Sunday, 26 December 2010


I am about to leave. I’m all packed and (almost) ready to go. I’m anxious to travel on my own at night in a place I’ve never been to before. I’m afraid I will not manage to see and do everything I would like to. I am scared of loneliness at the breakfast table in my hotel, loneliness in restaurants and in my hotel room in the evenings. But I am going. I will discover beautiful sites, make loads of photos, taste new foods, do some shopping and even dance if I’m courageous enough. I will add a new country to my list and say goodbye to this strange year.

I am going to Malta.
Wish me luck.

Salad For Girls

I watched Roman Gershuni make this Salad For Girls and all of a sudden felt terribly girly. If you don’t understand Russian here’s the list of the necessary ingredients (the instructions you can see in the video): Romaine lettuce, arugula, one red grapefruit, walnuts, Roquefort cheese, sugar, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil.

Of course I didn’t have all the ingredients at hand – the shops are closed and I forgot to do groceries yesterday. I have replaced:
- Romaine lettuce and arugula with a lettuce mix (ready-cut, found in the fridge) luckily containing some arugula;
- Grapefruit by two small ripe tomatoes for the salad and bottled lemon juice for the dressing;
- Roquefort cheese by the soft Turkish cheese that comes in a tin.
I used honey for the dressing and I forgot garlic.

The salad was delicious! I will add caramelised walnuts to my salads more often. And next time I will certainly try garlic.

Friday, 24 December 2010


Boodschappen is Dutch for groceries. Kerstboodschappen are Christmas groceries. It’s an enormously long list of (mostly) food supplies necessary to survive the two (who said Dutch were greedy?) Christmas days when the shops are closed and your friends and family demand haute cuisine state-of-the-art meals. Also people tend to be sensitive to decorations this time of the year. While decorating your house and table don’t forget to show you know it’s Christmas. Because the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is not about you. That’s why starting from December 20 people are stressed about their groceries.

I had a list too. It was not long, but certainly consisting of items I do not buy or use on a daily basis. Today was my last chance to buy all that stuff. Otherwise – no Merry Christmas for me. So I went out, suffered extreme cold, worked my way through the huge crowds of highly stressed people and got everything I needed:
a card and an envelope
Lonely Planet guide to Malta&Gozo
a lipstick
a showerhead
silicone remover
silicone multi tool
super water resistant silicone white
super water resistant silicone transparent
tile joints cleaner
tile joints whitener
tile joints grey ‘whitener’
Now guess what I’m gonna do this Christmas? :-)

Just now, when I’ve put down this list I’ve realised that I forgot the groceries! I guess I’ll have to rely on what’s in the fridge and the freezer and hope the Turkish shop on the corner will be open.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Product placement

Maisie walked into the kitchen. She wanted to make a cup of tea which she’d take up to her room, eager to get back to her fancy Acer Aspire One Happy. It was new, white with pink, had loads of buttons and needed her immediate attention.

When she saw her mother busy cooking in the kitchen Maisie quickly changed her mind from a cup of tea to a glass of water. Maisie’s mother loved to cook despite the fact that she was an outrageously terrible at it.

“Ah, there you are, honey! We can eat in about ten minutes. Would you set the table, please?” Her mother was enthusiastically slicing apples in her Elite Collection™ 14-Cup Food Processor. Since she got this machine two months ago, she was cooking even more. Maisie hated the machine. This shiny expensive thing with all its bowls, blades and discs did not make her mother cook better. And a good cook (like Cindy’s mother for example) didn’t need a machine to cook delicious meals.

“I’m not hungry.” – Maisie said heading for the door. “How can you not be hungry? You’ve had nothing, but a boiled egg in the morning!” “Two. I’ve had two eggs and I am not hungry yet.” “Well then, if you have nothing to do anyway, go bring some food to grandma.”

“You can use my old Navigon to get to grandma.” Maisie’s father entered the room in a rare state of excitement.  “I’ve got the new NAVIGON 70 Plus Europe 23, just had a test drive. It’s perfect!” “Dad, grandma lives across the park fifteen minutes walking from here. What the hell would I need a navigation system for?!” “I’m just saying you can use it if you want.”

Maisie took the bag with Tupperware containers and rushed to grandma. She knew the script by heart: fifteen minutes through the park; grandma on the couch smoking and watching TV; “put that crap in the dustbin, how’s school, get the hell out of here”; fifteen minutes back.  She wanted to get it over with and walked really fast. She stopped half-way when she literally bumped into a man that stood in her way. He was unshaved and looked her up-and-down with a kind of hungry look in his eyes. For a moment Maisie stared at him and suddenly a great idea struck her.

“Would you like some food? My mother prepared it with the help of the Elite Collection™ 14-Cup Food Processor. It’s delicious!” The man stared at her mute of surprise. Masie took seven Tupperware containers out of her bag and pushed them in his hands. The guy looked flabbergasted. “Have a nice meal!” – said Maisie and ran back home to her wonderful white-pink Acer.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Femke weg

Dus Femke is weg. Raar. Jammer ook. Niet dat ik op GroenLinks stem of zo. Ik vind Femke gewoon cool. En ze was er altijd sinds ik in Nederland woon. Nadat ik een kamer in een studentenhuis had gescoord, mijn studieboeken had gekocht en de weg naar de dichtstbijzijnde supermarkt had gevonden, ontdekte ik Femke Halsema. Ok, GTST was eerst. Daarna Femke. Ik ontdekte haar niet als politicus (mijn Nederlands was toen nog niet zo sterk en ik was nog niet belast met enige kennis van de Nederlandse politiek), maar als fenomeen. Ze was jong, zag er leuk uit, droeg van die aparte jurkjes en was lekker stellig. Ze kwam ook voor in een soort reclamespotje op tv (heb niet kunnen vinden op YouTube) waar ze paard reed en tegen een boom aanbotste. Weet iemand nog waar het over ging?

Ze hield het de hele tijd stug vol: goed eruitzien, leuke kleertjes en lekker stellig. Zelfs jong zijn lukt nog steeds aardig. En ze is niet echt heel hard bezig met personal branding. Ze doet gewoon haar ding. Heel bijzonder.

Maar vanaf nu krijg ik Femke dus niet meer te zien als ik weer eens een aanval van omgevingsbewustzijn krijg en dat probeer te bestrijden met het volgen van politiek debat op TV. Balen. Ik vraag me af hoe vaak ik nog last zal hebben van die aanvallen…

Lekker stellig

Friday, 17 December 2010


I fell victim to iPhone photography related applications. If you know of any institution that treats this kind of addiction please let me know.

iDroste before&after

Thursday, 16 December 2010


Today I spent forty minutes looking for the right notepad and the right page. I have about 20 notepads of different sizes with plain, squared or lined paper with all kinds of notes and scribbles. Somewhere in one of those notepads, amidst the notes and scribbles there is a page that I needed to find.  On that page I have written down my goals for this year – 2010. It was a short list of four of five points and today I felt like evaluation. Something inside me was demanding an evaluation claiming a day later might be too late. So I spent forty minutes looking for my goals.

I found them. Four. Take dancing lessons. Achieve financial stability. Get a car! Visit a new country. In that particular order.

Ok, evaluate. I took dancing lessons. Many people might have a different definition of financial stability, but I am very happy with the balance between my finances and my freedom I have managed to achieve this year. I have a car.

Right! Here’s the catch. I haven’t visited a new country yet! Now I have sixteen days to reach that goal. No, wait. It’s not that easy. I plan to stay in the Netherlands for Christmas. Which leaves me five days to leave towards a new destination. And to make it even more difficult: I’ve been almost to all countries in Europe and the ones I haven´t visited yet are rather cold this time of the year.

But no matter how complicated it seems,  I will visit a new country this year. Watch me!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


When I’m ill – a regular cold – I start behaving a little weird. Like: huh? Examples? Here you go (I warned you!):

I don’t like to touch water with my hands. No, it doesn’t matter whether the water is cold or hot. Yes, this means no washing. At all. Sorry.

I don’t like to eat. I only eat when I am forced by the hungry feeling in my stomach. Or my mother (more effective). If I have to eat I prefer warm, fluid food with little taste. Like miso soup. Not that I ever have that when I’m ill…

I sleep in a seated position. Even if I can breathe freely and I have no headache. Kind of back to the times when people believed they would die if they slept flat on their back. I am not particularly afraid of death when ill, but sleep seated anyway.

I don’t like to sleep with lights out. When there’s someone else in the house, I prefer to sleep with the door open. When I’m alone, they door may stay closed, but the small reading lamp has to be lighted.

I always feel like… knitting! As soon as I get the first signs of a cold, I crave for a couple of knitting needles and a ball of yarn. Actually I think I can turn this around: if I feel like knitting it’s time to take an aspirine.

I told you – weird.

Suits my winter mood: Apocalyptica - Nothing Else Matters

Saturday, 11 December 2010


On the yesterday’s flight the entire crew consisted of men. The captain and the pilot were men, the purser was a man and all three flight attendants were men. Male flight attendants are no surprise, although I did find it surprisingly refreshing about seven years ago when I first met one on a Swiss Air flight. Male pursers came later and then I thought that men were successfully conquering this new field of professional occupation. Yesterday was the first time I flew with the whole crew being male.

‘Wow! Emancipation!’ – I thought to myself. ‘This is good. I’ll definitely blog about it.’

Today I sat behind the computer to write down my thoughts on emancipation of men and women and on how surprisingly slow and at the same time surprisingly fast the progress is. And suddenly I thought: ‘What if this male crew is not a sign of emancipation, but a sign of yet another field taken over by men?’ So I decided to write the initial post about how fast or slow emancipation goes after I have had a flight with a female captain.

Now waiting in excitement…

The male easyJet crew brought me to a place where I was able to make this picture.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Bad weather

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

My baby

The waiting room was not warm enough so I kept my coat on. A friendly man has served me a tea in a plastic cup. The tea was close to disgusting. Warm drinks machines never produce drinkable tea. These machines can be found in places where you’d rather not be: train stations when it’s late and cold, reception rooms of larger companies where you wait for your job interviews, waiting rooms in hospitals… I guess the nature of those places contributes greatly to the lousy taste of the tea too.

I drunk my tea, checked the magazines (glossies from August 2010), glanced at the visitors (three men) and lost myself in my iPhone. Every once in a while I glanced at the large glass wall dividing the waiting room and the large space where it all was actually happening. This glass wall is a good idea, because you don’t stay in awful uncertainty while waiting. You can just watch them do what has to be done.

All of a sudden one of the men from the other side of the glass wall walked in and asked me to come along. I am not good at instant panicking, but I did realise there must be a problem. “Look – this is the problem.” He scratched her to illustrate the problem, but somehow I felt like it was my skin he was scratching. “You can have it treated properly. Or you can have us apply a temporary treatment, but that won’t solve the problem and we will not be able to give you any guarantees.” “How long will she have if I don’t have it treated?” “How long do you need?” “One year.” “She might just make it.”

She looked very vulnerable, undressed, cold. I felt sorry for her. One year is a very realistic term, maybe even slightly too optimistic. We both know it. But saying it out loud made it come very close. Something turned inside me. “Apply a temporary treatment.” I went back to the waiting room, avoiding to look at her.

I dared to look again when she was wrapped in some kind of bondage. I made a picture and resisted the temptation to come over and pat her. In about an hour they removed the bondages, cleaned her and we could meet outside. She looked gorgeous! I was overloaded by a mix of emotions: love, joy, guilt, excitement, pain – I never thought I was able to feel all of that! We left the place.

“You look fantastic!” I told her. “And now we will drive fast in the fast lane annoying all those big fast cars. And I will certainly take you some place far next year. We will travel thousands of kilometres together. And you know what? How about a thorough vacuum clean on Thursday?”

My baby Opel Corsa has a new windshield!

Brooke Fraser - Something In The Water

Social networks part 2

I have discovered Foursquare. Made a profile (sorry, no pic yet) and connected it to my FB and Twitter accounts. I let foursquare detect all my friends who use it and added them. I looked around on the site, tried different things and then moved to my phone. Places nearby: a tram stop, a supermarket, the local vet, Maarten and Kris, one of the local mosques. Wait, who are these Maarten and Kris guys?

The full address is listed. The place has a mayor. I checked his profile. The guy checks in at two locations: his home and his work. And suddenly I got curious – I already have the guy’s address, how much time will it take me to find out his phone number, place of work and date of birth.

Foursquare: home address, first name, FB profile, work, 3 friends. Facebook: surname, studies, work confirmed, relationship status, 85 friends. Use name and surname to find Twitter profile. Twitter: website of the sport society he is active in. Website: e-mail address and cell phone number.

5 minutes. I didn’t bother looking for the date of birth – got bored.

Now tell me – why should I use Foursquare?

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - Pieces Form The Whole - The Social Network

Monday, 6 December 2010

Social networks

21:20 Twitter-twitter-twitter. One of the twitterers I follow has posted something that caught my attention. I zoom into the conversation (a great feature btw).
21:22 I follow the conversation until I find someone’s response interesting. I click through to see the profile and read more tweets. There is a link in one of the tweets. I choose to follow that link.
21:26 The link leads to an article about marketing. It’s quite entertaining and short (very important!) so I read it to the end. I then follow to another article listed as related.
21:28 I scan through the article, but don’t really read it. It’s not very interesting and my attention is already caught by an item on the list of “interesting resources”. I follow the link.
22:17 The link brings me to a website with loads of resources  on social media. I get carried away and read several articles. I want to find out more about the author which is possible by clicking on her name.
22:20 I find myself on a website of a person (for a change). But I don’t stay for long – there’s a link to her FB profile. Off to Facebook.
22:26 Scroll through the posts on the wall, read the comments. There’s a funny comment by one of the friends, I check out her profile.
22:29 Scroll through the posts on the wall, read the comments, watch a video posted two days ago. Go on to the ‘Info’ tab. There’s a link to her account on Twitter which I follow.
22:33 I read her tweets for the past three days and decide to follow her. I am about to leave the page when I see the link to her website. Why not go there?
22:37 Hey, it’s a blog! I read the last five posts. Then I read the comments to these posts in reversed order (starting with the last read post). After reading the comments and occasionally commenting myself I decide to check out the people who commented.
23:02 After checking out three blogs (one post each) I suddenly find one worth reading through. I get carried reading more and more back in the time. I stop in August 2010. I need to follow this. And I want to recommend it to more people. Add it to Sasja’s frequent reads is my way of doing so.
00:09 After updating my blogroll I decide to check some of the other listed blogs – it has to stay frequent. After going through all of them, placing comments and laughing at some pictures I end up checking the visitors of one of the blogs.
00:47 I see seven absolutely worthless blogs and one Twitter profile. Scroll through the tweets (nothing exciting) and go back to my own page to see the tweets posted by the people I follow. One of the friends reflects on an issue he’d mentioned before which reminds me that I wanted to read a particular post on his blog. I move to Facebook to find the address and click through to the blog.
01:08 The post I wanted to read has been written in the beginning of September, although it feels like yesterday. It takes some time to find it, but finally I manage. I read, comment and suddenly realise there must be more people I know who have a Twitter account. Go to Twitter and try to trace those through LinkedIn. And Gmail. And Hotmail. Done.
02:11 02:11?! WTF?! And I still have to blog!

The Social Network is not an art house film, but surprisingly inspiring nonetheless.

Sunday, 5 December 2010


Next time I really will be done cooking BEFORE my guests come! I can’t remember a party at my place that wouldn’t start with me still in the kitchen. This time was no different. I also have dropped my homemade amandelstaven (is there a name for them in English?), although maybe that was for the best because I don’t believe they’d worked out very well anyway.

What always surprises me is why my guests seem to be unable to eat quite as much as I have to offer. Somehow after the vegetable pie, a salad, oliebollen, pepernoten, kruidnoten, mango milkshakes,  crisps and olives they all declared to be full and didn’t want any cheese, bonbons or ice-cream anymore. So if you feel like Ben&Jerry’s or oliebollen with hot chocolate feel free to drop by on Sunday (which is already today). I have a lot more so don’t worry - you won’t starve.

Despite the amandelstaven disaster it was a great party. Fighting for presents in a game was hilarious and it seems everybody has taken home at least one very nice present. I really need a much bigger table and more chairs so I can host bigger parties.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Dirty snow

What happened to my ability to admire snowflakes?
Why does the sound of fresh snow under my feet never excites me anymore?
Where’s the urge to throw snow balls and make snowmen?
How did the smell of the world covered in snow change that I am not able to enjoy it anymore?
When did I stop considering snowy landscapes beautiful?

When I see snow I think: dirt, slippery roads and traffic jams. I think my childhood is gone forever. And somehow that seems connected to being a car owner. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t have a car before…

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Speak with conviction! I do have my own ideas on speaking up and being articulate, but I simply have nothing to add to this:

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

P.S. In the meanwhile I am busy with preparations for the Sinterklaas celebration with friends coming Saturday and thinking over my Christmas cards for this year.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Instead of a non-stop writing marathon November became a nearly writing-free month. I stopped blogging because I wanted to write a novel. I have written about four thousand words (instead of 50.000) of which one thousand is written in a writing block, so I’d have to type that in before getting the official word count. And I didn’t pursue the writing of my novel because I was dissatisfied with the way the plot was evolving, unsure about the writing style and puzzled about the genre. These latter doubts about my novel’s genre were reflected in my writing style that resulted in the plot taking a direction I didn’t like it to go. And of course my travels to Italy were a major distraction.

Now November is over and it’s time to draw some conclusions.
1. I am not so motivated in writing a novel. The reason is either the lack of a plot, or my slightly perfectionist approach to writing, or the fact that I’m more fascinated by short stories, or maybe even the fact that I don’t really have the patience for writing as a way to fill my day.
2. I like to combine writing with pictures, music and videos. Multimedia seems much more suitable.
3. I like blogging. Whenever I think of anything that happened last year, I think of a corresponding blog post. And that’s fun. I like to have a journal. I tried to keep a journal several times before. Every five years or so I started a new one with a firm intention to hold on to it and keep on writing. It never lasted for more than three weeks, though. This time I’ve been able to keep it up for more than 18 (eighteen!!!!) months. I’d better keep on doing this. Even though blogging deprives me of topics to twitter and FB about.
4. I really crave for writing on other topics than personal. I’d love to write for a company or an organization. I’m not sure any organisation will find my style and skill suitable, but I guess there’s just one way to find out.

One of the latest discoveries (Thanks Anna!): Bright Eyes – First Day Of My Life

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