Thursday, February 20, 2020

When push comes to saunter

The dynamically opposed wing nut was found in a castigated state for having not cheered for the losing team in the Crushed Glass Crawl World Championship of 1983.

The refurbished sinewy wrist bracelet was removed extremely carefully from the projection of an equine sphynx who had just eaten one too many orange M&Ms.

Not all of the muons that struck me this morning had brushed their teeth after having gotten out of bed.

Heh; I looked up muons and found that about 10,000 muons reach every square meter of the earth's surface a minute. That's a lot of muons.

A synergistic equanimous plaid-patterned mouse pad was not the best gift that Hank's sister got for Hank at the Feb 29 celebration.

Cheese sticks are not sticks.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

further thoughts on NL

While in both Amsterdam and Dordrecht there were a few things I noticed about The Netherlands.

I've known this about Europe in general for many years, that the rail is used primarily for passenger service while in North America it is primarily used for freight. What struck me about my experience in NL was how frequent and accessible the rail network is, how easy it is to really get from anywhere in the country to anywhere else. When I looked to take a train from Dordrecht back to Schipohl Airport, there was a departure about every eleven minutes throughout the morning. Most of them required me to switch trains at Den Haag, but about once every 45 minutes, there was a train that bypassed Den Haag and required no change to get to the airport. As I was flexible, I took the train that didn't require a switch.

I also knew that Amsterdam was very bike-friendly in terms of bike paths, and bicycle accessibility. I wasn't certain if this would hold true outside of Amsterdam. Pretty much every street in Dordrecht, including in the old part, there were clear guidelines as to where the bikes can go and where the cars go. Through Papendrecht and Alblasserdam, at least on the streets I walked on getting to and from Kinderdijk, the bike path was either adjacent to or separate from the main street, and on every cross street or roundabout, a clearly delineated path for the cyclists.

Finally, I was a little concerned that spoken English outside of Amsterdam might become a concern, and I really don't know anything about speaking Dutch. In all of the cases where I had to interact with people (the AirBNB host, restaurant staff, rail agents, Snacky Dordrecht guy, etc.) they could always help me in English. Even if their knowledge of English was minimal, it was enough for the conversation that was required. In the restos especially, there was always at least one staff member who was quite fluent.

A funny thing happened when I went to get my Subway sandwich for lunch today; I've become chummy with the main guy who works there; as I had lunch early (11h), he was sitting at a table outside of the food court Subway, so I mentioned to him I had just come back from NL. We got to talking about it and he said that he figures that there are parts of Europe that are like 5 years into the future compared to what we have here (my own city), and that the northern countries (especially the Nordic ones, but also NL) seem to be closer to 10 years into the future.

I can't see rail becoming anything like what they have in Europe, here; there is too much freight that is transported by rail here to effectively share the tracks with passenger service. While a new light rail system is presently being built here, intercity rail is on no-one's horizon. This Wikipedia article has few updates since 2014.

Having gone there once, I think I'd like to go back and visit again, perhaps spend some more time there. I'm not convinced it is a place I would want to live, but it sure is a nice place to visit.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Dordrecht, ISU, and AirBNB

Get set, this will be a long one.

Back in November I had found out about a World Cup Short Track Speed Skating event that was happening in my own city. I was curious about it so looked into getting tickets, they were not expensive at all, so I ended up going and had a great time.

After that event there were two more, in Japan and China, and then a break, and then two more, in Dresden and Dordrecht.

I was curious to see how much it would cost to go to either of the Dresden or Dordrecht events and it seemed like I could swing it for around 1200$, which includes the air travel, train travel, AirBNB, event tickets and food. It turned out that both flights and AirBNB worked out better for Dordrecht, so that is where I went.

I arrived in Amsterdam the morning of Thursday, Feb 13, and took a train from Schipohl to Amsterdam Centraal station where I hooked up with a co-worker of mine who works out of Amsterdam. We spent the morning walking around the area of the station, stopped at a breakfast place to have pancakes and had some good conversation. Sadly, I had intended to take a photo of the two of us, but that didn't happen. It could be that the constant rain that was falling distracted me from taking out my mobile device.

I took the train back to the airport and saw this:

NL's commuter trains go faster than the commuter trains in my city.

I had pre-purchased a rail ticket to take me from the Airport direct to Dordrecht, however, the train I got on stopped at Den Haag (The Hague). Once it stopped and stayed stopped it became clear to me that I had to get off and find a different train that would take me to Dordrecht. I spoke with an agent who was wandering on the platform, had to wait about 25 minutes, and then the train came and we departed ten minutes later. This train stopped at many interim smaller stops between Den Haag and Dordrecht, but in the end I got there.

Prior to having left home, I had committed to memory the route to get from the train station to the AirBNB apartment, it wasn't particularly complicated. Take the street that is perpendicular to the station and walk to Singel street, turn right and look for #156. I met with the AirBNB host, she introduced me to her home, showed me my room and let me know about the place. I showered and shaved and then headed out for a walk around Dordrecht Centruum. Below are just a few of the photos I took while on this walk.

I had researched a number of different restaurants that I would try out, and on this first night I decided to go to 't Bevertje.
I wasn't certain how much English would be spoken outside of Amsterdam, so with a little trepidation, this was the first restaurant I went to on this trip. There were three waitstaff, one of which was comfortable and confident to speak English, the other two could manage. I ordered the beef liver with fried apples and longonberries, it came with a side order of potatoes. The main meal had a wide variety of vegetables mixed in with the fried apples, it was delicious. I should have refused the fries as the main meal was more than enough.
Though the resto was mostly full after I got there, it wasn't super noisy, so it was fairly easy to hold a conversation. The staff were very attentive, friendly and helpful. As a solo traveler it was very easy here as I could just sit at the bar.

After that I walked back to the AirBNB putzed around on my phone for a bit and then went to sleep.

The next day I walked a lot. There is a spot called Kinderdijk (pronounced Kinder-dyke) that is a Unesco World Heritage site. I got to see lots of windmills. It may have been possible to take a Waterbus from Dordrecht to Kinderdijk, however, the route requires a switch at Ridderdijk, and the Waterbus from Ridderdijk to Kinderdijk only runs from May to October, so it wasn't available to me. So I decided to walk there and back (12km each way).

NL has an interesting way to show on town entry and exit signs what is the name of the town you are entering, and what is the name of the town you are exiting:
Alblasserdam was one of the towns I walked through to get to Kinderdijk (the other was Papendrecht). As I got closer to Kinderdijk I could start to make out the windmills:


And then I could get close to one:

I found a bench were I stopped to eat a croissant and a banana that I had brought with me. This was the first time I sat down since having left the AirBNB, some 2.5 hours earlier. Then I walked around a little and found these two signs:

I paid 11 euro to go inside one, learned about the family that lived there and took care of it all. This is how I could get so close to this one:

I wandered around a little bit more and then headed back to Dordrecht. Took the Waterbus from Papendrecht (both directions).

I was going to go to the Strada del Vino resto for supper that night, but it only opened at 17h, so I found that Finn's was open, so I went in there and had a couple of whiskeys.

At about 16h54 I paid up for my drinks and headed over to Strada del Vino. When I got there the resto was pretty quiet, as it had just opened, so I mentioned to the person at the front that it was just me, and she put me at a table at the window which is quite separate from the rest of the resto.
In this first photo there is a person at the bar, it turns out she was waiting for a four-pizza take away order. You can see that all of the tables are empty.
Turning just slightly towards my left, you can see that there is a bar at this place, but it was very narrow and not particularly amenable to sitting to eat.
I order the ravioli with ricotta and spinach and also had a dessert of cannoli and ice cream. It was all very good. This was the only time throughout this trip that I took a dessert.
As people were coming in, it seemed to be that everyone had a reservation, so clearly this is an in-demand resto and is perhaps why I got the feeling that having just showed up like I did was not as warmly accepted as it could have been. I had been told that I had to leave by 19h; which was fine with me. Within about half an hour of arriving, all of the tables had filled up:
After the two whiskys and the two glasses of wine at Strada Del Vino I was a little foggy about where I was and how to get back to the AirBNB, but I eventually found my way there.

The next day, Saturday, was the first day of competition so I walked to the arena where it would take place. Along the walk (and in other places in Dordrecht that I had noticed this before), the owners of the homes have directed their trees to grow in a very specific pattern:
I'm curious what these would look like in the summer when they have leaves.

To get to the arena I had to pass through the campus of Da Vinci College, which had this rather unique bus shelter:

I had different seats for the two days of competition, neither of them were particularly good. On Saturday, for example, a significant part of the track was blocked by the camera work people:
Still, I could see most of the track:
None of the photos I took of the skaters in action came out very well. It makes me think that if I'm going to continue going to events like these I ought to get a better camera with the ability to take high speed photos.
During an 'ice break' (when they stop temporarily competition so the Zamboni can resurface the ice) I took a walk and photographed these three:
The only other one I would have liked to have had was one of Kristen Santos (USA). These four are major skaters in the competition that I have been following pretty closely.
After the event on Saturday, I walked back and grabbed a burger, fries and Coke from Snacky Dordrecht. There are a few of these in the city, a really small place that serves a really large number of items.
I took the food back to the AirBNB and ate at the dining room table there.

Sunday, while I could technically see more of the ice surface, I was further away so everything was smaller:
On both Saturday and Sunday they had a morning program that was not very well attended for repechage races. I went to the morning program on both days, and on Sunday I decided to move closer for a couple of the races to see what it would have been like had I spent the money on better seats.
Doing this made me figure that if I'm going to go away to an event like this in the future, I'm going to spend more on tickets to get better seats. At least this way I may be more visible to my Canadian skaters whom I'm there to support.

Of all of the races, this 5000m men's final was the one that got the crowd going the most, it was such an exciting race as it drew to a close, I'm including it here (11:09):


That evening I went to Ferdinands, a French resto right across the street from my AirBNB. Again, they opened at 17h and I was the first one in, the waitress/hostess was very friendly and we chatted a bit. She mentioned that cod was the fish of the day, and I said that I can get cod anywhere, but in a French restaurant I can get duck which I can't really get hardly anywhere else, so she asked me if I wanted breast or leg and I took leg.
It was all really good, and it surprised me that my meal also came with fries; this also happened with my meal at 't Bevertje. In neither case did having the fries really be necessary; the meal itself was filling enough. Here are a few more photos of the resto:
About 15 minutes after I had arrived, and perhaps two minutes after my food arrived, this other older couple came into the restaurant and sat at the bar right next to me and we started talking. They were very friendly. As other customers came in, so too did a young woman who was the other of the waitstaff in the resto.

Monday I took the train back to the airport and this time made sure that it was the right one:
The above was taken from within the train, but it clearly shows that Schipohl Airport was on the route.
I was curious to know if the Canadian skate team would show up at the airport on this flight, since the team is based in my city, and about 80 minutes before our scheduled departure time, first the five women of the team showed up, and then a few minutes later the five men. The women sat in a section across the concourse and were separated from us while the men sat a few seat blocks away from me.
Part of me want to go and congratulate them on the skating they had done over the event, to say how proud I was of them, and to wish them the best of success in Korea next month where the World Championship will take place. But the larger part of me didn't want to do this as who am I to them? Just some stranger. So I elected to let things happen to chance, if, queued up for boarding, or if, within the aircraft, or if, queued up at customs back home, if at any of these times I managed to encounter any of them I would chat with them then. But none of this happened.

Here's the plane we took:
It was still being loaded with food at the time of this picture. There was a delay in our departing due to a parts issue, but we did end up leaving.
About an hour before we landed they gave us a parting snack, a cute little pizza:

On the bus ride home from the airport I decided to message Court on Insta (Courtney Lee Sarault, one of the women on the skating team that I follow on Insta) to say that I had been in Dordrecht to watch them and saw them at the airport but didn't want to disturb them. But that I did want to congratulate them on their performance, say how proud I was, and to wish them the best in Korea, and finally, personally to her, that she get a good night of rest.

I haven't received a response, but that's okay, I didn't really expect one.

I was fortunate this season that the World Cup came to my city; next season it isn't likely this will happen again. Given this, if I am to go and see them race, I will definitely have to travel, so I may only get to see them at their race one time. If I do go, I'll be sure to get the best seat possible. And maybe, just maybe, between then and now I'll get a camera that can do high speed photos, and maybe also a telephoto lens.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

twice the left, thrice the wrong

I've subscribed to 'Heated' and have found Emily's posts enlightening.

I've ordered an ET-3710, it should arrive either tomorrow or early next week. It is an Epson printer that takes ink, not ink cartridges. I don't have a good place to put it yet in my apartment, I have a vision of a temporary arrangement and a vision of a better more permanent one.

The Coronavirus has stopped a cruise ship outside of Tokyo, anchored as quarantine for 14 days. The passengers are required to stay in their rooms. A cruise I am going on in March is an inside cabin and will just have me in it. If my ship was quarantined and I had to stay in my room, it would be like solitary confinement. Apparently the staff of that near Tokyo ship are bringing meals to each of the cabins three times a day; so for sure I wouldn't be starving.

What would I do to fill the time? If there is a TV, I would watch TV shows and movies. If there was Internet, I would do a number of things on my mobile device. There really isn't any room to do cardio, however, I would pick two, three or four times a day to do things like push-ups, squats, lunges, hand-stand push-ups, stretching and other body-weight exercises that I could either conceive of on my own, or, if there was Internet, that I could find from others. For certain I would see what books I had on my mobile device and read one or more of them. I suppose laundry would become a problem, but I could wash and hang my underclothes, hoping there is enough air circulation to help them dry.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Celebrate viscosity

A sandwich wrapped inside a chicken, which is wrapped in bacon, which is inserted inside a turkey, which is wrapped in bacon, which is inserted inside a pig, which is buried in the ground on top of several rocks that spent the last twelve hours burning in a fire, and left there for eight hours and then withdrawn, was eaten.

A sandwich, made with tuna and a raw egg (without the shell), was fed to the chicken. The turkey ate the bacon while the pig wallowed away.

Slippery surfaces do not require any mayonnaise to smell as fragrant as a fabric softener used by a septuagenarian as a lint removal strategy from the fuchsia flowered sofa.

Stopping to prevent just a few others from starting is occasionally, perhaps, one of the best ideas a person can have.

Ideas come and go, and sometimes they just sit there, waiting. If I was an idea, I'd yell and scream until someone picked me up and made use of me.

Monday, February 03, 2020

That about wraps up the rap

1. Today is my first day in a new role within my company.
2. Last night the KC Chiefs won the Superbowl, 31-20, against the SF 49ers.
3. I printed out the tickets (train and event) for my trip to Dordrecht next week
4. I put a note in my calendar exactly 30 hours before my flight departure, as that is when KLM says I can check-in, hopefully checking in early like this will give me a better selection of seats from which to choose. I'm aiming for a window seat as close to the front as possible.
5. I saw the movie 'The Rhythm Section' on Saturday. I'm going to see 1917 today. I may go to see 'Birds of Prey' later in the month of February.
6. I had a nap yesterday.
7. I've started the 5:2 fasting again; normally I do Mondays and Thursdays for fasting, so I last ate at 18:34 yesterday and I do not expect to eat any sooner than 18:35 this evening. I am drinking water, however.
8. Not everything that you've read above is true, well, unless it isn't.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

crying about laundry that isn't made of hemp

The walking directions that get you from one place to another do not give you any ideas about the least modern episode of a TV show that aired in the late 1970s.

The seventeenth season of the Survivor TV show; will it still be of interest seventeen years from now? Do reality TV shows age well?

This coming weekend the Superbowl will be played, the San Fransisco 49ers will play against the Kansas City Chiefs. The game will be played in Miami, on Sunday evening starting at 18h30. I heard a news story of a movement to have Superbowl games be played on a Saturday night instead of a Sunday night, so that people can party overboard, should they wish to, and have Sunday to recuperate. Of the two teams, I do not know which is favoured. What I do know is that the two teams have very similar colouring to their uniforms, however, the 49ers will wear white while the Chiefs will wear red.

I may need to acquire a new pair of shoes some time in the next eleven months.

Not all of the finger nails that a person has had painted orange reminded Hank of Halloween. That Hank, as a character in this post, didn't see a single episode of Survivor Season Seventeen comes as no surprise to the author. The person whose finger nails had been painted is an enormous Survivor fan, has seen every episode of every season at least three times and has submitted an application to be on the show numerous times.

Raising rabbits to then slaughter them for human consumption is something I did think about at some time in the past. I have not thought about it at all in the last thirty-nine days, well, not until I decided to add this sentence to this post that brought the subject up. What I read back then, if I recall correctly, that rabbits are prone to disease, and eating diseased rabbit is not a particularly good thing to do. I also don't know how comfortable I would be with the whole slaughtering process.

Standard clauses in variable contracts concerning tenured roach disco clubs are not like a toaster-oven made of iron mixed with celebrity facial oil.

The half-time show of the Superbowl game this weekend will include performances by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. These are two artists that I don't really know all that much about, though J.Lo, as far as I am concerned, has had a higher profile. I'll be going to my parent's house to watch the game.

In other news there is a crazy locust infestation in a few adjoining African countries happening right now. On a website I saw some photos that showed the vast quantity of them. They are eating at all of the crops and vegetation making an already arid area suffer further. The people living there are doing what they can to scare away the locusts, but when they are in that number, it is a woefully measured losing battle. We have no locust infestation here where I live. I do not know that locusts would survive winters here.

In still other news there is a 'Trillion Trees' movement that many environmentalists fear will give people permission to continue emitting greenhouse gases. I support the idea of the Trillion Trees plan, but I am also clear that much more than this needs to happen. That I have gone carless was a big step to reduce my own personal emissions. When I moved from my house (heated with a heat-pump and with heating oil) to my apartment (heated with natural gas), I believe my emissions have gone down as the amount of natural gas burned to heat my 800sq ft apartment is likely less than the amount of oil that was burned to heat the 3500sq ft house. One thing I'll be doing in 2020 that I haven't done much of in the last few years is that I'll be flying a few times. I have a flight to Amsterdam in February (and back) and another one in March to Miami (and back). I am considering using less.ca as a carbon offset for these flights. Those two trips are for pleasure, I also have a trip to Chicago in August for work. There may be other work travel in the future.

A silhouette made of cream cheese was slobbered upon by Hank's pet Fox Sparrow. Hank has a small selection of sparrows as pets that he takes for a walk occasionally. Though the sparrows do not like the leash used, they do really appreciate the cream cheese.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Caution: icicles may form in your underwear

So tomorrow is Bell's Let's Talk day.

I am only peripherally aware of friends and acquaintances that have voluntarily made somewhat public their mental health issues.

I would like to be in more of a position to help anyone who is suffering loneliness, anxiety or depression. For more clinical ones, like eating disorders, PTSD or bipolar, I feel ill equipped.

I have already started volunteering at a place that offers both food bags as well as two hours of social time to help to combat social isolation from the patrons of this charity. In mid-February, we (the people at this place) are meeting to discuss how we can raise our profile and bring in more patrons to be of a more meaningful assistance. At the moment we get between 6 and 10 patrons for each of the four times a month we do this.

Is there more I can do? I don't know, I suppose I can look into it.

Bell will pay 5 cents to Mental Health programs for each time someone does something with their social media, in particular, tomorrow I will do this:
Instagram: Every Bell Let's Talk Day video view at Instagram.com/Bell_LetsTalk

Friday, January 24, 2020

The left brain and the wrong brain

Quadraphonic elk farts recorded by a thirty-something female arbourist and then used as the backdrop sound to a ytube video of a newborn goat mimicking a recently fed tarantula required very few soup spoons.

That my wrists are not tied together like the way an iguana species got crossed with a desk lamp with an ivory coloured, tasseled lamp shade, reminded no one of anything important or consequential. Not all of the posts that start with a twelve letter word are likely to end with a twelve letter word.

Broccoli as a friend of mine went swimming uphill while playing chess against am incorrigible greyhound (the dog, not the bus). It isn't often you'd find an incorrigible bus.

At the moment I own exactly zero operational wrist watches. I've been getting better at counting to zero.

Insisting that the soliloquy ought to have begun with a preposition was not my idea of having a good time. Then again, I'm not exactly certain what my idea of having a good time might be; unless, perhaps, it involved i/g.

Oddly enough, back in the early 2000's, I used to play Ping-Pong/Table Tennis with two friends and we shortened what we called it, somehow, to i/g (pronounced eye-gee).

I have an idea that may allow me to play again with some regularity, but I am not certain if the plan will either be accepted, or if it will work.

Incidentally, while this sentence began with a twelve letter word, the fact that this post ended with one also, is incorrigible.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

image

Yesterday I gave blood again. It was a momentous donation as it was my 100th. This means I have joined a select club and will be invited to a banquet where all other people who gave their 100th donation will get recognized on stage. At that event, people who hit higher milestones also get recognized. My Hema-Quebec card will also get replaced, from a white card that people have from their first donation to their 100th, to a Gold card.

Here are my readings from yesterday:


My pulse was a little higher than normal, and my temperature was 0.1C higher than normal. Usually my temperature has been solidily 36.6C without variation over the last few years, so I find it a little odd that I was running just slightly hotter yesterday.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

NS - me?

Singing in my yacht, what a lot I got,
Happiness is something that just cannot be bought.

I've been in and I'm out, I've been up and down,
I don't want to go until I've been all around.