Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

some things you see

One of the kids from his class of last year died this weekend.
He heard the news today.

When I asked him: Were you shocked when you heard it?
He said: Yes, but some things, you can see them coming.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm not slacking

Night shift

But instead, I stayed up, and did't even go out for a breath of air (it was too cold anyway) and dutifully posted my little drawings on the internet... For almost no instant gratification At All!

So you think drawing puppets is easy.


Think again!

It's pretty hard work.

Laugh if you want, but page numbers are more important than you may realize!

I'm not talking about the economy
Aaaah! (page numbers!)

...the bad news is... I will never convince them that I have worked 3 x 24 hours in one weekend to fix this. Never.

(now must sleep)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

monster mushrooms

I went looking for mushrooms in the area. I didn't see many. But this is very wet land, there aren't any typical old mushroom forests. There's a relatively young bit of forest just outside the dyke bordering the river. The plant life is not very rich, the ground is mostly covered with nettles. The soil is pure clay. I imagine mushrooms like more mulchy soil. I found one little cluster growing on a tree stump.

In general I am not sorry that there aren't many mushrooms around. They are nothing but the fruits of a big underground mould and I don't like moulds! They better stay away from my house and the woodwork, and I am absolutely phobic about mushrooms in my rafters.

There were some more in a drier area near a bridge, where I remember seeing mushrooms in other years. I think these mushrooms are big this year. They are growing in a number of large clusters. I didn't photograph the biggest clump because it looked too dirty and ragged.

The individual mushrooms here seemed a bit grown out of proportion, they look like bread that has risen too much in the oven, with the crust cracked and the top breaking open.

Drawing mushrooms doesn't really work for me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blue is the colour of taxes

Income taxes freak me out.

When I started as a freelancer I had zero book-keeping experience. In the first three years I have been my own boss this inexperience has led to regular irregularities in my tax declarations. The first big one was in my own disadvantage: I paid over eigth thousand Euros too much social taxes the first year. The third and fourth year combined, I mistakenly applied a rule to my own advantage and "forgot" to pay VAT, which eventually amounted to quite a nice sum. Both mistakes were discovered by the tax bureau.

This can be said in their favour, justice is not a joke to the tax agency. They pay back with the same interest rates they ask, which are pretty extravagant like only Icelandic banks will offer these days. After my first mistake they just paid me back the sum I had paid too much by my own fault, with their extravagant interest rates, making this quite a profitable error for me.

The second time was a different story because the mistake was in my advantage and I had to pay a large fine on top of the sum I owed. The fine was set for 25%. Had they been convinced of fraud - meaning had I known what I was doing - they would have set it at 100%. Had they thought it was simple carelessness, it would have been set at 10%. The 25% indicates I was at grave fault for negligence.

Regulations are that you have the chance to object, so I wrote a letter, hoping to get the fine down to 10%. My request was rejected, but I was invited to explain myself face to face at their office. At first I let the invitation go unanswered. I didn't expect anything much of it, in the end I can take a "no". But when I got a second invitation, I replied. After that visit a wait of six weeks ensued. And then I received the letter. They have dropped the whole fine.

I am surprised.

Looking a little bit silly does have benefits.

That must be it.

Since I had already paid the fine, now that I'll be getting it back it feels like I don't urgently need it, and I'm thinking of buying some shares on the stock market. Yes I am every bit as silly as I look. But really, I can't lose more than I already lost, can I.

I am hesitating between Fortis and ING (that is a joke).

It will probably be solar energy for me.

I am ready for the adventure!

Monday, October 20, 2008

forest of mushrooms

Last Saturday, on a rare occasion, I went for a walk in the forest. I noticed lots of mushrooms. There were mushrooms on every tree stump. Living trees with mushrooms growing out of the stumps where branches have been cut off. I don't remember ever seeing anything like that before. Even a living hollow tree with mushrooms growing inside the hollow.

This Saturday, I didn't have time to do anything fun. Not only had my kitchen sink suddenly decided this was the perfect moment to get blocked to the point of not letting a single drop of water get through, I had also planned to start demolition of my shed/varanda/porch. It was in great need of attention. The previous owners of this house had the brilliant idea (I would not advise anyone to follow their example) of constructing it from a concrete plate supported by wood. To support this block of concrete, which must roughly weigh a ton, they chose wood of the type we call "blow-in-the-wind". To finish it, they put a handrail on top of the concrete, also made of wood, of which the supports are embedded in the concrete, penetrating it all the way through.

A year after I moved in, one of the neighbours alerted me to the fact that this was not a sensible construction. I examined it and found that one of the major support beams had started to rot. The superkids father came to the rescue and temporarily placed some scaffold supports under the beams, and I felt safe for the moment.

But I neglected to check the handrail supports and to give imortance to the fact that they also had begun to rot. It now appears they had started to function as a drain allowing rain water to flow straight through the concrete into the seams of the wooden construction underneath.

This summer, we've had exceptionally high temperatures and enormous floods of rain.

The wood had visibly suffered. How much, became evident after I decided that to stop further rot the best thing would be to strip off the boards covering the face of the construction. Stripping everything would at least allow the open air to dry the wood where the water had penetrated, and prevent it from further suffocating.

I had never imagined wood could rot this fast. We could pull the boards off with our bare hands. Underneath the thin layer of paint which was still intact, there was a moist grainy pulp, black as earth, infested with small insects and slugs. I amost expected to find earthworms there, but earthworms probably don't climb.

Some scaffold supports later and some rubbish lighter I thought my Saturday had been pretty adventurous. But during all this, the Superkid was totally preoccupied with more important matters.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Teus the Plumber

The name of the plumber isn't Joe, it is Teus. I know, because he said so.

I had cleaned the siphon and tried pushing a metal spring through the pipe, worked the plopper, even threatened with the chemicals. All in vain.

(If anything is not clear, check the illustration please.)

You won't want to know what black stinking jelly came out of the pipe so I will not tell you. But whatever I did, nothing unblocked the pipe. At the end of the afternoon and my wits I called for help.

He wore clogs. A pair of gigantic yellow wooden clogs. That wasn't all he was wearing, he also had on a gray knitted pullover and an old pair of jeans, and shoes. He was wearing the shoes inside the clogs.

He brought a "crawl snake". Maybe you wouldn't call it a snake, but everybody here does. You might call it a hose. A crawl hose. It is a thin high-pressure hose. The snake/hose has a small metal head with three holes, one pointing to the front and two to the back, while it pushes itself through the pipe with the two backwards nozzles, and blows the pipe clean with the forward nozzle.

Teus the plumber has been here and my house is at peace.

A flock of migrating geese have found a place to spend the night on the other side of the street.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

vacances d'automne 2008

Si Obama ne gagne pas les élections, dès ce jour lá
ce blog sera uniquement en Français.
If Obama does not win the elections, from that day
this blog will be uniquely in French.

N'importe quelle figure de boue je frappe avec.
No matter how much of a mud figure I will seem (hit) by it.

Peut-être même mieux: en Japonnais.
Or maybe even better: in Japanese.

I no naka no kawazu taikai o shirazu.

Saru mo ki kara ochiru.

View on the White house
View on the White House, Rotterdam