Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Promoting Pedestrianism?

I have a really lousy sense of direction. Which means that pretty much every time I attempt to go anywhere in Amsterdam, I get lost. This might also have something to do with the facts that I am walking everywhere because I haven't yet figured out the public transportation system here and that I refuse to rent a bike (which seems to be how most people here get around) because of an unfortunate childhood arm-breaking biking incident. Anyhow, I am enjoying walking, which I don't get very much of in L.A. (I may sometimes drive to the Coffee Bean that is down the block from my apartment.)

I do, though, count being able to navigate New York City as part of the definition of a real New Yorker (also on this list—for women, at least—is being able to stand on the subway in heels without holding onto anything). So, I laugh at this initiative that implies NY-ers need better signs in order to get around The City. If you want to put up better signs that will prevent annoying tourists from wandering around looking confused and getting in the way, then great, but don't say that real New Yorkers need these signs, too.

I should admit that I needed to link to that article, in part, to point out the use of the word pedestrianism, which is a pretty awesome, if flashy, word.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Deep Thoughts: The Amsterdam Edition

I've only been in Amsterdam two and a half days and am mostly just struggling to get over my jet lag before I start classes tomorrow, but some random thoughts on this new city I have begun exploring:

  • The thing about old, quaint (although quaint might be the wrong word to describe a city where marijuana and prostitution are legal and where there are live-performance sex shows) cities is the cobblestone. Now, don't get me wrong. I love cobblestone. I think it gives character. I was severely disappointed by the lack of cobblestone on the Harvard campus when I visited Boston in May. But heels. Cobblestone hates heels. And when you get lost in a cobblestoned city for an hour and a half and roam around, well, your heels suffer. Let's just say shoe repair is on my list of things to do when I get back to L.A.
  • Things I love: my universal voltage hair straightener. I wasn't too worried about my laptop or my camera or my iPod or my Kindle (yes, I caved, but more on that later), but I was terrified that I might have to go two and a half weeks without straight hair in Amsterdam. But luckily, my magical hair straightener that I can use on wet hair can also be used on European voltage.
  • Now, I know about this whole globalized world thing, so I wasn't surprised to see Burger King, H&M (which, like in America, plays annoyingly loud music), and Tommy Hilfiger. But I was surprised by the Color Me Mine around the corner from my hotel. Of all brands to cross international borders and the Atlantic Ocean, the pottery-painting chain had made that jump? Really?
  • Little old Jewish women are the same everywhere. A woman who barely spoke English came up to me in shul and without introducing herself or asking my name felt the need to tell me that she has a 32-year-old son studying in the Mir and promptly tried to set us up. 

A Further Proof that NY-ers Don't Learn Geography

Either that or it's a genetic thing. When I play Trivial Pursuit, People & Places is one of my worst categories, but even I'm better than my 9-year-old brother:

Me: Guess where I am.
My 9-year-old brother: In L.A.
Me: Nope. In Amsterdam.
My 9-year-old brother: So you're close.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Baked Goods: Or What I've Been Doing on Summer Vacation

Shavuot cheesecake: double-layered mocha, pumpkin, and cookies 'n cream cupcakes. 

 Graduation cupcakes.