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Friday, July 27, 2007

Gift From Heaven

I’ve been shat upon!

I was waiting for the bus yesterday evening, in the bus stop under the train station, when I suddenly felt something splatter on my back and rucksack. It was too heavy to be a drop of rain, but without thinking I reached for my back.


My hand was covered in bird shit. ‘It couldn’t have been a pigeon’, I thought when I took of my jacket. There was so much of it, it must have been an eagle! A condor! A cruise missile armed with a scatological warhead! Superman must have tried to save the world of rotten kebab by eating it all in one go, but was unable to clench his mighty butt cheeks when he passed over Antwerp! Given the success of flying fish, whales have decided to give it a go too!

It took me two handkerchiefs to wipe it all of, and then I got stuck with the dilemma of what to do with them: put them back in my pocket? Throw them away? All the while I tried to ignore the sniggering of my fellow bus travellers around me.

And of course, nothing is more pleasant than riding on a hot bus with broken airco and your back covered in grey poo. ‘Luckily’ I got caught by torrential rains the moment I set foot out of that bus, so by the time I got at home the outside of my coat was clean because it had soaked onto my bare skin.

I’m going to borrow one of Wolf’s diapers and carry it on my head.

Posted by Bart at 8:33 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Umbrella… Ella… Ella… A… A…

It is raining. Not just a little bit, it is pouring with rain. It is raining incontinent cats and slobbering dogs. You have your trusted umbrella to protect you, and you speed your way home. Then you pass under a bridge, or a large overhang. What do you do?

  1. Hold your umbrella up, although it is not necessary because it is dry under the bridge/overhang and it makes you look like a moron?
  2. Fold your umbrella to show that you’re aware that it is dry, but that also means you have to open it a minute or so later when you get from underneath the bridge/overhang?
  3. Leave your umbrella open, but lower it to the side to show that you know that it is not raining under the bridge/overhang, without having to go through the hassle of opening again once you’ve passed underneath?

What do you do? That’s the dilemma!

Posted by Bart at 9:23 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Monday, July 23, 2007

Nah Nahnah Nahnaaaah…

Slight hiccup from our Prime-Minister-to-be (at least that’s what he’d like to be) Yves Leterme. We had national elections a couple of weeks ago, and as usual a lot of Flemish parties tried to profile themselves by claiming that they would single-handedly end the abuses from the French-speaking part of the country and lead the way to Flemish independence. The French-speaking parties on the other hand wallowed themselves in the pool of innocence and did their utmost to prove that they are soooo rational and that they’re the only protectors of unity, defending the realm against those mad separatists from the other side of the language barrier.

But no party can form a government on its own, they always need a coalition and a coalition of Flemish AND Wallonian (French-speaking) parties at that. But they all did their best to annoy the other ones during the elections.

The ‘big winners’ of the elections were the Flemish Christian Democrats, who can now present their candidate for the title of Prime Minister. But because their big giant head Mr. Leterme called the French speaking part of the country a bunch of morons, he is not very popular and he doesn’t seem to get a government going.

And then he made it even more difficult for himself by showing just how stupid he can be if he really wants to. A (French speaking) journalist asked him to sign the national anthem – the Belgian national anthem because every potato field has one here. Mr. would-be-PM didn’t just fail to remember the right lines. He started to sing the French national anthem! What a moron! What a dork!

The text of our national anthem is actually not that difficult. In fact it is very easy; every Belgian knows it:

Nah nahnah nahnaaaah
Nah nahnah nah nah naaaaanah
Nahnah nah nah nah nah nah nahnaaah
Nanah nah nah nah nah nah nah nahnah naaaahnah
Nah nah nah nah nahnah nah nah naaaah
Nah nahnah nah nahnah nah nah naaahnah
Nah nahnah nahnah nah nahnahnaaaah
Nah nah nahnah nah nahnahnah nah naaaanah
Nah naaah nah nahnaah na nah naaah
Nah nah nahnah nah nahnahnah nah naaaanah
- everybody! -
Nah naaah nah nahnaah na nah naaah
Nah naaah nah nahnaah na nah naaah
Nah naaah nah nahnaah na nah naaah

See, I even know it by heart!

Posted by Bart at 9:42 PM
Categories: Being Belgian

Friday, July 20, 2007

Potter Panic

Who's Harry Potter by Wulff Morgenthaler  

For more daily mayhem, check out Wulff Morgenthaler's extremely funny comics site.

Posted by Bart at 8:21 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Don’t Slam The Door

You know how people can get on your nerves in such a way that you could hit them in the head with a heavy piece of wood? It so happened that I was loading about a tonne-and-a-half worth of hardboard panels in my car past Saturday. I’m making a closet you see, in the bedroom. It’s a rather big closet, or make that a huge closet: it’s going to take up most of one wall in our new bedroom.

Anyway, I had dragged all of it in one go to the parking lot, thanks to a special cart with the size, weight and manoeuvrability of an aircraft carrier. It was bloody annoying, I constantly had to chase away F-18 fighters and Sea King helicopters. Anyway, I finally made it to the car, denting only a single vehicle on my way, and started to haul everything in the trunk when this annoying couple passed. Their little car was parked next to mine, and they had bought a solid oak door.

Apparently, she had pushed him into buying the door, which was obviously too big for their little car’s little trunk. And he was complaining – nay, he was whining like a small child that didn’t get an ice-cream because we’re going to eat in a few minutes and you’re going to spoil your appetite. Man, that guy was annoying. Over and over again he repeated how he had warned her that this would happen and that the door wouldn’t fit in their little car and that it was all her fault. ‘Get a grip man, just leave your trunk open and fix it with some rope’, I thought. That’s what he started to do (did I mention my psychic powers?) but not without making great dramas about the possible risks. ‘Look at that, if I have to break suddenly it’ll decapitate you. But it won’t be my fault, you know, because I told you so. They won’t be able to hold me responsible…

And on and on it went. I couldn’t flee, because I had to arrange my own pile of wood carefully in the car. I also had some large pieces sticking out of the back, but I secured them with some rope – I had enough left to hang him on the nearest tree if I wanted to, but then again I’m unnecessarily civilised. Meanwhile he still hadn’t finished. How many ways are there to put a door into a small car? Open the booth, shove it in, fasten the door with a piece of rope and GET OUT OF MY BLOODY SIGHT, SMELL, HEARING RANGE AND RADAR!!!

Oh, this looks great!’, that invertebrate continued. ‘Look at it, are we supposed to drive on the highway like this? I’m sure it’s going to fall out of the back. We’ll be responsible for an accident, we will! There will be a traffic jam for miles and they’ll sue us for causing death and destruction.

By this time, steam was coming out of my ears. I desperately wanted a piece of paper. To write down my wife’s address and phone number. I wanted to give it to the whiner’s wife and say: ‘Here love, my wife is a solicitor*. She normally doesn’t do divorces, but I’m sure she will make an exception for you.

But then they finally drove off.

*Lawyer, for those living in more primitive countries

Posted by Bart at 10:28 PM
Categories: Home Improvement

Monday, July 16, 2007

Manhood On The Grill

In the ever repeating cycle from boyhood to man, there are a number of milestones. There’s the moment you discover your first pubic hair during your tri-monthly bath. There’s the first time a non-imaginary third person operates your joystick. There’s the time you get so over-excited because you’re on the verge of ‘doing it’ for the first time (without paying, bribing or threatening) that your warhead explodes just short of target. There’s the monumental event of having had sex for the first time without maiming yourself with a condom or fumbling in such a way at the main gate that you accidentally hit the back entrance. Note that most milestones in a mans’ life are related to intercourse or the desperate need thereof. Other important moments are drinking your first pint, throwing up your first bucket of puke and nuking your first relationship by throwing up on the first non-imaginary person that operated your joystick.

But nothing – I repeat, nothing – says you’re a man like becoming the proud owner of your very own barbecue.

This weekend, I made that giant leap. It was about time too! For years I had to live without a BBQ because my apartment really didn’t have a proper and suitable terrace. And ever since we bought the house, either the weather or my financial situation was depressing. But last Saturday, I recognised these so-called hurdles for the trivia they really are. I drove my car to the DIY-store, I entered with a manly pace, fixed the man behind the counter with a steady gaze and proclaimed with a booming voice: ‘I sir, wish to purchase a barbecue! Not a silly tiny table model suitable only for wankers, but a real manly barbecue with ample space for steaks, sausages, chicken drum sticks, lamb chops and brochettes. The time has come for me to acquire a barbecue, so without further ado, provide me one before I puncture your gonads with a pick-axe and suspend you thus on the wall.

And the man behind the counter recognised the importance of my request, and he sold me a proud model with an impressively sized pan that can hold a whole bag of charcoal and a chimney underneath to feed the fire and a water basin to extinguish any burning coal falling down and a grill that can hold many steaks, sausages, chicken drum sticks, lamb chops and brochettes at a time.

And yesterday we barbecued! And I didn’t fumble, but operated it like a real man, the testosterone and the heat of the fire making my torso gleam with sweat.

If only there were still mammoths around to hunt.

Posted by Bart at 10:28 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Friday, July 13, 2007

Keyboard Crash

I couldn’t log in when I fired up my computer at work this morning. The keyboard was out of order, I couldn’t push controlaltdelete let alone enter my secret username and password, which are… Yes, I can wait until you’ve found a pencil and a block note.


What was I talking about? Oh, yes. The keyboard.

I said to my boss that I was technically unemployed because there’s about nothing I can do without computer. Unfortunately, he send me to the IT-guy. He fiddled around a bit with the cable, but it still didn’t work.

- My hopes were rising.

Then he tried another keyboard, but still the computer was blocked.

- I left the room to have some privacy to dance with joy in silence.

When I re-entered, he had fixed the problem.

The bastard!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Backpack Attack

The summer holidays have started. There are a lot less commuters on the train. Instead there’s an invasion of backpackers: young people on their way to a music concert, old hippies hiking through Europe, families with children all with a different sized backpack, boy scouts and girl scouts in what must be Baden Powell’s nightmare vision of a uniform and backpacks in all different colours.

They all clutter together and block the entrances and passage ways of the train stations, provoking icy looks and mumbling-grumbling from the regular commuters, like myself. And at the same time we’re dreaming of the good old days when we had two months to strap on our overweight packs and went were we wanted to go. The sky was the limit – and our meagre budget.

It’s been cold, wet and windy these first days of summer. Not exactly the ideal trekking weather, but they’re still delirious of the smell of freedom.

Coming through!’, I shout. Don’t mind this jealous old worker bee. I’ll join you lot as soon as my children are old enough. To carry my backpack, that is.

Posted by Bart at 9:30 PM
Categories: Public Transport Pains

Monday, July 09, 2007

Summer Sales

The Summer Sales Period has taken off again. Women all over Belgium are scurrying over the shopping streets and malls to find the ultimate bargains, shouting, biting and kicking at each other. On the background, you can hear the incessant wail of husbands and children as they drag their feet, stick their heads in the umpteenth pullover or undress again and again to try on another pair of trousers or shoes.

And so on Saturday, Wolf and I were dragged to the high streets of Antwerp for our tour of misery. Although I pointed out to my wife that I had plenty of fashionable clothes that are barely fifteen years old, she would listen to no reason. Granted, most of my jeans have holes in conspicuous places, but as long as I keep my legs crossed when I sit down no-one will notice. And when they do notice, they will be so stunned that they won’t dare to mention it, or even look down again, so what’s the point? And no-one sees the holes in my socks anyway, because I wear shoes, don’t I? As if Mrs.B. will let me out again wearing socks and sandals. And a piece of string can easily replace those loose elastics of my underwear. So why bother?

- Sigh -

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Diapers & Disks

You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to nurture a newborn baby and re-install a computer at the same time. May I also add that the capacity of disposable diapers is hugely overrated? After three days it just pours out. Luckily adding some newspapers did the trick.


When I bought my 80 gigabyte hard disk, I thought it was a bit over the top capacity-wise. Eighty gig, I’d never be able to use all that up, would I? Well yes, all it takes is a digital camera and a lack of time to check and throw away useless pictures. After two years of shooting, my hard drive started to bulge. I’ve been fearing a terminal disk crash for the last couple of weeks, expecting every moment that there wouldn’t be enough room for the swap file.

But finally I got my summer holiday check, so off to the computer store for some goodies. Since my wife always claims that bigger is better, I bought a 500Gb Western Digital SATA-II with 16Mb of cache memory and a top speed of 7200 rpm. Five hundred gig! I’ll never have to buy a hard drive ever again! Ever!

It took me a while to get the damn thing installed. Every manual I could find said that the whole SATA-I/SATA-II thing is just a gimmick and that a SATA-II disk would work just fine on a SATA-I connector. Well, it doesn’t necessarily. I had to add a jumper to get my motherboard to find it in the first place. Then update the BIOS and find the necessary drivers for Windows XP.

While I was at it, I also – and finally – bought me a DVD writer. To get rid of the broad PATA cables, I chose the Samsung SH-S183A Writemaster SATA-I drive. It can handle anything, including DVD-RAM. Which means I can make back-ups again, which was a bit tedious with my old trusty Plextor CD-RW drive. So tedious that my last back-up dates from… oh, I don’t know… the Middle Ages or something. So now you understand why I was getting nervous.

In between diaper changes I re-installed Windows (two times, because the USB photo-card reader messed up the drive sequence and my system disk got drive letter ‘H’). Then I proceeded with the software, using the opportunity to switch from MS Office to OpenOffice.org http://www.openoffice.org/ because Office 2003 is getting old and boring and because the new interface of Office 2007 looks like absolute rubbish to power users such as moi. Oh, and OpenOffice is just slightly less expensive: it is absolutely free, to be exact, and for a couple of hundreds of Euros difference I can live without blinking text or other gimmicks, thank you very much. I switched to Mozilla Thunderbird too, which handles my mail very nicely. I kicked out Explorer in favor of Firefox last year.

So after five evenings of cramming diapers into the DVD drive and changing my son’s installation CDs, I’m all ready to roar again.

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