Saturday, April 28, 2007


Wow, it's finally come round. It's Queen's Day (Koninginnedag) weekend and this is the biggest party of the year in Holland. In fact, this party is SO big, it's impossible to really describe.

Picture 50km of streets and alleyways in the centre Amsterdam becoming one writhing squirming mass of people. Bars move their taps outside, stages dot the length of streets and intersections so live bands can compete against the music blasting from everywhere. Whole streets become dance floors such that to move through them you must bounce your way slowly amongst the crush of bodies. If you come across a "mosh pit" pick another direction (or destination).

There will be places on the canals where a pedestrian will literally be able to walk across by stepping from boat to boat.

The actual holiday is Monday April 30th. That's Koninginnedag. Then there's the night before known as Koninginnenacht. The party starts late in the afternoon and proceeds through the night and into the late evening the next day. Although this year the weekend will incite earlier and harder partying than most years. Add in the amazing summer weather and the impending full moon and I think we've got one hell heck of a party!

Par - tay!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Politically Accurate v. Politically Correct

Q: What do you call a mentally retarded person in a fancy suit?
A: Mr. President.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Chicken Soup for the Stomach, chicken soup. And stomachs love it!

Why all this talk about how to get chicken soup into your soul? That's just silly, since of course you'd have to convert the soup to energy and send it to a different dimension of reality. And if we could do that, would soup be the first thing we send? No. Chances are rich people will line up for the way to really "take it with them."

But chicken soup for the stomach, the long overlooked and super obvious use for chicken soup, shouldn't be under-rated. It warms, it fills, it tastes good, and (why isn't this on the label?) it stocks you up with salts which are desperately needed after a good session of sickness.

In the immortal words of some great person at some past time," I like soup."

Less Sick (an update)

It's Monday and it's a sick day, no doubt. I went to the doctor's this morning and came straight home afterwards to rest. My stomach still hurts on and off but not to the point of being physically ill. I'm getting better. But I'm not having fun yet.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm Sick.

No matter how old you get, when you're really sick you really miss your Mom!

I've just spent the evening walking to bed, running to the toilet, walking to bed, running back. I've solved the problems involved with a lot of sleep and a bucket. That's life. What I'm worried about / troubled over is that I'm supposed to be in Stockholm Sweden right now. I'm not there.

I was scheduled to be teaching tomorrow and all next week. That's going to be postponed and rescheduling it won't be easy.

Oh well. I've just eaten a bit of fruit. It doesn't feel nice. Time to go back to bed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bonaire Here I Come!

Woohoo! Enough of introspective ramblings! I've just booked my flight to Bonaire and that is very very cool!

I leave in one month and two days. Arriving in Bonaire, I'll spend 14 days on my PADI IDC. That's a goofy way of saying "Scuba Diving Instructor Course".

"I'd like to be, under the sea, in an octopus' garden, in the shade."

How much can a heart hold?

A question without an answer. How much can the human heart hold? How much love and how much pain can be inside at once? How much is too much?

As I've gone through life I've found my capacity for pain grows. What I couldn't handle years ago I can now safely navigate through. Perhaps also the capacity for love grows? But I don't think either grow from time. They grow with experience.

Some people in this world, a special few, have the ability to make my heart grow. They bring feelings of love and caring and surprise me each time I realize my capacity to love has yet again increased.

If you know someone with pain in their heart, try to alleviate some of that for them. You may just find that what was a bit of pain for one person transforms into a bit of love carried by two. If we had more of this in the world, we would all have fewer pains.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Someday this will be part of a short story

She stood up and declared," I'm going outside for a cigarette." Then added," May I?" as she picked up his pack and took one.

Spinning her head from side to side there was a mumble about a lighter, then she picked up a red one from the table and went to move outside. "That lighter doesn't work," he said.

A short moment later she returned and took a blue lighter from his offering hand.

She stepped outside again. He sighed.

Worries filled her head. What would she do about the situation at work? The man she was obsessed with at work was precisely the wrong person to be messing with. Her boss, a leader in the company and a husband at home, was all she thought about any more. If she tried to get closer to him they could loose their jobs, he could loose his marriage. She knew the possible consequences. And yet there must be some way to avoid the consequences. She's always gotten what she wants. Why should this be different?

She put out her cigarette and stepped back inside.

"I saw him with his wife today at work, so I went up and made sure to be extra nice to his wife. I don't want her to suspect anything. But it was strange. Tense some how."

He rolled his eyes and sighed again. "That's because she already suspects you're after her husband. By paying extra attention to her you're just looking guilty."

"But we haven't done anything yet!"

"And so isn't it obvious that if you did do something, it wouldn't stay secret?"

She reached for the cigarette pack and took another one. Standing, she grabbed the red lighter and stepped outside again.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Today I made pancakes for breakfast! Golden brown, fluffy, butter soaked and covered in syrup.

It's been at least 8 and perhaps 10 years since I last made myself pancakes. I have no idea why it's taken so long. But this morning I awoke and headed straight to the grocery store; returning with butter, syrup, pancake (pannenkoek) mix, and eggs. The eggs I normally buy. The rest was bought for today's breakfast extravaganza.

Next week I think I'll do this again. The butter won't be touched for any other reason until then. And I have the syrup now. I'll try adding some fruit. Cooked in, Dutch style, rather than just on top.

In the mean time, here's a video on pancakes. My favourite independant pancake documentary, to be precise.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ohio Tourists Plan To Enjoy Europe

A group of Ohio tourists was relieved to hear that their planned trip to Europe will indeed take place. Up to now, residents of Blue Ball Ohio were highly frustrated by problems with their initial travel arrangements. Initially confused by the itinerary for the trip, the local council, two ministers and the local PTA tried to ban the trip.

The group plans to first visit Germany, touring the towns of Kissing, Petting, and Wank. From there some members will take a side trip to Wedding, after which the tour will proceed to the village of Fucking in Austria.

According to the travel agents arranging this coed trip, if things go well they may plan separate men's and women's trips next year. Women will travel to Dildo Newfoundland while many men are anxious to visit the U.K., going past Thong and making their way into Twatt Scotland.

Bulimic Lunches Served Via the Web

Ross Island, Antartica - A new Internet service was launched Monday, bringing lunch service directly to bulimia and anorexia suffers via the World Wide Web. Based on HSTP (Hyper Smell Transport Protocols) the system uses a high-speed Internet connection, a standard web browser, and a small USB peripheral device that generates smells.

Hyper Smells Inc., a Tibetan based hardware manufacturer, originally developed their WhaStinx 2.0 smell simulation device to boost sales for online retailers. Pizza delivery companies, bulk food services, and others originally hoped that smelling the food they offered would improve business. Instead, customers were slow to buy the hardware which was priced at 12,600 Albania Lekes (roughly 5,700 Inidan Rupees). Those who did purchase the device found that the smells emitted actually reduced their desire to purchase, especially when ordering anchovies on a pizza or bulk pigs feet.

But researches did quickly discover that the WhaStinx smell simulator did produce a realistic enough smell to make those with eating disorders loose their lunch. Even when they hadn't yet eaten!

"In our first week marketting to those with eating disorders, we've made more sales than the first year of not-for-vomitting food sales," says Muhammad Goldstein, CEO of HSInc. "Young ladies in colleges and universities are always pushed for time. There isn't time to eat and purge between classes. But with the WhaStinx 2.0 they can enjoy the smells of a meal from their laptop leaving plenty of time for vomitting later."

Lin Yung Smith, a student of nanopsychology, helped to test prototypes of the device before it was marketted. "The price seems like a lot at first, but when compared to the amount of food I waste, it doesn't make sense not to buy this product!" She added," I can go to class and smell a hamburger - with or without onions - then stop by the toilet and empty my stomach just as if I had actually eaten it."

Hyper Smells Inc. is also reporting they are close to a new standard for a Hyper Taste Transport Protocol. A peripheral device in the shape of a popsicle sends signals to a person's tastebuds when licked. For now, bandwidth requirements and processing power limit the device to a single flavour; brussel sprouts. According to a company spokesman, researches are close to a breakthrough with flavour potentials including spam, vinager, spam, cod liver oil, spam and vanilla.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Somehow it's Saturday again. Another week has flown past, leaving today as the day to get done those dozens of little things there wasn't time for in the week. Toothpaste, shampoo, a new frying pan, or perhaps two. A pair of shoes needs laces, another pair needs a spot of glue.

I've got a stored up amount of undirected energy. Perhaps I can direct to all those tasks. To the grocery store, and to the drug store, and later to the store with the kitchen products. Maybe new cutlery too. I broke another spoon this week. Cheap Ikea plastic isn't designed to last for years.

Each town in Holland has a shopping night. Thursday, for example, here in Amsterdam. On these night you can expect many stores to be open until 8pm or perhaps even 9. But generally I catch the 6:05pm train home from work, and most shops close at 6:00pm. (The rest close at 5.) So my shopping day has rolled around again. Leaving the fridge empty until someone does something about it.

Shopping needs to be prioritised, however, with other things. Exercise, cleaning, friends, and chasing women all demand large shares of my energy. And I don't want to leave any part of that list (especially the last part) unfulfilled. Weekends are so complex!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sunshine Where It Shouldn't Be

Today is a glorious and sunny day! This is a rarity in Holland, and especially wonderful at this time of year. What should normally be a wet and rainy spring is dry, sunny and warm instead.

But there are times when sunshine isn't welcome. While you're sleeping is a good example. And there are some places the sun shouldn't shine. If you're unmentionables are burning, I hope you're sitting on a stove, and not sunbathing within my field of view.

So, given that sunshine can be (at certain times and places) unwelcome, why does my employer insist on trying to shove so much sunshine where it isn't wanted?

I'm watching a video. Part of a world-wide corporate presentation. And (pardon my language but...) the point of this video seems to be to provide UV light to my lowest sphincter.

"Yeah, yippee, go go go!" "Good hard work." "Shareholder accountability." "Grow our value!"

The goal of the video is to share information with all the employees so we can all be "on the same page" and "working as a single team". In reality, it's telling me we aren't working in the same place.

So much beautiful sunshine outside. And yet here at my desk, I feel like I'm sitting on the stove.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Science - The Gap

The other day I had a nice conversation with a fellow physics graduate. A rare experience, and always nice. Jane, the science graduate in question, had studied mathematics and physics. When I asked what her speciality was (optics, dynamics, particle, etc.) she replied "teaching". But then explained that her training wasn't intended for her to teach science to students. It is instead intended to teach science to science teachers.

So what? Well in case you were unaware modern science has progressed to a level that no individual can study and learn it all. No group of individuals can do so. And thus we're left with a gaping hole between the experts at the cutting edge the whole rest of society.

If you were to believe Hollywood, you might think that genius scientists still come up with ground breaking discoveries. Dr. Emmett Brown from "Back to the Future" is a great example. The crazy physicist in his lab coat, wild hair everywhere, and brains too big to function normally in society. In reality, major breakthroughs are collaborations of work. Hundreds of people work for years on a project. And if a breakthrough comes, the lead researcher or project director will be credited by name for the discovery. But in reality it would take that person and dozens more from their team to fully document, analyse, and publish the work.

Indeed, Jane hoped to be the person who would learn from those scientists what it is they have done or learned. Then she in turn would relay that knowledge (at a lower level) to the people who need to teach it, who in turn relay it to students.

Each step along the way the interface "dumbs down" the information a bit. Making it digestible for a larger and larger audience. But also making it less useful.

The end result is that each of us is relying every day on technologies we don't understand. Even worse, these are things that no one you know understands. No individual could build from scratch the computer you're reading this on. Even just the millions of lines of software on your computer are beyond any one person's abilities.

The point? The point I'm hoping to make is that this situation should be respected. It should scare more people than it does. And yet it seems to go virtually unnoticed.

Society seems to be teetering high upon a pedestal it has made for itself. Held up by composite materials, high-speed data connections, lasers, silicon wafers, and super glue.

Is anyone else worried?