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Last week22/7/2007

… I was stalked in the bookstore by one of the assistants. First I was happy with the personal attention and some suggestions where I could look for books that I might find interesting. But after this guy popped up behind every bookshelf where I was browsing books, I started to feel a little bit spied on. Every time I had picked up a book and was reading the back flap, he would appear and say “actually, this is a very good book!” or “I really enjoyed reading this book”. When we were chatting and I told him that I am from the Netherlands, he said “oh, I have always wanted to go there some time”…”Do you know where I would like to go when I visit the Netherlands?”, and I was getting really curious what he was going to say …“Amsterdam!” Honestly, I really thought he was going to name an original place…I told him that there are many other places worth visiting, and wrote down for him on a note 'Utrecht' and 'Haarlem'.


…When I walked pas the hospital on my way to the grocery store, I saw something that would make the perfect picture, weren’t it that I didn’t dare to take it. A person in a kind of greenish hospital apparel, carrying with him a walking frame with an infusion, sitting on the pavement, right to the busy traffic, smoking a cigarette. Can you picture it?


… I was casually told that I am going to have a dry run presenting my paper. I was in Ellen’s office to discuss with her the results of the analysis. I said I was going to write it all down, and she says “Yes, because you are going to present on Tuesday”, and I said “I thought I was going to present on Monday” (thinking about the conference), and she says “no, I mean next Tuesday, to practice your talk”. Right! Of course it’s good to do this, I actually think it’s a very good idea, but it is just so funny how often Ellen completely surprises me with things. Like yesterday (Friday) afternoon when she popped in and said “oh, you’re still here, I want to go for a drink” and in five minutes she called together all staff members who wanted to join, and we went to the faculty club to have beer and popcorn. 


… People in the department were discussing about flying me in for the dragon boat race in August.   

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An image of SUB15/7/2007

I am talking about SUB al the time, so I thought I should show you what SUB is like. It's the Student Union Building, and on the main floor has a food and drinks plaza (where you can buy coffee, muffins, japanese food, pizza, and sandwiches), the University book store, a travel agency, ... and a lot of places to sit and work.


In the weekend it is not so busy, but during the week this place is full of people studying, chatting, eating, etcetera.


I am now sitting at one of these bar stools where you can connect to power. Access to the internet is wireless.



These are the more relaxing chairs:



And here you see a part of the food plaza:




I enjoy to sit here. It's more open and light compared to my office. During office hours I am generally in the office, but in the evenings and in the weekend I am mostly here when I want to do some work or access the Internet.

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Sunny Saturday15/7/2007

July 14

The weather in Edmonton is still beautiful, although a bit hot. I really cannot stay in my room during the day, because of the heat. But then, there is plenty of benches, picnic tables, and green areas on campus where I can go to read a book. I am reading "The history of love" by Nicole Kraus, which Amber gave to me before I left. The story is really complicated in terms of characters and chronology, but really fascinating. I would advice this book to you!


On Saturday, after doing some shopping for breakfast, I walked to downtown Edmonton. I wanted to have a closer look at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, which I spotted from the water last week during the dragon boat practice.


The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald has long been known as Edmonton's most elegant hotel, and is named after Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The hotel opened its doors in 1915. Between 1983 and 1991 the hotel was closed, because it had fallen into a state of disrepair. In 1985, the City of Edmonton designated the hotel as a Municipal Heritage Resource. This decision has saved the hotel from the wrecking ball. It took several years to decide upon the future of the hotel. In the late eighties, "A total commitment was made to restore The Hotel Macdonald to its former elegance and to re-establish its importance in the community".


Fairmont Hotel Macdonald



Seen from the water, the hotel forms a remarkable contrast with the skyscrapers behind. I hope I will manage to make of picture of this during the next dragon boat practice.


On my way through downtown Edmonton, I went to see some other places I hadn't seen before. First, the citadel theatre. 



When I was at the theatre, I spotted this monument behind me: the trade moument



This monument is to commemorate the first settler that started trading with the original inhabitants of the continent. This person later fulfilled several positions in politics, and has also been in the board of directors (?) of the University of Alberta.


The area where I was is called the arts district. Some parts were a bit European style. The streets were smaller, there were more trees than in most parts of downtown, and different style buildings:




Here I also found the "Big Rock":





 After my stroll trough the city, I went to the shopping mall downtown to cool down. I also bought some cloths. Then I took the lightrail back to the University campus.


Saturday night there was a severe thunderstorm that woke me up. I thought it might be a bit cooler today (Sunday), but I still have to hide in SUB to prevent to become "overheated"! 



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Peddles ready! _____Take our way! ______And - STROKE -- And - STROKE -- And - STROKE -- And STROKE14/7/2007

Boating was really great. It was serious practice, and pretty tiring, but I had a good time on the water. It was very nice to look up at downtown Edmonton from the water, you really get a different perspective. A pity that I didn't have time to make a picture from the boat. I was totally occupied with peddling.


We started with some exercises and some practice "on the dry". Here on the picture you see us practice the technique. We could only use one hand, we had to bend to the front as far as possible, then make the "row" movement, keeping our arm straight. The movement had to come from our waist, not our arm.



Getting seated in the boat went by row, starting in the middle.


With so many people in the boat, it is very difficult to remain stable on the water. Everybody has to make the same movement exactly at the same time, and the power has to be well distributed. It takes a lot of concentration.  





With my performance I qualified myself for the next practice! YEAH!


To celebrate we went to Whyte Avenue for a drink. Whyte Avenue is on the South side of the river, where also the university campus is located. The area forms the 'historic centre' and has many bars and craft shops. Still it's very busy traffic and pretty ugly buildings, but the atmosphere is lively and nice.



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Dragon boat12/7/2007

Tonight I will join the department for their practice for the dragon boat race, which will take place in August. They have a spare seat, so I can join the team tonight. I heard the boat has seats for 20 people, so it must be quite a boat! I am happy I practiced a bit during our day out with the department last month! Wish me luck! 

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This is my office. I share it with other PhD students, who are most of the time not in because they are preparing for their comprehensive exam. There is only one desktop computer in this room. When students have to do computer work, they often sit in the lab (about 15 workplaces). There are no windows or indirect daylight. And it's a bit messy...





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where I live from the inside8/7/2007

July 8

Hi, I made some pictures of my room and floor.


I have a bedroom with a bed and a desk, and a personal bathroom.



My desk...


My bed...

the door of my room


the hallway



this is the common kitchen




and myself



I hope you are all doing well!


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Edmonton part two7/7/2007

July 4, 2007


After an eight hour flight from Schiphol to Chicago O’Hare international airport, I had seven hours in between my connected flight to Edmonton. After I went through the customs, which was compulsory because I entered the US, I grabbed some leaflets about Chicago at the information desk, and decided to make a trip to downtown Chicago. Given the limited time (traveling there and back to the airport, and being in time for my next flight) I chose to go up the Sears tower, which is among the highest sky scrapers in the world at this moment. In order to be able to buy a ticket for the train, I got some US dollars from the cash dispenser. At the ticket machine I entered my 20 dollar bill, and - to my surprise - a ticket worth 20 dollars was printed, worth 10 rides on the train... It took me longer than I expected to travel to the city, over one hour. So, I didn’t have that much time. At the Sears tower there were many people, probably also many American families celebrating Independence Day. Upon entering, everybody had to go through security. I decided it might take me too long to go up and down the tower (and have some time to enjoy the view from the skydeck). In stead of going up, I made some pictures of downtown Chicago from the ground perspective…











I slept most of the time of my flight to Edmonton, I was exhausted. I arrived in Edmonton on 22.47 local time, which equals 06:47 “Ede time”. I took the sky shuttle to Whyte Avenue, and from there a cap to Lister Centre. When I entered my room in Schäffer Hall on the sixth floor, I was struck with the heat. I couldn’t go to sleep in this hot room, and started to unpack my suitcase and backpack, while the window was open to let in some ‘fresh air’. In my backpack I found the notice “Transportation Security Administration - NOTICE OF BAGGAGE INSPECTION”. The bag was nicely repacked, so I was quite content, and understanding that they sometimes check your luggage. Then I discovered that they had been suspicious about the apple butter. They had opened the package, and left it in the bag with some cookies, and my carousel with spices. The apple butter was everywhere in the bag. I tried to wash of the butter from the carousel, but the sticky stuff had gone everywhere already. I had to throw away the whole bag.

Morach had given me this great present to take with me. It hangs on the door of my room.

July 5, 2007


After a short and hot night I went shopping in the morning to get myself breakfast and things to eat for the coming days. Around noon I went to the department. I was received very warmly. I went to see Tomas, who is working with a student on the purchase data and we have been talking about the structure of the data and the analyses I could do almost all afternoon. How nice to work together with people. It helps to get adjusted to a new rhythm, and to feel at ease in being around in the department.