Hilversum, Leiden, Etten-Leur

On Friday I went to the Institute for Sound and Vision (supercool building!) in Hilversum again for a CATCH meeting. This time I was the only representative of MITCH, but I guess that was fair since I haven’t been to any CATCH meetings for quite a while. It was quite cool to see the people from the other projects again and hear how the other PhD students are doing. The presentation were quite interesting too, not all directly related to my research as it was mainly about automatic annotation of audiovisual content, but the goals and terminology are the same. We also got a little tour of the company that digitises the TV archives of the Netherlands, the places you get to visit where you normally wouldn’t go are one of the best things about this project :).

Straight from Hilversum I went to a pub in Leiden that I used to go to after my dance classes with some of my dance mates. Most of them had quit, because they moved to other places for work or boyfriends, or because of other activities, but we decided a little reunion would be cool. It was great to hear how everyone was doing, and was up to. It’s really a bit of a shame the group fell apart.

Around the corner of that pub is where Arthur lives and Judith used to live, well, officially she still lives there, but she spends most of the time on Skye now. This weekend she was home for a few days, so there was a party. As usual when coming back from the Oude Singel it was way past midnight, which is perhaps when Leiden is at its best: nice and quiet, and this time it was also quite warm, but still windy (it’s been very windy here lately, very strange).

On Saturday I woke up around noon, had a quick haircut and had tea with Judith, Arthur and their mother at a lovely Thai place. Then I tidied up a bit at my apartment, talked to Paul for a while and then worked for a bit (not as much as I should have, but still). I also got up to speed with the book I’m reading about the US, written by a journalist who worked there for quite a while, it’s quite recognisable, although I’ve only seen a little bit of the US…

Today I got up early to say goodbye to Judith who was off to Scotland again…I hate saying goodbye to people. But hopefully she’ll be here again soon, and hopefully for a bit longer as well (otherwise I’ll just need to go to Scotland…not such a bad idea either, although it’s easier when you can just call each other up to meet the next evening). Anyway, I then went to Etten-Leur because I’m working in Tilburg tomorrow. Now I’m sitting in the garden after dinner with my brothers and sister while my parents are away to my aunt for dinner (and to my grandparents because my dad wanted to show off his brand new car to them :)).

Holland again

After LA it took some time adjust to The Netherlands again. My jetlag wasn’t too bad, even though I only slept about 4 hours on my flight I managed to stay awake until the evening in the Netherlands, slept the whole night through, and got up reasonably rested on Tuesday to go to work. It’s more that life here is just different, there is public transport, which is handy, but I’m not really that used to being somewhere at a certain time so I already missed my train once last week. The food that you buy in the supermarket isn’t that unhealthy, and portions are better sized :)…although I wish I didn’t have to go for the “single” portions…

Some exciting stuff has been happening here btw. I’ve started going to my dance classes again, which I had to give up when I went to LA (unfortunately they’ll stop for the summer after this week). I submitted a paper to a workshop (16 July I’ll know if the reviewers like it). On Saturday evening I went to see my sister’s ballet group during the breaks of the group above her who were doing a public exam at the local theatre. On Sunday I went to my brother’s art school to see what’s going on there (and I admired some of his legal graffiti on the building) and we also celebrated my grandmother’s birthday in Zundert. This was the first time the whole family was together again since Christmas, and I love these gatherings although things have changed. But things change…

Yesterday on the way home from work I watched the Pixar shorts on the train. The Animation show got me interested in short animations, and even though the Pixar shorts are more mainstream, they’re enjoyable nonetheless. I particularly liked the one about a little unicycle that dreams he’s stealing the show in a circus. It’s so amazing how they manage to make a thing like a bike look sad or happy.

I then thought I had booked accommodation for my weekend in Cornwall with Steve and Veronique, but just now I got a message saying that my booking has been declined because less then half of my party is over 25. I understand that they don’t want their park spoiled by drunken teenagers, but we’re talking about serious hard working academics here. I’ll keep you updated…

A week in LA

After an exciting weekend on the Westside I hung around at ISI for a bit during the week spending the evenings mostly in the company of Paul. On Monday we had a quiet evening during which I fell asleep again before dinner. On Tuesday I went for a run in the morning and spent the rest of the morning at Starbucks with a delicious Chai Tea Latte waiting for a shop on Santa Monica Main Street to open. In the afternoon I did some work, and after that Paul gave me a tennis lesson in Santa Monica, which was very cool, maybe something I want to explore a bit further… Just hitting a ball is not that hard, but hitting it pretty and properly is very hard. Standing in the line of fire when someone who knows what he’s doing is firing a serve at you was the least fun part of the class, but that was OK. After that we were hungry, fortunately there is a Wholefoods market around the corner from the tennis courts so we bought all kinds of nice things for a home cooked dinner where I went a bit crazy trying to make custard from scratch…(desserts are important!)

Wednesday was Paul’s birthday, unfortunately he doesn’t have as many days off as I do so he chose to go to work. I actually had a meeting that day too with the professor who supervised me during my stay at ISI. Around 17:00 we decided to call it a day though and went for drinks with Gully and afterwards we went out to dinner at a nice but kind of weird place. The dinner was good, but I hate it when they take your plate away as soon as you’re finished, I like hanging around a bit with a glass of wine or a cup of tea…but anyway, such is life.

On Thursday I rented a surfboard in Santa Monica. The guy from the surfshop knew all about me already because the girl that took over my room had told him about me, which was fun. The waves were dumpy as usual, but it was a gorgeous day and the water was nice and warm. Late in the afternoon I went to ISI to listen to a talk. In the evening Paul and I explored Culver City, which has a bit of a European feel with the blossom trees. Other than that the `city centre’ is a bit of a disappointment…the sushi there is good though 🙂

I spent most of my Friday at ISI, for the bagel breakfast in the morning, lunch with a big group around noon, after that the reading group and straight after that the NLP Seminar. Fortunately there was plenty of relaxation in the evening, although on a busy schedule. At 19:30 we met up with Gully, Ellen and Ed to go to the Animation Show 4: 12 short animations, followed by a QA session with 2 animators. The animations were all from different creators (from all over the world) and all very different in nature. There was an arty French one, a weird Japanese one, some with typical British humor etc etc… I’d never come across anything like that (and actually wouldn’t have either last week if Ed hadn’t emailed round who’d be up for it) but I’m definitely going to find some more of this stuff :). Straight after the show we rushed back to the Westside for Laura, my old housemate,’s birthday. It was a typical Venetian party, which means a very good party (including keg-stands, weed and short skirts). When a big group, including the birthday girl, decided to go for a pub crawl, I decided to call it a day. I’m a wuss. I know :).

Saturday was very much a repetition of the previous Saturday (beach in Malibu). Although this time I’d rented a surfboard. I must revise my opinion on NSP boards now, they’re actually OK in certain conditions (such as those in Malibu). Unfortunately I was too much of a chicken to demand a position in the line-up (near and proper collisions were not a rarity in Malibu that day) made me decide to just try to catch some leftover waves (of which there weren’t too many, 1 to be precise). I’m a bit bummed about that, but I’m scared as hell of getting hurt in the water, I’m not sure where that comes from…

After hanging around on the beach we went on a little shopping expedition in Santa Monica because we were to attend a pink party at Boulevard 3 in Hollywood that evening. We didn’t really find anything pink, although I did buy a cool pair of shoes, and Paul went for a new Macbook Pro. It turns out that Gully, who’d invited us to the pink event wasn’t wearing pink either, but that was OK, they let us in anyway. Honestly, Boulevard 3 is the most gorgeous club I’ve ever seen. We arrived a little bit early, but that was OK, because we could walk around and see everything before half drunken people had wrecked it ;). When you enter there’s a gorgeous garden with ponds on whose ledge you can sit and comfy garden chairs. The bar tenders pour very strong cocktails & drinks (Gully’s Whiskey was at least a quadruple). Inside there are various rooms decorated in various styles, with plenty of seating. One of the great things as well is that smoking is banned in pubs so it also smells nice and clean (July 1st finally a ban in NL!!). There were also dancers, free cupcakes and a guy on stilts…definitely a place to go back to :).
Around midnight I was getting a bit tired though, also because I kept waking up around 7 or 8 in the mornings. Also I knew I couldn’t sleep in on Sunday morning because we had to go to LACMA early for Paul’s drawing class, and it was still at least half an hour’s drive home. Partying until 5 in the morning is not an option in LA anyway because everything closes at 2. Really closes.

Sunday was yet another gorgeous hot day (so I actually got quite a tan before I went home). I hung around LACMA again. Went to visit a few exhibitions I hadn’t seen yet, such as the temporary Chicano exhibition (great stuff! Every artist has his own style (duh) but the cool thing about this movement is that that they’re more bound by what they paint than their actual painting style so some had a more impressionist style, some were like Gauguin, some more modernist etc…). I also had a nice chat with one of the museum guards again who told me about an exhibition that’s opening in July… Next to LACMA there’s the Hancock park which has some tar pits from which they excavate fossils. Actually on the LACMA campus there is also a little tar pit. The interesting thing about these pits is that they smell really awful, and some of them actually bubble as well :). When Paul was done with his class we went to “Le pain cotidien” in Santa Monica for lunch, and after that we picked up his Macbook which had undergone a memory upgrade. By then it was already 15:00 and I had a plane to catch at 17:45…Meaning I had to start packing and get my arse to the airport. Luckily it wasn’t too busy in the international terminal so we even had time for some ice-cream in the departure lounge…

During my flight I watched a film (Breaking and Entering with Jude Law mmm) and I slept for a bit. BA flight are very nice, I’m happy I get to fly with them again in September. My wait in Terminal 5 also wasn’t too bad. We then had to wait for another hour on the plane though because some president’s plane was taxiing around Heathrow and of course no other plane can move then…After a short flight I got back to Leiden. Found out that the paper deadline of a conference I wanted to submit to was delayed until Friday and spent a quiet evening at my apartment.

In LA again

Since Thursday I’ve been back in LA again, to see Paul, get a tan and hang around ISI for a bit. My flight was pretty OK, the first short flight to London was really cool as we did a little round over London to approach Heathrow from the right direction. I then had to kill 3 hours at Heathrow, and another 11 on another plane, but arriving at LAX, being hugged by Paul and stepping out in the sun is definitely worth it.

It was a bit annoying that I could only sleep during the last part of my journey, so even though I fell asleep around 22:00 on Thursday, I woke up again at 3:30 in the morning on Friday and could just not go back to sleep. In the afternoon I tried to sleep for a bit, but I think I only slept for 30 minutes or so, because I also wanted to be back at ISI in time for a talk. So at 19:00 I wanted to have a little 15 min powernap, but of course that turned out to be 2 hours, although waking up at 5:30 was already a lot better than 3:30 the day before :).

On Saturday we decided to take it easy, so after a light breakfast we drove to Malibu to lie on the beach for a bit, watch the surfers & just relax… In the evening we went to see the new Indiana Jones film with a few colleagues, which was quite entertaining, but my favourite is still Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade…

Our Sunday brunch took place at the French café on Abbot Kinney, which is always packed, and always tasty. After that we hung around Santa Monica Main Street for a bit before heading towards LACMA for Paul’s drawing class. Like the day before, an accident had happened on the corner of Rose and Pacific right before we passed (the day before it was more spectacular though, with a guy who’d shoved his motorbike under a car and walked away from it without a scratch). While Paul was concentrating on drawing Rodin sculptures I explored the museum and the park around it. In the Islamic art section (great tiles) a museum guard told me about all the cool things they had on in the temporary exhibitions. I hadn’t planned on seeing those, but I’m very happy I did. I also saw a Frank Lloyd Wright lamp from the Dana Thomas house, I remember that during my visit of the Dana Thomas house in Springfield the guide told us that there used to be two lamps on one of the desks, but they only had one. The other one had disappeared, but showed up again at an art auction a few years before. Of course the Dana Thomas house was interested in it, but they couldn’t afford it, I think the lamp I saw at LACMA is the one he was talking about ;). After LACMA we went to Venice to see Jerié and Laura and Mike. Not much has changed on Rose really, which is cool. So we talked for a bit and then we went to the Waterfront to see the end of the Lakers game (they lost, but not by very much) and after that we went to O’Briens for some food and to listen to some live music. After the performance of a guy who was quite funny in a bit of a Jack Black style Paul and I decided to call it a day…while the other stayed for Soul Cloud.