Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Lethe

6:30. Consciousness. The baby is wide awake and chattering.

8:00 Showering with my 2-year old. He busted the coffee pot with a single well-placed blow with a ceramic dessert dish last night. So today we go cold turkey.

9:00. Crap! I'm late to learn of a big story: Corporate Express has agreed to be bought by Staples. EUR9.25 per share but what's the full price? 182 million shares outstanding according to Euronext * EUR9.25 per share = EUR1.68 billion. Make it "Around EUR1.7 billion." Why, after numerous attempts, am I not on the Corporate Express email list? On the bright side, it will never matter again after today.

10:00 CORRECTION! Staples' press release says the purchase price was EUR3.1 billion. They outta know, it's their money. That's cost plus debt. No breakdown, but that appears to be an awful lot of debt CE is carrying.

11:00. To office, to office, jiggety jig.
Amsterdam is beautiful.

12:00 Bureaucracy. What's the price on Corporate Express? Company says 185 million shares outstanding * EUR9.25 per share = EUR1.71 billion. And EUR1.09 billion in debt. But that's still just EUR2.8 billion. EUR300 million has gone missing.

13:00 London and New York like the idea of a story on how coffee shops will be affected by a smoking ban. It's scheduled for next week, no backing out now. Also, no word on what happened to that Koolhaas feature I turned in 2 weeks back.

14:00 A co-worker gets bad personal news. No time to talk, I have to leave Amsterdam *right now* and head for The Hague. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's right hand man Motjtaba Hashemi Samareh is doing Q&A with reporters. Ride with the photographer, he's got a motorcycle, it's quicker. I'm getting too fat and old for riding on the back of motorcycles.

15:00-17:30. The Iranian Embassy is a very civilized place for a talk about Iran's confrontation with the West over nuclear power.

I have trouble pronouncing the name Ahmadinejad. I laugh privately to myself about the idea of asking Samareh whether Iran has considered trying to get the Olympic Games to Tehran, to improve its image.

(Samareh .. he had something of Ed Norton in his grin)

I don't know as much about the situation as I would like, let alone as much as I should.

The press conference drags on and on. I "reject" five phone calls while Samareh speaks. He carefully avoids direct answers to direct questions, and invokes national pride and a feeling of justice when explaining why Iran is so determined to enrich uranium even if it harms the country's economy and international standing.

He says:
"I have a question for YOU: is having access to nuclear energy good or not? If it's good why shouldn't others have it? If it's wrong, why do you have it?"

(An anecdote ... in short, even the school children in Iran are singing songs about the importance of nuclear power. It's a matter of national pride, so he says. The sound quality is terrible. Once again, I realize I need a better video camera).

17:30 Start walking through diplomatic neighborhood to tram to train to bike to home. Trouble with computer on train. Woman asks me not to play recording of Samareh out loud. Work with earphones on. Paris has taken over the Iran story, send Samareh quotes through to them. My dad calls. An editor still wants to know about Corporate Express's purchase price. Leave messages with Corporate Express and Staples.

1830: Amsterdam is beautiful as always.

1900: My dad wants to talk details about our upcoming family vacation. Two children are crying when I walk in the door.

1930: Corporate Express and Staples call back. Neither can explain the purchase price in a way that makes sense. But Staples says there are 200 million shares outstanding * EUR9.25 per share = EUR1.85 billion. And the real number including debt is EUR3.06 billion: they rounded up to EUR3.1 billion in the press release. We're closing the gap!
Corporate Express says perhaps the debt figure is higher for Staples to buy than it is on CE books _ hmmm.
Staples denies that. Certainty may elude us on this today.
I think we're best off just sticking with the EUR3.1 billion figure we had in the first place.

2000: "Quality time" with the kids. My daughter has learned to grab her feet. My coworker calls to further explain bad personal news. Sympathize, briefly. A contradiction in terms? I dine on chips and candy bars I swiped randomly from a "party bowl" left out at our office yesterday.

20:30: A lawyer I left a message with days ago, Liesbeth Zegveld, calls out of the blue to talk about the Srebrenica hearings next week. What Srebrenica hearings? Civil suit against the Dutch government seeking compensation for failing to protect Bosnian Muslims during the fall of Srebrenica in 1995. The lawyer explains there are two totally different cases, Monday and Wednesday. Local hire employees on Monday, class action suit for 'civilans' on Wednesday. The U.N. and the Dutch government are accused in both. Dutch gov't is protesting jurisdiction. Why not go after the Bosnian Serbs, they were the ones who did the killing, I ask the lawyer. (Answer: deep pockets. And Dutch voluntarily subject themselves to the rule of law). She claims juridical shennanigans by Dutch Justice. I can't vet those kind of claims well from where I sit. We talk for nearly 45 minutes. I'm glad she called. Next week is going to be hell.

21:30: My wife announces she's going to bed. That prompts a marital debriefing.

22:00 My wife goes to bed. "My" time begins.

22:30 Idea for blog post germinates and is rapidly brought to fruition. In theory this day shall not be forgot. Yet all shall be forgot...

23:30 Check Facebook, answer emails, then bed. Hope I can sleep.


Another American Expat said...

really nice post. makes me remember what I love about reading blogs.

and you're right man, Amsterdam sure is beautiful right now.

Anonymous said...

Dude, buy more of that honey you dip your pen in.