Daily Dutch living

Voting at city hall (Or: Local elections 2018)

Today Marco and I visited city hall after work to vote for the local elections:

Voting sign in The Hague city hall

To the voting area!

The Hague has 286 places to vote if my math is correct. Unfortunately the Central Library wasn’t a place you could vote this year. You could vote in a special tram (link in Dutch) however. I would have loved that. But it’s not a tram line I’d ever take, and it was running as a normal tram at the time. Imagine missing your stop!

Line of voters at The Hague city hall, 2018

Pictured: about half of the line

It didn’t take us too long – about 10 minutes at the most to get to the front of the line.

Number of voters by hour, The Hague, 2018

Live updates of the percentage of voters who had already voted, by hour

Admittedly, the number of voters is lower than 4 years ago when it was 51% at the close of voting (9pm). As of 8:15pm now it is 45.2%. The results are not expected until around midnight, give or take.

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First time voter in the Netherlands (Or: Local elections tomorrow)

Tomorrow most of the Netherlands goes to the polls for local elections. This will be the first time I can vote in the Netherlands! This is because I have lived in the Netherlands for five uninterrupted years.

Here is a picture of my stempas (voting card) with personal information greyed out:

Stempas or voting pass for The Hague, 2018

The card arrived in the mail a few weeks back, automatically. In the Netherlands every person is required to register with the municipality in the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP)  or the Personal Records Database. I did that within a few days of moving to the country. It records life’s big moments – birth, marriage, divorce, and death, along with address changes. The database is used to determine who can vote for what. (In my case, I can vote for the local elections but I will never be able to vote for anything higher unless I obtain Dutch citizenship.)

There are some good sites available for voters, both in English and in Dutch. In this case, I tend to seek out information in English due to the nature of what I am reading, but I also supplement it with information in Dutch. For example, DutchNews.nl has some information and links available for expat voters.

There are, of course, various polls available to see which party matches your interests the best. For example, Stemwijzer Den Haag (knowledge of Dutch required).

Finally, here’s a look at what the ballot looks like.

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Unexpectedly expected (Or: The passing of Chuck Deely)

I found out tonight that Chuck Deely passed away Monday night. And who is he? A street musician that played outside of Central Station as well as in the Grote Markt (by C&A or sometimes by Bijenkorf). He’s actually an American, born in 1954 in Detroit. The story goes that he moved here for love many years back, but it didn’t work out. He stayed, playing music on the streets to pay the rent.

chuck-deely

photo from denhaagfm.nl

I didn’t know him personally, having only donated a few euros to him occasionally. The last time I donated was last month, and I overheard him telling someone else that he was not feeling well. Apparently he was hospitalized shortly after that, and then again in January.

It was always fun to hear the songs he was playing and Marco would sometimes stop to listen to his guitar solos. Music isn’t my strong suit so half the time I would end up asking Marco what Chuck was playing now. My favorite song he’d play was Hotel California by The Eagles.

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year
You can find it here

flowers-for-chuck-deely

Flowers outside of the Hema/Albert Heijn, one of the spots he would play at

close-up-of-memorial-for-chuck-deely

Newspaper article taped to the wall, above the flowers

There is currently an unofficial Facebook action to build a monument in his honor somewhere in the Grote Markt, but only time will tell if that happens (or what exactly the monument would look like).

It is weird – I’ve only been here four years but I can’t imagine not seeing him or hearing his music anymore. Thanks for the tunes, Chuck!

Edited Sunday 29 January to add pictures of the memorial at Central Station:

These pictures were taken last Sunday, January 22:

flowers-for-chuck-deely-central-station

And a close-up of the mini guitar (on the right side of the above picture):

mini-guitar-by-chuck-deelys-memorial-at-central-station

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PostNL (Or: The fun of trying to get a package delivered)

Earlier in the month I requested a new passport from the American consulate. Not because my old passport was expired (I had another 4 years) but because I wanted to change my last name to my married name. Yay!
I must say that the process definitely seemed confusing at first. Of course, you need an official copy of the marriage certificate as evidence that you are married, which you can request from city hall. But when I received the marriage certificate, it said that my last name after marriage was still my maiden name. It turns out that in the Netherlands your last name is still your maiden name, but you can use a different last name in certain circumstances. You need to tell city hall what your preferred last name is and then any organization which gets your data from city hall’s records will use it unofficially (Den Haag article).

But since I got married a few years back, this information slipped my mind. So imagine my shock when I received the marriage certificate and it said that my last name was still my maiden name even after getting married. What! But after speaking with the American consulate it seems they are quite used to this – just send the information, they said.

Continue reading

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Voting in The Hague (Or: The Ukraine referendum)

Marco and I went to a voting center in the neighborhood to vote on the Ukraine referendum (ABC news – English). Well, he voted – I can’t yet. The weather turned pretty bad in the late afternoon, with pouring rain at times, but luckily it had mostly died by the time we went out.

I’m not a very political person, but basically the referendum is about a trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine, with some opponents saying it is really a thinly veiled stepping stone towards Ukraine asking for EU membership.

Left side of Dutch voting card

Voting card (or “Stempas” in Dutch)

In the end there wasn’t much to report on – while we had gone to a voting place which should have been a rather popular choice, there was no one else around voting at the time. (Which was to be expected – it remains to be seen if the Netherlands will get the 30% of voters needed to make this vote count, whatever the result is. But if they mange that, it would be “just barely”). Marco says the voting card only asked one question – to state if you were for or against the referendum. It was over before we knew it!

Voting in The Hague

“Your behavior in the voting area” – The images are probably enough, but 1) Have your voting card and ID card ready 2) Don’t block the view of the voting bureau workers 3) Only one person per booth

Interestingly, the voting card said that voters only needed to have an government-issued ID that was valid through April 6, 2011 – that is, 5 years ago. And no, it wasn’t a typo.

Marco says he will take me along for next year’s vote, for the Dutch elections. That should prove to be more lively.

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A time lapse of Grote Marktstraat (And: Some Boston photos)

Last year Gemeente Den Haag (e.g. city hall) created a video showing a time lapse of the construction around the Grote Marktstraat. It is just under 3 minutes long. Among other places, it can be found on YouTube. It’s kind of cool to look back and remember all the craziness the construction caused…

Grote Markstraat is the large shopping street in The Hague which has been under construction for the last few years. There is an event on Thursday night (Den Haag verlicht) to mark the completion. The final act will be turning on the lights (literally – the lights were just hung up last week). They will be turned on around 20.45. There will also be music, dancers, DJs, drum bands and food trucks. Oh, and the shops are open until 22.00 (although on Thursdays they are usually open until 21.00 anyway).

And here are some more photos from Boston. The first is a sculpture found in Boston Common, Make Way for Ducklings:

Make way for ducklings

And a photo of the Boston public library:

Boston public library entrance

We also went to the JFK Presidential Library (well, we just went to the museum). It was a lot of fun, and now I can say I’ve visited a presidential library!

JFK presidential library and museum

And a look at the JFK presidential library from inside:

Inside JFK presidential library and museum

After that we visited the Edward M. Kennedy Institute which is a building right next to the JFK library. The institute was opened to the public last year and is used to teach the public about the inner workings of the senate. It includes a to-scale replica of the Senate Chambers where mock votes are held every hour for visitors to participate in (our mock vote was regarding the minimum wage law currently in consideration). The replica chambers sit in the middle with displays around it. Since it was just completed, tablets are used to provide additional information and to interact with the displays.  It’s quite modern.

Until next time!

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On umbrellas (Or: It is probably good that rain is not melting crayons)

Here in the Netherlands we have been experiencing a rather wet week. Rain throughout the day, just enough to annoy. Luckily I had an umbrella this time – although it made me realize I don’t need an umbrella that much these days. There is “rain” and then there is “okay, I guess I’ll get out an umbrella rain”. There is actually a difference!

Of course back in America everyone had a car and drove around (except me) so I didn’t see many people who needed an umbrella… but it is an interesting realization: rain doesn’t bother me as much these days.

Don’t get me wrong – I said “as much”. I draw the limit at sudden downpours in Scheveningen where the coastal wind is strong to begin with – my back was soaked in 3 seconds flat that day. And as soon as it started it was over again. Welcome to the Netherlands!

But: just imagine for a moment that rain was like melting crayons (the latest art craze, Google it). Beautiful but messy…

Melting crayon art with umbrella

from Crafthubs.com

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C’s (Or: Coffee, cheesecake and countryside)

A few weeks ago Marco and I went back to the Cheesecake Company by the Grote Kerk. I’ve posted about this place many times – they even served the cheesecake at our wedding! It isn’t quite our two year anniversary yet but this time they did have the same flavor as our heart-shaped wedding cheesecake, white chocolate cappuccino… So of course we ended up choosing that one.

White chocolate cappuccino cheesecake
And on Saturday Marco, his mother and I had dinner over at De Gezelligheid (near Amersfoort) with the family. The food at De Gezelligheid was pretty good. We started off with “de spiegel” (the mirror) which was a sampling of all of their starter items served on a platter. My favorite item was the fried mushroom, of all things. For the main dish I had a hamburger with thick cut fries. Yum.

Of course we had to stop at the Starbucks at Centraal Station, so I decided to take a photo of the wall (doesn’t everyone want to take a photo of a wall?):

Wall at Starbucks - Last 10 feet
Love or hate Starbucks – I just like the cool font and presentation!

Here is a photo of the lake by Marco’s uncle, with a Buddha statue on the other side (in the shadows):

Countryside in the Netherlands
Quite peaceful.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Food, Friends&Family | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Summer (Correction: One day of summer)

Here in the Hague it is 30C (86F).

Yahoo weather app Den Haag

Unfortunately it will only be for today, reinforcing my belief that summers are few and far between here. This was only the second day I didn’t take a jacket to work this year! It’s okay though… the winters are currently just as mild which IS nice.

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Uniquely purple (Or: A random Dutch bike)

Some days I feel like I should have a blog which just documents bike photos. Some other bike photos include: Bikes in Delft and Amsterdam || Bikes along a Utrecht canal || So many bikes by Holland Spoor (train station) || All that remains: A lone bike wheel || Beads along bike spokes

Yesterday I came across a purple bike, although the paint was chipping. Looks like it used to be an orange color.

Dutch bike - in purple

Click for a larger size

 

Here is a close up:

Purple Dutch bike - close up

Click for a larger size

 

See? Orange paint!

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