Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Off-Season

I don't celebrate Halloween, never have and, perhaps, never will, save for the years when Colin will come home from school with a pumpkin on his head and a plastic spider in his pocket, with the sole purpose of the fake beast to give mom a genuine fright and with a great hope that she'll not turn the pumpkin into anything edible.

In fact, I don't know what Halloween celebrates exactly, I don't even bother to look it up. We never had it like this in Romania, but still there's something going on around this time that involves occult celebrations and evocation of the dead and, the more I think about it, the more I see a common denominator for customs and habits that stretch through different cultures.

To start with, either on the last day of October or the first of November, the Romanians celebrate the dead. At least the people in Transilvania do that. How they decide whether it's October or November is still a mystery to me and it depends randomly on the village/city, with the bonus that big cities do it for two days.

Whatever that means, it's gorgeous when you're a kid. I still remember how eager I was to attend it. The late people celebrated there meant very little to me (I never met my grandfather and surely not my father's grandparents) but the show was just a splendour.  In my village, the graveyard was/still is on a hill and it was teeming with lit candles that glowed in the night like a huge carpet on fire. And that was just the beginning, more or less like the commercials we get nowadays when we go out to see a movie. The real show was there, on the hill, in the eye of the fire.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Paradise Deserved

When the parents get someone (i.e. grandma)  to baby sit their child, two deep thoughts penetrate their minds. The first one is how could they make themselves scarce together and the second one is how to maximise that, to avoid any forms of dead times. Needless to say, at least one day off is compulsory and it should be used to go to the land no nappy, no toy under 19.99 euros that goes on and on and could drive a monk crazy, and so forth and so forth. In short, one should go to a place of utter serenity and complete oblivion.

And, for the utter oblivion and complete serenity, nothing beats a whole, full, entire day at the sauna. For those who are not familiar to the Dutch way of sauna-ing, allow me a very short introduction. A sauna is an umbrella term for a place that comprises a few saunas (yes, I know you got that, but lemme go further). It's not only saunas (or steam/Turkish baths), there are lots of small pools, hot, warm, cold, damn cold, whirling, salty or not, etc, in which you can dump yourself after having raised your body temperature to a few degrees more. By being in the sauna, hellooo!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fink Ployd

Do you remember the good old times when the market was teeming with counterfeit products that looked the same and sometimes also functioned the same as the original ones? When you could get some "original" Abibas trainers or a Panasoanic cassette player (yes, it was a time when the music came on cassettes that could be rewound with a pencil, but that's another story).  I personally remember having got a coffee grinder, Mounilex, and not being able to tell the fake, not even when reading the name. For weeks I kept reading Moulinex on it. And it was so easy to have it wrong: the same kind-of-hand-written font, the original brand in my head and, not least, the quality of the ground coffee. Truth be told, I wasn't any less happy when I found out the counterfeit, for two big and fat reasons: first, it ground the coffee properly without problems and second, I didn't know any better, I'd never had a genuine Moulinex grinder to compare mine against.  Happiness unaltered.

...Which was exactly the same feeling I had when I went to a concert last week to see a band performing not only Pink Floyd music, but also their style. Still, I wouldn't go that far to say, like some picturesque Kusturica's heroes, that "our whisky is better than the original one", but they were doing just fine. Some fine ears would probably spot loads of flaws, but I have the music finesse of a donkey, thus all bliss on my front.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Toddler's Precious

This post is not to be read by pregnant-with-first-child women, nor by women who'd think having another baby. It also goes without saying that any man who'd consider parenting in the near, medium, or far future should look away, too. 

"What makes them tick?" - This is one of the numerous imponderable questions that come around us. Sure, normally "them" is replaced by "women" but life has taught me to seize any opportunity to shut up, so I won't take that path. Thus: women - far too complicated and dangerous; men - we have one desire, one sentence could easily describe it, not worth debating.

However, what I've discovered is what toddlers want and cherish the most. What is that precious thing that they will fight to the death for when you try to take it away from them? Is that a toy? Is that food? Maybe the TV? None of the above. What they really really really have a hard time to part with is .... shit. And I do not mean this as an umbrella term like, say, "music that teenagers listen to nowadays" or "my raise last-this-next year". Not at all. I mean exactly what that is: feces, poo, crap, you name it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What's In A Frog?

This is a story about two brave men: Ion and Gheo (short for Gheorghe, but I thought of sparing the non-native speakers). They are two Romanian peasants living in a remote village, working the land and rearing animals, pretty much copy-pasting their life from one day to another. Until that day, when Ion decided it was the time to go to the livestock market to sell his cow. 

And, as he couldn't go alone, he asked his neighbour Gheo, who had nothing worth mentioning to do that day, to come along. The business was bad, however, and at the end of the day they came back home, carrying the poor cow with them, as they could not sell it. And because of this, the conversation between them two was somehow low, even for the peasants expectations.

"You know", Ion began the to break the silence, "what if we were, for instance, some Scottish peasants, not Romanians? What would we talk about?" 

"That's an admirably good question, indeed. We'd probably talk about whiskey, cattle, sheep, wellies, bagpipes...". 

Monday, April 2, 2012

In Bruges

    Iubesc Belgia. E o țară complicată și plină de sensuri pe care doar cei inițiați le pot înțelege. Da' nu o iubesc pentru asta, dimpotrivă.
    Cei care s-au dat cu mașina prin Belgia au observat tendința lor pentru lucrurile complicate. In primul rând, semnele de circulație nu pot fi puse ca in restul lumii, pe o tabla bidimensionala si cu indicații clare, inaintea intersecțiilor. Semnele belgiene sunt toate 3D. Nimic dubios pana aici, dacă vrei sa mergi la stânga sau la dreapta. Dacă însă vrei să o iei inainte, semnul e un fel de stânga, cam la 45 grade, suficient să te încurce ireversibil. Evident, acum am GPS, cea mai tare invenție a mașinii de la aerul condiționat încoace. Surpriză, Belgia e singura țară ce a reusit sa mi-l zăpăceasca. Dar astea-s detalii, pana la urmă ajungi unde ți-ai propus.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Who's Going To College?

A few days ago there was a picture going around on internet, chiefly on Facebook. I'd like to share it with you, here on the blog, for it is touching in many senses.
A few things caught my eyes immediately: the little girl going dancing, the food on the table, and the student in college. I think they all deserve to fulfil their dreams (except maybe for the food on the table), and if we could help them achieve that, I'm sure we'll all get a good mark on St Peter's slate, which will help us getting in.

On the other hand, screw the rapacious CEO whose only concern is to get yet another holiday house, a younger and more demanding mistress, or a faster car to drive it in the weekends only.

What? What do you mean by "If  you buy from a bigger business you help several families put food on the table?". This is not the point here, come on. We should show solidarity with the small ones, as they show it to us as well. Only too well sometimes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Computers Gender

There are a few things that certainly happen when you go to work after a long weekend. As my religion does not allow me, I do not work on Mondays, so I always have a long weekend. This one was even longer, since I had the Friday off as well. What I did, I've told you already.

But, as all good things come to an end, this morning, at the crack of dawn, I entered the office. Well, maybe it was not quite the very crack, not even a regular crack, and surely not dawn, but certainly it was more than an hour before lunch.

The first thing that struck me was the coffee. At home we bought one of the devices that take coffee to a different level. Either the one endorsed by George Clooney or the similar one, from the competition. That's some coffee, no kidding. The big disadvantage is that, when you go back after a break, the coffee from the machine tastes like... how shall I put it to respect the truth but still being grateful that the coffee is for free...the coffee we had at the hotel in New York. This is quite sad, truth be told. What's even sadder is that in no time we get used to the taste of it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Organic Food. The Business.

The first part of the title is, without doubt, very familiar to all of us. It's the new way of getting to die healthy, as if that wouldn't be a pity, but that's not the topic today.

We've come on the road to the organic food gradually. In the beginning it was the taste. After we arrived in Holland, we were very clear about at least one thing: tomatoes have no taste. Full stop, no debate, they cannot be compared to the ones in our (grand)parents' garden and any attempt in doing such a comparison was blasphemous. I tend to agree with this to quite an extent. However, I've been in the shoes of that hubby who goes to the supermarket and comes back without tomatoes. I've told you already that I'm a careful shopper. At  home, the debriefing:

"Got tomatoes?"

"Shit, sorry, no, must have forgotten"

"How could I make the salad now, without tomatoes?"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Keukenhof. The Feast of Nature. And Mockery

We went to the Keukenhof exhibition yesterday, one day after the official opening. What an inspired choice! The weather was excellent (sunny and around 20 degrees), not crowded at all, and Colin had the adventure of his life. I will not get into details about what Keukenhof means, you can find it all here.

I just hope that God doesn't plan to redecorate the Garden of Eden too often, for he'll surely call for the Keukenhof's artists. In short, it's a must for everyone, at least once in a lifetime we ought to see the beauty in its entire splendour.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Passion Killer

I am Colinus Maximus Smilyus, commander of whomever comes within my reach. Gorgeous son to a mother, fantastic son to a father, fabulous brother to a sister, and I will have my word on this blog or another. 


And as I said, hear my words, for I have some news for you. Good news and extremely good news. Followed by actions.

The good news is that I see a clear tendency in having the retirement age set to 70 and beyond. This is fantastic, I wish I could vote and express my gratitude to this government. What could be better for the people of my generation than to be released from the pressure of supporting the elders? Excellent move, chapeau.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Settle It Like A Man

I like jokes that involve cultural differences. Of course, I like those that make me laugh. Whether or not they cross the boundary of the politically correctness I don't quite care. Jokes are meant to make people laugh and they exacerbate some cliches to achieve that goal.

What really is funny is that the same ethnic jokes are encountered among different peoples, depending on who's telling the joke: Romanians vs Hungarians, Dutch vs Belgians, Germans vs well, pretty much everyone, French vs French, English against Scots, Irish, Welsh, Aussies, well, pretty much everyone, and so forth.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Becoming A Professional Sportsman

Some years ago, I realised that life was getting harder and harder and it didn't seem that a career in engineering would make it considerably softer. I had plans to get some cash boost by winning the lottery, but there was  some uncertainty in that, to say the very least. Then a thought crossed my mind, struck like a match and lit up my entire inner cupola. What if I became a professional sportsman? That ought to do it.

Let's look at football, for example. Allow me a little digression here, for my friends over the pond. Football, like US themselves, was invented in England. So I prefer to use the original word for the simple game played 11 by 11 and in which the Germans always win. Soccer will be left out for the moment. Digression closed. So, if we look at football, most players have a far richer life than an engineer. I am not talking here about people who wins golden boots and European cups. I am talking about footballers who play on the 3rd division, or even 4th, on the verge of the amateur level. They are doing just fine.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Robbing A Bank

To sweeten up the bitter taste of another Monday, I've thought of writing a few more words about my mother in law. You've already been acquainted to what kind of person she is. In short, she was always the type to refuse anything that didn't belong to her, no matter what. And she conducted such an immaculate behaviour throughout her life. Throughout her life, indeed, except for that damned day, when she robbed a bank.

Now, if you imagine her storming into a bank, pointing a gun at the security guy (who gets bored to death for eight full hours), screaming something like "I'm a bad ass mother, fucker, don't make any stupid mistakes and take me to the bitch!" you're only half right. But here's how story goes.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Prince Of Persia. The One And Only

"Colin, no! Stop, don't do that".

"Hm, dad again, he'll calm down, let me pretend I didn't hear him."


"Colin David, I told you to stop, right?"

"Oops, he's using my biblical name, I'd better not go any further".

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cultural Weekend. The Return.

We're back in Holland after a very enjoyable weekend in the land of Goethe. Goethe himself had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of our staying, but our dear friends surely had. They made everything humanly possible for the three of us to feel at home. And they had to put up a lot with, cause we are very troublesome guests, extremely posh when it comes to culture, as I already explained before. But no matter how hard we tried to be annoying and to catch them out, all our attempts proved to be to no avail, as they got over that in the most elegant manner. A big kiss and many thanks for that!

Surely, there is a drawback for such great hospitality, namely the five-kilo-surplus we had to carry back home, but these are details.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cultural Weekend

As we had winter tyres installed on our car, and as there's absolutely no need to have them on in Holland, neither legally nor meteorologically, we have decided to go to a place where the investment is justified. Thus, we'll travel this weekend to Germany, hoping to get stopped by the police and proudly show them our (almost brand) new tyres.

We're going to see some friends, so we'll have a deep and intense cultural weekend, primarily focused on literature. We're going to devour a few good books and then we'll be talking about the content of them. We already have a full agenda, so the logistic part plays an important role in the whole action.

First of all, we all have small kids and carrying out such actions in the municipal library is out of the question. Moreover, even without kids, there's a big issue going to the central library: it's far from home. Not necessarily when you go there, but surely when you come back. The intellectual process is so strenuous that not even it is highly recommended not to drive, but it's strictly forbidden. And the streets are teeming with callous people who'd step on your hands barely mumbling any excuse. Better stay at home, no doubt about it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Redeeming Myself

I do feel bound to write a few words of redemption after the numerous reactions I got after the Stolen Beer confession story. They all ranged from the bonhomous  yet patronising "Yeas, sure, it happens to all of us"  to "Hey, we're coming over to have a beer, it's for free anyway". Friends, it's been a misunderstanding, I am not the villain in this story and in reality I am a very nice and considerate guy who repents after such fortuitous actions. I do care for the well being of the supermarkets, the bigger they are the more shit I DO give. And I would come back to turn me in without any restriction, but I've heard some horror stories about that.

And when it comes to such stories, it's time I introduced someone in this picture: my mother in law. Don't jump to conclusions, she's far from being horrid, she's a very lovely person, but you wouldn't believe what she had to put up with. It all happened in a super/hyper/mega-market.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Carnival 2012

You won't believe what happened this year at one of the carnival parades. I've told you already about the carnival feast and so, now it's time for a bone-chilling tale.

We live in the largest city of Holland ...that doesn't have a train station. Maybe to compensate for it, or maybe for the forty-odd thousand inhabitants, we have our own local parade during the carnival. And this year we decided to attend it. The weather was bitchy as hell, alternating from some short sunny moments to rain that turned to hail and sleet, but we didn't care, cause we wanted the little one to see the affluence of silliness in its prime.

We didn't wear any costume this time, we preferred to be watchers only, but let me be clear on this, as it seems confusing. By "no costumes" I meant no parrot-like carnival outfit. We DID have clothes on, though. Which made me congratulate myself when I saw a few shivering girls wearing short pants or skimpy skirts and no stockings or something to cover her legs. Luckily they had the boots up above the knees, otherwise they'd have frozen. Especially since the high heels would not allow them to move swiftly. On the other hand, very nice costumes, abundant make up, I admired them for a lengthy while, until my wife took me away visibly not amused. She said they were working there, on an early shift, no idea what she meant.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My First Carnival

These days we're celebrating the carnival here, then we'll plunge into the abyss of the Easter Lent. As one of the etymologies suggests, the carnival name is derived from carne vale, which means "farewell to meat", so the whole idea behind it is that we're going now to eat and drink like fat pigs, then silence. For forty days we will engage in a battle with ourselves that involves penance, self discipline, minimal existence, in short - a stoical abstinence. Or we'll be doing nothing of the kind, but use this occasion to get dressed in silly clothes and get wasted but now in a justified manner.

I remember my first carnival in Holland. I was very curious back then what the carnival meant and what we'd do to celebrate it.  I was told that a costume was customary but not compulsory. So I decided in a moment that I looked goofy enough so no effort should be spent on making that worse. Anyway, I made four knots on an handkerchief and placed it on my head and imagined to be a pirate trying to protect his head from the burning sun. As on a February's night, in the Netherlands, THAT was a problem!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stolen Beer


I'm a man! And this is not intended as a boasting statement of some extraordinary virility, oh no. It's about being a man caught in one of his chores: going to the supermarket to buy the bare necessities. Of course, it all begins with a list. Exclusively made by my wife. And she always ends the list with a question:

"Do you have anything else to write it down?"

"No, that's fine", I add it not even looking at what's written down.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kinky Valentine

Bonjour, l'amour! Today is the day! (I'm in rhymes)

Let's celebrate the romantic love in its purest form, let's see how the immaculate thrill of love sends us a wondrous incandescent ray from the light created in the very first day, let us let our hearts sing together in a common symphony of sweet passion. And let us eat tons of chocolate allegedly shaped as our hearts and let us give/receive millions of bouquets of flowers, every single one featuring the immortal plastic heart, which will last far longer than we do. So it shall be written, so it shall be done!

Of course, you may choose to play the black sheep and do this every day, so there will be no celebration day for you, it will be just a day. And even more, you might want to do this your way, no plastic heart in the flowers, no dubious pralines with shape the only value, but a tender smile in the morning, a hearty embrace in the afternoon, and a sweet kiss in the night - the one that makes you both relive the first one. But this is for black sheep club only.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

King of Liechtenstein - Take Two

"Holy Mother of God, this woman is driving me crazy, she is indeed! I don't know what else to do, I've tried everything! But she keeps playing with me and my heart. I've even started to neglect the Principality's duties! Ludwig! What am I doing wrong?"

This was one of those evenings when the prince had yet another love attack. And like any other occasions he needed to talk to Ludwig, who'd been his advisor for many a year.

"Don't know, sir, you've done a lot so far", mumbled Ludwig, trying to sound convincing.

"Look, am I the King of Liechtenstein or not?"

"You are sir, you are the Prince".

"Tomayto, tomahto, Ludwig, you're not being helpful with these subtle remarks."

"Sorry, sir, I only meant ..."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Elfstedentocht - Eleven Cities Tour

The first thing that people who come to Holland find out is that the prostitution and light drugs are legal. If the discussion evolves one might find different subtle hues of the "legal" part of these activities. All right, if you indulge yourself in an act of sweet dissipation with a woman you get to pick from the window, you might get a receipt for the money you paid and sometimes you might even deduct the VAT. On the other hand, this job cannot be included in the official list of jobs, for at least one reason: if a woman is out of job and she applied for something, and THAT job is available, she'll have to take it. No need for further explanation, maybe a future debate will follow about this :).

Then you get to learn some other things. For instance, you learn that bikes are public property, the lock is just a challenge :). So when you see bikes that are worth less than the lock (no joke at all here) do not get surprised. If you come here in the summer, you still have some time till the winter to find out about one of the greatest prides of The Netherlands. You find it invariably in your first winter here. Off the record: if you come from a somehow-continental-climate country you might miss the winter at all and you think it's just a long summer. It's about 10 degrees anyway, approximately the same as in July :D. Fine, I slightly exaggerated but I was not that far off.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

King of Liechtenstein

"I feel like the king of Liechtenstein".

I don't recall who coined this phrase for the first time, I wished it was me but it wasn't. It came up at work, a fertile soil to have your frustrations validated to a high degree. It must have been one of those cases when you work your ass off and you get the job done well and everybody appreciates you, boss included, and the next day the project is cancelled.

... And the castle's crumbled and you're left with just a name

I found that hilarious at the time. I even imagined other scenarios in which you'd be "the king of Liechtenstein", like trying to get closer to a woman who's been roaming your night and day dreams. And then she agrees to go out with you and she's telling you how much she likes you and she'd like to be with you. You're the king! But "you know, I have a boyfriend and I want to give our relationship a second chance". ... of Liechtenstein.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Cut of The Lock

I am Colin McClown from the clan McClown. I was born three hundred and sixty five days ago in the Low Lands of Holland. I am the merriest of the merry. And I am immortal!

Let me tell you something about my name. The last one I got to choose, and as I smile like a Cheshire cat all day long, I chose McClown. To be in tune with my parents' choice as well. They picked a Scottish one for me, Colin. Truth be told, I do not understand why they had to borrow one, as they had plenty of names to choose from, either Dutch or Romanian. Sjoerd, Joep, or Tjitte would have been appropriate Dutch names. As for the Romanian ones, Gheorghiță or Lucențiu would have done the job pretty well. Just kidding, if you don't speak either of the languages don't try to pronounce them at home, you'll break your tongue.

I had a series of parties to celebrate my birthday but the one at home was the best of all, following the Romanian habits, literally translated to "the cut of the tuft". I'd have preferred something more elevated, like The Rape of The Lock, but they twisted the language so much nowadays and this one will be misinterpreted.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Midnight in Paris Unabridged

Have you seen Midnight in Paris? If you haven't, please rush to it, don't know if you can still find it in the cinemas, but it you don't, by all means, get it and watch it. If you are a Woody Allen fan you'll like it at least because of that. If you're not, you need not worry, as this is not a typical Woody Allenian production (as if I knew what such a production should look like :). Moreover, since you read this blog it means that you have very fine tastes and you're automatically excluded from Owen Wilson circle of fans. That shouldn't worry you either, as his role was chosen with utter care so that he couldn't mess up anything in the film.

I do not want to spoil the surprise but I'll have to reveal the plot, just a little bit at least. No details, just the gist of it. The film begins with the presentation of a typical rich family from the US, visiting Paris for several reasons. The woman (there are a few, but only one to be thus referred here) wore an attire that was a combination between a business outfit and slutty slacks. That helped us immediately jump to conclusions and categorise her as the bitch and although she was supposed to be marrying the guy (again, several guys, still only one worth wearing the article "the") we knew instantly that she was so not the one. They went from the airport to the very expensive hotel, which probably very few of us could afford seeing it from inside, by taxis that are always Peugeot when they're filming in France. Probably a hint for those ones who missed the permanent image of the Eiffel tower on the background, irrespective of the direction of travelling. The bitch was of course a bitch, but she had some particularities as well. Not only that her mother was, you got it right, a bitch herself, but her father was also a member of the bitchy club. I don't quite remember what they liked to drink and eat, but maybe you'll get bored on such details and you'd like me to keep straight on the big picture.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Final Curtains

Please don't get your hopes high when reading the title, I'm still blogging, I will not stop writing (applause, thanks!). Instead, I will try to decipher one small secret of the Universe. Curtains. Dutch curtains!

As a new resident of The Netherlands you get to have visitors from your mother land, a few times a year. Of course they'll all go to Amsterdam to see places and habits difficult to imagine for a normal (mostly male) individual. And when they come back they have only one thing in their mind, when to return to the places of great and sweet dissipation. Anyway, as all good things come to an end, they must also complete some other tasks, which appear to have a compulsory character: walking around in our neighbourhood. And almost always, the summary of what they've seen comes down to this: lovely flowers in the gardens, no matter how the houses are, they are all well garnished with beautiful plants in a euphony of colours. But, "I cannot understand how could they not have anything to cover their windows! No curtains, no draperies, no nothing. You can just see everything in their houses".

Monday, January 23, 2012

Universal Beer

I'me getting back to one of my favourite topics on this blog but even more favourite in the real life. You guessed it first time right, it's beer. I've already listed some of the qualities of the magic drink. If you missed them, you just need to visit this place. Or that one.

Although all those features are essential in shaping up a good picture/reputation of beer, there's another one that's probably the mother of them all. It's the beer's universality that tops everything else, making it a real cervesia universalis. In a world with so many scales and references, full of transient events, beer stands immutably, a true Northern Star. The one and only Polaris.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Army Crackers

Yesterday I opened the Pandora box with some memories of my youth. The memories are actually about the worst bread I've ever eaten, military service period included in "ever". Now, I'm not going to do the "during the war" routine on you, but in the end the only benefit from doing your time in the army is to annoy your friends and trying to bore them to death by telling them very juicy barracks stories. This is what your friends want, and nothing more.

Anyway, during the war, the life you experience in the army is nothing compared to what you're used to. You do not belong to yourself there, you belong to the institution, then to the country, and in the end to the CAUSE, whatever that is. Imagine you hear such a crappy speech almost every single day from someone who's just finished half a liter bottle of vodka and you're not even close to smell the tediousness to follow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mother of Inventions. And More

Not that I am nostalgic or so, but these days I remembered some events that happened many many years ago, when I came to Holland. To me, that was a great change and I don't mean the new language or the new career, I mean the complete change of life. Although I was married and had a child at the time, that was actually the moment I felt that I left my mother's nest for ever.

It was in fact the time when I had to live alone. Effectively living alone I mean, having to do ironing myself! But as always, mother nature fixes things up in the right way. She introduced me to some other mothers. The first one was the necessity, the mother of inventions.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life's Fair.

Hello everybody, this is my first post, my daddy wanted to write something about me, but then he thought it would be more credible if I myself wrote it. It's about how it is to be a kid, almost one year old. And you know what? My dad was damn right, I mean right (I need to mind my effing language), I am a far better writer than him. What do you mean by "This doesn't say anything"? Anyway, I'd like to take you to a small journey in my life so we'll get to know each other better.

I will not insist on my little things I am so fond on, like licking and biting remote controls or chewing on cables, and all that in a total oblivion to the hill of toys I could play with. I will not tell you how much I enjoy my parents telling me their favourite joke "Nooo, you're not allowed to do that", although this is one of the top moments of the day.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Academic Beer

I've been very busy recently, that's how you didn't get any posts yesterday (no, I won't stop writing, sorry to bring that so bluntly). But now it's quite late so brief I'll be, no need to thank me.

So what I've been busy with? If it's Wednesday, it's tennis day. And you know how it is in sport, one thing leads to another and, before you know it, there are a lot more activities to do than you'd planned. Needless to say, all those activities take place AFTER the game. So I had a full evening, very rich in educational exercises. Right after the game, we decided, for once, to go for a beer. Unlike all the other occasions in which we went for exactly the same approach, but that's only boring details. And we know from the Fundamental Law of Beer, that a beer is not a beer, two beers is a beer. Besides, these moments come along with a great deal of confusion: how will I drive home? Well, you know that this problem occurs only in the very beginning, at the first beer. You need to take another one to boost your guts a bit and then everything's fine. You got the picture, right?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beer To Our Heart's Content

It's about time. Enough beating about the bush, for too long now I haven't said a word about one of men's most favourite perks: beer. And it's soooo much to say about it.

Let's consider for example the Fundamental Law of Beer (aka FLB): A beer is not a beer, two beers is a beer! What an example for the humankind to follow: If two is one, then three is two, hence one again. And so is four again one and so forth and so forth. And the world will be as one... A lot for us to learn from beer, still.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter Tyres

You know, every end of October, beginning of November, the proud possessors of a car begin the preparation for the winter to come. I'm not sure how it was done 5-10 years ago, but nowadays everyone seems to be in need to change their tyres.

For the people who live in Holland - good news, it's not compulsory for your car to have winter boots on. It would be ridiculous anyway, as winter and summer are about the same in the Netherlands, 10 degrees difference at max. You'd think that there's no stress at all, but things are slightly different. In Germany, the law is  not that permissive and the car that goes through the German territories must be equipped  for the winter.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Simple Maths. Proofs

Finally, Monday again! What a good day it is, especially since I stopped working on Mondays and I shifted the shitty feeling to Tuesday, but that's another story :).

Last week I got the courage and made the confession about my young years. As a reminder, you can find it here. I also made some statements there that were left as homework. You cannot imagine how thrilled and moved I was after having got your reactions to that. Your very positive reactions that is. I could never imagine such a great interest in maths and the hunger to unravel its mysteries. I wish I could hold them for myself only, but I really can't, I feel bound to share them with you all. So here's the gist of the reactions to my poll question: "Shall I go on and prove that all cows are the same colour and horses have an infinite number of legs? What about Achilles and the tortoise?"

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fields of Athenry

'Twas the seventh year in a row, seventh year without a decent crop. The disease showed no mercy again. For the seventh time.


It was in the autumn of 1852, the west coast of Ireland. People reached the edge of their patience, many of them had already set sail overseas. Those who chose to stay were facing one of the worst periods of that century: the famine. The crop that all relied upon, the potatoes, went bad again and the disease struck fiercely. The blight was everywhere. The stench of rotten potatoes could give very precise hints to everyone who'd pass along a potato field, even if outside was pitch black.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Simple Maths

Hi, where's everyone? Oh, here you are. It's time we got to know each other a little bit more. Before I go any further, please pull up a chair (this sounds delicious in Romanian!) and take a seat, for I have a confession to make. Please do not get judgemental, remember, let he who is without sin cast the first stone!

It's about sinning indeed, those sins of youth and not necessarily of loins, too. And I'm not talking either about whatever heavy drinking that led to total waste (that happened to some friends of mine, ahem!), no sir, I'm talking about the choice I made some years ago, when going to university. And when, from all possible combinations, I chose to study maths!

Let's not stir too much inside the reasons that animated me back then, but take my word that years of troubles as a student pay off as a teacher. A MATHS teacher! It's a genuine delight to run the slaughterhouse as you like it.

Now, you may be lured to think that mathematicians are some weirdoes or so, which is faaar from the naked truth. They possess some wonderful skills: they can prove that all cows are the same colour or a horse has an infinite number of legs or Achilles will never overtake the tortoise if she had a few metres in front of him (of course the proof is left as homework!). But the greatest of all skills is the godly respect for logic that mathematicians have. No other scientists could even come close to this. History mentions many occassions in which the maths has proved to be the sharpest blade.

Judge for yourself. This experiment was conducted once in front of a house. At a moment, two people went in and, some time later, three came out. These were the conclusions of different scholars:

The physicist: "We haven't measured accurately". Jesus Christ man, it's counting to three, what could go wrong? And he's got a few phd's!
The biologist: "They must have reproduced". And they say I'm obsessed with sex!
The chemist: "It must be a clear case of exoendothermal rixotexobenzenolexo...". Dude, chill! Seriously, take your pills.

Only the mathematician could give the most common sense answer, in which to describe precisely what happened in the house, in the past, present, and future:
"If now exactly one person enters the house, it will be empty again"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First Day At Work

Happy New Year!

Today was my first day at work in the new year. What a wonderful and remarkable day it was, you will not believe it. The first signs showed up very early in the morning when I took the bike and I had wind from my back. "That's odd", thought I, "Murphy must be sleeping".

At the office, I rubbed my eyes in utter disbelief, just to make sure I was not dreaming. The weeks I'd been away were used to the full and the offices were redecorated. Some desks were taken out and, I swear I'm not kidding, they managed to rearrange them so that everybody would get a nice view from their spot. Again, I never thought that such a design was even possible!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tablets And Papers

I like to read newspapers, all kinds, as long as they are sports related. And it's so fine to do that online. The best part of the online reading is that you can simultaneously be on Facebook or chat with your friends at the same time. Imagine yourself some few years ago writing a letter while holding the newspaper! It would have been a bitch of a pen switch (no rhyme intended).

Anyway, until recently, a few small drawbacks still existed with the online news. You couldn't just sit at the table having a nice breakfast or sipping your coffee and read the morning news like in the good old days. And all this to your wife's delight! You just couldn't. If you had a desktop, case closed. With a laptop, well, a bit easier but not very neat - it takes half of the table, the battery runs flat just when you read the best gossip, the screen is of course darker (battery saving scheme, as if it ever worked), l o t s  o f  p r o b l e m s.

Then came Messiah, the saviour of all people who'd like to read the newspapers while drinking their delicious coffee. Tablets! In all forms, all black and white colours, for all tastes. And suddenly the problem was solved, breakfast was again served with the news, everybody happy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Penny

"Hello, dear, I'm Penny! Don't be shy, come closer! How are you?"

I was about to say that I was fine, thanks! but she clearly wasn't interested in my answer. She went on as if we'd known each other for a long time and she'd kept some secrets from me, which she intended to reveal now.

"I was born in '69", she whispered, "Eighteen sixty nine to be precise. He he, don't run away yet, I am still attractive, aren't I?. I have two fathers: one biological - a French man, who registered me when I was born and the second one, an English gentleman, who took me over the channel, bought me some nice dresses and, to be perfectly honest, offered me a lovely childhood.