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


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


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?


It's as simple as that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


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


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


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.