Thursday, October 1, 2009


For a brief few days, I (Bobby) visited Madrid, Spain, where I attended at a workshop --- in addition to finding no soap in my room. The small workshop was all about adaptive multimedia retrieval, and I presented some of my post-doctoral research results in using sparse approximations for similarity search in audio databases. The workshop took place at one of Madrid's five universities, and in the psychology building.

An amusing aspect of this place is that in the main hallway there was an historical exhibit of various tools used in the study of behavior, and among the glass cases of mazes for mice, and electrified cages, was this Commodore 64 computer. The only thing missing was the tape drive. Nearly 25 years ago I would go over to my friend Tosh Nealand's house and we would try to program games on his Commodore 64.

For the social dinner we all met at a fine restaurant down some street I cannot remember. On the menu was beef cheeks, young goat, and five different types of fish. Several great appetizers were served, and after dessert the staff brought out about six different types of spirits, all of which were great. At my left was a fellow I met who is from the French island Reunion (off the coast of Madagascar), but who has lived in Paris for several years, and is now a researcher with Xerox in Grenoble. I was only one of three people doing music-related work. One of the others can be seen above scorning the camera.

The final day of the workshop I had time to go to the famous Prado museum before my flight back to Paris. This museum has an enormous collection of Francisco Goya, in addition to Velazquez, El Greco, and many other famous Spanish painters. Also included are many medieval works, such as "The Anunciation" above by Angelico from 1426.

Here is one of my favorites, "The Garden of Earthly Delights" (1505) by El Bosco (which is the Spanish name for the Netherlander Hieronymus Bosch, who was a favorite painter of Spanish king Charles 2). Soon after I took this picture a tour guide gasped and said, "NO FOTOS!" One person in the Spanish speaking tour group looked at me and said, "Si voo play!" He thought I was French!

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