January 3, 2022

Some of 24 Oranges’ most memorable posts

Filed under: Architecture,Bicycles,Dutch first,Gaming,General,History,Science,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:16 am

We started 24 Oranges in February 2007 and in late January 2022 it will become a column over at DutchNews.nl, also called 24 Oranges. After 4,100 posts under our belts, we might feel the need to post here every once in a while in the future, but have no current plans to continue. As two self-employed people, we’ve had to make sure we had enough work and energy to keep going, and honestly we just don’t these days.

Before we sign off indefinitely, let’s look back at a few of the stories that we still talk about in no particular order.

1. A beautifully preserved Jewish home in Amsterdam

We didn’t break this story, but we scooped all the Dutch media in getting the right to use pictures, which we’re very proud of. All we did was ask nicely, while other media tried to ask us, which was odd because we didn’t have the rights.

Recently discovered Jewish interior will not be wrecked for now.

2. The Dutch neighbourhood built by the Nazis

It’s not the province of Limburg’s fault for being a few kilometres from the Germany border. In this case, the city of Heerlen, which was occupied back in the day, has an entire neighbourhood with an eerie Dutch look on the outside, but efficient spaces for families on the inside.

Visiting a neighbourhood built by Hitler.

3. Diehard elderly Frisian man finishes 240 km bike race

Statistically, our cycling stories have always done well since we have the biggest this and the first that when it comes to bikes. Here’s a story about elderly Frisian man Wiebe Idsinga finishing a 240 km bike tour as the last man cycling, but he finished it. Watch the video in the link below.

Diehard elderly Frisian man finishes 240 km bike race.

4. Friesland home to world’s oldest working planetarium

This story made me finally visit the Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker in 2020 at a time when museums where one of the few things open. I even bought a booklet in French to send to my engineer father who knows it off by heart. It was one of the most impressive things I’ve every seen, and I’m happy to say it will become UNESCO heritage in 2023.

Friesland home to world’s oldest working planetarium.

5. Man found not guilty after blacking out hospital

This gaming story went around the world, and it’s truly the kind of weird news we liked to write about. A man shut down a hospital during a psychotic episode, thinking he was playing Silent Hill. The gaming community helped this story go viral.

Man found not guilty after blacking out hospital.

6. A French Canadian soldier single-handedly freed Zwolle

I wrote this story while visiting my parents in Québec, and anytime I could write a story that had a Canadian and Dutch angle to it, I did. This story is incredible to say the least, and people in Zwolle absolutely know who Léo Major is to this day.

The French Canadian soldier who freed Zwolle.

7. Fertility doctor uses his own sperm

A creepy story about a doctor who might have produced about 60 children, a story that had sequels in the media. The doctor died and then everybody scrambled to try and find out if they were one of his kids, with all the legal red tape this entails.

Dutch fertility doctor bragged about using his sperm.

8. Sexist advert denigrates Dutch women and men

After publishing this I got a call from Nyenrode Business Universiteit asking us why we were picking on them. I said many things, including they have openly assumed that managers are all dumb straight men and that women can’t be taken seriously. The man confessed his wife told him the same thing and they eventually pulled the advert.

Sexist advert denigrates Dutch women and men.

9. Photoshoot with original Leeuwenhoek microscope and specimens

Although Leeuwenhoek’s specimens have been imaged before, this was the first time that the latest digital techniques have been applied to the surviving specimens. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek from Delft, one of the world’s first microbiologists, had a special collection of specimens. Follow the link to get the whole story.

Photoshoot with original Leeuwenhoek microscope and specimens.

10. Subsidizing astrologers for job seekers raises eyebrows

I remember this story pissing off quite a bit of Dutch folks in the category throwing money out the window. Some government re-integration projects for the unemployed included help from astrologers, tarot readers, and folks that talk to space aliens.

Subsidizing astrologers for job seekers raises eyebrows.

Take good care of yourselves and each other, thanks for checking us out!

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September 19, 2021

This window sticker threatens to shoot you

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:03 pm

Orangemaster and I came across this sticker on a window overlooking the back alley of taco bar Mr. Haz in the Jordaan neighbourhood of Amsterdam.

It shows a drawing of a revolver pointed straight at the viewer and a text that reads “Beveiligd door” (“Secured by”), followed by a company name and phone number.

I had to chuckle. Security guards in the Netherlands are not allowed to carry arms, making this is a crude joke or an announcement that the security company staff are worse than the people they are supposed to stop. It strikes me as variant of the sticker that contains a picture of a dog and the text “hier waak ik” (“I guard this place”) – except of course that guard dogs are legal.

Recently, there have been voices from the Dutch security industry, especially from the so-called BOAs (community service officers), asking to be armed (Dutch).

(Photo: Orangemaster)

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June 1, 2021

Single mother turns to crowdfunding for house

Filed under: General,Online,Weird by Orangemaster @ 4:15 pm

It’s only getting tougher to find a house to buy in The Netherlands. There’s a lack of affordable houses, often bought up at hundreds of thousands of euro above the asking price (according to Dutch news show Nieuwsuur on 31 May 2021), more often than not by investors who will subdivided the houses into small and make tons off renting them. By the way, this practice should be heavily restricted in 2022 if all goes as planned.

Nathalie, 40, lives alone with her daughter, a dog and a bunny in 46 square metres and pays €950 in rent before utilities. She pays more than most, and less than some. However, she is unable to put money aside to buy a house and cannot get social housing because her salary is often just above the limit. Many people are in similar situations.

Since she cannot find a house, she has decided to try her hand at crowdfunding to raise €1 million from 1 million people. “If everyone sends a euro, I’ll soon have my dream house.” Of course, social media has made mince meat of her cry for help, but I’ll give her points for trying and being honest about it. As I write this, she has raised €7.530, with about a year to go for the rest.

Back in 2005, Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald bartered his way from a single red paperclip to a house in a series of fourteen online trades over the course of a year and everybody through he was brilliant, just saying.

(Link: waarmaarraar.nl, Photo: designboom.com)

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March 19, 2021

Amsterdam guys build brown cafe in flat

Filed under: Architecture,Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 11:01 am

Like countless others, twentysomethings Amsterdam residents Max and James really miss going to the cafe (pub/bar) and having a beer. So much so that they built their own Amsterdam-style cafe in their flat on the third floor. It’s in a corner with the washing machine, and it’s 2.5 x 2.5 metres.

The DIY brown café includes Amstel beer (brewed by Heineken), brown laminate planks, heavy curtains and ‘prullaria’ (knick-knacks). Cafe Van Dissel, named after Jaap van Dissel, Director of the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (aka RIVM), also has rules: not too much messing with your phone, you have to hang up your jacket even if it’s in half in the way when you sit down, for the real experience. They only serve Dutch bar food and beer, so no cocktails or other ‘fancy’ things. However, for Dutch jenever and Berenburg they’ll gladly look the other way.

The first visit is free, and you’re expected to bring a gift for the second. They even have a hard boiled egg holder (like those cupcake holders but for eggs) and are hoping for traditional Dutch table carpet (yes, carpet, not cloth).

I’m now rethinking my own Tiki bar plans.

(Link: ad.nl)

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March 16, 2021

Someone recreated Amsterdam in Cities Skylines and it’s amazing

Filed under: Design,Gaming,General by Orangemaster @ 10:34 am

A video by SEB Urban Design provides an overview of Amsterdam recreated in video game Cities Skylines. It claims to include all tourist destinations, parks and transport. The goal was to strive for realism and a close simulation of the real situation (the tram sounds are spot on).

Besides praise, we’re all wondering how long this took and we’ve noticed things we’d like to add. There’s some nice lingering on the Rijksmuseum, a very different take on Dam Square and a beautifully uncluttered Amsterdam Central Station. The canal houses are straight, the streets are super clean and you need to watch this video.

The two main parks near 24oranges HQ are there, and that’s good enough for us.

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March 2, 2021

Nijmegen has dildos glued on mailboxes

Filed under: General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 2:34 pm


Nobody in Nijmegen, Gelderland seems to be fazed by someone who has been going around gluing various dildos to mailboxes, another combination of words that we never thought we’d use in our lifetime. It’s bad behaviour and funny at the same time.

Apparently, the mailboxes weren’t damaged, but the police was told about the dildos by postal workers. The Dutch call the person doing this a ‘dildo-plakker’ (‘dildo-gluer’) and nobody knows anything about them.

And why are they doing this? Nobody knows. Someone removed the black dildo in the above picture.

The ‘dildo-gluer’ is still around and has not been caught.

We will look back on this and realise the world has gone nuts, pardon the weak pun.

(Link and photo: indebuurt.nl)

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February 2, 2021

Iranian spy and terrorist stayed at Dutch hotel unencumbered

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 1:09 pm

Flag of Iran

Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old Iranian diplomat wanted by Belgian authorities for spying and terrorism, apparently stayed at a hotel in Meppel, Drente without any problems.

According to books in the hands of Flemish broadcaster VRT, Assadi stayed at Hotel de Poort, across the street from the Meppel train station. Hotel owner Henk van Duinen has not been able to find any record of the stay from five years ago. The Dutch authorities knew nothing of Assadi’s visit to Meppel either.

Assadi was arrested in Germany, and is facing a 20-year sentence. He’s been held in a Belgian prison awaiting the verdict in his trial next Thursday. It has recently emerged that while in custody he was visited by his superiors from Tehran. Apparently, he also gave other spies and terrorists instructions.

The Iranian frequented public spaces in many smaller European cities such as Meppel where he made appointments at tourist spots. The data reveal a predilection for meetings outside castles and fortresses. The only notable person I know from Meppel is my bookkeeper.

(Links: vrt.be, rtvdrenthe.nl, Image of Flag of Iran, some rights reserved)

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January 4, 2021

Dutch American Greg Shapiro’s 2020 in review

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 4:28 pm

Dutch American comedian, author and voice talent Greg Shapiro, best known as a member of the comedy group Boom Chicago and his viral Trump imitation, has produced two fun videos on the year 2020.

Yes, Greg does mentions that the Dutch will start vaccinating… as the last of all EU countries. And who gets vaccinated first keeps mutating as well. I think the Dutch government is phoning it in (‘making it up’) as they get pushed forward by the tide like a crushed sea shell on a deserted Dutch beach.

And this picture is a ski vacation nobody is having this winter.

2020 Year in Review – PART ONE | Greg Shapiro’s ‘United States of Europe’:

Dutch Late to Vaccinate? 2020 Year in Review pt 2 | Greg Shapiro’s United States of Europe

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December 31, 2020

The year 2020 on 24oranges – my favourite stories

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:55 am

Like every year I present you my favourite stories of the past twelve months.

As you might expect, there will be some coverage of the health crisis below. However, what might surprise you is that my top story is not a post, but a month. A virus makes a lousy protagonist, but a great prism. The things we take for granted can suddenly be seen in a different light. In April we only wrote covid-themed posts: about an artist stuck in the country because of the virus, about the impact on unsold potatoes and about the oldest survivor of the disease.

Another tale from the trenches was that of a Belgian beer store that suddenly found itself involuntarily included in a Dutch lockdown when Belgium closed its border with the Netherlands for non-essential traffic in May. At that time Bart Cuypers’ Bierparadijs could only be reached through the Netherlands.

Amsterdam and Utrecht have been inspecting their canal walls over the past year, and it was about time. In Amsterdam, one such wall actually collapsed in September. On the other hand, Utrecht ended up in the news when the city used ground-penetrating radar and found that there may be as many as 60 still undiscovered wharf cellars.

I don’t know which YouTuber taught me this, either Justin Rosniak or Not Just Bikes, but apparently it’s easier to find funds for large infrastructure projects (which require ribbon cuttings, flag placings and other assorted photo opportunities for politicians) than it is for day to day operations. That’s why things like the biggest bike bridge in Europe fill me with unease when I read about them. If we didn’t need such bridges before, then where did this suddenly spring from?

Other posts that tickled my fancy:

And finally, what should in a way be the ironic news of the year: Dutch shortage of medical devices on the horizon. Published in January, when covid-19 was still considered strictly a Chinese affair, the lesson here seems to be that we should not let capitalism be our only compass for value. Did we learn from it?

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December 25, 2020

Christmas time at 24oranges HQ

Filed under: General,Music by Orangemaster @ 1:50 pm

What a year! Who doesn’t need a break? We really do.

As far as postings go, we had a tough time keeping up in general this year, but a lot stuff has been sorted to be able to post more regularly. We’ve upgraded a lot of things in the background.

It’s Christmas day now, and the plan is to eat easy-to-make yet but nice Christmas food and watch a few Christmas classics.

Like every year, co-blogger Branko will come up with a list of his favourite stories of 2020, which should be online at some point.

If you need very different Christmas music, there’s always our friends at Christmas a Go Go!

Happy Holidays from 24oranges HQ! Stay safe and stay sane!

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