Hubble Mission at The Big Picture

Posted by Arthur in Photos, Space

The Big Picture has a great set of photos from NASA’s final Hubble Servicing Mission. As we speak Space Shuttle Atlantis is leaving the telescope and preparing for a return back to Earth. This picture shows astronaut John Grunsfeld holding onto a handrail of the Hubble Telescope a few days ago. Head on over to The Big Picture to see more awesome pictures.

Astronaut John Grunsfeld at Hubble Space Telescope

May 19th 2009 | 8:21 am CET | No Comments »

Eager Beavers

Posted by Amy in Birds, Environment, Forest Preserves, Nature

We went out birding with the Lake-Cook Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society this morning. We had a great time, saw lots of birds and met some really nice people.

While walking near the Des Plaines River at Ryerson Woods, we saw this tree.

Eager Beaver (1/2)

Eager Beaver (2/2)

Now that’s one eager beaver! The tree looks about ready to fall, don’t you think?

May 17th 2009 | 3:02 pm CET | No Comments »

Foto Friday: View from the 94th

Posted by Arthur in Chicago, Illinois, Travel

I took this picture earlier this month from the 94th floor of the John Hancock Observatory when visiting downtown Chicago with my parents. They have a great new audio guide, the Sky Tour, in which David Schwimmer tells you all about the sights on 16 stops around the observation deck.


May 15th 2009 | 10:57 pm CET | No Comments »

Tickets for STS-127

Posted by Arthur in Space

For a long time I’ve wanted to go to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to see a shuttle launch, but from the Netherlands this was never practical as launches often get delayed. Since we’re living in Illinois I’ve tried to get tickets for the last couple of launches but was too late each time as tickets sell out fast. There are only eight missions left in the shuttle program (which ends in 2010), so time is running out to see a launch.

The closest and best place to view a launch is from the NASA Causeway just 6 miles from the launch pad. Today tickets for the causeway went on sale at 7:00 ET, so I refreshed the page right at 7 and quickly went through the ordering process. Within 30 minutes they were all sold out, so good thing I got them when I did; I am now the proud owner of two tickets for the launch of STS-127 on June 13th at 7:19am. 😀

Endeavour STS-118 Blastoff
Photo by jurvetson

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May 13th 2009 | 8:03 am CET | 7 Comments »

Received in Damaged Condition

Posted by Arthur in Funny, Life in America

Today I received a piece of mail from the Belastingdienst (Dutch IRS). Nothing special about that, except that it looks like it was attacked by bears! The envelope has a 3-inch rip and a large corner is missing. How did that happen? I can understand a rip, but what happened to the corner? Did it go through a plane engine on its way here? There are two stamps on it: “Received unsealed” and “Received in damaged condition” … Reeeaaalllly? I hadn’t noticed! I wonder when the rest arrives.

Damaged mail

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May 12th 2009 | 8:32 pm CET | No Comments »

Reheating Spinach Dangerous in Holland, Fine in Rest of World

Posted by Arthur in Food, Life in Holland

(Please note: I am not a food expert or toxicologist. Please do your own research or consult an expert before making a decision about reheating spinach. Nitrates caused by reheating spinach should be avoided by infants of up to 6 months!)

When my parents were visiting us here in Illinois last week, we had made some spinach-artichoke dip and were about to put the leftovers in the fridge when my mom told me that you can never ever keep spinach leftovers as reheating spinach is dangerous and causes cancer. I vaguely remembered something about this from my Dutch youth, but my American wife and her parents had never heard of such a thing. To be safe we threw the spinach away, but it did make me curious. More »

May 11th 2009 | 10:51 am CET | 43 Comments »

Leiden Brick in Chicago Tribune Building

Posted by Arthur in Chicago, Illinois

Before the 36-storey Tribune Tower was completed in 1925, correspondents for the Chicago Tribune newspaper brought back rocks and bricks from all over the world. Many of these stones have been incorporated into the lowest levels on the outside of the building and are labeled with their location of origin. Stones included in the wall are from such sites as the Taj Mahal, Parthenon, Great Pyramid, Notre-Dame and the Great Wall of China. On our visit to downtown Chicago last week, we were surprised to also see a brick from Leiden, our former home town, embedded in the wall.


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May 9th 2009 | 11:53 am CET | No Comments »

Foto Friday: Tiger at Ranthambore

Posted by Arthur in Nature, Travel

This week’s foto friday and my entry to today’s photo friday wildlife challenge is this picture of a tiger at Ranthambore National Park in India. We visited this amazing park in 2006 and were extremely lucky to see this tiger walk right in front of our jeep, about 5 meters away from us.

Tiger at Ranthambore in India

May 8th 2009 | 6:45 am CET | No Comments »

Our Visit to Niagara Falls

Posted by Arthur in Nature

Last week we went to see the Niagara Falls. We drove from our home in Illinois down to Indiana and through Michigan to cross the border at Port Huron. Then we drove through part of Ontario to Niagara Falls. It had rained the days before and even during our 9 hour drive it was pouring down most of the time, but as we approached the waterfalls the sky cleared up and it was mostly sunny the whole time we were there. We spent the night at a Days Inn on the Canadian side and crossed the border into New York state the next day to check out Niagara Falls State Park on Goat Island. We had a wonderful time and were very impressed with the magnificent falls.

Niagara Falls 014 (29-Apr)

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May 6th 2009 | 8:49 am CET | No Comments »

CafePress Virtually Lays Off Thousands of Shopkeepers

Posted by Arthur in News, Websites & Tools

CafePress, the world’s leading print-on-demand service, announced a major change yesterday that will have a huge negative impact on its huge community shopkeepers that manage over 6 million shops. More »

April 23rd 2009 | 11:37 am CET | 20 Comments »