Leibster Award

image(146)A really, really long time ago. I received two nominations for the Leibsteraward. Leibsteraward is basically an informal way to draw attention to lesser known Blogs you like to read.

So I would like to thank CKB.Reviews and Sarah Rhea.

The rules are simple:
Share – Answer – Nominate – Ask – Link
Share 11 things about yourself. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked. Nominate others. Ask them 11 questions.  And to link the blogs of the one who nominated you and who you nominate.

So… my 11 facts:
1. Up to when I was 16 I wanted to be a cop.
2. I can’t leave my house without my blue-tooth headphones, as that would mean having no music or audio book.
3. I did a major in philosophy because of the book ‘Sophies World‘ by Jostein Gaarder.
4. I wear my earrings asymmetrically, I have two small hoops on one side and three studs and a pierced cuff on the other. I only ever change the cuff, the others I have since my 16th.
5. I’m a TV-addict who doesn’t own a TV, as I enjoy American and British TV so much more than Dutch TV.
6. I don’t have any depth perception as there is something wrong in how my brain interprets the signals given by my eyes.
7. I ‘speak’ four language, although I’m only fluent in Dutch and English. I did have lessons in French and German, but I can only say/understand the basics.
8. My shoe-size is 44 [UK: 9,5 and US: 10], resulting in me wearing mostly sneakers, as women’s shoes are hard to come by and expensive in my size.
9. I have two framed posters in my room. One is a map of Westeros the other is of the tenth and eleventh doctor.
10. I have a brother and a foster-sister, who lived with us for so long I don’t know any better. I also had two other foster-sisters but I haven’t got much contact with them. Both of them lived with us for about two years [not at the same time].
11. I hate t-shirts with store-bought prints because almost always they are weird or meaningless. So I mostly wear plain shirts or once with self-made prints.

My slightly more than 11 answers, because I had two sets…
1. If you could have one of these things which would you want out of: Money, Power, Fame?
Fame seems to be highly irritating with people following you and always wanting your attention and without money you won’t be able to escape it, so that’s a no. Power would be good as it is real power to do big things like stopping war or famine, I don’t however thing that, that kind of power exist for one person to have, or should exist. So I would choose money, because you can do good things with money too, and it has the added bonus that you can live comfortable yourself.
2. If you could go back in time to when you were 13 and re-live your life, knowing what you know now. Would you?
Why not I like high school and I liked university. I love studying and there were always cool people to hang out with. Also there wasn’t as much pressure to know where you are going with your life.
3. What is your favourite joke?
I like kermit-jokes. They however don’t really work in English. The Dutch word for frog is kikker, so he is called Kermit the Kikker. Then you take a word which rhyme with kikker like sticker or snicker [and there are many more in Dutch]. So you could ask ‘it’s green and sticky? Kermit the sticker’ or ‘it’s green with peanuts? Kermit the Snicker’.
4. Using only the numbers, 2,3,4,5 and the symbols + and = can you make a ‘true equation’ without google?
Yes because I’m awesome and studying to be a math teacher and just to demonstrate my true equation is ’2 + 5 = 3 + 4′
5. Put iTunes on shuffle. What are the next 5 songs that get played?
Ed Sheeran – Fire Alarms
Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
Hayden Panettiere – Telescope
Flogging Molly – The Worst Day Since Yesterday
The Script – If You Ever Come Back
6. If you could invite anyone [living or dead] to a fantasy dinner party which 5 people would you pick?
I feel like I should give these really sophisticated answers, but then I would be sitting at a table with these incredible minds and feeling stupid and not knowing what to say and these incredible people will have this very interesting conversation and I’m not really able to follow it… So maybe I should opt for the more accessible people? Or a mix…
Jostein Gaarder, because as I said he wrote the book that influenced my choices the most.
Aaron Sorkin, he wrote The West Wing.
George R.R. Marin, out of his mind came this elaborate world with its own history, religions and culture.
Barack Obama, as the “leader of the free world” [which I do not subscribe to] he must have a fascinating life and I think he and Sorkin would have an amazing conversation.
Herman van Veen, because of Dutch/Utrecht-pride and he has amazing songs, but also wrote this very intelligent children’s cartoon which has all these deep-real world themes.
7. If you could pick one thing to happen in your future, what would it be?
I would write this amazing book.
8. Quick, a zombie smashes into your house, you have 3 seconds to grab the object closest to you. What is that object?
Actually I made swords from PVC pipes, insulation foam and duct tape. I made them for our cub scouts. This weekend we have a King Arthur themed camp. I have no clue if they would actually be useful against a zombie, but it looks badass. So one of those.
9. What one moral issue can you honestly say you would never bend on? [For instance, not eating meat for a vegetarian.]
Murder isn’t something to do lightly?
10. Fight or Flight
After this last year I would say fight.
11. What is the best story you have regarding a life event?
I can remember the day my sister came to live with us. I was seven, so this is over 20 years ago. We didn’t have a car so we went to pick her up by train. When we were walking from the children’s home she used to live to the station she realised she forgot her teddy bear and my father had to run back and get it so we wouldn’t miss the train. The image of my father running with a backpack is the one thing that made the biggest impression on me that day. I vowed to never run with a backpack. I liked that it was that what I remember most about that day, because it makes her coming to live with her so much more normal. She has been my sister for over 20 years now and I really don’t know or remember how our family was without her.
12. Who was the last person to whom you said “I love you”?
Probably my mother.
13. Who would you want to play you if your life was a movie?
That’s a hard question. First one who comes to mind is Kate Moennig, not that she resembles me in any way, but I liked her character Shane on The L Word and wished I could be a little more laid back like that.
14. You win the lottery, all debt has been paid off and you’ve already given money to your friends and/or family to help them out, what is your first frivolous purchase for yourself?
I would like a large penthouse, something with very few walls and lots of space, preferably in The Hague, so it’s close to the beach but still in a city.
15. Day or Night?
Absolutely night.
16. You’re having a dinner party with 3 guests…who is with you? This is the twist…1 is living, 1 is dead, 1 is a fictional person or being.
Kind of similar to question #6, but those were all real and living [as far as I know]. So one of them and Nelson Mandela, because my parents named me after his wife and of course The Doctor, preferably ten or eleven.
17. Guiltiest pleasure?
I have more than one. Definitely ‘Kinderen voor Kinderen‘ it’s a children choir which releases a new CD every year in December. When I was younger we listened to them endlessly and knew most of the songs by heart and I still enjoy listening to them at times, because it is pure nostalgia.
18. Where are you in 10 years?

At this point I’m not willing to look further than nine months, then I will have my teaching qualification and I will make a decision. Hopefully happy and alive.
19. What is your favourite colour?
Red or denim.
20. Do you have a token [book, bear, blanket, etc…] of your childhood you haven’t been able to let go?
Not really…
21. What’s your favourite curse word? If you don’t have one, what’s your favourite word?
I’m trying to quit cursing, because I think cursing isn’t the best example to set. I like the word ‘incommensurabiliteit’ it’s the Dutch version of ‘incommensurability‘ it means as much as there not being an objective reason to choose between two different theories. Also I like the word ‘ace’ for something [or someone] that is cool/excellent.
22. When all your dreams come true, who do you want standing beside you? [bonus kudos if you know where this question comes from]
I want my bonus kudos this is One Tree Hill! But I wouldn’t choose Lucas… Not quite sure who I would choose in real life either.

I nominate…
A Boy Named Sue
AJ Shannon
Anna [The Habricou]
Erin [The Finest Of Mornings]

Sarah [Seraireland]

I want to know…
1. When you put iTunes on shuffle. What are the next 5 songs that get played?
2. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?
3. If you have to immigrate where would you go?
4. What TV show would you recommend?
5. If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?
6. What superpower do you want to have?
7. What story does your family always tell about you?
8. If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?
9. You’re having a dinner party with 3 guests…who is with you? This is the twist…1 is living, 1 is dead, 1 is a fictional person or being.
10. Are you a good liar?
11. What is your favourite meal to cook?

Done and done!

My parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary….

image(145)This year my parents are married for 30 years, which is amazing. Two weeks ago we, my parents, my sister, brother and his girlfriend and I, went to Hoek van Holland for two nights to celebrate. [A slight downgrade from the two weeks in Greece five years ago, but still a great way to celebrate.]

Hoek van Holland, which literally means the edge of Holland, is a seaside-town. So we went swimming and flying a kite. I got a sunburn, which means nothing because I always get a sunburn even if there is only the slightest amount of sun, but the weather was in fact great.

Hoek van Holland is also the place were all the ferries to Harwich in England leave. As my aunt was going to visit her son in Manchester we went to the pier watched her ferry leave. We waved and we think we saw her wave back, but as the boat was to far to actually recognize people standing on it we weren’t sure.

The next day we went to Rotterdam, were my sister’s boyfriend had the premier of his play. It had a great soundtrack with exclusively songs of David Bowie. Afterwards we hung out at the theatre for a little after party. We ended up going to dinner in restaurant which used to house a school for train machinists. There was lots of sun on the terrace and it was a great ending for the weekend.

The leaning Tower of Pisa

image(144)I was always convinced that the leaning Tower of Pisa stands in the middle of a big green. It’s a tower and except for the obligatory ‘look I’m holding it up right’-picture [which my sister pulled of great] it’s not that much of an attraction.

Not true however. The tower doesn’t actually stand on the green, although there is green on one side. Also there isn’t this large space around it. It stands next to a cathedral, which together with a baptistery, cemetery and two museums constitute the tourist attraction that is the leaning Tower of Pisa. I think that in the end we spend about four hours looking around. Take into account that we skipped one of the museums. I was really glad that my sister said she really wanted to go there on the way back from Florence to the airport in Pisa. I might very well have opted to skip it, and that would have been a shame because it’s very impressing.

Comeback

image(143)I’ve been back from Florence for over a month now, but I kind of quit uploading new posts. It was more irritating then I expected to type on my phone and it did some weird things to the lay-out, so I postponed and when I came home I postponed some more, for less obvious reasons.

Yesterday I decided I would start-up again. I reworked the layout and this is my ‘I’m back!’-post. The picture is of a statue of Dante. I took it in Florence and I love the contrast and the dark look it has. Normally I take a lot of pictures of buildings, statues, paintings and the view when on holiday. Almost always those are the ones you never look at again, because they don’t show the people you were on vacation with. This one however is the background picture for my phone so I get to look at it everyday.

My adventures at the ‘Duomo’

image(142)Today we planned to go up the Duomo, the dome. Our original plan was to go at 8:15, as the lines probably wouldn’t be as long. That was voted down as my sister wanted to at least sleep in a little and my dad planned to buy fresh bread at the bakery which opened at eight. Eventually we stood in line at 9:20. The rain was pouring down and there was no movement. Even though we decided last night that if the line was too long we would go earlier tomorrow, we didn’t. So we stood in line for about an hour and a half. Luckily the rain changed to just a drip about midway through.

When it was finally our turn, we made the 460+ steps up to the top of the dome. I was hyper ventilating, sweating and scared. My family was sweet and caring. I sat unmovingly as far away from the edge, just shy of having my eyes closed. They were enjoying the view and taking pictures. The picture above is the view you – and I – missed.

You might ask yourself why torture myself like this and the answer is simple. This is the cheaper and safer form of bungee jumping and it even gives you more time to take in the view. I’m scared to go and really don’t want to, but when it’s done it gives a massive kick and I’m proud of myself. I did make a deal with myself though: I have to do each view only once. That means I’m now allowed to skip the Eifel tower [Paris], The Sagrada  Família [Barcelona],  St. Peter’s Basilica [Vatican], St. Paul’s Cathedral [London], The Fehrnsehturm [Berlin] and of course the Dom tower in my home town Utrecht.

Observations made in Florence

image(141)1. The Italian name for Florence is Firenze and every time I see it written somewhere I think about the centaur in Harry Potter.

2. They don’t know how to number their houses. When we were looking for our apartment, number 15, we found two in the same street. Also the numbers don’t ascent or descent, but are randomized.

3. Evidently it’s okay to list prices without taxes and not mention it. We had to pay around 10 euros extra for our diner. To which my dad – an econ teacher – remarked “at least these Italians pay their taxes”.

4. We have an amazing view from our bedroom, evident by the picture above. However the window is so high we need to stand on our bed to see it.

5. The street vendors have access to a zillion umbrellas, even when there is hardly any rain. Those are called umbrellos or umbrellies. They also have a zillion sunglasses, belts, scarves and reproductions of famous painting not to be found in Florence and for some reason Heath Ledger as the Joker.

6. The clothing stores are longer open than the supermarkets. Also there almost aren’t any ‘normal’ supermarkets only really small ones which only sell some essentials. Although they really make an effort to pack in as much as they can.

7. I scored three new postcards for my collection ‘Consequences of war’ by Pieter Paul Rubens, ‘The vision of Ezechiel’ by Raffael and ‘Sleeping Cupid’ by Caravaggio.

8. There is graffiti everywhere, except maybe the biggest two or three monuments. A lot of the buildings are in poor condition even if they are considered cultural heritage. This seems to be normal for Italy as they have so much cultural heritage and not enough money for restoration and upkeep.

That’s it for now… tomorrow we are going to see the museum Uffizi. As a fan of Caravaggio I will certainly enjoy it.

Dutch King’s day

imageTomorrow is our King’s – Willem Alexander – birthday. I’m not someone who’s in any way excited about the royals, but this is one of the perks. Each year on the day there are massive parties everywhere. Except when it is on Sundays, then they are the day before. That makes today the very day, but we are in Florence. So we didn’t expect to see the festivities, but even here one of the bars had the Dutch flag and an insane amount of orange. We decided not to go in, because it looked a little sad.

‘Wim-Lex’ had this year his King’s Day party on his own, birthday for the first time, because he was only crowned last year and therefore last years’ party was a little different. His mother Beatrix didn’t have her Queen’s day parties on her actual birthday as that was one of the last days of January. She decided to keep Queen’s day on her mothers – Juliana – birthday. So for many, many years Queen’s day took place on the 30th of April, and from now on we get King’s day on the 27th of the same month. Basically nothings changed, still we will paint everything orange, still we will get drunk and still we will sell all our old junk on the street. Only three days earlier. I’m convinced we wouldn’t even need a King for that, but as long as the royals are there… let’s celebrate!

Happy Easter!

image(142)My parents house has a playground in front of it. It makes for a tight-knit neighbourhood. My parents organize an Easter egg hunt each year. My brother, sister and I all live on our own but still join the search. This year was a little sad, because my parents decided that after sixteen year they would hand the organising job over to the neighbours who do have kids in the proper age range. Symbolically they handed over the cartons in which the found chocolate eggs are collected. The cartons my brother came up with a couple of years ago, because he couldn’t stand my mother recounting how many eggs were already found every five minutes.

This year there were only 48 eggs to be found, and 46 were actually found. I held up my reputation of being the worst searcher and found non of them. Not that I tried this year. Afterwards the tumble bars and my brother were the favoured jungle gyms. He provides after school care for primary school kids. It was cool to see him play with these kids, because I can see that he enjoys his job. After everybody went home, we had an Easter lunch, which was a good ending to a good day.

p.s. There was some good news in the paper, my aunt will get a job in the town council. That’s interesting because her sister, also my aunt, was considered to be major.

Review: That. is. not. my. name.

Title: Spartacus
Length: 3.5 season, 2010-2013
Ending: absolutely conclusive

Stars: Andy Whitfield, Liam McIntyre, Manu Bennett, Daniel Feuerriegel, Peter Mensah and Lucy Lawless.

Rating: 9/10

For most people the story won’t be a new one, because it’s historical fiction and several main plot points are part of the history books. That doesn’t make for a boring story, because the Spartacus story is great to tell. A Thracian soldier sold into slavery gets the chance to become a gladiator. At the Ludus, he gets the name Spartacus, a new identity he has difficulty to embrace. He will become the leader of a major slave uprising.

What makes this version of the story stand out are great characters and excellent visuals. It looks like a gory comic book movie, it has the scale, big fights, lots of colour, blood and just plain epicness. What gives the show extra credibility is that the dialogue is written with slight tweaks in grammar. This makes the show sound alien without making it difficult to follow. I have no clue if it is historically accurate, probably not, still cool though.

I like the ‘lieutenants’ in Spartacus’ army. All people with different motivations to join and different personal lives and different views on the way to succeed in the war. They are more than two-dimensional extras. Another great character is Lucretia [Lucy Lawless], she is the the evil bisexual widow of gladiator school owner Quintus Batiatus [John Hannah]. I had doubts about who to put down as the stars from the show. Mostly because the cast was big and all around awesome. Also except Manu Bennett, who has been killing it – literally – on Arrow, the actors were all new to me, or if I have seen them before I did not recognize or remember them. So I went with both guys who played Spartacus and the actors who played the most episodes.

I hear you think ‘both actors?!’, that can’t be a good sign. I agree recasting is often distracting and makes it seem like the character suddenly changes personality. This however isn’t the case in Spartacus. When they had to change the actor [Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with and later sadly died of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma] between the first and second season, they made an excellent choice in Liam McIntyre. The slight change in the character fits in with the actual change in his circumstances. The delay in production caused them to spoil the fans with a spin-off prequel story Spartacus: Gods of the Arena which is also excellent, which I counted as the extra 0.5 season.

I would recommend the show to everyone, but there will probably be some who can’t appreciate it. There is graphic violence, explicit sex and cursing, which you need to be open to. The best comparisons I can make are Game of Thrones with more violence or Banshee in ancient Rome. So if you like either of those, you probably will like this.

A new start

image(77)Today’s assignment: write the post that was on your mind when you decided to start a blog.

Last year was hard, there weren’t many highs and the lows were really low. Not that really awful things happened to me, mostly normal life stuff, but I couldn’t handle it. It is hard to admit that I was stuck. Luckily there were people around me who noticed.

Then I needed to make changes, most important of those is doing more stuff I like. Thus I need a list of things I like and want to do:

  • Reading crime novels
  • Being a scout’s leader [Link in Dutch]
  • Artsy-stuff like; painting, knitting, colouring, sewing, claying and others
  • Going to the movies
  • Young adult fantasy/dysantropic audiobooks
  • Going to the gym
  • Watching my favourite TV-shows
  • Snowboarding [although way to expensive]
  • Playing games [my new fave is Munchkin]
  • Rowing
  • extreme organizing and living in chaos
  • Visiting museums [my favourite painter is Caravaggio]
  • Collecting postcards from my favourite painting
  • Swimming
  • Biking in the sun, though the dunes, or walking along the beach
  • Reading Philosophy
  • Buying trainers [Also a little to expensive]
  • Maths
  • Going to lectures about education with my dad
  • Learning new things
  • Yoga/meditation
  • Keeping a journal

And since I now have my blog keeping it up, certainly deserves a place on the list. Most of these are things I’ve done before and want to do again or want to keep doing again. I also made a bucket list of new things I want to experience.

  • Travel to Australia
  • Learning sign language
  • Run a 10 km race
  • Learn to surf
  • Learn to cut hair
  • Paint a mural
  • Learn to skateboard
  • Get a tattoo [although my parents may disown me]
  • Go to the airport take a random flight and have an adventure
  • Learn a martial art
  • Go to all the seven continents
  • Get my driver’s license
  • Become fluent in French, German, Swedish, Arabic or Russian [I already have a little knowledge about the first two.]
  • Learn archery
  • See the pyramids in Egypt
  • Ride a motorcycle [and since I probably won't be able to learn to ride one myself I would be content with riding on the back of one]
  • Go waterskiiing
  • Go kiteboarden
  • Visit the USA

And that’s it for now… maybe later more. Suggestions are welcome

Thenera party day

image(134)Yesterday was a very special day, dubbed ‘Thenera Feestjesdag’, which translate to Thenera party day.  It was twenty years ago that my foster-sister came to live with us. A good reason for a small celebration. The five of us [My parents, brother, sister and I] had diner together, waffles and ‘bowl’ [something like non-alcoholic punch]. A menu with a high nostalgic value, because that is what my grandmother often used to serve us.

It was ‘gezellig‘. A typical Dutch word which knows no translation in English, but means as much as fun or pleasant. My parents and my sister bought presents for everyone. My parents gave everyone a mug with a picture of the time we celebrated that Thenera lived with us for half a year. Back then my mother wanted to celebrate but didn’t dare to take us to a restaurant, so we eat together at home and all dressed-up. My brother like a pirate, my sister a grandmother and me something non-recognizable 20 years later. The highlight of the evening was my father Nico, in a purple sundress of my mum and two little ribbons in his hair, as Nicolientje.

My sister got everyone a card with a very sweet message and a matching gift. My brother got dish brush holder looking like a frog, My father a pen tray looking like plastic plant, I got alphabet stamps and my mother giant Mikado. So after dinner we had a ferocious and hilarious Mikado match, the win shared by me and my mother each with 12 points. It was an awesome evening and I’m so very glad that my parents decided that they wanted more kids.

I can’t remember what life was like before my sister came to live with us. I was seven, almost eight, so I have memories from before. But no memories of a family of four and how it was different. So in my memory she always was my sister. I do however the day we picked her up from the home she lived at and this is a very substantial and emotional one…

We had to pick her up by train, because back then my parents didn’t use to have a car. We were walking to the station, the five of us for the first time really as a family, when she realised that she forgot her teddy bear. The one she got from her birth mother and couldn’t sleep without. Not wanting to miss the train my father ran back to pick it up. And my most vivid memory of the day is my father running with is backpack bobbing up and down and me deciding that I will never in my life run with a backpack, because it looks ridiculous.

 

Zero to Hero, day 1

image(45)I joined a challenge, to be more precise, a blog challenge. It’s called Zero to Hero and takes 30 days to complete. The goal is to give a good start to your blog. I started my blog on January 26th this year and am almost three months in now. Perfect timing, it seems to me. Each day comes with a new goal.

Todays goal is to write an introduction about who you are and what you want to blog about. Something I already have on my blog, namely the ‘About me‘ page, which gives some background on my personal life and explains that my blogs name isn’t as random as it seems. I also already wrote an introduction post – cleverly called ‘Introduction‘ – on why I decided to start my blog and I hope that the menu gives some inkling what my blog will be about… I’ll give you a hint: my life, creative things and TV reviews.

Basically I covered most – if not all – the questions asked. This makes it hard for me to decide what I could and want to write today. I feel like not writing a post is cheating on the challenge, something that is not done – even more so on the first day. Neither did I want to rehash all the things I already put out there. Therefore I give you this update about me thinking what to do and deciding that sharing the thought would suffice.

Only 29 more days left!

Life skills…

image(1)I possess several life skills and sometimes I have this urge to gain more. Some are very practical. I can fix my bike if needed, I can assemble Ikea furniture and I can read a map. Possible some other useful stuff also. I like learning new skills. This year I relearned how to knit [I was able to knit when I was about ten, but never really got the hang of it so I gave it up.]

Over the last five days I gained a very important new one. It all started with an intriguing object I found in my parents study. I did some internet research [Youtube is your friends] and now I am pretty okay at it. I’m kind of proud of myself, because this was something I really wanted to learn. I gave it a bad try earlier, but now I actually accomplished something.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can solve a rubik’s cube! I admit it’s a completely useless skill, but one I now am proud to possess. There are more useful and useless skills I want to acquire, among them being sign language, handstand, French, skateboarding and programming in something more sophisticated as HTML.