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Wednesday, 23 April 2014
The 1970s


Sometimes when travelling to a different place you have the feeling of going back in time.

Posted by bigblue on 23/04/2014 at 03:15 PM
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Friday, 22 February 2013
Royal Tat

So the Windsor family aren’t the only royals of Europe selling tacky merchandise - the current/soon-to-be-ex queen of the Netherlands is Beatrix, while the pepermints feature her grandmother. Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948 in favour of her daughter Juliana, who in turn abdicated in 1980 in favour of Beatrix.

Posted by bigblue on 22/02/2013 at 07:38 AM
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Thursday, 21 February 2013
A Dutch Cow


100% not horse.

Posted by bigblue on 21/02/2013 at 07:20 AM
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Wednesday, 20 February 2013
A self-portrait of sorts


Somewhere on the outskirts of Amsterdam last week.

Posted by bigblue on 20/02/2013 at 07:42 AM
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Friday, 24 June 2011

I managed to get a birds eye view of Rotterdam on the way home this week.

Posted by bigblue on 24/06/2011 at 07:40 AM
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Thursday, 23 June 2011
The Shortest Night

I took this time-lapse video from my hotel room in Rotterdam this week.  It’s a bit disappointing that the lens is reflected in the window ... oh well, this was my first attempt to do this with the iPad.

Posted by bigblue on 23/06/2011 at 02:41 PM
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Monday, 20 December 2010


And so snow strikes chaos in the UK, in a way that a terrorist attack could never.  I was reading some accounts of passengers experiences and a few things struck me. A common refrain seems to be:

It’s not the weather that’s the problem, it’s the way they’ve handled the people…..
We’ve been left to fend for ourselves.

I too have had similar experiences at UK airports. The ones that stick in my mind are the storm in 2000 when my flight was delayed 24 hours and I was stranded at Gatwick airport, and the time when my late-night flight into the UK was delayed en route for 2 hours and by the time we disembarked the baggage handlers’ shift had finished and they had gone home.  (Our baggage was delivered the following day). A common thread in my experiences has been airline and airport staff who don’t know how to handle emergencies and unhappy customers. They appeared reluctant to give us full information about the nature of the problem, they did not want to discuss the situation, they did not want to hear customer complaints, and they were generally unhelpful.


A year ago today (almost) I was stuck at railway stations and airports in the Netherlands due to a severe snowstorm. I spent two days trekking across the (little) country and although I was inconvenienced my way was always smoothed by the staff who knew how to deal with complaints and angry passengers. I was frustrated and (am sorry to say now) that I took out my frustrations at the people who were trying to make the passengers’ lives less miserable.  I also noticed other people “ranting” at the airport/railway staff but the staff handled us at all times with aplomb. They showed empathy for their customers. Various people have put forward definitions for empathy, such as:

The capacity to know emotionally what another is experiencing from within the frame of reference of that other person, the capacity to sample the feelings of another or to put one’s self in another’s shoes.
[D. M. Berger]

A sense of similarity in feelings experienced by the self and the other, without confusion between the two individuals.
[Jean Decety]

An affective response that stems from the apprehension or comprehension of another’s emotional state or condition, and that is similar to what the other person is feeling or would be expected to feel.
[Nancy Eisenberg]

To empathize means to share, to experience the feelings of another person.
[R. R. Greenson]

The ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand her emotions and feelings. 
[Alvin Goldman]

An affective response more appropriate to another’s situation than one’s own. 
[Martin Hoffman]

These definitions also make me think of Emotional Inteligence.  Is it not time that businesses in the UK started to teach their employees to empathise with their customers?  Apparently this should start with the managers learning to empathise with their staff.

Posted by bigblue on 20/12/2010 at 07:42 AM
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Saturday, 03 July 2010
Smoking zone


When I walked through Erasmus University recently, I noticed a semi-enclosed smoking zone outside (and across the road) from one of the main buildings. Erasmus University is named after Desiderius Erasmus

of Rotterdam (who) was a Dutch Renaissance humanist and a Catholic priest and theologian. His scholarly name Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus comprises the following three elements: the Latin noun desiderium (“longing” or “desire”; the name being a genuine Late Latin name); the Greek adjective ἐράσμιος (erásmios) meaning “desired”, and, in the form Erasmus, also the name of a St. Erasmus of Formiae; and the Latinized adjectival form for the city of Rotterdam (Roterodamus = “of Rotterdam”).

I was also interested to read the following on Wikipedia:

Erasmus lived through the Reformation period and he consistently criticized some contemporary popular Christian beliefs. In relation to clerical abuses in the Church, Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church from within.

La plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

I had a look at the University website and found that they have a number of smoking zones some of which are inside the campus buildings.

Posted by bigblue on 03/07/2010 at 08:11 AM
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