December 13, 2005

The madness continues...

Well, still sorting out my car accident. The insurance told me the value was estimated on 505 GBP, which ofcourse I laughed at. I told them I insured it for 3000GBP, that's what I pay premium for and that is what I want. They said it was because the mileage was high, and I said again that was bullshit because I do only 7000 per year and the total is 69.000. They said that it was 169.000!!! And I said that is not correct. They can check my MOT certificate, which I submitted to them as well. (MOT is a road worthiness test in England, similar to APK in Holland). I told them they probably had a breakdown of communications because the garage confirmed to me a mileage of 69000-something miles, 100.000 less... They probably try to screw me like all insurances do these days.

Another poibt: I bought a new car! Yep, with the concept of public transportation not having reached the realms of once-great-britain, each individual has his or her own car. Actually this was confirmed by statistics. Apparently there are 26 million cars in England. With a population of 52 million, that makes one car per two people. Now, you may ask "so what?", well, consider that if you are younger than 18 you are not allowed to drive your own car, and consider there are a couple of grannies and granpas that don't drive, I think you will come close to about 1 car per person full stop!
Anyway, I'm deviating... I bought a Volkswagen Passat. A little old, from 1997, and quite high mileage (118k, but it's a volkswagen passat! Plus for the first 90k it was a company car and serviced regularly. The second owner did not have much service history, which was a shame, but they are servicing it for me now. I told them I don't want the service light blinking (and I don't mean cutting the wire!). Friday I will pick it up.
One more thing. Ofcourse the insurance I was quoted was ludricously high again, so I will change companies as soon as my accident has been finalised.
Actually it is quite luxurious, with CD changer and everything. Nice interiour. Anyway, here are some pics of it, judge by yourself...

passat 3

The front...

passat 2

The side...

passat 1

The inside...

I'm picking it up friday.

Some people may have heard about the oil refinery that went up in smoke in england. And guess what... it is yet another show of British moronics... The fire brigade was not allowed to use foam in teh beginning because of "the environmental effects on the ground water". Of course it doesn't matter that water spreads the oil, thereby increasing the ground surface that is affected by the oil, and letting it burn up is of course totally acceptable. Ofcourse that has no effect on the environment! I mean, the gulf war effect never happened, and global warming does not exist, and hardly anyone drives in england anyway, so the effect is nil!
By the way, late in teh morning they got the go-ahead to use foam (water does not really extinguish oil fires, it jsut spreads it...)

December 05, 2005

England does not recycle!

Many countries have extensive recycling schemes.
In Holland many super markets have huge bins for glass, plastic, tin cans, and paper.
When you buy any electronic goods (washing machine, fridge, microwave, etc), you pay an environmental tax that pays for the environmental destruction of your purchase after it breaks down. Larger waste, gardening trash, or construction left overs you can usually dump at the city council waste disposal services. Depending on the nature of the waste you may be required to pay a fee for the environmental breakdown of your waist.
In Japan recycling goes as far as different types of waste on different days (collected by waste collection services), almost 5 days a week! Even in the Mac Donalds you have 6 different trash cans for different waste!
From America we know it is the biggest polutor of the planet, followed by China and India (but yes, the US of A is still number one!). At least we know that they are the worst polutors, and they don't pretend to recycle.
Unlike the Brits... Brittain does not recycle!
In their defence, most people don't realise it themselves. However, the BBC has uncovered a scam that although us consumers recycle and sort all the waste, down the line some companies just throw everything back together and ship it off to Indonesia where it ends on a wast belte! You can read the full story here:
  • No recycling

  • It is a shame that there are actually people around that don't shy away from such practices. But then again, it falls completely in line with britain with it's hustsling scum and smooth talking con artists.
    These people should be ashamed of themselves!

    December 04, 2005

    Good luck, bad luck...

    Well, the boiler is finally fixed...
    Last Monday the carpenter came by. Really nice guy. Very helpful and got the job done quick and well. Then ofcourse it was waiting for that crook of a plumber.
    He showed up on Tuesday I think it was. In the evening. He didn't call before, despite what the landlord told him. The landlord wants to ditch him I think.
    Ofcourse he didn't fix it immediately. He said some microswitches were broken. He said he rigged it so that we would have heating, but not hot water. What a brain fart! We have portable heaters now! We need hot water! Anyway, on Wednesday, completely to my surprise he comes back and fixes the whole unit. We now have both hot water and heating again.


    It's like it is disaster time! On Tuesday my colleague's car got hit by a police car! My colleague thought he was in the right, and I think the police thought so too. As it turned out later, he found out that Bristol city council had changed the linings on the road that week, without providing any messages or signs that the traffic situation had changed. Bristol city council is very good in messing up traffic. I think they do it on purpose, because I cannot believe they are this incompetent...
    Anyway, Wednesday it was my turn. I leave the car park on site, drive through an exit between two hangars, and on the left and right there are cars parked all over the place. On my right hand site there are also cars parked illegally on yellow areas, which are reserved for lorries. Ofcourse because cars are parked there illegally, the lorry was standing on the left lane of the road, next to the cars. SO basically my whole vision on that sight was blocked. It was physically impossible to see anything coming from that side of the street. As it happens that is my right side. I could only see traffic coming if I had x-ray vision, which by the way I don't...
    So I carefully nudge the front of my car past the lorry, hoping someone would see me and have the brains to realize I can't see him and therefore take the appropriate action ("appropriate" in this case meaning braking or evading as a minimum). But apparently British drivers are so obsessed about their right of way that this guy actually pushes the throttle and slams straight into my car, spinning it 45 degrees from it's original heading! Thereby writing off my car completely! My whole right front wing was disintegrated, my front bumper was simply ripped off, radiator and other internal organs exposed. I could amazingly start my engine, but there was no way I could get it into gear. Apparently he hit me hard enough to knock the engine out of alignment! Now you should know that although I should have given right of way to this guy, I first need to be able to see that someone is actually coming. Secondly, if he hadn't been "skidding for a long distance before hitting rover" as one of my witnesses stated, my car probably would not have been damaged that badly. He was obviously going faster than the 20 mile/hr speed limit enforced there.
    I'm still working out the details. My car has to be taken to a garage (I gave them the address, but apparently that was a different department and ofcourse my insurance company does not communicate internally, like a real British inefficient company). I can only hope for a courtesy car (though that remains to be seen, after all I pay insurance for it, so I deserve one and therefore I won't get one). Well... Mean time I am car-less. I hope I get my money quickly so I can buy a new car (not that I will get much...)

    November 30, 2005

    Boiler fixed?

    Woohahahaha!!!! Got it fixed??? You got to be the funniest at home!
    Honestly my landlord is a decent bloke. But his builders are the worst cowboys you can get!
    Yesterday a carpenter came over to cut up the kitchen work top. This was a decent guy. Nice chap, did his work. Even preferred to do his work BEFORE getting the coffee I offered.
    After that I called the landlord to say it was done and the plumber could come over. So I don't hear from the landlord until the end of the day, when he returns my calls. He asked me if this plumber had called me back, and I said "are you kidding me? ofcourse he hasn't!". So the landlord gets pissed off as well, and decides to give him a bullocking and have him call me back. A few minutes later he calls back and tells me he left a message on his phone to call me back, which by the way he still hasn't. The landlord stated that he should be able to come around this morning or at least today as a minimum. Ofcourse he won't. I know this guy longer than today...
    He is doing the same thing he did when we had a leak. Show up a couple of times. Spend 5 minutes looking around, and leave without having done a bloody thing. And charging for each time he shows up. He is just conning the landlord, and my flatmate and I suffer the consequences.
    I can see coming that he shows up tomorrow (not today), look at the, now accessible, boiler, say that he needs parts (or needs to replace the whole damn unit), and comes back a week later to finish the job. Easy money...!
    Mean time my flatmate run the risk of being poisoned by carbon monoxide, or worse, having a gas leak that could blow up the whole building!
    Another thing that points to this guy being a crook, is that he claims he checked the gas installation when he was working on the leak (ofcourse I asked a copy of the certificate, which should be next to the boiler, but I haven't received it yet). Now I wonder how he can check the boiler, when he can't even access it!!!!

    Maybe my flatmate is right. Maybe it is best to get your own house. That way you are boss of what happens in and around the house, and you can fire builders at will, any time you want.

    November 26, 2005

    Life threat...

    Sounds serious? well, it probably is... Last thursday someone actually theratened to kill me.
    For the last 1,5 to 2 weeks Lucas and I have been living without heating and sporadically hot water. The boiler had broken (and still is...). Last post I referred to the brain fart that "checked" the boiler. As I got to hear from my landlord, who by the I met and turns out to be a very reasonable guy, he first sends someone to check if the unit was just not incorrectly used, before he sends an expensive mechanic.
    Anyway. The builder was supposed to come over on tuesday morning. Needless to say if you know england that the builder showed up on thursday evening. He comes in, walks to the cupboard, looks at the boiler and says that he can't do anything. It is completely build in and he can't access it. He also says that if you "press the button the red light will go out"... Like we haven't done that! I said we did do that every 5 seconds without success and he sais I have to press the button (is this guy deaf or just wants to play dumb???) Though this was actually true, he has been here before and knows the situation. This builder was soo uncaring and arrogant! He said a carpenter had to come to cut up the kitchen and he was not gonna do that. So I tried calling the landlord, who suddenly was not available. Then I call sidekick steve, the "maintenance manager" of the landlord. This wanker is supposed to manage all the maintenance on all the landlord's properties. I try to explain that we didn't have any hot water or heater. He didn't want to understand. I tried explaining for ages and ages (because I wanted it fixed then and there), then I tell him "it's the unit that provide hot water and central heating!", and he still was saying "I don't unederstand can you be a bit clear". SO I get furious and ask him where the hell he was when they were handing out brains, called him a fucking moron and hung up on him. The builder left. My guess is that steve called the builder to check what was broke and what the technical term was and the difference between a heater and a boiler. He obviously didn't know himselve otherwise he would have called me back immediately. Instead he calls me back 5 minutes later on a different mobile phone, and forgets to hide his number, thereby confirming he was indeed absent when they were handing out brains. This guy started swearing, even MY ears were flapping! (and I'm not impressed easily when it comes to swearing) And he said he would kill me if I would take such a tone with him again. He said he was not some cunt (which by the way he actually is, as he proved himself earlier and during that phone call). He asked me if I was listening. I told him I was listening extremely carefully. I asked him again if he was threatening me, and he said yes (he is even dumb enough to admit even that!) I asked again if he was really sure, that he would kill me next time. So I told him thanks and that I heard enough. I told him if he so much as points a funger at me, or threatens me ever again, I would report him to the police and I hung up.
    a few minutes later I finally got in contact with the landlord and discussed the whole issue. I told him that this behaviour is unacceptable and I could report this guy to the police for this. To my surprise the landlord said that it may be better if I did just that (something I think is really quite silly...). ANyway, the landlord was also furious and had words with sidekick steve. he took him off our case. He said he couldn't fire him just like that, but steve was no longer allowed to have any dealings with our flat whatsoever.
    The next day the landlord shows up himself with some portable heaters. Again we discuss steve, and other issues over a cup of coffee. The landlord explained how much both steve and the builders are a pain in the rear end.
    Now all we have to do is wait for a carpenter to cut up the kitchen, the builder to come around and fix the bloody boiler, and we are good to go again. This will probably take up another 2 weeks or so.
    Oh, extra piece of information: It has been 2 degrees during the day, freezing at night... nice...

    November 22, 2005

    British engineering

    The British did a marvelous job in engineering some 2 centuries ago.
    The voctorian age where engineering ruled, was an age of technical progress and scientific ingenuity. Kingdom Brunel is only one of the famous names of engineers, who's work is well known in the industry.
    Steam engines developed at the speed computers do now.
    Britain ruled the industrial revolution!

    ...To bad they stuck to those ages...

    Nowadays British engineering can be considered the laughing stock of the industry. Rover just went bankrupt. Not even the Chinese wanted them!!! Jaguar, Aston Martin, TVR, Bentley... All famous names, famous BRITISH names...None anymore British than you or me...

    Houses are still build largely from wood! Heating by default is night-storage-heating (a process where cheap electricity at night, heats up bricks, that subsequently release their heat during the day, when no one is at home because they work!).

    My water heater broke down (thank god that someone had the idea to put gas central heating in my place... and insulate it as well....). Although I still have hot water, I do not have any heating.
    Unfortunately for me it has been freezing in bristol for the last week. yet we haven't been without heating since last thursday. On friday the landlord said someone would come in on saturday. Needless to say no one did... (Famous english "I am lazy and don't give a shit" syndrom). I called the landlord on monday morning and said no one came around. He asked if his side kick hadn't called (another lazy wanker). Ofcourse he didn't! That would mean he would do his job, an dthat is really not possible in ENgland. God forbid you do your job! And it would even be blasphemy if you do it quick, efficient, good and cheap!!! That is just plain heresy!
    SO someone would come in on monday evening. Miraculously this "engineer" did come in, not even that, he actually came on time!!!! (normally with an apointment in england add 30-60 minutes for a more realistic time frame).
    So this guys starts to play with the buttons. Asks for a manual (which we don't have). Asks us 5 times where the thermostat is, on which we 5 times reply the same answer: there is no thermostat, you have to adjust the temperature using the dials on the heater (direct control, no temperature feedback loops). Basically he did all my flatmate and I had already thought of. Then he gave up and said that he had to get a gas engineer to come in.
    Relaly you don't need a "gas engineer" for such a job, just someone that can fix heaters. I bet this guy just came in to stall.
    My expectations are that not today, but maybe tomorrow someone comes in, by which I would already have bought a portable heater, and deducted that from my monthly rent (obviously). It will probably be fixed in 2 months time, guessing by how they treated the water leakage that went on for months last time...

    It's sad that a once great empire has now been reduced to a third world country, by people that are rather lazy than tired...

    October 28, 2005


    Well, I've been hearing some good lines lately, so I thought I share some with the world...

    Homer Simpson:
    >> If it takes efford, it is not worth doing...
    >> Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to all of live's problems
    >> In a world gone mad, only a lunatic is truly insane
    >> Trying is the first step towards failure
    >> No beer, no couch, no TV.... I am so alone...

    Ofcourse there are more... These are from "Serenity"...

    Operative [seeing a whole fleet of Reaver ships coming at him]: "Will someone just fire!!!"

    Jayne Cobb: "Hell, I'll kill a man in a fair fight, or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight, or if he bothers me, or if there's a woman, or if I'm gettin paid; mostly only when I'm gettin paid?"

    Dr. Simon Tam [in the middle of a fire fight]: "In all that time on the ship... I've always regretted... not being with you."
    Kaylee Frye: "With me? You mean to say...... as in.... sex?"
    Dr. Simon Tam: "Yes..."
    Kaylee Frye: "To Hell with this. I'm gonna live!"

    Kaylee Frye [to Simon who wasn't on the mission that the captain and others just got back from]: "Are you ok? "
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: "Is HE ok???"

    Hoban 'Wash' Washburn: "...This is gonna get pretty interesting..."
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: "Define "interesting"..."
    Hoban 'Wash' Washburn: [deadpan] "Oh God, oh God, we're all going to die...?"

    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds [Over the ship's intercom]: "This is the captain speaking. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight... turbulence... and then explode..."

    Jayne Cobb: "We're gonna explode??? I don't wanna explode!"

    The Operative [to Mal]: "You are fooling yourself, Captain. Nothing is what it seems. You are not the plucky hero, the Alliance is not an evil empire, and this is not the grand arena."
    Inara Serra [Pointing to a bomb she has lit]: "And that's not incense."

    Hoban 'Wash' Washburn [about to crash the ship]: "I am a leaf on the wind - watch how I soar."

    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds [shouting down into the vault]: "We're coming down to empty the vault now!"
    Vault Guard [calling back up]: "You'll have to give me your authorization password!"
    [Jayne fires a burst from his automatic rifle]
    Vault Guard: "...Okay!"

    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: "Do you want to run this ship?"
    Jayne Cobb: "Yes!"
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds [caught off guard]: "Well... you can't..."

    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: "Dear Buddha, I would like a pony and a plastic rocket."

    Hoban 'Wash' Washburn: "Can we start with the part where Jayne gets beat up by a 90 pound girl? Because that's *never* getting old."

    The Operative: "Do you know what your sin is?"
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: "Hell, I'm a fan of all seven... but right now, I'm gonna have to go with wrath."

    Zoƫ Warren: "How much ammo we got left?"
    Jayne Cobb: "Three full mags, and my swinging cod!"

    Some quotes from Star Wars:

    Obi Wan [seeing Anakin jump off a speeder at dazzling heights]: "Damn it! I hate it when he does that..."

    Obi-Wan [just caught by anakin with a speeder]: "What took you so long?"
    Anakin: "Well, you know, Master, I couldn't find a speeder that I really liked..."

    Darth Vader: "leave them to me. I will deal with them myself"

    Darth Vader: "You have failed me for the last time admiral..."

    Bar customer [notices Obi-Wan arriving at the bar]: "You wanna buy some death sticks?"
    Obi-Wan [using a Jedi mind trick]: "You don't want to sell me death sticks."
    Bar customer: "I don't want to sell you death sticks."
    Obi-Wan: "You want to go home and rethink your life."
    Bar customer: "I want to go home and rethink my life."

    Obi-Wan: "I was beginning to wonder if you'd got my message."
    Anakin: "I retransmitted it to Coruscant, just as you'd requested, Master... Then we decided to come and rescue you."
    Obi-Wan [looks at his handcuffed hands]: "Good job!"

    Obi-Wan [to Anakin]: "Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the death of me..."

    [R2-D2 is pulling C-3PO's head back towards his body]
    C-3PO: "This is such a drag..."

    [In the speeder, while chasing the assassin]
    Obi-Wan: "You know I don't like it when you do that."
    Anakin: "Sorry, master. I forgot that you don't like flying."
    Obi-Wan: "I don't mind flying, but what you're doing is suicide...!"

    [With head stuck on a battle droid's body]
    C-3PO: "DIE, Jedi dogs!!!.... Oh... what did I say? "

    Anakin: "You call this a diplomatic solution?"
    Padme: "No, I call it an aggressive negotiation."

    October 23, 2005

    Finally some images

    Well, I finally found some time to rework my images, so here they are...


    Here is a wet leaf. I took this photo in Taipei ZOO. Some plants were continuously irrigated by some water jets that were spraying a mist of water particles onto the plants. I saw the glittering in the sun and thought it make a good shot, and I am not disappointed.


    This photo has some history (the subject that is...). It is a memorial shrine in Tarokko Gorge in Hualien county Taiwan. The Tarokko Gorge is a very popular attraction, and if you visit it you can see why. It is indeed a lovely place. One of the reasons Tarokko is so well known, is because some 50 years ago, the Taiwanese build the central cross country highway. That led them through the gorge. It sadly cost the lives of 500 workers to build the highway in the gorge. They build this temple to remember their sacrifice. The temple had to be rebuild several times afterwards due to land slides and earth quakes.


    This is a bridge that ran next to the memorial temple. I thought it was pretty interesting. It led to a tunnel where you could take a food path to the temple, but that was off limits due to the risk of falling rocks, something not uncommon.


    At the end of the tour through Tarokko Gorge we arrived here. Whilst most of the tourists in our group went buying souvenirs and having coffee, I walked up the steep stairs to visit the buddhist temple. They were just restoring the damage done by one of the typhoons that had hit the area not too long ago. Little did they know that the same evening another typhoon, force 3, would sweep the land...
    The temple featured this golden buddha statue. There was also a nice pagoda of which I also took some photos. I may show that one some other time.


    This photo is of a fishing boat on Green Island, another popular tourist location in Taiwan. Green Island is very small and it is best to book your trip well in advance. ALthough they fly on Green Island, they use VFR, so if the weather is slightly off, you can count on all flights being cancelled. There is still a boat though. We took the boat on the way up, which was in the middle of a small typhoon, so you can imagine that almost everyone on board got pretty ill. Luckily I kept everything in. Tina insisted on taking a flight back.


    Taipei 101, for now the tallest building in the world, shaped like a bamboo tree.
    The photo you see here is the interior of this little orifice of 500+ meters. It is part of the construction that keeps a counter weight suspended in mid air. Several hydraulic dampers dampen the movement of this massive ball, that acts as a buffer for any movements caused by earth quakes and typhoons. A clever gadget if you tell me...


    Martyr's shrine. This place is a huge shrine where they honour those that gave their lives during the endless wars over the past millenia. It is mostly oriented to those who gave their lives in their fight against communism and the second world war. The guard change is quite impressive and always managed to get a crowd of people attending. The soldiers twist and whirl their rifles in a well practised routine. If you are visiting, note the yellow/brown stripes on the pavement, worn by army boots marching every day multiple times per day. SInce the guards have to stand still perfectly in the blistering heat, they have awhole crew that waters them, dabs their sweaty foreheads, tug their uniforms, etc etc.


    I think this is a little memorial that was constructed for the women that lost their husbands during the construction of the central cross island highway in Tarokko Gorge. I don't know the exact details because we didn't really have the time to stop and have a look.


    Taipei MRT at peak hours...


    "...yeah, I'm gonna have to work late darling, so don't wait up for me."


    The railing on Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.


    I can't remember the name of the shopping mall where I took this shot. The mall is huge though! It contains a cinema as well where we watched Deuce Bigalow does Amsterdam. They have stuff for everyone. Mind you, it is not as crazy as Ximen Ding, a shopping mall Japan style, fashion shopping!


    The mountains of Hualien County. Actually quite impressive! The landscape in Taiwan can be really gorgeous. The day we took this train from Taipei to Hualien was gorgeous as you can see. Too bad that many a factory poluted the view as well as teh environment. When you want to go swimming on the coast of Taiwan, make sure you check if you can. Treacherous currents and dubious sea creatures are not the only dangers that lure in the water.

    October 17, 2005

    I want one!!!

    Ok, I have decided...In the past few years I managed to gather quite a few cameras, mostly film.However, Canon recently introduced their EOS 5D. I know, another next generation camera, and why would I upgrade my 10D when I have a Large Format Camera, which should beat any digital SLR in image quality. I considered this and weighed it up against the benefits of having a 5D.And boy, am I sold!!! A 13MP camera with 2,5" LCD screen, improved ergonomics, spot metering and B&W images! Woah, I finally have my reason to upgrade my 10D.I'll sell the 10D, the EOS 1N, the EOS 1V and the Shen Hao with panoramic back. I'll also sell my Tokina F2.6 28-70mm That should get me enough money to buy this new EOS 5D. I might sell my 17-40 f4 as well and replace it with the new 24-105 f4 IS as the 5D also is a full frame sensor camera! I think 24mm on a full frame sensor is good enough for me.

    Well, x-mas is approach as well, but before that there is Sinterklaas! I need to get my dad to buy me some pepernoten and spekulaas and marsepein!
    I already booked my flight for x-mas. Tina is about to do the same. Now what we need to do is to find some places we can stay. I probably will not bring any photo equipment and I have to be economical with my luggage as well if we are to stay over with, well, everyone...

    I want to do mor epeople photography. Flickr showed me some really good shots of some ladies, so I got an apetite to broaden my field of subjects (currently limited to landscape and related subjects)

    October 12, 2005

    Two typhoons and an earthquake...

    Well, I managed to survive 2 typhoons and 1 earthquake in Taiwan...

    The first Typhoon reached us when we were in Taitung. We were planning to first go to Orchid Island and then to Green Island. Although we managed to fly into Taitung, we couldn't fly on to Orchid Island due to the weather. The Typhoon had hit Taiwan and they only fly VFR to those islands, so no luck there.
    At first we were stuck in Taitung so we went to the hotel we were to use later that weekend. We got the Honeymoon suite, but believe me, if that was the honeymoon suite, I don't want to know what the cheapest suite was in that place. The weather was miserable and it seemed like we couldn't go anywhere. Tina got really upset about it. After making some calls we found out that there were still boats to Green Island. Green Island is only about 55 minutes away by boat so that wouldn't be too bad. Tina was a little afraid that the sea was rough so she took some motion sickness tablets. Although I have a bit more sea legs (maybe because of my time with the sea scouts, or perhaps due to my flying experience), I decided to take some as well; after all there was a typhoon at large (though it was just a small one...).
    The man that sorted our trip was very kind and helpful. He picked us up from the harbour (we were a bit early) and he gave us the motion sickness tablets.
    After a while we were lead to the boat. There were 3 small but powerful ferries rocking on the calm waves in the protected harbour.
    After we got on board and all passengers were loaded up, we set sail for Green Island.
    When we left the protective shelter of the harbour, we hit the ocean with full force. The boat was rocking like a play toy in hands of the gods! Waves were big and rough. As it happened we had to sail into the wind and into the waves, making the trip extra rough. During the first 5 or 10 minutes, everyone on board went "ohh", and "Ahhh", and "Woo!" as it seemed like a rollercoaster. After those 10 minutes the expressions diminished somewhat and it became a little quieter. After 20 minutes the first people started to make those horrible sounds of throwing up. Ofcourse this affects other people who are desperately trying to keep their lunch inside, and hear the hurling of others didn't really help. Tina got sick as well.
    Although I didn't feel too good either, I did manage to keep everything inside, despite having to throw away Tina's recycled lunch, which I really didn't want to see or smell. I guess those high G exercises during my PPL times did pay off...
    A few other guys seemed to get through the ordeal without fouling the boat as well.
    I have to say, I admire the little stubby sailor that was handing out the bags to dump your recycled lunch in. He seemed totally unaffected by all of it. Then again, he probably had been doing the job for quite a few years...
    When we got to the Island Tina said that she was going to take a flight back. She didn't care about how long she had to wait for the weather to clear or how much it would cost, but she rather died than go through that ordeal again. The next morning the weather had cleared up completely and the lady at our hotel said that the boat back should be much better than when we came, because the sea was completely calm. Plus we would be moving with the waves this time. But Tina still insisted with the flight, which is fine with me because I love flying and I got to add a new plane to my list of planes I travelled on!

    The second typhoon hit us on the last night we were in Hualien, a popular destination, known for its marble exploitations. Although the first typhoon was nothing more than a serious storm, this second typhoon was the real thing! It was strength 3, so "just " a medium sized typhoon, but it was still the business! The winds started picking up early in the evening and the typhoon hit us at full force around 2 or 3 o'clock at night. As it happened the typhoon hit Hualien dead on and the centre passed over us. Tina suggested to take a train earlier in the morning but I told her that the centre would have already passed by then, so a later train would actually improve out chances of getting one (the trains are subject to delays when a typhoon hits). She wanted to leave at 7 in the morning (originally the train would go at 11) but at that time things would probably be worse. I told her if she wanted to prevent being stuck there the next morning we would have to leave at that very moment. We didn't and the next day the trains were delayed until 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. During the night the winds picked up quite a bit, and the whole building was rocking on the force of the typhoon. For me this was quite a new experience, quite interesting actually.
    At some point the electricity failed and the emergency lights came on. Ofcourse they ran out of power soon as well, leaving us in total darkness, but worse: without TV as well!!! Anyway, the next morning we noticed power was still out. As it happened the whole town was without electricity and it took 12 hours, until 2 in the afternoon, before power was restored. With Taiwanese temperatures and humidity that isn't exactly comfortable as there is no airco either...
    At 3 in the afternoon we finally got our train and managed to get to Taipei in one piece, and we didn't even have to stand up for 4 hours!

    The earthquake went like this: We were in Taipei and I was sitting on the side of the bed, watching some TV, whilst Tina was lying on bed reading something I believe. At some point Tina jumps up and excitedly calls out "did you feel that???" I asked "feel what?". "There was an earthquake!" She replied. I asked her when and she said "just now!". Well, me and my fat ass didn't feel a thing, so I guess it wasn't that strong.

    Anyway, At least I can say that I have experienced and survived 2 typhoons and one earthquake...

    September 28, 2005

    My trip...

    Well, since I am at it anyway, I might as well add a few other stories.

    The day I left was extremely stressful. I left on friday the 16th in the afternoon, right after work (we finish at 13.00 on friday, but I could leave at 12...). I had a lot of work to finish that day and I was stressing to get it done in time.
    My boss was also leaving that day and I should be there to say goodbye to him I think. Luckily they held the goodbye ceremony before I had to leave. I thought that was fair enough. However, I didn't join into getting pissed and clubbing the night before. The secretary told me I have no excuse. My excuse is I had to pack that night and since I hadn't had a chance to do that before (I had been working until 23.00 each night that week), I said that was teh only time available. She said it was a poor excuse. I told her the other option was not to sleep at all and she said that was perfectly acceptable. Well, that's when I walked off. I guess some people are just too narrow minded to understand someone else's position...

    Anyway, at some point Linda walked up to me (a collague) and she asked if I shouldn't go to heathrow. I told her my flight was at 6 so I was leaving at 12 to get a bus at 1. She then said that I better leave now (it was 10 in the morning) because they were holding protest blockades on the M4 to heathrow. Ofcourse! just my fuckin luck! So I started calling some people to ask about the situation on the road. The AA (breakdown/traffic info services) told me a little about the blockades in wales on the M4 but didn't know if it would come between Bristol and Heathrow. So I searched for a phone number of the police in Bristol/Avon. Hahaha! ofcourse the first 100 hits are all useless!!! I finally decided to call a small town office just outside bath and they were very informative. They said that the blockade shouldn't leave Wales. They then told me to contact Avon constabulary headoffice for more details. So I did, and guess what... I get a Bristolian cop on the phone (yes, he was from headoffice) and he didn't know anything. He said the police never knows anything about traffic information... Can you believe that???? In any other country the police is numero uno to know about traffic situations, especially when there are protests against fuel prices, blocking major motorways! But no, not in england. In despair I tried to get to one more road service: the RAC. Their website was as good as any other: crap, however, I did manage to find a traffic information number. It is an 0900 number so my company ofcourse blocked it. So I had to make a 1GBP/minute call with my mobile. The service is actually quite good and I got to hear exactly what I wanted to know, and I could stick to my original plan.

    So, I left at 12.00, arrived at 12.20, leaving me 5 minutes for last preparations. Luckily this time I hadn't forgotten anything. I was waiting for the taxi and when it was 5 minutes late I called the taxi service. Since Friday is the worst day for driving in Bristol I figured I would be late for my bus as well...ofcourse... Luckily he arrive 3 seconds later and dropped me off with about 5-10 minutes to spare. The bus arrived in time, so I had 3 hours before departure.
    I checked in at 1st class (which they themselves suggested to speed up the checking in process). The most funny thing happened. I thought I was over weight with my luggage, both cabin and check in luggage. At home I was using all my tricks to be able to bring everything I wanted to take with me, and to stay within limits of teh luggage allowance. Actually Cathay Pacific is quite inconsistant with this. They have a huge list of things you can take nxt to a maximum sized one-piece cabin luggage of up to 7 kg. Apparently you can take in addition to that, a laptop up to 4 kg, a briefcase up to 4 kg, some personal affects, a coat, diapers, baby food, a baby seat a camera binoculars... in total I think 20 kgs or more... So I called them because I wanted to put my photo gear in a photo backpack, but that would exceed 7kg. They said that was not allowed, because of the weight for one piece luggage. Not a surprise. Then I told them that I could take all taht stuff with me if I used multiple smaller bags to spread the weight and they again said no, I could take only one bag. I told tehm about what their website said and they said that the list meant only one of those items in addition to my one piece luggage of 7 kg. This is not what their website says.
    Anyway, I managed to be clever and use just my shoulder bag to pack 10kg of photo equipment in (lenses are heavy...) and a very small backpack with some drinks, snacks and reading material.
    I estimated my check in luggage at 22-23 kg, using the scales of my flatmate.

    When I came to check in, they never weighed my cabin luggage and my check-in luggage was weighed at 11,5 kg!!! I think there was something wrong with their scales. Anyway, I'm not complaining. I know it is definitely not 11 kg, much heavier.

    Then after check in, I waited a while, got some greasy shit for dinner, which was actually quite nice. I made some photos (with which you have to be very careful about in London these days...). Then I boarded my plane when it was time. Later I found out that I had formatted the card in my camera and so I lost all these photos... How stupid can you be...
    Following that we were stuck at the gate for more than half an hour. When we finally taxied out, we had to taxi for at least 30-40 minutes or so: rush hours at heathrow.

    The flight was ok, although the quality of the monitors wasn't exactly stunning. But at least I had my own in-flight entertainment console. I chatted a bit with my fellow passengers. Then we got an anouncement of the stewardess, requesting a qualified doctor. I though, oh, hell there goes my connection to Taiwan... We were already 1 hour late when we left heathrow, which meant I had zero minutes between landing in Hong Kong and take off with the connecting flight (connection time was exactly 1 hour). The stewardess assured me the plane would wait for transferring passengers.
    After that anouncement my hope sank to my feet. If a doctor was required it must be serious. If someone dies or is critically ill, the plane should land at the next available airport, which would result in another 3 hour delay or so. Luckily that never happened, so apparently they found their doctor and solved the problem.

    When we landed I had about 5 minutes to get to the connecting flight, so I ran up and down stairs and corridors, and luckily for me the had only just started checking in for the connecting flight.
    This was an A330 by the way. Sounded a little big for such a trip, bu I don't mind, that is yet another airplane I can put on my list (I managed to get 2 more during my stay in Taiwan) of airplanes flown. This A330 was obviously configured for asians as I had zero leg space. That flight was quite uncomfortable, and by the time I realised they had switched on the in-flight entertainment, we had only 20 minutes left. And all the programs they had on were very interesting actually! All about culture in Taiwan, south east asia, okinawa, etc, very interesting and all at the same time...

    When I landed and turned on my phone, I got a text message from Tina that she was a little late and if I could wait a few minutes. She was stuck in traffic because of moon festival that weekend. Well, not being able to speak or udnerstand any chinese, where was I supposed to go on my own? Anyway, a few minutes turned out to be almost 45 minutes before she arrived. Hmm, all in all actually not that great a flight...

    More to follow...

    Yes! Another update!

    First and foremost an appology to the people that have been hoping for an update.
    Unfortunately I have been soo busy with work that I have had very little time to attend to my blog. Now I'm on holiday I have some time to make some new posts again.
    A lot has happened these few months. Tina visited me for 5 weeks last summer. Now I am in Taiwan, visiting her for 3 weeks.
    Actually I am very glad to have a real holiday again. Work has been a nightmare, so it's good to have a break of things.

    May 04, 2005

    The fat lady swings...

    Well, it finally happened: First Flight!
    It was a wonderful day, a slight breeze cooled an otherwise blazing hot day (for a late april morning). The sun was shining, not a cloud on the horizon. A perfect day for flight...

    Ok, I am a little late. First Flight occured last wednesday (27th April 2005). The event was largely publisised. Actually I think that was a great risk. What if things didn't go as planned? But they did, and even I king of sceptics was amazed! I work on Landing Gear Systems of teh A380 so I am pretty knowledgeable about what has been going on with the design of A380. And until the aircraft actually lifted its Nose Landing Gear off the runway, committing itself to flight, everyone was holding his or her breath. 4 hours later the lady wiggled her tail again and after a flyby passing over the runway at low altitude, it came in to land.
    Both take off and landing were the best I have ever witnessed. And I am not exaggerating!

    Ofcourse I got some images of the aircraft.


    The aircraft is moving on its own for the first time!


    Close up on it's nose...


    "Foxtrot-Whisky Whisky Oscar Whisky, you are cleared for take off."
    F-WWOW, also known as WOW... (yep, pun intended...)


    A good image of the climb out of the fat bird. Note the
    corvette that escorted the plane during it's first flight.


    All systems go, gears up!


    Time to head back...


    And a smooth landing

    April 10, 2005

    April moon

    Hmm, I really should make an efford to updating my blog more regularly. That way I can make the posts smaller.
    Lot's is happening these days, not all good though I'm afraid... WIthin the next 2 weeks the aircraft I have been working on, the A380 will take to the skies for the first time. I'm sure everyone will be holding their breath as it is quite a landmark in aviation history.
    However good Airbus may be, Boeing managed to secure their position in the market once more. Apparently their 777ER (extended range) has taken to the skies. Though it is not exactly a brand new aircraft, it does have one huge feature over all airbus aircraft: Range. It is now the longest range aircraft in the world, beating the A340-500 with barely a couple of thousand miles. One slight problem I think they made, is that the 777ER has a longer range than their new dreamliner, the 787. The 787 has a smaller range than even the A340-500 I believe.

    These days I find myself watching Manga more and more. Manga is really not a good term. I should say Japanese animations. They can actually be quite good you know? I'm following a series called Ghost in the Shell. So far so good. There is a longer storyline in there but most episodes are standalones. I like the music though. My favorite however, is Noir. It is about a girl who suffers from amnesia and she discovers that she is really good in one thing: killing! She goes out in search of her own background. That series also has good some real good music. Too bad that these animations tend to be pretty expensive.
    Tina gave me an animation before. It is called "Castle in the sky". It is from a fairly famous animation writer/producer. He also produced an animation called "Spirited away"

    April has arrived, with the dubious weather it tends to bring. Sunshine and rain simultaneously! At least the weather is slowly improving and I can take out my cameras again. Recently I bought an Olympus OM1-N, probably one of the smallest SLRs around. The size is not my main concern though, it's the quality. Apparently it is optically of very high quality and mechanically it is pretty good too. WHat I liek about this camera is that it is fully mechanical! No more messing around with batteries! Ok, I admit it does use a battery, but only for the light meter. It works fully without batteries though (except lightmeter ofcourse).


    This is the Camera I bought. Well... Almost anyway. I have an f1.4 50mm lens on it while this one has an f1.8. I like it a lot! I already bought extender tubes for it so I can do some macro photography.

    I also bought a Bronica S2A recently. It's a 6x6 camera. I lik ethat one too as it is very rigid, but it is very VERY noisy when you press teh shutter release. It is like a bomb explodes! So when you photograph models warn them in advance. I'm keeping an eye out for a Mamiya TLR C33. These are supposed to be very very quiet (no mirror slapping around) and it has a build in bellows for close-ups


    Bronica S2A. I will need to order the extension tube as well. I saw it for sale and it was pretty cheap, so gotta have it! I'm not gonna build on this set though. I want a 50mm lens (it came with a 75mm and a 100mm f2.8 and 2 magazines) for landscape, and that's it really. I'm mainly gonna use it for landscape. The mamiya I could buy if I can get it very very cheap. Won't spend more than 30GBP on it though. One thing I want for the Bronica though, is a winding crank. It only has a knob and that just isn't very comfortable to me.


    The mamiya...

    Now it's time for some pics I think. These have been taken with my Canon 10D, not with any of my new all mechanical analogue kit. I first need a GOOD scanner for that.


    This girl was aware that I was making this picture because she was walking pretty fast down the hill. Could she have been afraid? Doesn't make sense though. Who would be intimidated by a 6'4" (1.90m) 15 stone (95 kg) dutch guy carrying cameras around his neck with telelenses that exceed his own height?


    A window... yes, a win-dow...

    red Leaves

    Well... I gues they're leaves arend they...?


    Another lodge... Actually the area I live in is pretty nice. Many fancy-pants houses WOrth only a few million pound sterling... In fact, teh area is soo posh that we actually have our own dedicated police patrols 24/7. While I was making these images a police car pulled up from behind and the constable inside asked me what I was doing (apparently observation and awareness weren't his best subjects during training as I was quite obviously pointing my huge zooms in all directions and had about 3 cameras on my neck!). So I gave him an answer that matched teh intelligence of his question: "Oh, I'm observing houses and police patrols sir. I'm planning a big burglary operation and I need to know teh details of the houses, What their owners do, if and what alarms are installed, you know the usual...". He looked at me like ... Then I said That I was making some close ups of plants and features and I showed him the pics I had on my 10D. That seemed to satisfy him and he drove off again...

    flower, close-up, macro

    One of many flower close ups I made. I don't have extension tubes for my canon. I might buy some cheap tubes (no optics inside so what can go wrong???)


    A typical english phonebooth. And no, it is not the tardis. The tardis is green! I actually quite like what I did with this image. B&W with a red phone booth... Thank you adobe!


    Close up of a daffodil. Not too bad I guess... I think this is one of the few flowers that I know the name of (well, in english anyway)

    Well, I'll have to keep it at that for now. Lets pray I will make some more updates to my blog in the future...

    March 13, 2005

    It's about time!

    I really need to make an appology. I haven't updated my weblog since December (as you surely will have noticed). Unfortunately with the holidays taking 2 weeks, and after that work picking up rapidly, I haven't had much time to do any blogging whatsoever. Today I have a very lazy day, so I thought it was time to create a new post.
    Work is very stressful, and will be for another 2 or 3 weeks. the A380 is about to take off at the end of the month and I need to make sure teh paperwork convinces the top level engineers and the authorities the aircraft is actually fit for flight.

    Last x-mas I spend in Holland, visiting my family and friends. After reading the news every day in the morning over a cup of coffee (strong, black, 2 sugar ^_^), I was expecting I wouldn't enjoy being back in the country. However, nothing could have been further from the truth. Having been away for a whole year, I realised again how much better things are in good old Holland. Things are so much easier to obtain, people are friendlier. You actually get customer service when you go shoppinG! I forgot about that completely. Normally in Bristol I enter a shop, look around (the shops being so small and so lacking of stock I often spend no more than 5 minutes in them).
    I remember going to a huge book store called Donner in Rotterdam. They have soo much. They have all the Brittish magazines, PLUS many american magazines, German magazines, sometimes even french!!! I decided to pick up some of the newer magazines on digital photography. When I left I remembered there were two major dutch photography magazines and at the time I left they merged as they pretty much covered the same subjects in a very similar style. I picked up this magazine, remembering how it lacked in advertisement and was cramped with actual articles! And guess what... It still is... As I said I also picked up some of the newer magazins on digital photography. I expected something similar as the british magazines, but again, it was filled with actually useful information! Ofcourse there are advertisements in there, how else would they be able to publish??? There was one magazine, fairly small, but about the best info I had ever seen! It is called 'Digitales' and is, obviously, about digital photography. It appears about 4 or 5 times per month, and it seems to be published by a photography school. It has a fairly lengthy section on equipment listing, which for me they can do without. Unless I happened to have picked the one, I think they should stick by publishing such a list once per year, after photokina in germany. Other than that it actually had very useful information in it. And lot sof it! Despite it's A5 size, it is a fairly bulky magazine, and it saved me from 4 hours of boredom on Schiphol Airport while I was waiting to check in.

    I also got my best x-mas present ever (though I paid for it myself): a 70-200mm f2.8 USM IS L zoom lens from Canon. What a gem!!! needless to say I tried it out. Having Tina over from Taiwan I had to play tourist in my own country, which also meant lots of photo opportunities. I made many many pics, of which I will only show you some...

    I think this photo came out pretty well. I was visiting a friend of mine and while he and his wife were out of the room, I made this close up shot of these tea lights.

    This was a fairly common view during the holidays. We went to a couple of Zoo's This photo was made in Diergaarde Blijdorp, a fairly victorian-style zoo. there were a surprisingly amount of animals outside though! We had been to Arnhems Burgers zoo, which is many times bigger and more enjoyable for both viewer and animal than Rotterdam's Blijdorp. But in Arnhem most animals were hybernating or were in the stables. The weather was better when we went to Rotterdam too. Most animals displayed as much energy as this Tiger.

    Actually I'm not too sure if this is an austridge I photographed in Rotterdam or its smaller cousin in Arnhem. Both animals are very arrogant and cocky! You don't want to stand near these 'birds'.

    Playing a tourist, obviously I needed to visit the Euro Tower in Rotterdam. The whole day had been splendid with miles of visibility. We were a bit hesitant to go because it would be dark by the time we would get there. We decided to do it despite the freezing cold. And we were rewarded by a beautiful nightly sight of city lights. Tina was becoming an icecream as the wind was blowing rather hard and being used to 20 degrees at night, she really was suffering. Luckily the tower went all the way up, which is done by an enclosed elevator, and the sight was amazing. I took an interesting 360 dgree shot of the town, but that one is so unconventional I suggest you look it up in my album on flickr.

    Believe it or not, but this little gritter was classified as a prarie dog... If they called it a guinea pig I would have believed it as well...

    Komodo Dragon. Blijdorp had quite a few of those, big ones too! Don't want an argument with this guy...

    Blijdorp is known for its collection of reptiles

    What's a zoo without baboons...

    Pretty colors...

    where did I go again...?
    Hmm, where did I go again?

    When do I leave...
    Can you believe it? The trains actually have nicer signs than teh aircraft do! Please not this is not standard practise in Holland...

    A quick stop at the observation terras. Quick in this case means 2 hours... Had a lot of time to kill...

    Well, guess that is enough for the first post in the new year...