Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"The Boxer"? Rebellion

The Mis-Leader

In an office without corners
Sits a toupee’d tangerine
Where he ought to rule the nation,
But he tweets his indignation
When he’s criticized.

His tiny hands
That he used for grabbing pussies
Though, of course, not Kellyanne’s.
Mmmmmm...

Lie-la-Lie: “Yes, the Mexicans will pay.”
Lie-la-Lie: “I’ll throw Hillary in jail.”
Lie-la-Lie.


“When I want to be elected,
With the Russians I’ll collude.
I’ll get Vladimir to phone me;
If discovered, I’ll fire Comey
And erase my tracks.

Drain the swamp!
And avoid those Nasty Women!
I’m as bright as Forrest Gump
And tell whoppers ‘cos my name is Donald Trump.”

Lie-la-Lie: “I will never take vacations.”
Lie-la-Lie: “And I don’t do tax evasion.”
Lie-la-Lie. 

]}:-{>

Friday, May 12, 2017

How useful is that?

For the forthcoming vacation in Poland, Beloved Wife and Goat will meet Beloved Wife’s aunt and TMIL in Kraków at the end of May.

Travel between Dubai and Kraków is fussy and expensive. The Goat eventually found a reasonable deal involving flying in and out of Vienna in Austria and taking trains between Vienna and Kraków. So far so good. All booked and paid for. The Goat’s VISA card got its customary spanking.

And now the trouble starts.

RailEurope, the online rail booking service that was so keen to take nearly €400 of the Goat’s money during the booking process, discovered a problem with delivering the physical tickets. As the Goat discovered eight years ago, rail companies seem to have a great deal of difficulty getting their corporate minds around the concept of e-ticketing. “You must have an actual paper ticket in order to travel” It’s not only First Great Western, then. Does it occur to these buffoons that people who book online in advance are from Other Countries, and may find obtaining the physical tickets troublesome? Rail companies seem incapable of adjusting to passengers not simply rocking up to the booth and asking for a second-class return; departure ASAP.

To be fair, RailEurope does offer Print @ Home and Print @ Station services. But only for Eurostar and railway travel starting in France or Spain. But not from Austria.

“Allow nine days for delivery” says the website and confirmation email. So with this clock ticking, the Goat receives an email: “Dear Sir/Madam, we can’t send your tickets to a PO box because we use DHL. Please provide a physical address.”

It is well-known, although not by Rail Europe (nor various purveyors of financial and investment services, but that's another story), nothing gets successfully mailed to a physical address in the middle east. Nevertheless, the Goat wrote back with the address of the Crumbling Villa, plus a note that DHL will be quite capable of finding the place. “Just phone me for directions. Honestly; it is really easy.”

“Dear Sir/Madam, We need your postcode.”

Actually you don’t, on the very sensible grounds that there is no such thing in the middle east because there are no door-to-door mail deliveries. DHL, believe it or not, are quite capable of delivering stuff using mediocre street addresses and by phoning for directions. How else does the Goat get his bank cards?

“Dear Sir/Madam, we request you to provide us with the complete address including necessary landmarks for the same. We cannot ship the tickets until we do not [sic] get a complete address.”

The Goat sends the same information yet again, but this time includes major nearby landmarks (An international airport; a gigantic shopping mall or three; a huge mosque. The Goat speculates on the necessity of these, but they certainly do exist) and Lat/Long co-ordinates. He doesn't bother with what3words because of the blank looks whenever he's mentioned it before, nor Dubai's revolutionary Makani geolocation system that absolutely nobody seems to use.

The Goat has attempted to speak to an actual person at RailEurope, and even found the gethuman.com website. Hilariously, the 24/7 phone number results in a recorded message: “Our office hours are 0900-1930 Eastern Standard Time Monday thru Friday.”Clearly a very special interpretation of “24/7.” Special as in tasty crayons. RailEurope has, it would seem, offices in the United States and in India. One wonders if there are actually any in Europe…

One of the Goat’s friends, who visited Budapest over Christmas, had no such issues. She was able to book a stupidly cheap train ticket from Budapest to Prague using her US credit card, collect it from a machine at the railway station, and travel without fuss. So the Goat is forced to conclude that the Fates simply don’t want him ever to use rail travel, and have this time decided to steal €400 in order to make that point.

]}:-{>

Monday, May 01, 2017

Hephaestus

Remember back in April 2010 when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland pushed a load of ash into the atmosphere? Remember how the ash cloud grounded aircraft in and out of Europe?

I was very, very affected by this, being trapped in the UK and unable to return to my job in the UAE for over a week. I was deeply unimpressed with Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire, blacksmithing, volcanoes, and other hot things. And you don't get much hotter than molten rock. Presumably I wasn't the only one railing against the gods in general and this one in particular.

I was even more unimpressed when I got back and was, within four days, made redundant. Hephaestus, you really can't take criticism, can you?

And being made redundant from my new job eleven months after that left me as dischuffed as a broken-down steam locomotive. You have had another sense-of-humour failure haven't you, Hephaestus?

Fortunately, I landed a further new job in Qatar, but as it turns out I'm allergic to working for arseh- crazy people that particular post lasted a year. This was the firm that promised me a No Objection Certificate and then later when I asked for one told me ('told me' is a euphemism for 'lied') that they'd never promised an NOC and therefore refused to issue one. Consequently I was banned from working in Qatar for two years. Oy, Hephaestus, this has now got really old.

Despite trying, I ended up travelling, taking the occasional odd job, and generally being a house elf for two years. The novel I tried to write ended up being 50,000 words of unreadable shite, so making my fortune writing best-sellers does not seem to be an option.

After two years, I landed a job in Qatar (again) and took leave of my senses. I thought I could stand it for six months, but the contract dragged on for two years. Not funny any more, Hephaestus.

And when that contract finished and I was released from the Job From Hell, I went off to Budapest to work for Beloved Wife and myself.

And here I am now, back in Dubai and looking for a job. Déjà vu all over again.

Hephaestus, I officially hate you.

]}:-{>

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Caprine Peripatetic Perambulation

A summary of some of the many inane things I've been posting on the Book of Faces.

Having arrived in Budapest, I discovered that I'd accidentally brought a little stuffed goat that Beloved Wife bought for me the first time we visited Cyprus. I took a picture and entitled it "Goats Do Roam".

This is far from the first idea on the blogosphere in which some form of mascot features in travel blogs. Nevertheless, I ended up carrying this little mascot in my backpack throughout my travels around Budapest. It's the alternative to Yet Another View That Looks Like A Postcard and neatly sidesteps the Souvenir Selfie. I don't know why I didn't think of doing this years ago.

Suddenly confronted by some random stranger who demanded to know the animal's name, I blurted out, "Caesar," and now it's stuck.

So the pun works on several levels:-

Goats do Roam all over Budapest, Frankfurt, and the UAE.
Goats do Roam is an acceptable wine, itself a pun on Côtes du Rhône.
Goats de Rome is why he's called Caesar.

Budapest

The window of Bedroom 1 just before the renovation started
IKEA arrived

Budapest and the Danube from the Citadel


Glühwein is basically Christmas in a bottle

Christmas snow outside the Gellert Hotel
Outside the New York Café,
where there are several winged satyrs holding light sconces
And opposite the New York cafe, another satyr
In the central market, USSR-era military hats
that were all Size Tiny
A piper. I briefly busked nearby
and made precisely zero money


And it seems to be cake o'clock
And at Budapest (petting) zoo

Frankfurt

Christmas markets. We went to Frankfurt this year rather than Munich,
and spent a long (UAE National Day) weekend drinking
Glühwein and eating junk

Dubai

One of those 'notorious' Friday brunches
A break from Budapest, and I managed to get the bike out

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge


I got back from Budapest just in time to be an ADDC marshal. Caesar called shotgun

Caesar became the Finish Team mascot
As the name seems to have stuck, I wonder if I should make him a toga? In time for my next visit to Historical Italy, perhaps.

]}:-{>

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Budapest XIII

Thirteen. Unlucky for some.

It seems that actual completion of the project is dragging, and more than a little. Fundamentally, the builder has new work and would rather direct his resources in that direction rather than completing the snagging list over at Grumpy Goat Apartments. So he's getting frequent nags about the snags, and (mostly polite) demands to know the justification for his tardiness.

Today, at last, someone came with a rope and a bo'sun's chair to fix the incomplete concreting in the light well that is beyond the reach of a normal humanoid from within the building. Having declared it finished, I leaned out of the bathroom window and loudly proclaimed that the mortar work under the windowsill had not been addressed.

"Why do I have to keep doing this? You tell me that it's finished and it takes me about three seconds to ascertain that it isn't. Please deal with it. Yes, now."

Apologies and rectifications immediately followed, but the problem remains: I can and will check that work has been completed to my satisfaction, and after several months he must know this. Yet he continues to ignore it, or allows himself to be lied to by his employees.

I am still, yes still, waiting for a much-advertised security grille to go over the window above the front door, and on the subject of front door, there remains a massive gap that lets in draughts and - given the opportunity - chess, backgammon, and Jumanji...

However, I am assured - again - that everything will be done by Friday, at which point I shall sit down with the builder and thrash out the final account: the inevitable part of project completion.

The letting agent came last week and took some pictures. Assuming that it isn't let by the time you read this, the advert is here:

http://clarkeandwhite.com/listing/newly-renovated-two-bedroom-apartment-rent/

The project has dragged to nearly the end of the month, so I might as well stay one more week and entertain Beloved Wife as she transits through Budapest on her way to a Gurlz Nite Out in Amsterdam. And I shall be heading back to Dubai and looking for a proper job.

]}:-{>

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Budapest XII


 It is almost finished before March. The bar is yet to arrive, and IKEA needs to be chased for delivery, and a cupboard around the gas meter will go in after the gas inspection just in case the Gas Inspector turns out to be more of a Bottom Inspector.

I also need to put some translucent paper over the circular window in the pantry, and there remains a substantial snagging list.

But here we are: two pictures of each room.

Entrance Hall, looking at the Pantry
Entrance Hall, looking at the Front Door
Kitchen
Kitchen
Kitchen and Living Room
Living Room
Bedroom 1
Bedroom 1
Bedroom 2
Bedroom 2
Bathroom: Shower
Bathroom, Toilet, Laundry
Pantry with Boiler and Storage
Storage shelves
]}:-{>

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Budapest XI


The kitchen and wardrobes arrived at 11am on Wednesday, which is one of the earlier interpretations of ‘Wednesday afternoon.’ Not being the type to stand and watch four guys manhandling heavy cardboard boxes up three floors, I goathandled some of them and ached afterwards. Yes there is a lift, but it is small and wouldn’t swallow a lot of the longer ERBACKEN worktops or NÅRNÏÅ wardrobe sides. And they’re heavy! Bedroom 1 was in no way ready to receive these flat packs, being full of painting materials and a pile of oak flooring, and the parquet was also not available.

This is because the parquet flooring was being refinished. A couple of passes with an industrial belt sander the size of a Suffolk Punch – the lawnmower; not the horse – and then an orbital polisher left a very neat job. Then a couple of layers of clear varnish to be polished once the varnish dried. I was mildly surprised at the colour that the parquet has turned out. I thought it was a sort of cherry red, but the belt sander took the stain away and revealed the light oak beneath. I think it looks glorious. It will certainly match the new floor in Bedroom 1 in colour and material, but not in style. New parquet interlocking wood blocks were prohibitively expensive compared with planks.

The pantry floor was originally to have the old terrazzo tiles retained, but too many of these got damaged while installing the under-floor plumbing. The first choice was to use grey slate, matching the hallway. But the floor tile order had excluded a new pantry floor. As the tiles had a long lead time, the order could not be amended. So I looked at ensuring sufficient oak planks were available ‘off the shelf’ locally. Now, of course, it turns out that the traditional 110% order has left sufficient slate flags to do the pantry. There will be a pack of planks left over; the alternative would be the less preferable wood floor in the pantry and the same area of more expensive slate tiles left over. So slate flagstones it is. They’re not actually slate, but ceramic tiles with a slate-effect finish, rated for indoor or outdoor use and a lot more resistant to water and chemicals than actual real slate. 

Thursday morning came and, true to their word, IKEA’s kitchen fitters turned up and got on with assembling kitchen units. I got there before they did and started on NÅRNÏÅ in Bedroom 2. I’d got as far as unpacking one wardrobe when the painters arrived and told me that they had to put more coats on the walls, and I couldn’t work here. Unfortunately for my wardrobe progress, Bedroom 1 wasn’t available either, it being full of carpenters and new wood floors.

I kicked my heels all morning answering occasional customer preference questions from the large crowd of workmen in my flat. Then I went shopping and bought a washing machine and a dishwasher for delivery next Friday when, I am confidently assured, the flat will be finished.

By early afternoon I was able to put cardboard down on the new wooden floor in Bedroom 1 and start to assemble wardrobes. They’re not difficult but unwieldy. I got two done before bad light stopped play.


Bedroom 1 with all doors assembled and 50% installed

 IKEA didn’t show up on Friday as they had previously advised, and I spent all day fiddling with the first two wardrobes in Bedroom 1, assembling a pair of large and heavy sliding doors and all the related permanent way, and getting these fitted and working. What a nightmare! Each door weighs a million tons and has to be hung accurately on its own track or it won’t work. And I spent all weekend dealing with the third and fourth wardrobes. On Sunday I had the place to myself. I still couldn’t get at the walls in Bedroom 2, but there was enough floor space to work on the even larger, heavier, and less wieldy doors and get these fully assembled and ready for hanging.


Bedroom 2 with - at last - the doors installed

IKEA finished the kitchen by 3pm on Saturday. They didn’t do any plumbing or wiring, and I have found several unopened packages that will, I hope, go back to the shop for a refund. There was damage to one of the cupboard fronts, but I was told to send an email to IKEA and there would be a replacement sent and fitted after a few days. The email bounced as undeliverable, and I had to navigate a Magyar-only website to get an email message delivered. I translated it too; rather the multilingual elves over at Google did. Then I got a return email message from a person (in Magyar) demanding that I re-enter all the information on the ‘Warranty Claims’ online form, which demanded every piece of information including the product name, size, catalogue number, price, date of purchase, and various reference numbers from the original till receipt. And the latest is a request for a photo of the damage.

Grrrr!

The kitchen comes with a much-vaunted 25-year warranty, but were I to claim after say 23 years, the chance of having all this information to hand appears slim. Thus I infer that the warranty is practically worthless.

I do need to get a bathroom mirror that doesn’t poke out from the wall any more than the tiling. This is proving difficult because anything with built-in lighting needs space for the lights and ends up being at least 50mm thick... A separate LED strip on a bracket will be required, that I anticipate will be around 2.050m above finished floor level and therefore out of range of most Evil Stepmothers.

“Magic mirror on the wall…”
 

The bathroom

The power outlet for an electric shaver will have to be mounted on the wall to the side of the mirror, and should be IP44 waterproof, which means a spring-loaded flap to cover up the socket while it’s not in use. I have been unable to find a combination strip light and shaver socket that doesn’t look hideous, and anyway 2.050m may be beyond the range of the short of arse as well as Evil Stepmothers. It’s certainly beyond the range of most goats, but isn’t there an Irish band called “Goats Don’t Shave”? 

]}:-{>
 

The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.