Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why it's good to live in Minneapolis!

What I miss most- by Erica Caligiuri

Surprisingly, I miss a lot of things that are Minneapolis specific vs. US specific.
Restaurants:
- Hell's Kitchen, Pittsburgh Blue, D'Brian's, Origami, Potbelly (ok, one chain), Punch, Hardee's (ok, two chains), Caribou (strike three)

Free refills- vote #2

Dryer- vote #2

Q-Tips- vote #2 ... Instead they have "Baby Tips" that are all fat. I suppose they do this so you don't stick them in your ear. Naughty, naughty, everybody knows you're not supposed to do that! But, does anybody use q-tips for any other reason, let's be honest. I'm not allowed to stick a q-tip in my ear, but I'm allowed to smoke a joint outside of city hall (or outside of the sex shop which is located 5 feet from city hall.)

Cheap cosmetics- all of my normal brands are overpriced here

The ability to watch clips from Bravo TV (I get this nasty message that I'm not allowed because I'm outside the US. I still pay US taxes, aren't Bravo viewing privileges included in that hot mess? Obama, McCain, are you hearing me?!)

Williams-Sonoma- Nick missed the oven because he operates under the illusion that we used to cook often. I miss Williams-Sonoma and the related fantasies that I would start cooking as soon as I purchased a $50 turkey baster and $100 copper bowl.

Banking- I don't have any banking beefs, other than the stupid plastic thing (size of a small calculator) that you need to carry around to access your account online. But I do have a funny banking story:

It's not common for Dutch women to change their last names when they get married. So when Nick and I were opening bank accounts, they first assumed we were brother and sister because we look young and share a last name. Once we said we were married, the client service rep said, "Wait, you're both Caligiuri." He got a really odd look on his face, and I could tell that he was trying to suppress his judgment about our incestuous relationship. (I cleared this issue up immediately, so Nick would not be dishonored and have to forfeit my dowry.)

Why its good to live in the United States!

We have now lived in The Netherlands for nearly four months, and I think that I have sufficient experience of adapting to a different culture. With that being said, I would like to remind everyone living in the U.S. how good they actually have it.

What I Miss Most
by Nick Caligiuri

I think it best to start off with the simple luxuries in life, that even I took for granted:

Ice: Yeah, a very simple concept, you freeze water in a little tray and it makes your drinks cold.
Nope, not here. You are lucky if you get maybe three cubes, in your soda pop, and even luckier
that they didn't charge you for it!

Refills: Speaking of that nice warm soda you are drinking, what if you wanted some more. "Oh, Im sorry
you have to buy another bottle!" Because they don't have soda fountains here, and the bottle
you did buy was only 20 cL (which is like two drinks).

Pop choice: All you Pepsi brand pop lovers, stay the heck away from Europe. Forget about trying to
find a Mountain Dew or Wild Cherry Pepsi, because if you are lucky enough to even find
Pepsi... Hooray! You're in a Kentucky Fried Chicken :-(

Free Water: Suprisingly France is nicer about making you not pay for water than The Netherlands!

Fast Food: I often miss a quick Hardees breakfast sandwich, or a midnight Monster burger. You have two options here: McDonalds or Burger King. And forget about getting anything with beef, you are best to get chicken options. Also, Erica has it figured out, you need to ask for your sandwich "without" something, like onions. Otherwise you can be pretty sure your sandwich has been sitting there waiting for you since lunch time!

Q-tips: It is so hard to find these useful things. The ones I did find are too big to even fit into the small hole of my ear, making them utterly useless. I guess ill keep using my keys!

How about some household things you can be sure that I am missing:

Dryer: Oh god, do I miss the small stackable dryer I had back at home. It may have only held five things, but it beats carrying soaking wet clothes across the house to your clothing line. I got an idea, lets not have any dryers so that people have to hang their clothes dry, in a country that it rains 300 days a year. Hang on to your dryers!

Oven: Solution, never cook anything. Eat lots of pasta. Go out to dinner 4 nights a week.

A/C: Or just something that keeps the air in the house moving. I love coming home from work into a place that the air is just dead.

I guess, ill throw in a couple every day chores or experiences I miss as well:

Banking: This is quite the fun one! Lets open our banks the hours of 9-4:30. This way we can totally minimize the amount of bankers we have. Also, lets only put three ATMs in the entire city so that getting money that you cant get at the bank is even more difficult. And to top all else, you cant just log in to your account. Nope, you have to have an e.dentifier to slide your card into and read some pass code thing, just to see if you have money that you cant get to.

Shopping: I love that there aren't malls. And the people selling you stuff, generally know what they are talking about, but again, things are only open from 10 - 6. Unless its Thursday, then they are open until 9. Or if its the first Sunday of the month, then they are open from 13:00 - 18:00, but never any other Sundays of the month Oh yeah, and Mondays is also only 13:00 - 18:00. So good luck remembering all those hours, and actually buying something.

Hair cuts: Dont know, havent gotten one yet.



Now dont get me wrong, there is plenty of good here as well:

Driving: Once you stomach the $10/gallon prices of gas, I feel that driving is quite fun. In Germany,
I was going 160 kmh, which is like 100 mph, and I was still getting passed. And that guy that flew passed me was getting passed by an even faster guy. So that is quite an experience. Even the elevation changes are nice. And the funny town names. Titz, Germany; Bitche, France; and others.

Traveling: I find it really fun to drive 20 minutes, order something, and have to remember which language you should say "Thank you" in. Here it could easily be four different choices. We are 20 minutes from Germany. 10 from Belgium, 2 hours from France, and hour from Luxemburg. So it makes for some fun weekends.

Vacation days: It was nice to get 31 days, plus holiday, plus flex hours, which makes it close to 50 days a year that you would normally have to work, that you dont have to.


There are other positives and negatives, but I think this post is already getting complainty enough.
I am enjoying myself here, but I miss all my family and friends. I look forward to seeing everyone over the Christmas holiday. Here is a fun picture of us!


We put the TERD in Amsterdam!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Write in Tina Fey!

Living in The Netherlands, we've been able to isolate ourselves a bit from US politics. And for that, I'm grateful. Nick was watching the debates on youtube, and I've come to the conclusion that watching the debates would probably make a person dumber (I will keep an eye on Nick.) Both candidates just blah, blah, blah, pandering to the lowest common denominator and talking about how great "folks" are. I could never be a politician (yea, no surprise) because the word "folks" infuriates me. Both candidates manage to offend me- 1) by using the word "folks" like I am chilling in overalls on a bale of hay and 2) taking a pansy, safe approach to the discussion about the financial crisis. Yea, just blame Wall Street greed and predatory lending; let's not talk about how "folks" need to wise up and apply basic concepts of personal finance or which policies compelled lenders to loan money to people who won't pay it back. Oh well, it doesn't matter, voting is pretty simple: only two choices, pick one.

I've heard just as much ruckus about SNL's version of Sarah Palin as I have about the candidate. I actually saw Tina Fey's version of the Katie Couric interview before I saw the real thing. I was pretty shocked to find that Tina Fey mocking Sarah Palin is brighter and more articulate than Sarah Palin herself. McCain is displaying his extraordinary judgment already.