Rain rain rain. That’s all it does these days. It’s cold and wet and dreary and (even without the corona issues) it would be the perfect time to stay inside.
This morning I searched my drawer for an appropriate sweater to wear. I don’t have many – I found one, which is actually one more than I expected to find. I don’t usually wear sweaters, but maybe that will change now that I am at home and not in a climate controlled workplace. We’ll see…
An 8 minute YouTube video from the Haagse Dingen van toen channel which shows how different Grote Markt used to be 25 years ago when it was actually a major street with cars, buses and trams flying past. These days it is closed off and only pedestrians and cyclists can enter – see some photos of the Grote Markt shopping area from denhaag.nl.
On Sunday I realized that I was now at the six month mark for working at home (13 March to 13 September). I’ve got about another four months to go, unless the return to office is delayed again. I will be going into the office however later this month – to get a new work computer. That came as a surprise to me! On the one hand I’m glad as I hope it will be faster. On the other hand I am worried because it means I need to hope all of my existing software reinstalls properly. But I did pick a day that will hopefully be less busy, so I will just cross my fingers.
Of course there are a lot of rules, which is a good thing in my opinion. Only two people can share the same time slot to pick up their computer, you need to wait in reception to get picked up, you can’t wander around (with the exception of getting coffee, since hey, they aren’t evil), you need advance permission to visit your desk, etc. etc. etc.
Let’s go for some public transportation related news today:
Erasmusbrug closed after overhead tram cabling collapses from dutchnews.nl. This happened yesterday morning. It sounds really bad, but luckily there were no injuries. The bridge was re-closing (after having opened for ship traffic) when the cabling fell down. The bridge was able to re-open for pedestrians and cyclists on Monday evening.
A campaign by the Dutch public transportation branch, called “OV OK”. Two things to know if you’re not from the Netherlands: OV means public transportation in Dutch and it is pronounced oh vay so that you get the rhyme oh vay oh kay. See also this article from ov-nl.nl: Het licht staat op groen voor het openbaar vervoer (Public transportation gets the green light). I can see where they are coming from, to a degree. While we are told to work from home as much as possible, we are currently allowed to use public transportation. The rules are that you need to wear a face mask and that you should avoid rush hour wherever possible. But for now I view it as something to use if absolutely necessary (even though it pains me to say that, as I love riding in trams!)
After a long working day, both Marco and I are ready for the weekend! The weather looks like it will be cooperating as well, with highs around 25C (77F) tomorrow. I definitely have not been getting outside enough this week so I am looking forward to a nice, long walk. I’m not sure where yet, but anywhere I can stretch my legs and socially distance myself sounds good to me.
Here’s a photo from the Holland Spoor train station last week:
It’s definitely a dirty floor, so I decided not to give you an extra large version of this photo. Ha! But as you can tell these stickers are reminders about what to do in the train station (wear a face mask, keep your distance and stick to the right).
And I now realize my American readers might be slightly confused: courgette is zucchini. Courgette is more often used in French and British English, while zucchini is used in American English. But since I didn’t really cook with zucchini when I lived in the States, it will forever be courgette for me.
The beer… ah, yes, the beer. That is a gift from a coworker. It’s a beer from a brewery here in The Hague. Eiber is another word for stork, which is also featured in The Hague’s crest of arms. This beer was brewed in honor of the beer makers’ daughter, born in March. See a photo of her at indebuurt.nl. And it is tasty! Marco and I were thrilled with this gift.
In the last year Albert Heijn started adding candy and other snacks to the area by the self-service registers. It’s not very tempting though, probably because they don’t have that much room to show off the “goods”:
So, five choices generally. And they aren’t well-stocked and they don’t look that appealing visually. At least try to get the barcodes looking a bit more similar, please? Although I suppose there will come a day when I desperately need that extra purchase to get me over ten euros to get a stamp. If you get 10 or 20 of those you can usually get something good (if the promotion is right).
In other news:
I don’t know if you remember the train derailment in The Hague at the start of the year, but the report of what went wrong was released earlier this week (omroepwest.nl). The type of train that derailed is often used in routes which require hard and frequent braking, however the maintenance schedule for this train type did not take this into account. The train’s brakes were worn, causing two wheels to completely derail and damage to a few dozen meters of track. A conductor and passenger were both injured, but not seriously.
Did you know that the Show/hide formatting marks button in MS Word has the nickname onderwater tekens or onderwaterscherm in Dutch? I mean the button which shows you carriage returns or non-breaking spaces. In English that translates to “underwater marks” or “underwater screen”. In other words: looking under water to see what you normally can’t see. Hmm. It’s not the formal name, of course.
Yesterday I took a picture of a group of riders waiting for the tram at the front of The Hague Centraal:
It looks a bit chaotic with not enough distance between passengers, but in any other year except 2020 this would have been 3 or 4 times more crowded, as tram 9 is the tram to the beach. So this is actually a vast improvement.
As noted, today there may or may not be activity at the Malieveld due to the Viruswaanzin or “Virus madness” demonstration that was (for a second time) banned by The Hague mayor. You’ll never guess what the police confiscated last night:
…sidewalk chalk (!).
Or read the article from regio15 (in Dutch): Politie neemt stoepkrijt in beslag bij het Malieveld. I think that is going too far – if you check the pictures the persons were drawing lots and lots hearts and writing ‘vrijheid’ and ‘liefde’ (freedom and love) occasionally. There are still chalk messages on the paths around Malieveld about Black Lives Matter and ‘Racism is not just an American problem’, which is true. According to the police the problem isn’t the demonstrators so much as the other people who plan to come, including football hooligans. That was the case last week, but only time will tell if that is the case today.
On an interesting note: officially sidewalk chalk was banned on all public surfaces before 2017, even if little children were drawing. But that rule was never really enforced. You can read more in Dutch at nu.nl: Gemeente Den Haag heft stoepkrijtverbod op.
Have you seen the murals by the entrance to the Centraal Station yet? There are murals painted on both sides of the tram viaduct (used by trams 2, 3, 4 and 6) which you can view from the tram stops outside of the station.
As I walking into the kitchen this morning to start breakfast I heard a loud BAM! A bird flew against our back window, or at least the door frame between the two windows. Either way, I found it lying on its back twitching, rolling from side to side in an attempt to get up. But it was pretty obvious it wasn’t going to last long; within 5-10 minutes it was dead.
After waiting the appropriate time to make sure it was dead (and admiring an unexpectedly beautiful patch of blue on its wings), Marco carefully used a broom to push it into a box and place it into the waiting garbage bag (which is itself was put into a second garbage bag). We disposed of it in one of the public trash containers on the street.
And that is our tale of “…at least the window didn’t break…”
Before this weekend, the last time I was in a tram was 13 March. Three months ago. I would have considered that unheard of before this corona pandemic started.
However on Friday morning I took tram 17 to Rijswijk after the morning rush hour. I’ve ridden at that time before, so I fairly certain it would not be busy. And I was right – it wasn’t. (Whew.)
It wasn’t too special, except that I almost forgot to check in. It’s definitely been a while. Everyone wore a face mask as required. And boy, did I have to get used to wearing one! I was glad to not have my glasses on otherwise I would have to worry about them fogging up. But it was instantly warm and I instantly wanted to take it off. But I survived. I can’t imagine wearing one at every moment that you are outside, but I know a lot of countries require that.
I also took the tram on Saturday, this time tram 3, for the blood donation appointment I wrote about yesterday. That one was fairly empty at 08:20 when I went to the appointment, but was definitely busy when I came back around 09:45. It’s nothing compared to the pre-corona traffic, and was still at acceptable levels for social distancing, but it still felt weird.
There were also a high proportion of mobility scooters in this area. You can just see one in the background behind the flowers.
I also saw a plaque marking the former residence of a famous writer:
That writer was Eduard Douwes Dekker, better known by his pen name Multatuli (Wikipedia.com). He is best known as the writer of Max Havelaar, a 1860 novel which cast a negative light on the issues with colonialism in the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia. I’ll admit I haven’t read it yet as it doesn’t really fit with the type of reading I normally do.
In other news:
Do you have issues with wearing a face mask and glasses at the same time which causes your glasses to start to fog up? If your face mask has elastic bands, try crossing them over your ears first to tighten up the face mask a bit. See also this image from i.imgur.com which I found on Reddit. I’ve also heard you should try cleaning your glasses with dish soap and then drying them with a glasses-friendly cloth. That leaves a tiny layer a soap on your glasses which can usually protect against your glasses fogging up – though not always unfortunately.
HTM blij met staatssteun: ‘Tien miljoen euro verlies in plaats van zeventig miljoen’ (omroepwest.nl) – HTM [The Hague’s public transportation company] is happy with the government’s support: 10 million euros loss instead of 70 million. Government support of Dutch public transportation companies is required due to the government asking them to run their full schedule even when passenger numbers are down. In that way the government can be sure that there is enough space for passengers who are using public transportation during this time.