Archive for April, 2011

And we’re off

As you’re well aware, this is an adventure blog. So we thought, let’s use the Easter holiday to do some adventuring.

Paris, here we come. We’ll be back Sunday night for Skyping, posting, and generally being awesome.

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So yesterday’s portable outdoor urinals?  Those were nothing.  I submit for your appraisal, the following.

Nothing?  Not doing anything for you?  Just a normal manhole cover?  Guess again.

At nighttime, that innocent looking manhole automatically descends from its place in the pavement and becomes the top of this.

Apparently having to go is a huge problem here.

How did we not know about these earlier?  Well, there aren’t a great many of them.  I also assume that they’re strategically placed at “hot spots” around the city.

How the statistics for where an outdoor urinal would be needed were gathered, or more importantly who got the honorous task of gathering them, is a mystery to me.  Maybe he had to go undercover by drinking a bunch with college kids and then walking around till he had to pee.  Or maybe he had to test the ground water for … trace elements … and by “trace elements” I mean “pee.”

Proper indeed.

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There have been a great many things I’ve not quite understood since relocating to our Belgian locale.  There are advertisements that go over my head, festivals I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind, and a host of cultural faux pas which I likely still don’t know I have committed.  There have also been moments which seemed so natural and non-foreign that I could swear this is Leuven, Ohio–not Leuven, Belgium.

Then there’s one last class of cultural interaction, and it’s perhaps the most confusing.  These interactions are characterized by intense confusion, because they seem to be simultaneously native, common sense, and foreign in the extreme.

Case in point.

While we were out the other day, we happened upon a bank of these puppies.  If you haven’t surmised it’s purpose yet (the background of the photo should help), here’s another clue.

That’s right.  Outdoor urinal.

Being that it’s festival season, there’s an obvious need for extended sanitation options, and whether we’ve yet to discover this one in the States or whether we knew about it and flat out could not accept its existence, I’m not sure.

I mean, I was under the impression that the specific group of people expressly indicated as the primary market for these devices by their (above) markings had, you know, been using outdoor urinals for a while–lamp posts, alley ways, and the like.

But I guess if that sort of thing becomes a problem, you’ve got to be proactive.  Here, I guess that means centralizing and containing the messy business.  I’m just not sure that I’d ever be able to use one.  I mean, I could use one in theory, but practice is another thing.  What if nearby women-folk would be offended?

Oh, wait.

That’s my girl.

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It’s springtime here, and as is the case in most countries with cold or oppressively dreary winters, that means two things:

1) Girls in sundresses.
Linds even went out and bought one, much to my delight.  It’s as if she knew intrinsically that my ability to be grumpy or even to think thoughts becomes decimated when I absorb sunshine while simultaneously beholding cute floral dresses.

2) Festivals in Belgium.
It appears that unlike Minnesotans—who enter spring with trepidation, as if the mere hope of lasting sunshine might itself bring snow—Belgians embrace the months of March and April with a vigor deserving of festival.  Maybe that’s why there are so bloody many festivals here right now.  Honestly, every time I turn around I feel as though I’ve inadvertently walked into another festival.  We could learn a thing or two about ringing in the spring back home in the great white north.

In the last month alone, we’ve seen a Flemish Wine Festival, the Deronde von Vlaanderen (think Tour de France, but on a tiny scale), three separate single-day concert festivals, several faculty celebrations, a film/media festival in Ghent, and an African film festival a couple blocks away.  How are we supposed to keep up?  More importantly, how am I supposed to resist eating fries at almost every one of these things I pass?

It’s festival season in Leuven, and that means mobile fry shops.  Mmmmm.

Here’s a little taste of one particular festival we accidentally found, called Partycipation.  What was the occasion?  Who knows?  Who cares?  There are mobile fry shops people–trailers of which the only function is the preparation and distribution of fries.

Sorry for the low quality video. It was shot on my Sony Cybershot from 2004.

One night I walked by a large town square that had been effectively cordoned off by a large temporary fence covered with black canvas.  Inside what I assumed could only be a quarantine zone for some sort of contagious brain disease were about 500 students singing mish-mash Flem-lish versions of Christian hymns and nursery rhymes; what I’d actually stumbled onto was a Cantus.

Cantuses … Canti? … whatever … are basically semi-exclusive parties for each faculty’s student groups, which basically serve as the Belgian equivalent for fraternities/sororities.  The article I’ve linked above will try to tell you that the main activity at a Cantus is singing, but don’t be fooled.  This quaint historical practice may have become popular during its advent in the 19th century because of the general feeling of camaraderie cultivated by singing silly songs together, but it stuck around because that merriment is primarily facilitated by beer.  Lots and lots of beer.

My guess is that the practice makes a lot more sense the next day, when very few of the actual rituals surrounding Cantus can be remembered due to the effects of mild alcohol poisoning.  If no one can remember it, did it even really happen?  Maybe only if a wayward American wanders by and blogs about it later.

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Job Update

So recently, I’ve been looking for jobs that actually pay money (go figure). But being that I still don’t have a work permit (visa in the works), I thought I might be able to try a different avenue of employment. I’ve shifted my focus temporarily towards being a nanny. I have recently secured a position as such from a very nice family that live nearby, and I start next Monday. Hurray!

So yeah, this will be a short, sweet post detailing very little about this family. I’m sure they wouldn’t want me talking about them on the blog anyway. If you’d like specifics, please email me or something. I just thought I’d let our fans know that I have, at least for now, found something that pays.

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Lately, Trevor and I have been a bit lazy.

Ok, so lazy is a bit of an understatement. Really what I mean is supremely unmotivated to do anything at all related to house work, i.e. cleaning, laundry, cooking, dishwashing.

So as you can very well imagine, our apartment is in a general state of disarray with clothes hanging on chairs, dishes piled up in the sink, a light layer of dust covering all surfaces, and basically no food to speak of in the fridge. However, we planned to remedy at least part of this unfortunate situation by cooking ourselves a delightfully easy, delicious, and nutritious meal this evening.

And then everything went horribly awry.


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Oh, the things people use the Internet for.  As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite activities is using WordPress’ data collection features to see how people have been finding our site.  Every so often, when I’m either particularly amused or particularly confused, I take a screen capture.

Lemonade stands?  Really?  I don’t even know which post that could have brought such an intrepid Google adventurer to our pixely shores.

The “pie crust dough in a waffle iron” search I understand.  We’ve made a couple different references to the especially flaky nature of the waffles here, especially in the ways the dough a lot like pie crust.  But what interests me here is that someone was actually wondering whether they should be putting pie crust dough into a waffle iron.  At first guess, I’d say, “No, you should not do that,” but really I’ve got no clue.

Are you out there, little pie crust waffle maker?  Are you reading this?  How’d it turn out?  I must know.  If you get the time, try baking a pie using waffle dough as the crust, and tell me what you come out with.  There are simply too many questions for me to let this lie.

Other days, search results are more predictable.  I wonder if anyone who runs a successful Internet business or  who blogs for money has discovered what I’m calling “The Moon Boot Effect.”

Seriously.  If you want to boost hits to your site, mention Moon Boots in a couple of your post titles.  It’s good for 10 hits a day or so.

More confusing to me on this particular day, though, was the first non-moon boot related search term on the list: wedding vending machine.

Now, a part of me understands that this person was probably searching for some sort of rental novelty vending machine to place at his or her wedding, but there’s another part of me that hopes that’s not it.  Is there, for instance, some sort of vending machine for wedding dresses?  Or is this a sort of one-stop wedding vending machine where I can purchase dresses, tuxes, flowers, and a cake by coin?  Even better, does there exist somewhere in the universe a machine which dispenses entire weddings?  Cause that last one could really sell.  They’d have a customer in me.

Last, I’d like to point out that one Google search for a “wedding adventure” on “wordpress” really did bring someone to this, our site, which is actually quite germane to the search itself.  Good job Google.  You get ’em right sometimes.

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