Archive for the 'bike' Category

Kick and Push

It’s gotten very cold lately. I’m already worried about the inevitablity of cycling on ice. (Yes, the bike on the left is my bike. Lovely, isn’t it?) I don’t think putting chains on the tires will help in this case. This could get seriously unpleasant. It doesn’t really snow in the Netherlands like it used to, but it will rain. That black ice could be a killer.

I’ve noticed a lot of motorized wheel chairs in the bike lane, as well. (I can haz government jazzy? Pleez?) That might slow down for a few months. Argh, I hate ice.

I hope I don’t become some kind of hermit when it gets cold. I’ve already been kept inside by the cold and and rain; it’s only the end of October.

Maybe I’ll just piss everyone off and get a skateboard. And listen to this remix of Kick, Push by Lupe Fiasco and pretend that I’m badass.

Kick, Push (Estaw remix) by Lupe Fiasco

Let’s do some shots, you know I can’t turn ’em down.

People use water here for everything. The canal system serves as a water park, a great place for a restaurant on a barge, and, for an unfortunate many, an impromptu bike lot. I’ve seen the canal cleaning boat twice since I’ve been here, (without my camera, alas) and both times it’s been piled high with blackened bicycles scraped from the bottom of the grachts.

They probably landed there because some bicycle thieves rode them for a victory lap, then shoved the evidence in the drink when they got bored. Speaking of drink, here’s another theory: inebriated miscalculation. I’ve never been drunk on a bike, but I’m clumsy enough to have trouble parking it sober. Some people probably tried to chain their bikes to a bridge or some other railing, and the bikes went overboard. Or, even better, they cycled right into the canal. I’m not sure how deep the canals are but I think they are easy to escape if you fall in. They’re definitely nasty enough to motivate an escape. I mean, houseboats use them a sewers. Hell, drunken pedestrians use them as sewers! It’s gross.

Anyway, here’s the song of the day: Nosebleed by Illinois. You might know it from an episode of Weeds or from me yacking on about what a good song this is. Enjoy!

Download Nosebleed by Illinois.

I’ve seen the future:

And the future is this sexy cardboard bike that I’ve spotted on the Dwell Magazine blog. The bike is super low cost, $30, and is great for deterring thieves. I’d want something like in Leiden, except that it’s so intriguingly ugly that someone would want to steal it just so show off to their bike-thief friends. I’ll get it when it’s widely sold and super popular. Then again, if it does get stolen, it would be easy to spot from the normal bikes. Choices, choices.

Een jaar?

Apparently, academic years at Leiden are very similar to real people (i.e. not American academic) years: 365 days. I wonder what that means, really. Does that mean that I’m there for the whole time? Maybe I’ll peace out in May? I’m not certain. The classes don’t go on into eternity, but maybe I’ll still be writing my thesis then. It’s scary to write “thesis” in the prospective sense again, and so soon, but it’s worth it. Can somebody tell me how master’s programs at Leiden work? I can’t find a detailed English academic calendar to save my life. I’m sure there’s a break in there somewhere.

If there isn’t, I totally don’t mind. I’d love to be in the land of cheese and bicycles for a nice long time. I like being abroad. As much as I (and Miffy) love New York, I think that the further I am, the faster I’ll grow. That’s not a hard and fast rule for everyone, but I know this is the case for me.

If I didn’t get into Leiden this time around I was like, “Meh, maybe I’ll take a year off.” But to be perfectly honest, I’m not a big fan of limbo. I get anxious in those situations very easily. I’d rather use my momentum than lose it. I’m 21 now, so I might as well do it while I’m young.

I do not expect study abroad, the sequel. I was in Amsterdam with a bunch of other little American undergrads. This is a different story, and perhaps a preferable one.

Murder on the Bike Path

I’m about thirty pages into a Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma. So far, it’s very good. It’s mostly about the 2004 stabbing of Theo van Gogh, as well as the killing of Pim Fortuyn, the wacky, openly gay right wing politician who had a huge following. They were friends and very anti-Muslim. Van Gogh was killed by a Muslim fundamentalist, but Fortuyn had been killed by a Dutch animal rights activist.

Only in the Netherlands.

I’m still looking for a more 1992 centric source for daily life in Amsterdam. And I’m not finding enough English language resources about the daily lives/roles of foreigners in Amsterdam. Until I do, I’m sure I can just make some stuff up, polder it out and create ground to stand on where there was none before. It’s a very Dutch thing to do.

Empire of Light

Dutch Word of the Day

ontdekking: discovery
Ik heb nieuwe ontdekkingen gemaakt.
I have made new discoveries.

1. Biking in a skirt is a mess.

It’s not a total nightmare, it just makes me feel very self conscious. I could see it taking a while to get used to.

2. I will never get over how bright it is here at night.

This picture is from 10:30 PM at Dam Square.

3. Dutch people love baile funk. And religious holidays.

I knew this from Koninginnedag, but I didn’t know how intense it was. We went to Dansen last night and the DJ was going completely nuts. It was more, “Look what I can do!” rather than, “Wanna dance?” At one point he started to throw in some baile funk for no reason. Like, no reason what so ever. I loved it, but the whole set took a really long time to get good.

If you listen to Diplo’s Favela Strikes back, it sounds a lot like Track 4. I don’t know what song it is, but it sounds exactly like a song I heard on Queensday while I was trying to get through the crowds of orange drunk people. And they were all dancing to this.

As for religious holidays, “Pinksterdag”, which is Pentecost, means a day or two of inconvenience for me. Some of the buildings I need (with nice shiny computer labs) are going to be closed. For a country with so many atheists, they have no problem sleeping in for Jesus.

I’ll have a special guest star edition coming up because the best legal mind in America (no, not Matlock, but my baby brother) is coming by for a visit.

Amsterdam: Vice City

Dutch Word of the Day
mooi: beautiful
Het is een mooi dag!
It is a beautiful day!

Yes, I am aware that yesterday was 4/20. And yes, I am also aware that I’m currently living Amsterdam. But yesterday really doesn’t mean a lot to me. I’ve never really been a drug doing/non-asthmatic person who would be willing to spend all of that money on the stuff from a coffeeshop. I wouldn’t be surprised if they jacked up the prices just for that day (think chocolates on Valentine’s, flowers on Easter).

After discussing this with my friend Alex (who shall be guest starring very soon, so I’m excited about that) I realized that the drug situation in Amsterdam becomes a lot like the alcohol situation in America. If you come from a country where there’s a ban on alcohol and you decide you’ll take a semester abroad in New York, all of your friends will make booze jokes and assume that’s all you’re going there for. In reality, New York is more than it’s liquor stores, but if you’re from a country without any, it’s assumed that’s all you can think about.

I guess this is a long and polite way of asking people not to make annoying stoner jokes when I come back. (Unless you yourself are a stoner. Then I will grant you immunity.) No, you’re not the first one to come up with it. Yes, I did get the same joke on the way out. It can die now. Thank you.

So it goes.

Yesterday I just went to class, had lunch with my aunt, then slept forever. Not terribly exciting, but it’s all good. I need to get back to the gym. The bike’s been pretty good for exercise, though. It’s currently napping in the bike shelter beneath the building, cause I don’t want it to get stolen.

I think they should make a Dutch version of Grand Theft Auto and have it on a bike. You could just ride around, beating people up and stealing their bikes with a swinging soundtrack in the background. Granted, you can’t really beat up hookers. They’re behind the windows and can push panic buttons if threatened. With the exception of the Hell’s Angels, there’s not a lot of organized crime around here, but I’m sure Rockstar Games will think of something.

Pimp Mijn Fiets

Dutch Word of the Day
voorspelbaar: predictable
Vanddag’s titel was voorspelbaar.
Today’s title was predictable.

Since the euro rose against the dollar again (it’s now 1: 1.35) I’m afraid I don’t see a lot of bike pimping in the future. I’ll have to cancel the instillation of the jacuzzi on the backwheel, the spinning rims, and the soundsystem that was supposed to be built into the handlebars. The new paint job and velour upholestry is in jeopardy as well. At least I’ll keep the GPS system that sounds like Kit from KnightRider.

I used the remainder of my bad internet reparations money on these little bike lights for night riding and a back of the bike bag, both from HEMA, the Dutch equivalent of Target/Woolworth’s.

Note that I didn’t buy a helmet. No one here buys them, let alone sells them. The only helmets I’ve seen were on little American kids on rented bikes. They probably brought them from home. Unless you’re competing in the Tour de France, you just don’t wear one.

I’m rather afraid of the euro rising to 1.40 before I leave. It’s was only 1.29 when I got here and it’s been getting worse. This is not good.


Dutch Word of the Day
pindakaas: peanut butter, but literally translated is “peanut cheese”. ew.
Het is pindakaas gelei tijd!!!
It’s peanut butter jelly time!!!

No, not really. But it was high time that I finally got the bike. So here’s the realization in three stages:

1. Nice weather: I mentioned going to the parks yesterday, but I didn’t mention that it took me forever and day to get there. In the time it takes me to walk up Prinsengracht, past Leidse and Museumpleins, then turn into Vondelpark, a bike would’ve gotten me there and back. Besides, there aren’t any ice storms to brave at the moment.

2. Little kids on bikes: They’re just appearing from out of nowhere. They’re usually accompanied by a vigiliant adult. It’s bad enough that the dogs know more Dutch that I do, but little kids having a more effective mode of transportation is more than I can bear.

3. Evil Dutch Professor: He’s not really evil, just kind of loveably snarky. So we’re having a guest speaker talking about city planning. He asks how many of us have bikes. Everyone but me raises their hands. Then he goes, “Well, who doesn’t have a bike? Anybody? Nobody’s without a bike?” Silence. Then Evil Dutch Professor goes, in a rather smug tone: “Lenore? Did you get a bike yet? Muahahaha.” You know it’s bad when real adults make fun of you. Gr.

Despite my horrible experience with the CIEE bike earlier and the fact that all the bikes are too long to fit my legs, I found a very nice one for a decent price (and size) at Waterlooplein. I can recognize it easily because it’s usually the shortest bike in the rack. And I’ve got three locks on it: the big chain on the front wheel and frame, the built-in back wheel lock, and an extra back wheel lock I attached just for kicks. My dorm has a bike shelter in the basement so the chances of it being swiped by junkies in the night is slim.

In a way, it’s better that I get in later on in the game. It takes about a month to learn to walk in Amsterdam, let alone ride a bike. This is going to be a lot of fun.

Fuckin’ bike

Dutch Word of the Day
fiets: bike
Ik “heb” een fiets.
I “have” a bike.

It’s really shitty though. I got it through my study abroad program. The seats an inch too tall and the back wheel’s got no air. I’ll see if anyone has a pump, but if that won’t fix it, it’s going back on Monday. This really pisses me off. At first they said they had a bike for me, but that it was broken and would need 60 euros to repair. Now they’re saying that wasn’t the case. I hope this back wheel’s flat and not broken. Wasted my entire day taking the thing around to see if they’d fix the seat and my back’s really sore.

Cash, Money

Always get your money changed at the post office as opposed to an independent money changer. You’ll get the best price and the most official exchange. Also, only bring small bills, like 20s, because $50 and above look sketch.

It’s really rainy out today. And the walk from Prinsengracht to Hendrikkade (where my classes are) is rather long. It’s a 30 minute walk, but a 15 minute bike ride. Hopefully the bike/deathtrap can change that.

Biking here is a a bit intimdaiting, but I figure that I can ride it on the gracht, and then walk it at busy intersections until I learn to keep up.

Other Obervation:

Dutch Word of the Day doden: kill Niet word gedood. Don’t get killed.

Don’t even try listening to your iPod while walking down the street. Between the trams and the bikes, you could totally get killed. I’ve only been able to use my iPod as a clock/alarm since I’ve been here. The 6 euro alarm clock is on 24 hour time, so it’s the only usual time I’m used to. There are “Apple Centres” here, and I’m not sure if they’re affiliated with the real Apple Store. They looke exactly the same, but the name throws me.

January 2022
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