Monthly Archives: June 2012

Snack addictions (Or: Another one for the expats)

Seen at the Amsterdam Centraal Station [Edit: this is actually at Schiphol airport at a store called “Food Village”, see the comment below]:

On the bottom you can see the Cheez-It crackers. It is one of my current addictions. Sometimes (not often) I also go to the local deli and get some fresh cheddar cheese slices to put on top. I definitely prefer salty snacks. Oh, and yellow mustard, which is thankfully at Marco’s local Albert Heijn.

Number of days (straight) I have studied Dutch: 0. Whoops! Forgot all about it on Friday. We’ll see what I can do about making that a 1 again.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Food | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Heat (Or: Maybe I’ll fly to Seattle)

The theme of the weekend is heat, heat, and more heat. I think the States are slowly turning into a large sweltering desert.

For your reference, 100F = roughly 38C. For me, it was still 95F at 8PM tonight. But, it still beats the harsh winter. And the heat can mostly be countered by lots of ice water. Though of course then I want to chew more ice! But Seattle (in the upper left) looks nice at 69F.

Heck, let me just move to the Netherlands 5 or so months early…

Tonight is more Olympic trials — for diving and gymnastics. The latter is my favorite summer Olympics sport by far, even if sometimes I can’t watch since I don’t want to see someone fall! Did you hear about the London taxi cab driver who is going to turn his taxi into a hotel room each night of the Olympics?

It carries such amenities as a solar powered fridge, an iPad, a bedside lamp, curtains, and more. It’s not so much that he is trying to make extra money, just recoup the money he expects to lose. (Taxis are not allowed to use the special Olympic traffic lanes, so they expect more traffic and slower journeys.)

On a non-Olympic note with something closer to home, don’t forget to watch your step. One of the subway exits in Brooklyn has a rogue step that causes a lot of commuters to trip. The cringe-inducing incidents were caught on tape in a 87 second video by a New Yorker who realized that no, he wasn’t a klutz… everyone was tripping at the same place.   (In the video you can see a quick look at the step).

The issue is that the steps preceding it are about 7 1/4″ tall or a bit less. The rogue step is about 8″ tall – about an inch too high for the MTA’s guidelines. To their credit, within 24 hours of the video appearing (and gaining over 300k hits) the MTA had already closed off that particular subway exit and were looking at refurbishing the entire staircase by tomorrow. Apparently you’ll have to find somewhere else to lose your balance.

Just not on an Olympic balance beam, please.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Sticky! (Or: What can you make from 450k post it notes?)

Artwork for the Tour de France, of course! The race is starting from Liege, Belgium this year, so their local mall used 450,000 sticky notes to create a collage of bicycle related art.

Laurent Dubrule/Reuters

Of course, it would not be Belgium without the MediaMarkt store in the background of the next photo… MediaMarkt is also somewhat visible in the picture above (you can see the red text at the bottom).

Laurent Dubrule/Reuters

Of course, I don’t really follow the Tour de France. This is mainly because the television coverage isn’t that great in the States. Only two of the dates are airing on NBC. The rest will be shown on the NBC Sports Network. I heard that channel is $20 a month extra!

Categories: Sports | Tags: | 2 Comments

Deciphering money (Or: Euros, quarters, and dimes)

Today’s amusement: More camp counselors got on the bus today to go to the Palisades Center. There were about 7 or 8 of them, and most of them seemed to be from the UK.

After seeing that the price was $2.10, the first girl asked “That’s a dime. Which one is a dime again?” as she quickly scanned the change in her palm. A helpful counselor behind her piped up, “Just look for the smallest one!”

How much can you get for €10, $.25 (quarter), and $.10 (dime)? Not a lot, but it’s a start.

Of course I breathed a sigh of relief, since I at least know the euro coins carry the denomination printed right on them.

While I am talking about money, what’s the point of Dutch ATMs dispensing €50 instead of €20? If you ask for €60, you get €50 and €10. I would hate to be the poor shopkeeper that had to make change for that (but I guess some just refuse).

Number of days (straight) I have studied Dutch: 4.

Yesterday’s lesson: Verbs: future perfect.

Categories: Culture, Daily Dutch living | Tags: | Leave a comment

Happenings (Or: On other dutch blog posts)

I am tempted to put a “counter” on the top of each blog post, similar to the ones you see at the “Looking Overseas for the American Dream” blog.

Number of days I have studied Dutch: 3

(See? If it’s anything like this blog, that means I will never go a day without studying Dutch. When I first started this blog, I never thought I would go post every single day. But then it gets into my routine, and good luck getting it out again.)

Speaking of blogs, here are some blog posts that I have found interesting lately (note: just a sampling).

1. Six Degrees of Separation, by Journalist on the Run

Guy loses camera while vacationing in Europe. Another person finds camera. Posts pictures to Facebook. Lots and lots of people share said pictures in hopes that the original guy sees it. Guy is found. – That post inspired my blog post.

2. Dutch for Dummies: Or how I am going to bump up my Dutch a level or two this summer, by a Georgia Peach Abroad

Ah, the joy of inburgeringAnd getting screwed out of getting a good class so you have to work three times as hard to keep up. If you are an expat (or a native Dutchie) with advice feel free to stop by her blog.

Continue reading

Categories: Daily Dutch living | Tags: | 2 Comments

Verb tenses (Or: The pluperfect and future in Dutch)

I’ve decided that pluperfect is a very interesting English word. English might have been my major in college, but even I admit it’s hard to remember what the pluperfect tense does exactly. I don’t recommend going to Wikipedia, since the language pages tend to be a bit too much.

So I looked up some other random websites and determined that it is an action which occurred before a point in the past. I had already gone outside when he came home. I think this tense would be a lot easier to remember if it was always called ‘past perfect’ rather than ‘pluperfect’ – you see it mentioned both ways.

For the Dutch version I looked at Dutchgrammar. It didn’t seem that different after all – you also use the pluperfect in Dutch when you want to refer to an event that occurred before another past event. Most verbs use the past tense of hebben (to have) with the verb’s past participle. – ik had gewerkt. I had worked. Occasionally you use zijn (to be) instead – ik was gevallen – I had fallen.

Final verdict: Think of it as ‘past perfect’ rather than ‘pluperfect’.

The pluperfect was last night. Tonight was the (simple) future. As this tense doesn’t need participles, it already seemed easier! There are generally two verbs which are used – zullen (i.e. ik zal or I shall) and gaan (to go). Generally if you are promising something, or you give the probability something will happen, or you use it within an if-then conditional…

If you give a mouse a cookie, then he will want a glass of milk. If you give a mouse a glass of milk… Als je een muis een koekje geeft, wil hij ook een glas melk. (Google says this might be a Dutch proverb?) Regardless, one of my favorite if-then books.

…then you use zullen. Otherwise, if you’re not promising anything, or giving a specific frame of reference when it will happen (today, tomorrow, next month), or you aren’t using an if/then startement, you can use gaan (to go – so ‘I am going to go to the club’).

Verdict: Makes sense to me. Now let’s see if it sticks . . .

There’s more mentioned at the Dutchgrammar pages, but I’ll leave that for you to find!

Categories: Learning Dutch | Tags: | Leave a comment

Dutch music (Or: Pondering the concept of time management)

It has been a productive weekend in some ways, not so productive in others. But do you ever have a day or two where you say “Okay, no matter what, I am putting my enjoyment first?” That was pretty much theme of this weekend. I think I did pretty well.

Usually there’s projects that need to get done. Sometimes this means I work on them from dinner until it’s about time to go to bed, minus a bit of time at the end where I write the nightly ritual of an email to Marco of course. Occasionally with a cup of tea and speculaas cookies. But after a week of 2-3 hours a night, I said no más! The weekend is mine.

Continue reading

Categories: News | Tags: | 6 Comments

Cotton (Or: A boyfriend’s good intentions)

Before one of my trips to the Netherlands, Marco was trying to be a good boyfriend (note: he passed with flying colors and double rainbows). He knew that I use cotton balls to wash my face each morning. So he had the bright idea of getting me some cotton from Albert Heijn:

Yes… he got me a bag of watten (cotton) … but it was not in ball form at all. Nope.

As it turned out, I also brought some cotton balls on the trip, as I didn’t know that he had gotten anything for me. But, as unluckiness would have it… I had packed my cotton balls and my face cleanser in a sandwich bag. But I didn’t realize that the cleanser wasn’t fully closed, so all of the cotton balls were wet and ruined when I opened the luggage. So Marco’s odd zigzag cotton saved the day!

But let me tell you, it was a bit weird to pull apart bits of cotton to use. Usually I got a piece that was three times larger than I needed! I think that stuff was better intended for arts and crafts projects.

But thank you, Marco, for saving the day yet again!

Categories: Marco&Niki | Tags: | 1 Comment

Colonization (Or: Dutch is the best choice!)

A long time before there was Marco in my world, there was Colonization.

1994, in fact.

It was my first time learning about the Dutch (who knows how accurate it really was). Colonization is a Sid Meier computer game where you can choose from one of four nationalities (Spanish, English, French, or Dutch). Your goal was to leave the Old World to come colonize the New World of the Americas. As it was a ‘city building’ type game, it was right up my alley, along with the Civilization series, Sim City, Caesar, and Pharaoh/Cleopatra.

You see a pattern of what games I like to play? I don’t like to fight much, though I’ll tolerate it if it’s not the main focus of the game.

In Colonization, every nationality had its own perk. For instance, English was into immigration, so you got an extra immigrant at the start of the game plus more immigration bonuses later on. The French interact better with the native Indians, while the Spanish get a bonus when fighting the Indians. But the Dutch… the Dutch get better prices, and they get an awesome Dutch galleon ship at the start of the game which can carry 6 units of cargo.

From The Dutch look to be taking over the world… or at least this part of South America. There’s some Indian cities on the left (the grey cities with the cross and exclamation points) plus an Indian in a loin cloth, and an English settlement in the upper right.

So for most of my time playing Colonization, I played the Dutch. I am all about trading and cargo and getting money. Although my second favorite choice was the English for their immigration benefits.

A view from the city’s production screen. Note on the lower half in the middle, they are currently loading a Dutch galleon with its coveted 6 cargo spots. Currently it has muskets in the first cargo hold.

The one thing you always have to be weary of is making some cheap money by selling muskets and horses to the Indians. You think they won’t use them against you 30 turns later? Ha.

The goal of the game is to declare your indepence from the Old World… but when you click the revolution button, you better be prepared for the wave of revolutionary army units which appear right off your shores 1-2 turns later. The more cities you have, the more units will appear.  You’ll see that this particular city is not looking for a revolution that much, as in the lower left only 2 colonists (19%) want it, whereas 11 colonists (81%) still prefer not to rock the boat. But that will change. That will change.

It’s almost enough to tmake me want to download a copy of the game again. Hmmm…

If you’re interested in a nicely detailed strategy guide, check out the Civilization wiki (both games are Sid Meier titles).

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 3 Comments

Heat (Or: Would you jump in this fountain?)

Heat: Two days of soaring high temperatures where frying eggs on the sidewalk is not completely out of the question. Both were 36C+ with temperatures feeling like 40C+ (105F) today.

But only two days’ worth. It breaks tonight, and then the thunderstorm rolls in.   Of course today the bus was a bit late due to an accident around the Lincoln Tunnel, so standing at the bus stop in that kind of heat for 40 minutes was… not fun. (Of course, this is where I have to admit the driver of my bus occasionally reads this blog, so if you stumble across this post Mr. bus driver, I know that you are not to blame! :))

Heat: Here’s hoping the Miami Heat don’t win the NBA championship tonight. I would at least like it to be a series.

Not Heat: Continuing the fountain theme of the last few days, here’s another picture of the fountain at Rijkswijk. Marco took it for me last month.

Would you jump into this fountain on a 36C+ day?

The amusing thing about this fountain is they do clean it about a few times a year… and it goes back to green within 2 days of the cleaning. It’s near the Bogaardplein.

Categories: Rijswijk, Sports | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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