Voetbal = Football = Soccer

1 hour ago, the Netherlands advanced to the final of the FIFA world cup. That's "the superbowl of soccer" to those of you in the USA. They've not been here since 1978, and have never won. As we speak the country is mobilizing from pleasantly surprised at defeating powerhouse Brazil, to full tilt shock and awe. The Hoogstraat below my window is coming alive at midnight and it's a beautiful thing to watch.

Tomorrow will decide if the final game is against
- Spain: William of Orange's defeat of the Spanish in ~1570 ensured that the color orange would be a permanent part of the dutch team uniform

- Germany: WW2 war ended in 1945 about a 3 minute walk from my home. Historic animosity run surprisingly deep due to a mix of family level WW2 tensions and a historically stronger football team


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In that match, my loyalties are biased by the Berliner named Gaby I've been very happily dating for months. The photos speak for her beauty, but do not capture that she is a laboratory scientist who is comfortable booting a linux laptop to debug a classifier she wrote in C code, or the myriad more personal ways we connect.

Despite her diehard loyalties, on Sunday I'm pulling for Oranje. But it doesn't much matter since I'll be on a train from Paris during the final game. Tomorrow I'm off to EuroSciPy.

Today I learned 2 other things I'm proud enough to share:

While Wageningen is a very international city and English is quite sufficient, I'm trying to learn the Dutch language. Today I received notice that I've passed Dutch Level 2, and will be able to start Level 3 in the fall.

Despite my last blog post, I was able to make it to BioIT World in time for my talk. I got 2 perfect 4.0s on my presentation for content and delivery.



And life is grand
And I will say this at the risk of falling from favor
With those of you who have appointed yourselves
To expect us to say something darker
And love is real
And though I realize this is not a deep observation
To those of you who find it necessary
To conceal love or obscure it, as is the fashion

life is grand
Camper van beethoven


Lastly, while now no longer fresh news. I saw Rage Against the Machine play in Arnhem a few weeks ago. Jane's Addiction was an opening act, as was Gogol Bordello. The last time I saw RATM I was half my age, and it made the sort of impression on me that I can honestly say shaped my life for a few years that followed. They recaptured all of that, and built a time machine on stage.

For all of this, I am grateful to the kindness of the universe.

Iceland Intervenes

cariaso@Skógafoss
cariaso@Skógafoss
1 year ago I was leaving BioIT World 2009, visiting Iceland, and moving to the Netherlands. Today at 2pm I was supposed to fly from the Netherlands, to Boston, for BioIT World 2010. But there are no flights. Iceland has intervened.

Iceland was beautiful. I drove a loop around the whole country. A bit rushed, but it gave me the chance to see some less visited sites and explore a true wilderness. Iceland's scenery is amazing because it is so raw. You look at cliffs and think, that can't be real it wouldn't hold on. Pause a little longer, a you will see that you are right, as grains of black sand fall away.

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The photo above is taken from the road at this spot in front of the Vatnajökull. This spot, more than any other, triggered a phrase that I kept repeating during the rest of my visit - "Iceland: Nature's most beautiful work-in-progress". It gave the sensation of standing below a dam which has broken. A wall of water rushes at you, and this is that last sight moments before the wall hits you. But this wall of white water is frozen, and moving at truly glacial speeds.

I have a suspicion that this volcano is not mere chance. The Icelanders are a hardy, proud, and slightly crazy bunch. They've been left holding MUCH MORE than their fair share of the recent global credit crisis. When it all fell apart, they were surprised how little support they were given by the rest of Europe. Buying power is relative, and perhaps inflicting some pain on europe really does lessen the Icelandic debt burden. I suspect in exchange for €50,000 per Icelandic resident they can call off the volcano by tomorrow.


I'm disappointed to not be at the conference. Best wishes to the friends I will not meet.

preNeda

Internet access was cut hours after journalist Kenji Nagai was shot and killed on video by a Burmese soldier. A human rights group with a modest budget wants to know how best to ensure discreet internet access while inside during upcoming elections. I'm inclined to suggest one of these inmarsat BGAN boxes for realtime and lots of truecrypted thumbdrives for bulk media. But I hope the net can provide actual experience or better ideas. Please pass this on to your geeks. cariaso@gmail.com

Where am I?

I was surprisingly bad about blogging this last trip. That's partly because I was making a presentation about it when I got back, and I didn't want to give away too much in advance. Well I've done that now, so I can share the slides. Naturally they need the narration for the full effect, but it'll have to do.

So you might assume I'm back in the states now. If so, you don't know me very well. Instead I've lined up a job with KeyGene, and am now en route to my new home, the Netherlands. But this isn't the TSP so there is no need to find the shortest path. I've instead taken the train from Boston to DC, then drove to visit my folks in North Carolina, then headed out west to take one long look at the land that I love (often from a distance) and the friends who fill her. Since this is a move, not a trip, I'm carrying more than usual.

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I'm now in Iceland, where I'll spend 10 days. But of course Iceland isn't about the days, it about the nights and the nightlife. Ironically their nights look like days. They tell me its got something to do with the earth being a sphere and wobbling like a drunk, which seems plausible.



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The weather has been wonderful, the locals are colorful and friendly. Global economic problems have hit here harder than most place which has made this visit more affordable than it usually would be. As always, I'm actually working quite a lot while here. I expect to be a bit better about blogging, but I'm nearly always online and happy to chat. If we haven't talked in a while, drop an email and say hello.

(no subject)

The major upgrades this time are WiFi which now covers every inch of the facilities, pr0n filtering via opendns, new machines, and lots of networking voodoo. Programming classes continued, but eventually we switched from Python to Scratch. I've avoided blogging too much about that since it overlaps with my upcoming presentation 'Technology without Borders: Teaching Programming and Internet Skills in Rural South East Asia' at BioIT World.

But the riveting details of overland travel are fair game for an overdue blog post. This trip started in Cambodia, moved through Thailand, and frequently crossed over into Burma. The fact that I even swam to Burma once has got to be some sort of milestone. Hopefully that sounds exotic, since the reality is that I rarely saw anything more than 1 hour away from Mae Sot. The only real exception to that was a week each in Ko Phayam and Pai during my 'What Breaks? Break'. That is when I hit the road to find out what stops working when I leave. Then I come back, and my remaining time is spent ensuring that it doesn't happen again when I really leave.

What broke was internet connectivity and that is my single biggest concern. Network monitoring and near daily chats with students confirm that it has stayed up since my real departure. After graduation it was time to go, but having come this far I wanted to see a bit more of the region. After a few days tubing the 4000 islands of the Mekong river in Don Det, Laos, I finally set foot in Vietnam. I've been catching up on hot showers and internet work among the tailors of Hoi-An. Later today I'll head to the rice paddies and Karst scenery of Nimh Binh, just outside Hanoi. From there I'm off to Seoul to meet Hongiiv. By April 18th I'll pass though DC before presenting up in Boston.

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P1010010,
originally uploaded by cariaso.
Today was a good day. A possible funding source came by, and was pleased to see the work happening here. They seem eager to push forward more internet resources, as well as supporting the schools more broadly. AcademicEarth.org seems promising, and dovetails nicely with last week's lessons about using youtube to learn photoshop, guitar, etc. Today we ripped into some of the dead hardware, and showed that the CPU isn't the box under your desk, and even salvaged RAM.