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2004 07 08

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For some time, I have had a side interest in the mechanical aspects of cooking. More specifically: I just like to cut stuff. Preferably with a big blade.

I will not falsely claim any proper cooking skill, but I can at the very least handle a large knife.

When we moved into this house, we bought (along with all the other kitchen stuff) a knife set which included a large chef's knife. That does the job sort of OK, but I decided that I wanted to take a step up and get me a proper one, so I put it on my (rather short) birthday wishlist.

Here are two images of the knife that I bought from the money and gift certificate I got. Thanks to all who contributed!

2004 07 02

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Happy 31st, dear me!

Today is my 31st birthday. Last year's was rather snowed under by the fact that I had become a father less than two weeks before that, but this year I actually had the time to realise that it happened.

The thought I would like to record for posterity here is that I am now as old as I can first remember my father being. In other words: the earliest (though obviously vague) memory I have concerning my father's age was when he was as old as I am now. The strange thing is that I can't say that I feel like I'm on the other side of the gap now.

2004 03 16

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Finally got my driver's license

Here's how it works in The Netherlands: there are a fairly large number of private (i.e. non-government) companies that provide driving instructions. People 18 and over are free to choose any of those and make their own arrangements for any number of lessons they seem fit, on a schedule of their own choosing.

Candidates have to pass a theoretical, multiple choice examination, by which they obtain a license, valid for one year, to take the practical exam. This examination is done with a government-regulated organisation called CBR. One applies for an exam and passing it gets one the paperwork one can exchange for an actual driver's license, at one's local town hall.

It is often said that CBR staff are mostly ex-Foreign Legion commanders who changed career because they were tired of being nice to people all day. With the exception of one of the ones I met, I can confirm this suspicion.

After not passing this exam four times, one is automatically referred to the BNOR, which take the same exam, but in a less intimidating surrounding and with considerably more attention to the mental state of the candidate---the assumption is that once someone has not passed the same exam four times (and at some EUR160 a time, these are not usually taken too lightly) nerves must play a big part.

I know all this from first hand experience, because nerves got the better of me four times in a row. I can't say I would completely discount poor judgement by the first (of two) driving school I dealt with, but in the end I was the one doing the driving; nobody else.

I started driving lessons when my wife was pregnant about a month; our daughter is a almost nine months old now. The intention was to do a quick track, by which I was supposed to have it all wrapped up inside of two months. This has been a somewhat burdensome experience.

Until today, that is: I took the exam with the BNOR and I passed it. No big deal for the thousands of people who do this every year, most even about a decade earlier in their life, but a very big deal for me.

Other than the fact that repeated failure in performing a task that 8 million people in this country alone have managed to complete is not very good for one's self esteem, it means that in our family, my wife isn't the only one anymore allowed to drive. That means we will be much more able to fairly share such mundane tasks as doing the shopping. Oh, and it means that I can take on business that is not conveniently located right next to train stations.

Party time -- cake's on me.