Thursday, December 13, 2018

Shoot!

I don't consider myself an photography aficionado, but I cannot deny I find pleasure in shooting family and whatever crosses my path. In the more than ten years that I own a Canon 350D DSLR I have gathered quite a library of pictures of family, martial arts training and the occasional holiday. So far, there are four pictures precious to me.

A concert of klezmer band Di Gojim, in the Houtmansplantsoen, Gouda (2006).
This one captured the mood of the performance quite well. I was awarded 3rd prize in the photography contest of local newspaper Goudse Post.

Miko of Hisaizu Shrine, Koshigaya, Japan (2006)
Training in the Miko Dojo, when visiting Japan I was determined to shoot a shrine maid, or miko. Tracking the girl with my camera, I had forgotten to switch off my camera's image stabilisation, with disastrous effect. Technically, this one is a failure, but I really like the swirly effect here.
Buddhist temple, Koshigaya, Japan (2006)
 This cat caught my attention, and acted like a model, willing to pose for me.

 Chapel of Marie, Udenhout (2017)
Shot with a long exposure time, this picture froze the interior, leaving the visitors as ghostly passengers. For me, it has a strong association of Mother Marie as a rock in the tide of time, with mortal humans coming and going like waves on the beach.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Floris!

I was in kindergarten "De Speeldoos" and Floris was my hero. The Dutch Ivanhoe, played by Rutger Hauer, was broadcast on Sunday evenings, and while my mother frowned upon watching television on The Day of The Lord, I was allowed to see it, because my father loved it himself.

I had always thought Floris had returned from the crusades, but when I recently re-watched the show, I found he had traveled the seas with the Portuguese. Anyways, when he returned, he found himself involved in a clash between the duke of Burgundy and Guelders, aka the good guys vs. the bad guys. The bad guys had taken his castle, and it takes more than one season to get it back. Fortunately, Floris is not alone, as he is accompanied by Sindala (or 'Sindelaar', as I heard it as a child), a fakir from India, adept in alchemy, magic and medicine.

Like Floris, I rode a horse, and with my friends, a galloped through the streets, making the 'hooperdehooperdehoop' sounds that real television horses made. And, like Floris, I dreamed of having a castle, and whenever I discovered how a real castle looks like, with diagonally painted shutters, thick walls and, of course, a secret tunnel, I updated my plans of the great castle, to be realized in our garden. My parents must have appreciated my lack of initiative back then, as I don't think a medieval castle, with secret tunnel and everything, in our backyard would have been a good fit.

I will never forget the day that the mistress of our kindergarten came to tell me something bad had happened: she dropped a vase of flowers over my shield, and although it was going to dry, for now it looked like a wet rag. Imagine, for a moment, you are Floris, ready to fight in an important tournament? And then you have to resign because the motherfucking mistress of kindergarten "De Speeldoos" spoils a vase with water over your shield? I admit, the word 'motherfucking' hadn't enriched the Dutch language yet, but you get the idea.

What still fascinates me is how I still remember certain scenes of the show, while I have forgotten most of the story. I do remember a man stretched on the rack, being interrogated by someone pointing a finger saying "Where is the seal", a scary devil in a bottle screaming "Alruin!", a knight concealing his identity by painting his shield, Sindala's alchemy lab and his clever use of a soaked rag as suction cup. I will leave the analysis to a licensed psychiatrist, but I definitely suspect that my early interest in science and magic stems from Floris.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Catweazle has left the game

I must have been 5 or 6 years old when I was introduced to Catweazle, a medieval sorcerer who managed to escape the evil Normans by conjuring himself into our 20th century. That is, he ends up in 20th century Great Britain, where he is charmed by modern magic, like electrickery, until he finally finds a way to return to the good old days.

I definitely was too young to follow the plot in detail, but a few years later I found the books by Richard Carpenter in the library around the corner, and I read them over and over again, and when later the two series were rebroadcast, I loved to watch them again, this time fully appreciating the humor and peculiarities of the Wizard of Saburac (and of Great Britain). This series was built to last! Chances are not very good, but I promise if I ever get a pet toad I will call it Ticker. Or Touchwood. Mayhap.

Yesterday I read the news that Geoffrey Bayldon, the actor who had played Catweazle and without doubt contributed to his popularity, passed at the age of 93. The creator of the series, Richard Carpenter, died in 2012. It must be a sign of the times now I feel this turns a page in history, and their league of creative minds have become extinct. With Catweazle, a curious young boy who loved to dream of magic (and Great Britain) has passed. As Catweazle used to say: nothing works!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Call the police! - postpostscript

So I brought my case under the attention of the Public Prosecution Service. It looks like they choose the easy way out: they did not even acknowledge the receipt of my letter, not mentioning the silence that followed. Today I gave it another try, this time using registered mail. Stay tuned.

Postpostpostscript: my registered letter has reached its destination. That is all: it looks like it was ignored.

Post4script: I sent a complaint to the Chief Prosecutor. She acknowledged receipt, and  let me know she would get back to it in six weeks. A couple of days later, the receipt of my registered mail was acknowledged, with a note that the Public Prosecutor Service will look into my case. I suggest you do not hold your breath.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Let's make Apple Inc. respect consumer rights!

I started a petition to ask attention for Apple not respecting consumer rights worldwide. I would appreciate if you could give this a go, sign the petition and spread the word!

Apple Inc. is violating consumer rights worldwide. While many countries require Apple to guarantee the proper functioning of its products for a period of at least two years, Apple still maintains a limited one year warranty period, and makes its customers believe they need to buy an expensive AppleCare plan, which adds as much as 25% to the already high price of its products. For instance, EU laws grant consumers a free of charge, two-year guarantee, which means that AppleCare effectively adds only one year of coverage, rendering the plan prohibitively expensive.

In addition, Apple rejects claims of guarantee with respect to repairs and parts on products it has chosen to declare 'vintage'. For instance, a consumer claim for a MacBook Pro logic board replacement (EUR 700) which lasted little longer than one year was rejected, for the reason that, by that time, the original MacBook Pro was more than five years old. This is illegal in most countries.
Apple happily provides notes to consumer laws, while, in practice, these laws are rarely respected, if ever, by Apple, its service providers and its resellers. Instead, Apple challenges its customers to sue them if they do not agree, trusting that the bulk of its customers do not have the resources to do so, while local authorities lack the drive to effectively take action.

To sum it up, Apple willfully violates the rights of consumers, leaves them ignorant about their rights, and manipulates its customers and local authorities worldwide into paying prohibitively high prices for its products and services. This must stop now!

(the petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/tim-cook-make-apple-inc-respect-consumer-rights)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Call the police! - postscript

Two months after filing my complaint on Apple and accomplishes (see Call the police!) I decided to inquired about its status; I did so against my better judgment. The girl who answered the phone did not have the guts to answer me, and muttered about the complexity of the case. The person who handled my case would contact me.

The response came through email. It mainly referred to the standard letter which had reduced my original complaint to civil law, and although the sender of the email was the same girl who had filed my addendum, she conveniently avoided mentioning its existence. When I reminded her about the addendum she jotted down a quick email response. An official letter was obviously too much to ask.

She wrote me that I had accepted the replacement logic board, and should have complained right after the repair. Also, there was no way I could prove that a new logic board would have lasted longer than the patched up version I had received. So, this was not about criminal law, and I better ask attention for this case with the Dutch Consumentenbond or the tv show Tros Radar.

The response not only completely ignores the fact that a limitation period of twelve years applies to fraud, it also suggests that criminal law applies only if it can be proven that the victim was better off if the crime had never been committed. So, I can safely kill my 90-year old mother, as we will never know how many years the Good Lord had had in mind for her, and it is okay to rape a girl, as long as she cannot prove she would have been happier without rapist. This line of reasoning completely and utterly reduces criminal law to civil law, and shifts the burden of proof to the thin shoulders of the victim. In addition, as a sad case of economism it reduces each and every aspect of quality of life to monetary quantity. Also, it shifts the burden of solving cases like this from the police to institutions which are notorious for being only interested in audience ratings and magazine circulations.

It might be that it is just the Emmeloord girls of the police district Flevoland of unit Midden-Nederland who are incompetent, ignorant, lazy and, in one case, rude, but I am afraid these are the symptoms of a broader trend which has kicked off decades ago. It is one of the reasons I believe this country is completely lost.

I will bring this issue under the attention of the Public Prosecution Service, and give them a fair chance to sort this out. I will report about its progress, or lack of it, in this blog.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Shall I compare thee to a hand grenade?

One of our still lifes in art schools featured a pomegranate. I will never forget the face of my painting teacher when I addressed the fruit as 'a pomegrenade': "A WHAT?".

I had assumed that if it looks like a grenade, is written in Dutch like a grenade, it will be pronounced as such: not. The English 'pomegranate' comes from the Latin 'pomum granatum', or apple with many seeds.

Later I learnt the link between the two was not really far-fetched: in the old days, the explosives were named after the fruit, because they looked the same.  So, if your pomegranate has a pin, throw it directly after you pull it out...