Today I visited the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam again. Yes, I have been there before. But the Hortus Botanicus is one of those places that you (well, at least me) keep returning to. Every part of the year makes the Hortus very different.
I went there alone today. Marion is away for the weekend. And this was okay, because I had a certain goal for my visit at the Hortus. I wanted to use my macro-lens (a Nikkor AF-S Micro 105mm 1:2.8G ED) to its full extend. So it was good to be alone, so I could fully concentrate on my camera (and don’t get me wrong: I love to have Marion around, but then I will be easily distracted :p).

Okay, first let clear up the common misunderstanding that with a macro lens you can only make really close to the subject of the picture. This is not the case. As this lens has a fixed focus, it is all about the distance between the camera and the subject.
Anyway, during my visit at the Hortus my macro lens has been 95% of the time been mounted to my camera.

one of the nicest things about macro photography is that you often see things that you didn’t noticed when just looking at the subject. Of course the magnification is here an important reason for this. But also having a not changing image you can concentrate on is in my opinion an explanation for this.
Anyway, just has you learn to see thing through photography, you learn to see details by macro photography.

Of course is a place like the Hortus Botanicus with all the plants, flowers and trees just perfect for taking macro pictures. There are so many things there that are great for a macro shot.
Some times I almost feel as an sniper: Make your body as stable, aim carefully, take a deep breath and let it go, stop breathing for a moment and take the picture…. :-).

Anyway, I had a great time roaming around at the Hortus Botanicus. Made almost 750 pictures. Many nice pictures and even some that I really like!

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Birth announcements card

by Rob on

By the kindness of someone in my family I got hold of the birth announcements card of my older brother, sister and of myself.

It is kinda special to hold these little cards that are witness of three very important moments in the lives of my mother and father. These birth announcements of our family must be rare ny now, so that makes them even more special to have them here.

Sadly I cannot ask my parents anymore why decided to have my card so special with a picture of my mother and em. I must have been just a few hours old. It is hard to believe I was that small.

Of course I offered my brother and sister to get their own birth announcement card. When I have heard from them, the cards will be sent to them as soon as possible.

Below more detail of the three cards:

The oldest of us three, my brother Hans…

My sister Nel…

And my own…

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“Recreatie-vijver” Haaksbergen

by Rob on

This weekend Marion and I made a nice walk at the large pond just outside Haaksbergen known as “De Recreatie-vijver” (The Recreation Pond). But folks from Haaksbergen will most likely know it better as “De Bergingsvijver” (The Storage Pond).

This pond is artificial and was created in 1975. The goal of this pond was to store water in to prevent the flooding of the nearby streets. Hence the original name “Storage Pond”.

In the years that followed it turned out that this pond had also a very high recreational value. In the winter people came there to skate. And in the summer it was very nice to swim and to fish. The area is also wonderful to wander around. As the pond is rather deep, it turned out that swimming was too dangerous and is nowadays forbidden.
But still it is good place to fish. There are even some fishing spots created for people with a physical handicap.

The surrounding now more like a park. Big trees, bushes and nice lawns to saunter around on and seats to take a break

Many different kind of birds can be found around the pond. One of the two islands in the pond is normally not accesable by humans to offer an safe breeding spot for these birds.

Although it is nowadays forbidden, it was here where I as a young boy learned to swim. It was also one of the very few places where I fished (if I remember well, I fished twice in my life and once of those two times here at “De Bergingsvijver”). And it was of course a nice place to hang around with friends on warm days.
Marion also had memories of swimming here when she was young. She also remembered that as a young girl she took “her lovers” there. But she assured me that not much happened then apart from some shy kisses.

It was nice to walk there with all the memories coming back. Is it not awesome that we still have so many new things to tell each other?

“De Bergingsvijver”, or lets use its current name, “De Recreatievijver”, is now part of a big area meant for recreation. There are sportsfields for soccer, hockey and athletics. One can play tennis. The old “Oosterdorper” watermil is there, as is the old park “Het Scholtehagen”. There is modern swimming paradice. And a very good steakhouse.

I really can enjoy it to visit these places of the past. They bring back memories you almost forgot that you had them. Specially when you can share these memories with someone special.

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Cafés & Dinners-page updated.

by Rob on

While Marion is still far away in the land of dreams, I have updated the Cafés & dinner-page.

I think I removed all invalid links. Added some new places we have been (might have missed some) and marked some places as “closed”.
Another thing that needs to be continued is changing all the links so a new page/tab is opened and my blog stays active in the original page.

If you find another wrong or not working correctly, please let me know.

Hmmm, there is another update (or rather an upgrade) I want to push through and that is moving my blog from HTTP to HTTPS (which is more secure). WordPress itself will not be a big problem (there are guides for that available). The nasty part will be to change all the legacy pictures from “http://” to “https://”. This is going to be some daring SQL statements on the database (oh my, I will a hunderd backups first :-) ). The trick here is that only local-links may be changed. Any not-local link should stay untouched!!!

Oh yes, lets not forget to get an SSL certificate first :-)

Fun times ahead :-)

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On the internet there are “10 questions for atheist” going around. Supposedly these questions cannot be answered and by that the existence of god should be proven.
Thing is, 9 of these 10 questions are very easy to answer as atheist. For question 7 there is no answer (yet!), but then again the counter question that arises from that question cannot be answered by theists as well (at least not in an serious way).

So while Marion and I travel to Haaksbergen (she is driving), I used my tablet to write down my answers to these 10 questions. So here we go…

(ps. Parts of this article may be edited later on, but then I will point out what has been changed and when)

1. How did you become an Atheist?
It was a slowly process that took some years to reach the final stage of being an convinced atheist. But there were some things that I saw and noticed around me.
First of all, the bad things that happened in name of religion. And this goes from refusing to sit next a female in a plane to discrimination homosexuals (as example) and murdering people who doesn’t agree with the view of that religion (or better said: The way that religion was interpreted). Not even to mention what ultra conservative Christians try to do in US.

Then there were the contradictions. There are so many contradictions in the bible. There are too many too mention (a search on Google or Yahoo will show). And not small tiny differences, but complete opposite statements. Let have one small example, a funny one. So can god be seen? According Exodus 33:11 Moses could:”And the Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend”. But then John 1:18 tells us: “No man hath seen God at any time.”. Okay, you tel me.
And the bible is full of such contradictions.

As someone once said, the best way to become an atheist is studying the bible, which I did.

And not least the scientific proves against the existence of god(s).

2. What happens when we die?
Well, my brains stop working. I will stop breathing and one by one al my organs will fail. End of me as living creature.

But after that my body will decompose and will become part of nature again. In that way I will become part of many other living organism and will have a everlasting life as long matter exists.
And the other way around one could say that I “was around” from the first moment matter was formed. Yes, you and I are made of stardust! :-)

3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!
There is a joke going around that hell must be awesome place with all the cool people that will be there. Some pretty famous people, who did a lot good for the world, will be there. And with all the scientists en engineers in hell, the airco will be awesome.

But to the serious side: As far as I understand one will go to heaven if you are a true believer and done no evil. So if you have done a lot of good for the people around you, you made your stand for the society your are living in, but you are not a upstanding follower of this god, you will be punished? Now, that is morally very wrong in my opinion.

The counter question here should be: “What if you, as Christian, are wrong? And there is no heaven or hell?” In that case you wasted a lot of time and energy on nothing. All the things you did to go to heaven, like wasting time with praying and going to church. All that time you could have spend on good and important things as caring and helping the people around you.
And if this god would exist and he is a good god (which is doubtful if you read the horror stories in the bible), would he rather see you sitting in a church and praying or helping people in need?

4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?
You mean that you, as Christian, your morality depends on a god? That is really a scary thought.

My morality is created by who I am, the things I stand for and the thing I do or don’t do. The experiences in my life made me who I am and creates the foundation for my morality. Again, there is no god involved there.

5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
Again, is your god the only things that stops you from murdering and raping? Now, that is even an more scary thought.

I don’t do those things because I as person consider them wrong and morally not correct. Read well, I as a person makes this judgement, not because some other “higher creature” tells me so.

So no, we cannot do what we want. We are controlled by our own morals. And then there of course such things as laws (and I don’t mean religious laws with that).

6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
The meaning of my life are the people around me who I love and care about. The meaning of my life are things I do that have a positive influence on the people around me. The meaning of life is strongly connected to the things that makes me feel good and about enjoying life.

7. Where did the universe come from?
I really don’t know. Sorry, but it is simple as that.

The question returned should be: “Where does god come from?”. And no, “He was always there!” is just an invalid answer as I would claim the universe was always there (and no, that is not what I claim… I just don’t know).

8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
As far as I know there are none or almost none miracles that are in documented in a scientific way. So with other words, there is no real proof for them.
Then there are many things that we might see nowadays as not explaneble or even miracles. But in a few years we may have very solid scientific explanations for them. Science is a still on going process.

And then serious scientific research to those so called miracles is often made impossible by the theist, because what if an miracles can be explained in a sciencetific way? Then it would not be an miracle anymore.

And well, concerning seeing saints and angels, there also people who claim to have seen UFO’s, Big Foot, Yeti’s and the Monster of Loch Ness.

9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
Well, I respect Richard Dawkins very much for the way he writes about the evolutions theory and the scientific approach he has on this matter.
Christopher Hitscens is a well respected journalist. He lectures about atheism are a source for inspiration to listen to. He very gifted in the use of words. His book “God is not great” is a good read.
Sam Harris is a writer of very good books. He is very worried about religion in the US and I surely can understand why.
So in a few words: I think these three persons are good at what they are doing and not only because they are atheists.

But there are many more interesting atheists out there”… David G. McAfee, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Duoglas Adams (hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy), Isaac Asimov (SF author), Ronald Plasterk (politician), Diederik Samsom (politician) and many more… Watch this nice list yourself.

10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
Simple. Every society needs a way to explain things that they cannot understand (yet). And what is easier as that what is unexplainable to relate it to higher force or god.
How many things that a few ages ago were not explainable and now by research and learning we have very logical explanations for it.
And there you have my opinion that if I cannot explain or understand something it doesn’t mean it was god or something. What we cannot understand today, science may explain it tomorrow.

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WordPress Upgrade

by Rob on

New version of WordPress. Upgrading of WordPress is so easy and never gaves me any problems. You would almost forget to make the recommented backup. But of course I do make my backups, because you never know!

This upgrade is a mainly a security upgrade, so no many new features. But solving security issues is just as important to me :-).

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