Friday, May 30, 2008

My epiphany today: Cheesy vs. Çizi

Maikel was talking about something, and he used the word "cheesy".

And, I experienced a very sudden realization!

Çizi has always been my favourite biscuits. I liked its salty taste a lot. "Çiz" means "draw" in turkish, and I did not understand the reason behind the name of this biscuit.

At the moment Maikel used the word "cheesy", I was enlightened by the reason behind this naming :).

Çizi is the turkish spelling of Cheesy, and the biscuit had cheese flavour!

Maikel told me that the english word for such a sudden realisation was epiphany.

May is the warmest of 100 years!!

From DutchNews daily newsletter:

May 2008 has been the warmest May in over a century, the KNMI weather bureau said on Friday. The average temperature has been 15.7°, compared with 12.7° in a normal year. The temperature reached over 20° on 20 days, while nine warm days is the norm, the KNMI said.

Kids, kids, kids... All are daughters..

Johan the father
Johan was at UvA with his daughters on Wednesday. Two blonde sweet girls. Daniel said that they were very excited to get on train, metro to come here and to be at Papa's kamer (room). Father and the daughters have visited my office too. I wish I knew the language to be able to communicate with them. The younger one looked shyer and quieter, and that made her even more childish... It somehow made me happy to see Johan with his daughters, to see that he is a father, he has the responsibility to take care of these sweet kids.. happy and somehow emotional..

Suzanne the mother
Suzanne is back to our group this week. I saw her yesterday first. She looks quite OK. Wednesday is Mamma Dag, and Thursday is Papa Dag. So, little Fiona has to go to the daycare center only three days per week. I asked her if any of the grandmas were helping her for few days after the delivery at home as we have in Turkey. She said that it was quite uncommon here since there is a nurse (paid by your health insurance company), and that nurse comes everyday in first week or so. She shows the new parents how to take care of baby, how to have her have a bath; and she even makes the other stuff like laundry etc. The service is available even it is not your first child, Suzanne said.

Tessa the daughter
Yesterday was Tessa's birthday. Olja showed me the photos from the celebrations in the kindergarten. She said that she started to make fun of her mother when Olja does not know dutch word for something, or pronounces it incorrectly. "Je weet het niet! Je weet het niet!" -you don't know that- was what Tessa said in these moments. I also learned how they came up with her name. Tessa was a dutch author, and it was Hans' suggestion.

She also told me that the swan couple who already had eggs when I visited them had their babies out. There were 6 baby swans first. But after a while, they saw only two of them. They were very surprised on what happened the other 4, and speculated that they were maybe eaten by other birds. Funny thing is, some days later, they saw this swan couple somewhere else, this time with all 6 babies around :).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

We have partied at Funenpark roof !!

On friday, we had our vegetarian + chicken barbecue party at Funenpark Roof.

In the afternoon, I went to the P building to meet Vahid. We went to the iranian shop at Dapperstraat together to buy the chickens for barbecue.

After our DBN research meeting, Gooitzen, Maikel, Daniel and me cycled to my place. Johan and Ewout came by tram 10.

We started to prepare bulgur salad (Kısır) and lentil balls (mercimek köfte). Maikel helped me a lot in chopping onions, spring onions and parsley. I guess Daniel chopped an onion too. But he was mostly busy with garlics to be used with shrimps. First, he did not like my garlics since they were rotten somehow, and we got one from Sara and Vahid.

I asked Ewout's help on chopping parsleys. Johan suggested to use a small scissor saying that it makes it more practical. At the end, I realized that Ewout has a noticeably lower performance than he had in our previous gathering in January. Then, I asked him to stop :).

At the end, we had the following menu:
Bulgur Salad
Lentil Balls
Koko Sabzi (Iranian dish; vegetables with eggs. Sabzi means vegetables; and koko is if you mix something with eggs)
Cigaratte Pastry(Vahid helped me to fry them in oil)
Chicken barbecue.

Ewout was our barbecue guy together with Johan. Maikel helped me to mix the things for Bulgur Salad, and Gooitzen squeezed lemons. Sara made the mixing for lentil balls and she shaped the balls.

We were all 9 people, including Sara, Vahid and their friend from Argentina: Ines.

It was very nice weather, and enjoyable there in the roof in open air.

The others left earlier, but we sat in the roof with Maikel, Ines, Sara and Vahid till it gets dark. There was another group started to partying; so we decided to go to my place to have a quieter environment. We made jokes about american pigeons.

After Ines and Maikel left around 11:30 PM, we went on chatting and eating pumpkin seeds (from Ines) with my iranian neighbours till 1 AM or so.

It was funny that my iranian neighbours were referring to Ewout as 'the barbecue guy'.

Overall, I had a very nice evening/night with all those nice people around!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


From the Sidelines of today's Dutch News:
"The right-of-centre VVD party is offering to exhibit the work of cartoonist Gergorius Nekschot in its parliamentary quarters in The Hague. The party wants to make a stand for free speech.

Nekschot (a pseudonym) was recently arrested and questioned about the alleged racist nature of his cartoons. Some of the cartoons in question were recently re-published. They were ugly and insulting: one showed a fat Muslim riding on the back of the welfare state. One wonders if the VVD would come to the rescue of a Muslim cartoonist in the Netherlands portraying Dutch politicians as fat parasites feeding on populist anti-Muslim sentiment? And what would their reaction have been if Nekschot had substituted Jews for Muslims in his cartoons? Who is
going to see the VVD exhibition, anyway?

If Nekschot has broken the law then he should be punished. If not, then let him continue. His
heavy-handed arrest by the police was unnecessary and has made him a martyr.

And as for the ridiculous nature of VVD’s gallery for free speech….now that would make a good cartoon."

I completely agree with the parts I colored with green. VVD is the dutch liberal party by the way. And it is the second larges opposition party in the parliament according to the uncle Wiki.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"More Shadows for Dutch Cows" Campaign

I saw an interesting news in yesterday's Metro newspaper.

"'Bomen voor Koeien' stops " it says.
The campaign of 'Trees for Cows' had started in May 2000 to provide more shadowy place for cows in pastures. Approximately 77,000 trees were planted during the 8 years.

It was very interesting to see such a campaign in this country since the sunny days in the country is really limited. This shows how professional the dutch people are in a way. They even care about the shadow need of their cows to make them happier and to get more milk.
The campaign even has a website:

Monday, May 26, 2008


Maikel told me that the crow-like birds with grayish head are not crows, but they are called jackdaw in english.

He said that jackdaws are the clever birds, not crows. And he added that jackdaws are actually smaller than crows. I put a crow picture below from wikipedia, to make the difference clearer.

And today, on our way back from R-Class meeting, Tjeerd told me that they are called 'Kauw' in dutch. I checked from wikipedia for the turkish name: it is not that creative: 'Kuchuk Karga', meaning 'Small Crow'.

OLVG: Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis

My huisarts (family doctor) is located in a hospital close to Oosterpark. The hospital is called OLVG, the abbreviation of 'Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis'. Namely, 'Our dear lady guesthouse'.

I had asked Maikel why this hospital was called so. He told me that 'Onze Lieve Vrouwe' refers to Prophet Jesus' mother, Mary. He added that this name suggests that the hospital was of catcholic origin. According to him, there are hospitals all over the country with the same naming.

Ben Seni Sevdugumi / The Edge of Heaven

Maikel and I visited Gurchay and Olga on Saturday at The Hague. This time there was many more ducks in the lake in the middle of their complex.

The basic idea was to watch Fatih Akin's movie: Auf Der Anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven). IMDB gives a point of 8.1 to the movie.

Before the movie, we had a dinner: again a delicious one thanks to Olga. During the dinner, I learned that the lemon slices put into cokes etc while serving were actually limes most of the time. They told me that lime and lemon are not the same variety although the taste is similar. Lime is green in color, and it has a different smell.

It was an interesting movie. More interesting was the song you hear three times in the movie: Ben seni sevdugumi (by Kazim Koyuncu originally). I bumped into this song on youtube a week ago. Shevval Sam sings it in a very nice way. I had listened it few times back then.

Then, few days ago, I saw on the internet that an Azeri girl from Turkish-Azerbaijan high-school sings the same song too..

I was already crooning this song on Saturday morning. It was surprising to hear it in the movie in the same evening.

Elevator Stories

Last Wednesday, on the elevator back from tea-coffee break outside at open air, I remembered my amazement when I saw the following notice in the elevators in my first days at UvA : 'U bevindt zich in lift'. It is similar to german, So, I understood that it said "you are in elevator". 'What a strange and stupid comment', I was thinking, 'Of course I am in the elevator'..

Then, days later, I realized that there was something under this remark, saying "B4" or a similar label. I then realized that the exact expression was : 'You are in elevator B4'. So, in case of emergency, you can call related number and tell in which elevator you are..

I told this story to Olja, Daniel and Gooitzen in the elevator. And Daniel shared another funny elevator story with us: He was in the elevator and suddenly heard that the emergency phone on the lift was ringing. He decided to take it. The person on the other side was asking 'Is that the student desk?', and he answered: 'No, this is elevator B5.'

It must be very funny to hear something like this when you call a place :)

Hectic Days

I had very busy days starting with last Wednesday.

Wednesday evening: I was at Sara and Vahid's place for dinner, to talk about our roof party organization. Sara cooked a very delicious pilav (rice), with minstmeat, safran and white cabbage on it (also onion and a little bit hot red paprika paste). I learned from them that they also have the classification of hot-food and cold-food like in India. I asked if this classification is accessible in official books or so, and they replied : 'No, you just ask your grandma..'

Thursday: I was at Sonnenburgh (Utrecht) for chemometrics meeting. The location was very nice- an observatory. On the way at Amstel Station, I bumped to Gooitzen, and later Huub joined us and we went together. I also met a turkish PhD student from Nijmegen. Bulent told me that he works on support vector machines.
During the lunch break, there was a tour in the observatory; and I learned that it was a dutch person who found out that the air moves from high-pressure area to low-pressure areas in circular way, not in linear paths (like we see in for example).

Friday: In the morning, I was at OLVG for a short check. In the afternoon, we had the causality meeting, this time on DBNs (dynamic bayesian networks) with Age, Margriet, Johan, Huub, Daniel and me. Afterwards, we had our roof party at Funenpark. Very nice moments.

Saturday: We went to Den Haag, to Gurchay and Olga's place to watch Fatih Akin's last movie, Auf der anderen seite.

Sunday: we had a barbecue lunch with Vahid and Sara, partly on the roof (although it was partly raining weakly), and partly in my place. It was surprising that they could correctly pronounce and knew about our former female prime minister, Tansu Chiller.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On the way to transform to a Dutch Cyclist

Yesterday, after shopping in the Albert Heijn near the mill De Grooijer, I heard my mobile ringing just after I have turned to Cruquiskade on my bike. I have checked my back, there was no cyclist coming.
Then, I did it..

For the first time, while cycling, I answered the mobile! One of my hands was on one handle, and I was holding the mobile with my other hand, and cycling through Cruquiskade next to the kanal houses.

It was Alfonso, and we talked for a minute or so.

This means that I am transforming to become a Dutch cyclist.. I felt really excited afterwards. I could not believe that I did that..

But there are a couple of things that I have to achieve for full transformation:
1- I have to find a dog, and pull it with me while cycling.
2- I have to find a baby, put him/her into the front or back of my bike, and talk with my mobile at the same time.
3- I have to cycle with none of my hands being on the handles. If my hands are not totally free but instead I hold a box which is at the back of my bike, this would be a plus.
4- I have to cross in red traffic lights in the rush hours.
5- I have to go in the opposite direction in the bike paths (I do this only on the way back from Javastraat, but this has to be done in the central places).
6- I have to smoke while cycling.

Then I can be a real dutch cyclist...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Turkey on Bus 11 of Utrecht

I see the advertisements on having holidays in Turkey almost everywhere on the billboards and on the buses in the last few months. Once Maikel said that there was also commercials on TV channels.

Last Tuesday, the bus 11 which took me to the central station was also covered all with Turkey advertisement. I managed to take a photo of the bus while it was waiting for departure time.

Two Pandas at WKZ

This morning, there was unusual children screams coming from outside. Margriet, Inge and I went to the window to check: what a surprise! There was one panda outside. And after a while, I realized that there was another one.. And pandas were surrounded by many children.

Margriet told me that this was actually organized once every year to test the behavioural normality of children from schools at Utrecht.

Throughout the day, there were many children groups, but the pandas and the story was the same:

Somehow, something happens to one of them and it falls down. Then children start screaming "Ambulance, Ambulance !!!!". And, ambulancemen hear those screams and they show up in the accident area within one minute!
They examine the patient panda, apply first aid, and they take a stretcher from the ambulance. Then they call the panda: "Bear, beaar !"

Sick panda hears this and comes and lies on the stretcher...

How funny, all of us laughed and enjoyed a lot today in the office.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Research at UMC Utrech

Research Meeting at WKZ
Today, I checked my cycling time to Amstel Station: 14 minutes!. The whole path is 3.4 kilometers according to fietsplanner.

I came to my office at around 07:55, and sent Maikel an e-mail immediately saying that I was earlier at work than him :)

Then we had a research meeting with Age, Margriet and Johan; and it was a very satisfactory one. Thanks God, i have such nice supervisors. During the meeting, Age told me that you can understand the direction of the wind by licking your indexfinger and holding it in the air (with 20-30% deviation though).
He also referred to a former PhD student who had 50th version of his manuscript at the end!. Then, in one of the latest versions, Age showed him a group of sentences saying that he liked the style of those sentences a lot, and he wants all the manuscript written in the same way. The answer of PhD student was : 'Well, you had added those sentences to the manuscript ten versions ago'.

I also saw pictures of Age-Margriet's new house, and told Margriet "Sit there by laughing and laughing" ('gule gule otur' in turkish).

Quite Unusual Genetic Algorithm Settings
I sent my genetic algorithm settings for my static jacobian problem to Kaustubh, and in return, he wrote me in gtalk:

"hmm the GA setting is quite unusual"

I laughed a lot, then he called me and told me how to change my code to have a usual GA code :).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This is like a book paradise

I wanted to go to center today for a small shopping. But on the way at Waterlooplein, I noticed the bookstands, and I stopped and started to walk around.

Oh, my God! So huge bookmarket! Book stands were all around Waterlooplein till Mr. Visserplein and till Nieuwmarket.

I spent about 4 hours there, and bought some cheap books:

The name of the rose (umberto eco): 2.5 euros (Sadullah's request)
Awakenings (Oliver Sack): 4 euros (Inge had strongly advised me his books, saying that he writes about his experiences with his patients)
Alice's Adventures (Lewis Carroll): 4 euros (since Kiran had lots of quotations from this book in his thesis, and said that the book was one of his favorites)
A spot of bother (Mark Haddon) : 5 euros (I really loved his previouos book- the curious incident of the dog in the night time-)
The undutchables (dutch book): 2.5 euros (I bought this just to have a dutch book)
Nederland voor hunderd jaar (dutch book published in 1959) : few euros (just to have an old dutch book about netherlands)
Jip en Janneke 1 (Annie Schmidt) : 2 euros (Heyy! this was the last book I bought. I had to walk a long way to find a Jip-en-Janneke seller.)
the 30-second golf swing: 1 euro (for Johan)

While strolling among book stands, I heard one of lady strollers saying to one bookseller "This is really a book paradise."

And later I learned that this was the biggest book market on the world, with the total length of stands being about 5 kilometers.

And I have seen this creature among the stands on the way from Waterlooplein to Nieuwmarkt. The child seems to afraid of it.

Whiteboards in my office and Maikel

Maikel is a clean and order-loving guy, and I guess that's why he always cleans the board in our office regularly. This time, before he was in action, I managed to take a photo of the board.
The middle: In the middle ofthe board is a tutorial page from Sp!t newspaper on Netherlands Antilles. I liked it when I saw it last week during the coffee brak at 8th floor, and put it on the board. I learned thanks to this paper that there are 6 islands which form Netherlands Antilles. And, they are in two clusters of each being 3 islands. Then, they are very very close to Venezuella.

On the right: There are strange sketches made by me. We were discussing with Johan about 4-metabolite system part of my manuscript.

Below: Maikel told me that a ducth guy from 17th century was the father of microbiology. I asked him to write his name to the board. He is Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.

Above: Daniel was telling Maikel about the cupboard he had in his place from Ikea and how he oriented it. Additionally, he said that he wants to eat Veal for our planned roof party. I asked what veal is, and he told me that it is the name for cow meat.

Coot nest near Halverstad Bridge

On Friday, around 6 PM, I suddenly heard the emergency alarm, and then an announcement has followed in dutch, english, german and french saying that everybody had to leave the building.

At first, I was in panick somehow, remembering the fire in one of the buildings of TuDelft few days ago, but then felt relieved when I saw few other people on the stairs.

When I was outside and about to leave with my bike, I have noticed an eurasian coot (I checked the turkish name: sakarmeke or su tavugu -water chicken-, and the dutch name is meerkoet) nest on a floating surface on the canal. The parents even had one chick!.

Table Tennis

On Friday, during the lunch, Ewout told me and Gooitzen that it is easy to hit the ball when you are away from the table for few meters. The most difficult thing, he said, is to hit the ball when you are close to table. He said that you cannot see if your opponent hits the ball with a backspin of forwardspin in this case. This is very important to know since it determines your hitting method/style. So, you have to make a decision within one milisecond about how the oppponent hit, and if your decision is wrong you lose since the ball will go to an unexpected place.

Then in the afternoon, he showed me a website where he appears in the available photos while playing table tennis.

By the way, I have realized that the way I write 'Ewout' is different than the way he writes (Ewoud). But I am not saying that I write it wrong since it is not an official name anyway.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Transporting Paper is an Art in This Country"

On wednesday I went to AMC to get an apointment at cardiology department. I gave the secretary the letter by my house doctor, and she said "I cannot give you an appointment now". I was surprised, then she told me that I will get a letter in two weeks, and that letter will include the date and time for the appointment.

When I said this to Maikel, he was surprised. But I do not get surprised since I know that the things can be quite slow but organized here in this country (Kaustubh would definitely object to the "organized" part). Letters have to go and come back, and you have to wait. Daniel said the following as his comment, and he allowed me to quote it directly:
"Transporting paper is an art in this country."

Origin of many lakes in Holland

Maikel told me yesterday that many small lakes in the Netherlands were created because the stones and sands from ground were used for building purposes, and the resulting cavities were filled with water. He said that the lake close to his place (Gaasperplas) is one of such lakes.

Dinner with Iranian Neighbours

Last night, I had a dinner with Vahid and Sara. I cooked chickpea soup, potato meal, and pasta with onion sauce. We talked about different issues.

1. We discovered new common words between iranian and turkish languages like sandalye (chair), taze (fresh), chorba (shorba), meyve (fruit), portakal (orange). I told them the story behind the naming of portakal, linked to the portuguese city porto.

2. They mentioned about a professor from Carnegie Mellon, who will die of pancreatic cancer. Today, Sara sent me the link to his last lecture, and strongly advised me to watch it. I have found his weblog on the internet too.
Sara and Vahid told me last night that he said that his mother was saying to people "Look, this is my son. He is a doctor. But not of the kind who can help people."

3. Towards the end of our chats, they said a few times that they wanted to leave and it was already late, but we went on chatting. Then they said : "Is it the same in Turkey. Guests say that they will just leave, but go on chatting? " I said: "exactly!" :).

They liked the taste of paprika paste very much. Sara was saying: "I wonder what would you eat and cook if you did not have paprika paste" since I had added it into all meals I cooked for dinner.

They also talked about the still-continuing effects of Irak-Iran war on the health of people.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Day in Utrecht

Inge and Accidents
This Morning, Inge told me about the unfortunate traffic accident Hans and Britt had in France. Luckily, they were not injured at all. And she also told me an accident she had witnessed years ago: The woman in the car was crying after the accident "It was only a fly, it was only a fly!"; and later they learned that the driver wanted to send a fly who landed onto his hand away, and he just shook his hand; and this caused him to lose the wheel control. Luckily, there was not any causalty.

You never know, you have a life with everything proceeding in order; and suddenly in a second your day, your life changes completely...

2nd Days of Pasen and Pinksteren
Today, Margriet told me that she did not have any idea on why those holidays were 2 days. She joked that it could be because Netherlands is a religious country :)

At the end of our 40-minute walk in the woods (and almost in the wild), Tjeerd told me about ijsvogel and how beautiful it was. I later realized that that was the bird Maikel was talking about last week. It is from the same family as crow (Karga in turkish); yet it is so beautiful with blue and orange colors. Tjeerd told me that it can be seen in Oostvaardersplassen. I then remembered that Maikel had told me that they are also in east Amsterdam (referring to Huub).

And I have checked turkish name of the bird. It has a very funny name! Yalicapkini :) . And it looks that they are seen in Izmir.

PhD Comics
I liked today's PhD comics a lot!.

Holiday in Antarctica
Margriet told me that the only two countries she had not been are Australia and Antarctica. I considered the Antarctica part as a joke first. But then she said that there were rich people going to Antarctica for holiday, to walk around and to see penguins etc..

During my lunch in the coffee room, I read in the newspaper Dag that the futbol team Herenveen won the right to play in next year's UEFA cup. And I learned that Herenveen was a Frisian team.
I already knew that:
Ajax : Amsterdammers
Feyenoord: Rotterdammers
PSV: Eindhoveners (this was already obvious since Eindhoven is included in the official name of the team)

And I had read that it was in a way strange that The Hague, being the political capital of the country, was not in the 1st Leauge. But maybe this is also related to the fact that The Hague is not officially a city but a town. This, I learned from an episode of Laura Speaks Dutch podcast.

I asked Kaustubh if there is any "God of Evil" in Indian religions, and he directed me to Wiki entry of Rakshasa.
It looks that it is not a god, but an evil spirit. It says in Wiki that Rakshasas are man-eaters with venomous fingernails, they feed on human flesh. How awful!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Today is the last of a series of holidays started with Easter (I guess).
First, we celebrated Easter (Pasen in Dutch, Paskalya in Turkish) for four days in March 21-24. It actually starts on thursday, but thursday is not official holiday. So:
White Thursday: the last supper of Prophet Jesus.
Good Friday: crucifixion of prophet Jesus
Silent Saturday: He lays on his tomb
Easter Sunday: This is the third day of crucifixion and he rises from dead.
Easter Monday: I do not know why is this celebrated/made holiday, and it looks that uncle Wiki also does not have any idea..

Then, the next day after Queen's Day, May 1, it was again holiday because of "Ascension day". First I thought that this was becasue of ascending to throne for the queen, but Maikel told me that it was the ascension of prophet Jesus to heaven 40 days after his resurrection..

And, this sonday and monday has been yet another holiday: Pentacost (Pinksteren in Dutch). Wikipedia says that this is the day when the holy spirit came back to his apostles and followers 10 days after his ascension.

The Bastard of Istanbul, and other Books from Spui

Today, I have left my 32-degrees house immediately after breakfast and shopping, and parked my bike close to Bloemenmarkt. On the way, I stopped in Rembrandtsplein for a while and took photo of the statue (s) : Rembrandt himself and the ones in front..
I went to Spui through Kalverstraat to find a bookshop in the hope that I can find some of the books Sadullah asked me to buy. Just in the corner when you are a bout to make a turn to Spui, I have seen a bookstore: Waterstone. It was amazing: four-floor building full of books. I first saw 'the Bastard of Istanbul' on a shelf. Finally! I was looking forward to buy this book in english. Then, since the bookstore offered "choose from any 3 for 2" campaign, I got two books from Sadullah's list: American God and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

After I left Waterstone, I haver realized that there were two more big english bookstores in the same square, Spui. One of them was Athaneaum, the one Inge and her husband was talking about, and saying that they were even selling turkish books. Hope to be inside next time..

How do the Amsterdammers enjoy nice weather?

From my observations in last three holiday days, if you are an Amsterdammer and notice that the weather is nice outside:
1- Grab a cloth, grab your partner & kids etc. if any.
2- Hurry to one of the parks neearby. Among most popular ones are Oosterpark and Vondelpark.
3- Put the cloth on grasses,
4- take off most of your clothes & kids' clothes etc ..
5- Lie on the cloth against sun.
An alternative is; to jump into a boat of yours or friends' (i guess), with the 4th remark above being valid..

Sunday, May 11, 2008

On the "Short Spoon" Street ...

On Friday afternoon, Daniel, Ewout, Maikel and I have sat in front of Torino restaurant at the Kortelepel street for drink and dinner, and of course chatting..

Dutch Kids and Rabbits

I learned that it is a general Dutch habit to buy a rabbit or a guinea pig for your kid. This, I learned while Daniel was explaining Ewout that he had to cut his daughter's rabbit's nails. It is funny that Ewout promised his daughter about buying a rabbit for her when the weather gets nice - hoping that it will not happen soon. I guess "when the weather gets nice" is something like "when it snows red" here as we sometimes say in Turkey. But, unexpectedly, it happened and we are having 20-25 C weather since last week.

Dutch Moms and their PhD-doing Kids
It was quite relieving to hear from Daniel (and Ewout) that even they, as Dutch Phd students, had difficulty to tell their moms about what they were doing as part of PhD project.

Do we have enough space on the earth?
Daniel said that if each person in the world is given 1 m2 square area- much larger than the space it occupies :) - then the whole 6-billion population could be located in a 6,000 km2 area; which is a little bit larger than the province Brabant.

cycling and cycling..

Yesterday I went to Flevopark for the first time for cycling. I did not know that it was that close. It was just at the very end of Javastraat (or Zeeburgerdijk). And it was way bigger than Oosterpark.

Today I left my 30 C-hot house to come to UvA. I was planning to go to Oosterpark first, and cycle there a while, and then come to UvA. On the way I have changed the plan. I was on Mauritskade, and I just wanted to cycle straight ahead, in a Forrest-Gump manner in a way.. I passed through several traffic-lights, and then continued on cycling straight ahead again. After a while, I decided that it was enough, and I have taken a photograph in that location (called van Oldenbarneveldt plein).
Now I have checked the whole route i made from my place to the place on the phote on google map: and I realized that I was about to make a complete turn around Amsterdam.
On the way back, I made a tour in Vondelpark. Compared to my first experience on Queen's Day, it was not that crowded for sure. But still, it was full of people cycling, walking, jogging, lying on the sun ...

And, it was very amazing to see a man on a two-storey bike there!. I still cannot figure out how he managed to sit on the 'second floor' to start the ride..

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Did I eat 'Muisje' or 'Meisje'

Daniel and Maikel asked me if I ate 'Meisje' or 'Muisje' when Suzanne was here with her baby about a month ago. The funny thing is: the two words have almost identical pronounciation. Meisje means little girl, and Muisje is the the cake served here traditionally to celebrate the birth of a baby.

For sure, when Suzanne was here, she had both of them :). I had to pay special attention to not to say that I had eaten Fiona. After asking them to repeat both words a number of times, I managed to make the correct guess!

my bike pump

I had bought a small, functional and easy-to-carry-around bike pump from one shop in Javastraat a couple of months ago - I guest just for 3 euros or so.. But I could never make it work..

One night my iranian neighbours told me that one of them had flat tire, and they wanted to borrow my bike for an hour. I offered them my pump in the hope that they could manage to make it work.. And no..

I tried it few more times, but no way.. Then today I decided to take it to office. 'Maybe Maikel would want to have it' I thought; 'otherwise it is not any use to me'.

Then, again he has taught me something :)
He just told me the trick, and a couple of minutes ago we tried it on Olja's bike. It worked perfect!. With just a couple of pumpings, the tires were full of air..

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

'Mas' in Christmas

Today, Maikel told me that Christmas actually means 'Christ's mass'; and 'mass' is the gathering in the church for celebrations, commemorations, funerals etc. where the priest gives a talk.
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