Archive for the 'the more you know' Category

Ze other punishment

Despite it’s place in the name of this blog I rarely write about “Amherst College”, where I’ve spent the last four years of my life and where I am graduating from in a matter of weeks. I wrote about Amsterdam while I was there and I write about the outside world now, but Amherst’s interest for me mostly lies in interpersonal relations. Besides, if I did make blanket statements about the college, I’d be dumping four years of mixed feelings and frustrations out onto you.

As I told one of my professors earlier this week, I didn’t choose Amherst with much enthusiasm. Conversely, Amherst didn’t really choose me: my name just happened to be pulled from the wait list. Had that not happened, this blog would have been called Wesleyandam. (Well, at least the name worked out.) Since I’ve gotten in, I’ve toyed with the idea of transferring out way more than I should have. If you know me, you probably know why. I love the academics, but I’m not crazy about a lot of the people. Another reason to leave comes to mind when I see articles like this.

Now, Amherst will probably hate me for saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway: the food at Amherst College is a nightmare when compared to other similarly ranked colleges. What we have at Valentine Dining Hall is not fresh, it alternates between overcooked and undercooked, and they have no concept of seasoning. No concept whatsoever. Yes, high school senior who happened to Google “Amherst College”, “dining hall” etc. while doing some post-acceptance research and found this page. It’s true: this food’s really nasty. You will be sick, very sick at least until the end of orientation. I lost eight pounds in my freshman year, and I won’t get all of them back until I leave. Unless, of course, I start drinking as heavily as too many people here do. Please take this into consideration when you choose. I wish I had.

Saving you the Wikipedia Trip: Dutch Soccer Teams

rotterdam, feyenoord, middle finger

Ajax:Amsterdam

Feyenoord: Rotterdam (this charming little fella’s team)

ADO Den Haag: The Hague

AZ Alkmaar: Alkmaar

FC Utrecht: Obvious

FC Twente: Enschede

Play Your Part, Part 1 by Girl Talk

Geert

This Geert Wilders, a far right Dutch politician who wants to ban the Koran, as well as the burqa. He wasn’t pleased with the Queen’s Christmas address. He wrote it off as “multi-culti” non-sense. If he’s smart, he’ll keep lying low. Both him and Hirsi Ali had to take it underground after Theo van Gogh was shot. He’s still getting death threats up to now. He seems hellbent on ending the possibility of holding two passports, which sucks for me because I’d like to live in the Netherlands, but I don’t want to totally throw my American citizenship, especially if Obama becomes president. (Yum.) Stay tuned.

Because I Already Packed the Dictionary Away: Part II, Reviewing the Reviewers


I like this new series. It’ll last at least until tomorrow, cause I am not cracking that bag open again for awhile. In the interim, let’s review some reviewers, shall we?

The Wallpaper Guide to Amsterdam:
This is the most aesthetically pleasing of the guides. It’s tiny and full of colored pictures of everything you’d want to find in Amsterdam. Everything you’d want if you’re a hipster with overstuffed pockets. Some of the places, like Supper Club, Inter Continental Amstel Hotel, I couldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Hell, after the euro gets through with me, I won’t be able to afford a ten foot pole.

Lonely Planet: AMAZING. Everything you could every want, the entire range of food and hotel accommodations. They include some Dutch history, too and other little tips. It can do no wrong.

Amherstdam: Yeah…it’s not like I even built up a review guide. There’s no real way to feel your way around Amsterdam with this website. I’ve highlighted and defined random words that you’ll never need or use. You know where some hideous children’s clothing, a weird boob statue and strange looking dogs can be found. But I did throw in that pronunciation guide! (Once.)

I think we have a winner.

The More You Know: New York Edition

Here’s a list of places in New York with Anglicized Dutch Names:

Flatbush
Brooklyn
Midwood
Bedford-Stuyvesant
Boerum Hill
Lefferts Manor
Coney Island
Gerritsen Beach
Gowanus
New Utrecht (duh)
Red Hook

Bed- Stuy, Boerum, Lefferts, and Gerritsen are all family names, but the rest are from words.
I haven’t even begun to look at Manhattan.

The More You Know: Dictionaries

Dutch Word of the Day
woordenboek: dictionary
Ik heb nou een beter woordedboek.
I have a better dictionary now.

Since there aren’t that many Dutch speakers in the world, it is very difficult to find a quality Dutch to English/English to Dutch dictionary. The one I got for class, the Standaard Klein Woordenboek, isn’t that good because it’s for Dutch speakers learning English. It’s small and has limited explanations. For example, if you look up the word for “to know” in Dutch, it tells you “weten, kennen.” These are used in very different contexts, similar to the Spanish saber and conocer. But there is no explanation because there is only one word in English that the Dutch reader would need: “know“.

The New Routledge Dictionary, on the other hand, is a much better bet. It’s made by an English company so all of the noun/ adjective/ verb markings are in English. They also give longer explanations of contexts in which the words should be used.

Routledge is more expensive than the Standaard (37 euro to the Standaard’s 7) but you can go to The Slegte, the used bookstore and get a good deal. I also had these gift certificates as part of the refund for my lousy internet service, so I used that too. Between the gift certificate and my own money, I only paid 7 euro for the Routledge. Totally worth it.

The More You Know: Everything you own in a gracht to the left

Dutch Word of the Day
het bocht: the trash
Het is tijd uit het bocht nemen!
It’s time to take out the trash!

Grachten (city canals in Amsterdam) can become quite filthy. They aren’t safe to swim in at all, except for the ducks, and it’s really quite nice to see them moving in pairs in the springtime. I can’t wait until we get some ducklings on the scene. That’ll be too adorable.

They’ll drag the grachten a few times a year and find hundreds of rusting bicycles below the surface. I was musing on the canal related suicide/murder rate before, but I still haven’t asked around. (I’ll ask my Dutch professor later.) Once in a while, I’ll forget to take out the garbarge and I’m very tempted to hurl it in the gracht. But there are houseboats around and I’d feel bad about polluting someone’s home.

However, there are certain things worthy of a gracht burial that can’t wait for garbage day.

Last night, I was having a nice thorough room clean when I stumbled upon a ring from a rather undesirable ex. (Cue violins? Kazoos? I dunno.) How it made it from America to here, Lord only knows. Could’ve sworn I left it at home. I didn’t want the thing lingering in my garbage can until Thursday because I had already took out the trash for Sunday night. What’s an American in Holland to do?

So I put on my jacket, took a little walk and flicked it into Leliegracht that’s around the corner from me. There aren’t any houseboats there, and I’m sure the ducks were asleep somewhere else.

I recommend this very cathartic activity to anyone with small, irritating objects that they can’t seem to shake. (Except for objects such as whiny children and bitchy cats. Well, maybe those, too.) It’ll make you feel great.

Maybe I’ll ask him about how much jewelry’s in there, too.

Podcasts are the New TV

Dutch Word of the Day
televisie: television
Ik van houd televisie.
I like TV.

Too bad that I don’t have one here. Podcasts have filled that niche. It’s necessary to hear American accents that aren’t just people in the program. Here are my favorites:

  • This American Life
  • Laura Speaks Dutch
  • New York Times Book Review
  • Gay Pimpin’ with Jonny McGovern
  • BBC News Pod
  • VH1’s Best Week Ever

Since my computer connection here is awful, I can’t download entire shows from limewire. Podcasts take forever to download, but not as bad as shows.

(This cartoon? I just liked it.)

The More You Know: Instant Soup Edition


Dutch Word of the Day
niet: not (catch all negator of sentences)
Ze hebben niet Ramen in Amsterdam.
They don’t have Ramen in Amsterdam.

They do, however, have a couple if knockoffs. Chief amongst the knockoffs are “Good Noodles”, “Saimin” and “Super Noodle.” I’ve tested all three so far. They also have Cup-a-Soup, but I knew I’d be too tempted to make “Soup in a Cup”/”Dick in a Box” jokes, so I stuck to the three pictured above. Here’s the reviews:

Saimin, Shrimp Flavored: This is a Japanese company. I found it at Albert Heijn (where I got the other two as well). The fact that this was there but not Ramen made me sad, but I tried it anyway. All around, not bad. The shrimp flavoring came through a little too strong, but it was pretty good.

Super Noodles, Oriental Kip Flavored: This is actually put out by Campbell’s. Despite the fact that they use the words “Oriental Kip” when they really mean Thai Chicken, this is pretty good. It’s somewhat more spicy than Ramen, and you get a substantial opaque broth.

Good Noodles, Kip Flavored: Good Noodles? Not so much. Yeah, fuck these. Absolutely weak flavor, and they just taste a bit weird and plasticky. There the most common one, too. There’s a smallish Albert Heijn near me and this seems to be all they have, so I just walk three blocks to other, larger Heijn for more variety.

Next week at your parents house: Some soup in a cup…

The More You Know: Region Codes

Dutch Word of the Day
meer: more
De meer je weet…
The more you know…

(This can’t be gramatically correct. It doesn’t even make sense in English.)

Important Info if you Buy A DVD Overseas:

Problem: DVDs are each stamped with region codes. They were invented by the movie industry to allowed DVDs to be release at different times, and prevents mass importing from other countries. For example USA is region 1, Western Europe is Region 2. If you’ve been playing US bought DVDs on your computer all along, you’re computer’s DVD player is set automatically to region 1.

However, if you’re in Amsterdam and find a beautifully priced 5 euro DVD of Kill Bill I, your computer will tell you that you’ll need to switch your DVD’s code to region 2. It’s not a problem, except that there is a finite amount of times that you can switch back and forth. For the Apple iBook G4, this amount of times in 5.

This means that I want to watch my Dutch copy of Kill Bill, I need to switch my DVD region 2. Now I have four chances. Then I watch my American copy of Six Feet Under, and go back to region 1. Now I’m down to three chances.

Solution #1: Buy DVDs that are marked with Region 0. (They are marked with a large number,0-6, over the image of the globe.) Hard to find, but look out for them. They’re like an O-Blood type, that can be used in any machine.

Solution #2: Hack the bitch. Seriously, there is a way around this if you google it. However, it might possibly void your warranty on the computer.

Solution #3: Bring a multi-region DVD player with you when you go overseas. If you already have a separate DVD player, make sure that it can play various formats.

Solution #4: Do what I did and download this DVD program:
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
It’s a free DVD program that ignores region codes. I went from Kill Bill to R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet with no problem. It’s fabulous.

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.


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