Saturday, July 3, 2010

Time for a bar-b-q

It’s a longstanding tradition in the US that Independence Day weekend is made for bar-b-q’ing with friends and family.  It’s generally hot and muggy throughout the country and everyone has a long holiday weekend, so folks go to the beach, fire up the grill, and share a hearty meal before the fireworks.

The big football match against Brazil was the backdrop to the long weekend in the Netherlands: many people got to take time off work to watch the match, and the weather continued hot and sunny.   I joined some friends for a backyard party, a really good break from the travels and travails of the week.

There’s a lot in common between Dutch family bar-b-q and US ones: lots of beer, grilled sausages, and potato salad before the big game.   The differences were mild and regional: actual charred wood rather than briquettes, lovely German sausages in place of Wisconsin (but, my Dutch hosts noted, no cheese on the sausages), and good Belgian beer.  Potatoes were sliced for the salad: Germans do halves and the English keep them whole, but the Dutch slice them thin and layer in the mayo like Americans do.

Even the scene of the cook, wreathed in smoke, simultaneously encouraging the fire with fluid while discouraging it with water, achieving and maintaining the perfect cooking temperature, was familiar.  I gave up two-match approaches after I left  Boy Scouts, favoring the two-handed approach to mastering the fires.

And the game was wonderful, an unexpected come-from-behind victory with the shortest person on the team scoring the winning goal.

The horns and parties lasted long into the night along Kesselskade.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Back on the air

or, at least, no longer in the air…

I’ve been moving between the US and Netherlands for the past week, a mix of business, family, and friends.  It’s usually difficult to get time to write while I’m on the road, but the issues compounded this week with both computer- and connection- issues.

My Sony Vaio Z, a honey of a computer when it works, decided not to after a bump to it’s rear corner, necessitating a trip home to California for some touchup.  The backup Asus Netbook hasn’t been out for a spin in months, so there was a lot of upgrading and reconfiguring needed before it was ready to take the load.

KPN, meanwhile, satisfied their June 28 date for connecting the apartment building to the Internet, but, as usual, failed to connect the apartment to the building socket.  This required the usual hunt for internet connections to jump online a couple of times each day to do minimal e-mail exchanges.

As a result, banking, social networking, travel, and blogging all suffered, perhaps  benefitting writing documents, reading, and thinking.   My academic advisor at Cambridge always held that I should be spending at lead 50% of my time by the river just thinking, resisting the urge to solve all problems with online searches.

In any case, I’m back in the Netherlands in time for a truly brutal spell of hot weather in Maastricht.  The only compensation is that I am back in time for the big football game against Brazil this evening.