around the world – part 40.5 (beer)

Haake-BeckDate: 17 September 2009

Location:  Bodega cafe, Schlachte Str,  Bremen, Germany

Beer:  Haake Beck, Krausen

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around the world – part 40.1 (water world)

afsluitdijk netherlands

afsluitdijk netherlands

Today was a day off and I opted for the tour of Northern Netherlands – thinking it would be primarily of Friesland. However, we went rather farther afield than I expected.   Our bus took us west towards the Barrier Dyke or ‘afsluitdijk‘ which prevents the North Sea from entering the Netherlands and has created a freshwater lake the ‘IJsselmeer’ to the south of it.   Quite a fantastic piece of engineering when you consider that the plan as implemented was conceived in 1891, with the Dutch Parliament approving it in 1918 and then building it between 1927 and 1932.  The whole dyke 32km in length and is 90m wide at the base and slopes up to be at least 10m above the spring high tide.  It carries a four lane autobahn on the lower inland side.  After a brief stop at the site where the east and west sides of the dyke met, thus completing the enclosure and creating the IJsselmeer, our bus carried us on southwest towards the village of Zaanse Schan in the district of  Zaandam, which is actually quite close to Amsterdam.

Zaanse Schan is a village preserved to represent life in the 1500 – 1600s, although with the coach loads of tourists, not surprisingly quite a few of the houses have been turned into commercial enterprises to cater to a captive audience. Think upper canada village but with the added feature of overpriced dutch trinkets for sale throughout the village. Interestingly, about one third of the houses are privately owned and lived in by families, albeit with hordes of tourists passing by in front.

Zaanse Schan

Zaanse Schan

At Zaanse Schan I discovered the answer to a question which had been puzzling me somewhat – “what is up with wooden clogs”? I mean who would willingly put their feet into uncomfortable wooden vices? There is a whole museum devoted to the story of the clog, and in short it goes something like this.

Long before there was widespread use of hydraulic machinery (the famous dutch windmills being the first of these), the locals would dig drainage ditches by hand, heaving the spoil up into the centre, creating the ‘polder‘, upon which they would build their houses, towns, farms etc.  The soil is very peaty and they learned early on that pressing the peat spoil to remove excess water would (1) improve their drainage and quality of the soil for agriculture, and (2) would produce a sort of peat coal which could be burned to heat homes.  The first clogs were in fact wooden footwells carved into flat pieces of wood, with which the locals could press water out of the soil.  Over time, the necessity to press water became less important and the flat pieces of wood became obsolete, leaving the wooden shoe, which then became a useful cultural icon, and adapted for other uses.  Notably a special clog with up to three or four inches of wood above the crown and toes of the foot was created which could be used as a fulcrum for levers being applied to move rocks in dyke building projects. The first ‘safety toe’ boot so to speak.

After two hours, a small snack and beer,  we loaded the bus and headed off to Volendam and thence to the island of Marken situated on the western edge of the IJsselmeer.  I found Volendam to be a bit more interesting than Marken, which although it is also an area of old villages, there isn’t much to do on a Sunday except to browse countless harbourside souvenir shops.  We returned to Volendam, grateful for the well stocked bar on board, and then our two hour return to Zoutkamp.

Interestingly, even around Zoutkamp, the land must be about 10feet below sea level, as the main dykes are all a minimum of at least 20feet (6m) high.  There are almost no fences between farm fields, as they demarcate fields with drainage ditches of sufficient depth and width to discourage sheep, cattle and horses from moving to the greener pastures.  Each drainage ditch, in turn runs out to meet with a signficantly larger collector ditch, which in some places is twenty feet or more across. The dutch windmills which are the cliche of this country are actually intended to move water from the lowest ditches up in succession to higher ditches, and then finally near the sea, they pump water up and out into the north sea.

gubmint motors (your tax dollars at work)

Well, well.   I think that 16% ownership stake in General Motors is going to take a little while longer to ‘pay off’.    Sales volume at the General is off by 20% from the same period last year as folks continue to shun the ‘pelosi mobiles’, while sales volume at Ford (which in case you need reminding – didn’t require a bailout) are up by 16%.    Great pick Dalton and Stephen.  I, for one am happy I picked up FoMoCo at $1.22 in December 2008.

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Brands and companies are both displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 26 selling days in August 2009 and 27 selling days in August 2008, so the change in monthly sales volume will be different than the change in the average daily sales rate for each brand/company.

Brand Volume % 8/09 8/08 DSR*% DSR 8/09 DSR 8/08
Kia 60.38 40,198 25,065 66.54 1,546 928
Subaru 51.51 28,683 18,932 57.33 1,103 701
Hyundai 47.01 60,467 41,130 52.67 2,326 1,523
Audi 25.77 8,057 6,406 30.61 310 237
Volvo 24.78 5,826 4,669 29.58 224 173
Pontiac 23.35 29,921 24,257 28.09 1,151 898
Ford 21.25 161,369 133,088 25.91 6,207 4,929
Honda 15.21 151,814 131,766 19.65 5,839 4,880
Mazda 12.09 26,542 23,680 16.40 1,021 877
Volkswagen 11.35 24,823 22,292 15.64 955 826
Toyota 10.94 202,196 182,252 15.21 7,777 6,750
Porsche 8.69 1,526 1,404 12.87 59 52
Mercury 8.19 9,080 8,393 12.35 349 311
Nissan 0.17 97,580 97,417 4.02 3,753 3,608
Suzuki -5.46 5,749 6,081 -1.82 221 225
Jeep -6.11 22,041 23,476 -2.50 848 869
Mini -6.55 5,111 5,469 -2.95 197 203
Mercedes-Benz -7.54 17,112 18,507 -3.98 658 685
Chevrolet -9.16 168,130 185,080 -5.66 6,467 6,855
Dodge -15.80 52,562 62,422 -12.56 2,022 2,312
BMW Group -21.30 24,343 30,931 -18.27 936 1,146
Lexus -21.82 22,892 29,281 -18.81 880 1,084
Chrysler -23.50 18,619 24,337 -20.55 716 901
BMW -24.47 19,232 25,462 -21.56 740 943
Mitsubishi -25.95 6,813 9,200 -23.10 262 341
Infiniti -30.19 7,732 11,076 -27.51 297 410
Acura -36.21 9,625 15,089 -33.76 370 559
Lincoln -38.43 5,874 9,540 -36.06 226 353
Smart -44.59 1,418 2,559 -42.46 55 95
GMC -45.15 23,145 42,194 -43.04 890 1,563
Buick -51.71 8,612 17,833 -49.85 331 660
Cadillac -55.01 6,931 15,405 -53.28 267 571
Saturn -58.41 8,479 20,385 -56.81 326 755
Hummer -64.03 777 2,160 -62.64 30 80
Saab -67.80 484 1,503 -66.56 19 56
             
COMPANIES
Ford Motor Company 16.99 182,149 155,690 21.49 7006 5766
American Honda 9.93 161,439 146,855 14.16 6209 5439
Toyota Mo Co 6.41 225,088 211,533 10.50 8657 7835
Nissan North America -2.93 105,312 108,493 0.80 4050 4018
Chrysler Group LLC -15.43 93,222 110,235 -12.18 3585 4083
General Motors -20.19 246,479 308,817 -17.12 9480 11438