Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Search Key Words and Phrases

From time to time, I delight in checking my site meter on how people stumbled into my virtual world. Surprisingly, a substantial number of my unknown visitors fortuitously rolled in here while on a search plight of some sexy holy grail key word/s via Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Many of these search words and phrases were actually funny, if not, wickedly hilarious. Because of this, Dutchman and I, now have a new enjoyable evening pastime...

Hah, kijk (look)! Someone is again looking for Pinay sex!”, exclaims the Dutchman as he grins ear to ear while raising his eyebrows trying to tease me.

Ah well, we Pinays plead guilty on being the most sought after female specie.” Well, are we actually?

Using the right key words can give good search results.

Since my blog entries cover various and extensive topics from the weakly dailies to the boldful tribune, thus the risk for the uncanny and perverted google’r and yahoo’er to crash land into my blog is pretty high.

Below are at least the 30 latest search key words and phrases, that I extracted randomly from my site meter statistics in the last few days. The most celebrated key word by the way (or subject matter!), is none other than the promiscuous 3 letter word, S-E-X.

1. Pinay Sex - This is the unprecendented mother of all search key phrase. It seems that someone is searching, all the time, for some Pinay type of sex. Yes, every single day. Pinayphiles people! (means a foreigner, usually caucasian, with sexual obsession and perversion on Filipinas)


2. Puke Pinay - This phrase means a Pinay’s vagina. I wonder what he (definitely a he, a Pinayphile of course) is up to?

3. Amsterdam Prostitutes - Let me guess, a horned future tourist.

4. Pickwick Tea - Must be working on a tea thesis.

5. Kasalikasan Gardens - A nice garden in Fort Bonifacio, Makati, Philippines where weddings and receptions are usually held.

6. Prostitution Europe Amsterdam - Another horned future tourist.

7. Starling - Agent Clarice Starling of Silence of the Lambs movie.

8. Chinese Mythology - I dont think I ever made an entry about this?

9. Euthanasia - Definitely Dutch but the Terry Shiavo case comes to mind.

10. Bebe Pana - The missing Filipina. She was found dead after disappearing for a few years. Her Dutch husband, a doctor, is currently on trial for her murder.

11. Pinay Sex Photo - I am quite sure this is a Pinayphile.

12. Dutch-Philippines - This looks like a normal search phrase.

13. Marijuana Foto Holland - A future stoned tourist.

14. Young Bodies Pinay - WTF? What about us 35 year old Pinay bodies?

15. Cebuano Big - Big what?

16. Spaniard Hairstyles - ???

17. Pinay Nudity - What else, another Pinayphile in search action!

18. Chateau de Busay - A fine dining restaurant in the hills of Cebu City, Philippines.

19. Flachspeuler - A German word for flat flusher toilet. Many are installed here in NL, especially with the older houses and buildings.

20. Medemblik fietsen - Medemblik biking, Medemblik is a town here in NL up north.

21. Pinay Vagina - Ah... finally, an English version of Puke Pinay. Damn, these Pinayphiles...

22. Café Havana Manila - A bar-café in Greenbelt, Makati, Philippines. Lots of expats, tourists, locals and well, hookers too that hang out in here.

23. Jersey Vacation - Jersey island in the U.K.

24. Pinay Sexuality - Hmm, I knew we Pinays are hot!

25. Leron Leron Sinta - A popular Filipino children’s song.

26. Panglao, Bohol - An island in the Philippines well known for diving and white sand beaches.

27. Europalaan Tippelzone - A prostitute pick-up zone (actually a street) here in Utrecht. This must be a horned local, I'm pretty damn sure.

28. (NAIA) Airport - Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines.

29. Pinay Sexual - OK, I know! I am hot!

30. America compared to Europe - Uh huh, *one eyebrow raised*


*************************
PS: I have new visitors today that landed in my blog using the following new search key words:

31. The Dutchman Blogspot London - Not Dutchman in Holland eh?


32. Walking the Dog - This is interesting.

33. Dutched Pinay - Ooops. No worries, I don't know you!

34. Pinay Sex - Well well, so many Pinayphiles out there! Grabe.

35. How to run, Dutch's Red Light Districht - OK, this one is strange? Help me out here?

36. Pinay Prostitutes - Definitely a severe case of Pinayphile. Real grabe na!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Travel Easter: Jersey (UK) & Amersfoort (NL)

JERSEY ISLAND (U.K. Channel Islands)

The Dutchman is finally back last Friday from the island of Jersey near the French border. Jersey, together with Guernsey, are a well-known off-shore banking havens (just like Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Carribean). The money making business is centrally located in the island's capital, St. Helier. And get this, be ready to be green with envy... the local citizenry pays a cut-rate flat tax of only 20%!

Dutchman brought with him some of the Jersey gorgeous scenes.
The weather worked in favor with him this time, so the captured panoramas were almost picture perfect.

1st Foto: The spectacular Mt. Orgueil Castle by the Gorey beach in Jersey 2nd Foto: A yacht haven in one of the villages with a picturesque view of the buildings along Jersey's coastline. Dutchman forgot the name of this place. I think this could be St. Aubin.

1st Foto: How the locals in Jersey island live, in St. Aubin. Posh eh? 2nd Foto: German bunker. The island was occupied by the Germans during the WWII and these bunkers were used to combat against the English.

Another nice view from on top, overlooking the yacht bay. Looks like the tropics with the palm trees!

He was also able to capture on camera the take off and landing of British Airways, Boeing 737. It’s just too bad that I do not have a server to store these and I could have posted the link here.

AMERSFOORT (The Netherlands)

Weekend was spent in this historic medieval town, Amersfoort. We were supposed to go to Maastricht down south but we slept too long, we woke up late. Going to Maastricht will be at least 2 hours, so instead, we decided to spend our time in gezellig (cozy) Amersfoort. The weather was not cooperating that well so the pictures are a bit dark and sober.

1st Foto: Inside the fortified Centrum on a busy Saturday, the street full of city shoppers on the go. The gate is called the Kamperbinnenpoort, which dates back in 1425. 2nd Foto: And here is the outside section of the Kamperbinnenpoort.

History said that this gate was part of the first defensive belt built by Amersfoort during the medieval ages. Too bad, the moat surrounding the walled Centrum is not seen in this picture.

1st Foto: A quaint street just a few meters outside the walled Centrum. 2nd Foto: A narrow street, which is quite typical in the old settlements of European cities, leads to a church tower called the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren (The Steeple of Our Lady). The tower was completed in 1480.


The Dutchman had to take these photos real fast because there were many bikers and passers-by!


And lastly me... captured by the Dutchman yesterday Saturday in Amersfoort. (French friend did the trick on these picture)






Thursday, March 24, 2005

SEX Educate ME!


Surfing on the internet on the Sex Education subject (now you know what I do during my spare time), I found a comparison study between the English and the Dutch Sex Education approaches in the classroom (for 14 and 15 year olds).

The whole article was a fascinating read. To read it, just CLICK HERE.


The English and the Dutch are neighbors but culturally they are extremely lodged apart. The way I see it, the English are more conservative in matters of sex than the Dutch.

I have read before that the Dutch is at the bottom list, garnering one of the lowest score (rate between 8.4-4.1 to a 1000 birth rates) in teenage pregnancy in Europe whilst the English scored on top (rate of 40 to 1000 birth rates). Hence the Dutch-English stark comparisons.

Here are some of the contentious items I have found in the study. It said that Dutch sex education is similar to the English sex education, but the subject on both ends is approached differently.

“In the Netherlands, politicians have tended to pass the issue of sex education over to professional sex educators and to charge them with building consensus and developing programs.”

I guess almost everything here in NL is on a political level. The government always wants to puts its nose on every nook. A major consolation is having an “open-minded” Dutch society. However, foreign observers tend to mistake “openness” for “permissiveness”, which was also pointed out in the study.

“The Dutch policymakers have accepted that sex has become separate from marriage, that marriage has become increasingly separated from parenthood, and that teenagers are sexually active.

Traditionalists are reluctant to acknowledge these changes, therefore making them difficult to address many central issues.”


Umm, this one is quite profound. This is what I call “Dutch pragmatism” at its finest. I think the Clogheads have lesser emotions, they can often times dissect a situation without feeling attached to it by using what they call a helicopter viewpoint (something like birds eye view).

Sex also clearly doesn't equal to marriage nor is marriage to parenthood. More and more couples, married, registered partnership or living together in NL do not yearn to have children. The figures are rising alarmingly. My colleague at work is one of them (and maybe us, hehe).

“Dutch care courses aim to “normalize” sex education and embed it in courses that focus on everyday living. Sex education is thus found alongside nutrition and bicycle repair. Because the Dutch have no problem acknowledging teenage sexual activity, their sex education materials put considerably more emphasis on understanding how relationships progress.”

Typical and practical. I may have to salute these cheeseheads for accepting the real issue and looking at them in very simple ways. No -ifs and no -buts. I know for a fact that many people and cultures, consider this type of discussion and activity as a complex and controversial piece, but them Dutch sees it as simple as counting 1-2-3. The focus is not geared on “sex” in itself, but towards the discussions of “responsibility” and “intimacy”.

“The central aim of Dutch programs is described as promoting “self reliance” and “mutual respect” rather than “self-esteem”.”

Another typical Dutch attitude, which I agree, and in fact, I can relate. The average Dutch is very “independent” or “self-reliant” than the average Caucasian. The Dutch women I find to be made of strong metamorphic rocks. They behave like men, lol.

Alongside, I enjoy the “privacy” and “mutual respect” here in the flatlands. You can’t be bothered of malice if you want to bask topless under the sun during summer, in the beach or at home, in your garden. Not that I would do this quintessential trend... but...

Colorful condoms, hanging on the clothes line just like any piece of laundry. Which color would you prefer? Or size?

“Dutch care classes focused on getting pupils to decide what they want before hand, on when to say yes as well as how to say no, and on how to behave responsibly.”

Or must you focus on saying no always even if the urge is great?

I believe that kids should be treated like adults, they should be given the choice to decide what they want. No one should enforce them to abstain or to have sex, instead, kids should be taught to act responsibly, regardless of whatever decision they take. That is the learning and the experience.

Words of wisdom: Whatever is forbidden, is always strong desired... and many times, against all odds.

“Dutch pupils tended to say that sex education is not really something a school should do, which may reflect the much greater responsibility by Dutch parents in this regard. Certainly more Dutch pupils spoke positively about the possibilities of discussing sex with their parents.”

Ah, I would in all honesty like to hear a discussion between a Dutch mother and her 15 year old daughter on the use of condoms. I wonder if the Dutch mother will tell her daughter which flavor is best?! Strawberry please, oh no… let’s have Vanilla, much cheaper, haha.

“Dutch children also tended to attribute teenage pregnancy mostly to drunkenness, but spoke pf this as something that happened to other people, not themselves.”

Actually, based on a poll I read awhile back, many of the teenage pregnancy incidents are from foreign women with Suriname and Antillean backgrounds (Dutch colonies).

“Dutch students were asked when is it right to have a sexual relationship. The response was wide and sophisticated with answers such as, “telling each other everything”, “liking the person for who they are”, “supporting each other”, and “being able to live your own life as well as being in the relationship”…. against to the preconditions of “when it feels right”, “love”, “trust”, and “commitment” reasoning.”

Once more, Dutch pragmatism... Now, can anyone tell why Dutch men (and women) are rated very low in the romantic department?

And in this study, should they, in all likelihood, always observe seriousness and objectivity when in the throes of passion? Or when they enter into a relationship, sexual or not?

In closing, the study arrived to this conclusion...

“Sex education is so controversial in the UK (or in many countries), that it is only considered “safe” to be positive about sex in course that promotes abstinence.

Yet responses of many pupils indicate that they regard sex as something illicit and dirty and have little understanding or appreciation of healthy intimate relationships. The focus continues to be on "prevention" and "sex as danger”, whereas the Dutch manage to present sex in a much more normal and positive way.”


Now, I am really interested to sit in these Care classes, hehe.

If you are 21 years old and below, you can avail of free contraceptive pills in the Netherlands. They used to have these pills inclusive in the health insurance for women across different ages up until a few years ago. They stopped the freeloads and only teenagers can get them now for free.

Acknowledgments: Excerpts/quotes above are from the study of Dr. Jane Lewis – Professor of Social Policy at the University of Oxford (UK) and Dr. Trudie Knijn – Associate Professor at the University of Utrecht (NL) on the comparison of Dutch and English sex education in the classroom.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Are you my Mother or Father?


I guess the whole world know that the Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriages. But many people do not know that this controversial and divisive policy had to struggle through a historical dispute and debate in chambers of the Dutch parliament. Despite the liberal attitudes espoused by many Dutch, the ratification of this policy into law produced negative sentiments amongst the conservatives in the country.

And once more, the flatland has put itself in the frontier of the changing times...

“A new law, still in preparation, will make it possible for same-sex couples in the Netherlands to adopt foreign children. Although Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner says it will change little in practice, the political parties behind the new law want to put an end to this form of 'discrimination' sooner rather than later.

Under current legislation, same-sex couples in the Netherlands can adopt, but only children born and living in the country. They are not eligible to adopt foreign children, although one partner in such a couple may do so on an individual basis. The adopted child then has just one legal parent.”

A quote from Star Bulletin.


I have not yet met a gay couple with a kid here, well just not yet... though I have seen these families featured on the TV a couple of times. They, surprisingly just like other families, look like they live normal lives. But I am quite curious to learn about the positive and negative consequences experienced by the kid being brought up by a same sex Mom or Dad?

Because individualism, respect, and tolerance, are encouraged and harped in the Dutch society, I presume the kids involved in these relationships will face less bullying incidents --- though I am not totally ruling this out. Bullies are everywhere anyway, they even thrive on the internet and age doesn’t limit them to 10 years old. Needless to say, at least here in NL, having same a sex mom and dad is not a cloak-and-dagger situation.

And like any western country, adoption here is a big challenge. There are barely children given up year after year for adoption. The waiting list is an exasperating long queue. So couples seek quick remedy to their familial desires by looking into countries in the poorer regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. But for same sex couples, it seems to be a gridlock, well at this early stage, to adopt foreign kids.

“At the moment, according to our information, there's not one country which allows children to be adopted by foreign same-sex couples […] In that sense, there's a risk that it'll turn out to be a bit of an empty gesture.” – Dutch Justice Minister Donner said.


To read the whole article, click here: RADIO NETHERLANDS

An advice to foreign people: Do not ever
attempt to understand how a cloghead thinks.

They are true pragmatists at heart, in mind, and in actions.
Ah, love them Dutch ---sometimes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Merry weather, it stinks!


“16 MARCH, AMSTERDAM — As the mercury rose this week following extreme snow and cold, Dutch meteorology bureau KNMI said the extreme temperature changes witnessed this month have never been repeated in official statistics.

In just 12 days time, the temperature rose from a March record of minus 20.7 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees plus. KNMI weatherman Harry Geurts has said the situation is -very unique-.”

Read Expatica for the full story: From cold to warm it sure is strange

It’s not at all “unique”, it is bloody strange! While walking outside earlier, I felt suddenly warm with my 2 layered clothing + leather coat + wool scarf + hand gloves. But when I came in and checked the temperature, it was actually a freaking 14C outside. I remember last year that during this time it is usually between 3C to 9C, but nothing like 14C!

A typical postcard of Holland, cows and windmill in the fields. These cows are to be blamed for the powerful malodor!

Another thing I noticed today is the stinking smell of manure enveloping the flatlands.
Don't breathe in, just breathe out.

Coming home from work, I had to pass through all these miniature and gigantic farms, thus I had to survive the long agony of a stinking journey. In Holland, the countrysides and the cities are only a few kilometers apart. The heavy nauseating odor then travels countryside to city to countryside to city.

I remember back in Cebu, in a town down south, there is a barrio called Barrio Baho (Stinky town). The whole settlement smells like a rotten pig sty. When we pass by the area, which is about a full 10 minutes speed ride, we would quickly grab for something to cover our noses. The stench was so powerful and deadly that it permeates even with the sealed windows and blasting aircon.

Here is the funny thing though, the Dutchman actually likes the smell because he says: it is typically Dutch thus very Holland. I was like --- Huh? You got to be kidding, it smells like someone just pooped! The whole country smells like shit, like a toilet. Anyone send us a plane full of air freshener? Please?!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Internet Banking


- Gone are the days when you physically have to uproot yourself from where you are and submit to queue-dom for at least 30 minutes just so you can withdraw, deposit, or transfer funds.

- Gone are the days of waiting your check to be cleared in 3 working days. (Is this still practiced in the Philippines and in other countries?)

- Gone are the days of paying the monthly bills manually and filling up those droning payment slips.


And here’s my favorite: Gone are the balancing checkbook days!

PHILIPPINE ERA

I really loathed the checkbook culture. I do not have the numbers aptitude, I am numbers challenged, and I hate balancing figures.

What I typically do with my finances before is I create a spread sheet excel file where I write in my monthly expenses and savings. I have a column of: saving account 1, saving account 2 and checking account and all the other details of each transaction. With this, it was easy for me to monitor everything but I hated the task.

I banked with 2 banks, Citibank (my personal account) and China Trust (company salary comes in here). The reason why I took Citibank was, a. because of the ease to transact as I work also in the Citibank building b. because of my Citibank Mastercard credit card, I can transfer payment online, fast and efficient.


I also had other fixed utilities to pay and here comes Mang Dick, our always lively office messenger, a real sweetheart. He took care of all my utility payemnts, i.e., cable TV, telephone, manual bank transfers, etcetera with full discretion. I guess I was manually pampered by the system there.

And now, THE DUTCH WAY

A check-less and checkbook-less society. Since checks do not exist in NL, it is best to adapt the online banking system than doing it by post mail or manually going to the bank.

Everything is just a click away, online and real time. I kind of like that and I think I am getting spoiled.

The identifier, an online banking hardware tool to verify the identity of the consumer.


Interpay I believe is the organization that makes all these things possible, at least partially. They act as the automated clearing house of all banks and financial institutions in the country. Through structured cooperation and standardization of advanced technology and infrastructure, banking and commerce made payment transactions secured and easy as 123.

Paying bills (utilities, medical bills, leisure bills, whatever bills ---reminds me of Destiny Childs’ BILLS song, hehe), you simply just follow the standard steps:

(1) Go to the bank site.

(2) Log in by typing in your primary bank account number and your password.
(3) Take out the identifier, insert your card, type in your password and a series of numbers will appear on the identifier screen.
(4) Type the numbers that appear in the identifier screen on the box required in the online banking site.

(5) Voila, you are inside your account portfolio.
(6) You can then begin to transact.
(7) When executing transactions, the online banking system will ask again further security measures per transaction through the use of the identifier.
(8) When you are done, do not forget to log out.

I guess without the identifier, security with banking online would be far too dangerous.


The concept behind this is: You must physically have your bank card and this tiny piece of equipment to access your online account or portfolio. The combination and use of both gives trust both to the consumer and the bank.

I am in IT but I can be quite obtuse when talking about mathematical formulas and equations. The Dutchman explained to me that the technology behind the identifier is some kind of programmed logarithm that corresponds exclusively with the bank card. Every output it gives is unique to every consumer.

I remember before, when I was transacting with Citibank using the online banking system in the Philippines, the only security measure the system asks when logging in is a measly password against my bank account number.

Now I realized the risk. Goodness heavens, there are so many hackers in the cyberworld. My password in fact was only a 4 digit number!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Utrecht Centrum, on a gloomy Saturday


Our leg muscles could do some exercising this weekend, so off we went to the Centrum.

Upon arriving, Dutchman quickly told me that he will be in Mediamarkt. He wants to buy a case for the new Fuji camera (uh huh, finally we bought one). So I left him and went browsing the open market stalls in the square. I would have loved to take pictures of the olives and cheese stands but the camera was with the Dutchman, perhaps some other time I will.


Dutch candies called snoep (or snoepen, or snoepjes). They are seldom sold by pack in candy stalls unless you buy them in the supermarket. Here you buy it per 100 grams, and you can have all the variety you want!

We thought the candies looked nice because of the colors.

It was not really a beautiful day, the weather was very Dutch – rain showers, windy, cold, grey and gloomy.

After Mediamarkt and the open market, we met again and proceeded to the direction of Neude. Unfortunately, our favorite cafe, the Café Le Journal was full. The waitress told us it might take another 15 minutes before a seat is available, so we decided to leave and look for another café.

We followed the other road going to the heart of the Centrum, and this is what greeted us...

The gothic styled Dom Tower built in the 13th century is connected by a nave to a Romanian styled cathedral. Notice the bad weather in the foto.

The Dom was built in the periods between 1321 and 1382. Around 1674, a hurricane hit the city, and the nave connecting the tower to the cathedral was destroyed. Reconstruction began but the nave was not part of the plan(?). Up to this day, the tower (with the bells and the clock), stands solitary, all by itself, apart from the cathedral. The Utrechters think its unique for the Dom to be separate from the church.

The café Dutchman had in mind was this cozy place called Graaf Floris, located by the Vismarkt which is very near to the Dom, just a stone's throw away, and its specialty is the appelbol (apple ball).

Taken from the back of the buildings facing the canal… enchanting, aren’t they? I love its mystery look. I can easily be brought back to the medieval times just by staring at them. These striking emaciated buildings are now commercial trendy shops.

The Vismarkt used to be a fish market square in the old days, now it is transformed into a pleasant shopping area. I took a picture of the aged rustic buildings facing the cafe, all dated back in the medieval period.

So we had our fill. I had my coffee and the Dutchman had his cappuccino. I guess anything warm on a rainy and windy day is always good.

*Sigh* I love weekends... I wish everyday is weekend.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Cycle me away...


Most people have this picture-perfect fantasy illustration of Holland: Blonde maidens with milky white complexions carrying huge chunks of cheese and wearing the traditional Dutch garb matched with bright yellow wooden shoes on their feet, and their backdrop would be a 16th century old charming windmill nestled in the midst of a vast field blanketed in multi-colored tapestry of fresh tulips.

Ah, such drama, so fairytale-like it seems. Blame the post cards!

But let’s get real, okay. If we say, we ask a Dutch person what he or she thinks that primarily represents Holland, then I am pretty sure that amongst the top 3 answers would be a fiets (bicycle).


The topography of the Netherlands is amazingly flat. Seeing the horizon from afar is of little challenge and in fact the Dom Tower here in Utrecht, boasts of spotting the capital city, Amsterdam, which is about 45 kilometers away. Imagine that. That is how flat the country is.

Another interesting feature of this country is how low it can go. About 60% of the population lives below sea level and a large section of the land is vulnerable to flooding catastrophes. Thanks to Dutch ingenuity in pioneering water and dike technology, this country can sleep soundly without having to worry of drowning in their dreams!

Furthermore, there are no mountains in this part of the globe. The highest known point, located in the south border, somewhere in Maastricht (a convivial place said to exude the Burgundean lifestyle), is supposedly an oversized hill.


Also, in a survey I read a couple of months ago, the total bike population of the country is calculated twice as the Dutch populace (of +17 Million), ergo there are about +/- 40 Million bicycle in the Netherlands.


So if we do the arithmetic: Flat land + Low land = Easy Terrain = Bike

Typisch Nederlands (Typical Dutch) shopping with the fiets (bike) after work. Notice the grocery bag, the flowers and the little dog, all sitting in the wooden case. Cute!

A good example of a Dutch traditional event that portrays the bike culture, that can also be seen live on TV every 3rd Tuesday of September in The Hague (the seat of government), is the Prinsjesdag, the day when the queen announces to the Dutch people the plans of the government for the next year.


On this special day, the parliament mediator (that is the Minister of Justice) cycles to the palace in his bike [no cars, no limousines, he must as per Dutch tradition arrive in a bike!] to visit the queen. Once he reaches the front porch of the palace, he gets off and his bike will be taken away by the royal valet service.

Really charming eh?

But quite funny, as here I am, thinking, that biking is either: a. for sport b. for exercise and c. for pleasure. I guess all of the above are wrong then!

Well biking is indeed a part of the culture and lifestyle in this country. Most of the Dutch treat the bike as their everyday partner in life and I now strongly believe that a great number of the locals are hallucinating on being married or legally partnered to their bikes. I’m not kidding! You will only know the gravity of this statement once you lived here.

Okay as an example, here it is. The clog heads literally go everywhere with their bikes, such as to the post office, to the supermarket, to the theater, to the park, to visit family and friends, to work, to just about wherever. Talk about bikepedemic in this country, he-he. And because of such devotion, they treat their bikes with extra TLC [tender, loving and care]. Upon leaving the bike in the fietsenstalling (bike stalls), they would lock it 2x, some even 3x, which simply means they have 2 or 3 padlocks chained to it.

Why is this so?

Bikenapping is popular in Holland and the last drop of gossip I have heard in the grapevine is that, the criminal act has totally gone out of control. It is now the country’s number 1 hottest crime, LOL.


ADVANTAGES of BIKING:

HEALTHY. For health conscious individuals, what more can you ask for? Exercise and mode of transport to work or school are rolled into one task. Either you see it as multi-tasking, a healthy treat or efficiency at its finest.

CHEAP. A normal bike costs between € 120 and € 300. If you buy a tweede hands (second hand) from a junkie, you might get it between € 20 and € 50. You also save gas. Think simple, think along the lines of conserving energy.

EASY. Well biking is noticeably easy because of the flat terrain. You can bike leisurely while chirping together with the birds and not have to worry about climbing a mound or a hill.

FAST & HANDY. Streets in Europe, mainly in the Centrum are very narrow and small. So with the bike, you can maneuver yourself easy and fast, than say, driving a car. Even the Police, they ride in bikes in the Centrum when doing surveillance rounds. Brilliant eh.

SAFE. Bikers are treated with royalty. The Netherlands is the only country in the world that has a massive road infrastructure dedicated to bikes, approximately a total of 15,000 kilometers. The bikers not only have their own special lanes, they also have their own special traffic lights and in most rotundas they have the priority. When I first saw this, I was floored.

Another typisch Nederands (typical Dutch), a mother on the bike flanked in front and at the back with her two kids.

And lastly… The bike is the KING OF THE ROAD. It doesn’t really matter if you came from the left or right... front or back... up or down, if something happens to a biker against another moving vehicle, the fault is, helaas, always on the latter.


DISADVANTAGES of BIKING:


RAIN. When it rains, doggone, no choice but to pedal faster to reach target destination! Since Holland is a drizzle country, one would think that wearing a raincoat would be practical while biking. Well not really. I see a lot of cheese heads in their normal clothing, come rain, snow or sunshine, and when it really pours, many of them can be seen with an umbrella on one hand whilst cycling. If you ask me, I haven’t mustered that technique yet, nor would I even dare to try.

WIND. Ack, blustery weather, as always! You will be lucky if the wind is pushing you from behind your back, but if you are cycling against the wind? Drat, you are in for a hike. Get down on that bike and walk. Or, just do it, go ahead and fight with the wind, but I warn you, it will be like climbing a steep hill with a 500 kilo bike to push.

WINTER. It is cold, bbbrrrr…. and wet… and what more, slippery. But like what I have said above, come summer, spring, autumn and winter, the Dutch cycles away. I however have a sweet excuse and say, “Ik ben niet een Nederlander hoor!” (I am not Dutch huh!)

So now, what can we conclude with this bike phenomenon?


If, you do not own a bike, then you do not live in the Netherlands. And if, you do live here and you don’t own one, then shame on you! What are you waiting for? Get a bike or get deported! ;-)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Pushing the right CV buttons


*Sigh* - My current job doesn’t force me to kick those warm duvets out of the bed and out of the way in the early mornings of 6:30… the plea is just not there, instead I cower and submit to my unjustifiable desires. How difficult life can be? Needless to say, I am starting to really feel tired. In fact I should not blog this, I think.

I work as a Sales Manager in a Dutch IT company. The pay is alright but I am reaching to the point of squeezing the last nerve of patience for this job. I need something that fits my personality, that will keep my talents chiseled, my knowledge growing, my experience enriched, my ideals tested, and myself happy.

I think its time to look for greener pastures… (Darn, what took you so long?! *slaps face*)

I have been staring at my CV (Curriculum Vitae, this is how they call the Resume here in Europe) for hours like I am looking into a jumbled entry and suddenly I see nothing but only a white tunnel starting to slowly spin, then faster, more faster, until such that I am caught in a timeless spinning circle of daydreaming.


“Will you stay dreaming, or will you do something?” – An advert of ABN-AMRO Bank I saw in a magazine.

My CV is okay but I want it to have better impact and presentation. So I went to Expatica and reviewed the rules of this serious CV business. One of the new articles I found on the site was this:


The Modern CV: Beware of Clichés
(click this to read the article)

The research says that many job seekers are parroting back the criteria that employers themselves have defined in their job advertisements. In short, job seekers are doing the cut and paste method.

Top 10 CV Clichés Percentages

1. Communications Skills – 35%
2. Team Player – 28%
3. Project Management Skills – 27%
4. Results orientated – 25%
5. People Management Skills – 24%
6. Creative – 23%
7. Meet deadline – 22%
8. Motivated – 21%
9. Thrive on challenges – 20%
10. Organisational skills – 17%

Top 10 Job Ad stock Phrases Percentages

1. Communication Skills – 41%
2. People Management Skills – 35%
3. Creative – 30%
4. Strategic – 23%
5. Project Management Skills – 22%
6. Team Player – 19%
7. Commercial Knowledge – 19%
8. Leadership Skills – 18%
9. Negotiation Skills – 18%
10. Analytical – 17%

The advise: Get -Up Close- and PERSONAL. Do not just use overstated highfalluting business terms, but get real and be personal with it.

And to proceed to the main meat of this discussion...

How to Create a Culturally Correct CV
(click this to read the article)

I will be summarizing the points made in this editorial which I believe is geared for expatriates looking for a job outside of their country of birth or origin.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Find out about the company, i.e., their business, their corporate values, their competitors, who is interviewing you, and so on. You can use Google too.

Also, those forceful “cover letters” or “motivation letters” or “letters of interest” to accompany the CV can also make wonders in the convincing department.

LENGTH: It must be at least 2 pages. No ifs and buts. HR professionals read hundreds of CV’s in a day so why do you think they will read a 4 page CV of yours? Do not play a joke on them.

FORMAT: How do you want it? Chronological or reverse-chronological order? Attaching a photo in the CV is not always a good idea as they can lead to issues against race, color, or beauty discrimination(lol). Well unless you are applying for a stewardess position, or perhaps an actress, or wait, a bar girl, hehe. I guess a photo should suffice.

EDUCATION: Please give a background of your education and what it is all about other than just stating the degree you graduated. A university degree in NL takes at least 6 years while in other countries it is only 4 years.

If you are a professional with experience, a one or two liner about your education should be adequate.

LANGUAGE: Ah, my weakness and frustration. In mainland Europe, an average professional speaks at least 3 languages: the local country language, English and another EU language. I only speak the damn English fluently!!!

Anyway, have your CV done in English and also in the local language of the country you are in (such as Dutch for me, but I never do this!).

ACCURACY: Do not forget that Bill Gates has incorporated the “Word Spell Checker” into the Microsoft Office. Make use also of a “Human Spell and Grammar Checker”, your partner or your friend can be handy.

DELIVERY: Email is the trend but the article advised to send a follow-up copy of your CV by post mail. Hmm, I wonder if that is really needed.

Be careful also of the paper standards. In Europe A4 size is used, unlike in the US, its 8.5 x 11 inches.

Friday, March 04, 2005

-20C and Dutch Cabarets


GREET ME with SNOW

Instead of a promising spring, March greeted us with a heavy downfall of snow. The whole of north Europe is blockaded in majestic sheath of whiteness. The temperature has dropped tremendously too. Last night (Thursday), the lowest point was a freezing -20.6C! BBRRRR...

Such a cute pair!Foto by Gerrit Waterlander of NU.nl

DUTCH CABARET

My first Dutch Cabaret experience was last Tuesday. Dutchman and I, together with another couple (Dutchman’s colleague) watched this cabaret show somewhere in Rembrandtplein, Amsterdam. In the English dictionary, cabaret means: floor show, a series of acts... but in Holland it means: stand-up comedy show.

I did not really mind that the whole show was in Dutch but since I just arrived fresh from my Madrid trip the other night, yeah at 1AM(!), and went straight to work the next day, I was not in my best night-out mood. I felt like a walking zombie.

Well, throughout the show, Dutchman kept elbowing me; I was dozing on and off! Geez ha-ha! The minuscule theater was so dark; I felt helplessly lethargic sitting in there. My eye vision dazed, wherever I look, everything just turns into circles of blurry images and if I try to fight back the urge to close my eyes and sleep, I become cross-eyed.

The Cabaretier, Eric van Muiswinkel in his act, “The Antiquriaat Oblomow” in De Kleine Comedie Theater in Amsterdam. We were sitting from the balcony where Dutchmans colleague took the picture. Notice how dark it is?

Additionally, the two stand-up comedians were speaking in some kind of modern Dutch Byzantine language. A beginner in Dutch like me could not handle all these complexities.

(1) Typical Dutch Sayings or Expressions --- Huh? What did you say again?
(2) They were imitating popular Dutch figures in the society --- Who did you say you said who?

YAWN. YAWN. YAWN. So very bad of me but I was glad it was over.

We then proceeded to this bar that looked like a 1970’s nightclub. The interior was too ritzy; the floor carpet and furnitures were covered up in shocking red velvet. I can't seem to remember which woke me up: the warm cup of cappuccino or the violating red interior?

Resolution: Spice up my Dutch, learn the Dutch Proverbs, watch more TV and the next time I go to a Dutch cabaret, I promise I will not sleep!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

White Holland


It has been snowing like cats and dogs here since yesterday!

We were in Amsterdam last night to watch this Cabaret (Stand up Comedy Show) and boy was I pissed because I forgot my hat *again* at home. I hate having snow on my hair. All my blow drying effort went down the drain. Hrmp.

And as a result of the heavy deluge of snow, heavy traffic today raped the highways, trains were late, some didn’t even run. But kids love it, and so did my colleagues at work. Breaks were spent throwing snowballs at each other. Watchout hehe.

So here are some pictures of White Holland today...

Langlaufen in het centrum van Amsterdam – by Bastiaan Schönhage

Is someone lost country-skiing in the heart of Amsterdam? Hello... this is not the Alps meneer (mister), haha. I guess this guy is grabbing every snow chance to his advantage, as it seldoms snow like this in the Netherlands. Well go for it!

1st Foto: Terrasje pikken op de Nieuwmarkt - by Michiel Bontenbal. 2nd Foto: Shetlanders in de Drentse sneeuw - by S. Boerma.

Nieuwmarkt, Amsterdam is one of my favorite scenic places. And ah, the shetland ponies are enjoying the snow in Drenthe. Patty Braad, a Dutch actress says that Patricia Paay, another Dutch actress and glamour icon here, looks like a shetland pony, lol.

1st Foto: De kou trotseren in de Zaanstreek - by Eline Kleibrink. 2nd Foto: Medemblik bedolven onder dikke laag sneeuw - Lex Salverda.

This is what I call Dutch Culture --Unadulterated. The clogheads are die-hard bikers, they will pedal push themselves to wherever oblivion is. It doesn’t really matter what season it is, come spring, summer, fall, and certainly winter! And a typical charmant Dutch village, under siege with thick snow. Prachtig (beautiful)...

Photos courtesy of NU.nl and you can find more snow fotos Snow Fotos.
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