Netherlands and more

Blog about life in Holland (and a lot of other stuff)


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(In)offensive Dutch

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Photo by JillWellington.

It’s a known fact some common words in one language may sound pretty rude or even offensive in another. Furthermore, some words in the same language can be confusing.

Take Dutch and English.

If, for example, one typed “Buurvrouw, wat een mooie koolmezen, maar wat doet mijn haan op uw ezel?” into Google Translate, he’d be presented the following translation:

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Inflatable treasure

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Today I’ve received a parcel from the almighty AliExpress. A pretty puzzling one.

You’d be puzzled, too. What do you think an “inflatable treasure” is?

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Charge your mobile by swinging

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Photo by Koen Laureij.

The Dutch will never stop to impress me with their ingenuity.

Being sustainable is now trending in Europe—and in Holland in particular. So in June 2019 my client, NS, has installed a special kind of swing at the Utrecht Centraal railway station.

This new attraction was presented during the “Sustainability Week” (Duurzame Week), and it can charge your mobile phone!

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Sugar cylinders and coffee hemispheres

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Today I’ve experienced a real paradigm shift. As I’ve found out, cubes are not the only shape you find sugar formed into (which has been my conviction for more then four decades to now). There also exist sugar cylinders!

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My entrepreneurship ‣ VAT number for zzp’ers is (finally) to be replaced

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Each legal entity in the Netherlands receives a special identification number called btw-nummer shortly after the registration (btw is Dutch for “value-added tax”).

This number is necessary for invoicing, both domestic and international, and—obviously—for VAT payments.

So what’s so special about it? Well, it turns out that if you’re a self-employed entrepreneur, your VAT number is based upon your BSN identifier. Which is quite a blunder from the privacy point of view.

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Querying any vehicle’s data by its number plate

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The Netherlands has a public service that provides information about nearly any vehicle registered in the country, given its number plate.

The service is called OVI (Online Voertuig Informatie or “Online Vehicle Information”) and is being run by the State Traffic Service RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer), whose responsibility encompasses road infrastructure as well as vehicle certification, including mandatory periodic checkups (APK).

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