So, Hamsterdam

The first day I was swamped. was so tired from the flight, I slept all day. The previous parts of the week didn’t make things much easier either. I was pre-exhausted before I even got on the plane.

Today wasn’t a lot better, once I got to the onsite hotel I slept for four hours, but I’m finally up and around now.

the drive from Schiphol was enjoyable, I didn’t want to take a chance on losing the satnav so i didn’t try to turn on the radio. The roads were mirror smooth and the car a hybrid so I drove in silence, me and my thoughts. Well, and the occasional nagging from the satnav voice, trying to pronounce those Dutch town and street names with it’s english accent. What it lacked in accuracy it more than made up for in humor.

Driving was interesting if only for the view of all the hideous cars that you can buy here that they don’t bring to the US. Tiny renaults and Citroen delivery vans that you could park inside a Transit Connect. All those diesels they say we don’t want. Chevies masquerading as Opels. Mazda with Ford badges.

All the time tooling along on the ocean floor, or what once was the ocean floor.

At one point on the A 12 I drove along forested areas, all evergreen, none of the trees I could see more than forty or fifty years old. Closed canopy, too, no undergrowth. I think it was near Doorn. And then I saw what seemed to be bones, and a quick glance showed me row upon row of white bleached headstone. many had fallen over and I wondered if the evergreens were planted or volunteer, and who if anyone tended the graves anymore.

Once I got to Veenendaal I tried to check into the hotel but was two hours early and instead went and got something to eat and drove around to familiarize myself. A couple of things became stunningly apparent.

In the airport I noticed a LOT of women who were- to my m ind- misshapen. I’m used to women that fill out a pair of jeans in a specific way, and they just weren’t around. And it puzzled me. Now I understand. It’s from spending half your life sitting on a certain type of bicycle seat which is very popular here. Muscular buns on the outside, almost nothing in the middle. But I digress.

What this countryside needs is a lawnmower. if a weed springs up in the pavement, they leave it alone to grow. There are a few areas that are mowed, but most of it is just natural weeds, the kind i have been trying to STOP growing in my backyard for years. Makes everything look like Detroit, except that during the week I assume this is all a hive of activity.
really, really high population density. And bikes for everything. Hard to find a place to park a car. There’s an indoor garage at my hotel, sort of. This is my hotel.

van-der-valk-hotel-veenendaal

No, the Thunderbirds do not live and work here.

Outside my window a couple of guys had set up tents against the drizzle and were fishing in a sort of a retention pond. At one point a girl came and joined them, couldn’t keep her hands off either of them, eventually they all left. Apparently she had given them ideas about a better type of pastime for a sunday afternoon.

In all the places I have been there has been clear demarcation between mens and women’s johns, the only places any different are hardcore adult clubs etc. I asked about it and was told that “Only the perverts” use places like that and most people shy away. The stewardesses (yes, they still call them that) at KLM are chosen for their looks and they look like right out of Mad Men, right down to the scarves and little hats.

Lots of women’s bikes (With the stepthrough) but not all women use them If you’re wearing pants it makes sense, but women bike around wearing tight, short dresses. The stepthrough allows them to pedal and still keep their knees demurely together. Most of them while stopping at lights will pull up to a sign and hold onto the sign so they dont have to dismount, because in a dress like that you just don’t put a foot down.

Bikers are courteous and seem to stringently follow the rules of the road. They have the right of way but never TAKE it., as far as I have seen, Roundabouts have special bike lanes. The bikers pay a tax for a license which helps finance bike paths, or so I’m told. Maybe because it’s Sunday people are just being on their best behavior.

more later.

On the way to Hamsterdam.

hamsterviel

Hamsterviel! Hamsterviel!!

Anyway, it’s work, but I have a day to myself so I think I’m gonna try for one museum or another, or maybe just drive around. Hard to rent a ride with an automatic and it’s been 22 years since I drove a stick daily, so I’ll have to see how much damage I can do.

Why play to other people’s strengths?

It’s really good to be able to shoot a firearm, but thousands if not millions of people can do so better than I can.

it’s wonderful to be fit and toned and capable of using your body like a weapon, but that ship has long since sailed for me. I’m plenty strong, but I never was coordinated and I’m no longer fast.

You wouldn’t bring a knife to a gunfight, (If you’re not James Coburn)

and you wouldn’t go to a gunfight against a better trained or better practiced or better equipped opponent. If you think you would, I recommend you go play paintball against some experienced players and come back with your clothes soaked in humility.

No, you would poison a gunfighter. You would shoot a poisoner, probably. You would lay a trap for an expert swordsman or knifefighter. Anyone can become moderately adept at anything, given a bit of time, and the whole point is to let the opponent (Who is very good at their chosen discipline) be out of their element. No, there is no zen master who cannot be taken by surprise. The most cautious and suspicious people I know have taken things I have given them into their homes and thanked me, without truly knowing of the items I gave to them were safe; I have proven this to myself thousands of times.(Well, probably hundreds. But at least a thousand) This is how you win against superior skills, superior numbers, superior brains. No, you don’t even have to be that smart. Just pay attention.

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