Culture

Fleeting – Scents in Colour (Or: Upcoming exhibition at the Mauritshuis museum)

The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague will be unveiling a new exhibition as soon as it is allowed to open its doors again. The exhibition will run through 29 August. The name of the exhibition is Fleeting – Scents in Colour (mauritshuis.nl, in English). According to the Dutch website nu.nl scent dispensers will be available at 8 paintings to allow visitors to “smell” the scene, as it were. The dispensers will be foot activated. The smells range from pleasant (spices, tobacco, coffee and teas from faraway lands) to not-so-pleasant (foul-smelling canals and unpleasant body odors).

It’s an interesting way to make museum visits even more interactive. There is also a book available at the Mauritishuis webshop, in either English or Dutch. The nu.nl article also mentions that the museum is working on packaging the scents so that you can experience the scents from home while visiting the exhibition virtually.

In other news: Foutje herder veroorzaakt babyboom bij schaapskudde Balloo: ‘Nu al 20 lammetjes’ from nos.nl in Dutch. (Herder’s mistake causes babyboom in a flock of sheep: ‘There are already 20 lambs’). In short, a young ram was allowed to stay with his mother too long because he was still nursing. In the meantime he managed to get very frisky before the herder noticed. Since then twenty lambs were born. Since the ram is black, and all of the offspring are black, it was quite obvious to see who the culprit was…

DUO maakt printfout met brieven: burgerservicenummers op straat, from nu.nl in Dutch. (DUO makes a printing error with letters: BSNs accidentally visible). DUO is an government which helps students with financing. They recently printed letters with the burger service number (think social security number for Americans) visible in the address portion of the envelope – that is, visible without even opening the letter. Opps? Up to 1,700 students could be affected although the number is likely to be much less than that as some letters in the batches were fine.

DUO said that the numbers were printed a bit too high on the paper. They are now investigating whether the numbers need to be on the letter in the first place. It does seem like a good idea to leave them off…

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Year in Search (Or: Google’s 2020 trends)

Google has released their 2020 “Year in Search” page. You can see what trended worldwide or you can see what trended per country (the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom…). One interesting thing is that the trend categories differ per country. For instance the US has a category for games but the Netherlands doesn’t.

Here are the top 5 search terms for the Netherlands:

  1. Coronavirus
  2. RIVM (Dutch Health institute)
  3. Verkiezingen Amerika (US Election)
  4. Coronavirus Nederland
  5. Snappet (apparently this is education learning platform for elementary students, so digital learning)

The second most popular Why? question was Waarom hamsteren we wc papier? or Why do we horde toilet paper? This was apparently so popular back in March and April that it took the second spot, beaten only by Waarom zijn cornflakes uitgevonden? or Why were cornflakes discovered? (?!? Okay.) (On second thought: don’t Google it unless you want a trip to Bizzaro World.)

In other news: every year a Dutch radio channel plays the Top 2000 (Wikipedia) to mark the end of the year. In late November/early December the Dutch vote on their favorite songs and those votes help determine the list. Between Christmas and New Years the radio channel plays those songs. It was first done in 1999 to mark the transition to 2000; it proved so popular that it became a yearly event. This year it will start at midnight on Christmas Day (that is, the first second of Christmas) so that the radio show has an additional eight hours to play the full-length album versions of some songs.

Fun fact: since 1999 there have been only four occasions where Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody did not take the #1 spot. 2020 will be one of those years, with the Dutch country singer Danny Vera taking the top spot with his song Roller Coaster (YouTube).

Dutch country singer Danny Vera dethrones Queen in Top 2000 records from dutchnews.nl

Oh, but don’t feel too bad for Bohemian Rhapsody as it is still ranked #2.

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Portbello burger (Or: Another treat from FOAM)

Have a look at what Marco and I had on Friday evening (the fries were self supplied):

Doesn’t that look delicious? That was one of the FOAM @ home options last Friday (Facebook link). The best part? The burger was actually a giant portbello mushroom. The rest of the ingredients were Asian inspired (an Asian guacamole, shredded carrots, and a coleslaw).

The bread rolls were from Lekkerbrood (Facebook link again) which translates to “Tasty bread”. And that it was.

Mysterie: Daarom staan er geen prullenbakken op het Binnenhof from indebuurt.nl. Mystery: Why are there no trash containers at the Binnenhof? Okay, I’ll admit I knew the answer before even clicking on the link – Binnenhof is s a complex of parliamentary buildings. There are no trash containers there for safety reasons; who knows what someone would stuff in them. (For the record, I’ve almost never seen the Binnenhof that dirty.)

Mauritshuis becomes first gigapixel museum in the world at dutchnews.nl. The Mauritshuis, a museum in The Hague which houses Vermeer’s Girl with a pearl earring (and many, many other treasures), now offers its entire collection in Gigapixel sized images so that you can zoom in to impossible depth. Read more about the Second Canvas app which makes this possible over on the official website of Mauritshuis. With that being said, the reviews are a bit mixed over on Apple’s app store, so have a look and decide for yourself if it is worth the (small) price. Hopefully it will receive many updates with additional content.

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More cancellations (Or: No Elfstedentocht this year)

The Elfstedentocht is an 11 city ice staking race. The length is about 200 kilometers (120 miles) and is held in the north of the Netherlands in the Friesland province. It can most accurately be described as “the event that stops the Netherlands”. Or it would be, if the weather would cooperate. As you might expect, the race can only be held if the ice is thick enough along the entire course. The last time that happened was 1997. There was a glimmer of hope in 2012, but it didn’t work out. This event averages about 2 million spectators.

About a month ago Marco and I looked at each other and thought of the worst possibility ever: that the weather would finally cooperate and there would be an Elfstedentocht… and the coronavirus.

Well, the organization responsible for the event saw the chaos that was about to come and reported that no matter what, there would be no Elfstedentocht. As dutchnews.nl reports: Elfstedentocht cancelled because of…coronavirus, oh, and the weather. (Since the prospectives of ice don’t look good anyway.)

And here is a fun one:

The city carillonneur played “Paint it Black” from The Rolling Stones on the church bells in Groningen (also in the north of the Netherlands). This is something he does often, but because Mick Jagger saw the video and placed it on his Instagram with 2 million followers, the video quickly went viral. You can read more in Dutch over at nos.nl: Groningse stadsbeiaardier klinkt wereldwijd met Paint it black van The Rolling Stones.

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Rainy days (Or: Soundtrack against the window)

It is another rainy day, although that seems to matter less when you are working from home. Luckily it was dry when I went out this morning to do some grocery shopping. Otherwise it is a pretty quiet Thursday and we’re just counting the days (or day) until the weekend.

Here are some of the stories that I’ve seen in the news lately:

  • Coronavirus reporting again hit by IT issues but growth does seem to have slowed by dutchnews.nl. The issues occurred twice in the past week, meaning that the number of cases reported was inaccurate. They aren’t missing any data, it just comes a day or two later than it should. The last few days the number of cases has only risen by a little bit (we’re just over 10,000). What really matters, however, is getting the hospital intakes down so that more people leave the hospital than enter it. And we are not quite there yet.
  • Pumpkin sales up but Halloween celebrations squashed, also from dutchnews.nl. As noted previously, Halloween is not as big a tradition over here, but Amsterdam has still sent out warnings that trick or treating should not take place this year.
  • Rembrandt’s Night Watch to be 3D-scanned before restoration from nltimes.nl. The restoration is not happening behind closed doors (although it is behind glass). The team has spent most of this year investigating the painting and they will hopefully begin the restoration process earlier next year. You can also view the painting interactively online with the Rijksmuseum’s Experience the Night Watch tour.
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Woonplaatsguesser game (Or: Where is that town again?)

Last week Thursday someone from The Hague made an online game, placing a link on Twitter. The game? Guess where the Dutch township/municipality (gemeente) or place of residence (woonplaats) lies on the map. Gemeente is the default option. The closer you are, the more points you get. There are 10 rounds.

https://woonplaatsgame.wvd.io

I am not so good at this – I’d say my best score was 350. I keep guessing all the way in the north and it’s all the way in the south or vice versa. Hmph.

Hagenaar ontwikkelt razendpopulair spel: ‘Het is al 615.000 keer gespeeld’ (Person from The Hague creates an insanely popular game: ‘It has been downloaded 615,000 times.’) And that was only the first 24 hours.

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Alcohol versus drugs (Or: Differences during partial lockdown)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, normally it is perfectly fine in the Netherlands to have alcohol outside (both in your possession and to consume it). Of course, there are some exceptions – the decision is made by each city and written into their rules. But the Dutch government said yesterday that during the partial lockdown you are not allowed to buy alcohol after 20:00 and you can be fined for having it in your possession or consuming it outside after 20:00.

Originally the same rule applied to soft drugs (5 grams or less of marijuana, weed, that kind of stuff) during the partial lockdown, but various news outlets are now reporting that the rule has been lifted for soft drugs because it contradicts the already existing rule about soft drug use. So it is again legal to have and use a (very small) amount of soft drugs after 20:00, but not drink alcohol outside. See also this article in Dutch from parool.nl. This country is a bit weird sometimes!

I will also note that dutchnews.nl has a nice article about why there is such a legal issue with making face masks mandatory and handing out fines for skipping quarantine. Spoiler alert: even emergency laws are not allowed to restrict fundamental rights as laid out in the Dutch constitution, so an act of parliament would need to be passed.

And for something light-hearted: Lichtjesavond Delft gaat door met thuispakket en live-uitzending from omroepwest.nl. In other words, Delft’s December light festival will go ahead without spectators, but it will be shown live on TV. The festival is where a few thousand lights on a Christmas tree are turned on at the same moment. Think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Oh, and if you really want to get into the spirit you can order an extra package with local products, chocolate milk, a game to play after the broadcast, etc.

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On to the weekend (Or: Supernatural and chili)

Friday! For dinner Marco made slow cooker chili. The recipe was from my old Cuisinart slow cooker that I had back when I lived in the US. We haven’t made this recipe in ages, but I am glad we finally did. It makes plenty of leftovers so later in the weekend or early next week we will have chili with tortilla chips. Yummm.

It almost felt like a normal Friday evening (in a non-2020 year): for the first time a long time we had a Supernatural episode to watch. Like many TV shows, this one went on hiatus after the corona crisis started, with only 7 episodes to go in the final 14th season. Most of our normal TV shows have not returned yet, so we are watching more shows via Disney+ or Apple TV these days (if you’re a gamer, I highly recommend Apple TV’s Mythic Quest).

In corona news, the prime minister said they wait until Monday to see if the situation improves (nltimes.nl). Otherwise I expect a press conference on Tuesday. The good news is that the government said they would also be working on a roadmap for corona measures, so that it is more clear what measures could be expected in various scenarios. It definitely feels like the government always reacts, versus acts.

There have been some anti-lockdown and anti-corona law demonstrations in The Hague in the last few days (everyone comes to The Hague to protest, since this is where parliament is). There were 15 arrests on Wednesday evening and 80 arrests yesterday evening (!). I walked past parliament this morning and saw a few people with signs outside the Tweede Kamer, although they were just standing around and not actively protesting yet. They probably still needed to have their coffee.

On a lighter note… Keukenhof (a massive tulip garden not far from The Hague and only open a few months of the year) started planting tulip bulbs for the 2021 season. By Christmas they need to plant 7 million bulbs – yikes!

I mentioned Keukenhof a few times earlier this year because the park never even opened before the crisis hit. Instead they created lots of videos and posted them to their website and YouTube, getting 22 million views (in a normal year they get about 1.5 million in person visits). If you want to see the videos they posted earlier this year, check out their YouTube channel and the “Keukenhof Virtually Open 2020” series.

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Just another rainy Wednesday (Or: Blanket weather)

I am currently sitting under my Mickey Mouse blanket. Marco got it for me a few years ago, probably from bol.com (aka Dutch Amazon). It keeps my toes warm, so that’s good.

During last Monday’s press conference Rutte and De Jong said the Netherlands would hit 5,000 infections by the end of this week, but unfortunately we’re pretty much at that point already with 4,996 infections today and more than 1,000 patients in the hospital (article in English from nltimes.nl). That’s about 500 more infections than yesterday. We have a few more days before we would see the effects of last Monday’s additional measures. If we do not see a “flattening of the curve” soon then I expect more measures imposed early next week.

Most of my adventures outside lately are confined to going to the grocery store and back, the earlier in the morning the better. It does mean that work and not-work have been bleeding into each other a bit, but on the plus side work has been a bit more forgiving the last few weeks. I’m also in the middle of reading two novels in English. One is Stephen King’s The Institute and the other is Mariko Koike’s The Graveyard Apartment. Both feel nice and creepy / spooky, perfect for October.

And since we need something a bit more positive today, here’s an article from Omroep West (in Dutch) about dogs being allowed into a local museum. For one day only, on Animal Day, for a special dog-themed exhibition:

The article includes a video with lots of tail wagging dogs. Check it out. You can also read more about the Being human exhibit at the Fotomuseum’s website (link in English).

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A ride of gold (Or: Golden carriage to be on display at Amsterdam museum)

Have you heard of the Dutch golden carriage? It was in the news this week See also this dutchnews.nl article: Gouden Koets may no longer be used on budget day amid slavery controversy. The gouden koets or golden carriage is one of two carriages the King has at his disposal. Traditionally it makes an appearance at least once a year at Prinsjesdag, which happens on the third Tuesday each September – next week, then.

Gouden koets verlaat het binnenhof / Golden carriage leaves the Binnenhof. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

On this day the King takes a carriage ride from the Dutch Noordeinde Palace to the Ridderzaal in the Binnenhof before delivering a speech to the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives. Normally the golden carriage is used for this carriage ride, but they also have a backup glass carriage. This is a good thing because the golden carriage is currently being restored (it was gifted to Queen Wilhelmina in 1896 after all!). Once the restoration is complete the golden carriage will be on display at the Amsterdam Museum next year from June to November.

That means it will not be available next year for Prinsesdag in September. However that seems to be the plan all along due to some unexpected controversy. One of the door panels depicts a racist scene, with dark-skinned persons bowing and offering gifts to a white woman. There’s also the thought that since millions of euros were spent of this restoration it is probably better that it not be used during the parade anymore. We shall see.

Luckily they still have the glass carriage at their disposal…

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