"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Throwing away stuff is depressing. Especially when I think of how much future tenants would like things like pillows, duvets, bedsheets, pillowcases and couches.

I was helping a housemate to move into her new place and assemble some furniture, and while we were at lunch we saw the most pathetic busker ever. He'd set up large speakers and was blasting his music. That was bad enough, but I noticed that he wasn't even singing. My housemate added that he was not even playing his guitar, only pretending to strum it, while bouncing around and pretending. What a loser.

I paid €34 (+€2,65 for the box) to ship 5,2 kg of stuff at the post office. This even though it's by sea. For all I know it's cheaper to just exceed the weight allowance at the airport.

When I told the woman at the post office where I wanted to ship my parcel to, she took out the list and her finger hovered on 'Singapore' for a while. Then she asked me if it was in China. Gah. I wonder if Singaporean Malays, Indians or Others get the same reaction.

I saw a cock car painted in orange and with its roof down (its available as a convertible too?!)

Some Dutch magazine ("Consumentenbond") actually went around rating frites places for how healthy their fries were ("Gezondgids"). This place, "Bram ladage" won.

Dutch = English + German + Phlegm

I wanted to buy some useless Orange stuff for fun, but when I went to Blokker today most of it was gone, since they got defeated by Portugal. Damn. In the end I got a "fan".

I saw this poster which was an ad for something about Leiden (probably education-related). There was a Dutch guy and an East Asian girl sitting on a bench, and he was putting a jacket on her. Guess the Asian fetish exists here too.

It's good to walk here for the same reason it's good to cycle - the land is flat.

My parsley plant was not doing well. It was like the primary school experiment about overcrowding. Well actually only some stalks were dying and had yellow/brown leaves - the rest looked pretty healthy. I threw it away anyway.

I think the Dutch are the leanest people in Europe I've seen. It must be all the cycling. Of course, they're not SACSAL size (and they *are* the tallest in the world) and there are fat people also, but overall they're all trim-ish. Interestingly I have also seen no slimming ads in the media at all, so maybe it's a curve - if there're lots of anorexic people or lots of obese people, there'll be a lot of slimming ads but otherwise no.

I saw a TV ad where 3 naked women were in a sauna (with strategic positioning of body parts, of course), and they heard men shouting. The noise of the voices got closer, until 1 woman got up, grabbed the only towel, exited the sauna with it wrapped round herself and held the door open as a horde of naked men (seen from behind) streamed into the sauna. It was a hairdye commercial. I'm still trying to make sense of it. Presumably the woman who exited the sauna had a different hair colour.

There was another TV commercial on which looked like a rock concert, but keywords flashing onscreen let me know the truth. The German housemate who'd returned to do some admin asked if I knew what it was, and I answered in the affirmative. He said American christianity was invading Germany too.

I saw a man on a bicycle and a woman on a motorcycle. He was holding onto her shoulder and being dragged along. Bah.

I have a feeling that many people think that the Netherlands, being the land of pot, hookers and euthanasia is a seedy place. Some might even think it dangerous. In fact, as a barometer, outside of the Amsterdam red light district, pornography is less openly advertised than in other continental European countries (descriptions may be found in previous travelogues, often by searching for the line: "Gotta love these Europeans). An especially graphic example is the postcards of topless German women and the Pope. Amsterdam is slightly different in that even outside the red light district, they sell naughty postcards, T-shirts and other souvenirs. Yet these almost always depict stylised, cartoon nudity or naughtiness.

One local student was saying that although the Chinese here blend in quite well, they integrate rather than assimilate, remaining a distinct group. However, they don't "stand out" and "cause trouble". She singled out 2 groups which did - the Turks and Moroccans.

Bottles from all over Europe

Someone was saying her friend had a 3.9 GPA in University College Utrecht, but when this person went to Singapore his GPA plunged to 3.1 (I hope it was not CAP).

UCU, the honours college here, is less slack than the main university. They have small classes which are more seminar sized, and one student complained skipping 6 lectures would get you in trouble. But they all live on the same small campus anyway, so it's not so bad. And it's still not as anal as in some places.

Some of the PRCs asked the tutor to let them zap the answers to some tutorials. Unfortunately, although the questions were in English the answers were in Dutch.

Someone was saying pair work is the best because when you do it alone there's no one to consult and give feedback, and when it's too big there's the free-riding problem. I must add that in big groups there's co-ordination and monitoring costs, and that in pair work each can easily motivate (read: harass) the other to dothe work.

We got an evaluation form for one module asking us if:

- we have a sufficient command of english to follow lectures (there's a "NA" option, presumably for those who skipped all)
- what percentage of the lectures and tutorials we prepared well and attended (I was confused, since I didn't prepare well for some I attended, so I gave a partially weighted average)
- how many hours a week we spent on the course excluding lectures, tutorials and other gatherings (the maximum option is 99 since you shade a box each for the first and second digits. Wth)
- if the lecturer's english was 'sufficient to properly convey the course content' (this is a good one. We need this in NUS, which needs to ask this question more than Universiteit Utrecht)
- If the course co-ordinator was easy to contact
- If the course content fit the description in the catalogue ("What you learn in University: never believe course descriptions.")
- If there's a coherence between the different elements - lectures, tutorials, assignments, group work and individual study
- 'The required efforts of the course are useful" - ???
- If the examination was an appropriate test for command of the content
- If we expected to pass (note: not our expected grade)

This is real module feedback, since it's almost totally anonymous (they're not as bo liao as to track down who filled in what).

I don't like to bake - it doesn't give instant (or near-instant) gratification and it leaves horrible stains on the pan, but it gives such a lovely glaze to meats basted in sauces. I should try it more when I return.

Sauerkraut Fried Rice
I had sauerkraut leftover after making stamppot so I threw it in this. "Mild" sauerkraut is too mild for me - it wasn't sour enough.

Mutant pepper

Zacht en Luchtig Vla
I didn't realise this was special Vla until I tasted it - if you look closely you can see bubbles. It's been aerated so it's light and fluffy.

Jolide - Even Dutch snack bars have gone online, with delivery services. I saw the delivery man downstairs today.

There's this snack bar called "Cafeteria Smurf" which I sometimes patronise, due to its being near UCU. Usually I only see the man, who looks Indonesian-Chinese, but two or three times his female assistant (I assume his wife) has come out. Today I noticed her reading a Chinese novel, so I asked the man if they were from Indonesia. He said they were from China. Damn, and all this time I'd been attempting to communicate in broken Dutch (about the only English word I've heard him utter is "takeaway?", when I didn't cathc the Dutch equivalent).


[Student: Was it common for caravans to expand along the journey?] Baby camels.

carer'wairn (caravan)

[Tutor: Market failure is the main argument for government intervention.] That's chapter 10, not chapter 11.

[On Brandon-Spencer analysis and a subsidy for Airbus increasing EU welfare at the expense of the US] It's a clear beggar thy neighbor policy, but then again, who cares?

mail tea laterns (multilateral)

[On digesting articles in the reader] Just read the article, think about it, have a wine or a beer. [Student: I fall asleep]
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