It's much less bleak today. It felt like the first day of spring. For a couple of hours. Then the sky turned gray again. Keep trying, Holland.


Posted in Dutch , Photography


Bicycle status: bad. The chain is rattling. The brakes are weak. The front brake line has a hole in the protective plastic and is starting to rust. The handlebars are already rusting, which is visible through the gum tape that's sliding off in some places. In other words, it's ready for a good old adventure trip!

Well, except for the leak in the tire. After a couple of days I find myself with a flat rear tire, yet I cycled for an hour today and didn't notice any trouble. It's just slowly deflating. Fortunately I've still got a spare inner tube. Unfortunately that spare inner tube is a used one that I replaced because it was also slowly deflating. I guess it's time for a new one.

The weather here is getting better. It's been storming for almost a week non-stop, but finally the sky is clearing up a bit and the wind is slowing down. The sunlight is harsh. Bleak. It's one of those hard-to-place things that I don't like about Holland. The sun might be shining at its brightest, yet it doesn't make you feel warm. It doesn't make things look warm, even. It limits photographic opportunities and it limits my excitement to go out and take photos. The sun plays no tricks here. In Holland, the colors are always the same.

I tend to prefer warm colors when I take photos, and I usually edit them in if they're not there in the first place. At least to my own perception this tends to make places look nicer than they really are. In the next two photos, rather than just slapping on a bunch of warm colors, I tried to represent reality a bit better.

Webster says this about 'bleak':

1. exposed and barren and often windswept 2. cold, raw 3. a: lacking in warmth, life or kindliness 3. b: not hopeful or encouraging 3. c: severely simple or austere

Without a doubt, all of these definitions apply to the part of Holland that I am living in. If only it could be more colorful.

Posted in Cycling , Dutch , Photography , Thoughts | Tagged

Gray Holland

What is about Holland that makes it just not fun to go out? Is it the cold weather? The gray sky? The continuous rain? The strong winds? The long boring stretches of road?

All of the above.

I am in poor physical shape, and I am doing another cycling trip in April. I will have to train a lot, but the motivation is just not there right now.


Posted in Dutch , Photography

Launching ships at my home town

I happened across an awesome gif of it today, thought I'd share.

Posted in Dutch

I really don't like winter

But it does make for some beautiful scenery.

As I'm going to be moving away from here soon, I decided to put my precious bicycle into storage in the attic at my dad's working place. Cycling there at -1C made it seem a lot farther away than I remembered, and my feet froze off. I also realized once more that my stamina completely disappeared because I didn't exercise at all during the past three months. All that built-up stamina from cycling around Japan, gone. I'm a little sad about that.

Winter started early this year. I can't remember the last time I was in Holland seeing snow in November. Ah, I miss Japan's warm winters... The sky would be a clear blue and it wouldn't be too cold to cycle. Although Japan's summer is probably worse than Holland's in terms of temperature and humidity, I'd say that Holland's winter is worse than Japan's summer. I realize that does not make a lot of sense.

A busy week next week. I'll be moving out soon.



Posted in Daily Life , Dutch , Photography | Tagged

The East Polder

In the distant past, at times of high downpour, the Hunze river and the Lake of South Laren would flood. The East Polder was regularly flooded as well. Large portions of the polder would remain wet for a long time and could only be hayed very late in the summer. In the early 20th century quays were constructed, water pumping stations were built and the water was contained. Thus the polder became a suitable place for pastures. Alternately haying and grazing the plots attracts waders like the Redshank and the Godwit. The Foundation for the landscape of Groningen performs, in cooperation with farmers, a bird-friendly management. For example, mowing takes place until after the breeding season (at the end of July).

(text found on an information sign in the polder, freely translated to English by me)

Autumn is here.


At the entrance of our block



In the forest



Not at the rail bridge


Me, I'm more of a summer person. Swimming! Water! Sunshine! Before that, Winter will come. Snow, ice, cold... For now, it's still autumn :)

(Ok, I cheated on that last one... Here's how it really looked like when I saw it.)

Posted in Dutch , Photography


Here's the trailer about a new Dutch horror movie. It's about the Dutch version of Santa Clause: Sinterklaas. I normally avoid Dutch movies like the plague but this seems so cheesy that it might actually be hilarious.

For something way better, check out this awesome trailer of Hobo with a Shotgun:

Posted in Dutch

The first blue sky in weeks

It's cold. Can't just go out cycling unprepared any more...

A month ago I was able to go running after dinner and still come back before sunset. Now the sun sets immediately after dinner.

Flower buu

Winter. It's such a woody word.

Posted in Dutch , Photography | Tagged

Bunch of photos

I'm staying in Holland longer than expected. Finding the job I want is not easy.

Uh, mushrooms. Duh.

I took a long walk around the area tonight. Well, since this is the countryside, the only type of walk is a long walk, as everything is very far away.

The forest area around here is nice though.

Taking long walks is very refreshing. You should do it too.

Posted in Daily Life , Dutch , Photography | Tagged ,

A lack of imagination

Have you ever had the feeling of a thought entering your head, and before the thought translates into words you are already realizing its meaning before the words appear? Like sometimes when you hear someone speak, you think in your mind of a wonderful retort, but before you can finish thinking the retort in words, you're already realizing that you've just thought something witty and it's ready to come out? Incomplete thoughts, so to speak. For the longest time I've had this recurring incomplete thought that I really want to convey on this blog, yet due to the nature of the unfinished thought I can never find the words to express them in written form. It's like writing the unwritable. Nevertheless, I will try to convey that thought that can never be portrayed accurately in words here.

You can't be proud of thinking in a particular way if your culture/upbringing made you think that way and you never considered other possibilities, even if that particular way of thinking is correct. Guh, this is a hard one to explain. Here's an example. Suppose you see a man get robbed right in front of you. The thief runs towards you, what do you do? Well, after carefully (and instantly) judging the risks, you decide to stop him. The outcome of this event is not important, nor is the how. What's important is WHY you chose to stop the thief. Answers can vary from "the bible says stealing is wrong", "the law says that stealing is wrong" to "I personally believe that stealing is wrong". But here's the thing: a lot of people saying that they personally believe that stealing is wrong have never even seriously thought about it. We live in a culture that trains us to think that way while at the same time telling us that we need to have our own personal beliefs. The point I'm trying to make is that a lot of people are convinced that they do things out of their 'personal beliefs' when in fact the things they are doing follow naturally from cultural and social standards that state that people should act on personal beliefs instead of following doctrine. Following one's personal beliefs has in essence become a doctrine in itself, and is causing brain-dead zombies to appear in places where there should otherwise be rational, intelligent beings.

This thought occurred to me many times, while talking to various people here in Holland over the past few months. I'm listening to people's opinions, but I'm not getting the feeling as if I'm hearing the real opinion of a person. Instead, it's like I'm hearing the same personal belief repeated over and over again, and any attempts of mine to ask people why they believe the things that they believe just leads to a dead end and a change of topic. At this point the incomplete thought kicks in and vanishes from my brain before the words appear to describe the situation. Even now, reading back what I just wrote doesn't quite do justice to the thought. Words are like that though.

Posted in Dutch , Thoughts