Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's Getting Cold

It's well known, the best form of home heating is hot water or steam radiators. Places where I lived in the past had one heater for normal water and a broiler for radiation, my apartment in Italy has one water heater for everything.
 And since it is Italian, it is made by a company called Lamborghini, this happens to be the Lamborghini Taura.  This weekend I decided it was time to turn on the heat and needed to figure out how to do that.
 Basically, up to now I have had hot water in my apartment and to turn on the radiation all I have to do is turn the button in the middle.  At least, that's what my landlord told me.  But I'm always concern that I'm going to touch that button and end up having no hot water or heat.
 The instruction are all in Italian.
 But the manual did include a cool image about how cold water enters the heat exchanges and leaves being hot.  But looking at this graph I thought to myself, 'yeah, I can mess this up.'
My apartment does have these cool new style radiators, they seem very efficient.
 When I turned the middle button on the Lamborghini nothing happen.  It turns out I also need to set the temp on the thermostat too.
 Last time I had a steam radiation system was back in Chicago.  These radiators were straight up cast iron from the 1920's, there is almost nothing better to keep you warm in the winter.  But this system did not have a thermostat, you just needed to turn on the broiler.   Which in itself was an engineering marvel, like having the heart of a steam engine in your basement.

Anne Frank House

During my trip to Amsterdam I also visited the Anne Frank House.
Anne Frank was the young girl who kept a diary during the occupation of Amsterdam most of the stories in the diary take place in this house.  When I showed up at 10:15am a line has already formed around the side of the building.
If you have the opportunity to visit the house, I would recommend pre-ordering your ticket online, with a ticket you can walk right up to the front door, ring the door bell and avoid the line.  Also included with the pre-regrestion is a 30 minute discussion (in English) about Anne Frank and the major history around her family. 
In the house you can't take photos, but you can take a photo in the discussion class room.  So I took a photo.  After the discussion is a walk through the house, both the wear house and the hiding place in the annex. The tour is both amazing and sobering.... The walls are covered with quotes from the diary, for me one of the most sad things on the tour was marks where Anne Franks mother kept track of her daughter heights on the wall.  Also on display is Anne's diary.
 This is the Oscar won by Shelley Winters in 1960 for the movie "The Diary of Anne Frank", of course this statue was 'made in Chicago.'
 You can see the house near the base of the church.
 Both the original building and the building to the right are part of the museum now.  If you are ever in town, I recommend going to this museum.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is an amazing museum within walking distance of central Amsterdam.  The collection is amazing, and unlike most museums they let you take photos without flash.
 Oh my god, look, it's a Van Gogh. Actually, it's Van Gogh.
 It is rumored that this gun duel set belonged to Napoleon.
 One room was dedicated to the Netherlands Naval history.
 This is just the Netherlands giving away naval technology.
 Inside of the Rijksmuseum was a really cool library.  Looks like a movie.
 This museum contains a large collection of paintings and sketches by Rembrandt, most of his pieces are located within the great hall.  The great hall also has a large collection of stain glass windows.
 The most famous painting at the Rijksmeseum is the Night watch by Rembrandt, you can see the crazy number of people standing in front of the painting.
 You can see the dog in the lower right hand corner, Rembrandt put him there to fill an open space.... At least according to an information card next to the painting.
 This painting is unique in the the person who painted the people to the left of the seven people to the right was a different person.  The person who painted the seven people on the right did not like the style of the guy who painted the remaining people on the left.
 I like this photo, it looks like they guy is looking at my camera.
 This is a self portrait of Rembrandt.
 The museum also had a K-123 plane on display, this is the only remaining copy of this plane in existence.
 I like these old planes.
 I think I could make this thing in a garage.
 Okay, this is me outside of Rijksmuseum, let me explain my haircut.  I got this haircut during my trip to Poland and it looks goofy.  I wanted to ask the Dutch to fix my hair, but because of how it is currently cut I think the only way to cut my hair would just be to make the top length match the side length.  I decided to let my hair grow out a little bit and fix this later.
 Outside the museum was a Tesla Model S, it's the first time I saw this car.  Everyone, Careful!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


This past weekend I took a trip to Holland, the city of Amsterdam.  This is the first photo I took in this city, everywhere looks like a postcard.
 Cantal Amsterdam and the ring around central Amsterdam is supported by both roads and canals.  As far as I can tell, boats are a normal form of transportation here.
 Another aspect of Amsterdam's culture is coffeeshops or what we might call in the US as discrepancies.
 Dam square is a large plaza in central Amsterdam.  This was my view as I walked up on Dam Square, simply beautiful.  This city was not really damage during World War 2, what you see if how it looked back in the day.
 They even made available horse carriages, again, just like Greenfield Village.
 Mass transit is also very easy to use in Amsterdam, but if you are planning on spending most of your time in the central area you can walk everywhere.  The trams are more for getting outside of central.
 People are everywhere and the people are making a mess.  Almost non-stop I saw people cleaning, sweeping and vacuuming the streets.  Even if a street was packed with people, the city workers would just turn the corner with one of those large vacuum cars and just assume people would figure out how to get out of the way.
 Very popular book store.
 I found a couple of camera shops in Amsterdam... and for the most part the stores were okay.  But near the American Book Center was a camera shop that had a Sigma 200-500 F2.8 APO EX DG, Nikon mount, telephoto lens for sale for 14999 euros.  I have only heard about this lens, kind of like a legend of Japanese technology that cost freaking $20000, but if you were paying with cash money, you could probably talk them down to a reasonable $17000.... but having undeclared cash money like that might (is) be illegal.
 Amsterdam has lots of foreign food too, including Mexican.  I checked, the Mexican food is on par with Poland, I would recommend passing on Mexican and going for a steakhouse.
 With the canals, everywhere looked like a postca...., oh I said that.
 Most shopping areas had balls of light hung over the street.
 This guy was cutting hard candy, at first I thought it was rhubarb.  But I had to investigate and he was kind enough to give me a sample, very good.
 View looking outside from the counter of an Irish bar.  Dublin is on my short list of places to visit.
 When I saw the reflection of light on the street from this building it reminded me of the painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.  Not to mention the photo from the Irish bar has reflection like Automat, maybe Hopper was painting Amsterdam.
 Italy street signs are usually attached to the side of a building or simply does not exist if no building is at the corner.  Amsterdam, street signs are anywhere, you need to look.
 Bike are a very normal form of transportation.  Every road has a bike lane and a (or two) car lanes.
 Me.  Shoot, you can see the shape of my passport through my pants.
 I'm getting use to signs like this as a way to find my way around.  I was heading in the direction of Rijksmuseum.
 I kind of thought the chandelier was an overkill.
 Amsterdam Central Station, from downtown to airport is kind of no problem.