Archive for July, 2008


Page-a-day calendar wisdom

“An uncomfortable feeling is merely an indication that you are about to learn something.”

And I ask: was the toilet really the most suitable place to hang this calendar?



Deze zin is toch belachelijk:

Tevens gaat Aanbieder er, door ondertekening van de Eigen Verklaring, mee akkoord dat Bedrijf X, de financiƫle situatie van Aanbieder kan laten toetsen bij een extern bureau.

Laten we woorden anders gewoon in stukken hakken en hele zinsdelen er, mocht het op een goed moment toevallig zo uitkomen, tussen proppen. En ook nog onnodige komma’s toevoegen, want dat is, leuk.


Forays into Dutch poetry

Whilst in Berlin last week, D. introduced me to a 4000-verse Dutch poem called “May”, by romantic poet Herman Gorter. Upon the subsequent discovery that there is as yet no English translation of this poem, I promptly set about creating one, and yesterday I managed to complete a draft of the first verse:

A new spring, and a new sound fills the air;
I would my song to whistling could compare
That oft I heard on the canals at night
In summer, in an old town, when the light
Inside the house was gone; The quiet street
Was gath’ring dusk. The evening sky, replete,
Would cast its light across facades until
Its golden shine fell on my window-sill.
And then a young boy, like an organ pipe,
Would fill the air with notes that shook as ripe
As youngling cherries in the woods in spring,
When winds pick up and go a-journeying.
O’er bridges and at water’s edge he drifted,
And whistling all the while, spirits lifted,
Like a young bird, content and unaware
Of its own gladness at the evening air.
Tired souls at table listened as they smiled,
As to a story first heard as a child,
And hands at window-shutters, at a snatch
Of the boy’s tune, would pause before the latch.

For Dutch speakers who don’t know (or have) the poem, here’s the original:

Een nieuwe lente en een nieuw geluid:
Ik wil dat dit lied klinkt als het gefluit,
Dat ik vaak hoorde voor een zomernacht,
In een oud stadje, langs de watergracht —
In huis was ‘t donker, maar de stille straat
Vergaarde schemer, aan de lucht blonk laat
Nog licht, er viel een gouden blanke schijn
Over de gevels in mijn raamkozijn.
Dan blies een jongen als een orgelpijp,
De klanken schudden in de lucht zoo rijp
Als jonge kersen, wen een lentewind
In ‘t boschje opgaat en zijn reis begint.
Hij dwaald’ over de bruggen, op den wal
Van ‘t water, langzaam gaande, overal
Als ‘n jonge vogel fluitend, onbewust
Van eigen blijheid om de avondrust.
En menig moe man, die zijn avondmaal
Nam, luisterde, als naar een oud verhaal,
Glimlachend, en een hand die ‘t venster sloot,
Talmde een pooze wijl de jongen floot.

Criticism (constructive or otherwise) is more than welcome!


Cubes (and a couple of snub disphenoids)

The other day, my good friend M. gave me a present, just for being me. And as if that wasn’t fantastic enough, it was even something I liked! Well, something I adore to death would be more precise. Here it is:



It’s called a Neocube. What you’re looking at is 216 small, individual but devilishly magnetic balls that have here been arranged to form a cube. Getting it to look like that is quite a feat, since the balls just do their own thing most of the time, but after some practice it gets much easier. Here’s a funky video of some other stuff this sucker can do:

And it seems like more people are quick on the uptake: here is the neocube, pictured with other cube presents I have received in the past year:

What are my friends trying to tell me? Here they are again, after Phil and I had created art out of them with the addition of a tuning fork:



Ah, the life of a freelance translator. And of course, this wouldn’t be a Brentusfirmus post on geometry without the appearance of a snub disphenoid or two. And on the train on the way back from Berlin last Monday, I discovered that 216 balls is exactly enough to make two of them. Here they are, nestled quietly on a copy of Eugene Onegin in Dutch:

And one more picture of the neocube, this time incognito beside an exquisite deep-fried Dutch bitterbal: