Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A flat tire

On my way home from work I had a little mishab; a flat tire at the right-front of the car. I was driving on I-90 behind a truck waiting for the left lane to clear when out from under the truck an object appeared in the middle of where my tire was gonna go... I think it was a piece of an exhaust since it looked round and black with some sharp endings. Since there were cars left and right of me I had nowhere to go but over it. A sharp 'clunk' and it was done. The tire held on for a little while, but I felt the car pull to the right and after about 30 seconds I heared the noise and the 'Low tire pressure' light came on. Fortunately I was just ahead of the E152th Street exit on I-90 West so I could immediatly pull off the Interstate onto the off-ramp. Parked the car on the shoulder (so I could mount the jack...) and went to work. An off-duty police officer just happend to drive by and offered some well received assistance. Eventhough you know how to do it, some help and advice from people who see and do this almost daily is never a bad thing. After about 20 minutes the deflated tire was in the trunk and the emergency tire (one of those pathetic small, but much appreciated bicycle tires) was mounted. Tommorrow we'll have it fixed properly. Good night, folks.

2005 ChampCar Grand Prix of Cleveland

Last weekend the 24th annual Grand Prix of Cleveland was held at the Burke Lakefront Airport in downtown Cleveland. This is a three-day event starting on the Friday before the race with various activities all leading to the ChampCar race on Sunday. Besides the ChampCar race also the Toyota Atlantic division is racing along with other race classes. However, first and foremost, this was the ChampCar Grand Prix of Cleveland. I went to the Sunday driver presentation and the race itself. It was a hot and humid day. Temperatures well into the Ninties for the spectators and close to 130 degrees for the drivers inside their cars. Nevertheless it was an impressive race ending with a win for the pole-sitter and now also points-leader Paul Tracy (CAN) from Forsythe Racing. Congratulations to Paul Tracy.

You can see pictures of Paul before and during the race on the photopages of the race my website.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

AERO Expo 2005 - Akron, OH

Last weekend I visited the AERO Expo 2005 at Akron Fulton Aiport. It is an annual airshow organized by the MAPS Air Museum located at the Akron-Canton International Airport. It was a very nice mix of persent day and vintage WOII planes from both the United States as well as from Europe (e.g. the Spitfire and a German Junkers Ju-52). Of course the US workhorses of WOII, the B17 and the B25 were present as well. I've uploaded a few photo's on my own website, www.dutchcanuck.com. Playing around with the digital camera and my zoomlens generated some very nice in-flight shots. Just have a look (and feel free to browse any of the other albums.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Congratulations Joel and Carolyn

My 'brother' Joel is getting married to his girlfriend Carolyn. Congratulations to you both!!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

NFL Europe: Amsterdam Admirals win World Bowl XIII

The Amsterdam Admirals beat the Berlin Thunder 27 to 21 in World Bowl XIII. Berlin Thunder - who won 3 of the 5 last World Bowls - had a good run in the 3rd and 4th quarter, but the Amsterdam defense held on to win the first World Bowl in franchise history. Look for QB Kurt Kittner and RB Jarred Payton in the coming 2005-2006 NFL season.

Monday, June 06, 2005

A 'cool' car: AC or open windows?

How to get a dash of cold and/or fresh air in your car?

With the temperature rising you see a lot of windows being lowered. Surprisingly, the best way AND the most economic way is to actually leave your windows rolled up and to turn on your AC. Due to the advancements in technology it is now more energy-efficient to use your cars AC than to lower your windows. The latter distorts the airflow around the car and increases the drag. This additional drag leads to about a 4 to 6% rise in your fuel consumption. Turning on the AC also increases fuel consumption, but with modern cars it only adds about 2 to 4%. It also gives you cool air in your morning and afternoon traffic jams whereas open windows don't just not give you cool air at that moment, but do let the exhaust fumes of your fellow commuters come in freely...

So, the next time you are in your car, use the AC. Oh, one last thing: for an efficient use of the AC in a car that's been out in the sun for a while, roll down your windows for the first 30secs to let the hot air out. It saves you from using the AC on 'full-blast' to feel comfortable.

Happy summer driving, folks.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Cleveland Rocks!

Its one of the official slogans of Cleveland and this last (and the upcoming) weekends will qualify as such. I had the pleasure of entertaining a few Canadians over the weekend. The main reason for their trip south of the border was to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (short: Rockhall).

On Saturday the weather was nice and after having an outdoor lunch at the Riverwalk Cafe I took them on a small tour of Cleveland. After starting on the westbank of the Flats (I always start there since I live there... hehe) we drove through downtown via MLK boulevard to University Circle, then to Little Italy, Coventry (CLE Heigts), Fairmount and ending in Beachwood to show 'm where I work. They were utterly impressed with the houses along Fairmount and now think of Cleveland in a better way than the 'mistake-by-the-lake'.

After Beachwood it was off to the Metroparks, but we started with a quick detour through Gates Mills and the Chagrin River Valley to end-up in Chagrin Falls for some ice-cream. Well deserved on an 85 F day. We continued our 'nature-drive' through the South Chagrin Reservation ending in the Bedford Reservation with a quick hike around the Bridal Veil Falls area. With one more stop at the Tinker Gorge lookout it was time to head back into town.

We decided to check out the music scene and found two interesting concerts: one at the Grog Shop in Coventry and one at the Fat Fish Blue right downtown on the corner of Ontario (the Canadians liked that one...) and Prospect. First things first, so it was dinner at Shooters. What better place to be then at the waterfront on a day like that. Next stop: Grog Shop. We walked in around 9pm and the place was apparently not open yet. Go figure, 9pm on a Saturday night, concert planned and not open yet... Anyway, since we felt like dinosaurs around there, we decided that we would feel more at ease (at least age-wise) at the Fish and headed back downtown.

Good choice. The band playing at Fat Fish Blue was the 'Eugene Ross Band'. Well known in the Cleveland music scene, but for all others: Eugene Ross was a vocalist with 'The Platters' and the 'Commodores'. It was a great mix of Funk, Blues, Soul and Rock. When it was time for the requests we asked for 'Brick House' (a Commodores song) and when they started playing it, the house responded. People started dancing on the floor, moving their feet on the bar stools, the works. And the band was jammin'...

All good things come to an end, but that means more oppurtunities for other good things, and getting some shut-eye was one of them since on Sunday the main part of the tour was on: the Rockhall.

After breakfast at Nicks on Lorain Ave in Ohio City we headed for the Rockhall. Its one of the highlights of every music-loving visitor to the Cleveland area. This time one of the visitors had his own band and we were bugging him when he was going to be inducted. Ah well, visiting it is just as much fun and interesting. One highlight: the Jimmy Hendrix exhibit. The concert video, the memoriabilia and , surprisingly, his art-work. Yep, in his younger years he was an aspiring artist in more ways than playing a guitar. Too bad the drugs got the better of him, but it probably also gave us the songs as his legacy. Just listen to the rif of Voodoo Child. Thank you Jimmy!!

All trips have 3 parts; the part to the destination, the destination itself and the return-part. It was unfortunately already time for the Canadians to head back up. Always sad to see friends leave, but greatful for the memories we made during the weekend. Thanks Joel and Chris. We'll do it again sometime.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Holland rejects EU Constitution

It is official, besides France Holland has now rejected the European Constitution. Due to the high voter turn-out and the considerable margin the Dutch govenment will honour the outcome of the non-binding referendum and not ratify the proposed European Constitution in its current form. The main reasons why the Dutch voters have rejected the proposal are:
  • The lack of involvement in the European decision-making process
  • The cost of the extension of the Union with a number of former Eastern European, since Holland pays the most to Brussels per capita
  • The possible joining of Turkey while most of Holland is stronlgly against it
  • A possilbe loss of sovereignty on issues like the liberal stance on gay-rights, abortion, drug policy, etc
  • A general resentment towards politics in Holland
  • The effect of the Euro on the everyday life (read: prices)
  • Benefits the international companies rather than the everyday worker
Fortunately the high turn-out is a sign towards the current administration that things need to change and that the current direction is not in line with the expectations of the Dutch people.

On the other hand, quite a few of the arguments against the constitution are not really valid since the consititution does not govern those items (like the lack of sovereignty issue and the effect of the Euro), but this referendum was the first option for Dutch voters to effectivly voice their opinion on European policy. Besides the real issue (discussed below) this referendum has also been used as kind of a popularity question or general approval of Dutch policy towards Europe in the last decade.

Another major reason why Dutch voters said 'No' was the non-clearity of the true effect of the constitution. What would it really do, what would be the day-to-day effects? That did not come across with most voters. In fairness, the answer is not easy, otherwise everybody would know it. But in general the consitution would (among others) re-design the following items:
  • the day-to-day governing of the Union
  • the abandonment of the veto-rights on certain issues
  • a move towards an elected governing body rather than the rotating chairmanship of a country each 6 months
  • the appointment of an EU secretary of state to administer a common foreign policy
Sure, there will be other impacts and some will be felt by the voter, but it is mainly proposing a different, hopefully more effective way of 'running Europe'. That fact has been seriously underexposed in Holland however, to be honest, a lot people simply didn't care about that fact; they were more seseptable to the arguments against it.

In the end, the arguments against outweighed the arguments in favour for the majority of the Dutch voters. If some groups feel the Dutch used false reasons to make their decisions, that would reflect more on the capacity of those groups to explain their points rather than on the actual outcome. Or maybe the pros really didn't outweigh the cons. Anyway, it's democracy in action and I'm curious whats going to happen next.