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Monday, January 30, 2006

Terrorist Toddlers

It is said that the general population in this part of the country – the Flemish part that is – is turning into a bunch of sourpusses. This means that everyone thinks he or she is the most important person in the world and thereby entitled to do whatever (s)he wants, while the fellow countrymen should abbey all rules to the very letter. If not, they are liable to prosecution.

A very fine example of this behaviour made national headlines a while ago. A couple of acid spewing, vinegar pissing, sauerkraut shitting ass-wipes won a court case, after they complained to the judge about the children’s playground behind their homes. It seems the toddlers made too much noise. According to one of these morons, who dared to show her face on national television, the children make so much noise playing, that they ‘are not able to complete their afternoon nap anymore, because the sounds of the children playing wake them up’.

The fact that such morons exist, is not very surprising. The fact that they are becoming more and more numerous is very annoying. The fact that they are becoming so loud that they awake me during my afternoon nap is extremely annoying (and untrue, I very rarely take a nap then). But the fact that a judge would go so far as to say they’re right is absolutely beyond belief. So now the children can’t play anymore on the playing ground, or they will be arrested and the municipality, which owns the playing ground, will get a huge fine.

The days following the court ruling, protest came from all layers of the population and from many politicians. So yesterday, they organised a ‘silent’ protest mars, which wasn’t that silent because it involved some 10.000 people, including a lot of children. And as the plaintiffs can tell you, children make a hell of a racket. Serves them right!

Posted by Bart at 6:49 PM
Categories: Being Belgian

Friday, January 27, 2006

Picture this

For our wedding invitations, we thought it would be nice to make a picture of the two rubber duckies we got recently. He-Quack is dressed in a tuxedo, while the she-duck has a wedding gown and a necklace. The idea is to take a picture of the both of them surrounded by loads of white foam.

Technically, it’s not the easiest of pictures because of this white foam. With my standard flash, the only thing I would probably get is a yellow blur (the duckies) in a white blur (the foam). So I thought it would be good to get a couple of spotlights to get a clear picture (the duckies are not very big) with enough detail (in the bubbles).

Now how difficult can it be to buy three spotlights? ‘Very difficult’, you would say, ‘if you live in the high artic tundra with nothing but hundreds of kilometres of snow and ice around you’.

But you see, I don’t live in such a remote place. I live in a relatively big city with more than half a million inhabitants, with thousands and thousands of shops and warehouses and the like. Surely there MUST be at least one shop that has tree measly spotlights?

Well, guess again, because after two weeks of dwelling trough the streets of Antwerp, visiting every furniture, DIY, hardware, porn and electrical appliances shop I could find, I STILL DIDN’T FIND ANY BLOODY SPOTLIGHTS. At least none that can handle a 80-100 W light bulb and that come with clamps so I don’t have to drill holes in the walls or in the furniture just to position them.

Oh yes, we have portable phones now so you can call from the South Pole if you want to. And we have portable computers so you can enjoy a total system crash in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. And we have I-pods and the like so you can listen to Grauzone’s ‘Eisbaer’ on the hottest spot the Sahara has to offer. But we DON’T HAVE ANY BLOODY PORTABLE LAMPS ANYMORE, because that is WAY over our technological capabilities!

Posted by Bart at 5:18 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Honeymoon dreams

It’s freezing cold here, the Russians aren’t coming but their weather is. Hello Siberia! So what better means of psychological resistance than ordering one’s honeymoon trip to a tropical destination?

We finally decided on Ecuador, known for its Incas, Andes and regular revolutions. We opted for a semi-organised semi-low-budget tour, which means that we’ll have a guide with us to take care of logistics (transport and finding places to sleep), but for the rest we can do whatever we want. At every stop on our roundtrip through the country, we’ll get a number of options to choose from. Want to see some culture? Here’s an Inca ruin, her name is Consuela, she’s 42 years old, still single and her mother is not a goat, despite all the rumours and the obvious similarities (wait until she starts to sing). Want to do some sports? Here you maniac, here’s a raft. Go paddle up that waterfall. Want to see some nature? Don’t feed yourself to the Anaconda’s or you’ll be in big trouble with the local police.

I’m very fond of this kind of travelling ever since I tried it in Central America. It gives you all the freedom you want, without the need to constantly hang over maps, bus/train itineraries, travel guides and so on. If you don’t like the other members of your group, you can happily do whatever you want on your own. For all they care, you can stay into your hotel room the whole time, only showing up when it’s time to move on.

We’re both looking forward of seeing the upper part of the Amazon, with its dense tropical forests. Just the thing you need to make your honeymoon truly unforgettable: going to a place with billions of mosquito’s so you can scratch open each others skin, share an open forest toilet while the diarrhoea makes you produce a previously undiscovered and very brown tributary to the Amazon and meet each other in feverish dreams while suffering from a major case of malaria when you’ve returned.

I’m so looking forward to this!

Posted by Bart at 6:34 PM
Categories: The intrepid explorer

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mister X

A couple of months ago, I read an article by Jacob Nielsen about the 'Top Ten Design Mistakes' of weblogs. And guess what? I failed completely on design mistake number 1: no author biography.

Well, this shameful situation is over, from this very minute. Those of you who are so curious about the genius behind this blog: I'm sorry, but you'll simply have to do with MY profile. I know, I should have done this long ago, but I was just too lazy to add another page.

'So where's the photo', you ask. 'Design mistake number 2 is still not resolved!'

Give me a break, will you? I have a life, somewhere out there.

Posted by Bart at 9:31 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Friday, January 20, 2006

Cell phones for dummies

A couple of days ago I got stuck in that twilight zone of numbness that takes over your television between 6 and 8.30 pm. A camera crew that wasn’t the slightest bit interested in the global war on terror or the financial scandals in Japan followed a social worker who was supposed to help children with learning problems.

The voice off-camera told us, the brain-dead viewing public, that he got a call from a technical school where a couple of girls were in need of help. The exams were coming, and the three little pigs were seriously worried about the number of pages they had to cram into their respective heads.

They ‘really had to learn a lot’, explained one of them.

‘So what courses are we exactly talking about’, asked the social worker with a tired look in his eyes (I bet he just hates kids).

The girl numbered three courses, of which I promptly forgot the first two when she mentioned the third: ‘we have to learn about cell phones’.

ABOUT WHAT ?!?!?

As if to rub it really in, the scene switched to the girl’s house. We saw her hard at ‘work’, studying about cell phones. Mind you, I’m not talking about the complex electronics of a cell phone or even the basic principles of ultra high frequency wireless data and voice communication. No. The girl read aloud from her – thin – learning manual, which had more images than text. ‘To insert the SIM-card, you have to blah-blah-blah-blah…’

I heard rumours that the quality of the educational system is going downhill, but this is ridiculous. In my days, we had to learn 300 pages of historical dates by heart, add them up, calculate goniometric functions with them and translate those in French and German at the same time.

And can someone please explain me the use of learning kids how to use a cell phone? They use cell phones in their sleep, blindfolded and upside down in a barrel of water. And still, these girls have troubles remembering all of it? Forget teaching them, club them to dead. If they are not able to memorise that, they’ll probably forget their own names too if someone doesn’t remind them constantly.

I’m seriously wondering how those girls ever passed their breathing exams. You know, because you have to learn two courses at once: breathing in AND breathing out. And no trying again next year!

Posted by Bart at 7:47 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Requiem for my 'Bomma'

My grandmother died yesterday, at the blessed age of 94 (yes, ninety-four!) My mother called me in the morning to tell me the news, but it wasn’t really a surprise. She hadn’t been well lately, in the sense that she didn’t eat anymore. ‘Of course she died’, you’ll say, but eating to her wasn’t a vital activity. There are nurses and intravenous fluids to take care of that problem. No, the worst thing by far was that she didn’t speak anymore. That was an absolute first in her full 94 years of existence.

The word ‘grandmother’ generally invokes warm feelings and mental images of sweet old ladies spoiling their grandchildren and stuffing them with all things sugar. Mine was a tad different, to say the least. She gave birth to eleven children and ruled them (and my grandfather) like a general. Some of Latin America’s most infamous dictators based their style of governance on hers. Coming from a sound catholic family, the eleven children produced a lot of offspring themselves, so basically if my whole family would travel to Africa, the European continent would jump up half a meter because of the shift in weight. It got so complicated, that they invented a numerical system to keep track of everyone. I for instance, am known as one of nine, or the firstborn child of my father, who was the ninth of the eleven children. By the way, I am not the brother of Jerry Ryan, a.k.a. Seven of Nine in the Star Trek Voyager Series. Which is a good thing, because you’re not supposed to have wet dreams about your sister. Anyway, for my grandmother, even this system was too much of a hassle, so she just called everyone ‘thingy’ (dingeske).

Her most favourite hobby was to terrorise people and set them up against each other. She succeeded in creating many a row between her children and grandchildren. Oh, how we laughed! She was renowned in restaurants all over Belgium, making waiters and cooks hurl away screaming when she entered. One time when she found a police officer by her car writing a parking ticket, she yelled at him ‘Do you have any idea who I am?’ The poor man was oblivious to the fact that she was the widow of the former chief medical doctor of the city of Antwerp, which she then explained in all its detail and glory. He ended up by tearing his ticket to pieces, on which she said: ‘You’re a nice boy. Here, have a candy’. He accepted the bonbon and retreated, completely stunned.

When she finally moved to the old people’s home, she continued to boss people around. She teamed up with her sister, which meant living hell for the other pensioners AND their families. It got so bad, that the director told my family she had to move to another home because too many guests were pushing their furniture in front of their doors to block her out. That was four years ago.

People wonder what the secret was of her old age. My guess is that my grandfather, who died more than twenty years ago, lobbied god to leave her on earth as long as possible so he could enjoy his peace and quiet for as long as it lasted. Another scenario that is very likely is this one:

GOD: You take her.

DEVIL: No way man, you take her.

GOD: You take her, it’s your task. You’re supposed to take in people like that.

DEVIL: It’s not fair, I already got Hitler AND Mussolini AND Pol Pot AND Atila the Hun AND Mother Theresa…

GOD: Ok, this is getting ridiculous. She’s already ninety-four and we still haven’t found a solution!

DEVIL: You can do what you want man. I’m not taking her in.

GOD: If you don’t, my eternal wrath will be upon you!!!

DEVIL: Oh yeah? What you gonna do, cast me into hell?

GOD: ...

Posted by Bart at 6:53 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Monday, January 16, 2006

Hanging out the dirty laundry

I’m so glad it is Monday, now I can finally rest. The weekend’s been extremely busy, especially Saturday when our two families met for the first time. We finished the preparations just in time and the new and untried recipe for pea-soup was a big success. The two families made arrangements ‘behind our backs’ to get together and make a ‘cantate’. This has been a tradition in my family for ages at wedding parties, when the lives of the bride and groom are explained with songs, sketches and so on. It usually focuses on particularly embarrassing moments of each of the newlyweds’ pasts. Whether the events took place as they are described, is also completely beside the point.

Now the problem here is that my life is filled with unfortunate events that vary from peeing into the doctors’ face when I was a baby to destroying a complete apartment block’s plumbing when I was a child to allegations of Satanism when I was a teenager to a number of explosions when I was a bit older. And that’s just the tip of the top of the iceberg. Actually, I’m a bit worried that she-who-has-tickly-armpits may end the wedding a couple of hours after it started when she finds out. I know a relationship should be based on honesty, but I feel there’s something like being too honest. There’s no need to dig up the past.

What’s also worrying is that I caught my sister and my brother-in-law in our bedroom… taking pictures (what were you thinking about?) Apparently, they needed some photographic evidence, but I wonder what it was they were filming. Our bedroom at the moment was a complete mess. It usually is, but this time we had a valid excuse: because of the many people we had to cram into the living room, we had to throw out stuff that ended into our bedroom. And luckily, we put our dirty underwear into the laundry bin.

But there were some other very private items we didn’t conceal that carefully, of which massage-oil was the most innocent. So now were terrified that 200+ close friends, colleagues and relatives will find out what we do in the bedroom apart from sleeping and cuddling our teddy bear (we share one).

So in the worst case scenario, by the end of my wedding day, I’ll have no more wife, no more friends, no more job and my family won’t ever see me again. It will indeed be an unforgettable day!

Posted by Bart at 7:34 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Friday, January 13, 2006

My favouritest hobby

Tomorrow is an important day: for the first time ever the two families will meet. So the future brothers-, sisters-, parents-, nieces- and dogs-in-law will see eachother for the first time. The question is: will they hate eachother or not? We already did a smaller experiment with our parents, and I'm happy to report that they met without any serious bloodshedding.

Needless to say, we're both a bit nervous. The logistics alone are a nightmare: we have to cram 18 people (including 3 babies) and 2 cats in our appartment AND feed them. We decided on sandwiches, 'to keep things simple'. So at the moment, we're making cakes, earlier today I bought about half of the butcher's year supply of things to put on bread and tomorrow morning we have to get up early to get the bread, cheese and vegetables. Oh, and I took it on myself to make a nice pea-soup to fight the winter chill.

And on top of that, we had to clean everything. We washed all our clothes and I ironed them, which took me two evenings. My little bundle of stress cleaned the bathroom and the toilet earlier this week and I just finished the hall and the kitchen.

But the most gigantic task by far was this:

The dirty dishes

It took me two bloody hours to do the dishes - the picture was taken halfway and it shows a mere fraction of what was on the cupboard. The cupboard itself sank half a meter into the ground because of the weight of the rubble on top. And the thought of the amount of washing-up we'll have to do after the dinner party just makes me want to scream.

Posted by Bart at 8:55 PM
Edited on: Thursday, March 09, 2006 7:41 PM
Categories: Framed, Miscellaneous

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Duck Wuck

During the Christmas Holidays, a Belgian "Love the animals or I’ll smash your brains in" organisation called Gaia campaigned against foie gras. As you all know, foie gras is made of duck livers that are made very rich and fatty by force feeding the ducks in question. They just stuff a tube in the ducks throat and open the valve until the animal almost bursts out of it seams. No chewing required.

So Gaia got in touch with their inner duck and launched a campaign to inform the public at large of these practices, with these posters. I thought they were hilarious, but some people were outraged by them and they even had to be removed in some parts of the country.

I can’t say they had much effect on me; I stuffed at least ten toast cups with foie gras in my throat during the New Year’s Eve party at my friend’s house. You won’t catch me buying the stuff; I’m not going to encourage this kind of behaviour towards animals. But if you put it in front of me, I won’t let it go bad either. That’s just me folks: displaying all the hypocrisy and spineless behaviour of modern 21st century consumerism.

So while all these duck livers are devoured by wealthy anti-ecologists, it’s a shame to let the rest go to waste, isn’t it? That is why I created this lovely recipe with duck’s breast and wok-fried vegetables.

Duck Wuck Wok

Ingredients for two hungry people:

  • Two not too large duck breasts (or one very large one), make it about 250-300g per person
  • A courgette (zucchini)
  • An onion
  • A paprika
  • Broccoli
  • A bag (some 300gr) of wok vegetables, or alternatively
    • A carrot or two
    • A bit of white cabbage
    • Mung bean sprouts
    • Any other vegetable you feel like throwing in
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Soy-sesame sauce
  • Olive oil or any other vegetable oil you like
  • Margarine

Zhe Veggies:

First cut the onion, paprika, carrot, cabbage etc. into pieces. Make sure the broccoli pieces aren’t too small. Cut the courgette in half and then into large pieces.

Put a royal amount of cooking oil in the wok and when it’s hot, add the courgette. Sprinkle a nice pinch of salt and pepper on top and stir fry a couple of minutes until they are a nice golden brown, but not mushy. Take them out of the wok and put them aside in a bowl or a rubber boot or something.

Add some more oil in the wok and when it’s hot catapult the pieces of onion and paprika in there. Stir-fry-stir-fry-stir-fry and add your other vegetables, starting with the hard ones (carrot, cabbage).

When all is nicely stir-fried, tossle in the courgette again and move to part III, ‘Zhe finishing touch’.

Zhe Meat:

Take the duck breasts and sprinkle both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Melt the margarine in a frying pan that you can cover with a lid. Make the pan nice and hot and when the margarine is molten and brown, put in the duck breasts with the meaty side down (meaning the white fatty side up). The hot pan should sear the meat closed, so it will remain nice and juicy.

After a minute or two, lower the heat and turn the duck breasts upside down, so that they’re lying on their fatty sides. Put the lid on the pan and let them bake on a medium fire for another eight minutes (about 10 minutes of total baking time).

The idea is to get the meat nice and brown on the inside, but still a bit rosy on the inside. This way, it will have a great taste and a juicy bite. If you slice it up and then throw it in the wok, you’ll get dry meat and loose a lot of that typical duck taste.

Zhe finishing touch:

Cut the duck breasts into slices of about half a centimetre thick. Throw them in the wok and mix with the rest of the dish

Add the soy-sesame sauce, exactly 120 ml will do the trick, or in my case half a bottle of Go-Tan Wok Essentials Soy-Sesame Sauce (no I’m not sponsored and I’m not a shareholder). Stir around again and leave for another minute or two.

Serve with rice, bami, mi or whatever you like. And please, don’t cry my name when you have that culinary orgasm in front of you significant other, I don’t want to be held responsible for any relational mayhem afterwards.

Posted by Bart at 8:23 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Monday, January 09, 2006

The emperor’s new clothes

Last Tuesday, the annual winter sales period, or ‘solden’ (Flemish)/Soldes (French) as they are called, started again. That’s a mighty big deal here; journalists all over the country give almost live coverage of the whole event. Every year, the big question is which stores didn’t respect the official and legally permitted period of time to sell their goods at a much reduced price. And every year some shopkeepers and even big chains keep up the old Belgian tradition of using the law as something to wipe your feet off when you unwittingly trampled into something left behind by a dog that wasn’t taken out to do ‘walkies’ all week. OOOOH, the scandals, the drama, the passion…

Me, I couldn’t care less. In fact, I hate this period to the last fibre. But there was no escape this year; I really needed new winter clothes. I put it off last year because of an unexpected electricity bill that was so high that I started to wonder if I was the one that had to pay for lighting the Belgian road network. And the previous year, I just didn’t feel like going, because I didn’t feel like doing anything at all, because I was chronically ill. Don’t ask me what it was. Apparently you get it from kissing, which was a coincidence because I just started a relationship with the woman that will be my wife in a couple of months.

So I had nothing to wear, apart from some rags. Some of my trousers were ripped at very inconvenient places, causing people to give me the nickname ‘the blue shrimp’. Urgent action was needed.

And so I left the apartment, fully determined to succeed, even cheerful by the prospect of finding new garment. And held at gunpoint by my girlfriend. However, five minutes after plunging myself into the melee, I already felt the urge to kill all shoppers in the store in a particularly brutish and distasteful manner. Too many people, nothing in my size – am I the only one wanting to buy an eXtra Large – too much noise, a girlfriend darting everywhere without notice…

Also, the colours of this year’s winter collection were chosen by a panel of colour-blind people, presided by Ray Charles. Either that or the Chinese had one ecological disaster too many that fucked up their sheep, cotton fields, designers and production facilities. Or they were simply taking revenge for the EU’s restrictive trade policies. Anyway, it was damn difficult to find something that didn’t make me look like a complete arse. Every time I thought I found something nice, it had either a pink, a gleamy blue or a flashy orange stripe at the sleeves or around the neck. To make things worse, when I finally did find a couple of T-shirts, my girlfriend only handed two of the three that I selected over to the saleswoman. I only found out in the next shop that I’m missing a T-shirt, so we have to return to the first shop to get the T-shirt and queue AGAIN to pay the damn thing.

But I persisted (still being held at gunpoint by my lovely fiancé) and after three and a half hours of agonizing shopping experience, victory was mine. I am now two pants, three T-shirts with long sleeves, two turtleneck sweaters, one woollen sweater with a drawing of a polar bear and six long and warm socks the richer. Hooray!

Should liberate me from having to experience this again for the next five to ten years.

Posted by Bart at 7:13 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Friday, January 06, 2006

I'm an addict

I quit a while ago, although I must admit it wasn’t the first time I attempted to give up my addiction. All in all, it was a good attempt. I didn't touch the stuff for more than eight months. But you know what they say: ‘once an addict, always an addict’. It’s not because you don’t do it anymore that you’ve become impervious to its magnetic force. Especially not when it’s installed on both your office and your home computers.

Yes, I admit: I’m addicted to designing and programming databases. It’s very sad to find myself in the upper strata of geekishness again. It’s a wonder I don’t run around with bulging glasses (sixties style), a white shirt with a selection of micro screwdrivers and grey trousers with pipes that are too short and a crotch that’s too tight.

My father used to entertain me with endless story about his database designs when I was young, to the point where I learned to dig escape tunnels at an astonishing rate to get away. I vowed to take a totally different course in life, never to find myself behind the screen of a computer all day, manipulating scores of data. Alas, look what’s become of me!

Can I make it up by saying that it’s not the manipulation of data that gives me wet dreams, but rather the manipulation of people? It’s just incredible how you can drive ordinary men and women insane by giving them a professional looking application that goes screws their hard won data completely up. All that work feeding a database with endless columns of numbers… just to find out that the application has ‘crunched the data’ in a very literal way. Or even more subtle: it gives biased and sometimes very strange results. For instance, I made a database once that under very specific circumstances proclaimed that 1 plus 1 is 3. Not always, just when you least expect it.

Now that’s sadism for the twenty-first century.

Posted by Bart at 6:02 PM
Edited on: Friday, January 06, 2006 6:27 PM
Categories: ICT - Inevitable Computer Troubles

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bloggies

The 2006 Bloggies are here again! For those of you unfamiliar with these annual Oscars of the weblog community, check out the 2006 Bloggies site. I spent some quality office time (lunch break) posting my list. I won’t mention what my favourites were for every category, but these blogs were in it for most categories:

  • My boyfriend is a twat: The blog that got me blogging (so file your complaints there). Meet Zoe and her zoo of a household, featuring suicidal goldfish, exes of exes, mysteriously disappearing turkeys, tyrannical adolescents and masses of empty bottles of wine. Oh, and a boyfriend that gallops around in rags and has the verbal finesse and diplomacy of a Roman sewer cleaner at a Victorian court.
  • Scaryduck: despite its name it has a serious lack of horror, ducks, or any meaningful combination of the two, but it is a good laugh.
  • Get on the blandwagon is a recent discovery, but it’s very original and great fun. It could only grow in Australia, where people drink trainloads of alcohol in the blazing sun. Just to give you a measure of how crazy it sometimes gets.
  • There comes a time in a man’s life when he starts yearning for a steady relationship and offspring. I can’t think of another reason why I’m hooked on this blog on babies and early fatherhood. Wait, no I know: because Velcrometer is both well written and hilarious at regular intervals.

The Bloggies are mainly for blogs in the language of Shakespeare, or at least the language that would make Shakespeare turn around in his grave like a mole on heroine. But of course it has followers in other languages too. Being of the Dutch persuasion, I’m also curious about the Dutch Bloggies 2006. I must admit I don’t spend a lot of time on ‘local’ blogs, for the simple reason that reading about what happens in my own country is as boring as a boring finale of a boring world championship “Being Boring for the Bored” in Bora-Bora. But here are some notable exceptions:

  • The complete and utter weblog of (pdw): although he hasn’t been a prolific writer these last months, but still fine and opinionated humour.
  • Luc Verhelst: not so much funny as it is a nice read.
  • Struikgewas: I also voted for them on the ‘original’ Bloggies site, a groupblog by some of the best Bloggers of Belgium.
  • Polskaya: a recent and interesting discovery

So if you don’t have anything else to do (don’t pretend you have, you’re reading this blog, aren’t you): check out these fine specimens and vote for them on a Bloggies site near you. Oh, and it goes without saying that THIS blog is absolutely the best of the best in the category ‘Ego so large it blocks out the sun’. So do feel free to vote for your favourite Bartlog.

Posted by Bart at 8:46 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Does my bum look fat in this skirt?

I can’t deny it to myself anymore: I’m gaining weight. That’s normal, you should think, at the end of the year everyone collects a bit of fat because of all the parties. What worries me is that I missed most parties because I was abroad. And the ones I went too didn’t always have good food, so I didn’t eat that much. Still, the scales were showing higher and higher numbers.

At first, I drew the obvious conclusion that the earth’s core is collapsing under its own mass because the ozone layer has become so thin it’s not bouncing off the sun’s rays as it used to. Because light has both the characteristics of waves/rays and of particles, it was only a matter of time before the extra weight of these particles would lead to a critical augmentation of the earth’s surface matter, which would in turn press on the core, making it collapse into a dark hole and thereby drastically increasing the planets gravity in a matter of weeks, even days.

My other lousy explanation was that the scales broke down.

But apparently, both scales and earth’s core are fine and dandy, all ready for the New Year. Another indicator was the bulging of my belly. You see, I don’t fatten gracefully, the same way that my hairline doesn’t recede gracefully. My body always seems to look for the best way to entertain people, making me look as funnily as possible. So despite being relatively straight of limbs, my tummy sticks out like that of a four-month-pregnant woman’s.

So in real terms, my weight isn’t that dramatic: 79.4 kilos for a 1.87 m bloke is in fact nothing to worry about. It’s just that it was still 74 point something a couple months ago. I’m heading back to the wobbly 85 kg person that I was a couple of years ago, when I still swigged down a couple of beers every evening (ah, student’s life!) But now I don’t drink anymore – well, not that much anyway. If it goes on like this, I may have to start doing… sports.

I used to ride my bike every day when I stilled worked in Antwerp. And I got on a horse again two weeks ago. Oh, and before anyone remarks, riding a horse is hard work, it’s not “just sitting there letting the animal do everything”. If you don’t believe it, try it and feel how your muscles ache like never before the day after! But what I did in the past was just for fun or out of practical need. Not with the aim to get fit and slim and so on.

I’m just afraid I’ll have to start to move because it’s ‘healthy’ or because my doctor told me so. Before you know it I’ll be counting calories and reading food labels to see how many calories and fat it contains. Nooo, help meeee!!!

Posted by Bart at 6:57 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Paylog by Telenet

Before I set up this blog, I compared different possibilities to set up a weblog. I wasn’t too enthusiast about free services such as Blogger, because I read a lot of complaints on different blogs from people who couldn’t get access anymore, who lost parts or even their whole weblog and so on. At the time, blogger often was just dead slow. So I preferred the idea of setting up a blog on the webspace I already had at my disposal with my ISP Telenet, using an application – preferably a free one – to design and manage it. This would cost me a bit more time and study, but at least it wouldn’t look like 5.633 other blogs based on the same template.

However, the security policy of Telenet proved to be a difficulty. They don’t allow for any scripts to run on their servers (except a small number of CGI-scripts they wrote themselves about a century ago). Without the possibility to work with CGI or PHP, most weblog tools just won’t work. Luckily for me, JavaScript was a valid option. There aren’t that many JavaScript tools available, but there are some, and I settled for Thingamablog. Apart from one dreadful experience that cost me my whole weblog after my girlfriend had accidentally corrupted a file that is very essential to Thingamablog, I’ve been very pleased with this solution.

A couple of days ago, after my return from the Heart of Darkness (in Africa), I noticed that Telenet had a new button on their brand new opening page. ‘Blogs’ it read, and I quickly took a curious peep. Would Telenet have changed it security policy? Would I too be able to work with PHP and CGI? Not at all! Forget it! Get real! Telenet stays firmly in control over their servers. What they do provide is ‘their proper tool’, better known as TypePad, just slightly adapted. And since TypePad is not a freeware application, you have to pay to make a blog on Telenet: € 4.95 per month to be precise, on top of your monthly fee for the internet connection. If you want different weblogs or a photo album, you can add another € 4 to that price and another € 10 to the price of the Basic service if you want a groupblog.

What’s so annoying about this is that you still don’t have the choice. It’s either their solution or nothing at all (except when you use JavaScript). And pay € 5 per month for a basic weblog, while you can have it all for free at other ISP’s? Never!

Why, if I wasn’t as lazy as I am, I would change immediately!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy hangover

« And for you also so much » as we say here. May the iron spiked rubber ball that’s bouncing around in your head loose momentum soon and may the high pitched tones of the shrieking children around you be muffled forever when they choke on the leftover cake in the fridge.

Despite the traditional end-of-year frenzy, things were relatively quiet in Bart Manor the last couple of days. In between sumptuous Christmas and New Year’s Eve diners, we spent some time doing the laundry, buying completely unnecessary computer parts, cleaning the house a bit, playing with the cats and riding the horse. I annoyed everyone at the various parties with my new camera, either showing off its many functions or blinding people permanently because I don’t master its many functions as I should. Which reminds me, I even got to working on the photo album of our summer holidays. I’m about half way through and at this rate I might have finished it before we go on our next annual leave.

I saved up as many days off work as I could, which wasn’t much because I changed work in August and I was so fed up with my previous work that I used up almost all my vacation in July. So I had to work last week, although only two days. This wouldn’t have bothered me that much, except that I was still very tired from the two consecutive trips to Africa. On top of that, we were the only office working in a building with six other organisations, so we felt rather lonely and stupid. It seemed like most of Brussels was on vacation, there were hardly any people on the morning and evening trains, in the subway and on the streets. Quite depressing, I can tell you.

I’m happy 2005 has come to an end; it wasn’t the happiest of years for me. I spent the first half of the year in a very stressful and depressing situation at my previous job. I got in a serious fight with the management board in May 2004, and the tension lasted ever since. Worse still, I couldn’t seem to find a suitable new job and I was hanging on by my finger nails after January, when we got a new and not very sympathetic boss to make things worse. Even after finding my new job, it took me a couple of months to shake off the experience, but to end on a positive note, I’m glad I found my ‘drive’ again. When you fight the roots and consequences of poverty, conflicts and natural disasters, it’s all about motivation. Loose that and you’re washed away with the giant wave of problems you encounter every day.

But 2005 wasn’t all sorrow. For starters, I dared to ask She-who-lays-her-freezing-feet-against-mine-under-the-duvet to marry me. Even better, she said yes! Unfortunately, we both underestimated the amount of work – not to mention the cost – which a wedding brings. We just have too many relatives and friends. We also enlarged our family with two cuddly newcomers, who have thanked us ever since by methodically destroying our furniture, plants, carpets, wall paper, wiring, etc. Macka and Snijeg, we love you very much and hope you will be with us for a very long time to bite in our toes when we get out of bath!

So the first half of 2006 will be all about organising our wedding. If you can’t stand the word feel free to switch to another blog at any moment. This reminds me: if anyone has good advice on exotic wedding destinations for less than no money, please tell us. Or send us money. Lots of it.

Posted by Bart at 7:51 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous


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