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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's A Boy

Birth card of my son Wolf  

A healthy boy, weighing 3.520 kg and measuring 48 cm. He has his mother's veracious appetite and my nose (atchoum!) He popped out at 2 o’clock this morning and made his mother suffer for twelve hours. Boy, he’s going to hear that a lot when he’s naughty!

Posted by Bart at 11:21 AM
Categories: Big Belly

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Personality Test

I’ve devised a personality test for women. Choose one of the three answers and check the results below.

Situation: you have some guests coming over.

When cleaning the toilet…

  • A) You use a toilet brush and/or a sponge that you only use for this purpose. You do this well in advance so everything is spic and span when they arrive.
  • B) You put things off to the last moment, and when you realise that you almost forgot to clean it you grab the nearest thing at hand: an old rag that you also use to clean the furniture.
  • C) You use a washing cloth.

When you’re done cleaning…

  • A) You stow away the cleaning liquid and sponge in the closet underneath the sink.
  • B) You throw the rag in a corner, wondering whether you shouldn’t put it in the laundry before you use it again on your furniture.
  • C) You hang the dirty washing cloth on the side of bathtub.

When your partner takes a bath and unknowingly uses the sponge/rag/washing cloth to wash himself…

  • A) You calmly explain that this is the toilet cleaning sponge and that he mustn’t use it to wash himself.
  • B) You calmly explain that this is the rag you use to clean your furniture, and you feel guilty for leaving it in a corner of the bathroom instead of throwing it directly in the washing bin.
  • C) You yell at him for using the washing cloth that you used to clean the toilet with.

Results:

When you’ve answered A to all of the questions: you’re a normal, clean and well organised lady.

When you’ve answered B to all of the questions: you’re a bit of a bohemian, putting things off to the last moment. Also, cleaning is clearly not one of your favourite hobbies.

When you’ve answered C to all of the questions: you’re my wife.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Are Old Friends Electric?

I was looking at the news the other day, when I saw my old pal Kristof. I haven’t seen him since my student days, which means we’ve lost touch some ten years ago. We were both active in the students’ magazine of the political, sociological and communication sciences department, aptly named Polstok.

And there he was, on TV. Apparently he’s the director of his own firm now, and they have a worldwide scoop: playing digital games in real-life environments. A group of players – the police – have to catch a single person – the crook – in an area of a square kilometre in the city centre of either Ghent or Antwerp. They have to track him by GPS and ‘shoot’ him by mobile phone (or GSM as we call it). More information on their site, but for the moment it’s only in Dutch.

The whole thing started me thinking about the other people I used to hang out with and that I haven’t seen since those days of drinking, dancing and partying (and studying of course. Oh, forget it, who am I kidding?) So I asked detective Google to trace their whereabouts. But the results were rather meagre, apparently my old friends are not that active on the internet. Or else they use a false identity to prevent me from finding me. Now really, what a ridiculous thought!

The one person that I did find was Jeroen (before anyone breaks a jaw, it’s pronounced ‘yeh-roon’). He was our in-house cartoonist and did a hell of a job adding funny-spices to our sometimes hilarious but sometimes also very bland texts. He probably was one of the main reasons why students even bothered to buy the magazine in the first place.

I’ve never seen anyone draw like he did: he didn’t make any sketches before he started, he just put it right on paper the first time around. For years I’ve been expecting to find his work, but until now he hasn’t had a major break-through. He does have a really nice weblog though, as Google pointed out to me. Go visit it and enjoy his latest work: Happysad on www.kartoen.be

It’s in English, so go on and spread the news!

Posted by Bart at 3:31 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

In The Heat Of The Night Lunch

I almost got killed today in a police chase. For the record: it wasn’t me who was chased. I was one of those innocent bystanders that have to jump for there life while the culprits drive their vehicle (in this case a small motorcycle) over the sidewalk at break-neck speeds. It all happened when I returned from lunch break, when I heard a police siren approaching rapidly in the street that I was about to cross. I waited for the police car to pass, but suddenly I saw a motor driving straight at me. I jumped some four and a half meter up from fear in a completely controlled Kung Fu reflex. The motor careened past me, the driver in front and a passenger on the back holding the loot. But because they hit the curb of the sidewalk of my well aimed karate kick, the bag he was holding dropped to the ground.

Oblivious to this, the police van turned the corner, only to loose the racing robbers fifty meters later between some apartment buildings. Time for me to step in, and to take up my civic responsibilities to the full. I picked up the bag (with a handkerchief off course, I’m not daft), established a safety perimeter, rerouted traffic and organised a citizen vigilante group to escort me to the police car a bit further up the road. There I handed over the key piece of evidence in what will no doubt be the case of the century to the waiting police men.

However, I must say I was somewhat disappointed that they didn’t need my eye-witness report. However I shall write down everything in detail and send them a twenty page report (original plus three copies), or better still, I’ll bring it to the highest chief of the Brussels police tomorrow morning at the earliest convenient hour. Six o’clock should do, or better make it five thirty to be on the safe side.

Posted by Bart at 9:03 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Depression Is No Laughing Matter

We went to an information evening yesterday about general maintenance of babies and how to avoid killing them by accident. Apparently you can’t drop them, which rules me out as a responsible father for the first three years or so.

A whole bunch of specialists gave us an insight in the different do’s and don’ts. Most of it was interesting, although I did doze of during the anaesthetist’s explanation (which goes to show you how good that man is at his job) about epidural torture practices.

A psychologist explained all about post-natal depression. She was a good speaker, mid-40’s with a lot of experience and a dry sort of humour that kept her own mind sane while listening to the problems of others. After a few of her witty remarks about it being absolutely normal that the wife turns into a venom-spitting beast from hell a day or so after giving birth because of the sudden drop in hormone production, Mrs. Bart was laying in stitches. She was hollering during the presentation about depression and gasping for air when the good doctor explained about psychological treatment and psychiatric drugs.

Apparently, one of the precursors for post-natal depression is being the type of women that’s perfectionist and hyper-organised. ‘No way you’re going to have a depression then’, I whispered to my wife, who made a strange loud whining sound while wiping the tears from under her glasses. On the other hand, stressful events such as marrying (check), buying a house (check), moving (check) or renovating the house (double check) during the previous year (check) and especially during the pregnancy (and check again) can help cause depression. We’re in for a treat, we are.

Posted by Bart at 10:32 PM
Categories: Big Belly

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy First Wedding Anniversary

I almost can’t believe we had our first wedding anniversary on Sunday, it seems like yesterday when I was desperately trying to wriggle the ring around my fiancées finger to make her my wife. We had hoped to find the calm again after the torrent of activities in the months leading up to the wedding. But so much has happened during the past year. We went on honeymoon to beautiful Ecuador. We got the keys of our new house and moved in after three weeks of frantic preparations. Our car was destroyed by the garage and we had to buy a new one, visiting every garage in a 10 kilometre radius on our bikes. And of course Mrs. Bart got pregnant, I can barely control the outbreaks of great joy nor the flashes of sudden panic every time I think about that.

Muchos smoochos honey, I love you.

Posted by Bart at 7:10 AM
Edited on: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 10:33 PM
Categories: MarriedMan the Magnificent

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

And This Little Piggy Went To The Hospital

When people get older, they tend to shrink. My father is 62 years old now, but he shows no signs of this phenomenon.

So he decided to take matters in his own hands.

He had offered to help me again with the bedroom on Thursday, but he called me yesterday to say he couldn’t make it. He cut off the top of his finger with garden scissors, you know the ones that can cut through 1cm thick branches. Only a teeny bit of skin still connected the top to the rest of his finger.

So they rushed to the hospital and the doctors sewed it on again. He will be fine, but he can’t use his finger for a while.

The man is really careless with his hands. When he was still studying (to become a pharmacist), he rammed a glass tube through the tendon of his right index finger. Ever since he has a crooked index finger that he can’t move, except where it joins his hand. The ultimate mouse-click finger if you want.

But he really should be more careful (and wear gloves!)

Posted by Bart at 7:52 PM
Categories: Home Improvement

Monday, May 14, 2007

Blitz Krieg

In order to prevent any positive number from appearing on my bank account, I made a major purchase of photographic equipment this weekend. Ever since I bought my digital camera two years ago, I’ve been aching for an external flash (amongst other things). My Canon EOS 350D does have a small flash, but it’s purpose is to fill in the shadows on a bright sunny day rather than take pictures in poorly lit rooms. It’s range is limited, and it leaves shadows on the wall behind the subject and creates highlights on whatever you’re targeting.

No more with my brand new Canon Speedlite 430EX ! I can take pictures inside a black hole now and get clear images of what’s inside (I’m referring to an object in space, jokers. Any humorous attempts concerning anal sex and Uranus need not apply). No more dark rims (oh, grow up!) around my subjects. No more gleaming white foreheads and cheeks (that’s enough, now get out!)

Canon Speedlite 430EX flash

All in all it was not that expensive, thanks to a link I found on Pietel’s weblog to a shop in my old hometown Turnhout. This particular shop practically gave it away, at a full 107 Euros cheaper than most other shops (242 instead of 349 euros)! And because Canon is celebrating the 20th birthday of the EOS series, I can get a 15 € refund on top! I’m getting rich just by buying photographic equipment!

Or not.

Anyway, the pictures of the baby will be stunning. Or not. I hope I figure out how this thing works before Mrs. Bart goes into labour. Anyway, the baby will be stunned, this thing gives a serious blitz.

Posted by Bart at 8:54 PM
Edited on: Monday, May 14, 2007 9:03 PM
Categories: Framed

Friday, May 11, 2007

Greedy Flying Dutchman

In Belgium, Dutch people have the reputation of being greedy. Especially the protestant Dutch of the northern Netherlands – above the Moerdijk – are supposed to count their hard-earned cash five times before spending a penny. In reality, Dutch people are much more generous than their southern neighbours in many respects, especially when it comes to helping people in need.

But sometimes, stereotypes seem to be ridiculously true. The Dutch flag carrier, Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) announced that passengers in Economy class that get or want more leg room will have to pay a supplement of 50 euros. Before, you could ask for a seat next to the emergency exits if you showed up in time. A small perk for people who are used to doing long-haul flights but can’t afford business-class tickets, such as people working for development aid organisations and other NGOs. But now those greedy Dutch want to make us pay for this small extra comfort.

In my case, it’s not even extra comfort. When you measure 1.87 meters (I think some 6 foot 2 inches), a bit more leg room is not comfort, it’s exercising your right to a humane treatment. While the average length of Europeans (and especially the Dutch) keeps increasing, airline companies are cramming more and more people in the same aircraft. Message to the airline industry: people die because of this. We don’t need stupid videos about doing exercises on board, we need more leg room. I’m not complaining about $10-to-fly-to-New-York tickets here either, my organisation pays between 1.000 – 2.000 euros to get me to Africa.

KLM will first test this principle on a couple of long-haul flights to Asia. When they think it works, they will implement it to the rest of their network. I never fly KLM, but I do hop on an Air France flight more regularly than other people take a bus. Air France and KLM got married a couple of years ago, so I hope stupid ideas like this one are not too contagious.

Posted by Bart at 8:55 PM
Categories: Public Transport Pains

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cry Freedom

I haven’t been blogging much lately, because our life got into a higher gear. The baby is getting impatient, although it’s still five more weeks before he is supposed to be released. And we’re giving no parole.

Last Friday, Mrs. Bart felt cramps in her lower abdomen. It got serious to the point that she called her gynaecologist, who told her to come to the hospital right away. After a thorough examination it became clear that she and the baby were alright. But she is a bit too stressed with her work and all, and if she doesn’t take it a bit calmer the little one might pop out a bit too soon. It was a bit of a stressful evening, which I skilfully coordinated from the pub. It was my last day at my former office and we had a drink with the whole team. That’s the kind of father I am, putting booze before the welfare of my children.

But I saw the error of my ways and now I’m trying to help my wobbly wife as much as possible. It’s not easy making her rest, I practically have to tie her to the sofa. But her body is sending her messages – labelled ‘urgent’ – that she should take it easy. Her back simply refuses to carry all that extra weight around all day long and has taken the drastic measure to try to kill her. Meanwhile her bloating belly is preventing her to sleep well, which means my night rest is also disturbed.

On Tuesday we visited the baby doctor again, this time for regular maintenance. He assured us everything was fine, but he did look surprised again when he calculated the weight of the baby. It’s about 600 grams heavier than the average and bends the scale’s needle to a hefty 3 kilograms. At this rate, it will weigh 10 kg when it gets out, and know how to ride a bike, and have its own apartment.

Posted by Bart at 8:59 PM
Categories: Big Belly

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Freshman

First day at the new job today. Felt a bit like going to The Big School. It’s a whole different atmosphere, going from a three-person organisation to one with more than 80 staff members. And the Human Ressources Manager made sure I met all of them. I tried to remember the names of the first ten people I saw, but then I just kept shaking hands and saying ‘howdoyoudo’ as if I was running for election.

Posted by Bart at 9:19 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Green Fingers

I did some gardening, for the first time since we moved into the house. Normally, my pot-bellied wife takes care of the garden, but now that her tummy is really ballooning at an alarming rate, she is physically unable to weed, mow and plant.

I’m not much of a wizard in the garden. When people say that I’ve got green fingers, they generally refer to my nose-cleaning habits, not my gardening skills. In fact, I couldn’t remember when was the last time that I took care of plants, apart from mowing the grass in the back yard. The tools I found in the shed looked vaguely familiar, but don’t ask me what you should use to weed the weeds or to trim the bushes. I decided on some claw-like implement on a long stick and what I recognised to be a common rake. Armed with these basic tools, I succeeded in loosening the weeds with the claw and then rake the together. Success was mine!

The many thistles were another matter. Our front garden was stuffed with thistles, in fact. You’re obliged to remove them as fast as possible, otherwise the police can come around and give you a warning, or even a ticket. Despite the enormous size of our thistles we never had any complaints. I figured out why, as I discovered the bodily remains of at least three police officers between the sharp spikes of the thorny plants. I had to rip them out with roots and all, otherwise they would grow back in an instant. Back-breaking work, but luckily I’m completely spineless as anyone who knows me can tell you.

When I was done gardening, our front garden looked like the lush green space that is the Skeleton Coast: an absolute desert. Apart from the odd green sprout that I identified as a real plant or flower between the jungle of weeds, and our rose bush, there was nothing left. The wind was blowing up the dust and tumbleweed rolled over and over.

Let no-one say I do a half-arsed job!

Posted by Bart at 9:02 PM
Categories: Home Improvement

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Long Weekend

We had a long weekend, the 1st of May is an official holiday here and our office was closed yesterday. An excellent opportunity to have a good rest.

Naturally, the 1st of May being Labour Day and all that, I worked my ass off.

I’m so glad I can go back to work again tomorrow. I really need some time off.

It’s my last week – or rather my last three days – at my current job too. Next Monday I’m starting at another organisation.

Posted by Bart at 10:06 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous


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