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2008-09-15 17:05

The neccessity of digital

We've put up with the stupidity of analogue watches long enough - the choice between a watch that doesn't know how many days are in a given month and one that doesn't know what day it is in the first place is a choice no person should be required to make, and that's saying nothing (which is plenty) about the reasonably well-known fact that there are actually twenty-four(24) hours in a dag and not only twelve(12). Or the representation of numbers by obscure and not especially readable forms of pointing.

So we had ourself given one of these for a passing birthdag. It synchronises itself to a convenient radio clock, it tells us when it is 17.10 by saying that it is "17.10" and it recharges itself from the day-star and can operate in frankly implausible amounts of water.

It is also very ugly and deeply unfashionable, but we frankly like it all the better for that.

2008-09-15 16:57

Being poked in the eye, and other simple pleasures of fatherhood

Little Boris spent weeks and weeks on a determined quest for the ability to crawl. Having succeeded, he immediately tired of that game and started a new quest to stand.

He succeeded in that, too, but of course he can't walk yet, so he just stands there grabbing whatever he grabbed to pull himself upright, laughing or whining as the mood takes him.

The other thing he likes is grabbing things, especially things he shouldn't, especialliest of which is Daddy's glasses. Sometimes he misses, and sometimes he goes for a second attempt even when he already has them, and this has led to an above-quota supply of scratches on our nose and teeny fingers in our various eyes.

Bless him.

2008-09-04 21:01

In praise of Schengen

We (co-)drove ten (10) hours to Polandland, whereupon we established that our passport had neglected to join us, preferring the stable environment of our kitchen and who can blame it?

Luckily no one asked to see it.

Otherwise, Polandland

  • is not as cheap as you might think, not least on their grote markts
  • is mostly full of servicepersonnel who speak English, not least on their grote markts
  • is quite pretty, not least &c.

Apart from that, we established that "nightclubs" are very common by the Cherman border - those Chermans like to dance! Otherwise there are what we can only assume are dance-instructresses loitering in many of the main-road laybys.

Also near the border there are no obvious cash machines, but there are kantors - exchange booths - every few metres along some parts of the road. We had thankfully remembered to bring some Euros, so we zwapped them for zlotys at surprising non-ruinous rates.

And there is still at least one(1) roadside truckstop with a genuine borderland feel: it was full of Real Polish Truckers with large biers and larger bellies, and we ended up communicating with the servitrice in fractured Cherman, the closest thing we had to a common langwidge. We won't tell you where it was, Varied Reader: we would not wish it to become all touristificated.

2008-08-30 14:12

And so ad infinitum

This may be too much foopball for anyone who isn't us, but we can't resist a mention of the Groningens in Zweden's Zoaraway Zportbladet.

Apparently the Gronninggen FCs are stalking Hammarby-foopball star Petter Andersson:

Vi frhandlar bde med klubben och spelaren, sger den hollndske klubbdirektren Hans Nijland till Sportbladet.

"We're negociating with the club and the player", says the Dutch clubdirector Hans Nijland to the Soaraway Sportbladet.

He's expensive, by Zwedish standards, but the Groningen FCs are currently fairly flush with cash:

Men lget dk nyligen upp d den offensive mittfltaren Stef Nijland sldes till PSV fr drygt 30 miljoner kronor.

But the situation recently perked up when the attacking midfielder Stef Nijland was sold to the Eindhoven PSVs for around 30 million kronors.

Yup, Nijland pre really did trade his own son to the PSVs to raise the cash for this. Now that's what we call parenting!

With all the good Dutch players working in Eng-ger-lnd or Espain, Dutch clubs in general and the Groningens in particular are asset-stripping the yet weaker Scandiwegian leagues for replacements. (Where the 'Wegians go to stock up we have no idea. If our Varied Reader does, we're all ears.)

2008-08-30 14:02

You can prise our Chteau Slobber from our cold dead hands, and don't think you can't

Allegedly, French slobberwijn is on the way out:

Frankrijk exporteerde 6,9 procent minder hectoliter naar ons land, maar de totale waarde nam slechts met 0,8 procent af.

De tijd dat de wereld massaal Franse slobberwijn dronk, lijkt daarmee voorbij.

France exports 6.9 percent fewer hectolitres to our country, but the total value only decreased by 0.8 percent.

The time that the world at large drank French slobberwine seems to have passed.

Stupid world! Slobberwine is the very best that there is: a five-litre plastic jerrycan of Pays de Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell for about 3.50 is a thing to be cherished, not scorned.

Still all the more for us, we suppose, unless the dastardly French wijnmakkers succeed, as they depressingly often do, in getting the EU to subsidise a lake of it somewhere and forget to invite us to zwim in it.

2008-08-29 21:13


1. Where, you ask or enquire, are the family Rder camping this year?

Why, in Stockholm! And they're not alone:

Familjen Rder r inte ensam om att vlja Stockholm. Cirka 70 procent av campingens gster i augusti r utlndska turister. Frmst r det tyskar, nederlndare och italienare som sker sig till Stockholm.

The Rder family aren't alone in choosing Stockholm. Around 70 percent of the campings guests in August are foreign touristes from abroad. It's above all Chermans, Dutchers and Italiens who make their way to Stockholm.

It is of course widely accepted that their is no campsite in Yoorp where Dutch are not at least a large minority of the residents, but what the Italians are thinking remains, as always, a mystery.

We vaguely remember that mobile homes were mildly comical back when only Murkans had them, but they are - we are almost 2/3 Dutch so we know these things - a fast-growing segment of the camping market, at the expense of caravans.


Espain's tourisme market on the other hand is somewhat tanking, and the housing market is worse.

In recent years Spain has built more houses than the UK, France and Germany put together. The construction industry has accounted for a fifth of all jobs created in Spain since 2000.

We have mixed feelings about the bursting of this bubble: on the one hand, one of our favourite sources of Schadenfreude is the Engleesh TV programs (with narrative replaced with Dutch) in which dull-witted Engleesh losers seek to settle in Espain and find themselves weighing up the respective merits of a disintegrating shack in the middle of nowhere with a view of arid scrubland (invariably described as "beautiful") and a concrete shoebox set in a beserk hive of other concrete shoeboxes, where they plan to support themselves selling English breakfasts to ex-pats and spend their spare time being surprised that (a) there are bureaucrats in Espain and (b) said bureaucrats are often disinclined to speak Engleesh or to accept that Engleesh ways are demonstrably better than their own.

(Sometimes there are people who want to settle in France instead, but they tend to be dull stick-in-the-muds ("sticks-in-the-mud") who are willing to learn the langwidge and integrate into the society, insofar as "integrate" means converting a disused barn into a ghastly open-plan "cottage" with an aga cooker and all the pseudo-rustic trimmings and sending their children to a village schools that will shut in two(2) years tops when the last native family moves away to somewhere were there is actually a chance of gainful employment. But we digress.)

The downside, though, is that these programmes will presumably at some point cease to be made, albeit that the Dutchification runs a couple of years behind so that moment is at least not especially imminent.

3. Ukuleles!

Apparently they're all the rage in France! And, although we're not going to link them, in Belgium. (If we never hear another group of hapless indie-kids plunking away with more fornlornness than eptitude on their ukes it will be quite soon enough, thankyouverymuch.)

But still: ukuleles!

4. Go Groningen Go!

The Netherlands-and-Belgium is trying to lure the foopball worldcup of 2018 to their respective parishes.

There was some idle talk of Groningen participating, but the newly-built Jumboborg - home of FC Groningen, the self-styled Pride of the North - has about half of the required capacity of 40,000 seats and is in now way capable of that kind of extension.

The city's governing coalition thought long and no doubt hard about how this circle could be squared, before coming up with a brainwave: they have told the prospective organisers where they can stick their so-called tournament.

Groningen is certainly a fine city, but it is also a fairly small one (c. 200,000 persons) and it is not our opinion that it would especially improved by the attendence of 40,000 international foopball fans. There is, just for starters, no sensible way of overnightly accommodating such a throng, and we for one salute our elected representatives for their foresight.

5. Obligatory Zizek linkage

Did you know he like Hegel?

Aside from a property, what's the most expensive thing you've bought?

The new German edition of the collected works of Hegel.

What is your most treasured possession?

See the previous answer.

6. What you've got: The not knowing thereof until it's (thankfully temporarily) gone

Boris is in bed and it is weekend, and I am all alone playing on the Interwebs and paying very little attention to the UEFA Super Something foopball on Belgian TV.

A few years ago, and admittedly without Boris, we wouldn't have found this quite so boring and lonely, but we are now very used to the Countess being around and quite frankly even Belgian TV is by no means an acceptable substitute.

It's even more irritating that when she comes home we will (probably) be eating sossages in Polandland by way of fortifying ourself for discussions about Web Services. (We only have one(1) thing to say about Web Services but sadly it is by no means suitable for a family blogue.)

2008-08-27 20:14


We've got a test of our dynamic scheduling software tomorrow; today we found out that the environment has mutated in such a way that none of it works at all.

Then we have Friday to bodge together some Other Stuff before we head off to the Polandland Hackathon.

Meanwhile, the Countess has followed her usual late-August migratory patterns and buggered off to some pokey little non-Euro slum - although since last year's destination Slovakia has since repented of its ways and signed up, she's been reduced to heading for Blighty.

And in fact I will leave before she gets back, so you can imagine the babysittingchaos we're having around here. (Touch wood, everything is arranged to everyone's more or less satisfaction. Although Boris van 't Blad wasn't especially consulted.)

La flippinge rentre, isn't it?

2008-08-25 17:37

A Good Thing

There's a preview of the Dutch foopball season over at tehgrauniad. If this does indeed turn out to be a regular feature, we will be a happy us.

(Our newspaper of choice is the nrc.lowercase which has many admirable properties, but extensive coverage of the foopball isn't especially one of them.)

2008-08-24 14:15

Prolegomena to any future theory of the Lympicks

After considerable research (all of it conducted on the sofa, but only some of it in a state slack-jawed stupor), it has come to our attention that a satisfactory explanation of the Lympicks must necessarily be grounded on a theory of a Multiverse.

Rather than being a single cornucopia of sporting excellence, the Lympicks have in fact demonstrably sharded along national boundaries into an eclectic and incoherent collection of cameos by Local Heroes.

The British Lympicks, as covered by the BBC, have largely been played out on the velodromes and the sailing lakes. The Dutch Lympicks feature - unlike any other we're aware of - waterpolo prominently, as well of course as the Chewdo. The Cherman Lympicks are the only ones we know of to have featured weight-lifting, which is a shame because we quite like that.

Belgium has mostly chosen not to have a Lympicks, but they wisely made an exception for the ladies' spring-sprong, in which their Glorious National Beanpole may very well have set a new world record for the springiest sprong ever sprung while wearing spectacles. (As a tall and albeit decreasingly thin Belgian person with glasses, we found this particularly heartening.)

Fragments of these Lympick Multiverses occasionally coalesce. Most of these occasions seem to be prompted by an obscure reality-distortion field given off by Jamaican speedsters, but once - and only once, so far as we know - their was a genuinely international moment, in the Very Long Zwim where the Netherlands, Team GB-land and Chermany went head to head for honour and baubles. (As we recall the Dutch zwimmer won it, but we were after all watching on Dutch television. What happened in the Cherman and British editions is anyone's guess.)

We did get to see some of South Koreans sticking it to the Cuban man in the provisionally last edition of Lympick honkbal though, and that was certainly something. (We're not sure what, though.)

2008-08-24 13:55


Next week we're off to Poznan in zonnig Polandland, then at some point in Zeptember we're being dispatched to Bologna, for a Very Long Pasta Sauce meeting or something.

Irritatingly, we have nothing even remotely resembling a satisfactory phrasebook in Polish, and we have our doubts that "everyone" there speakies the Engleesh.

We have plenty of Italian boeks, though, and we will certainly attempt to pick up a new Paperino and a Dylan Dog. Not that we've read any of the previous ones we bought, since they have a tendency to be in Italian.

In the spirit of "taking positives" from all of this, it does at least mean that any desire we might have to travel further than our local neighbours (France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Chermany) is being satisfied at the tax-payers' expenses.

2008-08-17 16:23


It wasn't always zonnig in Zonnig Twente, and with Boris van 't Blad making his morning debuts around 06.00 there was more than enough time to savour Dutch Lympick coverage in the schoonouders voortent.

The big sport in the Netherlands, it surprised us and may suprise our Varied Listener to discover, is judo: an obscure Japanese version of the well-known party-game Twister(TM), only played in pyjamas and without a colour wheel.

The Netherlands, reasoning no doubt correctly that it would not be able to compete in real sports, has opted for a policy of targetting judo bronze medals in bulk quantities and pretending that that counts for something, and the national TV coverage goes along with this, presumably on the grounds that anything is more interesting than yet another world-record by the FDR's zwimmiest of the zwimmiest, Michael Wossname.

Anyway, when someone in a game of judo falls on their back (and frankly it very often looked to us as if they were tripped, but the jury never seemed to mind) everyone shouts "Ippon!" and they all stop, which is a relief for all concerned and not least the viewers.

So now when we are changing Boris's nappies ("diapers") and he won't stay still, we pretend it is a game of baby-judo and we shout "Ippon! Ippon!" everytime we get him on his back.

Unfortunately for all concerned, and we don't know if it's the lack of pyjamas or fact that he has neglected to learn any Chapanese, he never accepts that this means the game is over. Foolish child!

2008-08-17 16:09

More campnings

Zo, this time we put up our chuicy big tent in Zonnig Twente, which even remembered to be zonnig some of the time.

The weirdest thing was that most of the season-places were occupied by unoccupied caravans, lending a slightly ghostcamping feel to the place. The other weirdest thing that there wasn't so much as a zwing or a slijd to amuse the thuswise-amusable childrens.

Boris van 't Blad was perfectly content with the ducks and the bunny rabbits, and his parents - dont nous - were content with the view of the lake and the zwimmability of the lake, so everyone was happy one way or another.

Also, in thrilling 'bladet-evaluation news, we have upgraded our opinion of the Twentsche Courant Tubantia: it is actually very good. Good enough to be Cherman, really, and very much in the Cherman spirit. (They might not take that as a compliment, but it is meant as one.)

There was something of a Skibbereen Eagle feel to their editorials on the South Ossetia gedoe, but that's not in itself a bad thing. And they apparently have their own correspondent in Moscow, which is more than this 'bladet can claim.

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