From the monthly archives:

July 2010

Daily Diary – Den Haag

by practicallymax on 31 July 2010

The time has come. My Daily Diary. Though fear and apprehension grip me to the bones, I shall plug onward, ignoring the close scrutiny that will pass over every character I type, ignoring the humorless critics who will boil off all of my words till only the important remain,hanging like scraps of meat off of yellowing bones. My bones.

Rob rallies the rambunctious rascals

It was an early morning – too early for everyone but Ben. At eight-thirtyish, most were semi-gathered in the courtyard, waiting for one of Rob’s signature debriefings till we would be let loose and herded toward A’dam Centraal. Rob did not disappoint, and with our groggy heads flopping around the ideas of a capital that is not the capital and a rich city around the poor, we set off, taking the waterfront route to our beloved Station.

Wanderers walk the waterfront

The walk was one that I had not taken before, and many echoed this sentiment. Though Amsterdam was already beginning to feel like home, discovering such a “hidden” — though obviously well-used — route reminded me of the importance of exploring and questioning a city such as this. With such an old and intricate urban landscape there are enough secrets for years of exploration, and maintaining that sense of mystery and inquisition that I felt upon arrival would be vital to continue discovering them.

Riders receive their rights from Rob

After some brief chatting at ever-busy Centraal, it was our turn to leave. (As Rob handed out the 19,70 Euro train tickets, I was again thankful that we had pre-paid for the program – it somewhat lessens the reality of spending handfuls of cash.) The train was fast and mostly smooth, the ride made quicker by dozing yet longer through wakeful anticipation. As many of the group have discovered through biking, it doesn’t take long to get from the packed, gritty metropolis to endless fields of maize, sap, and azure. Schiphol and several other stops behind us, we were in Den Haag.

Dutch dude discontinues dastardly dike's drainage

One tram to Madurodam, the miniature Holland. As we waited for Rob to negotiate our terms of entry, I noticed a man leaning up against a wall of turf. “What is he doing?” I said. When no one answered, I persisted: “Seriously, is he just standing there? What a weirdo!” Of course, this was a statute. But more than that, it was a boy sticking out his finger to plug a leak that had burst in a dike. Greg remembered the story: “he stood there for a long time, days I think, and never let his finger out of that hole. He kept plugging it, and saved them all. I think afterwards he was rewarded for his bravery.” Greg’s memory served him correctly, for in “The Hero of Haarlem,” a story in Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates (1865) by American author Mary Mapes Dodge, the nameless Dutch boy saves his country by plugging the hole, staying there all night until adults find him (source: Wikipedia).

Miniature models make my mind merry

Once inside, a land of marvels awaited. An airport, skyscrapers, docks, a carnival, and every type of building, new and old, was arranged in districts for one to wander among. Trains puttered along, cars passed slower trucks, airplanes taxied, boats sloshed, roller-coasters zoomed, and monorails took hairpin turns at improbable speed. This wasn’t just a museum – things were moving! It was good that the excursion lasted only an hour, for I don’t know how entertaining everything would have been beyond that, but those fifty-ish minutes were fun. I distinctly remember exclaiming every few minutes, “oh, holy crap, what’s that?” and rushing over to see flood gates opening, window-washers descending a gleaming black tower, or miniatures play bumper-cars at an alarming speed. It stirred the Lego-builder in me that hadn’t been awoke in years.

A behemoth black building

After migrating cafes, the group sat down for a little discussion, based around a question that Rob posed: what do we see here that we wouldn’t see in the U.S.? Beyond being cool, what is it here that is definitely “Dutch”? Many had something unique to share: amazement at the accuracy and detail of the representations; approval at the “junk” that was present, rather than a “sanitized, Disney version” that we might see in the States; and thoughts that the Dutch had one-upped what we would do in the U.S. because of how interactive everything was. Clifford mused that he was most surprised how much of an attraction this was.

A compact complex of clay (concrete)

Following a brief mention by a student, Rob spoke at length about the trend that has arisen in the last century or so of giving importance to all aspects of architecture and design, not just what was previously considered great. A factory and a candy store will be given the same place as an 800 year-old cathedral in this “infrastructural zoo,” and it reflects the fact that high quality planners and architects are now proactive in the design of much more than the church or the city center. I had wondered if it wasn’t also the result of the world’s human population exploding with such great ferocity while the earth itself has stayed the same size: with so many more architects and infrastructure professionals out there, it only makes sense that they would accept work in a wider range of projects.

Godzilla growls, a goofy grin growing

We also spoke a bit at how this is such an attraction for kids. Some offered thoughts on why this may be: a sense of national pride  at what the Dutch have accomplished, an interest in seeing structures they might have only heard of but haven’t traveled to visit, or, conversely, seeing the full scope of buildings that they are familiar with. One thing that I don’t remember being mentioned is that kids might enjoy this place because it’s just cool and fun to feel big. Right as we entered I remember John running by screaming “wheeeee!” and not soon afterwards I got a strong urge to pretend I was Godzilla. The great works of man (and woman) become something you could conquer in a moment if you so desired, sweeping away all of the insignificant people below and asserting your dominance over such a vast land of treasures. That the buildings are actually what you might see in real life helps the feeling, as does the fact that there aren’t any burly security guards walking around as they would in a museum. I somewhat doubt that children really worry much about their Dutch pride and national identity – they want to have fun, and really, so do we.

Politie patrols prevented photographing paintings - presented is Maurishuis's posterior

After making our way near the parliament building with its glorious pond and fountain, Rob urged us to enter into the Mauritshuis (which everyone did), but afterwards we would be on our own. For me, the Mauristhuis was continually surprising. At first, I considered it another dusty art museum that would house works that I knew I should appreciate but never really connected to. My taste for art has been strongly influenced by the modern trends of downtown Seattle’s numerous art galleries, as well as from an artist or two I met during my escapade into art in high school (such as Matt Lu), and I have found that sometimes old galleries such as these just don’t do it for me.

Nice notes

However, after a few minutes, I was compelled to go downstairs and pick up an audio guide (that I usually forgo), and started learning more about the history and ideas of the artists. A few minutes later, I was too interested to forget everything, so I talked to guards until they let me into our storage room to retrieve my notebook. From this, I am able to remember much more:

The Mauritshuis houses many great works from the Dutch Golden Age: art by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals; 17th century Flemish painters like Rubens and van Dyck; and 15th and 16th century masters like van der Weyden and Holbein (and many more from all categories, of course). Of these artists and their art, I learned several things:

  • Still Life with a Lighted Candle

    a favorite: "Still Life with a Lighted Candle, 1627" by Pieter Claesz

    in the 17th century, the emphasis in art was on creating a perfect representation of the scene. Thus, in a still life, for example, artists would often put specific items into their arrangement to insert “double meanings” into their art. Often this would be humorous, though for some pieces it’s awfully hard to tell these days because we don’t have a clear enough picture of what people would have found funny back then.

  • How many painters painted from compiled studies rather than of real life. For example, Vase With Flowers (c. 1670) by Jan Davidsz. de Heem contains many specimens that would never bloom or grow at the same time of year.
    Vase with Flowers

    "Vase with Flowers, c. 1670" by Jan Davidsz. de Heem

    Also, The Bull (1647) by Paulus Potter contains a very vivid bull, but modern analysts can tell that the teeth are too old for the horns, and the rump is not as muscular as it should be to match the front, so the bull must have been fictional.

  • That the portraits of a man and woman should be placed with the man to the left of the woman (when viewed), and the way they looked at each other conveyed specific meanings. Thus, it was a tough decision for Anthony van Dyck to paint portraits of Anna Wake and Peter Stevens in 1628 because he had painted Peter first, before he was married, looking to his right, and so it would not do to have his wife painted on his right, as is traditional, otherwise he would have his back to her!
The Bull

"The Bull, 1647" by Paulus Potter

I could go on and on, but I suspect a lot of these things are interesting only to a small percentage of people, and even then it is much better when you’re there with the art. But I have a newfound appreciation for the art of the Netherlands of the 14th – 17th century, and for audio guides, for many secrets of paintings reveled themselves that I could have never deduced on my own.

By the time I left it was already 15:30, hours after everyone else had gone, so I decided to wander the city and look for food.

Awesome bird photo

Pinnacle of perfect photography - pouncing on prey

I came across breathtaking pictures of wildlife that had been set up in a large exhibit outside of the parliament pond, celebrating the beauty of nature in Europe. I felt silly taking picture of pictures, but I wanted to remember them because many were so good they could make the cover of National Geographic.

Burger Kind Sign

Business burgers bad

Heading into downtown I saw several dreadfully familiar sights (McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC), so I kept travelling until I saw a less dreadful albeit equally familiar one (Albert Heijn’s). I headed into a large staircase around the city center to eat and watch people interacting on the vast concrete expanse that lay before me. In doing so,I reflected on what I had witnessed (and was still seeing) in Den Haag.

Concrete expanse

Stale stairway

The city seemed to lack Amsterdam’s vigor and charm. Like Amsterdam, there were many old-looking buildings and several new high-rises visible in the surrounding area, but the atmosphere of the city was different. People didn’t have as many places to go or things to do: a large percentage of the population were old and rather stagnant tourists, and another large percentage were city dwellers who seemed prone to sit and reminisce with a cigarette. (I can’t of course be sure that they were reminiscing, but you get the picture.) There were less bikes, less traffic, less greenery, and less interesting things to see and do. The area I was in, at least, seemed to be an uninterested city center: come if you wish, but the blank stares of the buildings and concrete would not miss you were you to leave. It was not welcoming.

However, there were pockets of hope. As I sat and munched on my bread, cheese, and pasta, I noticed a group of young skateboarding locals chatting and trying out their tricks in a menacing way that only thirteen-year-olds can achieve. But they were friendly, I could tell. They were courteous to those who passed, never made rude comments or gestures, and clearly enjoyed being watched. Once, a Politie drove up on his motorcycle, and purposely swerved very close to where the youngens were, but he made no motion to stop or warn them, and drove off as they continued to kickflip and 50-50 (a few were actually quite good).

Bumpin' b-boy breakdance battle below

Taking a swig of strawberry juice, I looked out across the square: a group of older younguns were throwing down beats and b-boying (breakdancing) in a circle. Granted, after seeing Massive Monkeys, they weren’t anything special, but this act of public adolescent behavior was totally accepted by the Politie and all who passed. The tolerance that I felt in Amsterdam I felt here, too, and the more I looked, the more mellow the interactions I saw seemed.

Rumbling rail-way return

Den Haag may not be the most fun place to spend a long time, but it was certainly interesting to see. Most of all, it gave me the perspective of the Dutch while not being in Amsterdam, which is an important distinction I can now make.

(The conclusion of my day, including a frantic trip to the train station for reasons I will not mention, was not important nor relevant enough to describe here, in my “official” daily diary entry. However, if you stay tuned, it might appear in another medium or location.)

Finally, an important announcement: my netbook does not have the power to do video editing – it struggles with mere text editing, and I know from experience of creating dozens of movies with Windows machines that this would not hold up. However, I am more than happy to use UVA computers to produce a short video that I will post here, I just need some time when they are open (during the week) in order to do so. So, Rob, Clifford, your patience permitting, I will have to hold off on my video blog till I have substantial enough access to good technology. Thank you! I will be busy with it this week.


DJ Shadow

by Jenn RJ on 31 July 2010

Sabra, Avery, and I travelled out to Utrecht on Wednesday to see DJ Shadow.  Below are pictures of the show and his Shadowsphere!
DSCN4389 DSCN4390 DSCN4393 DSCN4414 DSCN4426 DSCN4427 DSCN4434 DSCN4436 DSCN4463 DSCN4542 DSCN4566 DSCN4572


Daily Diary

by Jenn RJ on 30 July 2010

Our lecture for Wednesday, July 28th focused on drug policy in the Netherlands.  It was interesting for me to learn more about the pragmatically based Dutch system, particularly when living somewhere like Seattle where the existing laws are coming into question.  Our lecturer, Jost (I believe this is the correct spelling, but I am not sure- his name was pronounced Yost), has a Philosophy background and is the president of a foundation promoting psychedelic research in the Netherlands; something that is not currently happening here but is being spearheaded by organizations like MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) which are mostly based out of the United States.

Jost gave us a brief overview of drug history in Amsterdam, then went into detail about coffeeshop policies, policies for personal possession, and then a bit about how the Netherlands handles hard drugs and issues of addiction.  He mentioned the Netherlands experiencing a similar experience to the United States through the 1960’s and 70’s, including a pivotal festival, much like Woodstock, in Rotterdam in 1970.  Plain-clothed officers were present at this festival and when they observed drug use but no other criminal activity, they made the decision to overlook the use and allow the festival to continue peacefully.  This was a conscious decision on the part of law enforcement, and it a larger part of the cultural pragmatism that we’ve heard other speakers mention as being a foundation of the way those in Dutch culture make decisions.  Jost also discussed what is called the “opportunity principle” which states that public prosecutors have the power to stop prosecution on a crime.  This is used in the Netherlands to allow for the prosecution of more serious crimes and minimize the cost to the public by avoiding prosecution costs in petty crimes.

The primary focus of drug policy in the Netherlands is harm reduction.  This means that drug policy is handled by the Department of Health rather than an organization like the DEA.  Within the last 20 years, laws surrounding the operation of coffee shops have been clarified, particularly after a 1994 report which cited nuisance problems and the criminal management that had started to develop within large, high volume shops.  At this time sale of alcohol and cannabis were required to be separated and the amount allowed for personal possession was reduced from 30 to 5 grams.  Shops were also then required to limit their stock on hand as well.  The latest paper on drug policy, drafted in 2009, indicates that efforts to reduce risk in this area have been successful; the country has only a 5% use rate compared to 15% in the United States.  This most recent paper focused much more heavily on the troubling rate of alcohol use among the nation’s youth- something that was found to be both increasing recently and more harmful than originally thought.

I found the grey area in which the coffeeshops are allowed to operate both interesting and a little disconcerting.  The laws seem intentionally vague in their terms and it is clear that the entire process necessary for running this type of business is not completely sanctioned.  It was interesting that the rules seems to allow for enough leeway for local government to have some choice in what type of presence coffeeshops are in their towns. While coffeeshops cannot be banned by local municipalities, decisions are made by the local mayor, prosecutor, and police about how many can exist and how regulations will be interpreted and enforced. 

I felt some sympathy for the challenge it must be for a small business owner running a coffeeshop.  I would imagine it is challenging for shop owners to exist in a heavily scrutinized and regulated, but also changeable business environment where stocking your business is in a legal grey area and there is not only operational risk, but also risk of theft and other crime.   A clear example of this is the laws surrounding “the back door” end of the business, or how coffeeshops get their supplies.  While it is legal for shops to have up to 500 grams at any one time, it is not legal to manufacture and sell cannabis products, especially in the large amounts that popular coffeshops may require.  This means that there is a legal grey area in which the police can and do choose go after large transactions, in spite of the fact that they may be intended for legally sanctioned shops.

Another very grey area is the rule around advertising.  No advertising is allowed, but how this is interpreted can vary greatly.  In past cases, being able to see a menu from the street was considered advertising, so many coffeeshops have menus upon request or a backlit box where a customer can push a button to light up the menu.  In my photography for this assignment, I was able to discreetly take a picture of an unlit menu box- you can see the “no phone” signs around it as well, which are meant to prevent you from taking a picture of the actual menu.

Jost also gave us some interesting background on how the supply process has changed over time as well.  Moves to target manufacturing created higher risk for smaller scale growers who previously contributed to coffeeshop stock.  A phone number was set up so that neighbors could report suspected growhouses and laws were changed to make it easier to evict those renters who were caught growing more than the legal limit.  This change meant higher risk for home growers and a shift to larger scale, criminal operations.  This change has meant that those producing coffeeshop stock are more focused on profits and quality has gone down.  In some cases plants have been found to have been treated with sugar water or glass particles in order to fool buyers about the quality of product.  As one can imagine, this has become a concern for public health but, because the government is not involved in manufacturing, there is currently no way to ensure quality or public saftey with things like this.

The Netherlands has also had challenges in border areas, where tourists would drive across the border to buy products illegal in their own countries.  This allowed for the development of large scale shops which have created nuisance and grown into quasi-criminal organizations; it has also created some tensions with bordering contries.

Laws surrounding the personal possession of drugs are also very different in the Netherlands than the United States.  Having under 5 grams of cannabis products is legal and under 30 grams you will only receive a small fine.  Posessing less than .5 gram of powdered substances is legal, as is possessing 4-5 hits of ecstasy, and, as mentioned before, growing under 5 plants is also allowed.  Some psychedelic products are also legal.  In 2008, after a large amount of negative press regarding problems with tourists taking psilocybin mushrooms, they were banned.  Prior to this they were widely sold in tourist shops.  While mushrooms themselves are banned, the truffles which grow underground are still legal and can be purchased from business called “smart shops.”

In reflecting on Jost’s talk, I found Greg’s posting and spent some time thinking about his question- how to handle the problem of harder drugs.  I don’t know that I have a good answer here but I do have a few thoughts.  As far as more addictive and debilitating substances, I don’t have an answer to that.  I do think the Dutch are doing something right in considering harm reduction the primary goal of policy.  It seems to me that there will always be people who, for whatever reason, are seeking the escape that harder, addictive drugs bring- this is what urban planners would call a “wicked problem.”  The attempt to solve just one piece of a complex problem like human addiction may reveal or create other problems along the same vein because of the complex nature of the problem.  Perhaps providing real addicts with a safe environment to take their drugs is a sorry solution overall, but, until we know how to better treat addiction, I think that this is better than leaving them with no help or support at all.   I also believe that the drug classification system as it exists is flawed; and to isolate more addictive drugs into their own legal category would be beneficial in protecting the public.  I would never support the decriminalization of heroin, for example, because of the high rate of addiction and the terrible effects that its use inflicts on people.  Those who produce and deal drugs like this should be criminally charged due to the harm they cause.  If drugs were handled through a health organization, as they are here in the Netherlands, perhaps we could develop a more appropriate framework of drug laws.    A system of individual assessment for each substance would also allow for some separation of things like psychedelics and methamphetamines, which carry very different risks to both the user and society as a whole.   While none of this addresses the deeper issue at hand, I do feel that we could learn a lot from this pragmatic policy of harm reduction.

Jost stressed a few points that I particularly appreciated; coffeeshops in the Netherlands are used by people of all walks of life- doctors, lawyers, and others enjoy these places, being a drug user does not make someone a criminal, a pragmatic system of harm reduction minimizes governmental cost and emphasizes personal responsibility, and a system of tolerance decreases the presence of related criminal activity and allows the government to monitor use to ensure public health.  Ultimately, the idea of a government system that focuses more on personal responsibility is appealing to me.  I am uncomfortable with the fact that I live in a place where the police chose to stop people for things like jaywalking in an empty street and ingesting relatively harmless substances like marijuana.  At Rob’s suggestion, I followed up the lecture with some related photography of some shops around Amsterdam, a few of which you can see here.

You can see the concealed menu on the right DSCN4607 Greenhouse and anonymous boys DSCN4606 DSCN4604 Wares



First Post in Amsterdam

by jennyabrahamson on 29 July 2010

Amsterdam has been treating me well. I especially love: biking, frequent coffee breaks, street markets, and “gezellig” – more on that later.

Apartment: Fantastic. Big windows. Filled with Ikea merchandise. Roommate: frequently absent.

The Group: Friendly people. Banana-grams is popular. Felt incredibly bad-ass biking through the city in a group 11-strong last night.

Rob & Clifford: Great great great. Always willing to lend their brainstorming skills and other talents. Have been incredibly patient while Rachel and I bang our heads against the wall crafting research questions. And, the structured content of the program thus far has been completely engaging.

My day: Rachel and I strolled through the Waterlooplein flea market, took the tram to the Jordaan neighborhood to pick up a book, drifted through a handful of cafes while mapped out our project, and then toured the canals with the St Nicolaas Boat Club – our guide Diego took us and ~10 others through the city while we snacked on apples, cookies, and beer while a native Minnesotian ground mint leaves for mojitos. Much more gezellig than the canal cruise we took on Tuesday!

We’re heading to Den Haag early in the morning, so should probably catch some shut eye. Will have to finish this post sometime tomorrow. Welterusten, iedereen


Gezellig (“heh-zell-ick”)

by racmccaf on 29 July 2010

Project update! My partner Jenny and I have wholeheartedly embraced the concept of “livability and imagability in Amsterdam” but have been taking it any and every direction possible. We presented our topic on Monday at a status update meeting with our whole group and had honed in on the concept of water transport in the city. At this point we had taken the ferry to Amsterdam-Noord and seen a lot of canal activity through tours, large and small, house boats, and recreational boating. We pitched the idea and seemed to convince ourselves and everyone this was the path we would take.

Fast forward to Tuesday, our first day of field research. We got a start at 10:30 a.m. and biked (getting anywhere from moderately to severely lost) to sign up for a St. Nicholas canal tour, a known small and intimate tour. We made it to Leidseplein, in the southwest area of the city, and began searching for the bar at which we could sign up. Even in the middle of the day, we could tell the area was the hotspot, come reasonable bar hopping hours, potentially before reasonable hours. We meandered around large trucks unloading case after case of beer and liquor and found a man wiping a table at a corner bar whom we would ask to point us in the right direction of Boom Chicago. “Do you know it?” we asked him of the bar, “Oh yes, yes, yes. Party every night!” and motioned down the street. After successfully signing our names up for a tour (still with the concept of water transport in mind), we continued on our search of a large canal cruise tour under a name I won’t bother trying to remember. This was a large, more commercial tour in a big covered boat that left every twenty minutes. We handed in our free student vouchers and boarded the cruise. This canal snooze had automated information in regards to various historical sights visible from the chosen route. The experience turned us upside down in terms of our study topic due to its being enormously unstimulating. We hopped on our bikes, heading towards Centraal Station to conduct some interviews on the ferries to Amsterdam-Noord, with a not-so-short-coffee-break-and-French-fry-stop at a cafe in Nieuwmarkt. We took a ferry to Ijpleinveer four or five times, interviewing one person per lag. Logistically the interviews were fantastic; it was the perfect

length of time to ask our questions and ideal spot to corner people with nothing else to do but answer our questions (provided they spoke English). However, we were finding the significance of the interviews and topic again, lacking.

After returning to the dorms around 5, we revisited the drawing board (and by board I mean the floor of Jenny’s room) until 9:00. We fleetingly flirted with the idea of looking into the way the IAmsterdam campaign creates and markets a brand for the city. Jenny happened to be reading an article on Boom Chicago’s website that spoke of “that Amsterdam something…” and described experiences like…sitting leisurely in a cafe sipping coffee (as opposed to grabbing a cup of joe on the go) or catching up with old friends while strolling along a canal (versus writing a hasty email on the way to work). These things are described using the dutch word “gezellig.” And so the birth of our new project began

Gezellig, according to wikipedia, depending on context, can be translated as cosy, fun, or quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness. The word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture.

The concept struck both Jenny and I the minute we read it. It was such an interesting combination of livability and imagability. After having browsed IAmsterdam, I was starting to draw correlations between the brand’s representation of love for Amsterdam, and the I Heart Oregon/Adoregon stickers that all Oregonians know, love, and have stuck to their a) bike, b) water bottle, c) journal, d) bumper, e) all of the above. It’s something non-Oregonians just don’t quite get, just as it is claimed the non-Dutch cannot fully comprehend the concept of “gezelligheid.”

This re-research process was bringing me back to ideas I had in the very beginning of things in the spring, but had had no idea how to articulate. I essentially wanted to look into how a sense of community and relation to place, town pride, if you will, could effect the city as a whole (perhaps specifically through transportation?) in regards to its livability.

Today was our second day entirely devoted to field research. Our plan to commence field work again at 10:30 a.m. blew up in our faces after a late night (spent partially at an improv comedy performance at Boom Chicago) last night causing us to send quick Skype messages around 11 proposing more sleep and postponement until 1 p.m. Our day consisted of: trams to the Jordaan English Bookshop to purchase The UnDutchables, sitting in a cafe on Prinsengracht to read the book aloud to each other, project planning over slices of apple pie at a bar a block or two down Prinsengracht, and the more intimate St. Nicholas canal tour at 7 p.m.

To make a long story short (which I must, due to the Benadryl pill I just took to calm my swelling bug bite, the fact that it’s creeping up on midnight and I must get up at the unholiest of hours tomorrow for our trip to Den Haag), Jenny and I have taken the concept of gezelligheid and are running with it. We want to look at what gezelligheid means to the local people, how does it manifest itself in Dutch culture in Amsterdam? We want to use it as a framing device when we look at transportation (pedestrian, bicycle, tram, ferry, and canal) in the city. We then plan to use our findings to discuss the effect of the gezellig vibe of coziness leading to the establishment of a sense of place, which in turn leads to an inherent sustainable lifestyle…and a livable city!

I continue to enjoy the city–its tricky sidewalks, countless cafes, STROOPWAFELS (especially aside my cafe latte with sugar OR covered with chocolate sauce…thanks Greg!), and general weed-y smokiness. I am fond of my classmates–Jenny and I continue to unintentionally dress alike, Bananagrams continues to make its appearance at the picnic tables in the courtyard, and the group is loosening up together and with our professors. I am learning that though it sometimes still feels like it, not everyone is attempting to kill me while I try and bike. I am slowly but steadily, and finally, familiarizing myself…getting less lost. And I am excited to be working on a project that will cause me to investigate a feeling of collective cultural euphoria. Huzzah.


Gezellig (“heh-zell-ick”)

July 29, 2010

Project update! My partner Jenny and I have wholeheartedly embraced the concept of “livability and imagability in Amsterdam” but have been taking it any and every direction possible. We presented our topic on Monday at a status update meeting with … Continue reading

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Amsterdam: A New Experience Around Every Corner

July 29, 2010

I love to run when traveling, and of all the places and cities I’ve been Amsterdam has provided the most interesting and memorable running experience. I think this ad from Pearl Izumi summarizes it nicely: It has a positive outlook to it and almost makes you proud to be a runner. From experience, I’m now […]

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Dealing with Drugs

July 28, 2010

This morning we had a lecture / conversation about drug policy in the Netherlands. In keeping with my decision to write at least one post per day, I wanted to get out some thoughts on the topic while they are … Continue reading

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Writing and Activation Energy

July 28, 2010

I haven’t been blogging much since arriving in Amsterdam. Why the failure? In any case, it is the failure thus far that provides the minimum of energy required to now begin. I have decided on one post per day – … Continue reading

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Daily Diary – July 26

July 27, 2010

Jewish Historical Museum & Walking Tour Our day began at the Jewish Historical Museum at the corner of Nieuwe Amstelstraat and A.S. Onderwijzerhof.  This location also marks what is considered the former Jewish neighborhood, an area that was marsh land on the outskirts of the expanding city.  The museum is currently housed in four former […]

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Beginning of Map Infrastructure

July 26, 2010

Here is the beginning of our google maps infrastructure:

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New Revised Research Question post-arrival

July 25, 2010

Our new research question presented this week on July twenty-second has already undergone multiple revisions. This question was: How does a bicycling population affect the developing infrastructure of Amsterdam specifically in the relationship between the inner and out city. We decided to drop the topic of public health because seeing the city first hand made […]

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Research Methods

July 25, 2010

Revised Research Question: What is the difference in the bicycling infrastructure between the inner and outer city? Methods Count bicycle traffic Morning and evening rush hour Various distances away from Centraal Station Create graphic/map showing most heavily trafficked areas Map bicycle lanes Inner city/outer city Compare bicycle lane construction Transit time Compare the time it […]

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Daily Diary 7/23 Friday

July 25, 2010

Here’s a video of Friday’s travels: Short Summary Today was day four of our expedition in Amsterdam and we were fortunate to have Rob Corser’s experience and knowledge to lead us today. In a short summary, we traveled to the Eastern Docklands and more specifically Java eiland. Rob led us on a tour of the […]

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7 days

July 25, 2010

Let this post officialize my existence in Amsterdam for one whole week. I got in last Sunday around this time and I am still here: alive, happy, healthy, eating some delicious cheese I bought at Noordermarkt yesterday with Jenny and Clifford. The market was great, a lot like Pike Place or Saturday Market in Portland. [...]

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7 days

July 25, 2010

Let this post officialize my existence in Amsterdam for one whole week. I got in last Sunday around this time and I am still here: alive, happy, healthy, eating some delicious cheese I bought at Noordermarkt yesterday with Jenny and … Continue reading

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July 24, 2010

In planning for our trip- I was hopeful that I could see at least one great live act.  Now it looks like I will have my choice of a ton of great shows.  Somehow, I just keep discovering new options!!  Recent discoveries, in case anyone is interested, are: 7-29 George Clinton at Paradiso  – Here […]

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Daily Diary Thursday 7/22

July 24, 2010

We started off our day meeting at nine in the morning in the courtyard. We were all a but tired and some of us were recovering from the trauma of an episode with burnt toast but we managed to make our way over to the Virtual Knowledge Studio. The Virtual Knowledge Studio (VKS) is an […]

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Daily Diary

July 22, 2010

Wednesday 7/21 What an interesting day on which to be assigned a daily diary entry. Our Wednesday activities mainly included a lecture on the de-stigmatization of prostitution by Jan Visser and a tour of the Red Light District by Mariska Majoor. A main goal of Jan Visser’s ( is to “give prostitutes a better place [...]

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Daily Diary

July 22, 2010

Wednesday 7/21 What an interesting day on which to be assigned a daily diary entry. Our Wednesday activities mainly included a lecture on the de-stigmatization of prostitution by Jan Visser and a tour of the Red Light District by Mariska … Continue reading

Read the full article →