Saturday, August 20, 2005


Just found an interesting little add-on to make your Blog life a little easier. It’s called ‘Blogger-for-Word’. It lets you upload a word-document to your blog with the click of a mouse. The main advantage is the availability of a spell-checker. Besides me, God only knows how may re-posts I’ve done after I found a few spelling-errors. Give it a go, I like it and I used it to upload this post.

The DutchCanuck Hotel

I’ve done a lot of traveling over the last few years, for business as well as personal. If you fly a lot there is this interesting thing called ‘Airmiles’. Over the years I flew mostly with the airlines in the Skyteam Alliance, thus I was able to collect airmiles on carriers like Continental, Delta, NorthWest, Air France and also KLM. Interesting thing is that as a Dutch native I’ve flown with all the mentioned airlines, except KLM. Which is the Royal Dutch Airlines. The reason for it was however a true Dutch one; they are usually a bit more expensive. Still a cloggie at hart…

Back to the Airmiles. Since I was able to collect miles on all those carriers and combine them all I had collected well over a 100.000 airmiles. For a free round-trip in the US and Canada you only need 25.000 and you can find a round-trip to Europe for about 50.000 miles. Since I’ve been over to the Netherlands quite frequently in the last two years I was looking for a good reason to spent some of those miles. Well, I found one: I’m having my parents come over in October soley on airmiles. Lordwilling, they should arrive on October 5, stay for a forth night and go back to the Netherlands on October 19.

I’m planning on showing them the great city of Cleveland (some will disagree on the ‘great city’-part..) where I set up camp a little over two years ago. I’ve come to learn quite a bit about the city and hope to explore some more before they get here. Unfortunately I won’t be able to take the entire period off work, but I’m sure they want some time for themselves as well to visit a few sights on their own.

With them coming over in October, and one of my best friends Pascal and his wife Climmy coming in two weeks, coupled with a vist of my European collegue and friend Mat I’m glad to play the role of host for a change after all my travels. Since ‘The DutchCanuck Hotel’ still has quite some openings, I’m inviting all my friends and family from all over Gods creation to come over to Cleveland!

You are al(l)(ways) more then welcome…

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sold my apartment in Belgium

Some big news: I just sold my apartment in Gellik, Belgium. I kept it when I moved to the States two years ago since my assignment here was initially only for two years and if it ended like that I still wanted to have my house there. However, now that I'm staying in the US and the fact that the office in downtown Maastricht is closed as well, there was no real reason for me to keep the apartment.

The last two years it was rented out to a young couple (he was Dutch, she was Belgian) and after they moved out in April it was sitting there empty. This last week there was a serious potential buyer and I was able to sell it.

Thanks Dad for willing to act as the executor on my behalf, I'll make it up to you when you and mom are coming over in October.

St. Pierre et Miquelon

I was and still am a bit of a map-nut. I somehow like maps, but more importantly I like to find out about certain places on a map. Sometimes big (like Canada), sometimes small like the small island group of 'St. Pierre et Miquelon' a few miles off the southern coast of Newfoundland. The interesting part is that these islands are the sole remnents of the once vast French territories in North America.

St. Pierre et Miquelon is now an oversees department of the French Republic after it exchanged hands a few times in the 19th century between the French and the British. It's an eclectic mix of French and Gaelic influences. The geography resembles that of Bretagne in France and that is where most of the people on the islands can trace their heritage to.

You can only access it by boat from Fortune, Nfld or by air with Air St Pierre. This remoteness catagorizes the islands as a location 'off-the-beaten-path'. You need to go a bit out of your way to get there. That makes it all the more interesting for the exploring traveller.

Below are a few links for more info on these French North American Islands...
- - listen to the music on this site....

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The London attacks

Over the last month London, UK got hit by various terrorist attacks. The first one being the hardest hit with over 50 people needlessly dying in horrific circumstances. A week or two later London got his again, this time the police was prepared and was able to prevent another catastrophy.

The worrysome tactic of the attacks in London is that the recurrance of the attacks was really designed to spread fear more than to go for high casulty numbers. This has the potential of becoming a trend since a string of smaller attacks gives a bigger sence of insecurity than the 9/11 and that insecurity seems to be the goal of the terrorists. In New York the terrorists delivered a major blow, but due to the sheer size of the attack the New Yorkers came more together, a result the terrorrists did not expect. The turn towards the string of smaller attacks is therefore all the more worrysome.

I'm very glad to see that the police in the UK made great strides in capturing the guys (somehow they are guys 95% of the time...) who carried out the 2nd wave of attacks. They even managed to stop a 3rd wave.

That, and the announcement of the IRA that they will now only persue their matter through politics, is the good news that hopefully will get the people of London and the rest of the UK to come together as well and regain their sense of security.

Now, if we can only find a proper way to stop the root-cause of it all...

Company Picknick @ Geauga Lake

This year on Aug 6 our company picknick was held at Geauga Lake. The weather was beautiful and nothing seemed to prevent it from being a great success. That was untill a park employee decided to carry hydrochloric acid through the park. Nothing wrong with that, except that the container was leaking. This lead to a good part of the park being closed, a parking lot closed, rescue crews on the scene and long traffic jams to the park. Obviously the story made the press and news shows (WKYC Ch.3 News).

The good news was that only 1 ride was closed, but going from one part of the park to the next required a detour outside the park. Turned-out to be nothing more than an inconvenience and the picknick/lunch was a success. We had a good turn-out and after lunch me and Ben took in some of the rides.

There was one that was kinda funky; X-flight. You get in, you are lowered onto your back and the ride goes out head-first going up to the highest point. Than as it accellerates you are turned back onto your stomach and ride starts... Wow!! Hang on!! That was one heck of good ride, but you need to have the stomach for it. This one is not for the faint-of-heart!!

All-in-all a good day and because I parked at the shopping center across from the parking lot on Hgw 43 it was - in good Dutch fashion - a very cheap day as well.

Killbear Provincial Park, ON

After months of planning the time was there to go meet-up with my cousin Chad and our buddy Rob. Originally we had a few more friends coming, but eventough planning ahead seemed to work there are always those last-minute scheduling conflicts that pop-up. No biggie. On Thurdsay-afternoon I left Cleveland at about 4.15pm and after a quick and easy drive I was in Brampton a little after 8.30pm. I made such good time that I had to wait before Chad, his lovely wife Lisa and Rob showed up. Gave me an oppertunity to doze-off a bit. We started sorting out the camping stuff, did the groceries pre-loaded the cars with everything but the coolers.

The next morning we made a last-minute stop at the Pro Bass Shop before driving north towards Barrie. A fuel and ATM stop later we continued towards Killbear Provincial Park. Very nice drive after Barrie to end-up at a beautiful park. You really get the 'up north' feeling eventhough you only barely left Southern Ontario.

We registered at the park and checked out our campsite. At least Chad and I did, somewhere between the park entrance and the site we managed to loose Rob... Since cellphone coverage is spotty at best it took us some time to hook-up. It turned out okay since the first time we checked the campsite the previous guest were still pakcing up and it was nice and empty now with the guys from the park cleaning it up for us.

Next item: pitching tents. I had my light-weight tent with me and got everything setup in under 5 minutes. Rob had his done shortly after before we both helped out Chad setting up his 'Palace'. Jeez, that thing was big. After that it was time for the tarp and with finished we had our home for the next few days ready..... Beach time!!

We didn't actually go to beach, but rather to the Cliffs. It's one of the most popular spots in the parks with various cliffs you can use to jump off into Geogrian Bay (off Lake Huron). They vary from 10 to 45ft in height and all kinds of people where doing lots of jumping. You saw young first-timers, experienced 'thrill seekers' and the slightly older crowd (everything over 25 to 75). I made a few jumps, but Chad found his inner child and must have made 10 or more jumps. The water was nice and clear. Althought the latter part was a bit weird since you could see the bottom, but it was soo deep you'll never hit it. Just doesn't look like that if you look down from the top of that cliff...

The first night at the campfire. Well, like kids in the candy store. The beer came out followed by the Captain Morgan which found its way plentifully into the cans of Coke and Lime. We had a blast. All of us needed this R&R for various reasons and it was much appreciated.

We did some fishing on this trip, or better said a lot of fishing. It's not my biggest hobby, but watching your friends actually catch something (after a lot tries...) makes it interesting. I always had my book with me, but I never did read much...

On the Sunday the guys had their biggest fish-success. I very big one got away before, but this time in the first 15 minutes they had 3 catches. The biggest catch of the day was reserved for the guys from Barrie. We lent them our fish-net and they caught a big su**er of a lake trout. I took the picture (see here for that shot and more) and without our net they would have never been able to get it, so... ah well, we caught some pike and some bass, but not big enough for the BBQ.

After a quick visit to Parry Sound (or for the hockey-fans among us: Borry Or town) and a good lunch at Don Cherry Sports and Grill the trip was winding down. The next morning we started to pack eveything up and went for some final jumps of the Cliffs and with a fuel-stop in Nobel we left again for Brampton. For me that was only part of the trip since I had my Brampton to Cleveland leg still ahead of me, which was another 4 to 5 hours.

After picking up some furniture for Chad and watching him putting it together it was time for me to leave and commence the last leg of this mini-break. 5 hours later I was home and rolled into bed and slept like a baby.

New York City

I recently had the oppertunity to visit my friend Ryan in Stamford, CT. One of the things on the agenda was to revisit NYC. But first we checked out Stamford a bit. Nice small-town feeling with inner-city Barcelona like traffic. Very strange, but very funny and even familiar being from Europe... Ended-up in a very nice Spanish restaurant sampling some of the tapas and the obvious Sangria. Good food, good drinks, good company. For some weird reason we thought it would be a good idea to go see 'Fantastic Four'. Well, lets just say that you don't go for the story-line...

The next day we left for NYC by train. Perfect way to get to NYC, you're dropped off at Grand Central station and you're in the middle of Manhattan without any hassle whatsoever. Great. We took the Subway to Ground Zero since I wanted to see that place again. The last time I was in NYC I stood on top of the WTC. We took the elevator of the Millenium Hotel to try and get a good aerial view, but the look-out was of the East river and Brooklyn. It made for an interesting shot of NYC (for that and other shots of NYC, see NYC Photos). Later we did find some decent photo-oppertunities and continued our stawl through Battery Park towards Wall Street. Found a Gaudi in the process. Just go two blocks north on Nassau Street and look towards your right into a small side-street.

From there we wanted to see the Intrepid Sea-and-Air museum, but somehow ended up taking the Subway the wrong way and almost ended up at Kennedy Airport. After a quick change of lines we were on our way again, but lost too much time (and dodged a nifty thunderstorm in the process). We decided it was time to get some grub and walked towards the Jeckyll and Hide restaurant on 57th and 6th. Made some interesting BW shots of the NBC studios at Rockefeller Plaza. The restaurant is geared towards kids, but it holds enough to be a very interesting place for 'older' kids as well. If you catch yourself there, I had the Pasta Jambalaya. Excellent.

The main event of the day was a show on 42th Street called 'Rain' by 'Cirque Eloise' out of Montreal. It is what is called 'Modern Circus', in the line of Cirque du Soleil. This 'troupe' did away with the fancy decors and costumes and replaced it with a bit more humor. Too bad it was the final weekend, otherwise I would STRONLY recommend it. Very intriguing and absolutely hilarious. I'm watching their website for encore presentations, so stay tuned. After the show we took the train back to Stamford for some drinks and reflections on the past day, with the show easily taking the most reflections.

The Sunday was a more relaxed day with a tour of the EdgeLab offices on the UCONN campus in downtown Stamford. After a tour of Old Greenwich looking at what old money can buy we decided to get some R&R at the pool of the apartment building. Good idea, especially since my flight to Cleveland was on the schedule as well, so by 5pm I was back at the airport for a quick and uneventfull flight home.

You gotta love those short breaks. Thanks for the hospitality Ryan!!

An apology

I think I need to apologize to all my friends for not updating the blog for the last 4 weeks. Its been a bit crazy (and yes, I've been a bit lazy as well..;-), but watch for updates coming in the next few hours...