Mar 24, 2017

This is heaven --- Twilight --- Teaser (23)

This Is Heaven centers upon the vampire contest of Georgia Beaches' Summer Festival 2014, and so we need to pronounce a bit about the Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer's authoritative treatment of the subject.

And, yes? Okay, here are a few fragments (hold on; our main spokesperson Twilight-wise is Tex, (Taylor's pal (Taylor: John's principle baggage on the side in this episode))): 


(Chapter 24:) I think about something dismissive to say, then get distracted by the sight of Taylor. Taylor is with his pal (“Tex”), who’s talking incessantly. They end up at our stand, Taylor buys a lighter from Luke, but his pal won’t let up. “I understand Count Dracula and his folks,” Tex is saying, “they were mean-spirited and banking blood wasn’t on the agenda then, surely they had to feed on humans, but the Cullens of Twilight, Doctor Carlisle is a medical doctor, and they’re so preppy and above the fray and in favor of gun control, I’m sure, I’m sure they’re fucking liberals, all of them, why don’t they just purchase blood from a blood bank? Why this hunting of deer in the rainy forest of the Puget sound?”

“You don’t get it.”

“And you should look at the deer, these cute Bambies grazing on succulent ferns growing for the occasion between the redwood trees. And then there’s a sense of impending danger because the director of photography won’t hold still, Bambi’s eyes dart at us, a cry for help that goes unanswered because we’re strapped to the comfort chairs of this multiplex, popcorn at hand. And now she’s off, Bambi, running for her life, Bambi, and Dr. Carlisle is chasing her, although you can’t really see him chasing her, what you see is a vortex of black substance chasing Bambi, but it is Carlisle, to be sure, it’s him or Emmet or Rosalie or Esme or somebody else of his clan.”

“You don’t get it.”


This morning




Mar 13, 2017

Pentatonix --- Imagine (John Lennon)






Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one 

Mar 10, 2017

"Mr Lee" --- This is heaven --- Teaser (22)


We're really progressing with This Is Heaven, so we're in a bit of a hurry. John got himself into another flagrante with Taylor, and this time the flagrantist---(neo? neo?)---the flagrantist was Inspector LaStrada himself, so we re-find ourselves in jail. And then there's Ray of course, John's old friend, who's still held by the authorities in connection with Neill Palmer's death. This is the beginning of Chapter 25, and we'll take you up to one of the stepping stones for the overdrawn happy ending. Enjoy:

The police station of Georgia Beach sports two jail cells off the main office. It’s old-fashioned, homely almost, a film noir of sturdy iron bars to which jail birds are supposed to cling in silent desperation.

They’ve separated me and Taylor in a transparent attempt to prevent more lewd interaction between John Lee, age 29, sex-male, race-Caucasian (I had to provide my personal details yet again), and Taylor Stanford Hart, sex-male, race-Caucasian, age-perhaps-illegal—Taylor had failed to convince them of his 18th birthday, he doesn’t look the birthday boy at all. Your Social Security Number? That would be 067-70-9756. Say that again: “067-07-9765.” It won’t take it. The computer. The number. Sorry. “You have no driver’s license?” No, he don’t, because he’s a nerd (Taylor put it differently). Sorry.

“067-07-9765”

I’m alone in Cell No.1, Taylor is with Ray in Cell No.2. Ray couldn’t possibly have followed the conversation about “carnal knowledge” going on in the main office, a topic to which Taylor and I contributed very little-—letting LaStrada dictate his observations to a desk officer behind an unwilling computer while the goldfish in its bowl was looking on-—us not questioning whether Mr. Lee’s “hold” on Mr. Hart’s “member” was intentional or perhaps the result of a regrettable slip-up due to substandard illumination inside the Green Room-—except that Mr. Hart, at a critical juncture, namely when LaStrada had run out of things to say about “members” and poised to switch to the transgressive part of the arrestees’ malfeasance (the yellow crime tape, the perimeter violation)-—that Mr. Hart, whose mother runs a Baltimore law firm (we will learn soon)-—that Taylor asked several nerdy questions about the goldfish, questions which engaged the desk officer in lengthy answers, so lengthily that Strada’s cell began to ring and the detective was called away. I lost my train of thought. Yes, Ray could not have followed the conversation, but he’s sensitive, very sensitive, and now he’s gazing expectantly at his cell mate.

_________________________________

...us not questioning whether Mr. Lee’s “hold” on Mr. Hart’s “member” was intentional or perhaps the result of a regrettable slip-up...
_________________________________

Ray could easily handle the truth-—he must have spent a quarter of his life in darkrooms-—but we’ve somehow skirted the subject and blamed everything on the police tape and regrettable misunderstandings.

Mar 4, 2017

This is the future that Liberals want


You've possibly seen this already on the interwebs...





...which some Trumpistas ("/pol/ News Network") posted yesterday on Twitter under the heading "This is the future that liberals want."

Now, let's get serious for just one paragraph---in particular because we've never seen this point being made before: reactionary argumentation, since years, depends almost uniquely on insinuations, i.e., on making suppositions NOT regarding what liberals do, or say, but on what they allegedly intend---without any further proof of evidence. "Obama wants to turn the US into a Muslim State" would be a typical example. Put differently: since years (15, we'd say), the opposition to liberal positions is based on ABSURDITIES.

In this case, however, there's some involuntary truth to this. Yes, that's what we want, among other things: public transport, religious freedom, and freedom of expression.

Okay, and now to the fun part. Here are a few pictures in reply to the Twitter post (all captioned "This is the future that liberals want"):



Mar 3, 2017

You can't make this up (enjoy)


Trump Aides Keep Leaking Embarrassing Stories About How He Can’t Handle Embarrassment By Eric Levitz (reprinted from the NY Mag)

No, you’re the baby. 


Trump’s Presidency Is the Twilight Zone Episode About a Terrifying 6-Year-OldTrump Repeats Lie That Millions Voted Illegally in Meeting With Lawmakers


The president is a 70-year-old child whose TV time must be closely monitored — because any news story that upsets his ego will trigger a temper tantrum followed by irrational demands that his indulgent, overwhelmed guardians will be helpless to refuse.

Or so Donald Trump’s aides keep confiding to the nearest available reporter.

On Sunday, one of the president’s confidantes told Politico that his staffers have to “control information that may infuriate him,” a task made difficult by the fact that the leader of the free world “gets bored and likes to watch TV.”

That same day, some Trump aides provided the New York Times with a portrait of the president as a moody adolescent.

Mr. Trump grew increasingly angry on Inauguration Day after reading a series of Twitter messages pointing out that the size of his inaugural crowd did not rival that of Mr. Obama’s in 2009. But he spent his Friday night in a whirlwind of celebration and affirmation. When he awoke on Saturday morning, after his first night in the Executive Mansion, the glow was gone, several people close to him said, and the new president was filled anew with a sense of injury.

“The lack of discipline troubled even senior members of Mr. Trump’s circle,” the paper wrote, “some of whom had urged him not to indulge his simmering resentment at what he saw as unfair news coverage.”

And then, on Monday night, Trump’s staffers whispered an even more vivid account of his rough weekend to the Washington Post.

President Trump had just returned to the White House on Saturday from his final inauguration event, a tranquil interfaith prayer service, when the flashes of anger began to build.

Trump turned on the television to see a jarring juxtaposition — massive demonstrations around the globe protesting his day-old presidency and footage of the sparser crowd at his inauguration, with large patches of white empty space on the Mall. As his press secretary, Sean Spicer, was still unpacking boxes in his spacious new West Wing office, Trump grew increasingly and visibly enraged…Over the objections of his aides and advisers — who urged him to focus on policy and the broader goals of his presidency — the new president issued a decree: He wanted a fiery public response, and he wanted it to come from his press secretary.

The Post’s story is chock-full of remarkable details. To list just a few:

1. After forcing Spicer to baldly lie to the White House press corps about the size of his inauguration crowd, the president fumed that his press secretary’s performance was “not forceful enough.” According to Axios, Trump was also incensed by Spicer’s poor taste in suits, and is already considering treating the former RNC staffer to his signature catchphrase.

2. Trump already “feels demoralized that the public’s perception of his presidency so far does not necessarily align with his own sense of accomplishment.”

3. Some Trump aides think Kellyanne Conway is trying to undermine Spicer so as to steal his job.

4. Jared Kushner tried to prevent Conway from being invited into the White House at all, because he viewed her “as a possible threat to his role as Trump’s chief consigliere.”

5. Ultimately, though, the most astounding sentence in the Post’s write-up might be the following:

This account of Trump’s tumultuous first days in office comes from interviews with nearly a dozen senior White House officials and other Trump advisers and confidants, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations and moments.

Nearly a dozen of Trump’s closest confidantes helped plant an embarrassing news story about how their boss can’t handle embarrassing news stories. Which is to say: A president who prizes loyalty in his subordinates has already been betrayed by a huge swath of his inner circle.

It isn’t hard to understand why Trump’s aides would want to distance themselves from the mogul’s decision to begin his presidency by shouting self-aggrandizing delusions at CIA employees, congressional leaders, and the Fourth Estate. But we aren’t in the late days of a losing campaign, when it’s normal for advisers to start leaking dirt on the boss to save their reputations. We’re less than four full days into the Trump presidency, with (barring death, impeachment, resignation, or coup) at least 1,461 to go.




Welcome to the world of Donald Trump


(A screen grab of an ad running on FB:)


Feb 21, 2017

Why don't they just purchase blood --- This is heaven --- teaser (21)


We've been slacking, but here it is, the next teaser of This Is Heaven. This teaser is mostly for insiders, intimi to the meanderings of the Twilight Saga (hint: Robert Pattinson). In the previous chapter Alex has told John about his devastating plan to move back to his own dig, and now we see John exposed anew to Taylor and his friends from the club of vampire freaks, including pal Tex. Tex is about to develop renegade thoughts, so we keep it short (the picture is Joe Phillip's design for the cover of the book). 

I get distracted by the sight of Taylor. Taylor is with his pal (“Tex”), who’s talking insistently. They end up at our stand, Taylor buys a lighter from Luke, but his pal won’t let up. “I understand Count Dracula and his folks,” Tex is saying, “they were mean-spirited and banking blood wasn’t on the agenda then, surely they had to feed on humans, but the Cullens of Twilight, Doctor Carlisle is a medical doctor, and they’re so preppy and above the fray and in favor of gun control, I’m sure, I’m sure they’re fucking liberals, all of them, why don’t they just purchase blood from a blood bank? Why this hunting of deer in the rainy forest of the Puget sound?”

“You don’t get it,” Taylor answers.


“And you should look at the deer, these cute Bambies grazing on succulent ferns growing for the occasion between the redwood trees. And then there’s a sense of impending danger because the director of photography won’t hold still, Bambi’s eyes dart at us, a cry for help that goes unanswered because we’re strapped to the comfort chairs of this multiplex, popcorn at hand. And now she’s off, Bambi, running for her life, and Dr. Carlisle is chasing her, although you can’t really see him chasing her, what you see is a vortex of black substance chasing Bambi, but it is Carlisle, to be sure, it’s him or Emmet or Rosalie or Esme or somebody else of his clan.”
“You don’t get it.”
“No, exactly, I don’t get it,” Tex says.
“It’s easy,” Taylor answers.
“No, it’s not.”
“Well, the question has been asked before.”

_________________________________________________

"Bambi's eyes dart at us, a cry for help that goes unanswered because we're strapped to the comfort chairs of this multiplex."
_________________________________________________


Taylor’s looking for help, and we make eye contact. Eye contact is different once you’ve had sex, and it had been me who got him into this shit yesterday, I really have to make it up to him: “Look it up on the internet,” I say to Tex.

Feb 10, 2017

Florence (4) --- Find a caption


So, on Wednesday, we happen upon Giotto's tower next to the Duomo, a 114 meter erection built with the prescient eye of a genius who foresaw the needs of modern adventure tourism, in particular re the ultimate experience of climbing the five hundred and forty nine steps leading to the top where visitors can enjoy a refreshing summer breeze or the high, stale winter winds of February 9, 2017.

Tickets had not yet been invented when Michael first visited Florence, so he just went there and counted the steps and enjoyed the breeze. Now we have an army vehicle painted in fatigues parked next to the entrance, and you need a ticket which is very expensive but also avails access to other Duomo venues, in particular the Cupola where you have to make a reservation---the only venue that requires one, meaning that said Cupola is much better than the museum where you don't need a reservation, not to mention the cathedral proper where you don't even need a ticket (you do need a ticket for the toilet, though, see previous post).

Arriving at the top, we realize that the Cupola features a visitor's platform as well, located a few meters higher than ours, vertically speaking. 





So we make a reservation for the next day (1049 places left), for 13:30 (1:30 PM), the first time slot available.

We arrive too early on Thursday and have to kill time in the Yellow Bar with a bottle of Prosecco. 

And then we (a) have to make it through an intricate vetting procedure reservation-wise, (b) get lost in the cathedral proper, (c) are redirected by a guard to the stair case leading up to the cupola platform, (d) and are told it's only five thousand six hundred forty nine steps, "un numero con implicazioni numerologiche." There are some intermediate platforms, and this is the first we hit: 





There are more complications, including the narrow gallery at the base of the Cupola proper, ca. 6 inches wide, which you have to negotiate with a view on oncoming traffic (regardless how you do it, there's a lot of intimate touching, and the Japanese girls blush on contact). (The boys blush, too.)

Anyhow, the stairs continue:





And there we are, with a view on Giotto's tower. Find a caption:



"I hate the Pope." 

Feb 9, 2017

Florence (3)

In his book about Florence, David Leavitt talks about Cibreo,

"one of the most famous restaurants in town [which] is divided into two parts, an expensive ristorante and a less-expensive trattoria, where you get the same food at half the price. At the trattoria, however, you have to sit on chairs that challenge the sturdiest back, crowd with strangers at tiny tables,..The food is authentically, one might even say rigorously, Tuscan. Pasta is never served..."




When we arrive for lunch at 1PM, the place is empty, save for two disoriented Japanese. The waiter sits down next to us to explain the specials. We have stuffed rabbit, green salad, potatoes, and orange cheese cake, which is served with a cheerful "ecco qua," (there it is, we learn). We also learn the difference between buono ("good"), and bene ("fine"). Gradually, the place fills up. The wine was a reasonable Chardonnay from Alto Adige ("Südtirol"). 

Florence (2)

To climb Giotto's tower (here's a view from the top)...




...you need a ticket (15 €) which you can buy at a ticket office. It's worth it...



Yes, this is a view of the Ticket Office's bathroom.


Feb 8, 2017

Florence (1)




We decided to go to Florence for a few days and so we swang by Portofino, on the Cinque Terre peninsula, to the east of Genua. Nothing special happened, and there's nothing to trigger (yet) another fragment from This is Heaven. Enjoy.

Feb 2, 2017

No need for a caption



(Our friend Glenn sends this:)



Donald Trump, seriously

(Trump Jump, Twitler, immigrant, kakistocracy, Donald Lump, trumpcare, Trump Treatment, Tyrannosaurus rump, alternative facts, Hot Donald, Trumps Razor, small hands:  The Urban Dictionary, our favorite linguistic cyclopedia, has dropped its habitual preoccupation with matters autoerotic and gone full Trump Dump since the Machtsübernahme, and so our friend Glenn wants to know what we think about the new president. Glenn's particularly interested in answers regarding Trump's intelligence:)

Trump is intelligent, at least technically. He can think on his feet, he's wily, sly, cunning, and has been successful for more than forty years in a difficult business---not as successful as he claims, but he's survived four or six bankruptcies, several trophy wives, and a grueling election campaign---you can't do this without substantial raw intelligence. There are NYT reports regarding his deal making, which emphasize that his negotiation skills really shine when we get into the fine print (the annotations of complex real-estate contracts)---meaning that even his attention span is substantial when he's into a "deal." And then there is corroborating evidence about his work as developer---a developer obsessed with details, we read. So yes, he's clever.

Which doesn't mean he's Socrates. He's not an intellectual, let alone a thinker. He won't take time to think unless it's urgent business. He's a results man---or business man---in the worst conceivable sense. And he's extremely narcissistic---no need to elaborate, just one more anecdote (we quote the Washington Post):

Jan 26, 2017

"Why is it that I don't feel like a billionaire?" --- This is heaven --- teaser (updated)


We didn't plan this, really we didn't, but this picture, taken during the inaugurational lunch in Washington last Friday (this is roughly one hour after he was sworn in as the new president)...





...this picture is a yuuge pretext to nerve you with yet another fragment from This Is Heaven, a fragment written last month. We're in the final chapters, the whole party of lead characters (Alex, John, Juliette, Ben, Maurice) are on their way to an overcooked happy ending of multiple courses---damn those mixed metaphors---and John & Alex have just learned that, in all likelihood, they'll soon be billionaires, and so Chapter 51 starts (John speaking (and driving)) (hold on, one more thing; if you scroll down, you'll see we're not the only ones to appreciate this picture) (so now:)   


“Why is it that I don’t feel like a billionaire,” I say. 
“You possibly do,” Alex says. “Most billionaires feel like shit.”
“How do you know I feel like shit?”
“The way you look, and the way you dart into the rearview mirror.” 
“Yes,” I say, “I feel like shit.”
“You know why?”
“Yes, Alex.”
“And?”
“Many reasons. Mostly two. Reasons. If I tell, you’ll use them against me.”
“That would be a third reason then.”
“Stop it, Alex.”
“And a fourth reason would be that you think I have schemes on Juliette.”
“Why would I?”
“By dint of the mirror. It’s canted by more than 25 degrees and can no longer serve its purpose of providing traffic awareness, especially on a narrow road like this when somebody from behind flashes the headlights.”

I adjust the mirror, and indeed, a pickup truck in the war paint of the Confederate flag hangs behind us. Now he blows the horn. I slow down, pull to the right, and he rumbles past. We exchange glances—-and stare into the eyes of a slim black youth on the passenger seat.

Romeo.

Romeo is of course the next course of this happy meal.


Are you still there? Then you'll possibly like the GREEN EYES. The first part is out now, available as Kindle book on Amazon, under this link:


Night Owl Reviews
"click"




Find a caption


(Hat tip: Michael Brown)



Jan 23, 2017







"He's not just a horrible guy. He's also the caricature of a horrible guy."---Anonymous





Jan 21, 2017

Trump's razor



In yet another vain attempt at self-promotion we have to---we simply HAVE TO react to Urban Dictionary's word of the day, Trump's Razor. 

Because. Yes, because (a) the Urban Dictionary plays an important role in the GREEN EYES, and there are also cameo appearances of (b) Occam's Razor, and even (c) of Trump himself. 

(Ad a) We have Raffael Beeblebrox, a senior editor of the Urban Dictionary showing up in CH. 5 of This Is Heaven and discussing John's neologisms (e.g., "i-Thing," and "adult parts.") Later, in CH. 47, we'll rerun this discussion on John's latest neo-finds (e.g., "out-plussed," and "cloud fart.") But...the best invocation of the Dictionary happens in CH. 23; Alex has returned to his apartment for the first time after his suicide attempt last week: 

The chaos of Thursday’s rescue panic is still in place, Ray and me dragging Alex’s OD’d body through the lack of space of this tiny apartment, low knee walls below the sloped ceilings, all chairs (two) fallen over, a coffee table (yard sale) fallen over, a small couch (yard sale) at an odd angle, a couch table (displaced), a helpless mini-rug (dog-eared), shards of a broken coffee mug spread across the rough-hewn floor. I collect a few pieces and arrange them side by side on the kitchen counter top. It’s merchandise spin off from the Urban Dictionary, saying SUCKING STREAK. There’s also a definition of the term, presumably, still spread across the floor, and perhaps not really needed.


Jan 18, 2017

"Donald Trump is an eclipse baby" --- write a novel, see the world

Michael Ampersant's This is Heaven is set in 2014, but we found a way to smuggle Trump into the plot in a minor way, by dint of the fact that Professor Bienpensant is affiliated with the University of Metaphysics (an outfit that really exists, at least on the internet), and so we can rely on the Department of Astrology of said institution of learning. Here, very short, John and Bienpensant discussing how one can predict the End of the World more than once:  

“You and I talked about this before,” I [John] say. “What do you do if your prediction is wrong? If there is no Armageddon?” Well, there’s so much Armageddon everywhere already. And there’ll be more soon, her Department of Astrology put out a Trump warning. (“A what?”) Trump, you know, the NYC real estate mogul, the stars have aligned apparently, he’ll be the next president. And yet, you know, the end of the world need not be the end of the world, even with Trump in the offing, see, it could be rapture, rapture for just about everybody, an ecumenical ride from this world to the next. One moment we’re here in this vale of sorrows, and the next we are up there in heaven. This is heaven—-like Alex says, that’s what she loves so much about Alex. But people are so edgy these days, they don’t take yes for an answer. And so impatient, the people. They always require distractions...



Write a novel, see the world. So we went on the internet to see what astrologers had to say about Trump, and here are a few fragments from the press about a conference of astrologers taking place in California in early October 2016  (without further comments:)


Instead of Gallup or Ipsos, the astrologers are poring over zodiac charts, which signal, among other things, a “potentially explosive” October surprise that could shape the result.
Imsiragic and eight colleagues gave some teasers at a press conference about the climax and aftermath of the wildest election campaign in memory. Their advice: buckle up.
“The US election occurs when the sun is travelling in the Via Combusta, the fiery way,” said Shelley Ackerman. A period which also includes Halloween and Hillary Clinton’s birthday, she noted. “It could be something that is unexpected, very powerful and upsetting to a lot of people. That patch of the zodiac is literally when the shit hits the fan.”

Jan 16, 2017

The Bzzfrzzakitamot period



Future archaeologists from Titan and other parts of the galaxy will call our epoch the Bzzfrzzakitamot period ("bizarre blond comb-over period") for its excessive depictions of always the same blond comb-overed male embedded in electronic artifacts, mainly in satirical contexts.



Jan 9, 2017

Going back home

Brigg station, waiting for the shuttle to take us through
the Simplon tunnel (pass was closed)
Arriving in the Valle Antrona on the Italian side

(pictures by Chang)

Jan 8, 2017

Reincanation --- This is heaven --- Teaser (20)


The first draft of This Is Heaven is finished now. We have to accelerate a bit, otherwise we're not done posting teasers before the book comes out. So, here, teaser no. 20. Alex is going to change tack John-wise (Alex is amnesic, remember?). Hold your breath:

“I was a paramedic, right?” Alex says as I’m driving us up the ramp behind the condo to get on Route One.
“Yes.”
“Paramedics earn money.”
“Yes.”
“Enough to own a car.”
“Yes.”
“You have an idea where it would be, my car?”
“It was at your place last time I saw it.”
“Which was…?”
“Yes,” I say.
“I mean, would be easier if you don’t have to chauffeur me around all the time.”
“The idea was that you shouldn’t go back to your place for a while. That’s what the psychologist said.”
“What her replacement read from a brochure.”
“Her replacement.”
“Okay. I’ll pick up the car, is all. Where do I live?”




We change directions. His place is two minutes up Landing Road from the Memorial. The neighborhood hasn’t changed much since Thursday night. It is still on the wrong side of the hospital (Georgia Beach lost its railway connection long ago)---semi-detached structures from the 80’s mostly, semi-run down, and a dog that never sleeps; not much greenery, patchy, sun-burnt lawns, few trees.
Alex’s place is a standalone Dutch revival, small. “This is where I live?” he asks.
“The attic.”
“Right. And the car?”
I point at the white Toyota Prius on the driveway. “Cool,” he says, “Saving energy. Good to know.” He taps on the dashboard of my truck, then pats his shorts and produces a key ring without car key. “I got this from Alice. The house keys, I guess. The car key will be inside, somewhere.”

So we climb the stairs. It’s sizzling outside already but inside under the roof it’s getting worse. Alex fumbles with the keys. He turns the key, the door gives way and we’re hit by a wall of dense, putrid air.
“Smell it?” he asks and steps into his apartment. “Q-E-D, this is heaven. My body still lying---where did you find me?”
“In the bathroom.”
“Where’s the bathroom?”

Yes, I really do this, I walk us the fifteen feet to the bathroom. There’s the body of a mouse decomposing in the spot where I found Alex on Thursday night.

Jan 3, 2017

Jan 2, 2017

The power of selfies


(Our friend Hessel Klijnstra sends this from Zwolle, The Netherlands:)