Delft Trip

I’ve been at Leiden for over three weeks now, and the University finally decided it was time to have orientation over the last two days. The only notable event was yesterday’s trip to the historic city of Deflt.
Delft is situated between The Hague and Rotterdam. I think it’s very close Leiden, but we traveled by bus which took ages to get to the freeway. The streets here are not designed for giant buses.
Delft is famous for its blue and white ceramics, which is known as “Delftware”. We were treated to a tour of a ceramic factory where clay is poured into molds, fired, hand painted, glazed, and fired again. It really didn’t seem all that complicated. As you might expect, the tour ended in the gift shop. I was astounded by the price of the “seconds” they were offering. A 12″ painted plate sold (or was at least offered for sale) for upwards of $2,000. Personally, I can do without any blue and white ceramics in my apartment – although the museum toilets, which featured ornate blue paintings in the toilet bowls, would enhance any dwelling.
Clay goes into these molds:
deflt molds
The resulting pots are fired…
deflt pots
And painted:
deflt painter

Amsterdam, City of Sin

I finally got bored enough to get myself to another Dutch city yesterday: Amsterdam. It’s only about 30 minutes from Leiden on a comfortably smooth train. I really need to get out more.
I spent a while in the Rijksmuseum. Last time I was in Amsterdam I had been traveling for a long time and going to a lot of museums. It’s funny that people always go to museums when they visit a city despite rarely going to museums at home. I can say though that I’ve been to most of the big museums in Boston, so I guess I’m not really helping my argument much…
Amsterdam really is the city of sin. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, which generally has that title – perhaps because Vegas doesn’t have the redeeming cultural assets of Amsterdam, but make no mistake about Amsterdam, here is my first conversation in the city:
(Scene: In front of the train station around 2pm)
Some Guy: “Do you speak English?
Me: “Well, yes.” (And I’m really good at it too – probably because it’s all I know.)
Some Guy: “Um, Red Light District? Do you know where it is?”
Me: “No. I think it’s that way…”
It seemed kinda early (both in the day and in this person’s trip) to be looking for the red light district, but I guess that’s what the people want to see.

NYT Google Bomb Article

The New York Times has an article today about Google bombs, search engine optimization, and the “miserable failure” bomb. The proponent of the “Miserable Failure” bomb says, “I’m actually surprised how easy it was to do.” Google says, “We’re only seeing it with obscure queries where there’s really not that much action on the Web about them.”
The New York Times notes, “Some Google bombs may have been accomplished with as few as 20 links.” Or 2 links if the term was obscure enough right? (I’d claim that “I could bomb that Google in just one link,” but that would necessarily avoid the requisite cooperation element of a Google bomb.)
Anyway, like I said before, I’m unimpressed.

Microsoft Sues Mike Roe Soft

Microsoft sues 17 year old Mike Roe (Soft). Everyone loves to hate Microsoft but I don’t see what’s wrong with trying to protect one of the strongest trademarks in history. WebmasterWorld has an interesting, but rather uninformed, discussion.
Mike Roe apparently has enough bandwidth to keep his site up despite everyone rushing to see it. I wonder if this UVA student with the same name is seeing any extra traffic to his site.
Maybe I should register, which appears to be available right now.

Dutch TV

I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately. It’s the first time I’ve had cable in about four years. I even have a movie channel called “canal+” which is like HBO. Most of the shows are the same as in the US: Law and Order, Will & Grace, etc. There are also some Dutch versions of popular shows such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The prize is a little bigger than in the US due to the exchange rate. Idol (the same as American Idol, but not American) has four judges instead of three. Otherwise it’s exactly the same as the US version (equally as boring).
Most of the programs are in English with Dutch subtitles. The commercials are in Dutch, which I can’t understand. It’s pretty funny not being able to understand though. MTV has a promo for Snoop Dogg’s show: “blah blah blah blah Doggie Televizille fo’ Sizzle blah blah blah.”
Another interesting phenomenon is that one can legally smoke marijuana in a coffee shop here, yet isn’t allowed to hear the f-word in a rap music video. This is probably a practical issue (broadcasting beyond the Netherlands – making just one edit of the video), but it is a funny display of priorities.

All Rain

In light of the fact that it’s been in the single digits in Boston lately, I really shouldn’t complain… but in light of the fact that there has been no light in Leiden since my arrival: