Baarlo

Yesterday I took a long train ride to the South to visit relatives.

On my way back I walked through the village of Baarlo. One of its four (!) castles is Castle d’Erp which was for sale in 1972 for 1 guilder. I know this because at the time, my parents were considering buying it. While the (obviously symbolic) price was low, the snag was that necessary roof repairs were estimated to cost over a million guilders (somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 US dollar at the time, I guess). Since my parents did not have that kind of cash lying around, they tried to move other families to buy it with them, a scheme that ultimately failed. The castle was then bought by the municipality.

Line trail, Abcoude

Today I went for a short hike along a small bit of the Defence Line of Amsterdam. As Wikipedia notes, this line, built between 1880 and 1920, became obsolete as soon as it was finished thanks to the inventions of the plane and the tank.

I got off at Abcoude station and walked 5 kilometres along the river Gein towards the Fort at Nigtevecht, and the same distance back.

Willow has suffered:

A fortification just outside the main fort:

Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal:

I forgot what I was going to call this

Ah, welcome to the virtual home of a lunatic.

Today there is a common cold on the menu, like yesterday, and similar time-units before. Rather fuzzy in the head, I am.

So now I am condemned to the hell of daytime television.

Have you ever noticed how some interviewees respond to their interviewers as if they are explaining things to literal retards? I always assumed there is just this type of interviewee, you know, who explains anything to anyone this way, slowly, deliberate, and not to afraid to pronounce and then answer every hidden assumption.

But with retards doing the interviews, it is hard to say what is going on these days.

Today I felt a little fitter than yesterday. This renewed vigour, I felt, was proven by the fact that yesterday I preheated the oven, but had forgotten to put the buns in. Whereas today… and then doubt started to creep in. I checked the kitchen. Suffice it to say that unlike yesterday, today I had not only preheated the oven, but had also taken the buns out of the fridge, and then … I just walked away.

Yeah, have a good one

I am going to try and come up with a couple of achievable, yet challenging New Year’s resolutions. In fact, that will be the first one.

In the meantime I wish you a good 2010.

happy-2010

Zoetermeer railway station

A law should be passed that prohibits people from entering Dutch cities through their main railway stations, because more often than not your first impression will be of a barren wasteland where horrid things go to die. (Which, by the way, really fantastic! if you are into that sort of thing.)

This, for instance, is Zoetermeer, a name that translates to Sweeter Lake.

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(“Kantoor te huur” means “office for rent.”)

Naarden – Muiden

A 20 kilometre hike today from Naarden, a town known better for the way it looks from the air than from the ground, to Muiden, where count Floris V had a castle built, only to see it used as a prison for himself by his enemies. The finish line was in Weesp, an unassuming town known to historians for the quality of its drinking water, and to me for having a railway station.

In case you are wondering, I did take photos of the fortifications of Naarden but, as I said, from the ground… And I also took pictures of Floris V’s castle, but those just did not make the cut. Here are the ones that did:

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What you see in the last picture is the entrance to the harbour of Muiden.

Bonkers: either I or the Tax Service

Belastingdienst, the Dutch tax service, sent a form for me to fill out in which I needed to indicate projected future earnings. They do this almost each year—well, regularly—so that they can let you pay your taxes for 2020 in 2019 instead of the more reasonable 2021. And every year I postpone filling out this form (deadline August 1) as long as possible, so that I can always include my latest earnings in the estimate.

That’s the pre-amble. When I checked the form yesterday, I noticed the tax service wanted me to fill out my projected earnings for last year, 2008. I received this form at the end of May, two full months after I had reported them my income for 2008 (the cut-off date for which is April 1 in the Netherlands). More than a year after they had charged me income taxes over 2008 based on their own estimates. And two full days after they had corrected my income tax over 2008, presumably based on my April report.

In other words, have I just gone mad or is the tax service not quite right in the head? What am I missing here?

(I returned the form with the box checked that says they already know my income over 2008, which should be sufficient.)

Dreams

When I was still in bed in the morning and not quite ready to get up, I was listening to Eddie Izzard’s Definite Article on my audio player, and apparently I had dozed off, because at one point I was sitting in a living room on a fairly high rug or carpet, wedged between a couch and a flat screen TV with the BBC on. And I was laughing about the show on my headset, which must have been not at all compatible with what was going on on the TV. And I was feeling slightly guilty about that, because it seemed a little a-social, to be watching a program with somebody and then actually be listening to something else.

But she must not have minded very much, because she did not say anything about it. Instead, her foot moved slowly closer and closer to my face, until it brushed me, as if accidentally, which gave me the impression that she wasn’t very much interested in the television either, but wanted to play.

Except that in that half-wake, half-dream state you do somewhat realize what is real and what is not, so I decided to keep listening to Eddie Izzard, which sort of chilled things between me and my dream date.

Before that I had actually woken up around six, which was a bit early for my taste, so I decided to stay in bed and had all kinds of intermittent dreams. One was the famous naked-in-public dream, though I was saved by two things. One, I got to keep my underwear on (thank you subconscious!), and two, the guy next to me started stripping and jumped in the water, which signaled to me that it apparently was OK to sit there barely clad. Even if it was at the tram stop.

Feel the Christian hate

A group called NOM tries to rally forces against gay marriage by using language that is intended to inflame the like-minded. On their blog I tackled their talking points one by one, but my reply was deleted. Since I expected such an action I saved my comment to my hard disk, and repeat it here in full:

Ah, feel the Christian hate.

Lets address those facts for a moment and see them in a wider context:

1) “I’m a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job.”

I can come up with any number of situations where MDs have to choose between their faiths and their jobs. This is because even MDs are bound by secular law. Is NOM saying the Christian community is greater than the USA and its laws?

2) “I’m part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can’t support same-sex marriage.”

The building in question was, like a restaurant, open to the public. The court likened refusing gays to the building to refusing to serve blacks in restaurants. I don’t even dare think what NOM is suggesting here.

3) “I am a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is OK.”

The state makes no moral judgment, it merely states that for the law both types of marriages are the same, which they are. Would NOM like schools to teach subjectively? Or would it prefer that schools stuck with the facts, and that parents would take the responsibility of instilling values in children?

4) “But some who advocate for same-sex marriage have not been content with same-sex couples living as they wish. Those advocates want to change the way I live. I will have no choice.”

The arguments given in your set of facts say that there will be conflicts, but not what these conflicts will be like. Please be precise, so that I can refute your reasoning with this point as I have done the previous three. Sure, there will be conflicts between groups. There always have been and there always will be. Is NOM claiming the religious are special, fragile ones that may never be touched?

By the way, I fully respect a publisher’s choice of what to publish and what not. I myself will either delete or change comments I don’t like, and have done so many times in the past. My rule for deciding which comments to edit or erase is a simple one to describe but at times difficult to apply: those (parts of comments) that are intentionally or unintentionally sapping the dialogue.

Some examples:

– spam (will be deleted),

– spammy contributions (I typically will take out hyperlinks).

– bad spelling (I may correct it if it’s too egregious),

– and so on.

I have in the past also deleted insults where the comment was nothing but. My rather confused post All games illegal has drawn comments like that; the more I am grateful to people who actually addressed the point in that thread.

In defense of NOM, not that it deserves to be defended, they have allowed critical comments to their message so far, such as this one.

Spring

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Bought me some flowers and a vase.

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