Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Empty roads

see how endless that road is? in the middle of the desert, with nothing else than this road.... no shop, no mc donalds, no gas station, no houses, no people. just heat, somewhere in california. we have driven through quite some desert by now, but i continue to be amazed. how ever changing the landscape is, how empty... something we definitely do not have in the netherlands... such enormous stretches of empty land, of desert, of crazy heat....
this was back in march, during our road trip.
blogger is acting strange the past few days, it often does not allow me to upload photos, so i have to open another internet browser to get it done... grrrr. but at least tim is coming back tomorrow, after 3.5 weeks, so i can try on his computer... :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Boston symphony

last week i got a nice surprise! someone had 1 extra ticket for a concert in the symphony hall. since tim was (and is) still in the netherlands, the decision was easy... :) i was not dressed for the occassion so i rushed home only to change and run out the door again. in cold, rainy weather... (right now its finally really nice weather!!). it was not supercrowded, and bag check (which they always do) was done with much more scrutiny than before; they looked at every item in my bag. 
me and tim had been to concerts a few times before, but we never sat on the balcony like i did this time, front row, and almost entirely in the center! its pretty, but i do have to say that i like the amsterdam concert hall better. the stage is also much bigger (first time here i was surprised by how tiny it was). i continue to be amazed by people who just walk during the concert, or get up as soon as a piece has ended. can nobody ever wait till the break??!! i feel this is something you dont see in the netherlands. for one because its weird, and 2 because its a waste of money to miss a part of the concert... ;) (the same happens in cinemas, people constantly get up and walk during the movie. its a bit distracting sometimes and even after 3 years i think its very weird behavior).
anyways... the boston symphony has a nice program, called 20under40, meaning that if you are under 40, you can go to many of the concerts for only 20 dollars (i think it is an anonymous donor who pays the difference)! that makes an evening at the symphony not that crazily more expensive than a ticket for the movies. still... its mostly old(er) people at the symphony... :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My brain!!

this is a picture of my brain!! i got it this saturday, as i participated in a research study at harvard. i have always wanted to participate in a study, and every week we get a very, very, very long email listing all the studies that need volunteers. but only recently i finally picked out a study that seemed interesting to me, and not too invasive (so not having to take medication or overnight stays in the hospital etc etc). 
this was a study about ADHD, and i was the healthy control :). during my first visit they tested whether i was eligible. i had to solve some math problems (im not good at that at all!!) within a certain time frame, they tested my balance, whether i could sit still, and i had to do some other exercises. some were really not that easy and they didnt tell me how well (or bad) i did. i also had to read up some words (i had a bit of a disadvantage, not being a native speaker, but they said they would correct for that), and give the definition of others (i learned a few new words!). then during the second visit, this saturday, we did the real test. first i had to do a lot of weird stuff (like sticking out my tongue for a certain time with my eyes closed), walk on my toes or heels, jump while on one foot for 50 times, etc etc. that was all filmed and i hope that will never be released to the public.... :) then they used MRI to scan my brain while i did certain exercises. i had never had an MRI, so that was interesting. i spent 2 full hours in that thing.... what a noise! one of the exercises involved tapping with my finger in a certain rhythm for 8 minutes, while otherwise lying perfectly still. unexpectedly, that all was quite tiring!
but.... i thought it was really interesting to participate in someone else's scientific study, and everyone was really friendly. most importantly, ofcourse, i got a picture of my brain and 225 dollars towards my new laptop (i still didnt get one.... :( )

Friday, April 26, 2013

Californian coast

last night blogger did not want to upload my picture, for whatever reason. so here it finally is... this is when we drove along the coast in california, so pretty!! see that road....? thats where we drove...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Winter trees

these trees still look like winter to me.... this is commonwealth avenue, seen from right outside the public garden. i actually posted a snowy view of it not too long ago. yesterday it was raining most of the day and it was so cold that i couldnt sleep!! then today it was suddenly sunny and sort of pleasant... although still not warm enough.... several trees are blossoming though, i should get some pictures soon before thats over!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cool duckling

i did visit the ducklings on my walk yesterday. they were wearing cute straw hats and some had a runners number on them. this one is from last year april, when they all got a cape and looked much cooler, actually!
yesyes, they get dressed up for various occassions. i think thats really nice... here you can see a slideshow of some of their other outfits.

Boston streets

over the past 3 years, i have shown you many "boston streets", but never one like this. and it is beyond horrible that i can now add this one to the collection. even though "they got him", the lives of many people have been changed forever, only because they were participating in or watching a boston tradition. at the same time, every single day horrible things happen, somewhere, anywhere... but we just dont always hear about it (or choose to ignore it, or.... etc). all of that makes it hard for me to write something, as every thought seems so superficial... and who am i? i was not even there monday. nothing happened to me.
during our time in boston we have walked on boylston street, where it happened, so very often. i guess we are so boring..! every time tim and me would walk the same route, in one direction or the other. starting in the boston common, we would pass the public garden (perhaps look at the cute ducklings), get onto boylston, and then just walk until prudential, passing the hancock tower, the public library, and (excuse me) that ugly church. there is also another beautiful sculpture by the same artist as the ducklings one on copley square, "tortoise and hare", which honors the participants of the boston marathon. it has been there since 20 years and i still did not get to posting it as i never managed to take a good picture of it. today, most of that part of boylston was still closed off, entirely, and they were still collecting evidence, as you can see. at various places, people had placed flowers, running shoes, notes, etc.
i walked on newbury street today, which runs parallel to boylston, and i realized that in these 3 years we hardly ever took newbury as there was just so much to see on boylston.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Only $10.50!

i was running out of fruit and vegetables. but i cant drive, and our favorite supermarket is a 10-minute drive away. so... i went to haymarket in boston! its a 15 minute ride or so with the subway, and the market is right outside the station (which is aptly named haymarket)
the t-shirt stand next to the subway station was already selling t-shirts saying; "boston marathon, 04/15/13, we will never forget", which i just found sad and a little creepy.
i spent 10 dollars and 50 cents, and above you can see what i got. the quality greatly varies at haymarket, sometimes the stuff they sell is literally rotting, but what i got today seemed all very good. except the strawberries; 2 boxes for 1 dollar! they are about to go bad, so im thinking to bake some sort of strawberrycake tomorrow..... they also had 3 pounds of tomatoes for 1 dollar, but i decided the small box with cherry tomatoes was enough for me...
(for the scientists; yes, those are 2 50ml falcon tubes on top of the stove....)

Friday, April 19, 2013

I baked

this morning, when i was about to leave the apartment, i checked my phone (which i dont do very often), and saw a message from tim: "whats happening? suspects arrested? public transport closed? stay home, ok?" only then i really looked out of the window and saw that there were absolutely no cars parked; on a normal weekday all spots are taken well before we leave. this monday i had texted tim; "i am NOT at the finish line, i am in the lab. explosions occurred at finish, dont know whats happening." this because tim is in the netherlands (since 2 weeks by now), and im still here in boston. news travels fast and nowadays everyone has a phone, so while thats a good thing, it can also cause worries; why did i not yet hear from him/her?!! when i texted tim, he hadnt heard the news yet, but it was already on the dutch tv...
today indeed i could not goto work as all public transport had been suspended, and everyone was asked to remain inside and lock their doors as one of the suspects was on the loose. while i was still sleeping, tim had been following the news for hours already (theres a 6 hr time difference). when i went to sleep, i knew there had been a deadly shooting at MIT, but had no clue it was related to the marathon bombings. i am not in boston, but a little outside. but "a little outside boston" is exactly where all terror happened today. again, i can only say, luckily not in my area...
 just like anyone else in and around boston, i guess, i couldnt concentrate on much other than the news.... and when the power went out, even though it went right back on again, and i heard something fall at the same time, i just jumped up... something i normally would not even notice, now made me paranoid, although the suspect was thought to be in another area than where i am.
so i baked. something with yeast, salt, water and flour. ooh, and a lot, lot, lot of butter. it was not hard, but it did take a lot of time. in waiting, not in actually doing (as usually is the case with bread). i could have made croissants out of it, i guess, but the recipe said to make knots, and so thats what i did.... long after they were baked came the news that the suspect was found hiding in a boat in someones yard, and from that moment i was even more glued to the screen of my not-so-well-working computer (in the absence of a tv). i am glad they got him now. only 19 years old. i wonder if we will ever know what in the world is going on in his head....

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Giant sign

i thought it would be interesting to see what kind of photos i was taking 2 or 3 years back. so i went to the folder of 2011, and looked up what pictures i had for april 18... living in the us for 3 years made us used to certain things. things i before thought were so odd, different, or just unknown to us.... when i look back, i see why i took certain photos, but also realize that nowadays i dont really see that anymore, or it doesnt strike me as interesting... (the number of photos i am taking in/around boston has also decreased quite a bit)
take giant signs, you dont see that in the netherlands. billboards, yes, but giant signs, sometimes bigger than the place the sign is for? no. here is one, taken april 18, 2011. we have driven past this sign so very often. its on our way into boston, and i dont really see it anymore... , but i like the hamburger-eating-man! we have never been to this place, but at yelp it gets quite good reviews, and it seems to be a place you go to after a night out. there is no seating, and everything is a little old and dirty... (thats another thing, by the way, americans really like to give their opinion about everything. they write entire reviews on restaurants, bars, products... )

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sun rays

as the sun was setting, sun rays were just crossing these peaks in anza borrega state park, near san diego. it was so very pretty.
at the subway stations in boston they now continuously announce that you should report anything suspicious. they did this when we just arrived 3 years ago, but the past year or so i didnt hear it that much, until last monday. there is also more police on the streets and the national guard patrols the subway stations; at some places they inspect bags before you can enter, but so far not at "my" stations. some 12 blocks remain closed off to the public entirely, as well as the subway station close to where the explosions occurred. the thought that we walked that street so very often, and that we were watching the marathon last year around that area is just weird.
i can only be glad that neither me nor anyone i know was there when it happened, but so many others were not that lucky.....

Monday, April 15, 2013

From Boston

this is from last years boston marathon, and i was very enchanted by the shiny thermal blankets all the runners received at the finish.
today's finish became quite a different one. i planned on being there, right at the finish like last year. right around 2.30 - 3pm as then some participants me and my colleagues knew were likely going to cross that finish line. but labwork got in the way, and we never walked over to have a look. the first online news site mentioned "explosions, finish and boston marathon" just 10 minutes after it happened. at that moment nobody had any clue what was going on, if something was really going on and what it actually meant. but pretty soon photos, videos and reports from people at the scene were surfacing and we were all just shocked. i am glad i didnt manage to go there, and can only imagine the horror and chaos all those people there at the wrong time and at the wrong place must have gone through.... :(

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Not me!

this is a picture from last year of someone who just finished the boston marathon! last year it was really hot that day, around 30C (90 F or something?), and i got tired just from walking a bit... :) imagine running 26.2 miles.....
tomorrow its time for the 117th boston marathon, and it wont be as hot as last year. it actually hasnt been warm at all this year yet, as opposed to last year, when we had a crazy hot day somewhere in march, and where april (i just looked at my pics from last year) was very nice too, from the beginning.. now its just gloomy, quite cold at times and rainy..... 
in 2011, the fastest boston marathon was run; in 2 hours and 3 minutes....! im happy when i manage to run 3 miles without stopping, and even that i dont manage every time (i did, however, once run even 4 miles!), so im very certain i will never run a marathon... but its fun to watch, so perhaps i will stop by tomorrow and take some pics...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Green fields

yesterday i was about to post a picture when i tilted my laptop screen a little and it went black... :( this has been happening quite often the past few days, so i am afraid that my macbook wont be with me that much longer. sometimes it gets back to normal when i tilt it back or even further, but i also have had to restart it a few times before it got back. buhuhuhuhuh... also, it does not want to connect to the internet anymore whenever i close it. only after restarting it does..... the past week i have perhaps restarted my computer more than in the past few months!!
i actually have been meaning to buy a new laptop since i came to the us (so, since 3 years), but either they were too expensive, or not what i wanted, or actually my current one was still ok enough, or... or.. and even now im still not sure which one to get when this one gives up....
above yet another picture of our road trip! i have not been taking any pictures here, lately.... this was on highway 101 1, which mostly runs right along the coast, but right after bodega bay it goes a little further inwards and you are treated to this beautiful green rolling hills with sheep, horses and cows.... and no computers in sight!! :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Another beach

this is quite another beach compared to the one from yesterday in washington. this is much further down south, in california... so pretty! we had a little picknick in the sand. the rocks kept all the wind and cold away....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ocean shores

in ocean shores, washington, we enjoyed a pretty sunset. it was, however, quite windy and i was so very very cold!! but it was still nice... we were the only ones actually walking on the beach. the few others enjoying the sunset just had driven their cars right up. there was not really a road, just mostly sand and lots of holes, so our tiny rental car would probably not have made it... i found half a sand dollar, which i kept in the car for our entire trip (this was the second day). when we turned in the car, i took it but was afraid to break it or something, intended to look for something to wrap it in, and then forgot it entirely... :( buuuuhhh.
ocean shores looked extremely touristy, but we were clearly there in the non-tourist season, which was more than fine with me. it was quiet, we got a cheap hotel with a 24hr accessible pool that we got all to ourselves...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blooming desert

in california we drove a bit through the desert (i like that so much!), and the cacti were blooming, so very pretty! so red, yellow and purple..

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kalaloch beach

since i havent taken any pictures since we got back from our trip, and i took plenty during... here another one! this is still on the olympic loop in washington. that drive was just so magical. one momet the skies would be dark and cloudy, and the next the sun would shine and at some moments the sky would even turn blue! somewhere along the route we wanted to take a hike to a waterfall, but just as we got out and ready on the trail it started to snow/rain quite heavily and so we turned back to the car and had lunch instead, while overlooking the lake (glacier lake, i think). then there were the mossy trees everywhere, and not too many other people.... here we were suddenly treated to an amazing coast! when we got out of the car it was raining and the sky was so dark!! my lens kept getting wet, so many pictures have raindrops on them... :( but out of nowhere that sky turned blue, its really funny to see my first picture from the above scene where its all grey, until we were ready to get back to the car again, and it had gotten all blue!!
the above rocks were huge, very impressive to see.... i couldnt decide which photo to post. my other option was one with raindrops :(, but tim next to that rock in the middle... hes really tiny there... tim, i mean.. :) 

Coffee drive-through

on our trip we were very charmed by all the tiny drive-through coffee places... there were lots in washington and oregon, and california had some as well. never seen them in or around boston... (and as mentioned before, tim now wants to start one in the netherlands... :D ) perfect when you are on a road trip! no need to get out of the car, just a quick drive around and you have your coffee! we had some good ones... :)
we didnt go here, but of course this one was not to be missed. this is probably one of the coolest we saw. its in sequim, and was photographed before by sequim-resident kay, as you can see here! while we drove by, it was a little more cloudy, and i can see that the sausage, egg and cheese muffin has increased 30 cents in price since 2011... :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Self portrait

oooh, its well after midnight and im so tired! so just a self portrait. this was in washington, when we drove the olympic loop... scenerey was amazing there....

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Road sign

along the highway you see a lot of signs for food. some just to let you know about their restaurant, sometimes even 30 miles ahead, or more. or less. or like above "worth every calorie". since i goto the gym, where all the machines count each calorie you have burned (although i know they are not accurate, and you probably usually burn a little less than they say), i sometimes think in calories too. many restaurants list how many calories each of their dishes contains, so then i all i think is; ooh, for just that cookie i have to bike 30 minutes! or run 3 miles.... not always, but sometimes it helps not having the cookie... :)
the coffee place in the hospital also lists the calories of all their pastries, and many of the muffins, brownies and (giant) cookies are easily 400 calories, some even 600-700!! just a muffin... nowadays i only get their coffee, and just watch all the calories i dont have to bike off.. ;)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rough road

this is a road somewhere in oregon. i would need to get the map to see where exactly it was... :) anyways, we had driven in a beautiful forest, didnt see any other cars and just enjoyed our morning on the empty road. too bad the ranger station was closed to ask for advice regarding the route we wanted to take, but hey, we knew where we were headed and we knew which roads to take... no highways as those are boring and everything but scenic (although in some cases they actually are!). we didnt, however, know that some roads were closed off due to snow, and that other roads were unpaved..... i was actually driving and it all went fine (had some practice doing curves, driving up a somewhat steep grade, etc etc), until... the pavement suddenly stopped... ah well, we thought, perhaps somewhere it starts again? there was a car behind us and we let him pass, hoping to signal that we had a question, but he didnt stop. a little later on he did, and he asked whether we actually knew where we were headed....? well yes, but... would this road ever become paved again?! nope, not for a while and there would be snow. he advised us to turn around and directed us to another road. the first part would be a little detour as the actual road was completely destroyed during a recent storm (!!), but after that we should be fine. we thus turned around and took the detour. which turned out to be unpaved as well, and much, much worse than the road we had been on. there were quite big rocks on the road, and downed trees (as you see here) and soon we hit some snow. that was the point for us where we decided this was crazy. our only option was to go back entirely, from where we had started in the morning!! but it was more than enough adventure for us and we preferred that over this road, without cell phone reception, other cars, etc etc.... besides, driving the same road the other way gives you still another view!
and guess what. today also marks 3 years me doing this blog, and thus also that we have spent 3 years in the us of a!! according to IRS we still have to file our taxes as "aliens", but i do feel less an alien than i did 3 years ago.... ah look at us, here in my very first blogpost (which was actually april 6, so 2 more days for the blog anniversary). the road was bumpy sometimes, but there were at least as many highs as there were lows... :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

To boring!!

when we drove from portland to our next destination (when we left portland we didnt know yet what that destination would be, only that it would be somewhere more south...), we passed by boring!! actually it was not the road we had to take, but we decided to drive the 4 miles to see what boring looks like. i hoped for a nice sign "welcome to boring!" but nothing of that sort... (perhaps it gets stolen too often?). apparently 8000 people live in boring. and it was named boring after william h boring, and early resident of the area, who died in 1932. thats actually a little boring, but well...
we found the boring post office and were surprised it was open on a saturday (around here they are often closed, or only open in the morning), so we sent some postcards. unfortunately not with pictures of boring, since the post office didnt have any cards for sale, other than entirely white ones, prestamped. ah well... i was excited to visit boring, oregon, even though it seemed that there was not much going on...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cattle feedlot

during our last big drive we passed by a lot of weird things. deserted buildings. empty desert. forgotten statues and even an entire town, abandoned not too long ago. usually we just drove by, saw something weird, stopped, took some pictures and drove on again. sometimes that was a little scary, as we had no clue whether the places were really deserted, or whether we were allowed to walk around, etc (not that we did anything illegal, just looking, from a distance.. :) ). so, sometimes it was just a drive-by shooting, like above. we would turn around, and from the window of the car i would take some pictures... here, we suddenly saw literally thousands of cows on a very small place. something i never have seen in my life. just alongside the road. the cows were obviously curious when we drove by slowly and took some pics, but i didnt dare getting out of the car and inspecting it from a little closer. 
i just looked it up. this is a "cattle feedlot", and this particular one, named "superior cattle feeders" (the name alone, yuck!), houses 80,000 cows. 80,000!!! can you imagine? i actually had never heard of a feedlot, but wikipedia tells me that the cows here most likely have spend the first months of their lives on a normal pasture, eating grass, until they are around 300 kgs. then they are transferred to such a feedlot and are fed mostly corn by-producsts, which makes them gain weight (and especially fat) very quickly; about 180 kgs in the 3-4 months they are in the feedlot. when they are fat enough, they are brought to the slaughterhouse...
we dont eat too much meat. i guess thats better for both the cows and us...