Friday, September 20, 2019

Iconic Windmills in the Netherlands

From logos to T-shirts, Dutch windmills have become iconic. They have had a long time to become iconic since the earliest windmills date from the 15th Century. We got an extensive tour of one of these working windmills that was being used as a sawmill. Other windmills were and are being used to grind grain, pump water, and as an industrial power source. Here is a short quote about the uses of windmills from the article entitled "It’s windmill weekend: 10 things you should know about Dutch windmills."
The energy generated by wind and watermills was used to turn any raw material that needed pounding, mauling, shredding, hacking or mixing into a tradeable product. The Zaanstreek paper mills, for instance, were renowned throughout the world for their good quality paper. In fact, the American Declaration of Independence was printed on sheets produced there. 
There were mustard mills, hemp mills, grain mills, snuff mills, cocoa mills, oil mills, chalk mills, paint mills and saw mills. Because of their ability to turn trees into planks (for shipbuilding) much more quickly, the latter were instrumental in making the Netherlands a powerful and very rich sea-faring nation. In fact, some say the first industrial estate in the world was a complex of 23 saw mills on the Kostenverlorenkade in Amsterdam. One, the Otter, still remains. 
Around the world we a seeing many Windmills for the generation of electricity.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Another Draw Bridge, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

We were impressed with the drawbridge in downtown Annapolis, Maryland while we lived there and so we were even more impressed by the drawbridges on the canals in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. There are 1281 bridges in Amsterdam.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Canal Bridge, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam is a city of canals. The history of the canals is fascinating. Here is a short introduction from Wikipedia: Canals of Amsterdam.
Much of the Amsterdam canal system is the successful outcome of city planning. In the early part of the 17th century, with immigration rising, a comprehensive plan was put together, calling for four main, concentric half-circles of canals with their ends resting on the IJ Bay. Known as the "grachtengordel", three of the canals are mostly for residential development (Herengracht or ‘’Patricians' Canal’’; Keizersgracht or ‘’Emperor's Canal’’; and Prinsengracht or ‘’Prince's Canal’’), and a fourth, outer canal, the Singelgracht, for purposes of defense and water management. The plan also envisaged interconnecting canals along radii; a set of parallel canals in the Jordaan quarter (primarily for the transportation of goods, for example, beer); the conversion of an existing, inner perimeter canal (Singel) from a defensive purpose to residential and commercial development; and more than one hundred bridges. The defensive purpose of the Nassau/Stadhouderskade was served by moat and earthen dikes, with gates at transit points but otherwise no masonry superstructures. 
Construction proceeded from west to east, across the breadth of the layout, like a gigantic windshield wiper as the historian Geert Mak calls it – not from the center outwards as a popular myth has it. Construction of the north-western sector was started in 1613 and was finished around 1625. After 1664, building in the southern sector was started, although slowly because of an economic depression.[which?] The eastern part of the concentric canal plan, covering the area between the Amstel river and the IJ Bay, was not implemented for a long time. In the following centuries, the land went mostly for park, the Botanical garden, old age homes, theaters and other public facilities – and for waterways without much plan. 
Several parts of the city and of the urban area are polders, recognizable by their postfix -meer meaning 'lake', such as Aalsmeer, Bijlmermeer, Haarlemmermeer, and Watergraafsmeer. The canals in Amsterdam are now used for tourism, recreation, houseboats, and a relatively small amount of private transport compared to the main modes of walking, light rail, subway, and bicycle. Most of the canals are paralleled by automobile roads on both sides.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ice in Retreat

According to NASA's Land-Cover/Land-Use Change Program, Glacial Retreat in the Alps:

  1. The European Alps have lost approximately 50% of their total glacial volume between 1850 and 1975, with an additional 35-40% of the remaining amount lost since 1975 (Haeberli et al. 2007).
  2. In 2003, a record heatwave swept through Europe causing a mean glacial mass balance loss of 2.45 meters-water equivalent (m w.e.) in the European Alps. This was one of the most significant mass balance losses within the past 2,000 years (Haeberli et al. 2007).
  3. Switzerland relies on hydroelectric power for 50% of its energy supply, and much of this is sourced from glacial meltwaters provided by the Swiss Alps (UNEP 2008).
  4. A rise in temperature of 2 degrees Celsius would decrease the snow reliability of high-altitude ski resorts by over 20%, with even more drastic results for low-altitude resorts. This would be potentially disastrous to Switzerland's tourism-dependent economy (Koenig et al. 1997).
From our short visit to the high mountains in Switzerland, the degree of loss of ice cover was abundantly evident. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Cars, Boats, and Bicycles in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

There are a lot of cars, boats, and bicycles in Amsterdam. The city could define what is usually referred to as high-density housing. Housing is also extremely expensive. The cost for a 480 square foot studio apartment can run to over 1500 Euros per month. See "Cost of living in Amsterdam, Netherlands." The country is almost absolutely flat and parking space for a car is at a premium, so bicycles are a really good form of transportation.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Westerkerk, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Quoting from Wikipedia, Weterkerk:
The Westerkerk (Dutch pronunciation: [ʋɛstərkɛrk]; English: Western Church) is a Reformed church within Dutch Protestant Calvinism in central Amsterdam, Netherlands. It lies in the most western part of the Grachtengordel neighborhood (Centrum borough), next to the Jordaan, between the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht.
Continuing the quote:
The Westerkerk was built between 1620 and 1631 in Renaissance style according to designs by architect Hendrick de Keyser (1565-1621). He is buried in the church he designed earlier: the 'Zuiderkerk'. The building of the Westerkerk was finished and completed by his son Pieter de Keyser (1595-1676) and inaugurated on June 8, 1631. The church has a length of 58 meters and a width of 29 meters. The high nave is flanked by the two lower aisles. The three-aisled basilica has a rectangular plan with two transepts of equal dimensions. As a result, the plan for this church was given the form of two Greek crosses connected with each other.[2] (a patriarchal cross). 
On our visit, the Church was closed for restoration. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Crowds and Canals

Having spent most of my life in the Salt River Valley of Arizona, I am not used to streets filled with pedestrians. The obvious reason is that Phoenix and the surrounding communities are in the low desert and summer temperatures can be over 110 degrees in the shade. Another major reason is that there is almost nowhere you can get to by walking. Phoenix is a city of cars and parking lots. Our recent stay in Amsterdam, the Netherlands was a distinct contrast. There are few cars in the downtown area and lots of pedestrians. There are also thousands of bicycles. They also allow boats and even houseboats on their canals. It is against the law to even swim in a Salt River Valley canal. Although from the condition of the water in the Amsterdam canals, I don't think I would swim in those either.