Monday, September 9, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Can sharkhog fly? No he can't. But he can swim and snuffle and find your truffle!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hereford Corned Beef

It is rare that I find a food I cannot eat. Yesterday, I succeeded. Somehow everything came together in this product. The little tin-opening key broke and I had to open the can with a hammer and pliers. The contents turned out to be some kind of hash with a mild acerbic flavour, texture akin to wet sawdust and a small faintly reminiscent of ammonia. I tried, Lord of the Pans knows, I tried - I added flavourings, spices, olive oil, an egg (apparently hashed corned beef and eggs are traditional breakfast food in some parts of America).

The verdict? See for yourself:

I warmly recommend that everyone tries this at least once in their lives. It will increase your satisfaction with your own cooking skills immensely.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dailyish Flatlands 36 and 38

A double issue, backwards and forwards in time! On the one hand, the fascinating history of the laufsmachine, velocipede and boneshaker, on the other hand, Richard the Third - not a Flatlander, as is obvious from his partly erect posture.

Back on the topic of brick roads, I can understand that it actually makes a lot of sense - you don't destroy the road surface to lay cables and pipes. You merely move it aside, do your work and put it back. However, coming from a region completely bereft of brick roads, I have to admit I find them positively Harappan. Or Sumerian. Perhaps the Flatlanders should upgrade them into a sort of national library, by stamping bits of information of them. Then, should the civilization collapse, future generations would have handy access to both knowledge and building materials in their very roads!

And now, a modern, reconstructed, laufsmachine:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dailyish Flatland 37 - Yellow Brick Road

I don't have anything to add to the yellow brick road right now, so I'll just give you some music to enjoy. Admittedly, Elton isn't an artist I'm particularly enamoured of, but it fits with where the bricks are going!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Daily Flatland 29 - Bitterballen

I am surprised I don't hear people singing in agony more often when they eat bitterballen. Many times I've burnt my mouth and started imitating a gibbon, singing, "Oooooo! Ooooooh! Oooook oook oooooo!" while flapping my hands in front of my lips and flailing for a glass of beer.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Daily Flatland 28 - Klompen

Behold the wooden shoes. Surprisingly warm and unsurprisingly not the most comfortable footwear ever found. Besides serving as suitable boats for small animals, they can also protect the wearer from acids and worms. Furthermore, there appears to be a museum devoted to them. Oddly enough, what I thought of as a traditional Slovenistani clog turns out to be, according to Weekeepeedeea, Swedish in origin.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Daily Flatland 22: Coffee Machinery

In a land of alluvial deposits and human terrain, while sipping a coffee most Flatlanders find absolutely horriffic (instant coffee with a solid dose of fresh milk), I came across a fascinating little geological gem - something to remind me of the mountains that are so absent here.

Soon it will be time to reminisce about carnival by heading for Maastricht, where they celebrate this noble ritual of winter-killing and saturnalia.

Meanwhile, back to the mountains:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Daily Flatland 21: Coffee in Flatland

One of the oddest aspects of Flatland coffee traditions (besides the machinery involved) is that their caffettiere is actually a "French press", completely different from the Italian caffettiera, which is a percolator.

I still recommend instant coffee.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Daily Flatland 20: Sideways Snow!

Today there's not much to see outside, just driving snow (more or less), so I drew something else instead. I'm happy to say, I've gotten to drawing 20 in-a-row, more or less without big gaps. Since 20 is a big and important number, though not as silly as 80 in Flatlandish, I leave you with an enjoyable little song by the inimitably eye-shadowed Tim Minchin:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Daily Flatland 19: Sneeuw

While the world here in Flatland may not be frozen, a grey Saturday like today may be perfect for a fine 1980s documentary (no, the bird has nothing to do with the previous post!):

Daily Flatland 18: More Birds

The experience of omnipresent 'birdedness' in the Netherlands is most fascinating and I guess it goes to show how vast quantities of slow-moving water close to the coast affect the visible fauna. I have literally had to stop my bike while a family of ducks crossed the path, quite unconcerned that they were making me late.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Daily Flatland 16: Kaas

Cheese. Traditionally a mark of Flatland, along with certain flowers, technologies for extracting energy from the wind, soggy ground, land reclamation, and so forth, cheese has shaped and been shaped by another strange technology invented by the Norse: the cheese slicer.

I asked a native, at one point, "Isn't it dangerous? Pulling a sharp cutting blade towards your other hand?"

The response, "Oh, no, not at all!"

"So you can't really cut yourself with it?"

"Well, once my daughter took the tip of one of her fingers off, but since then she's been more careful with it."

For the record, I remain wary of this tool. Also, for the record, enjoy a cheesy song by Tim Minchin:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Daily Flatland 15: Molehills

I have no time for a long comment, I'm off to look at the snow and the seagulls!

Daily Flatland 14: Mountains of Den Haag

Visited the Haague, a town that started as a hunting residence for a local count back in 1230. The name has nothing to do with Hags or Witches, instead it was originally called "The Count's Woods" - "Des Graven hage".

Daily Flatland 13: Funky Cubes

A factoid about the cube houses that I find fascinating (from the wikipedia article): each cube apartment is approximately 100 square meters, of which half is practically unusable due to the angles of the walls.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Daily Flatland 12: Lego Houses

Time is short these last few days, so just enjoy the pretty pictures! :)

Oh, and also enjoy the story of legos, so the documentaries won't be just about pretty birds and bees.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Daily Flatland 11: The Plattenbau

... umm ... no extra comment today! Might expand this bit tomorrow. Woke up with a sore throat and wasn't too inclined to come up with anything interesting today. More later!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Daily Flatland 10: The Wall

From destruction, creation ... or something like that. This is going somewhere ... (I was a bit late with this one, more tomorrow!) ... but for now, something Pink!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Daily Flatland 9: More on Architecture

It is an interesting point, how property taxes affect architecture. I wonder how much work has been done on this point. The Flatland example of narrow houses due to street-front taxes is one example, overhanging medieval and renaissance buildings due to plot taxes is another. A more modern example is the Greek example of the "unfinished" and "unroofed" house to avoid paying taxes, which are only levied on finished houses.

I would think that a modern approach should involve property taxes based on energy-efficiency. However, that may be a topic for another time ... taxes will keep, along with death. A slightly related documentary might be interesting, however. The topic: how many people can live on Earth? Something that seems important to the heavily compacted (so they say) Flatlanders.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Daily Flatland 8: A Peaty Diversion

Literally dirt farming. I never realized that it's not a joke--people used to make a living by digging up peat, which helped power the early bits of the industrial revolution, provided an incentive for drying out marshy bogs, provided heating for the not-so-very-rich, brough about the building of canals, and ... as a special effect ... helped lower large areas of Flatland so much that flooding became severe enough to result in the loss of quite a few towns and villages! Literally, certain areas of Flatland dug themselves into the sea. Some of them cannot be seen right now, because they are ... a bit damp.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Daily Flatland 7: Architecture 1

An isometric illustration of an archaic native peat-diggers hut with living quarters for ruminant quadruped used for heating of quarters and provision of milk and moos. Now, admittedly, it's been a while since I saw a reconstruction of such a house in Drenthe, but this was pretty much it--a tiny hut sunk into the turf. The combination of small houses, world war II and an expanding population led to housing such as that which I occupy now--the modernist apartment block--but that will be dealt with in a few days.

On a completely different note, a history of another peat extracting country, quite close to Flatland:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Daily Flatland 6: Medical Insurance

Well, it's that time of the year in Flatland. Here medical insurance seems to be tied to calendar years and the individual, rather than a person's employment status (which I assumed was normal). So: time to pick an insurer next week! Let's hope eye-patches are covered.

This seems to be a pretty boring topic (though for some reason it gets people quite riled up), so I'm going to make this post more fun by recommending more history of the Mediterranean. Yes, still missing bright sunny weather here!
Look at those shadows! I haven't seen the like of those in quite a few days ...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Daily Flatland 5: More Dikes

Ok, I might have exaggerated the elevation a bit.
Actually, the sea around here is more a dull grey-green and many of the fish are flatter, and the soil is browner, but hey - I work with the pens I have at hand! Anyhow, the dike is a fascinating thing, not just for the etymology. Dikes and water pumps, for example, are the reason that Amsterdam is not an Island. Well, and that the polders aren't just sandbanks. But that's a topic for another time.

In the meantime, I would recommend you listen to John Cleese go on about creativity, rather than watching the news. It'll probably help you more!

I can't see him without thinking of the Popular People's Pfront of Judea.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Daily Flatland 4: Dikes

I hope this doesn't come across as insensitive, but one of the wonderful things about being in a tolerant place is that you can get away with really not caring very much about an issue. Apathy can be a wonderful equalizer.

However, I want these posts to also be interesting and fun. On a cold, grey day like today I cannot but help think of the Mediterranean, land of olives, ancient civilizations, old religions and the brain-deadening hum of the cicadas. Enjoy a wonderful documentary on how it came to be, narrated by the epic Mr. Attenborough:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Because the end of a calendar is the end of a world. On the other hand, it's a brand new, soggy, damp world out there!