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Bullet Sunday 492

Posted on January 29th, 2017

Dave!We're all gonna die! Because an all-new Trump-inspired Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Chicago! I could fill this entire Sunday with the psychotic insanity of President Trump's first week in office... but there's numerous places doing a better job than I ever could (like here, here, here, here, here, and here). And yet... it's hard to say nothing in the face of current events. I mean, come on, the guy declared his own inauguration day "National Day of Patriotic Devotion." That alone puts Donald Trump's presidency in vivid relief. But, of course, he didn't stop there. One of his tweets, in addition to showing that he doesn't know how "quotes" work, called out Chicago for their "carnage." Which he will fix by sending in the Feds if they don't handle it to his satisfaction...

Cats in the Clothes Dryer
Always screencap Trump's tweets... he might delete them.

An interesting aside here...

So why does President Trump keep picking on Chicago when there are bigger fish he could call out? Obama, of course. That's where his political career started. It's also where it ended, as that's where President Obama gave his farewell address (Trump claimed two people were shot and killed while Obama was speaking, which turned out to be yet another lie). Trump's obsession with his predecessor will put Chicago in his crosshairs for all eternity. Might as well get used to it...

Except I will never get used to it.

   
• Protest! For people who think the Muslim Ban Protests are a overreaction... I disagree. Had Donald Trump not banged the anti-Muslim, xenophobic drum so constantly and consistently at all stages of his nomination and election, would the reaction to his temporary, selective ban be seen as something other than a "first step" to deporting and banning Muslims from the country permanently? We will never know. All we have is the hysterical ramblings of Donald Trump from which we can base our interpretation of Donald Trump's actions. Better safe in protest than sorry in despotism, I always say.

   
• Apples! Just a reminder... Steve Job's father was a Syrian refugee...

   
• War! Scariest story this week: China military official says war with US under Donald Trump 'becoming practical reality'

Watchmen Five Minutes to Midnight

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em, everybody!

   
• Love! With all the horrors awaiting me every time I access the internet, it's nice to see something pop up that's actually good news for once. This is a sweet story that had me wondering for the millionth time how homophobic dumbasses like Michelle Bachmann can spout the kind of hatred she does. These guys could have very easily been killed just for being who they are. That they would somehow CHOOSE "evil homosexually" under such circumstances and endure what they had to go through for four years is insanity. That's adding idiotic complication to something so simple as two people falling in love...

Though I admit that I did laugh when they got that check for $25,000. It's a lot of money, of course... but in Seattle's housing market? LOL! Good luck, gentlemen!

   
• Welcome! The Netherlands welcomes President Trump!

America First! Yes! But the Netherlands, second. Tremendous.

   
And... here's to surviving another week!

Maybe.

I guess.

   

DAY ELEVEN: Bullet Sunday 374

Posted on March 31st, 2014

Dave!Don't go checking your calendar just yet... because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...

   
• Skuttle. The plan was to head into Amsterdam today... the reality is that I'm laying around on a big red couch trying to rest up my aching rib cage for a ten-hour flight home tomorrow morning. I tried feeling sad about it, but this has been such a great vacation that I just can't muster the pity.

   
• Heart. Did you know that the seven red shapes on the flag of Fryslân are not hearts?

Frisian Flag

They're pompeblêden... the leaves of yellow water-lily! But in blood red for some reason. Probably because that's more scary to their enemies than if they were yellow-green...

Frisian Flag Wrong!

No. Yeah... red is definitely more bad-ass.

   
• Smurftastic. And so the Netherlands has Smurf-flavored gelato...

Smurf-Flavored Gelato

There was no ingredients statement, so I don't know if it's made with real Smurfs or not...

The Smurfs

In any event, I'm guessing Gargamel won.

   
• Tagged. While I don't necessarily condone defacing public or private property, I have to say the graffiti in Leeuwarden was some pretty impressive stuff...

Leeuwarden Graffiiti

Leeuwarden Graffiiti

But what would you expect from Wom the Hipster-Killing Zombie?

Leeuwarden Graffiiti

   
• Chickens. And, just when you think that beautiful hand-painted signage is a lost art, also in Leeuwarden...

Leeuwarden Graffiiti

You almost don't notice that the building is crooked and all the windows are jacked up. Perhaps Wom the Hipster-Killing Zombie has a day-job?

   
• Cheese. My biggest regret in leaving the Netherlands is that I can't bring a big wheel of cheese with me. They had it for sale at The Keukenhof, but it weighs 20-30 pounds and costs around $120-$200 (depending on how aged it is and how much your wheel weighs). You do get to buy it from a wooden cow, however...

Cheese Cow

I'm guessing 30 pounds of cheese would last me about a week.

   
No more bullets. No more vacation.

   

DAY TEN: Schiermonnikoog

Posted on March 30th, 2014

Dave!Our final day in Fryslân was spent taking the ferry over to Schiermonnikoog, a kinda resort island that's home to a massively huge beach.

Cars are only allowed for registered residents, which means that visitors have to either ride the bus, arrange for a resident taxi driver, or rent a bicycle. The DutchBitch opted for the bicycles, which was an interesting prospect considering I haven't ridden one in over 30 years. With this in mind, she rented bicycles which feature "Electric Assist"... a small motor that helps you along as you peddle. Turns out that this was a very good move, because my crushed ribcage left me needing all the help I can get...

Schiermonnikoog

Turns out that riding a bike is... errr... just like riding a bike, and I managed just fine. The only problem I had was getting off and on it, but that was thanks to getting run into by a car more than anything else.

Our first stop was a World War II bunker that oversees much of the island...

Schiermonnikoog

Schiermonnikoog

Schiermonnikoog

In the same area is Vredenhof Cemetery, which is a peaceful little place where we spotted soldiers buried from France, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Germany...

Schiermonnikoog

Schiermonnikoog

Then it was time to cycle to the massive beach that covers the north-side of the island...

Schiermonnikoog

Schiermonnikoog

It's an impossibly huge beach, as this pano shows (click to embiggen). This is but a small section of the waterfront, and those dots in the distance are people...

Schiermonnikoog

From there we rode around town a bit, then went to a cafe for drinks while we waited for the ferry back to the mainland...

Schiermonnikoog

Pretty much the perfect end to my brief adventure in Fryslân!

Now to spend some time resting up for my trip home. Which I am most certainly not looking forward to.

   

DAY NINE: Harlingen and Leeuwarden

Posted on March 29th, 2014

Dave! Fryslân (Friesland) is a region in the Northern Netherlands I have long wanted to visit. Partly because I want to visit all regions of the country... but mostly because it was home to some of my ancestors. My family name of "Simmer" is from the word "Summer" in the Fresian language, and my father has traced our genealogy back several generations to the area.

There are a number of routes you can use to get to Fryslân from South Holland, but The DutchBitch decided to take us the most direct (and interesting!) route... across The Afsluitdijk, a massive dike constructed from 1927 to 1933 which has a roadway over it. The dike completely enclosed a saltwater bay (known as Zuiderzee) which eventually became a giant freshwater lake called IJsselmeer. The 20-mile long dike also allowed for the reclamation of the land masses Wieringermeer, Noordoostpolder, and Flevoland, which added considerable area to the country. On a map, The Afsluitdijk (marked with a red arrow) looks like this...

Hard Rock Cafe Nice

Amsterdam is in the lower-left there. The areas I've shaded green are lands reclaimed from the sea.

When looking at a map, any time i saw The Afsluitdijk, I thought of it looking like the Øresund Bridge or something...

Oresund Bridge

Which is absurd, of course, because a dike is nothing like a bridge. I guess in my mind it would just look cooler if it was. The reality isn't quite so glamorous, but still interesting...

The Afsluitdijk

Obligatory iPhone panorama shot (click to embiggen)...

The Afsluitdijk
Stopping at the half-way point.

After an hour-and-a-half drive, we arrived at our first stop... the city of Harlingen. It's a beautiful old fishing town that's the birthplace of my great-great-grandparents...

Harlingen

Harlingen

Harlingen

Stopping at the tourist office, we learned that the area where my great-great-grandparents were born was the poor part of town and a real shit-hole, which is why it was eventually torn down. Which is to say that it was undoubtedly a beautiful and incredibly desirable area of the city to live until my family left, at which time it became a detestable shit-hole, I'm sure. Today, it has once again become a premium, expensive neighborhood to live, so I guess things have come full circle.

Because this area had been completely torn down, the street where my great-great-grandfather was born no longer exists. It has become a private dead-end alley to the right of this cool little house here...

Harlingen

The place where my great-great-grandmother was born has been torn down and divided up into different lots, so I just walked around the block to see the area where she had lived...

Harlingen

After a nice lunch downtown, The DutchBitch and I walked back through the city where she spotted this...

Pirate Virginia Cigarettes

PIRATE brand Virginia Cigarettes... made in the Netherlands?

From Harlingen, we headed to Leeuwarden for more family history. Our first stop was just a block up from our hotel, which is the former location of the Galileërkerk, a church where my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Johannes was interred. The original building was demolished in 1940, but it's location was just north of the former post office, which would be in the vicinity of the building to the left there...

Leeuwarden

The weather was incredible, and we weren't the only ones taking advantage of it...

Leeuwarden

Our next stop was the church where both my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Johannes and his son, my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Frederik were married. It's now some kind of local performing arts center, but it still looks vaguely church-like. And it has some kick-ass door decorations...

Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden

From there it was onward to Oldehoofsterkerkhof, the church where my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Frederik was interred. In what I can only describe as a "Leaning Tower of Pisa Moment," I finally realized that the reason the tower looks so strange is because it's falling over...

Oldehoofsterkerkhof

And the closer you get, the more fucked-up things become. There doesn't seem to be a single perpendicular line on this entire building except the windows and doors. I was getting a headache trying to photograph it because my brain kept trying to straighten things out and line stuff up...

Oldehoofsterkerkhof

Oldehoofsterkerkhof

Like Harlingen, Leeuwarden is a rather nice city with a pretty downtown area...

Leeuwarden

Which you walk through in order to get to the part of town where my great-great-great-great-grandparents Hendrik and Catharina lived... and where my great-great-great-grandfather Willem Frederik was born in 1817 (he moved to Harlingen with his wife Geertje in 1845). Though, I'm sure back then it wasn't quite the boarded-up, graffiti-strewn mess it is now...

Leeuwarden

Our last stop was Blokhuispoort, a former prison where The DutchBitch thought I would feel right at home because my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Johannes was convicted of being drunk and insulting a widow named Dieuke Berents. Wrongly convicted, obviously, since the woman must have totally deserved it. I can only hope that grandpa Johannes gave her a nice bitch-slap for having the nerve to piss him off...

Leeuwarden

And thus ended my tour of the lands of my ancestors. Now it's time to dope up on pain-killers and see if I can get some sleep before tomorrow's adventure.

Boy, getting hit by a car is not all it's cracked up to be.

   

DAY EIGHT: Lisse and Amsterdam

Posted on March 28th, 2014

Dave!"We have arrived!" announced the hotel shuttle driver to myself and another passenger as we pulled into the Nice Airport around 4:30am. And so I climb out and ask the driver to open the back of the van so I can get my bag. He says "This stop is not for you," and so I start to climb back on the van... only to have the driver slam the gas pedal to the floor as I am half-way in. The van lurches forward, causing the sliding door to smash into my side and send me flying 20 feet. My head crashes into the pavement and, as I lay there bleeding and trying to breathe, the driver stands over me and says "I said this stop was not for you!" — which is why I was climbing back on the van, of course, but let's not apply logic to the situation. You would think that A) The driver would make sure everybody is actually ON the van before hitting the gas, and B) He would start out slowly just in case the first passenger was still standing near... or the second passenger was in the process of boarding... or a pedestrian is crossing the street... or whatever. But, alas, no.

Blood pouring down my face and hunched over in pain, I somehow make my way inside the airport (at the next stop, natch) so I can try to clean myself up in a bathroom. Much to my horror, my glasses are destroyed, so I have to fish for contact lenses in my suitcase. But I can only put a lens in one eye because blood is pouring over the other one. A package of antibiotic wipes and 20 minutes of direct pressure later, my second lens is in and it's time to head to the gate for my flight.

The wonderful KLM cabin crew gave me ice for my head on the flight back to Amsterdam. This made the swelling die down a bit, and also caused the pain to subside. As for my chest where I was hit? The pain became searing, so when I got off the plane I started pressing around and... SNAP... I think I had a fractured rib, because now that it's been set back in place I feel totally fine... just a little sore now.

In other news... I have never felt so fucking macho in all my life as to snap my own fractured rib back in place! I'd go to the doctor, but all they would do is wrap me up and give me pain meds, so I'm just going to put on a tight T-shirt and self-medicate. Same difference! A-fucking-right... this is one macho bitch right up in here.*

Anyway...

My plans to visit some work colleagues in Amsterdam had to be abandoned so I could recuperate back at Casa de DutchBitch for five hours until she got off work. At which time we decided to visit "Europe's Garden"... the Keukenhof. I was there back in 2012 and loved it, so I was looking forward to another visit on this beautiful day, even if I was loaded with pain-killers...

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof

After a wonderful afternoon looking at flowers, it was time for dinner at one of my favorite places on earth, Restaurant De Kas. It's a beautiful eatery outside of Amsterdam that resides in a greenhouse where they grow their own food. It's pretty special.

Restaurant De Kas

But it's at night that this place becomes really special...

Restaurant De Kas

The menu is a surprise, built around what came from the garden that day, and they accommodated my vegetarian diet beautifully...

Restaurant De Kas

Restaurant De Kas

Restaurant De Kas

An absolutely wonderful evening. After an absolutely wonderful day. After a terrible morning.

And now? Having experienced first hand what it's like to get run into by a car, I'm going to take some heavy drugs and go to bed. So good night to you! And (hopefully) a good night to myself.

   

*Unless, of course, it wasn't a fractured rib at all... in which case I have no idea what snapped inside there. Maybe I'm the moron who just cracked his own rib? I dunno. Playing doctor is a lot harder than it looks on television. Still, I'm feeling 1000% better than I was, so you can't argue with the results.

   

DAY TWO: Rotterdam

Posted on March 22nd, 2014

Dave!I've been meaning to get to Rotterdam for years now, and today it finally happened.

The reason I most wanted to visit was so I could see the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. It's one of those places that comes up in conversation from time to time when discussing art. It totally lives up to the hype...

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

From the minute you enter and see how the coat-check room is a series of cages for your belongings and a rope-and-pulley system for your coat, you know you're in for something good...

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

The collection is varied and excellent...

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

After I managed to pul myself away from the exhibits, I saw that I had plenty of time to walk to the waterfront and see Erasmusbrug (the Erasmus Bridge... also known as the "Swan Bridge" or the "Harp Bridge), then take the metro back to the train station...

Erasmus Bridge

As most of Rotterdam was destroyed in World War II, the city has a modern aesthetic, with a lot of new architectural and artistic structures...

Rotterdam

Rotterdam

Rotterdam

ANYWAY...

I had about 25 minutes to get back to Rotterdam Centraal, which was no problem since the metro only takes 10 minutes.

EXCEPT...

When I went to purchase a ticket, I found out I couldn't buy one. The machine only refilled chip-cards. No problem, I'll just buy a chip-card. Except they don't fucking sell chip-cards. No ticket window. No attendant. No Assistance. Nothing.

So I had to run as fast as I could to get back to the train station.

I hauled ass.

Which was not easy because I don't run very often. At least once along the way I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

But I made it to the station with two minutes to spare, so it's all good, right?

No. My train was running 14 minutes late and so I ran all that way for nothing...

Rotterdam Schedule

Note how my transfer time is 0 minutes. But not really... if you do the math, it's actually -7 minutes. Yay.

After all that bullshit, I decided I deserved PATATJES MET...

Patatjes Met

Well, I always feel that way, but still...

   

DAY ONE: Leiden

Posted on March 21st, 2014

Dave!The flight over The Atlantic was a non-event. Which is the best kind of flight to have, really.

The plane was one of Delta's latest Airbus A330-300's which feels like the seats are even narrower than usual. It was uncomfortable for me... so I'm only guessing it must be downright miserable for at least half the passengers on the plane. I suppose it's only a matter of time before airlines do away with seats altogether. They'll just stack everybody in the plane like firewood.

On the bright side, the new entertainment system features Picture-In-Picture...

Plane PIP

After landing, I took the train to Leiden so I could kill some time until The Dutch Bitch got off work. Back in 2012 I walked around the city to see the sights, but this time it was pouring rain...

Leiden

To escape the weather, I went to Leiden's National Ethnology Museum, (Museum Volkenkunde)...

Volkenkunde Leiden Ethnology Museum

It features artifacts from peoples around the world (outside of Europe), with sections devoted to North America, South & Central America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania...

Volkenkunde Buddha Room

Volkenkunde Museum Leiden

Volkenkunde Day of the Dead

Volkenkunde Clay Figure

Volkenkunde China

The museum is incredibly well-done and has a surprisingly deep collection. The only problem is that everything is suspended in glass cases with no background, so it can be tough to focus on the artifacts. A few times I experimented with angle-shifting to see if I could add some separation, but it wasn't terribly effective...

Volkenkunde Artificat Angle-Shifting

The display spaces are pretty amazing, and full-wall projections are used to put you into the place where the artifacts are from...

Volkenkunde Oceania

Volkenkunde Oceania

And then? It was time for PATATJES MET!!!

Patatjes Met!

And now I could really use a nap...

   

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