Monday, February 23, 2009

Things are moving up

On the 22of January I wrote this: "we got an estimate on when to expect our NOA2: "Based on timeline data, your I129f may be adjudicated between July 3, 2009 and July 20, 2009*."

From my visits to Visa Journey I noticed that Vermont is picking up speed.
And here was what I saw this morning:

I'll update later today with some other things also I hope, but just had to share.
Just in time since we needed something positive to keep us going.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Greyhounds, tattoo's and scary ideals

all I wanted was another tattoo.
And at some point, it looked like everything came together beautifully.

Some time ago Jack and I decided it would be best if we would do another trip to the US. We needed to get everything together for a smooth transition to my son's school and a meeting with the new school would be good.

While we are working on that, Jack found out GIG, Greyhounds in Gettysburg would be at the same time. An event I had heard about a lot already on a big greyhound message board that Jack and I both visit.
And to make it even better, a new tattoo artist was being promoted at that same board.
It sounded like it just couldn't get any better.
The examples of the art work shown were wonderful and close enough to what I wanted.

I showed Jack, I showed friends and I was in contact to set up an appointment.
And as usual, than I started digging.

and than I found it.
Pictures with on the back ground propaganda flyer's from the second world war.
Someone was really into the Nazi regime and I feared it might be the tattoo artist.
When I asked the contact person, I got the most disturbing answer.

Yes, the artist was into that sort of thing, he even was a member of 'the party'.
But I shouldn't worry, besides that, he was friendly, polite and they were friends for several years now. He didn't impose his believe on others and was just interested in the history and the good parts of those 'believes'. And because of his believes he had to give up on the right to have a passport and other 'freedom' rights.

I felt sick to my stomach, but, with the help of Jack I kept digging.
Turns out that the party, would likely be the American Nazi Party.
Didn't think I could feel any sicker, but there it was, on their main page they sell Mein Kampf.

When a grown up becomes a member of that group, I stop believing the part about it being for 'just' the historical reasons.
And I don't care if it is someone that is very polite to ladies.

It also is someone who supports the believes of the same regime that killed so many people during WW2. Only because they were born as a Jew, a Roma or maybe born with a handicap.

It is people with those same believes that makes it necessary for us to have the 4th of May so we won't forget what ideals like that can cause.
It is the reason my son is right now learning about years of war in Europe and why we visit Westerbork, the place Anne Frank waited, locked up, for that train that took her to her final destination, Auschwitz.

My mail back was very clear in how I would have felt if I had found this all out after I had been tattooed by this guy.

To my surprise I was ridiculed and told that freedom comes with a price.

I do believe that: freedom comes with a price and in Europe millions already payed that price. And if we keep closing our eyes for people like this, we will one day pay that same price again.

I won't get my tattoo, that is a price I pay gladly now.

But it saddens me that someone can choose to overlook these facts and hide behind thin lines like: it is only historic interest, he focuses on the good parts, he doesn't deny bad things happened.

On January 27, 1998, Yehuda Bauer said this:
"thou shall not be a perpetrator; thou shall not be a victim; and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander"

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Memorial Center Camp Westerbork
Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Silver lines to a bad day

And a bad day it has been.
But that is not what I want to talk about, I want to talk about the silver lines, or rather, the newspaper article that I read in todays paper when I had to wait in my vet's waiting room.

One of the nice things of going to my vet is that I can count on getting up to date with todays news. Being really honest, one of the worst things of not having a job, is having to go without a news paper. I used to spell every word, and when I get a chance, I will get totally lost in a paper on occasions like this.

Today I went a step further, I actually went out and bought it.
Why you ask? In todays edition they had a 2 page article about Philadelphia.
Pictures, maps and info on a place I visited only once, but totally fell in love with.
It talks about the Historic District, where Jack and I spend hours about the lines in front of Pat's King of Steak and Geno's steak. And I realize, I saw that, people standing in line around noon, long long lines for a Philly cheese steak.
It talks about Elfreth's Alley, a wonderful little street that takes you back to Ireland.
And in between all those words, it has this picture of those old, orange, yellow colored buildings and behind those the deep, dark blue new buildings of the inner city.
The first sky scrapers I ever saw.

It is hard to explain how you can fall in love with a city, how to let others know that you like the difference between the old and the new which is so apparent
in this town. How surprised I was by all the historic buildings and how well they are kept.
And how you will find little hints to the Netherlands on so many occasions.

For some funny reason it made me feel proud when I found out that the Netherlands was the first European country to have a consul in the US after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Although...can someone tell me why it was J.H.C. Heineken?
Doesn't matter, we beat the French by a week.

But best of all to me was walking by the river. Philadelphia is a harbor close to the Atlantic. And I can't wait to go back and enjoy walking by the river.

For the rest, the article mentioned the great shopping opportunities.
Maybe we will get to that next time, just like the many museums. There is one that I absolutely want to go to.It is called the Mutter Museum. If you can stand it, more info can be found here: As they say, it is disturbingly informative.
Anyway, time for me to leave and find some pictures to add to this story.

For the people who want to know, the article can be found in Het Algemeen Dagblad of Saturday the 7th of Febr.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Public transportation

Nope, not done yet with our trip to Philadelphia.
As you could read in my last blog entry, it was only about 15 minutes later that we arrived at the Philadelphia train station.
Again a huge building with high ceilings.
Here I didn't have the urge to whisper, it was more busy than Harrisburg and you could hear a lot of noise from everywhere. The big hall was one level up and in the middle a huge information desk was available for people to get info about traveling but also about the city itself.
A beautiful Christmas tree almost got lost in the space.
The other thing that stood out was the amount of security people walking around.
I am still not sure if it gave me a safe feeling or the other way around.

Anyway, the whole time I was too busy to look around because I was keeping a close eye on Jack, since finally we were in the 'big' city and I had no clue where we would be going next.
I am not a city person, I love living in the small villages and the few years I lived in Groningen don't count since that is such a small city, it took me 10 minutes on the bike to get outside the city borders.
And from what I had seen when I flew in to Philadelpia, the city is huge.

It turned out that Jack wanted to take the subway into the inner city. Great, another experience with a new transportation system.
Fully expecting that Jack had done this before, I followed him towards the underground where we found the place where they were supposed to leave.

There we met a little problem, Jack didn't know how it worked either.
After some hassle with a lady behind a desk who wasn't too helpful it turned out that we had to get some tokens to get through the entrance gates.
All in all, I think this was the first time we met someone that wasn't helpful.
But Jack figured it out and we went through the gate.

There we met our next challenge.
When you aren't used to it, it is close to impossible to figure out what subway to take. the signs look more like math to me and as clear as Chinese.
The subway station, which is underground is the total opposite from the train station.
No luxury, dirty and noisy. And the smell, yuck.

And as it turned out, Jack didn't exactly know where we had to go either.
So again we had to ask, the answer wasn't exactly as we hoped, but we got on one and got out at a place Jack thought was the right one.
Boy, was I glad to get out of there.
And when we got out we found ourselves only a block away from the museums and information centers.
Right in the middle of Philadelphia on a beautiful sunny day in the middle of winter.