25 June 2008

The Path To The Polders

Riding bikes around here is the best thing going. We haven't been in an automobile once in 2 months. So...now the adventures are getting a little bigger.

First, Addison is riding most everyday. He still has his training wheels, but he's getting it.

Second, we've starting riding out of the city. North from Amsterdam is an amazing day get away to the polders.

The free ferry leaves the docks behind Amsterdam Central and drops you on the north side of the HET IJ . From here you basically go recht for 10 kms, heading east and north. Now, the polders...this is cool.

A polder is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments known as dikes. There are three types of polders:

* Land reclaimed from a body of water, such as a lake or the sea bed;
* Flood plains separated from the sea or river by a dike;
* Marshes separated from the surrounding water by a dike and consequently drained.

Much of Holland Nord is a polder. Moreover, these polders are very old, some dating back to the 11th century. There is a saying here, "God created the world, but the Dutch created Holland".

The history of polders in the Netherlands gets high marks for cooperation and engineering. Apart from Protestant Calvinism, building polders might be the most significant contributor to the Dutch socio-economic model.

The Polder Model is the Dutch version of consensus policy in economics. The term is also used to describe similar cases of consensus decision-making. Consensus policy requires tons of negotiating and compromise which are typical ingredients in their culture.

About the amazing scenery...The Ransdorp tower was the furthest point of travel on this recent outing. The tower is 32 meters high, which makes it by far the tallest thing for 5 kms in any direction. The view is amazing as is the tower.

Malia and I saw a place to have a dinner date in a town called Durgerdam, Cafe De Oude Taveerne.

The little towns are so picturesque it doesn't even seem real. The sail boats, the sheep, the canals, the churches. It really is amazing.

I've also included some FAILE pieces, and an Invader piece from secret locations in Amsterdam . Lastly an effort from the 60's girl group, Jeannie and the Big Guys

15 June 2008

Father's Day in Holland

Well today was just a perfect day for me. French Toast, Home Fries, and Eggs for ontbijt.

We went to Rembrandt Park today, which is just south of the main parts of Amsterdam. It was very beautiful, natuurlijk. At the park there was a giant 'rope' jungle gym.

They have them in the States but this was a massive one. 12 Meters high, kids all over it. It looks like a spider web covered in kids. Addison climbed to the top. The very top. Only kid in the park to do it. He stood at the top, on the top rope 'the crows nest' and he held both hands over his head and yelled 'Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!' at the top of his lungs.

I was so proud of him. It was a nice gift for Father's day. I also got 3 pairs of Argyle Socks bought at a Saturday Market . Malia is the Markt Koningin .

We also saw an amazing mural piece in another part of the park.

There was a zip line for kids. We got video. They seem to have zip lines and kinder borderij (kid farm...petting zoos), everywhere.

I've also posted a few shots of Westerpark. Addison and I went to a Tree House, Gnome Land, Pirate Ship type location in Westerpark on Saturday. Addison took most of the photos. He really works for his shots. I'll sign off with the images and a 'freak beat' 60's garage rock classic from the UK Renegades

13 June 2008

On Pirate Parks

There are a lot of playgrounds in Amsterdam. I mean, practically every block has one. This particular park we call Pirate Park. Partly because Addison is pirate crazy, and partly because it's a huge pirate-ey boat with a sign that reads "Spelen op eigen risk". Play at your own risk.

The Netherlands, and I believe Europe in general, is very much a play at your own risk type of place. When we first arrived, Hyland and I both noted a flat we used to ride by on the tram that had this gigantic window, usually totally open, with about a 30-foot drop to the pavement outside. Inside, the family carried on their regular lives, unaware that death awaited their toddler at the hands of that window.

Now I realize that they have made it clear to the toddler that he/she may die if he/she goes too close to the window, the child has agreed to not fall or jump out the window, and they move forward without making too much of a fuss about it.

Here, you will find railings with huge, baby sized gaps in them; super tight, 3inch deep spiral stairs that only the most fit adults could manage through; and boats crammed to the brim with drunk people floating down the canals and booming techno music. I have never seen a single person actually in the canal, or falling off of one of these floating ragers. Amazing.

Coming from a place where everyone around you must somehow be at fault for your misfortune, this has been an aspect of life here that is both strange and comforting. It is comforting because, well, all this finger pointing has made Americans sissies.

This week, Addison fell off the monkey bars in the gymnasium and they had to call me to come down and check him out. He got a huge shiner from falling right on his head, but was totally fine. He came home for the rest of the morning and went right back to school in the afternoon. I couldn't help but think about what percentage of parents in America might have suggested that the teachers were negligent, or should have somehow prevented this from happening.

I just kept thinking about Pirate Park. Play at your own risk.