Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekend in Hamburg

With the primary aim of meeting my sister and watching the marathon, I did not expect to see much of the city itself. Luckily, our host for the weekend accomodated us in the very centre of Hamburg, close to the Central Station in the street Lange Reihe. To our pleasant surprise, the local street festival in Lange Reihe coincided with the weekend of the marathon. So both Saturday and Sunday, we enjoyed the great weather, the shops, the shows, the music and the wonderful relaxed and fun atmosphere of the street festival.
And no, we did not forget the marathon. We managed to see the people from my sisters team three times along the route, and we had great fun taking photos and cheering the best we could manage.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Saturday morning in Duisburg

As an intermediate stop on my way to Hamburg, I have a look around Duisburg. Here, like in Denmark, you do not cross the road until you get a green light. Makes me feel a bit silly, since I am 100% used to the Dutch custom now: cross the road anytime at your own risk.

I also noticed that the mix of people here is different than in Holland. It gave me a strange familiar and homebound feeling to hear someone chat in Arabic.
Photo courtesy: KievDailyPhoto

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Extreme weather marathons

Last week the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon was cancelled before time because the extremely hot weather had sent 26 runners to the hospital. The next day the Boston marathon was held in the pouring rain, with pumps to prevent flooding and extra tents to accomodate runners, luckily the rain was not as heavy as first feared. Yesterday a young man died after running the London marathon and collapsing from the heat. Another 600 people did not complete the marathon due to the unusual high temperature (about 25 degrees).

This weekend I am going to Hamburg with my sister as spectator for the Hamburg marathon. I hope the weather will be less extreme than for the marathons described above.

Photo courtesy Fortis Rotterdam Marathon

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Sunday, April 22, 2007


This past week I had a cold, and the cold brought a cough, and the cough caught on, to the point of asthmatic cough. Friday I gave in and took some asthma medicine, which I hate, because it makes me shaky. So both Friday and Saturday I did not go dancing. I just stayed at home, relaxing, tidying up.
This morning, feeling better, I did one hour of spinning to make up for the missed exercise. That turned out to be a very good idea. I have not taken any more asthma medicine since last night, and now I feel like dancing again, yipee!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Photos from NY

The gallery is now updated with my photos from New York.

Please comment on this post if you ever saw this sketch (in red on the right) in other cities than NY or Nijmegen... just curious...

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bunny Kill You

There has always been a nice contrast in letting something cute and cuddly turn dangerous and even deadly. You can find lots of animations, pictures and movies featuring soft small creatures e.g. deadly bunnies. My favourite incarnation of this stereotype is still Big Bunny.
However, please notice that there is a limit to this dramatization effect, for instance, letting sheep turn deadly and were-like did not do it for me...

Titel courtesy: a print by John Lurie (unfortunately you won't find it on his website)
Illustration by Gallery Hovel

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

US school shootings

The first time I ever heard of a shoot-out in a US school I thought it was a one-time incident by crazy young people who happened to be in possession of firearms. But it sends cold shivers down my spine every time I see the story repeated in the news. Every time a new school, new state and new gunmen. It draws a sad and scary picture of the US culture, since it can repeatedly foster these insane events.

Most recently at Virginia Tech University 33 people were killed, including the gunman.
Read the sad story at BBC.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

What do robots dream of?

Reading a Perspective article in Science, or actually reading a Letter responding to the article, brought to my attention once again the research on robot cognition and self-awareness. How can robots be programmed to learn independently? And can they be modeled by our knowledge of human learning?
The article 'Resilient Machines Through Continuous Self-Modeling' describes how a robot can model its own gait, and if it is injured by i.e. removing part of a limb, it can think up new ways of walking by a dream-like process. In the 'dream' it revisits its past experiences and recombines the knowledge to try out new solutions to the problem.

'Resilient Machines Through Continuous Self-Modeling', Science Nov 2006
What do robots dream of?, Perspective article in Science Nov 2006
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Man vs. Woman

I can't help wondering what it is that make Men and Women think in different ways. It often leads to misunderstanding and frustration, and a lot of generalisation such as "Men/Women are always like that" usually expressed by women/men respectively.
The funny thing is, I know more than half a dozen women that I do not understand, and I know for certain two men which I do not grasp. This small statistic shows that it is not always the case that you can understand the ways of the people of your own gender.

When in doubt, I go to the Uncyclopedia to clarify things.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

3rd pair of dance shoes

Ok, so I am a salsa geek too. Yesterday I got my third pair of dance shoes in two weeks. I did not exactly plan to have three pairs, but I could not resist buying two pairs on sale when visiting World Tone Shoes in NY. The third pair I ordered many weeks ago, but they did not arrive until yesterday.

Photo courtesy: World Tone Dance Shoes

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Back at work

For some time while dancing in New York, I did not feel so much a geek, but now...
My Logitech Marble Mouse has arrived. It is the only trackball from Logitech which was not intentionally designed for the right hand. The Marble Mouse has a smooth design, and it is easy to use and get used to. The only disadvantage I have discovered so far, is the lack of a scroll wheel.

Photo courtesy:

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Where to go dancing next?

I think one should ask Matt on where to go dancing next. Watch his video! Then watch the outtakes...

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Last chance to see

I went off the beaten track, just one more block west, and walked down 9th avenue. The streets were not very busy and the sun was shining. At a local flea market I found one more New York souvenir: a small box of NY photos from the 1930's. By the time I finished browsing the stands, I was freezing cold, so on my way further I stopped into every deli on the way to get a cup of tea. Now it is snowing and I am on my way home.

Titel courtesy: Douglas Adams

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Saturday salsa

I spent the whole afternoon at the Santo Rico dance school, first practising spinning and footwork with Lisette, and then joining an intermediate partnerwork workshop. In the evening I went to the 'Salsa VIP' party at Stepping Out Studios (even though the flyer said 'dress to impress' most people were wearing jeans). Two great live performances took place, first the Masacote show group from Boston in their white suits and black/white hairstyles, and then a spectacular show by Mambo D! That guy really knows how to move his feet!

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Walking in Harlem

It is funny how NY appears a totally different city when you visit a different district. In East Harlem, you have to be black or mexican and wear a The North Face jacket and gold chains for men, big shiny earrings for women. Quite a different street picture than when you stroll down the gay chelsea district: Even the waiters in the restaurants wear tight pants and slim cut designer shirts.
Illustration by

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Friday salsa

Another big social in NY: Mambo Fateegz Salsa Friday. Big place, good music and lots of dancers. Now I seem to be running into the same people over and over again, it seems I have met or seen all the regulars at least once during this week. ;)

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Modern Art is Fun

Lots of exhibits at MoMA made me smile or laugh out loud! I really enjoyed the 'Comic Abstraction' special exhibition, and the floor to ceiling photos of Jeff Wall was a whole new experience for me. Tips for visitors: don't go with an empty stomach, and make use of the water fountains to keep you fresh for the several hours it will take you to enjoy everything.

Photo courtesy: Wiki - Modern Art

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Thursday salsa

Dropped-in at Cynthias spinning and salsa3 lesson and went with the crowd to Gonzales y Gonzales to eat and listen(dance) to live music. Later I got a ride to Club Cache, where I saw the best crowd of dancers so far, all advanced and on2. Great dancing!

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Spoiled kids?

After visiting Neue Galerie (Schiele, Klimt, van Gogh etc.) I met up with Luna at Starbucks behind the MoMA. We went to get a true NY manicure and nail extensions (no extensions for me, please) and went cruising round town with our flashy nails. We spent a lot of time in the M&Ms world: imagine a three storey shop containing only, and I say ONLY, M&Ms merchandise! So what should it be? An M&Ms towel, an M&Ms purse, an M&Ms t-shirt or M&Ms plates and cutlery? Of course you can also buy any amount of M&Ms, in any colour you choose.

Illustration: M&Ms

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wednesday salsa

I went to the Ripley-Grier studios where I did a private lesson in spinning and styling on2 with Cynthia La China. That was really the worth it. Cynthia is very good at noticing points for correction while smiling and giving encouraging comments at the same time.
Straight after that, only stopping for something to eat, I went to LQ (the former Latin Quarter) to dance and watch Eddie Palmieri perform live.
Photo courtesy:

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More sights

Wednesday I saw a woman with eyes as big as Michael Jacksons. I got interviewed by a man with a camera. I blogged from the most beautiful library I have ever seen and in the middle of the night I saw a coconut lying on the ground in an otherwise deserted parking lot.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rainy day

As much as it was sunshine yesterday, it is raining today. It is not a nice weather for walking unless you have both raintrousers and umbrella. I have an umbrella.

Photo courtesy: Fabric Attic

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Tuesday sights, work and salsa

I went for a walk past the World Trade Center site, and continued to the very south of Manhattan, where I wiggled my toes at the Statue of Liberty. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I shot a lot of nice photos, mostly of tourists in the sun.

In the afternoon I visited the Computational Biology unit at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where I gave a talk on microarray chip design.

Straight after that I went to the famous Copa Cabana club, where Oscar d'Leon was playing. I made the mistake of walking all day in hard boots and then wearing new dance shoes in the evening. Result? Sore feet and blisters, and painful dancing. It is a beautiful club, very big, and with a huge dance floor. Unfortunately for dance enthousiasts it is rather too crowded to move around, and most of the people there come for the atmosphere and the music rather than dancing.

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Monday salsa

I visited the Santo Rico Dance School to drop in on a styling and partnerwork lesson 7pm-9pm. After hanging out, chatting salsa and practising a bit I went back to my hostel and from there directly to the Taj Lounge. Unfortunately it had been an early night at the Taj, so people were leaving when I arrived. So I went on to Session 73, a small and cosy club on 73rd street. It was not really crowded, but there were some good dancers there.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sightings in NY

Yesterday I saw an albino black woman. Next to Empire State Building I met a man who works there, writing movie scripts. I saw a street fight break out in Harlem, and in the subway I saw a great performance by a couple drumming big empty plastic paint buckets.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Sunday salsa

I went to the Sunday social 'Latin Sundays Party' at Dance Manhattan Studios. I guess I arrived around 6pm, and the place was already filled with on2 dancers. Nice big place for a social, and a fair deal of good dancers there. They closed at 9pm, and after a Chai Latte break at Starbucks, I went to 'Mojito Sundays' at Wish 26. It is a smaller place, which does not look like it was designed for dancing. The floor was wobbly in places, and the light very dim, so it was actually not a good place for practising new moves. Nice atmosphere though.

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New York part II

Four days of scientific talks at Cold Spring Harbor - now it is time for the second part of my trip to NY. Yesterday I checked in at the Chelsea Hostel and immediately went looking for a towel...
After a few hours walking Manhattan, I had already tried riding a yellow cab, seen batman cross the road, visited Burger King (of all places) for internet access and got a feel of the NY atmosphere. I must admit that I expected this place to be more buzzing and crowded, but I guess the quiet streets are what you would expect on a Sunday afternoon in a drizzle.

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