Thursday, 28 April 2011


Today I’ve discovered that there are about five million cows in the Netherlands. And a little more than seven million passenger cars. And the same amount of households. Which means there’s one car and a little less than one cow per household.

The cars are constant pain in the ass because of the pollution, traffic jams, parking problems and deadly accidents. And although in terms of pollution cows are said to be as bad as cars, I’ve never heard of cow traffic jams or cow parking problems. Deadly accidents are unlikely too. Maybe I should buy a cow instead of a car?

Saint Privat - Poisson Rouge (nothing with cows, I believe)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

25 years

It’s 25 years ago. Time flies when you’re having fun. April 26 in 1986 was nice in Kiev. It was sunny and warm and I was playing with some other girls outside. I was wearing a red and yellow chequered dress with short sleeves. We were eating (or drinking?) nectar of the cherry blossom. It’s funny a day can stay so crisp in my memory for 25 years.

The days after are shredded to pieces by time. Sudden smell of concern in the air after the 1st of May celebrations. Endless updates on security measures on TV, rolled up carpets and removed curtains, closed windows, collecting dust with a moist cloth three times a day, no school, rumours of panic on railway stations, radiological control of all flights coming from Ukraine at the Saratov airport.

I don’t know anyone who died because of the Chernobyl catastrophe. I’m not even sure I know anyone who got seriously ill after ‘consuming’ too much radiation. It’s not the physical threat that left a bleeding scar in my heart. Rather, Chernobyl catastrophe was a betrayal of such a great scale my mind has difficulty to conceive.

Millions of people were relying on the state and the state controlled media for their safety and were lied to. My country has sent fathers of my school friends to shovel cement in deadly radiation without any protection whatsoever and without informing them about the risks. My country has tried to prevent my parents from bringing me and my baby sister to a safer place. My country has lied to me about the true consequences of the catastrophe. And if my country is my home, what’s left for me?

I am sure I’m not the only one feeling angry and powerless even 25 years after the accident. Loads of research has been done to determine the actual damage of the catastrophe, but the main focus is death and illness. Has anyone ever tried to measure how many people lost trust? Wouldn’t that change the figures drastically?

And as for people that were actually confronted with death and destruction and who had to leave their homes – I guess the tragedy is much bigger for them. I wonder how they cope.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Христос воскресе!

Friday, 22 April 2011

The new business era

The E-Commerce Days in Utrecht held past Tuesday and Wednesday got me seriously confused. What do you see most if you pay a visit to the E-Commerce Days? ...? ...? Paper! Eeeeuh, what does that E stand for? The new era of making business has not started yet. Not if you judge by the exhibitors of the E-Commerce Days.

So it’s paper. It’s loads of folders, flyers and leaflets. Why on Earth would I as a potential customer be prepared to carry a ton of paper around the event whole day long? How big are the odds that I actually will read any of that? Why would I, if all the information I might need is available online?

Another puzzling fact is that all that paper has quite similar layout and text. If I stood in front of a booth it took me on average twenty seconds to determine what an exhibitor’s business was. Almost all exhibitors did their best to blend in. Instead of stand out. Interesting marketing move. I must admit, they were all very successful. Along with paper half of the stands had a coffee bar. This might have been an original idea a couple of years ago, but anno 2011 it does not work anymore.

They also had pens and paper note books with black covers. There are still people who use a pen to make notes in a paper note book. Even I have a paper note book. Not that I write in it a lot. I just like it cause it’s pretty. Does anyone in their right mind would seriously think I would like to own a half-a-kilo black object that has no purpose, looks ugly and does not fit into my bag? What kind of logic is that? One guy offered me a calculator. I asked whether it was possible to make phone calls and search the internet with it. Another company had caps with their logo on them. Who’d want to wear such a thing?!

Dear #ded2011 exhibitors, could you please explain to me why you spend money on stuff that’s useless, ugly and not original instead of coming up with something different, fancy and maybe even useful?

There was just one pen that I liked and took home with me. Hmmm.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The bus

I was lucky - the driver waited for me when he saw me running towards the bus – plus points!

He was driving fast (to catch up the time he spent waiting for me?), but took a couple of sharp turns shaking all the passengers off their seats – minus points.

He didn’t spend time unnecessarily stopping; he was fast just as we all needed him to be – plus points.

We came in a traffic jam and he was almost running over the car in front of us; no safe distance – minus points.

He took a slightly different route to avoid yet another traffic jam – plus points.

He then neglected to stop for a woman waiting at the bus stop – minus points.

He took sharp turns, was suddenly braking all the time, bumped against the curbs as he didn’t care, didn’t keep safe distance and I felt sick and unsafe all the way – minus, minus, minus points.

Maybe I wasn’t that lucky he’d waited for me...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Garden shopping

I’ve been spending money on garden plants again. I’ve discovered shopping for plants can be as rewarding as shopping for clothes. I’ve also ordered the grass for the garden. Next weekend I can pick it up at the garden centre and put it in my garden – extremely exciting. I am looking forward to the next weekend!

In the meanwhile I wonder why people buy plastic mock-ups of small dry tree branches. Or lime coloured bird house with a fake bird in it. Do they realise that pretty little pink and purple bottles hanging in the trees in their garden will not look pretty after they are filled with rain water and dead insects? And what to do with pillows decorated with brightly coloured shells and plastic flowers? Oh, by the way, if you live in The Hague I’d recommend looking out of your window. Seeing Ringnecked Parakeets in the nearest tree might stop you from buying one for €50.

New discovery: Freshlyground - Fire Is Low

Friday, 15 April 2011

I wouldn't like

I stumbled upon this writing prompt: write one leaf in the form of a list of things you never want to do. It’s quite an original idea, because usually we tend to name all kinds of things we like: things we want to do before we die, favourite reads, favourite music, favourite food. Have you ever tried to answer those ‘favourite’ questions? Did you think it was difficult to pick out just one favourite? Right.

I decided to make a list of things I wouldn’t like to do. Trust me, that’s much more difficult. But I took the time to think up some.

Things I’d never want to do:
Bungee jump.
Kill a person.
Eat insects.
Fight in a war.
Sail around the world on my own.
Use a gun.
Use drugs.
Commit suicide.
Get breasts implants.

What’s your ‘wouldn’t like to do’ list? Is it much longer?

This suits my mood: Maria Solheim - Ocean Needs Water (please be patient with a few seconds intro)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Remember the Jehovah's Witnesses that paid me a very brief visit in February? It seems they stopped by last weekend again to drop a little leaflet in my mail box. It’s an invitation for a celebration of Christ’s death (!) and a special biblical lecture on how the Bible can help to solve modern problems. Now I’ve got several issues with this invitation.

Issue one: I have two NO-NO stickers on my door indicating I don’t want to receive any unaddressed advertising, but that didn’t stop the witnesses. Usually I take the effort to complain to the advertiser, but the booklet doesn’t give any contact information other than: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania + a .org website address. I’m sure Americans don’t know anything about our NO-NO stickers but I sure can threaten them with a law suit, can’t I?

Issue two: the leaflet is in Russian. How do they know I can read that?! Did they dig up my personal data somewhere? I am sure I did not authorise anyone to provide this kind of information about me to Jehovah’s Whitnesses. And again, without any contact information in the Netherlands whom do I hand down to the Dutch Data Protection Authority?

Issue three: what if they claim to have received my personal data from the Lord himself? God sees and knows everything, right? How will Dutch court react to such an argument? And what if that’s true? Then I’d better go to the meeting.

Ideas anyone?

Found here. There’s more.

Monday, 11 April 2011


Very long ago, when EURO was still a virtual currency I went to the bank to exchange my guilders for some foreign money. I think these were Polish zlotys, but I’m not sure. I went home with a pouch made of paper and covered in plastic. The money was in there, but the pouch had the size to accommodate plane tickets and a passport. Travel documents pouch. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Time went by, EURO solved most major exchange problems. So did a credit card. Plane tickets became digital. I didn’t use my plastic pouch for a long time. Until recently when I started flying with easyJet. Frequently. The pouch proved to be strong and spacious enough to fit my ticket printouts, my id card, my iPhone and my little wallet. This way I have everything I need in my hands without needing a handbag. Personnel of easyJet has never considered my plastic pouch to be hand luggage.

Yay! to my paper-plastic travel documents pouch. And too bad it threatens to fall apart very soon. How will I fly?

P.S. If you have one of those things in a decent condition laying around unused, please do send it to me! I’d be most grateful.

Heard this on the radio the other day. Liked it. Pigeon John - The Bomb

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


The front page of the newspaper this morning looked like this:

Just after one glance I felt somehow connected with the man on the photo. What caused this feeling?

I know near to nothing about Côte d'Ivoire. Military uniforms aren’t my weak spot. Neither are guns. Nothing in my life resembles the life of this man. No. That’s not true. There is one thing.

As every decent Dutch I have a bicycle. I use it mainly for transportation purposes (faster, cheaper, more convenient) and sometimes for recreation. My bicycle is old, but everything works fine. It’s old enough to be left in the bicycle parking lot at the station, but good enough to ride 50km and relax on a sunny day. The only non-working part is the back fender. It’s not attached to the frame with a screw anymore because of the rust. Which is not a problem because that’s what tie-wraps are for – to keep bicycle parts together. I use two black tie-wraps to keep the fender in place.

As you may have heard, last Saturday was exceptionally warm for this time of the year in the Netherlands. A friend of mine and I went for a bike ride. We’d planned 50km and were going strong, but exactly halfway both of the tie-wraps were broken and the fender hang loose. There’s no way to ride another 25km with a loose fender. This would be the end of me and my bicycle.

My friend and I went to a café to have drink and ask for help. With some rope I could make it home, back to new tie-wraps. They didn’t have any rope. Instead the not very friendly girl gave us a roll of… tape. We used the tape to fix the fender and I made it home safe and sound. And I didn’t bother to replace the tape with tie-wraps.  I just ride around on a bike that holds together with sticky tape.

And that’s exactly what Alassane Ouattara and I have in common: we both use tape to keep our gear from falling apart.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The war

Enough! I am fed up! I declare a war! Two wars to be precise.

One will be against that black cat that pees in my garden and… well… you know… in my front yard. It also sits on the roof of my garden shed every night and yells the hell out of my night sleep. I tried friendly ways to let this annoying animal know I didn’t appreciate his activities on my premises: I looked him straight in the eye; I tried to scat him away every night; I sprayed animal friendly substance around the garden. Nothing worked. Yesterday I bought some animal unfriendly powder and scattered it all around the garden and front yard. It smells of garlic so badly, no creature with nostrils will dare to approach. I hope this’ll work because the next thing is shooting. I am not looking forward to a blood bath.

The second war is on snails and slugs. They scoff all plants in my garden without even giving them a chance to grow and produce more leaves. Snails don’t seem to have any notion of sustainability. DIE! I will not even try to be friendly. I have scattered anti snail and slug granules all around atop of the garlic powder. I’m not sure snails have nostrils, that’s why.

Oh, if you are a fanatic animal rights fighter, please don’t burn down my house. They started first!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Trust in mankind

Tea, shower, dressing up, make up, jewellery, button up the jacket, grab the bag, tie my newspaper to the luggage carrier on my bike. Go!

Find a place in the bicycle parking lot, lock, run, validate the ticket, line up for tea and breakfast, get annoyed by the slow service, finally get my tea and croissants plus three minutes to get a place in the train – perfect timing.

Oh no! My newspaper! It´s still tied to my bike…

I head for the train collecting a free newspaper on my way. I feel like a loser and in my mind I draw pictures of someone in the bicycle lot picking up my quality newspaper and reading it thoroughly on their way to work.

In the evening, on my way to the bicycle parking a wave of bitter regret suddenly catches me. I will not be able to enjoy my newspaper even in the evening. “Get over it!” – I tell myself while I approach my bike.

Heaven! This is shocking! My heart leaps in joy: the newspaper is still there!  Happy I rush home, throw myself on the couch without even taking my shoes and coat off and start reading.

My trust in mankind has received an enormous boost. How shall I use it? Leave my bike unlocked?

Spoon – I turn My Camera On

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