Friday, December 31, 2010

Year 2010

the dutch call the last evening of the year old year's eve, whereas in english its new year's eve, something i never understood.... anyways.. we dressed up and were just in time to see the last bits of the fireworks for children at the boston common (at 6.45 this evening...). we then wanted to have dinner at a certain place, but to get in you had to prove to be above 21, which we could not (tims dutch driver's license wasnt accepted and i did not have any official form of ID, however, if they just had looked at us, it would have been clear that we passed 21 already....). so we went to the next place and there we could have dinner, but could not drink alcohol for the same stupid reason... then we had free espressos at a very fancy hotel-restaurant (after asking twice and waiting much too long the check might have arrived after our leaving.. :) )
we walked around a bit in boston, i tried to picture real american girls with impossible high heels and extremely short skirts, but the alley with car turned out much better.... :D
now we are at home, and in 20 minutes the new year will start! this year a lot of exciting things happened, most importantly our move to the US! now lets see what 2011 will bring..... surely i will document parts of it here, as i very much enjoy posting one picture a day.
happy new year!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

CVS Pharmacy

the CVS is a very american store, in my opinion.... often these stores are open 24/7. they sell a wide assortment of general merchandise including over-the-counter drugs (here a lot more/stronger drugs are available without a prescription than in the netherlands), beauty products and cosmetics, film and photo finishing services, seasonal merchandise, greeting cards and convenience foods (including candy and chips, but also milk and bread, but no fruits or vegetables). before writing this post, i never wondered what CVS stands for, but i thought i should know this when posting a pic of it! originally, CVS stood for Consumer Value Stores, but the CEO has said he now considers 'CVS' to stand for "Customer, Value, and Service" (all knowledge thanks to my friend wikipedia!). the CVS above is in the center of boston, and does not have a pharmacy, as most other CVS stores; there you can get prescription drugs. 
americans are very concerned about privacy, and the CVS gives you a Notice of Privacy Practices with each prescription drug, in which they describe that they wil not disclose your Protected Health Information (PHI), unless..... and then they virtually describe every possible circumstance in which they are allowed to disclose your health information to others... most reasons are boring; they could have spared me from all this reading by just writing; we will never disclose your information, unless we will disclose it. 
for those of you who made it to the end of this very boring post; the following reason to disclose your health information by CVS to others i found truly hilarious: "We may disclose your PHI to authorized federal officials so that they may provide protection to the President......" (suddenly your harmless prescription drug seems like a very powerful chemical weapon..., no?)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Back home

im amazed by the roads and sidewalks that are entirely cleared of snow!! this is the path next to our apartment. on sunday/monday a blizzard was roaring around in boston, a huge amount of snow fell, but yesterday all roads were cleared! compare that to the dutch and their little bit of snow... just ignoring it thereby making it impossible for many people (especially elderly) to go outside for their daily shoppings etc....
ah well.... cool to see all the snowmountains...!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Welcome back

"welcome back" thats what the officer said to me, after he checked my visa, passport, all forms that had to be filled out, stamped all those documents, took my fingerprints (all fingers) and a photo (would they have an internal blog or something where they display the most horrible pics of people arriving after long long flights...?). i have to admit; i liked that he said that... am i now one of them!?! but then i immediately thought "doe effe normaal zeg" (cannot translate that.. but literally; please, act normal..).
so, we were lucky, the blizzard yesterday/sunday cancelled many flights, yet our flights were not delayed. the only shitty thing is that tim's snowboard did not arrive with us in boston, resulting in waiting in yet another line... 
as we almost doubled our luggage, im now waiting for tim to get the car. great that allmost all airports have free internet nowadays so that i can update my blog! :) above a picture of a real dutch flower; the tulip. i was so amazed by the snow on this poor flower that only after 4 pics i realized these were fake.. its at the airport, so i guess they want to always be able to show visitors dutch flowers. although everyone ofcourse knows that tulips were originally from turkey are were imported about 400 years ago to the netherlands. but look here; in the US they even have a tulip festival! difference might be that in the netherlands you can buy 40 or sometimes even 60 tulips for just 5 euros (~7 dollars), while here, back home (!!), it will cost you probably a lot more...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lucky santa

maybe im oldfashioned, but i think its weird i now already saw 2 shops portraying santa in a not very child-friendly way... previously we had freaky santa in boston, and now, as the shop decorated, lucky santa in utrecht... 
as mentioned yesterday, the dutch have 2 christmasdays... googling around taught me that we used to have even 4 christmasdays in the year 813, as determined by the catholic church... on those 4 days you were not supposed to work as that might cause bad luck; only work that really had to be done was allowed. christmasday one was a "gezellig" (cosy) feast at home with family, day 2 a bit more festive and was called the big horseday (eh?); farmers would go around on their horses and this would protect the horses against diseases. the 3rd day to commemorate the saint of friendship, and the 4th day was for children; they were in charge this day.... soon, the 4th day disappeared (why?), and then in 1773 also the third day was no longer a holiday. but only since 1964 the dutch consider the 25th and 26th as official holidays... the second day now usually spent at a "meubelboulevard", i.e. home furnishing shops..... (why oh why??!)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmasday two

unlike americans, the dutch take 2 days to celebrate christmas... recently, more and more shops (especially in amsterdam and big supermarkets) open at least at the second day. i walked around in my hometown today with my sister and big fancy camera; but most pictures i took turned out to be very disappointing. this is a reflection of myself in the window of the bakery in the center of Weesp. behind me one of the many churches, and on the window a poem from the dutch poet ida gerhardt. i just looked up the poem and its a very nice, apparently very well known poem... i searched everywhere for an english translation, but couldnt find a complete one.... :( but this is a good description i stole from here: "She sketches the sense of hope and beauty she experienced when she heard someone playing the bells of a nearby church. The time was 1941, the place: her city of Rotterdam, bombed the year before. She saw the people in the streets, their faces grey with misery; then, suddenly, the heavenly sounds coming from high up, from the church belfry. Their faces lightened up; the very sound of chimes filled them with awe and wonder. They looked up and listened, enjoying the marvel of the carillon – that most Dutch of all musical instruments." for the entire poem in dutch, go here.
meanwhile, it has been snowing in boston (buuuh, i missed that), and a blizzard has arrived; new york city cancelled 1000 flights... good i have 1 more day in the netherlands.....

Saturday, December 25, 2010

While driving

yesterday we drove to my parent's place (the tree mystery has not been solved yet), and instead of taking the highway, we took the side roads; it gives you a beautiful view of the netherlands. you drive by beautiful enormous houses, sometimes a castle, the loosdrechtse plassen... pretty pretty pretty!
above not my parent's place... :D but house trompenburgh, located in 's graveland. originally built in 1654, but destroyed by the french and rebuilt between 1675-1684. taken while driving by. every first sunday of the month between april and october you can visit this place. so that would be another point in my travel guide: dont stay in amsterdam, but rent a car (or go by bike!), avoid the highway ("snelweg") and enjoy the view....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry christmas!!

a christmas tree for christmas eve...... :) in dutch: fijne kerstdagen to all of you!!
this tree is in a dutch mall, in my opinion quite a difference as compared to us shopping malls. almost all american malls (well, ofcourse the ones i have been to so far) give me such a sad feeling. but, although i think this building is quite a bit more pretty, this is a sad mall too...... this is magna plaza in amsterdam, a former post office, built in 1899, and converted to shopping mall in 1990. in my tourist guide i would advice to go there just to see the building (and i would have to find out why the post office had to be that huge), but the shops are not that interesting; yesterday i saw that many shops were vacant.
anyways.. enjoy your christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tourist guide

the tallest buildings in a US city are skyscrapers, in the Netherlands it is the church... above the st. bavochurch or "grote kerk" (large church) in haarlem, where we were yesterday. it is truly enormous and placed on a large square.
if i were to write a tourist guide, this would be my advice: for lunch or breakfast, goto the V&D warehouse, dont be fooled by the ground floor small dining area, but goto the uppermost floor, where you will find a large dining area with nice seats and a magnificent view of the city. i before showed you utrecht, and here is haarlem, as mentioned. the other advantage is that the food will be cheaper, and you will loose less time than in a restaurant or cafe, where the service, especially in larger cities, really is not that good (usually); at the V&D you yourself take what you want and bring it to your seat. ok.. maybe we got used to the service in the US; much faster! and now became too impatient for the dutch waiters. on tuesday we went out to dinner in utrecht, and we had to wait over an hour for the main course! even after asking the waiter he did not show any effort or compassion... dessert; same story, even so the cook just had to slice some applepie and put it on a plate. although the food was good, they did not once ask whether it all was fine and whether it was enough (probably it was enough... but i would have liked a bit more fries, im here only a few days!! and they were soooo good!). he forgot to bring the drinks several times... etc etc. thats because in the netherlands waiters get a decent salary and do not depend on tips (like in the us); you thus are not at all obliged to give a tip, and defenitely not 20% as is common in the US. in utrecht most waiters are students that have this job on the side and they just do not care at all! so... that would be the next point in my travel guide; if you find the service bad; do not tip! maybe then they will finally learn....... and you will save money; dont forget; you are in the netherlands, so why not behave as a dutch?! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Freezing books

"de vries" is a very common last name in the netherlands, but leaving out the "de", you get freezing books, as pictured above.... :) yup, it is still freezing, and the snow is still abundantly present... also at the beach!
de vries is a bookstore in Haarlem, and has been there since 1905; the shop seemed huge and very pretty, and most importantly; stuffed with books... we didnt go inside, (im already worried how to get everything we accumulated the past few days back to boston) but i liked their christmas decoration so much that i took a picture... the girl above then said to her mother: we have to show these stars to dad. her mother asked: but how? and then the girl said; well, we should also take a picture!
the new york city neighborhood harlem is named after haarlem; but there the resemblance stops... i would say, after having seen both....  however, in this time zone it is very late now, so if you want to catch up on your harlem wikipedia reading, click here, and for the dutch haarlem, click here... good night!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Utrecht mirror

this mirror is on the tolsteegsingel in utrecht. the street goes along the water and it all is soo pretty there! the houses, the water, simply everything... with the snow even the mirror becomes worthwhile... :)
it has hardly snowed since we arrived on saturday; most of the snow fell just before... (buuuh, i missed that!), but it has been freezing since, so the snow is everywhere, as for whatever reason nothing is being undertaken to remove it from the streets. most people are just biking as if there is no snow... i keep being amazed and tim keeps telling me that i talk like an 80-year-old, all those people are dutch after all, and know how to bike... :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Amsterdam streets

we went for some shopping in amsterdam today! there is snow here since friday, and totally nothing has been done to get rid of it.... so all the streets now have a greyish, mouchy (is that a word?) layer of snow, at other places its not mousse, but just a thick layer of slippery ice. at one particular spot where it was real slippery, they had placed 5 policemen, and they prevented people to walk there; that looked so stupid to me!! they rather should have given them a shovel to remove the ice there, no?
this is at koningsplein (king's square), on the bridge. as you can see, many bikes are attached to the bridge, as rule number one for trying to not get your bike stolen is to lock it onto something. its often quite hard to find a parking spot for your bike; the good places are usually taken... :) 
the girl in the front looks rather dutch to me, and behind her is a real dutch bike, a "bakfiets", they became quite popular in recent years as you can use them to transport whatever you want (your 3 children, or your groceries or even to move your furniture...)
not the best pic, but i wanted to show the dirty streets!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

So beautiful

today we were at the airport again; this time to say bye to a friend of tim's, and to get his car keys. as his car was close to utrecht, we went there and i marveled at the beauty of this city!! the entire time i lived there i realized how pretty it is, but after being gone and seeing it again i could only think; it truly is a beautiful city. with or without snow!of course not much changed while we were gone, but my favorite sandwich shop (that i discovered only 2 months before we left) was gone... :( we were already imagining which one we would take and then sneak into the place with the view. buuuuhhhh!!
even though none of the small roads was cleared of snow, sooo many people were biking! i am always terrified and probably because of that i usually slip and (almost) fall. roads are on either side of this gracht ("canal") and in the right corner you see the Dom.... you can see its beauty from sooo many angles while walking through the city.... :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snowy suitcase

i am now awake for more than 36 hours.... beeeegghhh. first work yesterday morning, then the supermarket (icelandair makes you pay for your meal in the plane and we are dutch, after all, even after 9 months US (or even more so?)), then cleanup of the apartment, then airport with a too heavy suitcase and 3 transfers; ah no, our perfect apartment is not located optimally considering airport access :) seeing boston in the dark from above was real cool, but i didnt recognize anything... 
i was a little worried as there was quite some snow again in the netherlands and the news had stories that it was a total chaos on the roads and many flights delayed or cancelled. but we left snowless boston without problems, landed into iceland that surely looked icy but snowless as well, and then approached an entirely white netherlands; beautiful from above as well. scary during landing (at least for me), wouldnt that be slippery?! but it all went smooth (except me sleeping; didnt happen). luggage was kind of a mess, so many people and it lasted forever; then we discovered many people that were waiting there for their luggage had in fact just checked in in amsterdam, but due to cancelled flights, had to pick it right up again.... i guess we were very lucky as many many flights got cancelled (also an earlier direct flight from boston).
the combination suitcase and snow turned out to be less fun.... pictured above... buuugh. i like that in the background another couple was posing, and i just saw that the building on the left has the word "oren" (i.e. ears) on it, most likely the T got just cut off (ie toren; tower).
now finally time for bed... although a little early in this timezone....

Friday, December 17, 2010

Going home!

currently im at boston airport, waiting for our flight to iceland.... and then to... amsterdam, the netherlands! after 9 months we now go back for christmas!
above you see another city, utrecht.. where we certainly will go as well, as i prefer it over amsterdam... this view is from the food/dining area of the V&D (a warehouse comparable to Macy's, i guess); i used to always drag everyone to this place as the view is so magnificent (and, if you do it secretly, you can bring your own food and just buy a coffee/tea while enjoying the view). look how different it is from usa.... :) in the back is the "dom" the most beautiful church in utrecht; every time  i look at it i am amazed by its beauty.. even after having lived in that city for 5 years. it is the tallest church tower in the netherlands, built in 1382 (!!) and it used to be the tallest building in utrecht; until 1 or 2 years ago, it was not allowed to build a building exceeding the length of the tower... but they recently started to build a huge bank building.. (maybe it got finished during the time we were gone?)  perhaps you can see, or not, but behind the church tower is the other part of the church that is not (anymore) connected to the tower. due to a fierce (found that word on wikipedia!) storm in 1674 that part was destroyed, probably due to bad construction; they had put all their effort to create that beautiful tower..... :)
ah, im looking forward to go home.... how will it be after being gone for 9 months? (and take some pictures of the dom with my new fancy camera!!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas lights

on tuesday we went back to the decorated house. i really wanted to see it in the dark... ofcourse we could not find it at first... driving around we actually saw many many houses with a lot of decoration. whenever there was, it was not just a bit, but always many lights.. on trees, on the porch... everywhere possible.. but all of those many lights were nothing... compared to the house above. sooooo much!!! it was impressive, and in the dark actually quite nice, although over the top. on the photo you cannot see how much it was, unfortunately... you can see a car standing there; they were watching too! luckily it was not a supercrowded street, but not entirely empty either, and most cars driving by reduced their speeds to have a look at the sea of light, some even stopping entirely... could be dangerous!
while taking pics lights started to go off.. thats why i choose this pic, despite the car; it has the most lights still on... maybe the electrical current got overloaded with soo much needed to light all this?!
the house next to it did not have one light... :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No crime

although you are not allowed to watch inside the great hall when the freshmen have their food, its no crime to look through the window when its empty, right? above what me and my camera saw... doesnt it look like harry potter? :)
as for the harvard library urine incident: it happened actually already a few weeks back, and then was reported as an accident by the person who tripped over the bottle of urine. only later it somehow got listed as a possible "hate crime" and was investigated by the university police. they however came to the conclusion that, although it were gay and lesbian books, was "just" an accident, and there was "just" a bottle of urine located at the wrong place. nowhere it was mentioned WHY there was such a bottle with pee in a library in the first place??!! now i found a post on this website where someone poses the following: it is finals week at the university, so everyone is studying real hard. possibly... someone was studying soooo hard in the library, that he/she could not even get up to go to the restroom and instead did it in a bottle. seems plausible... although... crazy?! i especially like the last sentence: "Harvard's damaged books on gay issues turning out to be a accident instead of a hate crime is quite a relief to the compus' GLBT community. Finals are tense enough without thinking someone they study with could be that nasty."
so, thats it, no hate, no crime, just harvard pee..... not very prestigious though...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wet accident

above the memorial hall in cambridge, from harvard univeristy. according to my friend wikipedia it is now a national historic landmark. in 1877 it was completed. the hall's great room is used as the dining hall for freshmen, and you are not allowed to have a look inside (those poor hardworking students are at harvard, and need to study! they arent monkeys you can watch...). i did however once have a peek inside, and that was soooo cool!! it totally looked like the great dining hall in the harry potter movie (at least so i think..).
clearly this picture was taken when there was more sun out.. but i just read something sooo weird in the newspaper related to harvard that a harvard pic was necessary... :) according to the newspaper, 36 books, all dealing with gay and lesbian studies, were damaged by urine. urine??!! harvard issued a statement that the books were damaged "when a library staffer accidentally knocked over a bottle of urine that had somehow been placed on the shelf where the staffer was stocking books". eh? how did that get there? why? the headline of the newspaper thus is "hate in the halls of harvard?" 
surely i keep you updated if more news on this follows....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tobin bridge

above you see in the back a part of the tobin bridge. i still do not know whether i find this bridge pretty or ugly, but surely i find it fascinating. it leads you from chelsea (where the photo was taken) to charlestown. this is only a small part of the bridge, it is 3 km long! and has 2 levels. we drove a few times on the lower level, and i find it a little scary, it all seems so narrow and low. on top of that, there is always a digital traffic sign saying "please drive safely", indicating to me that on this bridge you really have to be careful, thereby making me feel even less safe.. it crosses the mystic river, and therefore this bridge is sometimes called the mystic river bridge (but i never heard that). it was built between 1948 and 1950. so that explains why it looks sooo old! it is old! i have tried now already from many angles and at several locations to take a nice picture.. but never managed. luckily there is the internet; here is a beautiful picture of it! ah, and the internet also tells me that Tobin was a former mayor of boston and Mass governor. a less nice detail; someone once jumped from that bridge to commit suicide. and somewhere else i see someone calling it the "green river killer"... ah, maybe! depends at what picture you look!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Posing with...

santa! as opposed to the previous time (my goodness, was he really there already at november 7?! and wow, is time running by quickly...), now many parents wanted their kids pictured with santa. not all children were happy about it, some were crying and some could not be made posing with santa no matter what, he remained a big scary bearded man in a red suit. but look at the boys above (twins, i presume), there is so much pride in the way they are standing there! it was really fun to observe... (it was also fun to see that santa has some kind of ass-problem.. when he got up i could see he had a special kind of pillow on which he was sitting... :D)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas decoration

on the road to saugus (there we have the mall with the used bookstore and quite some other shops, as well as, a little further, a huge thrift store) we passed this house today. while passing i couldnt believe how much was in that garden, so we turned, drove back and stopped to take some pictures. the light is not the best, but clearly, there is a lot of christmas decoration. its not even everything!! on the left side is a bridge entirely decorated and we were in fact standing in the other part of the garden, that was also entirely filled with decorations and lights and i dont know what. the owner was busy putting up some more... there were several notes that you should not walk on the (private) driveway; however, they did make an "observation area" (where we were standing). never saw something like that before...!
now i want to go back in the dark, to see all the lights!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Some coffee?

on boylston street, when there were a lot of people out on the streets.... 
in cars, on strollers, sometimes even in the couch... everywhere there are cupholders for your beverage. i do think thats a very american thing.... :)
and your beverage of course goes into a plastic/carton cup (disregarding the few that "go green" and bring their own) that you can trash afterwards. often the coffees/ ice-coffees are sooo huge (and in case of iced coffee with sooo much ice!), i always wonder whether people finish them entirely...
and nope, that was not my cup... although.. whenever i have to give my name, i always say cat (and sometimes even spell it), but almost always it will come back as Kat, which i never understood (kat is actually the dutch spelling for cat; the pet). but then a real american explained me its because many girls go by kathy, with a K.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So tired.... absolutely no energy for any blogwriting. so just this peaceful picture. its the jamaica pond in jamaica plain.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Photographing strangers... these fancy ladies a few months back at boylston street (i was sitting on the stairs of the public library and they didnt notice me) is what i like most, but what i also find most scary...  for me, it also depends whats going on, if there is some kind of gathering, or festivity, i feel more free to take a picture than when its just 1 person, or especially, 1 or 2 cops; they are really too intimidating (at least to me). but, in the US, you are allowed to photograph anything, except: (1) certain military installations or operations. (2) people that are in places that are not easily visible to the general public (ie at home). (i stole this from here). you thus can photograph whatever you can see in public space (thus also police officers, or children, for that matter). it happened however already a few times that we were kindly, or less kindly, asked not to take pictures (for example in the cinema (???), or the area around my lab in charlestown, which is rather industrial and sooo cool!).
here is a link i found very useful, and actually i recently printed the statement posted there and now always have it with me (just in case). found it at this photoblog (also in boston!)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Posing proudly

when obama was in town, they released an enormous amount of police officers into boston. they were their charming macho self.... great. as for example those guys with bikes above. they were just standing there, displaying their cool.... suddenly there was this girl that asked whether she could get her picture taken with them and with some small gestures they made clear that that was fine. else they remained as they were.. the girl put herself in front of one and posed until there was a picture that they were happy with. ofcourse, when they did it, suddenly everyone else dared doing that too, so several pictures of people with cool cops were taken..... 
at least they were useful for something.... i guess....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Freaky santa

last week we went out to dinner for tims birthday. we went to a simple place (the pizza is soooo gooood!!), and the "restaurant" was sooooo tiny, i had only been there during summertime and then they have a big terrace, but inside there was space for only 5 tables.... its on newbury street in boston, a street with many fancy, expensive stores. some shopwindows were very pretty, but the one above was rather freaky, i would say..! santa's dress was moving up and down... what about children passing by? or am i too old-fashioned?

Other side

and here are the beach houses from the other side... as said, i cannot choose!!
here i had to cut off tim, he was on the left side, but i liked the pic better without him... :)

Ocean houses

im 2 or 3 days behind with blogging.... :( then this weekend i was sick so no new pictures... 
ah well.. this is in provincetown, where we went last week at thanksgiving. we passed by this seemingly endless row of houses and i made tim turn and stop there so we could have a look and take some pictures. it was deserted!! i could stand in the middle of the road and take pics... (see above). these houses are to rent on a daily basis, but only during the summertime. you cannot see that here, but they are right on the beach.... sooo beautiful!! i took many pictures of these houses, all more or less the same and couldnt really decide which one to take.
ah, its finally really getting colder, its freezing right now! and actually i saw some teeny tiny snowflakes on saturday (or was it sunday) morning... but tim didnt even see them, so...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Boston landmarks

these are 2 boston landmarks, at least in my opinion... :) the sand & gravel, and the bridge behind (and there are us flags everywhere...). the bridge has a long and complicated name i always forget... i had to look it up: Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. ok, who can ever remember that?! but i like the bridge a lot. it apparently is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world and carries 10 lanes of traffic. it cost over 100 million dollars and is part of the "big dig", it was finished in 2003. what i like is that the two tops of the bridge resemble the shape of the bunker hill monument in charlestown (that we still have to climb); when taking the ferry from boston to charlestown, you can nicely see that indeed the shapes are exactly the same as the monument, a bit further away.
these 2 landmarks were also shown in the movie "the town"
whenever we are driving, i try to take pictures from the car, but usually they dont turn out well.. this one is an exception....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

At home

buuugggghhh... thursday morning i got the second shot for hepatitis B vaccination (as for the type of work i do its better to be vaccinated; i also got a flu shot! in fact here they strongly advise every one to get a flu shot (why?!!), and i heard from a real american that hepatitis B vaccination is required to get into college (?)). thursday evening was a fine evening full of american culture (i had my first eggnog and we saw the tree lighting at the boston common), but thursday night i got high fever, terrible headache, muscle ache and i dont know what... :(  1 in 15 people get some side effects from hep B vaccination, so probably im this 1 person.... didnt get out of bed the entire friday... and also today i spent most of the day in bed....
havent been this long in our apartment yet! above it is.. not the best pic, but currently its even more messy, so therefore i choose not to take another picture. its a real american apartment, with a bar, and fancy (yellow) barstools. i also like our dinnertable and red chairs a lot. the table comes from a yardsale, and the chairs we got for almost nothing on craigslist. we also have a map of the US (found in the messy basement of our previous apartment), and underneath is a bench we bought for only 40 dollars. its sooo beautiful! it originally was a bench in a ship, you can open the top and we keep our shoes in it.. the bookcase we got for free, as well as the couch. also the wall was painted purple (i choose the color) for free, since we work for "preferred employers".. (whatever that may mean). although it probably looks messy in the pic, i very much like our apartment and am very happy we managed to get such nice furniture for almost nothing.... :)
ah, the big lamp we bought new at ikea last weekend, as you can see there are no ceiling lights at all in the living room, and it was much too dark...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

At work

this is close to harvard medical school, but i dont know what kind of students these are... but surely they are students doing some practical course as judged by the neatness/emptiness of the lab, the amount of people and them all wearing labcoats.... when i still worked at the other lab, i  often passed these windows and was surprised that even around 7 they still seem to have classes...
im about to leave work, and no inspiration for a picture... thats why i choose this one. generally i dont wear a labcoat, its too hot; only when i might get dirty or when working with mammalian cells. as a student you have to buy an (expensive labcoat) and you have to wear it, no matter what stupid thing you are doing. and then you are released into a real lab and very surprised that none of the real scientists are wearing labcoats.... :) in the lab where i did my PhD we were actually obliged to wear a coat, and often they came to check whether we did so (but usually we got informed about inspection beforehand, so.... ). funny.. from my experience, it seems labrules are much more strict in the netherlands than in US...
ok, i guess all that was not very interesting to the general public, off to home now!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forever 21

above a shopwindow in a fancy mall we went to last sunday. there was a little girl playing with the silver ribbons, but i was too late to take a picture. so instead tim posed for me. as much as i liked all the shiny-ness of the shopwindow, i didnt feel the urge to check the clothes... :)
anyhow, only now (at another photo i took) i saw this shop is named "forever 21", which is funny since its tims birthday today. and nope, he did not become 21.... however, he can just pretend to be forever 21, i guess.... he reached a special age and he was not too happy about it.. (21 + 9). and worst of all, i dont even have a special present aside from a birthday-candle on his donut this morning (yes, i know, thats very very poor). the books i ordered still did not arrive... ehhhmm.. what about going out to dinner tonight?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cant ignore...

christmas around here..... in our perfect apartment complex, several people planted a christmas tree in their house (as deduced from the tree needles every where on the stairs (is it needles? i dont know. in dutch its "naalden" so i just translated it literally)). christmas lights and so on decorate the outsides of many houses, and also in the lab i heard christmas songs the entire day. pfffffftttt. there is apparently one radio station that plays only christmas songs since the day after thanksgiving until... yes, christmas...
above is on boylston street, the entrance to the prudential mall. the have been throwing some gigantic chrismas balls every here and there.....
no way that you can ignore christmas. (but i already said that) my goodness, everything is always bigger here than i think... :)))

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snow & Ice

its getting a little colder here in boston, but its still well above 0 degrees celsius! today it was arond 8 degrees and very sunny. this picture was taken at october 28, when it was sooo warm that i went to work without jacket and we ate lunch outside.. i then had a walk around and saw this sign which was so funny in the bright sun....
we came here in april when the weather was not that bad and the summer was hot and sunny!! coming from a country where the winters usually are not that cold, and snow is a curiosity (except for last winter) i feared winter, but so far it hasnt shown itself (herself/himself?). in the netherlands, on the other hand, its freezing!! and snowing!! it has been freezing that much, that the first crazy ice-skaters have been on the ice already, and they expect to have the first ice skating marathan tomorrow.....
in the meantime, im actually happy its still not that cold here... :)

Black friday

internet at home is sooo bad, couldnt even upload a picture last night... :( this is a quick picture i took in the supermarket we do our shoppings every week; the market basket! they really made an effort on the christmas decoration, in real it looked so nice! it is by far the cheapest supermarket around, and the only one not working with stupid discount passes or coupons or whatever. fruit & vegetables also are much better (i think) than the much more expensive Shaws. often it is overcrowded (like last week) but yesterday it was amazingly quiet! maybe because everyone was decorating their homes with (mostly inflatable) christmas decorations. truly amazing; thanksgiving is over and immediately on to the next feast. we drove around a little and many people were busy decorating their house.
on friday most people were off (not me), and this is the biggest (or one of the) biggest shopping days of the year. many things have large discounts. over the years i vaguely remember seeing on the dutch news some images about US shoppers gone crazy, but i never realized it is really true.... thursday, we drove past the closed best buy (sells tvs and other electronics) at 11 in the morning and there were already some people waiting for the large discounts! when we passed it in the evening they were still there... guess what, this shop opened at 5 in the morning!!! (so they were there nearly 18 hours in advance!) but... tickets to get into the store would be distributed from 3 in the morning onwards.... can you believe it?!! i asked my real american colleagues, and yes, they said; people usually gather there somewhere in the late evening, to get a chance buying stuff on large discount.
crazy, those americans.... :)
here some more information on wikipedia about this shopping day....: black friday

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving serenade

since everything was closed yesterday, we decided to go to cape cod, provincetown, a 2,5 hour drive from boston. in between we stopped in plymouth, where there was a gathering of native americans; speeches were held about their history. provincetown was like a ghost town, all shops were closed, but in summer i presume its overcrowded. however, there was ellie (pictured above). she had a cardboard sign next to her, saying "ellie, 78 years young, living my dreams". we talked a little, and then she sung a song from frank sinatra especially for us (it sounded really good.) i guess she is a kind of local celebrity as everyone coming by greeted her heartily. brrr, it was too cold to be sitting there!
without planning or knowing beforehand, we made a very historic tour yesterday. i learned from wikipedia that the (later named) Pilgrims from england could not freely worship as they choose and therefore fled to the netherlands, leiden in 1609. somehow they did not like that their kids began adopting dutch language and customs and so they decided to goto the other side of the ocean. they lent money, bought the mayflower and sailed to the new world in 1620 (the dutch then already had founded new amsterdam in 1614!). they arrived in provincetown but did not get off the ship, and instead sailed on to plymouth. the first winter there was very harsh, and nearly half of the 102 pilgrims died. months later they had the first encounter with native americans, and they taught them how to survive in New England. that october they probably held the first feast now known as thanksgiving; it was celebrated together with the native americans that helped them their first year. it lasted three days and included a.o. wild turkeys and five deer brought by the Native Americans. (over the years more and more englishmen came over. in 1675 there was a war and whereas only 8% of the english male population died; the entire native american population of new england fell by sixty to eighty percent.) this first thanksgiving was modeled after harvest festivals that were commonplace in europe at the time. yet another theory is that the pilgrims were influenced by watching the annual services of thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of leiden. interestingly, a thanksgiving-day-service is held each year in the pieterskerk in leiden, to commemorate the hospitality the pilgrims received in leiden on their way to the new world.
nowadays, thanksgiving is eating with friends and family (and shopping the next day; black friday).
pfew, that was far too much writing but i found it so interesting! surely i stole all this from wikipedia and did not check the references. here, here, and here you can read it for yourself, and a whole lot more...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey day!

today it is thanksgiving. its also called turkey day, i learned from various sources, which i find very funny. as the sign above for the liquor store at mc grath highway, leading to somerville where we lived the first 3 months. however, no liquor today. this store was closed as most other stores as well (even many fast food restaurants were closed) basically, everything was closed, aside from a small shop here and there..
i just spent the evening reading up on thanksgiving on wikipedia. that was very informative. maybe i recapitulate all that knowledge here once; there may be some origins also of this feast in the netherlands! but now its time for bed...
happy thanksgiving! :) we had some chicken nuggets... thats what we could find in our freezer being closest to turkey..

When retired...

... you can do the entire day what you want... no? 
we were having a walk a week or 2 ago, on sunday. got out at haymarket, but there was no market, so we turned the other way and ended up in the north end, where we hadnt been before. small houses, small streets, many restaurants and tourists. in one of the many boston travelguides we have i read that in the mid to late 19th century many immigrants arrived here and by 1920, 90% of the population was italian. apparently nowadays still 50% of the people there are of italian descent (that is something i noticed; many americans are real proud to be a real american. but! dont forget and please be aware that in fact they ARE 1/4, 1/8 or 1/16th european on their mother's/father's side, and yes, still would like to visit that country once...).
anyways.. then we came by a deserted ice-skating rink, and next to it were quite some old men, smoking, playing jeux de boules or watching the game from a comfortable chair. i was taking some pictures through the glass, but then we were invited inside (bugh, what a smoke!), and we talked a little (and i took this one crappy pic..). yes yes, they were all italian (see flag) and all retired and playing this game every (every!) day... in winter here inside, in summer closeby outside....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More leafs

realized yesterday i actually have quite a collection of tim and leafs... here another one. this is in the boston common, maybe 2 weeks ago? there was air being blown out of whatever he was standing on, so then i made him throw leafs in the air... see above.
ofcourse then someone asked whether he should take a picture of the 2 of us. and i declined. i always decline, without thinking whether this is maybe unfriendly! ah well, now with my new big fancy camera; dont want to give that to anyone else...!

Leaves Tim

yesterday the internet really was not working... so today then... :)
most trees now really lost their leafs... :(( its so empty now, although a few trees are keeping up most of them.. maybe there is a contest among trees, which can keep their leafs longest. i guess now the cemetery does not have that many leaves on the ground anymore as above.. but it was so great to be there under the tree, with all the beautiful colors.....
its still not very cold here! it was yesterday morning, but right now and yesterday evening it was very mild...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turkeys everywhere

the supermarket was no fun today. it was overcrowded... its usually crowded, but now it was insane. i guess because this is the last sunday before thanksgiving, coming thursday. that day everything is closed, all shops, museums, etc. its not a day for presents, but a day for eating with friends and family. what we see in the movies is true; a turkey needs to be prepared and eaten. so there was an overload of turkeys in the freezers... 7 dollars for an entire turkey!
na, we didnt buy one....
im not satisfied with the picture... :( but it was soooo crowded there! everyone (including me) was annoyed, and there were soooo many carts and you could barely take what you want as you were blocking the way for others.. so slowing everything down by taking pictures surely was not appreciated..
at the checkout we still cause confusion, i guess. we started bringing our own shopping bags, a while ago but thats not something they are used to here. they put as little items in as many bags as possible. so even though we made clear we have our own, they kept bagging our groceries. and then put that in our own shopping bags.. save the planet, oh yeah!

Christmas tree!

this is at faneuil hall, the most touristy place in boston. today was the "tree lighting ceremony", which lasted from 11 in the morning until 6.30 in the evening (what did they do?!! was hanging all the lights included in the ceremony?). yes, now there are many, many lights there (this is only a small part). the tree is impressive, at least to me! and i guess to the little girl in the photo.... (she was posing for her mom, but her mother took soo many pictures that she obviously got bored)
there are now 25,000 lights.....
i guess from now on there will be more and more christmas decoration around, and its not even december!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wild ride

"cah" is bostonian for "car". the accent sounds funny.. i would compare it to the accent real amsterdam people have in dutch... :)
the free metro newspaper here doesnt bring a lot of news. it did already bring 2 days as front page news some wild taxi ride 2 passengers had last weekend. they came out of some club, didnt know where to go, refused to pay the fare and while the man jumped out of the cab, the woman somehow remained in there and the taxi driver drove on wildly and is now being accused of kidnapping a woman. his photo and name are in the newspaper (they even do that here if a college-kid steals some souvenir from a firetruck, or when you pee against a building and try to run off when the police sees you; crazy). during the weekend people often dont pay their fare, and then cab drivers usually drive them straight to a police station. what exactly happened this time is still unclear, so i expect another front page explaining it all next week. i guess kidnapping will not be punished lightly...
another ride from hell on a ghost train (funny what newspapers all make of it) happened in the netherlands. some train was dysfunctional and thus everyone was ordered to get out. the train then went with high speed straight from one city to another without stopping at any station. however, in one part of the train the speakers did not work, so all those people were still inside, wondering what was going on...
ah well.. i hope some nicer pictures than above for this weekend.... maybe i can take some around the lab tomorrow... :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Self portrait (7)

oh oh, didnt post a self portrait in october! and now its already halfway november.... so here is one... made in october, on top of gunstock in the shire. here we were having lunch in the eeehm skilift? well, you see it above, anyways....
it is dark so early nowadays, before 5 already. not many photo opportunities... :( besides, my schedule changed quite a bit in the new lab, which is good. but not for taking photos...
ah well, for now i still have some waiting to be posted.... :)

just wondering whats with the "load" underneath us... :D

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TD Garden

the TD Garden is next to North Station, where i now get off the orange line and then take a shuttle to the lab in charlestown. when its crowded at north station, you know something is going on at the TD garden. often there are basketball games, which you can see by the sportshirts everyone is wearing. yesterday there was a concert from justin bieber! thats some teenage boy with a golden throat, apparently (thats the dutch way of saying that someone can sing well; i guess its not an english expression). but i never heard him sing and only know him for his hairdo. you can now goto the hairdresser and ask for "the bieber-cut"; it makes guys having huge amounts of sleek hair that seems to be artificially spread over their head, which makes them having to "flip" it every few seconds, as to keep it out of their faces... (here a video about the famous hair-flip; but internet here is so crappy that i havent seen it myself) anyways, tim said there were huge amounts of young girls going to his concert. would have loved to see that and taking a picture of all those girls lining up in front of this huge sign.. but when i was there, there was practically nobody... 
i found some noteworthy facts about the TD garden; it opened in 1995, has a maximum of 19,580 seats, 13 escalators and 7 elevators. and most importantly; 17 women's restrooms, and as much men's. just so you know....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Older version

ooh, and then we went forward in time and saw the couple in the public garden. a bit older, though... :)
na, actually i saw them first...
i think the crowd in the back is gathered around the duck sculpture, but im suddenly not entirely sure.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cheapos too!

when waiting at the cashier in the supermarket (which can take very long....), i always see these gossip magazines. i guess the above picture would fit in there, no? :) have no clue whether these 2 are in fact celebrities.. most likely not. at first i didnt even see them, but tim kept talking about those 2 that look like they are each other's accessory.
this was at boylston street in boston, yesterday. we went to the marshalls there, a store that sells stuff that regular shops no longer sell, and thus with (quite) some discount. ah yes, we like discount (now arent we dutch)! or free entrance... :) and isnt it ages ago that i went to a regular bookstore, now that i discovered the used bookstore?
we had a laugh when this fabulous couple entered the store as well... ah well, maybe they took marshall's slogan too literal: "dont pass up fabulous, just pay less for it"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ducks again!

the day started out pleasant, although grey. so we had a long walk and i insisted on seeing the ducklings once again. sitting on a bench nearby for a while, i observed that every child did the same; starting from the last duckling, they touch and sit on each and every one of them (there are 8 small ones), until arriving at the mother duck (above). this all is accompanied by many pictures taken by the parents (and/or strangers). and you can see that every child feels they own the duck, at least as long as their interest lasts... :) all the duck's heads became shiny from all the touching... :) (the sculpture is there since 1987)
this time the little boy was enjoying the ducks and posing for his mom (left), but then this lady needed the big duck for photoshoot with dog. she put a christmasribbon around the duck's neck, and then the dog was put next to it and husband with big camera took pics of dog & duck. all the while directing Lily (dog) to remain next to duck and look at the camera..... buuughhh... why? are those pics their christmas cards? or.. ? is there a dog/duck connection im not aware of (with ribbon?)? i found it ridiculous.....
anyways, this sculpture is from nancy schon and i just found out she made quite some public sculptures. interestingly, the "make way for ducklings" has a duplicate in moscow; it was a gift from one president's wife (barbara bush) to another (raisa gorbachev). (so thats what bored first ladies do!) cool detail: also in moscow the ducklings are placed on old boston cobblestones.

Gold buyers

become old buyers depending on how you hold your camera... :)
it was only when looking through the lens that i realized i should leave out the G.. but then the lady just moved a little, and well... couldnt ask her to take a step back again, right?
today sinterklaas (photos here!!) arrived in the netherlands... i remember the first year i lived in Utrecht i went to the lab on saturday and when going back, i ended up in the arrival of sinterklaas, which i had completely forgotten about. wasnt easy to get out of the crowd with my bike. i know last year we especially went to the city to see him, but did we actually get to see him? 
now being in the usa since april, i start to realize i miss all this kind of stuff for the first time in my life. that is just sooo weird! then i saw some photos on facebook of friends that were with a boat on the utrecht canals and thus having the best possible view of sinterklaas' arrival (he comes by boat!)... and that all made me a little homesick.... surely, being in another country makes you realize whats particular to your own....
oh my, i will miss all that sinterklaas-candy as well! pepernoten, chocolate letters (you get a letter of chocolate; usually the first letter of your name), marsepein....  weird, really weird. as if i cared that much about that all when i still was in the netherlands! (well, apparently.. :) ) ah well, here the stores are already filled with christmas-stuff. and maybe i should photograph all the turkeys piled up in the supermarket..?