Thursday, October 29, 2009

Although an archaeology blog, ArchaeoBlog sometimes posts the most fun non-archaeological things!

How do you get a bunch of tough Navy men and women to jump to their feet and cheer like mad? Show them girls jumping rope!



I'm exhausted and my feet hurt just watching them. And I thought I was impressed with myself the day I managed to jump rope while crossing my arms and NOT falling down!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quiz!!

From Eve at All About Me and A Bag of Chips


You Are The Silence of the Lambs


You think the scariest thing in the world is the human mind. What serial killers are capable of frightens you to the core.
You aren't big on gore or action when it comes to horror movies. You rather delve deeper than that... and get completely disturbed.

In fact, you can hardly ever find a horror movie that compares to the nastiness of a true crime story. You couldn't think up the brutal crimes that occur in real life.
In your opinion, no monster can be as scary as a human. You don't have to look far to find someone that totally terrifies you.


I love this movie. I also read true crime novels voraciously. (Okay, I read EVERYTHING voraciously.) I came pretty close to being a CSI, back before the TV shows made it all the rage. But then I decided that I liked my dead bodies a bit drier. Moist is a no go.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's times like these that I miss those happy pills!

Just saw my husband off.  He's on his way back to the Netherlands.  I'm off to Qatar on Sunday, making a trip through Copenhagen first.  We're hoping that we'll get to see each other for Christmas - either in DK or in Qatar or in somewhere in between.

This time watching him leave today was much harder than 8 weeks ago.

Two reasons:
1) Last time I knew exactly when I'd see him again (give or take 24 hours, as it turned out)
2) Today I have PMS

It's completely unfair to have PMS when your loved one leaves.  Especially when you are prone to weepiness and melancholia.  At least I won't be laid low by cramps until at least Thursday.  My stomach is upset enough with stress and dismay as it is.

I'm certainly going to write a strongly worded letter to my congressman.

Just as soon as my heart stops going plop-a-thump, my stomach unclenches, and I can stop grinding my teeth.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Holy *expletive deleted* Batman!

Uh, so, I uh, may have a teensy little problem that somehow slipped my mind over the last couple of weeks.

I fly out of Copenhagen Airport at 10:55 on a Sunday morning.

I live in Århus.

I may need to pick up something from Copenhagen University before I set sail flight, which would mean I need to be in Copenhagen before Friday at 3.

I am not keen on sleeping on park benches.

Anyone catching my drift, here?

Alright, I'll say it flat out: Anyone wanna put up an Archaeogoddess for two nights?  Or split the deal, a night on one floor here and one night there?  The lovely persons I normally call for floor space are both out of the country.

I can bring you a bottle of wine per each night I crash and I'll let you hold my trowel!  Or I can bring you flowers and I'll take pictures of you wearing my dig boots!

I'm not too picky, but closer to a means of public transportation that can get me to the airport on Sunday morning is better.

Interested?  Way excited to have a real live archaeologist on your floor?  Email me (email should be in the sidebar over on your right somewhere)!

***UPDATE***
The interwebs is an amazing thing!  And expat bloggers are wonderful people!  Thank you everyone who contacted me (and to those just now reading this and saying "oh, I totally want the Archaeogoddess in my home - oh drat, missed my opportunity!") as I have found a place to stay!

Hugs to you all!

Music video for nerds

via ArchaeoBlog



I'm with ArchaeoBlog - we need to get some archaeologists together and do this. It'd ROCK!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Face/palm

Ever going along in life, minding your own business and then suddenly you learn that something you thought to be one thing is in fact something totally different and for the last 30 years of your life you've been an IDIOT?

And I'm not talking about the discovery I made after coming to Denmark: did you know celery has an edible root? That came as a real surprise.
This is celery... with root ball. The root ball is called celeriac so that chefs will not be confused when they are told to add it to soups. 'Cause it matters if you have to add celery leaves vs celery stalks vs celery root to soup. This, at least, I know.
But hey, I'm not a farmer and in the US the fruit and veg section is HUGE in our mammoth sized supermarkets so the fact that I had never seen celeriac before is NOT MY FAULT.

At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

No, I'm not refering to that revelation. I'm referring to something that I bet you all know (or at least after this post you are going to pretend that you all knew because you don't want to look like the complete and utter idiot that I'm about to reveal myself as).

You know how people in belegured countries are always going to The Hague to talk to the UN International Court of Justice? Yeah, did you know The Hague is a CITY??

I swear to god, I thought it was like The White House. You know, a building. Because you read that the UN head quarters is in The Hague and that the President of the US lives in The White House so it never occured to me that The Hague is a city.

WHO THE HELL NAMES THEIR CITY WITH A 'THE'?

The Dutch.

Thank god I read guide books from cover to cover. Discovering that The Hague is a city in the Netherlands came as a shock. A pure WTF moment. Followed by me thinking, "I can't be the only one not to know this." Immediately following that thought was this, "oh, yes, I can."

Compounding the idiocy is the fact that my BFF studied the UN in high school for Academic Decathlon (think nerd competition with real medals and ribbons and trophies and stuff) and somehow, in the 13 years since, "The Hague is not a building" never came up in conversation. What the hell kind of best friend does not mention this? Laura, you were supposed to say, at some point over the last 13 years, "psst, by the way, don't know if you know this, but you really ought to before you make a complete and utter ass of yourself on the interwebs, The Hague is a city. Not a building. No, I know it sounds like The White House, but it SO ISN'T!"
This is the UN headquarters in the city named "The Hague," I don't know what the hell the building itself is called. Probably something snazzy like "The UN Headquarters in The Hague which is a city and not the name of this building."
Actually, it's called the Peace Palace. What kind of stupid name is that? The Hague is a MUCH cooler name.
So there you have it folks. I am an idiot. It's now public knowledge. Feel free to tell me of any idiot-revealing revelations you may have had in the comments.

(Oh and to learn y'all something new: face/palm is when you smack the palm of your hand to your face out of the sheer and utter stupidity of it all.)

And on a completely random note: I spent more time trying to get the fonts to work for this post than I did writing it. Either I'm wicked fast at admitting my stupidity or I am way worse at using blogger's "helpful" buttons than I thought. Next time I'll just learn the stupid html codes and type it up m'self.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Maybe I'll post something more serious later....

Yeah, right.

But until then - there was this meme going around Facebook that asked me what song I had stuck in my head. And I totally fought the ear-worm and was song-free for two days. But then I saw this. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is one of my favorite ear-worms because it can be erradicated by singing it loudly in the car. In fact, I almost always sing it loudly in the car. God, forgive me, I freaking love singing this song in the car. You'll have to pardon me, I need to go get in the car... I have a song to sing. Did I mention I sing it LOUDLY??

Anyway - this is the best use of YouTube: funny redo of a music video. And I thought "Pop-Up Video" was the apex of movie meets music entertainment.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We are OUTTA here!

The mechanic *just* called.

So *just* called that when my husband said, "okay so while I'm going to get the car you can pack" and I said "no, wait, I have to blog this first!" And I am blogging while he's trying to figure out what sort of madwoman he married. Dude - my public needs me!! I have, like 20 followers!! Who will DIE if I don't keep them posted. (Note: please leave comments assuring me that your lives have in fact been saved by this post. I will read them to the Dane with glee.)

If I could get over my fear of calling people I would make SUCH a kick ass journalist! Bombs falling from the sky - hold that escape vehicle, I need to blog this shit first!

ANYWAY - after DAYS of waiting for the car to be done, finally, success. First, the car is too old

*pause to say bye to husband - can't kiss now - blogging! Dude - I'm on FIRE!*

for the Volvo mechanics to reach into the back room and whip out a new fuel line (cause ours was BUSTED) so they were looking for an old replacement. Couldn't find one. Went with plan B: patch the line so we can get back to DK. But they wanted to test drive it first to make sure it held.

Eh... not so much. So they were going to work on it some more. Then they found that the fuel pump was kaput. But, thank the gasoline fuel gods (I believe called Petrolia and Dieselus), they had one on hand that would work in our old decrepit excuse for a car.

What are we on, plan D? Not sure. We were dreading the phone calls.

But now it's after 5 on WEDNESDAY. Husband has articles to write and places to visit. And it is way too late to be driving to DK tonight. What to do?

Why go to Berlin, DUH!

The Dane has to see a man about a synagogue.

No, really. I'm serious about that one. I might not be serious about the fuel gods, but I'm not going to say so out loud in case they strike me dead.

So to Berlin tonight and some sightseeing on Thursday and then we drive like mad to DK because on Friday morning we have a new appointment with a new mechanic who says that he has the parts we might need and the time to fix the car before my husband has to drive back to the Netherlands on Monday, swinging through Hamburg to see a man about a harbor.

Dude, I do not make this stuff up. I think I need to add a label: so this is what happens when you marry a journalist. Or: this isn't what normal people do.

Normal people do not say things like "I need to get back to Denmark because I've got to catch a plane to Qatar," and their normal spouses do not say things like "yeah, but you have time to see a synagogue in Berlin, right? We can also go see the new Neuesmuseen, with Nefertiti's head," and normal people do not respond "but I've already seen Nefertiti's head... oh what the hell, maybe I can finally see the silver treasure of Hildesheim!"

Oh, and before I go to find cheap accommodation in Berlin, find out where and when the Neuesmuseen is and is open, where the Hildesheim treasure is currently on display (my guess: Russia), and finish packing.... the grand total cost of three days of Volvo mechanics playing "who's your daddy" with our car's innards? 525 euros.

Not bad for a car that's probably worth MAYBE 5,000 euros on a good day.

Right, we are OUTTA here!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thank God for the Greeks!

This is a long post.* A lot has happened and it'll take some time to get it all down. And the title of this post will only make sense later.

Maybe.

Not promising anything.

So, lets see, where did I leave you all?

No idea. Typingup a new post on the website so can't read what I last wrote. I should do something about that. Nah, that smacks of planning and organization and here at Archaeogoddess Inc. Corp. Ltd. we don't play that game.

Lets start with Thursday. Stuff started happening then and hasn't really let up since.

THURSDAY

So the Dane and I go sight-seeing. The Netherlands incorporates the Rhine river, that is, the Rhine bisects the country. Along the Rhine are the Limes. The Limes is/are the defensive boundary the Romans created along the perimeter of the Empire. North of the Limes is barbarian land, south is the Roman Empire. I love boundaries! Cultures colliding that stuff. And as a Roman archeologist I am particularly intersted in the Roman frontier. Of course I'd like to see it. Good ol' Google gives me a web-page for the Limes in the Netherlands that tells me all I have to do is going into the tourist office in Nijmegen and get some good guide leaflets that will direct me to fantastic walking tours of the Limes. I'm so excited I can't stop bouncing and I neglect to really read my guide book. And I really should have.

Because Nijmegen is directly south of Arnhem and north of Eindhoven. For a person who knows her "Band of Brothers" by heart, I should really have figured out what was going to happen.

There are no Roman ruins. In fact, very little in the area predates 1945. The whole area was pretty much flattened by WWII and Operation Market Garden. Reading the little booklet (by the way, the Netherlands? Not prepared for tourists. The tourist office had one booklet in English. We got a few others in Dutch but alas, our Dutch was not good enough to realize "what," as my husband would say "it was all about.") we discover that Nijmegen has been flattened by just about every invading force in Europe. Charlemagne, Napoleon, Hitler, various Williams from various countries, the Spanish several times... you name it, they've flattened it. I wouldn't be surprised if Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun were involved. Forget Meggido (the site of Armageddon) or Jerusalem, this tiny town is constantly rebuilding themselves.

Makes you think "perhaps they should STOP rebuilding it and MOVE!"

It has a very nice museum, however. Lots of Roman remains from various excavations in the area and a fantastic display of illuminated manuscripts. No explanation on how they were made or how wicked awesome they are, for that you need to have an enthusiastic Archaeogoddess guide, but ever so lovely to look at!

Right, so having been rather disappointed in Nijmegen, we headed to Elst, where I had a Dutch guide book with a 3.2 km guided walk called "In de schaduw van de tempel" (In the shadow of the temple - Dutch is so easy!).

Uh, yeah. So there is a reason Elst is not in the guide book. There is NOTHING in Elst. Elst falls between Nijmegen and Arnhem and is so damn boring that it "is famous for its Roman temples, which are situated under the Saint Werenfried church". (Wikipedia for Elst) Did you get that "under the church"? I thought I had taken a picture of it. But I hadn't. Basically it looked like this:
Where the magic red shoes are the foundations of the temple peaking out from under a large church. Overwhelming, I know.

From there the tour went downhill. Seriously, you ask, it could go downhill? Oh you betcha!

We trecked to "Huis met klassieke elementen" (House with classical elements) and saw this amazing structure:
See the "classical elements"? That would be the tacky urns and cement columns by the pond (light green patch) and this fantastic house if for sale! You can own a house so famous it's in a tourist guide!!

I guess the owners had enough of tourists taking pictures of their famous house and now just want to be left alone.

Then (then? oh yes, it goes on) we came to this:


What is it? Why it's either Dutch track housing or the site of an ancient Roman temple to pagan gods. Actually it's the site for the upcoming Dutch director Stevijn Speilenburger's "Poltergijst" movie. Because WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BUILD TRACK HOUSES ON NON-CHRISTIAN HOLY SITES!!

For the record: my husband who is culturally deprived totally did not get the humor of the situation and still cannot figure out what I'm talking about.

Thoroughly put out, we went home.

FRIDAY

Last day of classes for the Dane before Fall Break. A misnomer since every teacher assigned huge projects that the students will TOTALLY have time to do since they are on vacation from all their other classes.

We meet up with everyone in the bar and drown our sorrows until 7:30 pm. Not much drowning. Heineken is a wussy beer.

The Dane is now hungry and I'll do anything to keep from having to slave away over dinner when I have to pee every 5 minutes (damn you Heineken!) so we go into downtown Utrecht for dinner. We park in a parking structure.

As we step out to admire my Danes lousy parking job (parking spaces are not designed for Volvo station wagons sporting bike racks) we notice a car rolling downhill towards our car. We frantically try to signal the driver and then we discover THERE IS NO DRIVER!!

See, Poltergijst!

Stupid f*cking asshat Dutch drivers! Do they not know that when you park on a slope you put the car in GEAR as well as use the HAND BRAKE!? The answer to this, having looking in all the other Dutch cars as we wait for the police, is NO.

That, by the way, is what it looks like when an Alfa Romeo of DOOM rolls backwards into the hitch of a Volvo. Our hitch saved the VW Golf next to us from Total Annihilation.

We were fine. The car... well, I'll get to the damage the car sustained later. It's quite a strain for an old car to hold a downhill drifting Alfa sedan with nothing more than a hitch and a racing bike. Oh yeah, the racing bike....


Smoosh.

The Dutch witnesses were very helpful and we made our way to the police station and then back again where we waited for two very very helpful police officers to show up. They found the owners of the car (a rental, but the driver had been involved in ANOTHER accident recently so he was on file) who came eventually (had to finish eating first, mind) and moved his car. Once again parking it without putting it in gear. Sigh. We moved our car to a better location far from other possible accidental ghost driven cars of DOOM.

Only now it's 10:30. Uh, where oh where are we going to find food? McD's? KFC? The husband threatened to throw himself in the canal rather than eat at these locations, so we wandered from restaurant to restaurant being greated by more and more confused wait staff ("what, you want to eat? Now? No, the kitchen has been closed for over an hour!"). Then one restaurant suggests this Greek restaurant just up the road. We wander in and Thank God for the Greeks, the kitchen is open and they'd be happy to feed us HUGE amounts of VERY GOOD food for a fair price. Meanwhile, the rest of the restaurant is full of Greeks enjoying the live music and dancing and shots of Ouzo. It was a FABULOUS night.

SATURDAY

We went to Oosterbeek to see the Air Museum dedicated to Operation Market Garden. It is a brilliant museum with everything in English, Dutch and German. The video even came with Polish subtitles. From there we went to the cemetery. I got very emotional.
"50 years ago British and Polish airborne soldiers fought here
against overwhelming odds to open the way into Germany
and bring the war to an early end. Instead we brought death
and destruction for which you have never blamed us.
This stone marks our admiration for your great courage
remembering especially the women who tended our wounded.
In the long winter that followed your families risked death
by hiding Allied soldiers and airmen while members of the
Resistance helped many to safety.

You took us then into your homes as fugitives and friends
we took you forever into our hearts.
This strong bond will continue
long after we are all gone."

Over 1,700 people are buried in this cemetery, mostly soldiers who fought and fell in Operation Market Garden in the area around Oosterbeek. There are many more cemeteries like this one spread out all over the Netherlands and indeed, Europe.

That these brave souls died in one of the Allies biggest blunders makes it all the more poignant.

We headed home where we promptly blew a fuse, resulting in a loss of electricity (fixed after a time by my Dane plugging us into the next campsite that is now free and available for use), and then we ran out of gas. On a Saturday night. Nice.

Hurredly gulping soup, we then headed off to see a German movie about the RAF. Which does not stand for the Royal Air Force, but the Red Army Faction. Watching a bunch of people blow things up and kill people because they think that this will some how bring about a brave new world of joy and plenty (oh and stop the Vietnam War in the bargain) and ending in more death, the spread of terrorism to new idealistic souls and eventually suicide by the main protagonists is not exactly light watching.

SUNDAY

Blessed be the people who sell propane on Sundays, for they shall inherit the earth. Went to Leiden and the archaeology museum. Another place they don't expect tourists of the non-Dutch variety. Got kicked out 10 minutes before closing because when the Dutch close up shop they CLOSE UP SHOP.

Went home and discovered we were leaking gasoline from the car. Our little incident a few days earlier had knocked the fuel line lose and it was dripping gas. Sigh.

So we cooked dinner. Blew the fuses AGAIN. We are now out of plugs for our electricity. Ate in the dark. Went to a birthday party, because we promised. Came home late and crawled into bed in the dark and the cold.

MONDAY

Boy the car is really leaking gas! Got the electricity turned back on and realized it is one particular heater that is throwing to fuses. Got the car to the shop. Our fuel line had dropped onto the drive shaft and it had burned a hole clear through it. We were gushing gas last night. Nice. Now we need to find a new fuel line for a car that hasn't been made in 20 years. I really hope someone junked one recently. We really need to get back to Denmark. I have an article to correct and a flight to catch.

So as of right now we have electricity and propane. We have no car and only a borrowed bike for transport. The temperature dropped and I have to pee every 10 minutes. But I can tell from the Peek a Poo toilets that my digestive track is working PERFECTLY.

The next Facebook quiz that tells me I need more excitement in my life gets shot.

*I am not going to go through this for typos and other errors. Because I have to PEE!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Roughing it

Everyone has a slightly different definition of "roughing it." From those who consider being without a hair dryer as quite possibly the worst possible outcome in life to those who say "bah, at least you don't have to bag and carry your own poop out of the canyon!"

To me, "roughing it" is determined by the distance between your warm bed and the toilet at midnight. If I have to put several layers of clothing on and SHOES in order to pee in the middle of the night, I am roughing it. After that, it's only a matter of degrees of rougherness. ('s totally a word, damn it!)

Thankfully, my parents decided when we kids were fairly young that we should all partake in family camping. What could be more fun than sitting around a campfire, burning your face and freezing your butt as you argue over who gets the last marshmallow and your mother worries that you've grabbed the wrong stick for your s'mores and you'll end up dead like those boy scouts?! Our Family Camping was often a trial by fire. Sometimes literally. Where to this very day we discover new and interesting ways in which we can improve our camping vacation (did you know that now some campers and trailers come with Indoor Plumbing??) or if nothing else, fuel family get-together story times. You can ask my mother about the green folding chair insident or ask my dad how many sermons we ended up being the butt of (note: do not go camping with your minister unless you can handle the ensuing fall out. Doubtless, my family is going to a Happy Place after the many years of ribbing we've endured.)

Yet somehow camping has become emblazoned in my psyche as "fun" and I dare you to argue with me. Because there will be no logic or reasoning with me. It's fun, damn it. I know it is!

Which is how my husband decided that this was a good alternative to living in the dorms and I ended up here with him.
Yes, that is our home.

The front half is tent, the back half is camper/trailer/caravan, the noun of which depends on what part of the world you are from.

And it does work. And it is way more fun than living in a dorm. Didn't I just tell you this?

Yeah, the thunderstorm Saturday night sucked. Scooping up water from the lake formed in the front tent part of our home with cups and rags is not part of the Joys of Camping. Neither was last nights Oh Darn Was That The Last of The Gas I Hope The Chicken Is Completely Cooked episode.

But the air is SO clean and we live in the Freakin' Woods Yo!

Um, I'm trying to think of the other positives here. Having a hard time. You try explaining to vanilla people why you love chocolate even though it makes you fat, gives you pimples, and rots your teeth!

Okay, let me put it this way. Despite:

having to walk a few minutes to the unheated bathroom,
Keep walking, it's around the bend, then the first left, across the patio, first door on your right in the left wing of the building

having to walk a few minutes to the coin operated shower that is in an unheated room,

having to fill up the water tank every day from the nearby faucet,
Electric hook up and CABLE TV and water faucet, oh my!
running out of gas requiring serious MacGyvering of the camper since Denmark and NL do not use the same gas canisters or ever freaking hose size,
The white tank is the water tank, the yellow is our now empty Danish gas can
not having enough space to prep and cook food comfortably,

barely having enough room for two people to sleep in the bed,
That's the whole kitchen and pretty much the whole "bedroom"
carrying dishes to the shower room because it's the only place you can get hot water unless you want to try to heat a pot on the stove, wasting precious water and gas and it's not like you have enough space to wash dishes anyway,

living side by side in a 5x5 meter space with STUFF....
And this would be the office for two

I am still enjoying myself!

It's pretty stupid, I know. But we sit around at our table in the tent, heaters blazing away while we eat and tell each other "dude, this is freakin' AWESOME!"

We now want to get a land rover and a tent-trailer and go to Africa! My husband wants to buy a regular camper and use it as a mobile office. We are all kinds of excited about where else we can go and camp. I, for example, feel a French wine camping trip tour in the future.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

*snort*

My husband is currently enjoying life as a foreign exchange student in the Netherlands. So what do they do all day? Make fun of the Dutch, of course.*

This YouTube clip is rather hilarious, it dates from 1977 by John Dowie and the REAL payoff is at the very end.

Enjoy!



*There are Dutch students in the class who take the good natured ribbing with grace and poise and who are undoubtably looking forward to getting to Denmark where they can start mocking the Danes.

What is up with these TOILETS??

Made it, finally, to the Netherlands.

Whaddaya mean, "finally" AG?

Weeeeell.... they over booked my flight F
riday night by three seats and were NOT going to load the plane until 3 volunteers took the free hotel, free dinner and 300 Euro travel voucher pay off to stay behind. After a slight miscommunication with my husband, I took the hotel/dinner/voucher option.

Saturday morning, at the (butt)crack of dawn, I was back in the airport.

Once again they announced that they'd overbooked and needed two volunteers to take the next flight. WTF?

But the two guys who had also volunteered Friday night went ahead and volunteered AGAIN, meaning that they racked up a cool 600 Euros each in travel vouchers. I, on the other hand, went to the Netherlands post haste, where I slightly mollified husband awaited.

We then went to a camping store. I love camping stores almost as much as I like hardware stores, so there was much climbing into campers, tent trailers and tents and pretending we had gobs of money and vacation time to take our (mythical) Land Rover, (imaginary) children, and (wished for) tent trailer on an off-roads vacation in the African savanna. On the way to the campsite where my husband has been living, we almost stopped for the open house that we saw, because touring homes is FUN, but we were both hungry.

I'd had a terrible terrible sudden drop in sugar levels as I exited the plane resulting in some stressed confusion until I was able to eat a Snickers bar and return from the Land of the Damned and behave like a semi-responsible adult. One who can play pretend in display campers, at any rate.

The camp set up is quite lovely, I'll have to get photos at some point... but every time I need to step outside it begins to rain heavily. Fine, I've got the most kick ass rain jacket EVAH, but camera + rain = lousy images. You'll all just have to wait.

So all is great and wonderful, but eventually I have to go to the restroom. Which brings me face to face with....
The Dutch toilet of DOOM!

Note the position of the "drain" at the front of the toilet. This means that everything you do will end up in the little depression at the back of the toilet for your perusal before you flush. I call it: The Peek a Poo.

I simply had to Google this, I mean, WTF Dutch people!

So I will now cut and paste from an expat website that I found. Expats of the world: you rock!

Stolen without apologies from Dutched Pinay on Expatriotism. :-)


The flachspueler (shelf toilet) otherwise known as the “flatflusher” is, I am guessing hugs more than 50% of the market share of toilets in NL (and perhaps in Germany?).

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the famed Inspection-Shelf Toilet.

Advantages:

(1) When you worship the toilet gods, there won’t be any catch22 of re-tour ‘de splash. Your butt won’t get wet when that slimy sometimes rock-hard substance disengages from god knows where of you. It will land safely and neatly on the porcelain shelf. Unlike the standard toilet, the so-called substance hits straight far down to the water, hence the splatter. Now, I really, really hope you have a good imagination.

(2) You can, with all liberty, inspect the prized matter before flushing it down. This is quite handy when you are sick, you can easily inspect the stool for color and texture. It was said that the pragmatic German inventors used this as a technique to facilitate stool examination. How brilliant these Aryans are!

(3) Uses less water, therefore a perfect conservation method. Got it, this is Europe. Amen.

Disadvantages:

(1) Since a disengaged part of you is sitting pretty in that shelf, then without any doubt, the blasphemous stink will seep through into every corner of the 1x1 meter box. Well, relax dear.... don’t panic, just sit tight and don’t inhale. Now, reach out slowly to that reserved -Air Freshener- beside or below the toilet bowl. I should be there as its main purpose is to make peace with the dreadful stench.

(2) If you do not flush twice, then for sure you will be leaving some ungodly smears on the white porcelain bowl. In order to disguise the act you just did, you can either wipe the toilet shelf (eww, such thought!) with tissue using your bare hands, or clean it with the toilet brush bristle (hopefully there is one available).

A friend in my Dutch class told me that the best way to thwart this problem is to lay down tissues on the shelf before doing the mighty deed. With that, the excrements will just liberally slide away without leaving any trail when flushed. Now that is real ingenuity!

Credits: Images by David Fontes for Spielboy.com


So there you have it. The hardest part about being in the NL so far is not the brand new incomprehensible language or the INSANE lack of road planning (that is a WHOLE OTHER POST OF MADNESS), but the horror of visiting the toilet and being forced to look at your body's refuse.

Ugh.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Muddling along nicely

My parents love the phrase, "just muddling along" to describe that state of being where some things are working, some things are not and frankly, you aren't really sure which are which any more.

I got my reentry visa - despite being told by the UdServ that Of Course the office in Århus can do it while you wait, all they have to do is call - the Århus office wanted me to fill out the form ("Do you have the form ready?" "What form? I didn't know there was a form? I didn't know I needed a reentry visa!" "Oh, well, here you go, just go stand outside and fill it out in the 4th circle of hell we call the 'Waiting Area'.") (Okay, they didn't exactly say that last part... but I did have to go to the waiting area to fill it out.) and then COME BACK IN A WEEK.

Because, as the lady said, she had to fax it to Cph.

Er... I pointed out that the folks in Cph had said that Århus could do it right then and there.

"Well, of course they say that," said the woman, "but we have to call and then we get put on hold."

At this point there is no muddling. But there is plenty of boggling. I boggle well. See previous post's dog picture for accurate image of me boggling. BOGGLE!

I do my best impression of helpless confusion and faint distress. Just a bit of distress you see. If you WIG OUT on people they usually call security and I am sure that would have greatly impacted the future of my visa hunt.

You ever read "she wrung her hands" and wondered, how exactly do you wring your hands? Yeah, I got that DOWN man, I can wring with the PROS.

She called UdServ.

She was on hold for approximately 1 minute and spoke for about 15 seconds and BOOM - I get a visa.

Seriously? You wanted me to come back in a WEEK? What do you people DO ALL DAY?

I get the feeling that UdServ is really just a big room with a wall of cubby-holes where they take your visa paperwork and every day MOVE the paperwork from one hole to the next, like those Advent Calendars, until it gets to the end and then they send you a letter saying it's all okay.












It takes a GAZILLION of people to do this, which is why 90% of Denmark is employed by the state. Wait, scratch that. 90% of Danes who are WORKING, work for the state. Which means that in reality there are only 2 Danes in the office at any given time. Whoops, never mind, sorry about insinuating that the UdServ is overstaffed and lazy, in reality they are understaffed and overworked.

Anyway: I have a reentry visa of DOOM!

I like to add "of DOOM" to the ends of things. Makes it FAR more exciting and important than reality, which is that I spent a good couple of days running around, emailing people, running up and down corridors, calling people, running around town, sitting in the waiting room (of DOOM!), and WRINGING MY HANDS for a sticker that from start to finish took her 2:20 seconds to approve, fill out and stick in my passport....

OF DOOM!!!

It's also quite possibly the only redeeming part of "Indiana Jones and the Temple (wait for it) of DOOM." Next time you end up watching that movie (because, you know, you really want to see if it is as bad as you remember) shout out "of DOOM" every time someone speaks in *meaningful tones* - you'll know what these are.

"The antidote!" of DOOM!
"Chilled monkey brains" of DOOM!
"*My* professional name!" of DOOM!
"Fortune and glory." of DOOM!
"Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist." of DOOM!
"Mummies." of DOOM!
"Giant vampire bats!" of DOOM!

Really, I could go on all day.

But I won't.

I also got shot today.

Tetanus booster.

And I gave some blood to a nurse who will check it for antibodies.

At that point in my visit to the doctor's office I was a little unclear about what all was going on, but I understood that if I have lots of good antibodies I do NOT need another shot and if I don't then I'll be proffering up my arm again in a few weeks.

I picked up the mounds of copies that I had bound for easy carriage. And then I went shopping for a few things that I needed because the outdoor store that I do SO love was having a sale and I could finally afford some of the stuff in there.

These things include:
* flip-flops (because I don't trust that the people who used the public shower before me DIDN'T pee in it)
* toiletry bag with a hook (I've been using the zippered bags that my throw blankets came in for years, it works for storage and plane travel, but once you get to where you are going, you're rather screwed if you don't have a cabinet)
* a new rain jacket (because the one I had is 10 years old and doesn't so much keep me dry as make sure that anything in the pockets gets wetter than had I fallen in a lake)

There was then some fancy bank transfers because the credit card I wanted to use has a pin code that is IMPOSSIBLE to remember. Here in Denmark, thou shalt not use thy Visa card except in Very Special Locations and then only if thee hath a pin code. Of DOOM!

I've got to pack now.

I say that, but watch me wander about aimlessly for a while yet. And eat. And wander some more. And then discover the one thing I wanted to wear is not in the piles of clean clothes on my bed, but under the pile of dirty wet clothes in the basket.

But I leave you this LOLDog.


funny pictures of dogs with captions

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

My guardian angel!

I have the worlds best caseworker! And she's not even *my* caseworker. My caseworker is on vacation and the one who is supposed to be handling my case is... well, I'm not really sure, actually. But her office mate is the woman I talked to yesterday. This office mate is an angel.

This morning she called the Udlændingeservice on my behalf to find out what I needed to do before I left. She then passed along the information to me as well as the questions I should ask, so when I called the Udlændingeservice I could use those
magic key words "reentry visa" to get through to a person who could help me in my quest. I ended up talking to several people, one about the reentry visa, good only for 90 days, so it is imperative that I come back to Denmark in December and pick up my visa (because that will not be ready for pick up until half way through November IF I'M LUCKY) and one to tell me that, yes, I really can get a reentry visa while I wait in the office (open M-F 9-12, Thurs 12-1700) and that if worst comes to worst, I can come to Copenhagen and they'll do it for me, but that the Århus office should do it and if they don't they're prats.

Yes, I've already arranged with a friend that if I must run off to Copenhagen I have somewhere to crash.

Of course I'll run all this by the Århus office again tomorrow when I go, because the more people I can get to know where I am and what I'm doing, the more likely that information I need to be a good little immigrant will actually get passed along. 'Cause it's not like they tell you these things voluntarily. You need to know what to ask. They assume that now that you've got your coveted visa you will never again wish to step foot outside of Denmark. Silly silly me for wanting to work. I'm really hoping that because I'm working through a Danish university, it'll give me a leg up on the 'wow what a good immigrant ladder' even though I am doing it outside of Denmark.

I do feel like screaming to several people though. The next person who says to me "why didn't you ask" is going to get it in the teeth. If you don't know that you need to ask a question about something you didn't know about HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO ASK IT? And I did ask UdServ if there was something I needed and they just told me to wait for my visa and that they couldn't discuss my case on the phone. It was only after my guardian angel told me what questions to ask and about this reentry visa that I even knew I had a problem. All I got from the UdServ
was a letter saying I could stay and that was only because I'd ASKED for SOMETHING to prove I was here legally in case I needed to prove I belonged here. Did they say, Oh, and a reentry visa is a good idea in case you leave? NO!

If I get my reentry visa tomorrow, I am going to send my voluntary caseworking angel a bouquet of flowers.

Meanwhile I am DRIPPING in sweat, because there is NOTHING like RUNNING down to an office only to find that it's closed to make one damp and wilted.

I shall put this smell to good use and clean the kitchen. Then at least I'll have something physical to
show for my aerobic exertions. I mean, hey, if you are going to sweat through your clothes, you might as well do all the sweaty things you need to do at once.

I think I'll skip the library trip though. It's a large building, but I'm very very rank at the moment and all my clean clothes are currently in the wash.

Be grateful that the internet doesn't have smell-o-vision. That's all I'm saying!

Oh, and my international drivers license is this little cardboard booklet! I feel robbed! It's like the old Danish drivers licenses. Seriously, this is going to let me drive abroad? I have my doubts, but I'm going to present it will all the confidence of an idiot and hope that they buy my assertions that "no, really, this says I can drive here.... in like 5 languages including Japanese! I know it doe
sn't have Arabic... how about Swedish? Does this look like the face of a liar?"

I've got to practice my poker face.

Acutally, first I have to FIND my poker face.

o.O

No.

:-}

No.









Definitely not.

Hmmmm, nope, looks like I never had a poker face. Can anyone suggest where I can buy one cheap?



Monday, October 05, 2009

Success!

It turns out the letter was only referring to my participation in August not SINCE August as I had thought. Well, they did send the letter in Danish and HELLO I'm not graduated yet, I can't read your letter!!

But I talked to a VERY nice caseworker who made all kinds of notes for my file and then I got an email follow up from her because she'd checked my file and saw that my visa was expired and wanted to know if I'd gotten the paperwork back and that if I was thinking that I might not get it in time, I should get a special notation in my passport. I have since responded and said, well, I did renew my visa, but it hasn't come through yet - how do I get this stamp just in case I don't get my visa in time? I'm thinking that she might be a helpful caseworker! Praise god and pass the ketchup! Her English was phenomenal and she read my file! She READ my FILE! And then contacted me to make sure I hadn't gone and forgotten something HUGE!

I'm very excited.

Meanwhile, I may have just gotten my international drivers license. Well, I missed the FedEx guy, but he'll be back tomorrow and I've posted the note saying he can just leave it in the mailbox if I'm not home. Or peeing. But I didn't add that to the note. He might wig out and not let me have my proof of my mad driving skills. It will of course be in my maiden name because the department of motor vehicles will not change my name unless I walk into the office with a marriage certificate and/or a new social security card. I haven't gotten the new SSC or been anywhere NEAR a department of motor vehicles so instead I'm going to photocopy the document I got from the Danish Ministry of People Who Change Their Names, who brilliantly provided me with a document in English saying, "yes, you short sighted bureaucrat, she did bloody change her name now let her go about her life with some form of dignity." Because I'm running around with half of my official documents with one name and half with the other.

It's like having a secret identity. Or schizophrenia.

And I spend a lot of time explaining myselves to people. Yes: Myselves. Don't argue with me, I may be a dangerous schizophrenic, you never know.

Despite all the madness, I've had a good couple of days. I mean, I've had a cold, but I managed to work around it.

I worked a volunteer bar shift at a club/party Friday night, resulting in good times and a sexy voice (hoarse, very hoarse). You'd think it'd be dreadful to have to interact with drunk Danes, but really, it was pretty good. Think of it as another phase of projekt dejlig: interacting with Danes on their own turf, i.e. any place of inebriation. I managed fairly well in Danish and when it no longer worked and I apologized, in English, for not understanding or being unable to remember the number 80, most gasped and said "Oh my god, I didn't know you didn't speak Danish! I'm so sorry!" and then proceeded to repeat their request in English with good humor. It also helps that pick-up lines for foreign women by Danish men are very simple: "Where are you from?... WOW! What brought you here?" And are easily, gently, shot down by responding, "America... I married a Dane" and flashing the ring. I got my hand kissed several times. Even the guys who were trying to get me to discount their drinks finally gave in before my dazzling charming non-danish self.

Then today I worked out my little Danish problem, photocopied oodles of things that I needed for my research (although I just got an email saying now I have a print ready up at the library and I'm thinking: why didn't this happen EARLIER today?), returned books and, this was BEFORE NOON mind you, made my way towards the bus stop - this afternoon I went out of Århus to meet up with another blogger and her deliciously madcap children for some coffee and fresh air.

We both got a lot of it (FRESH AIR you Weirdos!), so if the blogosphere suddenly falls silent, it's because we both caught pneumonia and died.

(BTW: I've been drinking these vitamin C dissolvable tablets in water and they are AWESOME! You can't OD on vitamin C, right? 'Cause they're really tasty. I may have a slight addiction. Can you even be addicted to Vit C dissolvable tablets? God I hope not. Right, so I may die either from too much fresh air or possibly a slight over indulgence in vitamin C. You may take up to a year to morn my passing. Wear purple and sing dirges while you sweep. Yes, I meant to say sweep. 'Can't very well sing dirges while you sleep, now can you? And if you sing and weep at the same time, it'll sound all hiccupy and awful. I'm tone-deaf, but not deaf-deaf.)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Tilting with Windmills...

I swear Don Quixote had better success than I'm having at the moment.

Here's a question for you all - how many caseworkers can one foreigner have? Answer: I don't know, they keep popping out of the woodwork!!

The story so far: I needed to take time off of Danish, but I know I can't just stop coming, because it's part of my contract with the Danish government. So I first talk to my teacher, who sends me to Lisbet. Lisbet officially enters that I'm taking time off. She then tells me to contact my caseworker. Fine, dandy, I have a letter from my caseworker, Pia, so I have a name. I contact Pia, who tells me to contact Maja. Meanwhile I get another letter saying that my caseworker JULIE is on vacation and so Jane is now contacting me wanting to tell me that I am seriously endangering my chances of staying in Denmark because I've missed so much Danish.

Here's the REALLY funny thing - Lisbet, Pia, Maja, Julie, and Jane all have offices IN THE SAME BUILDING ON THE SAME FLOOR. Right next to each other and probably share offices in some cases.

Not that they ever see each other, because as far as I can tell, Pia's only in the office on Wed. from 3-5, Lisbet is only in the office from 8-12 m-f, Julie is on vacation and Maja may not exist, since I can't find her email anywhere.

Finding someone's email or any information about anyone is practically impossible because all letters to me and all information on the website is IN DANISH. This is the kommune's foreign resident department. The ENTIRE purpose of this department is to help integrate foreigners. Who can't bloody well use the damn department because they can't freakin' understand what's going on and who can't read the letters that are sent and who can't figure out what they're supposed to do about it because the web-site is in DANISH! Hell, my first caseworker barely spoke English. I was lucky to have my husband there to translate. Now he's not here, and while my reading Danish is considerably better, I still can't figure out what the hell's going on or who I'm supposed to see because I'm getting passed from caseworker to caseworker like a hot potato.

I'm leaving the country in less than a month and I can't guarantee everything is okay because I keep getting the run around!! And I'm sick of talking to people on the phone or in corridors because then I have no paper trail. I really need a paper trail at this point. I do not have a work contract or a visa for Qatar, I still haven't gotten my visa renewal from Denmark, and I have no proof that I've gotten permission from Danish school that I've taken time off, even though I was told I would get it.

Monday was supposed to be my fun free day... and perhaps it still will be, but I'm going to have to get up early to go over to the offices of evil and stomp around until I can get people to print out things that I can take to other people and MAYBE show that really, I have taken time off Danish and it's been PAUSED!

Jesus f*cking Christ on a g*dd*mned candlestick.