Monthly Archives: August 2012

Replacements (Or: Dutch bicycles

Random picture of the day. Here is the replacement bike that Roger bought last month:

Here’s hoping this one doesn’t “wander off” for many, many years!

Categories: Culture | Tags: | 2 Comments

Reflections (Or: College conferences, past and present)

Today was the fall college conference. We always have one the week before classes start in August, and one in January before classes begin. In addition, the month of May brings a “service recognition luncheon”. At some point I realized that this was my last college conference, just like in May it was my last service recognition luncheon.

Odd, how time flies. Odd how I see others being introduced for the first time, and I can still remember being introduced myself, and the joke that was cracked to me in front of everyone: “Your predecessor served for 30 years. Did you know that the contract you signed stipulated you would stay for 30 years as well?” There was a chance back then, however small. But there is no more chance. But this is by no means a pessimistic post.

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Categories: Moving | Tags: | Leave a comment

New drink (Or: Coffee cubes and milk)

It had been about a month but I finally decided to try Trpana’s idea about milk with “ice” cubes made of coffee.

Not nearly as pretty as Trpana’s coffee cubes!

Actually, last night was my 2nd attempt. The first time, I only put four coffee cubes in, and the coffee doesn’t melt that fast in milk. This time I put the rest of the ice cube tray in – about 7 or 8. It took about 75 minutes and a glass and a half of milk before they finally melted all of the way.

Amother thing to consider is that even though I normally like my coffee black with no milk or sugar added, this experiment could have done with a bit of sugar in the coffee itself when being brewed. A straw is also pretty handy, to stir it up occasionally.

It was an interesting drink… I am not sure if I will have it again right away, but it definitely had its place.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 2 Comments

Speculoos (Or: Chopped Grill Masters)

Earlier today I was doing some work for Avatar MUD (closing loopholes people were abusing – what else is new!), and I had Chopped Grill Masters on my TV as background noise. On Chopped, four different chefs compete each week to see who is the best. There are three rounds: appetizers, entrees, and desserts. One chef is eliminated each round. Grill Masters is a special version of that, with 4 episodes – 16 chefs competing for a spot on the finale (the 5th and final episode).

Anyway, at one point I thought I heard something, but I wasn’t sure. I glanced up from my work and listened. It was as I thought – one of the required appetizer ingredients was speculoos!

Speculoos (speculoospasta) is basically a paste made from speculaas cookies, both Dutch treats. According to Marco it was first marketed in 2007. Thankfully Marco had recently mailed me another two boxes of speculaas cookies for my coworkers and I, so I have enough to last for now.

So yes, I saw something Dutch (or Flemish, or Belgian…) on my TV today. Pretty cool.

Categories: Food | 5 Comments

Fridays (Or: A welcome day off)

I took today off, after having night shifts the other four days this week. How nice! Though of course Marco commented to me later about how I was still up and out the door by 8AM to get to the laundromat… but at least I don’t have to do that tomorrow.

Work has been kind of crazy, with various coworkers on vacation. I have spent more time covering the front desk in the last two weeks than the last half a year prior. And it’s less than a week to go before the students come back – eek!  There is always so much to do, and never enough time.

I probably should be somewhat pensive today – since it was my choice to stay in the States until December. You see, if I had gone with the earlier option (leaving at the end of the yearly August-August contract rather than extending it one more semester), I would be leaving for the Netherlands in the next day or two. Admittedly things would have been easier if I had, but that wasn’t information I had at the time. But, tomorrow is 4 months to go (tentatively). So we are almost there.

On a different note, here’s some more local news from New York City. Check out this scaffolding.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Some areas of NYC now support artwork on their scaffolding. You can read more abut it and local law 11.

And on a final note I must add – because it might never happen again! – The Hague looks like it will be warmer than New York this weekend. Tomorrow New York won’t even hit 80F.

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Little things (Or: Exchanging grocery keychains)

After Marco wrote the blog post about the Hello Kitty keychain, I thought about a few other keychains he and I have given each other. Slightly more practical, but not really…

At one point, I thought I had lost my Shoprite card, so I went to the grocery store to ask for another one. They said they would mail me one, but it would take 4-6 weeks, and that in the meantime I could use my phone number. Sometime in those 4-6 weeks, I found the card and forgot all about the ones that were to arrive in the mail.

But arrive they did – so I had the brilliant idea to give one to Marco. I believe I did so near the end of one of the trips, probably when he was about to pack his luggage. (Though my memory is a bit faulty at times!) He was thrilled, even if it really only has a use for about 6 weeks out of the year. But it does have some use, since occasionally I am at work when Roger and him visit so they need the card if I instruct them to do the grocery shopping!

At the bottom you can also see the tip of a blue key. That’s actually a key made from a New York Rangers mold… and its one of the copies of my house key. So technically he can get in whenever he wants, if there wasn’t an ocean in between.

Shortly after I gave Marco a Shoprite card, he gave me a keychain card of my own.

An Albert Heijn bonus card. Which will probably find a lot of use in about 4 months…

Categories: Marco&Niki | Tags: | Leave a comment

Power lines (Or: Trimming tree branches)

As I was walking to the post office today, I came across a service truck. The worker was in the middle of cutting down tree branches that were obstructing the power lines.

As you can see, there are power lines at the top of the image. If you’re American, this is a normal everyday sight (although one of my coworkers lives in a town where all of the lines are buried underground). But I still remember the first time Marco told me that the power lines in the Netherlands were underground.

Of course, this means they are much less likely to break when a storm hits. Like last October when most of the Northeast was out of power for a week (some places two weeks). I ended up spending the night at a coworker’s just to have a guaranteed shower and warmth. It got down in the mid 50s (Fahrenheit) in my place! There was an article written a few weeks ago about why most of the United States doesn’t bury their power lines (only 18% do). Mainly due to cost to the consumer, upkeep needed more often, and the type of rock they would have to dig into.

So just remember that the next time you see a power line. Or don’t see a power line…

Categories: Daily Dutch living | 2 Comments

Hello Niki (Or: Wait..was she somehow trying to tag me as her property?)

From Marco…

A short time before Niki and I met, a friend of mine visited Japan.
We joked that she should bring me a Hello Kitty phone charm and that I’d attach it to my phone.
I expected her to forget but she didn’t…
Being crazy enough to be a man of my word in situations like this, I hung the charm as promised.
If I remember correctly it was a little rocker H. Kitty.

At some point in the conversations with Niki I showed the charm (possibly already at the first convention we met, but it might’ve been at another one).

Maybe to give the impression that despite being big and evil, I was not above being silly and cute 🙂
Or maybe it was just a simple and fun topic “hey look, I am crazy, I have a girlish charm on my phone”
I’m not sure if it helped to impress her, but she definitely remembered it.

Because some time later, the cord of the charm broke, so I took it off the phone. Then, not long after that, I got a gift from Niki.
A new Hello Kitty figure holding a pink heart with an even tinier little heart dangling next to it.
At this time we were still “just friends” but now I have to wonder if she wasn’t secretly claiming me already*grin*

To prevent scratching the enamel*, I put tape over the figure & heart. Though the heart has some scratches anyways..

She said I could use it to replace the other one but since it was a bit bigger than the original I decided to hang it from my key chain. (also the original was more of a small figurine, while this is more like a flat charm, I’m sure there’s an actual word for it)
It’s been on there ever since. Usually when I take my keys out of my pocket when I get home from work my fingers search for it just to make sure it’s still there.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a good luck charm or anything like it, but I got it from Niki, so obviously it’s dear to me.

* I had to look up enamel since it’s not an every-day word. Fun fact, in Dutch it’s email (or emaille in French)
Ooops. I bet not many people use it for THAT meaning these days.

Categories: Marco&Niki | 2 Comments

Mondays (Or: A break in the routine)

As most of my friends know, I do like my routine. But this week, due to various coworkers all deciding to go on vacation during the same two weeks, there is only anti-routine. I have to work nights rather than days. Thankfully the library closes 3 hours earlier in the summer, or this would be even worse.

But it’s so hard to tell my body Sleep in past 6am. Please. You know you (don’t) want to. So I went to bed after midnight, and up by 6. Not cool at all. And if I was at work right now, I’d be enjoying a cup of tea! (We always have a tea break at 9:30 in the morning. No, I don’t live in England.) On the plus side, I answered a lot of emails, took a shower, and am writing this blog post very early in the day. And after this, it is time to study Dutch a bit before my ride comes.

Lately Marco and I have been trying a new tactic – he gives me specific sentences to study (he also found audio files online for these sentences), and then when we meet up on videochat, we go over them. Sometimes the first time he says the sentence, I have no idea what he just said. But then he slows it down a bit and I get it. But of course these sentences are full of tongue twisters and Dutch sayings which don’t translate literally, so even Google translate isn’t always a help to me. But I do feel like my speech is slowly improving, though it is definitely baby steps.

Here are some interesting blog posts that I came across today while trying desperately to catch up:

Molen van Sloten, by Ghoti Industries

Post about the only public windmill in the Netherlands which even lets you go inside. Apparently pretty close to Amsterdam. I put it into my Chrome folder for “places to visit” someday.

Een dagje naar het strand (A day at the beach), by Fronz

Some nice photos, especially the first one. It looked like a very relaxing day.

Categories: Learning Dutch | Tags: | 3 Comments

In style (Or: Motorcycle hearses)

On my way home today, I passed the local Catholic church. A group of bushes blocks the driveway – so I tend to peek around the corner cautiously to make sure there aren’t any cars coming.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a funeral hearse parked there. But not just any hearse – a motorcycle hearse. (not my image – taken from the website)

They are based out of East Brunswick, NJ.  I have been there a few times, as I did my Masters at nearby New Brunswick (Rutgers University). Surprisingly I did not see a lot of motorcycles lying in wait outside as I walked past today. There were a lot of cars though, double parked and idle while waiting for the funeral procession.

What a way to go – in style all the way.

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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