Jul 29, 2010

One eye on the big one

After a lovely week of holiday with mum's visit, it's straight back into the deep end. I've got one eye on the Big Conference. Luckily, this year the annual event is happening in Montreal, so I don't have to travel. It's a huge relief. My only problem will be which of my clothes to wear as for the first time I'll have a lot of choice versus my usual minimalist travel style which leaves me with roughly 5 outfits to choose from in 5 days.

Mum's visit was fun. We went to Quebec City - my first time. It's a really pictoresque city and I can understand early settlement there even though in the beginning many failed to survive the arctic winters. The city rests on the St. Lawrence river with an upper and lower town. We walked the stairs up; not a drastic undertaking as anything in Quebec that passes for a "mountain" is really just a hill by Swiss standards. Even so, the view from the top is spectacular and I will share photos soon.

Other than that we spent our time in Montreal, doing touristy things such as visit the Botanic Garden which is hugely impressive and a massive improvement over my last unfortunate visit to the gardens in the middle of the winter among a crowded group of people to see the Chinese lanterns. This time, I got to explore the 9 greenhouses, all of which are equally beautiful, and we wandered through the expansive gardens which were labeled by themes like Rose, Japanese, Chinese, and First Nation among others.

Alas, now it's back to work and I've neck deep in tons of coding. And next weekend will be the hectic Big One. Phew.

Jul 20, 2010

Getting ready for a visit

Well, after a devastating but not entirely surprising loss by the Dutch football team to World Cup winners, Spain, life has been in the fast lane. I've pretty much all but forgotten about Octopus Paul and spent the week working on several papers. By now, one has been submitted to a journal for review (air kiss it good luck, please!), and the other, as usual, is in stalling mode. Nevertheless, I had a successful conference call on a third paper, a totally new collaboration with people who actually seem to collaborate. I'm holding out high hopes.

Yesterday also marked my annual performance review with the department chair and my allocated mentor. My interpretation of the meeting is that all is well and I need not worry about anything; just continue along the path I've been going on during the last year. It's good to know that my efforts are appreciated. I feel it's overall been a pretty good academic year for me, and I hope it continues. A few more publications and I'd be on quite a roll. I'm plugging away at it, hard as always.

Exciting news is that mum arrives tomorrow and is staying for a week. That was one of the motivations for getting as much work done as possible before she headed over. And of course, for tidying up the house - not that it was too messy, but I finally sorted out a bunch of things that have been on the to-do list forever, such as install a new eco-friendly shower head.

I'm possibly planning a small road trip for when she's over. It would be nice to see Quebec City so am keeping it in mind and I hear good things about walking tours and food there ... never a chore.

Jul 6, 2010

Oranje -- misschien boven?

Orange. Perhaps above (all). That's what the title means. I'm talking about football of course. The real football, the only kind of football: soccer. 

For the first time in 32 years, the Dutch team made it through to the final. I've been proudly wearing my orange shirts every game they've played in the World Cup. And it seems to have worked. After a nail-biting last few minutes in the semi-final game against Uruguay, we're through!!

The final is on Sunday. I daren't hold out much hope for our team actually winning, but of course, I'll be giving my full support and wearing my orange. The team has been pretty good so far, and with a BIT of luck, we might - just might - be able to do this.

I'll be enticing all my friends to join me to watch the game in some public space. Hubby and I watched the first half in a public space today (and to my amazement, we actually bumped into someone we knew). It was fun, but I was somewhat put off by all the english lingo and girls wearing salmon colored tops who seem to think that pink is a decent substitute to orange ... orange, girls, orange. Wear it bold and proud.

Jul 3, 2010

Football and Vegas

Time flies when you're having fun, and it sure did in Vegas. I visited friends for a few days and we spent the majority of our time avoiding the heat and doing Vegas-y type things that weren't on the strip. All in all, it was for a lovely trip, made all the better for the high energy of a seven-year old who thought I was the best playmate ever. We made tents, sailed boats, swam like fish, danced through misters that spray you all over Vegas, saw sharks, octopi, dolphins, tigers ... you name it, it was on the agenda. 

I even go to see Hoover Dam this time (missed it last time). And immediately felt sorry for suggesting it to my friends as we spend a good 2 hours in traffic getting there, and then I couldn't even bring myself to look over the edge. The pics were a point-over-the-edge-and-shoot-without-looking. But they turned out alright. 

That was a hot day. Some 44C. Needless to say all of us were glad to find the ice cream shop afterwards and hang out in the air-conditioned gift shop. 

Amidst it all, Holland won and kept winning. I duly wore my orange shirt as a night-shirt and it seemed to have done the trick. Most exciting, of course, so far is yesterday's win against Brazil. I have strong reservations about Holland winning the entire thing, but at least they beat Brazil, and that's no small matter. We'll see how the rest turns out. Not good for my heart or my nerves, of course, all this vuvuzela-ing ...