When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

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Stupid girls
I saw this group of teenage girls who stripped down to their innermost layer of clothing (on top at least) and took a picture. It was only 4 degrees, the air was calm and it was sunny to boot. I dare them to try this when it's -2 degrees and snowing heavily! That'd be a sight to see. Furthermore, I thought only guys did this sort of stupid (but fun) thing. And this isn't the country which gave us "Girls Gone Wild"!

I finally got down to climbing the Dom tower. The international students got to do this during Orientation, but since I missed it, coming a few days late, I had to do it myself, paying €6.50 for the privilege of doing so.

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The largest of the 7 bells, which dates from 1505. The 7 new ones are from ~1982.

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Inside another of the 16th century bells

The guided climb made stops at 25m, 50m and 70m but I went on to the 95m mark myself - I'd done St Paul's 5 years ago, and both structures are 112m tall, though I suspect I climbed somewhat higher this time, since it looks like the highest point you can climb to in the Dom tower is higher than the comparable point in St Paul's:

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View from 70m. Amsterdam is in the distance.

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View of the main part of the Dom from 70m

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The bells for daily use mounted at 70m

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View of the town

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Carvings at 70m

Pity about the graffiti at 95m (since the guide doesn't follow visitors to that level). Maybe they'll figure out a way to wire a CCTV camera up there.

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View of the 112m point from 95m

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More carvings

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View from 95m

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Me at 95m

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Going up and down staircases like this gives one vertigo

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Ceci n'est pas une église - how the Dom looked like before the hurricane

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I've always liked vaulting

A lot of fast food places have niches in the wall where you can insert coins and buy snacks. When the niches are empty, they can refill them from their side. Good idea, but unfortunately the machines don't give change - I was overcharged for my bamiblok by €0.10

People here are so helpful. This old man was jogging to chase his bus, and people at the bus stop waved to the driver to wait.

Someone bought pre-made pork lasagna. I didn't know they made that.

The cheapest Vla I've found so far has the colour, texture and viscosity of mayonnaise. Yet, it's also the best tasting - the vanilla flavouring tastes the least artificial. It also comes in a tetrapak and so needs no refrigeration!

I'm wondering if I should pay €7.50 to watch Waiting for Godot on 24/3 at the Theater Kikker. I'm told it's boring, and it sounds stupid ("in the classical tradition of French playwriting" is all I need to know).

I was trying to figure out how a Dobben kroket differs from a Kwekkeboom kroket. It seems they're both krokets, but just made by different companies. The Dutch take their krokets very seriously.

I paid €2.50 for a satekroket broodje (satay croquette sandwich) and was expecting something decent. In the end I only got the kroket in a bun - not even a leaf of lettuce. I was very pissed off, especially since a satekroket alone goes for only €1-€1.20.

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Red wine stew: pork cubes, minced garlic, onions, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, red pepper, with a sprinkle of sugar to offset the sourness of the wine
I used pasta sauce instead of canned chopped tomatoes for this, since I didn't have any of the latter. Besides, the former already has herbs inside, saving me the trouble of adding my own. I added too much vegetables, and so had to put in more red wine and pasta sauce (from a different brand no less, but it turned out alright). The final product was good, except that there was too little meat and too much vegetables. For some reason when food is in the pan or pot it tastes less salty than when it's on the plate, so I end up sprinkling a touch too much salt. I have to remember to compensate for this curious effect next time.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Group mate:

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Yo! Just a bit of light Chile-related entertainment. Check out this picture of Pinochet, he looks like the villain in a Bond movie, and specially the even creepier guy next to him."
A (not "the") little bird told me about the Chronicles of the Library couple, a series of dialogues lovingly transcribed by a NUS student. As of writing there're 7 excerpts.

I must say, he surpasses even me in managing to get all these, ah, juicy quotes.

F: *shreks softly but joyfully* eeekkk!! I love it. Thanks for this 5th edition textbook. How you know i was waiting to buy it!? And so romantic of you to wrap it under so many newspapers too! So hard to get to the book in the co-op these days u now.
M: hee.. it's ok. I know you need it. 'and so do i' (thinks quietly).
M: wow.. u too. so nice. a handmade card with a co-op voucher as part of the card! I so need it man. And there's one more! wow! a extension cord for use in the lib? you are so totful. now we can study somewhere further from the plugs but still can reach already.

This is my favourite part. I bet "they" are Science or Engineering students.

Excerpt 1:

M: hey dear.. it's been long we have gone out with each other. let's go out and pak tor.
F: ya.. actually i was thinking of doing tat as well. let's go somewhere different.
M: actually i have a great place in mind!
F: oh oh.. tell me about it. i got somewhere in mind too, honey.
M: Let's go to the SMC section today. :):):)
F: man.. we sure think alike. i was thinking about the reference section. There the photocoping machine is less noisy.
M: oh yah hor. well, at least it is better than the place outside journals section we've been for the last 2 sems. Agreed that there was lesser people during the semester holidays, but there was the lack of book smells that i love.
F: actually, i prefer the dictionary smell. that's why i want to go to the reference. The Atlases there are quite nice too. pictures all so nice.
M: okok. then tmr we meet at 730am before the library opens so we can get a good seat k dear? or shd we meet earlier, cos i am scared pple will take.
F: k la. we meet at 720 lor. i a so like u.
M: set ah! remember the mouse for the laptop!

Excerpt 2:

M: hey my dearest tweety bird. I'm getting bored studying this module. let's go down to the lounge to watch some tv.
F: huh. but i still haven't finish this chapter yet. The lecturer is going to touch on this in week 3 you know?...

M (aloud): yes yes. i know. but lucky i take the same major as you. 6 out of 7 modules together ma. so sad CORS made u drop the 7th one. and i tot we bidded the same number of points for it...

M: sure. later lor. Btw, wat you doing for CNY ah? feel like complaining that the lib wun be open. haiz. How to do my 1st draft of my essay like that?
F: aiyah.. dun worry la. i lend u mind to see lor. we take the same mod ma. and i just finish abt 1/2 already. shd be done by tmr.
oh yah. 1st day of CNY go visiting lor. I got life one ok.
Maybe 2nd day, monday, go visit Ms Yap and Ms Ng lor. tues we can meet up? :):):):)
M: oh sure! can i follow you to visit Ms Yap too? want to cham siong with her to see can borrow more books from the lib a not. 10 book too few la.
F: ya.. mine is full too. and with 12 books my hold list, very hard too. good idea dear.

Excerpt 3:

In the library, the 'usual place',
M: hihi dear! How was your CNY?
F: oh. not too bad. Did like 5 readings. *silent sobs*
M: you ok? u dun look too good. ate too much CNY goodies ah?
F: no la. just this feeling i have now... so touching. to be back here in the lib again. you know.. good old memories.....
M: oh come on. we are back already lor. just enjoy the moment. see!
(points to the newly printed set of readings)
    There's so much to look forward too!
F: I guess you are right dear. *brightens up immediately*  oh let's dive!

Excerpt 4: Valentine's day special

In the you-know-whereis-the-usual-place,
M (carrying a bulging bag): Hey dear dear! yooo yoooo. How are u lovely?! *wink wink*
F: *blushes* I'm ok dear. I know what day it is today so u dun have to be mushy.
M: I'm glad we are away in a different place today, away from all the valentine's day hype. It's so retarded to be out there to be with all the lovers.
F: no ley. very romantic what. But yah, we are the shy shy kind. Display of love is kinda unappropriate in public a so. But no funny ideas here ah.
M: nono.. tho i am guy but i respect you my gf u noe. Never knew Chinese Lib here can  be so quiet sometimes.
F (abruptly pushes a wrapped present bashfully into M's chest, and turns her head shyfully away): Here! Something i made for you.
M: So lovely. here's urs too. (opens his bulging bag and takes out a huge newspaper wrapped article to pass to her)

(they open their presents in silence)

F: *shreks softly but joyfully* eeekkk!! I love it. Thanks for this 5th edition textbook. How you know i was waiting to buy it!? And so romantic of you to wrap it under so many newspapers too! So hard to get to the book in the co-op these days u now.
M: hee.. it's ok. I know you need it. 'and so do i' (thinks quietly).
M: wow.. u too. so nice. a handmade card with a co-op voucher as part of the card! I so need it man. And there's one more! wow! a extension cord for use in the lib? you are so totful. now we can study somewhere further from the plugs but still can reach already.
F: yea. for your convenience ma.. 'and mine too' (thinks silently)
M: thank you so much dear. love ya.
(M kisses F's forehead and they settle down into their books to mug once again..)

Excerpt 6

F (opening her textbook to the previously bookmarked section): yupz, another round of exciting studying...

M: haha...that is very true. And what are we going to make of today? Well, I am here with you (winks at F), that is good enough for me. Whether readings or fun, as long as it is with you.
F: actually, I wouldn't mind taking a day off. Since we have been here from Monday, we should take a break.
M: exactly what I was thinking too. I knew we thought alike. (gives F's left hand a little squeeze) How about going to Sentosa right now? It is only 30minutes away!
F: sure, great idea, let's go. Would you believe it that I just happen to have my bikini with me. (takes out a itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini)
M (suddenly seems very excited): alright, let's pack up and go! woohoo!

The couple packs up and as they walk out,
F: you know something, I always get this feeling that someone is always overhearing our conversations.
M: haha...please, who would be so bo liao as to listen to us and then put up whatever we say on his blog?
F: haha...yeah...silly me...

The couple walks out of the library at 10.27am and go to have a day of fun at Sentosa.

Again, for those who missed it in the first paragraph, I am not responsible for this, so use your own cognitive powers and send in your enquiries at http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=pausmiling.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

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'Abraham Dolesteeg Stichter St. Ursulaklooster 1412' (Abraham Dole lane, founded by St. Ursula's Convent in 1412)

You get a €50 fine for running a red light in a bike here. Wah.

I was wondering the market looking for a zippable sweater. I looked high and low, but all the clothing stalls seemed only to have stuff for females. I finally found a stall with what I wanted at the back of the market.

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This is even worse than Hamburgerstraat, or Vismarkt (Fish market)

I found sliced 'cheddar' in Aldi. Ah, the wonders of globalisation. And after still not being able to find mozzarella and parmesan I understand why this French girl asked someone to bring her cheese from Paris; I'm not a cheese freak, but Jong cheese tastes weird in pasta (for some reason the last time it tasted a bit like Feta - maybe after sitting in the fridge it's become Oud [old] cheese).

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I think my favourite frites place is now the one in the market. I know they're there on Saturdays, but haven't seen them on Wednesdays or Fridays yet. They're good because at only €1.50 (only €0.10-€0.30 more than the stall at the station) you get a kleine (small) serving of Vlaamse Frites (which means you get some skin!) with any sauce you want, and they have more varieties than the station stall. The frites there are also bigger, thicker, fluffier, fresher (they seem to have less preservatives) and more consistent (in frying, battering and texture). Pity about it being only once a week though.

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I found myself observing a group of ducks in motion on Sunday. They swim remarkably fast, and the way they suddenly dive forward, disappearing under the water for about a minute before popping up suddenly is oddly cute.

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'Honden Toilet' (Dog toilet)
This sign was planted into an otherwise unassuming piece of soil. Do people actually come clear them out?

Speaking Dutch is a good way to get rid of your phlegm. And the grammar seems somewhat simpler than German (now all the nightmares start coming back) - at least nouns don't have genders.

Singaporeans are sometimes exhorted to be inspired by the multilingualism of most Europeans, who can speak 2 or more languages, but this ignores the fact that Western European languages at least are much less dissimilar than the four official Singaporean languages. For example, "Oh my god! There's an axe in my head" translates as "Åh Gud! Jeg har en økse i hovedet." (Danish), "O, mijn God! Er zit een bijl in mijn hoofd." (Dutch), "Oh mon dieu ! Il y a une hache dans ma tête." (French), "O mein Gott! Es gibt ein axt im meine kopf." (German), "Dio mio! C'e' un' ascia nella mia testa!" (Italian), "Meu Deus! Tenho um machado na cabeca!" (Portugese) and "¡Dios mio! ¡Hay un hacha en mi cabeza!" (Spanish) - even if commonalities cannot be seen between all the examples, they exist between some of them. (Source of examples)

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Babi pangang with oyster sauce vegetables
I used babi pangang sauce from a jar for this, and an almost-expired cheap cut of meat (on reflection, I should have bought the schnitzel cut - it'd have tasted much better and was only a bit more thanks to the 50% reduction). I put slightly too much tapioca starch, and a little bit too much oyster sauce in the vegetables (OTOH my mother usually puts too little, so it's a change). And it's disheartening by just how much lettuce shrinks when cooked. Otherwise it was okay.

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Pork chop with red wine and mushroom sauce
Unfortunately the drippings I got after grilling the pork chop weren't enough to make the sauce with, lousy cut notwithstanding. Luckily I got some chicken stock, pseudo-butter (margarine) and corn starch (she seemed scandalised when I suggested my tapioca starch would do the job as well) from my housemate, who also suggested I cut in my mushrooms. The oil you see in the sauce wouldn't be there if I'd bothered to clean the pan before making the sauce, but I was lazy.


I want you to work in duos (pairs)

What is typically Dutch? [Student: Herring] *writes 'heroine' on board* [Other student: I think he meant the fish]

Typically Dutch is stealing of bikes. (Stealing bikes is typically Dutch)

She was without light, I was jumping a red light. [Tutor: Welkom!] Then after fining me the woman said 'Have a nice day'... not very nice (Her bike had no)
"Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality." - Nikola Tesla


I like Cecil's evaluation of nuclear power:

"in contrast to oil, the U.S. had sufficient reserves of fissionable fuels, chiefly uranium, to last hundreds and likely thousands of years... To be sure, people fear nukes and will resist till the last. But they'll come around when it becomes clear, as it will, that the alternative is to freeze in the dark."


"Long hair and narrow features mark the Shroud of Turin as a fraud."


Pennsylvania abortion case raises question of choice for men - "When it comes to reproduction, in America today women have rights and men merely have responsibilities... when the massive government child-support apparatus hounds the reluctant father for financial support, takes a third of his income and jails him if he comes up short, isn't the government exercising control over his life?... When the situation is reversed and the woman does not want to have a child and the man does -- as is the case with Stachokus and his ex-girlfriend, Tanya Meyers -- once again, women have rights and men do not. A woman who doesn't want her child can terminate the pregnancy against the father's wishes, or put their child up for adoption, sometimes without the father's permission."
The corollary of men having no say about whether a woman keeps a child is that men also have no responsibility when the baby emerges from the womb.

Blasphemy law is dead - "James Kirkup’s banned “blasphemous” poem was read and distributed in London today - Thursday 11 July 2002 – the 25th anniversary of Gay News’s conviction for publishing the same poem, The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name"

WTC UFO - "As the story got out, those who had been at the site started checking their various video camera and digital films frame by frame and turned up proof of this 'debris' and another "UFO" flying past the WTCs at the time of both attacks"
If one conspiracy theory isn't enough, let's have another! These people should go read some fables. The Boy Who Cried Wolf would be a good one to start with.

Gay Army - "9 of the gayest men in Scandinavia face the toughest challenge of their lives... Stripped of their everyday luxuries, the gay guys are thrown into the world of [a] US drill instructor"

Jackpot! That's a Good Thing, Right? - "About one-third of lottery winners eventually declare bankruptcy, according to the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards."

What Is a Tessellation? - "A tessellation is created when a shape is repeated over and over again covering a plane without any gaps or overlaps."

'Pizza pope' builds a Catholic heaven - "Abortions, pornography and contraceptives will be banned in the new Florida town of Ave Maria, which has begun to take shape on former vegetable farms 90 miles northwest of Miami."

Soldier Alleges Abuse in Singapore Army - "Upon finishing, I would have my food poured on to the ground, sometimes, it landed in the sand/mud and I was made to lie down on my front and eat up the food like a dog without using my hands, just my mouth. All these went on for 15 days and not once in these 15 days was I humanely treated... Once, I was made to strip off all my clothes leaving myself stark naked and I had to make myself wet (spray water on myself ) and roll in the sand till I was covered all with sand. Then I had to leopard crawl 600m to and fro down the 300m rifle range (like a worm crawl with every bit of the body in contact with the grass and thorns) while I was constantly subjected to kicks either in the head, face, ribs or given blows by a helmet on various parts of the body. Again I was denied medical treatment."
anon: "The army is never as bad as these pampered bastards make it to be."

Massively Multiplayer Pong - "Humanity has stooped to a new low. This is a neverending massively multiplayer pong game. Yes, it's real, and for this I apologize."
"When it comes to health, safety or environmental protection, parliaments have sometimes decreed regulations that impose exorbitant compliance and other costs, typically in response to pressures from single-issue groups, whose members do not bear the costs of regulation. It must be asked, for example, whether US safety regulations made sense when they caused a cost for one life saved of $168 million when benzene waste standards were tightened in 1990, or of $920 million per one life saved when new drinking water standards were decreed in 1991, let alone the cost for saving an additional life in listing hazardous wastes in wood preservation in 1990 of no less than $5700 billion (Breyer, 1995; Viscusi, 1993)" - K&S, pp. 296

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I have a huge backlog, but no time to type it in. I will thus relate how dinner went:

I just made some Carbonara. For once I modified a recipe by adding to it instead of subtracting, but it didn't turn out quite perfect.

Yesterday cream was on reduced because it was expiring that day, so I bought it. When I returned home I found out I had no eggs (miscommunication in egg sharing arrangement with house mate).

Today I bought eggs at Aldi so I was ready. I dumped in all the cream since it was expiring (250ml I think) and then cracked 2 eggs in. I realised my mistake when trying to beat the eggs while they were floating in the cream.

I fried bacon slivers in a pan, adding chopped onions and later red pepper for a touch of sweetness. Someone had turned off the stove on which my pot of water was boiling so my boiling of spaghetti was delayed. I was bored so I poured the egg-cream mixture into the saucepan and stirred on low heat. After pouring the mixture in I realised there was too much liquid but it was too late to do anything. I started getting small funny clumps in the pan - the egg cooking, I think.

When the spaghetti was done I mixed everything together and ate.

I feel vaguely sick now from the cream overload.

Things to do next time: use 1 egg only (beating before pouring in the cream), use less cream even if it's expiring (maybe 150ml - I can always add more later if it's not enough), don't pour the egg mixture on until the pasta is cooked.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Miracles at Fatima

"Can large groups of people experience mass delusions, hysteria's, or hallucinations? The answer is truly remarkable.

On May 15th, 2001, a bizarre report came out of New Delhi, India. A CNN article reported, "Fear has gripped the Indian capital after dozens of residents reported attacks by an ape-like creature able to leap from roof to roof. Police had received about 65 reports of a mysterious attacker with a monkey's face and human body scratching and biting victims in and around Delhi since Saturday, a senior police official told Reuters on Tuesday." Residents came forward displaying wounds from the attacks, some of which were later confirmed as animal bites by doctors.

Fear was so rampant that several people fell to their deaths upon hearing news that the monkey was nearby. "...a pregnant woman sleeping on her terrace was woken by neighbors shouting: 'The monkey has come!.' The woman fell down a staircase and died in the hospital. Two nights earlier, an industrial worker died in similar circumstances when he leapt in terror from a building at Noida, a southeastern suburb." By the end of the two week long saga, nearly 350 reports of sightings or attacks were logged by the local police and a reward had been offered to anyone who could provide information leading to the creatures capture.

The amazing thing is the so-called "Monkey Man" never existed. It had been the product of a mass hysteria. According to a CNN article, "The mysterious 'monkey man' that instilled terror and claimed three lives in the Indian capital was simply the product of the city's collective imagination." Psychiatrists and forensic experts concluded that the beast was a "mere figment of the imagination of emotionally weak people"... In the end, policed "blamed the panic on uneducated poor people, many of them superstitious and strong believers in the supernatural."

... Whether or not we could have ever anticipated it happening, an entire city had fooled itself into believing that a creature was randomly attacking citizens at night. Mass hysteria, mass delusion, and mass hallucination. Similar things have happened in places other than India...

The psychologists Leonard Zusne and Warren H. Jones have carried out a study of collective or mass hallucinations. They tell us how this happens:

It is expectation that plays the coordinating role in collective hallucination. Although the subject matter of individual hallucinations has virtually no limits, the topics of collective hallucinations are limited to certain categories. These categories are determined, first, by the kinds of ideas that a group of people may be excited about as a group, for emotional excitement is a prerequisite of collective hallucinations. The most common causes of emotional excitement in groups are religious, and, indeed, phenomenon related to religion are most often the subject of collective hallucinations. Second, the categories are limited by the fact that all participants in the hallucination must be informed before hand, at least concerning the broad outlines of the phenomenon that will constitute the collective hallucination. This may take the form of a publicly announced prophecy, for example, or someone suddenly looking up and saying, "Lo, in the sky!" or words to that effect. Things in the sky, or at least overhead, are the most commonly seen collective hallucinations: radiant crosses, saints, religious symbols, flying objects, sometimes all these in combination. Once the general type of hallucination is established, it is easy to harmonize individual differences in the accounts. This may take place during the hallucination or in subsequent conversations.

Even in cases of emotional contagion that so often takes place in crowds moved by strong emotions, there will be always some who will not see the hallucination. It is uncommon for them to speak out and deny it. They usually keep quiet, doubtful perhaps of their worthiness to have been granted the vision for which so many of their fellows all around them are fervently giving thanks. Later on, influenced by the accounts of others, they may even begin to believe that they saw it too. The "reliable eyewitness," who, as it turns out upon closer examination did not see anything unusual at all, is an all-too-frequent experience of the investigator of phenomena seen by many. (Anomalistic Psychology, pg. 135)

Monday, February 27, 2006

The shampoo I brought along - "L'oreal Elseve Vita-Max Revitalising Shampoo" was really shitty and gave me lots of tangles - even just after towelling my hair dry. I have since migrated to Garnier Fructis Anti-Roos 2-in-1, which is excellent. I got it at 2 bottles for €5 at the market, which compares favourably to the €5.99 (offer price) in stores. How is it so cheap? A casual inspection of the bottle reveals that the shampoo is made in Poland. It makes no difference to me, since I can't read Dutch either. It is heartening to see that although the EU has not achieved total freedom of capital, labour or services, goods are still moving freely and helping to keep inflation down, all thanks to resourceful agents of arbitrage.

There's a €15 fine here for each bike light (front and/or back) that's not working at night. If you think that's bad, in Germany they impound your bike and you're not allowed to ride it anymore.

I see very few taxis in the day, but at night many appear, mostly in designated spots. Most of them look like converted normal cars - a lot of people must moonlight.

I saw a slot machine place called 'Fair Play Centers' (sic). Even if they abide by the principles of fair play, they sure won't offer a fair game.

It seems some Americans signed up for courses here, and when they came over they found out they were in Dutch. Hurr hurr.

One of my tutors was wearing a long sleeved blue-grey chequered shirt with the Byzantine two-headed eagle in black on the back. Wah.

It seems the sauce is spelled Piccalilly, not Piccadilly. Oops.

I found an Aldi (discount supermarket) at Amsterdamse Straatweg thanks to an address supplied by a certain someone, and indeed the things there are substantially cheaper than in normal places (for example, the Albert Heijn across the street), even if they are the only place anal enough not to round the final bill to the nearest 5 cents, which meant I finally got to see what a Euro cent coin looked like. However, the range there is very limited - they don't have normal Coke (only ersatz clones) or fresh meat, for example. Perhaps the other outlets have a larger selection, but I couldn't find them on the physical map I have, but with the aid of Maporama.com and the Het Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf Utrecht zone locator, I have a rough idea of how to proceed now.

I bought 2 huge almost-expired pork patties for €1. I ate the first with toast and fried onions and mushrooms and found it a bit too salty. Wondering how to use the other that evening (by the time I got to them, they were one or two days past the official expiry date, so I had to get rid of them quickly), I hit upon the idea of cutting it up for spaghetti sauce, and it worked perfectly.


[On a bad textbook and a question] It's quite easy - very easy actually. But it's very difficult. Kaspar and Streit made it very difficult. That's why it's an Open Book Exam.

[On exam strategies] Either you keep it clear and simple, or you come up with a brilliant answer we do not understand.

more'nee'tor'ring (monitoring)

[On office supplies] Sometimes I take stuff home because I need to use it for my work. At least that's what I'm telling my boss.

[Tutor: ***, you have a job as well. What's your on-the-job consumption?] I eat a lot of pizza.

You want to relate the development of the media to the growth of GNP? *makes splattering sound* Good luck, everybody.

You can come up with a policy recommendation for the Russian government. They're probably never gonna read your paper. 'Mr Putin, you're a nice guy, but it was not a good idea to control the media.'

These are the key vuh'rye'erbles (variables)

[On reviewing the literature] You want to find the state of the art (discipline)

[On no one wanting to present tutorial answers] I can probably actually sell this class to a game theorist for experiments, to see who will cave in first. (probably)

How many of you did the spreadsheet? *I raise my hand* One. That's my top score class... Either you have no room where you can use a computer or you are lazy. Neither is very good... In your portfolio you have 'academic skills', it sounds very nice, bu you can't use a spreadsheet. (this is my best scoring class)

You have quite bad luck for being the last group, because I get less specific with the hour.

This is besides the book and besides the lectures, and therefore also besides the exam, but I will tell it to you anyway because it is interesting.

If you live in an agrarian society and you leave the land and read Plah'to for three years, will you become more productive?
I visited another outlet of Mannekin Pis again on Tuesday, some days after my first visit, and enquired as to what Americansaus and Remouladesaus were (there was also Sambalsaus, but that's self-explanatory). The former was described as being tomato puree with herbs and "disgusting", and the latter as being like the yellow McDonald's Sauce (the man could not be more specific). Forgetting to ask for a sample, I tried the former and indeed it was disgusting. It was indeed like tomato puree with herbs, but there also seemed to be an unhealthy dose of chili in it. In the end I threw away maybe half the sauce and a fourth of the fries. I must remember to ask for a sample next time.

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Big leg outside the Gerechtsgebouw
I have no idea what this stupid leg was doing in front of one building.

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This building was so hideously ugly that I just had to take a picture. No grace, no subtlety, no elegance, no beauty - it's as if a brick golem had stopped there and taken a dump. The building was built out of rectangles; even the windows were ugly. I asked 2 passers-by what it was but they had no idea.

On Wednesday, I went to Kasteel de Haar with my Korean housemate and his girlfriend. It was 2 zones away from the city centre, and so required 4 strips on the strippenkarten. I had my monthly pass for 2 zones, so I only needed 2 strips (gah) - what it would cost me if I took the bus to the edge of the second zone, walked to the next zone and then travelled to the correct stop.

The Chinese are most intrepid - even 2 zones out of Utrecht Central, in a suburban area where there were only cottages, there was a Chinese restaurant.

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Poor swans swimming in algae

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Me on the road to Kasteel de Haar

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Road to the Kasteel

When we got to Kasteel de Haar, we found out that the castle interior was closed due to there being some children's theatre show in Dutch. I was quite pissed off, since the English version of the website hadn't said anything about that (I just checked, and the Dutch one does). So we ended up wandering the grounds.

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Personally, I felt quite cheated, since though you expect some degree of photoshopping to publicity pictures, in this case you could be forgiven for thinking the place shown in the 'photos' and the actual Kasteel were two totally different compounds. Also, although it was marketed as a castle, it was in reality a fortified manor house.

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I'm told this piece of water-landscaping is called an 'artificial lake', though it looks more deserving of the title of pond. There's one at Versailles; this place (or the gardens, at any rate) is apparently called a mini-Versailles.

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I saw chicken feet on sale for €2/kg. Wth. I wonder who eats them; are there even enough Chinese people to sustain a market for chicken feet?

I haven't seen any Malaysian mannikins, and am very greatful for that. Meanwhile, almost all of the mannikins here have heads. My friend in Canada says she's seen Malaysian mannikins there; gasp, shock, horror. They're taking over our planet! First palm oil, now mannikins - what will be next?!

The tudung-ed women all look very warm. Maybe I should wear a tudung. As an added bonus, my hair wouldn't fly in my face.

Seen at the bus terminal: "Gratis koffie tijdens de maandagachtendspits". Free coffee during peak hours on 13/2, 20/2, 27,2 and 6/3! Wow. Now I know why bus fares are so high.

Twice, I saw someone lying stomach down and strapped to a motorised ambulance trolley. And I've seen people on motorised wheelchairs zipping down bike lanes. The disabled here are most empowered.

Seen: Martin Luther Kinglaan. Uhh.
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Magical Source, Mystic Force!

(cute comic by tenchichan)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mt. Myohyang in Autumn (aka "On The Day Of Autumn Of Mt. Myohyang"), by the Great Leader

On the balcony, I see the most glorious scene in the world.
Mount Myohyang has been famous for its beauty since time immemorial.
The Exhibition stands here, its green eaves upturned, to exalt
The dignity of the nation, and Piro Peak looks higher still.

Every autumn, every mountain across the land is dyed crimson.
In the new age of the Workers’ Party, the sun is more glorious.
Oh, these beautiful leaves have turned redder,
And embroider a new history on this land!

The country, ruined by cringing and subjected to so much suffering,
Is now thronged by goodwill missions from all lands.
This pride, which the nation has never felt in five thousand years,
Will go down to posterity, along with the glorious land.
"If the Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me" - Jimmy Buffett, Song Title


"In the past, for instance, English teachers in 10th grade were told how many words and which grammatical rules they had to teach their students and exactly what they should tell them about America. Now the curriculums are all about “competencies”, general skills that students are expected to master."

Replace 'English' with 'Chinese' and 'America' with 'Singapore and China' and you have a perfect description of the way Chinese is taught in Singapore.


Foodline.com: Search and Reserve: Menu for Sally Ling's (page 1)

This doesn't seem to be the same Sally Ling's I patronised just outside New York, since this is in Massachusetts. Perhaps it's a branch, but they don't have the "No. 1 Dish in the World". Nonetheless, the menu is hilarious, with entries like:

- Sally Ling's Fillet of Beef Hunan - Decidedly recommendable
- *Ants on a Tree* - Minced pork (or chicken) sauteed and clung to cellophane (Ed: !!!) angel hair noodles. A farm dish that became favored by people all over China.
- Sliced Chicken Breasts with Artichoke Hearts and Snow Peapods - The texture is smooth, the presentation is noble.
- Take-out is not a good way to enjoy well prepared quality Chinese food. Most Chinese dishes, particularly the gourmet ones, are supposed served just-off-the-wok-hot. When it becomes cold, it loses its flavor. if you re-heat it, Its texture may change. Each well prepared dish should have its own distinguished taste. Don't mix dishes and make them all chop-suey dishes.
- East Meets West - Chinese refer to tomato as "foreign eggplant", when these two sauteed together it produces a unique taste and became very popular in China.

There's also this thing called "New England Chinese food, not available in Chinese restaurants elsewhere." Crab Rangoon falls into this category.


My Very, Very Allergic Reaction to Noam Chomsky: Khmer Rouge, Faurisson, Milosevic - "Consider Chomsky's claim that: "In the early 1990s, primarily for cynical great power reasons, the U.S. selected Bosnian Muslims as their Balkan clients..." On its face this is ludicrous. When the United States selects clients for cynical great power reasons, it selects strong clients--not ones whose unarmed men are rounded up and shot by the thousands. And Bosnian Muslims as a key to U.S. politico-military strategy in Europe? As Bismarck said more than a century ago, "There is nothing in the Balkans that is worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier." It holds true today as well: the U.S. has no strategic or security interest in the Balkans that is worth the death of a single Carolinian fire-control technician. U.S. intervention in the Balkans in the 1990s was "humanitarian" in origin and intention (even if we can argue about its effect). Only a nut-boy loon would argue otherwise."

25 Years - "The above picture is a police photo of Gerri Santoro, who died in 1964 at age 27 in a Connecticut motel room after a botched illegal abortion. To anyone with their priorities straight, this photo should be far more disturbing than any photo of scraps of post-abortion fetal tissue, of the type waved by anti-abortion protestors outside clinics. No fetus was ever the beloved sibling of fourteen brothers and sisters, as was Gerri Santoro. No fetus was ever the loving mother of two daughters, as was Gerri Santoro. No fetus ever endured the verbal and physical abuse of a spouse for the sake of the marriage, as did Gerri Santoro--and then left the marriage for the sake of the children, as did Gerri Santoro. No fetus ever put her life into grave peril to try to keep her husband from taking her children, as did Gerri Santoro, when she heard her estranged husband was coming to visit the girls-- when she panicked at what he might do when he found she was pregnant by another man. And no fetus was ever left to die alone in a motel room by the man that operated on her using borrowed medical implements and a textbook."

Palm oil has balanced fatty acids content - "As researchers have uncovered palm oil's health promoting qualities, it is being widely used to produce a range of healthy solid fats worldwide."
I think denying the harm that palm oil does to your health should be made a crime more serious than Holocaust denial. To say nothing of the harm it does to the environment.

Inuit Words for Snow - "The Great Inuit Vocabulary Hoax is anthropology's contribution to urban legends. It apparently started in 1911 when anthropologist Franz Boaz casually mentioned that the Inuit—he called them "Eskimos," using the derogatory term of a tribe to the south of them for eaters of raw meat—had four different words for snow. With each succeeding reference in textbooks and the popular press the number grew to sometimes as many as 400 words."

Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat - "Mr Alifi, Hai Malakal in Upper Nile State, told the Juba Post newspaper that he heard a loud noise around midnight on 13 February and immediately rushed outside to find Mr Tombe with his goat. "When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up"."

'419' fraudsters busted in Dutch-US op - "Police have arrested 12 Nigerians in Amsterdam and Zaandam suspected of internet fraud in an operation that also involved the US Postal Service. Many of the fraudsters victims came from the US."
So that's where they're based...
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