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Friday, September 28, 2007

My Boyfriend Is Available In Paperback

The wonderful and funny Zoe, author from the funny and wonderful weblog ‘My boyfriend is a twat’ has written a wonderfully funny book: My Boyfriend Is a Twat: A Guide to Recognising, Dealing, and Living with an Utter Twat.

So hop over to Amazon and buy-buy-buy! Buy three! Buy thirty! Buy three hundred and thirty-tree! Why? Because it’s wonderful! And funny! Or so I’m told. And because I get 10% off sales – my usual fee for posting product endorsements on my hugely popular site.

Do you hear me Zoe? Ten percent.

Posted by Bart at 11:09 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Squeak

My shoes squeak. It’s annoying when I walk outside. It’s hell when I walk inside on a tiled floor. Our offices have tiled floors, so everyone can follow what I’m doing at any given moment.

Squeak-squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak – going to the copier

Squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak – going to the meeting room

Squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak – going to my chef’s office.

Squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak - squeak – going to the printer, notice that it doesn’t start, go back to start the print procedure, suddenly hear the printer start up again, go to the printer, find that it was someone else’s document, return to computer to print the document and return to printer.

Squeak - tap - squeak - tap - squeak - tap - squeak - tap - squeak - tap – left shoe mysteriously stopped squeaking, hoping that the right shoe will follow its example.

Squeak - SQUEAK - squeak - SQUEAK - squeak - SQUEAK - squeak - SQUEAK - squeak – left shoe is back, with a vengeance.

Tip - squeak - tip - squeak - tip - squeak - tip - squeak - tip - squeak - tip - squeak – walking on tips in an attempt to stop the squeaking

Plaf - plaf - plaf - OUAAAAAH - BANG! – failed attempt at walking on hands, ends by falling flat on my back.

Posted by Bart at 9:08 PM
Edited on: Thursday, September 27, 2007 9:09 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Requiem

That poor, poor creature.

It’s sad. It’s really sad.

What a horrible way to go.

It’s at times like this that you realise that Animal Rights groups are there for a reason.

Outrageous, really!

Go see for yourself at Steph’s blog.

I cried my eyes out.

Posted by Bart at 8:37 PM
Categories: Animal Farm

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bad Hedge Day

A couple of weeks ago, I gave my loved one a hedge trimmer for her birthday. I’m such a romantic. Because she still hadn’t gotten around to trimming the hedge and because it already took up sixty percent of our garden, I decided to take things in my own hands and trim the hedge myself.

I’ve never trimmed a hedge before, but not to worry: there was plenty of hedge to practice upon. It borders the west side of our garden and separates us from our very friendly neighbours with their very ugly garden. They tore down part the extension to their house and built a new one, so their garden currently looks like a popular restaurant in Baghdad: it has more craters than the moon.

The hedge is about 25 meters long and about three-and-a-half meters high. With my botanical expertise I can tell you that it consists of pine-ish kind of tree-like things with a lot of thin branches and green flattened needle-like stuff at the ends. There, now you know what I’m talking about.

Before starting the trimming job, I carefully read the manual. However I quickly decided that I obviously knew better than those silly people of Black and Decker, who after all never laid eyes on my hedge before. So I invented a revolutionary procedure in hedge trimming.

Ten minutes later, me, my brand new electrical hedge trimmer and my revolutionary procedure in hedge trimming had created a drama. I’d started cutting at an angle, so I dug in deeper and deeper into the hedge. Until I reached the brown layer of twigs at the core, the ones that never produce green leaves/needles anymore. Once you uncover those twigs, you’ve got a brown patch in your hedge for ever. That much I know about these hedges. Bummer.

My wife came out to gloat at my dismal failure and gave me her expert advice (she’s trimmed a hedge one more time in all her life than I have). She stuffed the baby in my hands and set out to enjoy herself with her new toy. Fifteen minutes later, she’d done most of the hedge, leaving the top for me to do.

Of course I couldn’t leave it at that, so the moment she left the house I redid her part just to show that there was much to be improved upon. And I must say, I got it pretty straight once I started with the top (as the manual had suggested). I did take away too much here and there – but hey, it was my first time. And I’m sure it will all grow back one day.

Posted by Bart at 8:47 PM
Categories: Home Improvement

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cold And Sore

In the news this week: the Northern searoute passage is ice-free. For the first time ships can sail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and vice versa along the northern coast of Canada and Alaska. As if the live of polar bears wasn't difficult enough with global warming melting the very ice under their feet, now they have to watch out for containerships and oil tankers when making a dash for the next iceberg.

However, there's no need to panic. The north pole is not disappearing, it is merely moving. To Belgium, where we currently experience unseasonably cold weather. Normally we still have some nice warm late summer days around this time of year. Instead, people are reaching for scarfs, winter coats, long socks and moon boots. Father Christmas has been spotted, checking out industrial zones to relocate his toy empire. Apparently, the wages of Belgian elves are lower than those of their arctic counterparts.

With the early autumn comes early winter fun in the form of dripping noses, sore throats and 120kph sneezes. Ever the trendsetter, my nose was one of the early adopters. But there are worse things. Such as infecting your three-and-a-half-month-old baby. Yesterday, Wolf and daddy were both filling buckets of snot at alarming rates. The poor little guy couldn't sleep and didn't want to eat. So we had a very disturbed night. We put Wolf in our bed, in between the two of us, but he remained very restless. He woke up every forty minutes or so, and woke up half the neighbourhood with his cries.

We all felt like crap this morning when we left for work. Mrs.B. took Wolf to the baby doctor right after work, because the nanny said he barely had slept or eaten all day long. But surprisingly, it's not the cold that's bothering him. He has a canker sore in his mouth and that's what's been bugging him all along.

It's not that he doesn't brush his teeth often enough. He doesn't have any yet.

Posted by Bart at 10:29 PM
Categories: Next Generation

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

There’s Not Something Like A Free Lunch

I had to go to a big meeting with lots of people this morning. Afterwards, the organising committee offered lunch to the participants. There were stacks of utterly magnificent sandwiches, I must have eaten my way through two platters of them. I think no-one noticed how I shovelled one after the other in my mouth.

At a certain moment I found myself in a conversation with two female colleagues about the hard science of alternative-holistic-bio-meditation-earthray-inner-child-yin-yang-seaweed-healing. But by focussing entirely on the next sandwich-with-grilled-slices-of-eggplant-topped-with-artichoke and crab-salad-garnished-with-giant-shrimp-and-a-dash-of-caviar, I managed to shut out the mumbo-jumbo and continue eating.

And I managed not to burst out in sarcastic remarks and uncontrollable laughter.

Posted by Bart at 9:02 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hi, I’m Butch

Just that you know whom you are dealing with...

You scored as Butch, Congrats! You are Butch from Pulp Fiction. You are a prize fighter. You are a typical guy otherwise. You are very casual. You are mostly quiet. And despite you're very violent occupation, you are very sweet to those you love. You have a sense of humor. You like to be the hero.

Butch

47%

Mr. Pink

41%

Vincent Vega

41%

Mr. Orange

41%

Ordell Robbie

38%

Elle Driver

34%

Jackie Brown

34%

Go Go Yubari

31%

Jules Winfield

22%

O-Ren Ishii

13%

Beatrix Kiddo

3%

Which Quentin Tarantino Character would you be?
created with QuizFarm.com

People who know me in the flesh will agree that the fysical ressemblance is uncanny.

Posted by Bart at 9:45 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Routine Maintenance

We went to the baby doctor yesterday. Not that there's anything wrong with Wolf. Most of the appendages that came with the original package are still there and our clumsiness doesn't seem to leave permanent damage.

In this country we have a system of free medical check-ups of babies every couple of weeks. Competent people in white jackets also give sound advice to largely incompetent newbie parents, such as ourselves. You also get to meet other largely incompetent parents, which is very reasuring – especially when you find one that is clearly even more incompetent than you are.

Although emancipation has swept across the low countries and fathers have become much more involved in the upbringing of their (alledged) offspring, this kind of venue mainly attracts mothers of the female disposition. Yesterday, I was the only man in the building. So I made a big show of myself trying to impress the ladies with my baby maintenance skills. I even managed not to twist any hands or feet while getting Wolf out of his clothes. I think the male honour was saved there.

Wolf is doing just fine: he crossed the 6 kilo barrier and he's learning new tricks all the time. He's discovering the possibilities of his arms and feet during regular karate sessions. He's getting his head under control, although head butts are still an occupational hazard when I carry him upstairs to bed. And he's discovered a whole new perspective by lying on his tummy and holding up his head at the same time.

The nurse and doctor were both duly impressed and succesfully managed to hide any expressions of boredom when we bragged about our-son-the-wonderchild's exciting live and achievements. They just can't wait to see us again in a month's time, I know they can't.

Posted by Bart at 9:29 PM
Categories: Next Generation

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Banana Split

All’s not well in the kingdom of Belgium. Three months after the general elections, we are closer to general political mayhem than to a functioning government. Given the fines you can get here for not voting (is mandatory here) or not showing up when you’re selected for polling station duty, you’d think that you’d be served quickly.

Not that strong and lengthy discussions are rare here. We have loads of political parties here, for one because every political family here is split into a French speaking and a Flemish speaking party. There’s no ‘winner takes all’ here, every government is a coalition and compromising is a way of living here for politicians. As a consequence, no-one really knows what’s going on anymore. We have a state that is utterly complicated and its difficult to see the differences between the ideas of most political parties because their programmes overlap so much.

So to distinguish themselves, a couple of Flemish parties decided to try to win the voters’ vote by pretending they could single-handedly end the eternal strife between the Flemish and French-speaking parties by simply telling those bloody Walloons how things are going to run from now on. They called this ‘good government’.

The Walloons – not as stupid as they may look at first glance – thought it was not a good idea to be dictated what to do and what not, and surprisingly blocked the coalition talks. How quaint! It doesn’t help either that the leader of the Flemish Christian-democrat/nationalist cartel insists on insulting the people south of the language barrier.

This trouble between the Flemish and French speaking parties is not new. What is new – and worrying – is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone anymore that understands the importance of collaboration between the different parts of the country. We may speak two languages here (actually three, we have a couple of thousand of German speaking hobbyists as well), but economically we are but one region. To split it requires nuclear precision and doesn’t make any sense. People move around, economic and social development comes and goes and the situation constantly evolves over time. Some politicians used to realise this, and they were always able to glue things together. But now it seems that the glue is missing.

Another thing is that both politicians and the media – at least in my part of the country – seem to pretend that splitting is not only feasible, but also easy. Newspapers and TV stations present different scenarios and dubious polls.

I work at a bilingual organisation. My boss speaks French, our bigger boss speaks Dutch, our biggest boss speaks Dutch, about half of my colleagues speak French. Not everyone’s knowledge of the other language is perfect, but there are language courses and they are popular. And most importantly, we get along fine and when we have discussions, it is never about language.

What could I win when Belgium splits in two (or three, or four)? I’d have to take an ‘international’ train from where I live (Antwerp) to the foreign country of Brussels/Wallonia. For your information: that’s a 40km ride. Maybe I won’t need an international passport, a visa or a work permit – after all we do live in Europe. But you can bet I will need to pay taxes in both countries. I will have to adapt to two sets of legislation. And I’m not the only one, because hundreds of thousands of Flemish people work in Brussels (which is a predominantly French speaking region).

So can someone kick those ballooning egos under the butt and find us some reasonable people?

Posted by Bart at 9:31 PM
Categories: Being Belgian

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In Exile

My mother-in-law is here for two days to babysit on Wolf, which is great.

She insisted on watching her daily soap opera – a local production called 'At home' (Thuis) – which is not great. In fact it is very irritating.

Series annoy me, even the good ones get on my nerves after more than one season. There are only a handful of exceptions to this rule. I hate repetitiveness. Soaps are the epitomy of repetitiveness. They were the wet dream of the original inventors of the concept of 'repetitiveness' (I can also mention it must have been hard to invent repetitiveness, they tried over and over and over and over and over and over again).

Soaps should be banned. Instead it is me who's asking for political asylum in the computer room. I hope there will be a regime change tonight and that my country TV will be freed from the tirrany of soaps and stupid series once more.

Posted by Bart at 8:58 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back To School

Summer holidays are over. They only lasted two and a half weeks and as I’ve mentioned before I spent most of my time babysitting and finishing the bedroom. Last weekend my dad came over to haul the furniture from the old bedroom to the new bedroom. That cleared up space to drag Wolf’s new bedroom furniture, still in flat-pack, from the first to the second floor. And then there were some more (heavy) closets to move. So our back enjoyed themselves, mine has been complaining ever since. Intellectual types such as myself aren’t meant to do this blue-collar physical labour.

But despite the hard work during the weekends, the holidays still had their perks. Staying in bed late was one of them, although ‘late’ is relative with a 3-month-old baby. At least I got enough sleep these last two weeks to revive my energy levels a bit: I’ve evolved from ‘zombie-like-state’ to ‘slightly tired looking’. A huge improvement.

I’m going to leave the house like it is until after the winter, and not tackle any new rooms in the coming months. I want some free weekends with free time and playtime with my son (although I know there is no such thing as free time when you have a baby in the house). Still, there are other DIY-chores to be done, so don’t stow the toolbox away just yet.

Yesterday was my first day at work, and a full day of training was waiting for me. Loads of emails were also waiting for my attention, and my desk was quickly covered in ‘URGENT’, ‘VERY URGENT’, ‘EXTREMELY VERY URGENT’ and ‘THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE LAST CENTURY’ dossiers.

I’m so looking forward to the next summer holidays!

Posted by Bart at 9:49 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous


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