December 29, 2006


So, the first few days of this week have passed.

As usual over the past couple of years, Christmas 2006 was extremely quiet. In a good way, I guess.

In my family we don't have a tradition of having big family feasts over Christmas (and to be honest, I don't think I want to spend it with my relatives), and up until a few years ago my Christmasses were spent working. And, who'd have thought, I actually thought those were great days.

So now the holidays are spent relaxing, spending a few days at my parents' place [and not having to race across the country to see all the parents in two days as many of my friends have to do - one of the advantages of being single!], putting everything that goes on at home out of my mind.

Nice. Quiet. But just a bit more excitement wouldn't be bad either, I guess.... (although I guess there was the excitement of opening the stack of presents).

Anyway, I hope you all have had some good days as well, and hopefully 2007 will be a great year for all!

December 28, 2006


Jules got me thinking about the countries I've visited so far: a terribly disappointing 9% of the world! And that despite the fact that in 2006 I visited five new countries - it's actually going to be pretty tough beating that any time soon...

And the map looks slightly lopsided:

create your own visited country map

December 19, 2006

And for some holiday cheer...

Check out the penguin (hover your cursor over it) at Yahoo!.


New year's resolutions are not my thing. I never really make resolutions at the beginning of the new year, mostly because I usually see no reason to wait until the new year while you can also start making those changes right at that moment.

But the end of the year is somehow a period that I look back at what this year has brought me. Or at least, this end of this year is. Where am I now, what is different now, compared to new year's eve twelve months ago?

I seem to have made a couple of resolutions to 'make changes' throughout the year.

The first was at the beginning of the year, February-ish, where I told my friends that from then on things were going to be different. I think the only thing that became different from then on was that I miraculously got a lot more male attention. Not what I had had in mind, but well, can't say it's a bad thing of course.

Then the second time was in August, where I vowed to make drastic changes and followed up on that in October after all my roaming about (Central) Asia. Well, so far that has resulted in a four-day-workweek, my very own 'crazy lady', oh and a new blog lay-out. Somehow this also wasn't quite what I had in mind.

I do wonder what the new year will bring. Things can only get better, right?


I love online shopping.

Coming home after a crappy day at the office (only one-and-a-half-day!) and finding the latest purchase is the best.

Now playing: Michael Franti

Have also been eyeing my Japanese Amazon-wishlists. Maybe I deserve a Christmas present from me. Hmm.

December 18, 2006

I cannot wait

Only three (well, two-and-a-half) more working days until the end of year break. Bliss.

Besides the obvious of spending Christmas at my parents I'm mostly looking forward to:

- catching up with long lost friends from Japan;
- doing some proper shopping;
- the almost-traditional barbeque on newyear's eve;
- oh, doing nothing!

and before that I've finally found an opportunity to go to one of the Dutch Pechakucha nights. Yay!

December 13, 2006

I *heart* the internets

Okay, saying that I adore the internet is maybe a bit over the top - but I realized the other day that somehow some of the things that I do online are actually connecting with my off-line life more and more lately (hmm, this sounds too nerdy huh?).

Over the last few years, I have of course successfully procrastinated online while writing my thesis, doing research and spending time at the office.

But not only that, I've used that time to:

# make some great (real-life) friends in the Netherlands, Tokyo and elsewhere (like China, for example!);
# wait excitedly for Christmas gifts from people I've never met (and send Christmas gifts to people I've never met');
# discover a fab book;
# swoon over postcards from exotic locations;
# and much more.

And, in February I will be seeing The Decemberists as a consequence of this addiction. I have no idea what music they play, but hey, live gigs are always good so I'm sure it'll be fun.

So, yay for the internet. There are some pretty amazing people out there, each behind their own little screen ;-)

December 12, 2006

Revelation of the day (week? month?)

Despite my rants on jobhunting and failing applications, I discoved yesterday that I haven't sent out nearly as many applications over the past year or so as I thought I had.


And what's more: I've actually gotten a better rate of interviews out of them than I thought (as in, my rate of success in obtaining an interview is actually not so bad).


I don't really know what to think about this, but it pretty much shook my world last night.

December 10, 2006


I don't know if it is the darkness outside, or just now finally 'feeling' home again or whatever, but there is too much going on in my head at the moment. Well, the previous post probably made that clear as well.

I have started thinking a lot about perceptions. How people perceive others and which consequences that could have on a further relationship (in whatever form) with those people.

For instance, I don't think this blog is a very accurate reflection of who I am. Maybe that also isn't what I want it to be but some people reading this - and who don't know me in real life - will have quite a different idea of what I'm like than the reality of me. Clearly, the on-line machiruda is only part of me and that is fine. (Come to think of it, Ianqui had an interesting post on this last week or so.)

But, it also applies to me in real life. Of course, you don't really get to know someone after only that first impression but it has struck me lately how far off people seem to be. Or rather, how little people think outside of the boxes in their head and have one set image with what I look like and what I do. And by extension, how I always seem to surprise people by what I do.

The most concrete example of this that I can think of is that most people who meet me in a work-environment (or sometimes even elsewhere) are usually shocked when I order a beer or glass of wine at a social work thing. It isn't as if they are surprised to see me drunk (which they don't see), they are surprised to see me drink one single glass of alcohol. Why is this? I thought it is more uncommon for people not to drink so why the surprise that I actually do? Imagine the surprise of (and ensuing stories by) my colleagues in Baikonur when they actually saw me outside of the office as well. I.e. having a life, dancing, drinking & flirting in the local disco.

On one hand, I don't mind, because hey, half of these people don't need to know me.

But on the other hand it can be frustrating too. Because what if this is part of the reason why I'm not able to get past the interviewing stage (or letter-stage even!) of jobhunting? Clearly they shouldn't select on if someone looks like they can hold their liquor or not. But what if I look too serious, too conservative? I don't particularly want to change the way I look, because that would probably make me look much too unnatural. But still.

One of my 'tasks' for this week was to find out from friends how they see me to find out how different (if at all) that is to how I see myself. And maybe it will give me a whole new idea of me and of what I want and can do. Well, I've seen a few friends over the weekend but this hasn't come up. I'll do better next time I see people :)

Of course, first impressions are important. This is what we all (subconsciously) base a lot of desicions and ideas on about the people we interact with. And that is fine, as long as this impression doesn't determine everything else that follows with that interaction. Sometimes it just feels that that crucial first impression that I seem to give off is just miles apart from whatever else I have to offer - and it negatively influences what comes next.

Do you feel you match the impression that you give to people? Or if we limit the question to online vs offline persona's, do you think they match in your case? I'd be interested to hear what others think.

December 09, 2006

How to spend a weekend trying not to panic:

* loud music; or well, good music played loudly; remembering the Zita Swoon concert in April (thanks M for forgetting your cd at my place!), and of course Linda, Linda! from the Blue Hearts :-D and much more.

* finally taking the time again after weeks to read the Saturday paper and assorted magazines scattered across my house.

* working on my domestic goddess skills by attempting a chocolate cake (first tipped by cookie) and only passing narrowly... Practice makes perfect, right? Well, then I still need a lot of practice.

* entertaining very good friends.

* coffee with cheruchan, philosophizing about life, as always.

* and looking forward to next weekend, to hopefully catch up with someone who always makes me feel better but who is usually too far away to do so.

And for the rest of the weekend, I might just drink myself silly at tonight's party while trying to avoid any serious questions, and get the chaos (and hangover) out of my head at the beach tomorrow....


When I travel, I try to get a book from that particular place (country/city) as I am usually so fascinated by what I see around me that I am desperate to know more about it. (Usually I also decide that I have to live there for some time to really grasp the place. So far that hasn't actually happened for many places!).

Back to the books.

When I was in Moscow in June I came across a book by Andrew Meier, Black Earth (weirdly enough, currently en route between Frankfurt and Washington DC) which describes his journey to the far extremes of the country. He travels to all directions - south to Chechnya, east to Sakhalin, north to Siberia (Norilsk), west to St. Petersburg and of course to his homebase Moscow. It's been a fascinating read as he combines a historical background with political developments, amongst others through descriptions of the Russians and others he meets on the road and of the places he visits.

Russia has been moving to the front of international politics more and more over the last few years - reclaiming its previous position of power - and amongst all the news coming from the Kremlin this book has made me quite fascinated by this huge country.

So, besides following the plot around Litvinenko (but also Scaramella, Loegovoj, Kovtoen, etc etc) I've also started reading the book of late Russian journalist Anna Politskovskaya, Putin's Russia, which should be quite interesting. I'm very curious to see how critical she really is of Putin and his policies.

Politkovskaya was shot in October 2006. The murder of Litvinenko happened after he allegedly started his own research into the Politkovskaya assassination. In Meier's book, the chapter on St. Petersburg is in large part dedicated to a description of events surrounding the death of journalist Galina Starovoitova. The Politkovskaya death seems to have a lot of similarities.

The more I read about the whole polonium-210 plot, the more Russia is starting to sound like a proper maffia state.... Freaky stuff, but all the more interesting because of it!


For the Dutchies, these are some of the sites with some interesting stuff on Litvinenko, Politkovskaya, Polonium-210 etc.:
NRC article - chronology of events
Moscow blog
and another Moscow blog
plus an hour-long Tegenlicht documentary on Putin's re-election in 2004