Commuting Gems…Something To Aim For

Being a half Dutch person so to speak, most regular Gidday-ers will know that I have a finely tuned radar for all things clever clogs. Remember last year’s excitement about Den Bosch catherdral’s modern nod to the man upstairs?

Well, I was reading The Metro on the way to work last week when I came across yet another example of Dutch pragmatism and ingenuity. Apparently the fine folk at Schipol Airport had reached the end of their tether about men…well schhh-ing everywhere but where they should be schhh-ing. In the bowl, that is.

So what do you think they did?

They etched an image of a house fly in the bowl, giving the ‘little gentlemen’ something to aim for…and thereby ‘increasing accuracy up to 80%’.


And given I was in the land of the clogged just a day later, it got me thinking, I wonder what other clever things the Dutch have done? So I googled when I got home and here’s what I found (on

Father and son team Hans & Zacharias Janssen invented the first microscope so that they could see really small things. (Could they be related to Linda of Adventures in Expatland fame? It’s a small world you know…)

Hans Lippershey invented the first telescope so he could see far away things. Given the Dutch liked to voyage, this is likely to have proved quite useful.
In the natural world, Jan Ingenhausz discovered the process of photosynthesis in 1779 and Anton van Leeuweenhoek was the first to observe bacteria in 1626. Not to put too finer point on it but these gents probably needed to get a life (and one of them new microscope things).

In the modern age, the compact disk appeared in Eindhoven in 1979 thanks to Dutch company Phillips and the company founded by rally driver Maurice Gatsonides developed the first ‘road-rule-enforcement-camera’ in the 1950s thus creating the concept of revenue-raising amongst local constabularies the world over.

And last but not certainly not least, the Dutch claim to have been the first to discover Australia with Willem Janszoon checking out the Gulf of Carpentaria – that’s in the north bit – in 1606. No doubt helped by Lippershey’s telescope.

In fact, did you know that Australia was called New Holland for almost 190 years? The monikker was first coined in 1644 by Dutch man-about-sea, Abel Tasman, and remained part of the lingo right up until 1837.

But interestingly it was the English who first colonised that big, brown, inhospitable land down under, landing in Sydney Cove on the 26th January, 1788.

Seems like everyone was aiming for a piece of the Lucky Country.

But the ultimate clever clogs, the piece d’resistance of going Dutch, struck me full in the face as I walked into Eindhoven airport on Wednesday afternoon…

And I am left wondering whether in fact, I grew up in the wrong lucky country!

Part of the Post of the Month Club for June 2012

10 thoughts on “Commuting Gems…Something To Aim For

  1. Hi Kym This made me chuckle. Having lived i Germany back in 1989, I get where you're coming from! The Germans also used the 'Kiss and ride' phrase. Thanks for joining the POTMC. J x


  2. Liene, it was indeed 'kiss and ride' that made me stop and snap. In the UK it would be a 'Drop Off Zone' (which leads me to a whole other tangent about going to sleep!)

    Language and all its nuances is a funny thing isn't it?

    BTW thanks for stopping by and welcome to Gidday from the UK.


  3. Stopping by from PotM club. Had a good laugh about the fly, but am wondering if the “kiss and ride” was the phrase in question… This is a very commonly used phrase in the US at airports (kiss and fly) and carpool lots… It is so familiar that only now am I thinking about the funnier side of the prase…


  4. Linda, you'll have to get Husband or Son to check out the fly story at Schipol sometime – it all might be an urban myth.

    Glad I could add to your education about Dutch-Australian relations 😀


  5. Sorry I'm so late to the party.

    Why yes, Hans and Zacharias are long lost relatives (just kidding, I have no idea, but as they're famous I'll claim them). I was so bowled over (pun intended) by the fly etched into the basin that I almost missed the fact that Oz was called New Holland for many decades. You learn something new every day. With GiddayfromtheUK, many things 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s