Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A new professional first

Today I spoke at a conference in Amsterdam about Social Networking and how Kodak is participating in the space. I was pretty nervous as it was my first presentation at a conference, and I was a stand-in for a colleague that couldn't attend - but I was well prepped and it seemed to go well overall. People were nodding their heads in agreement and asked a lot of questions, so I guess they were engaged. I misspoke at one point though, calling the Beijing Games the "Kodak Olympics!" Oops! Luckily I caught myself and we all had a good laugh about it! The conference organizers still invited me back for the second day to participate in the discussion, so overall I'd say it was a success.

I was also amazed when I got back to my house after speaking, and my US colleagues had already e-mailed me a few positive twitter posts about the content of my speech! One tweet even said we had the best quote of the day :-) I can't take credit for the quote as I was re-using a colleague's deck - but it was still rewarding to see how positively Kodak was received.

When I responded to this person's "tweet" he replied yet again saying how much he enjoyed our story and how impressed he was with our work in the space. That alone made it worth all the preparation and stress it took to present.

I can honestly say that I'm glad I did it. I wasn't perfect, but I wasn't too horrible either and it will make me a stronger presenter in the future. Still, I'm relieved. The adrenaline of the afternoon has worn off - and I'm going to bed.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I love Wagamama

Wagamama is an "Asian fast food" noodle and soup chain that I discovered when I was living in London back in 1997. The food is tasty, the service is quick and the prices aren't bad. This week Brett and I discovered that there are 2 locations in Amsterdam! We've been mostly disappointed with the restaurants here, but Wagamama is the exception. We've been twice in the past week. Yum!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Great prices on tulips!

If you can handle the cold weather here in Amsterdam, you can get flowers pretty cheaply. While walking by the flower markets we saw 50 tulips for 7.50 Euro (around $10). Good deal!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fall leaves or fireworks fallout?

On New Years in Amsterdam there was the fireworks display put on by the government, but more striking to me were the displays put on by the people. It seemed every Dutch family bought fireworks and set them off in the streets. They started setting off firecrackers around 2PM, but by midnight they were in full force.

I would say that there were professional quality displays going off every 2 or 3 houses down my entire street. The only difference is that with professional displays, the fireworks go UP. Dutch family fireworks hit cars, roofs, and burn in the street like a bonfire when they malfunction. I've never seen anything quite like it but I'm glad I did - especially from the safety of my apartment.

The streets have been covered with paper ever since! It looks kind of like fall leaves to me!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From tulips to palm tree seeds - they're for sale in Amsterdam

At the flower markets here they sell everything from beautiful tulips to seeds for palm trees. I'm not sure why they have the palms as it's surely too cold here for them to grow, but it's cool to see what palm tree seeds look like.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Frozen canals means it's ice skating time

When I was in Amsterdam in 1997, it was so cold the canals had frozen. When I moved here in June I told my colleagues how much I was dreading the winter. They told me not to worry because winters were much milder these days.,

Guess who was lucky enough to be here the first time in 12 years that the canals had frozen? Ugh. Just my luck. Still, it was cool to see the skaters on the canals.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gun Powder Green Tea

We saw this in a shop in Delft. I bet it has explosive flavor. Har har.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Relax! Cuddle a cow.

A few weeks ago we got a packet in the mail from Brett's employer. Inside was a gift certificate of sorts but we couldn't quite figure out what it was good for. It came with a catalog in Dutch with various pictures. Some of the themes were obvious like spas or sports - but others were a bit more difficult to decipher.

One picture was of a bunch of people in church choir robes standing in a pool. Another was a picture of a cow, while another was a picture of a hibachi grill.

Brett found a version of the web site in English and was able to decipher that one of the gifts was "cow cuddling" in the Dutch countryside. Apparently even the royal family has done it.

What to choose? Spa time? A dinner out? Or hugging a cow in a field? Hmmm.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pay your fare!

You might think this photo is of our friend Mihir who was visiting from San Francisco. The reason I took the photo though was to remember the group of transit police behind him (look for the glare of my flash on their jackets). At one of the stops, 6 transit police boarded the tram and went through the cabin asking everyone for proof of a paid fare. They found 1 English speaking fare evader who claimed ignorance, but they still presented him with a 40 Euro fine. Afterwards they all went to the back of the tram and had a little conference together for about 5 minutes.

It seemed like a lot of manpower for 1 fare evader - especially as there are conductors at each of the 2 entrances to the tram who ask to see your fare card when you board. Doesn't make much sense to me, but maybe fare evasion is a big deal here and they have to keep people on their toes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Delft is a pretty little college town just outside of The Hague. We enjoyed wandering the streets and taking in the beautiful architecture - including several churches.

The canals are smaller there and were frozen over, but what struck us was how close the doors were to the water line. If you look at the white door in this picture you'll see that the water level is only about 6 inches lower than the door step. Maybe for easier boat access?

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's hamster week!

It's hamster week at the Albert Heijn grocery store. I'm not sure why hamsters are part of the ad, but they're pretty cute and they even sell stuffed hamsters as part of the promotion. Definitely makes 30% off more exciting than just a price tag with a red line through it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Warm Stroopwafels - Yum!

When we were in Delft this weekend we shared a large stroopwafel. It's two thin layers of waffle, held together by a warm cinnamon caramel. Delicious!