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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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September 23, 2009

KLM personnel to go nameless in style

Filed under: Aviation,Fashion,General by Orangemaster @ 4:07 pm

To protect the privacy of stewardesses (and stewards, I imagine), pilots and ground personnel, KLM has decided that they won’t be wearing any nametags anymore as of April 2010. Apparently, there’s no rush to protect them — odd. Their ‘title’ will still be displayed on a pin they’ll have to wear.

KLM personnel will also be getting new uniforms, as the ones stewardesses (and again stewards, I imagine) now wear date from 1990.

Yes, this is a silly picture of two co-pilots in an old DC-9 cockpit.


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August 21, 2009

Turning leftover airplane food into electricity

Filed under: Aviation,Food & Drink,Science,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 10:44 am

Dutch airline KLM is planning to use the leftovers of 50,000 airplane meals to produce electricity. The idea is to convert waste (refuse and food) into oil and then burn in a gas turbine at a new power station on Schiphol Airport grounds. A feasability study is currently being done and a decision will be made at the end of September.

With an investment of less than EUR 10 mln, the power station could process 20 tonnes of waste a day, which is enough to handle the leftover food. The turbine would then be able of providing electricity for 4,000 homes.


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June 24, 2009

Kite your way from Amsterdam to New York in four days

Filed under: Aviation,Gadgets,Science by Branko Collin @ 10:05 am

The vehicle pictured above consists of a kite, a cabin and a keel, and should be able to take you across the Atlantic Ocean. The 157 m2 kite should produce enough power to make you go 90 km/h, the cabin seats two, and the keel makes sure you can actually steer the thing. The only catch is that the Hydrokite so far only exists in the minds of former astronaut and kite nut Wubbo Ockels and ten of his students at the TU Delft.

At 90 km/h you should be able to reach New York from Amsterdam in four days and 1 hour, which would break the old record with three hours, although Kennislink doesn’t say what record that would be (sailing? flying? kiting?).

Laurens Alblas, one of the students, told Kennislink that it will probably “take a couple of years before a control system for kites is developed. But once we have such a system, and assuming we can find sponsors, we will build the Hydrokite and we will try and break the record.”

(Link: Kennislink. Source image: TU Delft)

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February 28, 2009

Crash victim booted from hospital, opts for pot

Filed under: Aviation,Weird by Orangemaster @ 4:07 pm


Ron Ledford, an American who survived the plane crash this week at Schiphol airport helped crash victims out of the plane and walked to the nearest hospital. As you may have read, it took the emergency services some 40 minutes to get to the crash for whatever reason.

When the emergency services finally arrived, the man decided to walk to the Lucas Andreas hospital to have himself checked out. He was asked to pay 250 euro for the visit, and since he didn’t have it on him, he claims to have gone to a coffeeshop to ‘self-medicate’.

The hospital is looking into this incident and says it will issue a statement. I should bloodly hope so. Amsterdam’s local TV station AT5 met Ron Ledford at a shop downtown where he was being fitted with a free new outfit, thanks to a shop owner who met him and obviously cared about his story (unlike the hospital). He was then brought for more help to the police.

(Link:, Photo by user Radio Nederland Wereldomroep, some rights reserved.)

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February 27, 2009

American diseases descend on Amsterdam plane crash victims

Filed under: Aviation,Religion,Weird by Branko Collin @ 10:34 am

The Westboro Baptist Church, an American sect known for promoting the Christian God’s stance on homosexuality (it would appear he frowns upon it), has announced (PDF) it will picket the funerals of Dutch persons “killed at [the] Amsterdam plane crash.” No divine inspiration there, I am afraid. Yahweh forgot to tell the church there were no Dutch nationals among the dead. But these statements appear par for the course for the devout, as the church has also announced Turks will get the same treatment (PDF).

Meanwhile the radio this morning reported (RTV-NH, no written story available, yet) that at least two so-called American ‘ambulance chasers’, lawyers who try to represent accident victims, have been harassing the victims of the Turkish Airlines plane crash.

There’s a phrase the Dutch use for the extravagances we associate with the USA: ‘Amerikaanse toestanden’ (American situations). And the reason we apply that label is because we want no truck with them. Rare though is the time the Americans actually try and export their ‘situations.’

Photo of a citizen, a comb-over and a card by user k763, some rights reserved.

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