All 122 entries tagged 2007

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December 11, 2007

A Blog–Related Topic

It has been a real while since I updated my blog regularly, I find that once you lose the discipline that enables you to see the world from a blog-perspective, it becomes harder by the day to find something interesting to write about. And here’s the result: I blog about blogging.

Which is, however, in itself not such a strange thing. Last year, I wrote in an article for the Sanctuary that Technorati was at that time monitoring 56 million blogs, while another 100,000 came into existence by the day. Which means that some 9 months on what we must have today is around 83 m blogs, which seems somewhat exaggerated seeing that blogs have been around for a while now and cannot be projected to grow at such rates indefinitely. (And yes, you read it correctly, I sent an article to the Sanctuary, at a time when I was on a year abroad and mistook something that in reality could go for a Daily Mirror publication for something that in my wishful imagination could compete with the Boar. Exited minds can go quite adrift at times.)

So another blog-related topic: about myself. I shall tell you what my unassumingly quiet life has run into in terms of absurdities in the last couple of days. No less but certainly no more absurd than another’s life I’m sure. On Saturday I have taken a ferry back to the Netherlands to be environmentally friendly. I was readjusted to Dutch circumstances in about 5 minutes, a top record so far. Monday morning my relocated academic office opened at 9 o’clock as on any other day, however now at GMT +1 time. Then I arranged myself a job to be a postman. I am invited for a job interview tomorrow morning. (What are they going to ask me? How well I know the streets in my village of ca. 9,000 souls? What my educational level is? I wouldn’t be surprise if I was in fact quizzed with an empty map… the lady on the phone already took a shot at asking me whether I was aware of the weather conditions at this time of the year.) The day after tomorrow I am going to a university department in Amsterdam to talk about a possible master to pick for the following year. Fairly wordy for so little to say isn’t it?

To finish in a didactic tone the following poll:
“I find the fact that a UK Government Department lost a disc with 25 m Brittons’ private data…”

a) shocking
b) no problem, everybody could have made that mistake
c) redisculous


December 10, 2007

Melancholie

Vandaag at ik zoals op eerdere dagen
Brood met kaas. Nog steeds kan ik
niet begrijpen; hoe de jaren tachtig
voorgoed verdwenen. Naar iets dat
het verleden heet, ons ruw ontworsteld.
Als het wakkergemaakt worden uit
een droom, de kamer vol vreemde
mensen, je vrienden reeds oude vrienden.

Verbaasd kijk ik om mij heen. Voel me
unheimlich. Loop door de vele kamers
waar ik eens woonde. Een vreemde in
het heden. Nieuwe waarheden. De kamers
zijn oud; even oud als ik. Het plafond
is zwartig, van vele jaren douchebeurten.
Mijn douchebeurten. Straten, families,
levens, begonnen te bestaan nadat ik wegging.

Barcelona, 4 juni 2007


November 26, 2007

Edinburgh

ArthurArthur’s Seat is an extinct vulcano, it is over 250m above sea level, the first of it’s two words is the same as Arthur Vick, and it is the slope that we are now ascending. A path right in front of one of the British queen’s dwellings, Holyrood palace, splits into a left, into the hills, and right, up along the city’s edge. We have taken the latter option, assuming we would be on the top in no time. As soon as we started to walk up, a drizzle set in. It is the first rain that we got since our arrival more than a day earlier.

But the path is endless and in the meanwhile it has taken us from halfway up to all the way down again, all this time scratching the city’s edge of residential quarters. When we’ve finally reached the path that really takes us up, the drizzle becomes accompanied by wind – heavy, continual bouts that nearly tip us over the edge, it´s scary!

But then the top. A soft grassy slope, where we lean against the wind. My spit flies more than 10 meters. A short climb and we’re at the real top. We hold on firmly, because I can all too clearly imagine myself just flying straight into the Firth of Forth on the other side of town. We look out over a majestic view of a great Georgian city. The castle hill (another extinct volcano), the crazy-design Parliament, several churches, the disorder of Old Town and the rationality of an enlightenment-informed provincial capital in New Town. The monument hill, complete with Roman-style columns, and the cemetery just a stone’s throw away where David Hume has his final resting place.

A view over a Great City with capital letters, from a majestic hill top, what else does one desire? Well, a safe descent would be something. Because we still want to roam the Royal Mile, see other people eat haeggis (since I’m a vegetarian) and go in and out of tourist shops selling exactly what we expect them to sell: checkered scarves and kilts. Edinburgh is one of these cities that are comfortable, not too busy about themselves and make you want to stay a bit more. To have a Scottish ale and wonder about what exactly it is that makes Scottish people different from the English, and subtle yet sure difference. And that’s just what we’ll do when we’ve come down from Arthur’s Seat.
panorama of Edinburgh


November 21, 2007

Autumn–shifting–to–winter

Dartmoor, DevonNights of indoor stuffiness are becoming longer. Evening darkness encroaches on our bleak daylight day by day; according to my Warwick Academic Year Diary, now we are only minutes away from a four o’clock sunset. As I set out to do my laundry in the nearby laundry room, my feet slip away in the grass-turned-into-mud.

Shiny, robust Autumn has come to an end. What was healthy grass is now just a surrogate, a cover up for fields of sticky, streamy, underground mud. Fogs penetrate the country. The only variety of weather is provided by a sad drizzle that occassionally comes and then goes.

I notice my struggle to get up on time is getting more difficult by the day. My lust to leave the house is diminishing, in short, the forces that I always resolve to prevent from encroaching upon campus existence once more prove stronger than me. I get lost in studying: Vichy France. I fall into the classical trap that professors set us which is to unconsciously filter out timeless, classically tragic dilemmas of historical materials.

To collaborate or not collaborate? Is the direct result enough reason to justify it? For the moment I try to fight off my emerging gigalaiskus (an Estonian word recently coined in our flat which means something like super-tiredness) and to ignore winter’s inevitable coming.

On the photo a lake in the Dartmoor national park in Devon, where I went climbing last weekend.)


November 11, 2007

A Kiss

Sometimes you think something up and wonder whether you’re the first one to see it (it apparently being just a brilliant stroke of coincidence) or whether you’ve just come across the reason for it’s being as it is (the underlying idea or intentional correlation).

Well, I just had a little idea of the above category.

You know how people write “x” at the end of text messages and emails, meaning “kiss”. But why x? Is “x = kiss” just a random social convention, meaning kiss could also have been put down as “y” or “z” if it was widely enough used, or is there a more profound reason behind it?

Then my little thought came up. In Spanish the letter x is pronounced “ekys”, sounding somewhat like a Spanish person saying “a kiss” in English.
So does “x = kiss” perhaps originate from the Spanish? We will probably never be able to confirm that with all certainty.


November 07, 2007

Truth or Prejudice?

If a Martian or a Dutch observer came to England, he/she/it might draw the following conclusion.

In this country, Sarah is the most common name for a female student.
For male students, it would be something like Thomas.
Nearly half of all campus cleaning ladies are called Sue.

And cleaning gentlemen… with one notable exception, haven’t come across those yet!


November 05, 2007

On Laundry and Growing Up

Who eats my socks?Monday around lunchtime. Apparently bloggin time again.

At the beginning of yet another week of university work, reading week this time; amidst the issues of serious concern that I study; despite the increasing air of self-responsability that befits the approaching bachelor’s degree (tongue in cheek, just so you know), I cannot help but ponder on the simple and little things in life, yet of no little importance either.

Like this morning. As usual, doing laundry is a process that somehow manages to dominate all of my morning, inevitably. But lately there’s evidence of difference. When I come home and unpack my clothes and put them away, I bundle my socks into pairs. How many have gone missing over the past six years after this regular routine? How many days of studentness have I walked around in dissimilar pairs? Things however seem to be changing. Lately, the machine always neatly returns the same number of socks that I put in.

And so, in yet another insignificant little way, I realise I’m growing up, bit by bit. And ready to take away a BA.


October 29, 2007

Monday, Around Lunchtime.

Flayed Stone III by Peter Randall-PageAlarm clock, brush my teeth. Shower, getting dressed. Breakfast, leave the house. Bank. Post office.

Library, book renewed. Up the stairs, down the stairs. To a seminar. More flights of stairs. Seminar: sit, sit, sit.

Library, to get reading out for next seminar. Towards home.

And then I pass the little garden in front of the Modern Records Centre, you know, that place where BP left their papers. A little triangular piece of field, hardly noticed. Three or four benches are placed in the grass, only metres from the path. A sculpture (see image) in the middle. One large, friendly looking oak tree across the path, roofing a few metres of the way as I walk along. A tree you would want to hug, or climb into (you know it would welcome you), either way, a tree that makes you feel a safe child as you walk past it.

Then I see a person sitting there in the sun, on the bench I mean. In itself that’s nothing special, and the person also doesn’t look particularly noteworthy. Warwick society hoody, jeans that are not exactly his size. And yet there’s something about his colourlessness, that captivates me for just an instance. It’s peaceful. He sits still, unmoving, hands loosely on his lap, just staring around a bit. Probably not thinking anything grandiose nor anything troubling, just sitting there.

So I wonder to myself: when would I just sit on a bench, in the sun, alone? No mobile phone to pester me, no book I should have read by yesterday. Not even a sandwich to munch, just sitting. And I don’t know. I walk on to go have lunch at home, read and send text messages.


October 26, 2007

Ten Albums That Shook the 1990s

Lo and behold! After due deliberation, I have finally decided upon the ten that will make it till the very end of times. Considering that: more than seven years have passed since the end of last century’s last decade, and it’s about time that we start canonising what’s Eternal & Unwithering; that I love top-ten lists; that music helps us to have a grip on time; that certain tunes make you melancholic since they formed the soundtrack of a particular period; that the nineties as a decade could represent just that interesting fin-de-siècle and fin-du-communisme dynamic…

I have resolved to act as the final arbiter on this matter and to choose the Ten Albums That Shook the 1990s, the Golden Ten, the Final and Authoritative Top Ten List of the 1990s. I shall no longer keep you anticipating.

1. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
2. R.E.M. – Out Of Time (1991)
3. dEUS – The Ideal Crash (1999)
4. Air – Moon Safari (1998)
5. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)
6. Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (1995)
7. The Cranberries – No Need To Argue (1994)
8. Bush – Sixteen Stone (1994)
9. Radiohead – The Bends (1995)
10. K’s Choice – Paradise In Me (1996)

With a few sidenotes
All albums selected were to have been released and somewhat successful in at least two countries. This, of course, gives more than a slight bias for English-sung music.
Obviously a top ten of occidental, or better said, Western European and Northern American, music.
Despite the presence of American, Belgian, British, Canadian, French and Irish albums, Germany remains notably absent.

Interested to hear your comments, though they shall clearly not tear down the Authority with which these ten albums were carefully selected.


October 21, 2007

Blame It On A Sunny Afternoon

Violins
Violins breed violins.


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