Monday, January 31, 2011

No trespassing

an alley close to downtown crossing. there are some shops, the boston common is closeby and if you walk in the other direction you will hit the state house and then the boston harbor. i think a lot of tourists goto this area, but i am pretty sure they are all disappointed. although it seems nice at first, there really is not much to do, not many shops and many shops are old, small and dirty. maybe this alley is one of the prettier things around there... except ofcourse the MBTA entrance to downtown crossing.....!
the talk of the day; more snow is coming our way!! since this year we have had a snowstorm every week and most likely this week wont be an exception. im still not tired of it.... :)

Yes, coffee

first and foremost, americans need to hold a large plastic cup in one hand, containing hot or iced coffee (for the latter you need a lot of milk, sugar, some drops of pure coffee and mostly ice-cubes). no matter what they do (sure, there are exceptions; not ALL americans walk around with a coffee, but you get the point..), how hot or cold it is, whether you are in an overcrowded subway-train, or carrying a suitcase or your three children... one of the hands is reserved for the coffee... no clue how they manage it. im always afraid they will spill it over me when someone is holding a large cup above my head when i was fortunate to get a seat but they didnt....
ah, and yes, also during a snowstorm in the boston common public garden (!!) there will be iced-coffee... as above... im just wondering what the other hand is doing with the camera... :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Going airborne

going airborne... sounds funny to me... but not if it is the car you are in..... my blog comes up if you search in google for "car crash tobin bridge mlk day", but i never wrote about a car crash! in fact, i wasnt aware of one, but i did notice visitors landing here because they searched for that. surely that made me curious too... after searching a bit (and ignoring the first hit, haha), this is what i found: during the night before mlk day, a car went airborne off a Chelsea highway (ie the tobin bridge), crashing onto a street 34 feet (!!) below. according to the police the Cadillac CTS (sounds fancy) failed to negotiate a curve, went airborne over a barrier and landed below on 6th street in chelsea.... one passenger was dead (22 yrs old), but the driver (24) and another passenger were not hurt, somehow.. the driver has been arrested for driving with a suspended license, and an initial investigation indicates speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. yuk.....
according to a commentor on the article, the driver had to be going very fast to manage going through (or over) the side of the road, landing 34 feet (~10 metres) below..., while above you can clearly see you are alowed to drive only 15 miles per hour... (or does that only count for the upper level? this driver was coming from boston, thus on the lower level, and perhaps there you can go faster, as there is no toll booth)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Self portrait

entirely indecisive on what pic to take. not yet another snow pic was all i could think. i did goto the gym this evening and there i saw the weather forecast (no tv or connection at home... a good reason togoto the gym?), and yet more snow is expected, maybe even another snow storm the coming week... ?
lets see... so expect more snow photos! 
a self portrait now since i didnt do one for a while... this pic is a little older... when "postdoccing" didnt tire me out yet (as i was not yet one), in the plane to boston...
ah and yes... im frustrated i dont get to photograph strangers as much as i want... :( but too cold, too much snow and too little time..!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Harvesting snow

in all earnest i told a friend in Nice where its quite a bit warmer than here, and no snow, that the excess of snow is currently brought to "snow farms". snow farms?! so, they are now even harvesting snow?!! up till now, more than 50 inches (127 cm) of snow has fallen totally, and last night's storm added another 12 inches.... of course i was again sleepless and watched the snow falling every now and then during the night. by now, so much snow has fallen, it barely fits along the sidewalks, and thus they started to bring excess snow to "snow farms" (while driving we already noticed the roads became quite a bit narrower; especially with a large real american truck...). snow farms are empty fields, parking lots and playgrounds where the snow can be stacked up high (so high that it might not thaw until spring!!). the metro newspaper tells me that boston has 6 snow farms. my plan for the weekend; find one of those and climb the mountains..... :D
above another picture from the window of our apartment this morning, before they had time to clear the path.... doesnt it look pretty? im sure the person walking there took great care to create prefect tracks...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Silver glow

snow has started!!
im curious how much we get this time, and where they are going to put it all....
this was last week, or maybe already the week before... it was so sunny. and then the snow... looked like a silver world to me... :)

Boston common

is really pretty during a snow storm... and i wasnt the only one who thought so... :)
in the back you see people with all kinds of inflatable things to sleigh off the hills in the park..
monday it was freaking cold, -17 degrees celsius in the morning (tim went to new hampshire for snowboarding and there it was -25, with the wind probably even colder; crazy), now its less cold, but its expected to snow yet again starting this evening, leaving us tomorrow with another thick pack of snow!! i dont know where they are all going to put it, alongside the roads is already so much snow!!! :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tobin bridge (2)

yesterday we drove around boston a bit. we wanted to go to some forest/park/whatever to walk, but it  was so cold and tim didnt wear suitable snow shoes and we were lazy and and and... (we ended up going to 2 malls and bought heavily discounted clothes; it was so cheap, we couldnt let that pass! :))
but we went on the tobin bridge upper level!! this is from chelsea into boston, whereas its lower level gets you out of boston. we had done the lower level before, but not the upper level. it was beautiful! yes, it costs you 3 dollars to drive on the bridge (1 dollar per km? since the bridge is 3 kms long), but for that you have a beautiful view on boston, and, i decided now; this bridge is pretty! here you see the toll booth, on the middle of the bridge, and behind that you see the hancock tower on the left, and prudential center on the right. now im still wondering whether its also 3 dollars when driving in the other direction; i think not, but im not sure... in new york its like that; leaving new york is free, but driving into new york through either the washington bridge or the holland tunnel costs you 8 (!!) dollars... (we know that because when coming, we went to new jersey on the washington bridge; that was free. we slept close to the holland tunnel, and saw that it would cost 8 dollars! we then drove especially to the washington bridge (oh, dutch)... but, eehh, going into new york is always 8 dollars! (also the holland tunnel is free the other direction))

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wicked cold

its been soooo sunny the entire weekend (its often very sunny in boston! so much better than the dutch weather thats often so grey); this morning it didnt seem cold at all... but once outside you could feel it was defenitely below 0 degrees celsius. brrrr!!! right now its -13, and when coming home it was +11.5 inside the apartment... switched on the terribly noisy heater (its like you are sitting in a plane), as well as the small portable radiator that we usually use (the apartment heater gives me headache... :( the noise is really gruesome; and the air is being blown from the ceiling, so weird! i just want a radiator that i could sit next to....)
anyways... you see the above-pictured icicles hanging down all roofs, some are gigantic! with the sun i think its real pretty...

Another PhD

exactly one year ago i defended my thesis in utrecht, the netherlands, and i was awarded my PhD. for 4 years i worked in a lab, wrote it all down during a few very stressful months and then defended my thesis on the 22nd of january, 2010; pictured above. ooh, i was so nervous! mostly because it was all sooo official! nothing concerning the dutch PhD is official, but the day of your defence.. then suddenly you have to dress up, your family, friends and coworkers are there and you are being questioned for 45 minutes by your supervisor and other doctors/professors (behind the microphones) about your thesis. some questions were not very difficult, some i did not understand at all, like the very first question i got. frankly, i still do not know what exactly the question was (perhaps because of my english? :)). thats the other weird thing; for 4 years, every labmeeting, every discussion, the thesis itself; everything is done in english. but during the defence i suddenly had to speak in dutch when i was being questioned by dutch profs, and english when being questioned by the foreign professors.
in the back you see the audience, around the table all the profs, and in the middle there are my 2 "paranimfen" (wiki; a ceremonial assistant and/or coach in a ceremony), and me standing. i just received my PhD (an enormous diploma that tim later forgot in the restaurant where we had lunch; i was just a big bit angry about that!), and my supervisor is giving a speech...... PhD stands for "doctor of philosophy" and if you want to know why this kind of doctors are called PhD, here is the wiki about that!
ah well.. nothing changed now that i am a PhD, i dont feel different, im not smarter, and my salary is still not very high....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow boots

it was snowing the entire morning! and its colder again... its predicted to get very cold over the weekend, leaving us monday at -12 degrees celsius..! lets see...
above my boots in the hallway leading to our apartment. these corridors are sooo ugly! the colors, the light... it looks like a hotel and the doors to the apartments are also "hotel style", they slam shut the moment you let go of them. its so noisy and very inconvenient when coming home with a lot of groceries... but of course thats all forgotten as soon as we enter our perfect apartment... :)
anyways, im so happy i bought these boots! they are perfect with all the snow and salt, as all my other shoes (ooh, i have too many!) would be ruined... so on snow days (or rainy days), i wear my boots, with pink boot liners to keep my feet a little warm. at work i then change to ballerinas or something.... ooh.... shoes.... :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Atomic bowling

atomic bowling... thats how the bowling place in malden is called! hihihihi... when we arrived, there was still the weekly tournament going on. very interesting to see..... it was hard to take pictures!! :( here you see half (!) of all the lanes.... i think there were 50 or something.
there were also "glow in the dark" bowling balls, but i didnt see those... ofcourse there was a lot of food available as well... and at the desk they were spraying the bowling shoes after usage... hihihihihi (but those people above all had their own pair of bowling shoes, and also their own balls...)
actually, the name of the place reminds me of a ridiculous incident i read in the newspaper a while ago. some fancy food stylist was on a plane somewhere in the US, the plane was about to take off, when the stewardess asked him to come with her. while he as thinking he was getting an upgrade, he was led off the plane and was told by the captain that another passenger had reported him for suspicious behavior. moreover, he had the words "atom bomb" tattooed across his fingers. he explained to them that the tattoos referred to a childhood nickname. he then could return to his seat, posted the event on twitter and it was all over the media pretty soon after... a picture of the guy and his tattoo here!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Native speaker

i am not a native speaker in american, and i notice that every day... funny, i have always worked in international labs; english was the everyday language and talking about my work is difficult for me in dutch (some words dont even exist in dutch). but only here in the US i realized that my english is not that good (my excuse for everything nowadays! useful!); we all spoke english as a second language, and i guess that is why we never had a problem, we were all as limited; the pace was a little slower when speaking. now it sometimes goes soo fast for me! on top of that, often americans mumble, and i just have no clue what they are saying... ( i do not at all like to call, call centers are the worst).
there are also a lot of expressions and words i never heard of ("wicked funny", "im sweating my balls off" (for guys, i believe.. ;), "anomaly"). and i still have trouble with "hey, how are you?" or "whats up?" when just walking past someone in the hallway. i always think i have to answer this question..... then there are expressions i am now familiar with, but cannot get myself to use, as i think everyone immediately will notice i am not an american! like "like", or when giving directions: "you hang a left after you turned right". going out to dinner: "yes, we are all set" or "no, we are still picking away on this". when saying bye "have a good one". i could go on, if only my english was not so limited... ;) ah, and "awesome" of course...
the very first time i entered the US and was questioned by a bored officer i could not understand one of his questions, no matter how hard i tried. i asked him 3 times to repeat his question, and got so embarrassed that in the end i just answered "yes". but what he then said i did understand; "to this question you should have answered NO!" however, i still do not know what the hell he asked me!!
(i know i told this story already a million times, by now having i written down here, i will stop telling it... :) )

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Immersing ourselves

ofcourse we are immersing ourselves into "very american things"..... :)
last weekend we got a little lost and discovered this enormous bowling hall not too far from our house! we went inside and it was just like in the movies... !!!
so, yesterday me and tim and two other dutchies (who studied with tim in utrecht) went bowling, voluntarily! buugh, why do they make those balls so heavy? certainly im not a very talented bowler... 
i took some pics but havent sorted out which one to post yet, maybe tomorrow....

Cloud factory

yesterday tim drove me to work. it was MLK day (first i thought: Milk day, whats milk day?! but it was martin luther king day), so there was no shuttle since essentially it was a day off... it was soooo sunny, but very cold. on the way from home to work we pass this industrial area, and often the cloud factory is workin, as can be seen above...
well... thats what i thought these pipes were doing when young; i thought they were there to produce the clouds in the sky, and although usually rather ugly,  the clouds, although sometimes brownish, were usually pretty...! until my mother once told me that these were not quite cloud factories... i even think to remember where it was when i got this news; in the car on our way to the maxis (a long gone supermarket)? but it could very well be that that is just a memory i invented.
yet, i do still always think "ah, cloud factory".....
it is COLD here! last night it was defenitely below 10 degrees celsius, so cold that we couldnt sleep and i had to switch on the heater. besides, it started snowing again and its predicted to snow for a few days at least...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snowy dogs

in/at the boston common! arent they cute?! (but i didnt like their coats; its with a skull on it) both had their faces covered in snow; that looked so funny!
dogs are a common sight at the common, but i just read in the boston news that residents in beacon hill (close to boston common) spotted a coyote in their streets..
ah, actually it was even first seen around the frog pond at the boston common. according to the police, it is not uncommon that such animals are living in boston (too), but seeing them is... the most important advice from the article: "Police said if residents do see a wild animal like a coyote, it’s best to stay away from it and call police", just so you know...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Freezing cold!

it was sooo cold today (and so it was yesterday; defenitely below 0 degrees celsius) but this person just went into the ocean to play with the waves... as did his 2 friends... crazy! i would say...
this is the beach at "good harbor", im writing that down for myself :), as we were there once before (click here), but today i could not remember the name of this place, we found it yet again more or less by accident. it is sooo beautiful there!! unfortuntaly the pictures i took today do not show that... :( apparently, its one of the many beaches of cape annn, around gloucester and rockport... we also tried to find back this spot, to see how looks in snow, but we couldnt find it back...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dug out

the ducks at the public garden were also dug out from the snow! but no children playing with them when we were there... :) quite a different sight, the ducklings in the snow or in late summer (picture here). arent they cute? we just went to the public garden to see them! :)
ah, and more snow is expected... it might even be snowing right now... 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow removers

and here they are, the snow removers at our apartment complex!!! we had just gotten outside around 11, and they were already busy at full speed to clear the roads....

Snow emergency

these huge snow mountains were formed by the snow removal team, i think most of the snow that was at the roads of our "living community" has been collected here. we climbed those mountains last night and it was impressive! sooooo much snow.... unfortunately the picture by far does not capture the amount of snow...
when we just arrived in boston, i saw everywhere signs saying "no parking during snow emergency", and real americans also told me that parking there during a snow emergency will result in a high fine and towing of your car. this week i learned that the expectation of a snowstorm sets an entire protocol  in motion that results in an amazingly efficient removal of the snow. tuesday night before the snow, you were not allowed to park your car in streets with the above-mentioned signs; this is because these streets are cleared rom snow first, and most of the snow is pushed onto the parking spaces. other people are removing the snow from the sidewalks and making gaps in the huge piles so you can cross the street. at our apartment complex they started snow removal at 5.30 on wednesday morning, and i think they continued the entire day till late into the evening to create those snow mountains. the next day, they started at 4.30 (morning!!!) to clear the sidewalks. the snow has stopped (although not in New York i read on the dutch news!), but they continue to regularly spread salt on the roads to prevent slippery ice formation....
i guess that was boring, but compared to what i am used to; a little bit of snow in the netherlands and everything is down. no trains, no buses, no snow removal, this and last year even no salt.....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yes, snow!

not the best picture but it was snowing sooo much! :)
just bringing out the trash was a journey.. wading through sooo much snow!! i never ever saw so much snow before.. and its amazing how so very soon they started to clear it away. it has been snowing the entire day now, and they are continuously driving around to remove it...
many tree branches became too heavy with all the snow, combined with the wind, several broke off, leading to power outages (luckily not at our apartment complex; no cables above ground).
here an article about the snow today!

Oh snow!!!

its 5 in the morning and i still didnt do yesterday's post... no internet.
this picture i just took from the window of our apartment! the amount of snow is truly amazing!!! there were warnings about a new snowstorm coming up all day yesterday, it was supposed to start around midnight, and continue trhoughout most of wednesday. i never experienced a snowstorm so i am kind of excited, and is that maybe the reason that i cannot sleep and look outside almost every hour since i went to bed around 1?! at 1 there was still nothing, the paths downstairs free of snow and only some residual snow here and there. the hours after i saw it was snowing a bit, and now at 5 suddenly everything is entirely covered! amazing! in just a few hours... the snow is coming down very fast now, and much more is supposed to come.. maybe i cant get to work, maybe i can and then i cannot get back. ah, oh yes.. thats a worry for later; maybe i should first get back to bed now and have a little more sleep...?
good night!
(wow, i feel like a child waiting for "sinterklaas"!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cute dog

lately i dont have much of an opportunity to take pictures, which makes me rather frustrated...  then there is the internet at home that doesnt work (doesnt exist), so often it takes ages for me to upload, if it all..... buuuhhhhh!
this one i took a few days ago, isnt the dog cute?! like "roodkapje"!! but then i looked up the translation for "roodkapje" and thats little red riding hood; that sounds much less cute to me, i have to admit..
this is in the center of boston, close to beacon hill, but i dont know the name of the actual neighborhood....

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Food court

above a sparrow having its own table in the food court in the Square One Mall in saugus. i mentioned that before, its such a sad mall! but there were sales and we were too lazy to do anything else, so we wandered around a bit this sunday. 
my first encounter with a food court, when i was in the usa for the first time now over 6 years ago just left me with amazement. a shopping mall, ok, i knew that. but a section of it totally devoted to food? fast food? had never seen that before and found it soooo weird! then later i discovered that also on the highway there exist "food exits". food exits??! and then on the exit board it shows you what kind of (fast) food you can get there. now i got used to it, and actually it is convenient, wherever you go, you know there will be some kind of fast food (yegh, its always fast food). yesterday we behaved as 2 true dutch; we went to the supermarket, got some nice ("europeanstyle") rolls, some cream cheese and ham, went to the sad food court of the sad shopping mall, and made our own lunch! much better than the fast food!
of course there is a wiki for food court and i like this: "common materials used in constructing food courts are tile, linoleum, formica, stainless steel and glass, all of which facilitate easy cleanup." yup! and thats why they all look so sad sad sad!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Beacon hill

it started snowing again; my first snow experience! :) there was snow in the netherlands, and when we came back, there was snow in boston, but i didnt see anything falling until yesterday! :) 
but now its super slippery on the roads....
above is beacon hill, a boston neighborhood close to the boston common. until last week we had not really wandered around there, while it is so pretty! narrow, steep streets, fancy houses... just wandering around, you will find many interesting sights and buildings... according to wikipedia beacon hill is nowadays regarded as one of the most desirable and expensive neighborhoods in Boston. for more beacon hill facts; wikipedia! :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Without leafs...

i think the trees are quite pretty too!!! :)
got to go now!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hungry CaT

im tired, hungry and in no mood for writing...
but this i find a lovely picture, taken while we had a great dinner in utrecht with my sister and 2 utrecht labmates.... 
the restaurant is very nice too, its called "Boslust" and is in the center of Utrecht! (but you do have to have some patience... we waited very long till we finally got our entrees..)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Did you...

...ever sleep in an elderly home? even though you are not yet in need of living in such a home?
we did the first 4 nights when we were in the netherlands; we slept at tim's grandmother. not in her room, but in the guest room. as a guest room with only 2 beds in it, it was a decent size, but what if it becomes your living/dining/sleeping room? thats not a lot of space....!
all corridors looked like above (although this is at the cordova museum here close to boston; the corridors of the amsterdam-elderly home were not that photogenic). while staying there, i discovered that the walls are very thin, the shower not so good (not good at all; the temperature was not constant, it kept suddenly becoming hot and then cold again), and the nurses seem to have forgotten that all those people actually live there; in the early morning they were loudly exchanging stories of driving in the snow and what not all while standing in the corridor. maybe they assume that older people feel less and are deaf anyways? or were they just not aware that although they are at work, the people they take care of are at home? i guess it would be good if everyone would once spend some days/nights in such a home.....
anyways... tim's grandmother became 95 today! can you imagine? last year she and tim took a plane to france for a short weekend! and it wouldnt surprise me if her social life  is more active than ours, being locked in a lab for most of the time.... 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Melting snow

although there are still some snow mountains here and there, i saw yesterday night that all the snow pictured above in the boston common entirely disappeared; no more sleighing (i dont know whether this is the correct word for the activity above) there! the picture was taken last wednesday when boston was still covered. 
when looking up the word sleighing i discovered that it actually originates from the dutch word "slee"; it entered the american english language around 1700. the dutch were among the earliest inhabitants of north america, and therefore many words come from the dutch language! for example: boss ("baas), bush ("bos" or, in old dutch "bosch") and landscape ("landschap"). apparently, in later centuries we "gave" the americans the words dope, knickerbocker (??), snoop, spook, waffle and cookie. but for me, the most interesting is the following; also the word "yankee", the most american (word) of all, is most likely a dutch word from origin... howcome? well, the most likely source is the Dutch name janke, meaning "little Jan" or "little John," a nickname that dates back to the 1680s. Perhaps because it was used as the name of pirates, the name Yankee came to be used as a term of contempt. It was used this way in the 1750s by General James Wolfe, the British general who secured British domination of North America by defeating the French at Quebec. The name may have been applied to New Englanders as an extension of an original use referring to Dutch settlers living along the Hudson River. Whatever the reason, Yankee is first recorded in 1765 as a name for an inhabitant of New England. Around the same time it began to be abbreviated to Yank. During the American Revolution, American soldiers adopted this term of derision as a term of national pride.(this latter part i literally stole from here).
(the relation between the dutch and american language is also described in the novel Netherland by Joseph O'Neill; a book i liked a lot, surely its not merely about language, its about a man living in NY, during and after 9/11)
ok... and i didnt want to write much this time... hihihihi.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Coffee & Cookie

im in the cheesecake factory right now (oh, are we lazy! i think we hardly cooked the past weeks (in the netherlands not once); but we did share 1 meal; thats more than enough here). we were just debating whether we should take a coffee or not.... and i voted against because here the coffee, or tea, is invariably without a cookie. whats a coffee without a cookie (or whatever else small and sweet)??
above a picture of the tea i had in a cafe in the center of amsterdam, in the beurs van berlage, a famous monument built between 1896 and 1903 as a commodity exhange, and currently used as a conference venue. the cafe was real pretty, and not only did we get a tasty cookie, also a napkin with a poem by albert verwey, he worked together with the architect berlage and wrote poems for the building. the poem above is about food and laughter, and that this brings you good times (very loosely translated... :)
ah yes, i miss the dutch cookie, among other things.... :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In 2011...

... i think i should go more often to the gym.. its good our apartment complex has a gym, too bad there are usually sooo many other things i would rather do...
and i actually want internet at home, loading my pics with the free wireless thats available when it feels like, takes much too long...
besides, i would like to publish a paper in nature or science, i should finally read the manual that came with my new camera, and i shouldnt buy any more clothes; our wardrobe is overloaded, and, as tim points out whenever i complain about the lack of space for my clothes; i already take much more than 50% of the available space. other than that, i didnt think much about the year ahead yet...
so..., lets see!