All Hail the Glow Cloud

One of the podcasts I listen to is Welcome to Night Vale. This faux community radio where weird stuff happens is… well, weird.

They are on a European tour at the moment, and since they passed Amsterdam, I decided to go. Friend S was easily persuaded, so she joined. It was odd to see the voices in person, so to speak, but I enjoyed it (also enjoyed the people cosplaying as glowing clouds). Then I got home just before midnight, and was super tired the whole day yesterday. Totally worth it.

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All the Social Interactions

With the whole working full time thing, I like my week nights and weekends to have time for me to just relax and recharge my batteries. Frankly, having too many plans stresses me out. So this week was a bit of challenge – Thursday evening there was a company get-together, Friday we went out for dinner for my birthday, and Saturday we were going to visit friends. This means that my mental conversation beforehand goes something like this will be awful. Why did I agree to do all these things so close together? And then I go, and it’s fine. Talk about worrying about nothing.

The friends yesterday though, they’d made their own pulled pork. Had started the bbq at 9 am, to serve dinner at 6 pm. That’s commitment I will never be able to repay. (And it was delicious, and a good time was had by all.)

I’ll also throw in the bonus topic from the Endless Blog Challenge:

SONG RECOMMENDATION. Not just any old song, one song off of this week’s Spotify Release Radar playlist.

This week’s Release Radar was a lot less fun that last week’s, but look, a favorite Icelandic rapper released a new song:

Excellent Customer Service

As I’m slowly inching my way away from doing customer service, it’s still been my line of work for the past 10 years (give or take a few months). Not only does this mean that I’m a VERY picky customer, but also that I mentally review/rate all customer services I am forced to contact.

Scandinavian Airlines – shit
KLM – depends on the day and person; ranges from shit to decent
KPN (phone provider in NL) – shit
bol.com (the ones who sell almost everything) – great

Something I’ve learned during my years as an expat in the Netherlands, is that it’s not a strength of Dutch people. It’s just not in (most of) them. Living here, I also feel that I don’t really know the Swedes anymore – are they good at it? If I judge by SAS the answer is a resounding HELL NO.

However. I ordered some books from bokus.se. Upon receipt, one book was wrong. After having paid € 50 in shipping costs I was… let’s say unhappy. So I called them, and they were like “oh, we’re so sorry. please keep that book and we’ll send the right one straight away”.

And that’s how you keep a whining customer happy and coming back for more.

Book Poetry

Part of the Endless Blog Challenge (week 35). This one worries me a bit, cause I just think “but poetry, I can’t write poetry”. Although, I guess this is technically not writing poetry, but more like the fridge magnets version, so what the hell!

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Lost in a good book
first among sequels
thinking, fast and slow
I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere

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I’ll give you the sun
half of a yellow sun
a little life
house of leaves


Ok, this was quite fun, I might do more at some point.

When the Zombies Attack

I was trying to come up with a Feminist Friday post, but drew a blank. So instead it’s time for this one.

While I don’t like scary movies (because seriously, what is the point with movies like Saw? I’m doing very well without being grossed out, freaked out, and turning (more) paranoid), scary books are mostly ok. But my favorites are the ones including zombies. Not scary zombies like in the remake of Dawn of the Dead, mind you, but slow zombies, like in the original.Basically, I guess I want the zombie books to have an ulterior theme, where it turns into criticism of how we live today. Examples from the movie world would be Shaun of the Dead* and Warm Bodies. In the book-world, I have clear favorites, as readers of this blog might know: the Newsflesh trilogy and.. *drumroll* David Moody’s Autumn series.

Actually, the alternative title for this post is “How the autumn series made me think unreasonably much about what I would do if everyone else turned into zombies.”

So this series consists of 6 books, that are more or less intertwined. Some characters appear later on, most do not. Some books contain short stories, some do not.

  • Autumn
  • Autumn: The City
  • Autumn: Purification
  • Autumn: The Human Condition
  • Autumn: Disintegration
  • Autumn: Aftermath

One day, most of civilization (we assume! – there is no electricity, so no contact with the “outside” world) dies. The survivors are surrounded by heaps and heaps of dead bodies, as they scramble to find other living humans.

Then the dead start walking (obviously, how else do you get zombies?). They aren’t malevolent per se, but when in groups they kind of attack (tear apart) the living. That’s pretty much all I’ll say about that, cause if this subject interests you the least, you should read the books.

Some of the survivors escape to a deserted island, some hide in a castle, some on the countryside. And so on.

So, inevitably, one starts thinking – what would I do? The castle isn’t a bad idea, but of course it’d have to be a large enough one to actually grow things inside, and have access to fresh water. (I assume any old wells have been dried out or filled so people won’t fall into them.) Ideally next to a waterway for easy escape. We had a company event at “Forteiland“; this old bunker/fort that was part of Amsterdam’s defence line could be a possible place for the first, shorter, period:

Forteiland-IJmuiden

Something I feel they aren’t discussing at ALL in the books are the fucking nuclear power plants. What happens to those? If they aren’t maintained or shut off, they must lead to accidents? (Look, I’m guessing here. If you can reveal to me how this can be solved it’ll make my imaginary zombie-escape plan much easier to deal with. Maybe they have built in fail-safes that us laymen don’t know about?)

In addition to this – the weather! As much as I love Sweden, and that the lack of people is appealing (obvs. less zombies to fight), the weather is not great for surviving without the everyday amenities, nor is it great for growing food stuff. So we’d have to go south (but, again, not too south, because I hate when it’s too warm). Maybe France?

And what about supplies? Like, I know they have (canned/dried) food in France too, so you can pick that up on the way (btw, we’ll need like a small truck… will it be possible to drive? won’t all the dead people’s cars be stuck on the road? so… big truck! But I can’t drive one…). But for stuff like medications? Better bring that from a country where you can read the leaflet. And some books on useful things (like medicine? Growing stuff.. generally handy things) – so stop at a library. Probably those pills for cleaning/filtering water would be very handy. But where do you get those?

This is as far as my thoughts have gone (although, I just googled “remote castles France”). I do evaluate new environments for this though (tower of London? Possibly – but there’s so much people in London that I’m not sure the walls would be enough. Can the old moat be re-enabled for extra protection?). I assume this is perfectly normal.


*Seriously though, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – how great are their movies? If you haven’t already, you really should watch Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead and Paul. You can thank me later.

Skincare & Sunburns

The trains are (exceptionally) crap this week, so I was allowed to work from home Tuesday-Wednesday. You’d have thought I might have had time to write some posts then, but I guess not. Can we discuss how awesome it was not having to commute though? And not being surrounded by chattering people all day?

Anyway. About two months ago, I suddenly decided to start with skincare. Yep, you read it right, I’m 35 and haven’t done that before. Obviously, I’ve washed my face (with soap!!) and even used day cream every now and then, but that’s been it. Then I started reading Kakan Hermansson‘s preaching on skincare, and thought “maybe I should give it a try?”. So the thing she keeps talking about it is a 2% bha from Paula’s choice. Honestly – I still don’t really know what it is (yeah, yeah, it exfoliates), but I can be easily persuaded.

Said and done, I ordered the whole shebang from Paula’s choice (…I’m also lazy, have I mentioned this before?) – cleanser, 2% bha, day cream and night cream:

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And now, 2 months later… I have to say it’s quite nice. My skin is definitely a lot softer, and I have less blackheads and zits. In addition to this, the joy of having a day cream with SPF. Why has no one told me this before? As the pale northerner I am, this has already saved me a couple of times (like when I went biking with my (red-headed) brother, and you couldn’t really tell on me, but he was lobster-red). I swear I will never use a day cream without it. Think I exaggerate? Just listen to this podcast episode. Really, do it.

I’m in Stitches (j/k)

Here in NL, the health care is what I would call semi-private (probably technically wrong, but whatever). You’re obliged to have health care insurance, the cost of which varies depending on the company you go with and what extras (dental care etc.) you choose. Normal range is currently around €90-110 per month.

No company can deny you health care coverage, nor do dumbass things like “pre-existing conditions” matter. However. You still have the “self risico”, i.e. self risk, that you’ll have to pay.* That is currently € 380 per year. So anything up until that, you might still have to pay yourself. If you’re unlucky, your yearly health care costs will then be around € 1580 per year (medications not included!). If you’re lucky enough not to get sick, your yearly costs are still around € 1200.

I just got the bill for my hand surgery from last  year. Here’s a picture showing how severe it was:

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3 stitches, completely conscious, was out of there within half an hour.

Total bill: € 746.
I have to pay: € 25 (WHY?! I don’t get why most of it is covered but not all. I haven’t reached my self risk limit for this year, so why is it only € 25?)

All in all, not so bad. But decidedly more than what my mom – who uses much more health care – paid last year.

Also, I sent the above picture to my brother as I took off the bandage, and he replied that it looked like “kassler”. Here’s a picture of that for your reference:

kassler_i_ugn_kasslergratang_allt_i_ett_sas_ris


*some things fall outside of this. Visits to your house doctor don’t count, for example.