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Icy Report

Submitter: Jan Noordam
Description: This picture was taken last thursday (2 Feb 2012) on the little pond close to the Dwingeloo observatory. When it is freezing, people go there during lunch to test the thickness and quality of the ice, and to dream of the skating ahead. As you can see, the ice was of an unusual quality, and the wheather reports promised a week of effortless gliding from village to village along the ubiquitous Dutch waterways. There was even talk about the possibility of an "Elfstedentocht", the gruelling 220 km around the eleven cities of Friesland.

Unfortunately, amidst great groaning and gnashing of teeth (especially by the grizzled variety of Dutchmen), a single morning of snow on Friday seemed to ruin it all. The pristine mirror of ice was covered by 5-15 cm of useless prettiness, which made it difficult to see the weak spots, or the rough bits that can turn the graceful flight on an eagle into the undignified landing of a Gooney bird. Moreover, the insulating snow slowed the further thickening of the ice.

But fortunately, there was no thawing, so the snow did not spoil the ice itself. And, since skating is big business in the Netherlands, a huge army of chaps with sweeping devices of all kinds and sizes started to clean trails all over the place. You can even buy a map of Friesland that shows the routes that are guaranteed to be swept.

So, if you have dealings with ASTRON or JIVE, do not be surprised if your interlocutor is difficult to find in the coming week. While the greybeards are away, trying to impress each other (and themselves) on the frozen lakes and canals, there will be a skating party for the rest on tuesday, on this same pond, complete with "koek en zopie".
Copyright: JEN
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