Black Hole Detected on Edge of Milky Way. The Dutch Postal System. #NederlandsePost #PostNL #PTT #Brief

My first experience with the cross-border mail delivery capabilities of the Dutch postal system date back thirty years. I had just moved to Germany, and Dutch friends sent me a gift. The box arrived, but the contents had been removed through a gaping hole in the side. This observation of the damage had been written on the package by a German postal worker at a delivery center on the border. I filed a complaint, with no effect. This was my first encounter with the consistently malfunctioning Dutch postal system, a country that is generally perceived as modern and well-functioning on many other fronts.

Years went by, during which family, friends and I continued to attempt to exchange holiday and birthday gifts across the German / Dutch border. Occasionally my parents sent money hidden in Christmas cards. Although sending money by post within Germany or from Germany to any other country is tricky business (thieves seem to have “magical machines” to detect money hidden in envelopes), no envelope with money ever managed to arrive if sent from the Netherlands. Surprisingly, Christmas cards without money sent at the same time did arrive, although always late. In fact, any letter or package consistently arrived with surprising delays, but also damaged… or not at all.

Not surprisingly, expat friends and I became very weary of the Dutch postal service. Years went by, during which I refused to send any package to and from the Netherlands. In contrast, delivery within Germany or to other countries remained as reliable as ever.

Ultimately, complacency would overcome my concerns, so after a while I would again try to send an occasional birthday present to a Dutch acquaintance. I started to notice an additional worrying phenomenon. Whereas in Germany, the addressee of a package is also the owner of its contents, in the Netherlands it may happen that the initial recipient gains full ownership. So, if the mail delivery service leaves the package with a neighbor (e.g. because the addressee isn’t home), this neighbor may well store this package with disinterest under a pile of coats in the hallway. Then after many weeks, somebody (a child, or a pet) will open the package and eat the edible contents. This lackluster treatment of other people’s belongings, combined with a below par delivery service, has caused much frustration and disappointment over the years.

Now, some of you will say that I exaggerate, or have no hard evidence. Aha! Since two years, my two sons have moved from Germany; one to Belgium, the other to the Netherlands. Six months ago, I received election-related documents for them, which I sent on the same day to son 1&2. My sons had to sign a document, and return it to Germany. Then, from Germany the voting document was sent to each son, after which both could vote and return the ballot sheet. A complex procedure, that could not be done by email.

Now, a letter to and from Belgium takes about four days for delivery, and this son was able to vote well in time. My son in the Netherlands had no such luck. After all, a letter to and from the Netherlands takes 7, 9 or even 12 days. He missed the deadline miserably  and was unable to make use of his right to vote.

After this experience I swore that this was my very final interaction with the Dutch postal system. But my wife was still optimistic. In November, she packed two identical boxes with Christmas presents for both sons. My son in Belgium received the package after 7 days, around December 1st. Christmas came and went, and my son in the Netherlands is still waiting. The package could be traced up to the Dutch border, after which it entered the black hole of the Dutch postal system. Arrival pending.

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The Best Books ever! Great adventure stories.

The very first book I ever read was an illustrated children’s story about a small duck. I must have been six, I still remember how I struggled with the first page for weeks, until one Sunday morning I suddenly could read the page in one go. I was so happy that I woke up my parents. Even after all these years I still have that book, torn and frayed at the edges.
I haven’t stopped reading since. I recall the books of my youth, such as the ones by Jules Verne and Karl May. I read Lord of the Rings when I was 13, and then moved on to science fiction: Asimov and Jack Vance. Many books I have read multiple times: some even 5 or 10 times. Good books never get boring.
Since I started writing myself, I have less time for reading, but I do manage to read some exiting novels. Luckily enough my wife prereads a lot of new releases and passes the most thrilling ones to me.

Here‘s my personal list of the Best Books Ever! It is in alphabetical order, but you can easily browse or re-order to your liking. Currently it contains 50 titles, but I will add more over time. And yes, my own books are also in the list, as they have also greatly impacted my life. I hope it inspires you to pick up some great (classic) fiction and non-fiction. Is any particular favorite of yours missing?

Woman reading Clemens P. Suter's CELETERRA

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More interested in watching movies? My list of some of the best movies ever made!

 

Qatar – three days immersed in the Middle East

Below the lobby of the hotel where I was staying. The room was freezing cold, air ongoing full blast, but the hotel was pleasant enough. Although: the breakfast buffet had a price tag of $30 – how much can a man eat for breakfast? I discovered that Qatari cheese is very salty and rubbery, takes gettin used to.
I learned a lot from my colleagues how the state of Qatar ticks and functions. It is intriguing how this society differs so much from ours, with strict Islam implemented.

Below: the skyline of Doha. Skyscrapers ate being built at rocket speed (like all over the world, seems to be the new pastime) but the country itself is mainly desert. With 300,000 Qataris and 2.5 million expats, the demographics are exceptional. There are a few additional cities, but they are in the desert, close to the natural gas fields and intended for the laborers. Here’s a tourist secret:… Doha is the most mind-numbing boring city that I have ever visited (and I have visited a few). My impression is that the Qataris hide and party (?) with their families behind the walls of their country estates; the migrants forlornly wander the boring streets trying not to think about alcohol: there isn’t any / much. I neither drink nor miss alcohol, but even for me Doha offered a new perspective on boredom.

Below: to defy the Saudi boycott, which kicked in 2018, the Qataris have put up portraits of the Emir all over to show their  solidarity. The Arabs had hoped that the Qataris would topple their Emir, but no way, Jose.

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First-class Apocalyptic Thriller “What a fantastic book!”

Here’s another five star review for TWO JOURNEYS, this one is by “St. Louis Cards”. You can find it here at amazon.com: LINK.

Here’s the full text by this reader

Book Review: Two Journeys
Author: Clemens P. Suter
Publisher: BookBuzz/CreateSpace
Publication Date: April 1, 2012 (NetGalley Archive Date: August 30, 2019)
Review Date: August 21, 2019
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.From the blurb:
“During a routine business trip to Tokyo, Alan finds himself to be the sole survivor of a global pandemic. A viral disease wipes away all of humanity… and Alan’s past life. Fearing injury, sickness and hunger, he sets out to travel back to his family in Berlin, straight across Asia and 10,000 miles of hardship and adventure.

Suter combines post-apocalyptic elements with an adventurous road novel in this book about a man left alone on earth. The hardships and landscapes (the Gobi desert, Siberia) are described in all ferocity. A few other humans have survived as well, some eager to use the disaster for their own advantage. Electrifying chapters describe the encounter with Somerset, a charming yet psychotic warlord, who is assembling an army to conquer Moscow, if not the entire world.”

This is a first-class apocalyptic thriller. I find most self-published books to be absolutely dreadful. The exception is often science fiction/apocalyptic thrillers and other books of this type category.

Two Journeys is no exception. What a fantastic book! Better than I expected. It is written in the first person, and I often felt that I was reading a memoir of events that actually happened. Suter’s style is very easy to read; I couldn’t put the book down.

A caveat: it is a fairly long book, 551 pages. It took me 3-4 days on nonstop reading, which is much longer than it usually takes me to read a book.

The character of Alan, the protagonist, is well built, as well as the few other characters encountered during his journey. The plot is perfect; I appreciate how slowly Suter built up the story and all the details of the journey he included. The settings were well written and an important part of the book, as horrifying as they often were.

There were a few mysterious elements that added to the depth of the story.

I highly, highly recommend this book, 5 stars! The author has written a couple of sequels to this book that are available as Kindle books, for only $1.99 each, so I plan to finish out the series.

Humanity has gone a long time without a major pandemic. Outbreaks of viruses such as SARS, coronavirus or influenza (e.g. H2N2 or the Asian Flu H3N2; or bird flu) have occurred again and again. Are we prepared? 

 

Interested in a copy? Get it here: www.clemenssuter.com/books

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Can you REALLY afford NOT to read TWO JOURNEYS?

Just take a quick look at these 5-star reviews by readers of TWO JOURNEYS. Need we say more? If you like a highly unusual, exiting and thought provoking adventure novel, make sure to get your copy today.

How to get a copy? Just visit your favorite internet store, for instance amazon.com LINK, on iTUNES LINK, or you can even ask your favorite bookstore (anywhere on the globe) to order a copy for you.

Sharon's review

Great review by Sharon, many thanks! The sequel FIELDS OF FIRE is already available today.

Review by an Amazon Customer

The sequel is available in the same store where you got your last copy: FIELDS OF FIRE

“… another survivor is traveling the Armageddon road. Clemens P. Suter’s apocalyptic thriller grabs you in the first couple of pages and never lets go. The reader feels real empathy for the main character’s plight as he begins a seemingly impossible 9,000-mile trip to learn his family’s fate. […] clues are uncovered along the way causing tension to build until we reach the shattering climax. Two Journeys is not to be missed.”– G Dedrick Robinson