Archive for the ‘General Musings’ Category

In all our posts complaining about our apartment, I’m surprised that we’ve neglected to mention one of the more humorous problems (if it can be so called) of living where we do. That is to say, all the sounds we’ve become accustomed to.

We live in a generally “quiet” part of the city. I say “quiet” because it’s really a relative term. I mean, not all noise is bothersome or annoying anyway. We avoid most of the obnoxious sounds coming from the busier streets in town, luckily, but we cannot escape it all. We tend to get the occassional drunk, student group returning home from a night of partying in the Oude Markt (Old Market, where the bars are). This inebriated lot will often stop outside our building shouting up to their friends on the second or third floor who are hanging out their windows shouting back.

(This is a method of communication which I think we should employ more of in the US. I mean, really. Why waste expensive cell phone minutes calling someone when you could just as easily annoy the entire building, or even neighborhood, by yelling out your window at passersby?)

One would expect to be bothered occassionally by loud college students in a college town. However, I could never have forseen the issues brought to my attention by living so close to a bowling alley.

Yes, we live within a block from a bowling alley. It’s weird. The bowling alley is located behind our building on an adjacent street. We’ve never been inside, but I’m curious to know what it’s like in there.  The thing that’s so strange is just how constant (and I mean CONSTANT) the sound of bowling balls rolling and hitting pins is.

I mean, SERIOUSLY!? Do Belgians really bowl this much? I am not exaggerating when I say that the sound persists all day and long into the night. Every day. Every night.

The sound isn’t really annoying at all unless you think about it. It can actually be kind of soothing at times like the sound of crashing waves on the beach or distant thunder…if the waves were made of bowling balls crashing against a beach covered in bowling pins. I guess we don’t have that much to complain about on that front.

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I choose you!

Since the Platygator’s appearance last Friday, I’ve gotten a lot of requests for more.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a tablet to draw on or even a scanner to … scan with … so this is what you get: two notebooks photographed with a blurry camera in a poorly lit apartment.

I decided to give the little guy an opponent for this post–one who’s newly released video game makes him an ideal target.

The lightning rat is going down.

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Today I stumbled across an article and video from one of my very favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, at ComicsAlliance.com.  I’ve seen Gaiman speak in person, heard him read his poetry, purchased it in hardcover, bought entire runs of the comic books he’s written or influenced, and basically attempted to gobble up anything I can which bears his mark.  Whether you’re into Science Fiction, Fantasy, or superheroes is sort of irrelevant when it comes to Gaiman.  He’s a phenomenal writer, and the worlds he weaves are so deep and engrossing, so lush with character, characters, and insight, that there is no one to whom I would not recommend at least one of his works.

Odds are, you’ve seen or read something by him, even if you weren’t aware of it.  The movie Coraline, for instance, is an adaptation of a book he wrote as a fairytale for his young daughter.  I could go on listing his literary accomplishments, but I’ll leave it to you to look them up.  But be warned: it might take a while—they’re many.

The Comics Alliance article basically just reposts and explains a comment which Gaiman recently uploaded to YouTube about the nature of piracy and sharing.  You might have caught my brief, noncommittal jab against censorship and in favor of piracy in an earlier post, and it was making that comment that led me to link the video and the Comics Alliance article here.  It’s worth a look.


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Valentine’s Day Playlist

As part owner and administrator of this blog, I reserve the right to get a little sappy from time to time.  So when I say that I made a Valentine’s Day YouTube playlist (the neo-iTunes playlist, which was the neo-mixed cd, which was the neo-mixed tape) for Linds, I don’t want to hear any “uuuugh”ing or “eeeeeeeew”ing from he peanut gallery.

This is my pre-wedding adventure, dammit, and if I wanna get sappity and twitterpated on Valentine’s Day, I can.

So, baby.  Here ya go.  Happy Valentine’s Day.  Muah!

Just click here to be whisked away to the playlist.

(If the rest of you wanna listen in, too, I guess that’s alright.  I made it with Linds in mind, but who knows, maybe you’ll find some new musics.)

And look!  I made the whole thing without using any Michael Bolton or R. Kelly!  That alone is reason to be proud.

What do you guys think?  Was there anything I left out?  What’s on your Valentine’s Day playlist?  Hit the comments and share your thoughts.

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Skyway or the Highway?

To be truly honest, being stuck in Minnesota when I could be off gallivanting with my fiancé in Europe is less than exciting. However, trying to put a bright and positive spin on things, I am attempting to use this little setback to its fullest advantage.
Mainly, I am legal to work in America. This is a pleasant change from my current situation abroad. Therefore, as I mentioned in my latest post, I am working while stuck in this frozen tundra. Work good, money nice.
The job itself isn’t what I would call enthralling or anything, but it does have its perks. I work in downtown Minneapolis, that thriving, frigid metropolis. And being that this is, perhaps, the coldest state of the lower 48, we have come up with some innovative ways to cope with it. I am referring, of course, to the skyways.
For those of you who don’t know, the Minneapolis skyways are pretty freakin’ amazing. They are a labyrinth of walkways connecting building to building in the downtown area allowing one to travel from the parking garage to the office, to the two-story super Target, to Macy’s, Saks, Neiman Marcus, restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, etc WITHOUT EVER HAVING TO GO OUTSIDE!
Now, you probably think I sound like a tourism campaign for Minneapolis or something. But seriously, have you been to Minnesota in the winter time? There’s a reason we are always complaining/bragging about the weather. It’s cold. Period.
I mean, there’s an iPhone app for the skyways!
I, therefore, am attempting to discover every nook and cranny of downtown by traversing the skyways as much as possible during my lunch hours. It has proven to be less enchanting than discovering a medieval Flemish city, but nonetheless, it’s a nice walk and something to do. The downside of this is that I tend to go window shopping a lot. And there’s always something you need at Target, right?
So, to sum it up, the skyways have been added to my list of reasons why Minnesotans are superior, in mind and person, to the rest of the nation. (For a list of reasons, see below).
1. Voted healthiest city in the nation: booya Boston, suck it San Fran!
2. Lakes: who needs oceans anyway?
3. The Mississippi: it starts here I’ll have you know!
4. Snow: if your car doesn’t get stuck in a snow bank, it doesn’t really count as a blizzard.
5. Prince: This is what it sounds like when doves cry.
6. The Cohen Brothers: except Fargo is in ND, but I’ll let it slide this time.
7. Southdale: first indoor mall… because it gets cold here, go figure.
8. Mall of America: largest mall with theme park at center. Could you get MORE American than a giant mall with rides and concessions…yeah, I didn’t think so.
9. Skyways: again with the cold.
10. Target: sure, it’s a giant corporation, but don’t try to tell me you aren’t obsessed.
11. 3M: because what would your childhood art class have been without tape and glue sticks?
12. Best Buy: Circuit City? Pshh, what’s that?
13. The Vikings, Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, etc: yeah, you know I don’t care, but I’m repping those who do.
14. The University of Minnesota: because you wouldn’t have seatbelts (or honey crisp apples) without it.
15. Agriculture: I love corn and soybeans, and so should you!
16. Michelle Bachmann: because babies taste delicious! Oh wait…

17.  The Minnesota State Fair: people who don’t enjoy stuffing their faces to the point of vomiting, watching a cow giving birth right in front of you, pie-baking contests, 4-H exhibits, a house full of butterflies, arcade games, and rides that can be put up and taken down in a day aren’t really the kind of people I want to hang out with anyway.

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Return of the King

It’s been a long hiatus for us both at LindseyandTrevor.wordpress.com (that still just doesn’t roll off the tongue), but rest assured, there has been no shortage of adventuring. There has, as you’ve no doubt noticed, been a shortage of the act of chronicling these adventures, and for that we apologize.

It’s not that we haven’t had anything to write about, or even necessarily that we haven’t wanted to write—it’s just that we take Christmastime very seriously. Merrymaking is a full-time job, yo. Sadly, our busy schedule left little time for blogging, what with all the gift-giving, mirth-spreading, Yule-tide-cheer … ing.

But that should change now.

I’ve returned to Belgium.

And for the most part, the place is just as I left it. The heat in the apartment works now, but only to the detriment of others in the building; it still rains about 22 hours a day; Belgium still doesn’t have a government (though they’re closer than they were); beer is still insanely cheap; and my finals are still rearing their ugly heads–now less than a week away.

It’s strange, though, that my return to foreign shores also seems, in many ways, like a return to the real world. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by that; as stressful as they can be, there’s not a whole lot in the way of responsibility for students around the holidays beyond whose couch to sleep on and how to navigate the snow between home and friends.

Now I get to work again. In the next month I’ve got to pass my exams, write a good portion of my thesis, polish my dissertation topic, apply to a school back stateside, try to help Linds get her visa, and get a work permit for myself. Fun. All of this would be so much easier if the Belgians just gave up these talks on a new government and installed me as a new king.

But kidding aside, to all of those who took time to come out and see me while I was home, who even thought about taking such time but couldn’t for some reason, who made me food (or, more likely, didn’t say anything when I at all of yours), who gave up aforementioned couches so that I might have a bed—thanks. You all made this a wonderful Christmas season.

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Lone Adventure

If you’ve gotten to see her already, you know that Linds is back stateside.  And just like Linds, our little princess Whitley headed home this week (copycat) from her long stay in Chile.  Again, like us (copycat), Whit is by now a pretty accomplished adventurer.

I, however, am still in Belgium till Wednesday, when I finally get to head home for a much needed Christmas break.

Despite the non-Belgian locale in which my counterpart finds herself, there has been no shortage of adventure on either side of the Atlantic.  This is, after all, an (read: the) Adventure Blog, and we, it’s operators, pride ourselves on our adventuring.

Most of my adventures this week (I’ll let Linds update you on hers), though, have been as much adventures against Belgium as they have been adventures in Belgium.  What a difference a preposition can make. (more…)

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It’s Christmas in Belgium!

Well, sorta.  Actually, it’s just the Feast of St. Nikolaas, which is, admittedly, a lot different from Christmas.  They still have regular Christmas on the 25th, but as you might have guessed from the name of the Feast, the 6th of December focuses on celebrating St. Nikolaas, who is the inspiration for our own Santa.  Even so, there are some distinct differences between Christmas and this mini-Christmas-before-Christmas.

For starters, Sinterklaas (or St. Nikolaas) isn’t exactly Santa Claus.  In fact, the first time I saw him, it was in this form.  That’s him made of chocolate on the left.

Mmmmmmmmmmm, candy Pope!

For about a week, I actually thought Sinterklaas was the Pope.  After all, Belgium is a Catholic country, and KU Leuven is pretty jazzed about Rome and the Pope in general.  But when I started to notice that this image kept popping up in children’s stores, I started to wonder.  Catholic or no, I’ve never met a kid who was clamoring for a Pope action figure.  If it comes down to a Ninja Turtle or the Pope, a Ninja Turtle is gonna win every time.  (This principle, I’m sure, holds true in the hearts of children and also for any scenario in which the Pope might actually get into a fight with a Ninja Turtle.) (more…)

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Leuven Rules!

So in our 2 months in Belgium, Trev and I have day-tripped to a few other supposedly worthwhile destinations in this tiny, diverse country. After so far visiting Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, and Liege, we’ve come to the conclusion that Leuven is just the best.

Oh, I know what you will say. “You only say that because you live there, and you’ve have had time to get to know its quirks, its shops, its streets, and its bars and restaurants.”

This may very well be the case in some instances, but hear me out. Just because I say I like Leuven better than the rest of the cities previously mentioned, doesn’t mean those other cities aren’t great in their own way (except Liege which truly sucked), they just don’t have the same charm, beauty, convenience, or vibrant student population as Leuven does. I will proceed to compare Leuven to the above listed cities and tell you why, in my opinion, the city in which I currently dwell is superior.

Follow after the jump for photos and in depth comparisons.


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Market Day

I love market day.  (You can tell that Lindsey and Lindsay do too.)

It’s one of my very favorite things about Leuven.  Twice a week, two separate city squares are completely blocked off from traffic and filled with impromptu tent cities filled with, well, everything.

Need some fruit?  Well, if you need a pallet of it—TROIS EURO!
Bread?  Yeah, we got that.
Fish?  It’s on ice, just past the guy selling kitchen cleaning solutions.
A five kilo wheel of edam cheese?  Sure, if you can pick it out from the 90 other cheeses piled around it.
A sweater vest?  Why not?!  Socks?  Who doesn’t like to buy socks within seconds of buying bread.  (I personally don’t ever purchase socks unless I’ve got bread on hand.)
Spiced olives?  Nuts?  Candy?  Waffles?  Used glasswares that a  couple has obviously stolen from bars?  Women’s underwear?

Wait … what?  Oh yeah.  The market’s got that too.

And though the prices may not be quite as good as can be found at the local grocery store every week, the value of market day’s ability to help shake up a diet and a Friday afternoon simultaneously can’t be overlooked.  Other cities have got bigger, more hectic, but cheaper markets (Brussels daily flea market is a great one), but there the risk of getting older, lower quality fruit increases—to say nothing of your likelihood of being pickpocketed going through the roof.

The best part of the market, though, is the connection you feel not just to the food, but to the people you’re buying from and around.  The strange, spontaneous, but subtle excitement that comes from buying whatever your heart desires from a real live person—who actually freaking hands your purchases to you—can’t be denied.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but consider that once you’ve gotten to know a grocery store (a great feeling unto itself), you don’t have to speak to a single person until you’re prompted to pay.  With self-pay, you don’t even have to do that anymore.  The only moment you’re likely to touch another person during the whole experience is in the unlikely event that your hand brushes the cashier’s as you take your change.

Follow the jump for more, plus cute puppies and unidentifiable, exotic fruit.


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