Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Complaining

I've been kicking around a new idea in my mind that complaining may be an evolutionary development as the catalyst for progress. Let's face it, all humans are natural complainers.

Complaining is the pivot point where self awareness becomes a creative thought process.

"I'm uncomfortable." -> "Why am I uncomfortable?" -> "What could be done to make me more comfortable?" -> . . . -> Innovation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Who's on deck?

European bathroom stalls are commonly small closets. Tiny rooms with actual walls running floor to ceiling. The ultimate in defecation privacy. However, on such a forward thinking continent they have also considered water conservation, and instead of delivering the Cosby kids to the pool you end up plopping them with the force of gravity to a porcelain deck over looking the pool.

You haven't realized it yet, but toilet water is AMAZING. Not only does it at least help deter streak-age (a plague ridiculously wide spread), but it also prevents air from flirting with fumes. Let's face it, without toilet water, in Europe your basically sitting in a tiny air tight room huffing freshly baked brown loaf.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hobbits

Do you remember the scene in Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo Baggins and the other Hobbits narrowly escape the riders in black and go to the inn to meet Gandalf? I'm pretty sure the inn had a sign that looked something like this:



Unfortunately, I moved to Amsterdam and not Middle Earth, and this is not a sign for an inn, but instead a sign above a fraternity. A fraternity immediately next door to Jen and I's new apartment. In fact we share a wall.

The text on the sign says "tHierNumaals" which was translated to me as "something to do with the after life". I'm fairly certain this translation is incorrect and should actually be translated to "something to do with after hours", or more specifically "screaming old style drinking songs so far beyond after hours it's freaking morning". When the yelling and singing gets to loud, people give up and just spill out into the street to continue. This happens every night. Monday, Tuesday, whenever, it doesn't matter, everyday is a good day for partying like it's 1560.

Finally, two nights ago at 4am Jen and I decided it was a good time to say something. We threw on some baggy sweatshirts and sweatpants and headed outside. It was raining. Once we were at the door of the fraternity I could smell the beer through the wood. There was a giant "lion biting a metal ring" style knocker I was pretty pumped to use. We could hear some yelling behind the door. I knocked a few times, and the door opened. . .

Quick side note: statistically speaking the Dutch are growing faster than the rest of humankind. I've felt particularly small being here. After all, I'm not a large guy. Once Jen arrived, who is even smaller than I, I've gone so far as to start kicking around the idea we could possibly be midgets. However, on this particular rainy night, standing under that stupid sign in our baggy clothes, knocking on that huge wood door that smelled of beer with a huge lion's face, it was obvious. . .we are Hobbits.

Once the door opened there stood a huge Dutch guy dressed in, kid you not, onesies button-up pajamas. He was holding a pitcher of beer like a it was a pint. The pitcher pint made me even more aware of my Hobbit sized Hobbit-ness. As I glanced around the room I realized virtually everyone was in vertical striped onesies with footies. It was not an apartment at all. Everything was wood, and there was a full bar along one of the walls and a long bench along the other.

I figured this was a good time to start in with some Dutch, "Goede avond," (Good evening). I suddenly became self conscious thinking, "what a stupid thing to say," it was, in fact 4am. So, I started again in English, getting right the point. "You guys need to keep it down." I continued for about minute before the guy even realized I was speaking a foreign language. Then, He and his brothers started in with a gaggle of slurring profanity mixed with invitations to drink and inquiries of our nationality. Luckily, out of now where came a slightly less drunk, normally dressed gentleman who politely explained everyone was really drunk, and it was pointless for us to ask them to keep it down, but he would try to remind everyone. He was right, after all who can reason with a small army of beer soggy pajama wearing giants.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mind blowing sandwiches

Everyday, as a company, we eat lunch together. This alone set off a feed back loop of my surprise surprising my collegues, surprising me, etc.

The Dutch diet was described to me as generally bread with stuff on it, I would like to further elaborate and say it's bread with some sort of cholesterol smeared on it (cheese, processed meat, butter, etc), then washed down with some sort of milk fat. In typical America fashion I grab two slices of bread, add cheese, meat, tomatoes and mustard. This sort combination blows people's minds. . .everyday, as the proper behavior seems to be one slice of bread with only one or two toppings.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Dutch skill

Last night Jen had her first experience with what was described to me as "a mandatory Dutch skill". The skill is sitting as a passenger on the back of someone's bike. It's a little like horse riding in that guys straddle the bike and girls ride with both legs on one side. This is works out fine as long as A.) your dutch or B.) if you are wearing high-heels your keep your high-heels clear of the bike wheel spokes. Jen quick toppled herself and a colleague of mine's girlfriend. So quickly in fact I was only halfway through the sentence, "This is not going to end well", when it happened.

On a side note, when in Amsterdam it is apparently odd for one girl to query another girl for the best place to buy "pepper spray". Pepper spray is apparently illegal. Jen got the response: "What do you think someone is going to pull up in SUVs with guns as in the states?" To which she replied, "Maybe, it's happened to us before." Which is in fact true. Come to think of it, her response may have been more awkward then her question.

In closing here is a picture of an obligatory windmill: