Tuesday, August 29, 2006

You're sucking my bandwidth...

by Lisa.

Today was the day of the much-anticipated EASST conference. After months of preparation and wonderment about the mysterious nature of the VKS, the Conference, collaborative e-research, and the much-loved Dr. Paul Wouters, we finally joined our forces to put together a truly engrossing presentation about the “Paradox and Progress” of urban life in Amsterdam. For probably the first time since the founding of the Honors Group in Amsterdam, we ALL managed to wake up, get dressed in presentation-appropriate clothes, and get out the door on time. In fact, we arrived at EASST early and had plenty of time to find our conference room and get everything situated. We all had our presentations ready and when 8:30 came around, no one was in the audience. To save us all the humiliation of presenting for ourselves for the 5011 time, we decided to hold off our starting time until some people came. Before long, we had a small audience gathered to hear about the exciting city of Amsterdam. After being introduced by Paul, Clifford, and Julie, Kathleen officially started our presentation. Each group did a great job presenting and we ended with time to spare for a question and answer session with the audience. The audience seemed intrigued by the nature of our teaching and research combination and impressed by the quality of our short-term research. One man even stood up to compliment us on our cross-cultural understanding and told us he was truly touched by our work. I think all of us were thrilled to get such positive feedback—especially when we were anticipating deferring grueling questions to Paul. With the feeling of relief, we left our presentation room to take group pictures.

Once we finished group pictures, Shane, Tim, Erika, Kathleen, and I went to take advantage of free wireless internet and finish our Wikis like truly dedicated honors students. While we simultaneously worked on putting final touches on our Wikis and uploading our newest pictures to flickr, Erika exclaimed to all of us that we were “sucking her bandwidth,” consequently slowing down her flickr updates. We all laughed and decided it was time to be done with work and have some fun on our last night in Lausanne. Once we got back, Shane, Erika, and I walked around Lausanne to find some much deserved gifts for our fearless instructors Clifford and Julie. On our way around the city, we stopped at the Cathedral and saw the sights of Lausanne. Once we got back, we shared some fabulous bottles of wine before heading off to our last group dinner. Our final dinner was bittersweet in its nature as we were all excited to be done but sad to leave each other. We had a great time celebrating and eating far too much cheese fondue for our own good. After dinner, we headed home down the long, steep hill and enjoyed one final night together.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Then There Was Cheese...

Friday August 25 I woke up and had breakfast of coffee, juice, and a fresh apple tart from the corner Boulangerie. Then Chris, Engy and I walked to the train station to catch a train to Veytaux-Chillon to tour the Castle of Chillon. On the way to the train station, I stumbled upon a "G-string stand" (where travelers can stock up on thong underwear) which was new to me (and very funny), but perhaps normal in this different culture...anyway, the castle environment was stunning...Lake Geneva was clear and expansive, surrounded by mountains and vibrant flowers. The castle, from the 12th and 13th century, was very cool to see as it was my first one. The tour was well organized and I enjoyed exploring, especially seeing the crypt and climbing around between each chamber. It felt surreal, like a movie set. Several paragliders were visible in the sky during our time there, doing somersaults in the air. We saw a couple of swans and a really cute miniature brown lizard enjoying the sun on the way out- of course, stopping to browse the ultra-touristy shop there before our departure!

And then, there was cheese...we headed to Gruyeres on a fancy train with plush green material on the seats, gold trim, and tables that folded down so we played a game of "Go Fish" on the way (Chris won). Beautiful scenery from the train! I felt like there were about ten different shades of green among all the hills, trees, and little lakes we saw. The landscape was ripe with brown, black and white cows. We arrived at Gruyeres and immediately purchased a late lunch of fresh bread, cheese, and salami. One of the best cheeses I have ever tasted in my life! We went on a cheese tour which was actually geared toward young children ages 6-12 (nice of them to leave that piece of info out)...the audio tour was told from the perspective of a very silly female British cow named Cherry. One of my favorite bits was her saying "Hot, isnt it? Just like when the milk comes out of my udder- all warm and frothy! It takes 400 liters of milk to make a 35 kilo cheese!!" I did learn that cows have four stomachs, so I guess the tour was worth it!

Finally we headed back to Lausanne for the group BBQ with Paul. On the way, I found an interesting beverage- iced tea with Swiss cannabis flavor- which I quickly consumed without any unfortunate side effects (or any pleasant ones, for that matter!). The group dinner was fun, and we gave Paul a card and bottle of scotch with our thanks and appreciation. Went to bed early to get enough rest. What a lovely Friday in Switzerland!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

First Day of EASST

by Engy

Today was our second day in beautiful Laussane, and our first day at the conference. We planned to be there early; attend the opening sessions and decide on all the other sessions we were interested in. It was a perfect sunny day; we had a good night sleep, and were so thankful Lindsey figured out how to get to the conference, bus tickets and all. Rebecca and I walked to a wonderful Boulangerie and had by far the best croissants in a long long time. We walked back to the hostel all happy and ready to start the day.

Now I want you to imagine a picture of the view from our balcony....I've been trying to post pictures on blogger for ever from Starbucks!! The network is so slow for some reason, maybe because it's free. Anyway, I have a lot of beautiful pictures for the whole day that I will gladly post when I get home. I even tried uploading them to flickr, but still it didn't work. I apologize for the boring post, but I guess there's no other way around it....

Then again, I take it back! I'm sitting here at the conference the very last day after we presented.....I feel wonderful, and you all rocked!! That's why I decided to try and upload my pictures, it worked!!

Now back to the conference.. Kathy, Lacey, Belinda, and Aaron also decided to join us to the conference. We all had to buy tickets to get the bus; it was a little challenging as both machines needed the exact change. Kathleen tried and put a 5 frank coin, got a ticket, but unfortunately didn’t get her change back…oh well, we finally all got on the bus and asked the driver if he can help us find the stop we needed. He didn’t speak any English, but signed to us that he will let us know when it’s time to get off. Two minutes later he stopped the bus and got off, we thought maybe they’re switching busses or something, but then he started telling us to get off the bus, which we obediently did and followed him. He crossed the street and literally showed us where to catch the train!! We could not believe how nice he was, and the best part is that people waited patiently in the bus until he climbed back up! By now we all were in love with Switzerland and all the Swiss, for their hospitality, willingness to help, and of course we can’t forget about the incredible chocolates they make!! I would definitely recommend Lindt with pistachios to everyone….give it a try and you’ll know what I mean!

The train ride was nice, short, and we arrived right in front of the University of Laussane. It is a pretty contemporary campus with a lot of separate buildings, but signage for the conference was very clear with arrows directing to sessions’ rooms, welcome room and internet access. We all got the information packet and sat outside looking through all the goodies we got. The view was amazing as usual, and very relaxing. It was a good incentive to go get something to drink and sit in the sun until the opening session started. We also realized that they started serving lunch early. Demi and Lindsey came back with incredible salad plates that made us all go get our own. When we first got to the conference there weren’t many people at all, but of course by lunch time it got very crowded and we could definitely tell it was a much bigger conference than we thought.

The main conference room was pretty big and had three huge screens, I couldn’t stop thinking whether we’ll be presenting in the same room or not. It sure would be a little scary to speak in front of so many people. Anyways, I decided to not worry about it for now and see what the presenters would do first. After the welcome from the program committee, it was time for “Reviewing Humanness”, the plenary session by:

Dominique Pestre (Social Science professor), from Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris. He talked for a long time about the broad picture of what Studies of Science, Technology and Society (STS) is all about. He discussed the relations between science, politics, and the market, what makes knowledge, and how to positively talk about it, and finally what were the various and multifaceted connections between science, politics, and democracy.Despite the depth of the material, I have to say it was very long, difficult to follow, and even boring, as he just read from his paper. His slides were also very long and had a lot of text; a fact we were specifically taught not to do at the ischool.

The next presenter was Michael Hagner from the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. His talk was about the history of mind reading. I thought, great, here’s an interesting topic that would definitely wake me up! It went well, but I kept waiting for the slides….then I realized there was none. He again kept reading from his notes, and also was talking about a lot of theory that definitely needed some visuals and text to help digest it. Funny as it is, I was feeling pretty good about our presentation, and that we probably would do just fine compared to the plenary sessions at least. We all have solid slides, interesting visuals, and have actually practiced talking in front of an audience, plus of course the fact that our topics are really much more interesting and diverse than mind reading, and the definitions of modernity.

After a much needed sun break, Kathleen, Rebecca and I headed to the next session in room 315. We were a little tired by now, but were very interested in this session as it was all about using social network analysis for researching web communities. So it was like combining both Kathleen’s research topic with our strategy for analysis. To cut the story short, we were not satisfied with these presentations either. Four presenters in a row had major weaknesses in their research. One had no research to start with, and was not at all knowledgeable of his own topic; the next presenter at least had legible slides, but again despite the novelty of his research could not keep us engaged. We were now looking out the window at the beautiful weather, and wondering what would it have been like to nap in the Montbenon Park like we did the day before!!

I just have to mention that this picture of Kathleen and Rebecca was taken before the plenary session even started, hence the great feeling of excitment and sheer happiness!!

The following presenter was from Italy, he obviously did a lot of research and came up with a lot of conclusions, but his charts were so many and very hard to read that he got us totally confused. We thought it was probably a combination of bad acoustics in the room, his Italian accent, and again the vagueness of his research to an extent.It was 5:30 and we were all definitely ready to go home.

We got on the train and decided to walk home instead of taking the bus. I guess we just wanted as much sun exposure as we could, knowing that we missed the entire day!! We stopped by a small grocery, got some amazing olives, hummus, babaganoush, fresh bread, cheese and some incredibly tasty dates. We joyfully sat in the garden, devoured pretty much everything we bought, and chatted with Melissa, Shilpa, and Lindsey. It was a great feeling of being finally home….definitely the highlight of the day!!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

19.08.2006 Utrecht and Amsterdam

By Shane Richards
Our plan for the last Saturday in The Netherlands was a day trip to Utrecht. The trip was optional, but a large group of about 15 people decided to check out Kathleen's old hometown. We met in the courtyard at 10 am and "hoofed it" to the train station. It was an absolutely beautiful morning, we actually saw the sun before 3 in the afternoon! We caught the 10:30 train to Utrecht and arrived at about 11:15. The train tracks to Utrecht were on a dike so we could see an elevated canal on one side of the train and farmland that was about 10 feet lower on the other side. Good thing the Dutch know their dikes.
Upon arrival in Utrecht, a group of us tried to find the bike rental shop. After asking around and finally getting close, we ran into the expert, Kathleen, who showed us where we wanted to go. Kathleen, Erika, Lisa, Tim, Colin, Aarron, and I rented bikes and decided to bike to a nearby park to avoid the massive confusion in downtown Utrecht.
On the way to the park, we stopped off at the Albert Heijn to buy some picknicking supplies. We arrived at the Koningen Wilhemin park after a short 5 minute bikeride. We found a nice sunny spot in the park and laid out our lunches. While we ate, a large group of men showed up to play a pickup game of soccer. After lunch, we played a seven person game of 31 (the card game). Colin was the big winner, and Aarron and Kathleen enjoyed learning the game that has provided so much entertainment for a bunch of us since we've been here. Kathleen left us and we followed her advice by biking a short distance out of town so we could bike through the countryside.
We found a mainstreet and followed it for about a mile out of town. We found some beautiful little cottages with backyards full of flowers and even fields of corn! Lost and map-less, we continued exploring until we found this beautiful tree-lined road with no trespassing signs out front (we think, they were in Dutch). We ignored the advice of the sign and biked to the end of the street. After posing for a photograph, we decided it was a good idea to start heading back. After re-entering Utrecht, we biked back to the same park and cooled off for a few minutes. We then decided to do some urban exploring before returning our bikes.
Aarron was interested in finding the big clocktower to climb, so we looked up to the sky and followed our instincts to the tallest building. It required a reservation to ascend the tower, so we decided to pass on that. So we crossed the square and entered a door at the end of the courtyard. Inside the courtyard was a garden that provided a beautiful view of the church and clocktower. After snapping some pictures, we headed back to the train station to drop off our bikes and catch the train back home. We passed through the outdoor flea market and found the bike shop a little bit better the second time around. We returned to the train station and caught the six o'clock train home.
The weather started to turn, so we bussed it back from Centraal. I decided to have everyone back to my room before heading out to find a restaurant. But while spending time in my room, we came up with the idea of cooking Mexican food for Erika, Lisa, Colin, Tim, and myself. We made our third trip to Albert Heijn and picked up supplies to make fajitas. Despite our tiny kitchens, Tim and Lisa did made food that tasted just like home. Erika purchased a 5 liter Heineken mini-keg for us to split before heading out for the night. We ate and drank, and then Erika and I did the dishes. The five of us played a game of 31 and watched some Entourage before being paged by Melissa with an offer to go clubbing. After much resistance and lack of energy from everyone but Tim, we (Lisa, Erika, Shilpa, Melissa, and I) left for Leidseplein to meet with Esmee to go to the club she recommended.
The "Melkwag" was a hip-hop club that had a big stage with turntables. There was no specific group of the night, but there was three different DJs scratching on stage. When we arrived at 12:45 it was really empty, but by 2 am it had really become a big party. I met one of Esmee's friends named Astou. I said, "oh like als u blieft" (Dutch for you're welcome) and she and Esmee were rolling in laughter over my bad Dutch. But at least I'm trying. We stayed at the club until way too late, but we couldn't imagine a better way to spend our last Saturday in Amsterdam.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Enjoying the Last of Amsterdam: 18.08.06

by Demi Antzoulatos

We began our day with a "dress rehearsal" of our presentation to come in Lausanne. The goal was to figure out what bumps we need to smooth out and have a constructive discussion that would get us enthusiastic for Switzerland. It went a little like this:

9:30 Overview of the Presentation by Julie and Clifford
9:45 Explanation of Transitions and Presentation by Kathleen and Aaron
10:00 Each Group Presents
11:00 Time to Deconstruct and/or Tweak
11:45 Our Last Lunch Together... how sad :(

After lunch we all went off and I believe nearly all of us visited a museum of that kind. I took a slight detour before visiting the first I have gone to see in Amsterdam. Shilpa and I walked down toward the Rijks Museum and then cut over to the Vondelpark. This southern part of the city was by far my favorite part of Amsterdam that I have seen. It seems like the quaint, charming and majestic Amsterdam that so many have told me about. I think that I have had such high expectations for this city and today it lived up to its reputation, as did Vondelpark.

As I have been traveling for quite some time this summer I have made a point to visit a park in every city and this one is near the top. This park has many waterways, one of which surrounds part of the park. On one side of the water is the park and the other are perfect old houses of which all have decks on the water with the cutest little gardens. I was thinking that these decks would be perfect to come out on for afternoon teas, romantic dinners or even a party.

What was great about Vondelpark is that it was made to look natural. The greenery reminded me of the Pacific Northwest, but when I saw how many bikes were in the park I was a reminded of the reality that we really were in Amsterdam!

At about 4pm we went to go meet Colin, Tim, Shane, Erika, Lisa and a Dutch student whose mother is from University of Amsterdam. We went to the Heineken Experience museum... which was an experience!!!

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Day in the Life of...(16.08.06)

By Melissa

The day started off with a lecture on Virtual Ethnography given by Anne Beaulieu. In her lecture, Anne talked about the differences between traditional ethnography and virtual ethnography. She focused on the benefits of virtual ethnography and the ways in it may be applied. She had us to do an in-class exercise on the role of technology in our program, using ethnographic techniques to guide our questions and analysis. This exercise fostered some interesting discussion on the questions of objectivity and interpretation – specifically, the capability ethnography to generate objective, applicable data.

After lunch, Lacy and I had our meeting with Clifford, Julie, and Paul. Talking to them helped me figure out how to analyze my data and organize my presentation, as well as eased my anxiety over the pod cast.

After my meeting with them, I decided to a take a break from school, and went for a walk along one of the canals. First, I walked on Prins Hendrikkade, and stopped by one the mini marts to get an ice cream bar. I walked all the way to Centraal Station before returning to the dorms via Ooster Dock.

The walk from Centraal Station to the dorms via Ooster Dock is my favorite walk in Amsterdam. Although it takes more time to get to the dorms via Ooster Dock, it is considerably less crowded than Prins Hendrikkade. Also, only bicycles and pedestrians go on it, so it is significantly less noisy. Plus, the scenery is just beautiful.

Ooster dock takes you past quaint, little boat boathouses, the Botel, interesting graffiti, Nemo Museum, cool bridges, Club 11 and the Stedlijks Museum, and so much more. The building in which Club 11 and Stedlijks Museum are located is definitely my favorite spot in Amsterdam.

As I was walking past the building in which Club 11 and Stedlijks Museum are located, I noticed that people were on the rooftop. I didn't even know that people could go onto the rooftop, and wasn't sure if it was accessible to the public, but I thought I'd give it a try. I took the elevator up to Club 11, and fortunately, the elevator was right next to the stairwell leading to the rooftop, which was open to the public.

The view from the roof was more beautiful than I had imagined. I won't even to attempt to describe how beautiful it was, it's really something you have to see for yourself.

Because I was so amazed by view from Club 11, I lost track of time and barely made it to the courtyard in time to meet the class for the group dinner. Most of the class had already left, but luckily, Angela and Marissa were still there, and knew exactly how to get to the Indonesian Restaurant.

The Indonesian Restaurant was amazing! I had never had Indonesian food, but it was very flavorful and delicious, and was like a blend of Chinese and Indian cuisine. All of the food was really good, but I think my favorite dish was the fried bananas! They were the perfect dessert.

After dinner, Angela, Aaron, and I went to the Kriterion to watch a film. We originally wanted to see this Hitchcock film, but ended up being too late for the showing, so we saw Hard Candy instead. I didn't really know what Hard Candy was about. Angela told me that it was about a young girl and older guy who meet through the Internet, but that was all I knew…I wish that she had told me more because I definitely wasn't emotionally and mentallly prepared for that movie. It was so psychologically disturbing that I had to have a beer right after it ended. Despite the fact that I felt sick to my stomach after watching it, I highly recommend seeing it. It's very intelligent, original, and well done. I won't disclose any details; you really have to see for yourself. Just make sure that you meditate or clear your head before seeing it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Daily Shooting

August 17, 2006 - by Lacy
Well, it was a slow day in Amsterdam for me so I am terribly sorry to subject you to this daily blog. I have been hard at work on my personal enrichment project (for those that do not know this is what you call research when you do not have human subjects approval). About the last part don’t feel bad—I can pretty much ask whatever I want and not feel constricted by the institution that I am trying to work out of. Enough of my personal enrichment for the moment let us focus on the lecture we attended in the morning that discussed drug policies in the Netherlands. I do not have my notes on me as I write this from the EASST conference which for me is incredibly entertaining so I will drop some lines on that even though my days our mixing. Back to the drug policies we watched an educational film that explained how to shoot up correctly. If you are interested the English title is “rick the shooter” and even though it is in dutch you can get the seriousness of the issue in all its hilarity. The viewer is taken on a journey through the life and eyes of a rat that laments the loss of his human friend and caretaker rick the shooter. See rick was not too smart about the way he was using drugs even though he knew he should be safe and not share needles, use clean water, not use lemons because of sediment, and such he did. He died a slow and painful death. The rat shows the view a bunch of people that are in various stages of shooting up and explains what they are doing correctly and what they are doing dangerously. Danger is a key word in this situation as harm reduction is the grounding of drug policy in the Netherlands. It basically says ok, we know people are going to do drugs and we know that telling them not to do them is not going to work so we need not waste time in the waters of prevention and instead we should focus on keeping our citizens and community safe by reducing the harm potential existing in the situation. In the end the view is shown how to shoot up in such a way as to reduce the risks to themselves and others. We were asked if we remember one thing for it to be HR (harm reduction).

Ok, ok, back to my personal enrichment as some of you might find the topic of interest. The title of my time is “through the eyez of an MC: a few glimpses into dutch hip hop” and the point is to examine the role dutch MC’s perceive themselves as playing within the greater society historically and presently. As a supplement to their views the ideas of media outlets are woven in to provide the reader with a more enhanced understanding of the dutch art of MC-ing. I tell you this because the second half of my day was spent going through an interview with algerino an MC that is about to release two albums one in english and one in dutch. I will throw a couple of quotes on you on dutch hip hop and where it is going:

“At this point I’m still positive and hopefull. I hope that the more mature tracks and talented mc’s are getting more chances to get airplay and let the country get to know them and their music. Fact is that hiphop is growing here in NL. I just don’t like the direction it took when it stood at the crossroad.”

“My reflection is that as to the subject of race and racism it is important that the experiences one might have, cultural or regarding to racism, have to be reflected by the mc and share it with the listners..
1: so they can let the people know what they are going through and what the reasons are
2 so people might understand it and seek for a solution

A lot of white dutch people are ignoring the fact that there is racism in this country. It used to be racism in a hypocrite kind of way: smiling in your face but stabbing you in the back when there are only white people around.”

Ok that should be enough for you to get the flava of my afternoon. So I will fast forward to the EASST conference where I have found myself to be held in constant amusement. I start out the day with sickle cell and bloody pain, then go to cut ‘n paste the body and the creation of gender, to the possibilities of interconnectivity between government and civil society, then go on to learn about what people have in their bags (hand ect.), and finish up with some queer and gender theory. All such fascinations in one location—endless ideas on what to study—the door is wide open and my mind content.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

August 15

By Shilpa

The day began like most others at 9:30 am. We started with a lecture given by Simone de Bruin about Youth Culture. After showing us video clips, she defined youth culture and subculture. She then brought up many excellent points such as the fact that people are good at defining other people in terms of subculture, but not so much themselves. Other things she touched upon were globalization, mass media, and sexuality and their roles in youth culture. Of course, one of the highlights of her lecture was getting to know all about the many different clubs around the city!

After a delicious lunch (guacamole sandwiches, yummm) we made our way down to Bijlmer with Leon Deben, who happened to be a really cool guide for the city. As we walked around, he showed us the many different housing areas. Bijlmer is a town in the southeast of Amsterdam which is known for its social housing and high minority population.

One of the first things we saw after getting off the tram was a petting zoo thing, right in the middle of the city! It was so startling! Imagine walking on the sidewalk, and looking up into the face of a llama. Or seeing a donkey just chilling next to a slide on the playground.

And that’s exactly what happened. We also saw a really REALLY fat pig, which we were informed, was actually one of the more baby-sized ones. After this, the group went on a peaceful walk around the city, stopping to visit a crash site memorial on the way. We went to the information center where we heard a presentation on the future of the Ajax Arena area. Mr. Deben was a fascinating person to talk to. He didn’t seem to think these plans held much promise. After the presentation, he very generously treated us all to drinks while we continued to share our thoughts.

I tried fries with peanut sauce for the first time. It’s delicious!! I think someone should introduce it in the states. Later that evening, to top off a perfect day, Tim, Colin, Melissa and I went out for Indian food. All in all, it was a very memorable day. Hopefully many more are to come!

"The Cave" : 14 August 2006

Our trek to the virtual reality studio was a mysterious one, as we headed across Amsterdam to "The Cave."


Upon our arrival to Sara, home to the super computers of the Netherlands, we were presented with the present-day paradox of a virtual reality. In order for such a phrase to become material, our senses must be presented with the virtual world so convincingly that they believe it is real. To fool your eyes, goggles are used to present your right and left eye with slightly different images, allowing you to perceive depth.


Unlike, say, a 3-dimensional movie in which images and situations are created in advance, Sara's virtual reality studio uses tracking technology to detect the users motion in six degrees of freedom (on a x,y,z plane) coupled with rendering, creating all images in real time. This interactive graphic technology allows the user to guide the images, creating his or her own virtual reality.
This virtual reality is made possible by powerful super computers housed at Sara.


Super computers allow for memory intensive projects and needs so large that one single hard dish is not sufficient to hold the data. Using capability computing, Sara is home to all of the research of the Netherlands’ scientific community. One hard disk simply could not hold the amount of information necessary to the scientific community, but the shared memory of the super computer makes this kind of storage possible. However, because of the large physical size of these computers, you run into issues with bandwidth and latency.


Just as I could run over to my next door neighbor's house much more quickly than I could run to a friend's house three cities away, the super computer can communicate with hard disks in its own cabinet much more quickly than a computer across the room. However, the mass storage and processing capabilities of a super computer greatly outweigh this issue. Furthermore, the ability of housing different components and parts of the computer in different locations has proven useful for networks of individuals and companies in different areas working together on large compilation projects, such as the large giga-pixel display of a panoramic image of Delft.

Because they are using super computers, this Delft project is able to zoom in on, say, the clock tower, and tell exactly what time the picture was taken. For me, though, it is the use of super computers with the applications of virtual reality that are most fascinating.
In “the cave,” Sara’s virtual reality studio, we were able to stand among the clouds, look upon an ancient roman temple, and explore the many layers of the human body.

The super computers and tracking technology allow for the simulation and visualization of these experiences, helping scientists to better understand their field of study. That cultural anthropologists and architects can re-create and construct an interactive and 3-dimensional roman temple from the angle of a single shard of unearthed debris shows just how far technology has come in this day and age.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

August 10th: The Day of Islam

By Tim Prouty
(flickr account)

Today started off bright and early with a lecture at 9:30am. The lecture was on Islam by an expert on the subject, Atef Hamdi. We talked about many facets of the Islamic culture in Amsterdam, especially focusing on how migration has helped shape it. After lecture we hopped on a tram and went to a Turkish mosque in a suburb of the city. On the way there I was once again impressed with how nice Dutch people are! I asked this woman about the dog that she had, and she proceeded to tell me the breed and a bunch of additional information. We really had a nice little conversation. She even let me take a picture of it...

Sweet Dog!

Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the breed, but apparently it is a mix between a greyhound and whippet. It typically comes from Spain and is pretty rare in other parts of Europe.

The mosque itself was a very interesting and informative experience. We began by having a Turkish meal which was actually pretty good. We had a ridiculous amount of bread, and more food than any of us could eat. After lunch I was a little surprised because we walked into the prayer room about 2 minutes before the prayer began. I have never actually been in a Mosque before, so to see how Muslims come to pray was very cool. Here is a picture during their prayer:


There were a lot of interesting information shared on the religion of Islam. I found a particular point about Christianity interesting: Muslims believe almost everything Christians believe, including that Jesus was a prophet, but they also believe in a half dozen other prophets as well.

Islam Talk

Overall, it was a really fun experience to get to hear all about a religion that I have not had much exposure too. The funniest part of the day was when the 2 guys giving the talk were trying to convince Clifford to convert. This photo is of the three of them during the "conversion" process:

Clifford's Conversion