Last beautiful day of the year

Today it’s 24 degrees outside, but from what I understand the cloud cover that should be familiar by now to anyone’s who’s stayed in the city this summer will return tomorrow. The next time the sun will be back it will be autumn.

Also blogging elsewhere

Although my posting frequency here never has been a thing to brag about much, lately it has dropped below the “once a week” that I unconsciously saw as a minimum. This is not because of the dreaded blogging fatigue, but because I’ve joined a couple of other blogs—which I must have written about once or twice before, so let this be just a gentle reminder.

Most of my time goes to 24 Oranges, weird and wonderful news about the Netherlands (English). (Or: just my postings.)

I used to post about twice a week at the Teleread blog, but since 2007 my Teleread posting frequency has also suffered. At first that was because of lots of paid work, but when I had more time later it went to 24 Oranges. (Or: just my postings.)

Finally, the past few weeks I have had four guest blogs up at the Iusmentis blog, which is Arnoud Engelfriet’s blog about the meeting of technology and law. Writing mainly about copyright and Project Gutenberg, I have posted the following items there (in Dutch):

I will try and translate, and then post these four entries either here or at Teleread, when I have the time. I put a lot of research into these postings, so it would be a pity to limit them to speakers of Dutch. Also, the readers of the Iusmentis blog have added some valuable comments that could use a larger audience.

There’s a reason it’s called “great”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cricket as big as the one that landed on my window sill today.

Wikimedia Commons identifies it as a Great Green Bush Cricket. Didn’t know they were this common. The Dutch name translates to Great Green Sabre Cricket, undoubtedly in reference to its distinctive tail.

Sushi World: instant karma gonna get you

Sushi World

Don’t walk away, run

Last month around this time I was having a heavy cold that wouldn’t go away, with a fever and a headache and a general under-the-weatherness that made me fall asleep every four hours or so. The past few days I had stayed home and done my own cooking, but by the third day I had run out of ingredients and I either had go to the store, which I did not feel up to, or order out. The latter it was. When I am sick I tend to try and eat healthy, which is hard to do if you order out, so I settled on sushi.

Using an online ordering service, I settled on a menu from Sushi World on the Stadionweg in Amsterdam, which is a two minute walk from my house. I wasn’t entirely sure whether the order had gone through, so I decided to call the restaurant to make sure. An ominous tape message told me that this number had been disconnected, but why not try this mobile number instead. Which I duly did. The person on the other side of the phone confirmed my order, and when I asked him how long it would take, he said fifty minutes.

Fifty minutes! Add that to the ten I had already been waiting and I would have to wait 60 minutes for some bloke to take a couple of makis and nigiris from the cooler, put them in a bag with some soy sauce, wasabe and ginger, and walk all the way up to my house, the whole 300 meter.

I don’t know whether it was the absurdity of this idea or me being high from the fever, but I couldn’t get angry about the long delivery time. All I could do was giggle.

So, 65 minutes after I had ordered my food somebody rings at my door. I answer the house phone, ask who’s there, and when the guy says “delivery” I press the button to open the door. While I am still pressing the button I hear him say “it’s broken.” I press again, and the guy repeats his claim. I have since tested the door opener several times, and it worked every time. So I walked the three floors down, as calmly as possible, and collected my food from a bored teenager.

Of course my adventures with Sushi World wouldn’t be complete if I had actually gotten what I had ordered. Actually, of the four items I had asked for they only got one wrong: instead of a spinach salad I got some kind of bean salad. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I had ordered either. For this delight I paid a little under 18 euro. Just enough to nourish a sick man.

The Dutch word for service is “service.” That’s no coincidence: we just don’t have our own word, because we barely understand the concept, and Amsterdam is particularly bad in this respect. Nevertheless, Sushi World’s service, rather lack thereof, ranks amongst the worst I’ve witnessed in the 9 years I’ve lived here.

I am giving this 1 star instead of 0 or 0.5, simply because the food itself was OK.

So, if this took place a month ago, what’s with the instant karma? Well, a little after I finished the meal I got an e-mail from the online ordering service asking me if I would like to review the restaurant for their website. Oh boy, did I!

My rating: 1.0 stars

Moonster died

Tiny cat Moonster came to stay for a weekend in 2004, not long after I had started this blog, and due to all kinds of circumstances she never moved out. Even when I moved in the interim, she moved along with me. Last Monday, four years and five days later, she had to be put to sleep at the age of 21.

Moonster, very small and light-weight for a Norwegian forest cat, was scared of a lot of things, not the least other cats. But she could also be very stubborn, and I felt that she enjoyed life and lived it on her own terms. I doubt she would have left it so soon voluntarily, but her body started to desert her. Recently she had developed kidney and thyroid gland problems, for which she received medication every day. The last two weeks she gradually lost the ability to walk, and on Monday she could no longer get her own food or go to the litter box. We carried her to the vet where she received a shot with an overdose of sleeping medication. I miss her.

Ads from 1985 computer magazine Your 64

“A school for scandal?” asked the Telegraph.
“All very pukkah,” assured BBC TV News.
“Bizarre!” shrieked the Sun.

Lately, people have been mentioning St. Trinians, a comic strip about a public school for very bad girls, which made me remember Your 64. Reading this dayglo magazine for teenage boy owners of a Commodore 64 at a time when I was indeed a teenage boy (mid nineties) helped my English grades shoot through the roof. It also featured two slightly naughty ads.

The British computer mags at the time regularly ran an ad titled St. O’Trinians! for a game called The Secret of St. Brides. In it you see a teenage girl in school uniform, and you get to look up her skirt!

And a school friend and I could recite entire lines from the Albert Battersby ad!

(These were by far the raunchiest ads run in the magazine’s short life. It’s in the nature of boys to remember only these.)

I never knew until two weeks ago what St. Trinians referred to, although it was obvious that the ad for St. Brides referred to some knowledge the Brits or perhaps even all Anglos shared. Then I read the BoingBoing story about the comic and saw a BBC bit about the movies, and I knew.

And what was it the ad talked about? The internet will just not shut up, and so now I know that St. Brides was an early theater weekend mansion slash software house. As the ad says, St. Brides is where grown women go to play public school girls from the Roaring Twenties. When the owners first saw a computer, they decided that they wanted to write games too. So they got a copy of the Quill, and wrote a text adventure set at their “school.”

The ZX “Speccy” Spectrum version of the game is now available at Baf’s.

Queen’s Day accidents

Happy discoveries on Queen’s Eve and Queen’s Day. Thanks to Natasha for pointing out the latter two.

On Queen’s Eve I was at bar Festina Lente where The Lovers from Sheffield, UK, were playing. The bar has a bench outside with a bronze statue of a faithful regular guest.

After the nation-wide Queen’s Day flee market, a lot of the wares on sale are left as garbage, such as these two copies of The Mark & Clark Band’s Double Take.

A book among shards of pottery titled The Arrangement.

Getting a little bit back from Elsevier

The British-Dutch mega-publisher Reed Elsevier spent more than 3 million dollars in bribes lobbying fees in the US last year. What the publisher hopes to get back for this money? It probably won’t be a more balanced and more honest form of copyright. The US politicians that were bolstered by this “support” have been bullying most of the rest of the world into accepting always stronger and more bizarre forms of copyright. Those countries unwilling to participate are threatened with economic sanctions.

On January 1 of this year ‘t was more than 70 years ago that son of Elsevier founder Jacob G. Robbers died. In our current climate copyrights last insanely long, but not for ever. To be precise, in the Netherlands copyrights last until 70 full calendar years after the death of the author. On January 1 of this year I uploaded Herman Robbers’ De Vreemde Plant (The Strange Plant) to The Internet Archive. Please consider that a tiny remuneration from Elsevier for whatever copyright hell it’s going to loose on Dutch citizens.

(Lobbying story via Teleread.)

The news is back

As you may know, I blog at a couple of other places too. One of them is 24 Oranges: off-beat news about the Netherlands in English. Somewhere around February, we hit a dry spot in the news. Nothing would come our way. I’d Skype Orangemaster, my co-conspirator, and ask: “And?” And she’d say: “Nothing.” And I’d go: “I am scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but am coming up blank.”

And then, last week, it was like the floodgates opened. I suddenly could pick from 3 or 4 interesting stories each day. What had happened last week that made the press turn around? I mean, apart from the country’s favourite talking toilet brush releasing his hate film (yawn)… wait! Noooo….

A Portrait of the Artist as an Artist

This is from way back. Or, if you want a more definite indication: waaaay back. The bar was called De Pijp, and the time was around Carnival.