Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rembrandt lunging!!

rembrandt does lunges!! did you know? the painter? yes! i didnt know either, until we had a proper look at this statue you can see above. a lunge? no, not lunch. tim is trying to do a lunge too, but as you can see, its totally wrong, while rembrandt's lunge is perfect.
never heard of a lunge? i dont know when i heard of them first (probably when i saw bojos do them in the gym, heavy weights in hand)... i do very well remember when i did one for the first time. it was not too long ago, and i didnt have to do one, but many of them, while holding a barbell on my shoulders. ehm yes, i was following a "body pump" class. result? i could barely walk down the stairs for days afterwards. ugh.... now i try to do them every now and then, and although wikipedia says that "the lunge is a basic movement that is fairly simple to do for beginner athletes", i dont think its really that easy.... (or perhaps im just not an athlete...). here you can watch a video as to how to do a proper lunge. but you can also just look at rembrandt above, whahahaha.
this is along the river amstel. we biked there on saturday, as it was another great after-summer-day. no jackets needed! behind rembrandt you see a "molen", which was built in 1636. lunging rembrandt was placed next to in 1969, 300 years after he died. many of rembrandt's drawings were made along this stretch of river. i just wonder whether he was always lunging when he painted. then he must have had some powerful leg and butt-muscles! ;)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Weekend flowers

took this last week while working from home. one of the things i like about my work is that it is totally ok to work a day from home. its even stimulated... whereas with labwork that wasnt possible of course, now all i need is a computer and an internet connection (more or less...). at first i was hesitant, but i am slowly getting into the habit of staying home on wednesdays. unfortunately, i dont win a lot of time with it, although each tuesday evening i hope i will. but come wednesday morning.... i really do NOT want to get out of bed as early as i have to when i need to catch the train... so... the won time in the morning is usually slept away, and in the evening its spent in the gym. the dishes? still there.... :)
ah, but i did find some time to take a picture of this plant on our table..... :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Netherlands!

no, this is not an open air museum or something. this is an actual city, Edam, not too far from amsterdam. we were there 2 weeks ago, just driving around a bit. it was so cute, but as usual these days, i hardly took pictures. i just snapped a few when we were in the car again already, so this one is a bit crooked.
the days are rapidly getting shorter. its now dark out when i leave for work in the morning. buuuhhhh. it wont be too long before i will leave and return while its dark. i should still tell you about my work! in fact, there is so much i like to write about. and pictures i like to show... but then its evening, and suddenly its time for bed and then.... im just too tired.... at the moments days go by so fast! i guess im still not in some sort of rhythm. i do think getting up so early is a little less terrible as it was in the very beginning... :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Morning ride

here most of the fog hd gone already, but saturday morning it was very foggy! as often these days (sometimes leading to terrible accidents on the road, like last week....). i was in the place with no internet for the weekend (i.e. groningen), so no posts... i had planned to post from the train on friday, but then the internet was not working... now im back in the train to work, and i do have a connection (but who knows for how long!!). its 6.45 and still very quiet, although crowded... last time i took this train it was filled with young kids, making so much noise!! ugh... hopefully they wont come today, i am really enjoying this quiet.
its still dark out (in the evenings its getting dark so early again too. buuuhhh), so i wont be able to enjoy the foggy fields for the coming hour or so... time to see check what i missed because of a weekend without internet (not that much, probably...)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

While waiting

yesyes. defending your PhD in the Netherlands is a very serious business. you need to dress up, and everything goes according a strict protocol. the candidate and his/her 2 paranymphs have to be present well in advance. so there is time to get the "protocol" explained, and even practice a little (where to stand, when to sit, where to bow to the committee). of course, we were even earlier than "well in advance". but that was fine. did i mention already the weather has been great this september?! while august was awful, september feels like summer. as a result, we were overheated when arriving at the place where it would all happen; its not easy walking around in fancy clothes i can tell you....
we had to wait in the above room, so i had some time to take pictures. i guess you are supposed to work up your nerves in this room, but this was a better way to spend our time.... no? :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Biggest fan

this was saturday a week ago. the little boy in the green shirt was so very happy and bouncing around... many, many times he tried to climb the stage, and a few times he actually did. so funny to suddenly see him sitting on the stage. until his mom got him off again... but then he returned at another place and did it again.
today the train was delayed when getting back from work. actually, i ran for it (if i dont i have to wait 15 minutes, and i dont like waiting), but then i just sat in the train, and it didnt move. after 2 minutes i got annoyed (with trains and such i get annoyed easily). with 5 i wondered what was going on (as were my fellow passengers. people started to check their watches. ah no, their phones. i checked my watch). a little later the train driver announces that the conductor is missing. by then i could almost take another train that would actually be more convenient for me (as i then dont need to take the subway, but immediately would get where i had to go). another train comes in and i hestitate a bit more (my more convenient train?!). in the end i did get out, only to get into an even later train in the same direction... :(
the worst part of it all? the above is extremely boring, AND they were actually handing out free icecream at the station to celebrate that they finished some major construction work. i passed, since i had to run for my 20+ minutes delayed train.... :(

Friday, September 12, 2014

Autumn already!

just a quick post. we baked a dutch apple pie, but now its late already.... soooooo, time to sleep so we can finally taste it tomorrow... (no, seriously!).
i took the above picture this past sunday. some places really look like autumn already. but... while we had some awful, rainy, autumn-like days in august, september started great. last week we had lunch outside, and in the evenings i could sit in the sun on the balcony! this weekend is supposed to be rather summery too! yaaajjj!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

University wedding

so. not yesterday, but the day before already tim defended his PhD thesis. that took 45 minutes, as tradition dictates. when the 45 minutes were over, the lady with the black hat came into the room, hit her stick onto the ground to indicate the defense was done. then all the professors (you cannot see them, they are in front of tim here, sitting behind the red tables) went into some room to decide whether tim should get his PhD. after a short while they came back, and yes, he got it! in the photo above (taken by my sister, the official tim-phd-defense-photographer), tim just got his diploma, its in the red thingie he is holding in his hands. right now he is listening to the "laudatio" given by his PhD advisor. 2 "paranimfen" are sitting behind tim (one of them being me, perhaps you can figure out which one! ;) ). paranymphs are similar to best men/bridesmaids in weddings... as in fact you marry the university (really!! i always said so, and now i read wikipedia says the same, so it must be true!). nowadays, the role of the paranymph is purely ceremonial, but in the old days they could also help answering questions during the defense. in fact, we all 3 worked in the same lab (yes, i worked a bit with tim, and yes, even one chapter in his thesis is actually "my" paper!). soo.... during the defense i actually felt like answering as well... just when they asked about "my" chapter... of course i could not have done it better than tim did... :)
it was a very nice day and evening. but exhausting!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Big day...

this is tims thesis! its about the work he did in boston. after a successfull defense, he will finally be a PhD. just like me, so then we are even again.... :P ah no, he is also an MD, and i am not and never will be one.... 
but anyways. so he did publish a paper recently that was also picked up by news sites all over the world. perhaps you saw it? here is a link to the BBC news, and it was also on the dutch news site nu.nl (here), or a more serious link, here. it was really interesting to see how news sites were just copying the story from other sites, changing it bits by bits (not always correct), at some point tims name got lost too, and in some articles they even prominently name the photographer that was hired to take some pictures..... (the above picture was taken by tim himself, btw). there are also interviews, with the second author and the boss (ah, and i already forgot again, with tim as well!!), here and here.
so, this famous person is getting his PhD tomorrow!!
now, if you are around the netherlands, or utrecht, more specifially, you can witness this defense, as it is a public happening. just be at "het academiegebouw" at the domplein in utrecht tomorrow, september 9, at half past 2 (well, then it starts, so i would be there 5-10 minutes in advance...). its fun to witness a dutch PhD defense if you have never seen one.... (here you can see where the defense will take place).
edit; here is the official announcement. and here (unfortunately there is no full access) is the original researchpaper i refer to above... im just as bad as those news sites... :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Endless baking....!

soooo...... the last of my 10 breads is now in the oven.... pfew!! i started thursday with the first batch (then you onlw throw some sourdough starter, flour and water together. but still, you need to think ahead!), kneaded most breads yesterday (and baked 2 as well, that need to "rest" at least 12 hours before you slice them, to let the flavors enhance and blend together), and then started baking this morning. i think i put the oven on around 8, and now, 5 in the afternoon, its still on and has hardly been off..... aside for 2 of the "easy" breads (ie no sourdough breads), i kneaded them all by hand, as you can see here.... i dont mind the kneading. the baking is the trickiest part, and takes the most time (especially since only bread fits each time, as opposed to my american oven where i could do 2!). each time, even though i baked bread so often now, i sill wonder whether "it worked" this time, and how the bread looks (during the first part of baking the bread is covered, so its always a surprise...) flour is everywhere, and i could find some dough on the dress as well, as usual....
anyways.... now its almost done! i baked a variety of breads and i hope people will like them. since i was baking anyways, i also baked 1 bread for our own lunch (yum!), and some apple cake yesterday...  after this, i think the oven needs a break.... :) and time for us to finally check out the festival!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What baguette?!

saw this in edinburgh, scotland, when we were there in july. we were looking for a restaurant, but this was just a sad, sad alley... i hoped to eat in the pub close to where we parked our car. but... while wandering around the kitchen had closed and we needed to find something else. we had italian food. not the best. but not the worst either. i guess i was just hoping for the fish and chips....
anyways... this saturday there is some festival in our neigborhood. it was last year as well, but then we missed it (as we miss most things... somehow i was better at keeping track of all that was going on when we lived in boston!). this year.... i have been asked to bake 10 breads! as you might know, i like to bake bread. in the past few months, i have occassionally baked bread for strangers (there is a dutch food website where you can post your food and/or leftovers, and then people in your neighborhood can come pick it up paying the cost of the ingredients/to make it). and so now, someone asked me to bke 10 breads for this event. im stil, not sure how im going to do it in my tiny oven... but i do know some of the doughs i will have to start now for them to be ready as baked breads on saturday.... so now its time for the kitchen and then for bed.... :)
anyone who is around amsterdam, this is the event! there should be lots of food and what-not!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Real american....

...hotdogs! you can get them in amsterdam.....
i didnt try them. in the supermarket we also have "real american pizza", but then i went to america and couldnt find that "real american pizza" as i knew it....
like the "dutch cheese" thats not always dutch cheese if its not actually from the netherlands.... and so on and so on....
just recently i read in the newspaper that the ducth like starbucks. they dont mind to pay a little more for that coffee as it gives them the feeling of doing like the new yorkers do, walking around with a cup of coffee... i dont get it! we have good coffee and one of the things i missed when in the usa were the cafes where you could really sit down and get a real good coffee (not the diluted american stuff) in a real cup (tastes so much better in a cup as compared to a carton-to-go). but well.... i guess those dutch just want to goto new york!! (and i wouldnt mind a visit either... its been over a year now...)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Train rides...

i think this was a tulip field or something.... very flat, of course... :) theres always a tree-lined road somewhere near or in the distance (do you see the dots in the back?), very dutch too.... when in the train from amsterdam to utrecht (or groningen to utrecht), you speed through many green pastures. some with cows, others with sheep... some empty. i like staring out of the window, letting it all pass by. yesterday morning everything was covered in a layer of fog, and it was just so beautiful! for a moment i truly enjoyed the trip and didnt mind i was up so early....
in the afternoon the train was a little crowded, so when i finally found a seat, it was taken by a backpack. the girl in the seat next to the bag ignored my "sorry" (in american it would be "excuse me", of course). then she ignored some other noise i produced to make clear i wanted that seat ( i think the noise really made clear that she better remove the bag that instant, but she didnt even look up!) then, a bit louder (it felt like i was screaming but i probably wasnt), i asked (actually demanded) to sit there... she looked really pissed off and very slowly removed her bag, but continued to take more space than necessary. in the meantime someone else had removed his bag too, but by then the only seat i wanted was the one she refused to give up for as long as possible.
instances like that really make me dislike people. the entire train ride i was furious and she probably wasnt even aware that her behavior was ridiculous. i wonder whether at such moments it would be good if people could read my thoughts....? most likely not, during my commutes i have a lot (and i mean a LOT) of bad thoughts about the people around me... just like they have about me.... maybe?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Amsterdam houseboat

here you see some houseboat in a canal in amsterdam. i guess its a bit more expensive to have on in this city compared to groningen. also here, you are not really having a private place. on summer days many people will come by in boats. the houses on both sides, and of course the traffic and all the tourists... :) no garden either....
tommorrow regular life starts for most again; universities start the new year, all primary and secondary schools have started again... etc etc. by now most everyone should have come back from holidays. i had a quiet start into working life again over the summer. and now i just hope it wont be too crowded in the train....

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dark cloud

ok, another picture from last saturday. this was the scene when we arrived at the balloon festival. despite the really dark cloud there, we were hopeful it would not be too bad.....
i guess it was just 5 minutes later when rain came pouring down and the entire event was cancelled.....  it is interesting though that hundreds of people can disappear in no time when its suddenly starts to rain... so why are people often so slow in supermarkets, or in train stations (on the stairs, not moving aside, etc etc).... ? :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

House boats

these boats are not for sailing (anymore), they are for living!! some used to be real boats, others arent, and a few still can be used to get around..... this is in a canal in the city center of groningen.
tim also lives in a boat now. but not here! its a bit more outside the center, and there is a real garden, and more privacy.... ever since i visited a boat a few years back, i have wanted to live on one at least once... now i sort of do. in the weekends... :) for poor people like us its perfect; a free standing house!!! who can get something like that in the netherlands?! it moves too, gently (and sometimes a bit more, when large ships are passing through the large canal nearby... or because of the weather). its really a totally different experience, living on the water. its cute to see the ducks all assemble when you get into the kitchen. i guess they want food. and indeed, its very tempting to just throw whatever food you dont want into the water (that actually happens a lot, quite often an onion comes by, or an apple, or a piece of... etc etc). and its fun to see boats come by while you are having breakfast.... its not too big, but big enough (as most of the stuff is still here in amsterdam), and the kitchen is actually bigger than the one in amsterdam. or rather, its square instead of a long, narrow hallway, so 2 people can move around in it..... i should take some pics... next time im there! (this weekend tim is coming to amsterdam...)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bikes, bikes!

this is just a small selection of all the bikes we saw at the cancelled balloon festival. but when it started to rain, most of them were gone in no time! we really didnt want to bike in the rain (nor behind all the other people, most certainly biking slower than us... ;) ), so we just stood in the field and waited it out (there even was some hail!!). so yes, i guess it was a good decision that they cancelled it, i for sure would not have wanted to be in a hot-air balloon with rain and thunder...... (also really stupid how we watched the weather the entire day. but when it remained more or less dry, we just went and only saw the dark clouds upon arrival).
but isnt this a cute bike?! i like the big basket in the front. this is something that became fashionable the past few years, to carry all your stuff (instead of putting it on the back rack, or on your back). i have a much smaller wired one. i would like such a sturdy big one, if only it didnt make parking so much more difficult! (bike parking is a serious problem. nowadays i often goto the train station by bike, but i have to leave at least 5 minutes earlier so that i can find a spot to park my bike... now many people are still on holidays, so i expect it to get even worse in a few weeks).
some googling and i found the website belonging to this basket/bike. it belongs to a lady living near groningen, and, as you might have guessed, she bakes pies and cakes to order, and even delivers them in her neighborhood....

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer weather?!

the weather?! rain. and rain. some more rain. ah, and rain. by the way, its cold too. summer? noooo, not at all. feels more like autumn. buuuhhhh. i cannot remember for how long the weather is really crappy now, but its been quite a while. and its still raining. the past week we mostly had rain. and this weekend we had some. we were in Groningen, as i really wanted to go to a special happening on saturday evening. despite the forecasts, the weather was actually not too bad on saturday. we went shopping a bit in the city center. then we quickly went home, had a small dinner and rushed out again for the main event of the weekend, and something i seriously had looked forward too. not in the least as i would finally take some pictures again...
we biked 10 kms to a pasture somewhere outside groningen. there it would happend; the hot-air balloon festival. last year it was so crowded that police at some point asked people not to come anymore. in the morning we had read that despite the rain, the event would take place. and well, during the day we hardly had any rain, so we just went. the maximum-allowable-number-of-hot-air-balloons-in-the-netherlands would fill the air. and some would have funny shapes. jeeejjjj!! when we arrived (a bit late, we were worried it had already started), quite some people were about to leave. why? we asked. look, they said, and pointed to the sky (it might be that people from groningen speak less than people from amsterdam). oopps, it was indeed quite dark suddenly... but... the organizers announced that there was a chance it would still happen, so we waited. walked around a bit. and then... at the moment the organizers announced the entire thing was blown off because of bad weather and thunderstorms and what not, rain came indeed down like crazy. luckily we had one small umbrella and just stood there, like many others, waiting for it to stop..... (some people even found shelter in the dixies standing around, ugh....) while waiting i took this picture, as you can see the sky doesnt look too bad, but right behind and above us was quite a different story. and well.... merely 45 minutes after we arrived we biked back again, no hot air balloons for us.... just a little more rain while biking... :(

Monday, August 18, 2014

Early trains....

here you see 2 dutch train engines.
and then i wrote an entire story about my experience with trains since i went to secondary school. i was so bored by it that i removed it again.... :)
lets just say i took the train this morning at 6.45 am from groningen. i think i slept a bit during this ride, and i hope i didnt drool. i did catch myself with my mouth open, and wonder whether the lady opposite of me noticed it too; it probably wasnt pretty. i also tried to read, yet most of the times i was just holding the book and had my eyes closed. i dragged my laptop with me; i was certain i would work the 2 hours i was sitting in the train, but i didnt even get the thing out of my bag........
i still need to get used to commuting..... or at least spend this time in a more useful way..... 
i did see a rainbow last week. it was very pretty :) (but im not carrying my camera at the moment, like i used to in boston)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Look around!

this was back in may 2013 in new york. the last time me and tim went to new york before he moved back to the netherlands. i stayed a month longer, and went once more with my sister. 
we had quite rainy weather! and here it was coming down really heavily.... eventually we went into a cafe and had cake, just to escape the rain (ah, and for the cake, of course...). i think they put those "look" signs on several places to warn pedestrians that they shouldnt just cross the street, but actually look as well.... here in amsterdam they spray-painted some warnings on the street as well, mostly for bicyclists, telling them they should actually stop for the red light... (however most of these signs quickly faded away, so i still never took a picture of them...)
currently, the weather in the netherlands is really bad! buuuuhhh. feels like autumn with strong winds and lots of rain. i think last weekend the apartment block behind ours lost some of their roof (parts are still hanging in the trees), so this week they placed new pallets of "roof-stuff" on those roofs. but with those strong winds again, i am afraid it will be blown off again before they can use it....