Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holidays in Holland 2009

Here it is, the end of another year already!  2009 was great - and I'm so looking forward to 2010.  My New Year's resolution is to watch one movie every (week)day next year.  I'm still in school, and I'm also finishing up a screenplay, so I thought approx. 260 films rather than 365 would be a good goal for a year.

With the help of friends and family I have put together a list of over 400 films released beginning with the 1930s until 2009.  It covers all genres, with slightly more comedy and action films due to my personal taste.  Some of the films I saw in the theater - although the nice thing about having a brain injury is that if enough time goes by, it's like you're seeing the movie all over again for the first time.

I'm really excited to finally see some of the classics that I've missed, or review films that I haven't seen since I got into the industry.  I notice different things now - I can get distracted by awkward lines, unusual camera shots or equally be amazed by acting so good you swear the person is the character in real life.

I wonder what I will learn about films and filmmaking by the end of next year.  I don't know how I'm going to choose what movie to watch on any given night. (Alphabetical?  By year?)  I'll be Twittering from time to time giving a short opinion on what I've seen.  But now, it's the last day of this year, and I know that I am so very grateful to everyone here.  This is such a beautiful country with really terrific people. 

Now, a few recent photos to share...

I got a new coat (thanks Mom!) just in time for the first snow.

The canal where I live with snow!  Hopefully, it will freeze up soon and I can try ice skating...

This is stamppot. 
Dutch food may not be the prettiest, but it sure does taste good!  This is also a good winter dish to keep you healthy and warm.

Another dish that maybe isn't so pretty - but is really delicious and healthy. 
Snert or Erwtensoep is Dutch pea soup.  Another perfect winter food.

The Dutch Christmas - Pakjesavond - with Sinterklaas is on the 5th of December.  Then a more American-style Christmas with Santa on the 25th and 26th of December.  Why two Christmas days?  Nobody knows...

Christmas candles

A little Christmas train. Look at the large version of this photo - like many things in the Netherlands, it's in English.  Although in real life, the Dutch use a French word for Police.  Why?  Nobody knows...

Another big thing here is fondue.  I don't anyone who had a turkey dinner planned for Xmas.  I love food, which is a reason why I love the holidays!

Food to nourish your body and soul.

And now that it's New Year's there's a special Dutch treat - Oliebollen!  I watched them being made, as my real help began by eating as many as I could.  I had four plain, and three with raisins.  Then my tummy hurt, but in a good way.  Here's the general process to make oliebollen...

Start with making the dough.  The Dutch have a trick for adding yeast - they just use beer.  If you want to buy "active yeast" you have to get it from a special store.  It's not like what the US has available in every supermarket.

The floors are heated, and the radiator also helps keep the dough warm so it rises.

Heat a big pot of oil.

Add balls of dough and cook...

...until golden brown.

Add powdered sugar (cinnamon sugar is good too!) and it tastes like you're eating a little bit of heaven.
Gelukkig NieuwJaar!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Motorcycle Tour Benelux (part II)

I'm going to try to keep this as simple as possible, since my Blogger is no longer working. I meant to put the rest of the photos and my comments in part I, but it's still so messed up, I can't even edit the post. Believe it or not, Twitter now seems much less complicated to figure out. Funny thing is, as soon as I figure out how a system works, they change it, give me an "upgrade" with the latest and greatest. Oh well.

Our bike.  Getting ready to leave Belgium for Germany and Luxembourg.
Our group leader, Allan.  Really nice guy.
Peter - one cute grandpa.  If of course you like the skull face.
Roos (or in English, Rose)
Us.  Tired, sweaty, dirty - like always.
There are windmills all over - not just in Holland.
This is what it's all about.  The Ardennes.  Forest occasionally interrupted by fields or villages.  Hairpin turns.  15% grades.  Most of the time I was just hanging on, enjoying the adventure.
It feels good!

Motorcycle Tour Benelux

I'm back in school and winter is fast approaching so this may have been the last (long) trip on the motorcycle this season. We started out in the early morning last Friday and met our group leader, Allan, in Utrecht.

From there we rode down into Belgium to Boeles Place.  I've blogged about them before - it's my favorite biker place to go to.  Over the weekend we went to Luxembourg and Germany as well, before returning to Belgium and then finally the Netherlands.  I did my best to take photos - although it rained (and thus the camera was safe in my pocket) and some of the photos I was trying to take from a moving bike - which isn't as easy as it looks.

I wish I could add more details to the images - the scents of the Ardennes forest, the freshness of a field after a light rain, or the sounds in the little villages of Flemish, Dutch, French, German and English being spoken by natives and tourists alike.  I'm pretty sure everyone with a motorcycle was out riding - we saw scores of bikers in groups from all over.  A perfect long weekend, until the very end with the rain.

Jan & his wife Anne-Marie run Boeles Place - and the food is always awesome.  I discovered hand-made sausages with cheese inside them are my new favorite barbecue meat.  Your mouth just dances when you eat them.
This is Jan.  Behind him, like every good bar in this part of the world is a witch.  It's good luck, I think.  If I find a link to the story of exactly how this tradition started, I'll post it.

Bikers in Belgium. 
Games hard-core bikers play.  This is a new one for me with dice - and I totally lost - but enjoyed it.  I'm not sure what it's called.

Yeah, we're totally bad-ass with Uno.  But I did learn how to say the colors in Dutch. 

On our tour we stopped by a German motorcycle shop.  I thought this was cool for a couple of reasons - it's so neat and tidy, and the bike they are working on is for a disabled (paraplegic) rider.

This is his other bike.  Just thought that was neat.

We rode through tiny little villages and towns.

You have to watch that Saturday afternoon traffic in some places.  :)

We stopped for lunch in Germany - and as usual there was no sauerkraut (or wurst) to be found. So I had French food instead. Hey, it's all good to me.

As usual, I'm completely unable to manage my Blogger HTML. It's refusing to publish yet another post, or at least this time publish it correctly in tables and properly aligned/spaced. You have no idea how many blog drafts I have stuck in limbo. I suppose this is all for now. I'll try to post the rest of the photos later. :)

I just checked back and boy is my post screwed - the photos are overlapping or otherwise off the page somehow. You know what? Maybe I'll just continue blogging somewhere else. Anyone have a suggestions for a better place to blog than this one?

Part two has a couple of the photos I wanted to post here, and it looks a bit better than this one. I checked around and it seems there are several others having the same problem with their blogs at the moment. However, this is only an annoyance. The rest of life is working out well!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fishing for Linden $ in Second Life

While playing the game Second Life, sometimes one may want to have a bit of pocket money to spend in-world. There are many ways one can earn Linden dollars, but my favorite way to earn cash is by playing one of the fishing games.

There are four main fishing games inside Second Life. Two of them involve investing money in a rod or bait, entry fees, or waiting for scheduled tournament times. The two I recommend instead are Gone Fishing and Match Fishing, both made by Splash Aquatics. Nether require you to purchase anything, and everything you need to play is already there in the game.

Most of the Gone Fishing and Match Fishing games are set to cash prizes (some give gift boxes or other non-cash prizes). The game is simple to play, and does not require skill. Most simply - you find a Gone Fishing or Match fishing game, sit on a poseball or chair, and when the game tells you that you have a bite, you type the word strike in your chat window and push enter.

Gone Fishing Game
(click on the photos to see them larger)

The Gone Fishing game (pictured above) has two parts; The blue poseballs with fishing rods, and the trophy stand which is usually placed nearby. You can do a search in world for Gone Fishing under places or events, and here is a SLURL to a place to get you started:

Bethany Gardens Gone Fishin match and tournament fishing lakes

If you left click on one of the blue fishing poseballs, you will automatically sit. Or you can right click on one of the blue fishing poseballs and select FISH! A notecard will pop up with directions called 'Gone Fishing v1.0 - Tournament Info'. You can keep or discard as you choose. Your chat window will display the game instructions and notices as well.

When you first sit down, a message similar to this will be displayed:

"Gone Fishing v1.0 GAME whispers: When you get a bite type 'strike' to hook your fish and reel him in. If you take too long he'll get away so be ready!

Gone Fishing v1.0 GAME whispers: You are now automatically entered into the fishing tournament! Happy Fishin' and GOOD LUCK!!!"

Wait until the game gives you a message similar to this:

Gone Fishing v1.0 GAME whispers: Ooh! Kitania Writer has a bite!

Although it would of course say your avatar name where mine is.

Type only the word strike in your chat window when you get a bite and push enter. The game may not work if you try typing anything else such as STRIKE!, quotation marks, or shout instead of say the word in chat.

Your chat window will tell you if you caught a fish or not. If you catch one, the blue information window pops up and offers you an object called a 'Roach'. According to Wikipedia: "Fish called roach are members of the carp and minnow family (Cyprinidae)." I recommend not keeping them, as you hopefully will be catching many more, and if you're anything like me, your inventory is really cluttered as it is.

The trophy stand will tell you who the current leaders are. Most Gone Fishing tournaments end/begin once a day, and are ongoing. The largest fish you can catch is 50 lbs, and it ranks in the order in which the largest fish were caught if there is a tie. So if you catch a 50 lb fish, and then catch a second 50 lb fish five minutes later, you don't get two first prizes, you would get first and second. You can hold all three places on the trophy stand, and you can come and go any time throughout the tournament.

Match Fishing

(click on the photos to see them larger)

The Match Fishing game pictured above is similar to Gone Fishing. However, the differences are as follows:

Your score on the trophy stand is the accumulated total weight of twenty fish caught. So the trophy stand usually displays how many hours are left in the current tournament, and unlike the Gone Fishing game the $ prize amounts are usually displayed as well.

This may take you some time to accumulate 20 fish, so if you don't have a while to sit and fish, try Gone Fishing instead. For either game, if you set your avatar to busy or away, you may not get the notices that a fish is biting. But, if you do have an hour or so, then Match Fishing cash prizes are usually higher than Gone Fishing.

The chairs are a bit different for the Match fishing game, and do not have the blue poseballs. Usually there are lounge chairs with a bait box attached. Some places have tree stumps either instead of or in addition to the lounge fishing chairs. Again, you don't need to do anything but sit down to enter the tournament. Bait and rod are included and free.

The other main difference between Gone Fishing and Match Fishing is that in Match Fishing you can change the tackle and bait on your rod.

Sit down on the fishing chair or stump by right clicking. You can left click the bait box (attached to the chair) or the base of the tree stump to bring up a blue information window which allows you to choose your tackle and bait. Tackle can be light or heavy, and bait can be maggot, corn or bread. My suggestion is to use heavy tackle with either corn or bread. It may take longer, but you can catch larger fish that way.

Then sit, relax and look for the message that you have a strike. This game may say (avatar name) has a bite, or it may just say "you have a bite." Both Gone Fishing and Match Fishing also play the sound of a whirring fishing reel when you have a strike, so you have an audio and visual cue. I believe the largest fish you can catch in Match Fishing is 29.9 pounds, as I have not yet seen a 30 lb.

For either game, when the current tournament is over, the game will automatically send out the cash prizes to the top three avatars on the stand. You do not need to be online to get your cash. You can check your transactions history for your Second Life account, and if/when you are in world you will receive a notice in chat, and a blue information window.

Currently one of the quirks of both games is that the message you do get in world when you win may not indicate clearly which fishing game is paying you. It may tell you that (avatar name) is paying you $50 Lindens for the Bronze Trophy in the Match Fishing game, but if you fish in many locations, you may not know or recall which avatar owns which fishing game.

Also, if you are in first place (gold position) and someone else beats your score, you will get a message in world that simply says something along the lines of "you have lost your gold position in the Match Fishing game." It doesn't say from where, so if you fish in multiple locations, you may have to guess which location it might be.

If you're in world when you win, you may see a message in chat similar to this one:

Match Fishing Trophy Stand: You have won the SILVER TROPHY in the FISHING MATCH! You win L$50 in prize money. Well done!!

In later SL viewers you can click on where it says Match Fishing Trophy Stand in your chat window (as you might on another avatar's name to get their profile) and it will give you the location (SLURL) and the owner of the fishing game (who paid you.)

If you win, it also may be helpful to look at the profile of the avatar who is paying you as many of them have their fishing game location in their picks with a lot more info. Another thing you can do if you're organized, is to keep a list of fishing locations along with the name of the avatar who owns the trophy stand. If you hold your cursor over the trophy stand, it will tell you who the owner is. Or an easier way I've found is to right click on the trophy stand, select edit, and then you will see the name of the creator of the trophy stand (Kaikou Splash) and the Owner's name of the game/trophy stand.

In the later browser versions of SL, next to the owner's name is a button link to their profile. You can copy and paste the name of the owner of the trophy stand into your fishing landmark title, a notecard, or something outside of SL such as Notepad, Word or Excel. Figuring out how to be organized is always my challenge, hopefully you'll figure out a system that works for you.

Bethany Gardens (SLURL above) also has a Match Fishing game, but here's another SLURL to the creator's Match Fishing game:

Splash Aquatics

There are also free strike gestures available in world (don't pay for these!) so you don't have to manually type strike all the time.

Have fun, catch the big ones, and earn some Lindens!