Sunday, March 30, 2008

What's happening..?

Meet Geert Wilders, a Dutch MP.

He's put together an anti-Koran video which was released on a video sharing website, because none of the TV-senders in the Netherlands would air it... probably with good reason. The video looks like something put together by semi-educated 15-year-olds.

The video itself consists of old footage of the Madrid and London Underground bombings, 9/11, a beheading.... gruesome bloody footage, imposed with heart-tugging string musics and verses of the Koran insighting violence on infidels. The video ends with the 'inevitable future' of the Netherlands, under Muslim law. It's pure emotive propaganda.

My favourite part is the bit where he shows a 'picture' of a convicted killer (who killed a Dutch TV producer), which is actually the face of a current Muslim actor and rapper in the Netherlands. Ag, you know these people... they all look alike anyway.

If you're interested, you should be able to view the video by searching "Fitna" on youtube or Personally, I feel the world should only start paying Geert attention when he dyes his hair a more natural colour (his current hair colour borders on green).

In the biggest hypocrisy, a man was arrested in Amsterdam for saying what Wilders says... but using 'Jew' and 'Judaism' instead of Muslim and Islamic. Wilders is revered for expressing freedom of speech, and this guy is arrested for saying the same things but about different people? How the fuck does that work?

IN other news, I joined NC for a trip to the Weddingbeurs (exhibition) to see if we could brainstorm any inspiration for her upcoming big day. The fashion show was interesting. It had all the usual elements: pretty, elegant ladies in white flowing gowns, accessorised by a few well-manicured 'grooms'... garnished with a roll-on bed (complete with a bridal make-out session), a bride on roller skates and a lesbian bridal snog on stage. All of this went down without so much as a blink from the crowded audience. I must be really traditional - I was not expecting girl on girl action at the Bridal Expo.


I also thoroughly enjoyed the idea of getting the bridal couple made as "Taart Toppers" for the wedding cake. Now, instead of just being conventionally gawdy, you can take kitschness one step further and put YOURSELF on the cake!

Tarty Toppers:
Mini-me the bridal couple:

So classy, it makes me cry a little.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Windmill Will

I think that more people should know about this man.


Because he did this.

What an amazing man. I feel ashamed that I haven't done anything with my tertiary degree, compared to what he did without formal education.

That's it. You can read the articles and his blog for yourself.
Forgive me. It's late, I have a cold and a throat infection, and I'm not feeling very eloquent.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

White Easter

In the Netherlands, they have a saying for this time of year: "April, doet wat wil." April can do anything. This year, that's certainly applied for March. The weather varies from sunny to windy, stormy, hailing, sleeting and snow - a few times each day.

So it was an interesting Easter, to wake up on Monday morning to a mild blizzard.

We pottered off to Groningen to visit the fortified village of Bourtange on the German border. It's a random place to visit (because it's 3 hours away and there is not much to do once you've circum-nativigated it in 30minutes), but was a lovely weekend as we were joined by Mills's siblings.

We had a monster of an easter egg hunt on Sunday morning. We hid them in the garden around our self-catering bungalow (although Mills's sister chose to hide them in the neighbour's garden, which got a bit awkward when they opened their curtains). We did have a few artistic differences, as Mills and his family take great delight in hiding eggs as inaccessibly as possible, while I'm more a fan of keeping them in eyesight (in order to speed up the consumption process).
The view from our bungalow on Sunday...
...And then on Easter Monday.

Despite having to dodge a few hail/snow storms to stay dry, the weekend went smoothly. We had to trudge through the sludgy snow to get to work this morning, but at least we didn't get stuck in the massive traffic jams around Holland. Scroll down in this story to see the traffic report. The red bits are where traffic has come to a complete standstill. According to the news reports, there was over 800km of unmoving vehicles in the Netherlands... a country estimated to be three times the size of the Kruger National Park. Which is really not that big for that much traffic.

Included in the same story is this link, showing kids who found a patch of black ice on a road in Brabant this weekend. They claim to have phoned the authorities first... and then, with true journalistic ethics, hung around to film cars and bikes handling the unexpected slippery surface. With interesting results.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today's BS news story

This poppycock on today:

Easter is the new Christmas, according to Tuesday’s ADnewspaper which points out that last year supermarkets offered an Easter assortment of 80 products and have now extended this to 100.

Market researchers are queuing up to explain how Easter is increasing in popularity and supermarket Albert Heijn even has a ‘theme manager Easter’.

Joop Holla of research agency GfK expects turnover to increase by 7% this weekend, although he does say some of this will be due to general price rises. ‘Easter is a more personal holiday than Christmas which fits in with the trend towards individualisation,’ said Lex de Witt from Trendbox.

And according to Albert Heijn’s Chantal Wijnbergen, people eat a lighter dinner
than at Christmas, opting for chicken and salmon rather than game. ‘And brunch is
popular, so we have thought up all sorts of brunch varieties,’ she said.

Easter is definitely bigger than Christmas in The Netherlands. This is mostly because Christmas is overshadowed by Sinter Klaas celebrations in the festive season. Shops start selling easter eggs at about midnight on 26th December (that's what it seemed like anyway). But I was definitely not aware that supermarkets have upped their stock by 20% - and added more brunch variety! Fascinating.

I have no idea what the hell Lex de Witt was banging on about - 'Easter is more personal than Christmas which fits the trend of individualisation.' Huh?

Almost as interesting as the story that piano tuners are a dying trade in South Africa. Although this story is actually quite emotive. Where HAVE all the piano tuners gone... long time passing..?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mucking in

(Disclaimer - I've just realised that I've written this whole post about Mills. Heather Mills, not my Ginger Bearded Boyfriend!)
I haven't been following the Mills-McCartney case. I do know that Heather is not well liked in the press, but hey - everybody loves to hate celebs.

On the Beeb this morning, they showed a few quotes from Mills after the divorce ruling... and either the British press really are good at vilifying saints, or Heather Mills really does herself no favours in the public image department.

My favourite quote was regarding her daughter's wellbeing. You see, poor Beatrice has only been awarded 35,000 GBP per annum for maintenance. I realise that in Paul's books that is a pittance, but Mills made the following argument: 'while her father will be flying first class, poor Beatrice will have to make do with flying second class. Of course, I'll pay for her ticket so she won't have to suffer like this..'

I'm paraphrasing, because I can't get to the full quote for some reason, but poor poor Beatrice. I truly feel for her - having a mother like that. My god. I could probably have mustered up some compassion if Mills had argued that Beatrice would not be able to enjoy the same educational standards as her McCartney half-siblings. But flying first class? Shame. Poor lass.

Actually, the more I watched of Mills as she talked outside the court, the more aggrevated I got. The woman is completely unhinged and people pay attention to her. It gets my blood right up - along with headlines featuring Pete Doherty and Jade-fucking-Goodie.

So what did Heather Mills do to gain the spotlight?

Before her marriage to Lord Macca, she was a model. This irked my interest enough to investigate, because at first glance I really didn't think she had anything to model. Yes, yes, all models are airbrushed, but most of them at least look decent in a semi-flattering camera light. Mills looks one button short of a straightjacket.

A (very quick) image search on google turned up some interesting pics. Yes, Mills is/was a model. A "glamour" model. I can't say this without snorting. In the UK, for some reason, soft pornstars are known as glamour girls. I'm not sure what's glamorous about showing full frontal minge (hairy or not), but there you go. Glamour model Mills. You can look it up yourself if you like, I'm not putting those pictures here.

Right, so Lord Macca was lead by his idiot handle into a marriage without a prenup. Stupid Paul. They spent four years together and then split up. Heather wanted about a quarter of his fortune for her efforts.

For what... being a devoted wife while he was out creating hit after hit with the Beatles? Because she gave up her career in order to nurture his genius while he was at his creative peak? She was born in 1968.

The judge rightly decided that the crazed woman did not have claim to McCartney's full wealth and so she was awarded a measly 24,3million pounds, plus 35,000 a year for her poor daughter. I know it's all relative, but that's hardly destitution. And yes, Mills might just have to fork out a little bit extra for her daughter's A-class air tickets, but that's what parenting's about sweetheart, both parents have to put in a little bit. It's not just from daddy's pocket.

To add more bunnies to the pot, Mills chucked water on the legal opposition after the decision was handed down. Classy.

There's also the story about Heather Mills impersonating a journalist by the same name.

And Sussex police are getting tired of Mills's trigger-happy dialing finger. After just one day of reading up on the woman, I've got to agree with them... Britney is missing a padded cellmate.

An image consultant interviewed on BBC was asked what Mills could/should do to mend her image in the press. The short answer - disappear completely and come back in a few years time...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Miss. Celine Milan

Lucky me. One Miss. [sic] Celine Milan has solicited my personal help in order to save her from financial ruin (and make myself very rich in a hurry). However, I have declined this kind offer for a number of editorial reasons...

Dearest, [Ed - if you have my email details, at least address the letter to me. It's common courtesy]

It is my pleasure to contact you for a business venture which I intend to establish in your country. Though I have not met with you before but I believe, one risk confiding in succeed sometimes in life [Business letter writing 101: Edit it].

There is this huge amount of Seven million five Hundered Thousand U.S dollars ($75,000.00) [This is 75 thousand, you innumerate] which my late Father kept for with a Fiduciary Fund Holder [nice use of thesaurus, or at least Wikipedia] in Abidjan before his death [No full stop. Lose more grammatical points]

Now I have decided to invest these money [Bad English. Minus 50 points] in your country or anywhere safe enough outside Africa for security and political reasons. I want you to help assist me claim and retrieve these fund from the Fiduciary Fund Holders and transfer it into your personal account in your country for investment purposes and my education [Maybe then you can like to make more better con letters]. If you can be of an assistance to me I will be pleased to offer to you 20% Of the total fund [Of the $7,5million or $75,000? There's a difference].

I await your soonest response.
Respectfully yours,

Miss. Celine Milan

After careful consideration of all the facts available, I must decline this respectful invitation, based largely on your lack of imagination. Mister Dobi Abdijbanga from Nigeria had a much better story about his dying (double amputee) mother's fortune being appropriated by corrupt governmental officials. Plus he offered 50% of the loot, if I kindly provide my bank details for his personal use. So I'm going with that offer instead.

ps. I don't care how respectfully mine you are, please stop sending me this shit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Homesick moment

This evening, sitting at drinks after hockey, I had a moment. I have them on occassion (probably more often than I'd like to admit). Sometimes it's because I miss a family member, or my little big sis, or my dogs... tonight it was the Ballerinas.

I miss you porn stars.

My current hockey dames are cool, in an okayish kind of way. We play hockey, they talk over my head, around me, or occassionally at me, in Dutch. As much as I understand most of what's going on, there's a lot of babbelen that I miss. Especially when they branch off into pairs or groups of three and all have different conversations, which confuses the hell out of my Dutch understanding (because then I hear every third sentence from every other conversation). Sometimes, it's very lonely.

There are no Girls of the Playboy mansion characters. No Peaches, Cracksisters, Nandos or noombies. No goal celebrating "hiep-hiep-SooRAY!" and no banshee cries of "I'm just gonna go CRAAAAZY!" at a random midweek practice.

It's just not the same, you know.

So to the Ballerinas, please will you: flash some noombie, shake some ass - and raise a cane and cremie to your cloggie comrade who's having a nostalgic moment.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Weather has happened overnight

This morning I got to work to find my desktop covered in anything that was not stapled to a solid surface. Including Vern the Love Fern. Every miscellaneous piece of office equipment was balanced precariously on my PC, monitor and keyboard. My mouse was unplugged... and my chair had lost its wheels.

All this, because I left work yesterday before my team mates (Fat Kid and Duckface) went home. So childish.

On previous occassions (yes, my computer has been treated to similar abuse more than once), my chair was also sodden from a cup of water, which I sat, I mean squelched down in.

In response, I set Duckface's autocorrect to change the to small penis. He is even less of a computer genius than me. His reaction was priceless... "I... I... did NOT... type that!!"

I also hid the Fat Kid's stash of crisps and chocolates, which was small consolation but at least gave me a reason to smile in retaliation. I need more creative ideas though. Any suggestions?

The MD was in this morning to hear my distressed cry/whine of, "where have they hidden my chair's wheels...?!" So she subsequently sent out a general email announcing that today was "Be EXTRA Nice To Koekie Day," instructing the Fat Kid and Duckface to wait on me hand and foot.
I'd prefer to call it Princess Koekie Day (it just rolls off the tongue), but the gesture was appreciated.

Moving on to top news. The weather in the Netherlands is windy.

This will most definitely not be reported in the daily papers tomorrow (unlike other countries), but it does mean that Central Station runs on a minimal service at a time when more people are using public transport than bikes. The reason? Because one of the multistorey buildings above the tram station consists largely of glass windows, which are not set but are rather precariously balanced in frames that could fall out in strong gusts of wind. Who the hell was the architect/engineer who okayed that design?

Hmmm, Netherlands. Windmills. Windy. So we'll just balance this wall of 3m x 3m glass panes seven storeys up. I'm sure it'll be fine... If not, we can just close off the central station down below. No worries.

Further to the trams being rerouted this evening, the robots/traffic lights/verkeerlichte around Central station were also out of order. This was a really interesting case study. Rosebank during a power outage is like poetry in motion compared to Den Haag centraal this evening. There's none of this one-one-one flow which we sometimes manage to synchronise in SA (provided no arsehole stuffs it up)...

What I witnessed this evening was a slow creep until all vehicles (including bikes) are bumper to bumper, wedged into each other in the middle of each intersection... kinda like an Escher work of art. Then it's just a matter of wills as to who has right of way.

Fortunately I was on the bus. When it comes to private property over municipal property... the bus driver wins simply by caring less about his vehicle's front fender.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Random Rant

Dear BBC

I understand the fact that your coastline (and Scotland's, which is apparently sometimes British and most times not) is being buffeted with storms and high tides. I also understand that you love any weather-related topic that you can turn into a terror-inducing headline.

However, I think this reader quote is pushing the boundary of newsworthy:

"We have had very heavy rain and wind overnight -
Gal, Sunningdale"

Please, please can you tell me why this comment should be highlighted in a news story? Please.

Unless Gal is a prodigious 6-month old baby, or a talking goat, this comment does not warrant any further discussion, let alone highlighting. At the very least, you could've added an 'e' onto the name. I know how you pommies love your witticism, and a solid dose of nominative determination is never lost on me.

Feel free to transfer this onto a post-it note and stick it on your news room fridge:
"We have had heavy rain and wind overnight" counts as weather, not news.

ps. loved the piece on gout this morning.
Keep up the good work.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The world's problems solved

You know what the problem is? I mean the real, root problem of the world?
I think it's over-population. I realise this may sound a bit like a Beeb headline ("New research has proven that over-population is causing world resources to be diminished...") but it goes deeper than global warming and traffic jams.

I think over-population is why people are so rude to each other and why there is no such thing as customer service any more (KLM). When there are so many other people to care about when pushing your way onto a train, a tram, or a ski lift, why even start to bother?

This week on the slopes, I noticed that our group attitude changed from surprise and shock at the shoving - to "well if other people don't care about me, why should I care about them?" The fact that his skis are over and across my snowboard indicates fairly conclusively that I was there first... but he is prepared to go over me to get to the chairlift three seconds earlier. So I feel justified by putting my backfoot on his skis, kicking his skipoles out from under him and pushing off.

Or something like that.

I also blame over-population for poor service. Customer Reps have a lot of people to deal with, most of whom will be complaining. And probably rightly so. So when you use the haughty threat of, "I'm taking my business elsewhere!", you get the same facial expression as I do from my pet fish in the morning (yes, Deaky is still alive). You might even get a shrug (from the rep, not my fish).

Did you know that in Venice, they sell bird food laced with contraceptive? They actually encourage people to feed the the pigeons, in order to stop them breeding. I love this idea, and I think it could be used with other species. Contraceptives in the water would cure all the world's problems. If you can afford bottled water, you can afford to have babies. For the record, I'd be drinking tap water.

Seriously, think about it. Why do people feel the need to kill themselves by diving in front of a commuter train? I think it's got less to do with a desperate cry for help and more to do with recognition. Yes, well done. Your bloody dismembered body parts have affected the lives of several thousand people. We still don't know your name, but YOU made a difference in a busy, packed world.

Why do those US pubes feel the need to kill as many fellow students as possible in one afternoon? Because otherwise, their teenage angst would be lost to the world, with so many other people/problems/teenagers with acne trying to compete for attention.

See, it all boils down to over-population. I like to think that in small rural (possibly very dusty) villages, people are still polite and offer some form of after-sale care. Call me idealistic.

I'm sure there are more examples to this hypothesis, but right now I have to get ready to kick a few small children and their teenage parents out of my way to work.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

And we're back

The holiday started out well. I forgot my passport at home. An awesome realisation to make on the train, 5 minutes away from the airport. I had to race home by taxi, and paid 180 euros for the stress.
Now, remember the KLM dilemma? We booked KLM flights three months before our holiday. Then we learnt that we were not going to make our transfer (a once weekly event) to the ski lodge. We tried to change, NOT CANCEL, our KLM details. KLM would not allow this, not even two and a half months before. We were informed that we could not cancel our flights, we couldn't change, upgrade. Fuck nothing.

So, we booked a new outgoing flight through BA and left the KLM booking. Back to the actual day, we made our first flight into London. The transfer from London to Venice was delayed by 40 minutes due to the original flight staff being stuck in Manchester. The replacement staff could only have been called out of retirement, judging by the average age.

We got to our lodge at midnight on Saturday, to learn that our snowboarding lessons which I had requested for 14:30 on Sunday afternoon, were in fact booked for 08:30. I had email correspondence to prove otherwise. Mild chaos on Sunday morning as we arranged gear rental and rearranged lesson times.

The lessons themselves were relatively uneventful. Mills and I spent a lot of time on our bums, hips, knees and heads. During one tumble, I opened my eyes to see nothing but my snowboard - and clear blue sky. A few backsomersaults later, I was ready to try standing again.

On the Wednesday, just as I was getting bold enough to try a few slopes outside of the kindergarten area, I effectively demonstrated how to "catch edge" and flung myself facefirst down a slope, banging my knee properly in the process. A snowmobile was sent to transport me to meet an ambulance. I was mortified. The first aid dude couldn't speak English but kept insisting "Ambulenzi. Picture. Picture." and pointing at my knee. I insisted that I really didn't want an ambulenzi, so he eventually conceded to just take me back to the lodge. The only time I used the ski-in, ski-out facility of our accomodation was when I was on the back of the snowmobile. I stayed off the board for the rest of the week and focussed my attentions on dominating the table tennis tournaments.

Then on the final evening, Mills went to check in for our return flight home. Seasoned travellers will probably foresee what we didn't...

Although we couldn't cancel our tickets on request, apparently KLM can. When we didn't book in for our first leg, we apparently forfeited our return flight. It was in our terms and conditions, according to KLM. No compensation, no reimbursement. No after-sales. Fuck nothing.

We were forced to find alternative transport the night before. Three hours later, and 560 euros later, we had new transfer flights - again back through London. Unfortunately, our first flight was late on Saturday evening and the next was early Sunday. This entailed organising accommodation for Mills and I, as well as for my brother (who was supposed to be meeting us at the airport on our return... which wasn't going to happen now). We ended up crashing at Kop's place, who kindly slept on the couch (he didn't have much choice as he was out on the town when we crawled into his bed). You see how many people KLM have inconvenienced?

When preparing to check-in at Venice, I noticed "Cancellato" next to our flight. We decided to ignore this minor detail as there were two Easyjet flights at the same time. It simply was not an option to be considered.

Up at 4:30am on Sunday to make our 7am final flight. We had already been travelling for almost 24 hours - to get back from Italy, normally a 2 hours direct flight. Easyjet boarded our flight, then informed us that due to some twat checking in and not arriving for boarding, the baggage was being unpacked and we had missed our take-off time slot. The next take-off slot was in two hours time. We would not be disembarking. They offered all passengers a glass of water as compensation. A baby started screaming in the front row. I didn't blame it.
Finally, a full 30 hours after leaving our ski lodge, Mills and I trudged into our flat with my brother in tow.

And that is why I hate KLM. More to follow on that subject.
Despite all our travelling woes, the week was fantastic. A holiday with four vets, one dentist, two doctors, a biokinetisist (I'm too lazy to look up how to spell that) and a dietician leads to very interesting dinner conversation... "WHY are we talking about urinary tracts again??"

The vets also introduced me to a term called Vestiphobia. A fear of clothing. At first, I thought they were making it up - but I now truly believe they have an adversity to clothing. They even went snowboarding naked in fading daylight. Their enthusiasm was contagious, which resulted in naked bumboarding on the slope outside our lodge on the final night. Skidding off the bumboard brought a whole new meaning to freezer burn - and "bottom's up!"