March 24, 2007

You can buy your own Priscilla!

I happened to be looking at the Australian Greyhound website and I spotted a tab at the top of the screen that said "Bus Sales." I thought, no, they can't mean actual buses for sale?! But oh, they do. You can buy your very own used coach for about $44,000 - that's only about 26,000 euros! O and I should totally buy one for when we travel in Australia. We'd just need a few buckets of lavender paint and Guy Pierce on the roof in a silver outfit and we'd be set.

Barring that, I am totally doing this type of trip when we are there. Besides being in Sydney for New Year's, this is the only other plan I've really had for what I absolutely must do in Australia. Arg, I can't wait...

March 22, 2007

Looking forward

Next week I plan to take Wednesday off and go out and enjoy what is forecast to be lovely spring weather. Today I spent my morning pondering what I should do with the day off. I'd love to go to the Hoge Veluwe, but it takes so long to get there without a car, and also I'm not sure if O will be taking the day off as well (plus he's getting sick now, so may not be well by then) and it's something I'd rather do together. So then I thought I could rent a bike and ride around the tulip fields, though I'm not 100% sure if the flowers are in bloom yet. It's possible, since it's been so mild this year (minus Monday when it snowed). But then I was thinking that I'm not in the best shape and I've not started to bike yet this year, so my idea of biking from Leiden out to the fields may leave me dead before I've even left the city. But I found out that there's a bike rental next to the Keukenhof which also sells maps of various rides for the area, starting at a reasonable 5 km. So I can bus out to the middle of the fields, saving me biking there myself, get a bike, and pedal around a bit until my legs or bum fall off.

Next month I should be able to order the mp3 player I've decided on getting. I was all decided on the player by Sandisk, but then O came across the Vibez and, after checking out reviews online, I've changed my mind. It looks a bit chunky, but in photos of it in someone's hand it's not, and it sounds like I'll like the menu system and extras it has. I could do with a cheaper 4 GB version, but the price it's at isn't totally out of my range. I just need to wait for my large April paycheck to get it. I think I'll just wait though til early April and pay with my credit card so that I can have it for awhile before going to the US in May (and just because I'm impatient). I'll let you know how I like it.

March 18, 2007


Yesterday in the Albert Heijn I found two products that I was surprised to find in a Dutch supermarket. First, Boboli pizza bottoms finally have made it here, though there are other premade crusts you can get by now. I was wondering though if Boboli would ever be sold here.

The other thing I found I was much more excited about: corn flour, imported from Venezuela. I remember I was once looking for corn flour to make something, and I accidentally bought another box of cornstarch instead. And now I can't remember what it was I wanted to make. Cornbread maybe? Anyway, I might get some next week, even though I don't know what I'd really do with it, but I'm sure I can find some use for it. If anything, there's cornbread.

March 16, 2007

I am a geek

I've mentioned before how I'm a bit of a science geek, but I can be a word geek as well, which isn't surprising considering I was an English major. Spelling correctly has always come naturally to me, and I do care about good grammar, though I would say I'm less of an expert in that area. Thus, the book I'm reading now, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies, really appealed to me. And, yes, I'm reading a book on grammar. How lame is that? Even lamer, I'm enjoying it, and I have learned a lot already. After this I think I'll start reading the dictionary.

March 15, 2007

Feeling rather stupid

I came across this link to a site that tests how many of the 50 states you can name in 10 minutes (warning, your time starts as soon as you open the page). I thought, no problem, 10 minutes is enough time. But after about 4 minutes I'd run out of states I could remember and had six left. I was shocked. I thought, maybe if I'd missed one or two, fine, but six?! And I just couldn't think of anymore. Well, I suddenly remembered New Jersey with like 30 seconds left, but otherwise my mind was just blank. O was even trying to help, but he was naming ones I already had. I won't name the 5 I couldn't remember, so as not to jog your memory if you want to try it out (you already got the New Jersey freebie above), but at least the ones I didn't get were all states far from the West, so I didn't forget any of Oregon's neighbours (though Idaho was a late addition to my list somehow). I did remember all of the tiny New England states, but 3 of the ones I forgot are Midwestern states and 2 are Southern, so you can see where my mind ranks these things.

March 14, 2007


I've been as happy as a cat this week, spoiled by the sun shining in on my back all afternoon at work. I can practically feel the endorphins increase in my brain, especially as it nears going-home time. It's meant to be all rainy and spring-like though by the weekend, just in time for O and I to go to the sauna on Sunday. No sitting out in the sun for us this time.

So, speaking of cats, we got to visit our favourite fluffball last Sunday when we went over to see his owners, Erika and Karl. I had a cozy 20 minutes or so while Coco kept my lap warm as we chatted in their living room. I've certainly missed the nutter. We had a wonderful afternoon and evening just hanging out and having lots of good drink and food. Dinner was nachos which were partly made with Dutch ingredients (jong belegen kaas), but spiced up (literally) with some authentic ingredients that Erika had recently brought back from LA. Then Karl mixed up some tasty margaritas. We were all very happy bunnies.

Saturday was a pretty good day as well. In the afternoon, O and I went to a gallery in the center to see the exhibit Laser 3.14 has going on at the moment. It's a very small space, so there weren't that many works, but what was there took his usual street poetry and displayed it in a different way, or with some art, which wouldn't happen when the poetry is out on the street. The artist himself happened to be there and we had a nice chat with him until he admitted he was absolutely starving and dashed out of there to get some lunch.

I also had to go to the bank to try to request a check in US dollars that I can send off for my Australian work visa. Unfortunately I fucked up and didn't bring the all of the details for the place the money is meant for, so I couldn't complete the application then. Besides extending the time it will take to get the check, it then meant that I had to make extra, and extra-fun, trips to various branches of Rabobank, hoping each time that the person who would help me would know what they were doing enough to get my check request processed correctly. It was not very encouraging when the first reaction was usually a blank look and then asking their colleague "Can we make checks?" We tried on Sunday going to the one branch open on Sundays, the one on the Dam, but after about 10 minutes of two guys clicking around the computer system, they told me they couldn't do it then because the computer system was down. So then I left work early on Monday to go to the Van Baerlestraat. The application was fortunately finally sent off, but I didn't have the most faith in the girl who helped me. I am so regretting screwing things up on the first try.

Looking ahead to when I visit the US, I was starting to look around for any shows I could go to while I'm in Portland, and amazingly I now have a ticket to go to one: Ben Gibbard solo at the Roseland. I'm not a huge Death Cab fan, but him playing solo will likely be quite different and so I thought it'd be worth going to. I think September 2000 was the last time I went to a gig in Portland. Ugh. How can it have been so long? It will be interesting to compare an American/Portland crowd to what I'm used to in Amsterdam. Maybe they actually are as obnoxious there as here and I've just forgotten.

March 3, 2007

The Decemberists - Paradiso, 21 February

I'm a bit late with this, but that's how things go these days.

I don't think I've ever gone to a gig with so many people I knew: two co-workers, a few friends, friends of friends... It made me nervous, I felt all responsible for them getting there ok, and of course for enjoying the show, and while I was pretty sure the show would be fine, great even, I couldn't quite guarantee that. So I would say beforehand to people something non-committal, like "I'm pretty sure it'll be a brilliant show" or "I think it'll be fun." My worst nightmare was that the band would have an off night, not talk much and not be that energetic, and everyone who I'd convinced to come would wonder why I thought they were so great. In the end though it was fine and the Decemberists gave another memorable performance.

The setlist:

Crane Wife 3
We Both Go Down Together
Engine Driver
Billy Liar
Yankee Bayonet
Shankill Butchers
O Valencia
16 Military Wives
Crane Wife 1
Sons and Daughters

Hello Amsterdam, a cover of a song by the American Music Club
Red Right Ankle
Cautionary Song

Cautionary Song this time included a reenactment of a Dutch victory over the British at sea, the battle of Chatham Harbour, apparently. Lisa's group out in the crowd was supposed to be a chain built in the water to catch ships. And John's group was the English and Chris' group was the Dutch and they had to try to break through the chain... It was very silly, but a lot of fun to watch.

Some parts about the show that still make me smile: Colin looking down at his feet after The Island and going "Oh. I seem to have rocked my shoelace untied." =) To which there were cheers and then a jazzy jam was started up as he bent over to retie his shoe, but he said "A little jazz number is not needed while I tie my shoe." John and Jenny carried on anyway into some other song.

John asked for and received a shot of whiskey. Considering his madness, I'm not sure it was needed.

John trying to get off stage at the beginning of Red Right Ankle, but he couldn't find the gap in the curtain to let him out. I dunno, the picture of it in my mind still cracks me up, him desperately clawing at the curtain like a blind man to find the way out.

I had hoped a rumour was true that the band would be playing in Portland in May and it would coincide with my visit there, but I talked to Chris a bit after the show and he said they aren't playing in Portland until July. I would so love to see them playing in Portland, or anyone really, I haven't gone to a gig there since I moved here, which is way too long. If they play Europe again at the end of 2007, I will miss them then too. Perhaps they will decide instead to finally tour in Australia and I can catch them there.