27/02/2012

The past runs fast…

by Rob on

Someone said once to me: “The past runs fast… It is just one step behind you!”.

So true and it is always there to remind you of things that happened.

Today I have to gather all the documents that are needed for the taxes over the few months of last year that my mother was alive (she died begin April). I have all these documents nicely ordered, so it is not a lot of work to do. But it makes you think back on things and stand still for a moment. Specially because with documents of my mother, the documents concerning the passing away from my father are stored together.

Yes, the past runs fast… and of course there is still some sadness and that is not a bad thing.


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A nice bicycle trip…

by Rob on

Although the weather was not as sunny as yesterday, Marion and I decided to go for a bicycle tour. After all sitting inside all day inside is also not everything.

We went for the direction of the dunes, but a bit more to the south as we have been before. There we found a small road taking us away from the busy roads into the countryside. Really a beautiful area with almost no traffic at all. This is just what we wanted… busy roads with traffic we can see the rest of the week more than enough.

Here we saw some pollard willow trees. These were luckily well maintained. So often this is not done anymore and that is a pity, because pollard willows (“knotwilgen”) belong to the Dutch landscape.

By cutting the trees in this special way the tree will grow very long straight branches. These branches could be used to make baskets and brooms.
As said, these trees really belong to the Dutch landscape and it is good to see that others think so as well.

A little after that we noticed a sandy road leading into the Dune area. We decided to take this road. Already very soon it was made clear to us that this was the “Bram Hijmanspad”…

At home again I tried to find out who Bram Hijmans was and why he had this path named after him. But this without any luck.

The path leaded us through a very nice forest/dune area. Some parts the path were so bad that we had to walk, but that was okay. We enjoyed the singing of the birds. It was if they were telling that spring would arrive soon. Something that may happen from me right away.

What I really like are the free wandering cattle. Impressive. And if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone…

On our way home we stopped at “De Patatoloog”. Marion and I have been here before. It is some kind of luxury snackbar/cafeteria. Here they serve the best French fries we had since a very long time. Everything is of a very good quality. As Marion likes her French fries without any salt, they used new clean equipment for her. That we really liked. Something else as the “local fast food shop” (at least most of them).

So again, a very enjoyable day and we saw some new spots around Heemskerk. So a day well spend together!

(Edit 20-7-2014: Today I corrected the marker in the map below to the right location. It was before not even close to the correct position).


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Encryption….

by Rob on

Did you know that it takes 10 hours to encrypt a terrabyte external hard disk with a rather fast machine using TrueCrypt? I didn’t, but I found out today *grins*.

Although some parts of the government will not agree with me, I think nowadays encryption becomes more and more important. We all have information that we want to protect from others. Yes, I dare to say we all do…

Lets have a look at mail. Mail is nowadays a very important way to communicate with others. Yet many people do not realize that a normal sent mail has no more protection than a postcard. Anyone who gets hold of it can read it (and yes, it is very possible to get a copy of a mail while it “travels” from one mail server to another).
Now for some mails it will be no problem that everyone can read it (just as with a postcard), but I am convinced that there many mails going around that are only meant to be read by addressee. And that doesn’t mean that the content of mail is right away “top secret”, but it just be personal somehow.

Encryption is here the solution. With a number of people with who I talk about personal matters (as Marion and Sanne) I often encrypt my mails. The program I use for this is GnuPG (Open Source, so free to use). GnuPG makes it possible that only the correct addressee has the means to decrypt the message and reads the content. So just like mail was placed into a secure envelope and was transported as a registered mail that only may be delivered to the addressee in person.
GnuPG also makes it possible that while the message is readable I can proof that message was sent by me (so called “signing” of a mail).
I will not go into details how GnuPG exactly works. There are many very good resource on the net available for that.

But there is more onto encryption…

On our desktops, laptops, smart phones and tablets we store a lot of information. And again, some of this information may not be meant to be seen by everyone’s eyes. For example, I could understand that you don’t want everyone to be able to see your tax data. Or maybe there are letters and other documents that are somehow personal that you want to keep private. Same can be said about photo’s.

Specially mobile devices as laptops, smart phones, tablets and external hard disks are a potential danger for losing private information. Mobile means that they are more easy to lose or to be stolen. But also a desktop can be stolen from your home…

So also for data stored on computers and other devices there is a need to encrypt information.

The program I use for this TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt makes it possible to create secure encrypted containers on your hard disk or encrypt complete devices (again, there are many resources on the net available how TrueCrypt works, so that is no subject for here).

As soon as if I even consider something on my desktops personal or private I create a TrueCrypt container for it.

All my external hard disks are completely encrypted with TrueCrypt. So if one gets lost or stolen, there will be only some hardware lost as the information stored on it is not accessible for strangers.

And so I know that it takes 10 hours to encrypt a one terrabyte hard disk. I started to encrypt this external hard disk and it is almost done.

Yes, (local) governments are not really happy that private people encrypt data, because that means information is way out of their reach. And that is something most governments don’t like.
There was here in The Netherlands an attempt to get encryption forbidden, but luckily that failed completely.

To be short: Encryption is a very interesting subject to learn more about, but basically it is simple… It is the only way to secure your stored information….


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Black Sabbath…. :-(

by Rob on

The concert of Black Sabbath were I would go to in June this year is cancelled. This because the guitarist Tony Iommi is ill. I guess he must be really ill to cancel a concert that is almost 4 months away…

A pity. I think this was the last opportunity to have seen Black Sabbath live…


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Guinea fowl (“Parelhoen”)

by Rob on

Yesterday I tried to make a nice and special dinner for Marion and me. After all it is good to be together again after 4 weeks… Something with Guinea Fowl (Dutch: “Parelhoen”) sounded as a good plan!

I tried to make a nice decorated table of it. Some candles, a nice red rose, a nice looking dishes and scales… But in my opinion you have to be careful not to over do it. Something you see tables so decorated that it looks more a garden or a playground for kids. I don’t like that. A dinner table should not be too busy decorated.

First I mixed honey, salt, pepper, fresh garlic, lemon juice, Djion mustard, paprika powder and cayenne pepper. I dried the Guinea fowl a little, so the fillets were as dry as possible and rubbed them gentle with some salt and pepper. Before placing the Guinea fowl fillets in a buttered oven-proof scale, I made sure that both sides of the fillets were covered with the marinade I made before.
With the oven on a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius the fillets stayed there for 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes, I used the marinade again, but this time only on the top of the fillets (the fillets stayed in the oven-proof scale). And for 10 minutes more the scale was placed in the oven again.

Meanwhile I prepared mashed potatoes (all home made) and before serving it to the dinner tables I spread some parsley over it. As vegetables I cooked a mixture of carrots and snow peas.
I also served a rucola salad (with a mustard/honey dressing and all kind things added as garlic, pickles, silver onions, olives, parsley, chive, pepper and more). And of course with a meal like this apple-sauce with cinnamon should be there.

I love to have a baguette with a nice meal. To the baguette some garlic butter, Boursin and créme de Brie.

And the wine we enjoyed during the dinner was a “Saint Mont Boiseraie” (2009). A very nice wine for its price. And even when I say so myself, it all tasted very good!


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Suske & Wiske – Krimsonia

by Rob on

While Marion and I were doing some groceries, I noticed that a new Suske & Wiske album was released. It is really brand new (just released this month). It is album 316 and has the tittle “Krimsonia”… and yes, of course I had to buy it :).

In this album all kind of strange things are happening around Sodinia. She is even accused of stealing things and a bank-robbery.

A new entertaining story again. And yes, another album for my Suske & Wiske collection… Even a first print :P


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Yesterday after work I was I very tired. I have slept very badly the last week. This because of this nasty cold and painful throat. But my mood was good. A colleague offered to drive me home, so I would be home fast.
But even more that I would see after almost 4 weeks Marion again. This was not planned likes this. But she has been away a long weekend with Sanne (this was already planned for some time). Then suddenly she had to work the weekend before this trip with Sanne (she had to replace a sick colleague at a congress). And some more things like this.
So I was happy to go home finally. Although the working day was a good one, it felt like it lasted for ages with this very nice outlook on the evening.

I expected Marion to arrive somewhere around 19:00, but here she had told me a little lie. She had arrived already early in the afternoon.

And so my home-coming was very pleasant. The living room was on a nice temperature… Soft music was playing… Candles were lighted… and of course above all, Marion. It is always so wonderful to see her again when she has been away… and this time even more.

All was setup for a nice evening together. Marion had taking care of everything, including the last shopping’s that were needed.

As we discussed what to do for dinner it turned out that neither of us was in the mood of cooking. We decided on some Chinese food. As I had already told before, I have a very good Chinese restaurant close by.
Marion suggested that I would take a shower, while she would go and get the food. A good plan…

Marion returned with a complete Indian dinner (chicken soup, babi pangang, foe yong hai, tjap tjoy, koe loe yuk, saté, shrimps and rice). As always, it tasted wonderful.
And the nice thing of such a dinner is that you can dump everything that is left over in a garbage bag, put the dishes in the dishwasher and you are done :).

After dinner, while enjoying a very nice red wine (Fort Chevalier Bordeaux Rouge) we talked a bit what has been going on the last four weeks. We came to the conclusion that nothing really serious happened.

Cuddled together we watched the movie “Labyrinth” with David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. And although the movie was made 1983, the movie stays after all these years a pleasure to watch. We managed while watching the movie to empty the bottle of wine we opened earlier.

We will take it easy this weekend and relax. Busy times ahead. But it was indeed a very enjoyable evening.


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Last Friday my friend Patrick came over from Oldenzaal, the town in the eastern part of The Netherlands where he lives. Patrick and I know each other a long and we were once direct colleagues.
For all kind of reasons it has been some time that we got together for a beer and such. As we agreed fully with each other that has been way too long.

It was good to see Patrick again. We had a lot to talk about. Many thing did happen since the last time we had met. Lots of thing to laugh about. And of course there are always many good memories from the past.
We went for dinner at the Golden House, the Chinese restaurant close to my house. Because I get there every now and them some Chinese food I already that it was a good restaurant. But the Cantonese dinner we had was really superb.

Patrick and I agreed that we should meet sooner this time and that will happen, because in April we have tickets for a concert of Candy Dulfer.

For Saturday I made a chicory dish. The recipe was based on something I saw once in a supermarket. But now I made the sauce myself and added some things I thought that would taste good to it…

On the bottom of the ovenproof dish I placed a layer of sliced cooked potatoes.
I baked some meatloaf mixed with small pieces of bacon. Through the mixture a little bit of Garlic. With meatloaf well done I added the chicory and some union (both of course fine cut).
Of this I made a new layer on the first layer of potatoes slices. On top of this all another layer of cooked potatoes slices.
I made a sauce bases on sour cream with herbs as parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg. The sauce was
poured on top or the contents of the ovenproof oven. On top that grated cheese… and the dish for 50 minutes at a temperature of 180 degrees Celsius in the oven…. And done!

A wonderful and easy dinner…. and way too much for one day again :)


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HBO

by Rob on

I am getting my TV channels through the Dutch cable company Ziggo. They also provide me with Internet access and cable telephony. Although I had very bad experiences with other cable companies in the past, I am very happy with them. The services they deliver are good and so is their support (specially their second line support).

I already read that Ziggo would start to broadcast the HBO-channels as well. HBO (“Home Box Office”) are 3 HD channels with very good content as the newest movies and series. But also concerts and documentaries. The HBO subscription also contains Video on Demand and HBO GO (receiving the content on devices as a computer/laptop, smart phone or tablet).
I was really impressed by all the content they are delivering and I heard the same from other which who I talked about HBO.

To receive HBO through Ziggo is not really cheap, so I have been pondering a lot about getting a subscription on HBO. But throughout the week when Marion is not around, I watch often movies and TV. So in the end I made the decision to get this HBO description.
I went to the Ziggo website, logged in to personal page there and added HBO to my subscriptions. A minute later I received a mail confirming the change in my subscriptions and telling me that within 5 working days I would receive a letter to officially to confirm this change and with this date when I would start to receive the HBO-channels.

About an hour later I was zapping and woohhh… the HBO channels were already active! Way to go, Ziggo!


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A bad nose cold…

by Rob on

It is the time of year and the weather to get all kinds of colds. And yes, I am victim this year. I have a rather nasty nose cold.

A nose cold is always annoying. One nose channel really blocked is very annoying. But when both nose channels are completely blocked is becomes really nasty.
For me it means no sleeping (or very less sleeping). It means I have to breathe through my mouth, which leads to a dry mouth in minutes and that is enough to wake up again.

Two nights like that is enough to break you up. On advise of the local drug-store I bought something and it seems to help. My left nose channel is open again and it feels if the right one is opening up.

I already catched up some sleep this evening and that already made me feel a lot better. Lets hope I will sleep tonight also a bit better :).

And yes Marion, if it takes to long to heal, I will go and see a doctor :)


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