22 August 2008

12 Differences between Here and There

So, I talked to our preacher, Joe Lusi, the other day on the phone and he asked an

interesting question: -What is the single biggest difference you've noticed since moving to Holland?-

I couldn't narrow it, so I decided to go with the classic 'top 10' list, but it ran a little long.

1. Bicycle Culture - I keep saying it but it's a pretty amazing concept that you can live in the western world in the 21st century and have little or no use for a car. There are bike paths everywhere in the city and the country.

2. Language - We don't speak Dutch fluently yet, and of course it is a barrier. One nice fringe benefit of our barrier is the complete omission from constant complaining and bickering we can't understand.

3. Proximity - Instead of everything being spread out as far as possible everything here is more compact. We are 2 blocks from School, 2 blocks from the grocery, 20 blocks from Central Station, 15 blocks from the library, 5 blocks from the hardware store, 2km from the art supply store, 20 blocks from the computer store...In Colorado, I had to drive to I-25 and Colorado Blvd.to get a new harddrive, approx 20 miles away.

4. Health Insurance - they actually aren't just trying to screw you over month to month with high premiums and then completely abandon you as soon as you need help. Addison got a black eye a few months ago and about half a dozen people asked if we had seen the physician yet! As if.

5. Pace - I'm sure it isn't true for everyone here, but our pace has slowed considerably, with more time for family, reading, painting, plinking, fietsen, socializing, cooking at home...

6. Boating Life - Canals and Grachts - Boating is a huge part of the culture. I take about 10 ferries per week. I cannot wait to get a little canal boat. I think it will be the next major purchase.

7. Open spaces. Even though Holland is a tiny country, it has large expanses of open space and farmland even very close to Amsterdam. Within 15 minutes of riding my bike either straight east or east and north, I'm in farmland, met schapen, koeien, paarden and vogels.

8. No Guns - Ok, so the Politie have guns, but no one else does. It is illegal to buy guns here! Can you believe that, totally illegal. Maybe the revolutionary thinks this is a bad idea, but as far as the day to day peace goes, it is an amazing relief. The teenagers here are not shooting each other, which is nice.

9. Quiet. The culture here is remarkably quiet considering that this is a major metropolis. You rarely even hear sirens. In the morning there is sometimes the pounding of giant steel girders being planted very deep into the sandy soil for construction.

10. Architecture. This is the most beautiful city I've ever seen. Hardly any skyline, no really tall buildings to speak of, but many very old and beautiful buildings, towers, kirks, palaces. The oude buildings are coupled with many niewe contemporary architectural examples in a very tasteful way. The main building materials menu includes, steel, glass, and brick.

11. Less Corporate B.S. - As far as the shopping goes there are far less (i.e. hardly any) giant boxstores and shopping malls. There are far more small businesses in Amsterdam than I'm used to seeing. Don't misunderstand there are huge companies here, Nuon is our Energy supplier, Waternet is the city water supplier, they have IKEA...etc. However, by and large it feels much less like the entire nation is under the thumb of corporate presence.

12. No Mexican Food - If there is one thing that I miss it's Burritos. There is just not much that is really spicy here. As a red blooded American I have eaten about 10 to 20 thousand burritos and I sorely miss the eye watering spice easily available in the States. The comparable cuisine is the Donor Kabobs. Essentially, Holland has as many Gyro stands as the States have Burrito shops. Turkish Pizza Baby! It's pretty tasty.

Pictures here are of the zoo Artis, and of a longer ride we took with Addison along the Rhine - Canal. It goes from here all the way to Germany if you please. Addison's friend is Ferris, and the other father is Dishwasher Pete. Naturlijk we didn't get any pictures of animals at the zoo.

We were very lucky to get a snap of the ghost of Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, so I thought I'd do a Stones Classic

15 August 2008

Residency Permits

I returned from a trip to London and Amsterdam in February of 2007 half depressed. I had just had an amazing time, but the realization that I wasn't living in Amsterdam had me pretty blue overall. I told my wife, - I want us to live in Amsterdam.

-Yes, someday that would be nice- she said, patting me on the arm as I whined like a baby.

-No, I'm serious, let's leave tomorrow- I said.

-I'll go- She said, and 18 months later, nearly to the day, we now have Dutch Residency Permits for the whole family.

I'm really so proud of my family. Malia and Addison have shown tremendous spine in making this life changing dream a reality.

The new arrival of our longer term Residency Permits will surely help our stride.

As if that news can be topped, I also have a hockey tryout coming in October with Thor.

Looks like I'll have to send for my gear. Warning to the animals in the cargo hold that day - Remember your respirators -

Addison is back at school, and the whole family is having trouble adjusting to the new 'bedtime' schedule.

Here is a Modern Lovers jewel

04 August 2008

Floating Gay Pride Parade

They say that Amsterdam has the biggest Gay Pride Parade outside of the United States. It was certainly an extravagant and beautiful one. What is really amazing about it to me is that there are a lot of companies supporting their gay employees by sponsoring a float. See below for IBM, WaterNet (the water company), TNT Post (The Post Office). I have also heard that the police have a float some years.

Thanks to our buddy Shawn, we had front row seats atop his canal boot house on the Prinsengracht. What a sight!