Dotan at Ziggo Dome, Monday 21 December 2015

My last concert of the year was Dotan at the Ziggo Dome. I don’t think I would have gone to see him on my own, but Fiona is a big fan. We took a friend of Fiona’s along as well, and had an excellent evening. Support was by Alex Vargas. His music wasn’t to Fiona’s taste, but I liked it. He’s coming back to Amsterdam for a solo gig at Tolhuistuin in March. I might try to catch him again.

Dotan only has one album, but he’s a local artist who has made it big internationally, and he was able to sell out the Ziggo Dome with ease. The home crowd loved him. He put on a fantastic set, with five percussionists on stage. (Some of them played other instruments throughout the set, too.) He told stories between songs, and the video wall behind the stage showed beautiful footage he had shot recently on a trip to Iceland. When the main set ended, Fiona was shocked — actually shocked — that he hadn’t played “Home“. I explained that artists will sometimes hold back a big hit until the very end of the show (especially if they haven’t had many), because that’s often what pulled people in to the concert in the first place. (People are better at remembering the last thing they hear in a concert or presentation. Psychology.) And indeed, he came on for an encore, and played us out with “Home”.

On our way out, we bought a sweatshirt for Fiona, and a beanie hat for her friend. They didn’t have sweatshirts in Fiona’s normal size, so she got a Large one instead. It is ridiculously huge, but it suits her anyway.

(After dropping Fiona’s friend off, I played Snow Patrol’sRun” in the car, because Dotan’s voice had been reminding me of Gary Lightbody’s throughout the gig. She didn’t agree.)

Note for future self: avoid the food at the Ziggo Dome. The frites taste weird. I had some at the Foo Fighters gig, and I ate Fiona’s leftovers at this gig, after she decided they didn’t taste very good. I agreed, but ate them anyway. Upset digestion after both events. Might be connected.

New York in December

Monday travel & Brooklyn for dinner with Patrick & Teresa. Offensively soft bed at the Hyatt Union Square. (Do American hotels compete on how soft they can make their beds?) Sore neck all week as a result.

Tuesday work, work. Quick visit to the Nintendo World Store for souvenirs. Dinner at Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque on 2nd and 6th. Barcade on St. Marks Pl. Snuffle at Strand Bookstore and Forbidden Planet just round the corner from hotel.

Wednesday work, work. Sushi at Yama on 17th Street — my first time eating at an actual sushi restaurant rather than supermarket sushi. Also edamame for the first time. Walk to Times Square. So much light. Visit to M&M’s World! One product; a million ways of co-branding. Carry on up Broadway to Columbus Circle. Hang out on Umpire Rock & play on the swings at the adjacent playground. Colleagues bar-hop their way back to hotel; I take the subway and skip the booze.

Thursday work, work. Subway to Brooklyn to see the Nets play the 76ers at the Barclays Center. (Jewish Heritage Night.) 100-91 after wasting a 10-point lead in the 3rd quarter. Go Nets! Foam fingers and thundersticks. Strand Bookstore again

Friday work, work. Retrospective. Walk around the block for donuts and coffee from Dough on 14th. Super-quick last-minute shopping at the Christmas market on Union Square before subway to Penn Station and train to Newark. Plane home.

Trying to get better at selfies

Not sure if I’m doing it right.

The first one is me on the flight from Amsterdam to New York on Sunday 6 December. The second is me on the flight from Amsterdam to New York on Monday 7 December…

The first one was cancelled. The plane was fully boarded and ready to go, but we sat on the tarmac at the gate for three hours waiting for an engineering crew to fix a fauly backup instrument. By the time they got it fixed, the flight crew had timed out and we couldn’t leave. We all had to disambark, collect our bags, and stand in line for the ground crew to re-book us on alternative travel. By the time it was my turn, the only options were to take a long stop-over in London and arrive in New York at midnight (ugh), or to fly out the next day. At least it was easy enough for me to just go back home for the rest of the day.

That turned out to be the better option. The same flight the next morning was full, but the original plane was still on the ground in Amsterdam, and had to get back to New York. So United ran it as a special flight for all the passengers from the previous day who hadn’t been re-booked otherwise. All 26 of us.

When I showed up at the gate, I thought that I was late, because there was hardly anyone sitting around waiting. On board the plane, it was like being on a private jet. Everyone who wanted one could have en entire row to themselves. The cabin crew were relaxed and chatty. It was possibly the most enjoyable transatlantic flight I’ve ever had.

Tour of the Tennet transformer station Oostzaan

Our local electrical substation is being upgraded from 150kV to 380kV. On Thursday 26 November, the company managing the station and the upgrade, Tennet, held an open evening where interested locals got to take a look around the substation. Fiona and I got along there late, but we just managed to get in on one of the last tours. We live close to the substation, and we go past it regularly. This was the first time we’d seen inside. It was pretty cool.

Zaanstreek, Saturday 31 October and Sunday 1 November

Over the weekend of 31 October/1 November we had some visitors, Emma and James, friends we have known for years, but never met in person. Yay Internet. On the Saturday we cycled to Zaanse Schans and did windmills. Sunday was misty, and we went for a walk in het Twiske.