Now on my iPhone….

by Rob on

Begin this week I was checking some websites about the iPhone, like I do that on regular base. I like to keep up to date about things like my iPhone. While reading some articles I noticed a very unexpected, but very nice announcement…. Wolfenstein 3D for the iPhone

And I must admit that this is pretty cool. Never thought I would be playing this game again.

For those that do not know: Wolfenstein 3D was one of the first 3D first shooters that became available for the big public and it was a big success. It was me the first introduction into this kind of games.

I know that here have been (and there are again) discussions about this game. I always say keep a reality and games apart. One has nothing to do with the other. And if you cannot do so, stay away from (computer-) games.

It was one of the 3D First Person Shooters that leaded to many famous games like Doom, Quake, Half Life and Duke Nukem (… now where did I hear that name before).

It all brings back memories….

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Yes, also when Marion is not around (she had a congress from her work in Germany this weekend) I take good care of myself. For tonight I made myself a delicious schnitzel (“zelf gepaneerd”, no idea how to say that in English). Some baked potatoes and fine carrots/garden peas to it. A little mayonnaise and curry sauce…. and there we have a very nice dinner. Not every dinner has be complicated or expensive.

Mostly when I am alone at home, I eat my dinner on the couch while watching TV, like now I am watching the series of Xena, the Warrior Princess. I watch every day one or two episodes. When I am done with Xena (I am now watching season 5 and there were 6 seasons), I am going to watch the X-Files (I am already collecting the first seasons of the X-Files).

I have been doing some stuff in and around the house this weekend. Some things I had already planned for some time.

So I finally managed to align the two back speakers of my surround sound-system. One of them was standing on 2 meters height on a bookcase, while the other was on the small table on 80 centimetres height. Not really good. The solution is simple, bring both on the same height… preferably something much lower then the one on the bookcase. I also didn’t want to drill holes in my walls. So options were a bit limited.
For some time already I have been looking for table or something alike to place that speaker on so it would on the same height as the speaker that is already standing on that 80 centimetre high table. But all what I saw had the wrong colour, the design was awful or it was too big.
Till last Friday I saw a column that was almost perfect. Yes, almost… because it was white (and I wanted it to be black). But I realized that it could be long before I found something as that column in black. So I bought it with the idea to paint it black myself on a later moment. For now I would place some fabric around it… and to honest, I like it this way. So it may stay this way….

I know… I know… one should not place plants or things on speakers. But I never turn my speakers onto very high volume and I am careful. I may remove the silver statue though. It is just too much for that small area.

On the two bookcases in my bedroom there was a long line of boxes with old computer games. It looked very nice, but I started to run out of space to store the DvD’s & BluRays that I buy. So removed all the boxes with games and placed there instead the bigger DvD/BluRay-boxes that I have, making so a lot of space for new DvD’s & BluRays :).

And those old computer-games? No, I did not throw them away as some lady suggested :P. Even when I don’t play them anymore (many are too old to play on a modern computer), I don’t want to throw them away. So I stored them for now in another closet, but I have to find a better solution for that.

And so there were many more or less small things I did this weekend. But mostly useful things of which I am now happy that they are done. Apart from these things I did of course the normal house cleaning, groceries and laundry. It all belongs to it….

So yes, if you ask me it was a good weekend. Specially because last Friday I felt a bit sick and that is luckily all gone.

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About cycling and mussels…

by Rob on

Today the weather was very nice, way too nice to sit inside all day. After discussing a little what we could do, Marion and I both liked the idea to go cycling a bit. So I checked if we could borrow a bicycle for Marion and luckily we could (we really have to get bicycle for her here so we don’t need to borrow one all the time).

We went in the direction of the town of Castricum…

In the picture above the route we went. On my iPhone I have a app that tracks through GPS the route you follow (it is made for running, but it works for this as well). When we left home, I activated the app and the picture above is the result. The numbers show the direction we went, but because some parts of the route are overlapping it is a bit unclear, but I think it will show where we went.

First funny thing was that in Castricum there was year fair. Exactly a year ago I decided to go cycling on the same day. Last year I visited the fair, but this year we did not, because neither of us was in the mood of having many people around us.

Right after Castricum we found a small town called Bakkum. That name brought back some memories. In the past my family did go there for holidays. Too long ago for me to have any memories of it, but I can remember that my mother told about it. I never realized that this town called Bakkum was here.

From there we went straight into beautiful nature area that would lead us to the dunes and the sea. I have to admit, I love this area near Heemskerk, but it is even more beautiful over there. I think that is mainly because it is there all more wide and more spacious.

While I was making some pictures, suddenly Marion tapped me on my shoulder and pointed to the other side of the road while making me clear not to stay silent. There was on some distance a roe
watching us. I was able to quickly some pictures before the roe decided to leave us weird creatures behind. Not the best picture, but still I am very happy that I was able to make it.

We meant to go “Castricum aan Zee”, but somewhere we must have taken a wrong turn. We ended up with this very steep path leading over a rather dune. We could hear the sea behind it and we both wanted to see the sea. So we went for this steep path…. which turned half way up into very fine dune-sand where I sank till over my ankles in away. This made the way up very hard. My condition could be a bit better, but Marion’s is good. But both of us where completely out of breath when we were finally on top of the dune… but we made it and there was the sea…

We sat for some time on the beach enjoying the views of the sea. We chatted a bit. Somehow the sea always helps me to clear my mind. After a while we decided to go head in the direction of home again, but first we had to get over that dune again because our bicycles where on the other side and from this side the path up was just as steep.

Once back with our bicycles we made us on our way home. Not in a hurry, but just in the direction of Heemskerk again. Back home the app on my iPhone told me that the complete trip was a little more then 32 kilometers. Enough to make me feel some bones…. :).

Back home we drank some refreshing. Took a shower and slipped into something more comfortable. After “chatting” a bit, Marion started to pack her things because she would leave later this evening and I moved to the kitchen to make a nice dinner for us.

For the very first time I made a dish with mussels. A challenge I only dared to do after consulting Miranda, but she was right. It is really not that hard.

Basically I fried some mushrooms, garlic and cayenne pepper in hot olive oil. I added some white wine and made it all boil and mixed the washed mussels to it. As Miranda warned me, don’t cook the mussels too long. 3 Minutes is more then enough.
After 3 minutes I removed the mussels from the pan (throwing those mussels that did not open away). To the pan I added in pieces cut tomato and parsley. Let this all cook for 10 minutes. Added some linguine that I prepared in another pan. At last I added the mussels back again and made it all nice warm again. I served to it a baguette and a green salad.

It all tasted just wonderful. The bowl on the table contained just a part of all the mussels I prepared. We managed to eat about 1.5kg of the 2kg mussels that I prepared. Not bad at all. We were really hungry after such a active day :)

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“Magnus, Robot-Fighter”

by Rob on

When I as a young boy went to the elementary School in the town of Haaksbergen, there was a boy with the name Laurens Mentink in my class (no, not related to :P). He was kinda a school-friend of mine. Once he lent me some comic-books of “Magnus, Robot-Fighter” (or as they were called in Dutch “Magnus, de Anti-Robot Magier”). Somehow these comics made enough impression not to forget about them.

Anyway, these comics are situated in the year 4000, humanity has become dependent on robots. H8, the Pol-Rob chief of the civic sector of North Am, a continent-spanning mega-city, was damaged in a radiation accident. It sought to promote the human dependency on robots and gradually impose totalitarian rule in the area under its control.

Magnus was raised by a robot known as 1A, a name which implies that he was the very first robot of his type ever manufactured. 1A seemed to be self-aware and possess emotions. A firm believer in the Three Laws of Robotics, 1A recognized the threat represented by the dependency of humans on robots in general, and the developments in North Am due to H8 in particular. Therefore, 1A trained Magnus as a warrior to protect humans against both rogue robots, and humans who used normal robots for evil purposes. Magnus was trained from infancy by 1A in an under-sea domed house, using advanced techniques, to become a skilled martial artist who could break steel with his bare hands. In addition, 1A equipped his charge with a device that would allow him to “hear” robot-to-robot radio communications.

As I already said, I really loved these comics. I could read them over and over. But as with so many things, over time things like this disappear to the darker part of your memory… but they are not forgotten. No, not forgotten at all, because for some unknown reason recently I had to think about the Magnus-comics again. For fun I looked for these comic on “De Marktplaats” (the Dutch Ebay) and to my surprise there was a hit…. and there was a very reasonable price asked. So I placed a bid just a little higher then the asked price. Within a few hours I had a mail telling me that I could have the comic…

And indeed, a few days later a package with a book was delived at my home. I expected one of the reprints that were made around 1980, but…..

but this comic is from 1970 and was the first edition of Magnus that was printed in color! A very, very nice surprise!!!!!

It was a pleasure to read this comic. It brought back memories. The worse thing about it is that I want now to have the other comics that where released in the Magnus-series as well :)

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Boeuf Bourguignon

by Rob on

Yesterday I made Boeuf bourguignon for Marion and me. It was the first time I made this recipe. To be honest, it is not very hard, but it takes a long time before it is ready.

Take about 500 gr. beefsteak (“runderlappen”) and slice into cubes and cut about 4 shallots in to small pieces.

Melt some butter (or heat some olive oil) in a large casserole and fry 100 gram bacon cubes (don’t fry them to hard). Remove the bacon cubes from the butter/olive oil. Bake in the hot butter/olive oil the beefsteak cubes until they are nicely done.

Add the shallots and about 20 silver union to the baked beefsteak. Add some tomato paste to (not too much, a small thin is more then enough) and a spoon flour. Mix it well and let it bake all together for a minute.

Mix it all with 2 dl beef bouillon and 2 dl red wine. Add some salt, pepper, thyme and a laurel leave. But back the bacon cubes. Mix it all very well and leave it for 2 hours stew on a low fire with the lid on the casserole.

After the 2 hours bake 250 gram sliced champignons and mix them with the boeuf. And last add some parsley to make it complete.

I served white rice with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almond and papaja.

It tasted wonderful. And I love the smell of a good stew coming from the kitchen :)

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Yesterday evening Marion and I have been to a concert of Ellen ten Damme. I don’t think that it will be a big surprise for anyone who knows me (or reads my weblog regularly) that I really like the music and shows of Ellen. She has a great voice and a very good sense of humour. Plays different instruments as the guitar, violin and piano very well. Really knows how to make a good show. And yes, I won’t deny, she is also a very attractive woman to see.
So every time Ellen has a new show or a new CD (or what ever) I will try to visit one of her performances. I heard very good things about her performance with the Scapino Ballet. So when I heard that she and the Scapino Ballet would come to Amsterdam, I ordered directly tickets for Marion and me.

Because I know Marion really likes it, I put on my fine black pantolon, a black blouse and a my brown suede blazer. And of course, as always, Marion looked marvellous. She was wearing a very nice black/white dress with dark stockings and high heels.

The performance was at “Het Concertgebouw” in the city of Amsterdam. Now Amsterdam is not the city you want to drive to by car on a Saturday evening. So we went by train.
When we arrived at the train station “Amsterdam Centraal” it was raining. But when we saw the huge crowd of people waiting for the tram that would take us to the area of “Het Concertgebouw”, Marion and I looked at each other and as if we could read each other minds we said at the same time “Taxi?”.
Luckily we had very fast a taxi that took us to “Het Concertgebouw” (showing to a Taxi-driver that you know your way around in Amsterdam prevents unwanted and unneeded d-tours :P).

We had a table reserved at the brasserie “Keyzer”, which is right next to “Het Concertgebouw”. I really enjoyed the dinner we had there. The food and wine we had there was very good. The people very kind and polite (I find this just as important as the quality of the food and the wine). The atmosphere was enjoyable and I liked it how they combined classic and modern styles in the building.

To reach “Het Concertgebouw” we just had to cross one street, but it was nice that it stopped raining.

For me it was the first time that I visited “Het Concertgebouw”. Marion told me she had been there twice before.
“Het Concertgebouw” was gifted by the notables of Amsterdam in 1881. The building has a neoclassical architecture and it is known for its great acoustics. I love old buildings and it is always a pleasure to visit a new one.

The concert of Ellen ten Damme? It was wonderful again. Her strong voice and the great acoustics combined very well. I loved it. She performed some of the numbers of her album “Durf jij” and some in a complete new way. There were also some songs that I had not heard before, this may mean that a new CD is on its way.
The Scapino Ballet added a complete new dimension to the show. It was very nice. And no, I am not surprised that Ellen flawlessly was part of their acts.
The guiding band was called “Wereldband”, four persons who can handle a broad area of instruments. I liked them. They were good.
All with a all a great show again.

When I visit an concert I always like to buy something… a CD, a t-shirt, a poster or something like that. And I like it when an artist signs CD’s and alike after the concert. To all concert of Ellen I have been to, she signed afterwards and I think that is really great. More artists really should do this. This also means that quite a part of my collection of signed CD’s are signed by Ellen ten Damme.
I looked quickly at the CD’s that were available, but I already had those. But there was also a vinyl version of the “Durf jij”-album. I am still capable of playing vinyl records at home and the fact that vinyl records are becoming rare, made me decide to buy the vinyl record and have that signed by Ellen.

When I returned to Marion, who waited aside the huge crowd that wanted to have something signed by Ellen, she had to laugh. This was typical something for me to buy and I think she is right with that. And the vinyl record looks good in the display case with all the other signed CD from all kind of artists I have.

Luckily it was still not raining again when we started to go home again. The train journey went fast and before we knew it we were home again. Before going to bed we talked about the very nice evening with some wine for Marion and I some of my beloved whisky. A great evening that we both enjoyed a lot.

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Yesterday Marion and I had a very nice and enjoyable evening. We had planned to go out for dinner, but our moods were in the evening not really after it. So we stayed home and ordered some food online. We both had a mixed grill and I really must say that we really liked it. But is was ordered at a “Brasserie”, so you may expect some quality (for which you pay as well… but it was more then worth it).

Together we watched the movie “Sahara”, a adventure movie with lots of humour in it. I had already seen it before, but for Marion it was the first and she really had to laugh at times. The movie is from 2005 and is about an explorer who is seeking out a lost Civil War battleship known as the “Ship of Death”.
Some wine and beer, some home-made snacks. It was very, very nice.

After the movie Marion and I talked a bit and somehow the conversation turned to the beginning of out relation… how we met and the chain of events that made us grow together.
That Christmas of that year was of course a milestone in this all. I had promised my mother to spend Christmas with her, but she was just before Christmas all of a sudden taken into a hospital and I stayed alone at my mothers house. Somehow Marion heard about that and she invited me to spend Christmas Eve with her and some of her best friends. As said, that evening was an important moment…. and thinking back I know now that after that Christmas I just had to fall in love with Marion. It was the logical next step in the chain of events…. and it did happen.

Looking over my shoulder I can see Marion still asleep behind me. What a positive swing she gave to my life….

Talking about “had to fall of love”, that makes me think of a very nice song of the Moody Blues that might be very appropriate….

Had to fall in love
(Moody Blues)

What mattered to me
Was the right to be free
Like I’ll be someday
I’m waiting for my heart to lead the way

The places I’ve seen
And the road in between
Make me wonder why
I’m searching for my dreams up in the sky
I heard the call
And in the mirror
I saw the writing on the wall
And I had to fall
In love with you

The face that I’ve known
Seems so lost and alone
When you’re far away
I’m comin’ for you baby right away

The places I’ve seen
And the roads in between
Make me wonder why
I’m searching for me dreams up in the sky
I heard the call
And in the mirror
I saw the writing on the wall
And I had to fall
In love with you

What mattered to me
Was the right to be free
Like I’ll be someday
I’m waiting for my heart to lead the way

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A small tree in my house….

by Rob on

Since this weekend has something new. Something I already wanted for a long time… A Bonzai tree!

I do realize that Bonzai-trees are not that rare anymore as they used to be. But many Bonzai-trees die very fast because they get not the treatment the need and they need a lot more care then normal plants.

Bonzai is a Japanese word that literally means “Tree in a tray” and although the Japanese name, the origing of the Bonzai tree is found in China. Bonsai are not genetically dwarfed plants, in fact, any tree species can be used to grow one. The growing of a Bonzai tree is considered art which needs everyday a little attention. There are many styles and ways to grow a Bonzai and there are even more ways to train them. Because Bonzai trees are often placed in small pots they need regular fertilization (as a matter of fact this goes for most if not all plants in containers). How often Bonsai need to be watered depends on a wide range of factors, including species of tree, size and climate. Do not just water your tree every day, instead, monitor it carefully and water it once the soil gets slightly (but never completely) dry; it should be damp. When watering, do it thoroughly though.

Lets see if I can bring up the patience and time to grow and train this little tree to a respectful Bonzai tree (which may take many years)….

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Operation “GMail”

by Rob on

As many know I have already for ages my main mail-address with XS4All. This because I have been for many years customer with them as my Internet-provider. But when I moved from Haaksbergen to Heemskerk I changed from provider. My current provider is Ziggo and although you can hear many bad stories about them, I am very happy with them.

To be able to continue to use my XS4ALL-address I still had an mail-only (and some more stuff) account with them. Today I have decided to move away from them and take an mail-address that is independent from an Internet-provider.
There are two big companies that offer such a service… Microsoft (Hotmail) and Google (GMail). I have an healthy distrust against both companies, but I must admit that with Google I feel better then with Microsoft. I know that there are people outside there who disagree with me and who will have many good reasons for that, but I decided for Google and GMail.
One thing that speaks for GMail is that it supports POP and IMAP, which Hotmail doesn’t as far as I know. This I want because I want to download the mail to my Thunderbird Mail-client on my desktop (POP) and see it appear on my iPhone (IMAP).

Over all these years my XS4ALL-address was used for many and many things…. people use it to contact me…. it was used register me at (more or less serious) websites…. mailinglists and newsletters are subscribed to it. It will take rather some time to inform all people and change the mail-address at the proper places.
So in the first month from now I will try to inform as many people of the new address and change it at as many places possible. If that is done I will monitor carefully what mail comes in on the old XS4ALL address and take action where needed.

This also a nice opportunity to see if all mailing lists and newsletters are still interesting enough for me.

After that month I will place an “auto-responder” on my old XS4ALL-address, so people are informed that they should change the mail-address to contact me. When I feel that all the important things are arriving on my new address I will cancel the XS4ALL-account, but I think this will not be before the end of the year, maybe even a bit later then that.

And no, I will not place the new GMail-address here in this article. There are always spammers looking for new mail-address that they can use. If needed, you will be informed of the new address.

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