January 19, 2014

Nude shopper munching on raw trout and shoe salesman forgiven by latter

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 12:10 pm

bobs-adventure-store-google-street-viewFive years ago around this time a man dressed only in shoes and a hat entered Bob’s Adventure Store in Weert, Limburg.

Robert van Dooren, the sales clerk, was busy helping another customer who was trying out shoes, but nevertheless proceeded to make small talk. “I had noticed he was unconventionally dressed, especially considering the time of year. He had a raw trout in his hand from which he took bites now and then. I asked him if he wasn’t cold, but that wasn’t the case.”

Two municipal police officers (stadswacht) entered the store, after which the naked shopper became violent. He started pulling on a display and Van Dooren together with the other customer had to force him down, Limburger wrote at the time. Van Dooren: “I used climbing rope to choke him, but he did manage to bite me in the arm hard enough to draw blood.”

Last week store owner Bob Frantzen talked to nu.nl about the incident: “It turned out the man did what he did in a fit of insanity. There was no intent. The man later told us he was terribly sorry about what happened, which is good enough for us. We harbour no bad feelings.”

(Photo: Google Street View)

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May 24, 2010

Walking across the Wadden Sea

Filed under: Nature,Sports,Weird by Branko Collin @ 11:40 am

Legend has it that when God created the Groninger, the Groninger said: “Get off my land.” And as if to prove a point, Groningers (and Frisians) still walk across dozens of miles of sea each day, as New York Times reporter David Corn attests:

After about an hour, Mr. Kraster comes to a stop. He says he has some good news and some bad news. For the next stretch, the ground will be less muddy — but the water will be higher. He points in the direction we’ll be heading. I still see nothing but sky and water before us. He could be leading us anywhere — including into deep water. He takes a step, and the water is close to his waist. The rest of us realize we are standing on a ridge and about to take a plunge.

The activity described here is mudflat hiking, wadlopen in Dutch, and is possible because of the unique properties of the Wadden Sea. At high tide the area is a sea, at low tide it is land—partly—and you can cross from the mainland to the Wadden Islands over some of the muddy watersheds. This is exactly what 30,000 people in the Netherlands do each year. Mudflat walking is also possible across the Wadden Sea portions of Germany and Denmark.

(Photo by nl.wikipedia user Marieke78, some rights reserved.

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August 17, 2008

1970’s Junior Woodchucks Guidebook

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 12:31 pm

A book that has been in my personal library since I was a kid is the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook. No, not the fictional one, a real one (although I am not certain about the actual name, since I lost its cover).

Wikipedia describes the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook as follows: “In Disney’s fictional universe, The Junior Woodchucks are the Boy Scouts of America-like youth organization to which Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, belong. […] Junior Woodchucks always carry with them a copy of the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook, a fictional guidebook filled with detailed and pertinent information about whatever country or situation the Woodchucks find themselves. Its depth of coverage is remarkable, considering that it is a small paperback book.”

In the pre-internet age such bottomless founts of knowledge were a popular fantasy. The most famous among them being the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which appears in the novel of the same name by Douglas Adams, and the Memex device by Vannevar Bush, which is widely credited as being the precursor of the World Wide Web. (An early version of the web was called Enquire, after the book about everything, Enquire Within Upon Everything, which I helped proofread for Project Gutenberg).

In the 1970s somebody published an actual version of the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook in Dutch, in slightly larger than pocket format, and I bought a second hand copy of it. I have long since lost the cover, the front matter and the first fourteen pages, so I am no longer even sure about its title. Presumably it ran along the lines of Walt Disney’s Jonge Woudlopershandboek. In the same series the now defunct publisher Amsterdam Book published “Walt Disney’s Groot Goochelbook” (Walt Disney’s Book of Magic), which contained magic, scientific and occult tricks. It was published in 1973, translated from a 1972 Italian version, and resembled the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook in size, paper type and so on, so I am guessing both are from the same publisher and the same time.

What I always found remarkable about this real life version was its depth of coverage. The guidebook went into all kinds of subjects that are useful for trekking: how to make a camp fire (it even goes as far as differentiating fires depending on what you want to cook), how to tell time by looking at flowers, how to estimate distances; then into guidelines useful for the city dweller: how to dry a book (if the pages are stuck together, put it in the oven!), how long to sunbathe (a table shows the time for each body part!), how to take care of your record collection; and also into more esoteric lessons on what names mean, how to decipher blazons, the meanings of onomatopoeic words, and so on.

As a kid, I thought the guide on how to remove stains from clothing was worth the price of the book alone.

(Images from top to bottom: how to make campfires, how to make book-ends from a card board box, how to use flowers to tell the time.)

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August 1, 2008

RFID tags used to monitor hikers’ health

Filed under: Health,Science by Branko Collin @ 8:26 am

Researchers from the Radboud University in Nijmegen used RFID tags during the recent Four Day Marches to experiment with health monitoring. Volunteers were asked to swallow an RFID pill which sent the hiker’s body temperature to a receiver in their back pack every 10 seconds. The receiver would then relay that information via Bluetooth to a GPS-enabled mobile phone which in turn would forward the data to the operations centre at the university’s teaching hospital.

Using the data, the researchers could track the walkers on Google Maps, and even alert nearby walkers should a volunteer be in trouble. Radboud University was in the news earlier this year when researchers cracked and cloned London’s Oyster travel card and the Dutch public transportation card, which both used NXP’s Mifare RFID chip.

Via Engadget. Photo by Maurits Vink, published using a Creative Commons license.

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April 9, 2008

Brabant gets lesbian only hiking paths

Filed under: General,Nature by Orangemaster @ 8:04 am

On 20 April, some 20 kilometres of hiking routes for lesbians will be officially opened in the province of Brabant. In the woods near Alphen lesbians will be able to enjoy nature and “get together”.

The first Dutch “ladies’ route” was opened in North Holland, and there are also routes in Zeeland and Drenthe. Noord-Brabant is now the fourth province to go lesbian friendly. The goal is to have lesbian hiking routes throughout the country.

(Link: omroepbrabant.nl)

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