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quotidian (quote-tid'-ee-an) adj. 1: occuring every day. 2a: belonging to each day; everyday. 2b: commonplace; ordinary. [from Latin quot (as) many as + dies days.]

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Thursday, May 20th, 2004
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

What's Going On? Kristin & Alison Visit Andy in Amsterdam

Well, Kristin and I are back from our little vakantie in Amsterdam -- and we had a wonderful visit! Since Russell joined Andy for the first 2 weeks of his month long trip, and we showed up on day 11 - we had several days of overlap to hang out with Russell as well as Andy. Although they managed for the most part to just be on vacation, Russell and Kristin have decided there is no better place to hold sales and Rabbit planning meetings than in the coffee shops of Amsterdam. (Thanks again Russell for all your help in the planning/organizing of this fabulous vacation!)

It was a great trip. The first thing that struck me was simply how different the city looks from any in the United States. In the older central areas, where we were most of the time, almost all of the streets are very narrow, and paved with brick of various sorts and patterns. All of the houses are very narrow (at one time they were taxed based on their streetfront width). Also, I never really realized this before I went, but of course, the whole city is laced with canals. Maybe not so many as Venice, but it's still a major factor in the design and character of the city.

Another thing we noticed was an incredible attention to beauty and detail. Space was at a premium. No one had front yards -- at the most, maybe a foot or two of sidewalk that felt like it belonged to the house rather than the street. Most of the time, not even that. But everywhere, there were little clusters of planters with beautiful blooming plants in them.

And other things were beautified too. A piece of carving in the architecture, painted tiles, mosaics, or other artwork randomly embedded in a wall, or even the sidewalk. Stained glass transoms over regular windows, etched pictures or patterns in glass doors, or just interesting things set up as a display. Not all period stuff, either, plenty of modern art, tucked away.

Everywhere you looked, there was some cool little thing that you hadn't noticed before. It reminded me of our house, but spread over a whole city. I said to Andy at one point that "each little space has been made precious" and he liked the expression so much that it became a sort of catchphrase for us. That may make it sound cutesy, but that's not what the overall effect was. Well, maybe it was cutesy, if you ignored the graffiti and the sex shops. Actually some of the graffiti was quite nice, and the red-light district was a surreal experience in and of itself.

Amsterdam is a very flat city, with a lot of narrow streets and limited space for parking, so it's no surprise that bicycles are the preferred mode of transport. It's also good for just walking, which is what we did, although they also have really cute electric trams (tall and skinny, like the houses) which run on rails, and get power from overhead wires. On the weekend, when the weather got nice, we saw lots of people cruising the canals in a wide variety of boats. This seemed to be more for pleasure than transportation, however.

Most of our time was spent sampling the ambiance, beverages, and other offerings of the many coffeeshops. Now, as you may know, these are not places whose sole purpose is the sale of coffee, of course. Coffeeshop is their term for an establishment which is allowed to sell, among other things, small amounts of marijuana, which patrons may legally partake of on the premises (or in private, but not in other public places).

All coffeeshops serve beverages, and expect you to buy something if you're going to hang out there, so Kristin, Andy, Russell, and I ended up drinking a lot of fancy fruit nectar, hot chocolate, hot tea, and seltzer water respectively. Many also serve alcohol and snacks, and a few even offer a full menu of food options.

We managed to hit one museum, Amsterdams Historisch Museum, which was very interesting. We also took a special trip down to De Hortus Botanicus, a 300+ year old botanical garden, as plants are one of my main interests. The garden sections included most of the usual suspects, very well done: an herb garden with medicinal/culinary/dye plants, a water garden, a taxonomically arranged garden, and many others. It also included some nice greenhouses: a palm house, three different climate houses (temperate, rainforest, and desert) with cool walkways up above some of them. Last but not least, we visited their small butterfly house, which was very cool.

The last day or so, we took Stoner Fluxx around to some of the head shops and coffeeshops to pitch it to them. We got some great leads when we met a Fluxx fan at the Cannabis College, a little museum/info center, with a lovely grow space on display in the basement. We probably could have worked harder at promoting Stoner Fluxx, and our games in general, but hey, we were on vacation, and it was nice to take a break for a little while.

Anyway, we had a great time, and now we're home, but Andy's still over there. He won't be back until the first of June... just in time to help us finish getting ready for Origins!

Enjoy life! See you at Origins!

the story so far

Thought Residue
"'Okay, Bush's defenders say, but even if he did go to church, it's tough for a president to be really involved with a congregation. He is, after all, running the free world. But, then again, he has spent almost 500 days on vacation over the past four years. You'd think some of that time could have been devoted to planning the next church social or sitting in on mission board meetings. Jimmy Carter found time to teach Sunday School at a local Baptist church while he was president." -- Amy Sullivan, "The Wafer Watch Continues"

"There's a train-wreck fascination to William Saletan's piece in Slate juxtaposing, in chronological order, reports on the torture of Iraqi prisoners with blithe assurances from Bush and Rumsfeld that there are no more 'rape rooms and torture chambers' in Iraq. And the excuses have plumbed new lows-- e.g Rumsfeld attempting to claim that what took place is 'technically different from torture', or explanations that the guards were 'not adequately trained.' As Phil Carter says, 'You don't need to know the rules under the Geneva Convention, and you don't have to be a lawyer, to know that it's wrong to shove a chem light into a detainee's rectum and take a picture of it.'"
-- The Zompist's Rant Page, 6 May 2004: "Throwing the game away"
"Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on." -- Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey"


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