Back in the hotel, at about 2 A.M, I followed the Holland-Russia match via a Dutch Internet radio station on my laptop. Very exciting stuff, though Holland didn't get into the game at all, from what I gather. (Chuk's comment that Holland does well at the start of competitions like this one and then does badly afterwards, makes sense now, and aligns with comments that Holland peaked too soon.) One of the radio commentators, Jack van Gelder, is a really great commentator. It was almost as if I was there, his descriptions and excitement was so vivid, to the point where the other commentators on the program paled into nothingness in comparison. I'm sure Guus Hiddink's Dutch football experience played a big role in Russia's victory. I think it's great that he has another big success in his illustrious career. Is there another coach in the world that has a track record that comes even close to his? South Korea, Australia, and now Russia. He's put them on the map as footballing nations. I've heard that a museum in his honor has been set up in his birthplace in Holland and that the most frequent visitors there are from South Korea. That's kind of funny. I think he's less appreciated in Holland than he is elsewhere because he is so typically Dutch. There's nothing too special about him apart from his Dutchness and his Dutch approach to things. That's what enabled him to cut through the age hierarchies between players in South Korea, for example.
Then in the morning as I was checking out, I was told the airport was closed because of the weather. Eventually I got there, with a taxi, through flooded streets (the taxi had to stop several times to take a deep breath before plunging into yet another long stretch of ankle-deep water) accompanied by someone else from the hotel who was going there too. As I got in through security at the entrance to the airport, the power failed and everyone (thousands of waiting passengers in the check-in queue) found themselves in pitch darkness (and stifling heat, without any kind of air conditioning or the smallest breath of wind). Many hours later I managed to check in. The commercial lights of western capitalism beyond the customs control section, behind the check-in counters, were like beacons of hope in the almost inhumane situation in the check-in queue. Through an odd twist of fate I ended up sitting in the emergency row, i.e., the row with most leg room. The KLM cabin crew were exceptionally hospitable, at least partly because they'd seen the conditions in which we'd been queueing at the check-in counters.
But then my flight arrived in Amsterdam a few hours later than planned and so I missed my connecting flight. Via a small trick I managed to get into the airport lounges that Roumen had introduced me to when we flew back from JavaOne. Life is much more sane here and there are free snacks and liquor as well as wireless. I'll return to Prague first thing in the morning.
However, I hope Tim got out of Manila ok, because he left the day after me, so he must have felt the effect of the typhoon far more than I did. Also, of course, my mind is with the people in the Philippines who are undergoing these extreme weather conditions. Pretty wacky to experience a typhoon first hand for the first time, even though only a very early stage of it. But the full brunt of the storm must be another thing altogether.
Before I forget, here's a pic I received from one of the people who visited the NetBeans booth at the Manila Sun Tech Days, after I demonstrated the Shakespeare/FreeTTS demo (mentioned in previous blog entries) to this group:
More pics from the same series can be found here!