Thursday, September 28, 2006

Adding some forgotten data

Hi it's 22.15 and I am very tired. We are still adding some "forgotten" data that of course turned up today. Funny how people's attitude change. As long as you give them excels with all the data that we will upload, we get very little response. Even test runs in the live company gives very little response. But mentioning today that the final upload has happened, triggers people to go and look for their data in the system and run to us with lists of missing suppliers and items. Great.... now we have to create them manually which takes a lot longer.

Looking at the bright sight: yesterday we did not get any dinner at all, tonight we stuffed ourselve with lots of fries. And every data change we make today before we are live, is not a data change we have to make when we are live with complaining customers on the phone and a supplier dropping off non existing drinks (in our system) in the depot. It's the first time we have a spare data check day like this, so lets hope it is going to be smoother later on.

Zzzz I am so tired.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Waiting for upload

Pffff data is still not uploaded. I don't know what they are still checking but we are bored. But we don't want to leave before testing the upload. So we are still here, trying to work (work enough) but it's hard to keep going at this time an evening.

Cross our fingers that it is soon done.


update at 21h44.......... still waiting, still bored and hungry


update at 23h20....ok data is uploaded and first queries are fine. The inventory lists are ready.... Message to my colleagues: let's go the hotel and get a snack before that is finished in the bar at midnight! Thanx Bart for your virtual pizza but the instant soup I stole here in the kitchen was a bit more filling.

The calm before the storm?

It's very strange but it is very calm at work this afternoon. The calm before the storm, I am afraid.

Last days have been stressfull and hectic because some people weren't capable to do their job at all. This is the internet so I can't go into details (although I'd love to give lots of details to prove my point), but let's just say that I really wanted to smack some people in the face for their incompetence and some other people for not having fired the first category yet. Some people sure can make our lifes a lot harder and make us loose lots of time.

But in the end we seem to have gathered all data in time (yes we have great people in our team!) . I had my files processed this morning and now Luc has just finished his files as well (he had more to do). So now we are ready to upload once the guys in the HQ are ready with checking the file's consistencies. So we are waiting for the upload....and we have a spare day tomorrow to make some more checks in the new system with the new uploaded data. Ample of time unless disasters are discovered at that moment.

And then the storm will start: a loooong day of inventory counting on Friday (= climbing on kegs to check labels and due dates, discovery of obsure belgian beer brands, climbing on pallet boards and falling off, endless recounts and discussions, ...) and then upload of all inventory and Go-life of System 21 in Limburg on Saturday. Yeaaaah the last go-life! Good, we are all tired of those go-lifes, time to move on. The go-life will go fine, I am sure, but the stress will be the first weeks afterwards where the people have to get used to their new jobs, new system, new way of working. No matter how much training we give and how much exercises, the change forced upon them after go-life is always huge. And it always gives a lot of problems. So the first weeks we run around like crazy to try to answer all their questions, fix their problems and show them how to do things.

Since yesterday some of us teammembers are staying in the hotel again, expecting too long days to commute back and forth. Friday will probably be a 18h work-day and on Saturday we start at 7AM again. Yikes but I'll survive. So did I last times. So we are in a hotel and this time it's not a crappy Ibis. Hihi Luc forgot to mention here that we have a budget limit for the hotelcost and so they booked us in the Holiday Inn in Hasselt. Great mistake , nice change to close off the project :). Although it does not look like they'll appreciate it when we arrive at midnight with no other dining alternative then the nearest "french fries stand" bringing back french fries and fricandel sausages and stew and croquettes to eat in the lobby. We'll see. Let's be optimistic and think we'll always be back before the restaurants close.

ok now I'll use this calm time while waiting for upload to retest some old bugs in the software.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fashion predictions from London

What I like about visiting London: having a peak review on next year's fashion in Belgium :p. At Christmas 2004 I saw people walking with very narrow jeans tucked in their high boots.... last year Belgium was full of them. Last fall I saw people in the West End with fancy dressed up narrow barmuda shorts. I looked for them briefly in Belgium but didn't find much more than narrow knee- length shorts in jeans yet. Now I am starting to see them (and I really want a pair of them !!!). So I was quite curious whether I'd pick up some new trends in London this time.

So this is what I saw: a big return to the 80ies ! The narrow jeans didn't have to be tucked in hight boots anymore but were back on high Dc Martins, armee boots or just low pumps. Anyway no more heals!!! Where flat shoes for sure with rounded toes. I had very strong flashbacks to the last years of highschool where we were all wearing stretch jeans. ... and I went on Rotary exchange with my pair of stretch jeans, very tight, very tough to put on and take off again (or should I say roll off). Those pants couldn't have been more in contrast with the extreme baggy fashion in Canada at that time ! I heard that other students at PCSS thought that my jeans had shrunk too much. But secretly I loved sticking out a bit as the foreigner who didn't have to be inline with the rest.

So ... since the stretch jeans are already back, I am sure we won't feel obliged very long anymore to put them inside our boots but we'll show then off on low shoes. Instead more and more we'll wear long sweaters and T-shirts on it. Sophie, didn't you tell me already that T-shirts and tops were getting longer again and had to be on our hips??

The trend that really stuck out to us though was a mini mini jeans skirt with a stretch legging. Geeez I so hope that doesn't cross the Northsea to us! Stretch jeans aren't flattering but I can live with them if everyone wears them. But those leggins were just too bad. They could be just below kneelenght or up to the ankles. They are usually black but I've also soon bright fluo pink and other colors or striped ones . And you have to wear flat pumps on them. On top of them you wear a long T-shirt/dress with a belt or long sweater/knitted dress if you don't want to wear a mini jeans skirt although jeans was the most common. The skirt or long T-shirt should barely cover your ass.

They were all over the place in London, you always saw at least one woman with such a mini skirt with a very non flattering legging. Yet Sandra and I were still hoping that the fashion would not come over. That hope was lost last Friday though when I saw somebody crossing the street like that in Ghent. So the trendsetters are already here. What can I say... Ghent the most trendy city of Belgium ???

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Finished parquet floor

Our parquet floor has been finished and our living room looks sooo different now. Much warmer. Much longer. yeaaah I love it. Thank you Jan and Michel for the great work.



We cleaned the entire house and the big advantage is, now the cement floor is gone, that the house is much less dusty. I actually have to get used to the fact that our kitchen floor now remains dark gray longer than 2 minutes !



Our first visitors seemed enthousiastic anyway :-)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Warning the obvious : an Anglo-Saxon thing??

Last weekend in London we also experienced some great examples of how the British (or should I say Anglo-Saxon world???) warn you for the most ridiculous things.

Before I could order my plate with grilled sardines I had to confirm 3 times that I wanted the sardines because there could be fishbones in it. .... DUGH I know that, I have had enough biology knowledge to know fish contains fishbones, and I have never seen sardines served as a fillet. I would be worried about my fish if it didn't contain fishbones.

The next day we saw a big sign in a buffet next to some fish as well "CHOKING HAZARD". I think they should put up such signs next to bowls of pretzels as well ...didn't George Bush choke once in a pretzel? And maybe next to chips and corn flakes and ... and ....

I also always am amazed on the signes "caution" wet floor that are spread over everywhere. I do see the point of putting that up because it is not always visible and falling on a floor can be painfull (I experienced it once in the supermarket making a nice slip over a leave of lettuce...painful and very embarrasing). But in Belgium we don't put such warnings and I truly don't think we trip that much more over wet floors? It dries very quickly and when it is still wet it usually smells very much like detergent products to warn you.

And those yellow signs...if you don't watch out you could trip over them, so maybe you need a sign that warns you that there is a warning sign coming up!? It's just a suggestion.

I also wonder what people with nuts allergies eat in the UK? On all products it is mentioned that it might contain nuts. Apperently all food processing factories in the world all process nuts as well. How do they eat if you have an allergy? They must be starving or having to start their own farm. Such a warning is not pointless or rediculous at all, I am just surprised on the amount of products that potentially could contain nuts.

The funniest and most pointless warning I saw last weekend in London: near the metro station Embankment (when coming from Trafalgar Square walking up to the Thames) , the following sign is on the sidewalk "Caution Pedestrians" . DUGH? Of course there are. It is a freaking sidewalk! Did a car ever hit a pedestrian and sued the city for not putting up a warning that the pedestrian could be there, or what?

I don't know...it sure is a great form of amuzement when visiting the US (carefull HOT on each cup of coffee...it'd better be hot or I'd complain) or the UK. It makes you wonder how stupid the population is? Is there that many law suits resulting in this overload of warnings??? I cannot find any other reason for these rediculous exaggerated warnings everywhere. The western European justice system are different and more based on laws than on precedents so we don't have a culture of law suits. That could be an explanation.

Anyway, just found today in another blog a great example of warning the obvious:

Rous Ramblings: Stating the obvious

Trip to London: painfully fun

Good friends


Sandra and I as stereotypical tourists at Buckingham palace


Last weekend I had the joy of playing the tourist in London and experience again how vibrant this big city is. We were lucky and could enjoy very nice weather and walk all over the place: Notting Hill and the colorful market in Portobello Road, Oxford Street (and no we didn't shop !), Baker Street and neighbourhood, The West End, Westminster, walks along the Thames from Westminster up to the Tower Bridge etc to enjoy the Thames festival last weekend, ...

snooping around at Portobello Road


The week before I was already in bed to late and had been struggling with fatigue. I finally seemed to have caught up again by Friday but on Saturday we had to get up quite early to leave for London. Sandra stayed at our place in Leuven and due to the new bed, streetnoise etc she didn't get a good night of sleep either. So after quite some hours of sightseeing and walking, both Sandra and I dozed off in the metro much to Jan's amazement . A bit later we had to admit to our own surprise that we were both getting a slight headache..... which got a lot worse for both of us. We were really greatful to get back in the appartment in the evening and while Jan had to work a little bit to fix an unexpected problem, we took the opportunity to take a nap and a headache painkiller. Boy by that time my headache was killing me and I was freezing. Soon after I had got up to get a sweater on, Sandra did the same. Eery how we both felt the same symptoms around the same time!!!!! And we both had a blister!!!!! Fancy that????

Another stereotypical tourist picture...but a very nice one don't you think?

Anyway the nap and medicins did their work and we could go out to the West End for a delicious Perzian meal. Mmmm. And a belly dancer!

Needless to say that we all slept like roses and fresh and happy we headed out on Sunday again to check out the sunny Thames festival. They really made a nice walk all along the Thames and this time it was filled with people , "live statues", some musicians and booths selling stuff. On bigger squares there was music or theatre. Fun time out in the sun!

me hugging a sculpture (which was hot in the sun)

Some performances

What would Jan do without Starbucks or Nero's or ... other coffeeshops?

We also had the chance to quickly get a glance at Jan's new appartment. He is moving on Wednesday to a new appartment. His roommate seemed quite nice actually, we only met 1 of them.

We had a good Japanese meal in China town, way too much, before we went to see the closing fireworks for the Thames festival. That was in fact very disappointing. Fireworks in Belgium usually last for at least 15 minutes, but here we hardly had 10 minutes of which there were 5 minutes of low phantasy lacking flairs going up with a little "poof". Then all of a sudden about 30 fireworks exploded at the same time in a big chaos as if they ran out of time and quickly launched all the remaining ones. I believe there were actually some nice ones in there but they all exploded so quickly one after another that you could not enjoy then really. It was quite spectacular to see so many of them going up, but it's no fun if it ends after 1 minute. Pff why did they not spread them out more? Very weird. I guess Jan and Sandra's remark must be true that Belgium and the Netherlands (and Asia of course )are very much known for their excellent firework factories and that we are very much spoiled. I sure had much higher expectations of fireworks in the big trendy city of London. I remember being quite disappointed at New Year in Edinburgh as well. Pfff boring and extremely short!


That night we slept extremely well again with very very sore feet full of blisters and an aching back of walking so much. Gosh, are we getting that old or are we so out of shape?


Monday was a long day where I got to meet Jan's colleagues after Sandra took the train back to Belgium. On a sort of office party, we went to the Kempton horse races. Well... I enjoyed the chuckwagon races at the Calgary stampede much more I must say, much more excitement and action. I'd like to give a suggestion to the organisers of the race not to wait 30 minutes between each race, although maybe that time is needed to analyse all given data in magazines to place a bet.

This horse actually won the race and we had a bet on it....yeaaaah (the only one we won)


After the races we had a dinner and spent another long time in the bar. I must admit I did not always feel very much at ease among all these "stranger" who kept much to my frustration having conversations about work, English football and other subjects I could rarely take part in. Very tough for someone like me who already has a hard time making conversation with strangers. Oh well, next time I meet Jan's colleagues i'll already know them a bit!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I.E. 6 Help

Help, is there any techies reading this who can help me. Since one week myu internet explorer does not open multiple pages at the same time anymore.... no if I open a new internet page it overwrites the other one that was open. It replaces the screen I came from even when I choose 'open in new screen'.

So I can only have one internetscreen open at the same time and I have to be carefull to click on a hyperlink if I don't want to leave the current page.

My computer has been scanned for virusses and it is clean.

Help, what should I do? Installe firefox or opera or IE 7 ??? or simply change a setting that I didn't find yet?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Babysit

Last weekend we babysat for Stef.... And there's two boys there that clearly get along well :p ... If everone is needing another babysit?




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9 11

I was ment to write this blog on Monday but we are Wednesday already tonight. (I think Blogger will still post it on Monday because I started it then). Thanks to 'Blanche' the computer ghost that seems to haunt this laptop since a week, I've been mainly busy with troubleshooting rather than finishing my post.

In the mean time I forgot what I was going to type here. I just wanna say that I watched on Canvas the BBC documentary about the collaps of the twin towers. It was setup with archive images, interviews and new film with actors. We've all had overdosis with 9 11 images already I am sure but this one was different to me. For the first time it focused what happened in the towers in between the time the first plan hit the tower and the collapse.... the stories of people stuck in the elevator, office people trying to find an exit from the fire, people not knowing at all what was happening, .... It was really good and it was the first time ever I had to cry because of 9 11 despite the documentory's serene approach.

Naturally I was shocked by 9 11 as was everyone else, I was horrified by what had happened and we felt a lot of empathy but living in Europe you can not really grasp it at all. It touched us more than other disasters happening elsewhere in the world, but it didn't truly involve us directly!! It's hard to say but it did happen on the other side of the world in a country that bullies the world. It was very unreal to us. So this documentary was very good to me revive my empathe and remind me that it was not just a surreal horror movie but it truly happened!

9 11 truly change the world, just look at the daily news and check how much of it was impacted by 9 11 : Iraque, Afghanistan, terrorist news, ... Very depressing really

Friday, September 8, 2006

Mindgames

Isn't it funny how your mind can play tricks on you. You are in a situation and all of a sudden out of nowhere, this funny out of place association pops up.

I had that at work this week when washing my hands in the toilet. The soap smell popped up the image of 'onzelievevrouwkes' , a type of machmallow that we have for Sinterklaas in the form of a lady, Our Lady so to speak. And a second later I am thinking of Sinterklaas.

Other associations I always make...

music of Vangelis (but not the conquest of Paradise) = my parents dinner parties when I was a child, with the toasts and snacks ready on the table, the fire place burning, the table set and some candles lid

music of Strauss = the sleepy feeling of a New Years morning/noon and watching with a half eye the yearly New Yearly's contest

Barry White = all the colleagues of Allie Mc Beal dancing in their unisex washroom and coming in and out the stalls well synchronised.

Sting's Roxanne = my mom catching me by surprise during one of my exam study breaks when I was singing along really really loud and concentrated. Hmm I guess that is not an association but a memory.

ok I am out of inspiration, will type more if I remember more of them.

Speeding Monegasques

When driving home there was this silver Audi really tailing other cars making them go to the right so it could speed away. I so hate that!!! But it had a very weird short licence plate in blue letters white background... D143. Hmm which country is tiny enough to only need 4 digits... ???? That must be Monaco (and a little bit of googling confirmed that to me).

Little later a silver BMW speeds by... G221. What is this ? Some Monegasque party that just ended in the Netherlands and they are trying to get home before dinner is cold??? It was first time that I saw Monegasque driving around in Belgium and I hope I don't see them often if they drive like that. Too bad there wasn't a police car hiding a little further.

In order to be complete on this post, another silver BMW came by later on at the same speed but that was a Belgian. Or maybe they were all Belgians... maybe it was Mr Tom Boonen and Mr Justine Henin or Mr Stefan Everts racing by to see the game on tv at time??? All our sports champions (Tom Boonen = world champion cycling , Justine Henin = soon to be #1 in tennis , Stefan Everts = multiple world champion motorcross) all chose to move their residency away from Belgian media...or Belgian taxes. Their choices were always met with quite some controversy and if it is them who are racing so dangerously on the highways, controversy could rise much much more. ... but before accusing them, I only know those were Monegasque cars.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Martha Stewart

Guess what... they started broadcasting a daily show of Martha Stewart on tv in Belgium. So we can finally see who that American media-idol was who only came in the news here because she had to go to prison.

Her show is sooooo stereotype of what a perfect housewife ''should'' do at first sight: cook, entertain, design your own wrapping paper (dugh?), decorate the lunch bags of the children with their drawings, ... yamn yawm nothing attractive to me so far!
Besides she was wearing an awful poncho and so was everybody in the audience... hello? what a non stylish gift, that type of poncho just hides everyone's body behind a massive triangle block.

She was very funny and good though in an interview with Elmo from Sesamestreet. I don't think we had Elmo in the Dutch version of Sesamestreet but he was cute. Better than Ieniemienie.

Getting to know the secrets of your own house

Finally the weather was getting serious about things here again. After a depressing August month (sure enough the weather gods wanted to balance a bit after a very hot July month but did August need to be that bad?) it is finally a bit of decent weather. Mind you last week I did turn the heating on in the morning !! So yesterday was nice and I figured that I needed to do an extra effort to water the grass. It does have some spots that are not going to have a very green future so it seems.

And so I watered the grass and after a while without any warning the water stopped spraying. While in the back of my head a small memory started to appear already, I ran quickly inside to the watertap in the kitchen to discover what I already knew. Only a sad little bit of water came out of the tap. Great, how do you live in a house without water. I remembered the remark that jan's once made that we had a stop on the water after it runs non-stop x time to prevent leakage .

After a couple of phonecalls with Jan (and him consulting his dad) and me rumbling about in the basement I found the 'dropstop'' device linked to our waterpipe. So far so good. Now where the hell was a button or something to make the water run again? The bloody thing had no buttons , nothing to push, pull, turn whatsover at first sight. Just 2 tiny wholes and a tiny key attached behind a pipe. Pheww, I miniscule little turn inside in one of the wholes seems to have done the trick and I had runnign water again!!

And so you learn everyday. But we'd like to find the manual of that bloody thing to see what the settings are and how we can change them. In the mean time I watered the garden in intervals tonight ;)

Monday, September 4, 2006

Fair in Moscou


Yesterday Jan and I witnessed a parade in Moscou with the newly elected Miss Moscou driven through the streets.

... You don't believe it? No honestly, I swear. I might not have mentionned the fact that Jan and I travelled to Moscou this weekend, it must have slipped my mind. Busy schedule huh.

So we were in Moscou and we also visited the local flee market, although that was quite disappointing. The parade was better although I saw it from the window upstairs. The miss election had been the day before (by the way the candidates had already been marched through the strees with a street band ... with hardly any watchers along the road and and the candidates trying to look as bored as possible as if it was one of their assignments).
So all of a sudden while we were still in our room we hear another band coming by: a first band and a bored looking police cop at the side, some local party committe officials walking along chitchatting with each other, 2 giants and another marching band with as top of the bill the car with the new Miss Moscou.

We also went out to the flee market but that was quite boring. They had organised it in way too many streets and as a result there were not filled at all. And the Moscou crowded stayed mainly inside, I had the impression.
Oh well the next days of the festivities are going to have much better weather so maybe it'll get busier. Anyway we couldn't stay much longer in Moscou so we left again on Sunday. On Sunday evening we actually were already back in Leuven and went for a quick walk over the Leuven fair which was much bigger than the Moscou fair.


And for all the non-Ghent inhabitants that are confused.... Moscou is a neighbourhood of Gentbrugge and therefore from Ghent. It got it's name after 1815 when the Russian troups of the Tsar camped out there for a while after the vitory over Napoleon in Waterloo. So it were just the local neighbourhood festivities in my street!!

Pictures of Brittany uploaded

For all 'kerieuzeneuzen'' (what a lovely Flemish word!!) , Jan was so nice to upload all our Brittany pictures on his website and the latest pictures of our kitchen and garden as well.

Mind you, there's lots of them!! And don't mind the spelling errors of Jan... he was typing with my Azerty keyboard while he is used to Qwerty. And let's blaim the keyboard also for his mixing up St. Martin (a beach where we were once) and St Laurent de la Mer.... For your information... we were in St Laurent de la Mer !! Oh well ...who cares about those 5 kms difference huh ;)

Friday, September 1, 2006

New schoolyear

Today school started for over a million kids... my colleagues came late since they had to bring their children to school for the first time etc...

I wish them sincerely all the best in the coming year, especially all my cousins and relatives and friends that are teaching !!!!
But I am glad I don't have to go anymore, although I have been thinking with just a very little big of nostalgie to the schoolplay grounds. It seems ages ago.