Thursday, November 5, 2009

Starship Ken-Boldly going.....

Holland, the final frontier.  These are the voyages of Starship Ken. My 8 month mission (so far) to explore Nederland. To seek out new Dutch Lifestyles and Dutch Civilization, to boldly go where only brave and those looking for a challenge have gone before.

Log 1- I have lost track but if my estimates are correct it is day 4,382 of rain

Log 2- My guide (Mrs. Wytske-Dutch Teacher) has bravely embarked on teaching me to tell time.  This simple earthling task of saying 9:20 is not so easy in the Nederland.  It is said "tien voor half tien" translated that means it is ten minutes till half way till 10. (That is 9:20)  I have found it is better to say "I don't know the time"

Log 3- The Dutch do not stand in line. This is important to know for your survival. If you ever hope to get to an ATM Machine or buy groceries you must be aggressive and know there is no semblance of order. (This just drives me crazy!) Each ATM, each registrar, each bathroom stall has its own sort of line.  People do not wait on a first come first served basis.  This scenario has been the cause of the few negative "altercations" I have encountered with the Dutch Natives.

Log 4- I have been adapting to the Dutch customs.  I have all but given up on my version of breakfast. A typical Dutch breakfast (if it occurs at all) is coffee, bread and butter, with Gouda cheese and chocolate sprinkles. In fact recently there was an event I saw on the news to encourage Dutch children the importance of breakfast. Several famous Dutch Ice Speed Skaters had chocolate sprinkles with children at schools. I have fantasized about bringing the International House of Pancakes or a Dennys franchise to Nederland people but I know it would go out of business.

Log 5- It is still raining

Log 6 - The Dutch love animals.  I am doing my best to be aware of eating organic, free ranged animal product.  I am learning that pigs are smart. I am learning to not have the instinct to kill a fly, or spider. I have mastered the catch and release (with the use of a cup) of any bug that I find in my Dutch dwelling. EXCEPT I have set my foot  (or clog) down when it comes to Mosquitoes.  Dutch Mosquitoes are a very aggressive and durable species. They must breed in all those canals.  Winter does not seem to phase them. I am an American who kills Dutch Mosquitoes.  I vow I will do this anywhere I live.  

Log 7- My bike training (the Dutch required mode of transportation). I have gotten better.  I have had good bike days and then have I have had some bad ones. I now know to never bike on a street parallel to the trolley car tracks.  Bike wheels are just small enough to fall into the track.  When this happens you come to a screeching halt.  And if by chance only your front tire gets caught you get jack knifed forward and fly into the air and fall head first onto the street.  I sustained no visual injuries (mainly due to the fact that, at present, I am the slowest bicyclist in Holland (out of fear)) but it was a frightening experience that I only needed to have once and I guarantee I will never NEVER do that again. I only wish I had been warned.

Log 8- Other than this blog one other form of communication back to Mother America is the post. In Nederland it is known as TNT.  My first visit to a TNT office was amazing.  It was beautiful, like going to a new Starbucks but for mail. They were so friendly and full of smiles.  Everything was orange and there were fresh flowers and Dutch TNT employees walking around to assist you!  Now as time has progressed I have found that a letter leaving Holland generally takes about 3- 45 days to make its destination. A package with a tracking number for the US Postal Services is traceable UNTIL it reaches Holland. Then TNT says Customs has it, but Customs says no TNT handles that and then when I call TNT back they say well we do not know right now because we have a computer glitch with our connection to Customs, and when I inquire how long it will take to fix that glitch they said it has been a glitch since last December. I say well that is not a glitch that is a permanent error, then the TNT representative suddenly does not speak good English.  When I confronted my TNT "mailman" he says he knows nothing about packages but he is sooooo sorry and he has a lovely friendly smile.  The next day when I ask him more questions that I had prepared for himall night in hopes of trapping him into giving me ANY info he again just smiles, says is very sorry, he knows nothing and then hands me our mail. When I close the door in frustration I look at the mail HE GAVE ME THE MAIL FOR A HOUSE DOWN THE STREET!  I was officially going postal!  No not postal ... TNT was making me want to explode. That is why they call it TNT they want to make you explosively angry!  I get it now.... so I may have written some of you a letter and it could be there in a few days or sometime in the next few months.  

Log 9- I find myself eating more and more Chocolate Sprinkles. They are good comfort food when you are angry, on a rainy day or when you are recovering from a bike injury.


  1. Oh dear, you are really in the swing of integration now whether you like it or not :) You've hit on all the same things that once shocked the crap out of me. With the exception of animals- I'm a vegetarian and find this one of the most un-vegetarian places I've ever been :( I've been asked if chicken or fish is okay countless times.

    And the trolley tracks? Had that unfortunate experience 2x!

  2. The chocolate sprinkles are good on bread with peanut butter. In fact, I might go have some now.

    I raised my fist in solidarity when I saw your time entry. I've been ranting about that (particularly the 20 after times) recently, too. I thought the French were bad with making you do lots of match when counting, but they're rank amateurs compared to the Dutch. Right now it's something like vijf achter half drie ... plus three divided by the square root of pi times the gravitation pull of the third ring of Saturn.

  3. I love you. You make me smile every day.

  4. Ken....I love this blog. And God isn't that the truth when it comes to TNT mail....Love you and miss you!!

  5. Don't get me started on TNT. Too many times I've had to tell our Dutch Customers "Well, USPS says it was delivered, but TNT shows that it went from Den Hague to Paris to somewhere in the Ukraine, then came back, but now the status is 'geen record gevonden' and 'No, I don't know why, ask your mailman..."

    At last it's not quite as bad as the mail service in Italy, in which everything disappears for months. But you will have to mail me some of these chocolate breakfast sprinkles. Not that I'll get them any time soon, but it's worth a shot...