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Thursday, May 27, 2010



We recently returned from Amsterdam, which I feel compelled to tell you, is a wonderful city. You might guess from looking at commercials for Amstel and Heineken, that everyone in the city is always drunk. This is absolutely false. The truth is that they are always stoned. If you look around, you can see entire families bicycling into Dam Plaza together. Then they get that look on their face that says, “Shit- I forgot what we came in here for.” They are completely stoned. Even the little children are stoned from secondhand smoke, which I think is a great thing for those who can’t afford to buy it new. Here they call it “Certified Pre-Owned.” Unfortunately, an hour after the cafes open there is a run on Fritos in all supermarkets, and many people are trampled each day. If I was a brilliant entrepreneur I would market a package deal of a gram of hash and a pint of Häagen-Dazs Heavenly Hash together for 20 euros.

Dam Plaza is kind of a congregating point in the middle of town, where tourists can go if they want to look lost and not feel so out of place. The problem is that you are steering your rented bike with one hand, holding the map with the other, and you finally find your destination, which is on Luijkeliedseprinsensplaat. You look up at the sign, and by some miracle, you are on that road! Then a huge trolley car slams into you and knocks you to kingdom come. And when you recover, the street sign now says Luijkeliedseprinsenstrasse. So you are back to square one. If you eventually do get onto the right road, in two blocks it changes to Kaiserspleidenrijkelgracht and you’re lost again. If you are stupid enough to ask for directions, they will tell you, “it is over by the canal.” Every street has a canal next to it in Amsterdam. There are displaced people over here, but I don’t think they are homeless. They just have no idea exactly where they are.

Whenever I am at Dam Plaza I always stick my finger in a dyke, and yes, I have been slapped for it plenty hard.

While we were here, we visited plenty of museums. One we did not get a chance to visit was the Anne Frank house. Which has to piss off the owners, because it wasn’t her house, they were just nice enough to let her stay there. The whole story is a little depressing, since she dies, but I guess if you wait around long enough every story has that same ending. The room is supposedly exactly as it was when she was living there, which made me wonder what would happen if I was Anne Frank, and MY room had to be preserved for many generations exactly as it was when I was living there. That is a LOT of pressure on a teenager to clean up your frigging room. Millions of visitors a year filing past my room behind a velvet rope going, “Gross! Is that a ginormous pile of underwear over there? When was he planning to launder it? I doubt the Nazis will occupy THAT! And what is that tacky blacklight poster of Farrah Fawcett doing there? Her nipples are practically poking my eye out.”

I never even read Anne Frank’s diary, because it seems nosy. What if there is stuff about her and her boyfriend getting to third base or something? She should have locked it with that little key if she didn’t want idiots like us reading it.

On a lighter note, there is plenty to do here. If you go to Max Euweplein square you can play chess on a giant board. The good news is that I was able to castle using an actual castle. The bad news is that on my opening move I think I killed a squirrel.

The van Gogh museum was great. Van Gogh is what I like to call a lasting impressionist. He himself was very impressionable, and soaked up techniques from other painters, such as Renoir, Gauguin and Japanese influences. The onset of mental illness caused him to do strange things, and eventually committed himself to an asylum. Whereupon hearing a voice in his head, he started removing his buttocks with a razor blade. The voice quickly corrected him: “I said cut off your EAR, not your REAR! Are you NUTS?” His fame grew even after his death, which is when he did some of his best work.

We went to the Concertgebouw and saw a kick-ass symphony concert. We were seated actually behind the instruments, facing the conductor. It was interesting to watch him work. With one hand, he was alternately keeping the time and cueing different sections of the orchestra. With the other hand he was texting somebody. Every once in awhile he made a motion towards the woodwind section, gave the finger, and mouthed the words, “F the bassoon player,” so I don’t know what that was about. At the end of the concert a page came out and gave a bouquet of flowers to the first violinist, and he yanked them out of her hand and gave them to the flute player, so I think he is banging her. One thing noticed is that the tympani player is grossly overpaid. He sat reading the paper for most of the program, clicking his tongue at the financial section, and every once in awhile he would turn the page of the music just for show.

Incidentally, Rembrandt van Rijn, who was in his painting heyday at about the time that New Amsterdam was discovering its New World identity, is purported to have painted over 300 works. Included among them are about 40 self-portraits, although in some of them he portrayed himself as looking remarkably like Brad Pitt.

Provided by website-hit-counters.com site.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010



Today is Earth Day- did you get a gift? I must admit, I did not get anything. I have no idea what to get- I will probably just get a plant or something. I think I read somewhere that this Earth day the Earth is 40 YEARS OLD. And I must say it looks pretty good (although I think it has had some work done). Yes there are some cracks and crevices- Haiti looks a little wrinkly, and some of the tectonic plates definitely need to be replaced.

That’s why we all have to do our part. I am thinking of getting a Hybrid car- it’s a cross between a Yugo and a poodle- it’s called a Poogo. But I can’t even trust a battery to run a flashlight let alone my car.

Which reminds me: every time I buy a new package of batteries I go through the same stages of grief. First, Denial. I firmly believe that this will be the first package of batteries ever manufactured that I will be able to open with just my hands. I look for the little tab that says, “OPEN HERE.” I look all over for it. “PULL HERE, STUPID!” I can’t see anything. “NOT THERE, OVER HERE- ARE YOU A FUCKING MORON OR WHAT? YOU GRADUATED FROM SYRACUSE? FIGURES….” There is no tab. Next, Anger. I want to meet the person that designed this package. I want to butter him up with a little small talk, how’s the wife, the kids, etc. and make him feel at ease and light-hearted as we walk in the park, admiring nature. Then I shove him into a 10-foot pit that I have dug and covered with leaves. At first stunned, he regains his senses and pleads with me to throw down an i-phone so he can call for help, or at least pass the time surfing for internet porn. I say nothing for two hours, then throw in the i-phone, wrapped in hard seamless plastic. I watch and laugh diabolically as he ruins his incisors trying to gnaw the package open.

Then, Bargaining. I plead with the batteries to just come on out of the package willingly. Just this once. They decline. Then, Depression, where I just don’t even want to get out of bed in the morning, knowing that I can’t get those goddamn batteries out of the package. Finally, Acceptance, where I realize I will have to spring for another 20 bucks for the AC adaptor.

Anyway, alternative power is becoming a much higher priority. They are considering building a wind farm off the coast of Nantucket. Indian tribes are against that particular location, since some Indians were buried on the planet Earth, where they are thinking of building the wind farm. Congress has provided for tax credits for the proliferation of alternative energy, but what they should do is put the turbines right there in the Senate chamber where the wind is. Growing up on a wind farm is much less work than a regular farm- no milking cows, planting things, picking things. You just water those big wind things every once in awhile and they’re good to go- it’s a breeze. I have seen a giant hi-tech wind generator on top of our neighbor’s barn. It has a rooster on top and the letters, N, S, E, and W, which probably stand for something to do with the output or amperage.

Clean coal is another option that’s getting a lot of airtime these days. But clean coal is very expensive to produce, since it comes out of that mine so darn dirty. If you toss it in the washer (NOT with the delicates) using a little Tide you should be fine.

Hydro-electric power uses current to provide current. For instance, the two generating stations on the U.S. side of Niagara Falls provide 2,700 kilowatts of power, enough to supply one quarter of the electricity in New York State, as long as they don’t use their hair dryers all at the same time.

So if you live next to a coal mine, with a raging river on your property, with no trees to block the sun and constant 60- 65 mile-per-hour winds, chances are you will never have to pay one cent to run your appliances. But I have to tell you that sounds like an awful piece of property, especially in this real-estate market. Plus, one day you are going to wake up and say, “I have ZERO energy today,” and no one is going to feel sorry for you. You sound like a bit of a whiner to me.

Incidentally, Solar energy is produced in photovoltaic cells. The sun excites the electrons in these cells, possibly by telling them that they are going to Disneyworld. The cell produces DC power, which is then transformed via inverter to AC voltage. This AC/DC conversion is similar to taking kilowatts that enjoy Liza Minnelli concerts and changing them into ones that like working with power tools.

Provided by website-hit-counters.com site.