Amsterdam: Part III

I forgot to mention the ubiquity of bicycles in Amsterdam, but of course it is the first thing one notices on the streets. Bikes are everywhere and most everyone rides one: not ten-speeds or fancy bikes, but solid, sturdy ones designed for horizontal transportation. (You don’t need gears in such a flat country.) Below is the daily sight outside the Central Station in Amsterdam, and this is only a small fraction of bikes parked there, presumably for the day.

It’s a lot easier to get hit by a bike than a car, as Americans aren’t used to looking for bikes, but bike lanes are on every street (sometimes resembling sidewalks) and the cycles come whizzing by. I’ve had a few close shaves.

Below is the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, standing in Dam Square and completed as a town hall in 1655. The exterior is yellow sandstone (now stained with age), and the interior is largely marble. In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte forced the Dutch to accept his brother, Louis Bonaparte, as King Louis I. At that time Louis turned the town hall into a royal palace, and it’s been sporadically occupied by Holland’s monarchs ever since.

The present royalty, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, come here for at most a few weeks of year (I think they live in the Hague most of the time), but are always in residence during state visits from leaders of other countries.

The great Central Hall, richly adorned with painting, sculpture, and marble.

On the floor are two inlaid maps of the world, also in marble. Though they were installed in the mid-18th century, but they are highly inaccurate for that time. (This may be due to their being replacements of earlier maps from about 1650.) At any rate, here you see Australia connected to New Guinea:

Marble walls with a chandelier:

What the small state dinners look like. The silverware is gold-plated silver and the plates painted by hand:

Earlier cutlery and china for the royalty:

Louis I’s bedroom. Apparently he and his wife didn’t get along at all and had separate bedrooms as far apart as possible in the large palace.

This is the room where declarations of bankruptcy were judged; a painting on the wall is supposed to urge the officials to be merciful. It was in this room that Rembrandt van Rijn stood in 1656 to make his bankruptcy official. He sold off most of his paintings and drawings to regain solvency.

This is the guest bedroom where heads of state stay during their official visits. Winston Churchill slept here, and it’s nice to think of the cigar fumes wafting about the palace.

The Begijnhof, a famous and quiet corner of Amsterdam that housed a beguinage, a place where religious women, though not nuns, would retire from the world. They were Catholic, but had to give up their churches because Catholicism was banned in the Netherlands in the 16th century. The last “beguine” died in 1871, and I gather (but am not sure) that the houses have been converted to private residences:

The English Reformed Church is one of two churches in the walled compound, and several panels on its pulpit were designed by Piet Mondrian when he was young and not geometric. Here’s one of them along with his signature.

Here’s a famous house within the compound, supposedly the oldest wooden house still standing in Amsterdam. It dates from 1528 (the plaque on it gives another date), but the nice woman in charge of the church told us that they’d recently discovered another wooden house in the city that was 50 years older.

Lunch after a long walk. This restaurant, Haesje Claes, is renowned for its home-style Dutch cooking:

It has a cozy interior. I have noticed that the proportion of tourists in restaurants, even those places recommended by the Dutch, is quite high—a contrast to France at this time of year.

And some good Dutch food: a starter of smoked mackerel salad:

I had snert, the classic Dutch split pea soup. Just the ticket on a cold day, accompanied by good local bread and butter.

The main course was a classic homecooked dish, Stamppot, consisting of potatoes mashed with cabbage and some kind of meat or meats (I had a honking huge meatball). Pickles, capers, and pickled onions are on the side. It was good and filling, though perhaps not up to the gustatory standards of, say, a French blanquette de veau or coq au vin.

Dessert: lemon pie with ice cream.

Fun fact: The Dutch have the tallest men in the world (the average height is a shade over 6 feet), and it’s painfully obvious to a shrimp like me. Science Daily says this:

  • Dutch men are the tallest on the planet, with an average height of 182.5cm. [Wikipedia says 183.8 cm.] Latvian women are the tallest on the planet, with an average height of 170cm.


  • The top four tallest countries for men are the Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia and Latvia. The top four tallest countries for women are Latvia, the Netherlands, Estonia and the Czech Republic.

Here’s a chart of change in male height over time: note that in 1850 Dutch men were among the shortest in Europe, but have shot up since then. It’s not an evolutionary change, as it’s too quick, but I suspect it’s attributable to either improved diet or an interaction between improved diet and “tall” genes. However, in northern climes one expects animals à la Allen’s Rule, to be shorter and squatter to prevent heat loss.




  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Stamppot is something many of the Dutch I know enjoy making. I mostly like the DZ liquorice and the sweets. Dutch enjoy sweet things. I once worked with a Dutch guy who I saw put in two heaping teaspoons of sugar into his coffee…..I remarked, “What are you Dutch or something?”

    • darrelle
      Posted March 28, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      If I drink coffee I like it more or less like Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream.

  2. Posted March 28, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Amsterdam is a great place. I worked there for about four years travelling back and forth from the UK.

    You really notice how tall the Dutch are when you visit the urinals in some establishments.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I am guessing the windows in that 1500s wooden house are from a much later period. Maybe changed many times over in such an old place. Originally may have been no windows? Would also be interesting to know if the wood or any of it is original. IF so, what kind of wood?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 28, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Apocryphal museum sign :
      “Here we have George Washington’s Axe. We’ve only replaced the head twice, and the handle three times. But it’s completely original.”

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted March 28, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Ah, probably the same one he chopped down the fictional cherry tree with when just a wee kid.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted March 28, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          I don’t know about the cherry tree, but Washington’s Axe, two heads and three hafts stuck in my mind at about the time that I first broke an axe’s haft and had to repair it that evening.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted March 28, 2019 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

            That is a sign that more practice is needed. The idea is to only hit the wood with the blade. My grandfather always told me, chop your own wood and you get warm twice.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted March 28, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

              The tree was caught up half-way down. The plantation was about 50 years overdue for a thinning. After jamming the chainsaw blade, hand tools were the option, and the tree proceeded to grab the axe, pull it out of my hands and splinter it against the roots. But it was a good tree – it spat the chainsaw out in working condition.
              Memorable. I saw the same chainsaw come flying towards me one day – running. That was the precise moment that we doubled the safety cordon from 50m to 100m. Absolute bitch of a nature reserve.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted March 28, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

                Yes, sounds like a challenging project. It is always best to have more equipment than necessary if you are doing a real lumberjack project. And of course that thing they call experience. I usually had a tractor with a lift bucket attached. That can get your chainsaw out of many difficult situations. Also good to have a second chainsaw if the first one gets stuck or broken. The tractor with a bucket or a skid loader is a great help. I helped clear woods from ground near the river for farming in my much younger days.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted April 5, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

                We had no budget for that sort of kit. The chainsaw was one Dad brought out of his own pocket, all people involved were volunteers. For the first couple of years our only other tools were felling axes and a few lengths of rope to try to swing or bounce a tree which got caught.
                When the group got a part-time employee (for office work and legal palaver) the trustees also had to get insurance … and fortunately the major work had been competed by then and the maintenance could be handed off to a national organised volunteer scheme.

      • Nobody Special
        Posted March 28, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        Reminds me of Trigger, the street-sweeper in Only Fools and Horses, talking to Rodney (who Trigger always called ‘Dave’) about his brush.
        (paraphrased) ‘I’ve had this brush for 15 years, Dave. It’s only had 3 new handles and five new heads. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore, Dave.’

  4. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Concerning that map, something recently reminded me of the pre-Cook history of Australia and New Zealand discovery by white men. In 1642 and 1644 Abel Tasman was sent on voyages of discovery from the VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, Dutch East India Company) base at Batavia (now Jakarta) on Java, to try to find lands rich in gold, mentioned by Marco Polo (probably due to a mistranslation). So he sailed to Mauritius to re-supply, then sailed eastwards propelled by the consistent winds of the “roaring Forties”. Modern round-the-world yacht races follow essentially the same route, for the same reason. He touched South Australia, Tasmania (“van Diemen’s Land”), the West Coast of New Zealand, then north and west through Micronesia and back to Batavia. On a second voyage he mapped parts of the north and west coast of Australia (under the name of “New Holland”).
    When Cook was sent out on his voyages over a century later (1768), these record were known, and after completing the science leg of the voyage, he moved on to searching for the “Great Southern Continent” whose existence Tasman had demonstrated.
    So, that map … Most of, it is clearly Tasman’s work, post his 1644 voyage mapping northern Australia. There appears to be a significant error of latitude for van Diemen’s Land, and a smaller error of longitude – typical of the time, pre-dating accurate sea-going clocks and accurate measurement of longitudes. There is a change in detail where the cartographer is working with “Terra Spiritus Sanctii” (Fiji? which Tasman visited), but the recordings of Tasman’s “Staten Landt” (New Zealand) seem to have been lost or ignored, grossly distorting the shape of the land. So, to my mind, that dates drawing of the map (not necessarily the engraving, or restoration) to between around 1650 and 1760. There were occasional contacts with New Zealand in the 1700s (whalers, storm-wracked ancient mariners), so I’d put the date earlier than later in that interval.
    Which is very likely how the museum’s curators got to their dating too. If they didn’t have the maker’s invoice.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 28, 2019 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      “…but the recordings of Tasman’s “Staten Landt” (New Zealand) seem to have been lost or ignored, grossly distorting the shape of the land.”

      The start of NZ being left off the maps!

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 28, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        Shall we just call it a “traditional map”?

  5. Posted March 28, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Looks like another excellent meal. Smoked fish and meatballs are two of my favorite foods — not in the same dish of course.

    Mashed potatoes mixed with cabbage is also good. My mom often made Bubble and Squeak though I skipped it as a child. I guess some eat it for breakfast but not in my family. I would certainly eat it now but not for breakfast.

    • Posted March 28, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Colcannon is the Irish version of sautéed cabbage in mashed potatoes. Makes a great side dish or a meal in itself.

  6. BJ
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    When my parents went to Amsterdam recently, they came back with stories of how many times they were almost hit by cyclists. They said that not only are they everywhere, but a lot of them ride like crazy people.

    • Dominic
      Posted March 28, 2019 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      That was my experience! very annoying…

      • Frank Bath
        Posted March 28, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        My recollection is how stately the ladies look on their sit-up-and-beg bicycles. They seem to float along like galleons.

    • Alexander
      Posted March 28, 2019 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this is a crazy development, mainly because cycling is now viewed as a sport, like jogging. When I was a student in the Netherlands, I cycled a lot, but everybody would do it at a stately pace, high on their bycicles, quite slow, but you would travel ten kilometres without fatigue, while talking to your girl friend (cycling along with you) all the way. Now people shoot at 30 or more km/hour over zebra stripes coming from invisible angles and unexpected directions, often with babies attached to weird attachments in front and behind the bycicles. Quite dangerous. So, this was my bycicle rant.

      • Alexander
        Posted March 28, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Of course “bicycle” and not “bycicle” ! Sorry.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:46 am | Permalink

        I believe a furled umbrella deftly inserted between the spokes of the front wheel of any bike that comes too close is quite effective…


  7. Dominic
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Yummy! now sooo hungry!

    When you say you “think they live in the Hague” that sounds a bit vague! 🙂

    Regarding size, what about Bergmann’s rule?

  8. prinzler
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    That’s interesting to read about when the beguine ended, but I think it’s more interesting to find out when they decided to begin the beguine.


  9. Posted March 28, 2019 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Jugraphia Slate.

  10. Posted March 28, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I once worked with a dutchman here in NZ who bought the whole package. Very tall, chain smoked rollies, rode a solid black bicycle every day to work, said little but grinned alot as we made fun of him, he was a novelty when I was young and I liked him.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Dang, that Stamppot looks like it would stick to your ribs.

  12. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Amsterdam is built on a swamp & the earliest, now long gone, houses were wood structures using cow hide as foundations – an early form of raft construction which we still do today on waterlogged ground only we now make the floating raft of reinforced concrete slab [often pre-stressed so it doesn’t bend when built on]. At some point it’s impractical to use cow hide once one goes over two stories so the Dutch switched to piles driven 12 metres to 18 metres into the ground made of pine or spruce in the main [straight, dense & available]. The water table varies seasonally, but you can say it’s around 1 m under the surface & this is a good thing because waterlogged piles don’t rot.

    However land is valuable in Amsterdam, thus space is at a premium & so one digs down & makes cellars & one builds tall too. The Dutch built a structural nightmare, but they’re very good engineers & they understand buildings need to be in constant repair [same attitude as the Japanese]. Cellars are often flooded & the tops of the piles get wet, dry out, get wet blah blah.

    That old wooden house doesn’t look ‘right’ & I don’t think it’s a true balloon frame or wood frame dwelling. It was built after the great fire of 1452 – much of Amsterdam was destroyed & the ruling power declared that all new structures had to be built of brick [which necessitates piles of course because of the weight increase]. The side wall is not wood – I assume it’s rendered brick, and the Ground floor frontage looks like rendered brick.

    Because homes are narrow they must be deep – like the old NYC ‘shotgun’ apartments. Thus each floor has two rows of windows to cast as much light as far back as possible> Using the British floor designation I see this facade:

    Ground Floor: Brick with door & one wide window

    1st Floor: Wood with a door in space & two rows of windows. I assume there was a bridge to that door from the square [which is high ground] & the Ground floor was a separate occupant such as a shop.

    2nd Floor: Overhangs by 6″ to 9″: Wood with two rows of windows. Bottom row opens outwards. The vertical post between the windows maybe can be lifted out to accept wide furniture such as beds or pianos hoisted by hook

    Attic Floor: Wide ‘window’ left half is a shutter & right half is glazed now. The ‘hook’ would have been above there.

    There is no ‘hook’ to haul up furniture like her neighbours to the right have under the gable – there must have been a hook once on that facade in the past as the stairs are always crazy narrow [It is said that homes were taxed by facade width & number of floors made no difference to your bill – I haven’t checked that.]

    The window frames are not old & they open outwards on the 2nd floor [bottom row] – I would expect to see shutters opening outwards on the 2nd Floor that secure in an open position to the facade & windows that open inwards for cleaning as too high for ‘man with a van & a ladder’

    wood house

    I think the builder interpreted the rules after the fire & built in brick only what was required & then stuck a wood facade on it for cheapness & to save weight. The facade isn’t load bearing & as much of it as required can be removed & the house stays standing.

    I would bet the wooden structural members are as old as the house, but the wood window frames, windows & boarding will have been replaced more than once. That’s all the facade except the overhang structure.

    Incidentally note the cast iron ‘tie backs’ on the outside of the side wall. That’s to correct the wall bulging out. Inside there would be wrought iron ‘poles’ attached under tension running horizontally to the opposite brick wall – a corset if you will. 🙂

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 28, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Two more pics:

      wood house two

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted March 28, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Yes, if housing that age still had original windows in it, I would want to know all about those. Windows just don’t last like that. Also, in a colder climate, all that single pane window would leave the place very cold in winter. I remember the housing I had in England back in the early 70s and it was really cold. There was no central heating and usually just a coal fireplace in the living room. We had paraffin heaters but you did not use them at night, not if you wanted to wake up in the morning.

        • merilee
          Posted March 28, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          Was behind a glazing truck today with a service called Pane in the Glass.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted March 28, 2019 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

            Oh yes, I remember, double glazing. First double pane windows. Pane in the glass, that’s pretty good. The absolute best windows made here in the states are called Anderson Renewal. They are extremely good but also very expensive.

        • max blancke
          Posted March 28, 2019 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          We lived for a number of years in my great-grandfather’s house up here in the mountains. Single glazing, wood or coal stoves in each room, and no insulation at all. In the winter, I had to get up at 0430 or so and start fires, so the house would be warm enough for the wife and kids to get out of bed for school or work.

          I am sure we would have considered the Amsterdam house, even as fitted originally, quite a step up.

          My Dad lived like that until he left for university. So it is not like we are talking about conditions in the middle ages.
          They only got electricity at “the homeplace” in 1951.

          I would do just about anything to be able to see cities like Amsterdam or London as they were before their great fires.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted March 28, 2019 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

            I think you would remember the smell & the lice

            • max blancke
              Posted March 28, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

              I have already visited Monrovia, Port-Au-Prince, and Mogadishu.
              I expect the smell would be striking. But I am interested in industrial history, so there is no getting away from it, especially with all the centralized food and leather production, and the quaint methods of waste disposal.

              But houses and shops that gradually get wider as they get higher, meeting each other and turning streets into tunnels, would be a sight.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted March 28, 2019 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

                Yes & the whole known world passes through there [willingly & unwillingly] – the Heathrow of its day perhaps. 🙂

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 29, 2019 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

                You mention leather production i.e. tanning. In my job as a sewer engineer, I had to reline one of our sewers which served a tannery because their discharge had eaten the bottom out of the concrete pipes (the steel wire reinforcing was mostly still there. So much for the popular fiction that steel rusts but concrete is incorrodible).

                But I still remember the nauseating smell. Possibly the worst I have ever encountered. There was sulphur in there, and probably chlorine, and organic compounds.


    • Posted March 28, 2019 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      Michael talks about the original construction of Amsterdam: you can find out about it in the Amsterdam Museum, which explains the history and technology of its growth. Worth half a day and with a very pleasant, bourgeois courtyard cafe.

      When I was there, I realized the truth behind Jimmy Carr’s joke that the Netherlands is the largest man-made structure on earth. (Cf. the Venetian lagoon.) And still being made, now with environmentalism as its motivation.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 28, 2019 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        The “World – City, new permanent exhibition” looks interesting. Thank you for the idea Dermot, I didn’t know of that museum. I’ll visit after the summer peak.

        • Posted March 28, 2019 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

          You’re welcome, Michael.

          I can think of another minor delight about Amsterdam: the ubiquity and tameness of the herons. In the UK they are shy: in Amsterdam they strut and wing, and perch above the Hanseatic houses’ cargo hooks like they own the place. Go to the Botanical Gardens and they wander, insouciant, proud, like Northern peacocks among the happy people and their lunchtime snacks.

          I’ve been told that French robins are shy, as opposed to the cheeky, human-habituated British ones: Dutch herons seem to be the British robin, and British herons the French robin.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted March 30, 2019 at 8:21 am | Permalink

            Thank you. Botanical gardens it is.

  13. merilee
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the reminder about snert. Haven’t made it in eons!

  14. merilee
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink


  15. Posted March 28, 2019 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Magnificent buildings!

    On the male height graph, the US line crashes. Any explanation?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 28, 2019 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      You can take that entire historical heights graph with a huge pinch of salt – the ‘author’ is Randal Olson who collates data & churns out the graphs like his life depends on it. I trust him as much as Malcolm Gladwell – which is not at all!

      First thing to bear in mind is a LOT of the stats are from various military sources around the world when they go about the business of evaluating their recruits. Instant bias there depending on minimum recruitment age, minimum & maximum allowed heights & weights, socio-economic grouping, ethnic biases [like more blacks than was ‘fair’ were conscripted into the Vietnam era military] etc etc

      An old story: Long before Olson’s 2013 graphs it was noted that there was a measured drop in height [looking at old data in modern times] during the industrial revolution & it was often attributed to the negative health impacts of industrialisation. But now it is thought it can be explained by the labour market conditions that existed at the time. The argument is that as economies grew, tight labour markets discouraged military enlistments by the most productive workers, with those enlisting (and being measured) increasingly over-representing the less advantaged, less healthy & shorter members of society.

      Forgetting Vietnam era for a moment – comparing the heights of soldiers in the US army with countries that enforced conscription we can see the bias more clearly. In countries that had conscription, the average height of conscripts was increasing over the period, meanwhile in the US where entry was voluntary, the heights of soldiers was falling [because the poor & disadvantaged ‘volunteered’ more than average there being no other way to make good, get into college & so on]

      @randal_olson in 2015 wrote: “Immigration from shorter countries — especially Latin American countries — is likely one key player in that [USA] trend”, but of course Olson hasn’t done the work to make his words worthwhile – it was an off the cuff remark. That US drop is mainly a change in the sample I suspect rather more than a change in the general population. The minimum US recruitment height is 5 ft today I think & recruitment standards may have changed. I csan’t be bothered to check [& I suspect Olson can’t either]

  16. Nobody Special
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Trump could learn a lot about opulence with style from the Royal Palace of Amsterdam.
    The silverware, by the way, isn’t so much gold-plated as gilt-washed, a process in which grains or thin plates of gold are heated until red-hot then mixed into heated mercury. The amalgam is cooled then strained through chamois leather to remove excess mercury. Before coating the silverware, the decorative handles are coated in mercury to allow the gilt to be more easily spread on the uneven surface, then the gilt wash is applied leaving a very thin, golden coating which typically still contains around 15% mercury (not including the mercury base on the handles).
    Something to think about if ever you are offered gilt-washed cutlery to eat from.
    Those delightful plates are probably from the great French porcelain manufacturer, Sevres. Just a single plate of that quality and provenance will be worth several thousands of Euros. I wouldn’t want to even guess at the value of the gilt bronze candelabrae and table decorations, but certainly high six-figure sums per candelabra and five-figures or more each for the smaller pieces.

  17. Posted March 28, 2019 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Glad you could make it to Haesje Claes. When I and my wife went, it was packed in the evening. I got the sense it was a mix of locals and tourists. We found by googling Dutch a food and believing the blurb.

    My wife tells me I had a smoked eel dish and I don’t recall what else.

    We were in the same room as your photo, a little behind you and to the right. Like I said it was packed.

  18. Etienne Van den Boss
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Could female preference/choice be one of the reasons why Dutch men are so tall?

  19. 355101pkl
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Thank you for these great photos. Its a very long time since I have visited Amsterdam and it makes me want to go again. Regarding the bikes I wonder what happened to the White Bicycles of the 60’and early 70’s that were left on the street for anyone to use? It seemed to have died a death along with the Kebouters although it was a good idea. Perhaps people there already had a surplus of bikes. But In certain places it may still be a good idea.

  20. Matt
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Hi Jerry, what is that on the bread next to the pea soup?

    • Posted March 29, 2019 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      A piece of bacon or ham, as I recall.

      • Nobody Special
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        It looks like a nice, fatty slice of ham, the natural accompaniment to pea soup.

      • Matt
        Posted March 30, 2019 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        As a bacon lover I’m disappointed your caption left out this crucial detail.

        I love all your food photos but the pea soup looks to die for.

  21. Posted April 1, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Is that the floor map that appears in Sagan’s _Cosmos_ in one of the bits about Huyghens?

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