Monday, March 20, 2006

Home again, home again

deco door, originally uploaded by efroymson.

Back in the states now. Have a bunch more to talk about, if I had the energy. Alas I am a bit knocked out with Jet lag. My last day in Holland I walked about The Hague a bit, took some pictures, including this one of a rather cool art deco door.

I just missed Slobo, who was flying out of Holland about the same time I was flying in. Of course I was flying coach class, and he was flying freight, amongst other differences.

Went to some museums, at the last one I saw that the Rembrandt and Carvaggio show that the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum are puttin on in Amsterdam is open late on Fridays. I was not far from Centraal in The Hague, took the five o'clock to Amsterdam, and caught a tram to the Van Gogh museum.

The exhibit was incredible.

Next day KLM back to SFO. The "strict vegetarian" food was pretty good this time, essentially the "Hindu vegetarian" I was promised by the Northwest rep I spoke to before leaving.

Friday, March 17, 2006


wintersp2006, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This picture is from Winter Special training in San Jose, back in January. I am posting it now to illustrate something else (and no, it is not that I have more hair on my chest than on my head). Last night I had the honor of being the first foreign visitor to the SKA dojo in the Hague! Jeroen led the practice, and was very helpful in giving me directions on where to meet so we could walk to the gym together. I would strongly urge any SKA members planning a trip to pack your gi and check the website. There are dojos in many parts of the world.

In fact, this was the second Thursday in a row I was able to practice. Last week, in Tel Aviv I was even picked up at my hotel! Hen (the H is aspirated, like in Hanukah) was driving by and was able to help me out. Benzi led the practice. We did a lot of torit-te, which is a favorite of mine that we don't do often enough back at home (if you asked me).

the ska dojolist

You can click on the different countries. I would advise making contact in advance of the trip, as some of the information is not up to date.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Mermaid, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This is the obligatory "Little Mermaid". The aiport here even has a vitrine with information about this sculpture. It is based on the famous Hans Christian Andersen story of course.

There were a lot of tourists around, including a number of students from Shanghai taking a vacation from their classes in Germany.

The sculpture is located just outside the citadel, which is a very nicely preserved fortification.


Skorpion, originally uploaded by efroymson.

The military museum here in Copenhagen has the most extensive collection of automatic firearms I have ever seen. The building has been used to store weapons for 400 years. Originally they were intended for use, now they are just for display.

If you look closely though you will see that this gun has a trigger lock on it, so it seems to be a functional example. My copy of "Brassey's Infantry Weapons of the World" describes the Skorpion as a Polish Machine Pistol, but this example is Czech made.

I looked in the museum shop, but they did not have any available for sale. I was of course disappointed.

The museum had a number of other things in it, including cannon and flintlocks and partisans and so on. An interesting display put an old French mitrailleuse next to a 1962 American Vulcan from an F-104 starfighter. One hundred years of Gatling gun history right there.

Americans tend to think of Scandinavians as a bunch of peace loving hippy Socialists, but that ignores a lot of history. Not to mention some current events, there are a number of Danish soldiers in Iraq right now. I had a conversation with a couple of guys last night who were hanging up posters for an anti-war demonstration. They were decent fellows, in a way easier to talk to than some on the left in the US.

I liked the poster, it was calling for an end to Fogh's war. I did not get that, but it is a reference to Fogh Rasmussen, the local PM. Just like some in America refer to Iraq as "Bush's War". I started to think "Bush's war, Blair's war, Fogh's war ... it's a pretty popular war!"

Monday, March 13, 2006

Turning Torso

Turning Torso, originally uploaded by efroymson.

I was reading an article in the New Yorker a few weeks ago. It was about this really cool new building that had just gone up in Malmo, Sweden. I remember being a bit annoyed, thinking "when am I ever going to be in Malmo?" A bit silly to be annoyed that someone was putting up a building in a city that I had never really heard of, as if the purpose of architecture is to make the interesting buildings easy for me to get to.

Forgot all about it apparently, as when this weird twisting tower suddenly appeared on the horizon as I was walking back to the Central Train Station, it was a real surprise. Gave me a new mission in life, which was just to get closer and take some pictures of it. This is a really wild building. Was fun just walking around it, looking at it from different angles. Here you can see just a bit of the spine, in the upper portion.

Tried to go inside, but the door did not open for me. Some folks had passcards to get in, don't know if they were working on the building, or in it. One imagines that the elevators twist as they rise, though I expect that really does not happen.

Why was I in Malmo? It is rather close to Copenhagen, especially now that there is a bridge linking the two cities. There are fast trains every twenty minutes. It sounded like a good idea for a day trip, and I had not been to Sweden before. BTW, "Turning Torso" is the name of the building.

Went to the ballet this evening. Manon. From the 70s, but set in the 1700s (?). The lead dancer was very good. Got that ethereal thing down. The one who played her brother was also good, there is a "drunk dancing" sequence that looked really hard to pull off, funny without being corny. The other guy was a bit clunky, at least I thought so.

I tried to go in the side door of the theater just before the Queen of Denmark pulled up in her car. That was a bit embarrassing.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


mineral, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This is a piece of rock of some sort I took a picture of at the Geology museum here. I think I used my 90mm for this one. It was perhaps even through glass, but for some reason this one came out really well. The odd framing even sort of works. It is hard to frame pictures at all well with the 90mm because the camera has no 90mm frameline, and the 50mm, while closest, gives a pretty vague notion.

I took a bunch of other pictures there, but a lot did not come out that well.

The laundry should be dry now, so back down the street I go.

Self portrait with gloves

Self portrait with gloves, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This gives you some idea what I look like walking around Copenhagen. Picked the gloves up on Friday, they are thin enough I can still work the controls on my camera. They are lined, so they do keep my hands reasonably warm.

I had to race through Schiphol to get on my flight (we were late arriving from Tel Aviv, and I had booked a very short layover). There was even Schengen border control between the concourses, but there was no line, so I made it. My luggage did not make it, so on Friday I was without my outer jacket and scarf. Had to use a baseball cap instead of my classy tweed one you see here. I got the gloves because I don't already have such a pair, so I thought it would not be too outrageous a purchase. Also my hands were turning red and felt awful.

I made it to the symphony on Friday. It was great to see Slatkin again after more than twenty years. At least I know I am not the only other American in town! I seem to have misplaced the program. The first piece was three Russian folksongs, by Rachmaninoff. I did not like it much. The second was a work for Baritone and Chorus by Shostakovich, it was magnificent. Slatkin was always great with him. The final piece was Tchaikovsky's Sympony no. 6, the Pathetique. By that point exhaustion began to overtake me, and I was having a lot of trouble concentrating on the music. The false ending was terrific though.

Shortly after I got back to my hotel, the luggage arrived. That worked out pretty well, since it enabled me to take the train in from the airport, which would have been a lot harder with all my bags.

Yesterday I visited the Geology museum, and the State Art museum. Took some pictures in the Geology Musem, so will perhaps blog them.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Danish Model

Danish Model, originally uploaded by efroymson.

Maybe the best way to support Denmark is to encourage people to visit. I suspect that photos like this one might help. At least some folks will be interested.

She was talking to a professional photographer (at least a photog with a monster Manfrotto tripod and ballhead). I walked past on my way to the post office to buy tickets to the symphony this evening.

She graciously agreed to pose for me. I usually prefer candids, but this worked pretty well I think.

In Copenhagen

Arrived in Copenhagen a few hours ago from Tel Aviv via Amsterdam. Hoping to show some support to the Danes in their hour of need. While visiting Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum in Jerusalem, we had a Danish tour guide. She told us about the risks the Danes ran to get the Jews to safety.

Her personal story was also touching. When her parents left their house here for Sweden they did not have time to pack. When they returned they found that their neighbors had rented out the house in their absence, used the rent to maintain the property, and left the excess in an envelope. Everything was in place, including the silverware.

It was a touching story.

Okay, in truth it hardly seems like Denmark is in an "hour of need". Aside from an ad for the Jyllends Posten in the arrivals area of the airport, I saw nothing that reminded me of the cartoon controversy. This is a beautiful city, and I am looking forward to walking around in it. Maybe I will even be able to see Leonard Slatkin conduct the Danish National Symphony Orchstra tonight.

If you have any ideas on how I can show support for Free Speech in Denmark during my visit, feel fre to leave a comment.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

So I am back in TA after a few days in Jerusalem. We saw Yad Vashem today, which is always terribly moving and sad. This was my first time in the new building, which is an amazing structure. The exhibits are first rate.

Also saw the excavations around the temple mount in Jerusalem. Rather fascinating to see old arches that supported a bridge from thousands of years ago. The place at the bottom where there are no more stones, but actually dressed bedrock was also extraodinary (can you tell I am having trouble coming up with adjectives?). The work that was done to build the walls, to tear them down, and then to excavate them.

The hotel here is not so good with internet as the one I was in last week, so I will perhaps be not so good about blogging and email. I do appreciate all your messages, and will do what I can to answer them. I still have some pictures I uploaded last week, and may blog them. There are more to come as well.

In contrast to my usual food-blogging proclivity, I really don't want to talk about it right now. I think I actually managed to eat too much, I don't know when the last time I did that was. There is a sort of "shuk" or market set up in the hotel next door to this iCafe. There is lots to eat there, but I only got a Fanta. I had some excellent Felafel in Ben Yahuda street this afternoon, which I am not done digesting.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


EPSN0166, originally uploaded by efroymson.

At the Carmel market. This fish is a regular part of an Israeli breakfast. Even when I am very hungry I don't eat quite as much of it as you can see here.

In Tel Aviv

EPSN0185, originally uploaded by efroymson.

Nothing says "Israel" like a manhole cover with Hebrew on it. I was here a while back and remember thinking how funny it is that there is Hebrew everywhere, when I remembered learning it for my Bar Mitzvah. Like "you mean you can do more than pray in Hebrew?"

Now it seems a bit more normal.