Easter Music

It has been a while. Finally got the time to write something. Easter holidays yay!!!

Bach’s passions are very popular in the Netherlands during Easter. Did not realise how popular it was even though I played in a St. Matthew’s Passion last year. This year, with more observations and understanding Dutch a bit better, I start to realise it’s really something special. It seems every major city in the Netherlands has at least some ensembles that do it a few times in March, and it’s very frequently on the radio. Te gek!

Yesterday, and the week before, like last year, I was playing in St. Matthew’s passions in Utrecht and Amsterdam, Geerteskerk and Dominicuskerk. And with the invitation from a colleague, I also went to a service + Johanna’s passion in Westerkerk. Viola de gamba, viola d’amore, theorbo, all these unique sounds which we do not hear all that often…  Lots of good memories. Good relaxation after the paper deadline…

The music is beautiful. Heel mooi. Got some pleasant earworms from all the arias now…

The Spring is coming. More posts are coming. Passion, see you next year! Gelukkig Pasen!

Writing on paper, writing on ipad and type, data gathering

This discussion came up when I was chatting with a friend. Leaving out the technical reasons, why do some people like writing and some people like typing? How about writing on iPad?

And trying to write a journal paper now, sometimes my mind just escape to think about the behaviour of writing rather than what I’m writing now…

It’s harder to erase on paper. My friend says.

I didn’t notice this before, but it’s very true. It’s probably many people’s reason to use paper. Mine also includes the low cost, the creativity given by the physical world, the safety of device-free decoding, and the pure satisfication of joggin up muscle memory of tracing lines and curves on paper.

For communication purposes, I use standardised typing. Either it’s communication across time or across space, the standards deliver the information more efficiently.

Writing on iPad is the newest here. It saves space, creates data. Similar to write + photo. Great for post processing.

It’s a matter of habits; it’s a matter of encoding + decoding. It always gets complicated when there’s a new tool, a new paradigm.

What are you using for writing? And which one do you prefer?

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Moved to a new apartment & A walk in De Bilt and Bilthoven

Moved on 13 Nov to De Bilt. Just took a walk for the first time in the neighborhood. Now finally it feels like less of a foreign place. Cute bookstores, bakeries, chocolatiers, and a supermarket where they sell Mozartkugel!!

Four years ago, I would have never imagined that I would move so many times in my life. Beijing -> Shandong -> Warwick Uni -> Temp places -> Paris -> Temp places -> Rochester -> Temp places -> Utrecht -> Temp places -> De Bilt.  Let alone that there are probably many to come.

But I think my experience is growing and I’m getting more used to it. Planning ahead is important; it is also crucial to not get too stressed about: we seem to be generally good at adapting. I would see it as similar to moving data. Good to learn a thing or two from the physical world in the process.

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Opera La bohème in Amsterdam

Last night, it was my second time in Nationale Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam.

Puccini’s La Boheme:


The production was great! Adapted to a modern stage setting, the story developed with great music from the orchestra and the singers. There were happy moments and sad moments. The painter, the poet, the musician and the philosopher; the reality, the laughter, the love, the jealousy, and many more.  Time goes by so fast.

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Trying to get WiFi at home with T-Mobile Thuis.nl

I never imagined it would be so hard to get WiFi at home in the Netherlands. In the US, it took me about a week; In the Netherlands, it’s been a month!!! And there have been more than 10 phone calls ranging from 5-30 mins long. It has been a long haul.

Sorry this is going to be a complaint post. But this experience (on-going) is teaching me something (communication system in the real-world, and patience, mostly). The moral of the story being: the information is too distributed that nobody seems to know what’s going on, at least there’s no way for the customer to know what is going on exactly.


Hopefully some information could be helpful for someone else out there…

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Blood donation in the Netherlands

Blood donation came up in a casual conversation with friends. I’ve done it a few times in China and UK. Now it’s time to do something good again! So I registered online, got a phone call for a check up appointment, and went there on 26/06/2017.

In the appointment, as usual, you have to fill out a form with all the questions pertaining to the quality of your blood (disease, travels, health issues, etc.). Everything was fine till this point but unfortunately my iron level was too low on that day (7.7/7.8). The doctor said I need to wait till 3 months later to come for a checkup again and donate blood. (Never happen in other countries!)

That’s also why I’m writing this post now! I got the notice 26/09/2017 and went there 27/09/2017. This time I passed the iron and blood pressure test barely (7.9/7.8). It was late after work (around 7:30pm) and I’m surprised by how many people were still there! Lots of good-hearted people in the country! Everyone was full of smiles 😀

The doctor very kindly suggested a cup of soup before the donation. Champignons flavour!

I walked out of there a little after 9pm. With cookies of course 😛

It’s funny the doctors are so different in blood donation. The procedures and equipments vary slightly too. Good to have the experience!

After blood giving, I know I shouldn’t move too much. But I still challenged myself to some sports (as always). I didn’t push myself too hard this time so it was ok.

Now two days later, I feel like there’s something working up in my brain that makes my thinking different from before the blood donation: calmer and even more active with new thoughts perhaps? It’s a funny contradictory feeling… And I’d say it’s a good thing!

Lots and lots of spinach now!

In Hawaii

I can’t believe that I procrastinated almost a year to get this post done.

It has been in the draft forever. But I seldomly delete any drafts because I want to get them done, even though the quality won’t be so high… this thinking might be wrong ..

Anyway, here’s we I can remember (including the parts I’ve written before):

I have been resistant in writing traveling blogs, but this place encouraged me to write something enormously.

The conference was very nice, but then I realised there’re many nice things in addition to the conference!

Some places I visited on the main Island include:

Beaches, of course, beautiful sunsets, surfing, walking on the water, feeling the sea breeze

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Shopping districts: went to some malls to get essentials and have a look at local goods. And the tax rate is lower!

Pearl Harbour: went to a submarine. The whole tour needs a whole day and have to be booked in advance.

Hawaiian zoo: not very impressive. Saw a chimp playing with plastics. Could be dangerous…

The dinasour bay: snorkling was great, lots of pretty fish in the shadow water area. Even when it’s raining, there was something to see. First time got “rescued”.

The diamond head: good walk towards the top. Saw a rainbow on the way back.

It was definitely a mistake not renting a car at the beginning. Driving on the coast route on the island was great!

Met some good friends and enjoyed good food. That’s about it!