All 35 entries tagged 2005

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June 09, 2005

Lost in Translation? Dutch Idioms

After the immense success of me translating fitting and pun-like idioms into several casual conversations, it thought it might be time to take this to a higher level. A few examples:

Mandi: I can’t believe why the Warwick Blogs team tells me off for breaching copy right laws, and others just get away with it.
Me: Well, after all, you are the Offbeat dj coordinator. And high trees catch a lot of wind.
Mandi: What does that mean?
Me: Ask them about it, and the monkey will come from the sleeve!


High trees catch a lot of wind: important people get more shit for mistakes they make.

There comes the monkey from the sleeve: The truth comes upon the table; reality becomes clear.

*Even if a monkey wears a gold ring, it is and will be an ugly thing. (Some things are just kitsch even if tons of money is invested in it.)

*Not to let anyone eat the cheese of your bread. (Not to allow others to walk all over you.)

*Carrying water to the sea. (Performing a futile task.)

Feel free to use these expressions as you please. No copyright attached.

June 07, 2005

British Peculiarities II: British Food

Following up on British Peculiarities I just felt interested about British breakfast and food culture in general. Poached egg, sausages (ok, I admit, I’m a veggie so here’s my bias) and beans on toast just don’t have that appeal to me. I feel many of the “continentals” share my views on this.

And seriously, have you ever seen a country before that devotes an entire pathway in the supermarket to different kinds of cereals? I think this is, sociologically seen, quite an interesting phenomenon.


Some fishermen pulled a bottle from the deep. In it was a scrap of paper, on which were written the words: “Someone, save me! Here I am. The ocean has cast me upon a desert island. I am standing on the shore waiting for help. Hurry. Here I am!”
“There is no date. Surely it is too late by now. The bottle could have been floating in the sea a long time,” said the first fisherman.
“And the place is not indicated. We do not even know which ocean,” said the second fisherman.
“It is neither too late nor too far. The island called Here is everywhere,” said the third fisherman.
They all felt uneasy. A silence fell. So it is with universal truths.

This very powerful piece of writing comes from “Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts. Seventy poems by Wisława Szymborska”, to be found in the university library.

June 06, 2005


The pebble
is a perfect creature

equal to itself
mindful of its limits

filled exactly
with a pebbly meaning

with a scent which does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire

its ardour and coldness
are just and full of dignity

I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth

- Pebbles cannot be tamed
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye

From: Zbigniew Herbert, Selected Poems, available in the uni library (once I’ve returned it!)

June 03, 2005

Student Arts Festival

Writing about web page

Week ten is coming closer, and so is the Student Arts Festival! As I recently started drumming for a band, just for fun, I’m thrust into some new developments: a jam in the Cooler! Apparently my band is called The Multiskins, and apparently I’ll be playing along with them!

Naturally, my other band Panama‘ll be playing as well, venue and exact date still to be confirmed, but it seems it’s going to be on the Tuesday of week ten.

Come check it out, or check the web page for more info!

June 02, 2005

Instant Autobio: Busy Days

The last few days have been marked by much craze around my head. Today was the first day (out of two) of exams for me. In the running up to Thursday, I was occupied with preparatory work and revision for my exams on Making of the Modern World (history) and Sociological Imagination and Investigation (guess).

Simultaneously, I was distracted by the grand events taking place on the dry mainland of our continent. After a hard day’s revision in the library on Sunday, I came home to hear that the French had defeated the European constitution by a majority of fifty-odd percent. Quite happy with this news (as by now I’m a convinced anti) I speculated that there would be no turning point for Holland either, on the first of June. And I proved to be right, only more right than I had predicted myself. A defeat of some 61% came as quite a surprise to me, from the flexible, Euro-oriented Dutch. Yet the feeling of discontent and love of independent freedom was quite likely to have contributed to the Dutch “nee”.

In a good mood, I decided to go to the Graduate yesterday, for a pint. Sharliza was around too, and asked me to drum a song for her. So, I found myself playing the drums to an accoustic version of her punkrock “I Feel Great” and Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees”. Very unprepared, yet a nice feeling to be able to climb on the stage with relative ease again, after a long period of making no music at all. Les and Sharliza are having me as their band’s drummer now, which for me, as a guitarist, is quite a relaxing and unworied position to find myself in. Panama, the band I’m in with Tommy (Rootes), James and Sun Ho(Whitefields) seems to be getting some shape as well. We have a first gig planned for week 10. I know, it’s kinda late to get started, but considering I’ve only started singing this term, I think it’s not that bad at all. Our repetoire consists of around 10 (some unfinished) songs, and a few more ideas. Tommy and me are well inspired lately, which feels great. Our track list consists at the moment of:

Coming Round Again (kind of melodious punk-rocky song)
Shake & Stir & Rattle (alternative pop with a melancholy yet powerful undertone)
Nocturnal (at the mo apparently James’ favourite)
Tommy Jam (pretty ska-funky)

Possible Ace of Base, Muse and Soulwax covers might be added to this, as well as a few more songs once they’re finished.

May 31, 2005

British Peculiarities I: The Virtual Absence of Mixed Taps

Marte found this article on the issue. I’m not crazy! The issue is really alive! See, Churchill and Boris Johnson spent time pondering over it! Read for yourself.


Old-Fashioned Faucets:
Unique British Standard
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

From The Wall Street Journal Online

LONDON (Oct. 31, 2002)—During a wartime visit to Moscow in 1942, Winston S. Churchill discovered a marvel of modern technology: hot and cold water flowing from the same faucet.

The plumbing in the villa where he stayed as a guest of Stalin was unlike the primitive British standard of separate taps for hot and cold. Rather than having to fill up the sink to achieve the right blend, the British leader could wash his hands under gushing water “mingled to exactly the temperature one desired,” as he put it in his memoirs. From then on, he resolved to use this method whenever possible.

His countrymen have been slow to take up the single-spigot cause. Most bathroom sinks in Britain still have separate hot and cold taps today, 60 years after Mr. Churchill’s conversion and decades after nearly all dual taps were scrapped in the U.S. and most vanished from continental Europe. For reasons of thrift, regulations and a stubborn attachment to tradition, the British have resisted the tide of plumbing history. Even when they renovate old homes, many choose two-tap systems, and builders often install them in new, low-end housing. Separate taps account for an estimated 40% of all bathroom-faucet sales in the U.K.

“It’s very strange to me,” says Ayelet Langer, who moved to London from Israel last year and found two faucets mounted on the newly installed bathroom sink in her apartment. “I thought I couldn’t really cope with it at first, but now I do.” Worried that the water from the hot tap will scald the fingers of her one-year-old son, she washes his hands in the kitchen sink, which has a single spout.

Britons don’t understand why foreigners raise a fuss over this issue. “The British are quite happy to wash their hands with cold water. Maybe it’s character-building,” says Simon Kirby, managing director of Thomas Crapper & Co., a maker of bathroom equipment in Stratford-on-Avon.

Boris Johnson, a Conservative Party member of Parliament representing Henley, congratulates “the higher civilizations” that have adopted advanced plumbing technology. But he argues that having the choice of either hot or cold for washing hands “is an incentive to get it over and done with and not waste water.”

Separate faucets are only one of the peculiarities of the British bathroom. Another is electricity—or rather the lack of it. Regulations aimed at preventing shocks forbid the installation in bathrooms of electrical outlets, except those designed for shavers. One more antishock measure bans standard on/off switches in bathrooms. The lights are controlled by pull cords hanging from the ceiling.

None of these eccentricities causes as much annoyance among foreigners as separate taps. Renee Guinivan of Bath, N.C., a retired secretary whose daughter lives in London, finds them “unsanitary.” Ms. Guinivan could fill the sink with a mixture of hot and cold before washing. But what if the last person who used the sink brushed his teeth and spat? “I hate to be fussy,” she says, though she is tempted to tote around a small package of Ajax cleaning powder and a sponge when she visits Britain.

“Perhaps it’s something Puritanical about the English” that inclines them to shun modern luxuries, says Pam Carter, a spokeswoman for the Savoy Hotel.

In keeping with the grand style of a luxury hotel opened in 1889, the Savoy’s vast white-tile bathrooms retain a Victorian look. The huge shower heads, resembling upside-down pie tins, dump cascades of water on guests. Call buttons above the tubs read “valet” and “maid” (though the buttons no longer function and guests are expected to use the telephone if they want help). To appease its largely American clientele, the Savoy has converted many of its sinks to single hot-and-cold taps, but some of the sinks retain separate faucets. Ms. Carter points to a gleaming white double-tap sink from the 1950s, large enough to bathe a midsize dog. “It would be a crime to get rid of something like that,” she says.

Many in Britain keep separate bathroom taps to preserve the authenticity of Victorian homes. The force of habit also plays a role. As the commercial director of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, Yvonne Orgill might be expected to favor frequent renovations, yet she is completely satisfied with the separate taps on her bathtub and sees no reason to replace them. “I can turn them on and off with my toes, being a lazy person” she says.

In their defense, some British cite red tape. Older British homes often have storage tanks in their attics that feed water heaters. Under certain conditions, those tanks could be contaminated – for instance, by the intrusion of a rat – and tainted hot water that flows into a mixer tap might get sucked into a cold-water pipe leading back to the public water supply, endangering the whole neighborhood. So regulations forbid mixing of hot and cold water streams inside a tap unless the tank meets strict standards or protective valves are installed.

Separate taps are also a bit cheaper. A midprice pair of chrome bathroom-sink taps from Pegler Ltd. costs about $87, or half the price of a hot-and-cold “mixer” tap of similar quality.

Even so, modernity is slowly imposing itself. British people who travel overseas often are impressed by single taps, not to mention the “lovely shower systems that blow your head off,” says Kevin Wellman, operations director at the British Institute of Plumbing. A U.S. company, American Standard Cos., is now the largest supplier of bathroom equipment in Britain and promotes modern fittings, including mixer taps.

Martin Phillips, a Londoner who sells car-industry forecasts and is married to an American, says his wife has converted him. Now when he encounters a sink with separate taps, he says, “it drives me potty.”

But there are many holdouts. One is Mr. Kirby, the managing director at Thomas Crapper. Of the mixer tap, he says, “I wouldn’t even consider it as a modernization—just a different way of doing it.”

Of course, he has a professional interest in the matter. Founded in 1861 by Thomas Crapper, the firm he runs makes replicas of Victorian bathroom equipment, including bathroom “basins,” or sinks, ranging from about $1,320 to $1,875. In a rare compromise with authenticity, the company does provide some sinks with mixer taps, but those are sold mainly to overseas customers.

Mr. Kirby says he doesn’t find separate taps inconvenient. He dunks his hands under the cold water tap when he wants a quick wash. “If I want to wash them properly, I put the plug in” and fill the basin, he says. Isn’t that less hygienic than washing under running water? “It’s a cultural difference,” Mr. Kirby says. “We’re less bothered about that.”

Despite their clashing views on hand-washing, Mr. Kirby keeps portraits of Winston Churchill in his home and office. He isn’t surprised that the prime minister liked fancy plumbing. “You have to remember that Churchill was half-American,” Mr. Kirby says, “so he was probably a bit more open to some of these innovations.”

May 27, 2005

Hot day: instant autobiography

With a sigh I grab the roll, peel out another chocolate biscuit, sigh deeply again. It’s a hot day today, and even though I’m sitting at my desk, probably relatively the house’s coolest space, I can’t focus because of it. I spend the whole day reading Wahrman’s views on the construction of the English middle class around the 1820s-30s.

But I read slowly, extremely slowly with regular intervals of distraction: the guitar behind me, the Groene Amsterdammer (Green Amsterdammer, a Dutch opinion magazine) right beside the “Gender, Class and Empire” module core texts – with much more interesting and up-to-date debate: much on what the Netherlands is going to do in five days: ditch the European constitution (most likely) or accept it? And, of course, the internet, our time’s greatest chaos and biggest distractor. On a day like this, I can check my email over five times a day, up to ten. Today, I receive the happy news that my brother has finally met all requirements of his masters course of law, so that nothing stands in the way of his official appointment as a master in law. Soon, he’ll be heading over to Bolivia, to do volunteering work at an NGO in Riberalta (see also my Campesinos project page, although it’s no longer updated). Oh, plus, I book a flight for my dad to come in and help me move out the last days of this term. Flying directly from Amsterdam to Coventry. It’s one of these feats ascribed to the globalised world.

At four James, Thomas and me go for a jog in the burning sun. Some flatmates and neighbours sit outside in the sun, but Thom’s picked up the crazy idea of improving our 25-minutes record (on an approximate 5 km) down to 20 minutes. Why now, why today? I haven’t jogged for around, maybe over a week. That record’s not gonna happen. And indeed I’m dead exhausted by the first turn already. It’s so hot! And running in the baking sun is something you have to let your body get used to gradually. Not for J + T… they sprint off and actually nearly manage to make it within 20 minutes too (as I later hear, they disappear from my sight pretty much immediately). Back at the flat I empty a glass of water over my head and chill out in the grass, 25 mins again, perhaps. Not too bad for this weather.

I read a bit more, eat my summer spaghetti meal outside in the ever-continuously radiating sun, and sit down to read a bit more around 19.30 – a painstaking process. I think it’s been enough for today – probably heading over to the Graduate soon for a regular quiet pint night.

May 26, 2005


Van de Desiderata werd altijd beweerd dat de tekst gevonden werd in de St.-Pauluskerk in Baltimore, 1692. Het blijkt echter te gaan om een tekst die in begin twintigste eeuw geschreven werd door Max Ehrmann, een Amerikaan uit Indiana. Nietemin een mooie en wijze tekst, die ik hier in het Nederlands en daarna in het originele Engels wilde publiceren.

*English: The Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann, first in Dutch and then the original in English.*

Wees kalm temidden van het lawaai en de haast en bedenk welke vrede er in stilte kan heersen.

Sta op goede voet met alle mensen, zonder jezelf geweld aan te doen.
Zeg de waarheid, rustig en duidelijk en luister naar anderen, ook zij hebben een verhaal te vertellen.

Mijd luidruchtige en agressieve mensen, zij belasten de geest.
Wanneer je je met anderen vergelijkt zou je ijdel of verbitterd kunnen worden, want er zullen altijd grotere en kleinere mensen zijn dan jezelf.

Geniet zowel van wat je hebt bereikt als van je plannen, blijf belangstelling houden voor je eigen werk, het is een werkelijk bezit in het veranderlijke fortuin van de tijd.

Betracht voorzichtigheid bij het zaken doen want de wereld is vol bedrog, maar laat je niet verblinden voor de bestaande deugd, vele mensen streven hogere idealen na, en overal is het leven vol heldendom.

Wees jezelf, veins vooral geen genegenheid, maar wees evenmin cynisch voor de liefde, want bij alle dorheid en ontevredenheid is zij eeuwig als gras.

Volg de loop der jaren met gratie, verlang niet naar een tijd die achter je ligt.

Kweek geestkracht aan om bij onverwachte tegenslagen beschermd te zijn, maar verdriet jezelf niet met doembeelden.
Vele angsten worden uit vermoeidheid of eenzaamheid geboren. Leg jezelf een goede discipline op maar wees lief voor jezelf, je bent een kind van het heelal, niet minder dan de bomen en de sterren, je hebt het recht om hier te zijn, en ook al is het je wel of niet duidelijk, toch ontvouwt het heelal zich zoals het ontvouwt, en zo is het goed.
Heb daarom vrede met God, hoe je ook denkt dat hij moge zijn en wat je werk of je aspiraties ook mogen zijn, hou vrede met je ziel in de lawaaierige verwarring van het leven.

Met al zijn klatergoud, somberheid en vervlogen dromen is dit nog steeds een prachtige wereld. Wees voorzichtig. Streef naar geluk.

+ + +

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Deze dag, een historische dag

Ook op de dag, liefste
Staan we met één been
Nog in het verleden
Het andere richting de toekomst

Wij staan hier op een knooppunt,
Liefste, af en toe breekt het
Door de alledaagse valse werkelijkheid
Vertoont een waarachtige diepte

Deze tijd, de onze, schat
Wees stil, en luister, misschien
Hoor je haar trage trekken, hoe ze
Fluisterend spreekt met het verleden

Een gesprek voert ze, van macht
Onderlinge waanzin, die zij ziet,
Geduldig verdraagt, luister!
Hoe ze voor altijd spreken, die twee

Over hoe muren gebouwd worden
Een pad gelegd, waar vandaan
Komen de bouwstenen?
Hierover liegt men liever of zwijgt

Maar wie luistert, liefste
Weet dat achter de opening
In de muur oneindigheid ligt
Beangstigend, maar zie de ruimte!

Ze mogen wel beweren
Wat ze willen, over hun heggen
En paden, kijk toch zelf nog even
Opdat je je niet omheind voelt

Lieveling, we staan op een kruising
Ik voel het, luister, adem het
Wij duwen vandaag het eeuwige nu-vacuüm
Wij sturen het aan, de rest is maar theorie!

Warwick, mei 2005

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