aryanhwy: (Default)
...and my bike was never stolen.

We've been in Tilburg less than 9 months.

There will be absolutely no sewing tonight, because I have already exceeded today's frustration quota.

Once supper is finished, I'm going to have a nice big bowl of raspberry dream ice cream, and then take my book off to a nice long bath, and then go to bed.

Oh, did I mention that Gwen woke up at 4:00am today, and instead of going back to sleep like she usually does, she fussed for about 45 min. and eventually wouldn't go back to sleep until I gave her a small bottle.
aryanhwy: (Default)
Maternity leave starts Monday. Whoo! It will be nice to laze around the house not getting anything done and not feeling guilty about it. I had a few toughish days earlier this week -- the pull muscle on the rib has started twitching occasionally, which drives me nuts, and Monday or Tuesday one of the lower abdominal muscles that holds up the big heavy basketball weight finally gave up and said 'I don't wanna do this any more!' hence making putting weight on my right leg rather difficult. Luckily yesterday and today both have been much better. But still, it's a long commute to Tilburg and I feel bad when I get home and the best I can do is put away half a load of laundry and pack a box of books (Joel has been almost exclusively in charge of both supper and dishwashing lately) before I crash and take a bath or go straight to bed. I'm much more energetic in the mornings, so I'm looking forward to being able to use that time productively around the house and then slacking in the afternoon.

Of course, I'm not really off work; I'm not bothering to take leave for the remainder of my 20% contract in Amsterdam, I figure I can find 8 hours a week of time to do work-related things, especially since every Monday I'm meeting with two students for a seminar on medieval logic for two hours, and that takes some prep time. I also have two papers that I need to finish up, one to submit (maybe by the end of next week?) and another is just revisions which the journal wants by the end of the month, which is still doable. And next Thursday I'll be coming down to Tilburg anyway since I'm on the selection committee for three new Ph.D. positions and the short-listing meetings are then, and there's a seminar talk in the afternoon that I want to go to, and the interview dates for the short-listed candidates are Nov. 3 and 4 (though everyone already knows that there's a good chance I may miss those!). So it's not completely work-free, but I don't mind!

Tomorrow we sign the rental contract on our new house! Very excited about that. I'm looking forward to walking all over it and getting a better sense of what will go where, and how many bookshelves we'll need to buy and where to put them, and also going through and packing up all of the knickknacks/decorations/etc. that we don't particularly want (the landlady encouraged us to do so when we were there for the showing). We're planning to spend the night there too; that will give us some time to maybe walk around the neighborhood some, find where good restaurants are, see how comfortable/uncomfortable the bed is, unpack some of the things we'll be bringing with (figure there's no point in making the trip w/o filling up some of our wheeled suitcases, saves having to pack it into a moving truck later).

We're planning to rent a truck the 29th/30th and make a first move then; the apartment is now full of boxes of books, and it will be nice to get them all out and then get a better sense of what is left; mostly kitchen stuff and clothes, probably. I just emailed our current landlady today saying we hope to be out by Dec. 1; hard to believe that in ~6 weeks we'll no longer be living in Amsterdam. I've lived in that apartment longer than any other place in my life barring the house I lived in until I was 10. It's been a great apartment, and I've loved living in Amsterdam (I'm going to miss our canal view!), so it will be hard to leave.
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Joel and I regularly say "we should go out on bike trips more often", but that rarely gets translated into actual practice. This morning, though, he asked what the forecast was, and suggested that we consider going out on a bike ride as he felt the need to get out of the house. The forecast said partly cloudy, partly sunny, which seemed promising, and we decided to try to go to Marken, an island (well, it was until 1959, when a causeway to it was built) in the IJmere north of Amsterdam. We still had our usual lazy breakfast and morning computer time, and then just as we were about to head out, it started pouring. Luckily, it came up so quickly and rained so hard we figured it wouldn't last long, and it didn't, and about 25 min. later we were on our way.

We went up to Central Station and then took the ferry to Amsterdam Noord where we meandered through Nieuwendijk and Schellingwoude until we reached the bike path on the dike that we followed up to Marken. Twice we got caught in the rain; once pretty hard but we were close to a bridge so we just cycled really fast until we reached it and then waited it out, and the second time was lighter and once it blew over it was sunny and we dried out quickly.

Marken was both smaller and bigger than I thought; the town itself was smaller, but there was quite a bit of field/pasture land around the town. The town is moderately touristy; the first thing we saw was a wooden shoe factory. We headed into town and found a little cafe/restaurant where we stopped for hot beverages and really good chicken soup. We then left our bikes there while we walked through the rest of the town; we saw the two churches, the town hall, and the harbor.

Heading back out it was gorgeous and sunny but it was into the wind, which we expected, since we'd had it at our back for quite a bit of the ride out. What we didn't expect was just how hard it would be. I was downshifted as far as I possibly could, peddling as hard as I could, and I swear I could've gone faster at some points walking. Of course, my bike is not as efficient as Joel's, and I'm not as strong as he, and he is bigger so he doesn't get buffeted by the wind as much, and as a result he'd often get rather far ahead of me and then stop and wait for me to catch up. Which means that I was cycling flat out, and he was getting breaks every half a km or so. When we finally made it home, I told him that next time HE could be the one working as hard as he could for ~1.5 hours while I breeze by and relax on a regular basis. Oh, and he could also be the one doing it with an extra 5kg or so strapped to his stomach. His response? "It's good for you." Hah.

But still, it was lots of fun. It's good to get out of the house occasionally, and even with the bouts of rain it was still good weather. I took some pictures in Marken that I'll probably get around to posting on FB later tonight, but no guarantees (because I am quite frankly exhausted).
aryanhwy: (Default)
Here's two good shots that I got of the oyster catcher on Wednesday:



And here's a shot that has the little bird that I think may have been its chick, on the roof of the building. I've circled it, 'cause it's hard to see.

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This evening as I headed to the bike shelter from the office, I heard a very insistent chirping underneath one of the parts of the building where there's no building on the ground floor but there is from the 1st to 4th. I'd heard it before, but could never locate the bird. Even though I've kept an eye out, it's been hard to triangulate on the direction. Today though, I saw it immediately -- and it was a type of bird I'd never seen before, black and white with an orange, slightly curving beak. I whipped out my camera and got a few photos, but I'm not sure how good any of them are, since I couldn't get very close. Looking in my trusty book of Dutch birds, I think it might have been an oystercatcher. And it was clearly intent on something, chirping at a steady and insistent rate. I could heard an answering cry, but from some distance, and my guess was it was a hen that had lost a chick and was trying to find it. As I got my bike I watched it fly from place to place making a triangle, calling from each point. (I was distracted momentarily by a duck with five ducklings in the canal by the bike shelter. So cute! We'd seen them yesterday on the way to lunch, and they're absolutely tiny.) I looked back one last time before heading out, and to my amazement, I think I located the source of the second call. Up on the roof of the building (4 floors up), I saw a clearly unhappy, clearly smaller bird, making roughly the same cry. If I'm right and this really was a hen trying to find its chick, I have no idea how the little one got up onto the roof; surely it couldn't have flown there, and would such a bird have been that dumb as to build its nest on top of the building? And if I am right, I'm not sure the mother will ever find it; it was either running from place to place or flying very low. I doubt think it ever occurred to it to look up. Makes me wonder how good bird's senses of direction are based on hearing alone. I could hear that the second call was coming from above, but maybe it can't?

I'll download the photos I took later tonight and see if any of them turned out. In any case, that's another new bird for me.
aryanhwy: (Default)
My mom and nephew Owen arrived last Thursday morning. Since then, it's been a busy few days, in some of the most beautiful weather I have ever experienced in Amsterdam (> 20 every day and sunny!).

Thursday: Went out to Science Park for the afternoon since I had to teach. Afterwards, Owen enjoyed climbing in the left-behind dirt piles and searching for shells.

Friday: Went downtown to rent a bike for mom, had a picnic lunch at one park, and went to another later. In the evening, folks came over for pizza to celebrate my birthday.

Saturday: The four of us, plus Martijn and Wendy and Jesse went to Zaanse Schans.

Sunday: Day of rest, as it should be, though it involved many trips to various parks.

Monday: Bike trip to Muiden to see the Muiderslot. As it happened, it was Vlaggetjesdag (Flag Day) there, so the main city streets were awfully busy, but luckily the castle itself wasn't too much. Got to see part of the falconry display too, including two adorably fluffy little babies.

Tuesday: Trip to the market to pick up essential souvenirs, such as cheese and lace curtains. Then we spent about 4.5 hours at the zoo, capping the day off with watching the sealions do tricks for fish.

I've been posting photos as we went.

Today the Heidelberg project proposal was evaluated. We got an A- (and only one project out of the entire cluster got a grade A, so this is very good), and now it's off to the DFG to see if they'll give us money. :) Another stretch of waiting, but again, it's just waiting -- the chances of us not getting the money are pretty unlikely given how highly our project has been graded. We won't know for sure until sometime next year (*sigh*), but in all essentials, I'm going to go into the future with the plan that everything will work out, which means that sometime between Sept. and Nov. 2012, we'll be moving to Heidelberg for four years.
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Last night I got to cash in on my Christmas gift from Joel as we went to see the National Ballet performing Sylvia. I'd been looking forward to this ever since I opened the small, flat package from him a few days before Christmas and saw a piece of paper that said "ballet tickets" inside. (Much squeeage, and even more when we sat down together and pick out which one we wanted to see, and where we would sit, etc.). I picked Sylvia because, even with the new choreography, it's still a classical ballet, and this was its Dutch premier, and mid-March seemed a reasonable bet for moderately decent weather (i.e., something where I could wear one of my new fancy dresses and my Paris heals without completely freezing).

So I left work around 4:30 yesterday to come home and take a nap before we went out (last thing I wanted was to sleep through the ballet), and then I got to have the fun of trying on different dresses and shoes and necklaces until I found the right combination -- unfortunately, the only picture I got was a snapshot of the two of us that doesn't show off the dress, but that's okay, I know I got all glammed up, and Joel was very complimentary, and it was lots of fun. We went out to eat at Asmara, an Eritrean place close to the theatre, as we haven't been there in a long time, and then arrived at the theatre about 20 min. before the show started. We had seats in the front row right in front of the orchestra; I'd never been so close to the pit before and it was almost as much fun watching the musicians as it was the dancers. And I loved having such a close-up view of the feet, since that's what I enjoy watching most.

Neither of us knew the story in advance, and we weren't able to extract that much from the summary in Dutch in the programme, and during intermission Joel launches into his take on what's going on---involving a couple of homeless painters---but even if we couldn't quite follow the story, the dancing and the costumes and the scenery and the music were beautiful. The choreography was somewhat more modern than I was expecting---I really like grand, classical ballets where you get huge corps all dancing in perfect synchronicity---and something that surprised me was that it didn't actually seem to be that difficult. When I saw Don Quixote in Moscow, there were times when I could see what the dancers were doing and my mouth would just drop open because I knew how difficult what they were pulling off was. I didn't have any moments like that last night; oh, sure, the dancers were all very good, and were doing things that would be difficult, if not impossible, for ordinary people, but it was all things that you'd expect as routine from a professional dancer---it was all things that, at the height of my training, I could've done.

The ballet was also shorter than I expected; each act was an hour, so we were in around 8:15 and out a little after 10:30. Don Quixote was something like 3.5 hours long, with two intermissions.

I had such a good time. I told Joel, I could do this every evening. I'd love to someday see Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty or Romeo & Juliet or Coppelia---I've never even seen televised versions of these. So I'll have to keep an eye on next year's schedule, and see if I can't get a repeat Christmas gift.

This afternoon I was sitting on the couch enjoying the sun when all of a sudden a huge troupe of Chinese dragons, and a photographer, came along and started cavorting on the grass in front of the canal outside our window. I got a few pictures of them---so bright! so colorful! And they have eyelids that they can blink! It gave them such expression.

ETA: As Edricus pointed out on FB, they are in fact Chinese lions, not dragons. Oh, duh. As soon as he said it I realized my mistake.
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That's what I had.

Jesse is in Nijmegen again until Wednesday, and we'd talked about trying to get together, but I realized that all I really wanted was to spend all weekend with Joel relaxing and doing stuff with him, and that's exactly how things ended up.

Friday afternoon was pretty intense in terms of work; spent about four hours trying to work through some proofs and hack out some algorithms, and when I realized that there weren't going to be Friday afternoon drinks, I suggested to Joel that we head home earlier than usual and go have a beer at 't IJ. He was amenable to the plan, so that was the start of the good weekend. We didn't stay out late, just one beer a piece, and then picked up frozen pizzas on our way home. (Except for the two weekends that I've made pizza, we haven't actually cooked supper since before Christmas. Twice we've gone out to eat, we did the pizzas once, and every other night we've pulled random soup out of the freezer. I'm so glad we stocked up before we went to the States!)

Saturday was just a lazy day, starting with a long lie in in bed (oh so nice); we'd planned to replace the brake pads on my bike (the middle of last week I suddenly reached the "scary dangerous" stage of bike-brake-dying; luckily there's a few temporary measures that we could implement so that I could at least bike home safely), but it was a cold and rainy day out and we ended up spending as much time inside as we could, working on computer projects. (I should've done scribal stuff, but I didn't. Bad signet. No cookie). The pizza that I made ended up being especially good; the crust was thick and springy, and we put on about twice as many toppings as you really should put on a pizza and expect to have it cook properly.

Yesterday we got a sprinter from Muiderpoort around 10:30 and went to Gouda where we met up with Martijn and Wendy. We walked around the city some (my first time there, even though I've wanted to go to Gouda and buy cheese almost since we've moved over here), and then had lunch, and then headed over to our main reason for being in Gouda: a winterbokbier festival. Joel got 5 beer tokens, Martijn and I each had 4 (originally he had 5 and I had 3 but I ended up buying his last one off him), and Wendy had 2, so we all got to sample about 14 beers (it would've been 15 but one that Martijn got Joel liked so much he went back for it himself with his final token. That particular beer was by far the worst of all the ones I had, Wendy and I agreed. :)). Even though they were supposed to be all winterboks, there was quite a bit of variety -- I had a Christmas beer which was a bit disappointing because I couldn't taste the apple and cloves at all, even though Joel and Martijn said they could, a cherry stout, a fairly citrusy one, and then one made with elderberry and elderflower, which was OK when I started drinking it and really blossomed into something delightful as it warmed up. We got some pikant croketjes which were pretty spicy, and this particular beer went with them very well.

Martijn and Wendy left when Joel and I still had one token left apiece as they needed to get back to Wilnis, so we got our last beers and then just sat down and talked for awhile. Suddenly the person next to us turns to us and says (in easily identifiable American English) something like "After living in Amsterdam you get so used to not hearing other Americans that it's so surprising when you suddenly hear it again!" So we started talking with the guy, who's lived in Amsterdam for ~16 years, does homebrewing himself, likes running and is a computer nerd, and we hit it off. His wife came by briefly too and we talked to her, and we exchanged contact info so that we can hopefully get together sometime. We then ended up on the same train back to Amsterdam, where Joel and Derek continued to nerd out about computer things, and at one point Derek looked at Joel's coat and said "Oh, you guys have cats too". These definitely sound like people we'll enjoy.

More leftover soup for supper, a lovely long relaxing bath with a Lush bubble bar that left me all gold and glittery, and a pretty productive evening for both of us capped off the day, and this morning even though we both have lots to do today, neither of us could actually stomach getting up when the alarms went off, so we spent an extra hour in bed. A nice way to end the weekend.

It's rare, especially lately with all the traveling that I've done, that Joel and I actually have the time to go out and do fun things like this, especially fun things with other couples. I don't miss it when we don't do it, but I really enjoy it when we do, and this was actually the second fun thing we've done this week. On Wednesday, Joel and Martijn and I saw Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Paradiso, and the show was amazing. They played for nearly 2 3/4 hours. The acoustics were phenomenal; the music filled the room (and you) without being too overpowering (though I'm not sure what it says that I actually fell asleep for about 15-20 min., other than that I was still very tired and catching up from the trip to India). It was also really nice going with Joel; Martijn and I have been to shows at Paradiso together pretty often but it's been more than a year, I think, since I've gone with Joel. Martijn and Wendy are going to the Decemberists when they're here (don't remember when) and I'm planning to get a ticket too, and I'm hoping to convince Joel to come along for that as well. Should be fun!
aryanhwy: (firework)
Last year, I failed to take all of my vacation hours, and so 60.60 were carried over to this year. And this year, I was scrupulous: Nearly every time I went somewhere for a conference, I stuck a day or two on either end for vacation/sight-seeing, and I declared all of those days. I declared days when friends were visiting and I didn't go into the office. I tried my best to use up as much vacation as possible (vacation hours that are used, the university pays for. vacation hours that are not used, the dept. pays for. the dept. likes it when we take our vacation). I tried, I really did.

And how many hours do I currently have left for the rest of the year? (This is including the fact that I've already declared time off from tomorrow till the end of the week, and the week between Christmas and New Year's is mandatory time off, so those days off don't come out of my personal vacation). 139.40! That's slightly more than 18 days of vacation left.

How do people do it? How on earth can they use up as much vacation time as you get here in Europe??

I'm not sure how many of these 139.40 hours will carry over to next year (there is a cap on vacation hours that can be brought forward, but I don't remember what it is). But if I can bring it all, then somehow or other I've got to find a way to take 371.4 hours (=almost 49 days) of vacation next year. Must start conniving! :)
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or rather, I should say that the day had a pleasant up-swing in the middle, since the day is not yet over and who knows what might still occur.

The day started last night with me not being able to fall asleep due to my todo list cycling through my mind. Why oh why is it that it's only days that the alarm is set obscenely early that I cannot fall asleep?

Needless to say, the incessant beeping at 7:00am did not put me into a chipper mood. This was very quickly made worse when I did one last check in my bag to make sure that I had the Very Important Letter (tm) from my employer that I needed to take with me to the Hague for my visa for India, and found that it was not there. Cue cursing. It's now 7:10 am. I had checked out two train schedules the previous night, both of which would get me into the Hague closer to 9:00 rather than 9:30, so that I'd hopefully arrive at the embassy around 9:30 rather than 10:00, when they opened, so that hopefully I wouldn't end up pulling #126 from the number dispenser, while the ticker started the morning around #56. One left at 7:52, the other at 8:01. Checked the bus schedules online: there's an announcement that while they're running as many busses as possible, they're still not running the reticulated ones. The 22 is a reticulated bus line. Which meant, no 22, and thus I could either walk to Muiderpoort station and hope that a 40 would come along, or bike. (This was all a lie, actually: Not only did I see some 22s when I was out, they were all reticulated). If I biked, it was theoretically possible that I could get out to SP, grab the letter, leave my bike there, catch a 40 to Amstel, take the metro to CS, and still get the 8:01 bus. So off into the dark, -9C (that's ~16F) morning. But theory does not play well with snow. It took nearly half an hour (instead of closer to 20 min.) to cycle out there, and by the time I got the letter, and got back out to the bus stop, there was no way I was going to make the 8:01 bus. I ended up on the 8:19 sprinter; for those of you not familiar with the Dutch rail system you might think "Sprinter. That sounds like a fast train", and you'd be wrong. "Sprinter" means "lots and lots of stops". So the entire ride took about an hour and 20 min., and for all my efforts I ended up getting to the embassy bang at 10am like the previous time.

But actually, it wasn't so bad: As of a week ago, they've outsourced their visa application handling, so all people newly applying for visas were elsewhere, and it was just people with either urgent or problematic requests, for non-Dutch people hoping to pick up visas. I stewed around a bit (and was disappointed to find that unlike last time, no free wifi), and was finally served around 12:30pm, a big improvement over last time's nearly 2:15pm. Handed over way more money than I find acceptable, especially after finding out it was going to be good for one month instead of three, and then was told "come back between 4:00pm and 5:00pm to pick the visa up". Earlier, when I thought I'd be in and out quickly, I'd toyed with the idea of going to a museum in the interim, either one of my old favorites (the Mauritshuis or the Escher museum) or one I hadn't been to yet (like the den Haag historical museum), but by this point I realized I didn't have the time to do it justice. So I just went off to our favorite restaurant downtown, and indulged myself: Sat there for more than two hours, allowing my tea to be refilled whenever it was empty, having their delicious tomato soup for lunch, and then, deciding that I was still hungry and that I wanted breakfast too (a mushroom omelette). I actually managed to get some work done---worked on my part of a joint proposal, and wrote up a referee report due at the end of the month---and then headed back to the embassy. I got there a few minutes before 4:00pm, and a miracle occurred. The secretary started reading off the names of visas that she had available, and mine was the third one. I was in and out in less than 5 minutes, and on my way back home at 4:00pm.

But then it took me, door to door, just about 2.5 hours to get home. It's ridiculous. The last time it snowed was Friday, when we got about 6 inches (which, to be fair, is the biggest one-day snowfall that we've had in 6 winters, and it was on top of maybe an inch from previous). The trams, busses, and trains all over the country are still operating on reduced and delayed schedules---for example, nearly every sneltrein (fasttrain) between Amsterdam and den Haag today was canceled. I got to the station around 4:15 and had to wait 25 minutes for another sprinter; around 5:05 I changed to a sneltrein in Leiden, because they'd asked everyone for Amsterdam to do so (assuming the sprinter would probably fill up along the rest of its journey), which got into Amsterdam with about a 15-20 min. delay. And then the normally 7-minute bus ride home took closer to 20. As far as I can tell, the Dutch just don't understand the concept of snow removal. If they actually plowed the roads, that would go a long way to relieving the congestion, if nothing else because then the trams and the busses would not be reduced to slow speeds. Additionally, even if they didn't plow the roads but did plow the bike paths, I bet a lot of people that have been taking public transport to and from work would go back to biking. Sure, it's cold, but if you bundle up right, it's doable (I never had proper winter biking gear last winter. This winter, I have water-proofed Doc Martin's, fur-lined gloves, and a thinsulated hat. It's much nicer), especially if it's a short journey. But this? This is ridiculous. I dread to think what will happen if it snows again between now and Wednesday morning when we're trying to get out to the airport.
aryanhwy: (Default)
I took this picture around 1pm, as I left Science Park to head to the city center for the Ph.D. defense of a friend:

Science Park in the snow

I got as far as home and decided to leave the bike there and take the tram the rest of the day. Wasn't any faster, but at least I didn't arrive soaked.
aryanhwy: (Default)
- I've been asked to be on my first conference programme committee (not counting conferences/workshops I've organized).
- I've been paired up with my first mentee (I've volunteered to be a mentor both in the UvA's women in science framework and also for the Medieval Academy of America).
- Two and a half hours after my talk people were still asking me follow-up questions, which is always a sign that the talk was interesting.

Tonight, though, I'm going to miss the Dutch/Spain game since I'll be partaking in the conference gala dinner (though I did hear a number of people of joking about asking the organizers to provide a TV on the boat). If we win tonight, I'm semi-seriously considering rebooking my flight to Leeds from Sunday to Monday so that I can watch the final in the Netherlands, because I've got a feeling that's an experience not to miss.
aryanhwy: (Default)
Yesterday I got to experience the highs and lows of World Cup Football. I joined the Italian exodus from the office around 3:30 and watched the game at the house of a friend of theirs, so there were 6 Italians, all quite literally on the edge of their seats. It was an exciting game to watch, though pretty depressing towards the end. After it ended, we all continued to sit on the couch and stare at the black TV in despondency. Then a few of them decided the only way to deal with such a situation was to go out and get ice so they could make spritzes, which are a combination of prosecco and an herb liqueur whose name starts with 'a' and is this weird reddish-orangish color. That occupied some more time as we hung around deciding whether we wanted to also watch the Dutch-Cameroon match later in the evening. Eventually Daniele, Umberto, and I went back to Umberto's place where he made dinner (I really love how a quick throw-together dinner for an Italian involves appetizers, pasta, salad, cheese for dessert, and a bottle of wine). We were then going to go out to a pub on Middenweg to watch the game amongst Dutch people, but the aforesaid four courses and bottle of wine meant that we ended up sitting out on Umberto's porch discussing American literature, Italian literature, politics, and philosophy well into the first half of the game (besides, you don't really need to watch a Dutch football match to keep track with the score, esp. if you're sitting outside. You just listen to the roars of the entire city whenever we score, and the groans whenever the other team scores). We did eventually head out, and arrived at a pub which had a TV set up outdoors (because yesterday was a gorgeously wonderful sunny summer day), just in time for Cameroon to score, leveling the match; we figured it was the Italians bringing their bad luck with them. But we eventually won the match, and it was fun to sit there in a crowd of orange and to be apart of the celebrations afterwards. As people drifted away and we got a place to sit we continued talking about literature and stuff, and eventually we got onto the topic of science fiction at which point Daniele and I went off into our own little world and Umberto decided to go home since he didn't want to stay out too late as he's giving a talk in a seminar today. Daniele and I stayed and talked until the bar started closing up, he's now got a list of recommended reading from me and I've got a list of recommended reading from him. Some of it he's not sure has been translated out of Italian, so that is yet another reason for me to learn Italian, at least to read. It was great -- I haven't had a good geek-out about sci fi and fantasy TV and books in a long time, and I'm sure if the bar didn't close at midnight we would've continued talking for much longer.

As it was, it's probably good I wasn't out too much later as I had two paper revisions due today (both sent off) as well as having to run errands and pack for my next trip. In about an hour or so I'll head out to the airport for a weekend in Ireland, then I go to Lisbon for a few days, then to the Azores for Computability in Europe, and then to Toulouse for Logic and the Foundations of Game and Decision Theory. I'll get back a week from Wed.
aryanhwy: (Default)
This morning biking out to work I passed a billboard from one of the Dutch energy companies (the same one that was offering "Svenergy" earlier in the year -- they gave their customers a certain percent discount on their year's energy for each gold medal that Sven Kramer won at the Olympics) advertising free energy for a year, for the entire country, if the Dutch win the World Cup.

Given that France is out and it's possible that Italy will go out and Germany has only won won of their games so far, this isn't really that idle of an offer; from what I've seen and what I've heard, the Dutch are in the top 4 or so (I believe it's, in no particular order, Brazil, Argentina, us, and one of Germany/Chile/Uruguay) and thus have a reasonable chance.

Of course if that does happen, I'll be out of the country, en route to Leeds. Which is a shame, because I've got a feeling being in the Netherlands when they win the world cup is a unique experience.

EDITED: Doh, stupid typo. Thanks, [ profile] bend_gules!
aryanhwy: (Default)
Today and tomorrow are both holidays, and since yesterday was our 6th anniversary, originally we'd planned to go away for the weekend to celebrate, to Groningen so that Martijn could show us around his hometown. But then while I was in the US, very suddenly Joel's friend Jon had the chance to come to Amsterdam for a few days before following his wife on to Vienna, so he was here Thursday and Friday, and Saturday morning, and the two of them worked solidly on a paper they're co-writing. So, figuring it was unlikely that after two busy days like that Joel would want to turn around and go traveling right away, we changed our minds and decided maybe to do a day trip somewhere either yesterday or today. He still hasn't been to the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague, so we thought maybe we'd do that.

He and I had also both been working on a paper which was originally due the 15th, but the workshop deadline was extended to the 22nd while I was still in the US. Given that the two days prior Joel spent most of his time working on the paper with Jon, we hadn't finished ours yet, so we ended up spending the greater part of our anniversary sitting on the couch together finishing up the paper until mid-evening when we submitted it. Then I made pizza and we had our usual Saturday night routine, supplemented with a bottle of New Glarus Raspberry Tart that we'd brought back with us from our trip home at Christmas.

This morning after breakfast when we talked about going to the Hague, both of us admitted we didn't really want to, that we just wanted to be lazy, and lazy we were -- both of us have spent most of the day lying around the livingroom reading (not an uncommon occurrence for me on the weekends, but quite unusual for him). After dinner we took a blanket, our books, and a bottle of wine, and went and sat down by the canal to read for about an hour and a half, and that was really nice. It's something I wish we did more often but he's always so busy on the weekends that it really means a lot to me when he takes the time to just go and sit with me somewhere. And it's been such a wonderfully warm, sunny weekend and I'd spent almost all day yesterday inside that it was really nice to get outside.

Tomorrow some folks from the dept. may be getting together to go biking somewhere; plans weren't set on Friday when we were leaving, but if something comes together that would be a lovely way to spend what will probably be another warm, sunny day. Even if it doesn't, I might take my bike and go out myself. It's so nice to have a holiday when I don't have deadlines looming so that I can enjoy having nothing to do.
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Friday was Queen's Day, which is a university holiday. We didn't have any big plans, though I thought Joel and I might go walk through the vrijmarkt on Dapperstraat, since that's always interesting, but that ended up not happening: I spent almost the entire day sitting on the bed watching snooker and going through a stack of articles I'd printed two days earlier to extract any useful tidbits about medieval voting rules and electoral procedures. It was very productive. Saturday was spent similarly, with a break midday to join Joel and Nate getting kebabs for lunch from the market, and then dinner in the evening, after which we went to the Arendsnest (still got home in time to see the end of that semi-final). The goal was to do something similar on Sunday: Joel and Nate left in the morning to Eindhoven, for the start of their three-days biking from Eindhoven to Arnhem (they'll be getting home sometime tonight), and I leave Saturday for the U.S., which means I need to get through all the data I can before then so that Joel can work on it during the week I'm gone, as the paper we're collaborating on is due May 15. I did spend the entire day sitting on the bed watching snooker, but no research got done. Instead, when I could budge a very insistent Slinky from my lap (a lot of times during snooker-watching, she likes to curl up next to me, but occasionally she decides that she needs to be ON the lap, and when she falls asleep on my lap (usually when I'm sitting cross-legged, she'll sleep for about two hours before I finally disturb her), I did some C&I:

AoA for Mariken van Oostbroek
Mariken Codex Claustroneoburgensis 1193, fol. 404r

The initial and side border came from Codex S 1943 fol. 170v and the top and bottom borders came from Codex S 1943 fol. 196v. This is a late 15th C MS.

The hand is (yet another) attempt at Gothic. I'm more happy with it than I have been with other recent attempts.

From start (that is, writing the text, browsing to find a good exemplar, plotting out the lines, etc.) to finish (whitework is so satisfying), it took me about 9-10 hours I think. I'm very satisfied with this, and I've already picked out elements from three more folios in the same MS to do a companion piece (which I started; I got the calligraphy and the basic painting of the initial done Sunday as well). It was a Sunday well spent; it was horribly cold and windy and rainy out, so it was nice to spend all day at home inside in the warmth. I feel terrible, though, for Joel and Nate; it was rainy again on Monday (though sunny and nice today, though still a bit cold), which means they picked two of the worst days in the last month or so do to cross-country biking. Unfortunately there's no way they could've known this when Nate booked his plane tickets. I hope it didn't ruin things too much for them.
aryanhwy: (Default)
I just heard a plane. First one I've heard in days (and I think it was rather low-flying because it was awfully loud). I guess there's supposed to be 3 KLM flights from Amsterdam this evening, the first since Thursday.
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Zaanse Schans

Friday was Martijn's birthday so he organized a two-day celebration. Friday evening he, Joel and I, two of his friends, Bas and Kelly, and his mom and step-dad had dinner at Savvas (at my recommendation, whoo! After Joel and I both had our defense parties there, all the staff know and remember us. :)), and then we went to the Arendsnest for drinks. Saturday we met at the train station around 11:30 and went to Zaanse Schans, which is one of those sort of touristy but still very interesting things to do in the Netherlands. (It's sort of like Old World Wisconsin, sort of). There we met Martijn's dad, sister, sister's mom, and sister's boyfriend and we spent a couple of hours wandering around quaint old streets, looking in windmills, seeing a clog-making demonstration and (in my case) buying a pair, because I've been meaning to get a pair of clogs for wearing to wet-weather camping events ever since moving here. We went inside two of the mills, the color mill and the saw mill )

There are more pictures starting on page 6 of this album.
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On the one hand, it's a gorgeous sunny Sunday, and I'm at the office.

On the other hand, it's empty and quiet and sunny and I can play my music any volume I want, and so I'm actually finding it relaxing.

On the third hand, I'm not sure how much I like finding working at the office less stressful than working at home.

On the fourth hand, it's not like working at home is stressful, it's just that it's nicer working out here where it's quiet, and sunny, and I can play whatever music I want without bothering Joel.

On the fifth hand, it is a good thing that I enjoy my job enough that I can go work on the weekends and it's a happy thing.

On the sixth hand, I'm feeling like a mutant with all of these spare hands and no arms to put them on, so I should get back to work.
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The last two and a half weeks since my return from Lille have gone by in a blur. I got some good ideas from the workshop that I wanted to implement in a short paper that I had on hand, which I figured I could do by a pair of deadlines Feb. 15 (for a 400 word abstract) and Feb. 22 (for the full 6-page paper). The idea was something conceptually simple and should have involved just a transposition of notation, but I then spent three days beating my head against the wall trying to sort it all out, to the point where Friday evening before the first deadline I was utterly unglued by stress -- Joel said he'd never seen me so agitated about something before. I ended up spending most of Saturday out at the office trying to work on things; in the morning I dealt with my author proofs for a paper to come out in the Journal of Philosophical Logic, which was very satisfying. It also meant that no matter how little else I got done on the other paper, I could still count a successful day if I sent the proofs back to the editor (which I did). Then starting on Sunday I got sucked into the Olympics -- I've been up till 12:30-1:30am every night for the last two weeks slavishly switching between BBC2 (English commentary, but not much coverage), Eurosport (Dutch commentary and continuous coverage, but sometimes of things like biathlon, and frankly, I've now seen more than enough biathlon to last me another four years), or Nederlands 1 (Dutch commentary, and the place to go to watch the skating). I got my abstract off on the 15th and then Martijn came to our place for Dutch lessons and he and I ended up spending the entire night sitting on the bed watching the Olympics while Joel worked at the office and then came home late and continued working in the livingroom (he had the same deadline I did). I've now learned all sorts of Dutch sporting commentary words.

A week ago Wednesday Joel and I went to Shearwater's first show of their European tour for their new album -- it's the third show of theirs we've gotten to in less than a year, which is awesome. Over the weekend, I went to London for Insulae Draconis's first coronet tourney; Bertrik and Floris were planning to drive so I caught a ride with them. The plan was Floris would pick me up at noon, and we'd pick up Bertrik at 12:30, and we'd hopefully get the 6pm ferry from Dunkirk; if traffic was good, we might even make the 4pm. That didn't happen...just after I saw a road sign saying "Belgium 1 km", Floris goes "Oh no." Turns out, he'd forgotten his passport. So we drove all the way back to Amsterdam...and hence got on the road about 4pm and thus had rush hour traffic all through the Netherlands and Belgium. When we reached Brussels we realized there was no way we were even going to make the 8pm ferry, so we stopped at a grocery store for necessities (i.e., beer for all three of us, a brand of Mexican grill sauce that's hard to find in Amsterdam any more for Floris, and some good Belgian bread for me), and then dinner. We ended up on the 10pm ferry which meant we got into site around 2am (1am UK time), where I went straight to bed (this to the amazement of Bertrik and Floris, who had marveled at the fact that I slept pretty much the entire time in the car, and on the ferry, meaning I got about 12 hours of sleep over the course of the trip. Boy, did I need it.) In the morning I watched some of the opening rounds of the tourney, accompanied by Baroness Katherine and Baron Bartholomew visiting from Lochac, and Dagny, a transplant to London from the Outlands who was at her second event in the kingdom, so I got to tell them all the gossip about the contestants during the processional. After that, I went inside (warmth! sunshine!) to commandeer a table for the scriptorium, as I had to do the calligraphy for Alaric & Nerissa's court barony scroll (beautifully illuminated by [ profile] nusbacher and her team, and then washed dishes with [ profile] maryf for awhile. I always enjoy washing dishes because it's something one can do without needing to get directions/instructions from the kitchen crew (which can often be more of a pain than the benefit they get from having helpers), and it's often a chance to get to chat with someone that I'd otherwise not get to talk to. Afterwards [ profile] bend_gules organized some dancing in the other hall, and I danced to my heart's content. All in all, it was a very good, fun event.

The next Monday I did manage to get the paper sent off, and Martijn came over for Dutch lessons again, question words this time; he'd ask us questions and then make us answer them in Dutch, in full sentences...we did pretty well. I can now ask Joel to hand me my beer in Dutch, and he can tell me "get it yourself". :) The three of us all sat on the bed, so that Martijn and I could watch the Olympics and I could sort through the box of backlog scribal stuff that I brought home from the event. I'd taken the box out with me to the office that day and scanned all of the backlog scrolls so that I could put them on Flickr in hopes of finding contact info for their recipients. In less than a week, I've already mailed off 12 and have contact info for another 8.

Then last Wednesday, as I noted in an earlier post, Martijn and I went to see Vampire Weekend at the Paradiso. Thursday evening Joel and I went out to a pub between Dam Square and Spui as Reut had just gotten her dissertations that day and was offering free beer and signed copies. So we were out again until past midnight...Friday I spent the afternoon working with a student on a paper we hope to submit on the 15th of March (only one of the paper deadlines I have that day -- and I have another on the 16th!), and by the time Friday afternoon drinks came around, I was ready!

In the last week I have also booked my trip to Australia, registered for and made travel arrangements for the Leeds International Medieval Congress in July, and registered for and made travel arrangements for the Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress in May (which involves flying in a few days early and spending them with friends in Fort Wayne). I still have to sort out travel for the Hamburg -> Bologna -> Portland, OR trip in early June, and the Nottingham -> Dublin -> Lisbon -> Azores -> Toulouse trip in the end of June/beginning of July. And purchase tickets to Winchester Pilgrimage in May. I haven't even started thinking about Pennsic yet, that's way too far out.

And in the midst of all of this, the three sovereigns, Palimpsest, and a group of past sovereigns and other intelligent folks have been hashing out proposals for new Rules for Submissions (the mailing list has generated 862 messages this month so far, and I only just finished catching up on all of them about 10 minutes before starting to write this post). I feel like I've been drowning in the discussion -- I haven't had enough time to read all of the messages as they come in, much less think about them and respond to them in any deep fashion. I have some strong thoughts about name conflict which I thought I'd be able to write up after getting back from Lille, but finishing that paper for the 22nd swallowed me instead, and finally only this morning did I sit down and type up my thoughts, which means they are not very articulate and way more incomplete than I had hoped. All of this, not to mention trying to finish up writing my decisions for February, and deal with proofreading for's no wonder that I feel like the last two and a half weeks have gone by in a blurry, sleep-deprived, mentally-taxing, sport-filled haze. Oh, and teaching. The course I'm teaching, since it covers material I've never taught before, and material that has never been taught here before, is costing me about 2-3 days each week in prep time (reading, writing up lecture notes, making slides), in addition to two hours a week lecturing which is both exhilarating and exhausting.


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