Archive for June, 2008


So there’s going to be an indoor smoking ban in the Netherlands. They are one of the last countries to adopt this ban. In the traditional Dutch legal manner, there are loopholes to this law. The ban applies only to tobacco, but not weed (which is “illegal” anyway), so coffee shops should be in the clear. That is, of course, unless you have a blunt that includes tobacco. It’s a little ridiculous to apply the smoking ban to a coffeeshop, though. I mean, if you don’t want to be around smoke, don’t go to the Rokerij. Who would sue a coffeeshop because of exposure to second hand smoke?

Stay tuned!

Old People’s Home

So I found out where I’m living next year while I study at Leiden. It is on Kaarsenmakersstraat (yeah, pronounced as it looks) and it appears to be a cute little place. Tons of rooms, multiple kitchens on each floor and a beautiful garden with a small canal in the back.

So you might wonder: why this student building is so tranquil and accommodating? Well, here’s why:

The building is owned by Accommodate (SLS Wonen). It dates from 1827 and was designed by the municipal master builder Salomon van de Pauw. It is a former old people’s home, also called the ‘Minnehuis’, and used to be owned by the Reformed Church’s social welfare organisation.

Yup. That’s right: I’m at the Dutch version of the Springfield Retirement Castle. Love it. I’m something of a grouchy/fussy old lady at heart, so this is perfect for me. I think I’m going to enjoy this.

No spoilers here:

(Stolen from Koreanish, and he took it from someone else.) This is a wordle rendering of my thesis. It’s odd viewing a piece of work like this. It’s like all those months of work boil down to a bunch of keywords. There’s something sad about how easily is can be reduced to a pile of words, but I love neat little cells, so it’s also strangely appealing about this.

After this summer’s revision, I want to watch the words shift. Some of them need to get smaller, and others need to get larger.

Stuff Dutch People Like: Authenticity

One of Rembrandt’s (many) well lit, crazy faced self-portraits was finally authenticated. It was painted in Leiden, my home for next year. It’s currently living in the Rembrandt Huis in Amsterdam (which I loved and highly recommend) until June 29th. I’m not sure where it’s moving after that. It was purchased in England, so I think it’ll go back there.

It’s a really lovely painting. I’d like to see it, but I’m afraid I’ll be coming in  a month too late. But I can’t wait to meet Leiden and whatever my lofe there looks like. I can’t wait to ride a bike to Albert Heijn, do a little shopping, go home, and cook for myself while listening to American podcasts.

I’ve been out of school for about a month now, and I’ve been missing this learning thing. Comparing Leiden to Amsterdam seems like a fruitless endevor. They’re too different. It’s fine, though; I don’t want a happy rerun. I’m looking for something new.

It’s not right…

…but it’s OK.
Heineken hot tubs might be useful if you like your beer boiled to perfection. Different strokes. But it does make a fun first impression.

Joseph O’Neill: He’s alright!

I went to a reading of (aforementioned) Netherland at McNally-Robinson tonight. I’m a quarter through the book, and I love it. O’Neill signed it, and we commiserated about the DMV (read the book and find out). So far, I absolutely love this novel, particularly this little patch of writing right here:

…Later that night, she said, “Talk to me in Dutch,” and I did. Lekker stuk van me, I growled. “On second thoughts,” she said, “don’t talk to me in Dutch.”

Continue reading ‘Joseph O’Neill: He’s alright!’

Newbie Macbook

I’ve switched from an old iBook G4 to a shiny new (currently finger print covered) black Macbook. It’s beautiful. I’ve got tons of plans for it. I can finally download all the podcasts I want (i.e. Rachel Maddow, Selected Shorts, Tavis Smiley, etc.), mirco-manage my life in iCal, and possibly make videos. It’s wonderful.

So how to switch from an older mac to a new one? Especially when you weren’t smart enough to have an external hard drive the first time around?

Here’s what I’ve learned from the last time: Buy the Apple Care insurance. Just save yourself the grief in the long run. These things aren’t built forever, but no one needs expensive premature death. For transferring my Firefox bookmarks, I used a program called Foxmarks. For transferring my iTunes files from my iPod, I used a program called Senuti. Do not buy iPod Liberator; Senuti does the same thing for free. I downloaded Leopard Cache Cleaner so that useless cache files don’t build up. I’m using a proper Incase case. Never skimp on the case, or just throw it in a backpack without a case. It’ll be OK for a while, until large parts of your screen go black.

Here’s one ongoing debate: I can’t figure out whether to turn it on/off, or leave it on in perpetuum but let is sleep. I know constant re-booting can damage it, but I don’t want to drain the power. Lately it sleeps in the day, but is off at night. This is until I know what the best option is.

I want this thing to last for at least 5 years. Any suggestions?

I smell a field trip to Rotterdam!

They’ve always been creative about architecture over there. This particular firm, MVRDV, seems to have an emphasis on creating high buildings to avoid urban spawl. Elevator or no elevator, I’d really hate to live on anyone’s 10th floor, but the buildings are fun to look at. It’s amazing to see how many building’s I’ve passed in Amsterdam were made by these guys.

Read about them here.

Oh, darn.

I just realized that I won’t be around for the American election in November. As exciting as it’ll be, I am relieved that I will be spared of the overkill coverage. I’ve been avoiding CNN, but I still wake up to NPR, which is always “Clinton-this” or “Obama-that.” After a while, it became nerve-wracking. I’ve also grown tired of defending my choices and hearing other people defend theirs, whatever they may be. I have no problem with debate or intellectual discourse, but this has gone on for too long. We need something new to talk about. I either end up talking about the election, or the horrible gas prices. And I don’t even drive a car!

Being in a different country will, hopefully, allow me to ration out the news that I receive. I can turn the computer on, look at the news sites, and then turn it right off. No bombardment. I’d rather enjoy the glow of the fireplace rather than the flames. Hopefully, things will work out the way I want.

June 2008
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