Thursday, December 20, 2007

Weather - again

The Netherlands is truly beautiful - when the wind's not blowing and the rain's not bucketing... I'm almost sad to leave it at this stage. With temperatures not rising much above zero, the still tree branches look like they've been sugar-dusted and the smaller canals are almost completely frozen. It's quite surreal - I'm used to seeing frost, but it generally melts off by 10am. The tree icicles last all day. I find the whiteness mesmorising.

But I'm not appreciating it as much as I feel I should... that's largely because tonight I'm too busy trying to squash 43kg worth of shoes, clothes and jewelry (but mostly shoes) into 20kg worth of baggage allowance. One day I'm going to get this right. One day, but probably not today.

Mills and I leave our winter wonderland and fly home for summer and sunshine tomorrow. Yes, I've heard it's been doing nothing but raining in SA at the moment. It is dampening - to say the least. But as long as the temps are over 25+, I'll be happy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Office

It's frikken minus-1 outside. Literally. It warmed up nicely during the day though, I think we almost hit 2+. Fortunately, I got to work nice and early, to discover that there was no one to let me into the office... for the next half an hour. Which gave me plenty of time to appreciate just how pretty all the cars look with an inch of frost on them. By the time my first work mate arrived, I was sure I had frostbite in my toes and on my nose. Friggen hell.

Anywho. This weekend was the work office party. I've really been so lucky with my new employment. They dig me, even though I never had commercial experience and I tend to knock things over. Often. We all socialise easily and have fun in the office, which really makes such a difference to a work environment (thank you, Captain Obvious).

Despite the awesome sociable colleagues, the Xmas work party was still like any Xmas work party ever scripted by Ricky Gervais. Initially everyone clusters in small groups, sticking to their group/comfort zone. Awkwardness. The hired singer tries to get the dancefloor going with a remix of Tina's Simply the Best, which only manages to interest the not-so-undercover gay guy and a few of his fag hags. Relentlessly, the champagne flows; the inhibitions loosen. Before you know it, the dance floor is warmed up and your boss is accidently kicking his shoe off, connecting directly with your team mate's head. You know how it goes.

I had an awesome time lang-arming with a newly acquainted colleague from Potch. Not that I have any clue how to lang-arm, but as long as he's leading and throwing a few twirls and dips, I'm game. We even treated the office to our (now choreographed) dance of The Rockstar (grab right ankle and hop in a circle on one foot, while pointing at the ceiling with free hand), followed by The Sprinkler (right hand behind head, left arm out straight, bring elbows together in time to the beat). Sometimes I make Mills so proud, he cries a little.

It's always good to give colleagues a little something to talk about the next week. Although, our dance routine was easily out-shadowed by the fact that our *ahem* Executive Recruiter was later thrown out of the ladies' bathrooms for attempting indecent dodginess with his missus. That's sure to get the tongues wagging around the water cooler.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eau de toilette

I went to the toilet today, for a wee.
The end.


No, not really. That's just the beginning. So, there I was, sitting... as one does... when I noticed a small nondescript box under the basin. I've never seen the box before so, being catlike in nature, I picked it up. It was heavy, and floral and pink. I flipped it upside down (remember, still sitting on the loo) to investigate further. Turns out it was liquid soap - and it was open.

Unfortunately, I only realised this after I had released a few gallons of hand soap directly into the crotch of my pants. Not a problem - I'll just wipe it out with wet toilet paper. Undiluted soap + water... you can see this going wrong, can't you? I didn't.

Not only was my crotch reeking of lavender, now it was also looking rabid and foaming to boot.

I figured my two options were: remove pants entirely and rinse. Or attempt to wipe area dry with paper towels and deal with it later. I went for the latter. Reeking of toilettey freshness, I eventually made a beeline for my desk and remained there until it was time to put on my overcoat.

I think I just brought a whole new level to the term, feminine hygiene.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who the hell moved Zimbabwe?

Facebook is addictive, but for the most part I've managed to avoid making my profile page look like a cancer-riddled colon with ridiculous amounts of application additions.

But I have added the Travellor IQ quiz. This is especially handy because the evenings are dark and cold and our TV is broken. I'm actually pretty proud of my geographical knowledge - and my North American knowledge turns out to be quite sharp too, which was pleasantly surprising. I can safely pinpoint Boston, Dallas, San Francisco, New York and Calgary (okay, that was a lucky guess).

Closer to home, I had a slight problem with differentiating between Botswana and Zimbabwe. For some reason, I have decided that our neighbouring countries go (from left to right): Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique. I KNOW where the Vic Falls are. And yet I still clicked on Botswana every time I was asked to point out Zim. Own up... who switched them? Personally, I blame Mugabe - but I have nothing to back up that accusation.

There are also more specific quizzes. I tested my knowledge on both Europe and Africa. I particularly liked the bit where they ask you to pinpoint historical monuments in each continent. In Europe, the monuments are listed by name and country. Ie. "Buckingham Palace, England".

In Africa, the only clue you get is the historical name. Ie. "Carlton Tower" and (I shit you not), "Independence Monument".

Please pick one random Independence Monument in Africa. What's that? They ALL have independence monuments? No.. no, but this is THE independence monument...

A quick google search for Independence Monument and Africa shows that the answer could be Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Cambodia (just to throw another option in there), Tanzania, Zambia...
which frekkin country do you have in mind, you geographical twits! They might as well ask us to pick a number between one and fourty two.

Besides this random discriminatory annoyance, I shmaak this application. I can also test my flag knowledge (which is very, very kak).

Would you recognise the national flag for Latvia?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

What's the point?

Shewwie... what a can of worms religion spews forth. What is it about religion(s) that gets the blood boiling? Why can't we all just shrug and say, "I don't buy it, but if that's what you believe that's cool." Why do we have to make other people accept our distorted truths?

Yes, distorted. There is always more than one truth. That's my belief anyway. Now you'd better accept it, else I'm going to stomp and shout and scream until you admit that my truth is more righteous than yours.

I've only really been exposed to one religion in my life - Christianity. It was never forced on me, my parents were very adamant about that. If I chose to go to church, I could go to church. If I'd decided to become a buddhist, I think they would've been okay with that to (but I didn't, because Tibet was too far away and apparently there's that vow of silence thing, although shaving off my frizzy hair would've definitely been appealing). Anywho, so I learnt about Christianity and made what I think is an informed choice by naming it my faith.

This is where it gets complicated. You see, I believe in God. I believe in heaven and hell. I also absolutely accept evolution. And I blaspheme on a fairly regular basis. My soul is a seething pit of contradiction.

I don't think that the Bible is THE word. I think it is alegory, fables, street performance on paper - all rolled into one. A whole of lot of stories, ala broken telephone, through the ages. And it makes a good read. I don't believe the universe was created in seven days (although I know people who do wholly/holy prescribe to this - that's a bit silly, but hey); I don't believe that Jacob and his kin lived for centuries.

I don't think that people who don't believe in MY god are going to hell. From what I've been told, MY god is not a vengeful god. He is a personal god. I know 'good Christian' people, 'good' people and 'Christian' people. There is a difference between each. I reckon that when we get to the end (of what?), it'll be up to JC to decide who deserves to be partying behind the pearly gates. Not me - or anyone else in this lifetime.

I may have mentioned my unhealthy passion for Terry Pratchett. In his Discworld all religions are valid: whatever a particular individual buys into is what he receives in the afterlife. If someone believes they'll go to heaven, they do. If they believe in nothing, they drift along in blissful nihility. If they believe we all turn into potatoes on snuffing it, they reincarnate into a happy little spud. Why can't we all just get along?

It matters not how much we argue for our beliefs now, we're not likely to come to a conclusion in this day and age, are we? Sure, at Armageddon, it may all become clear. We may have a few embarrassed, "sorry for calling you and your belief the festering wound of civilisation" apologies. We may all shake hands and have a group hug. Or not.

Maybe we'll never know. Why argue? Right now, I'm going to put on a good tune and try to convince my heathen boyfriend to dance like no one's watching. No point to that either really, but at least it'll make me laugh.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sinter Klaasje

Happy Sinterklaas allemaal!

Tonight is the evening of real festivities - Sint and his Pieten have been working hard to ensure that everybody gets a chocolate letter (I got four chocolate letters, because Mills informed Sinter Klaas that lots of chocolate makes the overcast Koekiemonster very happy).*

Everybody gets their naughty-or-nice presents this evening and we can finally stop being asked, "voor sinter klaas?" every time we try to pay for something at the shops. There is also a tradition of writing a naughty/mocking poem or riddle about the gift receiver. Fortunately, for the less creative, one can simply refer to the Gedicht Generating websites.

Insert name and present and run with it:


Pieter m'n knecht keek door de schoorsteen
En wist Koekies wensen meteen
Weet je wat Koekie in het schoentje vindt?
Een dildo met de groeten van Sint

Dit cadeau uit de zak van Zwarte Piet
Is iets waarvan Koekie heel veel geniet
Voor iemand die alles al heeft
Is het vinden van cadeaus iets waar zelfs Sint van beeft

Bij dit geschenk wil Sint nog even kwijt
Dat je voortaan heel voorzichtig rijdt
Ook al is de Sint heel erg oud
Hij hoopt maar dat dit cadeau hem niet berouwt

De heerlijke avond is bijna voorbij
Sint moet weer verder bij het kerend getij
Bedwing nog heel even je ongeduld
Wees dan maar blij en denk niet aan je schuld
--------------------------------------------------
*Seriously - it's chocolate moulded into the shape of a letter. It's as simple as that. I got four K's.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Whether the weather...

It's that time of year.
I've been through this before.

The rage.
The frustration.

The Weather.


I gnaw on my lip on the ride into work, dreaming of how I want to throttle people for sitting close to me. Sniffing. Coughing. Talking on the phone. The all-time favourite... spitting. I want to push people in front of oncoming buses.

I actively fantasise about headbutting colleagues when they repeatedly share bad jokes. I got the punchline the first time. I gave you a gratuitous guffaw. Can we please move on now? I would also settle for grabbing them by the shoulders and screaming directly into their confused faces like a feral degenerate.



It's dark when I get up, it's dark when I come home. The sun doesn't come out in between - and if it does, it's only to dash behind the next cloud like a self-conscious streaker. When it's not lashing down with rain, then it's drizzling a thin mist of precipitation - just enough to settle on you eyebrows and frizz the hair.


Small things irritate me. More than usual.

A colleague who moans about his work load when he has just as much work as the rest of us, irritates me. Bad emails irritate me. Sow does not equal sew. Their and there are not interchangeable. The space bar is not an option to be used like a thumbtack in pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. People who've bought Christmas presents, irritate me.

Unhelpful customer service...

Me: "I need to book an appointment please."
CSR: "We don't do that here any more."
Me: "Oh? Since when?"
CSR: "Since yesterday."
Me: "Awesome. Who should I be speaking to then?"
CSR: "I don't know."
Me: "So they've changed the system and offered you no forwarding information."
CSR: "Yes. Anything else I can help you with?"
Me: "I think you've done enough for one day. Why don't you have a lie down."

...irritates me.

I'm not depressed, per se. Actually, I'm very happy (irritably happy). I like where we live, I like who we socialise with, I love my job and - aggresive fantasies aside - my colleagues. But I could really do with some Sunshine D - au naturel. Plus the TV's not working.

Okay, maybe this is all een beetje overdreven, but thinking about my upcoming time in South Africa consumes me. I'm already wondering how I'm going to deal with the weather when I get back after three weeks of heat and traces of sun.

Monday, December 03, 2007

8 random things you wished you didn't know about me

A tad late after being tagged, but the TV is kapot and football was cancelled (but not before cycling to the pitch in RAINRAINRAINFEKKINGRAIN), so here we go:
  1. A quote from my book of the moment: "Leonard's incredible brain sizzled away alarmingly, an overloaded chip pan on the Stove of Life." - Terry Prachett, Jingo.
  2. I have been told that I look like Sigourney Weaver - more than once, by completely unrelated people. They generally mention it when I'm in a foul mood. I reckon its the pinched mouth that sells it.
  3. I neglect my one remaining goldfish. Sucks to be Deaky.
  4. I talk to myself. In Dutch.
  5. I was reciting nursery rhymes by the time I was two. My parents thought I was a child genius. I soon learnt them wrong.
  6. I have been known to swear like a hardened sailor brandishing his Tourettes talents like a weapon. (oooh... double simile. I impress me.)
  7. My boss introduces me as follows, "this is Koekie. She breaks things."
  8. I'm really thinking hard about actually getting around to that Christmas shopping list.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Pardon my Dutch

While trying to defrost my bones in the shower this afternoon, I was thinking about the worst weather conditions I've ever played hockey in... Sleet? Check. Wind? Check. Frozen pitches? Check. Not all at the same time though.

Today, we played in driving rain with bowl-you-over gusts of wind. And a maximum of 5 degrees C.

Kutweer. Pardon my Dutch.

The rain was unbelievable. We only played half a match (which felt like eternity) because eventually the match officials decided that the pitch was too water-logged. You don't say - we'd been gamely splashing around for 35 minutes, trying to play a ball which is not known for its floatation properties.

The events leading up to the game were entertaining - we got lost on our drive to the hosting club and decided to ask a passing police car for assistance. We arrived at the club via police escort.

We piled into the changing room, only to find ourselves locked inside. Tugging hard on the door handle simply pulled the knob out of its socket. Considering the weather outside, none of us were particularly keen on leaving the changing room anyway. Unfortunately somebody rescued us so we had to make a pretense of playing.

The shower when I got home was orgasmic. I can almost feel my toes again.

I curled up on the couch to watch some classic E! Network entertainment. Just as I was about to discover whether Lindsay Lohan's boobs were real or fake, our TV very quietly and sedately fizzled out. Mills is blaming me for breaking the TV.

The wind is howling, I'm finally warm and dry.
I have no TV. I'm going to bed now.
Bring on Christmas in SA. I need sun.

ps. By some miracle, Mills and I both passed our fluitencursus.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Still kicking

... just in case you were wondering.

Mills and I have to do our fluitencursuseksamens this evening. Every hockey club member in the NL is required to pass the umpiring exam. I think it's a good idea, cos that way you have no excuse to not pull your umpiring weight (a task that everybody hates doing). Studying the FIH rules again is a pain in the arse - not least aided by the fact that all the course material (including test exams) is in Dutch.

Me thinks we are slightly unprepared.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Small things

You know what they say about small things...
  • My musical toothbrush. Whoever thought of putting Queen to dental hygiene... genius.
  • Over the last few days of nullifying TV viewing, I've seen expert witness from a Jeff Mountain, of the New Zealand Institute of Geology; and another from Mark Childs, arguing for more local children's programming in Britain. Nominative determination always makes me laugh.
  • There was also the scintillating interview with Britain's Bingo Caller of the Year. Apparently selected for his outstanding personality - which does not translate well on TV. I've seen brickwalls change facial expression with more enthusiasm. Still, amusing for the content.

I've also learnt that creme fraiche is not the same thing as cooking cream. Similar to the lesson learnt that waxpaper is not the same as Gladwrap (although the latter incident resulted in a screaming fire alarm and a severely charred butternut).

Back to work tomorrow, I can't handle any more day time BBC interviews.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bored

I've spent the last few days coughing and spluttering like an emphasemic old-age home... The Common Cold. What a delight.

On Friday evening, I was going to a warehouse factory sale. Hot fashion clothes at ridiculously low prices. Saturday I was going to get the Christmas shopping done - I'd even made a list and everything.

Of course, directly related to Murphy's Law - my body collapsed on me (not least aided by the fact that my colleague was meant to give me a lift into work, he overslept and I wasted half an hour waiting in the rain). The post-nasal drip led to a stomach bug, on top of all the snotting, coughing and sneezing. So hot.

Anyway, so the factory warehouse sale with ridiculously cheap clothing didn't happen. Neither did the Xmas shopping. I'm also most annoyed that I managed to get sick over the weekend - who would want to get sick and stay off work? Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Fortunately, I have my collection of Terry Pratchett books to get me through the boredom. I'm slightly obsessive about this. Every time I go through an airport terminal, I compulsively buy a Terry Prachett book if I can find one (or more). Even if I'm already reading a good book - I still buy more TP. In a bookshop, Mills will turn his back on me for thirty seconds and return to find me grinning madly, clutching three new books in a packet. I just can't help it.

And these are most likely books that I've read before. And I'll read them again. And again. I can't get enough of Terry Pratchett's Discworld. I can't explain it so I'm going to stop trying.

I may have overdosed on them in the last day though - when I needed a break from the antics of Sir Samuel Vimes, Granny Weatherwax and Rincewind, I tried to stare down Deaky in a battle of non-productivity levels. I was outfoxed by the fish, every time.

The height of boredom - attempting to interact with a goldfish.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Three days

Sunday: Got hit with a hockey ball in the face. Fortunately it just glanced off my cheekbone - the black eye could've been a lot worse. Same hockey game - ball popped up in the air, I lost sight of it. While I was turning in a circle, wailing "I don't know where the fek it is!", it made itself known by bouncing off the top of my head. Fortunately, my hair is thick enough to take on mattress properties. Most objects simply deflect in a new direction with me unharmed.

Monday: while leaning over our staircase to drop keys down to my boyfriend, my slippered feet did what they do best, and I slipp(er)ed down a couple of concrete steps. Fortunately, the railing that I was already leaning against broke my fall - mostly by slamming itself against my knee and elbow - hard.

Tuesday: on my way to work, I popped a lozenge in my mouth. One suck, two suck... whoops... swallowed. A chunky anti-flu sweet does not slide down the esophagus with ease. It also does not sit well with the digestive tract. I was burping fumes of minty freshness (and other active ingredients) for the rest of the day. Not comfortable.

Wednesday: the black eye is itchy and irritable. At least my colleagues find it amusing.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Festive Season

This weekend, Mills and I went to see Sinter Klaas arriving in The Hague. Before you jump to conclusions, Sinter Klaas is NOT this guy:


Sinter Klaas was Saint Nicholas, who originated from Turkey, or Spain, or Morocco, or something. His birthday is celebrated on 5th December every year, and he arrives by steamboat to every town in the Netherlands about three weeks beforehand. Every night from his arrival until the first week of December, children leave their shoes out to receive "snoepje" (candy/sweets) the next morning... probably tasting mildly of stale socks.
Anywho, so we cycled uphill to get to Scheveningensehaven (say that ten times fast - even just once or twice. I dare you) to watch Sinter Klaas arriving on his steamboat. Unfortunately, the head-on wind slowed our progress down, so we missed the actual arrival and only caught one glimpse of the Sint before we had to elbow our way through the throngs of eager parents and bright-eyed little people (mostly dressed as Zwarte Piet).
Sinter Klaas arrives on his boat... with his black man servants (generally white men dipped in shoe polish). Tons of Zwarte Pieten accompany the single Sinter Klaas on a parade through the streets of each town. Kids dress up to look like Sinter or Zwarte. Most mimic the latter - probably because it means painting yourself like a licorice stick. Good, bad, hmm... certainly controversial.
There are songs, and balloons and sweets and lots of waving of arms and singing along to kids songs - similar to Christmas carols, but more interactive. Quite an atmosphere. Not sure if it's something for non-parents to do, but at least I can say I've been in the middle of it. Literally.

Word of warning: do not get between a new mom and Sinter Klaas. It's like trying to face down a traumatised rhino. Next time I do something like that, I'm taking along an empty pram to give me more weight in the scrum.

Sinter Klaas is NOT Santa Clause. Dutch kids know about Christmas, know about Santa Clause - and know he's not real. Sinter Klaas, however, is. It's a huge build up.

The final evening - 5th December - sees friends and family getting together to exchange gifts, accompanied by entertaining/sarcastic/bitingly honest poems or riddles read out loud about the receivers. I'm told that Christmas sort of comes and goes without much notice.

Fortunately, Mills and I will be here for Sinter Klaas and in SA for Santa Clause... the best of both worlds.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's all relative

This morning, I greeted my boss by flinging myself into his arms. Not on purpose. You see, I simply tripped on the kitchen floor.

His first reaction was to steady me and ask if I was okay. His second was to look behind me and ask what exactly tripped me up. The answer is nothing. Surely everybody has days where they trip over smooth surfaces? Yes? No?

Anyway, later I was talking to the same boss, standing in one place. Nothing too coordinated about that. Until my ankle gave way and I stumbled again. From a standing start.

His first reaction was to ask if I was okay. His second was to ask if I was drunk. I can't blame him really.

So, my boss thinks I'm a drunk, but I'm okay with it... because at least I'm not this guy.

To be fair, I don't think the poor bugger really deserved a judicial sentence. He was in his own room, entertaining himself, and not hurting anyone else. I hope he at least bought his bike a drink first...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lavatorial

Sticking with a toilet theme this week...

At work today, we reopened that age-old discussion: when is a toilet seat in its correct position?

I feel I should point out that we have shared toilets at work. None of this his&hers segregation. And we never have issues with the toilet seat in the office - the boys are well trained (and outnumbered 5 to 1), but we still argue the virtues of the toilet seat.

The guys maintain that "we need it up, you need it down. We put it up when you leave it down, you can put it down when we need it up." I strongly, vehemently don't agree with this piss-poor argument.

If men didn't move the thing in the first place, I would have no need - and certainly no desire - to touch the toilet seat. Boys are so proud of the fact that they can pee standing up, and yet they need every assistance to aim their 2mm stream of urine into a large, gaping (and most noticably - unmoving) bowl. If you're having such a problem with not splashing the edges, plant your tush like Sitting Bull... in which case, you will be needing the toilet seat down, thank you very much.

A toilet seat is hinged. It works like any other door hinge - it has an open and a closed position. Do you leave you kitchen cupboards open? Your fridge door? The oven?

If a man can work those hinges, why can't he work a toilet seat hinge?

Open.
Closed.

It's as simple as that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Unplayable

I feel that my colleagues are truly getting to know me. While on the phone the other day, I knocked over something. I'm still not sure what, I can't find it. It made a noticable "thunk" on impact with the ground, whatever it was. From the room next door, my boss called, "Koekie's in the house!"

And today, when I asked to borrow scissors off my manager's desk, he calmly reminded me not to hurt myself or anyone else.

I'm accident-prone and they accept me.

Now... let me introduce you to a friend. FS is from the USA. His favourite comment is, "I'm American, I'm allowed to be a jackass. People are pleasantly surprised when I'm not."

FS recently got locked in his house. It's a long and complicated story, which involved him having to break OUT of his house. Then, this weekend, we were talking about things we've lost over the years.

"I flushed my watch down the toilet," confessed FS. Collectively, we settled back for what we knew was going to be a good tale. Any story with that opening line is going to be a goodie.

You see, FS had a decorative watch with two buckles, one on either side. Both were non-functional, so when one buckle broke off, he didn't worry about it. Anyway, FS goes to the loo one day [unnecessary details omitted]... and turns around to flush the toilet.

As he's pulling his hand back over the gurgling whirlpool... *plip* goes the second strap on his watch and *plop* goes the watch in the water.

There's more.

Instead of gasping with disbelief and cursing the gods, FS automatically attemped to retrieve his watch from the bowels of the swirling latrine. Not only was he without his accessory, but he also ended up to his elbow in toilet water.

I'm a bit jealous. I don't think I can compete with FS. I've only ever flushed my work ID card down the toilet. I didn't tell HR that when I was requesting a new one. Actually, now that I think about it... I wonder how many things end up on the other side of the sewerage plant?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eurotrip

Three weeks ago, it was Bournemouth. Two weeks ago, it was London. This weekend, I was in Copenhagen. Now I'm done. For a while, anyway.

Mills and I joined friends for a little football tournament on Saturday. Little... just 250 teams competing in a one day tournament. Each team plays a total of 3 games in the first round (5 minutes per indoor game). We only played the first round, so we effectively flew into Denmark for a 15-minute run-around. Totally worth it.

After the tournament (which we didn't win), there was a dinner for all 1000-odd competitors. It reminded me of Rhodes Hall Balls, with mass catered food, cat-pee wine and people trying to out-dance each other. Good times.

After gaping at all the beautiful Danes and Swedes walking around that evening, I can safely say: I never want to live in either country. For any hot blooded male, it's a dream. For any normal to moderately fashioned female, it's deflating. I did feel a little like Ugly Betty at the ball. Every girl is plucked, pruned, preened to perfection. What an effort.

Flying home was an unexpected highlight, as the check-in chick informed Mills that he needed a visa for his Irish passport. This is usually a line of questioning reserved for me, so I found it particularly amusing. Mills and I explained that Ireland was in fact a member of the Schengen community. "Computer says no," said our check-in friend. Guess she must have slept through the lesson on EU member states.

Eventually she let Mills board, but not before having the last laugh - by seating us five rows apart on a half-booked flight. Cheeky wench. And now, I'm thinking about staying in the country for a while. At least until next month anyway.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Just one of those days

I started my day badly. I forgot my scarf (I never leave home with a cold neck). After checking that the bus was nowhere in sight, I ran home to pick up my scarf. Murphy's Law: if you're running 30seconds late, the bus will be on time. If you're on time, or early, the bus will not arrive.

Fortunately, I managed to flag down the bus by frantically waving my retrieved scarf, so it was all worth it. Not very elegant though.

It was a frustrating day. My job entails finding jobs - mostly for non-Dutch, EU members. In order to (ligitimately) work in the EU, all you need is a valid ID. Generally, your passport. That's all. One document, which requires renewal once every ten years. No visas, no paperwork, no questioning at passport control. So it astounds me that so many people let their passports expire.

These are people who have travelled, not your rural goat-herders. And yet still, the amount of times I've had to explain to people that they cannot legally be added to a company's books because their passport has expired... they have no concept of ID-checks.

It's a perverted irony - as this insignificant African gets to walk them through the fact that they're actually not legit.

"This document is not legal. We cannot represent you."
"But I'm an EU-citizen!"
"According to this, you've expired... a few months ago"

To own an all-boundaries passport and just let it expire... ARGH! I want to beat them across the head with their useless ID.

I got through the rest of the day by knocking over a few things, dropping my lunch upside-down on the kitchen floor and tripping down the stairs. Fortunately the wall broke my fall, so that was okay.

Waiting at the bus stop to go home, I got my first taste of the proper Dutch winter - with gusts of wind strong enough to blow you off your bike (hence the fact that I've declined to cycle of late). Top that with stinging rain and biting cold... it was a grumpy trip home.

... until the bus turned down the main road outside our house and I saw the Christmas lights. Prrrrreeetty. The sight lifted my spirits immediately.

... not enough to prevent me from falling into a puddle as I stepped off the bus, but some things just can't be helped.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tock tick

Is there something wrong with me? I keep asking myself this. I'm 26. Most of my friends' biological clocks have been ticking for several years now. I know I go on about this, but I'm allowed to on this page. Cosmo says my writing is neurotic. They may have a point. (sorry I had throw that in there... this Twisted Koekie got a mention in Cosmo. All the way from the Land of Cloggies. I rock.)

Anyway, last week I received news that yet another friend is with sprog. I'm nearing my late-twenties (I shall remain in my mid-twenties until two days before my thirtieth), and I still pull up my lip with distaste at the thought of pregnancy. Am I malfunctioning?

I've mentioned this to other woman. Most don't believe it when I say that babies leave me cold. I literally feel nothing. I can hold a baby, burp a baby, comfort a squawling kid, but I feel nothing doing it. I don't love them; I don't hate them. I nothing them.

The scariest book I've read in recent times was We Need To Talk About Kevin. This book, quite literally, scared the crap out of me. What if there is something to be said about an uncaring, unfeeling maternal figure - dare I say it... mother.

I try to convince myself that I would feel different if I - god forbid - actually fell pregnant. I struggle to type it without spluttering (a difficult action to illustrate over cyberspace). But I just can't picture myself cheerfully 'celebrating the gift of life' - a process which would entail stretch-marks, ripping and tearing of parts that I am fairly determined to keep in one piece, and subsequent loss of free time and privacy.

It's more than just being selfish or avoiding the responsibility. I genuinely feel no inclination to find out which of my genes are most dominant. Besides, I'm pretty sure anything I produce will have unruly hair, untannable skin, IBS and freakish acne from a young age. I also struggle to keep pet gold fish alive.

Anyway, back to the friend with sprog. I sent her heartfelt congratulations - because I know it's what she wanted and she's delighted. But I just don't understand why.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Hab-humour


Combining a play on words with my biggest crush... now that's my kind of humour.
If I wasn't so tired, I think I would actually laugh.
ps. Mills pointed out that Cherryflava hosted this picture on their blog. Cheers guys!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Weighing in

I'm going away for a work event this weekend. The marketing material alone weighs over five kilos, so I know I'm going to be overweight. I'm always overweight on planes. Packing last night and this morning has got me all worked up again - I'm a weightist.

I've been trying to find out why airlines have to regulate weight so stringently. The most common answer is: because they like taking money from us. I even read one article that suggests check-in staff get bonuses depending on how many overweight charges they extract from passengers. I hope there's nothing to that.

Two main schools of thought seem to be: overweight charges are due to fuel consumption or flight safety. Maybe somebody with more inside info can help me out here? I'm open to suggestions.

Right, if the overweight charges are due to fuel consumption, I want to know if staff rush around adding extra fuel before take off, to ensure we have enough to compensate for my excess 3kg baggage. I don't think they do.

General safety. This one I can (almost) accept. We are going in something that we expect to defy the laws of gravity, maintain this defiance for at least an hour, then bring us back to land without hurting us. Maybe weight restrictions do have something to do with the physics. But then... surely weight restrictions should apply to, um, weight?

I'm a weightist. I may have mentioned this before. It pisses me off beyond rational thought when I get told I cannot take 3 extra kilos on board... now please move to the side so that we can check in the 120kg fattie and his obese family behind you.

If it's about weight, then passengers should be weighed with their luggage. THEN charge overweight costs.

Passenger weighing 120kg plus 20kg luggage = 140kg. No overweight?
Me plus luggage plus excess = 80kg (at a push). Here's your charge, suck it up.

If the issue is about weight, then please be consistent and make it about everybody's weight. That's all I'm saying. Admittedly, thinner people probably have more money to spend on excess because they haven't bought - and eaten - all the pies.

Yes, I'm a weightist. But I don't think I'm being unfair. Consider it a public service announcement. It would be an incentive to lose body mass - and possibly lessen the risk of cancer (yet another brilliant Beeb headline... groundbreaking stuff again, simply years ahead of its time. Fat = unhealthy. Who'd have thunk it.)

Anyway. I know that any excess charges on this trip will be charged to the company, so it's not really my problem. But still - overweight charges should be about overall weight.

That's all I'm saying.

Monday, October 29, 2007

News Flash

It's the spray cans that are causing it... it's the cars that are emitting it... it's our every day activity. The polar caps are melting and we're to blame.

News flash. Global warming is not a new thing. In fact, it's happened more than once before - and not because Dino was too liberal with the spray-on deo. I'm not being a conspiratorial freak, I'm sure our activities have something (okay, maybe a lot) to do with the rapid temperature change, but please can we all take a deep breath and realise that this has happened before?

I'm sick of hearing about it, bored of dinner talk about it. Option A: the human population will be wiped out and will be added to the long list of extinct animals. Option B: The more likely one, I think - we'll adapt. In the event of a nuclear fallout, it'll be us and the cockroaches. Humans have already adapted to just about every climate around the world - from really cold, to really swampy, to really toasty. We are the cockroaches of our world. What an honour.

One day, the sun (being a star and all) might go supernova on our asses and swallow the earth. Let's all have a fat panic about that and get it out of systems now. And... GO.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In memorandum

After many trial runs, Freaky went belly up for good this weekend. He's survived by his mourning parents and his sibling/sometimes breeding mate, Deaky.



Wherever he is now, I hope he's swimming right side up.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Habanananana

Mills insisted that I post this link. I don't know why. Although I must admit, I do shake tush every time I hear HA-BAN-NANA!

I haven't set fire to anything this week, but I was thinking about my track record. As far as I can recall the following items have spontaneously combusted in my presense at one stage or another: one potatoe, one butternut, one heated teddy (the microwaveable beads kind), one towel and most recently, a bread roll.

You can stop applauding now.

I recently saw an advert for microwaveable slippers. I think I want a pair...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ever had one of those days..

..where your boss sends you home for fear of further damage to office property?
Let's take a stroll through a day with Koekie.

On Thursday night, guests arrived from London. Mills had taken the day off, so it was with great excitement that he and our guests sat up and shared a few more than two beers - until 4am when I lost patience and sent them to bed. After about two hours sleep, I got up and went to work on Friday morning.

I thought the cycle into work would wake me up. I can't decide if the insect that lodged itself in my eye helped or not. I got into work and had a bizarre interview with a 40-year-old woman who decided to share 12 pages of printed pictures showing herself at work and at team building events. When I tried to direct her back to the topic of the interview, she paused, looked at me... and dived straight back into pointing herself out in each picture. Seriously.. is this a new form of self-promotion? "And here I am playing beach volleyball with my boss and his manager..." Does this in any way indicate her level of skills??

Moving on.

Finally released from her holiday-pic-horror, I went upstairs to make me some lunch. Lunch involved some level of cooking - unbaked breadroll. Pop it in the microwave for 2minutes and voila - freshly baked broodje. In theory.

In practise, my roll caught alight after 90seconds. I whipped it out of the microwave and shoved it under running water with an extinguished sizzle and accompanying stench. Now would be a good time to point out that our office is not insured for fire.

Desperate to get rid of the smell, I opened the window as wide as possible. Unfortunately, the kitchen window opens inwards and in my haste, I failed to notice the glass light fitting hanging from the ceiling, directly in line with the window.

Crash.
Tinkle.

Awesome.

I decided it was time to start apologising to the boss (who had recently offered me a year extension on my current contract. I think she may be reconsidering). She commended me on my efforts. In fact, she laughed so hard she cried a little. At least, I think she was laughing... She then sent me home before I broke anything else.

The rest of the weekend picked up. We took our guests into the Red Light District, gawked at a few hookers, learnt the catchy phrase "stop masturbating, start participating" (must remember to throw that into conversation more regularly), watched even more hookers playing rugby (YES PLEASE*) and enjoyed a good catch up weekend.

*What is the with the engraving of the trophy as the final whistle blows? Talk about unnecessary pressure. It's not like the horseraces where an outsider might snatch the gold medal... "and coming from the 8th lane it's GEORGIA to take the trophy. GEORGIA ARE THE RUGBY WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS 2007!!" Surely it would make more sense to just have one base that says "SOUTH AFRICA 2007" and another that says "ENGLAND 2007"? That way all you need is a tube of Superglue and ten seconds to apply direct pressure. Of course, it could also be embarrassing if the gratuitous cute kid gets stuck to the glue. Could be awkward trying to pick up Thabo, holding a snotty 8 year old attached to the trophy by his right thumb... Although it would elimate the chances of the cup being dropped.

Okay, I might be overtired. Bed time for this shattered Koekie.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More from the Sheltered South African Kid

Her latest pearler: "I didn't watch the 1995 Final. I thought we were going to lose so I was asleep in my room."

When she uttered this little pearler this morning, myself and the other South African in the room had nothing to say. We looked at her, looked at each other, looked at her again. Eventually I laughed. What else could I do?

I'll readily admit that I was not brought up in a rugby-obsessed family. But even my hockey-playing relatives and I were watching in awe as Joel dropkicked us to glory. This was followed by a drive home with South Africans hooting on the roads, waving, shouting at everybody/anybody who looked in their general direction. I could be wrong, and I don't have any studies to back this up, but I think I'm working with the only South African who slept through the 1995 RWC Final and its subsequent celebrations.

She followed up by saying how she really, REALLY hopes SA can win this weekend, but she just doesn't think they can manage it. This from the woman who does not... I repeat... does not know who Bryan Habana is.

I ignored her after that.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Flying Habana

Why can't we play a match without face-slapping and hair-pulling? It's like a 7th grade girls' bathroom out there. The Koekmeister wonders how many Boks are going to be cited this week.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fishfood

Cloggies.
Go figure.


The Netherlands is dotted with what I call 'Haring stalls'. They're basically fish vendors on the side of just about every street corner (the equivalent of MacDs in the US). The speciality is raw herring (haring).



In May each year, these stalls go nuts with the news of "Hollandse Nieuw" - the first haul of fresh herring for the year. The very first bucket offloaded from the ocean is auctioned. This year the one bucket of smelly, ungutted, uncleaned, unpickled, swimming-in-their-own-poo herring sold for a mere 70,000 euros.


We have one just down the road from us. I gag at the smell every day on my way home. But cloggies love it - they have it for lunch. You can have it with broodje, or served with onions and pickles. But if you can ride a bike with both hands in your pockets, you pick the entire uncooked fish up by its tail and drop it down your gullet. Just like that.


Excerpt from http://www.expatica.com/:

It has taken me some years to understand the fuss about Hollandse Nieuw, which I first learned to appreciate when an Amsterdam fish dealer refused to hand it to me after I asked for the usual side offerings of onion and pickles. He just served it to me as it was and it melted in my mouth! I enjoy any type of herring, but ever since that day I understand there is something special and unique about the taste of a fresh green herring.

So by all means, have a fresh cleaned herring if you wish, but please have it cleaned under your eyes and eat it within the hour, if not it will start tasting rancid. Also, avoid having the fish cut into little pieces (an Amsterdam habit) and refuse the onions and/or pickles that are usually offered on the side. They're offered in order to distract your attention from the taste of the fish! Do not eat it on a roll, only 25 percent of all herring is eaten that way.

The best and truly Dutch method is to take the tail between your forefinger and thumb, put your head in your neck and directly lower the fish into your mouth. Good green herring melts in your mouth, tastes soft and slightly salty. You can also wash it down it with a glass of Jenever (Dutch juniper berry gin).


As much as I love sushi, fish, seafood, shellfish... I haven't been able to bring myself to try haring.

Until today.

I did not eat it in the traditional drop-it-down-your-gullet fashion, but instead chose the more conservative approach of using a fork.


It was soft. And squishy. And slightly slimy. And tasted of raw fish. Not a totally foreign experience. Then the aftertaste hit - and no amount of swallowing could dislodge it.


It's not the worst thing I've ever eaten, and I'm sure I'll try worse things. But now I can say with certainty - I don't like haring. Thank you for offering.


ps. Regarding the expatica excerpt... sure, you can wash it down with a shot of Jenever. You'll be burping fish guts and fire for the next 9 hours. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

FW: FW: FWD: VERY IMPORTANT!

In the wake of the tornado that just hit Joburg, I'd like to send my love to all the survivors. I trust that family and friends still have all their limbs in tact. But wait, let's think about it... in the case of a real tornado warning, is your first priority seriously to sms everyone in your phonebook? Really?

Also, the nine reported changeroom rapes... didn't happen.

I don't understand who has so much time on their hands that they feel the need to create and then disseminate random hoax emails. Maybe they get a kick out of it when their own friends start sending it back to them, over and over again.

I understand that the forwarding of these emails are generally done in the 'interests' of loved ones. If gangs are initiating new members by killing unsuspecting drivers who flash their lights at them, then I should know. If the coke can I found lying on our street pavement truly is a sign for organised crime to ransack my house, I should know. But these stories have been circulating since the earliest conception of a chain letter. Seriously, some of these urban legends have been traced back to the days of paper.

As much as I love (most) of the people who include me on these emails, I think it's time to spread the truth... forwarded emails are almost always crap. So far, I have found one exception to this and that is the breast cancer awareness email. This is genuine. Verified. Click yourself silly in the name of all things mammory.

A surefire way for me to get myself off a group mailing list (usually titled "FWD: FW: FWD: FWD: DON'T DELETE! READING THIS COULD SAVE THE LIFE OF YOUR UNBORN CHILD!") is to reply to all of the recipients of the email, after a quick truthorfiction/snopes.com fact-finding mission. I hope that by pointing out that the missing girl/dying puppy/traumatised granny has, in several different email strands, supposedly lived in Badgers Bottom/Bluffton/Cluttsville and Skilpadvretvandorsfontein*, then maybe other people on the mailing list won't forward the same email on - and probably back to me.

It's anal, snotty, pernickity... generally just as annoying as actually receiving the stupid email in the first place. I don't get included in future group emails.

So please, let it be known... the SPCA is not closing down. You can ask them yourself. All it took for me was one quick google and then following a link from the official website. You see how easy that was to verify?

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for juicy gossip. But if you're going to send me scandal, please make sure there's substance to it.


*actual place names - except the last, which I think I made up, but I can't be sure.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A trying evening

Mills and I went to an engagement party last night. This is not going to be yet another rant on matrimonials. Even if this couple are openly getting married for the tax and... um, visa... benefits - they seem genuinely fond of each other and I know of other people who got married just so that they could have guilt-free sex. Whatever. Congratulations.

Anyway. This party was different because the bride-to-be comes complete with an 8 year old little person. And the 8-year-old has friends. Seventeen of them were there last night. Holy steaming poo on a stick.

If we're going to a function like that, Mills and I need to be mentally prepared beforehand. We were not. You think 'engagement party', you think champagne and awkward mingling. You don't think champagne, awkward mingling AND highly-strung preteens thundering after each other and pouncing on any piece of furniture not securely fastened to the ceiling.

You didn't need a degree in psychology to spot the parents (bride's guests) and the non-parents (groom's guests). The bride-to-be's guests were happily ignoring the children standing on toes, tugging clothes and pleading adults to feed them booze. The groom-to-be's guests were watching aghast as children selected decorative pebbles to drop from the second storey window into the street below (those were only the non-parents who didn't have their eyes tightly screwed shut in an attempt to block out the ear-piercing screams). A friend asked Mills and I if we could leave yet. Mills pointed out that we had only been there for 40 minutes, so probably not.

Children aside, I got introduced to another South African couple. I politely asked them where they were from. Pretoria. And how long have they been here? Just over a year.

She then proceeded to explain to me just how much she hates being in the Netherlands.

"There's nothing to do here," she moaned. I think you're wrong. Sports, parks, theatre, museums, travelling, dance classes, art classes, language classes. The Netherlands is hardly backwater.

"They hate foreigners here." No, they don't. Forty percent of the The Hague's population consists of international expats, who are welcomed. Besides, have you been to France or Spain?

"They don't speak English." I'm not sure what part of The Hague she lives in, but most people speak better English than in England (which is not hard). Still, another ignorant statement. Besides which... she's native Afrikaans. It's not like learning Chinese. And again... have you been to Italy, or Russia? THEY don't speak English.

"They are terrible drivers here." You come from Gauteng. The home of idiot taxi drivers. Here, they actually stop at red robots and pedestrian crossings. Again, I don't believe you.

So, I asked while trying not to grind my teeth, are you thinking about going back to SA then? Nope - she hated it there too.

Doing my best to keep conversation flowing, I asked her where she wanted to go... "oh I don't know. Anywhere but here," was the word-for-word answer.

I know... hate is strong word, but people like this - I hate. I want to spit venom when I get stuck in a conversation with them, their negativity oozing from every breath. 'Anywhere but here' mentality. Deciding not to point out that she would probably never be happy, I sidled away from that conversation before my head exploded from bottled up confrontational tension.

Back into the writhing pit of kids. Another friend of ours was standing rigid next to his 6-month-pregnant wife. His wife was smiling warmly at the throng of two-legged piranhas. His grin was fixed to his face and his eyes were glazed. Mills quietly requested confirmation of my pill prescription.

All 17 (hundred) kids were still going strong when we left. It seemed like a lifetime, but we weren't even there for three hours. Mills and I were still in a state of shock when we got home.

Breeding.
Seriously.
Why?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The name is Bank, Absa Bank.

Hello hello... welcome to my friendly corner store. How may I help you today?

You're wanting to make use of my service? Gladly! That'll be a R31,90 sign up fee.
Please... please... come in!

What are you actually needing from me? Loo paper and soap? Ah, the basics then. I'll get them from the back room just as soon as you've confirmed your finger print, your residential address and signature here. Thank you, thank you very much! Just one more thing... if I can just have a drop of saliva... thank you again, sir.

Right, let me see about that loo paper and soap... oh, I'm afraid our soap is on back order and is unavailable at the moment. How would you like to be notified of its arrival: by email, fax or sms? The charges are as follows: sms R2, fax R0.50 and email R0,60. Email? Right you are, sir. It's a wise choice.

That'll be R15,15 in total for the loo paper. Would you like a receipt with that? It will cost an extra R3,35 and we'll be needing a sample of your fingernail for cross-checking.

What? You don't think this is a good way for running a business? No, I don't think it's out of order to charge you every time I do my job for a service that you have already paid to receive. Well, I'm sorry you feel that way, sir. You can register your complaint with our call centre between the hours of 10am-11am on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or on Wednesday from 3pm to 4pm. We're closed on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and all religious and public holidays.

Funny you should mention it though... I simply based my business on the banking system in South Africa. They seem to be doing fine.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Meet Spongebob Squarepants on a bike.
(otherwise known as Mills cycling home from cricket.)



And yes Kop, I took this from my bike, while cycling behind him. I'm that good.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fish brain


Gawd, here she goes again... ranting about her pets. But at least they're not cats. And just look at the damn thing. It's wedged itself under the frekking filter. Freakin' Freaky.

Here's another shot, just to show that Deaky is still okay with the idea of sustainable biology. Fins up, butt facing downwards. Good job.


You think he's dying right? (And yes, it's a 'he'. Freaky is a hypochondriac. He gets man-/fish-flu).

But don't jump to conclusions. Freaky wedges himself under the filter, chills there for a bit, checks me out with one eye, then rights himself and swims around casually like nature intended - see below:


Speaking of fishbrains, SSAK's latest pearler: "I think I'm going to change jobs. I want to do marketing, or teaching, or event organising." I asked SSAK if she had any experience and/or education that pointed in the direction of any of the above, already knowing the answer. "Do you need to study for marketing?" was the confused reply.

This woman frustrates me. Granted, you don't need to study for any of the above but you do a) have to work your way up (she's not prepared to look at entry level jobs, she wants more pay for less experience. Klopt, ja?) and b) you'd have to show a certain level of aptitude, which I can assure you, she cannot spell.

And teaching? Dear god, please don't let her loose on a history class. Especially not South African history.

Ps. Don't believe what they tell you at the Oceanarium... fish love getting the glass of their tanks tapped and having their pics taken with flash photography. They thrive on the attention.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The pros and cons of cycling

(I wanted to call it the ups and downs, but being in the Netherlands it would be more the flats and flats)

Pro: You get from A-B faster than walking (and public transport).
Con: I equal the time out by getting tangled in my locking mechanism.

Pro: It's a good way to warm up for hockey/football.
Con: It sucks to cycle home afterwards.

Pro: You can point and laugh at the suckers stuck in traffic as you sail past.
Con: The suckers stuck in traffic can point and laugh at you when it suddenly starts to rain.

Pro: It's safe. Bicycle paths and dedicated traffic lights mean you don't need to dodge cars.
Con: It still gets confusing as to which side of the road I should be on.

Pro: Drivers are assumed liable if a cyclist gets hit. No matter what the circumstances.
Con: Regardless of who'll be paying the medical fees, if you get hit by a car it's guaranteed that the vehicle won't be the one taken off in an ambulance.

Pro: Lots of fresh air gets the brain into gear on the way to work.
Con: Lots of fresh air usually comes in the form of very strong gusty wind. (Also, some bugger in a van insists on spritzing his windscreen wipers down the same stretch of road, at the same time every morning - resulting in a face full of watery cleaning agent for me. Fortunately I don't cycle with my mouth open any more. It used to be very unpleasant.)

Pro: I can cycle with my phone/mp3 player on.
Con: I still can't cycle while holding an umbrella.

Pro: My sixth/seventh hand bike is still considered 'new-ish'.
Con: Parts of it are held together (literally) by cellotape.

Um... that's all I can think of for now. I'm sure there'll be more. Actually haven't been able to do much cycling lately, what the lashing winds, heavy rain and wintry temperatures.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Frolicking around Europe


Oh my shattered poepstring, the game on Saturday nearly ended my heart. We did not drive to France just to watch SA lose to Tonga! On the upside, we were sitting in the chicken run seats in the corner of the tryline, just where Bobby Skinstad went over in spectacular fashion in the second half. This meant that we missed Steyn's punch up on the other side of the field - as apparently, did every TV cameraman. Did he bite Faka? I wonder. Of course, when Mah BOY Bryan was warming up in the same corner, right under our seats, I was in the queue for the toilet. Of course.

In other news, Mills managed to book us into the same hotel as the Tongan team, which was really cool. They're a charismatic bunch - even though they treated us to knowing nods and smiles when we crawled in (in full SA regalia) after the game... saying with out saying it... "we almost ended your team." I got my picture taken with the man of the match, Finau Maka. We cornered the poor bugger while he was requesting ice for a his black eye - I'm sure he was thrilled to be accosted by an enthusiastic South African, a Dane and an American (Mills hung behind, trying to pretend he wasn't with us). In the picture, I'm the one looking intimidated by the size of his biceps, and his hair. I know a good 'fro when I see one, bro.

Speaking of Bro... there were obviously lots of drunk SA fans on the town that evening. What a mess - mildly embarrassing when one dude from Centurian did the nation proud by drooling on our Texan acquaintance and having the following conversation with the Dane:

Dribbles: "ssshoooo... wheres you all from?"
Dane: "Denmark."
Dribbles: "wait... don tell me. Yous from Ireland."
Dane: "Nope. I'm still from Denmark."
Pause as Dribbles tries to absorb the information, drools a bit more. Conversation continues without him. Five minutes later...
Dribbles: "ssshoo where you from?"
Dane: "I'm sticking with Denmark."

Go SA.
Now... Barthelona:




Very cool city - awesome architecture. Can't say I knew much about this Gaudi dude before our arrival, but I'm sure he had real special recreational drugs at his parties. Enough sightseeing, here's something that you won't find on a walking tour:


The Catalonians have a tradition at Christmas. They like to hide a little Caganer character in amongst the shepherds, the angels and the three wise men. What's a Caganer, I hear you question? It's a figurine of a Crapper. A person taking a poo. The reason for this tradition is a little hazy.

You think I'm making this up? Read here. Suddenly, South Park's character "Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo" makes some sort of sense.


Finally: birds. Uncontrollable, all around the world.


And that's my life over the last two weeks. My job here is done. Now I need to download the 400-odd pictures onto facebook... Next on the list of priorities: get the Dutch computer working so I don't have to use Mills's laptop any more.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Time out

It's a tough life... just back from Barcelona. Hardly time to catch my breath or download pictures, because we're off to France this weekend to watch SA play Tonga. It's a tough life, but I'm prepared to do it.

Watch out for me on TV, I'll be the one trying to tackle "Mah BOY" Habana on the bench.

Tot strakjes!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Stomme idioot

I know I shouldn't, but I do. I judge her for being thick - the Sheltered South African kid. I know it's not her fault that she has no idea about the atrocities committed by South Africans on South Africans. I blame her upbringing - and the fact that she went to a school called Voortrekker High.

It irritates me beyond words when she tells people that all South Africans are sheltered and unworldly, but I don't argue, because that would be like screaming at a four-year-old for being naive. Most of the South Africans I know can at least name a country and point to its rough location on the map.... unlike Americans, Brits and even Aussies. When it comes to all-round education, Saffers tend to be leaps and bounds ahead of the western world - along with Eastern Europeans and Asians. First world countries tend to think that knowing the bus route to work is general knowledge.

I judge her because she judges her father for marrying an Indian lady 10 years ago. She thinks that once you choose to marry, you stick by that decision. Regardless. And the man is always right. Unless he's your father and has chosen an interracial second marriage.

She tells me how much she misses South Africa, but she can't go home because her boyfriend doesn't want her to go on holiday without him and he doesn't want to go to South Africa because he's been there before - once, when she went home to visit her mother, two years ago. It gets better. He's still studying, so she's the one working in the relationship. Yet he controls the finances and puts a pittance into her account as pocket money. I want to tell her to tell him to shove his opinion where it's dark and warm, but it's not my place and I bite my tongue.

She tries to include me in her ignorant opinions. Like, "I haven't watched South African rugby in the last five years, but don't you think we're going to lose against England?" No, you lobotomised goldfish, I think Bryan Habana is a god and I'm actually hopeful that we're going to do quite well. The Brit in our office is a betting man... and you know what, he's betting on SA to win on Friday. Any further idiot opinions at this stage?

Why don't I verbally attack this gullible and misled lump of charcoal?

Because I really think it would be like elbow-dropping a toddler, screaming "you like that, punk? HUH? DO YA?" I can't do it. And she sees me as her one link to South Africa, except that I actually get to visit South Africa and see my family when I choose to. So even though I want to grab her by her shoulders and shake her until I can see the veins bursting in her dull eyeballs, I tolerate her comments. I take deep breaths and let her idiot ramblings wash over me. Because I pity her.

Gawd, I feel so much better after this rant. Now I can face another day of the SSAK.

In other news, I walked a Japanese granny to her flat in the old-age centre this evening. I like to think this cancels out all my bitching in this post. And now I must go clean the fishbowl.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sheltered

Sheltered example 1: I work with a lovely lady. She's white, South African and Afrikaans. She loves everything about South Africa and misses it dearly... and she is not the brightest member of the light brigade.

Over the weekend, she watched Cry Freedom, with Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington. Had I seen the movie, she asked me. Yes... I watched it at school. You know, when the teacher was too lazy to force us to pay attention in history.

You see, my colleague had never seen the movie. In fact, it upset her terribly because... and I quote... "did you know how the blacks were treated during Apartheid? It was horrible!"

Um, yes. Did you know that sometimes white people sleep with black people? I didn't actually ask her that, I don't think she could handle two shocking truths in one week. I suppose it's possible that she missed every episode of Carte Blanche, Special Assignment, Third Degree, all the BBC documentaries and CNN broadcasts (who never seem to show footage outside of Soweto). Maybe she didn't catch the few newspapers that covered the TRC hearings. I suppose it's possible to grow up in South Africa and not notice that Apartheid may have affected a few people.

Sheltered example 2: Metric Martyrs. First, I love the sentence, "his scales were confiscated and he earned a criminal conviction for selling a pound of bananas." Second - ounces, yards, miles... let it go. And yes... you were on the winning side (but noticeably NOT the winning factor) in a war 60 years ago. LET IT GO.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Princess day

For those who didn't get the memo (and are subsequently OFF the Christmas card list), last Thursday was my birthday - or Princess Day, as I prefer to call it.

I must say, turning 21 gets better every time I do it. Mills earned massive brownie points by paying attention and getting me the camera that I've been subtly hinting at ("see that one in the window... that one.. the Nikon D40... I want that camera... the Nikon D40. Are you writing this down?"). I honestly didn't expect to actually get it for my birthday, some money towards its purchase would've been nice - but receiving it on the day was even better!

At work, my work desk looked like a festive hazard zone, with birthday decorations, coloured chevron tape and balloons covering every square inch of work space. I got a huge bunch of flowers (complete with proteas - nice touch); a selection of Mama Africa curry and spices (because as much as the Dutch ran the spice trade, they certainly forgot to add any to their cuisine); and a BEEG bottle of Amarula.

How much more attention can a girl get on her fifth 21st birthday? Oh yes, and then Mills's parents arrived for a visit, bearing more gifts from my family, and took us out for celebratory supper.

Full princess treatment. No tiaras though - which is always disappointing.

Sorry about the lack of regular posting. I'm too busy being busy - and waiting for a new computer that actually works. What a novel idea.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

To the god of gadgets

Dear Sir

I hope you and the latest model are keeping well.

Pleasantries dispensed with, I suppose you are wondering why I am contacting you in writing - as all my previous interaction has consisted of less-formal descriptions of the four-lettered kind. Well, dear Sir, you can crack open a bottle of lubricant or pump up the circuits - or whatever you crazy nuts are doing to celebrate these days - because I am writing to inform you of my surrender. I give up. You win.

I won't fight it any more. Like a petulant toddler, you have worn me down. I had long ago accepted that interaction with anything involving a power cable would be testing, but today you cracked me. In the battle of wills between good and evil, the dark side has won. I'm sure you and Darth Vader are having a good laugh.

You see, Mills and I bought a computer today. We just needed a standard desktop, check-email, upload-holiday-pics, computer. That's all. Walk into shop, point at computer, pay for computer, walk out.

But you know the story already, don't you? You know how it ends. Please tolerate me elaborating anyway. I need the cathartic therapy and I'm sure you'll enjoy reliving the moment.

We bought the computer - the PC, monitor, the keyboard and the mouse. It came in a big, prepackaged box from a reputable dealer, with a one-year warranty. We got the heavy box home on the bus on a Saturday afternoon (you must have enjoyed that viewing pleasure, you sick f...). Sorry, I'll control myself I promise.

Like I was saying, we got the computer home and read the English instructions (that was a nice touch... it gave us hope. False hope is always entertaining). We attached the monitor and the keyboard and the mouse to the computer and we turned it on. There was power on the screen for a second, followed by a "No signal" error and then nothing.

We tried again. Nothing. We admitted that we may have connected something incorrectly. We tried switching cords/plugs/power points and cables. We called the computer shop. The computer shop asked us if we had plugged in the computer. The computer shop transferred us to the central helpdesk. The central helpdesk told us that we would have to take the PC back into the shop.

Were you watching this the whole time or did you change the channel while we navigated the public transport back into town?

We got back to the computer shop and explained that our same-day purchased computer wasn't working. They set it up to have a look. Oh, this is where your beauty broke me, Your Perniciousness... the computer switched on without a problem. The artistry of your work almost reduced me to tears.

I particularly liked the touch of having your human minions patronise us. And we're foreign too. Pity we're not American, otherwise we would've had the full stupid label. Oh dear... you're not American are you? No offence meant, I've just always pictured you as a god of the Indian-persuasion.

Back on the bus and home again. Plugged in the monitor and the keyboard and the mouse to the computer. Low and behold, it worked! Again, the false hope was a tweak of perfection. The ups and downs of the emotional day have exhausted me, and I commend you for it. Masterful, truly masterful.

Now Mills and I sit and stare, dear Sir, because we don't have the energy to take the computer back to the computer shop to find out why we cannot change the working language from Dutch to English. Again, nice touch. Especially as we asked if it was possible to change the language selection, and were assured that it would be the first option on the installation process; especially as we phoned the helpdesk to point out that there was no such option; especially as the helpdesk got a second chance in one afternoon to check that we had plugged the computer in.

So now, bearing my pitiful capitulation in mind, please can you stop tormenting me? I am sorry that I thought I was stronger and more resilient than you. I am sorry for thinking that being human means that I am mightier than a computer. I am sorry for my arrogance.

You know all those times that I threatened to dropkick an appliance out of our second storey window? Well, I know that probably irked you somewhat. I apologise for that too.

Now, please... please... can you find someone else to mock for a while? I'd love to set up a computer and have it work on the first attempt. I'd love to be the person at work who does not call IT every single day because the computer has forgotten my profile. I would love to be the one on whom the train doors do not slam shut.

(I realise the latter may be an indirect request, but I'm guessing you're in touch with the god of public transport, so perhaps you could share this letter with him? It'll save me the postage and give you something to talk about at the next god-like social event.)

In short, Your Nefariousness... I'm tired.
Please can you cut me some slack?

Yours in miserable deference,
Twisted Koeksuster

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dit en dat

Following up on my "Who is gay in the world of rugby" theories... please see this story. Now, apparently, only real mean grab others by the crotch.

Then (and I hope you're reading this at lunch, because I was when I found it), please see this story to further educate yourself on foreign cuisine.

Koekmeister out.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Is it contagious?

They're dropping like flies. Every day, another falls. Every week, another announcement.

ENGAGED! ENGAGED! ENGAGED!

No, I'm not talking about the ladies' loos at a Justin Trousersnake concert. I'm talking about matrimonials.

I realise that in the conventional, orthodox, religious sense; marriage is important. No sex out of wedlock and all that. But in this day and age, what exactly is the point of marriage? I know there are also supposedly tax advantages. But tax is about as foreign an understanding as biochemistry is to me, so I ask again - what is the point?

There's also the argument that wedding illustrates the partnership. Matching rings on matching fingers, completing the set (like the salt and pepper cellars that dad bought my mom on their first anniversary... now there's a gift that'll live on in infamy for a loong, looong time). But you can get a set of his and hers toe rings without a marriage certificate. So what is the point?

The closest Mills and I have gotten to marriage and certificates is when we had to prove that we WEREN'T married (for relocation purposes). And there was the time that I thought he'd said, "marry me" when he was actually referring to his teammate - Murray Lee. That was an interesting conversation in a noisy and crowded pub.

I love the fact that my friends are getting married. I'm happy for them, and I'm really sorry that so far I've actually managed to miss most of the celebrations (being out of town and off the continent has put a dampener on the social circle). But I don't see why there is still an expectation for young couples to tie the knot.

Let's be honest... how many young couple unions end in divorce? Scarier than people my age getting married, is people my age getting divorced. Is it part of the growing curve? Get drunk, pass driver's license, try boinking, get married, get divorced, turn 30. Woo hoo!

Okay, not necessarily in that order, but I think I've made my point. Hmmm... do I have a point? What is the point? Oh yes. Marriage. Why?

I'm all for weddings though. Good fun. Two thumbs way up for that idea. It's true what they say. Every girl dreams of her wedding. The difference with me is that I don't think it's necessary to include a ceremony, a marriage certificate, or a groom for that matter.

I'm a simple girl. With simple dreams. I just want a party where I get to wear a special dress, eat a special cake. Where everybody brings presents and tells me how pretty I look in my tiara.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

M.I.A.

It's been a while. I haven't had access to a computer at home, and I was keeping myself busy at work by completely destroying the internal network, culminating with a power failure on Friday. Okay, I can't back up those claims, but seeing that I was in the vicinity, I'm sure I had something to do with it.

In the last week, I have:
- attempted to consume already-eaten-and-discarded olive pips (it was semi-dark and what the hell were they doing in a bowl next to all the other snacks anyway?);
- almost broke my nose on the bus when sudden braking sent my precious face dangerously close to a pole;
- selected and attempted to try on clothing from the children's section. I was irritable and in a hurry and they were quite large children's clothes. Damnit.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who am I? Where do I belong?

It's always been confusing being me. Growing up, I loved the music of the 60s and 70s, which meant that I completely missed out on what friends my age were actually listening too. To this day, when people talk about 80s and early-90s bands, I can't contribute.

Then there's my hair's era. My voluminous crowning glory belongs to the 80s, even if my music tastes don't. Unfortunately, I spent my teenage years in the 1990s, when everbody looked sleek and staight. Scraping my hair back and flat did nothing but look greasy from extensive product use.

Recently, I learnt that my body type belongs in the 1920s. Last night we went to a Flapper-themed party. (Flapper is the style of dress from the 1920s, for the uninitiated). I did some research on the fashion and learnt the following:


After the first world war (1914-18) when women's dress became more mannish, female clothes became looser and more shapeless in fit. The bust was suppressed, the waist disappeared, the shoulders became broader and hair shorter and shorter. Narrow boyish hips were preferred. The silhouette emphasised a flattened chest and womanly curves were eliminated as the line became more simplified. Foreheads were unfashionable in the 1920s.

No boobs. Check.
No waist. Check.
Boyish hips. Check.
I still have a forehead though. Doh.

Life would've been a bitch for Christina Ricci... there isn't a headpiece big enough.

The party was good. Not nearly enough Charlston dancing for my liking, but marching with about 50 flapper-styled expats through the streets of Rotterdam, in search of a late-night club is certainly a priceless (and probably once-off) experience.

Good times.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Let the games begin

Cycle 4km to hockey practise.
Run godknowshowfar up and down hills.
Get back to pitch. Warm up. (what the hell were we doing on those hills?)
Drills. Run. Jog. Run. Jog. Run.
Drills. Run. Dodge. Run. Shoot. Miss.
Game. Run. Run. Run.

Cycle home.
Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
Peer at bicycle in dark.
Prod back wheel.
Pfffff.
Ah.

Walk the rest of the way home.

Fun.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kaalvoet

It's always good to know you're not on your own... this received in response to my biking-incident:

Koeks, it's impossible not to laugh at your stories! All I can see is Mills's arse sticking in the air with a bike between his...Well, you get what I'm saying!

Speaking of funny stories....did I tell you my shoe story?
Briefly (to avoid boredom):

Arrived in London for my first job
Got lost
Found correct bridge (of many)
Ran along bridge - and broke both my shoes
Threw both my shoes away
Arrived at work...no shoes
Met my boss...sweating, with no shoes
Went to the board meeting....no shoes
Was introduced to the CEO...again....shoes?
Told him he had to employ me 'cos I am a poor white girl from Africa.

Was splendid.

Must go - actually have work to do but again, briefly:

I HAD NO FREAKING SHOES ON!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

D.U.I.

Mills and I have gotten pretty good at balancing on one bike. Besides that little kneecapping incident. Unfortunately last night proved that we have yet to master the drunken-biking balancing act.

After a civilised round of croquet in the park (which lasted over four hours, without anyone winning... we're that good) we moved on to not-so-civilised dinner in town. Mills and I were already on one bike, so when it came time to go home we went through the usual routine: Mills fired up the engines, I trotted along next to him and hopped on. No problem.

We travelled about 7metres and fell over.

It happened in slow motion. We were doing fine, when suddenly the vindictive hand of gravity reached up over my left shoulder and pulled. Technically, I don't know whether I was the one responsible for the lack of equilibrium, or if it was Mills who just couldn't handle the excess baggage.

I landed arse-first, with my feet in the air. Mills landed in a similar position, but on top of me, sandwiching the bike between us.

The indignity.

We walked home after that. Well, I stomped and Mills tried to keep up while wheeling/wobbling his bike behind me. Next time, maybe we'll take the bus.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

RWC

Bring on the passion...


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Continued

Last night, Mills and I were going through our joint budget (which he INSISTS that I should be in charge of, because I HAVE to learn how to budget. Pah.)

But, amazingly, the budgets and the bank balances do not... balance. So Mills was doing some reconciliation. He quickly learnt why the excel spreadsheet and the bank accounts don't match...

Mills: "You really are amazing at this. You've broken all my formulas."
Me: "Yes."
Mills: "How do you do it? All you have to do is fill in a number!"
Me: "It's a talent."

This evening, I asked Mills if I could use his computer. He trustingly allowed me control of the keyboard. Shortly after...

Me: "Miiiiiills.... it won't let me log on."
Exasperated boyfriend: "How do you do it, Koekie? How... do... you... do... it."

Right, must dash. I'm off to break something else.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Untold talent

I have a super-human power. You’ve heard of the Midas-touch? I’ve got the converse... commonly known as the Clutz-touch. If I come into contact with it, it will break. Sometimes my powers are so strong, it breaks on contact. On other occasions, it will take a few days for my power to crumble the resistant molecules.

In the last week:

The keyboard on my computer has switched keys. I don’t know how I did this. I was typing and suddenly I couldn’t find the question-mark key. I later learnt that it had been transported to where the hyphen key can usually be found. The @-sign has gone missing completely. I now have too many variations on apostrophes. I have no idea where the forward-slash key has been relocated. I can’t find it at all. It made punctuation tricky, but I soldiered on.

Then – the laptop stopped recognising the power cable altogether. As it was, it was functioning on a precarious connection with very limited battery-power. More than 3 seconds without electricity and it started beeping. Now it has progressed to not recognising the power cable, unless I’m holding it in place. The resultant one-handed typing (sans punctuation) killed my anal-retentive nerves. The computer was blessed with every combination of colourful swearwords I could muster and I am back to sharing a computer with Mills (much to his delight… especially with my Clutz-touch track record)

This weekend, I broke the fishbowl. This wasn’t an instantaneous reaction. I managed to crack the underside of the 30l-capacity bowl. Unaware, we refilled it and replaced it on its spot… on the TV cabinet. You can see this going horribly wrong, can’t you? Fortunately, I noticed the puddle of water forming underneath the bowl and we were able to avert a major crisis before the glass gave way completely. The fish look lovely in their new bucket-habitat though.

Finally, today… I was closing the window in our bedroom and I managed to break the window-maker-opener-thingie clean off its hinge. THIS I maintain was not my fault. The solid metal connection has literally crumbled. I am not that strong.

…Although, who truly knows the full might of my super-human power? If only I could harvest it into a bolt of pure energy directed from my fingertip. I could fry pigeons with a single gesture. That damn laptop would be the first to go up in flame, if I had a choice. The very thought of its destruction fills me with glee.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Overheard

I found a shoe sale this evening. €5 for every pair of shoes in the shop. The catch was that you had to FIND a matching pair. There were shoes in big tubs everywhere. No categorisation of sizes, colours, styles... nothing. Boots, sandals, slops, moccasins all in one messy barrel. If you can find a pair, you can have them.

It was proving to be a popular concept, dominated by frenzied women throwing discarded shoes over their shoulders like spilt salt. One lucky boy had been dragged into the middle of this mess. His girlfriend had located one shoe that she liked and was now scouring the shop for the other. He was assigned the impossible task of Cinderella's prince: find the set.

She was looking for a white, opened-toed shoe. I watched as she gave him specific instructions on the specimen... Left foot. Medium heel. Size 39.

He couldn't understand why she wasn't interested in what he thought were perfect matches:

"No... that's got an ankle strap. Can you see how this one only sits around the heel? Not the same."

"No. That one has a platform heel."

"No."

"No."

"No. That's cream, not white."

"No."

"Are you kidding?"

Poor bugger was doomed from the start. I eventually lost interest in that shop and went to a normal store where they sell shoes in matching sets - although it did cost me more money for the service.

ps. Freaky is pooing peas and doing much better. Swimming upright and all. Good sign.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Karma is a bitch

Just because I was bitching about good parenting, Karma reached out and zapped my children.

We came home to discover Freaky floating belly up in the fishbowl. Not moving a gill. Tentative tapping and prodding inspired him to attempt swimming... upside down and sideways.

A quick google proved productive:
Swim Bladder- Swim or air bladder problems sometimes occur in freshwater fish.
When the bladder is effected, the fish will experience equilibrium problems.

"Symptoms:
The fish has problems swimming correctly. Check.
They may appear to be standing on their head, or floating to the surface and struggling to go down to the bottom, or possibly even have problems removing themselves from the bottom. Check.
At the later stages of the disease, the fish could lose its balance and swim upside down. Yup... check.

Treatment:
There is no specific treatment for this dilemma [Awesome]; however, you can try isolating the fish to a quarantine tank in shallow water (this provides relief for the fish). Add one teaspoon of salt per gallon of water. Some individuals will feed thawed out frozen peas and this purges the fish's system and has been noted to help many fish."

Why am I sharing all of this information? Because after my rant about pampering to children's needs, I now find myself defrosting (and SHELLING) bloody frozen peas for my pet fish. Giving my goldfish the golden diet. The five-star treatment. Oh, and it's also quarantined in medicated water. I also - shock, horror - find myself negotiating, begging, pleading with the friggin' thing... "Come on Freaky... that's it. Bum topside... come on... you can do it. Nooooo, keep pumping those gills... don't die on me!"

I still maintain its being a hypochondriac, but Mills was pretty concerned about it so for peace I shall pander to its every need.

Next time, we're starting with plastic plants.

Monday, July 30, 2007

For godsake

I don't have children. There are two reasons for this... 1) I do not live in a house with suitable dungeon facilities 2) I would more likely eat any offspring than nurture them to maturity (to quote a friend).

Maternal, I am not. As I've mentioned before, I don't squeal when I see baby clothes. In fact (I was thinking about this during the umpteenth baby shower that I've had to attend in the last few weeks at work), I think my reaction is closer to that of a homophobic straight man stuck in the middle of a gay pride celebration.

...Get me out, get me out, get me out... just nod and smile, nod and smile... get me out, get me out...

So I will be the first to admit that I know very little about parenting. This is by choice. I block out conversations that involve pooping, puking, baby food and diapers (unless we're reminiscing about some of the more revolting stories to come out of varsity days).

But I do know one thing for sure... this woman is wrong.

I don't have children, but last time I checked, they're not likely to understand Machiavellian social mores debate...

"No Tristan, Mommy said you can't have the nice lady's hand bag."
"Why?"
"Because you're still counting your age in months and the bag belongs to her."
"Why."
"First, allow me to validate your feelings... I know you like the bag. But the way society works is that she paid for the bag, the bag is therefore hers. We need to look at this from a pragmatic point of view, sweetie..."

Or, alternatively, a swift smack to the back of the hands to get the message across that pawing other people's possessions is not cool.

Scenario Two:

Unrestrained toddler sets off at pace towards busy intersection. Old-school parent grabs child's hand, smacks child on diapered bum, enforcing the instruction that road + cars = danger.

Unrestrained toddler sets off at pace towards busy intersection. New-age parent trots along next to child, expressing their heart-felt reasons for why child should not set foot on the road, but at the same time reinforcing their support in any decision that the child chooses to take. Three-year-old meets eighteen-wheeler truck = messy.

But hey, what do I know.... the only children I choose to care for are two fat goldfish. I would smack them for swimming in their own poo, but I don't like the way they wriggle when I catch them.