I might be late for work today…

by Rob on

This morning I was standing on the railroad station Amsterdam Sloterdijk. When I looked at sign displaying the details of the next arriving train (time, destination, route) I realized that I should call work to tell that it would take some time to get to the town of Hoofddorp…

It seemed that I would travel from station Amsterdam Sloterdijk to station Amsterdam Lelylaan via the cities Apeldoorn, Deventer, Almelo and Henglo, to continue to the railroad station at airport Schiphol to arrive at last in Hoofddorp.
And oh, I had make sure that I was not in the last part of the train, because that would go no further then the town of Hoorn! And Hoorn is not really on the way of the described journey :P

Those who know The Netherlands will see directly that this cannot be correct and grin about it. Let met explain to those who are not that familiar with my country.

Normally when I travel to work I take the train in Heemskerk. At the station Amsterdam Sloterdijk I have change train to get to Hoofddorp, where I work. This is a distance of around 30km.
From Amsterdam Sloterdijk to Hengelo (as the station display tells us) is around 150km. So a d-tour of 300km (after all you have to travel back from Hengelo to Schiphol Airport).
And don’t forget the train should go to the town of Hoorn as well, because the display tells us that the last part of the train will stay in Hoorn.

Of course the information on the display is not correct (most likely it is broken), but it made me raise an eye brow when I saw it :).

And as this is last day of the year 2010, I want to wish everyone who reads here all the best for 2011!!! As may it be a good year as 2010 was for me.

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Privacy again

by Rob on

It kinda funny, after reading a newspaper this morning I decided that it was about time to write an article on privacy again… and just I noticed that Patrick did the same on his weblog yesterday.

This morning I read that the government has far reaching plans to gain control on the information flow on the Internet. The technique they want to use for this is “Deep Packet Inspection”. This means that they will literally check the contents of the data-packets that are send over Internet (to put it simple, there is more to that).
This means that they can check every mail that is sent and check every file that is transported over the Internet.
They also want to check behavior of people. An example that was literally mentioned was that someone who bought an expensive camera and earned some more money then normal was already a suspect for producing porn with children? This is too stupid for words.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that porn with children is disgusting and should be acted very hard on… but not with any grounded proof. This is even forbidden by our Constitution. There is clearly stated that someone is innocent until proven different and there should be a very clear suspicion before there may be acted on someone.

To be honest, I think whole child porn-argument is not what is really behind this all. Governments and their “secret agencies” fear the Internet because it out of their control (see the whole Wikileaks matter). And I think the real reason is that they want to have grip on what is happening on the Internet.

I agree with Patrick what he writes on his log, that is too silly for word when you use PGP/GnuPG, masked IP-numbers, OpenProxy and things like that make you a suspect of cybercrime.

Me? I already use GnuPG (the Open Source version of PGP) and I will encourage all people I exchange regular mail with to do the same. Already all mail I exchange with Marion is encrypted with GnuPG. Chatting I will do more and more through Skype because of its high level of encryption. And if I can find a thing to protect my privacy…. I will!

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Yesterday Marion and I have been to Apassionata and it was wonderful. We had a very good time.

Apassionata is a yearly returning show where horse and human work together and lets see the best sides of them. This combined with dance and music.
This year the show is called “By The Light of the Stars” and tells the story of Leyla, a elven girl, who finds stardust, how it was stolen from her and returned to her.

We saw really some great stunts clearly belonging to the category “Don’t do this at home”. Things that only can be done when there is a true tie of trust and faith between horse and human.
And that (the tie of trust and faith) is what I have seen all the time during this performance. These people love to work with their horses and their horses love to work for them… Sure, I know the reward (a special apple cookie for horses or something) is also important for the horses. But in that they are just as humans. You doing something and you get a reward… a hug from a beloved one, salary, your name mentioned in a positive way… :)

But we not only saw breath taking stunts, but also very lovely things.. as this lady with her six horses who listened remarkable to her. Really something to see.

It was very nice to see all the kind breeds of horses…. The big Friesiens, Shire & Henson horses and more… even a very cute white donkey was to be seen.

One fun moment when someone behind us, who was bragging all the time about his knowledge of horse, claimed that the Henson horse was a Tinker. I turned to make a remark about that, but Marion stopped me with a soft punch with her elbow in my side.

I assumed that it would not be allowed to take pictures, but that was not correct. It was allowed, but not the use of a flash. Very understandable, because horses dislike things as the sudden light burst of a flash (I thought that for this reason it would not have been allowed). And yet, there are people who were still making pictures with flash. Really stupid, because things really can go wrong because of this. The excuse “” I don’t know how to turn off the flash” is nonsense in my opinion. Then learn to turn it off or don’t use the camera.
Maybe next year I will bring my camera. If I use a high ISO setting, I don’t need my flash at all.

The only little negative remark I have to make about the evening are the chairs. They were not really comfortable and that was not only me. Marion make a remark about that. But really, that was the only thing.

I bought for myself a nice book telling the story of “By The Light of the Stars”. The book is full of great pictures and also gives some background information of the show. For Marion I bought a plush horse and a t-shirt (one reason less for her to borrow my t-shirts all the time :P).

I am happy that I always claim that I am a little able to ride horses, because after having seen the show of yesterday I know that is completely the truth.

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That hurted….

by Rob on

This afternoon I was working on the sauce that would go along with pearl hen that we would eat during our Christmas dinner. Of course I used as much as possible fresh ingredients.

One of these ingredients was red pepper, the really spicy kind of red pepper. I used just a little and cut it in very small pieces. Somehow I must have got some of the fluid of the red pepper on my fingers. Without thinking I rubbed my right eye and by that I got some of the red pepper fluid in my eye. It felt as my eye was on fire. Tears kept rolling out of my eye. I am not touchy at all, but this really did hurt a lot.

Even now, some hours later, my eye is still burning, but at least it is bearable again. This is a lesson for the future!!!

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Merry Christmas to all of you…

by Rob on

I hope that everyone’s Christmas started so wonderful as mine did.

Yesterday during the day I have been working as normal and already some days before that I had to promise that I would not leave for home before 4:00 pm. Somewhere during the day Marion would come to Heemskerk and of course it was very clear she would have a surprise for me. Although I made many jokes to people about not being allowed to go to my own home, I was very curious and this all made me feel very good.

Yes, the last hour at work felt as without end. But finally I could go home. Luckily there were no problems with the trains, so I arrived quickly in Heemskerk. As promised I sent Marion an SMS to tell that I was at the railroad station and that I would be with 10 minutes at my apartment.
When I walk home from the station, I can see the building with my apartment from a large distance. My apartment looked all dark and I started to wonder if Marion didn’t arrive yet. And of course that was directly this worry if nothing bad had happened… a car accident of something like that. But then I realized that when the lamella blinds of my apartment are closed and there is no bright light burning, the apartment really looks dark from the outside.

When I entered the entrance of my apartment there was a big paper on the door to living room telling me welcome home and that there were good clothes waiting on the bed and that I maybe should take a shower first (from the entrance there is also a door to the bathroom, which is connected again to the bedroom). So as asked I took a shower and dressed up for the evening. Luckily there was no tie, because I really dis;ole those.

After I was all dressed up, I knocked on the door from the bedroom to the living room. And I was allowed to enter.
Recently I have been reading the article in a scientific magazine that men are “programmed” to react on women. Well, I know now that this is true…
When I entered the living room and saw Marion, I felt my jaw dropping to the ground and started to drool on the spot. So beautiful!!!! Marion was wearing this long satin-alike dark purple dress. Her arms and shoulder free. Most of her back was free as well. And then the rather deep neckline. Of course high heels and dark stockings. To complete it all, her make-up just I like it so much. Specially her eyes, the way she gave them this extra enchanting effect.
No way around it, I was knocked completely from my feet….

But that was not all. The dinner table was very beautiful decorated. I loved how the was decorated with larger and smaller candles. Also all kind of Christmas related things were used as decoration.
In the middle of the table was the plate with deer. It smelled so wonderful. In a very nice way the rest of the table was decorated with bowls and plates with salads, sauces, baked potatoes, baguettes and much more.
The wine that was served was a Muscadet. Maybe not the most perfect wine to go along with deer, but I know how much Marion loves this wine. And as I like it as well, it was more then okay.
We spend more then 2 hours at the dinner table…. and I have to admit, again it was proven that Christmas Eve can be so much more then special!!

To those that knew the complete story of how Marion really became closer… the story repeated its self!!

Tonight it will be my turn to cook and my dish will be concentrated around pearl hen (“parelhoen”).

A Merry Christmas to all of you…. And that 2011 may be a good year for everyone!

BTW… written on an iPad :).

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Ostrich steak

by Rob on

Marion and I had planned a long relaxed weekend with lots of doing nothing. But sadly the weekend was very short for both of us.
Due the bad weather Marion arrived here in Heemskerk begin of the Saturday afternoon and will have to leave again early in the evening of Sunday. Not exactly the way we had planned it.

So to make up for this all, we decided to have a very nice dinner together on Sunday. And that means making something very nice.
After Marion finally arrived she longed badly for a shower. So while she was enjoying a hot shower I did some groceries. To my surprise I saw some very good looking ostrich steaks…. and around that I tried to make a nice dinner.

The steaks were gently rubbed in with salt and paper. I baked the steaks in a mixture of olive oil and a little butter (the special kind for preparing meat). The olive oil will give a better taste as the butter will make the steak a nice brown look (this is what Miranda once told me and she was right with that). Marion and I love our steak medium done, so that makes live more easy.
On the ostrich steaks I poured a little cranberry sauce (of which I admit I bought in a store all ready :P).

To a steak belongs something with mushroom in my humble opinion. So I sliced some big chestnut mushrooms. I baked this for only a minute or three in olive oil.
The sauce for the mushrooms I made of flour, butter, garlic, parsley, pepper, salt, a little milk and fine cut chestnut mushrooms.

With steaks I always love mashed potatoes. Through the mashed potatoes I mixed fine cut shallots and thym. Once served on the plate I decorated the mashed potatoes with fine cut (but fresh) parsley.

To that a mixed salad of different kinds of lettuce as iceberg lettuce, lamb’s lettuce and red leaves chicory. The mixture of salad was cut in small pieces. To that herbs as parsley, chive, black & white pepper and paprika was added (all as powder). Fine cut paprika, pickles, silverskin unions “Amsterdamse uitjes” (which I assume is something typical Dutch as I cannot find a reference to it in Engels) and garlic cannot be missed in a nice salad. A strong bodied olive oil to make the salad complete,

I think we both enjoyed it really. It makes me feel good when something like turns out well and this time it turned out very well.

Only thing when I look at the picture the salad looks like endive. Must be the olive oil on it. Ah well, not everything can be perfect :P.

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Almost a week ago that I wrote here on my weblog. Main reason for that was a very busy week at work. But lets start with the beginning… last Saturday…

Last Saturday Patrick and I have been to a concert in Atak (Enschede). The support act was Sin7Sins, a Dutch band. I have to say that although that I never heard of them, I really liked their show.
The last time that I really liked a support act (Krypteria), the main act was a disappointment. So in that mood we waited for the main act.
The main act was ReVamp, another band I never heard of before. To my surprise another Dutch band and oh my, what a perfect show they gave away. Apart from the fact that the lead singer Floor Jansen is very attractive to see, what a voice she has. I really enjoyed their performance. And I was not the only one. The complete audience was moving on their music.
Of course I bought a t-shirt and a CD. Sadly not signed, because Patrick and I had to leave right after the show to catch the last train and bus to make it home. But I made it a goal to get a signed CD of them. In January they will play in the city of Heerhugowaard. So who knows….

Sunday while being close by the town of Haaksbergen, I visited among some other people my mother who stays in a caring home there. She is always so glad to see me and I always visit her when I can, but the distance Heemskerk Haaksbergen is just too much to do it every week.
I am still very worried about my mother. She is so weak and fragile. Often I wonder what it is that make her going on. It must be her never lasting positive look on life.
We chatted a long time and went for a cup of coffee in the restaurant of the home. Even these kind of small things make her so happy.

The working week was only about one thing… a certain conversion of a set application I am involved with. People easily underestimate such projects. There are certain risks involved. Anyway, to keep it short after some serious looking problems in the beginning, we got all up and running. from that moment we could start solve the minor issue people ran into. But it brought some working days along of 11 or 12 hours. But that is all behind us. Sure there will be some issues coming up, but I think nothing major anymore.

Finally Friday arrived. It started to snow early in the morning turning all in a beautiful wonderland again. But as it kept snowing traffic started to suffer from it. And later on the same happened for public transport. And somewhere I started to get a bad feeling… That evening Marion would come home by plane. And what I was afraid of was happened. Airport Schiphol started to announce delays and cancelled flights…

Later in the afternoon we had a Christmas meeting of the company. Just a nice being together. Snacks, nice things to drink. It was very nice and enjoyable. And it was great to talk and laugh with my colleagues, but I saw also outside the layer of snow get thicker and thicker. A SMS of Marion told me that she should be able to get the last strongly delayed flight home.
There I made the decision to go home as well as my journey home would be delayed as well. I wanted to wait on Schiphol on Marion’s arrival there (I always have to travel over Schiphol when going home from work), but by a mail Marion told me just to go home.
The train to Schiphol was crowded. I never have seen such a crowded train before. Weird enough the train from Schiphol to Heemskerk was close to empty. And even with the bad weather it took just a bit longer to get home.
When I arrived at the railroad station of Heemskerk a thick layer of snow was covering the ground. And I have to admit that I enjoyed my walk home.

Marion’s suggestion for me just to go home turned out to be a good one. Her flight was in the end cancelled after all.

This morning I made a walk to make some pictures of this amazing white world…. and some of them I have placed in this post.

And now I am waiting for Marion to arrive. I just got a SMS telling me that she finally made it on her way to here… finally….

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It must have been in the last years of the seventies… I was still going to school in the town of Eibergen… And there as a young boy I bought for a few guilders a vinyl record. Why? I liked the cover and I like the name… “In Search of Amelia Earhart”. It was recorded by a band called Plainsong.

As you may know, Amelia Earheart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Apart from that she set many other records. Also she wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences. During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 Amelia Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. There are many theories going around what really happened.

Anyway, I always really enjoyed the music of this album. But over time vinyl records were replaced by CD. So it became harder and harder to listen this album that I liked so much…

… until yesterday. I was looking for some songs of The Cure, among the results there was also a reference to “Plainsong”, which is a song by The Cure. But it made me remember of the album I liked so much. So I searched iTunes for “Plainsong”… and among the many results the was one line “In search of Amelia Earhart. My heart jumped up and before I knew it iTunes was downloading the songs of this album. And with the music on iPod I can enjoy this music everywhere again where I want (including through the media centre in my livingroom)…

Now listen to the music with the video below here. Ignore the clip that only shows the cover of the vinyl record and focus on the music. But the album showed is the album that I bought now so many years ago… but my copy is in a much better condition!

The years they helped me miss the pain
And everybody knows some time I’ll be there
once again
If you gonna try
you gotta face the music…
If you wanna dance
you gotta call the tune…
If you throwing high
I wanna see you use it…
If you gonna make it
make it soon!!!

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Christmas Team-event

by Rob on

With the snowy weather, the shortening days and the nearing Christmas the wish for a last team-event this year for the back-office team was there. And so we started to plan for a day that most of the people could make it. And yesterday would be the day….

Too bad Michiel could not make it, but we found Natasha wiling to come along. And why not, good company is always welcome.

So we planned yesterday to leave the company so we could get the train of 5 o’clock in the direction of Amsterdam. And as almost tradition starts to dictate that we didn’t made it :).
About an half hour later we were sitting in the train towards Amsterdam. And this time Federico was missing and no one of us had the number of mobile phone yet. So we hoped that he was by his own means on his way to Amsterdam (which luckily turned out to be true).
And so after a very fast and easy journey we found our way to Mulligans…. and there we joined Jeroen and Federico, who were there already… and soon we had our first drinks, which was for me of course a pint of Guiness.

Playing with glass is known to be dangerous, but luckily this time it didn’t turn into the mess it could have become :)

As all know, food is an important part of our team events (and it should be), so after our drinks we made our way to Pata Negra, a tapas restaurant were a table was reserved for us.

Warm baguettes with garlic sauce was served. And with that two big bottle with sangria… which were in scary short time empty again. But with that served there was also time for some conversation.

I liked the tapa dish and I thought it was a great idea to have served all kind of the available dishes. So there was beef, fish, seafood, chicken… so for everyone there was something. And I liked it all.

The food was very good. I specially liked the beef a lot. The people of the restaurant were kind and paid attention. And so Pata Negra made it to the list of cafés and dinners that I like.

And in the sense of looking for the 10 difference…

Well there was one event that needs to be mentioned… Anitha with her Indian background loves very spicy and hot food. And I have tasted things she called mildly spicy which burned away my throat. But yesterday she had found her match… as she had to admit that something was even to hot for her.

After dinner Anitha and Natasha went home. The rest of us went back to Mulligans to have some more pints. There Menno joined us (he was late because his neighbours above him caused a leakage. And he had to clean up the mess first).

As so often these kind of evenings go by way too fast. I enjoyed myself a lot. We have a nice bunch of folks at the company. But as it was just a normal Wednesday and next would be a normal working day again.

Tom and I needed to go back to Hoofddorp. Tom had his car parked there at the company and we would drive from there back to Heemskerk and he could drop me there at my apartment.

But time had went a bit faster has we expected. With a tram we went from Mulligans to the Central Railroad Station of Amserdam, to discover there that the last train to Hoofddorp had already left. So we took the train to Schiphol Airport and there we would see how to get further to Hoofddorp. Luckily there was a bus going from Schiphol.
Once in Hoofddorp we saw the result of the freezing weather… We had to clean the windows of the car of a rather nice layer of ice. And because of the same bad weather we could only drive slowly to Heemskerk.

The result was that I was late at home. When I finally went to bed (close to 3 am), I couldn’t get to sleep. I have this more often after having a nice, busy, exciting or long evening. I should have taken the morning off from work, but as I didn’t I was not very rested and well when I was at work. So after talking with Michiel I took off the afternoon off.
Once home, I took a cup tea with honey and went to bed. I slept wonderfully over the afternoon. That did a lot good to me.

Maybe I should not post the next picture (but I can always remove it when asked), but I never knew that a nice fellow as Paddy could look so scary… :P

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Baked Tilapia

by Rob on

Last year around this time I started something. Every time I cooked something nice and I liked it, I made a blog post about it. Somewhere along the road I stopped doing that, which was a pity. Maybe the thing of last week with the recipe book of my mother made me think about that again. So I decided to pick that up again.

And as it was rather long ago I did something with fish, I though that would be a good idea.

The recipe I wanted to make, was based on something Miranda (who is a chef cook by profession) told me long ago. I just remembered the basics of what she told me. So I used my imagination and added things to it.

As fish I took Tilapia, which is a fish family that origins in Africa, but was spread by humans to many places over the world. It is a very lean fish, very white and very high in protein. It hasn’t the strong “fish taste” that other fish breeds have at times and which I don’t always like.

The fish I softly rubbed in with a mixture of sea salt, black pepper, paprika, union, basil, parsley, mustard seeds, cumin and lemon peel. This all very fin cut or as powder. I was told by a well informed source that this was a very good base for fish. For 15 minutes the fish rested in the mixture so it could take up the taste.

A orange paprika I sliced in long slices and fried it very shortly in hot olive oil, so it kept its bite.

I baked potato slices in a dressing of rosemary and sea salt to it. To the potatoes I severed snow peas and mini-asparagus (just coiled very shortly).
As extra I added peppadews with cream cheese (I prepared these yesterday and let them rest in a gentle olive oil overnight).

With herb-mixture of garlic, lemon, pepper and kelp the oil was enriched that the fish was baked in.

Remembering what Miranda told me some time ago, I didn’t “overloaded the dishes” with food as I normally did.

I think Marion and I both agreed on it that it tasted good. Maybe soon some more experimenting with fish.

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