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“Ik ben vies”

by Marissa on

My first entry here will be about a laugh we had during our vacation on Lesbos this year.

As may be known, we went this with a group of very good friends to Lesbos. We had a wonderful time there.

One day we made a very nice walk to the east of the town of Petra. The small roads would take us up into the hills.
On a certain moment we noticed an old and abandoned car aside the road…


(Click on the image to zoom in)

We were making all kind of silly jokes about that car as “Well, that one will not go very far anymore” and “Who needs a cheap car?”. Richard was even claiming that the car was even not in a real bad shape and that he was convinced he would be able to get it riding again (and I am sure he can, after all it is his job! For those who don’t know, Richard is my boyfriend).

Then Miranda, who has been clearly with her mind somewhere else, turned towards the very dirty car and pointed at the “drawings” that were made in the dirt on the windows. Making remarks about not too clever Dutch people with the need to write things on the windows of cars and such.

I was standing with my back in the direction of Miranda, listening to her comments, with the dirt of the car window on my forefinger. I slowly turned in the direction of Miranda, showing the dirt of my forefinger clearly, asking her what she said there…
As Miranda knows me rather well, she looked at me and warned me to hold back!
Too late! I jumped towards her and flicked my forefinger quickly over her noise, leaving a nice trace of the dirt there.
With a very well-played angry voice Miranda set she would get me. This all leaded of a nice chasing me by Miranda around that old car.

The others were laughing loud, especially Rob who was almost rolling from laughing on the ground.

When finally Miranda “caught” me, it resulted in a friendly hug and telling me that I am a naughty brat, but a lovely sweet naughty brat, which was loudly agreed on by Richard (I will get even with him.. *TONGUE* ).

It are small events like these that make life so worth living!

(ps. Thank you Rob for allowing me to use the photo of that old car!)


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Life is there to… eat chocolate!

by Rob on

When I did my groceries today, my eyes was caught suddenly by something. Maybe it has been always there and that I just saw it today for the first time. What I am talking about? “Ritter Sport” chocolate!!!

So why did this “Ritter Sport” chocolate made me react like that. Well, I can remember that long ago my grandfather (from my mother’s side) brought at times this brand of chocolate for us (my brother, my sister and me). It is funny how deep such a memory can go.

So I started to wonder if this could be true. Was this “Ritter Sport” company that old? Yes, the German company “Ritter Sport” is already around since 1912 and have been since then creating their chocolate.

When I told Marion about this she had to laugh. She as big chocolate-lover was very familiar with the “Ritter Sport” chocolate. And yes, when we shared one of their chocolate bars tonight, we both agreed that it tasted wonderful.


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It is holiday time and apart from doing all kind of active things together, it is also nice to watch in the evenings together some movies or TV series. And apart from the actual Christmas days Marion and I have been do quit often (although not every evening). Great thing is that Marion also can enjoy often the Science Fiction and Fantasy movies/series that I like watch. Although I to admit that the other way around I am not too found of her beloved soaps *grins*

The scene you have to imagine is the living room with dimmed light. Some candlelight giving a nice atmosphere. Marion and I cozy on the couch. On the table wine and beer… some snacks. All you need to enjoy some movies together ;-).

But with all this wonderful watching together, it also means that we finished watching season 5 of Stargate Atlantis and this is sadly enough the last seasons of that series…

Stargate Atlantis belongs to one of the very best TV series I ever have seen… closely followed by Stargate SG1. I am very happy that I watched both Stargate series completely and that I own those now on DvD. What makes this series is so good are the great stories, the wonderful characters and the awesome humor.

So much I liked Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis, I won’t be watching Stargate Universe. What I miss in that series is the complete lack of humor. That what the other Stargate series made so great to watch.

We also finished to watch the second season of Haven…

Another great series about the strange town of Haven and the people. Luckily this is not the last season. Begin next year season 3 will be shown on SyFy channel, but I will wait on the release of the DvD/BluRay set. Although I am very curious what happens to Audrey in season 3 (she was attacked at the end of the last episode of season 2).

Ah well, there is still enough that I want to see… things as Warehouse 13, season 3… Fringe season 3 & 4… the complete series of Eureka… and oh, and it seems that old SF serie Space 1999 is also on DvD available and I really want to see that… and so there is a lot more to watch. So bored? Don’t think so…


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Life is there to… play chess!

by Rob on

Already for more than a year I play chess with Sanne. But as Sanne lives on the other side of the country we use modern means to do so… we use mail, text-messages, Facebook messages or whatever that is usable to send each other our moves.
I have to say I like it this way. It gives you a long time to consider all possible movies and the effects they may have. Sure this way a game of chess will take longer as normally when you are at the same location. But that is okay with me. I think it makes the game more challenging as everything is way better considered as you have a limit on the time to make a move.

We play for “rewards”, but not for money. At the start of every new game of chess we agreed what the “reward” we will be from the loser to the winner. Mostly these are small tasks the one has to do for the other. So Sanne has cleaned my windows, she ironed my laundry, she made applesauce for me from apples for her father’s farm, entered for a day books I own into the collection-database I have… I cleaned the windows of her apartment (and she has a lot more glass as I do), I made and processed some portrait pictures of her (that was fun), I replanted most of the plants she has in her apartment (uggghh!) and soon I will help her to paint the walls of her bedroom.

When we started to play Sanne was rather new to chess. She knew most rules and moves, but she was not very experienced in it. I “overlooked” some good moves I could make or a weak spots in her defense. But she improved her playing skills so much that nowadays such a thing would lead to a certain defeat on my account. Sanne has become a real challenge to play with and I like that a lot. And maybe one day soon the student will beat the teacher completely. Already now she wins games from me pure on her trained skills.

In the picture above you can see how she defeated me completely after a very long game with many moves (I was playing black). A very enjoyable game it was.
For those clever people who look at the picture above and see that my black king could take Sanne’s white queen and escape check mate…. below a picture that shows the complete situation. Hint: Look at the white rook :-)


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As said, here the first entry in the journal of the replaying “Ultima Ascension (also known as “Ultima IX”)”.

The adventure begins here on earth, in the house of our nameless hero. Nameless? Yes, unlike the older Ultima games, you cannot name your character. He will be referred to as “Avatar” (in the older games he was also called “The Stranger”).

Our hero is called by a mysterious voice that tells him that Britannia and Lord British need hem for his final task.

In the house of our hero you learn how to move around. How to pick up items. His first task is to collect a number of items that he will needs when he travels to Britannia. The items he needs are a tool-belt (for fast access to things as spells and potions), a back pack (for storing items), a compass, a journal (to make notes in, but also contains information about the world of Britannia. And you need the journal for action as saving and loading of the game), a gate key (to enter the park near the house) and some food from the kitchen.

All throughout the house (and later in the rest of the game as well) you can find books that you can read by clicking on them. The contains of these books may differ from fatal information to finish a quest to a nice story or just a joke.
So it is important to read these books.

Well, our hero is ready to leave the house…

Outside the house there is a practicing area where our hero can learn how to handle sword and a bow. It is very important to understand this well, because you really going to need in Britannia!. There are some crates around the corner of the house that you can crash with your sword. One of the boxes contains some money… and yes, you will need money in Britannia.

After practicing enough, you will find that the only way to leave the area is through the gate to the park. For this gate you need the key that you took along from the house.

Beware! In the park there aggressive beasts as rats and wolfs. They will attack on sight, so defend yourself. Walk around the park and kill all these aggressive beasts. It is also possible in the park to train your swim, climb and jump skills.

Then finally make your way to the Gypsy which have mostly already seen while walking through the park.

The Gypsy tells that Britannia awaits the Avatar. He will never return to earth, nor to Britannia. She leaves the why and how unclear.

The Gypsy will read the cards and by 7 questions based on the Virtues it will be determined how the Avatar will walks the roads of Britannia. It shows that the Avatar favors the Virtue of Compassion. So he will travel through Britannia as a bard.

When leaving the gypsy the gate that will bring the Avatar to Britannia is open. And the Avatar walks towards it to begin his journey.

But as the Avatar gets close to get gate, a gazer comes through and attacks the Avatar. Luckily is the gazer is a magical creature and therefore his powers on earth weakened. The gazer is easily defeated, but this must mean that the Guardian, the source of all evil in Britannia, must be aware that the Avatar is coming to Britannia…

Nothing can stop the Avatar anymore from entering Britannia….

To be continued!


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Spiced rolled roast

by Rob on

Today I made not a too big thing of dinner. Simple but good it had to be.

So I baked a rolled roast (pork) [Dutch: Varkens rollade]….

I rubbed on the rolled roast some salt and pepper. For 5 minutes I baked the rolled roast in hot butter (a lot, half a package). I added ginger, nutmeg, foeli, laurel and cardamom to give the rolled roast a nice spiced taste.
After that I placed the rolled roast (in the gravy it was baked in) for 1 hour in the oven on the temperature of 120 degrees. Every 15 minutes pouring the gravy over the rolled roast, so it would not become to dry).

As vegetables I cooked snow peas [Dutch: Peultjes] with carrots. Added a little parsley to it.

To make it complete a nice Bastmati rice with fried mushrooms with a little ketjap asin.

It all rolled roast tasted extreme well. With the three of us, we finished the complete rolled roast.

Sanne will leave in a little. She has obligations tomorrow at home. It was a very nice weekend that I think we all enjoyed a lot. Marion will leave tomorrow to Schiphol to catch a plane to France again (I believe). So tonight we will watch a movie and make it a cozy evening. Tomorrow work calls again…


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Some ponderings about software…

by Rob on

Yesterday Marion and I talked about software and more precisely about the use of illegal software. This because I bought a license for “TextPad” (a very enhanced notepad. Which makes notepad feel like something from the pre-history :p).

Marion stated that using illegal software as programmer/software engineer (and directly related professions) is like stealing from your own income. I partly agree with that. At the same time I can understand when you, as a private person, are not very willing to buy a software package of € 500,00 or more.

BUT I am convinced that in most cases there are cheaper or free to use packages available with basically the same functionality. Specially when talking about Open Source there are some awesome packages. And one thing I like about Open Source is the community around it, that ensures software of high quality without things like back doors.

Some examples? Outlook (Express) can be fully replaced by Thunderbird, an extreme flexible Open Source mail client. Nice thing is that Thunderbird is not vulnerable to macro viruses and doesn’t use Internet Explorer to display mail.

PGP, a commercial encryption package, is no better than the Open Source GNUpg. Talking about encryption, TrueCrypt (also Open Source) can encrypted data in the most secure way (up to complete hard disks). Specially on this matter you don’t want back doors.

When talking about normal photograph processing… Sure, Adobe Photoshop has more functionality than The Gimp. But how much of this functionality will one use for normal photograph processing? Not a lot. The Gimp holds a feature set that is way big enough to do some very nasty photograph-processing. Basically you can do anything with The Gimp that is needed. A complaint that is often heard is that The Gimp doesn’t support CMYK. Not correct, there is a very good working plug-in to handle that. Same can be said for automated/batch processing (another complaint you hear at times). And yes, The Gimp doesn’t support 16 bits channels (and up) yet (is planned for version 3.0). But is there for normal photograph processing any need for this? No, there isn’t. 16 Bits and up are needed when your images will be processed and printed on professional equipment for mass publishing. That rules out 99.8% of all the people who process pictures privately.
UFRaw is an excellent RAW conversion utility that can be used standalone or as Gimp plugin. For Nikon users (which I am) UFRaw has the advantage that it can read the camera’s tone curves. Even if you don’t own a Nikon, you can still apply a Nikon curve to your images.

But the list is a lot longer… Of course there is Firebird, the Open Source browser. There is FileZilla (server and client) for FTP file transfers. And we have Open Office as fully compatible replacement for MS Office. 7Zip for compression management…. and a lot more. The list is long, almost endless. There is even a Open Source Bible Study tool (for who ever may have need for that :P).

As said, I am convinced that for most commercial enclosed software there is an Open Source or Freeware replacement that will do the same trick(s).

And then there is the software that cost €20.00 or €30.00 for a license. And even of those we think we have the right to use without paying. I think here is the point to ask yourself some questions. While it is understandable that you are not willing to pay €500.00 or more for a program (and don’t want to use for whatever reason the Open Source/Freeware replacement), it not for these cheap programs. People tend to forget how many hours were needed to create and maintain these programs.

But in the end everyone has to make there own decisions on this matter. For me it is simple, for these cheap applications that I am using a lot, I will pay without any hesitation. For the more expensive software I will find a Open Source replacement.

Some examples of software that I have official licenses for:

WinZip (and I just noticed that I will have to get an upgrade some time soon… there is already a version 16)

TextPad:

Book Collector Pro (and Movie Collector Pro):

And there is a lot more. A search through my folder with licenses gives some nice hits (although not all is used anymore) ZoneAlarm Pro (FireWall), Trilian (Messaging), WiseBar Advance (a Menu-utility I used on my old PDA), DBViewer (a database program I used on my old PDA), VisualRoute (IP trace util), gSyncIt (util to Sync Outlook Calendar with Google Agenda), FastPictureViewer Codec (to view RAW pictures in Explorer) and so I can continue :-).


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About photographing objects….

by Rob on

Photography is about many exciting things and making pictures of objects is one of them.

I like to make photographs of objects. Doesn’t matter to me if it is inside or outside. And mostly it doesn’t matter what. Many objects can be beautiful enough to make pictures of. And some times it is not beauty what you are after.

But I do like to make these pictures of an object “as it is”. I mean, the pictures I make will be of the object as it was standing or laying there. So no moving of the object around to have a better view on it. No moving or placing things around the object to make it look better. So really “just as it is”…

I know that other people will play around with the object and the things around it so they get what is a good setup. Everyone each own way, but to me that feels a bit as tampering with reality. I do know that there is a lot of faking in photography (specially in these modern times), but for me this is just a little step too much…

So when I waked up this morning and I walked from the bedroom to the living room, in the morning sun entering through the window I saw Marion’s high heels standing there…

Nothing special one would say, it was exactly where she left them yesterday evening. But some how I liked the view of it. So while Marion was shaking her head I grabbed my camera and made some pictures of it.

What I like about the pictures I made of these shoes, is the coincidence how they ended up in this nice position after Marion took them off somewhere last night. More coincidence how one of her stockings must have fallen from the couch and dropped next to the high heels.
All together given an impression of something that didn’t happen in that way. Specially that last I like. It is simple by moving some objects around and setup some decoration to create an image of something that might have happened… But here it is pure coincidence how it ended up like this and that makes the image it creates even stronger…

So worth to be stored as photograph….


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An unexpected evening…

by Rob on

Today was a weird day. Not strange by the way, we all are shocked by the not unexpected, yet sudden, passing away from Marion’s godmother (or “peettante” as we call it in Dutch). Of course there is a lot of sadness with Marion and her family, but it is also keeping me very busy.

So after a rather busy day I travelled very tired home by train. Close to the town of Santpoort my iPhone started to ring. It was Sanne calling me and she said with a happy voice: “Hi Rob, I am in Haarlem now!”. And I thought something like: “Sanne? In Haarlem… what the heck is she doing in Haarlem?” And then as a lighting striking by daylight: “Oh shit… the concert of Ellen ten Damme for which we have tickets.”

When I heard that Ellen ten Damme had a new show I wanted to order two tickets for Marion and me. But for Marion it is hard to get time off from work on short notice if there is not a real reason (logical all the plane travels, hotels and appointment have to be planned very much on time). So I hesitated to buy those tickets, after all they were are € 40,00 each. Then Sanne came up with the idea that if Marion for what ever reason could not make it, she would go with me to that show. A great plan…
Of course Marion is right now really not in the mood to visit a concert or something alike, so spontaneous as Sanne always is she jumped in her car and drove to the city of Haarlem where the concert would take place.

At first I didn’t know if I really wanted to go to the concert and instead invite Sanne to my place. But Sanne convinced me that to relax a bit would be good for me as well. So I got out of the train at Santpoort and travelled back to Haarlem.

We had dinner at the “Nieuwe Koningin” which is very close to the “stadsschouwburg” where the concert would be (so handy such an app on your smart phone that tells you all nearby restaurants are). Absolutely a very good and cosy restaurant. The food was the delicious (on that Sanne and I both agreed). And not expensive at all. Only thing is (and I noticed that often before) when you as woman and man are having dinner somewhere, they automatically assume that you are a couple, which we are not. Anyway Big thumbs up for this restaurant.

The show of Ellen ten Damme was great. It was a try-out for her new show “Spitz”. I truly loved it. There were parts I just closed my eyes and listened to music, forgetting all the wonderful things happening on the stage. What a wonderful and strong voice this lady has. And of course the dancers, the band and all the special effects where wonderful. A great show. I am happy now that we went to watch it.

As always Ellen ten Damme has a signing session after her performance and normally I always buy something to be signed by her. But tonight we skipped it. Neither of us were in the mood to move into a busy mob of people and act happy while we are not. And to be honest, I think I have all CD’s she released already signed by her.
But 20 april she will release a new CD. Then I will try to get a signed copy :)

After the show we drove back to Heemskerk (of course Sanne would sleep at my place… no driving long distances late at night). And yes, I am glad to be home again. Sanne took a shower and while I am typing this she is doing her evening exercises. And wow, this lady is so agile… it is really a sight to see. Honestly :P.
I will make so small snacks for us which we can enjoy with a some beer. And after that it is bedtime ..

It was a good evening! Thank you, Sanne…


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Just a hour or so and then…

by Rob on

Just an hour or so and then Marion and I will leave for Schiermonnikoog. For those that are not familiar with Schiermonninkoog, it is the smallest populated island north of The Netherlands. The nature is beautiful there and around this time of year it is rather quiet there. It is not allowed to bring a car with you to the island (and that is for some people a reason not to go there… for me it is even more reason to go there).

We stay at the eastern part of the island, there it is even more quiet. No mobile phone there (and so no internet). Just like last year our holiday in the France Pyrenees. Only Marion’s parents and Sanne know how to reach us in case something serious happens.

Anyway, today Marion’s parents visited us. They will keep an eye on my apartment and look after my birds and plants. That is always nice to know that someone is taking care of this kind of things.

Marion’s father is, just like me, a lover of a good whisky. And he brought me a present…

A 16 year old Glenlivet Nàdurra. A very fine single malt whisky. “Nàdurra” is the Celtic word for nature. That already shows what is so special about this whiskey. It is created in a very nature friendly way with pure ingredients. One of the things is that is non-chill filtered.
This special whisky contains 59.7% alcohol and that is more as a common whisky has.
I know that this is not a cheap bottle of single malt… and I am looking forward to taste it when I am home again from our little holiday.

It is time to grab the last things and to get on our way to Schiermonninkoog…

(Credit photo: Rob)


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