A Trip to Amsterdam – VI

One of the nicer areas in Amsterdam is the neighborhood known as “De Wallen”, as it is the area around the Voorburgwal and Achterburgwal canals, roughly between the Oude Kerk (“Old Church”, which dates back to the 1200s) and Nieuwmarket Square. It’s a surprisingly pleasant residential area, with trees along the canals, little alleys and side streets, and a bunch of bars and night spots all less than a kilometer away from the Central Station and about two minutes from the Damrak.

“De Wallen” is what you call it when you don’t want to say you’re going to the Red Light District…..

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A Trip to Amsterdam – V

Even with all the museums and cultural landmarks in the area, the Zoo complex is not one of the centers of Amsterdam. The “transit hub” is by the Central Station and the Damrak and the civic center is at Dam Plaza (where you’ll find the Royal Palace and the National Monument). The cultural center is at Museumplein, a large open field surrounded by the Concertgebouw concert hall, the Stedelijk Museum of contemporary art and design, the Van Gogh Museum, the Moco Musuem of modern art, and, of course, the Rijksmuseum.

Of the five, the only one I visited was the latter.

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A Trip to Amsterdam – IV

One good thing about Amsterdam is that it’s a very compact city. Many of the points of interest are quite close together, making it easy to get around to them. For example, the Royal Zoo, the Hortis Botanicus (Botanical Gardens), the National Holocaust Museum, and the Dutch Resistance Museum are all within a kilometer of each other.

It makes it easy to visit them all in one day – especially when there’s a tram stop right in the middle of it all.

Unfortunately, the day I decided to visit that area, it was cloudy with scattered showers. Not the best time to be out in a zoo or in a botanical garden, however interesting they might be. But I was there, and I like birds and exotic plants, so…

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A Trip to Amsterdam – III

The A’DAM Tower (capitalization in original) is the tallest building in Amsterdam, topping out at 22 stories. Yeah, I know, not really a lot compared to some cities. Though it’s fair to say that the ground in the area can’t really support a taller building, and it does offer awesome views. A quick ride up the elevator – which has a clear ceiling, so you can see a brief but cool light show as you zoom up- and you’re at the observation deck. If you’re feeling daring, there’s a swing that will take you over the edge….

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A Trip to Amsterdam – II

Well, now that I’m arrived and settled in, it’s time to check out the sights.

It’s always good to get out of the city and visit the countryside (such as it may be). The Netherlands is (Are?) one of the more densely populated countries in the world, so there isn’t really that much “countryside” to speak of. And what there is, is flat and damp.

However, there’s still a good deal of “countryside” to see.

I booked a tour at Experience Waterland (through Trip Advisor) to see the windmills of Zaanse Schans, a “cheese farm” and wooden shoe maker, and the villages of Volendam and Broek in Waterland. It was a small group tour, and turned out to be even smaller when half of the people who signed up for it didn’t show. Their loss.

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A Trip to Amsterdam – I

It was time once again to flee from work and most other responsibilities, and journey away to strange and distant lands. I realized I hadn’t used my passport in ages, so I felt it was time to blow the dust off it and head off to someplace interesting.

I asked around a little: Which place is more fun for a single adult male – London, Paris, or Amsterdam? The answer was clear, and given the title of this post, you should be able to figure out which city won.

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Movie Review: The Changeling (1980)

The Old Haunted House movie has changed quite a bit over the recent decades. One cannot have a simple haunting by a lone spirit who needs to have his (or her) soul put to rest anymore; one has to have a portal to hell on the property, some sort of demonic possession, or the scene of some horrible atrocity with dozens of victims in order to attract an audience.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with a movie like that, but it’s too easy for a filmmaker to fall into the trap of using blood and gore as a replacement for a good, honest scare. For an “old school” spooky haunting, you’ve got to go back quite a ways.

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Chuck Schumer’s Dilemma

I’m not saying we should feel sorry for the Senate Minority Leader. But he’s got no really good options when it comes to the matter of confirming Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

Not only does the GOP have all the good cards, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making up the rules.

Let’s say Schumer holds the line and fights the confirmation tooth and nail like the left wing of the Democrats wants him to do. He rallies every single Democratic and Independent senator to the “No” side, and manages to convince one or two Republicans to join in.

Is the next nominee going to be any better? What about the Democratic senators from “red” states that are up for re-election? Fight too hard, and there’s a significant chance you’ll hurt their chances at re-election – and then taking control of the Senate.

Put up just enough of a protest to save face, tell the Red State Senators to do whatever they need to do to get re-elected, and you’ll face the incandescent wrath of the Far Left, with no guarantee that the Democrats will get control of the Senate from the Mid-Terms.

Stall, and hope that there’s something in the vast pile of documents that you want to have released that could sink Kavanaugh’s nomination? McConnell is going to fight and delay that every step of the way, deliberately interfering with the Mid-Term Campaign Season. And the group mind of the GOP isn’t likely to be deterred by anything that could come up. And again, who’s next on the list?

Whatever path Schumer takes, there are going to be risks.

None of this is easy. The rabid Far Left, with its insistence on fighting to the death in every battle, isn’t helping. Schumer is not in control of the Senate, and he has limited political capital to spend. He has to pick and choose his fights carefully, keeping his eye on the future (the good possibility that the Democrats take control of the Senate as well as the House). What good is winning this particular battle if you lose the war?

On the 2018 All Star Game

Well, another “Midsummer Classic” has come and gone, and will be forgotten in due time.

Much of what I said last year still holds. FOX using their robot football guy to introduce a baseball game, not showing the names of the players as they are being introduced….

I hope the people at the game got more information about the Medal of Honor recipients than we did. The announcers could have at least sent us to a website to learn more.

Anyway, while there are official regulations governing who is eligible for the award (they were finally put in writing in the early 60s), there are some unwritten, unofficial requirements:

* There must be at least two eyewitnesses to the incident. Got to have proof.
* You must put your life in danger. Fair enough.
* It must be something that if you didn’t do it, no one could blame you.

Go check out the official citations of the honorees, and hope that if you do find yourself in such a dangerous situation, you behave with even a fraction of their courage.

The game itself? A perfect example of baseball these days. Homeruns, strikeouts, and practically nothing else.

Total plate appearances: 90
Total home runs: 10
Total strikeouts: 25
Total walks: 9

Half the plate appearances didn’t need a fielder to do anything.

I get it’s an exhibition, so the pitchers are all throwing flames and the batters are all swinging for the seats. But good heavens, it’s dull viewing. Major League Baseball really needs to make some changes in the off season.

By the way, Nationals Stadium did have its traditional President’s Race in the middle of the fourth inning. This time, Theodore Roosevelt jumped out to an early lead, but was blindsided by a flying rabbit. George Washington dashed past the ensuing pile-up and won handily.

They had a couple of players hooked up with microphones for in-game conversations again. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were rather dull (except for Trout’s in-game weather commentary). Thankfully, Francisco Lindor and Charlie “I check my hole for gloves” Blackmon made up for it. If they do it again, get talkative and fun players like those guys.

Speaking of weather, MLB must have contingency plans in case there’s a rain delay or a rainout. Right?

By the way, what’s the deal with those wild socks that some players were wearing? And do enough people (other than collectors) buy those silly special All Star Game caps to justify making them?