More Exciting News!

In all my excitement and nervous stress of last week, I totally forgot to tell you that another really exciting thing has happened. The day after I heard that I got the job, lovely fellow blogger (links to blog) and entrepreneur (links to site) Nicolette from L for Lazarus has asked me to write a guest piece for her blog. Of course, I said yes, and I’m really honoured and insanely excited to do so :) I still can’t believe that it’s been a week and I haven’t shared this with you!

It’s going to be a little fashion-related, but not in a “hey, look at what I wore today” kind of way. In fact, L for Lazarus’ charm is that it’s not an ordinary style/fashion blog, it’s got a focus on personality and inner beauty as well, which is really up my alley. Anyway, you should definitely check it out, with or without my guest piece :)

So… That’s all for now, I’ll definitely let you know when my piece is up!

Love,

ML-X

Newsflash: Fashion Police Win!

Usually, I don’t really like the news because it’s pretty much always murder, politics and other bad/not interesting stuff. But this morning I came across an item that amused me so much, that I had to share it with you! Check it out;

In Prattville, Alabama, LaMarcus D. Ramsey was given a three-day jail sentence on Tuesday for contempt of court because his blue jeans were sagging too low.

Ramsey was in Autauga County Circuit Court to enter a plea on a charge of receiving stolen property, but Circuit Judge John Bush took exception Ramsey’s pants: “You are in contempt of court because you showed your butt in court.”

“You can spend three days in jail. When you get out you can buy pants that fit, or at least get a belt to hold up your pants so your underwear doesn’t show.”

(source)

Is this shit ridiculous or what? Now I have to say, I have a strong dislike for wearing your pants like that, it just looks awful, and I fully agree with the judge’s decision to put him in jail ;) But people do it freakin’ everywhere! Here in The Netherlands we call it “wearing your pants at 6:30”, since 6:30 is when the clock’s hands are at the lowest (although I think that 5:30 isn’t that much different).

This article also reminded me of an old colleague of mine, with whom I’ve worked for a while around three years ago. When I started working there, people were calling him “pants” all the time, and it took me a while to figure it out… But when I did, I was traumatized for life. How did I finally discover why they called him that? He bent over for some reason. In front of me. And all I saw was a huge, red… Ass. Oh yeah, “pants” was a “6:30 meets tight and colourful Björn Borg underwear” kind of man. Unfortunately, he was a tad overweight as well. They say “what has been seen, cannot be unseen” for a reason… :( And ever since, I’ve had a huge dislike for both 6:30 pants and Björn Borg undies.

What do you think of this guy’s fashion crime? Is it really worth punishment, or can you come up with something worse?

Thanks for reading!

Love,

ML-X

Crazy Dutchies: Part II

Our politicians have lost their minds. Supposedly, we need to cut back approximately 10 billion euros this year, on top of the cutbacks we’re already got. I guess that makes sense, if you (as a country) spend more than you actually have. I mean, just look at Greece and the shit they’re in these days. So fine, let’s cut back on a few things. Our politicians have already made a list of stuff to cut back on or make more money from:

1. Health Care
We used to have a really good health care system. Everybody over 18 used to pay an x-amount monthly, and in return, when they get ill, a lot of the expenses were covered. This system changed a little bit when I turned 18, with the main change being the monthly rate; it went up from around €40,- a month, to €100,- a month. On top of that, they decided that the “base insurance” was mandatory; everybody who didn’t have one, would get a fine. You did get to choose if you wanted any extra insurances, because the base one didn’t quite cover everything. You could also get some money back after a year if your expenses stayed under €250,- that year. In the years after that, the monthly rate went up and up and up while the base insurance covered less and less, and they even had a new idea: a mandatory “own risk” thing. The “own risk” was a kind of threshold; if you stayed under an x amount (it started around €120, and this year it’s €220), you had to pay most of your medical expenses yourself. Everything above that amount would be covered IF it was in your insurance kit. I guess this is “good” when your expenses are way over that threshold all the time, but I, for instance, spend maybe €60,- a year, if anything. So I pay €130 a month for a year, only to pay all my expenses myself anyway. Where’s the point in that? But it gets better: To make their cutbacks possible, they want to raise the “own risk” policy with another 25% next year. All in all, the mandatory insurances get more expensive, cover less, and when you’re not terminally ill you’re screwed. Way to go!

2. VAT (taxes)
Almost every country has a certain rate of VAT you pay over everything you buy. Here in the Netherlands, it’s either 6% (on food) or 19% (“luxury goods” like clothes and everything that’s not food). As if it’s not bad enough that 33%-52% of your well-earned salary goes to the tax administration office! And now they’re even thinking of raising the VAT rates! But wait, it gets even better…

3. Salaries
They want to freeze salaries! So combined with point #2 here, we’ll earn the same money, give the same amount to the tax administrations, and then give some more to them through VAT. What the fuck? Please do note that these ideas come from people who earn what, 300K yearly. If I had that amount of money, I wouldn’t mind freezing it either. The average yearly income for the rest of us is around €33.000 this year.

4. Mortgage
They’re bitching that the economy is so bad, that people hardly buy houses/apartments any more, but they want to skip the Mortgage Interest Deduction for everybody. The MID is a small amount (approximately €180 a month) you can get back from the tax administration office when you own a house/apartment. Despite being a small amount, it helps a lot of us; without it I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills, and a lot of people with me. And now they want to quit it. How can they expect that the rate of home sales can ever rise again? Sure, for people who have 50K houses it doesn’t matter, but again, what about the rest of us?

5. Education
The Netherlands were a pretty good country, educationwise. The government would cover an x amount of schooling money, leaving us with “only” a yearly fee of between €800 and €1700. This way, everybody who wanted to go to college, could do just that. Imagine all the possible benefits coming from us being super educated! But noooo… They’re cutting back on that as well. Partly, I understand: If you seriously need 5+ years to finish a 4-year college program, you’re stupid and wasting money anyway. But if you’re smart and super motivated and want to do another college course, you shouldn’t get screwed by having to pay €10.000 yearly to do that.

Days like this, I wish I was a politician. What I would do?

1. Cut back on politicians’ salaries. They don’t need 300K if the rest of us can manage with a lot less.
2. Take away the MID for houses over 4K. Again, a lot of us don’t even own a house that expensive.
3. Don’t buy the Joint Strike Fighter. We don’t need it. Hell, we don’t even have room for it.
4. Invest less in warfare.
5. Encourage education (within limits). Knowledge is power for a reason.

Anyway… Enough for today. Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed part II of this series.

Love,

ML-X

Newsflash: Chocolate Makes You Skinny!

Being an avid chocolate lover, you can imagine my surprise (and sheer delight) upon reading in the paper this morning that American scientists have discovered that eating chocolate seems to have huge dietary benefits. In other words; it doesn’t necessarily make you fat, it can even make you skinnier!

Delicious! And good for you as well!

In short, a couple of scientists from the University of California, San Diego, conducted a research, where they found that the subjects who ate chocolate had lower BMI’s, despite having a higher calorie intake. The scientists state that moderate chocolate intake leads to a lessened uptake of fat, which compensates for the extra calories. Of course, this counts for moderate chocolate eating only, so don’t even think of getting super slim by eating 200g bars at a time ;) You can find (an excerpt of) the article on the Archives of Internal Medicine website. It’s gotten me super curious, so I’m gonna try to get my hands on the entire article. Tips and suggestions are very welcome; I’ve lost all of my access to medical journals etc. after leaving Uni and I don’t feel like coughing up $30 for this article :( Better to spend it on chocolate!

But seriously, is that good news or what? It surely has made my day! So thank you, dear scientists from the University of California. I think your findings will make a lot of us very, very happy!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Love,

ML-X

Newsflash – Trains Going On Schedule!

I came across a news item on trains the other day. It stated that the NS (Dutch Railway Services) has gained a new record for trains being on schedule last year. While I was still in University, I had to go by train daily, and I’ve had many moments of frustration while doing so because of the trains simply not following their schedule. It used to be a huge nuisance, until I took a four week train trip across Eastern Europe with a friend.

We decided to go by train pretty much because we didn’t have any other options. Both of us didn’t have a drivers license, and I tended to go crazy on planes, which is not charming at all. So we took off one early Saturday morning, to go to Slovenia first. All good, had to switch trains a few times, but nothing unexpected, because we had that part planned out pretty well. We arrived in Slovenia after approximately 14 hours (which is, by the way, literally a pain in the ass time to be on a train!), and decided to stay there for a couple of days. After a day or two, we wanted to take a daytrip to Zagreb in Croatia, which is only a few hours by train from Ljubljana. All good again, until the part that the train had a breakdown of some sort, and didn’t cross the border into Croatia. Luckily, we were feeling adventurous, so we crossed the border by foot. At the time, that felt really awesome for some reason. After we crossed the border, and ended up on a small road, we started to look for the train station. After being questioned by the police -up until today no one knows why they stopped us- we finally found the station and continued our trip. Again, all good, and Zagreb was lovely!

A few days after that, we decided to continue our trip and go to Bosnia. We were supposed to take the same train to Zagreb, as we did last time, and switch to a train for Sarajevo there. No problem there, unless the train would break down again, but we guessed that they probably don’t break down that regularly and left. We had to switch trains somewhere in the middle of nowhere again, but there was some time in between them, so we just hung out and admired the nothingness. And the cows. After quite a bit of waiting, it seemed that the train we had to get, had a delay. When you live in The Netherlands, a delay is usually not longer dan 15 minutes; enough to be late, but not ridiculously late. Well… Guess what? In Slovenia, they last for at least an hour. I guess anywhere before that would just be marked as “in time”.

After quite a wait, a train to Zagreb finally arrived and we got on it. Once in Zagreb, it turned out we’d missed the connection to Sarajevo. Dutch as we were, we just figured to take the next one, since we’re used to having 4-8 trains to one place every hour, which is great because you never have to wait long for the next one. But, as you’ve probably guessed by now, in Croatia they don’t groove the same way. Not just a little, nooooo, they have a groove of their own: The next train to Sarajevo would leave the next day, meaning there was only one train going there every freakin’ 24 hours!

And that was just the first week of our trip… But this wouldn’t be a good story if there weren’t any morals, so here goes:

– If you’re ever thinking of taking a train trip outside of the European Union: DON’T. Their unscheduledness isn’t even the worst part of those trains. Their smell is.
– NS really isn’t that bad (unless there’s snow out there). They’re just ridiculously overpriced.

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little rant ;)

Love,

ML-X