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December 7, 2010

An interactive history of KLM’s house-shaped genever bottles

Filed under: Architecture,Aviation,Design,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 1:29 pm

First you follow the link to the cute little Delft blue houses, and then you can click on any of the 91 bottles and find out what house it is and where. Most of them can be found in Amsterdam, but a few of them are from towns like Amersfoort, Delft, Breda and Schiedam.

I spontaneously clicked on number 81 and got ‘proeflokaal’ (roughly ‘tasting pub’) De Drie Fleschjes (The Three Bottles) in Amsterdam pictured above (here is what it looks like today). Ironically, it is a place to sample gin and have a drink.

What I thought was odd though is that there is the same house twice (11 and 23), another ‘proeflokaal’ in Amsterdam, Wijnand Fockink. I think the makers of the site made a mistake, as 90 is a much nicer number.

(Link and image:, via

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December 3, 2010

Direct flight Amsterdam-Miami to party using Twitter

Filed under: Aviation,Music by Orangemaster @ 11:03 am

Two dance music fans wanted to go to the Ultra Music dance festival in Miami in late March, but there were no direct flights to Miami in that period. The guys decided to challenge KLM on Twitter: if they could get 150 people for a flight, KLM would fly them to Miami. KLM agreed, but they had to have the people before 6 December. They started a website and got 285 people!

If this is not a creative use of Twitter, I don’t know what is. It also sounds like a Christmas tale. Well, OK, a little bit like one.

(Link:, Photo of an unrelated Lufthansa Canadair regional jet 900 (or 700?) flying to Munich out of Schiphol airport)

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December 1, 2010

Please remove the jet fighter from your garden

Filed under: Art,Aviation,Comics,History,Weird by Orangemaster @ 3:09 pm

Artist Marte Röling (often misspelled Martha) has a Lockheed F-104 starfighter in her garden in Uithuizen, Groningen that apparently has to be removed if she hasn’t removed it already. Although it has been sitting there since 1989, some boffins at the Ministry of Defense now think it could be slightly radioactive. Röling received the starfighter as a long-term loan art project. This reminds me of some Peter Tooms in Schoonloo, Drenthe who has a Russian MiG in his yard, although maybe it has been removed as well.

Back in 1976 Prince Bernhard (husband of Queen Juliana) cashed a US$1.1 million bribe from American aviation company Lockheed to ensure that the Lockheed F-104 would win out over France’s Mirage 5 made by Dassault for the purchase contract. Long story short, Bernhard refused to admit it, but after his death in 2004, it turned out to be ‘highly plausible’, but I don’t know if proven is the right word. Lockheed deposited large sums of cash into an account of some guy called Victor Baarn, a person that could never be traced. Co-blogger Branko tells me that Dutch comic strip artist Martin Lodewijk has been milking that story for ages, as in almost every Agent 327 comic book (a character loosely based on James Bond) the secret identity of Victor Baarn threatens to come out.

UPDATE: This was our 1,500th posting, hurrah!)

(Link: rtvnoord)

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September 15, 2010

KLM offering gay getaway to UK residents

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 2:41 pm

“How hot are you on your gay capitals?” is the the slogan of a KLM promotional website, Guess the gay destination and you could win a trip to a gay capital. I’m going to try it first and then write the rest of my posting.

(time lapse, 2 min)

I got all 10 capitals right, they all had pictures of the skyline and a choice of three answers, so it was too easy and terribly cliché. I’m outing them for you: Amsterdam, New York, Rome, Vancouver, San Francisco, Barcelona, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Cape Town and Nice.


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June 15, 2010

Dutch fly world’s first biofuelled helicopter

Filed under: Aviation,Dutch first,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 10:44 am

On Wednesday 16 June, the Dutch defense department will be showing off the very first helicopter that flies on biofuel. A Boeing Apache AH-64D helicopter of the Royal Netherlands Air Force will fly on biofuel above the military Gilze-Rijen Air Base, located in Noord-Brabant, between the cities of Tilburg and Breda.

During the demonstration flight, one of the Apache’s engines will run on a mixture of fossile fuel and biokerosene, of which 90% of this kerosene comes from discarded cooking oil and 10% algenol, biofuel made from algae that is still very new.

This is a picture of an Apache, most probably somewhere in the United States.

(Link: blikopnieuws, Photo of AH-64 Apache helicopter by nathanm, some rights reserved)


February 21, 2010

Man gets bike thrown at head from seventh floor

Filed under: Architecture,Aviation,Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 2:41 pm

A man from Nieuwegein near Utrecht had to be taken to the hospital last Monday after being hit in the head by a bicycle thrown from an apartment building, Telegraaf reports.

A fight on the seventh floor which the 18-year-old victim had nothing to do with resulted in a bicycle being thrown off the balcony. The victim was about to enter a car for a driving lesson when the bike partially hit him and the car.

The victim has filed charges for attempted manslaughter. The suspect turned himself in on Wednesday and was arrested, according to the Utrecht police.

(Photo by Mike Porcenaluk, some rights reserved)

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February 6, 2010

Airport on the North Sea

Filed under: Architecture,Aviation,Science by Branko Collin @ 3:07 pm

The way the Dutch viewed their national airport Schiphol has changed over the years. From the starting point of an adventure, it became the nuisance in the backyard. The Bijlmer disaster of 1992, when victims living (and dying) in Amsterdam’s biggest ghetto were pushed into a secondary role to El Al’s secret cargo, really helped define this latter view.

However, Schiphol’s own ambitions are radically different. Instead of becoming a smaller, gentler airport, it wants to become the major air traffic hub of this part of Europe. People therefore started to look at alternative locations for the airport, not as close to the most densely populated area of this densely populated country. An idea that keeps floating to the top is that of an airport in either the IJsselmeer or the North Sea, even though the Ministry of Transport and Water Management concluded in 2003 that a second national airport was superfluous, for now. Such a water-bound airport could be an artificial island, or a mega-floater.

In 2007 Haskoning and Van Oord, who helped build artificial islands before, proposed rotating, floating landing strips (see illustration). And last week, Jan van Kessel got his PhD for a study into the stability of mega-floaters made of hollow, upside down, concrete ‘shoe boxes’, apparently, 50% more stable than traditional barges.

And even though the government has declared the debate redundant, the Dutch keep dreaming of their airport at sea.

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January 25, 2010

Soviet airplane turned into hotel room

Filed under: Architecture,Aviation by Branko Collin @ 11:26 am

This is the inside of a popular Soviet era airliner, the Ilyushin Il-18, which was turned into a big hotel room at Teuge Airport.

It’s got a whirlpool, separate shower, infrared sauna, mini-bar, 3 flatscreen TVs, and so on.

For more remarkable hotels in the Netherlands, see here.

(Source photo: Link and more photos: Gizmodo)


December 21, 2009

Crash course in snow management

Filed under: Automobiles,Aviation,General,Nature by Orangemaster @ 9:44 am


I just got back from walking down my street at 7 am in the dark (Happy Winter Solstice) with bikers negotiating the snow and cars taking the onramp to the motorway near my house at 30 km/h like well-behaved cars.

So far, buses are generally not running. I’m guessing they don’t sport winter tires or radials (aka four-season tires). Putting winter tires on your car once every 10 years is not practical or good value for money in the Netherlands. Yes, they are tons of accidents, literally piling up (pardon the pun). My neighbour goes skiing every year in Austria and just switched tires because they are mandatory in winter in Germany, and has to drive through there.

Trains are running minimally, so I bet the delays are really nasty. Many taxis won’t be driving around and so people trying to get to work are going to have to come up with dog sleds or walk. Speaking of trains, while I whine about not being able to woosh to Paris at a proper speed, the famous Eurostar train that runs in the Chunnel between Britain and France has been cancelled for days now, never mind the people who were trapped in it Friday night.

And then there’s the airplanes. North American and European airports all have tons of delayed flights, as well as airports just closing shop all together like in Belgium, as seen on Dutch telly. Picture stranded passengers off to visit friends and family for Christmas, tired and sleeping on airport benches.

I still don’t understand why the Netherlands can plan for terrorist attacks that will probably never happen, but plan so little when it comes to serious snow, a more realistic situation. In real Northern countries like Norway and Canada, sure we’re having problems getting around too, but if we were to shut down the country for a bit of snow at just -1 Celsius, we might as well dismantle all Scandinavian countries, Russia, Canada and the Northern United States.

Granted, de-icing planes is international and trains can’t deal with autumn leaves properly (I still don’t understand why), but winter tires on buses, cars and taxis would have avoided many problems so far, methinks.

Again, we really seem to stink at planning ahead realistically. I’m loving all this snow, but then I have a home office. This was the view outside my window yesterday. And just as I finished writing this, it started snowing again.


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October 6, 2009

Engineering shorts

Filed under: Automobiles,Aviation,Online by Branko Collin @ 8:48 am

soyuz_clogNews from the tech trenches.

– The Nuna 5 solar powered car ran into a ditch last Saturday while preparing for the annual World Solar Challenge, writes Telegraaf (Dutch). The student-built car was driving at a speed of 110 kph at the time. Driver Jelle managed to get out unhurt, but several components of the car, including the solar panel, turned out to be damaged. The team from Delft University expects to have repaired the damage before the October 25 start.

See here for a drag race between Nuna 5 and its predecessor, Nuna 4, during happier times.

Layar (augmented reality) includes an application that will let you spot the houses of the famous called BN’er Verkenner (Celeb Scout). US actor Brad Pitt, enjoying a quite afternoon in his Amsterdam canal house, was its victim in this video posted at Engadget.

Layar is a mobile phone tool that adds a geographic layer to your Android phone’s operating system, letting you check out what’s available near your current location.

The Netherlands has its own space organisation. The NSO (Netherlands Space Office) was kickstarted last Wednesday by Minister Maria van der Hoeven (Economic Affairs) and astronaut André Kuipers. The NSO is supposed to help design and build a Dutch space programme, according to Algemeen Dagblad (Dutch).

Kuipers was recently selected for a half-year stay at the International Space Station starting December 2010.

(The illustration is a mock-up by me, not an actual NSO lifting body design space craft on top of a Soyuz rocket. Photo of a Soyuz rocket by NASA.
Photo of a big clog by Jocelyn Kinny, some rights reserved.)

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