Plenty of sick days from Grade School were spent at my Nana's in Tampa watching this show from her king sized bed. I think it was on at 1pm while she was watching Days of Our Lives in the other room. (Side note - I threw up on her new carpet one day and while she was yelling at me for puking she started throwing up too. As a result, if it was "Bridge" day, I'd sleep in the back of her car in her friends driveway while they were inside drinking Martini's and playing cards. The ladies were afraid I had a weak stomach and would ruin their carpet.)Read More
We spent the day peddling around Amsterdam... the first sunny day since we've been here. The houseboat comes with two bikes and we set out this morning to first see the De Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam and then ride around town some. The Botanical Garden was suprisingly close to our neighborhood by bike... but after a day of peddling, we found that most things are pretty close! (More on the gardens in another post, as well as our trip to the Tropenmuseum yesterday.) Although the gardens were beautiful and the butterfly house was awesome, I had the most fun just riding around and acting Dutch. With ipod in and proper hand signals given for turns, I did my best to keep with the flow through town. Each road has bike lanes on either side as well as traffic lights for bikers alongside the lights for foot traffic.
One of our favorite neighborhoods in Amsterdam is Jordan (yor-Dahn). We peddled there for groceries even though there are several markets near the boat. We bought our dinner on the other side of town so we could fit in more with the locals as we peddled with groceries strapped to the bike. The Dutch are born with impeccable balance. We rode behind an older man with what appeared to be a musical instrument strapped to his back, several bags on his sides and a fifty pound dog in the front basket. Amazingly, he still had the dexterity to use a free hand to tip his hat at friends!
After navigating through the congestion today, it gives me a great appreciation for the parents I see with kids strapped to their bikes and groceries on their backs. We had some trouble near the end of the ride just getting going from a stop. Imagine the bikers we'd pass that have piggybackers riding side saddle on the rear tire?
The control panel (there is also a remote but has dead batteries) allows the user to control the radio, the disco lights or the amount of steam. The analog dials control temperature and nozzle selection. While showering, you can have the standard shower head or rain mode. But - for more fun... there is the wall of shower with the eight sprayers there - or the seat guns! I haven't gotten the courage yet to fire the seat cannons...
The whole houseboat is IKEA! We're in a neighborhood a bit outside of Central Amsterdam. Although it's only a 30 min walk or an easy tram or bus ride into the center of it all, we are far enough away to feel more local. Buying a cup of coffee yesterday down the road, a man asked, "Did you guys just move in?"
"Nope, here for three weeks though, we'll see you soon." I say
"Cope back," He answers, "We have great food."
This windmill is down the road.
Day one - Philly to Amsterdam. Departed at 6pm - landed 830am.
Our trip started in Philly thumbing our way onto an East bound flight to Amsterdam... Although there were still a few seats in the back open, we dropped a hundred bucks on the upgrades to sit up front. Awkward though as passengers walked by to they’re seats in steerage making comments about the first class 'accommodations.'
"Could you imagine spending a thousand dollars more to sit up here?" They didn't know about the desert choices.
I kept reading my complimentary copy "Forbes" and laughing that we were riding for free - suckers.
While the commoners in the back were complaining about having to pay for the extra bag, I ate my duck and made to order salad. I chose the fresh cheese and croutons with the lemongrass soy dressing. The meal was surprisingly flavorful although I had already sucked down a bottle of wine. The flight attendant liked the fact we were commoners in disguise and topped us off each time.
Funny thing upon landing was that we were to check in at 4pm but got off the train at 9am. Neither of us could figure how to dial the payphone so we decided to wander around for abit until show time. (We bought a five Euro card and dialed what we though was the owners number. Each time Susan got an angry Dutch man telling us never to call again! "THIS IS A PRIVATE NUMBER" he spoke in flawless English.) Stashing our bags in a locker, we ran off to see the city and acquaint ourselves with the places we like to see more of over the next 21 days.
After several hours or roaming, the wall of fatigue hit and suddenly we were hot, tired and ready for a shower. "Lets find the houseboat... maybe it's open." We agreed.
And then the rain started. Hard rain!
We gave in and dialed out on our cell phone for the boat owner.
"I thought you'd be here earlier? The boats been open. Key under the plant."
And then it was shower, a walk to the grocery store for supplies for a few meals, dinner and bed.
With Susan off for the summer, I 'bid' to have some weeks off with her. I was awarded 6 weeks from the end of June through early August. Being anxious to kick the summer off - I asked (and was awarded) a drop of a trip at the end of June that slides up to vacation. Now I have the last ten days of June off stretching that 6
week vacation to ten days longer! Our plans - a few days in upstate New York with her family in an area she found on the show "Cash and Treasures". Follow that with three weeks on a houseboat in Amsterdam where we plan to do nothing but relax, see some good shows and eat great food. Top that off with a week in Reno with my family running around dude ranches and the sort. And then - Still a few weeks at home in the new house!
Aside from bluffing my way into free internet access codes at hotels that don't offer it FREE to crew - I enjoy the free breakfast scam. To make the game even more fun, I try and find a backdoor so I can enter the breakfast arena from the hallway rather than the front door.
Susan and I went to opening night of the Simpsons movie. THE opening night. The midnight showing at select theaters opening night. First of all - movie = Awesome. But it was the crowd that made it funny. Laugh Out Loud Funny. One of the treats of the episodes is that there is no laugh track so they can squeeze that many more jokes in that you would normally miss because of the laughing. In the theater - many jokes flew by because of the laughing... but the catharis of laughing with you peers was a hell of a good time. The movie was to begin at midnight and as you can imagine - MANY people were there early to save dozens of seats for their friends. Now get this - at 12:15 there was still no movie. Grumblings about refering to issues with the curtain maybe. I get up to grab some water and here a manager say to an employee, "Get theaters 15 and 16 cleaned now!"
I flies right by me.
12:20 and Susan asks what's up.
I say, "Now that you mention it..." and I told her about the manager.
She says I'm gonna stake out a seat! I'll call you.
She leaves and the manager does indeed make a speech.
"Lets make this as easy as possible. We're having issues with the screen, We've opened up theaters 15 and 16.........."
Unable to finish. Mass EXODUS!
I call Susan... she has seats for us.
Now! in the new theater.
12:30 and nothing.
People heckle - but as Simpsons fans - it's simpsons heckles.
"Worst theater, Ever!"
and then a "Ha....Ha...."
and Grandpa Simpson said something.
And the previews start... and then they stop.
and more heckles.
and they start again and stop several times.
And through it all - the crowd laughed never getting too excited.
And when the movie started - it was laugh out loud funny!
I guess it was a time when there wasn't much to do but find dinner and a nice place to sleep. We paid for lunch with change, ate at diners and laughed at things I hope we would still find funny. Whether it was this road trip or another I'm not sure but we had a bad front right tire that could hold about 30 mins worth or air. Rather than buying a new one we'd drive until it ran low and then stop for more air. Most of the drive was spent with with Stokes (left) leaning out the passenger window with us driving full speed to give us an update. With hair waving in the wind - he'd lean towards the windshield and give us either a 'thumbs-up' or 'thumbs-down'.
As friends make the jump from windows to mac - I often get asked what mac apps to use? Where are some good places to get software? What's in your dock? Here is what is currently in my dock... some programs I use often - others I recently downloaded and need them visable so I remember to try them out. Most are free... I left out the standards "I" Programs. Itunes and whatnot.
- djay - Uses Itunes tracks with two digital turntables.. not sure what to do with it. But's it's fun to play with. Now I really have two turntables and a microphone.
- quicksilver - A quick app launcher. the precurser to 'spotlight'. It works much faster than spotlight and has many plugins to make the program dig deeper into your computer. It searches bookmarks and address book entries as well as Ichat logs.
- appzaper - They had it free one day. It's a great way to delete apps and makes a cool sound when deleting. Like uninstall for windows in that it deletes many of the leftover pieces of the programs when you zap.
- Flame - Shows what services are being offered by computers on your network.
- bluecoconut - Allows you to 'borrow' music from shared itunes libraries on local networks. Fun to use in airports when you see dozens of libraries. I like to walk around and try and identify the human with their playlist. Of all the libraries I've 'browsed'... regardless of how obscure or common - EVERYONE has The Beatles and Eminem.
- senuti - Takes music from you ipod back to mac. itunes <> senuti.
- vlc - A great media player. Plays most formats.
- azureus - A bit torrent client. I like the RSS plugin that downloads recently posted torrents in the genre's you assign.
- firefox - Webbrowser with many user created themes/plugins to enhance your browsing. The plugins I use most - All-in-one sidebar, Bigmenot, Del.icio.us, dictionary search, Digg This, Downloadthemall, Flashgot, Forecastfox, Foxytunes, Google Calendar Quick Add, Greesemonkey, IE View, PDF download, ReloadEvery, Stop-or-Reload Button, TrackmeBot, VideoDownloader.
- istumbler - Finds hotspots.
- vienna - Free newsreader.
- google earth - Earth through the eyes of Google.
- stellarium - Planetarium software that shows exactly what you see when you look up at the stars.
- celestia - The free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions.
- skype - Free voice over IP client.
- fire - A great instant messanger client.
- second life - Virtual reality second world.
- renamer4mac - Allows you to easily rename items in bulk.
- deliciouslibrary - Catalog your home library. DVD's, games, books.
- activity monitor - MenuMeters is a set of CPU, memory, disk, and network monitoring tools.
- ipodder lemon - Podcatcher sometimes called 'juice'.
- Todos - This is great program for launching, finding apps. It shows all apps on your mac by icon.
- pod2go - Puts news and gas prices and weather and email on your ipod. audioscrobbler - Stats for itunes. Builds charts on your listening habits and shows 'friends' who have similiar listening habits. slimbatterymonitor - Replaces your battery icon with one that is a little more customizable. alarmclock2 - Wake up to itunes playlists.
We were woken up buy several very abrupt knocks on the front door at 2am this morning. Luckily, I'm feeling under the weather and had called off a two day trip. I say 'lucky' because had I had not called out my alarm clock would have been going off in about an hour and I'd been pissed. With Bella the 60 pound pit mix away on vacation this week I thought I could ignore the knocks for abit until they assumed we were gone. Had she have been here - she would have let us know someone was there before the knocking. After a few more forceful pounds on the door I looked out the window to see who it was. A Maryland State Police car had the one way road blocked outside our house with lights flashing. Still, when answering the door, I let out a bellowing "Who is it." "Maryland State Police! Open the door!" Knowing my innocence, it was actually kind of fun. If only they were filming COPS. I opened the door to be greeted with a flashlight in the eyes and a "We're looking for @#$##@$#$@!" I'm not censoring. It was 2AM. MY brain was not into store information mode. When I said I wasn't him and I've been in the house for 5 years they seemed pleased and started to turn. "Do you wanna see some ID or something?" I asked. "Yeah, That's a good idea." They said walking back to the door. I guess it was 2AM for them as well.