in ICG’s international department.
We are a software company, mainly focussed on Spain, but we also sell in Portugal, Mexico, Uruguay, Holland, Sweden, Austalia, Canada and the U.K. One of the things I have been involved with, is to make sure that all product information will be available on our web site in English.
And as of today the English web site is available. I have to admit that it’s not finished yet, but there is plenty of information at the moment. So I would like to invite all of my readers to have a look at www.icg.es/eng/.
Once again I had problems with my e-mail account. It appeared that a lot of messages I have sent the last month(s) have not actually been sent! Or better: they never arrived.
When sending they were accepted by the SMTP-server, but there they have been deleted.
The problem is that I am using some forwarded e-mail addresses like email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail send to these addresses are being forwarded to another mailbox, to which I connect with my mail program.
So far no problem, but I also want to send e-mail using the above adresses. Therefore I change the ‘from’ field in my mail application. But now, a lot of providers don’t allow this, to prevent spam. Usually, the SMTP server will reject your message, so your not able to send it. My latest provider however, accepted the messages, but didn’t sent it further (yes, to /dev/null!).
At the moment I am looking for a new provider. Until that, I will not be able to send my messages using jeroensangers.com or fimcap.org.
(Sorry for this quite tecnical message, but I know that at least half of my readers DOES understand it. If you don’t: just forget it…)
Sant Joan is an important saint over here. At least important enough to have a free day on June 24th. Combine this with the general strike last Thursday, and the result is that half of the country moves for five days to the beach.
Instead of the beach, MJ and I decided to move with our tent to a camping in the pre-pyrenees, next to a lake near Tremp.
As a result, this weekend we have done absolutely NOTHING. Every day we wake up quite early due to the heat in our tent, we ate some magdalenas with a coffee for breakfast, we took a bath in the lake, read a little bit in the sun, took another bath, etc…
After two days of sun it became clear again why they used to call me ‘zwarte’ (black).
The summer has yet to start, and the temperature has risen up to 37 degrees. I’m so happy that last weekend the temperature was a lot more comfortable. Last weekend my parents visited me for the first time since I left Holland, and of course I wanted to show them around in Lleida.
We had a wonderful time together. We showed them the city, the place I work, the house we’re going to live in, the place we’re living right now. They also got to meet the parents of MJ and despite of the language problems they got along really well.
The biggest pieces of old furniture are now removed from our future house, the kitchen and the bathroom have been chosen, the measures have been taken…
This week it’s really going to start. First all windows will be replaced and when that’s finished the workers start removing a wall, making a new ceiling and changing the position of some doors. From then on we can start building our own little house, and with a little bit of luck we can live there after summer. There’s a lot to do, but we’re looking forward to do it!
I have been working now for four days in the international departement, and so far everything goes really well.
The first two days, my colleague explained me all the ins and outs of FrontRetail, one of ICG’s applications. And now I am working hard on the Dutch translation of this application.
Must be easy for me, not? Indeed, not! Translating is a lot more difficult than I expected. Partly because the structure of the two languages is different, partly because I started with a badly translated version, partly because some words have more meanings, but most of all because my lack of knowledge of accounting.
Furthermore things go great. The office is absolutely beautiful (I still have to try out the swimming pool in the garden), my colleagues are helping me a lot and I am helping them (being the only technician in the office). The small problems every new office have like the absence of a coffee machine and an airco that works as a freezer will be solved soon.
I have been working a little bit more than six months now for Ricomack. During this time I have got to know Ricomack and the mother company ICG. I also have been able to transform myself from AIX/UNIX oriented into a generalist, since I have been working with Windows 2000, Windows XP, RedHat Linux, routers, networking, Point-Of-Sale systems, printers, the ICG software, … I have to say that I really like my work, although sometimes the work is not exactly what I like to do (like repairing 10 year old PC’s). But anyway, I feel comfortable in this company.
But last Friday I got an offer I couldn’t resist. ICG wants me to be in their international ‘department’. At this moment this department is operated by only one colleague, who is responsible for both the international sales and support. And that combination sometimes is a problem, because it is hard to support other clients being on an international sales visit. So now I am going to help in the support.
This morning I packed my new PC and went off to the new office. Let’s see what we can do here…
That’s it, it is over now. The Aplec del Caragol has finished. The aplec is a big feast with ‘eating snails’ as a central theme. But in fact it is a lot more. It is about eating, drinking, culture, meeting old friends, music, …
On the applec groups of people (collas) spent one weekend together on the festival terrain. There are about 120 collas, with each 50–100 members. Members pay an amount of money, for which they can eat and drink during the whole weekend. Every colla has it’s own space on the terrain, provided with a small bar, tables and chairs, BBQ’s and usually also (live) music. Every member wears the shirt and the scarf of his colla.
Some numbers: besides the 12.000 members of the collas, another 200.000 people have visited the aplec. In all, 12 tons of snails have been consumed!!!
The family of MJ is a member of colla ‘Picarols’ and I was lucky enough to be able to join their colla. Also to my luck, this colla wears white shirts with a blue print as opposed to others which wear white shirts with pink dots, purple shirts with green print…
It was a great pleasure to pass all the collas and watch how every colla has it’s own way of passing the weekend. Another thing which I like a lot, is that it is an activity for everybody. Sometimes three generations of one family are present on one colla.
There is only one backdraw: I think that if your not within a colla, it might not be as much fun. But maybe the 200.000 visiters think different about it… I enjoyed it a lot at least.
This week we are in the middle of two major parties in Lleida.
Last weekend we celebrated the ‘Festa Major’, because the patron of Lleida, St. Anastasi has it’s day on May 11th. There were plenty of activities organised through the whole weekend. For MJ and I, the weekend was even more special, because we had some visitors from Holland to join us: Berry and Manon.
On Friday night we started calmly. After having supper in a restaurant we went to the Camps Elisis. There was a big festival terrain with some big bars outside, a luna park and a hall for concerts. OK, I have to admit that the concerts were not so good, but maybe that’s only because I’m not a big fan of Boney M.
On Saturday we did some sightseeing (La Seu Vella) and saw the children in traditional clothes offer flowers to St. Anastasi. In the evening we went to see the ‘correfoc’ (difficult to explain, but it has to do with jumping and a lot of fireworks).
Sunday we saw the ‘Moros I Cristianos’. First the presentation in the streets of Lleida and later the show at La Seu Vella. Their clothes were really incredible.
The coming weekend there is another party, the ‘Aplec de caragols’. If I have time I will write about is next week…
One thing I noticed over here is that there is more paperwork. Maybe I only have this impression because I am an immigrant, but I think that in general people use more forms and official papers.
I am living in Catalunya for half a year now (yes, time flies) and today I received a notice that my request for a residence card is honoured. can you imagine: 6 months for reading a request, finding out that I’m from the EU and approving it!!
The letter which told me all this was completely unreadable, because all the references to the different laws involved. Anyway, I am ready to collect my residence card.
All I have to do (if I understand it right) is take the blue form (type XXX, model XXX, approved by XXX and of course with four copies), go to the bank, pay 5,06 euros, take the signed blue form, the yellow form (type YYY, model YYY, approved by YYY, signed by my boss and of course with four copies), 3 foto’s and the unreadable letter (number ZZZ, approved by ZZZ, and hey, without copies?) and bring it during working hours to their office.
Luckily MJ knows the procedure, and also knows that the address on the letter is not the right one. I love paperwork!!!!!!
Ah, and the best of all: after a procedure of 6 months I will receive a card that is valid for 4 months. In other words: I should have asked the next card in February!