Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The end of the internal combustion engine - for real ??

CNNmoney.com today posted an article on a new engine-type that sounds like it could replace the internal combustion engine all together at an engine-build price marginally higher, but a substansially lower running-cost without any reliabilty on oil. The article mentions a number of details on how the new type engine will run, but not the who and how the required infrastructure (charge-stations) will be handled.

All-in-all, very interesting article. Let's see if its true...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Grand Rapids

Last weekend I went to Grand Rapids, MI to visit a special friend of mine. Left work early after another one of those crazy weeks. Pretty easy drive and since I've done it a couple of times on-route to Holland, MI I decided to see how good Verizons VZ Navigator actually was. Lets just say I was impressed. I can recommend using it. OK, back to topic at hand... as I said the drive was easy, rainy, but nothing special. Stopped in Lansing to pick-up a little present and then continued on to GR. The last hour was pretty interesting since the rain really picked-up and as the icing on the cake I was treated to a wonderful lightshow. Long story short, after a good 4.5 hrs I got to GR. We just hung-out and chatted a bit until it is was time for some well-deserved shut-eye.

Saturday-morning I slept-in and - looking at the forecast - we decided to do the outdoor-activities in the morning since it would rain for the rest of the day. After a quick stop at the post-office we went to the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. What a beautiful place. We especially liked the Orchid Wall... Never knew there were that many varieties (according to the guide > 200,000) and in that many shpaes and colours. Wow! We also saw the worlds largest seeds (two coconuts seeds). They are huge... At first they looked like rocks (hence we missed them the first time around) but the guide (thanks again!!) pointed it out for us.

After the seeds and a lovely walk to the sculpture garden we decided to splurge and take the VIP (...;-) guided-tour. Since the tour will point-out many things you will miss on your own - including the artists thoughts behind the objects - I would highly recommend taking the tour. It was well worth it... for more reasons then just the excellent narations.

We decided to give one of the highlights of the tour - Nina Akamu’s 24 feet tall 'The American Horse', created in homage to Leonardo da Vinci's original commission by the Duke of Milan a closer look. Very impressive.

After the garden (sorry, no pics this time since I forgot my camera...) we went to Pannera for lunch. Since we wanted to play Settlers of Catan for a bit we decided to skip the first one (way too busy) and opted for one with an open booth. The game and my opponent were very imposing since I hadn't played in a while versus my oppenents multiple times a week. I had to add some Dutch in the mix in order to compete. We decided that every number had to be pronounced in Dutch and since I'm the only Native Dutch speaker that equalized things a bit...;-) Oh, for those interested... I still lost that game, as with all the other ones. The next game we decided to try French... That didn't help either, but we had lots of fun and re-discovered some talent we didn't think we had...

Around 5.45pm it was time for church. God decided to make throw us an obstacle course... I was raining like CRAZY!!! Wow!!! At church we even had to wait a bit in the car since it was raining way to hard. It finally let up a bit and we decided to make a run for it under the cover of my jacket. It didn't help much...

Once in church the unusual things kept coming. How about the announcement of a Counrty worship-song accommodated by actual line-dancing? Not crazy enough? How about an evacuation due to a Tornado warning? Well, one of the more memorable services I've ever been to...

The evening didn't end there... Oh no... Next stop: Wealthy Theater for a performance of the River City Improv. We met-up with a friend at church and headed over to downtown GR. We got the tickets and scored front-row! What an impressive show. Absolutely hilarious on numerous occasions. Never heared a line 'the white men stole all my candy' just level the place and (the same sketch about a girl selling lemonade) in the style of a late-night religious fund-raser was an instant classic. If you're ever in GR on a night when they perform, go see them! Check their website for the latest schedule.

Since we did church on Saturday, Sunday-morning was a nice and relaxing time filled by some more Catan. This time the Cities & Knights expansion version. Makes it very interestng I must say... Still lost, but that was more to my fierce opponent...;-). At 1pm it was time for some football, another mutually liked past-time. Found a nice Buffalo Wild-Wings that was showing the Bears vs Vikings and had a great time. Thanks to the Pittsburgh fans for their impressive cheering! After we saw Brett Favre throwing his 400th career TD-pass on another screen we re-focussed on the Vikings, but a late 4th quarter INT lead to a TD for the Bears and a loss for the Vikings. Well, can't win 'm all.

Time flies when you're having fun so time to leave GR (which was bright and sunny again) and head back to Ohio. Wish I could have stayed a while longer, but since I promised the boss to check-up on a few things at work I had to leave. It's still a 4 hour drive so...

Thanks to everybody who made it a weekend to remember...

Gas under $2.00 !!

Our prayers have been answered!!! *smile*.

Both Cleveland and Canton now have gasprices of under $2.00. Found $1.95 in Cleveland and $1.97 in Canton. Interesting how this sounds to my European friends, especially since they pay about $7.00 per gallon.

Have a great day!

A happy (long-distance) driver...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

US Open 2006

One of my buddies from work - Kaushal - was telling me he was planning on going to the US Open 2006 in Flusing, NY. I always wanted to see a Grand-Slam match, so consider the exitement when we were able to secure tickets to the Mens Semi-Final matches on Saturday. Leaving from Akron-Canton Airport on a direct 1hr flight to La Guardia we were in Queens around 9.30am. We took a cab to the USTA Tennis Center and got onto the grounds at around 10am. After grabbing some brunch (not often you can get a good Greek-style Gyros with garlic-sauce in the morning) and listing in on an interview with Nick Bolleterri (owner of the Tennis Academy which produced players like Sharapova, Seles, Agassi, etc...) I bought a polo-shirt from the Arthur Ashe foundation to support the cure for Aids. I thought it was fitting after having tickets to the games at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Plus, I wasn't willing to spend almost $100 for a Ralph Lauren polo. Sorry, but my money goes to the ones needing it more...

The two games where Federer - Davidenko and Roddick - Youshny. The Federer match was a bit of roll-over, but the 2nd match was a real match leaving Roddick with the right strategy to appear victorious in 4 sets. The weather was again awesome and I picked-up a nice tan. Me, the blond white guy from Holland now finally has a tan. Oh, of course I ran into some Coggies living in NY... After freshing-up at the Hotel we went to the East Village on Manhattan to get tickets to the Blue Man Group and some food. We ended-up in a nice Chinese Restaurant a few blocks down from the Astoria Theater on Lafayette Street, setting outside enjoying a dish listed as 'Chefs-mom special'. Well, gotta have that..;-)

The Blue Man Group was awesome. Very impressive use of every day objects in a musical and comedic setting. Add some twinkies, toilet paper and a lot of audience participation and you can imagine we had a great time. I can strongly recommend seeing the show. Its worth the ticket-price. For those in NE Ohio: Oct 7, 2006 they will perfrom in the Quicken Loans Arena at 8pm.

The Sunday was a real relaxing day with getting up in time only to get breakfast and then a free shuttle back to the airport. Hopefully to be back in Cleveland in time to catch the Finals of the US Open. Result: Federer won that match and his 9th career Grand Slam. He only has 5 players ahead of him on the all-time Grand-Slam list and he's only 25 years old. History in the making...

Good night!

Summer of '06

The clog-files have been MIA for the Summer of '06, so I feel its time for a short recap:

My good friends Joel and Carolyn Vriend came to visit me from Canada in a rare moment where they both had time to come down from beautiful Ontario. It was Joels second time visiting me, but his lovely wife made her first trip to Cleveland. We visited Amish Country and had a lovely drive through this beautiful part of NE Ohio. And treats to die for...;-). Also the drive through University Circle, Fairmount and the Chagrin River valley was a nice way of showing how great this beautiful city can be.

When they left my buddy Chris Leaney came down for the Sammy Hagar concert at the Tower City Amphitheater. After two false-starts and some oscar-winning performance getting rid of some excess tickets we enjoyed ourselves with a great show by an almost 60-year old performer. If you ever get a chance to go see him... you will not be dissapointed!

After the devastating blow delt to us in the World Cup it was time to get some good 'ol camaraderie going again at the ceremony at the USS Cod in downtime Cleveland. This sub was responsible for the only international submarine-to-submarine rescue in history rescueing the Dutch submarine O-19. The commencement ceremony at the harbour involved the Dutch Honorary Consul and a very special privilige to stand on-deck while the fired the aft-cannon in salute to this historic occasion. It does re-iterates the word 'deaffening'...;-). After the ceremony I met up with some fellow cloggies and we visited the Tall Ships Fest next to where the USS-Cod is docked.

We hosted a party to some Dutch exchange students from Neyenrode University, majoring in International Law. We had the good fortune of having a beautiful evening and had the luxery of sitting outside on the patio of the Great Lakes Brewery in Ohio City. It was midnight before we knew it and closed the evening in the Warehouse District on West 6th until closing.

The yearly company picknick was at the Geauga Lake amusement park in Aurora, OH. Free lunch and free entrance to the park. Well, we Cloggies are known to be a bit cheap, so this was one oppertunity we had to take advantage off...;-). Another gorgeous day and great success.

The last weekend...:
Save the best for last, so I took the Friday off for an even longer weekend. It turned-out that after working a long week with odd hours I was able to leave at 10.30am on Thursday, so this was quickly turning into a nice mini-vacation. I took off for Ontario. First meeting up with my cousin Chad to deliver some part for his '83 Honda Shadow bike he's restoring and then on to Joel and Carolyn since we would go camping the next day. After a relaxing night with a movie we loaded up the car the next day and left for Port Burwell Provincial Park on Friday. We knew that it would rain on Saturday (remnents of Hurricane Ernesto), but the rest of the weekend was there to make up for that.

On the Saturday we did some fishing before the rain got real heavy. When the rain and the wind picked-up we all got together in the dining tent and played some board-games. Catan, Rumus and cards were available, but the real blessing was the fellowship and... here it comes... an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS authentic Chinese dinner prepared by our Chinese Canadian friends who came along. By far the best campsite-dinner I ever had... Sorry Mom, sorry Dad!!. Dumplings, Chinese soup, noodels, sweet-and-sour pork, spicy sauces and all of that prepared in the pouring rain! Thank you, Gao Family!

The Sunday - after a church-service on the campground - we played bodgy-ball until we had to stop to prepare dinner. Maybe the Seniors have a point there...;-) Of course all the campfires where a nice icing on the camping-cake. Hope to see you all next year!