Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Festival season is now officially open!

Festival season is now officially opened! Sita and I spent last weekend at the Paaspop festival, the first "open air" festival of the year. Although all performances were in large tents, the mud between the tents and the night temperature made up for that and created a real "outdoorish" feeling. We checked out El Guapo stunt Team, Agnostic Front, Bambix, Beef, Boom Chicago (improvised theater), Eboman, Face Tomorrow, Flogging Molly, Jovink en de Voederbietels, Mambo Kurt (really funny German dude with a hammond organ), Nile, Peter Pan Speedrock, The Dillinger Escape Plan, the Palookas, the Toy Dolls (solid old punk), Mala Vita and Ali B (actually quite funny to have a rapper on a rock festival).

When I got back on monday I spent the rest of the day cleaning up and fell asleep nice and early. This morning I had to get up very early because I am taking a course on Motor Systems (the neural basis of all movements), partially at the Rotterdam Medical Centre. I am the only student in a group of all PhD's but I managed to discuss along at the desired level. Next friday I will return to Rotterdam to execute some experiments that I will design in the next few days.

I will have to deliver an abstract for the poster I will present at the Neuroscience Master Symposium by the end of this week. I think I will present the results of my previous intern research project (the representational momentum effect with respect to apparant and implied motion processing), because I do not really have enough time to put something together on my current research topics. Furthermore I think it will be nice to present results instead of backgrounds, hypothesis and planned research.

I picked up the photographs I need for the US embassy to process my visa request today when I returned from Rotterdam. This means I now have everything I need and tomorrow I can make the call to get an appointment. If everything goes well I think I will get my visa within the next 2 weeks. Then I can finally book my flight... I got some responses on the ad I put on the internet for subletting my room, so I am confident that it'll work out after all and I will not be stuck with double rent.

the Toy Dolls at Paaspop 2005

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

My fame is spreading...

I discovered something strange today. I tried a search with google on my name to see whether this blog would turn up and I discovered that a thesis I did more than a year ago on mirror neurons was part of a website on autism... Although I am not really happy with the quality of this paper (I could do better now, but then again that's what education is all about :P), it is fun to find my work on the internet without having anything to do with it myself. The "famous paper" can be found here, but it must be noted that unfortunately enough the neurobiological arguments in the discussion are kind of poor, which gives the paper a kind of neuropsychology appraoch. Not really something I usually like to do, but as I said before; it was a year ago and I am still growing into this science thing... :D


One of the rare computer-games that got me kind of addicted.. This morning I finally finished Need for Speed Underground 2. My pimped Audi TT led me to victory!! Now I can read a book again....

Monday, March 21, 2005

A non-gambler in a casino...

Well, the snow is hardly gone and it actually feels likes spring. This picture was taken in the Wilhelminapark in Utrecht. I think it's pretty nice :P

I actually worked outside for a large part of the day, today. It took me a while but I finally found a position that allowed me to enjoy the sun and still see things on my notebook screen. It is not that warm yet, but out of the wind it was very nice. Yesterday me and my roommates had dinner in the new appartment of Bas, who used to live with us. His appartment is fantastic; it's huge and the view of the city's skyline is great!

Saturday night I was in a casino for the first time. It was a party for all employees of mediamarkt, where I have my part-time job. Drinks were free and we got some playing coins. We basically spend all the time having free drinks, watching other people lose money. We didn't actually gamble anything because we thought all those machines were way to difficult and we didn't really feel like playing any roulette or blackjack. Altoghether, we had a lot of fun, handed in the coins at the end of the evening and went home with the strange idea that we actually had more money in our pockets than when we arrived....

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

My Brain

So this is the home of my brilliant mind :) It's actually a rather blurry picture of an MRI scan of my brain. I will try to get some pictures with a higher resolution and maybe some 3d stuff...

Monday, March 14, 2005


Apart from the occasional picture on this weblog I will try to put more pictures on a photoblog that is designed to deal with photos better.. I added the link to that photosite in the link container on the right of this site, but you can also click here.


After a busy weekend (work-party in Tilburg-repairing my brothers computer-having dinner at my parents') a busy week has started. A few minutes ago I received the DS2019 form from OHSU. This means I just have to fill out a few more forms stating that I am truly not a terrorist and that the main purpose of me visiting the USA has nothing to do with either drugs or terrorism, but that I am a (mostly) harmless, hard working student and that I will return home after six months and not pursue a long illegal stay in the country they all love and hate so dearly :P Of course this statement is once again going to cost me a some money and time but I have good hopes the US Embassy will not give me a hard time.

I don't think I will manage to gather all necessary information required by the embassy today though, since the pile of paper right next to me does not present me with the idea that I will have any time left when I finish it.. First of all I have to finish a discussion on a Nature Neuroscience Review paper, I have to present next wednesday afternoon. I have all the information I need but I still need to put it in a nice presentation and make my arguments match my opinion :)

Then there's Genesis (a neural simulation program); the amount of physics and maths required to work with it seems to slow me down and I don't like it. I hope to finish chapter 7 (of 20) today and gain some speed in acquiring the programming skills needed to work on the intended model of Purkinje Cells and Interneurons.

If that's not enough, there is a (roughly 8 cm high) pile of experiment proposal that need to be reviewed in a meeting wednesday morning and I am supposed to have read them carefully by then...

My master program coordinators thought it would be nice to organize correction, to make the students organize) a symposium and make it a requirement for all students to either present orally or hand in a poster describing their current research. Since I will start the real experiments in may in the USA, I will not have a lot to talk about in april when the symposium is being held. Therefore I decide to put together a nice poster descibing some of the background and the main problems concerning the integration of optokinetics and vestibular information and plasticity mechanism in the cerebellum. I don't think I will manage to start working on the poster anything earlier than thursday, but we will see...

Altoghether I will not be bored this week... Thank god for Kaldi watching his goats in Ethiopia around 600-800 AD, and the monk Chadely for trying to make a drink out of the enrgizing berries discovered by Kaldi and mix them with boiling water. Last but not least my thanks goes out to the fellow that discovered that roasting the berries before mixing them with the boiling water greatly improved the taste! Coffee will keep me going...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Create your own megaposters...

For all of you people that did not know it yet; rasterbator is a pretty cool tool to blow up and pixelate your photos and artwork (build it up in dots like a newspaper picture). You can then print it and make your walls look better. I have this collage on my wall in about 1x4 meters.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I got my brain scanned..

Last night I was in a dark and abandoned part of the hospital in a space the size of a coffin with a magnetic coil around my head, trying to stay awake and make the proper eye-movements while this noisy MRI scanner made a nice fMRI-scan of my brain in action (just slightlt, though). Just to help out a fellow student who needed a subject for a pilot study in which they try to scan with a voxelsize of 1x1x1mm instead of the more usual 3x3x3mm. This is necessary to visualize a newly discovered, tiny area in the (mid)brain which might be involved in executing eye movements. It was pretty boring but it paid well and they promised me I would get some nice pictures of my own brain. The moment I have got those pictures, I will post some of them here...

Monday, March 07, 2005

Give yourself a southpark look

This is great! At this site (click), you can create your own southpark characters and make them look just like you and your friends. Try it, it's fun!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Nice dutch spring...

Just when the meteorological spring has set in, winter wakes up, realizes it has forgotten to let it snow and starts to make up for that failure. It has been a long time since I have seen such a snowy white world in the Netherlands. I like it a lot, but my bike has more problems with it (as I reported earlier). As nice as it is to wake up to a white world, it is pretty annoying to cycle through it, with its slippery roads and snow in your eyes. But I am not complaining, if you ask me winter may keep up the good work for while....

My Research

For those who are interested in my research. This is basically the brain-area that I will be working on. The cerebellum is the smaller "blob" at the lower back of the brain and consists of many small lobes. The cellular structure is known but the interactions between the Purkinje cells, climbing fibers, parallel fibers, mossy fibers and interneurons is still a great mystery. We dedicate our time trying to unfold this mystery. The function of this part of the brain is to combine the information from the eyes and the vestibular organ in order to provide us with balance and a sense of orientation.

Why in english?

Maybe some people are wondering why I am writing in english on this weblog. I know I am.. I think it is because the main idea behind the weblog has been to report about my life in the USA. Since all communications about this are in english and basically my entire education is in english as well, it seems rather natural to write about it in english. Even though at the moment I am still in the Netherlands. For uniformity reasons all posts are in the same language, which sometimes strikes me as being silly because I am dutch and most of the readers will be as well. I think most dutch people however will understand my english and of course comments can be made in any language you prefer. Although I will only understand dutch, english, german and a tiny bit of french :P

My bike seems to be tired with life...

I think I have bad karma this week or maybe my bike just started disliking me... Since its magical refusal to operate properly last saturday night, which resulted in me having to walk home from a party in the middle of the night, it took me a while to get it working again. I have only been able to enjoy it one day when I discovered the hard way that ice and snow are slippery... Another repair had to be done. Thank god for all those lazy students that just leave their wrecked bikes in front of the students housing complex, it truly is a rich pool for replacement parts :) So for now, I have a working bike, but it seems only a matter of time before new repairs are needed....

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


This is me. I have to put this picture in somewhere to be able to get it to appear with my personal information.

Picture test

Just to test if I can add pictures. This is a picture taken last summer when we sailed the "waddenzee" for a week. The water is gone during some hours of the day which is a nice oppurtunity to check out the bottom of the sea.

First post

Well, since I came up with the idea to keep a weblog during my internship period of 6 months at the Neurological Science Institute at the Oregon Health and Science University in Oregon, USA, this is my very first post to see if everything is working properly. If all goes well I will report about my life and work in the USA starting the second half of may until the beginneing of november.