April 27, 2003

Saint of cappuccino

One of the monks who invented cappuccino is about to be made a saint by the Catholic church.

The inventor of my favourite warm beverage - a saint! :)

Posted by Ben at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

Coffee and Dilbert

The Dutch are the second biggest consumers of coffee in Europe, next to the Norwegians, so it's common to see many colleagues pretty much constantly nursing a cup of brew. Unfortunately it seems that the standard coffee that's served here is disgusting to my taste. The 'Douwe Egberts Automaat' serves what's probably amongst the most bitter coffee I've tasted, next to American coffee.

Thus, I found this Dilbert series piss funny, and couldn't resist printing it out and taping it up next to the coffee machine at work on Friday! :) Wally's coffee addiction is way too understandable, but no PHB or Catbert type person is gonna take me away from my coffee...

I wonder how long before anyone removes it, or even figures out who it was? hehehe...

Posted by Ben at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2003

Spot the difference (OR: Still Aussie!)

Well that is such a good relief...I'm still an Aussie, despite my 3.something years here in Holland.

How did I know this? I know this because I accidently tried to spend Aussie money twice today, when I should have been spending Euros. I had a few notes in my wallet that I thought I'd show to young cousin Alice when I was over in England..

Being the duffer I am, I left them in my wallet after coming back from Easter, and grabbed them out when I had to pay. Firstly at the cafeteria at work, and then at a servo filling up on 2-stroke. Both times they were almost accepted, only to be rejected at the last minute.

Which is a pity really, considering 5 bucks is worth only 3 euros..

Good thing I know where my instincts lie..

Posted by Ben at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2003

catch up time

Just got back from a great weekend with Carolyn, Peter and cousin Alice up in England. Aside from minor train mishaps it was a fantastic easter. The train inbound from Luton to London was stuck behind another that broke down, and the train back to London from Somerset broke down (they had to turn off safety mechanics to get it moving). And Paddington station was closed down for the whole Easter weekend, meaning I had to get the trains from Ealing Broadway. I was not late for anything though. :)

The weekend involved lots of playing cards, scrabble, walking (did a 4-miler), tennis (yes i played -- badly!), talking, eating, drinking, church bell ringing, and a little off road four-wheel driving. I'd love to go back again sometime. And I cannot forget Peters special plum brew -- at 80% alcohol, it was quite....dizzying.

Time to see what email awaits now, and hopefully my chilli plants survived! sheesh..only I would hop on the computer before checking essentials..

Workibabs tomorrow..

Posted by Ben at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2003

summer at last!

After what seems like eternity, warm weather is finally here in Holland! It hit 28°C at my place yesterday, and it's going to be like that all week. My chillis are lovin' it, and I'm hoping for a week's worth of outdoor lunches at work.

The guys complemented me on my sunnies today (and I had to explain that sunnies means sunglasses). Heh heh heh...

Posted by Ben at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2003


Honda have recently released a new ad for their latest Accord that is like no other.

It's a whopping two minutes long, and consists of a single camera following a mechanical domino-type set of gears, wheels, cables, valves, flywheels and other car parts. A cog rolls into another cog, which drops off a table, making a lever release a spring which hits something else, causing it to fall over, making a wheel roll across the floor. This continues, with some quite amazing and precise mechanics right up to the car rolling off a seesaw.

It took an astonishing 606 takes to get this to work, as being so delicate, even a misalignment of a couple of millimetres stopped the whole orchestration. The guys working on the film had to tip-toe around the set during the setup for each take in case something got knocked off alignment. But after four solid days of filming it finally paid off.

As you can probably tell, I'm absolutely amazed at this, and find it fascinating to watch. The tings, whirrs, plops, and scrapes highlight the delicacy of such a setup. The knowledge that this was made without any computers just compounds the feeling.

The video exists online and is really worth the download.

Posted by Ben at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2003

What a shot!

Last week I happened to be walking past Dam Square in Amsterdam. It was 8:30pm, and the sun had set a half hour earlier. Looking towards the royal palace, I saw how fantastic it looked against the still-glowing sky behind it. It was a relatively unusual sight, as more often than not, it's overcast in this country.

I decided that I had to capture that picture.

Fast forward to last night. I was in Amsterdam a little earlier, and this time I was ready. It was a clear day. As it was a couple of hours prior to sunset, I popped on down to the Cafe de Stil, my favourite little pub in Amsterdam, hung out there and drank some witbier until the sun had set.

As it was getting darker, I wandered up to the Dam, and setup the camera on my mini tripod. It was a busy night and a lot of people were around, so it would be tough to get a reasonably empty shot. It would be even tougher, as not having a release cable would mean using the self timer. And a lot of things can move into the frame in ten seconds.

I had to work fast, as the glow was quickly fading, and I would soon realise that it'd only be around for ten minutes or so. So there I was, setting the timer, tripping the shutter and occasionally getting a car, person, or tram stuck in the middle. After a couple of minutes I got tired of this and decided to just trip the shutter straight away, and hoped to have a steady hand. It worked well, so I was able to fire off a few more shots. The best one i got of the dam is (proudly) displayed here. I am really happy with it (aside from the van), and learnt that evening shots are best taken when there's still some colour in the sky. It beats an inky black backgound any day...

I then turned the camera around and grabbed a few more frames of different bits around the square, but not having moved my position, they just dont have the impact of this one.

I think I'll go back again soon...

Posted by Ben at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2003

Recipe #2: Chicken & coriander curry

Chicken + Coriander curry

This is another recipe of mine, given a big thumbs up by Chris who sampled it for me. It's an original recipe, made to try and imitate a dish in a local Indian place in Hilversum. Originally I popped it in the oven for a while rather than a pan, but both seem to be just as effective.

You need the following for 2 people:

  • 1/2kg chicken fillet, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 level tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 chopped red chilli
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Good amount of vegetable oil

Do this:

  1. Mix the herbs and spices and salt in a mug
  2. Add enough oil to cover it all (to about 1/5 of a mugfull) and mix it all together well
  3. Put it in a bowl or tub with the chicken, and mix it so the chicken's well covered in the curry.
  4. Marinate for minimum 1/2 hour, or as many hours as you want. The longer you do, the more the curry will get in the chicken. If you're in a hurry you can cook straight away but you won't get so much flavour inside the chicken.
  5. Put a frying pan on medium heat, once it's hot put all the chicken mixture into it.Stir it for a bit so the chicken is seared.
  6. Turn the heat down a bit, and put a lid on. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Take the lid off, let it cook another 5 minutes so the juices thicken up a bit.
  8. Enjoy!
Posted by Ben at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2003

Life size robots

My entry for the life sized robot Photoshop challenge:

Actually done with The Gimp

Posted by Ben at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2003


Was sent this great little timewaster game, requires flash and good puzzle solving ability:

Up to level 24 so far!

Posted by Ben at 12:36 AM | Comments (0)

Recipes - #1: Butter Chicken

In my last entry, I talked about the general situation with food here in Holland. Quickly recapping: I just can't get used to it, so have to resort to cooking my own food.

In fact I have grown to enjoy it and usually prefer to make something myself instead of getting take away or eating out. So I figure why not note down my favourite recipes here. I will put down one every few days, which should at the least be a place to store them, and at best give some inspiration for more.

So without further ado, I present the first...

Butter Chicken

Makes enough for 4 people.

  • 150ml plain yoghurt
  • 4 tablespoons cream
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1.5 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp bay leaves (crushed)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp pulped ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic pulp
  • 1 can (400g) of tomatoes
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1kg chicken, cubed into bite-sized pieces
  • 75g butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Method

    1) Place the yoghurt, ground almonds, all the dry spices, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and salt in a mixing bowl and blend together thoroughly.
    2) Put the chicken into a large mixing bowl and pour over the yoghurt mixture. Set aside.
    3) Melt together the butter and oil in a medium wok or frying pan. Add the onions and fry for about 3 minutes.
    4) Add the chicken mixture and stir-fry for about 7-10 minutes.
    5) Stir in about half of the coriander and mix well.
    6) Pour over the cream and stir in well. Bring to the boil.

    Serve garnished with the remaining chopped coriander

    Yum yum. This is one of my favourite curries to make, it's nice and sweet, and quite jiucy. It's comparable in quality to a decend Indian restaurant, but the main thing that I have to watch out for is ensuring not to make the sauce too thick when doing the stir-fry stage.

    Posted by Ben at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)