I am an American technology worker who just moved to Taiwan.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New 'hood

So after spending what seemed like forever living at the Pullman Hotel service apartment I am glad to finally have moved into our apartment. The drawbacks of the Pullman:

  • The parking garage just doesn't f*&^ing work. There are 2 parking lots. There is a ticket with a barcode. There is a scanner machine at each lot entrance. It should be simple but the whole thing just doesn't work and it hasn't worked for 12 years that I know of.
  • It is good that there is a kitchen but they only empty the trash once per week and it gets stinky after 3 or 4 days.
  • The detachable shower head hose is a bit twisted and the holder doesn't have enough resistance to point the shower head straight and always have to prop up the hose in some way to get the shower to point toward me and not toward the shower curtain.
  • Hotel guests that use the spa seem to not understand the "locker room" concept so they wear the bathrobe and slippers from their room and go walk around the hotel lobby and other common areas in a robe and slippers. I'm not quite sure why this bothers me as hotels in Taiwan often have a Japanese robe set and one of my colleagues wore it out to the bar one night. I think I would be OK with wearing a robe to a bar because that's kinda reckless but wearing it in a lobby is just stupid.
  • The TV always resets itself to channel 2 and the volume level on 7 every time you shut it off.

I checked out of the Pullman and moved into the apartment on the same day that our sea container was arriving. The movers and the container delivery truck showed up at 9AM and the mission for the day was to establish a bed to sleep in, find a towel to shower with, and preferably some soap product. The movers would unpack and assemble all of the big stuff, so, beds, tables etc. That left me with about 87 boxes of cups, forks, key chains, paperclips, Matchbox cars, etc. The most ridiculous semi-facts about the stuff we moved that I would never have realized to be true:
Balancing Siphon Brewer

  • We have ~40 coffee/tea mugs (not including tea cups matching Shirley's tea pot collection
  • We have ~50 jars of spices. This might be great but I think there are actually only 20 varieties of spice. Somehow we ended up with 8 jars of nutmeg.
  • We have ~10 devices for brewing coffee including several French presses, a Vietnamese drip pot thingy, an espresso machine, and a balancing siphon brewer. Nonetheless, we don't need 40 coffee mugs but maybe there is correlation here.
  • We have many, many more electrical cables than devices that need to be plugged in. This is actually much better than the other way around.
On day one I technically met the goal of bed, towel, and soap if you count a golf towel as a valid towel. The next day I made an Ikea run to get a few towels. The past week I have spent nearly every hour other than work and sleep unpacking all this stuff and if it were not for the fact that the movers re-assembled the wardrobe closet upside down, I think I would already have everything put away. But the progress has been good and I have access now to most of the daily comforts and can cook at home. We left our old sofas behind in Taiwan and I will get a new one delivered this weekend so for now the living room has one folding chair and a TV but at least it has a folding chair.
New apartment

The apartment is fairly close to the center of Eindhoven on the southwest side of town which is close to the direction of my company. Today the ride home from work, during rush hour, was 16 minutes. I haven't had such a commute in over 20 years at which time I was working at a grocery store while in University. The apartment is a 1930s row house, very Dutch style. 

I'll post some more details about the apartment after I manage to get the 40 empty boxes removed so I can actually photograph something other than boxes. It has a nice small garden for BBQs and a terrace balcony off one of the bedrooms, maybe for another BBQ. Americans love BBQ.

Monday, August 3, 2015

New country, new blog?

I haven't blogged in quite a long time because after the novelty of a new place wears off its hard to come up with interesting things to write about and I start to sound like a broken record. But things may get interesting again as I have taken a position in my company that requires me to move to Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, close to where my company is head-quartered. I have spent quite a bit of time here on business over the past 12 years but actually LIVING somewhere adds a totally new dynamic.

I went on holiday to Spain with my family for the first 2 weeks of July and afterwards I moved to the Netherlands and started on the new job. Complicating matters is my wife is in the middle of a 2 year work contract and will stay in Taiwan until June '16 to finish. We did a similar thing when moving to Taiwan but the time frame was much shorter. Let's just say the work move for me was not exactly planned, certainly not in this time frame but I am replacing someone who left the company and the vacancy must be filled ASAP.There was actually a 1.5 month gap between my predecessor leaving and me arriving and that made it much more difficult form me to get oriented in the job.
Desired Car

So where is Eindhoven? It's in the south of the Netherlands close to the Belgium border, about a 1.5 hour drive from Amsterdam. I am living in a service apartment but have found a permanent home and will move on August 11. I found this sweet ride parked in the back of the apartment and was hoping I could get something like this. It even comes with a surfboard and bike, well tricycle. Although I ended up with a VW Golf, it doesn't quite have the same character as its black primered cousin.

Actual Car
Fortunately our new home fills the character gap as it is a traditional Dutch 1930s brick row house with some tile walls, plank flooring, heavy wood doors (some on wheels), a terrace outside the bedroom, a small garden area, and ivy growing up the outside walls. I'll post some photos and more info after I move.

The new job is quite hectic. Because the previous guy was long gone there was really no handshake or intro and on day one I was just thrown in the thick of things, running part of a factory over here introducing a key new technology for semiconductor production. I am supposed to have four team leaders supporting me but two of those positions are vacant and one of my team leads is on holiday now. So that leaves two of us doing the work of five while most Dutch are heading to France, Spain and Greece.

European glossary term #1: holiday: n. what Americans refer to as "vacation"