Winnie the Pooh and friends (Or: Polonsky exhibition by New York Public Library)

Marco, Roger and I visited the Polonsky exhibition at the New York Public Library while we were visiting. Here’s the blurb on the free exhibition:

“For more than 125 years, The New York Public Library has collected, preserved, and made accessible the world’s knowledge. Now, for the first time, the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures showcases some of the most extraordinary items from the 56 million in our collections, inspiring and empowering visitors to discover, learn, and create new knowledge—today and in the years ahead.

The treasures in this exhibition tell the stories of people, places, and moments spanning 4,000 years—from the emergence of the written word through to the present day. Visitors will encounter manuscripts, artworks, letters, still and moving images, recordings, and more that bring vividly to life voices of the past.”

And you know what the coolest thing was that we saw?

The stuffed animals that were given to Christopher Robin Milne which became the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh and friends. He received the stuffed teddy bear (inspiration for Winnie the Pooh) on his first birthday. The other stuffed animals on display which Christopher received were inspiration for Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Tigger and Roo. His father wrote the stories in Christopher’s childhood.

The exhibition link above lets you explore collection highlights digitally if you can’t visit in person. For example, here are some pages:

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Netherlands themed Funko pop (Or: Spotted in NYC)

While we were in New York City last week we spotted a Netherlands themed Funko pop:

Full of Dutch stereotypes, of course. A milk maid holding a tulip, wearing clogs. It was actually a New York Comic Con exclusive, part of the “It’s a small world” collection. The store we spotted it at was Toy Tokyo on 5th and 2nd avenue.

I find it amusing that it is caught in between Cowboy McNugget and Thanos.

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A look at the quieter side (Or: Central Park in NYC)

Marco, Roger and I just returned from a trip to New York City. This was our first trip as tourists since 2019. (I figure a trip to see my parents in Indy last year doesn’t count as we weren’t really tourists then.)

One of the places we visited was Central Park. This time we took the subway up to the northernmost point, 110th street, and walked all the way back down to 59th street. And then some, since we also walked around the reservoir a bit and took detours. I think my Apple Watch said I had 25,000 steps…

Here are some of my photos from that day:

This is from the Conservatory Garden near the top of Central Park. The fountain is called the Untermyer Fountain; it features a bronze cast of Three Dancing Maidens. It was donated to Central Park and dedicated in 1947.

One of the first things you see when you enter the park from the north is Harlem Meer. And yes, that name reflects the Dutch nature of the surrounding area: this land was once part of the Dutch Village Harlem (Harlem being the English spelling; there is also a large city called Haarlem not far from Amsterdam).

This part of Central Park (above) is called Fort Clinton. The fortification was built in 1782 by the British. This area is on a large hill and has perfect views of the surrounding area, both of which are important for military operations. One interesting fact about this cannon is that is was not actually fired from this location. The cannon actually came from a British revolutionary ship which ran aground in the East River in 1780.

Central Park also has a very large reservoir, named after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The path around the water is just over a mile and a half, so it used by a lot of walkers and runners. And as you can see, it offers gorgeous views of the New York City skyline. It is also a popular spot for bird watchers and features beautiful cherry trees in the springtime.

Finally, here is a view from the base of Belvedere Castle (who knew: Belvedere means “beautiful view” in Italian). It is a miniature castle on top of a rock outcrop known as Vista Rock. Check the link for views of the castle itself.

All in all – a very relaxing visit to Central Park!

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Every day a new dog awaits (Or: Sand art in the city centre)

If you visit The Hague’s city centre in the afternoons, there is a good chance you will see some doggy-related sand art:

Of course, the person was still in the middle of sculpting so the dog looks more like he lost a lot of weight very, very quickly. Here is a close up:

See also: Bijna dagelijks ligt deze hond van zand op de Grote Marktstraat, maar waarom? (This dog of sand is lying on the Grote Markstraat almost every day. Why?) from indebuurt.nl in Dutch. Apparently this dog sand art is frequently seen in other Dutch cities and even London. Of course the sculptors hope you will drop a few coins into their bag as you walk past, and it seems like dogs are an easy thing to sculpt. If you stick around long enough you will also see puppies being formed. Or just click the news article above to see some sand puppies.

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Sleeping in the sun (Or: Cute little cat)

A few weeks ago Marco and I were walking to Kelly’s expat store. Along the way I spotted a cute cat who was sleeping in the sun:

He (or she) didn’t wake up, even when I stopped to take a picture. He is probably on the older side though, considering all of the white hairs on its face. But he was so cute! It was a very hot day that day, so he was probably just trying to cool off on the stone.

(And you know you are in the Netherlands, since if you don’t get a bike in the picture you will inevitably get a mobility scooter that the elderly use in the picture. Those things are dangerous in the hands of old people…!)

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Herb gardens (Or: Antwerp’s botanical garden)

During our visit to Antwerp last week, Marco, Roger and I also visited a small botanical garden, Den Botaniek (English Wikipedia). What can I say, I like to take pictures of pretty flowers…

The koi fish were just an unexpected bonus:

Or, the artwork below. It’s thought provoking, but I just can’t get past the bird crap on the smallest head. Hmm. Perhaps he was trying to hide from the birds but he just couldn’t hide fast enough?

Continue reading
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Lightning trip (Or: Concerts and architecture in Antwerp)

Marco, Roger and I were in Antwerp earlier this week for the Hella Mega Tour (Weezer, Fall Out Boy and Green Day). We booked the tickets in early 2020 and then only got to see the show now. Thanks corona! The scheduling was really nicely done, with Weezer and Fall Out Boy playing for an hour and Green Day closing the show with an hour and a half performance. Everything was almost perfectly timed (with only a few minutes delay here and there). The show ended when they said it would, wow!

Part of the reason everything is so perfectly timed is because 50 cents of your ticket price goes to public transportation, so you can ride the bus, tram or metro for free there and back. The venue and public transportation company agreed that all shows must end by 23:30. If that happens, the public transportation company guarantees that line 1 would run for an hour after the show ends. In the end we did take the tram there, although we walked back to the hotel after the show (about a 30 minute walk) due to how crowded the metro was. Technically they call it a metro, but the vehicles that arrive are still the shorter trams, so nothing like the New York City metro.

I will spare you my less than spectacular photos of the concert itself, so here are some other ones:

This is a statue of Nello & Patrasche, characters from the book A Dog in Flanders (visitantwerpen.be in English).

What can I say, I like Ferris wheels. And I thought this was a pretty image, with the Ferris wheel just poking out from behind the trees. This Ferris wheel is called “The View”.

Above: a look at some of the architecture in the city centre. Very pretty! We also enjoyed the nice wide streets as it made it easy to walk around.

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Reddit’s April fools experiment (Or: /r/place)

Over the weekend I was distracted by Reddit’s April fools experiment. They created a subreddit called “place” where users could create pixel art as a group. See also the English Wikipedia page. It was first held in 2017 and then they waited 5 years to hold another “place” event. The sticking point was that a user could only place one pixel every 5 minutes, so if you wanted to create anything good you had to work together (or have a lot of bot accounts at your disposal I guess!)

As expected, most drawings were done by various groups. The Netherlands also had a Dutch reddit competing, /r/PlaceNL. You can see an image of the various Dutch contributions in the final image. My favorite artwork was probably the NS train with a flag from each province. Of course the paintings “The Night Watch“, “The Seven Provinces” (ship) and “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” were made by bots and/or helper programs. I didn’t use any bots or programs so I spent most of my time defending (aka putting pixels back to the right color), either defending /r/PlaceNL creations or allies of /r/PlaceNL. It was very diplomatic in that regard. It also meant I almost drained my phone battery a few times, since I could only place one pixel every 5 minutes!

/r/PlaceNL was quite proud that, in terms of the country’s population, The Netherlands placed the most pixels of any country (about 6.19 pixels per resident, reddit.com in Dutch).

Also, the coolest thing ever: the 2022 r/place atlas (thanks to Roger who found it!). Use the zoom in tools and then hover over each object to get more details about it. Most of the Dutch contributions are at the very top, with two of the paintings in the lower left.

Hopefully it comes back in April 2023!

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…Wiskunde? (Or: A Dutch language joke)

This joke isn’t mine; it was forwarded to me on WhatsApp. But I was so amused by it I just had to share it with you.

That’s Dutch for you.

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Across the water (Or: Traveling from Rotterdam to Amsterdam by boat)

I saw a cool video posted on TheNetherlands subreddit:

The video is about 2 and a half minutes, or there is a 10 minute 4K version on YouTube (link). If you keep an eye on the map in the lower right you can see where the boat currently is.

And how is the camera so high up? It is not a drone. The tugboat you see in the image is pulling a large structure, and the camera was placed on the structure. See also this image (thetimewriters.com).

Finally, if you watch the shorter video above (Reddit), you’ll see a retractable bridge at 1:56. Kind of cool.

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