I’m not moving, you move! (Or: Sleepy cat in The Hague)

A few days ago I came back from grocery shopping and spotted a cat in the parking garage. I don’t feel completely comfortable around cats, so I tend to give them all the space they want and need. The only problem? He (or she) was right by the door, and wasn’t going to budge.

But that’s fine. I came up slowly and said a few things so he or she knew I was there. I realized the cat didn’t really care, provided I didn’t make any sudden moves. I snapped a few pics (of course) and then carefully opened the door. No reaction.

On the other side of the door I waved goodbye and made my way up the stairs. Cute kitty!

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Incentives to get jabbed (Or: Free fish anyone?)

The Guardian reported that some Dutch vaccination centers are offering free pickled herring as an incentive to get the vaccine. June 15 is usually Vlaggetjesdag (Dutch Wikipedia), translated as “little flag day” because fishing ships would be decorated with flags on the Saturday before Pentecost. It is the day that the season’s first barrel of herring is auctioned off for a good cause and the day that herring starts appearing in supermarkets. Last year the first barrel was given to medical workers and this year the first barrel was given to the GGD health service; GGD is responsible for Covid-19 vaccinations in the Netherlands.

If you were lucky enough to be around IJmuiden you could also receive free herring after your vaccination (article from Haarlems Dagblad, but it’s behind a paywall).

In case you are wondering: I would politely decline if I was offered any. But for some Dutchies the first herring of the year can be a big thing.

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Half vaccinated (And: Face mask and working from home news)

First off: while the government has not officially announced it, the requirement to wear a face mask and the strong advice to work at home will probably disappear from 26 June. Two exceptions: you still need to wear a face mask in public transportation (but probably not supermarkets). You can also only go back to work if your office can guarantee that you are keeping the 1.5 meters rule (5 feet).

Dutch article from nos.nl: Mondkapjes af en niet langer thuiswerken mits 1,5 meter afstand per 26 juni

English article from dutchnews.nl: Have face masks had their day? They are up for discussion, minister confirms

My thought? It feels a bit rushed, on both counts. I’ve gotten used to wearing face masks (at least inside or on my way to somewhere inside). Working from the office? I’m not sure about that either. Previously my office said not before 1 September. But either way, they said people could work from home if they wanted through December, at which time the policy would be reviewed again.

In even bigger news: I got my first vaccination today (Pfizer)! I definitely felt the shot right away; it pinched a bit but nothing bad. My arm has been getting more sore throughout the day but it hasn’t affected typing or anything like that. I also have a bit of a headache, but as that started before the shot I’m not sure if it is related or not.

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Covid tests at the local supermarket (Or: Quite a supply)

Covid quick tests for home use have been available at Dutch supermarkets for the last month or two. Today I noticed a pile of tests by the self-checkout. I am sure they have always been there and that I just hadn’t noticed them.

The government has a page (in Dutch) listing which quick tests are officially recognized in the Netherlands.

In other news: five new islands have been added to the Netherlands in a 78 million euro project. The Dutch are known for reclaiming land from the sea, as you probably know. This dutchnews.nl article says the islands have been reclaimed for use in nature.

Also: Golden Carriage arrives at Amsterdam Museum after restoration from dutchnews.nl. The golden carriage needed to be maneuvered into position with a crane, as the carriage was placed in the (inner) courtyard. The museum used to be an orphanage and orphans had helped design the carriage back in 1898, hence why it is going on display there after a five year renovation.

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Dining in (Or: Corona measure relaxations)

Okay, technically this rule was relaxed last Saturday, but we did not take “advantage” of it until now. We are now allowed to dine in at a restaurant with mixed households (still a maximum of 4 not including kids). On today’s list was visiting FOAM with Roger for a late breakfast. Part of me was selfishly glad that the weather wasn’t spectacular, because I went with “inside” when booking the reservation, just to be safe. (Side note: did you know there are a few days of 31C/88F coming next week? The Netherlands is going to bake! ☀️)

Here was Marco’s pancakes. You have to love the color.

And my grilled sandwich (commonly referred to as a “toasty” over here). It is with harissa hummus, grilled bell peppers, eggplant, parsley, dukkah and an Israeli salad on the side.

And my chai latte. What can I say? I had to take a photo – I loved the stencil on top.

Marco and I have a few restaurants we are eyeing for later this month or next month. Back to Himalayan restaurant for Indian/Nepalese food at some point soon, and also SET restaurant (Japanese) for a romantic dinner. SET has been completely closed for half a year, not even doing takeout, so I am looking forward to it.

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Blinded by the light (Or: Shocking orange)

As you know, diehard Dutch fans are covered from head to toe in orange during major sporting events. Here is a photo Marco took a few weeks ago of someone walking down the street.

Note: I actually cropped this a bit to hide the dirty street. The photo is a bit blurry because they were actually further away.

Speaking of sporting events, Jumbo (a national grocery store) is under fire for their commercial (YouTube) advertising their European championship gear. The main sponsor is Albert Heijn, another grocery store. However Jumbo uses a song that is widely associated with the 2017 women’s team and the commercial features a parade which is also generally associated with Dutch national football. See also: Jumbo the winner in dispute with KNVB over Euro 2020 advertising from dutchnews.nl.

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Tuesday tidbits (Or: Random news here and there)

Around lunchtime today I went to The Guardian’s website to check the news. Instead, I see a white screen with a tiny error message. As I have done countless times over the years, I then went to to Down for Everyone or Just Me. The website reassured me that the error wasn’t just on my side. Around then work got crazy again, so I forgot about it for a while (until work was less crazy and I could actually make some lunch).

It turns out the error hit more than just The Guardian. See also this article: Massive internet outage hits websites including Amazon, gov.uk and Guardian from theguardian.com. The best part of the article? This quote: “The Guardian moved to Twitter to run a dedicated liveblog, while tech news site the Verge published news to a shared Google Doc – until a reporter accidentally shared a link on Twitter that allowed the audience to edit it.” Opps…?

Also, from dutchnews.nl: Zandvoort organisers expect 50,000 F1 fans to cycle to Grand Prix. In other words, park at a nearby parking lot and hop on a bike to get to the race track. This September, the Netherlands will be hosting the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 (!). It was supposed to happen last year but it was cancelled due to corona. The organizers rightfully did not want to hold the race without fans. I suspect there would have been huge riots if they had tried. The best part (even though it is not in the article)? There will also be a special bus line with the number #33 – aka, Max Verstappen’s number.

And from nltimes.nl: GGD Utrecht gives away 1,200 Covid-19 vaccines after power failure kills cold storage. The best part here? They had so many people show up they had to turn people away. Of course, the vaccines were first offered to healthcare workers or safety workers in the region and then the offer was opened to the public. It was 1,200 Janssen vaccines (J&J vaccines for any Americans reading this) so one shot was enough. The site brought in extra workers to manage the crowds and stayed open past midnight. Nicely done!

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435 days (Or: On WordPress streaks)

Did you know that the first corona related post I made was back on 14 March, 2020? The title was A Saturday morning like any other? (Or: Changing times in The Netherlands). This was a few days after we were told to start working from home. Here is a funny tidbit: “I’m looking forward to going back in when this is all over, although there were a lot of jokes going around that we wouldn’t see each other for months.” I guess it wasn’t a joke in the end?

I then proceeded to write one post each day for the next 434 days. My main goal has always been to keep my family back in the states informed with what was going on on this side of the pond.

This post is thus post #435. Things are going better in the Netherlands, although I always feel I should say that with a note of caution. Today there were 1,596 corona infections reported in the last 24 hours, the lowest number since mid-September. Dutch hospitals are also seeing improvement, as there are now less than 1,000 people hospitalized.

I’ve decided to deliberately end my daily blog writing streak. I will still write blog posts, just maybe not every day. 🙂

Here is another streak I did: 365 days of blog posts. Back when I started the blog I posted every day for one year straight. So maybe there will be another streak in my future… but hopefully not due to a future pandemic.

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Art and politics (Or: Exhibition in The Hague library)

The Hague’s central library currently has an exhibition entitled “Tekenen in Vrijheid?!” or “Freedom to draw”, where political cartoons from different parts of the world are on display. The exhibition also celebrates 75 years of freedom (since WWII) and the United Nations’ 75th anniversary (special website at un.org). The exhibition is available through 17 June and can be found on the 2nd floor, near the escalators.

The Turkish president Erdogan as a cat entangled in a ball of woll. See also this article from BBC news.

A general look at the more political cartoons on display. There was a lot to look at – I definitely recommend visiting if you are in the area.

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Bring on the weekend (Or: Friday has arrived)

This work week went by pretty fast, I must admit. This morning my company sent out an email about the “return to the office”. Spoiler: it won’t happen before 1 September at the earliest, although we were first told that date back around Christmas last year. Kudos to them for seeing how the future would play out. The new tidbit was that any return would be optional (and at the employee’s discretion) until at least December, when that part of the policy would be reviewed again. They were also considering what a future “work from home” policy would look like post corona. Previously it was possible to work from home one day a week, so we’ll see if they extend that to two days.

In other news: T-Mobile to refund people whose Eurovision votes were not counted from nltimes.nl. Casting your vote for the winner of the Eurovision contest last month meant sending a text message to a certain number. Unfortunately for some people in the Netherlands, they received a text message hours later saying that the event had already ended and they could no longer vote, meaning that the vote was held up somewhere and thus declared invalid.

Exiting lockdown: Relaxations implemented June 5, also from nltimes.nl. Tomorrow will see step 3 of 6 of the “re-opening” plan being activated. Steps 4 and 5 will take place (together) at the end of this month, if all goes well. Step 6 is removing the restriction of wearing face masks inside and keeping 1.5 meters distance. There is no official date for when step 6 will happen yet.

Partially linking to it for the funny name, from theguardian.com: Roboats: Amsterdam to trial self-driving electric boats. However it will take at least 2 to 4 years before they could be used in a “real life” situation.

And here is an article from omroepwest.nl in Dutch: Kinderen krijgen verkeersparcours in Schilderswijk dankzij ‘positieve fllitspaal’. In other words, the neighborhood put up a speed meter in the area. There was a sign explaining that motorists sticking to the posted speed limit (50km/h) would cause a small automatic donation. The total amount of funds that could be raised was 1,000 euros. That goal was reached and the neighborhood decided to spend it on a traffic course for kids so that they could learn how to safely navigate in traffic as pedestrians or cyclists. (I do think Dutch kids learn how to cycle while still in the womb. At any rate, they learn to cycle at a very young age.)

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