30/01/2012

“The Unknown”

by Rob on

Recently the “reading virus” caught me again and let’s be honest, that is not a bad disease!

I have a rather nice collection of science fiction and fantasy books (I did mention that before). And recently I started to catalog them. And believe me, that is a lot of work. I have done about 25% by now :). And maybe because of this I started to reread old books and I must say I love it…

I thought it would be a nice that every time I finished a book to put here on my blog an article with all there is to know about the book and my opinions about it. So the first book wil be “Het onbekende”:

“Het Onbekende” (English: “The Unknown”) is the first of a series of story books published by “Luithingh”. The first print (and as far as I know, the only print) is dated in 1973. The book is named after and holds stories from the legendary SF magazine “The Unknown”, which was published from 1939 to 1943.
The foreword is done by no one less than Isaac Asimov (a name known to every Science Fiction lover). The book was edited by D.R. Bensen (another known name) and the translation was done by Jan Koesen. The cover was done by Henk de Boer.

The book holds eleven stories and there are some names among the authors that are known very well… names as Fritz Leiber, Theodore Sturgeon and L. Sprague de Camp. All the stories are very good quality. At least of one story I know that it was filmed: “Gisteren was het maandag” (English: “Yesterday Was Monday”) by Theodore Sturgeon.

This book was a real pleasure to read. I am always amazed who some authors are capable to push complete stories into some pages of a book. Fun fact, I can tell when I bought this book: 22 January 1987 and if I am correct I bought at “De Slegte” (a big Dutch shop chain where they also sell second hand books). I paid 6 guilders for the book.

I marked the book as finished reading on 30 January 2012 (and it was of course not the first time I read the book).

Some facts:
ISBN 90 245 0172 5
Published by Luitingh in 1973
171 pages


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A game of Chess…

by Rob on

Yesterday, after the walk Sanne and I made on the beach of Zandvoort, back at my home, we chatted a bit. Poor Marion… she is of course often the subject of these conversations *WINK* . For those that don’t know it, Marion and Sanne are long time friends. They know each from the time that they went to school together and are really close friends who stand which each other in good times and in bad times. And I am glad that through Marion I got to know Sanne, who I consider now as very dear friend as well.

Anyway, Sanne noticed the chessboard that was standing against the side of the couch. She said that she would like to challenge me for a game of chess if she hadn’t known that in the past I played for some years chess on competition level. As it was for me very long ago that I played chess, I really liked the idea. I told Sanne that I am way off the level that I used to play and that I would love to play a game of chess with her.

With the first game Sanne made a made a fatal error in her opening moves, which leaded to a quick checkmate on her side. I explained where she went wrong and what she could have done to prevent the swift checkmate situation.
Luckily Sanne was not discouraged by this first defeat. On the contrary, she was wanted to do better. And so she challenged me for another game. And this time it went a lot better. She listened very well to the advice to take the time before making a move. Get the complete view. Try to see what the other is planning to do. And try to predict how the other will react on your move. And most of all, and this is the hardest part, try to think ahead.
As said, this game went a lot better. We played for close 3 hours. I loved it, two people concentrating on the chessboard between them… the silence of the room… only the breathing could be heard (… and of course my Zebra finches at times *LAUGH* ). And no, I didn’t forget that I was the host, so I served beer and snacks *SMILE* .
It was really a nice and challenging game. Where Sanne really gave me some hard times… I did win, but not as convincing as the first game. And I liked the challenge Sanne gave me during this game.
After the game I showed her how she was very close on a checkmate on me, that I only could prevent by offering my queen. Sanne already wondered why I gave my queen away…

As said, it was an excellent game!

Sanne told me that she would love to play more often chess with me. Something I would like too. But it shouldn’t ruin evenings when Marion (and others) are around. So I came up with the idea to place chess “on distance”, meaning that we both have set up a chessboard at our homes and that we transfer our moves by mail, text-message, MSN/Skype or whatever means we can use. This way you can concentrate on a next move when ever you have time. You can even think more and longer on a move, which might make the game even more challenging and exciting.

Yesterday we played already a new opening of a game here in Heemskerk. A very nice opening, if I may say so. I just mailed Sanne the moves we made so far (I will need a chess notebook again!). She said that she would buy tomorrow a nice looking chessboard and chess pieces that she can put up in her living room.

It is nice to play chess again *SMILE* . And Sanne, let me know when you are ready for my next move…


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Yesterday I had a small belated house-warming party… Yes, I am living here already close to 2 years! But still I wanted to say “thank you” to my direct colleagues who helped me that day and with this small party I did so.

I was very grateful for their help on that 6 March 2009. For instance how Hans drove with his car and trailer from the city of Haarlem to Haaksbergen, from there to Heemskerk where I live now. But also the other who helped to unload the VW T1 bus of Patrick, the car of Hans and the two trailers. And who helped me to make sure that I could sleep in my bed in my new apartment and that I could watch TV.

So I invited them yesterday into my house. For some it was the first time to see the apartment again after the moving. And I think they liked what I did with it (and which is still not something that is finished. This year I would like to place a new kitchen for example).

At the begin of the evening we had some Chinese food together. The Chinese restaurant that is very close to my apartment is very good. It is a bit rare for me to have so many dinner in my house. If I remember correctly it only happened only 3 times before. But it is was fun.

There were some interesting talks while enjoying coffee, cola or beer. And there were luckily lots of laughter.

The plan came up to play some card games and it sounded as a good plan. And that made it possible for me to prepare some snacks and such. It was fun and lots of laughter again

It was a small, but good party. I enjoyed it a lot.

Of course I bought more on snacks and such then really was needed. But Sanne will come this weekend to have a walk with the dogs on the beach, she loves this kind of snacks as well :).


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The human memory…. amazing!

by Rob on

Currently I am registering all my books into a special program for collections (from the same producer that made the program I used for my DvD’s and BluRays. A lot of work, I can assure you. but then again also very nice to do. Many of those books I have more than 20 years in my possession (they were bought between 1975 an 1985). Most are science fiction and fantasy books.

Something start to surprise me more and more: Books that I have read for the last time at least 20 years ago are still stored in my memory. The cover, some pictures or some words… and the memories about the book come back. I can remember the stories again. And how much more the story impressed me when I read the story long ago, the clearer the memories are. And mind you, most of these back haven’t been in my mind for many years…

Funny, stored safely away for such a long time and just a small trigger to bring them back to me… I read somewhere that our memory registers every sight we see down to the structures in stones we see and saves it all in our memory. Imagine if could freely access all this stored information….

Amazing, just amazing… and there we are with our highly advanced memory chips and such. Such a beginners we are with our megabytes and gigabytes…

(Credit picture: Expeditie Duurzaam)


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An Indian dinner

by Rob on

Yesterday I made the Indian dinner for Marion and me that I had planned last weekend…

I have to say it was fun to make. All those herbs and spices… just wonderful to work with. I have rather some herbs and spices that I hadn’t before and that is great (although storing all these start to become a small problem :P).

Anyway, as main dish I made “Kodi Vepudu”, which is based on chicken fillet.
First thing to do was cut the chicken fillet into small pieces. I crushed cinnamon, cardemon and clove until it was almost powder. Separated I cut union and chilli peppers as small as I could.
A marinade for the chicken fillet was made of olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, chilli powder and Koenjit (kurkuma). For 10 minutes I place the chicken fillet in the marinade.
In a wok with hot olive oil I fried the union, chilli peppers, clove, cinnamon, ginger and cardemon for about 3 minutes. Then I added the chicken fillet and baked it until the chicken was nicely done. Added a bit of salt and some curry leaves. And all this together I baked for 3 or 4 minutes more.
Meanwhile I cooked some rice and flavoured it with curry.

I also made a “Mango Chutney”. For this I cut two mango’s into small cubes.
Water was mixed with sugar, cinnamon, clove and ginger. While stirring it al the time, I cooked this mixture until it became a nice sauce. Added a little saffron. Together with the mango, I let cook for 10 more minutes.
At the same time I heated some oil in a frying pan and fried some onion seed. Mixed everything together and added some raisin and almond shaving.

Afterwards I realized that I forgot to add black cumin…

I had planned to make “Kheer” as dessert. But after the main course we both were rather satisfied. And I really dislike to eat more than I want/can. And as there were no ingredients that I could use otherwise, we decided to skip it and go for a nice cup of coffee.

It all tasted good (even with the forgotten cumin). But I have to say that it was a dinner of “extremes”. The Mango Chutney was sweet, very sweet. More sweet than that is beyond my taste. The Kodi Vepudu was rather spicy. More spicy than that and I will not like it anymore. Marion agreed with me a sweet part, but not fully on the spicy part :).

On the other hand, eating with chopsticks goes better and better. I am not good at it as Marion is (looks like she does it all the time), but there is really improvement :P.

(Credit photo: Rob)


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An old special book and the NCSF

by Rob on

Most people will know that I have a rather nice Science Fiction and Fantasy books collection. And just the weekend I looked at one of the more special books in that collection…

It is the Dutch translation of very famous book “War of the Worlds” written by H.G. Wells. The book was printed in 1929 and it is the second print, which meant it was one of the 8000 to 12000 printed books. And there were 8 pictures in there. We can all read this in the beginning of the book…

It is nice to have such old edition of such a famous book. But there is more to this book. When I bought this book years ago, I found a receipt in the book that shows that it was sent to someone to be reviewed…

This makes the book even more special. It even makes the book unique. A quick look on Google learns that de “Wereldbibliotheek” (the publisher of the book) still exists. As said, I am happy to be the owner of this book. And for anyone who even wonders: No, this book is not for sale!

I bought this many years ago at the book club of the NCSF. You may wonder what the NCSF is. It the “Nederlandse Contractcentrum voor Science Fiction”, a club for those who love Science Fiction and Fantasy. It was always nice to visit their meetings in the city of Utrecht and the book club sold many good books for very reasonable price.
I really have no idea anymore why I ever left the NCSF.

Another look on Google learned me that to my surprise after all these years the NCSF also was still around. And yes, I signed up again. Now I live in Heemskerk I can visited their “SF cafe’s” in Amsterdam. It will be fun…

It is nice to feel this urge to read again. It have been gone for some time, but it is back again… and that is a good thing!


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The Bazaar of Beverwijk

by Rob on

For this weekend I had planned to make a nice Indian dinner for Marion and me. Of course there were some special things, like cardemon and curry leaves, needed. But I was convinced that I would be able to get those at the Bazaar of Beverwijk.

This morning I waked up at around the time that is normal for me in the weekend. But Marion, who arrived yesterday rather late and was already then very tired, was still deeply asleep. I got out of bed and I did leave Marion sleeping. Around two hours later I peeked into the bedroom and Marion was still far away in a land of dreams.
So I decided that go quickly on my own to the Bazaar, which is only 5 or 10 minutes bicycling away from where I life. I would just get the things I needed and then return quickly home. This way Marion could sleep a bit more. A good plan…

I could not have been much further then half way to the Bazaar when my iPhone started to ring and a sleepy voice asked where I was. I told Marion that I was just quickly to the Bazaar for some shoppings.
When she heard about the bazaar, she said that she would have loved to have go there as well. And so she told me to wait at the main entrance of the Bazaar for her. She would quickly take a shower and hurry there. I took a cup of coffee at the entrance while waiting there. She was really quickly there. And after some confusion about what is really the main entrance of the Bazaar we met there.

And so what was planned to be a short visit turned into a long stroll of some hours through the halls of the Bazaar. It is always fun what all is for sale there. Don’t expect super quality, but it is surely overall cheap. Mostly I don’t buy there that much. I just love to walk there around to watch things and people.

Finally we made it to the shop where I wanted to buy the things I needed for the Indian dinner, but sadly not all was available (or was known under another name and no one knew). So no Indian dinner this weekend. But back home I found a webshop where I could buy the things I needed, so the Indian dinner will be moved to the next weekend Marion is here with me.

So all with all, it was a nice afternoon at the Bazaar and not wasted time :)


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A black day for the Internet…

by Rob on

I just read that two big Dutch Internet-provider, XS4ALL and Ziggo, are ordered by a judge to block the site of The Pirate Bay. This is in my opinion very bad.

Why bad? No, not because the content that you can get at The Pirate Bay. To be honest, I never even connected to their site. People who know me a little are well aware of my rather nice collection of legal CD’s, DvD’s and BluRays. And I buy rather a lot at iTunes.
And I think everyone should do concerning downloading illegal content what he/she thinks is best. I don’t mind and I don’t judge.

It is bad because it damages the freedom of the Internet. It is bad because the rights of some big companies seems to be more important then the fundamental rights of Dutch citizens. This is another step to “Big Brother”. Today it is a server with illegal content. Tomorrow it may be a site with political content that “someone” doesn’t like.

And it dumb, because someone with a little knowledge of the Internet can easily by-pass such a blockade. And in no time there will be many manuals online how to do this for those that don’t know.

The only rightful way to handle servers with illegal content is bringing down that server. That may be hard when that server in another country. True, but forcing the “transporter” to block certain “ways” is a bad thing and even very dangerous when it comes down to freedom of speech and information.

XS4ALL will appeal against the decision of this judge and Ziggo may do the same. I truly hope that another judge may see how wrong this is….


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A nice steak…

by Rob on

Today I was not in the mood to cook a big dinner. Lets just say I was lazy. But still I wanted to serve something nice to eat for us…

I baked some steaks medium done. That is the way both Marion and I like it. Some pepper, some salt and nothing more then that.

I had still some snow peas, chestnut mushrooms and red onion left. I baked this in a wok on high temperature with some oil. To this all a sauce made of oyster sauce, garlic, sugar and olive oil.

Some Basmati rice with fried mushrooms… and ready is a nice and simple dinner.

Tonight we will take it easy. Reading a bit, maybe watch a movie again. It is important to allow yourself to rest.


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Out on my bicycle…

by Rob on

Even when the weather was not really nice today, I had a strong urge to go outside. Must have been all those hours we spend last week on Schiermonninkoog outside with walks and such…

So I took my bicycle and made my way outside of Heemskerk… against the wind at first (brave me!). It felt good to be outside. The wind playing around my head cleared up my head.
As it was just a ride to get some fresh air I left my camera at home, which was stupid of course. There were some nice views to make pictures of. Luckily I had my iPhone with me. Sure, the pictures of a iPhone cannot be compared with those of a SLR. But as I always say, better something than nothing!

I always try to get away from the busy roads. The more quiet and the less traffic, the better it is for me.

My attention is always caught by unexpected things in the landscape. So did this stone pole rising from the ground…

Luckily there was a plaque explaining all about this stone pole. The pole is called “De Stenen Paal”, which means literally The Stone Pole. After the dike breaches of 1717 (and until 1921) this pole showed the border to which “Hoogheemraadschap” (Water Board) was responsible for the maintenance of the dikes. In 1921 all the maintenance of these dikes were placed under the care of one Water Board (Hoogheemraadschap Noordhollands Kwartier te Alkmaar).

I just love this kind of bits of history!

During this trip I also found out where the museum of of air war is. I already heard and read a lot about it…

The museum is located in one of the fortresses that belongs to the Defence Line of Amsterdam. This museum is one of the places I still want to visit.

One day soon I will return to this area with my SLR to make some decent pictures :).


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