Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 1 February

30 January 2014


We will repeat the Rojo's to Rojo's ride.

This is a 48-mile route, but I promise it will be mellow.  I haven't been on my road bike outdoors since December 28, 2013.

Meet at the parking area by the tennis courts on Jackie Drive (immediate right off of Woodmont Road from Franklin Corner Road in Lawrenceville).

The starting time is 9 a.m.

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Lookin' Good, NJ"

24 January 2014 what Dale wrote when I texted her the sunset view from the new lab just now.

The steam is from the university's cogeneration plant.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 25 January

23 January 2014


Maybe next week.

Here, have a picture or three of the snow from my new office:

It's a reverse berm, a steep incline so that people on the level below us can see daylight.

This is a picture of my office door reflecting the snow outside:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

D&R Canal Towpath from Princeton to Griggstown

19 January 2014

Winter Larry's ride was canceled by being three degrees below 32 at 9:00 a.m. After a flurry of emails between me and Ron, me and Ed, and me and Tom, we joined Tom for a ride he'd planned along the towpath starting from Washington Road.  Joe was there, and Mighty Mike too.

Judging from the line of ice that formed on my leg from where the valve on my Camelbak was leaking, we were riding below freezing for at least half of our trip.

On our way back from Griggstown, Tom took us on the eastern side of the canal north of Kingston.  The path there is thin and muddy.  We got ourselves a little dirty, which is necessary because we were on mountain bikes.

We were a mile or so from the end when I realized that I'd lost my rubber chicken.  I'm not mountain biking anymore, so the warning is no longer necessary anyway. Still, though, that chicken was part of the history and essence of my short mountain biking career.  Oh well.  Someone will find it out there.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Long Walk to the North Sea

utilitarian and ugly

17 January 2014

The reason we're in Amsterdam is that Jack was invited to give the keynote address at the Annual Conference of the Dutch-Belgian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.  This year's topic is "The Art of Lying."  One of Jack's pet subjects is forgeries.  So there we were, in one of Amsterdam's "hidden churches" along the Singel Canal, with about 30 other people, all of them strangers.

Jack's talk was first.  I stayed for that, and for the next one, but I can only sit still for so long.  Knowing that tomorrow we'd be stuck on an airplane for 9 hours straight, I pulled up a Google map on my phone, got an idea, and told Jack I'd be back in an hour.

I headed northwest at a pace somewhat shy of my commuter clip, definitely walking, not strolling, stopping only for red lights, bikers, and the occasional picture.

My goal was to follow the canal for as long as I could, which, if I could get far enough, would get me to the North Sea.  Should restlessness strike again in the afternoon, and I knew it would, my next walk would be to Centraal Station, the train station famed for the number of bikes parked there.

As it happened, the canal took me to the station.  All of this is bike parking:

This is the train station:

Behind it is the North Sea:

I stopped only once on my way back:

When I entered the church again, I was sweating a little.  I'd made it back in time for lunch -- sandwiches and apples while standing in a small hallway -- and was bored again in minutes.

The next two talks were fun, though, because there were visual aids to keep me entertained.  Then I was off again, this time to the hotel, so that I could upload today's pictures, blog about them, and scurry back to the church.  There will be a tour of an 18th century house (probably boring), then dinner at an Indonesian restaurant, courtesy of the Dutch-Belgian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Time to scurry.  I'll be stateside in 24 hours.  Let's hope we can get a ride in on Sunday.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Long Walk Home

15 January 2014

Ed wrote, "If you and Jack have time tonight or tomorrow, I give the bruin cafe named ’t Smalle, located on Egelantieersgracht in the Jordaan district, my strongest possible recommendation."

While we were at dinner, a 20-minute walk from the hotel, no rain, we figured out how to get to 't Smalle. Google told us it would take about half an hour to get there.  As we stepped outside, church bells chimed.  I checked my watch.  It was 9:30 p.m.

Here's a breeder bike.  Notice the reinforced frame.

We lost count of the canals we crossed.

Even the alleys are clean:

After a couple of wrong turns (we were off by a canal or two), we found 't Smalle.  We went up the stairs, where my camera lens fogged up:

The "stairs," a glorified ladder:

We didn't stay for drinks.  Instead we walked on.  It was 10:45 when we reached the hotel.

Jack and I have been trying to figure out how to compare the side streets of central Amsterdam to those in New York and Philadelphia.  The best I can do is to compare it to Society Hill in Center City Philadelphia. But where Society Hill is a few blocks around, we walked for an hour on brick sidewalks next to luxurious (but not ostentatious) apartments.  When we could see through windows we saw chandeliers, high ceilings, and high-end furnishings.  Jack compared it to NYC's Upper East Side.  I'm adding to that:  where the Upper East Side is vertical wealth, this is horizontal.

Amsterdam Museum Day

16 January 2014

My sneakers chose this day to die, both shoes having come unglued enough at the toes to kick up sidewalk rain water and project it straight back onto the top of my shoes, sending the Amsterdam rain directly to my socks.  The insoles have quit too.  This is where Amazon Prime becomes a good deal.  I'll have new sneakers at my doorstep when we get home on Saturday.

Jack and I are in the hotel room drying out and chilling out.  The rain is petering out.

Today we were mostly inside, spending our time in the newly opened* Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.  I have now seen enough Dutch art to get me through the remainder of the decade.  I might now even be able to identify a Dutch painting from 50 paces.  I also appreciate Van Gogh more after seeing so much of his work (none of which was any of the paintings everyone knows; those are scattered all over the rest of the world).

In the early evening we went to a small bar, a "brown cafe," named for the smoke-stained walls.  No, not that kind of smoke, and not that kind of cafe.  This was a bar, a neighborhood bar, that opened at 4:00 p.m. We arrived shortly after it opened.  Within ten minutes the place was nearly full.

The reason we went to the Wellington is that Jack had read it has a friendly cat.  We needed a cat.  We saw the cat, named "Puss," as soon as we walked in.  She submitted herself to some cat-starved rubbing, then strutted to the back of the bar, where all I could do was talk to her, photograph her, and get a few more rubs in before she wandered off to the kitchen.

Around 5:00 p.m. the sky began to clear.  There was enough light to take pictures of some more bikes,

and to get a quick picture of an orange kitty who wandered into the frame:

We walked through a small park as the sun went down:

Maybe tomorrow I'll get pictures of the city.

(*I wanted the hyphen there, too, Jim, but Jack says I don't need it after an -ly adverb.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Insomnia and Amsterdam

Neither the red light district nor a dream

15 January 2013

With a free wireless connection in the hotel room, I finally had time to answer email from a friend I used to work with in the Brain Factory.  We both escaped, traumatized.  We've both been happily employed for three years elsewhere. 

I fell asleep just fine at midnight.  But some time around 3:00 a.m. I found myself wide awake.  This happens every overseas trip, in the neighborhood of one week in. Tonight's bout came early.  My phone, on a was next to the bed, so I decided to check my email.

Bad move.  There were messages from work that I felt compelled to answer, a fire that needed to be put out.  I got myself good and worked up, too, then switched off the screen and turned onto my back. This is what I thought next:

"Fuck me!  I just answered work email at 3:35 a.m.  On fucking vacation."

Note to self:  Don't do that again.

I drifted between not quite asleep and wide awake for the better part of two hours, waking Jack up multiple times in the process as I flopped around like a fish on the deck of a boat.  When the alarm woke us at 7:30 a.m., neither of us was ready to stand up.

But we had a train to catch, so up we got.

With Jack as my witness, I did drink a pitcher of coffee.  On a normal day, as Jack can attest, this will keep me awake until 11:00 p.m.  Today was not a normal day.  When we got back from breakfast, I fell asleep on the bed as Jack showered.

I was out of sorts all day long.  Fortunately for you, dear readers, we had a brief layover in the Antwerp train station, and, although I felt as if I might hurl at any moment, I was able to hold myself upright long enough to get pictures:

Neither the Ghent to Antwerp nor the Antwerp to Amsterdam train rides was scenic, although we did get a few glimpses of wind turbines and green countryside through the rain-soaked windows.

Again it was early evening before we were ready to explore (after a work email-check delay during which I attempted to put out another fire).

The first thing I noticed was that a great number of the great number of cyclists in the city ride the same kind of bike:

This one has two wheel sizes, which isn't the norm, but the frame and handlebar position are typical.  Only about half of the riders have front lights.  None signals turns.  None wears a helmet.  All are twenty-somethings.  Many are talking on their phones.  Some are texting.  It is up to us, the pedestrians, to look both ways and dash across the bike lanes to sidewalk safety.  We walkers need to look out for the ubiquitous trams, too.

This frame might be covered in a decal; I couldn't tell in the dark and rain:

This one was definitely done with a silver marker:

Just plain cool:

First impressions of Amsterdam:

The city center is trying to be the part of London that is trying to be New York.

Red light district: sex workers behind glass looking bored, talking on a cell phone, languidly putting on moves; live lobsters on ice; the faint smell of pot; seedy "seed shops;" bongs in the window; dildos in the window; is that a bong or a dildo?; nobody over the age of 30 on the streets; mist that isn't rain soaking our shoes

The "young" church dates from the 15th century.  The "old" church was built 100 years before that.

The baby doll in the window of the apartment across from our hotel room:

By 11:30 p.m., the day's lab fires had been put out.  If I could blog about work, I would, because it is, in hindsight, amusing.  Oh well.  Y'all will just have to ask me in person.

Tomorrow we have a full day to explore the city.  Friday is the day Jack gives his talk. I'm not sure if I'll stick with him all day or go out exploring on my own,