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My new bike

Is doing his best. Really he is, and I’m not going to hold this against him.


Today I cycled to school – 16km away (about 8.5 NM, almost 10 statute). It took me a little over an hour, the weather was lovely (apart from a head and side wind, pfff) and I arrived with, ah, what I believe is tactfully called ‘a healthy glow’.

After two lessons and watching at least one rather impassioned discussion as to how to calculate a certain probability (“NO, guys, REALLY, it’s like THIS and STOP TRYING TO TELL ME OTHERWISE ARRRGH WHY CAN’T YOU SEE IT!!”), I got on my bike and cycled home.

And by the time I got back I noticed my front tire being rather…soppy.

ZUCHT. Less than A WEEK and I have a flat tire. Or, well, it might just be flat…but really. It’s a new bike. With new tires. And one’s flat.



Sunday night shebangles

I’m in bed and Het verhaal van Groningen is on tv. No better time to blog, I think you’ll agree….

Here’s a word for you:

nachtig (bw.) (gew.) slaperig na een te korte nachtrust

Well didn’t this just describe me this last week. I have to say that whilst I’ve been nachtig more times than I care to remember (let alone admit to), I’ve never actually heard of this word. The (gew.), an abbreviation that apparently means ‘regional’ (though I suspect it actually means ‘Western’ in some sense), could easily explain that. After all, I live in the North, clearly the most superior of all parts of the Netherlands, and it wouldn’t surprise me if nachtig came from a lesser gebied.

Anyway. That wasn’t quite the bizarre Dutch word I had in mind for this evening. For that I’ll begin with a conversation I once had with two Dutch colleagues in the staff room:

Me: Was het verschil tussn niets en niks? [I tend to be somewhat lazy with my syllables]

Colleague1 [simul. with Colleague2]: Niks.

Colleague2 [simul. with Colleague1]: Niets.

Huh, well that led to a chuckle or two. But my trusty van Dale tells me about the etymologies of the two alternatives (though nothing about the distinction – if any exists – regarding usage). Apparently niks is an approximation of the German nicht (nichts?), whilst niets is a declination of niet. vD says it’s 2nd case, which in Dutch terms would mean…uh…genitive?

(Back where I come from, 2nd case – not that we called it that – would be accusative. But this is not where I come from and things are funny here.)

So there you go. In the unlikely event of an emergency landing on wateryou also wondering about those two little words, there’s a snippet of info for you!

A tale of two (or more) fietsen

Back in the day I had my first Dutch bike. It was blue and I loved it very much (not least because it didn’t have terugtrapremmen, which at the time were to my mind objects of diabolical torture).

Then it got pinched. I mourned. I bought myself a new bike, whose description said it was ‘pearl white’ but was really green. It took a bit of getting used to.

Then that bike got pinched. I mourned.

A week later, the police called and said they’d found my bike. In fact, they’d picked it up before I’d even cottoned on that it had been nicked.

I rejoiced. My father remarked, ‘Don’t the police have anything better to do than drive around looking for stolen bikes?’

Then a while later I was sitting at an underground train station, having just got off a flight from…somewhere (I honestly don’t remember), when the police rang me. They’d found my old bike – two years after it’d been nicked.

I was gobsmacked. Then I rejoiced. And I had two bikes.

Then my ‘pearl white’ bike got nicked (again). I mourned and started using my old bike. And Lo! The old partnership was back. It didn’t matter to me that he was rusty in parts, that the chain began to clunk-clunk-clunk, and that going anywhere in 3rd gear was a lot more difficult than it should have been. It was me and my bike, and we were happy.

Last Sunday I went to visit my sister. Because the government gives me money for procrastinating on my research, I can hop in and out of buses and trains and the like for free (!) at weekends. So I jumped on my bike, headed for the bus stop, from whence I travelled to Far Far Away. There was much rejoicing, nerding, giggling, eating, and all the other stuff that happens when my sister and I are in the same space.

I travelled back and had to take a different bus back home, reasoning that my bike would be safe where I’d left it at the other bus stop. Oh how wrong I was.

On Monday I went to collect my bike. My poor, trusty steed! Some little bugger had abused him frontally in the night, leaving his front wheel with more kinks and turns and dents in it than a Hilbert curve. To add insult to this already pretty brutal injury…they’d also nicked his bell. A €3 bell and they’d sliced it open and pocketed the noisy bits.

With a heavy heart I wheeled my bike back home and made him comfortable in his favourite spot in the garage, whilst I went to make tea and wondered what to do.

Yesterday I took him to the bike shop. For the hell of it, and because it would save time, I actually dared sit up and cycle over there. You have no idea how much the croaks and groans and squeaks tore at my cardiac.

We wheeled into the workshop. ‘Hallo,’ I said. ‘some little cretin has been at my bike, and I fear that he cannot be fixed.’

The chappy took one look and agreed with me. It was swiftly decided that I needed a new bike…and that I would have to bid farewell to this one. Normally fixing up a new bike takes a couple of days, but because of circumstances the chappy said he would fix my new bike up for me there and then – which had the advantage that I could admire the newcomer – and neem afscheid from my old and faithful buddy.

No seriously – my partnership with that bike lasted longer than any I’ve had with a human in this country.

The time came (I now officially have no money left). The shop was closing. My new bike was ready and I was late for a dinner date with the girls.

I stood with my new bike and looked at my old one.

Dag, lief klein fietsje.

And with that I cycled off.

Read more…



What’s the POINT?

(am suffering from a little b*gger on my right foot)


My co-blogger is a very modest lady who maintains that I’m much better at writing than she is. I have a perfect foil to that statement and that is that she is the one out of the two of us who has actually finished her thesis….

Meanwhile I’m doing my best to encourage her to get on here. Fingers crossed and thumbs twiddling!

Fangirl and proud.

One of my newer hobbies is being an aviation fangirl. And because I am a rather complicated (!) individual, I need to explain key terms in that last sentence.

‘Newer’ – it’s been going on for the last few months, or rather, it was a few months ago that I admitted it to myself. But dude, really, half my family live on the other side of the planet and my first long-haul flight was when I was five years old. There are some things you can’t deny. [there is also the point that since then I’ve acquired other, yet newer hobbies – but later, later, later, as I don’t want to overload the internet with my weirdness]

‘Hobby’ – ehehehe. ‘Obsession’ might be a better term. Or ‘part-time obsession,’ rather, as I don’t have enough time to dig in to this as much as I’d like. In addition to that, I don’t actually do much other than read endless pages of nerdy technical stuff (together with trivia – Boeing has a price list on its website, which just boggles my mind), watch funny videos on youtube, hang out on various forums feeling like a dunce who knows nothing, and listening in to ATC radio at EHAM.

Ok, maybe it’s a bit more than part-time.

‘Aviation’ – I’m kind of picky, really. It needs to be big to such an extent that the pilot:aircraft size ratio is at least bordering on the mind-boggling. It also needs to look pretty – no belugas, thankyouverymuch. There is an inner PR-moron inside me screaming that I shouldn’t judge an aircraft on her looks, but potverdikkie, this is my part-time obsession and I will determine what I want to look at.

Fixed wings, please. That also means I’m not really interested (other than a passing historical and/or ‘genetic’ nod) in things that whizz or flap around. Unless they’re those whirly things inside/around/in front of/something an engine.

Alternatively, talk to me about ATC and how you can sit in a tower and tell a bunch of grown men to line up in a neat queue and wait patiently before being able to go Very Very Fast…and how they’ll actually do what you tell them to. I find this really rather fascinating. Even more so when you consider that KLM is one of the world’s best-known airlines. I mean, really: a group of Dutchmen verily know how to line up and wait their turn properly?! Wonders will never cease.

‘Fangirl’ – hehehe!

Anyway. This is the latest bit of coolness I’ve been watching on YouTube:

Oh oh oh and this too, it’s bliddy fab:

And then Read more…

Blogging dilemma

Well actually there are two, but who’s into being picky at this time of night?

Dilemma the First: whether to blog at all. As I said in an email to some colleagues who wanted to schedule a meeting with me this week, my schedule is the most hectic possible since God/Allah/SomeoneWhoMayOrMayNotExist declared, ‘Let there be Diaries!’ Never mind whether He saw it was good or not.

Dilemma the Second: lots of random topics floating around in my head to blog about. All in one post, or split up into chunks? Pros and cons to both, of course…hence why it’s a dilemma.