Thursday, March 25, 2010

American Food

Recently, Fed Up: The School Lunch Project asked readers what they thought represents the American food culture. The point of the question was that American food is often portrayed as junk food and that we should be fighting against that stereotype. I wholeheartedly agree. I am quite concerned about the state of the American food industry/culture and the effect it is having on ourselves, the environment and future generations.

The Fed Up blog is a day to day look at one elementary school in the USA and the horrible "food" it is serving students. One point being brought up endlessly in the comments from current and ex-students is that if the bad junk food options are there, they'll eat them.

I am a product of the American public school lunch system and its unhealthy choices.

Today, I discovered a US Food Store just a few blocks from the university library. It's filled with every over processed, preservative filled, high fructose corn syrup snack food you could imagine. The food is there. So I bought it. And I will continue to buy it. Because Pop Tarts are delicious and I'm a hypocrite. Mmmm.

That's all I got for today and a good thing too because there weren't prices displayed next to anything and I ended up paying WAY more than I would have for this food in the US.

I'm being played by dirty sales tricks in order to pay for food that is ridiculously unhealthy for me....and I can't find it in me to care because I have root beer!

Those who have been following my twitter are aware of the withdrawals I have been having from lack of root beer. There is no root beer in the Netherlands (except in US food stores, apparently). When I asked my program advisor to verify this for me, she said, "Hmm, I don't think I've ever had root beer. I guess in Holland you just drink regular beer as a kid."

To be honest, I don't really drink a ton of root beer back home. In fact, I don't really eat any of the stuff in the US Food Store too often. I suppose you never miss it until you can't have it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Have I Mentioned How Much I Love Steampunk Anything?

Last winter, I wrote about a steampunk/fifties looking PC. Now, a guy is doing it for Macs. Only his are completely steampunk. No trying to dim it down to look more normal.

Amazing, right? Ok, well, it's amazing to those of us who like to pretend the Victorian era is still alive and well.

I'm pretty sure he custom makes desktops and keyboards for mac or pc hardware, but he certainly makes it clear on his site which team he is on.

Typewriter keys! Ah, I LOVE typewriter keys!

I can't quite decide if I would be more likely to buy this full steampunk model or the sleek, steampunk/fifties model. I think I would wait to buy this one until I'm rich and eccentric (cause, y'know, that's my undisputed future).

Assuming you could afford it, which would you choose?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sabbath Manifesto

Sabbath Manifesto is a group (well meaning, but admittedly, with a bit of cult-y feel) put together for the purpose of discouraging technology, particularly for the tech-addicted. This year, they started the National Day of Unplugging, which occurred on March 20th. Naturally, I heard about it on March 21st.

I am kicking myself for not hearing about this project until after it happened. It would have been perfect to do my tech-free day (part of my 20 New Things experiment) on the National Day of Unplugging. Alas, I'll have to go at it alone.

In reading through Sabbath Manifesto's website, I decided I should try to go tech-free one day out of every month. On a personal note, I am VERY tied to all of my electronics. On a broader scale, I am in full support of national/international hours/days of shutting down electricity in order to conserve both energy and sanity in our tech-reliant world.

 Clearly addicted face right there.

Having days where I don't use technology has actually been something I've considered since I was eight. I had quite a few friends growing up whose families abstained from technology on Saturdays. Some were Orthodox Jews and others were of the vegan environmentalist homeschooled genre. Either way, I thought they were crazy at the time. How could you go a whole day without television??

While I have long since passed the days of daily (or even weekly) television watching, I would now ask my friends, "how could you go a whole day without the internet?" I guess addictions change.

The Lorax is also addicted to his technology.

If I really want to try going tech-free once a month, it will require lots of planning. Most of my homework tends to rely on my computer and I will definitely admit to being paranoid about keeping my phone on me incase of sudden apocalypse/car crash/attempted murder. I'd also have to set my own boundaries. For example, will driving my car be allowed? What about an electric stove or microwave? Strictly speaking, I should abstain from all of the aforementioned, but most likely I'll allow them.

With the exception of my one no-tech day before my birthday, I think I'll wait until I'm back home in the States to intiate monthly no-tech days.

Anyone else ever tried or thought about trying a no-tech day? What would be hardest to give up?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Today is absolutely gorgeous. It is the warmest, brightest and least windy day of the year so far in Amsterdam.

As the weather is so nice, I was thrilled when my Art History professor announced we would not stay cooped up in the classroom for three hours; rather, we were going to bike over to the Jewish Historical Museum to look at a few pieces by Marc Chagall and other artists.

Professor and student leading the group

It was utterly sublime to bike in a group of about twenty merry students in the sunny, cool air. We followed our spunky old woman of a professor as she alternately pointed out historic gems of the city and made fun of students in the group.

The museum is actually a refurbished amalgam of three old synagogues. We did not spend time in the actual historic exhibits at the museum. Instead, we viewed the art work which had been originally commissioned by Willem Wolff Beffie. Two pieces stood out to me. The first was Marc Chagall's "The Violinist."

When I saw it, I was immediately inspired to direct a production of Fiddler on the Roof in which the set would be entirely inspired by this painting. Not just inspired, but duplicated. Each set piece would be a whimsical 3-dimensional rendering of the painting and the fiddler himself, that enigmatic character, would be costumed exactly like the violinist in the painting, right down to the green skin and blue hair.

The second painting that caught my attention was a work of Mondrian. In his early career, Piet Mondrian painted spiritual works that, in my opinion, are very beautiful. He soon, however, turned to the abstract with his famous geometric paintings.

While I've learned to appreciate the technique involved, I still don't really enjoy these paintings. None the less, I was very excited to finally see an abstract Mondrian in real life for the sole purpose of re-living this episode of Arthur:

The painting makes its appearance at 2:31

I knew the blue skies could turn to gray any minute. So, I took a few photos of the radiant city while biking home. The forecast does not look good for St. Patrick's Day, but at least I have these photos to remember the good weather by.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Who fails as a blogger? That would be me.

I wish I could say that I've been terribly busy going to concerts and traveling across Europe. The sad truth is that I have been doing absolutely nothing. Really. I haven't even had homework for the past four days. How do I take advantage of my free time? Laying in bed and listening to Harry Potter audiobooks for almost a week straight.

No worries though. Life is on the verge of becoming very hectic. I have plans to go to Maastricht, London, Cambridge, Oxford, Stratford and Paris in the coming month. In addition to that, classes will be picking up the pace with more assignments and presentations. Oh and that list of 20 New Things to try before I turn 20? I haven't forgotten about it. I've got my work cut out for me for the next month and a half (Wait...only a month and a half until I'm no longer a teenager? NO!!! I must pack in as much reckless and ridiculous behavior as possible in the coming weeks!).

As I plan all of these trips and outings, I can't help feeling a twinge of homesickness. Not like pining for my family and the comfort of my own bed. I'm just kind of missing aspects of American life, particularly aspects I never thought I would miss.

Like driving my car. I hate traffic. I hate the necessity of driving a car. And I hate my faulty alarm system. Nonetheless, I completely miss putting the windows down, accelerating as fast as I can and blasting my latest music discoveries. I've found substantially less new artists since being here because I do so much of my music listening while driving...which I don't do here.

 Look at that 2002 Corolla. So sexy. How can you not miss that?

There are also somethings that I don't think I even liked while in the States, but which I find myself suddenly craving. Namely, Dr. Pepper. This is something a few people told me to indulge in before leaving Texas, but, not being a huge soda drinker myself (except for rootbeer and ohemgee there is NO ROOTBEER ANYWHERE IN HOLLAND!!), I didn't bother having a last glass of Dr. Pepper or anything. Now, I'm totally craving it simply because there isn't any. 

Another thing there isn't any of? Nature. I realized today that I can't remember the last time I saw a tree. Those tiny ones planted in the middle of sidewalks don't count. I'm talking about a real tree. Surrounded by grass. So old that you can't reach your arms around it. Where are those? I want one.

Tree. Tree. Tree. Tree. Tree. They don't count!!

Lucky for Amsterdam that he's such an awesome city or else I might have to punch him in the face for his epic lack of nature and Dr. Pepper.

Oh, and I haven't forgotten about him either.

Once I actually visit some exciting places, the Lorax will be back with a vigor. Until then, I'll try to keep writing about life in Amsterdam even when my personal life is exceedingly boring.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Netherlands versus GRYFFINDOR!

Wow, it's been a long time. Almost a week longer than I initially promised? I'm having blog-writing withdrawals.

After finishing my epic amounts of work, I got sick. This happens to me so often. As soon as I'm no longer super busy, my body peaces out.

Despite having tiny chicken disease, I went with the rest of my students in my program yesterday to see the Netherlands versus USA football game.

I'm not a big fan of sports events, typically speaking, but I was WAY excited for this game. I bought a Netherlands jersey and made sure all of my accessories were team colors (blue leggings, orange socks, etc.). I definitely thought that the number on the jersey I bought at the souvenir shop was going to be either an outdated player or a really sucky one because I always think people are trying to trick tourists. However, #19 Klass Jan Huntelaar definitely ended up being the star of the game.

A lot of people on facebook have been criticizing me for rooting for Netherlands instead of my home country. Here are my arguments 
1. I didn't want to get beat up. The USA fans consisted of about ten people.
2. I've never followed sports before so I have zero allegiance to the USA team.
3. I don't have much allegiance to the USA, period.
4. I will take any excuse to wear orange.
5. As a classmate so aptly put it, "I want to root for the winning team."

The US scored that one point in the last four minutes of the game. It was insane! There was totally a chance the game was going to end in a tie during overtime.

Said critics may be proud of me, however, because I think I might actually start following football now. I really got into the game and I actually understand most of it, having played for most of my childhood.

Oh, to explain the title. Before the game started, my friend asked me what I thought the final score would be and I replied, "I bet Netherlands wins, but the US gets the snitch." (Those of you who do not get that reference, shame on you. Go read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Now. RIGHT NOW!) Later in the game, I got this text from my roommate, who was sitting in a different part of the stadium,

Best roommate ever?