Interesting Dutch Fact #2

In the Netherlands, it is taboo to ask another person how much money she or he makes. In my opinion, this question is also (most of the time) taboo in the States ... However, other questions that are taboo in the States are not-so-taboo here. Here's an example. I play the piano. Here in the NL, immediately after hearing that fact about me, someone asked me if I was good at it or not. And I was expected to simply say "yes" or "no." In the States, such a question, though not impolite, would be slightly taboo, simply because it would put the piano-playing person in the awkward position of either 1) bragging about their abilities (Yes, I am very good!) or 2) admitting their downfalls (No, I'm actually quite terrible.) In the States, we would be more apt to ask a question like: "Do you enjoy it?" or "How long have your played?" or "Do you enjoy performing?" Thus, we would give the person a chance to say something more about their level of piano playing without putting them in the hot seat, so to speak. Not so in the NL, where straightforwardness in conversation is par for the course! Personally, I find it refreshing -- though it was hard to get used to at first.

But back to my initial point ... I find it interesting that money appears to be a somewhat-universally sensitive subject. What is it about money that makes us so uncomfortable? I may have more thoughts on this later. For now, I will let the question dangle.
Interesting Dutch Fact #1

In the Netherlands, most people get an extra month's salary every year. It's called vakantiegeld (vacation money). From what I understand, this extra money -- meant to help folks pay for their vacations -- is an expected and normal benefit in most places of employment. Vacations are an extremely important part of people's lives here in the NL -- taking a 3 or 4 week holiday each year is not out of the ordinary. Plus, there are all of these "extra" national holidays (at least, they feel extra to me!): The day following Christmas, the Monday after Easter, Ascension Day (which this year fell on a Thursday), and the Monday after Pentecost are, for instance, holidays. No one works, and nothing is open.


Good Quotes: Food

I ate and drank slowly as one should (cook fast, eat slowly) and without distractions such as ... conversation or reading. Indeed eating is so pleasant one should even try to suppress thought .... How fortunate we are to be food-consuming animals. Every meal should be a treat and one ought to bless every day which brings with it a good digestion and the precious gift of hunger.

--Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea. Penguin Books (1978), p. 7.

Note from Jackie: I actually enjoy conversing and eating simultaneously ... but sometimes, food tastes so good that it seems best to sit in silence and do nothing but taste. "Drink water when you're drinking water," I once heard a speaker say. Don't make a grocery list in your head, or analyze a problem you are dealing with, or wonder how you are going to get everything done today. Just drink the water.

Doing one thing at a time is a spiritual discipline perhaps lost on our generation of multi-tasking, efficient people. I know it's often lost on me.


One More Question Re: Aesthetics

Hello folks! I tweaked the Polderpalooza Palette a bit more, and I think I finally got my colours coordinated. Tell me ... to your left, do you see a whole bunch of links in the newly-greened area of your screen? (There should be 21, in case anyone's counting.) These links should show up all the time now since I changed the background color to green. Yes? Is this working???


New Colour Scheme

Hey faithful readers -- I have finally gotten around to workin' with the colour scheme of this here blog, and I have a question for you all. Namely: are all of my links showing up now? Thanks for your most valued input as I seek to make your blogging experience as aesthetically pleasing as possible!


Snip, Clip, & Style

I cut my hair.

Or, to be more accurate, my friend Loes cut my hair. Instead of reaching 3/4 of the way down my back, now my hair reaches one or two inches below my ears.

Those of you who know me well will realize that this is a BIG DEAL.

I love being a shorter-haired person! Long hair was fun while it lasted (for the past 12 years or so). But the times, they are a-changin'. Oh yeah.


More Spellings

Interesting ways that people in the Netherlands have spelled my last name:


My name is actually spelled Wyse. So in America, the most popular misspelling is, of course, Wise.

Why do people spell my name in these creative ways here in the NL? My theory ... in Dutch, when the two letters ij appear side-by-side, they only constitute one sound. We don't really have this sound in English. It's a sound that, from my perspective, is somewhat stuck between the ai in brain and the ee in spleen. It's sort of an ay-eeeeee sound. Well, now come to think of it, that's similar to the way I pronounce the i/y in Wise/Wyse -- when I really give that midwestern dipthong a go of it, anyway! Thus, many Dutch people assume my name is spelled with the letter combination of ij.

Another note: in the Dutch language, there are no silent e's. And s's are always pronounced like s's, never like z's. Two more reasons why my name is a complicated one to spell here, since it features both the silent e and the s-masqerading-as-z phenomenon.

Originally -- hundreds of years ago when my forefolks were still in Germany -- my name was probably spelled Weiss, meaning White. Kind of like Gandalf the White. At least that's what I like to think.

A note to the Schoch's: Here in the Netherlands, your name would be pronounced with both of the ch's as gutterals! (Like in the Scottish Loch or the German Bach.) And the first ch would be prounounced separately from the initial s; thus, your name would begin with an s-sound rather than an sh-sound. Plus, the o would be longer ... Try pronouncing that one!

S - gutteral ch - long o sound - gutteral ch