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.