Saturday, 29 November 2008

solid as a bank

All the walking I'm doing is starting to hurt my feet more and more. Mindful of the doctor's advice to "use a bicycle" I thought I'd go looking for a stationary trainer bike. These things you can ride in the comfort of your home while reading a book or watching TV. Unfortunately, if you buy one new they cost you an arm and a leg for a model that'll satisfy a IT professional. I want one with all the bells and whistles: heart rate, burned calories, different training programmes etc.

Most people who buy these things use them only once and then sell them again. With this in mind I set off (walking!) to the corner of Kamerlingh Onneslaan and Middenweg. There's a second-hand shop there and I thought that maybe they had something for me.

They had only one bike; a ratty looking mechanical thing with no bells, whistles, flashing lights or electronics. €40,- they were asking. Not in 40 years. I'll keep looking.

Across from the shop I saw the old telephone- exchange building. I really like the lettering on this doorway, as well as the stone work. I wish architects would find it in them to once more try to make buildings look pretty as they did in the past. When you look at this lowly telephone exchange you know the telephone company is a solid company that's not going to go bankrupt tomorrow.

In a similar vein, if banks were built the way banks were built years ago in stead of glass and concrete, then maybe we wouldn't have a credit crisis. Those bankers of old would never have given a loan to somebody who couldn't pay back. They would have used the money to make their banks look solid, thereby putting money into the hand of craftsmen who could then spend it. There you have it: Kees' Theory of Stone Economics. Solid as a rock.

telephone exchange

I decided I would spend my money on a cup of coffee in Frankendael. I hadn't been in since they've opened so I was curious how it looked. The interior of the restaurant / bar is fairly modern, but over the top. It pretty very busy; lots of families and couples having their coffee or late lunch. The service was very friendly; I'll be back here.


I walked out the backdoor and into the formal gardens behind Frankendael.

frankendael gardens

You exit the gardens through the back gate. This puts you back into Frankendael park.

frankendael back door

Walking through the park I met Philip Palmer. He was on his way to the cemetery. A girl he knew from Mulligans had died last week. He thought I should know her too, but I couldn't fit a face to the name; Maartje, Philip said it was. She had always been a sickly person. I still didn't have a clue. Philip then told me Birgit was coming over from Oz at the end of December and wanted to see all her friends at a big dinner somewhere. I knew she was visiting, but the dinner was new. Philip said he'd keep me in the loop. Last bit of gossip was that he enjoys Nicole's Friday emails. I do too.

We said our goodbyes and I walked back home. I didn't have to do any shopping since I had done it all yesterday.


Friday, 28 November 2008

blue beetle

At work today I was busy with the annual report for a while until my room mate Fred ran into a programming error in LabView. He was trying to pass a command from a LabView program to another machine and it just wouldn't work. We tried different settings and options for about two hours and nothing worked. I finally managed to find an example program on the National Instruments website. NI is the maker of LabView, so if that eample didn't work we'd know something else was wrong. It didn't work. We still don't know what else is wrong. By the tine I went home Fred was trying to install LabView on a 'fresh' machine to see if the problem might be in the OS or in LabView itself. He'll probably tell me on monday what the story is.

When I left I saw a blue VW Beetle parked just inside the gate. Down in Oz Vincent and Nicole are trying to decide if they want a red or a black VW. I think the blue looks nice, too.

blue beetle

At the Insulindeweg the police had a checkpoint and were stopping every moped and scooter. There were a bunch of surly looking young fellows hanging around. There were also a bunch of scooters that had been taken by the police. Probably stolen or running too fast.

police check

I took the tram to the OLVG hospital from where I walked to the AH on Wibautstraat to do my shopping. I've got enought food for the best part of the week now.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

dark, doom and drizzle

It's too dark for any meaningful photography, so here are just a few photos I took in the last few days. They're not the best photos ever, but hey, that's life…

I would like to start, however, with a photo I took two years ago and which I just found again. It's Gertrude, behind the bar in Mulligans. This, I think, is one of the better portraits I made of her.


The last couple of days the weather has been bad; cold and drizzle conspire against photography. Coming home on Tuesday I made this picture of the cranes along the Ringvaart [!]; they're at the building site where the new Casa 400 Hotel is being built.


Wednesday I was walking into town when, passing Hartog's, I saw this yellow bike with Dappermarkt ads on it. I had just bought myself a 'gevulde koek' but waited eating it until I made the photo. Pure willpower.

yellow bike in front of hartog's bakery

I walked down Wibautstraat, Weesperstraat and onto the Nieuwe Herengracht. The old Amstelhof is now renovated and renamed the Hermitage. It will be an annex to the Hermitage in Leningrad St. Petersburg when it is finished. For now they've just opened the stretch along the canal to pedestrians. With no cars parked here it must look as it did sixty years or a century ago.


I ended up at Mulligans where I met with Collins and Jud (who had flown in from Seattle). We went for dinner at the Nachtwacht where we splurged on gigantic steaks. Very tasty. I hadn't been in the Nachtwacht in ages and it was good to eat one of their excellent steaks again.

Today was again dark, doom and drizzle and no photos. At work this week I've been busy with the annual report. Dinner today was an AH 'Boerenkool met Worst', cale and sausage meal. Typical winter food, it didn't taste as good as my Kapucijners did earlier in the week. Maybe I should cook more often.

Monday, 24 November 2008


This morning I had an appointment with my pedicure lady at 08:00. As a diabetic you have to pay special attention to your feet; small wounds could have disastrous effects and therefore the health insurance pays for a pedicure. I have to admit, it feels better than when I had to do it myself with dinky little clippers and a belly that was in the way. The belly is mostly gone now, but it is nice to be pampered on a Monday morning!

I hurried from the pedicure to work and didn't make any photos on the way. The feet felt so good that I walked at a very brisk pace and when I saw the #40 pulling in at the bus stop I made a run for it.

At work I installed a new version of our content management system, attended a meeting of the website editors, filled our photo gallery with high-res photos and invented captions to go with them and numerous other little jobs.

I took the bus to Amstel Station where there were lots of bikes parked.


The weather was cold, but dry and sunny so I decided to walk along the Amstel.


In one of the side street leading to Wibautstraat I saw this bike. It has four saddles and two pairs of pedals. I guess this is the way to teach your kids how to peddle their own bike later in life.

one more seat and it's public transport…

Last Saturday night, Danny was complaining that she couldn't find tinned Kapucijners. These are a not well known vegetable outside Holland. In English you call them purple podded peas. They were cultivated in the 16th century by Capuchin monks in Holland, hence the Dutch name Kapucijner. In the army and navy they're called 'raasdonders'. Typical winter food.

I thought of our conversation when I walked into the AH supermarket on Wibautstraat and looked for tins. Indeed, nowhere to be seen. AH had only glass jars. I looked at the jar, got really hungry and put it in the basket. I also got gherkins, Amsterdam yellow pickled onions, British style piccalilli and meat balls. I didn't go for the 'spekjes', the bacon pieces. Too much fat. I also choose to forego the fried onions; too much crying.

This meal is really easy to make: heat the Kapucijners, slice the gherkins and pickled onions, nuke the meat ball and mix it all together with a little bit of vinegar from the gherkin jar. Add a good dollop of piccalilli and you have a healthy, low fat, low calorie winter meal. Preparation time: about 10 minutes. Yum


After dinner a cup of Kenya coffee with a little piece of 80% chocolate and half a measure of Connemara Whiskey. Life isn't too bad…

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Forward or Reverse?

Today it snowed the whole day and I stayed at home.

snow again

On Vincent's blog I read he was now looking for a red VW Beetle. In my wanderings on the interwebtubes I found a photo of a nice one.

vincent's new beetle?

My weight has today dropped officially under 100 kg. I am now exactly 99 kg. To celebrate I took a photo of myself.

self portrait

When I put the photo on Flickr I immediately got a response from Harry Marmot, a lady who follows my photos there: "Smile!" So, I uploaded another photo.

smile for marmot

I don't think I'll be going to the Mulligans session tonight; it is still snowing.
¡ʍʌ pǝɹ ɐ ʎnq :ɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ uı ǝןoɔıu puɐ ʇuǝɔuıʌ ɹoɟ ǝƃɐssǝɯ ןɐıɔǝds ɐ puɐ 'ɥo

Saturday, 22 November 2008

first snow

Yesterday a storm was blowing over Holland; I didn't go on the street any longer than necessary to get to work and back. No photos; the camera would have blown out of my hands…

This morning I woke up to the sound of snow falling from the sky.

first snow

The snow didn't stay very long; later in the day the sun broke through and after lunch I walked to the Metro station on Wibautstraat and took a train to the Bijlmermeer. I wanted to go and buy a fleece jacket since the one I have (an old Mulligans one) is slowly falling to pieces. Once I got to Bijlmer Station, I didn't go towards the Arena but went to the "Amsterdamse Poort" shopping mall instead.

amsterdamse poort

The last time I was here was over 20 years ago when I bought my curtains here. I had just moved into my new house. All the shops have changed since then, but the ING bank building was still there. This is a 'green' building; the air circulation in the building makes a micro climate which means you don't need airco or heating (or very little of it).

ing bank 'castle'

Walking through the mall I saw Saint Nicholas and his helpers, the black Peters, talking to the children on the street.

st. nicholas and helpers

Better to work for St. Nicholas than going into fraud. The infamous advanced fee fraud, also known as the Nigerian 419 scam is perpetrated in a large part by Nigerians from the Bijlmermeer, according to police briefings. I wonder if this shop is the 419 HQ?

419 nigerian scam(m) HQ?

I bought a fleece jacket for €7.99 at the Zeeman shop. There's a Zeeman around the corner from me so I could have shopped closer to home. I took the Metro back to the Wibautstraat.

sprinter train at bijlmer station

In Wibautstraat I bought my whole wheat bread at Hartog's and did some more food shopping in Oosterparkstraat. For dinner I had a shrimp and hot chilli salad.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

fallen leaves

It is now so dark when I leave the house that I don't see daylight until I get to work. Walking into the gate this morning I saw the gardeners had been busy gathering the fallen leaves. There were huge piles of leaves all over the campus.

heaps of leaves in the science park

I spent the day doing all sorts of little jobs, from mending php-scripts that had stopped working after our server upgrade to advising a graduate student on what to do with illustrations for his PhD-thesis. A quiet and relaxing sort of day.

Going home I walked past Frankendael. It was already getting dark; too dark for photos I thought. Renate had berated me a few days ago for not making photos in the dark. "Use the flash if you have to," she said. Frankendael is too big to use a flash. I could ask the people at work to build me a big flash, but the Netherlands have signed the non-proliferation treaty so we're not allowed to build H-bombs…

Instead I experimented with the manual settings on the little camera. Using a bridge railing for support I took the photo below. Settings were shutter speed 1/4th of a second with an aperture of f.5 at ISO 800. It looks like daylight but it was already dark. I won't be making too many photos like this; it takes too long to get all the settings right and I had to take about five photos before I had one that was half-way decent. Too much work for such a boring subject, and the colours come out a bit wonky.


When I got home I read on Nicole's blog that her grandma had died today. I was sorry to hear that and left her a message to say so. Feel free to do the same; her blog's url is on the side.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

one pill per day

Yesterday I made only two photos, one of which you see below. It was too dark to make more photos unless you have radar vision. I was happy to be just in time to catch the sunset behind the Rembrandt tower from Frankendael Park.

sunset in frankendael

This morning I got a loaf of bread and a 'gevulde koek' at Hartog's. I am allowing myself a treat once a week. Today was the day. The gevulde koek was very yummy. If you eat something only once in a while it is much more rewarding than if you munch on them every day. You really savour the taste in this way.

After lunch I walked to my GP's office. The doctor looked at the results from my blood test and the advice of the diabetes nurse and said: 'take half of your medication, see me in two or three weeks time for another blood test and if that goes well I'll take you of the medication all together.'

It's almost a year ago I was diagnosed with DM2 and now I can see the results of this year's work.

To celebrate I was going to buy myself a present in a shop at the end of the Overtoom. I walked to Weesperplein, from where I took a tram to Leidseplein.


I walked down the Overtoom, which has a length of 2 km, and found the shop I was looking for. It was closed.


So I walked into Vondelpark which is right next to Overtoom.


It turns out they're renovating the park. The whole park is a long line of metal fences with heaps of sand behind it. Boring as hell. I took the first side exit at Emmalaan. The people who live here are either not bothered at all by the financial crisis or they have lost it all. Nice houses, though.

emmalaan villa

I walked straight through this upmarket neighbourhood to the de Lairessestraat. This is not a typo, the street name starts with 'de'. Whenever you say the street name people think you stammer. It is one of the most boring streets in the whole of Amsterdam. Not a single shop to be seen, just lawyers offices and the odd real estate management office. I didn't see any suicides due to the financial crisis while I was there.

de lairessestraat

It was a relief to come out at the far end. The Concertgebouw was basking in the sun, as was the Rijksmuseum. I turned right and walked into van Baerlestraat.


I continued on Ceintuurbaan. When I got to the corner of Ferd. Bolstraat, my right foot was starting to hurt. I think I'm growing new heel spur there. To give it a rest I got on the #3 tram home.

For dinner I threw noodles, chicken, vegetables and red Thai curry paste in the wok.

Monday, 17 November 2008

check-up time

Last night I went to Mulligans with Danny and Marion; we had two whiskies each and added the newly brought in books to the book collection for Bookcrossing. The session was good, Siard was back from his trip to Chicago and was in great form on the fiddle.

We all left early; Danny had to get up at 06:00 to get the train to work in Leiden, Marion was working on her free day, spending the remnant of this year's budget buying books for work and I had to go to the diabetes check-up in the morning.

The Oosterpark was almost empty when I walked to the container office that houses the diabetes checker-uppers. I met only one other person.

I was the first person they were seeing this morning so I could go right in and talk with the guy who does my three-monthly checks. I had my blood sampled two weeks ago, but he hadn't got the results from the lab. So he called them to see what the numbers were. After rolling the dice the lab decided that my HbA1c (the long-period glucose level, should be 4%–5.9%) was 5.7. Spot on! My sober GL was 5.1, also spot on. He asked me if I had eaten and I had to admit that I had: 200 grams of mixed fruit. This will significantly raise your GL if you're diabetic. He tested me on the spot: 5.3: low. I showed him my weight loss graph and he was impressed: "I only see this once or twice in a year". He wanted to keep the graph to use as an example for others.

One of these days I'll go and see my GP to discuss the medication; it could be lowered with these values.

oosterpark, looking towards the container office

After work I took the #40 to Amstel Station and walked out the back of the station. It was very overcast and grey.


Walking along the Amstel I noticed a smoke plume coming from the Nederlandse Bank, the circulation bank.

the amstel

Here's a zoomed-in version of the above photo. I thought that maybe they were burning money to stop inflation, but it turned out to be an optical illusion. The smoke came from a chimney behind the bank.What they were burning there I don't know, but it must have been a lot to make that much smoke.

burning money?

I did my shopping for the next few days at the AH on Wibautstraat and walked home.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

black sheep

Since rain was forecast for today I went for a walk. The weather was beautiful. How do professional meteorological data users such as pilots solve the problem that the forecast has nothing whatsoever to do with the reality? They fly above the weather, that's what they do. I don't have that choice so I walked towards town.

Past the Oosterpark and across the singelgracht to Artis, the zoo.


Across from the zoo is a 'poffertjes' restaurant. I didn't go in.

iverse pannenkoeken • poffertjes

Once in Artis I went to the petting zoo where I did my duty and petted the black sheep that tried to eat my camera. It survived my petting. My camera survived too.

black sheep

Behind the petting zoo is another 'poffertjes' restaurant, Old Dutch in this case. I didn't go in. I'm strong willed and stubborn as a goat (also available in the petting zoo).

oudhollandsch poffertjeshuis

Miss Jo had advised me that her uncle Arie had made some sculptures which were on display in the zoo. I didn't see any, but I did find a family resemblance in this sculpture...

arie teeuwisse?

Zoo architecture has come a long way from this 1916 stable in the Minangkabau style. I like it though. Maybe it is not as functional as a concrete shell, but I think it looks better.

minangkabau house, 1916

I had coffee in the Cheetas restaurant and then took the side exit. I walked past the Muiderpoort.


Around the Tropical institute and into the Oosterpark. The children's playground behind the Institute was empty, which gave me the chance to make a photo without being bowled over by a gazillion kids.

behind the tropical institute

Most of the park was fairly quiet; most people probably still believe in weather forecasts. Or maybe they believe in St. Nicholas, who was making his official entry in Amsterdam around this time today.


In the evening I went to Mulligans.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

pancake house

Since there was a 70% percent chance of rain today, I rushed to Hartog's in the morning to get my bread. It didn't rain.

It was still dry after lunch. I needed to do something about my shoe situation, so I walked towards the shoe shop on Linneauskade. I passed by the yurt that was built on Krugerplein today where children could play games and such. It's a scheme to chase the junks and pushers of the square and it seems to work. Every time something like this is organised, they're nowhere in sight. They probably don't like too much attention.

yurt on krugerplein

In the shoe shop they still hadn't anything I wanted in a size that would fit. I told them the 'bounce' had gone out of my walking shoes and my right heel had started to hurt from the impacts. They suggested putting new insoles in the shoes. That would bring back some bounce and is a lot cheaper than new shoes. They were right; €15.95 and they feel like new shoes again. Good advice.

With the shoes feeling good on my feet again I decided to go for a longer walk than anticipated. I followed the Ringvaart but where I normally go straight to work I now walked the other side of the canal on Valentijnkade.

ringvaart[!] near science park

The Flevopark is on this side. The last time I was in this park must be about 15 years ago when my colleagues and I went to the pancake house there for lunch one day. I walked into the park. The pancake house was closed for renovation.

flevopark pancake house

I emerged from the north side of the park and walked towards the Zeeburgerdijk. This is such a boring street that I left it immediately and turned towards the old harbours. Crossing the Nieuwe Vaart I looked at the house boats moored there and couldn't decide if they were houses or boats.

house or boat?

The area around the old harbours has been built up in the last 15 years with new housing projects. Some areas are starting to look nice now that trees are grown a bit. One piece of greenery was actually floating in the harbour. It was two coupled rafts with trees and shrubbery, complete with something that looked like a log cabin with grass roof. It was only accessible over water, so I couldn't inspect it any closer.

entrepôt harbour

On Cruquiusweg, an old industrial estate, are now houses and offices. You can still see some of the industrial past where they left reminders. A train-loading dock is now a tree-lined cobbled walkway. They left a flatcar on the tracks next to the dock to show what it was in a previous life. The tracks only go the length of the platform, so the flatcar isn't going anywhere soon...

former train-loading dock on cruquiusweg

At the end of Cruquiusweg is Panamalaan. This street is bordered by two huge red buildings. Since it was very overcast today (remember, 70% chance of rain!) the colours are not very bright on the photo. Believe me, they're RED.

red buildings on panamalaan

Behind the red buildings I turned right onto Cruquiuskade, which leads to the IJ micro-brewery and the windmill.

ij brewery and the windmill

I crossed the road and walked into Dapperstraat where the market was in full swing. I don't understand why people go to the soukh in Casablanca or the Grand Bazar in Istanbul. You can hear, smell and see the same things on Dapper market.

dapper market

I walked down the market and then down van Swindenstraat to the Oosterpark.


The hotel on Oosterparkstraat had a neon sign in the window. Since the street is closed for traffic due to the tram-rail renovation I wonder whom they expect to see it?

hotel open, street closed

About 10 minutes after I got home it started to rain. Perfect timing.