"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

The temperature on Monday, 1st May was something like 6 degrees, and then on Wednesday, 3rd May it was suddenly 25-27 degrees. With the effect of the sun, on some days I even felt hot. Once I used my umbrella (having a shiny silver upper side, it was ideally suited to reflect solar rays), and I think people looked at me funny. Meanwhile other people were sitting or lying on the grass, with mats or otherwise; I understand why they like to do it, but why they don bikinis and suntan in the park is beyond me (maybe the sea is too far away). Doubtless more will come in summer while I search for igloos to hide in.

Meanwhile this week it's back down - this time to what I assume to be a typical Spring temperature of the high-10s in the day and mid-10s at night again. Gee. I like the cold, but not the rain which seems to come with it (it was quite dry during the 2 warm weeks). I need to get into the habit of checking the temperature before I go out since it isn't cold all the time anymore (or hot all the time, like in a certain Southeast Asian country), which is why I've installed the Forecastfox Firefox extension.

I was quite worried when it was hot, but I found that it was just tolerable in the shade even if it was 27 outside, lack of fans and air-conditioning notwithstanding. I hope I won't have to buy a fan in summer. As it was, during the weeks when the temperature was in the 20s, my window was as open as could be, yet I often felt warm, even at night.

With the warmer temperatures, and especially during the first 2 weeks of May when the temperature was in the mid or even high twenties, I've been seeing more and more women cycling in skirts. Now, during what was essentially Winter (April and before), such people could be seen but they were few in number, practically all wore leggings and none had SACSAL-length skirts.

Before I came here I didn't think it was possible to cycle in a skirt (since you will zao geng), but Dutch women have taught me how (in a manner of speaking), by employing a mixture of the following strategies:

- Wear longer skirts (not SACSAL length)
- Don't go so high on the upstroke
- Keep one or even both hands on your skirt so it won't fly or ride up
- Don't go so fast
- Keep your legs close together
- Place a basket in a strategic place
- Wear shorts inside (I swear I saw something inside at least once - this is what happens when you walk to get around)
- Wear loose/free form skirts instead of A-line ones
- Wear sunglasses (the Ostrich solution)
- Trust that people will see you jiggling instead
- Just zaogeng anyway since anyone who might see anything is within seconds of being run down by you, going at a typically Dutch speed

In any case, the inevitable finally happened. I'm only surprised it didn't happen sooner.

I bought a parsley plant for my room at Aldi (€0,49). Among other things, some ideas I had:

- I can use it for cooking
- It can produce oxygen in the day and asphyxiate me at night
- I can perform the experiment where it grows towards the light
- It adds colour and vibrance to the room

Other suggestions I got:

- "rub it on yr skin. it looks good"
- "it can attract bugs to liven up your living experience."; "good source of oxalic acid ;) edible, but is also a diuretic-- if you eat too much (normal amounts are fine though) you can get kidney stones they say :) plus, it's part of the TCA cycle. :)"
- "poke it when u feel bored"; "make love with it when u feeling horny~"
- "you can taste it under different soil conditions"
- "I thought you meant that you'd bought a hemp plant. wtf would you buy a parsley plant"
- "u can add it to ur chicken rice"
- "you can talk to it"
- "uhh, it smells good?"
- "ur doing ur bit for nature :)"

I could have gotten chives and basil too, but I don't use the former and the latter has a strong smell (also, I've a bottle of Italiaanse Kruiden [Italian herbs]).

Watering it will be a chore though. I won't bother with fertiliser - at most I can buy another pot at Aldi.

So far I've killed 2-3 small flying bugs.

Someone: don't you have to water the plant and take care of it etc?
so ma fan
meh, anyhow water lor.

Me: yeah watering is ma fan. no need fertiliser lah. at most buy another tub at aldi

Someone: omg they say how you treat your plants is how you'd treat a significant other.

There's a Requiem special at the Vredenburg Muziekcentrum on the 27th - Mozart's and Cornelius's requiems and Bruckner Zwei Aequale and Libera Me. A pity I'll be in Germany.

Orkestenserie 1: Gouden Meesterwerken
Beethoven - Ouverture Leonore III
Beethoven - Pianoconcert nr. 5 'Kaiser'
Beethoven - Symfonie nr. 4

I was struck by the sea of white hair and shining heads in the concert hall. At least 90% seemed to qualify for the senior discount (for those 65 and above - probably many wouldn't be there without the discount). This was the oldest concert audience I'd ever seen, and especially striking considering Utrecht is a college city.

I was seated above the orchestra and to their right, so I got a good view of everyone, including the timpani man.

Beethoven is always good to listen to. The program didn't seem very demanding - the piano soloist was also the conducter, and during the piano concerto he could even play with one hand and conduct with the other (to say nothing of how he conducted with his eyes even when both his hands were occupied).

Oddly, everyone clapped at the end of the first and second movements of the piano concerto. They didn't do that during the Symphony, though.

Jennifer Tham says that it's harder to sing softly than loudly. I think the same applies to orchestral playing as well. I was struck by the tenderness of the start of the Symphony's 2nd movement. Somehow even the Karajan recording I have isn't that evocative, so it's probably the effect of being there in person and hearing it live.

Symphony 4 isn't as famous as the rest, but I'm quite sure if someone else had composed it it'd have gotten wide acclaim. I think I like the Leonore overture the best of the 3 pieces, though. But then, overtures always distill the best of the opera into a compact piece.
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