geekery, drawing and then some

Happy drawings

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This week I made two drawings for two family-related projects. I don't think any of my family reads my site anyway, so I'll post them here tonight (they'll see them tomorrow)

I've started to get the hang of colouring the background before the foreground. Usually I want to jump right ahead to the fun parts in the foreground, colour those and make them look nice.

Doing the background first brings on a new challenge. Before I based my background-colour on what I used in the foreground. Having to start with the background means I have to think more about the colours I use in the foreground, and I don't always do that.

Ah well, still learning, I guess ;)

I like these drawings.



I’ve trained a lot over the past months and I have finished up the official part of my physical therapy. I started out with cycling on my stationary bike for a mere minute or two and worked my way up to some sort-of-serious cycling. I do still need to take breaks every five to ten minutes because I get tired, and I certainly need to keep myself from overdoing it, but I can do some cycling.

Roughly six weeks ago, when the cycling started to look better and improving my health a bit, I ordered myself a Brompton bike 1 . I took six weeks to arrive, in which I cycled and cycled. Then, a week ago, I finally received the call that the bike arrived and naturally I rushed to the bike-shop 2 . I rushed a bit too fast as they still had to prepare my bike and do their regular tests. I waited patiently while they preformed their tests, and they kindly attached my bike-computer and bike-cage.

I hopped on it, and cycled home from the shop; a good 7.2 kilometres. I took breaks and walked while I crossed some streets because I couldn’t handle all the traffic. Before that day I hadn’t cycled in a little over ten years, an amazing event in this country ;) Halfway I stopped checking the map and cycled on instinct and mostly little signs that pointed to my neighbourhood. I happily arrived home, having seen more of my neighbourhood than I normally do.

Since last week I’ve cycled lots. Too much actually, and I crashed a bit a few days ago. I do like that I cycled so much and I really love my bike. It gives me more freedom to go places. I have cycled to the nearby shopping center, which I usually go to by bus. When I take the bus it takes me five minutes to get to the bus-stop, then I sit in the bus for fifteen minutes (after usually waiting for at least five minutes), and then I walk a few minutes more. By bike, it takes ten minutes–which of course doesn’t include taking the bike down and storing it somewhere upon arrival.

We’ve had great weather the last week, and both Nano and I enjoy taking the bike out and going for a ride. She can sit in the front basket (hooked up in her harness) or runs beside it.

So far, my bike has made my year :D

  1. In case you wonder why I bought a folding bike and not a proper bike: I do not have any storage in my building which means the bike has to stand somewhere inside my flat. A brompton folds up nicely into my hallway-cupboard

  2. I got my bike at Tromm Tweewielers, a very nice bike-shop in Amsterdam. 

Still drawing

Swing !

I haven't done much drawing but I did do a happy one recently that I haven't posted yet.

I drew this one on a rainy day right after a really sunny day. Aaah, sunshine! Swings!


Step 1: refuse

I got into a bit of a drawing-funk and as soon as I mentioned it, it got better. Funny how that works.

Recently, I've re-injected some of my focus and energy into creating less waste. I (briefly) participated in Rodale's Plastic Free Challenge (in February) and researched the Dutch recycling system. I found out that (according to the official numbers) we recycle 90% of our paper / cardboard. Not bad!

With plastic we do less well. Until recently we had no real plastic recycling facilities. Some cities do post-collection separation (like Amsterdam, where I live) and some do consumer separation, where people separate their plastic trash. Not much of this really gets recycled and they ship it to Germany to begin with (from what I understand) and incinerate the non-recyclables. Not ideal, but you have to start somewhere I guess.

I've looked into ways to make less waste (of any type, mostly plastic because that never ever goes away and burning it doesn't really do any good either) and this morning I decided to start drawing the four steps with which I believe I can make a difference:

  1. Refuse
  2. Reduce
  3. Reuse
  4. Recycle



Before the other three steps, you can start by simply refusing. No, I don't want a paper or plastic cup to drink my drink from. No, I don't want throw away plastic cutlery. No, I don't want a plastic straw. No, I don't want a plastic bag. No, I don't want throw away containers for my food.

Somehow we ended up in a situation where people look at you funnily when you don't want something, even if it's free and you can simply throw it away! I brought my own bag for quite some time now, and it still surprises me how much some people insist on the plastic bag. They'll tell me my purchase won't fit in my bag. Since I've had it for a while, I have a good idea of what will fit and what not and one single shirt will always fit. I will stomp it down so hard it'll fit, thanks :)

Most of us -- myself included -- spend a lot of time in a consumer coma, consuming without thinking, without looking, without caring. I have no idea how we can break that cycle easily, however, I have decided that I do care about the food I eat, and I do care about how I treat my body, and my surroundings. I bring my own food (in my own container and with my own napkin and my own cutlery) because I care about what food I put into my body, and by bringing my own things I control my waste (which I won't have because I reuse my cutlery and containers).

Check out this video on YouTube by Beth Terry from My Plastic-free Life and see if you squee like I did when she pulled out her backpack (because that's the kind of girl she is -- me too! me too!)

For products that might help with refusing (and naturally, only go buy something if you don't already have a proper solution, but myeah... I know...):

drinking bottles / mugs

  • Klean Kanteen (stainless steel in various sizes and thermos-mugs, also with stainless steel caps so no plastic touches your drink, if you care about that)
  • Sigg (mostly aluminium, but also stainless steel and thermos-mugs)
  • Purica Steel (steel, also thermos-bottles)
  • Thermos (take a wild guess what they make)

storage containers for lunch or freezer / fridge

  • LunchBots (lunchboxes of stainless steel, as drawn in the bottom right corner)
  • To-go ware (tiffins and cutlery)

a little bit of everything

  • Life Without Plastic (sells a variety of plastic-free products, including containers, cutlery, bags etc)
  • Reuse it (sells a variety of reusable products, containers, bottles, bags etc)


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I took part in the Sketchbook Project 2011 Tour recently, and after some delay in receiving the book (the first one got lost in the mail, and the nice people of the Art House co-op promptly sent me a new one) I got started. I didn't have the energy to fill it up in the allotted time-frame, so I ended it by inviting readers to draw along. I hope they do and send me photos! :D

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Review: Little Brother

Little BrotherLittle Brother by [Cory Doctorow](http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12581.Cory_Doctorow.thumbnail.jpg "Little BrotherLittle Brother by Cory Doctorow") My rating: ★★★★★

As '1984' did, this book left me feeling slightly paranoid, and I mean that in a good way. I found this an easy read, it pulled me in and I really wanted to read the ending (a happier one than 1984 had). The last few pages of the book contain the URLs for websites which have more info about the hacks done in the book itself, I appreciated that thoroughness.

A few times I seemed to have missed things that I probably should have read between the lines (which I suck at) which made the story a bit jumpy for me, but overall I enjoyed the 'voice' of the book. I thought I wouldn't get into a story about a bunch of 17-year olds and liked that I did.

Now excuse me while I go faraday my backpack...

View all my reviews

Review: 1984

19841984 by [George Orwell](http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3706.George_Orwell.thumbnail.jpg "19841984 by George Orwell") My rating: ★★★★★

This book left me feeling slightly haunted and paranoid, which I believe the writer intended. Although I don't think we find ourselves in the same society today as the one portrayed in the book, I definitely see similarities. At the first mention of the 'victory cigarettes' (or coffee) I thought of 'victory fries', or 'freedom fries;' I forget which one really happened ;)

Ironically, while finishing the book I read about the rewrite of Mark Twain's 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' and 'Tom Sawyer' to exclude a certain word and replace it by another (not quite the same). Hello, Newspeak!

At times I thought the book went on a bit (specifically the parts where they read from The Book) and I had to struggle to get through it; nothing I hold against the book though, it seemed to fit the story.

The rebellions of Winston and Julia seemed small when held against today's society, however, they already lived in theirs for a long time and didn't know any better. Although I hoped for another ending, the way the book ended added to the haunting feeling I had.

It all does not seem very unlikely to happen.

View all my reviews

Books to read

I recently ordered an e-reader and because it did cost quite a bit more than a book I decided to challenge myself by first reading enough free books to compensate for its price. By free I really mean free, either public domain books or free as decided by the author. This means I've decided on reading a lot of classics I've either read as a kid (in Dutch) or 'always wanted to read'.

I discovered GoodReads and created a list of books to read. I planned on having 42 books on there -- we all know 42 is the only correct number -- and ended up with 44. I'll leave the extra two on, so I can skip a book or two because they suck.

Check out my readinglist: my before-buying-ebooks shelf: Tanja's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (before-buying-ebooks shelf)

Also, I created a reading list page with links to books I've read and books I want to read. I spent the day geeking out and tweaking Goodreads-wordpress-plugins so I can have my shelves show up nicely.

Very excited, it got shipped today and should arrive tomorrow. Snow might interfere so keeping my fingers crossed!

Meet Semli

Semli .

She lives in the forest in a house between the roots of a big old tree. She likes feathers and playing.

Her father likes fishing and cooking, her mother builds things. Mostly furniture.