Monday, November 29, 2010

The polar night of Groningen - Faces of Greenland

How to survive the cold? Learn about it in "the Polar Night of Groningen". This winter the city of Groningen is a polar city. During a lively festival you can visit several exhibitions, attend public lectures, meet polar scientists, experience the polar night, win a trip to Spitsbergen and see lots of polar movies!

The festival is organized to bring the Polar Regions, and all it’s aspects, closer to the public. Groningen also celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Arctic Centre at the University. Together with colleague polar scientists and organizations such as WWF, Blikveld and KNNV publisher the Arctic Centre organizes the ‘Poolnacht van Groningen’ [Polar Night of Groningen] from November 15th 2010 until January 15th 2011.

One of the many highlights of the festival is the exposition "Faces of Greenland" with b&w-pictures of Ko de Korte.

Biologist Ko de Korte and his colleagues spent the field seasons of 1973-1975 in the Scoresby Sund area, studying breeding birds on the tundra. The researchers were warmly welcomed by the people of Ittoqqortoormiit, who invited them into their homes and shared with them their stories as well as the meat of animals they had hunted in and around the fjord.

Being intrigued by the Inuit people and their impressive way of life, Ko de Korte photographed them. Building upon his relations with these people, he portrayed them during the daily activities in their natural environment, capturing the essence of life in Ittoqqortoormiit.

Faces of the Scoresby Sund shows not only the strength and perseverance of these people, but also the joys and hardships of living in one of the most extreme outposts of the Arctic.

Not able to visit Groningen? It's a shame, but there is also a book: Faces from the Scoresby Sund

This season's first marathon speed skating race on natural ice in Groningen

This evening the small village of Noordlaren (located in the northern part of the Netherlands, in Groningen) had this year's première of a speed skating race on natural ice. A few nights of frost is all the Dutch need to get completely mad about speed skating. To be fair I am no exception, although I am also a bit disappointed that my Tuesday-evening kayak routine stops this early this winter.
The water around the boathouse of the local kayakclub in Woerden iss covered with ice since this morning. It's not enough ice to skate, but enough ice to make paddling impossible. I hope this "ice-break" won't last as long as it did last year (in the winter of 2009-2010 it was 7 weeks impossible to paddle around Woerden).

Paddling (and biking) buddy Alex helps me to get over my deception: tomorrow-evening we are not going to paddle, but are going to skate (on the indoor ice track of Utrecht)!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The first rolls of Lieke: Greenland style

My daughter Lieke made the first rolls this evening in the swimming pool of the Alphense Kanovereniging the Kromme Aar. At the first session a few weeks ago I worked with Lieke on the balace brace, and we finished with a "lightly assisted" butterfly roll. Today, at the second session, Lieke progressed from the buttterfly roll to the standard Greenland roll. The technique needs some finetuning, but the roll is already quit solid. Lieke is a totally different learner compared to her brother Jelle. Jelle is an explosive, agressive hip-flic roller, while Lieke's focus is more on gentle body movements. Jelle first learned the hand-roll and is still convinced a paddle only makes rolling harder...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wifi - Er gaat niets boven Groningen...

Groningen was to become one of the first cities in the world with free wireless internet throughout the city. But the implementation of the wireless network was (too) complex, got delayed and now the project is finally cancelled. And just today (to be even more specific: this afternoon at half past two) 22 years ago, the Netherlands were connected to the Internet as the second country in the world (after the USA). Thanks to Piet Beertema, system administrator of CWI (with this name undoubtedly with roots from Groningen), whose good international contacts played an important role. Two years earlier he registered the first country code: .nl
So you see: " gaat niets boven Groningen" - Groningen tops it all.

Thanks Bob and Josine for the daily news-updates!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dutch innovation improves safety of low head dams for paddlers (and for swimmers)

Every paddler with a little bit of experience knows that low head dams (weirs) are dangerous, potentially lethal. Though you won't find serious white water in the flat Netherlands (the one exception is DWD), the canals in the country are full with hydraulic engineering installations, such as artificial weirs, pumping stations, inlets et cetera, creating potentially dangerous situations. And accidents happen; an example with huge impact was 2 years ago on the river de Berkel, where two people drowned in the water flow behind a low head dam.

Dutch engineers of the consultancy firm Oranjewoud developed a simple but effective solution that claims to take away the risk of drowning at low head dams: the Safety-slide. Two weeks ago the first Safety-slide was put into use at the low head dam in the canal de Nieuwe Wetering near Laag Zuthem. At the occasion of the official opening a team of NKB-WW-coaches did a safety test in the flow behind the dam and demonstrated the effectiveness of the Safety-slide.

Note: Dutch engineers are businessmen: the Safety-Slide is patent-protected, patent number: 1036143.