Monday, August 23

SAIL Amsterdam

I headed into the city this Sunday to catch SAIL. This is when hundreds of old, old sail boats from all over the world, like this Russian one:

SAIL Amsterdam

SAIL Amsterdam

descend on Amsterdam. It only happens every 5 years and I was lucky enough to be here already for it. There are SO many boats, I don't know how they avoid hitting each other:

SAIL Amsterdam

Of course, with this many boats comes a lot of people:

SAIL Amsterdam

So I didn't last at SAIL long. But I did enjoy wandering around the city. Stopped by a flower market:

Flower Market

Flower Market.

Since living here I've also learned why many of the houses lean:

It's not because they're old and built on water (though they are). But it's intentional so that when the hook at the top is used with a pulley to haul things up, said big heavy things won't bump against the house on the way up. Genius.

Dear Self, Always wear pants!

When you decided to wear the lovely teal/green dress given to you by Mrs. C last year, it wasn't raining that hard. I know. But instead of wearing only your rain jacket you should have also worn the pants, or at least packed them! Then, about half way, when it was actually raining and you lap was covered in rain drops - yet still obviously drops - ie there were dry patches - you should have gone home and either gotten the pants or a change of clothes. Because just a few minutes later it really started raining. Arriving to school physically dripping with rain is not very professional. Thankfully it was only 7:30 and it seems most people don't arrive before 8. So you were able to park in front of the fan to dry out. But you don't really want to repeat this experience do you?

By leaving time, around 4, it was sunny. But, self, you still need to wear pants! Riding a bike in a dress leads to exposure, especially when it's windy along with sunny. And you're just not a good enough of a rider to hold your skirt with one hand and steer with the other, especially when it's really windy.

So self, please remember this day and always wear pants!

Thursday, August 19


The classroom I moved into was chock full of cr4p. I spent my first "work" day cleaning it out. I've never seen more rubber bands in my life. The way I was getting rid of things you'd think I don't have an attachment to stuff.

But, then my shipment arrived...

Kitchen Stuff

More Kitchen Stuff

Where'd my living room go?

Where'd my living room go?

And since then, I've been afraid to come home.

Did you notice those were only photos of the downstairs...

My bed was covered with clothes. Since then, I've filled a big box of clothes to donate (why, why, do I have so much?) and managed to fit the rest into my closet. The shoes are another matter, but I'm working on it.

I'm still working on the downstairs, but have managed to find homes for most of the kitchen gear with only getting rid of a few things (photo for add)

Ok, back to the organizing...

Oh, RIGHT, today was the first day of school for students! I only had homeroom. I've got a 12th grade class of 15. They all sat next to each other without me telling them too and obviously all got along... what a change that's going to be! I really like them so far and am excited to see them through the year.

As a 12th grade advisor, I'm automatically enlisted in organizing prom. At the first teacher's meeting we were told that we need to make sure that this year prom only has beer and wine... Yep, that'll be another change. Maybe the students will actually stay for the dancing here.

Wednesday, August 11

Another Night in Ouderkerk

Did I mention that part of our contract includes a gym membership?! It's one of those big fancy gyms, though not really "Globo Gym" like. So far I've only swam, Saturday and again this morning. We were told that the pool is through the sauna (the naked co-ed sauna). So I go and walk through the sauna, this takes you outside via a covered pathway into a large locker room. I walked through that, heading (I though towards the pool) but kept meeting doors with a red circle and a horizontal white line through the center - a "Do Not Enter," right?! Finally I stop to ask a much older woman who's showering, "Why can't I find the pool?!" Yep, it took me 8 minutes to find the pool. But I found it and swam.


Today was our first day of "work." It's still orientation though. My first impression is "pink." Seriously, the walls, the carpet, it's all pink. It looks like I'll have my own classroom, though I'll be sharing it with my head of department (HOD). It's up on the third floor (math departments seem to be always the furthest away).

After work, I went to buy a screw driver to finish assembling my new sofa (bed). Here's the new living room set up. In the lower right, that's the top of the newel post - I was standing on the stairs to take the photo:

New Couch

And here's the couch pulled out into bed form - double bed side. Ready for visitors!

New Couch

And here I am enjoying a post assembly glass of wine along the Amstel.
Along the Amstel

I was with new friends M & L. Here I am with L:
My Front Door

Sunday, August 8

Long Way There

I went to visit a colleague today - one who I think will turn out to be a good friend. I ended up getting a bit turned around in Uithoorn (pronounced out-horn), so it took me a while to get there (1.5 hours). You can see the route on the map I attempted to create (why, oh why, can't you map a bicycle route on Google maps in the Netherlands?! Dude?!). The distance is about the same even though I took (what I thought was) the longer way along the Amstel River out and went through pasture land to get home. However, it only took an hour to get home and that was up wind most of the way. I have to say, my tuckas is not as sore as I expected.

View Ouderkerk in a larger map

I live top right, it's just starting to say Ouder...

Here's a couple of photos from the beginning of the ride.

Biking along the Amstel

Biking along the Amstel

Amazingly I didn't get rained on!

It's like being back in SF!

I went the gay pride parade today. In Amsterdam it takes place on a canal... of course. And in amazingly, one of my new colleagues lives on a houseboat, on the canal that the parade went along!! It was raining, so we could stay inside, dry, but be up-close and personal with the boats... and with the woman on the boat across from us who was an amateur exhibitionist... and not a very good one at that. She kept flashing the gay boys, silly woman.

Anyway, I know you want photos, so here you go:

From inside the boat looking out on the parade:
Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade

Gaymobile (taken just for Joy!), these guys are a bunch of builders apparently:
Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade

The best part was that most boats had choreographed dances! Fun! This isn't the best of them, but it's the only video I've got:

Is God your rainbow?

Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade

If so, are these your angels?
Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade

Looking up river at a Christmas float:
Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade

Friday, August 6

My Commute

I got a bike yesterday. I went back to my local bike shop and asked if they also had used bikes. Turns out they do, down in the basement where the repair shop is! So I got a bike that retails at 900 Euro for 350! Go me. Of course, spending so much on a bike means that I'm terrified of it getting stolen. It's only a 30 minute ride into Amsterdam, but no way am I taking that bike into the city!

So, anyway, I've got a bike, saddle bags and 2 locks, but no helmet. No one wears a helmet here. I keep thinking about my brain and how much of a risk I'm taking. So far it doesn't feel like much of one because there are bike paths everywhere. Seriously. Though mopeds also use the bike lanes, the times I've been passed so far by both mopeds and other cyclists, have felt really calm and safe. So there you go.

Anywhere, here's my bike leaning against the fence out my backdoor.

My Bike

For as big as it is, it's super light, when the bags are empty of course. See the keys, that's one of the two locks. It locks around the rear wheel. I also have a chain lock for putting around the frame and front tire.

I rode my bike into work today to try out the commute. As I was timing it, I didn't take any photos, but here's a description of what I saw along the way:

Sheep laying along a canal
The Amstel River
More sheep
A vineyard
Some cows
A little bit of suburb/city

Then I was at school. In just 10 minutes. And this was my first time riding a bike in, oh, 3 years. So I'm thinking it'll end up being more like 8 minutes. Have I mentioned I love where I'm living?

It's time for people to start visiting!

Wednesday, August 4

Ouderkerk aan de Amstel

That's the name of my little village. Quaint, huh?

I've taken 3 pictures of the apartment. Will take more once I've got my shipment. Here's the dining room, taken standing against the back of the sofa:

View from sofa

Then the living room, standing at the forward most dining room chair:
From dining room table

And then standing against the wall on the right side of the table looking into the kitchen:


There are notes on each photo. Go to flickr for more details.

Tuesday, August 3

I have arrived

I'm feeling really mellow. I love my apartment, except perhaps for the stair case, but maybe that's because it was really difficult to get 2 50 lb suitcases up the stairs. The stairs are narrow and steep, which is good because they have a small footprint, but bad because I'm terrified I will slip down them at some point because I tend toward clumsy.

The exposed ceiling beams in the living room are painted green. I love it.

The bedroom has a curved ceiling that's really tall in the middle. I also love that.

There are two bins for trash - one for compost (YAY!) and the other for trash - no recycling. Hmph. I can take paper, glass and plastic myself, but I haven't found the closest bins yet.

I have a tiny fridge, no freezer and no pantry. Not so sure how I feel about that.

My little village is just what I was hoping for, except I haven't found a cheese shop yet, though the butcher does have some cheeses. I've been to the grocery store twice. About 5 houses down from me are 4 restaurants that have outdoor seating right on the river.

I went to the bike shop in town today to buy a bike, but the cheapest one was 599 Euros (that's almost $800). Ugh. I'm going to look in the next biggest town tomorrow when I go in to set up my bank account. I expected to spend money on a bike - especially for a good lock and the saddle bags that I want. But, I don't need a fancy pants racing bike. I just want to be able to ride around everywhere. $800, really? I hope not.

Intern David

The following story was told to me by A, one of my closest college friends. I have no reason to doubt her, though the story seems made up.

A works as a theater manager for a small non-profit theater company in North Carolina. Occasionally they take on interns and when they do it is A's responsibility to train and find things for them to do. She finds this to be one of the frustrating parts of her job because it often ends up being a time suck. I completely understand as it's the same way with student aides. But everyone has to start somewhere, right?

So one summer A gets a new intern, Intern David. Trying to find an easy task for him, she gives him 10 letters to be copied and then mailed out to past donors. She gives him these at around 3 in the afternoon. When he leaves at 5 he hands a stack of papers to A's boss and says, "I'm sorry I didn't have time to finish them all. I got through 7 and I'll do the rest tomorrow." Then he leaves.

Then A and her boss look at the stack to find that Intern David has indeed been copying the letters... BY HAND. And on letter 5 when his pen ran out of ink (I find I must restate this part: HE WROTE SO MUCH BY HAND THAT HIS PEN RAN OUT OF INK) he switched to ... PENCIL. He wrote all of these on blank copy paper. What I want to know is did he go to the copier to get the paper out?

As you can assume, much laughter was to be had. A feels lucky to have had the opportunity to get it all out before having to talk to him about it the next day. "Intern David, I want you to know that it's ok to ask me questions. Especially when you are confused about something or think that something seems strange. (Or if you run out of ink in your pen and need a new one (that statement added by me))."