This evening is sinterklaasavond (or pakjesavond), when children in the Netherlands receive their Christmas presents. Traditionally, children put a shoe in front of the fireplace before bed, then find their presents in it come morning. Every family seems to have it’s own extensions of the event, from “Include a poem about the gift” to “re-gift something of significance from prior years”. It’s a warm tradition.
I think Piet is still involved when children deserve coal and switches (The Times had a good op-ed on that topic today),
And, in the spirit, I’ll reserve good thoughts for several adults previously consigned to that same “naughty (not nice)” category as well,
And one for NOS/RTL, who showed the Dutch horror movie Sint to unsuspecting children (and to me) last night.
In any case, it’s evening now, and the stores are closed, the Cle is dark, and its a bit of a lonely time. I gave chocolates to a good friend and made some mulled wine, but it’s not the same.
Christmas lights are blowing sideways in the wind outside as a big storm barrels through from the northwest. It mashed Scotland last night and KNMI, the Dutch meteorological service, has issued a Code Rode for the northern parts of the country (Maastricht earns a Giel (yellow)).
The warning is:
Een groot risico op omvallende bomen, boomtakken, dakpannen, dakbedekking en gevelplaten, en grote objecten zoals bouwsteigers en hijskranen.
(A high risk of falling trees, tree limbs, roof tiles, roofing and siding, and large objects such as scaffolding and cranes.)
Which pretty much covers all of the possibilities…
So, it’s a good evening to chat on the phone and read the papers. ‘Several items of interest this evening:
– Amsterdam is paying recovering alcoholics to clean the streets…with beer.
Judging from the expressions, they must be getting Bavaria 0%.
– “The NSA is tracking the location and movements of hundreds of millions of cellphones outside the United States in an effort to find suspicious travel patterns or coordinated activities by intelligence targets.“
I’m sure mine was among them. I remember when my corporation called me in for a security briefing ahead of going on expat assignment.
We will always know where you are, and can get to you if there is trouble.
You follow my Outlook calendar?
No, your mobile phone.
I was shocked; Now it’s routine. Snowden is a hero.
– “Being partnered to an entrepreneur is not easy: Most are obsessed by their company with almost no escape from the demands of work.” The FT notes that “enthusiasm, energy, optimism and determination are wonderful traits, but shouldering responsibilities towards staff, customers and shareholders is a stressful undertaking…”
I struggle with that as well, have sometimes done it well and more often badly. I’ve learned from bitter mistakes, and teach that start-ups will consume everything you can give and still ask for more. It’s important to establish vast balans en grenzen, then to be prepared to fight for it many days.
A strong, loving partner is a huge help.
And a rare flower.
Finally, a few photos from Amsterdam, where I spent the day on business with various lawyers, accountants, and planners. The Kerstmis Markt has spread from Dam Square to the Centraal Station, with better (cheaper) krakauer, wijn en bier, lights and gifts…
…and one very goofy snow globe.