Thursday, August 30, 2007
Everything you can imagine is one the sidewalks, urine (smells the worst on a Saturday or Sunday morning), vomit (also the worst on the weekends), beer glasses, beer bottles and cans (these are usually cleared up fast by bottle pickers), candy wrappers, broken glass, bits of clothing (I once found a pair of panties in our yard), burger wrappers, cardboard from pizza and other odd bits (once, while walking Kasper to school, I saw a vibrator on the road).
As a credit to the city, they clean the roads and sidewalks very often.
To the drunk people, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Also, to be fair, I live right downtown. This is where I do my shopping, going for coffee and walking. This is also the worst area for the litter problem.
This is what most tourists see as well, and it is a problem that needs to be fixed if Iceland plans to keep the tourism industry alive and well.
So, maybe we needs some commercials like this.
Less then a month later, one of Stefán's boots cracked down the back. They were garbage. I was extremely made, but I thought to myself that it must have been because they were Spiderman boots, and therefor must have been 'cheap'. If you can call 54.00 cheap.
I was sure Kasper's would last longer. They were the Viking brand, and that is supposed to be the best. They had some pirates on them, but still they were Viking boots. I was sure they would last forever.
Yesterday I went to pick up Kasper from school and he was sitting inside while all the other kids played outside. This was because he had worn a holes right through the bottoms of his boots, so his feet were soaking wet.
Now I am mad.
Davíð said it is because the boys drag there feet too much. I drag my feet and I can usually get a year out of a pair of shoes, but that does not matter now.
Today I had to go out and buy 2 pairs of new boots.
Plan A was to buy the most expensive pair I could find, laminate the receipt, and bring them in for exchange every time the kids wreaked them. This plan did not work because I remembered that I am the only one working now and just do now have the money for that kind of investment.
Plan B was to get some sent form Canada. I could afford some killer boots there, and even with the postage save a fortune, but then I look outside. It is raining cats and dogs and it will probably stay this way for the rest of September, the boys needed dry feet now.
Plan C was to by the toughest, yet lowest costing boots I could find. I did find some more Viking boots. They cost 3500 a pair and are as plain as it gets. Dull black boots that almost go up to the knees. They also have huge heavy soles. This is bad because I am sure it will encourage the feet dragging, but good because it should take a while to wear through that. They are dragging there feet anyways, right?
Kasper is happy with his new boots. He says they will be great for fishing and will probably spend all weekend trying to convince Rob to take him fishing.
Stefán was not that impressed and reminded me that he likes Spiderman boots, but he is growing to like them. Kasper is pointing out all the good things like how big of puddles you can jump in.
Stefáns boots are actually a little too big. This is a side effect of shopping without your kids. But he will grow into them, I am sure.
Davíð mentioned that THEY say that kids should only wear boots that fit just right.
Davíð also said THEY are not trying to buy clothing for kids in Iceland, in fact, THEY probably do not have kids.
When I was at Ikea the other day I wanted to pay for my new shelves with my Visa.
They took the card, swiped it, then started calling someone. I started to get worried. I asked if there was a problem and the cashier said no, but Visa wanted her to call.
There as no answer on the phone from Visa so she asked me to pay with something else. I used my debit card but was a little annoyed.
When I got home I called Visa. I asked why my card was not working and they said:
We flagged your card because we noticed someone was trying to use it in Iceland.
This would be funny except I have been living here more then a year and have, from time to time, used this Visa.
We even called them once because we were having problems with the bills taking two months to get here. Someone knew we lived in Iceland.
But still, a year later, they decide that my Visa must have been stolen.
If my Visa was stolen, I would be really angry if it took a year for them to realize the 'strange purchases'.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I am a planner. I need a plan and I need to stick with it. There is no flexibility, every minute accounted for.
So these things throw me off, spinning in darkness:
We received, after school, notice of a parents meeting. It was tonight at 530. I had less then 2 hours notice to rearrange my evening plans to accommodate this. We did not make it. Davíð was at school and how am I supposed get someone, last minute, to come over and feed the kids dinner and put them to bed? I think this is a little unreasonable.
Birthday Party invitations from classmates arrive 2 days before the party, if we are lucky, but we often have less then 24 hours notice. This is a huge hassle! I want my kids to go to these parties but changing work hours last minute to accommodate shopping, picking up and/or dropping off my son at some location is giving me headaches.
This is why I spend so much time pacing back and forth around the apartment, I want everything to work!
I think I need to relax a little, but when my kids have a party I think 7 days notice is much better.
- The grass is green.
- The kids love the rain.
- The urine smell washes off the sidewalks. (We live downtown, this is a problem)
- The crazies stay inside.
- Our car, for the next few days, does not look so dirty. This is deceiving...
- The wet dog smell in enclosed spaces, like on the bus.
- My bus shelter, on my way home from work, does not have a shelter.
- It does not matter how well you think you are dressed for the rain, you will get wet.
- The poor rained out insects all try to move into our apartment. No one has screens on their windows to prevent this.
- The moss grows better in the back yard.
- Everyone has super frizzy hair.
- Make-up tends to run down your face.
- Everyone looks like a puff ball in a rain coat, including me.
- The sidewalks and roads are all covered in Earthworms. It is sad and disgusting at the same time.
And who says I am too negative?????????
Monday, August 27, 2007
Davíð was working late so I took the kids work with me. He first said he would be done around 8. This is really late for the boys to be up, but it is manageable.
8 comes and goes, Davíð picks up the boys after 10. They were so tired, they were completely unreasonable but they had a great time.
The hotel guests had a great time talking to them or laughing at them running around reception.
I am glad everyone else thought it was so funny, I was pulling my hair out.
Around 5 in the morning the buzzer rang, and our most dreaded guest is at the door. This guy owes so much money and always convinces people to let him stay, promising to pay tomorrow. I asked him if he had money and told him he would have to pay his debt, plus the charges for tonight before I gave him a room key, he said OK, he would.
We go into the reception, I get his bill and remind him he owes 47,000 kr, plus 13,700 for tonight. He freaked out. He wanted a discount, after all he is a frequent customer. I told him we only give the discounts to people who pay when they are supposed to. He told me to call my manager. I reminded him it was the middle of the night and he could speak to my manager in the morning, if a discount was agree upon then he would be reimbursed the difference. He yelled, started swearing and calling me names. Good times. Anyways, he left, without paying for anything, but he will be back, he left his car keys on the counter.
After this fiasco, I no did not feel like sleeping in my room anymore. I went to lie down on a couch in reception, which is locked, so I would hear if anything went wrong. I was a little worried about him trying to break in or something.
The rest of the night must have been uneventful because the breakfast girls woke me up in the morning.
I got ready to go home, but the day receptionist was late.
So I missed my first bus, the 24. 25 minutes later, I caught the next one coming around. I take this bus all the way to Mjödd.
We I got to Mjödd and got off the bus I got another surprise. The funniest of the day. The 11, the bus I catch for the rest of the way home, ha billows of black smoke coming out of the side. I arrived just in time to see the bus driver and some other guys run out of the bus depot, kick a panel off the side of the bus and start spraying the fire extinguishers. Burnt chunks of bus were falling all over the road.
When things calmed down I asked the driver if another bus was coming for us. The bus driver asked what we needed another bus for, this one was fine now. Funny guy. Soon after another bus came and brought me home.
I got home, safe and sound, and went to sleep. I woke up a dozen time for as many reasons and woke up at 4:30 this afternoon.
I am supposed to pick up the boys at 3:30 (Stefán) and 4:00 (Kasper), so I was very late with that. Lucky for me, the after school and playschools are open much later so there is still a lot of kids there and the kids did not seem to notice how late I was.
Now it is evening again and time to get ready for another day.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Some examples of this are:
- Hreint throws everything in the garbage. Everything is disposable and we used a lot of cleaners that were just poured down the sink. They also made no incentive to the companies that they cleaned for to start some recycling.
- Innes/Selecta are the worst offenders I have ever seen. Everyday, Innes throws out several huge black garbage bags worth of paper. Even the shredded paper goes straight to the garbage. When someone cleaned out an office, it all went in the garbage, papers, books, computers and all. All the promotional food they received would go to the garbage, rather then a food bank or Red Cross. I asked a few people why they could not have, at the very least, a recycling bin for the paper, I was told that costs extra. A company so rich it throws out the Christmas decorations every year, only to replace them the next year, thinks a recycling bin is too expensive.
- Hótel Reykjavík refused to recycle the empty milk containers. This bothered me because we used so many everyday. Noting else was recycled either.
- Humpty's, in Canada, throws out plastic 4 liter cartoons of milk everyday. Dozens of them. Bags of paper go straight to the trash.
If these businesses can not recycle, what will make the average person? Any business could make a huge difference. A lot of people think, what difference could I make? If my employer does not even try, why should I?
If Iceland does not start changing its ways it will not be a 'Beautiful place of on touched nature' for long.
But there is good new:
My new employers at Hótel Smári set the standard on how things should be done. I am amazed on the measures taken here to keep the waste down and reduce unnecessary consumption.
- All milk and juice cartoons are cleaned, flattened and recycled.
- All bottles are collected for recycling.
- All paper is collected for recycling.
- Garbage bags are not to be emptied until completely full to reduce plastic garbage.
- Leftovers from breakfast is kept in reusable plastic containers with lids.
- All laundry is washed in energy efficient washing machines, then is hung to dry. This is really amazing for a hotel, you should see our drying room. This also increases the life span on the sheets and towels.
I am really impressed and it has lead me to become more active with my own recycling.
Now we have a special plastic box under the sink to keep the paper and milk cartoons, then once or twice a week I put it all in bags, along with the extra newspapers from the building, and walk to the recycling bins. It is not so bad if I go more often, then it does not get so overwhelming or take up space that we just do not have in the apartment.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
And it was Kasper's first day of grade one again.
Here is a finished product:
This is what my living room looked like most of the day:
It was great, wood, nails, dust and power tools everywhere. It was like living in a shop class.
I learned how to use the drill!
I took Kasper on the bus to school this morning. Usually we would walk, but the first day was a little disorganized, my fault, so we had to hurry. We made it on time.
Here is Davíð fixing the supports that I put in wrong.
This was the first time I ever built anything, so I did not go very smoothly. Davíð helped me when I had some big problems and was very good about not saying anything about it!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
It started like this:
Kasper and I went to take the bus. We walked to Hlemmur and asked how we would get to Ikea. It was simple, we were told, take the 1 to Hafnarfjörður, then hop on the 21.
So we caught the 1, and sat and sat and sat. An hour later we got to Hafnarfjörður, apparently this is not a very direct route.
Then we waited and waited and waited. After 20 minutes a 21 pulls up that says Ikea on it. That's right, Ikea gets its own bus and I doubt they pay for it.
The 21 whisks us away and drops us, along with about 10 other people, at the edge of the monster Ikea parking lot.
Kasper and I decide to eat first. It is well past lunch now and we are hungry. We go up to the restaurant and stand in line, behind at least 50 others, to get our salmon. We eat.
Then how to get back down stairs? I wanted to leave Kasper in the play area but some Ikea planning makes this difficult. The only escalator runs up stairs and the elevator has no buttons up stairs. You are stuck!
We ended up just waiting for someone else to come up in the elevator so we could hop in and go down.
I manage to ditch Kasper in a play land. I was hoping he would run off a bit of energy, but all the kids were watching a movie.
Back upstairs I go. I followed the maze until I get to the shelves and find the ones I want. I write down the numbers to find them later in the self service area.
I keep walking until I get to the place to pick up Kasper, half way through Ikea. He had watched the Iron Giant. I was happy for him because he likes this show.
The 2 of us continue our journey, picking up things we never knew we needed along the way.
The we get to the self service area. I find the shelves and parts that I want - that was the easy part.
What was not easy was getting them off shelves, some of which were over my head, and onto our trolley. The cabinet box was over my head and weighed 45 kilograms. I thought I was going to end up killing myself trying to get that down and I have Kasper running around behind me yelling 'don't worry mom, I got the cart'. I was worried.
I got almost everything I wanted, minus one cabinet (I could not get it down), and headed for the checkout.
We made it, stood in line a while then paid. It went smoothly. I was happy I did not have to put all those pieces on the conveyor belt.
Next we dragged our purchases over to the delivery counter and waited some more. The home delivery was arranged smoothly and cost much less I anticipated.
Next! We got in line for the spare parts. We wanted extra of the spikes to hold the shelves in place and several people (including someone who was working that day)had told us that Ikea gives them out free.
When it was my turn I went up to the counter and explained what I needed. They gave me a few, then charged me 500 Kr for them. I am a little angry because everyone said they are free, so why should I pay?
I paid it, by this point in the day I just wanted out. I had heartburn and was feeling nauseous from the place.
I called Davíð who agreed to come pick me up so I would not have to spend the evening on the bus. I thought that while I was waiting I would grab some of those super tasty Swedish meatballs.
We went to the food store and got a basket of goodies. I went to stand in line, behind at least 30 others, to pay and waited for ever. Finally my turn came up and the cashier told me I had to go back to the regular cashier to pay for these things.
I really wanted the meatballs. I dragged my basket back to the other line ups and waited my turn. When I got to the cashier she told me I was in the wrong line, I would have to go back -to the one I started at! I told her I was just there and they sent me here. She said I could not pay there, I would just have to go back to the other line and she would call and tell the other one that I had to pay there, if that makes any sense.
At this point I had really had it. I usually consider myself calm and reasonable, but I was about to throw an ugly tantrum and start yelling.
I walked away. I left the food on the counter and walked away. A cashier called after me, but I just could not take anymore.
So now I am home, with out the Swedish meatballs that I was looking forward to, but I have a small amount of sanity left and that is OK.
I SURVIVED IKEA!
I promise I o not act like this is real life, but I have a pet peeve, friend collectors!
People that have about 500 friends on things like facebook or myspace. They may not even really know these 'friends'. They probably talk to less then a quarter of them at all.
I did not realize how many friend collectors I once considered friends.
But I will not be collected!
In order to avoid being just another number, today I unfriended a bunch of people and I will keep doing it.
If I have not talked to someone in years, had nothing to say to them then and can not find anything to talk to them about now, they are not friends.
If they are far too busy to return a message for months, they are not friends (If you read this, you know who you are...Helgi)
I am not a friend collector, but when I saw this huge 'friends list' I had, I knew there was a problem. Now the problem is fixed, but it is definitely something to keep on top of.
I would much rather have 1 good friend then 500 pretend friends.
I am not bitter - it is just a fact.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
This time it is not all bad news, but to remain consistent in my writing, I will start with it.
The buses stop running earlier. I learned this the hard way when, on Sunday night, I waited out at the bus stop for 40 minutes only to find out the bus stopped running half an hour before I even got there.
As if the every half hour was not bad enough, during some times the buses only come by once an hour now. I put the number for a taxi on my cell phone, as if I am standing in the rain for an hour waiting for another bus.
Now for some good news:
Someone in the bus management finally realized what most transit systems new a long time ago, there are times in the day when a lot of people take the bus. These are called 'Peak Hours'. Now, the buses will run on a 15 minute schedule during these peak times. Ya! Good bus service. Even if it is crap the rest of the time, I now know there are a few hours a day that I do not have to spend so much time waiting for buses.
Students get free bus passes. I am not a student, so this will not include me, but Davíð gets one. We are parking the car when Inga and Rob get back and will be a bus only family after that. The other good thing about the free bus passes is that many more people might start taking the bus and that has a lot of benefits for itself.
The bus stops have numbers, just like the bus link in Edmonton. Now you can see when the bus should be at your stop, not just guess from how long it takes to leave the main terminal.
9 month bus passes are now for sale. I buy the three month ones now and am good until October, but I am still excited to get one that is good for 9 months. The longer the pass is valid for the less the per day cost is, and because I take the bus everyday it pays itself off very fast.
The whole place is made of lava, and recently, so there is a lot of lava rock.
But, for the last half an hour I have been sitting here at work watching tourists from China walk back and forth. They go out to the parking lot, pick up a bunch of rocks, then walk back to their rooms. Back and forth. Some of the rocks are pretty big. I guess all the friends back home are getting lava rock as a souvenir, but if they don't cut it out soon, the rock and tree gardens around the parking lot will be looking sparse and who wants to see what's under there?
I also have to wonder if they know about, or remember, the strict weight allowances on airlines.
It is fair to assume they flew here, it is an island.
We took Kasper off his medication - all of it - for the entire summer. It was like a little detox for him.
The inhaler he used to take everyday was steroids for his lungs. It was recommended by the specialist that from time to time we see how he does without it. He coughed a lot the first week, then stopped and has been doing great!
The other pills he needs breaks from because they suppress his appetite and he gets really thin.
After a summer off those we (Davíð and I) are almost crazy, but Kasper gained a lot of weight.
I wish we had been weighing him because at the beginning of the summer he needed a belt with everything. Nothing fit right. Now some of his pants do not fit, because he can not get them done up.
What a success!
Everyone even notices how round his face is looking. This has been so good for him.
Today was the end and he started taking his pills again. It was sad to see him not hungry for anything again, but it was good to have a conversation with him that did not involve yelling and running around (on his part).
School starts up again on Thursday so it is time to get back into routine and all is back to normal until the next break/detox over the Christmas holidays.
First there was the law that said you had to be 25 to adopt a child.
Davíð turned 25 this June so he called up the adoption person, there is only one person in Iceland that handles all adoptions, and was told about another rule:
You must be married for at least five years. We have only been married four.
So we are waiting another year now, and next June we will call again because by then we must fulfill all the requirements.
Unless they add more by then and that is always a possibility.
Monday, August 20, 2007
It finally broke down in September and we got a digital. It is saving us a fortune in developing costs.
I will only put these up 5 at a time, it will be less overwhelming that way!