F the Masses

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The word on the street in the Netherlands is EU consitution. Maybe where you live you haven’t heard, so I’ll briefly tell you about how France voted 55% against the draft of the European Constitution. ‘Course less then 5% probably read it, but nevermind, civic education isn’t a prerequiset in present-day democracy. I’ll let Madame L tell you more about the French case.

But the buzz here in Amsterdam is: you thought the French were rough, the Dutch are going to spit all over the dam thing. Oh yeah, they’re voting (we?) in a referendum wednesday and the No camp is everywhere and everyone is climbing aboard.

Normally I would have nothing against a well-informed and thought out NO vote to such a proposal. The Dutch, like all of Europe in the past 20 years, have seen their beautiful social system dismantled in the name of liberalization. And to ad insult to injury soon most of them will be employed through temp agencies, much like yours truely – if they have a job at all. But what’s happenning here is not a sudden moment of clarity for the electorate. I’ve listened to the opinions, I’ve tapped into the grapevine; this is mass hysteria. This is an angry citizenry who are unable to properly focus their anger. I mean really, who do you complain to about this global economy? It’s like getting angry at the rain.

Therefore I’m pissed. Seems the majority of the French and Dutch want to just lock the doors and step into a time warp with the year set at 1996 or something. Two of the most openminded cultures in the world, hubs of art and science, are falling into a panic. They say politicians are out of touch with the electorate. That’s an easy one. But I suspect the electorate is out of touch with itself, and reality for that matter.

But beyond any of this, as a Portuguese citizen living and working legally within the EU, I feel like these votes are against me. Against the idea that I should travel and work freely. As if my type of life choices are somehow dangerous to them. I can’t help but feel that they don’t see the Europe that I embody. Not a Europe bent on economic domination. But a Union that understands we have alot in common, and that together aims at achieving a good quality of life, beyond your stupid borders.

Meet the Neighbors #3

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And now back to the irregular series, here on the communique, where I focus on two particular bloggers on my roll and explain why I read them. And today’s victims are none other then Big Monkey Helpy Chalk, and world famous Bitch Phd.

Ladies first, so let me tell you about Bitch Phd and her blog. Many of you are anonymous bloggers, because you know how tricky the trade-off can be between writing honestly and offending or betraying offline friends. Maybe you’d love to talk about who you secretly desire at work. Or maybe you want to curse out the boss, your neighbor, whomever. Or much simpler — you want to talk about things without people knowing your real identity. Well Dr. B is one of the world’s most famous anon bloggers, as she writes about her wonderful child pseudonymous kid, her husband mr. b, and her boyfriend ol’ whats his name. Oh yes — one of the factors that probably keeps people glued to her blog, the good dr challenges old fashioned monogomous values.

I honestly don’t remember how I found her blog, probably from some other academic blog, but the beauty is that hers is not annoyingly academic. She writes about all things that come to mind, with a special focus on the things she experiences as a mother, wife, professor, activist, etc. Oh and the nice part for me is that we often chat and swap advice. Even if I haven’t been doing it very often lately, I love chatting with BitchPhd and trading stories with her.

Which leads me to the man behind BigMonkeyHelpyChalk, Rob Loftis, as it was through dr. B that I found his blog, just as it was being born I believe. Right away you have to notice the title — what the hell is that — you wonder? It is, I believe, the first words ever uttered by his daughter… Big Monkey, Helpy Chalk. It is also worth mentioning that he is also an academic, yet he writes in a style that engages most anyone – no ivory towers on his blog. Among the other reasons I relate to his blog; he too has horrendous sleeping patterns.

There you have it, two more check marks as we roll down my list and meet the blog neighbors! See you next time (cue my theme music)

Working Culture

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I never had much of a full time job in the states. It was more like lots of little ones that kept me running in a million directions at all time. In Portugal I was a full time slob and working with some fantastic people for a very evil corporation. And at the fishtank its a whole different story …. and even though you’re not supposed to talk about work, I gotta say the place where I work is like a family. Well, a family where people occasionally resign and move on… but still.. a family.

So some of the family decided we’d busted our asses for the brains of the netherlands today, and we deserved an evening in the park. Oosterpark to be exact. So we grabbed the left over fancy food from the fancy events of the day, I grabbed my frisbee, and we sat at that park from 6pm to 12am. Toronto’s most famous chef in exile was there; incedentally, he was in the movie PCU or something like that, as — yes — a frisbee player. So of course he and I threw the disc around and he gave me the tips I need to impress the frisbee feminina, if I decide to go that route.

But the best part of that evening was as it was almost pitch black, and the park has few lights, and we decided to play frisbee in the dark. It sounded something like “ok… here it comes bicyclemark…. THUMP… — OWWW MY EAR.” A whole lot of that in between drinks and hysterical laughter.

I mention all this for a higher purpose. Work culture. You probably have some where you live. Maybe you bowl… or have dinners together. Maybe you’ve got a softball team or yearly picnic. Here in Amsterdam, this is how it is for me; a big family of people who are VERY social and can often be found out in the middle of the night together throwing discs at each others’ heads.