Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

Where to start?  Well, everyone asks me about what I’ve been doing lately, so let me tell you about an adventure filled weekend.


At the end of January, Susie and I went to Amsterdam.  We hopped on the Telus, a fast train that has comfy chairs, and left on a Wednesday morning.  We were going for a couple of reasons: to meet Melissa Heng, a fellow alumni of my college paper; to talk about a potential job opportunity; and to get out of Paris, which was wet and cold.

We stayed in the Flying Pig hostel, recommended highly by a friend we met in Berlin.  It had great atmosphere, and no, I’m not talking about the smoke in the air.  The entrance was a cool bar with mood music ranging from blues to modern alternative.  The security was tight, with a code required to get in, then another to get into the hostel area proper.  The bar served Bailey’s Irish Creme, which I since have decided would have made a better covenant from God that any silly rainbow.  The stuff is good.

Unfortunately, the hostel rooms in the back weren’t as nice as the bar.  They, for one, were big.  Ours held 14 people.  The rest, I think, could hold from 6 to 20.  However, this was a good thing because, for two, the rooms weren’t heated.  And Amsterdam was cold, probably 5C/40F.  No matter how much Bailey’s one has in one, it’s still nice to have some ambient heat in the surrounding environment.  So 14 people are great for body heat, except, for three, Amsterdam is a college party town, and the rooms don’t fill up until 2 or 3 a.m., which, for four, makes it noisy and hard to catch some shut eye. For five, there were mice (or ate least, one mouse), I guess attracted by crumbs from all the munchies dropped by tired shivering partied out college students.

On the plus side, it was cheap. 😊

Melissa stayed across town in a nice hotel.  We didn’t see it, and she didn’t see our place.  It’s probably better that way.

Wednesday, we went to bed.  Thursday, we walked around and visited the Anne Frank House.  We met up with Melissa and toured the pedestrian area of Amsterdam, as well as a large department store.  The top floor of the department store had an interesting mix of punk-skater clothes, American food products (think Pop Tarts and Kraft Mac and Cheese) and extra mannequins for sale.  Oh, and those bead curtains from the ‘60s.  We also had lunch at The Pancake Factory, which was touristy but delicious.  My, but those Dutch make good pancakes!

So, Melissa, still suffering from jet lag because she had just flown in from Singapore, decided to cash in her chips (head back to the hotel) and Susie and I went to a show called Chicago Boom, an improv show.  We bought tickets in advance from the theater, then walked back out to find a restaurant for a bite to eat.


We walked down one block and had started up another street when this guy comes up behind us and yells something.  We ignore him.  He runs up between us, turns, points a shiny black gun at me and says to us, “Give me your money, give me all your money.”  I have since been informed that the gun was probably a 9mm of some sort.  It looked big and probably unlucky to me.  So I gave him my wallet.  Susie took out her wallet, removed the money and handed it to him.  Now, the guy, who I’ll call the butthead, thought this was a good idea, so the butthead hands me back my wallet, and tells me to take out the money.  Nice guy, eh?

So I did.  Then the butthead told me to show him that I hadn’t hidden any money and left it in my wallet.  I showed him.  Actually, I had kept some money, but it wasn’t easily visible.  He asked what the funny colored money I gave him was.  I said “Canadian.” The butthead said “Dat’s good.”

Then, he asked for our change—yes, our change.  Can you believe it!?  Unfortunately, I was suffering from unable-to-react-to-new-information-at-this-time syndrome, so instead of just handing him my change, I handed over my entire change purse, a pink, rather feminine, cloth sack that had a few coins in it.  So of course he took it, and Susie handed him some change, and he told us to walk away and not to look back, so I never saw what became of the change purse.  To this day, I have little piles of coins all over the apartment and in various drawers because I don’t have a change purse.  Its awful.  In case you’re wondering, it had sentimental value, and no I didn’t choose to have a pink change purse.


We were fairly stunned and upset, and need immediate comfort and security, so we headed, I’m ashamed to admit it even now, directly to a McDonald’s.  We just had to be off the street, you see.  Of course, we couldn’t actually buy anything, ha ha, so we had to leave and go to a bank machine.  It took a few minutes to find one in that area, but soon we were loaded up again for whoever wanted a piece of us.  We went back to McDonald’s and ordered some comfort food.  It was the first McDs wed had since we came to Europe (wed been adamant in our refusal to patronize one), but since that night, not the last. Once you’ve fallen from culinary grace, does it matter where you dine?


Well, the rest of the weekend was pretty calm.  Melissa and we visited several sites, ate a few meals, had some ice cream, and went our separate ways.  Susie and I took a canal cruise.  On Sunday, I had the job interview we went North for in the first place, but it hasn’t turned into a paying opportunity yet.  More on that later.  We got on a train and headed south, back to “warmer” climes. Ha ha again.


Well, that a whole other story.  You see at first, we wanted to pretend it didn’t happen, so we didn’t report it.  Besides, we didn’t exactly know where to go.  But we later bought a map (and found out we had only been three blocks form a police station).  And on Friday night, I met two Amsterdam inhabitants who said that a) mugging was fairly rare (yeah right) and b) that guns were even more rare, which I guess is true.  They said the police would want to know about this.  So the next day, Susie and I track down a police station and go to file a report.  We walk up to the door, and there’s two police standing outside.  They ask what we want.  I say we want to file a report.  One says, we don’t take reports here, and explains how to get to a police station that gives a damn.  But then he asks, what do are you going to report.  And I say, we were mugged.  And the police officer says, “What, like this?” And he GRABS MY JACKET AND STARTS SHAKING ME!  And I say, “Uh, no, with a gun.”  And I’m really glad he didn’t draw his.  But still I think its a little weird reaction, and I’m glad I hadn’t had to report a rape.  So he says that guns are rare, and he wants to know why we waited two days to report it, and he says that area is usually pretty safe.  Then he says, “Well, you do look like tourists, you know.” And I looked him straight in the eye and said “Yes, we ARE tourists.”  And we left, and didn’t bother reporting it.  I mean, come on.



Previous entry:
Arrival in Paris

Next entry:
What the Hell Are You Doing in Europe?


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

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“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

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“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

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“I play with variables constantly.”

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“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

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