A local meetup did free lunchtime concerts but when I tried to snag a ticket, they we all gone. Turns out, this didn’t matter as they let people in without tickets and anyhow, when the concert started there were always a few free seats. I went ahead and booked myself five lunchtime concerts for May. First up, the Concertgebouw is a magnificent building. It would be nice to see something in the big room rather than the small one.
The first week was some kind of recorder and guitar thing.
The second week was piano and flute.
Week three was opera.
Week four was half string trio and oboe and half string quartet.
Week five was very much in the middle-eastern mould, in some musical mode us Westerners don’t get to hear very often.
The Rijksmuseum is local to me so it’s churlish not to take a few hours and visit. The Vermeer exhibition sold out immediately months ago but on a tip-off from a chap on the internet, I risked going and getting a ticket from the desk inside.
The Rijksmuseum is local to me so it’s churlish not to take a few hours and visit. The Vermeer exhibition sold out immediately months ago but on a tip-off from a chap on the internet, I risked going and getting a ticket from the desk inside. It worked! I got a ticket to an exhibition that was really crowded, unlike the Geffen in LA which I mostly had to myself.
In terms of Dutch Artists, for me, Vermeer ranks top, followed by a versatile Van Gogh and a workmanlike Rembrandt. The Rijksmuseum has assembled roughly 2/3 of Vermeer’s surviving works and it was an amazing journey through a life spent painting.
Seeing a lifetime of painting laid out makes you appreciate how he progressed, but also how he used many of the same elements often: viewing through a window or curtain, lit from the left, often solo ladies with a musical instrument or focus item, occasionally a symbolic painting of a map or a cupid.
That’s a small sample of the paintings on show. I’d heartily recommend a visit to Amsterdam to risk being able to get tickets to the Vermeer exhibition. Having lived close to London’s museums, I can safely say this blows them away.
I recently spent a few hours getting these climate certificates. Man, that was depressing. By about 2100 we’re totally screwed. Global temperatures may well have risen by 4C and we’ll have run out of resources like fossil fuels for plastics and rare earth metals for our phones. Never mind the billion or more people who will be displaced by uninhabitable land. See Gaia Vince’s “Nomad Century” for the details in detail. And yet governments are still subsidising oil and gas exploration. It’s like they don’t want us to live.
Oil takes 5x the energy to extract than it used to and we have of it 50 years left. We only have 200 years of Uranium left.
TBH it’s really depressing and makes one want to go off the grid. Or get a job building huge numbers of wind turbines, planting trees or regrowing coral reefs. Wind, solar and water (for now) are renewable resources. We should start using them as much as possible immediately and start rationing the use of expendable resources like oil and gas. I have a Facebook group into which I drop links about climate-related stuff. Denmark is, I believe, almost net zero today. Now let’s get the USA and China to follow. If the money spent on militaries and war was spent on carbon emissions, we’d be golden.
The recent kerfuffle about 15 minute cities is a good one. I’d like to be able to walk, cycle or tram to what I need.
So remember the five Rs: Refuse (don’t buy it), Reduce (do less of it), Reuse, Recycle, Rot (make compost).
Six months too late, I’ve now been certified in basic Azure DevOps. Top tip: if you wholeheartedly embrace the Microsoft system it works so much better. What surprised me was that GitHub is now well-integrated. I still won’t use Azure for personal stuff since VSCode has connections to everything Open Source I use.
In the time I was a “real” photographer and in the time since when I’ve been armed with an iPhone camera, sad bicycles have caught my eye. Back in the day in London, very often wheels were bent or stolen completely. More recently in Amsterdam, the bicycles have just been collateral damage from the crappy weather. Anyhow by special Reddit request, here are the pictures. I believe the EXIF data should be intact, so if you really care, the phone photos should locate themselves. Why couldn’t SLRs do GPS?
Taipei is less about bicycles, although they are present, than scooters. I couldn’t find the photo I really wanted which was of a swarm of scooters waiting for a light to go green, pouring out fumes. I believe now there are many more electric ones, with convenient battery swapping stations. I do love the guy with gas bottles stacked on the back of his scooter.
So there you have it. The people of Amsterdam clearly value their bicycles more than Londoners, which given how much the Dutch travel by bike is only to be understood. Given the amount I’m walking at the moment, I daresay I shall encounter more, especially if I go to particularly bike-dense areas.
In the macro, the combination of Covid, Brexit and Ukraine conspired to make the U.K. an awful place to be. The utter stupidity of twelve years of conservative rule basically ruined the country. There are now more food banks than ever, energy has become unaffordable for many and many industries are striking to have their pay and conditions reverted to pre-Tory levels.
On the micro level, I conspired to blow up my life. One careless throwaway comment rendered twelve years of what I thought was a happy marriage null and void and it is now in the hands of her solicitors. I was made homeless and ended up camping with friends from a previous life. On the slight upside, I got a job in the Netherlands so skipped there, negotiated the bureaucracy (I hate you, Brexit) and found an apartment in basically the Camden of Amsterdam. I go into the office maybe one day a week, so there’s that.
The swimming pool I used to use is still here, and I got myself a museumkaart which is good for 450 museums here. So far, I can say Van Gogh is great, it’s sad he died so young. Vermeer’s paintings are vibrant. Banksy is inspired.
I can safely say that native Dutch cuisine is pretty awful. Asian food is plentiful and good, however. When they get round to opening it, I’ll be practically living above a Vietnamese banh mi place. Thanks to Duolingo my Dutch is coming on by leaps and bounds and thanks to market traders who speak good English anyhow, I can generally negotiate the market in Dutch.
I’m slightly annoyed that the Dutch prime minister has apologised for slavery but not for the genocide of villages of Taiwanese people.
So that’s my life now. I’ve resurrected a few friendships of survivors from the last time I was here, I’m still cranking out Perl, doing loads of corporate training and negotiating an extremely secure environment. 300 people doing what half a dozen of us did ten years ago, with an interesting mix of nationalities.
It’s a bit unfair to call Buxton a baby Bath, but it is. Built to service the spas by the 5th Duke of Devonshire it’s cute. It has a station with an hourly service to Manchester and beyond, though I suspect it had a much better service back in the day.
It has the obligatory park, lots of pubs and craft beer outlets, some decent restaurants and of course the assembly rooms in the crescent:
Let’s start by asking the question: “how on earth in the 21st Century do we still have inherited wealth and privilege on this scale in a monarchy?” Most other civilised countries seem to do OK without it, and all the pomp and pageantry that goes with it. I’d sooner see an elected figurehead looking solemn than an inbreed who got there by chance of birth.
I’ve been collecting choice nuggets about the royal family on Facebook, so here they all are, and more, in one place. It’s by no means a complete list. Can you tell I’m not a fan of the monarchy?