Friday, 31 October 2008


I took the day off today. The weather was so nice I went for a long walk.

First to Weesperplein, where the skateboard shop had put their furniture outside.

skateboard chair

Across the Hoge Sluis...


...and into Utrechtsestraat.


In one of the shops they'd painted their Mac monitor to look like a face.

kissing mac monitor

I walked to Kalverstraat where I had a look at the jackets in V&D. Nothing there. I continued via Heiligeweg and Koningsplein to Leidsestraat. Herengracht was looking fine in the sun.


Leidsestraat was full of shoppers as usual. I couldn't find any nice clothes here either, so I stopped at the Bagels & Beans for lunch; coffee and a multi-grain bagel with old cheese.


Then onto Leidseplein, past the American Hotel.


And behind the Rijksmuseum. There was a giant banner for Damien Hirst's diamond skull "For the Love of God". It goes on exhibition here. Why a class act like the Rijksmuseum would want to exhibit such a trashy 'work of art' I don't know. Maybe they're only in it for the love of money.


I shuddered and walked on, past the US consulate. When the US has made global warming a reality by using up the last petrol on earth at least the police in Amsterdam will be able to keep their feet dry in rising sea levels.

stilt life

I turned the corner onto van Baerlestraat. I looked in the window of the 'Society Shop' but their suits are made for anorexics. Van Baerlestraat is still under construction, so if you walk on what is the left side in the photo, you have to walk on bumpy rubber mats, hemmed in by the wall on one side and a fence on the other side. It's about a meter wide and still you have bicyclists trying to ride their bike there. Idiots.

van baerlestraat

I cut through Marions' neighbourhood to the Ferd. Bolstraat. Also a mess, but here they at least leave enough room for a bicycle path.

ferd. bolstraat

I continued on Ceintuurbaan where I saw a Dutch Ute; much bigger than those dinky Ozzie ones… :-) This is the sort of car you need in Amsterdam traffic to cut a swathe through the throngs of cyclists.

bigger than ozzie utes

I crossed the Amstel again and did my shopping at the AH on Wibautstraat. On the corner an 'oliebollen' stand had set up shop. It's that time of year again when it seems they sprout on every street corner. I wonder where they go the rest of the year.


In the evening I walked back to Utrechtsestraat and had dinner at the Meghna Indian restaurant. The lights were already on in the street. With one month to go to St. Nicolas, and two months to go to Christmas I think it's a bit early.

utrechtsestraat again

After dinner I went to Mulligans. The usual suspects were sitting at the bar. Guitar player Dominic remarked on my apparent loss of weight. When I told him how much I weighed, he was shocked: he weighs six kilos more than I do now!

the usual suspects

Tonight was Hallowe'en, and in Mulligans that calls for a fancy dress party. Miriam had chosen something easy to work in this year. Sean was wearing blooded trousers and jacket. He was the Kentucky Fried Colonel.

miriam & kentucky fried sean

Maldwyn was wearing his waiter's tuxedo and had stuck on a moustache (which kept falling off!). He was supposed to look like Manuel from Fawlty Towers, but I thought that if he had clipped the moustache a bit more he would have made a dashing Hitler…

maldwyn 'i know nothing'

Alex came as the X-men's Wolverine. People thought at first look that he was Elvis until they looked at his hands. The claws are home made by Alex. Good job.

alex 'wolverine'

Silvy was dressed up as Alex DeLarge (Clockwork Orange) while Nantko was a murderous barber with blood covered cut-throat razor. He was offering free shaves to everybody. Everybody declined.

silvy & nantko

Marion and Danny had been very busy with their knitting needles. Viking helmets, hair and beards were produced. A lot of work for a single night's show off. I told them to wear it to the Winter Banquet in Hamburg we're going to in December. I'll wear something equally silly.

marion & danny 'wannabe vikings'

Aly was a throwback to the 1960s. She got cat calls from the whole bar when she walked in.

aly as a 1960s throwback

I didn't last very long; I had promised Miriam to be the judge for the fancy dress competition but I was so tired after today's walking (more than 20 km all together!) that I went home early. Next year I'll have a rest before going out.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

100 kilo

When I weighed myself this morning, the scales gave the round number of 100.0 kilo. That's about 30 kilos less than what I started with at the beginning of this year. I'm sure it won't stay at 100, since my weight bounces up and down a bit. Tomorrow it might be 101 or 99 kilo. We'll see.

I walked to work, starting in Pretoriusstraat. On Steve Bikoplein workmen were removing the 'artwork'. I wonder what's going to replace it.

steve bikoplein

I walked along Ringvaart...

the house on the dike

... crossed the Middenweg and turned right onto Linneausparkweg. Here I saw the perfect car for Vincent. Just remove the front seat and sit in the back!

fiat 500

I walked down Kruislaan to work. The weather wasn't as nice as yesterday; it was grey and cold.


At work I wrote a php-script to interpret numbers from a database. We are going to bill our internet-exchange customers for the rack power they use and this script will measure all power in the different racks and make tables and graphs of the kw/h, the current and the temperature of the rack. A nice job, since it's different again from the normal web-design stuff I do.

After work I walked home via Nobelweg.


Somebody had taken a bike but left the wheel.

bike wheel

I dined on a doner kebab. After dinner I went to the Blokker and bought a Senseo coffeemaker for €100. In this financial crisis climate you have to spend money to make the economy go again. I'm just doing my duty here, but the coffee it makes tasted good, too.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

nylon wire

Sunday night I looked at a scab on the instep of my left foot. It had been there for years, on the spot where a surgeon had inserted a screw when I broke my ankle. The spot had been giving me bother for years, too. Now I could feel something hard in the scab. I tried to peel off the scab, but it wouldn't budge. So, I got the old tweezers out and grabbed the hard bit and pulled. And pulled and pulled… Out came two centimeters of nylon wire —a bit like a fishing line— with a knot at one end. It was a temporary suture that the surgeon had overlooked to take out in 1997.

In the last six months five doctors have looked at the foot, the ankle and the spot. They all told me I had to learn to live with the pain. Strangely enough, since I've pulled out the wire I've had no pain there anymore.

Last Saturday I had taken some photos of my father's old neighbourhood. He told me on Sunday he wanted me to take a photo of the house he was born in, Houtmankade 35. So I got the #3 tram to the end of the line and walked the 100 meters to the house.


Since I was in the area again I walked around some more and made photos of Dad's old 'hood. On Zoutkeetsgracht I saw a really nice old motor yacht.


I zig-zagged over the western isles, arriving at last at the Buiten Oranjestraat which leads to Brouwersgracht. This is part of the Jordaan area and I hadn't been here in years.

buiten oranjestraat

I walked along Brouwersgracht towards the city centre.


Past all the canals such as Herengracht.


Between Herengracht and Singel was a tour-boat traffic jam.

brouwersgracht trafic jam

I turned right onto Langestraat and left into Korstjespoortsteeg. I never knew there was a mini red-light area there (sorry, no photos; I didn't want my head kicked in).

I crossed the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and walked to the Nieuwezijds Kolk. Some of you might have noticed I've been taking photos of yellow bicycles lately (it started as a joke, don't ask). This is the mothership of yellow bikes; tourists rent them here and use them to commit suicide in traffic discover the city.

nieuwe zijdskolk; yellow bike rental

I paid another visit to C&A, looking at jackets. I'm not good at shopping. I've tried the same jacket now on three different occasions and I still don't know if I want it. I need expert fashion advice.

I left C&A and crossed the Damrak to the Bijenkorf. Their jackets looked the same as the C&A ones, only five times more expensive. I gave up on the jackets and went to the rooftop restaurant where I had a very tasty tuna salad sandwich. The view from the terrace was great.

bijenkorf rooftop view

I made my way out of the Bijenkorf onto the Dam. The fair was gone and once more the City Hall Palace was in good view.


I walked through Damstraat, past the Oudezijds Achterburgwal.

oudezijds achterburgwal

At the end, where Damstraat is not Damstraat but Oude Hoogstraat, I made a detour around the Zuiderkerk.


I made my way to Waterlooplein, past the Hortus and into the zoo, Artis. The pelicans were sitting close to the fence. I walked around Artis and then sat down for a while opposite the vulture's cage. My right foot had begun to hurt a bit from all the walking. The left foot, now sans nylon wire, was still in fine order!


I left Artis through the Aquarium exit and walked home through Oosterpark. The autumn colours were beautiful.


I paid a quick visit to AH to get my favourite Mozarella salad. When I uploaded the GPS-geotagging data to the computer, it told me I had walked just under 13 km.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

power dip

The rain was pouring down this morning so I thought "why not take the #37 bus to work?" After all, they run every 10 minutes to Amstel Station and there it's only a 5 minute wait for the #40. Of course, the bus was 35 minutes late. In the bus I heard over the driver's radio connection to the back office that there were traffic jams all over the Amsterdam area and that all buses to and from the north were delayed. The 37 goes north…

I finally arrived at work only to find all my colleagues hysterical. Last night at 21:00 our Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) was interrupted. Our set-up is [power company] -> [UPS (battery chamber with diesel generator)] -> [server room]. The battery room had failed (the diesel never switched on since we still had outside power) and so we were in the strange position that everything worked except the stuff that should work when there's a power cut!

They managed to get a bypass around the battery room organized so the server room had power again around midnight. You can see the dip in the graph. The throughput dropped from about 525 Gigabit/second to around 300 Gb/s. This means that just under half of the internet traffic in the Netherlands goes through the hardware behind my room…

3, 2, 1, dip!

All our own server hardware had failed too. File servers, webservers, all were down. We spent the day checking all servers and bringing them online again. Some services were in a strange state after being so brutally interrupted, and had to be gently persuaded to start again.

When calm had returned it was time to go home. Skies were dark over the Ringvaart.


I walked along the Ringvaart to home; a route I normally take in the morning. Now you look at things from the other side and one of those views is the Hogeweg with the Rembrandt tower in the background.


The skies were getting darker by the minute; about 500 meters from home the rain started to come down and by the time I got to my block thunder and lightning were erupting too. I was soaked when I hit the front door.

Dinner was the second half of last night's Surinamese-Indonesian Beef Chow-Mein.

Monday, 27 October 2008

njang swietie!

Yesterday was one long outpouring of rain. I stayed at home and scanned in some old family-photo negatives that my father gave me last week. There are a few hundred negatives, and it takes about 5 minutes to scan and clean one. This is a project that's going to take some time…

This morning the day started just fine; the sun was shining and I could stay in bed an hour longer since we have changed to winter time. When I was eating breakfast I saw the workmen at ZiZi's across the road were already busy pouring the new concrete floor.

zizi's new floor

The end of Daylight Saving Time also means that we have more light in the morning. Last week it was getting too dark to make photos, today the light was just fine. I walked to Muiderpoort Station, stopping for a photo on Linnaeusstraat.


Today was the big day: we were going to switch over to our new webserver and our new website running on our new content management system in our new database. The old server now runs our webmail and a bunch of websites we provide for third parties. The change-over was quite complex; new secure certificates on all machines, subtle changes in the configurations between the different servers, etc. We decided that staring at the config files wasn't going to bring us any further, so at 10:00 we stopped/started the http daemons with new configs and switched the DNS.

Almost everything was as it should be! There were some configuration errors that we hadn't caught earlier, some URLs that went nowhere and some things that we had completely forgotten about! All was as expected. The day was full of small repair jobs. (Actually, I am still doing small repairs as I am writing the blog at 21:00…)


the new website

After work I was going to meet Anna for dinner, but she emailed me that her BF had arrived in town unexpectedly and she was using the opportunity to use him as a donkey to carry half of IKEA to her appartment. Maybe meet in Mulligans after dinner? I declined; still too much small stuff to do on the website. We'll have dinner another day.

I took the bus to Amstel Station and walked along the Amstel. The sky was filling up rapidly with clouds.


At some stage it looked like the alien mothership was going to land in Amsterdam-Zuid!

alien mothership coming in to land

I hurried to the Surinamese take-away on Vrolijkstraat where I got a saoto soup and a ketjap beef chow-mein, which in Surinamese Dutch is spelled in a totally different way. It started to rain just when I got to the front door. The food was great. Njang swietie!

last minute update: Danny has 'after' photos of the new living-room interior on her blog.

Saturday, 25 October 2008


I didn't make many photos on Friday; it was too dark in the morning.

junk-laden 'bakfiets' in the dark.

In the evening we had a party organised by work to celebrate the inauguration of the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, Switzerland. There was a buffet with food and a laser light-show with pretty pictures of the experiments.

atlas experiment in the laser light-show

Saturday I took the #3 tram to Zoutkeetsgracht, the end of the line. My grandparents and both my father and mother lived here on Planciusstraat; they were neighbours.


I walked around a bit in the area. I think the last time I was here was about 50 years ago… Some of the area looks very nice.


I walked to Prinseneiland for the first time in my life. Very nice neighbourhood. Lots of restored warehouses which are now very expensive apartments.


From Prinseneiland I walked onto Bickerseiland and then to Haarlemmerdijk. This was extremely busy with shoppers. It has lately become a fashionable place to go shopping; lots of little boutiques and shops.


From Haarlemmerdijk onto Nieuwendijk


And to the Dam. The fair was in full swing; nothing more so than the 'accelerator.' This thing turns around at a ridiculous speed. Nobody pukes because centrifugal force holds the puke in your body…

fair on the dam

I walked through Kalverstraat and Vijzelstraat to Wetering Circuit, where I took the #7 tram home. I was getting a little tired.


I dined on one of AH's fine shrimp salads.