bunnyfish adventures


Dutch dishwashing
November 25, 2008, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Dutch culture | Tags:
DA dinner 2008.11.19 - 16

DA dinner 2008.11.19 – 16

I forgot to comment on how the Dutch wash dishes. They have this plastic bin that they put in the sink, fill it with hot water and lots of detergent (this is key). Then they put everything in the bin, scrub it, and leave it to dry, like in this picture.

This may be related to how they refill beers at bars. You give your glass to the bartenders, they dunk it upside down in a sink onto some vertical scrubbers mounted to a base, and then fill it again without rinsing. Sometimes it’s best not to think too hard about these things, I guess.



a story of sinterklaas
November 25, 2008, 1:36 am
Filed under: Dutch culture | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I first heard about Sinterklaas from Marlous and Jur when I went to Amsterdam (in the early ages of this blog!).  In a nutshell, here’s how it goes:

Sintaklaas sails into various ports in the Netherlands on a steamboat from Spain in November.  The actual holiday is celebrated December 5th, but it takes Sintaklaas time to visit all the cities, so there are various festivals for his arrival beforehand, like the one I saw on Saturday.

intocht sinterklaas
slideshow

He has helpers called “Black Pete” (Zwarte Piet) who were originally devils, thus the dark skin.  They are the ones that go around delivering presents to the good children, since Sinterklaas can’t do it alone.  (Man, that Dutch rationality.)  Shoes are laid out so that presents can be left in there as well.  And then the bad kids are taken away by the zwarte pieten to Spain to work for Sinterklaas.

The grown-ups exchange gifts that have poems written by the sender that are intended to rip you a new one in the name of good fun.

There are various treats around this time, including gingerbread-ish anise-ish mini-cookies (kruidnoten and pepernoten) and biscuits (speculaas), giant chocolate letters for the first letter of your name, and marzipan figurines.

And here are some variations from the above that I’ve heard or read:

  • The bad children are thrown in Zwarte Piet’s sack (that otherwise carries presents) and are taken back to Spain.
  • The bad children are thrown in Zwarte Piet’s sack and beaten. (Jeroen, Belgium)
  • To make Black Petes more racially palatable, the story of their skin color was changed to their being dirty from coming down the chimney.  But why wouldn’t the clothing also be dirty?  (Insert laundry detergent ad here.)
  • To make Black Petes even more racially palatable, they tried to have multi-colored Petes one year, like Fruit Loops.  It was so successful that they changed it back to all-black the following year.  (Wikipedia)

But to end on a good note, I’ll mention Sverre’s childhood experience with the Norwegian version of Santa.  Basically his parents had an agreement with the neighbors to take turns getting dressed as Santa and going to each other’s doors to deliver presents to the kids.  This way, you really wonder when Santa comes to the door and both your parents are inside of the house.  And his sleigh and reindeer are parked at the way end of the street, out of sight, because he can’t bring them everywhere.

To this day, he still doesn’t know which neighbors came to his door.  (Or were they neighbors after all?)



unproductive productivity
November 24, 2008, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Delft, design, mini-adventures, school | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I came home last night after watching Cloverfield and went on a cleaning/organizing spree that started with the dishes, then proceeded to the kitchen, and ended with my staying up all night going through all my finances since I got here.  The picture below is just a few receipts from my frequent grocery runs to C1000, one of the three supermarkets in my area.

finances

I also realized that I could also keep track of the cashiers’ names and started a tally of who has served me the most.  (Hallo Seborah.)  Cindy and Jeanne are tied for second.  I started trying to diversify my cashier when I was going there more than three times a week.

And now I can also start keeping rough track of how much I’m spending on what.  Unfortunately I am missing some relevant information, so to reconcile my cash expenses I have a slush expense called “boozin’,” because in the absolute worst case scenario I would have spent all the rest on going out.  (Slightly unrealistic, but seeing it in my statement will be a nice reminder.)

norman 2008.11.20 - 12
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DA dinner 2008.11.19 - 08
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I also caved and paid for a flickr account so I can show more pictures in a pretty fashion that isn’t facebook-dependent.  Like watching a baby learn to walk, maybe you’ll see some more sophisticated photo management out of me in the future.

I uploaded other photos from the Donald Norman excursion (it was held in the Design Huis of Eindhoven, so there were some exhibits to see), and I also put up pictures from my Domestic Appliances inspirational dinner last Wednesday after a product imaging workshop with Philips.

At this phase of the class, we are developing individual concepts based on the research we did as a group in the first quarter.  To test out and learn more about some of our concepts, my group held a long-due inspirational dinner.  Ivo (glasses) is making a tofu squeezer and marinater, Elliot (plaid shirt) is interested in making steaming more accessible, and Suyanto (last guy) is interested in increasing nutritional knowledge and balanced eating.  We kind of failed to steam anything, but we did make tofu, sushi, noodles, green beans, and ice cream with fruit chunks and pineapple glaze.



3-bit-zaterdag
November 23, 2008, 6:57 am
Filed under: city, Delft | Tags: , , , , ,

I’m pretty tired, but I want to post 3 things real quickly from today:

1) I found a neglected banana in the cupboard.  It was gross but also strangely intriguing.  I’m not sure how much time has passed, since it was severely out of my line of sight from the ground.  (Damn those tall cupboards for tall people…)

img_3490

2) Today was the entrance of Sinterklaas (condensed Sint Nikolaas, or Saint Nicholas) today in the center of Delft.  There was a parade and some minor festivities going on.  Here is a picture of me and a Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), one of the Dutch Santa’s helpers.  (Story of Sinterklaas is long due, but will come later.)

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3) And here is your irregular dose of Delft graffiti.  This one I’ve been meaning to take a picture of for the past while, if only it weren’t so crappy outside.  For scale reference, there is someone on his or her bike in the middle of the ‘o.’

img_3527



Donald Norman went to MIT too
November 20, 2008, 8:36 pm
Filed under: design, mini-adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

don_normanReal quick before I head out to dinner, I went to Eindhoven today with Caroline (and ran into Sverre, Silje, and Gøril) to see a talk by Donald Norman. He wrote the books that are popular with designers such as “The Design of Everyday Things” and “Emotional Design: Why We Love (and Hate) Everyday Things.”

I brought my books for the train ride, in case I wanted to review them or ask him about anything in particular. don_norman(I ended up not.) Or if anyone else would want to read some of his books.  (My friends didn’t either.)  However, several people came up with the brilliant idea of having him sign my books.  (How novel!  No pun intended.)

Either way, I tried to keep it short but he noticed my American accent, I mentioned that they referred to his books in some courses at MIT, and he was like “Oh yeah, I went there too, I was Course 6.”

And actually, I knew that.  Dammit!  I had read that at one point and thought, “Oh cool,” but didn’t bother to remember it since I didn’t think I would actually ever meet him.

Regardless, he agreed to look suspicious in a picture with me, during which he said, “You seem like you should belong to the Media Lab,” and I think overall it was a win.



Wandering around Germany
November 12, 2008, 11:51 pm
Filed under: mini-adventures | Tags: , , , , , , ,

dom_colognei went away
for a while
just to come back again

Because I have a lot of photos from this past weekend, I’m trying out the facebook album approach.  (There are three, click the links above.)

Yoshi, Robin, Hiro (Yoshi’s friend visiting from Japan), and I had an excursion to Germany to look at some museums and “get inspiration.”  Places we visited were Zollverein (renovated coal mine now art scene) in Essen, the cathedral and museums in Köln/Cologne (Kolumba, Museum of Applied Art, and Museum Ludwig), and briefly Düsseldorf.  Food culturally, I had me some German beer, sausage, pretzel, and berliner.

Travel disasters were kept to a relative minimum.  We had a slightly unpleasant encounter with a cab driver who took us to another hostel of the same name in another town at 2AM after we overshot our stop on the train.  There was obviously lots of walking, and lots of climbing (we scaled the dom tower [509 steps, supposedly], our first hostel was on a hill in the middle of the woods, and we stayed on the 5th floor in our second hostel).

The red dot design museum at Zollverein had a lot of stuff to look at and play with (the more fun part!).  Kolumba had a really interesting space, unfortunately I didn’t know anything about the pieces since I couldn’t read German.  The Museum of Applied Art was a random find, but the design exhibit was rather awesome and the presentation was much more digestible than the first museum.  Museum Ludwig had many Picasso pieces, a sweet audio bar installation, and had a lot more that I’m not mentioning.

I mourned the fact that museums do not like to open on Mondays.  I stalked the chocolate museum in Köln at night to compensate.  (… I was so close to it without knowing it earlier on Sunday!  I was really sad.)  Thank goodness for glass.

And when I got home I was really happy to be on a bike.  My mind was refreshed, but my feet were quite dead.



Maeda and “art” t-shirts
November 11, 2008, 8:50 pm
Filed under: uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I was randomly on Threadless when I saw The Select Series, I guess a higher-brow spin-off of Threadless, presenting The RISD Collection, where all the designs are RISD professors curated by the new shiny president, John Maeda, and the moneys go to a scholarship fund.

It’s still weird to read about John’s reputation since he was just a random cool professor I was fortunate enough to have when I was a freshman and UROP for…