Intro to Web Publishing Class

If you have any questions about the class tonight, leave your questions here under comments and I’ll answer them as soon as I can. Thanks!

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Texel

Over the school’s Easter break we went on a trip to Texel, one of the Frisian Islands in the Wadden Sea. We sent three days there and had a good time. When I was planning our trip, I would ask some of the Dutch people we knew what they thought about the place and its possibilities for vacationing. The three that I asked all said it was a nice place to go but it was filled to the brim with Germans(!). All of them then proceeded to tell me what they thought of the Germans. Our dry cleaning man who comes around once a week1 told us that, “the place will be full of them, you will see”, “all of the property there is owned by them, they want to rule”, “it’s even worse there than Katwijk!” One of the people I asked at my son’s school said,”Oh, it’s terrible! They take over the beach and it should be for everyone.” And finally the last one we asked said that we need to watch out on the beach, “They dig holes in the sand to lie in, and will quite forcibly tell you that this is their spot.” You would think that they were being overrun with Californians the way they went on about the Germans.

Taking the ferry over we noticed that their were very few Dutch license plates on the cars but many from Germany. We were greeted in German many times by people in the shops and restaurants. Many seemed surprised and touched (or just maybe amused – it is hard to tell sometimes) that we tried to talk to them in our halting Dutch. The concierge at the hotel sure seemed momentarily taken aback when I used by Dutch drivers license for identification. Even with all of the Germans, who didn’t bother us in the least bit, we had a good time. Texel seems to have only three industries: tourism, sheep, flowers. That is pretty much what we saw; all three, in abundance, everywhere. The lambing was over about a month ago and little lambs all over the fields, hyacinths growing in enormous swaths of color, people riding bicycles everywhere, it was beautiful.

This was in the paper about the tourists in the Netherlands over the past year:

  • 2.6 million from Germany.
  • 1.85 million from the UK.
  • 970K from the US.

Main Tourist Activities in the Netherlands:

  • Visiting pubs and cafés
    • British
    • Scandinavians
  • Going to the beach
    • Germans
  • Visiting tulip fields and museums
    • Americans

I am quoting these numbers because these are the places you normally will find these nationalities.

1 (Yes, we have home pick up and delivery of our dry cleaning. We don’t use the others but there is the home delivery “Cheese Man” who delivers cheese, eggs, butter, jam, etc. and the “Chicken Man” who delivers all things poultry-it seems to be a very Dutch thing to do. )

Keukenhof

We went to the Keukenhof today. The weather was perfect and the bulbs were out in force everywhere. It never ceases to amaze me when I drive down the freeway and see row after row of flowers – everywhere – even almost right up to the train tracks. Once inside there were tulips of all different shapes, different petal shapes – tiny, enormous,fluffy, spiky, variegated, tea rose-esque, colors of all kinds. Also hyacinths (the smell of some of the displays was quite strong), daffodils (or narcissus), crocuses, flowers, flowers, flowers – rivers of flowers (quite literally! One of the “rivers” is called the Blauwe Rivier. There are others.) . The cameras were out in force today too – high powered ones: not at all like our simple, humble camera.

Bulb fields behind the Keukenhof

Star Wars crazed!

X-Wing Fighter

I found out yesterday that our three flights of stairs are in actuality a polar trench of a Death Star. LittleE’s radiator up on the third floor (the 2nd floor by the Dutch) is the thermal exhaust port that needs defending. The kids have only seen the first of the Star Wars movies or as my son corrects me, the fourth. Now LittleE does not have any Star Wars Legos but he has a lot of other kinds though. He went into his sister’s room and built, with her help and her Duplo blocks, a Star Destroyer. Out of his regular bricks he built a couple of Tie-Fighters. These should be enough to keep the house safe by protecting his room from any X-Wing Fighters that might come up the trench. If any got through and sent a proton torpedo down his radiator then the whole house would blow up! He also told me that if any got through then he would use one of his plastic swords to smash them. All of the boys in his class are Star Wars fanatics. For the longest time, LittleE was the only boy in his class who had not seen any of the movies. (Yes I felt a little peer-pressure on behalf of my son so he could play better with the other boys- I saw the first movie when I was seven and he is getting close to that.) “The Girls” in his class, however, are not interested. No to General Grievous, Bad Anakin, or anything/body else. All this time I never knew that we’re renting a fully operational battle station.

Little Brown Bird

Little Brown BirdThis little guy was pretty curious when I brought back my wounded bike to the house. I should chase these little guys away when I see them (I can’t because I don’t want to leave our backyard to only the Jackdaws and Pigeons) because they are the messiest birds. They use their beaks to turn over leaves, dirt, mulch to find food. They are pretty effective at making a mess all over the paving – especially just after when I sweep up after one.

A Moment of Inertia or (Das Flächenträgheitsmoment [!])

A local example of an area moment of inertiaI had an engineering moment while picking up Number One Son from school today. There has been some good weather here for the past couple of days and I have been using the bike a lot more to run some errands around town. So, it being a nice sunny day, I picked up LittleN from her Peuterspeelzaal on my bike and headed on over to my son’s school. There is a small gate to the school just off of the bike path where the bicyclers can enter and leave. Just past that and inside the school grounds there is a sharp turn bounded with small fence alongside the path. I made the turn with my bike but caught the back wheel of my kiddie-kart on the bend of this fence. The bike and cart stopped, I didn’t. And inertia, being a property of matter, openly revealed itself. I had to walk the bike and kids home. Alas, I’ve been eyeing a new Batavus bike for a while now to replace my current bike but didn’t want to spend the money yet. And I don’t want to spend the money to get a new rim when I am going to get a new bike. Dutch bikes are nothing like American ones. They are much nicer for one, but they are also more expensive. The Dutch expect quite a bit from their bikes because they are not seen as toys and are ridden everywhere. I’ve seen a construction worker riding one to a work site with one hand holding on to a 20 gallon tree which rested on a side peg. It is extremely common to see children sitting front and back of a parent (in their own seat – kiddie karts like mine almost signal you as non-Dutch; not quite, but almost) with groceries in saddle bags. When we lived in Den Haag I saw quite a few ride in rain with one hand holding an umbrella in front – mostly older people though. When it is time for the Dutch to leave en masse on their summer holidays bikes are always brought along. Little Dutch kids are on bikes at like age two. At LittleN’s preschool the little bike with training wheels is the most fought over object when the kids are outside playing.

Queso Mess-o

I tried my hand at making some queso blanco today. It is a pretty simple cheese to make. Just a gallon of whole milk, a 1/4th cup of vinegar and some cheesecloth – that’s it. You heat the milk to 180 degrees add the vinegar and stir for about ten minutes. After that you pour the milk into a strainer lined with cheesecloth and let it drain for several hours. Well, I didn’t have the cheesecloth – I tried looking for some kaasdoeks but no place around here had any. I thought, coffee filters should do the job and gave it a go. Now let me just say right now that the cheesecloths are just as important as the milk in this recipe. Trying to strain a gallon of hot milk and whey though coffee filter after coffee filter was quite an unpleasant job. The recipe worked out just fine and it was quite interesting to see the milk fats separating from the milk but I’m not too sure about trying again for a while. You need a reliable way and place to hang the cheese to drain and, most definitely, some cheesecloth to hold the formed cheese, and I didn’t have either. One chalked up for experience.