Thursday, 31 July 2008

2×10 minutes

The weather was tropical today, well over 30°C. When I woke up I had a fierce headache and my hip was killing me. I stayed home from work. Halfway through the morning the pain in my hip wasn't getting any better, so I took a 400 mg ibuprofen. This helped a bit, but not enough.

After lunch I went to see my GP. There was only one person ahead of me so I didn't have to wait long. After I described the complaint the doctor and I discussed the situation: I have arthritis in my left foot, a heel spur in my right foot, lots of pain in my right hip and my left hip is also starting to hurt a wee bit. I proposed amputating everything under my chin but the doctor had another idea: let an orthopedic surgeon have good look at the landing gear.

There was good news as well: the results from my quarterly blood tests were back from the lab and looked very good. The long-term HbA1c value was 5.8; the normal range is 4–6.4. This means long term blood glucose is firmly under control.

After seeing the GP I went to the OLVG hospital to make an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon. The earliest date they could give me was 8 weeks from now. At first they wanted me to make multiple appointments since I had more than one complaint (two feet and two hips). I pointed out that I am not a multiple person, not even a multiple personality and that it made no sense to act on one part of my body which might have an effect on another part of my body they would look at later. I wanted the whole thing done in one go. My powers of persuasion proved to be too much for their bureaucracy and they gave me a double appointment. Wow, the OS now has 2×10 minutes to look at me! And that after 8 weeks! He must make millions in that job.

I also persuaded them to have the X-rays made now, instead of at the visit 8 weeks from now. I didn't want the surgeon to waste any of his precious 20 minutes by waiting for my X-ray to be made.


After the X-rays were made I walked to the pharmacy; my GP had given me a recipe for ibuprofen 600 mg for the hip pain and for a pill to stop you from getting a perforated stomach from taking these horse-pills. On Krugerplein, next to the pharmacy, kids were learning how to make sand castles from a pro sand sculptor. It looked like a lot of fun and if I'd been only 50 years younger I would have joined them.

sand castles

Some kids were really digging in. This little fellow was stuck in a mound of sand upto his armpit.

digging all the way to australia

The rest of the day I sat at home, reading a bit and surfing the web. One of today's gems I found on a blog where the writer was discussing some aspects of religion and common sense:

[...]the belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree — is perfectly acceptable.

Dinner was a Turkish Kıymalı pizza at the Ferrara. The Kıymalı has minced meat, tomato, paprika and feta cheese. Yummy.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

what the elephant saw

High temperatures today and I spent most of the time on the sofa. In the afternoon I went for a walk to the Zoo, but first a shot I made last night at the range in Hoofddorp. It was a home-made T-shirt owned by the secretary of the club. I think it would fit Nicole's colleague well…

t-shirt, bollox

I walked through 's-Gravesandestraat, past the Oosterpark.


On Roeterstraat there were still students gathering near the UvA buildings. I'd thought they would all be on vacation.

uva roeterstraat

In Artis the turtle was 'running' for the shade. It was almost tropically hot; well over 28°C.


Lemurland has opened; it is a 'semi-open' enclosure. You can walk in, but the lemurs can't walk out. Sometimes they come really close by and sit still. Even though there's a big sign at the entrance to Lemurland that says 'DO NOT TOUCH THE ANIMALS', people still do. Maybe they ought to have literacy tests at the entrance.

A little time after I had chased away the people who tried to pet the lemurs and made flash photos straight into their eyes, the lemurs had calmed down enough to start on their food again and ignore me. Until there was some loud noise outside the enclosure which startled them into making an unholy racket. That also took a while to stop.

red ruffed lemur (varecia rubra)

When I walked by the elephants they were nowhere to be seen and the door to their enclosure was open. I took a look inside and made a photo of what the elephants normally see.

elephant's view

I sat and read a book for a while in the Japanese stone garden and then walked home through Ooosterpark. Dinner was a teriyaki beef salad and fruit.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

the #14 menu

I left my umbrella at home when I walked to Muiderpoort Station; the weather forecast was sunny. My hip was feeling much better, too. Maybe it turns out to be a similar problem to the pain in my left foot; that one usualy starts to hurt when the weather (air pressure) changes fast.

muiderpoort station

At work the day went dead-slow. Everybody is on holidays and the IT department is manned by a fraction of the normal number of staff. By the looks in the hall at the coffee break other departments had even less attendance. The only exiting thing that happened was that it started pouring down with rain. It later dried up again, so I didn't need the umbrella.

After work I took the bus to Insulindeweg and walked through Javastraat. It was very quiet there too. Most of the shops on Javastraat are run by Turks or Morrocans and they're all away for family visits in the old country, and so are their customers.


I walked through Oosterpark where there were a few more people around, hanging around the duck feeding place and lounging in the grass. There were even a few picknicks going on.


I emerged at the other end of Oosterpark and walked into Ruyschstraat where there's a sushi take-away. While walking through the park I had gotten a ginormous yearning for sushi and this was the nearest place you could get some.

sushi shop

I got the #14 menu which is actually larger than I should have ordered, but it tasted very good and it went down like a treat. I had a fruit salad for desert.

#14 menu

Monday, 28 July 2008

free typo3 lessons

This morning I had an appointment in the Vampire Club OLVG hospital to get my blood tested again for the HbA1c value, the blood sugar level over a three-month period. Results will be back on August 10th.

From the hospital I walked along the Oosterpark to the corner of Linnaeusstraat. I wanted to be near a tram stop since my hip started to hurt again. I hadn't taken an Ibuprofen this morning because I had to do a fasting blood test.

oosterpark / linnaeusstraat

When I got to the corner the pain in my hip had gone away somewhat, so I walked on to Muiderpoort Station where lots of people were running to get their tram. I got on the #40 bus as it arrived when I did.

running for the tram

At work I transfered all the Typo3 stuff from my test VM to the real server. First I had to install mysql-server since that hadn't been installed out of the box. I then made tarballs of the databases on the VM and the webdirectories and unpacked them on the real box. I fired up Apache and nothing worked…

The reason it didn't work was that Typo3 still thought it was on the VM. I couldn't log in as administrator and I couldn't use the install tool. So I went into the database and changed the domainName of the machine by hand. Now it worked partly; there was still a part of Typo3 thinking it was running on the VM. It turned out to be a reference to a baseURL which was in one of the templates. When I changed that to the new box' name everything came to life. Woohoo.

Later in the day I changed from baseURL = "" to baseURL = "/". That worked too, and now the code is portable.

I discussed this code change with Ben the Typo3 consultant who told me that there's another Ben working for yet another Typo3 consultancy and that yet another Typo3 consultant had read my blog and wondered which Ben I was referring to. So do all consultants learn their Typo3 trade from reading my blog?

At the end of the day I made an invitation card for the goodbye dinner for one of my colleagues. He's going to the University of Twente where he's been appointed Dean of the Physics Department.

I took the #40 bus back to Muiderpoort Station and walked passed the Dapper Market which wasn't very busy at all. I did walk all the way home since I had taken an Ibuprofen at work. One tablet doesn't take all the pain away, but it takes the edge off and makes it bearable.

dapper market

The weather was very hot and humid. Humidity is around 80% and when I got home I found the house was cooler than outside. Inside it was 28.5° C. Too hot for comfort. I had a nice Mozarella and Balsamico salad for dinner.

outside was warmer…

Sunday, 27 July 2008

couch potatoe

Nothing happpened today; I stayed at home on the sofa with a book.

a trip to Delft

I came home late yesterday and didn't feel like doing the blog anymore. I went to Delft on the invitation of Juf Jo. She wanted to visit an old-fashioned shop which is now a museum and have a walk-around in Delft. She was joined by a neo-nostalgist friend called Mark. First to-do item was coffee since I hadn't had any that morning.

juf jo and mark

We sat down on a terrace next to the 'Oude Jan', the Old Church. After the coffee we walked into town where there was a combination flea market / antiques market. Apparantly it is held every saturday until the end of September. The quality of the wares for sale was much higher than on the Waterlooplein flea market in Amsterdam. Lots of Delft Blue as well.

Delft being one of the tourist traps attractions in the Netherlands I had to make some touristy photos.

the new church, step gable and seagull

After the market we went to Kouwenhoven, the nostalgic museum shop. Here they sell old-fashioned types of candy, soap, broom handles and the like. The shop used to be someplace else in Delft, but the council bought the interior and rebuilt it next to the Prinsenhof museum. The only thing I didn't like about it was that the sales staff wasn't dressed in period clothes. It would fit the atmosphere much better. Luckily I had brought some customers in period dress.

I'll have some soap and lots of candy, please!

After Kouwenhoven we walked around some more. Near the Market square we found an antiques shop that looked good as a backdrop for a nostalgic photo.

for all your cloggy needs

Walking around with people such as Juf Jo and Mark you're not the only one making photos. Everybody made compliments on their clothing and wanted to make photos. I wasn't dressed in period clothes, so only Juf Jo wanted to make a photo of me. She suggested the following back drop.

she wanted to see the world; he installed google earth

The last visit we made in Delft was the Army museum. It had been some seven years since I was there last and the permanent exhibition hadn't changed much. The building is much too small for the collection, so the museum is about to merge with the Airforce museum and change location to Soesterberg where they'll get much more room. I think I'll go visit them again after the move.

By this time it was past 17:00 and we got on the train back to Amsterdam. The whole day the weather had been fine despite the warning of the Meteo Office of thunderstorms. When the train passed Leiden it started to rain softly and by the time I got to Sloterdijk Station it was pouring down with lightning flashing everywhere.

Jon was organizing a daquiri garden party tonight and all this rain wasn't going to help. Thankfully, the rain stopped about half an hour after I arrived at Jon's house and we could sit in the garden after drying the chairs.

dry chairs

There were lots of friends at the party. Jon's daquiris are known to be lethal, so when Mic offered one to his wife Micky he was looking in anticipation and she in disbelief.

you want me to drink what?

Around 22:30 it started to rain again so the party moved inside. I left around 23:00; I was tired of running around in Delft the whole day and wanted to put my feet up.

Friday, 25 July 2008

going postal part 2

Breaking news: when I weighed myself this morning I was 109.7 Kg. This is the lowest I've been in over 30 years. I was so overwhelmed with joy I limped out the door and forgot (again) to bring my camera.

Loosing all this weight has its repercussions; my hip was still hurting from all the walking when I went out the door so I took the bus to work.

109.7 kg

At work I started version 1 of a new astrophysics experiment grant request. This is a request for € 9 million; enough potential money to drop all other work.


In the afternoon Anna called to say she had followed my advise and bought a new MacBook. It had just arrived and she was now unwrapping it. She just wanted me to know.

new macbook

After work I went to the post office to send out our Viking magazine. The others who'd normally do that are on holidays. I hadn't sent a letter or postcard in years. So, coming to the desk I offered two bundles of enveloppes, all weighing the same. One stack with addresses in the Netherlands and one stack with addresses in Europe. When I used to do this years ago they would run the enveloppes through a machine that would imprint the postage and then they'd tell me how much I owed them. I'd pay and they would chuck the lot into the postbag.

Not anymore. They weighed one enveloppe (60 grams) and told me I needed to put 3 stamps of € 0.75 on the European enveloppes and 3 stamps of € 0.44 on the Dutch ones. They then sold me not the amount of stamps I needed but sealed books of stamps which held more than I needed. I told them I didn't need more stamps than was needed for the enveloppes, but they couldn't sell me the exact amount. Only more or less. Less not being an option I had to buy more stamps. I then spent about half an hour putting 3 stamps on every enveloppe. Eight years ago they would have run it through their macine in two minutes. Progress is great. At least the stamps are now pre-glued and you don't have to lick them. I then had to throw the enveloppes in the postbag myself. No wonder everybody is now using this newfangled 'email'.

With the hoof and hip situation being what it is I'm not sure yet if I will go to Delft tomorrow. Juf Jo is organizing the trip and I do want to go. If I go maybe I'll buy some Delft blue stuff.

delft blue

Thursday, 24 July 2008

california dreaming

I forgot to bring my camera this morning. My foot was still hurting from yesterday's zoo adventure so I took the bus to work. I did walk back, but there's no photographic evidence…

After dinner I went for another walk since I had missed the morning one. I walked to Singelgracht, where I crossed the bridge to Spinozastraat. Strangely enough it is called a street even though it is next to the Singelgracht.

singelgracht, looking east

Rhijnspoorplein (the southern part of what everybody thinks is Weesperplein) has some nice sculptures from the 1930s when the Weesperpoort Station was on this spot. The station was demolished in 1939. Only the sculptures remain.

last remnants of Weesperpoort Station

I walked along the Wibautstraat and on to Nieuwe Prinsengracht. You walk past the back of the Carré Theater, which is fugly as hell. I'm sure the people living on the other side of the canal are thrilled with their view. I firmly believe some architects ought to be shot.

behind carré

I crossed the Amstel at the Skinny bridge and the water traffic was like rush hour. Every boat owner in Amsterdam was on the water.

view from skinny bridge

The Stivale d'Oro on Amstelstraat is still under construction. They now have a toilet in the window and a sign saying that they'll open again next week. When I looked inside I thought there was still an awful lot of work to be done.

one week to go

Mulligans was quiet when I came in. Barry is thrilled with the new smoking ban; he says he can now wear the same clothes for three days. I told him we could smell that now…

no more ashtrays on the bar

Alex has bought a new motor cycle, a Moto Guzzi California. I had a Moto Guzzi in the 1970s. Great bike. Mine was stolen in the winter of 1977 and I still miss it every now and then.

jon looking at alex's new moto guzzi

I stayed in Mulligans for about 45 minutes and walked back through Utrechtsestraat. When I got to Frederiksplein I started to get red-hot shots of pain in my right hip and knee. I limped to the tram stop and took a #10 to Korte 's-Gravesandestraat, the nearest stop to home. When I got off the tram, the pain had stopped.

Walking past the Oosterpark it started again and then stopped again after about 50 meters. Another 150 meters further down the road it started again. I was limping by the time I got home. I just hope this is an after effect from yesterday's excursion and not something that'll happen more often.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Blijdorp Zoo

Today we went to the zoo. This time we didn't go to our normal haunt, Artis, but to 010 (Rotterdam for the uninitiated) where Blijdorp Zoo is located. We started off by getting a train to 010. As usual, Danny and Marion started knitting as soon as they had parked themselves on the train. As usual, I started to make photographs.

train kip

When we got to 010 we found an vintage tram waiting to take us to Blijdorp. It runs exclusively between Central Station and the Zoo.

ye olde tramme

The interior is as it would have been in the 1930s. Only the driver and conductor weren't dressed in vintage uniforms, which I thought would have been a nice touch.

è pericoloso sporgersi

Since I have an Artis membership I could get into Blijdorp for free on my membership card and the free ticket Artis gave me. Marion has the same and she has a volunteer worker pass from Artis which also gives her entry into Blijdorp. She thought that Danny could get in on the free ticket. However, the ticket inspector was extremely alert on strangers from 020 (Amsterdam for uninitiated) trying to smuggle people into his beloved zoo and refused Danny entry on Marions free ticket. So Danny had to buy a full price ticket for € 17.50. Bummer.

When we finally managed to get inside we walked more or less straight to the Oceanium on the other side of the grounds. Marion had been here before and was very keen on seeing the fish there. We walked past loads of animals that we were going to see on the way back, but we made a stop at the prairiedog enclosure.

Blijdorp is a much newer zoo than Artis and has more room. This means the animals have more room, too, and a more natural habitat. The prairiedogs enclosure is an example of that; you can almost pick them out of their enclosure.

prairiedog, 8.1 on the cuteness scale

We rambled around in the Oceanium for a while where they had signs everywhere telling parents to keep their kids silent. After one particular earsplitting shriek I yelled "May we have some silence, please?" It went dead quiet until they figured out that I wasn't going to read them a story or tell them Osama bin Laden had been seen in the Zoo. When that penny dropped the air-raid sirens started up again. I was ready to feed them to the crocodiles.

crocodile, 1.8 on the cuteness scale. scores 10 on the teeth scale

Next to the Oceanium is a walk-in bird cage with red ibisses. Their colour is even more red than on the photo. I played around in PhotoShop to see if I could get the right shade of red but failed. Go to Blijdorp and have a look yourself.

ibis, 9.2 on the redness scale

Camels and other potential yarn-bearing animals score high on Marion's and Danny's attraction scale. There was a young camel calf but the moment it saw us it turned its back to us and laid down. I made photos of other camels instead.

camel, 8.7 on the yarn scale

Giraffes are amongst Marion's favourite animals, so I made a lot of photos of them. You will find them on my Flickr page.

giraffe, 10 on the height scale and 7.5 on the goofy looks scale

I prefer big cats myself.

sumatran tiger, 9.7 on the big cat scale.

I saw a lot more than is shown in these photos and I advise everybody to go to Blijdorp yourself. It is a really nice zoo with lots of shrieking children things to see and do. They even have seagulls.

seagull, 9.5 on the fishy scale

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


I thought of walking to Muiderpoort Station, but, since the weather was so nice, I changed my mind when I got to the Linnaeusstraat. I walked into Polderweg instead.

linnaeusstraat / polderweg

Polderweg is where they're building all sorts of new stuff on the grounds where the old industrial area was. Long stretches of the building site are fenced off with plywood fences, all of which are spraypainted with grafitti. Most of this is just ugly 'tagging', but every now and then you get a grafitti artist who really knows how to use his can of paint.

grafitti; worth looking at the larger size in flickr

I crossed the railroad and walked throught the neighbourhood between Celebesstraat and Molukkenstraat. Most of the buildings here are built in the last couple of years, but there are some old ones that probably have monument status. One I like in particular is an 'Amsterdam School' school from the 1920-30s. I like the curves in the building; they're very voluptuous.

luscious curves, better than sharp angles

At work my colleague T had installed our new blade server in the rack and had put a linux distro on it. He had a bit of a problem getting it installed since the box crashed halfway every time he tried to run the installer from a USB stick. He finally hooked up an external CD-drive and the installation worked.

When I tried to roll my own Apache and PHP I got compile errors. I finally figured out that this new blade server is a X86_64, a 64-bit machine. All the other machines I've worked on so far were 32-bit machines. An X86_64 uses a different linux distro which o.a. has a new library directory in /usr/lib64. This is where you need to link to when you're compiling. If you don't, the compiler will happily try to link against the 32-bit libraries in /usr/lib and give an error.

After this revelation I made the necessary adjustments and everything compiled just fine. It also worked and with that achieved I fled the building.

I had changed the lacing on my shoes to give less pressure on top of my foot and keep the heel more fixed to the shoe. To see if it made any difference I decided not to take the bus but to walk down the Kruislaan.


The Kruislaan is one of the most boring streets to walk on, so after the railway tunnel I turned onto Archimedesplantsoen and walked to the corner of Galileiplantsoen. If I continued straight on I would end up at the Ringvaart and I've been there already…

galileiplantsoen / archimedesplantsoen

So I turned left onto Galileiplantsoen. Lots of green stuff here.


I walked the length of the street and turned right onto Linnaeusparkweg, a street I'd never been on before. Linnaeusparkweg is an odd street; almost every house is different, contrary to most streets in Amsterdam. This makes it a very lively street to look at. Some buildings looked out of place even here.

One looked to me as if it should have been in Amsterdam-North. It has a typical 'north' style. An anomaly on this building is the stone head sticking out of the wall. This head doesn't look like a 'north' head. Maybe it was attached at a later date and is not part of the original design.


From Linnaeusparkweg I walked via Hogeweg to Middenweg and back home via Pretoriusstraat. I stopped at the AH to buy some filters for my coffeemaker. Dinner was an 'uitsmijter' and a fruit salad. The new shoe lacing works better, so I'll keep that for the time being.