Everyday purchases

Weird purchases by Xenos (Or: Licorice popcorn? Really?)

I think it is apt that ‘Xenos’ means strange in Greek. This store in The Hague manages to capture strange very well, although most of the purchases are of the more mundane variety. For example, here is licorice flavored popcorn:

And, slightly less strange, Danish cookies with the tin branded with an emoji theme. The cookies themselves look normal, though.

In other news: whew, it is warm. And that’s with three fans going at the moment. I can imagine this penguin also wanted to swim for colder waters: Escapee penguin recaptured after 11 kilometre swim to freedom (dutchnews.nl).

And in good news: Germany picks up costs for Dutch Covid-19 patients treated in German ICUs (nltimes.nl). The bill was about 20 million euros. As the German minister of health said back in April: “Europe stands together, even in times of crises”. I’m not sure that has always been true this year, but it is a nice sentiment. They are also paying the bills for Covid-19 patients from Belgium, France, Italy and Spain who were treated in Germany.

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Today’s special guest star (Or: The sun)

As you know the Netherlands is experiencing a bit of a heat wave this week. This is the first one of the year (the other two times it was warm it only lasted a day or two).

Here’s a look at all of the sunscreen and similar products by Etos, which is a drug store like Walgreens or Rite Aid in America. No food products or prescriptions, though.

That is a lot of sunscreen! But a lot of people are heading to the beach this week (nltimes.nl), so it is needed.

Marco made some lovely sour lemonade yesterday. Lots of lemon slices, lemon juice and water. Yum yum yum. Not to be confused with the Dutch “limonade” which is water with concentrated syrup. I actually had no idea until I read a post from another Dutch blog, Invading Holland, where the writer accidentally orders a limonade. And while I’m here, I’ll also link to his post from yesterday entitled What would it take to melt hagelslag? Hagelslag being the Dutch chocolate sprinkles that are usually put onto buttered bread.

Now I want some chocolate…

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Miniature shopping cart (Or: It’s so cute!)

Today I noticed a miniature shopping cart by the local Albert Heijn. It reminded me of the toy-sized groceries Albert Heijn was giving out with a valid purchase some years back. They were called keukenmini’s or kitchen miniatures.

Not much else here to say today, beyond this: have a lovely weekend and stay safe! And if you’re in the Netherlands, avoid those weekend raindrops.

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Miniature display (Or: Games workshop in The Hague)

Today’s photo is of the window display by Games Workshop, over on Schoolstraat.

And since it is a bit hard to see, here’s a close up of some of the miniatures:

Suddenly I have the urge to watch the Lord of the Rings movies again…

In other news:

  • Calls grow for facemasks in all Dutch public space to stop coronavirus spreading from dutchnews.nl. The mayor of Rotterdam is asking for more research to be done into whether or not the Netherlands should require facemarks at a national level, and how the laws could be put into place if needed. That way if the situation doesn’t get better it would be an easier transition, in theory. I don’t want to wear a face mask everywhere outside (who does, really?), but I can see the benefits. Therefore, if it was a requirement I would do so. One of the criticisms against it is that people will think they no longer need to socially distance if they are wearing face masks.
  • Amsterdam to get first post-pandemic drive-in movie theater from nltimes.nl. This is almost enough reason for me to want a car (but not really, never, no thanks). But it’s a cool idea in general and I hope it sticks around.
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If you like hagelslag, try these… (Or: Variations at Albert Heijn)

Hagelslag in Dutch is basically chocolate sprinkles. I like to eat them occasionally, but I’ll admit I don’t eat them in the traditional way: on buttered bread. The butter is needed to keep the hagelslag from sliding off the bread as you raise it to your mouth. No thanks, I’ll skip the butter and take a risk. …and listen to the clink clink clink as a few pieces of chocolate fall off and crash into my plate. It’s all good.

I recently saw that Albert Heijn came out with variations on the traditional sprinkles theme:

The brownie bites caught my eye first. However I did not purchase them as I am afraid that I would eat them directly out of the box. Yum. Strooifeest, seen at the top of the box, translates to something like “sprinkle party”.

Oh, to be a kid again and enjoy eating that much sugar with breakfast. I have fond memories of eating Rice Krispies cereal with a few spoonfuls of sugar at my grandparent’s house. Luckily I was already too old for sugary cereals by the time Reese’s Puffs hit the market in 1994, which is a chocolate and peanut butter cereal. Very American, really. I remember being quite shocked that anyone would put peanut butter (or peanut butter flavor) into cereal. But it seems rather normal these days…

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Temptation at the checkout lane (Or: It’s not quite like the US)

In the last year Albert Heijn started adding candy and other snacks to the area by the self-service registers. It’s not very tempting though, probably because they don’t have that much room to show off the “goods”:

So, five choices generally. And they aren’t well-stocked and they don’t look that appealing visually. At least try to get the barcodes looking a bit more similar, please? Although I suppose there will come a day when I desperately need that extra purchase to get me over ten euros to get a stamp. If you get 10 or 20 of those you can usually get something good (if the promotion is right).

In other news:

  • I don’t know if you remember the train derailment in The Hague at the start of the year, but the report of what went wrong was released earlier this week (omroepwest.nl). The type of train that derailed is often used in routes which require hard and frequent braking, however the maintenance schedule for this train type did not take this into account. The train’s brakes were worn, causing two wheels to completely derail and damage to a few dozen meters of track. A conductor and passenger were both injured, but not seriously.
  • Did you know that the Show/hide formatting marks button in MS Word has the nickname onderwater tekens or onderwaterscherm in Dutch? I mean the button which shows you carriage returns or non-breaking spaces. In English that translates to “underwater marks” or “underwater screen”. In other words: looking under water to see what you normally can’t see. Hmm. It’s not the formal name, of course.
  • Great, now I am thinking of the MS Word paperclip. “Clippy” was his name (theverge.com).
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Coffffeee (Or: A cappuccino by Lebkov)

What can I say? I didn’t like coffee growing up. I actually didn’t start drinking it until after grad school, when I used to live in New York. Two things happened to change that:

  • Marco and his mom took a trip out to New York to see me, but I was warned she liked her coffee first thing in the morning. And since my previous residence was on the top of a very steep hill, walking to the nearby deli every morning was not an option. So I bought a cheap one-cup coffee maker. (Maybe I didn’t like coffee back then, but I did love smelling the fresh coffee grounds.)
  • In 2011 the Halloween nor’easter hit, which brought lots and lots of snow. Easily up to my knees. But the bigger problem was the lack of power: my apartment lost power for 3 or 4 days, which meant it was bitterly cold within a day inside my apartment. Let’s say it was something like 50F / 10C, but I don’t remember exactly anymore. I do remember that I spent the last night at a coworker’s because I just couldn’t get warm enough. And that cold in my bones stuck around for weeks. I started drinking coffee shortly thereafter to warm up and then once I moved to the Netherlands it became part of the evening routine.
Cappuccinos by the local Lebkov café. Yum!

In other news:

  • Good news! Diego the tortoise, father to hundreds and saviour of his species, finally retires from theguardian.com. Diego was one of 25 giant tortoises released from captivity recently. With his species threatened with extinction (he was one of only two males on his island, along with 12 females) he was moved to California’s San Diego zoo back in the 1960s. There have since been 2,000 giant tortoises born from a breeding program, with estimates saying that Diego was responsible for 800 of those young! Wow. He has been returned to the island he left as a teenager.
  • And continuing the animal theme, here is a YouTube video from the Dutch safaripark Beekse Bergen, where a extremely rare sort of deer was born late last month:

These sort of deer don’t live in the wild anymore, and there are about 1,500 in captivity (from 16 at its lowest).

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What is your R number? (Or: Corona dashboard)

Last week the RIVM (Dutch ministry of Health) released a prototype of the Corona dashboard which can be found at coronadashboard.rijksoverheid.nl.

As you can see it shows things like ICU intakes and hospital intakes averaged over the last three days (6 and 8.7), number of infected persons per 100,000 residents (9.9) and the very well known R number, which is currently 0.87. There are also data points about nursing homes and a list of data points they are looking to add in the coming weeks.

In completely other news: sometimes trips to the grocery store can be very, very interesting. Today I wanted to grab a water bottle however there was already another customer there looking at multipack water bottles. Okay, he was right in front of what I needed, so I decided to wait. Even in non-corona times, it would have probably been perceived as rude, and it’s not like he would take that long right?

Wrong. After 2 minutes of semi-patient waiting I decided to look at my watch to start timing the rest of this experience. He had a pack of water in his basket already and he would grab another slightly different pack and look at the label. He would then put it into his basket and then pick up something else and look at the label of that water pack.

After the first minute someone else stopped and was clearly waiting to grab something from the water as well. After three minutes I did start to get a bit impatient, but tried to keep it from showing on my face. It must have been obvious that I was still standing there waiting, right? The other person was behind him on the other side of the aisle, so I could forgive him not seeing her. In the meantime about 15 people walked down the middle of the aisle, probably wondering what the heck the bottleneck was. But this was the last item I needed to get, and I was morbidly curious to see how this would play out.

After switching out the multipacks in his basket about 5 times, and staring at labels about 10 times, he finally picked one, grabbed the rest of his stuff and got a move on. The other customer politely waited for me to grab my water which I quickly did. Her and I shared a smile, neither believing what we had just experienced. I whispered fijne dag while deftly grabbing my water with my left hand. Total time it took him: 5+ minutes. Total time it took me: about half a second.

But now I have a good story for the blog, so it was worth the extra five or so minutes, right?

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Enter the showers (Or: Coronavirus measures at the local Albert Heijn)

I promised my parents a photo of the local Albert Heijn and one particular coronavirus measure: the curtains that hang from floor to ceiling. This measure has been in place since the beginning of the lockdown, however this morning was a particularly quiet day where there was no one around so I could more easily take a quick photo.

Originally there was a curtain between each of the self-scan areas, but as you can see at least one curtain is now missing in the background. On the other hand, when it was first implemented it was hard to see if a register was already in use or not. So I don’t mind removing one or two curtains to be able to more clearly see where you need to walk.

One thing that I do hope they implement soon is walking routes. Right now you can go in any direction you want in the grocery store, and even double backwards in the same aisle if you forget something. That means that people pass each other frequently. Although it is more annoying, I think it would be better to say that you can go only go down this aisle, and up the next aisle, and etc. If you forget something then you need to go around again.

On the other hand, on a more personal level the better solution is to keep visiting at times when the store is quiet, either in the early mornings or later in the evening.

Random links of the day:

New Banksy piece celebrates superhero health workers (theguardian.com)

NS scraps group discounts, bans bikes in trains as it prepares for more travelers (nltimes.nl)

And an article about the new panda cub in Dutch: Pandababy in Rhenen met ‘uitzonderlijk lange staart’ maakt het goed (nos.nl)

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Support local (Or: Lebkov in The Hague)

This morning I took an extended walk, ending at Lebkov which is a café not far from Centraal Station. I ordered two large cappuccinos, both with an extra shot espresso. One for me, one for Marco. (Or maybe both were for me – you’ll never know!)

Since I used to steal their wifi so much during weekends–and want to do so again in the future–I need to make sure they survive. I love that place.

Are there any places that you want to highlight for the #supportlocal movement?

In other news:

  1. For those of us with Disney Plus: Prop Culture is now available. These roughly 30 minutes episodes show you props from various Disney movies, including Honey, I shrunk the kids!, Mary Poppins, Who framed Roger Rabbit, Chronicles of Narnia, and more (8 episodes total, all available now).
  2. Just a few more days until Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian starts, also on Disney Plus. Premiering on May 4th, of course. May the fourth be with you. This is the behind the scenes show for The Mandalorian.
  3. Available to everyone: have you seen the At Home With Olaf series?! Each clip (lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 90 seconds) is a-dor-able. If you’re an Olaf fan. Which you are, right? Unfortunately yesterday’s clip was the last. Boo!
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