Saturday, November 22

Duck pont

Swimming pools in compounds. They're like baths in hotels. Nobody ever uses them, but you expect one. Their only purpose is to show, your family and friends, what a great life you're living...

So introducing the two travel companions, I'm sharing this life with.The yellow Sheraton bath duck, I got from reception as part of their loyalty program. If you squeeze it, it'll talk back...

And my colleague Gab, who's much better at socializing... ;)

Update: Too many yellow duckie pictures. It's better to go back to work tomorrow...

Friday, November 21

Weekend in the Kingdom

The Saudi weekend is Friday and Saturday; it used to be Thursday and Friday in 2008 - when I first visited - but changed as deemed too impractical for business. Our compound is not too bad, but it really is just a luxury prison. The security situation remains precarious. To quote the UK foreign office: "There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, affecting Western interests and places frequented by foreigners."
So we're being chauffeured around in an armoured car and our apartments have a 'safe room' that doubles as bath room. Or a bathroom that doubles as 'safe room'. It has a steel reinforced door with three large door bolts. I'm still not sure if it makes me feel safe or quite the opposite... 

Saturday, November 15

Promised land

 With one last at Manama we leave Bahrain to take the Causeway into Saudi. If this were just the 23 kilometer bridge itself, the drive from Manama to Al-Jubail would take just under 2 hours.
However in the middle is the Bahraini-Saudi border crossing. That border crossing works like this:
1. Queuing at Bahraini customs
2. Queuing at Bahraini immigration and called out of the car to to into the office
3. Queuing at Saudi immigration and go inside to have all your fingerprints photographed.
4. Queuing at Saudi customs stopping at in the assigned slot and strip searching of the car.

I'm so glad I'm in the promised land listening to the sun-set call for prayer...

Friday, November 14

Sustainability

Even in the Middle East... Sustainability is the new politically correctness, so you build wind turbines on your World Trade Center. It's just that... well... they're sitting idle for most of the time. Seven out of twelve months, the average wind speed is just 7 knots and below 10 knots for all other months of the year.
To put this into perspective. 'Easy' barely notices 5 knots, feeling adrift. At 10 knots, things start to move...

(1 knot is roughly 0.5 m/s and 1.8 km/h) 
There is a National Geographic documentary in the series Mega Structures about the construction of the World Trade Center.

Update November 15th: Of course it's illuminated at night... 

Saturday, November 8

Killer Piet

Vandaag in NRC, bewapende Zwarte Pieten bij Sinterklaas intocht. Niet dat pluizerige gejammer over racisme en slaven verleden, maar gewoon het kinderfeest keihard moderniseren! Gouda toont ballen. 
Hoe zou dat eruit zien? Zo?              
Of zouden ze het ruiger aanpakken? Aansluiten bij recent Hollywood succes?
 
Update Sunday November 9: Houdt Gouda de Mortier Piet achter de hand? Er zijn geruchten over mogelijke rellen.... .

Sinterklaasje kom maar binnen met je knecht.... 

Friday, November 7

NRDRLNDs

NerdNight in Delft. Four lectures in a setting of beer, liquor and snacks at Het Labyrint. There was a prize for the Nerdiest outfit and I'm pleased I wasn't among the winners...
Most of the lecturers have a passion - often something with food or drink - that they dissect down to the molecular level.

Sunday, October 19

Köln....

Cologne, home of 4711. The smelly "Eau de Cologne". Really, I do understand why the Finnish selected 4711 as a direct line to their "Poison Information Centre"....
During the 2nd World War the Kriegsmarine was its biggest customer. It was issued to crews because there weren't exactly showers on board the German U-boats....

That's as far as tivialities about the 200 year old perfume go. I was trying to escape Cologne by taking the ICE to Stuttgart. As luck goes, it was the only weekend that the German train drivers were on strike. No trouble going out, but a costly affair getting back. And too early in the afternoon too.

It bought me some time to enjoy Cologne for a few more hours. The sunny warm city (even in October!), its nice buildings and friendly (ahum!) inhabitants....




This is actually a recycled image that I took in 2005. But it's still nice and provides an iconic view of Köln (Cologne).

Saturday, September 20

What if your initials are DB?

Then you decide that no production car is good enough for you and you should build your own. The result is the Speedback GT by David Brown. Better pictures here. Yours for just over GBP 600k. For that price, you don't have to visit something as vulgar as a car dealer. The big man himself will take the ferry from England to show it, in whatever marina you and your yacht decide to be.
Unfortunately the deal bounced off when it became apparent that it doesn't fit on the helideck.  First a bigger boat...

Saturday, August 9

Things you do when you're in Den Helder for a week

A visit to the KNRM museum and making insane panorama pictures. It is somewhat impressive how much obsolete equipment has been preserved. By the way the KNRM is the Dutch voluntary Rescue Organisation. 



Friday, August 8