Bridge Over Troubled Water

This evening on TV we happened upon the Simon and Garfunkel concert in Central Park from 1981 (which sounds ancient now). I used to have the double album of that concert on LP records and listened to it all the time back then in the 1980s and 1990s.

After an awful news week were 19 young children and 2 teachers were killed in a senseless school shooting in Texas and there are no common sense laws in sight to ban assault weapons and initiate even basic screening for gun ownership, this soothing concert comes at exactly the right time. I picked Bridge Over Troubled Water to share here, as I have no words of my own that I am able to express at the sadness of this preventable tragedy and I think we can all use some comfort.

The whole concert can be watched here if you like. It’s good for the soul.

Depressing News & Eurovision & Mika & Richard

Israeli police attacking Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral (seriously, the coffin almost fell! I’m soooo pissed off, WTF does Israel think they can achieve with that?!), 10 people shot dead by a racist terrorist in Buffalo, NY and possible Russian phosphorous bombs used in Mariupol (Ukraine). In fact, this whole Putin and his war on Ukraine thing is so exasperating! Man, the news cycle these past 24-48 hours is brutal. I think I want to retire to my convent and never come out again. Let’s focus on better things…

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, which was fine with me. I had no real favourites and their song was one of the better ones and so I’m glad they won, with the added bonus of again besting Putin’s Russia (Russia and Belarus were banned from Eurovision this year). It shows yet again that Ukraine has Europe’s support (and speaking of Europe uniting, Sweden and Finland are turning to NATO as well!). Eurovision shouldn’t be about politics, of course, but underneath it all, it does get mixed in and this year maybe more so than other years. Aggressors need to be stopped and if culture sending a message can help, even in a small way, then that is a good thing. Apparently Russian hackers also tried to influence the voting results but those attempts were foiled.

Anyway, back to the actual song contest: this was Ukraine’s winning song…

Although I had no real favourites this year, I do admit that I did root for this somewhat absurd act by Norway. I don’t know what it is, but there is something fascinating about it (they came in 10th)…

The singer Mika was one of the presenters of Eurovision. Every time he came on I started chanting at the screen “I can be brown, I can be blue, I can be violet sky, I can be hurtful, I can be purple, I can be anything you like” which is a quote from his most famous song called Grace Kelly

It was also a meme on TikTok last year, where people sing that line as a harmony challenge. Even Ryan Reynolds participated…

In more lighter news, Richard Armitage has been spotted, dining out in Paris…

… and he had some Café Richard coffee…

I can relate to drinking out of a Richard cup, although I had tea instead of coffee last year in Paris…

Anyway, I’m glad he had a little fun with dinner and coffee and hopefully other nice things in Paris as well. It’s good to remember the little joys in life (as I also tell myself for the millionth time as I switch off the news again).

King’s Day has come and gone

It was King’s Day here yesterday, where the Dutch celebrate our king’s birthday with street markets and games and music and such. The King, his wife and 3 daughters visited Maastricht yesterday and there apparently was a bit of a party…

For us, it was all very much toned down. Well, it wasn’t that toned down for Junior as he went to Breda with friends, to a big outdoor party that he had bought tickets for weeks ago. It feels weird seeing this after two years of King’s Days in lockdowns.

Mini me has final exams coming up so she opted for sudying at home. Mr E and I were just tired, so stayed home for most of the day as well. At the end of the afternoon we did go into town for a little walk around and some drinks at a café.

Mini me joined us at the beginning of the evening and we had a very nice dinner together and that was pretty much that. Maybe next year we’ll celebrate more exuberantly?

Mixed feelings

I completely subscribe to this…

As heartwarming as the outpouring of support for Ukranian refugees is, I wish (along with Khaled Hosseini) that all refugees could feel this welcome and I know not everyone is welcomed like this. My manager at the refugee organization I volunteer at was telling me yesterday that since the war in Ukraine started 11.000 people have applied as volunteers (the Dutch Council for Refugees works throughout The Netherlands). Wonderful, but will these people also want to help the mostly Syrian and Eritrean refugees (and some Afghan and Iranian refugees) we normally help?

Then there is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s message to the Russians yesterday about the war in Ukraine, which was even a whole section on our evening news. While it’s highly commendable that he’s trying this, I wonder is this something that will even reach the Russians? Will Putin fans not just see this as some more deluded Western anti-Russian propaganda? What makes him think that he can counter Russian propaganda where others have failed? He does sound heartfelt but I’m feeling a little cynical about it all. I guess it’s better than doing nothing, though.

Then there’s Richard’s selfie and tweet about his new project that he is filming…

The steaminess of this may be (a lot of) fun but does it have to be a love triangle story? Apparently it’s about a guy sleeping with his son’s fiancé. I so don’t like love triangle stories and this one sounds a little extra gory. I didn’t even like The English Patient at the time when everyone loved it. Sexy Richard is always something to behold but the story doesn’t attract me at all. Maybe it will be better than I fear?

Last but not least, let me end on a positive, non-mixed feelings thing: I did like these tweets by Richard…

It’s nice to know that LOROS appreciates the fundraising efforts so much and it’s really nice to put some faces to the care workers there.

Back to traffic jams & full trains

Yesterday was the first time in two years that I actually got on a train! For the past few weeks when I went in to work (two days a week), I parked my car at a park & ride and then took the metro in (about a 10 minute ride). That tends to be quicker for me by about 15-20 minutes rather than taking the train, especially as traffic jams, even in rush hour traffic, aren’t so bad now due to a partially working from home recommendation still being in effect. Yesterday Mr Esther needed the car more than I did, so I biked to the train station and actually boarded a train and then a metro. I was lucky. The train that left before mine to another city was so packed, people had to get off and catch another train. My train wasn’t too bad…

…and on the way home (I was able to travel back again before rush hour) it was even quiet…

I am no fan of rush hour train traffic. I hate the bustle and shuffle of getting on and standing in a crowded place and if you can’t get on, needing to wait for a next train that may be just as crowded and delays your trip by 15 minutes, making you late for wherever you need to be. I’d rather be on the metro where it can also get crowded but it’s never quite as crowded as on the train and there are more options to get to your destination as they depart more frequently. If a metro is too crowded, it’s easy to let it go and just take the next one 2 or 3 minutes later. I do like off peak train travel, though, just like yesterday on my way home.

The news today is that almost all remaining Coronavirus rules will be scrapped as of mid next week. No more mandatory face masks on public transport (although wearing one would still be appreciated), no more partial lockdown recommendation to work from home for half the week, no more testing restrictions to get into big events. Yes, the case numbers still appear to be quite high but pressure on the health system seems to not be so bad, which is why the rules will now be relaxed and we will have to learn to live with the virus. Here the elderly and those at higher risk are getting their fourth shots now. My mother and aunt just had theirs last week. The basic rules around testing with symptoms, isolation and quarantine will still remain in force for the time being.

I suspect that with the working from home restriction lifted, rush hour traffic jams on the highways will get longer again and trains will get busier too. Not sure how I feel about the relaxing of virtually all measures. On the one hand, these restrictions can’t go on forever, on the other hand the Coronavirus is still causing a lot of mayhem. For me, I think I will continue wearing a face mask in public transport when it is crowded… It feels a little weird getting back to life how it used to be again.


MTA – On rethinking this, I realize I lied! I was on a train again a month ago for the first time, while going to meet some friends for dinner in another city… The rest of this post still is true, though.