Saturday, February 28, 2009

It makes Senseo.

So I am having a great inward chuckle at the Dutch today. A friend went to a bar last night and when I asked how it was, he said "It was great. Especially because we could smoke inside."

"Whaaaat?" I thought, since there is a smoking ban, right? Yes, but as Andre told me, "they have a piggy bank on the bar that all smokers have to put a euro in." What for? "To save up for the fine."

That is so Dutch, I can't even believe it. Americans would raise the drink prices, or just suck it up and pay the fine, or most likely, not let anyone smoke at all and piss and moan about how they will go out of business. Dutch people have socialism so ingrained in their culture that they figure hey, we're all in it together. Pitch in for the fine. We're all at fault, we'll all pay for it.

And they're SO FUCKING PRAGMATIC. Our neighbor - and coincidentally, Dre's belle du jour last night - was recently part of a marketing focus group. At the end of the group, they could bring in their old Senseo coffee makers and receive a brand new one for free.

Well, this neighbor had a Senseo that was fairly newish, so she thought it over, called her brother, and made a deal. She'd bring him HER current Senseo in exchange for his OLD one, which she would trade in for the new one for herself. That way, everyone was happy. Like Austin Power's dad would say, "only a bloody Dutchman."

Honestly, that level of thought just blows me away. I'll bet her brother brags to everyone who drinks coffee at his house about his "new" coffeemaker.

I can think of a thousand examples of this kind of judicious thinking on the part of the Dutch. I wonder if they're ancestrally related to the Scottish?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mama is simple

I was telling my brother-in-law that he should see the pictures of when we moved house here in Amsterdam, because it is so different from moving in America. I said something like "We use a big pulley and lower everything out the window."

Then my three-year-old pipes up, "A pulley is a 'simple machine' used to lift heavy things with 'leverage'."

I made a noise like "uuuughhhaaaaa."

Stop watching TV, kid, it's rotting your brain...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cold and lonely

So, my trip isn't going quite as planned. I was kind of hoping everyone would be fighting over who gets to babysit my boys and I'd be spending every afternoon being massaged and exfoliated at my mom's day spa. Instead, everyone is sick with a ear-throat thing (me included) and whenever they aren't sleeping, my family isn't around. It's just like being at home alone, only the TV's in English.

Not even ONE person has challenged me to eat my weight in Dunkin' Donuts baked goods. (But I am self-motivated, so no one will stop me reaching my goal.)

Everyone is broke, so no frivolous spending orgies (how many hits do you think I'll get on "Amsterdam orgy" now?) and tons of stores have gone out. The malls look like ghost towns. I'd heard about the American economy being in the toilet, but it's downright scary to be in a prosperous city like Boston and have the problems be so apparent.

On the upside, the boys were able to visit the local fire station today. We brought donuts to the firemen and asked for a tour. They were very nice and even though they had been fire-fighting all night and all the gear was out and wet, gave us a nice tour. My camera batteries ran out halfway through, naturally.

We're still battling jetlag and we're only here one more week. I hope things pick up. I'll try to post at least one more time before I leave.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Day is coming...

I feel like Oliver Twist anticipating my upcoming trip "home" to Boston. All I can think about is what and where I am going to eat. Zaftig's, Jae's, Il Panino, Di Giacomo's, shit, even Chili's. (I've even persuaded my aunt to cook me a real Thanksgiving dinner, since I haven't had one in years.)

I have a taste for, as my snotty friend calls it "blue-collar food" like nachos and steak tips. It's kind of guilty pleasure. I love places like Chili's and Ground Round, but like everyone else, I pretend I don't. "Oh, let's just go to Ruby Tuesday. It's RIGHT here..."

I can't wait to have what I consider real Chinese food - isn't it weird how EVERY country has it's own interpretation of Chinese food? And all the restaurants are actually run by Chinese people? I have never found a proper eggroll or crab rangoon outside the US. Here it's all thick noodles, sambal and goopy sauces. In Italy, Chinese food is totally different too, not to mention that Italian food doesn't even resemble my American/Italian all-time favorite - Chicken Parmigiana. Do the Parmigiani know how we have bastardized their name in America?

It's going to take all my self-restraint not to eat Dunkin' Donuts coffeecake muffins until I vomit, then eat some more. Or go to McDonald's without spending a week's grocery money on a happy meal. Ahh. America, where you can get fat for $1.99. Bring it!