Tuesday, 30 September 2008

the surgeon

I worked from home today; in the afternoon I went to the hospital for my appointment with the othopaedic surgeon. First I was interviewed and examined by a nice co-assistent. She wrote down her findings and then went off to talk to the boss, who turned out to be another female doctor who did the same examination again.

The verdict is that the joints in my left ankle and foot have almost no cartilage left. The surgeon told me that if it had been in my hips or my knee they could have fitted an artificial joint, but that their experience with artificial ankle joints isn't too good. So they've made the decision not to install these ankle joints in the clinic, and, obviously, neither in my leg.

Her advice: swimming or cycling and take a painkiller when it gets too much. I already suspected this much two months ago when I made the appointment. Now can I get paid the same amount as an orthopaedic surgeon? After all, I can do the diagnosis and I'm good at cutting my steak.

Monday, 29 September 2008

care & wellbeing

Saturday and Sunday I didn't go out, walked nowhere and just stayed home (hence no photos). Sunday night the pain in my left foot that I normally feel when I start to walk and which lasts for a couple of meters had gone. Maybe I should take a rest day more often.

The painless feeling lasted into Monday morning, so I walked to work. I took the lower side of the Ringdijk for a change. The little green mosaic you can see on the building on the right-hand side of the photo is a space invader. A street artist who goes by the nickname of 'AmsterInvader' glues these mosaics on buildings around Amsterdam. He's got about 150 installed so far. I've been making photos of the invaders I see and AmsterInvader has linked to a bunch of them on Flickr as favourites. The other day I even found one he had installed only 12 hours before!

ringdijk with ai_127

The Middenweg is still under construction; I've heard they'll be busy for a few months.


The Stadsdeelkantoor (local Council Office) on the other hand is almost finished. I acturally am beginning to like the mix of old and new architecture.


At work I did lots of little jobs.

When I left I walked around the corner to the bus stop on MacGillavrylaan. This is where the school kids from the VMBO get on the bus, too. The bus stayed away for a long time, and the kids formed a line across the street saying "this time it'll stop!" Obviously, they've had the experience of the bus passing them by. I took a photo of the blockade.

blurred bus blockade

Just the act of taking a photo turned these nice, gentle and compassionate kids who are training to work in "Zorg & Welzijn", Care & Wellbeing, into little monsters. They immediately mobbed around me, demanding that I delete the photo. I told them I had no inclination whatsoever to delete a photo since I am not obliged to do so under any law here, as long as I don't publish it with recognisable faces on it (hence the blurred faces on the photo).

They didn't listen; all I got was shrill shrieking "delete or else…", more mobbing around me and finally a kick in the leg and a smack with an umbrella at my head from behind. Heroes.

Two of the teachers came out of the school to see what the racket was all about. More shrill shrieking. One of the teachers told me (he obviously had experience in understanding shrill shrieking) to delete the photo. I told him no and why I wouldn't do it. He said taking pictures of the pupils was illegal and if I didn't delete the photo he'd call the police. I told him that a) taking photos is not illegal and b) that calling the police was fine with me since I wanted to talk to them about the assault by his pupils. He called. They came. The pupils went.


I told my story to one cop, the teacher told his version to the other. The cops both agreed with me that I was perfectly within the law making these photos, the kids were on the wrong side of the law assaulting me and if I wanted to file a complaint I should go to Linnaeusstraat police station. The teacher knew who the kids were and would cooperate now that he was enlightend about the law.

I got on the bus an hour after the whole thing started. Talking to a secretary from the neighbouring institute I heard four girls who were already on the bus saying "did you like that smack with an umbrella? Wait till next time." There's only one answer to that. I turned around and made another photo. I'm not easily intimidated. They were, by a camera lens. They ducked out of sight when they saw the camera.

heroes on the bus

The whole thing started up again. They were demanding I remove the photo, I refused. The situation got uglier and uglier. One girl was threatening to break my camera and do me physical harm. The bus driver didn't agree with this. He told them to shut up. Shrill shrieking started again, this time against the driver (Line #40, bus #107). He got fed up with them and threw them of the bus.

After the first incident I didn't plan on pressing charges, but the girl who'd told me she'd break my camera had been in the front row both times. I thought it was time for her to learn that my patience wears thin rapidly when I am threathed twice within the hour by the same person. So I went to the Linnaeusstraat police station where I had to wait five minutes, told my story and was asked to make an appointment where I could tell the story in greater detail and file a complaint. Wednesday 14:00 is the earliest date.

bikes at the police station

Saturday, 27 September 2008

an emotional evening

I walked to Muiderpoort Station via Kastanjeplein.


At work I did lots of little things that needed doing. Think of it as spring cleaning in autumn.

After work I walked to the Dappermarkt. The Reinwardtstraat had been moved; you can now find it in the basement.


On Plantage Middenweg they're repairing the tram rails. It looks like they're doing the whole stretch of the #9 tram in one go, from the centre to Diemen. This takes out a major traffic artery.

plantage middenlaan

I had a pizza in the Stivale d'Oro. It was still early and not crowded yet; in fact, I was the only customer. The owner (whom I hadn't seen in three months) looked at me and asked "how did you loose so much weight?" I answered "by not eating here!"

His wife, Lucia, asked about Vincent and Nicole "Are they still in Australia? Say hello to them."

stivale d'oro

After dinner I went to Mulligans for coffee. I didn't want to sit here for hours waiting for the music to start, so I had another walk, this one in the dark. I went down the Kloverniersburgwal, Geldersekade, Prins Hendrikkade, NEMO, into the Public Library (didn't see Marion), Central Station, Damrak, Rokin and back to Mulligans, a total of 7.5 km.


When I got back to Mulligans the party for the 20th anniversary was starting up. The band was the Fantastic Elastics, also known as the Mulligans Session with Microphones on a Stage.

the fantastic elastics

A good time was had by all; some old customers who had moved away to other parts of the country such as André (Twente) and Severine (Limburg) were here for the night. Others were here all the time. We missed the Oz delegation.

nantko & alex

For some the emotions were too strong.


After a few hours I walked home again. It was too late to sort the photos and write the blog, hence the late publication.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

sweet and sour

As we are moving away from summer time the sunrise is later every day. I now walk to work during the so called 'golden hour', the hour right after sunrise (and also the hour right before sunset). During this hour sunlight has to travel a longer distance through the atmosphere which gives a nice colour to everything.

The white balance on my point-and-shoot is not very good, but believe me, the building in the photo looked golden!


You can see a bit of the golden hour effect in this photo.

ringvaart / transvaalkade

At the end of Transvaalkade I turned onto Middenweg. At the corner of Hogeweg they're repairing the tram rails.


I walked down Middenweg and zigzagged through the neighbourhood to work. Across from our gate workmen had started on the renovation of Anna's Hoeve, the last farm of the Watergraafsmeer. It is going to be a visitor's centre for the Science Park.

anna's hoeve

I spent most of the day tweaking the photos I had taken on the LSC/VIRGO conference. The rest of the time was taken up by tweaking my procmailrc to get less spam in my inbox. Lately I was getting a few hundred spam emails in Russian every day. They're now automagically thrown away.

I walked home via Nobelweg and caught the nice light on the Ringvaart from the other side this time. Not quite golden hour, but getting close.


When I walked into AH I couldn't choose which salad to eat, so I bought ingredients to fix something myself: shi-take mushrooms, yellow and red paprika (capsicum), tauge (bean sprouts) and chicken fillet. AH now has some ready-made oriental sauces, of which I got the Chinese Sweet and Sour. I also bought a fruit salad.

I brushed the shi-take and cut them into strips. I chopped up two half paprikas and rescued the pineapple pieces (and some mango pieces) from the fruit salad. Washed the tauge and dusted the chicken fillet strips with corn meal (maizena).


Chuck in the wok and stir-fry. When almost done, add noodles.

in the wok with some noodles

This gave me three portions, two of which are now in the freezer.

After dinner and washing the dishes I walked to Mulligans. They're celebrating their 20th aniversary this week and tonight was the start of festivities with a 'Father Ted' night. Everybody was supposed to dress up as Father Ted or as a generic religious technician. Barry and Kate were looking very pious.

father teehan and sister kate

When I realised Father Ted Night was just another name for the pub quiz with Father Ted questions I left. I hate pub quizes. I'll be back tomorrow night when they've got music.

I walked back along the Amstel, a nice and quiet walk.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

size 40

I woke up late this morning, around 08:00, feeling a lot better than last night. Breakfast and half a liter of homebrew coffee helped me wake up. I sat at home reading until lunch time (knäckebrød with cheese). When I stood up after lunch, my jeans were feeling bunched up the same way my old pants were a few weeks ago. I decided I needed new ones, so I marched into town.

I walked down Wibautstraat/Weesperstraat. I still don't understand the significance of the four cuckoo-clock weights parked on the side of the street.


At the end of Weesperstraat I walked into Jodenbreestraat ...


... across the St. Antoniesluis ...

st. antoniesluis

... into St. Antoniebreestraat. On the corner of Nieuwe Hoogstraat is a blue and yellow building. The whole St. Antoniebreestraat looks quite modern after the renovations of the last 30 years, but this one beats them all. I like it, though.

st. antoniebreestraat

Walking down Nieuwe and Oude Hoogstraat towards the Dam I saw a cannabis seed store with faux Delft Blue tiles over the shop.

first class delft blue seeds

I crossed the Dam and walked down the Nieuwendijk to the Werkmanspaleis where I bought my new jeans. This time I bought a size 40. A month ago I bought a 42. A year ago I bought size 46. If this continues I'll have a negative size next year, which would make me a black hole. Who needs CERN for that?

The shop needed 20 minutes to have the legs shortened, so I walked down the Korte Nieuwendijk to the Singelsluis.


I bought a herring at the stall there.

raw herring with onions

After picking up the shortened jeans I walked down the length of Nieuwendijk, turned right at the Dam, left at N.Z. Voorburgwal and then omto the Singel Flower market. This put me on the corner of Vijzelstraat. I worked here at the Aurora electronics shops when I was 17 or 18 years old. I looked inside and it is still the same old half-unorganised jumble of chinese junk that it was all those years ago.

aurora on vijzelstraat

I walked down Herengracht and Reguliersgracht to the Duif on Prinsengracht. I stopped here at the VIRGO conference, hoping for an afternoon coffee. They had just ran out of coffee, so I had a mineral water instead.


Everything was running smoothly at the conference, so I walked on to the end of Reguliersgracht. I took the #7 tram home on Weteringschans because my feet had started to hurt.

Dinner was the other half of yesterday's fake Thai red curry.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

keeping an eye on things

This morning I hurried out the door to get to the conference in time. I had ignored the alarm clock and overslept. I jumped on the #7 tram, since that is marginally faster than walking to Amstelveld.

The whole day was taken up by listening to people explaining things I didn't understand. I took photos and helped here and there when there was a problem. All was done under the watchful eye of Jesus.

Some other people didn't find the talks worth listening to either, since this afternoon there were quite a few who had fallen asleep. It reminded me of the quip about the definition of a professor: somebody who talks in someone else's sleep.

keeping an eye on the proceedings

I took over 150 photos today but apart from the one above nothing for the blog.

I walked home quickly after I left the conference since it had started to rain a bit. I bought a fillet of chicken, shi-take mushrooms and veggies at AH and wokked a pseudo-Thai Red Curry meal with noodles. Tonight I ought to be going to the range but I cancelled due to a headache. I'll just curl up with a book and nobody talking to me…

Monday, 22 September 2008

stop crying!

This weekend I was in Germany, in an open-air museum in the town of Oerlinghausen, together with Marion, Janneke and Danny.

marion, janneke and danny

We were there for a Viking weekend. Lots of tourists came to gawk at us and ask stupid questions: "do you live here all the time?" "Do you always dress like this?" "Did the Vikings have fire?"

Yes, Vikings had fire. They also had fish.

fire and fish

One of the German re-enactors, Helen, had just had her baby four weeks ago. After she had been breast-feeding her, little Hedda was crying her heart out. I offered to silence her and Helen took up the bet. I just told Hedda to shut up and by Golly, she did!

complete trust or complete exhaustion?

The new Saxon hall they'd been building for the last two years was finally finished. There was a ceremony with lots of VIPs who had donated money but re-enactors were not needed nor wanted at the drinks afterwards.

saxon hall

Some tourists brought their wives and dogs. Sometimes it was hard to see which was the dog and which was the wife.

his wife's dog…

After two nights and days of fun and crafts we drove back into the sunset towards Amsterdam. We arrived late at night and the next morning, Monday, I had to get up at 06:30 to be at the LSC/VIRGO conference around 07:30. I made it in time, but not in a good mood.

I spend the whole day making photos of the speakers and the audience, and when I wasn't doing that I worked on posters and our website.

the conference

On my way home I saw an upholstery shop which had shelves with all their materials on it. It looked very colourful.


When I got home I had a nice salad and fruit for dinner. In Germany I had survived on bratwurst and bread which is not the most healthy food. One bratwurst is nice, but a whole weekend long…

Thursday, 18 September 2008

post-modern whore house

As some of you have noticed I make more photos than I put in the blog. They're all in the Flickr sets that I make each day. One of those photos that didn't make it to yesterday's blog is one I took on Churchilllaan. I've put it here now by request of Vincent.

Mahatma Gandhi

On with today: I walked to Muiderpoort Station through Pretoriusstraat where I saw a shark painted 'bakfiets'; normally you'd see this sort of painting on a fighter plane.

f-16 bakfiets

I walked throught Linnaeusstraat and took a right at the 'Stadsdeelkantoor',


I ended up at the other side of the Muiderpoort Station tunnel where people where rushing out in their eagerness to get to work.

jolly crowds of happy workers

At the bus stop at work the same crowds were rushing into the gate, looking forward to a thrilling day of drinking Abdul's Liquid Asphalt™, known to the rest of the world as coffee, very strong coffee. After drinking one of Abdul's cofffees you only have one choice left in life: work!

coffee junkies

I started with a small cup of coffee and the effect was immediate: I re-arranged and cleaned up my collection of CDs. Not the music types, but the ones with all the back-ups of photos, brochures, reports etc. It needed doing and I did find some gems I thought I had lost. After this chore I had another cup of coffee and went to a meeting about the roll-out of our new website. After that it was back to finalizing the astroparticle funding report for the EU. I hope I'll never see it again; what a bitch of a thing to edit! The rest of the day was filled with explaining some Illustrator and PhotoShop tricks to a few PhD students who need to produce posters for next week's VIRGO meeting.

When I left I took the bus to Molukkenstraat. On Javaplein I saw a very nice old 'Traction Avant' in decent condition. Grey is a nice colour, but I think they look best in shining black.

traction avant

In Borneostraat, on the corner of Timorplein I took a photo of this hallway, thinking the colours were nice. After I uploaded it to Flickr, one of the people there that follows my photostream remarked it looked like a hypermodern architectonic whorehouse window. These remarks you miss when you just read the blog!

post-modern whorehouse?

I walked past the windmill and through what used to be the Orange-Nassau Army Barracks. I came out the other side looking at the Tropical Institute. There's a statue slightly hidden in the bushes around the building. It depicts an African boy leading a blind man. According to the information sign this is to make people relialize that people still fall ill in Africa without having proper health care.

boy and blind man

At Oosterpark the fence was decorated with little pieces of art, created by locals from the neighbourhood who had help from professional artists. Some of the pieces were quite good or made you think.

i love holland

The decorations were along the whole east side of the park.

east side of oosterpark

I walked down Linnaeusstraat and went to the Natraj Indian restaurant for dinner. I had something very spicy of which I can't remember the name. The food probably burned away my brain at the same time as my throat.

There will be no blog updates Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I'm away for the weekend with Danny, Marion and Janneke.