How the GDPR Reminded Me To Always Use UTC When Working With Dates

Internet tech stuff ahead warning.

Due to the GDPR, I recently spent way too much time on creating a Cookie Wall of Doom. Unless you explicitly opt-in to some level of tracking, you cannot use the site. To prevent the customer from having Cookie Wall of Doom shoved in their face on every damned page, we set a cookie, which stores your preference for a year.

At first, I set the expiry with max-age=31536000, as I could not recall that that there would be issues, beyond no support in IE<9. (But if you insist on still using those, you are bound to have bigger challenges online than a cookie wall.) Alas, reports came in that in Internet Explorer 11 the Cookie Wall of Doom came back at the start of every new browser session.

So, back to good old expires:

var expiryDate = new Date();
expiryDate.setFullYear(expiryDate.getFullYear() + 1);
document.cookie = 'cookie-consent-pref=foo;; expires=' + expiryDate + '; path=/;';

Update the code, patch it all around, deploy all the things, and on to do something useful.

Alas, sad trumpet.

As it turns out, all browsers play ball with this implementation, except the two from Microsoft. Those appear to really insist that when the spec says that you should use a date-in-GMTString-format, you actually use a date in GTMString format. (And never you mind that toGMTString() is deprecated and you should toUTCString() instead.)

Using the code above, expiryDate gets set as “Wed Jun 06 2018 12:10:24 GMT+0200 (Central Europe Daylight Time)”, which works just fine in about every browser but Internet Explorer and Edge, who will claim that the cookie is set to expire at the end of the session. Which is ungood, and in this case, shows you Cookie Walls of Doom when it shouldn’t.

So another round of updating the code (document.cookie = 'cookie-consent-pref=foo;; expires=' + expiryDate.toUTCString() + '; path=/;'), patching it all around, deploying all the things, and back to doing something useful.

Remember, kids, always use UTC. It’ll save you a lot of frustration.

Seen Live: Three Free Gigs

Yeah yeah yeah. I know we’ve been here before: I intend to write some more stuff for my website, and then nothing happens, stuff keeps piling up, and in the end, all I’ve written in a year are a bunch book and gig reviews, and I am not even getting those done at the moment. Well, no more. I’m just gonna.


The Missus’s father and aunt sing in a choir. Earlier this year, that choir had a concert in a lovely local church at the yearly Gluren bij de Buren event. And it was lovely.

Seen live
Klein Kunst Koor: “Crossing Borders” at the Lutherse Kerk for Gluren bij de buren Amersfoort on March 11, 2018

Wende played a short set in Amersfoort for Record Store Day to promote her new album Mens. Like her previous album, Last Resistance, it’s a mostly electronic affair, and not exactly my cup of tea. I mean, she is a great singer and performer and she is really into it, but I just stood there and I didn’t get it. We seem to have grown apart somewhere. Which is fine, as not everybody has to enjoy all the things. Perhaps we’ll meet again, somewhere down the road.

Seen live
Wende at Velvet Amersfoort for Record Store Day, April 21, 2018

Last weekend it was time for the 20th Amersfoort Jazz festival. Free music, just around the corner. Due to reasons, we only saw the one act, but man, Shirma Rouse (and Band) would have been a tough act to follow. Rouse used to be one of The Netherlands’s most renowned backing vocalist, but now she’s out in front. She played an energetic set containing a lot of Aretha Franklin material, some of her own songs, and some more covers. Would I have know about her Shirma sings Aretha tour before it was over, I would not have minded more of that. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Seen live
Shirma Rouse and Band at Amersfoort Jazz on May 26, 2018

First Lines: Het verdriet van België

Hugo Claus’s semi-autobiographical Het verdriet van België (The Sorrow of Belgium) is Belgium’s Big and Important Book about World War II. It covers a lot of themes — growing up, family, Flemish small-town life, collaboration — as seen through the eyes of an impressionable child. I found it a bit of a slog.

Mostly, I guess, because I found the protagonist, Louis Seynaeve, to be an unsympathetic and insufferable git. In the novel’s first part he’s mostly tolerable as an impressionable eleven-year old, safely tucked away from the tumultuous world with the nuns in a boarding school, but even there he is bossy and cruel. And as soon as he’s pulled from those confines, it goes wrong. His school work suffers, he enjoys a brief stint in the Flemish branch of the Hitler Youth … sure, having a family that mostly sympathizes with the Germans doesn’t really help, but still: grow a pair.

What also didn’t really help, is that we find out that Louis is supposed to be the novel’s author. In the second part we learn he wrote the first part, but by then it was too late: the narrator had become too unreliable to really care.

I liked the language though. It’s Dutch, but the Flemish use words and phrases that are completely unlike what we would use over here. That was fun.

And I loved, loved, hashtag sparkly-heart (#💖) loved Louis’s grandmother, Bomama. She has all the best lines. For example, when Louis admonishes her that she shouldn’t repay injury with injury because Jesus would not do such a thing, not even when the Jews hammered nails through His hands and feet, she replied: “Well, I’m not Jesus,” before finishing a game of solitaire. Or when a nun first learned about skiing and didn’t believe such a thing was possible. Her reaction? “Your Jesus did walk on water.” Classic. (When she waxes poetical that heartache may hurt, but that it’s also the salt of life, one of Louis’s aunts has the equally brilliant comeback, “I’d rather have a salted herring.”)

Book read
Hugo Claus — Het verdriet van België
First line
Dondeyne had een van de zeven Verboden Boeken onder zijn schort verstopt en Louis meegelokt.

Overheard at Lunch

“So, Easter, last weekend, did you listen to the Matthäus-Passion?”

“No, but I did listen to Jeanny

And in my head, the following scene played out:

And so it came to pass that on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, Jeanny went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices she had prepared. She found the stone rolled away from the tomb, and she went in, but found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
And it came to pass, as she was much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as she was afraid, and bowed down her face to the earth, they said unto her,

Sie kommen
Sie komm’n, um Ihm zu holen
Sie werden Ihm nicht finden
Niemand wird Ihm finden!

Seen Live: Like a Bat Out of Hell

Like a Bat Out of Hell

Menno GootjesVorig jaar vierde Meat Loafs Bat Out of Hell zijn 40e verjaardag. Om dat te vieren stelde Menno Gootjes (de gitarist van Focus) een band samen (met muzikanten die bij onder andere We Will Rock You, Jesus Christ Superstar, Ayreon, Anouk, Kane, Trijntje Oosterhuis, Stevie Ann, VOF De Kunst, Charlie Dée, Toontje Lager, Idols/The Voice of Holland en André Hazes hun sporen verdiend hebben) om het album onder de naam Like a Bat Out of Hell: The ‘Rock and Roll Dreams’ Concert integraal op de Nederlandse podia uit te voeren. Op vrijdag 16 februari deden zij FLUOR, ons lokale podium, aan.

In de eerste set werd Bat Out of Hell gespeeld. Al tijdens het instrumentale intro van het titelnummer kreeg ik het idee dat het muzikaal wel snor zou zitten. Zanger Martin van der Starre liet ook al meteen merken geen enkele interesse te hebben om Meat Loaf na te doen. Niet alleen komt hij stemtechnisch niet in de buurt (ik vond hem wel een fijn rauw blues-randje hebben), maar hij liet ook het witte overhemd met franje en de rode zakdoek achterwege. De uitvoering van “For Crying Out Loud” kan absoluut niet onvermeld blijven. Floortje Smit en Lisette van den Berg stalen daarmee wat mij betreft de show.

Na de pauze volgde een set met een ‘best of the rest’ uit het repertoire van Meat Loaf en Jim Steinman. Naast voor de hand liggende keuzes als “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” (dat ergens tussen de Celine Dion en Meat Loaf versies in balanceerde) en de toegift “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” waren er eigenlijk geen verassingen, of het moet de keuze om “Dead Ringer for Love” door beide zangeressen uit laten zingen zijn.

Floortje Smit, Martin van der Starre & Lisette van den Berg

Het hele project is met liefde en oog voor detail in elkaar gezet. De arrangementen van de nummers waren verdomd goed, de tempo’s en achtergrondkoortjes nagenoeg gelijk aan wat er op de plaat gebeurt, en zo niet, dan werd er een live versie gevolgd uit de periode dat Meat Loaf met slechts één gitarist op toernee was. Zo klonk “All Revved Up” bijvoorbeeld precies zoals Meat Loaf het ca. 1996 deed. (Ik heb eigenlijk niets te klagen, op een tekstueel hobby-stokpaardje van me na: in “We Belong to the Night” is de tekst “… like the moon and the stars …”, en niet “Cause that’s a cruel mental start.”)

Like a Bat Out of Hell zet een klinkend eerbetoon aan Bat Out of Hell neer. Als doorgewinterd Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman fan-boy kan ik niet anders dan dit van harte aanbevelen. De tour is tot medio mei in het hele land te zien.

Like a Bat Out of Hell: The ‘Rock and Roll Dreams’ Concert, in FLUOR, Amersfoort op 16 februari 2018
Martin van der Starre, Lisette van den Berg & Floortje Smit (lead & backing vocals) / Menno Gootjes (gitaar, backing vocals) / Ronald Kool (piano & keyboards) / Johan Hendrikse (keyboards) / Richard Zoer (bass, backing vocals) / Sjoerd Rutten (drums)
Set list
Bat Out of Hell / You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) / Heaven Can Wait / All Revved Up With No Place to Go / Two Out Ouf Three Ain’t Bad / Paradise by the Dashboard Light / For Crying Out Loud // Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back / Midnight at the Lost and Found / We Belong to the Night / I’d Lie for You (And That’s The Truth) / Dead Ringer for Love / It’s All Coming Back to Me Now / Total Eclipse of the Heart / Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through // I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)