Day Three through Five: Holland and the Empeg Owner's Meet 

We spent the weekend in Amersfoort, in The Netherlands, attending the Fourth Annual European Empeg Owner's Meet.

We arrived at the hotel in Amersfoort, and almost everyone was already there. The attendance for this year's meet was somewhere in the neighborhood of 50, with at least seven  people coming over from North America.

Our host, Rob Schofield, did a great job herding everyone. He shuffled us all very efficiently onto a bus so we could go out for drinks and dinner. That's Hugo in the foreground, Jim Hogan (from Seattle) on the left side of the bus, Paul 'Thinfourth' Allison and his dad (from Scotland) are behind Jim.
We arrived at the hotel in Amersfoort, and almost everyone was already there. The attendance for this year's meet was somewhere in the neighborhood of 50, with at least seven people coming over from North America.



Our host, Rob Schofield, did a great job herding everyone. He shuffled us all very efficiently onto a bus so we could go out for drinks and dinner. That's Hugo in the foreground, Jim Hogan (from Seattle) on the left side of the bus, Paul 'Thinfourth' Allison and his dad (from Scotland) are behind Jim.

Everyone piling off of the bus in central Amersfoort. I don't know everyone's name in this photo, but of special note is John McDowell in the foreground, lower left. He's the other person from North America here at the meet this year (besides me/Jenny/Rachel, Mark Lord, Rob Riccardelli, and Jim Hogan).
Everyone piling off of the bus in central Amersfoort. I don't know everyone's name in this photo, but of special note is John McDowell in the foreground, lower left. He's the other person from North America here at the meet this year (besides me/Jenny/Rachel, Mark Lord, Rob Riccardelli, and Jim Hogan).

Rachel and Jenny in the brewery where we hung out before heading off to dinner. Are those actual 'hops' in the foreground?
Rachel and Jenny in the brewery where we hung out before heading off to dinner. Are those actual 'hops' in the foreground?

The gang, drinking, among the big copper thingamajigs that brew the stuff they're drinking.
The gang, drinking, among the big copper thingamajigs that brew the stuff they're drinking.

Mark Lord, ever the photographer, taking this picture. I don't know why I can't see myself in his picture, maybe I was hunkered down behind the big brass thingamajig.
Mark Lord, ever the photographer, taking this picture. I don't know why I can't see myself in his picture, maybe I was hunkered down behind the big brass thingamajig.

It's interesting to note that Mark and I chose to photograph many of the same things, including this odd contraption on the ceiling of the brewry. I was sure it couldn't be a fan, because the blades were so odd. If it was a fan, it had to be the least efficient one ever designed.

I'm told that it was in fact a fan, meant to keep the ceiling area from getting foggy when brewing was in progress.
It's interesting to note that Mark and I chose to photograph many of the same things, including this odd contraption on the ceiling of the brewry. I was sure it couldn't be a fan, because the blades were so odd. If it was a fan, it had to be the least efficient one ever designed.



I'm told that it was in fact a fan, meant to keep the ceiling area from getting foggy when brewing was in progress.

More than one of us got the bright idea to photograph ourselves reflected in the big brass thingamajig. What I find most interesting is how well my camera color-corrects the images in automatic mode. It was color correcting for the images reflected in the brass, not the brass itself.
More than one of us got the bright idea to photograph ourselves reflected in the big brass thingamajig. What I find most interesting is how well my camera color-corrects the images in automatic mode. It was color correcting for the images reflected in the brass, not the brass itself.

Hugo and Claire. The perfect couple, because they have the same nose.

At the meet the next day, we all got name tags, pre-made by our host. Some of the tags had subtitles. Hugo's tag said 'It's all my fault', and Claire's tag said 'It's all his fault'.
Hugo and Claire. The perfect couple, because they have the same nose.



At the meet the next day, we all got name tags, pre-made by our host. Some of the tags had subtitles. Hugo's tag said 'It's all my fault', and Claire's tag said 'It's all his fault'.

Central amersfoort was just amazing. Very beautiful, very 'clasically European'.

Those canals were everywhere. I'm told that when you visit Amsterdam and take the guided tour, they have a standard joke: 'Amsterdam has 88 canals, which are all about 3 meters deep. That's 1 meter of water, 1 meter of dirt, and one meter of stolen bicycles.'
Central amersfoort was just amazing. Very beautiful, very 'clasically European'.



Those canals were everywhere. I'm told that when you visit Amsterdam and take the guided tour, they have a standard joke: 'Amsterdam has 88 canals, which are all about 3 meters deep. That's 1 meter of water, 1 meter of dirt, and one meter of stolen bicycles.'

Walking through central Amersfoort from the brewery to the restaurant. I love all the stonework buildings and bridges.
Walking through central Amersfoort from the brewery to the restaurant. I love all the stonework buildings and bridges.

I thought everything in this little town was photogenic.
I thought everything in this little town was photogenic.

The town square. Rob S., our host, tells us the clock tower is the largest Beatles jukebox in the world. I suppose that means it plays Beatles tunes, but I didn't get the chance to hear it chime while we were there.

I love how the buildings look like little Lego buildings.
The town square. Rob S., our host, tells us the clock tower is the largest Beatles jukebox in the world. I suppose that means it plays Beatles tunes, but I didn't get the chance to hear it chime while we were there.



I love how the buildings look like little Lego buildings.

We didn't throw any coins into this fountain... Money was tight on this trip!
We didn't throw any coins into this fountain... Money was tight on this trip!

A huge stone church across from the restaurant where we had dinner.
A huge stone church across from the restaurant where we had dinner.

Another perspective of the church. Rachel is tying her shoe, a procedure that was necessary about a billion times over the course of the trip.
Another perspective of the church. Rachel is tying her shoe, a procedure that was necessary about a billion times over the course of the trip.

I snapped this photo on a whim, and I'm rather proud of the composition and tonal range. It looks like a black-and-white photo, but it's in full color, the cloudy evening just made everything very monochrome. If I were in my high school photography class, I think this would have gotten submitted for my final. :-)
I snapped this photo on a whim, and I'm rather proud of the composition and tonal range. It looks like a black-and-white photo, but it's in full color, the cloudy evening just made everything very monochrome. If I were in my high school photography class, I think this would have gotten submitted for my final. :-)

During the course of the trip, I enjoyed trying to translate the various Dutch and German signs. This one clearly says 'beware of obstacles in your wedgie'.
During the course of the trip, I enjoyed trying to translate the various Dutch and German signs. This one clearly says 'beware of obstacles in your wedgie'.

At dinner at the ribs restaurant. Fantastic food, and an astronomical bill. Rob called it the Restaurant Bill From Hell. But very worth it.

Rob had commissioned a special dessert for the occasion, which was named the 'Sonic Blue'. It was commissioned before Sonic Blue went belly up, of course. :-)
At dinner at the ribs restaurant. Fantastic food, and an astronomical bill. Rob called it the Restaurant Bill From Hell. But very worth it.



Rob had commissioned a special dessert for the occasion, which was named the 'Sonic Blue'. It was commissioned before Sonic Blue went belly up, of course. :-)

On the way back to the bus from the restaurant.

The little town was eerily quiet and deserted, yet completely lit up. Everyone in this photo is a member of our group heading back to the bus, there was no one else around. It felt like we were walking down the 'Main St USA' section of Disneyland after the park had closed. It was very beautiful and quiet.
On the way back to the bus from the restaurant.



The little town was eerily quiet and deserted, yet completely lit up. Everyone in this photo is a member of our group heading back to the bus, there was no one else around. It felt like we were walking down the 'Main St USA' section of Disneyland after the park had closed. It was very beautiful and quiet.

I didn't take many photos at the meet itself, but I did manage to snap this one of Hugo displaying the new incredibly small disk drive that's going to be in their next line of portable players.

Note: The disk drive is actually smaller than it appears in this photo, due to scale considerations. You have to account for the fact that it's Hugo holding it, rather than a normal-sized person.
I didn't take many photos at the meet itself, but I did manage to snap this one of Hugo displaying the new incredibly small disk drive that's going to be in their next line of portable players.



Note: The disk drive is actually smaller than it appears in this photo, due to scale considerations. You have to account for the fact that it's Hugo holding it, rather than a normal-sized person.

Near our hotel were these odd looking apartment buildings. I think they were trying to make them look deliberately Dutch, as if they were built from an old windmill or something. I thought they just looked cheesy.

I don't think we actually saw a single old-style windmill our entire time in Europe.
Near our hotel were these odd looking apartment buildings. I think they were trying to make them look deliberately Dutch, as if they were built from an old windmill or something. I thought they just looked cheesy.



I don't think we actually saw a single old-style windmill our entire time in Europe.

Saturday night, after the meet, the party at Rob Schofield's house.

This is the 'Feely Bag Game'. Various interesting parts and objects related to empeg were sealed inside of black bags. We had to figure out what was inside each one just from feel alone.

You had to be really good, though. For example, it wasn't enough just to know that the object inside the bag was a laptop disk drive, you had to determine the manufacturer and the capacity. Which I did, on the nose. (Toshiba 6 gig. Reason: Distinctive rattle noise, and thickness of the drive, plus knowing that he would only put an old worthless drive into the game.)

Other examples of good ones: It wasn't enough to know that the object was a volume knob. It wasn't even enough to know that it was a Mark 2 (not 2a) volume knob. You had to know that it was one of the 'Rob's Knob' replacement Mark 2 knobs, because if you felt really carefully, you'd feel the extra O-ring gasket loose in the bag with the knob. 

All in all, a very fun game.
Saturday night, after the meet, the party at Rob Schofield's house.



This is the 'Feely Bag Game'. Various interesting parts and objects related to empeg were sealed inside of black bags. We had to figure out what was inside each one just from feel alone.



You had to be really good, though. For example, it wasn't enough just to know that the object inside the bag was a laptop disk drive, you had to determine the manufacturer and the capacity. Which I did, on the nose. (Toshiba 6 gig. Reason: Distinctive rattle noise, and thickness of the drive, plus knowing that he would only put an old worthless drive into the game.)



Other examples of good ones: It wasn't enough to know that the object was a volume knob. It wasn't even enough to know that it was a Mark 2 (not 2a) volume knob. You had to know that it was one of the 'Rob's Knob' replacement Mark 2 knobs, because if you felt really carefully, you'd feel the extra O-ring gasket loose in the bag with the knob.



All in all, a very fun game.

Our host in his backyard, firing his makeshift cannon.

Basically, you get a little lighter fluid, some air, and some paper wadding into a big tube and light it. Not dangerous, it just makes a flash and a neat sound.
Our host in his backyard, firing his makeshift cannon.



Basically, you get a little lighter fluid, some air, and some paper wadding into a big tube and light it. Not dangerous, it just makes a flash and a neat sound.

(477 Kilobyte AVI video file)

An early firing of the cannon, before they got the technique down properly. Note that it's very dark in his back yard out by the barbeque, so this file is mostly amusing for its audio commentary.
(477 Kilobyte AVI video file)



An early firing of the cannon, before they got the technique down properly. Note that it's very dark in his back yard out by the barbeque, so this file is mostly amusing for its audio commentary.

(1.2 Megabyte AVI video file)

Rob injures himself attempting to fire the cannon. (Listen to the audio track.) It's always funny when it's happening to someone else. :-)
(1.2 Megabyte AVI video file)



Rob injures himself attempting to fire the cannon. (Listen to the audio track.) It's always funny when it's happening to someone else. :-)

(654 Kilobyte AVI video file)

A good solid firing of the cannon.

Note: There are some much better cannon movies in Rob Riccardelli's Gallery.
(654 Kilobyte AVI video file)



A good solid firing of the cannon.



Note: There are some much better cannon movies in Rob Riccardelli's Gallery.

Patrick Arnold and the amazing technicolor VR car.

Designed as a prototype for a model airplane VR system, it's two full-bandwidth analog video cameras transmitting to a very clear (and surprisingly small) VR headset. All of the electronics bits were designed and made custom by Patrick. Very impressive!
Patrick Arnold and the amazing technicolor VR car.



Designed as a prototype for a model airplane VR system, it's two full-bandwidth analog video cameras transmitting to a very clear (and surprisingly small) VR headset. All of the electronics bits were designed and made custom by Patrick. Very impressive!

This is the car itself, actually a 4WD electric truck. Its size isn't very clear in this photo, it looks smaller than it really is. Trust me, I rode all the way from London to Cambridge with it riding on my lap. :-)
This is the car itself, actually a 4WD electric truck. Its size isn't very clear in this photo, it looks smaller than it really is. Trust me, I rode all the way from London to Cambridge with it riding on my lap. :-)

A party guest watches through the VR headset as Patrick drives the truck around. Paul (Thinfourth), Melkon (CrazyMelki), and Thomas (Speedy67) look on. A real crowd-pleaser, everyone's reaction was the same as soon as they put on the headset: 'WOW!'
A party guest watches through the VR headset as Patrick drives the truck around. Paul (Thinfourth), Melkon (CrazyMelki), and Thomas (Speedy67) look on. A real crowd-pleaser, everyone's reaction was the same as soon as they put on the headset: 'WOW!'

Patrick pilots the vehicle towards people's legs, seems to be the best way to show off the 3-D. :-)
Patrick pilots the vehicle towards people's legs, seems to be the best way to show off the 3-D. :-)

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