Wednesday, 29 August 2012

I'm doing fine

click here; no really, click here!

So for the last couple of days I've been complaining about how slow my internet connection was. I also tweeted my provider about it. Messages went back and forth a few times and today somebody called me back.

It turns out that everything was fine except for one small thing. There was a program causing an awful lot of traffic and it was one I didn't suspect at all. I wasn't downloading anything, so it couldn't by the torrent program I use - but it was.

It was a bit strange when the customer support tech asked me if I downloaded stuff. Should I 'fess up' to something like that? I decided to be honest that I did use a torrent client, he could probably tell anyway - and it turned out to be the solution.

My ISP is actually one of the few in The Netherlands that do not block The Pirate Bay. Probably because they're not one of the major providers, but I get the impression they're actually quite happy to fly under the "internet police'" radar.

In my effort to be a good citizen of the internet, I'd foolishly set the upload speed to 'unlimited' and this, what seemed like only a, trickle of traffic compared to the download speeds I've sometimes achieved here, clogged up my entire computer.

Not nice, especially since I've taken a day off sick today, so am in more need of entertainment than ever. Having adjusted the settings everything is running fine again.

Yesterday I went to work even though I'd thrown up and was having big headaches, thinking I could work through it. But this morning they hadn't gone, so now I'm giving myself some time to rest. Not too much though, nose will be applied to grindstone again tomorrow. Don't worry, I'll be alright. If nothing else, I have three weeks off booked for the week after next.


Afterwards, the support guy actually DM-ed me a link to a better torrent client, but I think I've got it sussed now, there's a helpful link in the settings that I've never read before, that tells you to be aware of the upload speed you allow and how to figure out which is the optimum.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Blog friends ahoy!

Homomonument Amsterdam

Well here we are again. Fancy meeting you here. Especially considering the little time I spend here myself these days...

Let me tell you how I spent last Sunday: I spent a very nice afternoon with the wonderful Will and Laurent. They've spent a couple of days at K.'s Amsterdam apartment and are at this very moment sailing on a cruise ship to the Baltic.

I met them at the apartment and we walked to Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast (okay, it was almost noon, but I only had a croissant, you can't call that brunch - besides, I hate that word, so don't call anything brunch, please). We had a lovely chat, they are so charming and would be very welcome guests if they decided to stop by again.

On our way back we stopped by the Westerkerk, specifically the gay monument outside. A lot of people only notice the pink granite triangle that sticks out into the canal, but actually, there are three triangles, together forming a large triangle. It's hard to find a good picture of the actual monument, so I've added one from the monument as copied for miniature town Madurodam. (It's not quite accurate, actually.) Together they serve as a warning from the past, a confrontation with the present and an inspiration for the future.

The three triangles each point to a significant landmark. The one with the steps down to the water points to the national war memorial on Dam square. On May 4 1970, Memorial Day, gay activists were arrested for laying a lavender wreath at the monument on the Dam. One points to the Anne Frank house and the third to the office of the COC.

The triangle pointing to the Anne Frank house bears a line of poetry by Jacob Israël de Haan (1881-1924) - the first victim of zionist political violence, although that's not actually relevant to this story - which translates as "Such an endless desire for friendship" (better than my rough translation at the time). It is taken from a poem named "To a Young Fisherman".

As usual there were lines at the Anne Frank house, although Will and Laurent told me not as many as yesterday (and that was in the rain, strangely enough). They ended up not going because it was so busy. I count myself lucky I went there with school, many years ago; I don't remember having to queue.

We walked back to the apartment - with a detour to buy cheese, what else? - where we were soon joined by K. and R. We then took their cases down the stairs from hell and K. and I accompanied them to the passenger terminal. The cruise ship wasn't as big as some of the ones you see parked behind it, but it was still visible from the tracks, that morning when I arrived in Amsterdam.

Back at the apartment the three of us spent a lazy afternoon (R. and I reading, K. fiddling with his phone but not as restless as usual), R. cooked a lovely dinner, K. went to bed and we watched a couple of episodes of Terra Nova.

By then it was high time for me to get back home. It was past 11 when I got to Gouda, my feet were aching, so I took a cab home. I only do this a few times a year, when it's late or raining, but the taxi driver remembered me. I always have a chat with them, ask if they've got long to go and wish them a good night.

Monday, 21 May 2012

All the songs

All the songs had been sung.
The Poet had died and The Other was alone in the darkness.
The familiar rhythms were still there, the thumpa-thump
and the whoosh whoosh that had accompanied all her songs,
but it was impossible for The Other to fill the silence in her head.


The Adams family loved beach holidays. That is to say, the mother of the family, Molly Adams, loved to lounge on the sun deck at their seaside cabin (nothing more than a shack, really) and would spend every day there, from 10 AM until 5 PM, with a short break for a sandwich around noon. The rest of the family found ways to entertain themselves.

Like any seven-year-old, young Frank was always on the lookout for adventure and knew that it wouldn't take too much persuasion to convince his father, Frank senior, to take him fishing on the mighty basalt sea breaks. Not that Frankie, for that was what his mother and consequently all their family and friends called him, was interested in fishing.

But his father and Frank, for that was what his father called him, had an unspoken agreement. Each was to be the other's alibi, their excuse for staying away from the cabin for most of the day, every day of their vacation. They knew that not beating a timely retreat would result in endless fetching and carrying of magazines, ice tea, flip flops, tanning lotion, hats, sunglasses... Or worse: having to sit still and silently on the sun lounger next to Molly.

As soon as they reached the breakwater, their paths would diverge. Frank senior would move along the narrow strip of cement that ran along the center of the outcropping with his tackle. Frankie would find himself in another world, in blocks of basalt were transformed into mountains and tidal pools were seas, inhabited by fierce creatures, such as monster starfish that could swallow a pirate ship in one gulp.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Powers of Matthew Star

I've been working my way through the entire series of The Powers of Matthew Star on YouTube. A kind soul posted it there for all the world to watch.

You should too. Skip the pilot and possibly you may want to miss out on the second half of the series, but definitely watch the first few episodes.

At the start of the series, the emphasis is on Matthew as an alien prince who was sent to Earth to grow up in safety when his world was invaded and is now waiting to go back to his own world and fight the intergalactic marauders. It's centered around his high school, his girlfriend Pam and his guardian and science teacher Walt Shepard (Louis Gossett Jr.)

Later on the school and Pam disappear and all Matt and Walt do is work assignments for some government agency.

I've even been inspired to do some writing.

Monday, 9 January 2012

"The Anglo Saxon race, sir, is a most surprising one."

So said Rev. Henry McNeal Turner on 3 September 1868, when the Georgia state legislature - of which, as a Representative, he was a member - expelled all of its black members. Turner was born in 1834 to free parents, but the law prevented the education even of free blacks. As a young teenager he got janitorial work at a law firm and, with the help of the lawyers who recognised his intelligence, managed to educate himself.

He became an African Methodist Church preacher in 1853 and travelled. After the US Civil War (1861-1865) broke out, he helped organise the First Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops (1863) and became an army chaplain.

In 1867 he helped organise the Republican Party in Georgia, served in the state's constitutional convention and was consequently elected to its House of Representatives, where he served until he and twenty-six other black legislators were expelled.

I have selected several quotes, has a complete transcript.

Mr. Speaker: Before proceeding to argue this question upon its intrinsic merits, I wish the members of this House to understand the position that I take. I hold that I am a member of this body. Therefore, sir, I shall neither fawn nor cringe before any party, nor stoop to beg them for my rights.

I am here to demand my rights and to hurl thunderbolts at the men who would dare to cross the threshold of my manhood. There is an old aphorism which says, "fight the devil with fire," and if I should observe the rule in this instance, I wish gentlemen to understand that it is but fighting them with their own weapon.

The Anglo Saxon race, sir, is a most surprising one. No man has ever been more deceived in that race than I have been for the last three weeks. I was not aware that there was in the character of that race so much cowardice or so much pusillanimity. The treachery which has been exhibited in it by gentlemen belonging to that race has shaken my confidence in it more than anything that has come under my observation from the day of my birth.

If you deny my right the right of my constituents to have representation here because it is a "privilege," then, sir, I will show you that I have as many privileges as the whitest man on this floor. If I am not permitted to occupy a seat here, for the purpose of representing my constituents, I want to know how white men can be permitted to do so. How can a white man represent a colored constituency, if a colored man cannot do it?

We have pioneered civilization here; we have built up your country; we have worked in your fields and garnered your harvests for two hundred and fifty years! And what do we ask of you in return? Do we ask you for compensation for the sweat our fathers bore for you for the tears you have caused, and the hearts you have broken, and the lives you have curtailed, and the blood you have spilled? Do we ask retaliation? We ask it not. We are willing to let the dead past bury its dead; but we ask you, now for our rights.

New Georgia Encyclopedia article on Henry McNeal Turner
Titles by Henry McNeal Turner at Documenting the American South
Henry McNeal Turner on Wikipedia