Animecon @ Den Haag

First animecon in the Netherlands. The size is not as the one in Paris but still a pretty decent and cosy size. This time I couldn’t make it to the over-night sessions, but maybe next year, it looks fun!

My targets were originally the workshops and karaoke. It was nice to talk to people in the venue, too. A happy surprise was to see music improvisation at the venue. It’s just a good place to make some connections with people sharing some same interests.

Some photos!

Meet up groups in the Netherlands

Meet up groups are so vibrant in the Netherlands!

Here’re a few I’ve been to already:

Japanese Speaking in Utrecht:

Data Science in Utrecht:

Language Cafe in Utrecht:

Artificial Intelligence Deep Learning in Amsterdam:

Amsterdam Data Science:

There’s another one. Not really a meet up group but has that kind of feeling to it:

Manga kissa:

Some pics from the Language Cafe in Utrecht and the Artificial Intelligence Deep Learning in Amsterdam:

Every one of them had 10-200 participants! It’s a good thing that we meet new people in the groups, hear new stories, and learn new things or just become motivated to learn new things. Stay motivated!



I was very into drawing once when I was in high school. I tried to draw and paint more when I was in the US. But a lack of time is always the issue…

It would simply be a waste to not use my big iPad and apple pencil to draw something though. So, with little time, I learnt a little bit of how to use

It’s fun to learn how to control the hand, how to figure out the ratios of things, how the digital tools can mimic reality.

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Colouring is relaxing, too. But sometimes even harder. Maybe more on that in another post.

And unfortunately, I still can’t draw out of nothing (well, I can, but the results are terrible)…

Playing music in Utrecht

It’s been a few month since I got to Utrecht. The main music playing place I’ve been to so far is They offer many interesting music, arts, and dance courses which I might give it a try next term. But the sound proof there is terrible!!! The big rooms upstairs are better. But still not great. Missing Eastman practice rooms….

I’ve also been to HKU to play in a band of my office mates, which was a lot of fun! But HKU seems to be exclusive for their enrolled students. Need more infiltration 😛

The first ensemble I joined was the Baroque ensemble, Kunstorkest, at Parnassos. Simple pieces with Baroque playing style: that’s the goal here. But unfortunately the rehearsal time coincide with the only Irish session in town… what should I do..

I also went to a Balfolk session once. Had a fun time there learning tunes by ear. And subsequently I went to a Balfolk dance session, which was even more fun (another post maybe?)

From the Kunstorkest, I got to know another temporary group. We had a concert in Amsterdam in Easter. I met more people in this group, and hopefully can find more chance to play.

Apart from the violin, I joined a women’s choir, Medusa. We sing all kinds of songs, have all kinds of activities: surprise events, rehearsal weekend on a dutch farm, etc. (Kunstorkest weekend rehearsal was in a dutch kindergarden :D)

One thing surprised me though is that people here normally pay for (not getting paid!) joining a choir or an orchestra. I also heard about the cutting of funding for music and arts in the Netherlands. There might be some correlation there…

Ad time: I’m actively looking for chamber music groups and other ensembles 😀 Please let me know if you need a violin player who can fiddle and sing a little too 😛


Art Museums and Stendhal syndrome

Stendhal syndrome, Stendhal’s syndrome, hyperkulturemia, or Florence syndrome is a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to an experience of great personal significance, particularly viewing art.

This past year, I’ve experienced this syndrome many times, mostly from going to art museums (e.g. Philly Bernes’ foundation, Boston fine art, NYC MOMA and Metropolitan, Seattle modern art and fine art, Chicago fine art, Bruxelles, Paris Louvre and Pompidou, London Tate, etc. )  plus museums of instruments, museums of pop culture, museums of science and technology, planetariums, aquariums, etc.

Let’s start with arts and leave others for another time. Here are some of my favourites:

I like surrealism the most. It’s always interesting to interpret them which usually gives people a new awareness and perspective of a personal or social problem.  Impressionism paintings are very beautiful and I enjoy standing back and forth in front of the painting just try to see what’s actually on the painting and what we see. I also have a soft spot for painting about instruments or musicians. Exhibitions with new experimental materials also drew me in.

I remember the first time I went to an art exhibition is when I was about 15. I was disappointed by the random strokes and abstract shapes (it was a modern art exhibition :P). I clearly remembered that I thought (and probably as many other people would have thought): I can do that kind of scribble too. But the truth is, 10 years later, I haven’t even attempt any “serious” scribble and I can’t even find a daily life scribble which I want to present to someone else. And then it hit me, not only the technics, also the reason why “the scribble” exists, why it is here on this wall, is something interesting.


I interviewed a violinist who said the museums are her favourite places to go. It cultures sensitivity. The reason I tried the first few pricy museum was because of her words actually. But it’s so addictive!  Museums are one of my favourite places to go when I got to a new city now 🙂 Going to the ones in Netherlands soon!

I don’t draw nor paint very much myself, either have I learnt any art history. So I hope my thinking is not on the “wrong” side. But I’ll definitely try to draw some more (maybe even post them sometimes yeah). And some other realisations might come in the future!

Arriving in the Netherlands

Ok, after my trip to Long Island, Boston, Rochester, Chicago, Denver, Seattle and Beijing, now I’m finally in Utrecht!

It’s been two weeks since I’m here in this cute little city. It’s not my first time here: the last time was five years ago, in 2012! I’m living in the same building I was staying back then. Lots of memories.

But anyway, the most exciting thing is that a new direction, functional programming, is going to be added to my current music informatics research. After two weeks of meeting new people, taking a new course, reading new papers in this field, I’m very intrigued. There’re definitely lots of mathematics involved. And one has to learn a different way of thinking and programming. I can’t integrate the functional programming ideas in my work yet, but I’m definitely excited to see what would come out when that happens.

Besides research, I have joined a local Baroque ensemble, went to Zumba classes, jammed a little with office mates, drew and coloured some stuff, chatted with fellow international students, etc. One disappointment is that the practice room and the courses provided are not regulated well at Parnassos, the Utrecht University’s cultural centre (probably will write a complaint post about his haha). But I would be unfair to compare everywhere with Eastman I guess 😛


I think I’m getting to the point where I’m not too surprised when something didn’t go as I imagined how it would go. I will analyse it, compare it to the best I’ve seen, to the worst I’ve seen, figure out why it happened and how to prevent or try to make it happens again. And keep focused. I hope it’s a good thing.