Friday, January 30, 2009

No coincidence

It's the end of January , semester exams are ending and I saw a line of busses in Leuven full of young people ready to leave to the ski resorts.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Late home after all



I have difficulty going to bed early and even more with getting up early. Combined with a sore throat that came to annoy me right since I mingled in the masses again and with some PMS, you can see that I didn't feel too great today. I had to pull me through the day with a lot of coffee and I totally didn't look forward to the karting team event tonight. Gosh I would have given money to be able to just go home and crash on the sofa.

But my sense of duty to be "social" with my colleagues , my fear that "I'm feeling tired" would be a lousy late-minute cancellation, made me drive to the event anyway. I didn't cart as that seem very wise for me yet, but I end up enjoying watching all my colleagues, my boss and some consultants stress about the kart races. I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed riding among those more and less crazy drivers but it gave a good spectacle to watch.


Good night!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trouble to adjust

First day back at work
Lots of turning and twisting
on top of my chair
Wobbling through meetings
distracting everybody
with new positions
Coming home tired
not used to the work rhythm
after my sickleave
No inspiration
to blog anymore tonight
besides a haiku

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tagged

Rozebril tagged me and the task is simple: go to the 4th folder with pictures on your computer and then upload the 4th picture in that folder.


So my 4th folder is "Canada 1999" which much to my surprise does not hold any pictures from my summer in Canada in 1999 but a selection of pictures from my trip to Canada in 2004 that are also in my fifth folder named "Canada 2004". Great, I am clearly well organised :D. I don't even have digital pictures from 1999.

Here I am posing at the entrance of the Wildlife Center in the Kootenay Valley which is 17000 acres of wetlands, swamps, lakes and kms of trails at the foot of the mountains where you can spot migrating birds, insects, moose (never seen one), snakes and also turtles that do dare to cross the entrance road.

I'd like to tag on my turn Jenn from My Life in a nutshell as she has the cutest pictures of her kids, Betsy from Blog Ness Monster as I'm sure she'll have something really funny story to go along, Carol from Northwestladybug as she loooooooves to post pictures and Lilacspecs from Lilac Colored Glasses as it's been way too long since she posted pictures on her blog ;)

Back to the seated life with almost no pain anymore

Last Thursday I hardly made it home driving back from grocery shopping. And walking around in my jeans was extremely uncomfortable as well... no stiff textures on my bottom for me yet.

Last Friday I survived a passenger ride up and down 40 min each fairly well, but I was counting down to get out of the car.

Yesterday I really wondered how on earth I'd be driving back to work next week. How would I'd be able to drive, sit all day in the office and drive back?

But today I went by train to visit my parents and I sat down for more than an hour without the need to stand up (yet I did need to wobble a bit from time to time).

So tomorrow my sickleave is over and I start working again. On one hand I am so glad to get a change after being home for 2,5 weeks straight as my days are very much looking the same each day. I am ready for some mental challenges and increased social interaction. On the other hand I love being so relaxed, I love my slow mornings, I love having my feedreader empty constantly, my ironing pile gone, having time to read books, .... I am dreading to join the ratrace again with traffic jams, meetings, complaining customers and coming home tired.

Oh well, welcome back to reality.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A tajine with beef meat balls

Even when I am so much home, I don't really cook a lot. In our home routines Jan does most of the cooking and when he's gone I eat leftovers as long as they last. But when I ran out of food, I might as well cook dinner and take some effort in it the way Jan wouldl do it.

My inspiration usually comes out of books. I really can't make meals out of my head. And I felt like a tajine again.

The meatballs are a mixture of some slices bread, an egg, a minced onion and a handfull of parsley, plenty of cumin / black pepper /paprika powder and more than half a kilo minced beef. Then the fun job of mix it all together into one smooth mass with your hands and roll balls.





For the sauce I simmered onions and then added cumin / turmeric / paprika powder and a chopped up chili pepper. Then you add chicken stock (half a liter at least) and let the meat balls boil softly for 45 minutes. Let the sauce thicken but not dry out! At the end you add some koriancer and half a lemon's juice.






I served it with couscous, baked eggplant and some tomato salad.


Horror



If Belgium (probably any country) makes the frontpage of CNN.com you can bet it's really not going to be good news.

This morning the biggest parental fear became reality for some parents this morning: a psychiatric patient with painted face entered a child nursery in Dendermonde and stabbed children and caretakers calmly. He has left the building and rode his bike away leaving 2 children and one of the caretakers dead and 11 other children severely wounded. In the mean time a 3 child has died already. Belgium's in shock, we've never had deadly stabbings or killings in schools or nurseries so far. The knifeman has been caught quickly at the local Aldi supermarket.

This is such a sad tragedy.



UPDATE: the final number of victims is 3: 2 children and 1 adult. There's been confusion about the number for a while.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting interviewed by Lilacspecs

Lilacspecs has given me a solution to my dilemma this period: lots of time to blog since I am still at home recovering, yet less inspiration to blog as I hardly come outside. She has offered to interview me. So here it comes:

1. When you lived in Canada, what was the most difficult thing to adapt to, culturally?
The hardest thing was some black and white conservative thinking that clashed with mine. I did not know how to respond appropriately. It was hard to know where the boundary was to being critical and giving opposite arguments, to defending yourself and to criticising a different culture that you did not know well enough to judge.

I was confronted as a teenager with (young) people strongly believing in creationism when I wasn't even aware that the evolution theory wasn't accepted as a global truth. I was blamed being a bad Christian.
Coming from a school with some active Amnesty International student groups where we were all wearing badges "stop killing someone who has killed someone to show that killing people is wrong", I turned out to be the only one in a class debate willing to take the side against the death penalty.
I've heard remarks like "Oh the Swedisch are such immoral people, they go nude in unisex sauna's", I met people that homeschool their children because the public schools would be too immoral, I heard pretty nasty remarks about First Nation People etc...

Don't get me wrong, not all the Canadians that I've met share these thoughts at all! Quite on the contrary !! And some people that made some of these remarks turned out to be good friends after all. Yet each time it was a sort of shock to me to meet that many conservative people and to hear them express these thoughts. I suppose you inherit your parent's mindset as a child and it's quite likely their friends are similar-minded people. So somehow we all grow up fairly protected. Additionally you are very much sculptured by the culture you grow up in. Yet when going abroad as an exchange student you can't really choose your environment. So then sometimes the cultural differences hit harder. In most cases I avoided all discussions reminding myself to be thankfull for all opportunities and to be open-minded, but it was tough and with hindsight that might not have been always the best choice.

2. How did you become interested in diving?

Sssst I'm a mermaid but I'm incognito. Don't tell anyone.

No? you don't believe me?

Ok then, well in 2004 Jan decided he'd like to learn scuba diving on vacation. We both did a test dive but I didn't quite want to spend our week vacation on a boat. Jan totally loved it and I quickly realised that he would dive again on our next vacations. Since I didn't want to be a diving widow on the beach (and since I did enjoy that test dive)...I took my course on our next vacation. Now we could dive together.

I first had no interest to dive in Belgium as the colder water with low visibility didn't quite attract me. But when Jan joined the local dive club and often went on dives in the weekend, I thought it would be good for me to join the training sessions as well. And then in the end you don't want to be left out, you hear the other's stories and you see their pictures and I started diving in Belgium too :).

So basically it's all Jan's fault ;).

3. What is your vacation spot and why?
First of all it is a very sunny place. Temperatures around 30°C. It has a long sandy beach with palm trees and some beach shacks that offer nice cool drinks served by gorgeous tropical boys. Naturally there is a coral reef just a swim distance so you can scuba dive right from the beach.

At walking distance there's an old historic town with narrow little cobblestone streets, houses with curly iron balconies and a nice harbor full of little cafés and cosy excellent restaurants. Just outside there are still some archeological sites that you can visit and where the most spectacular mosaic floors of ancient villa's have been opened up.

Further inland there's a lovely countryside rising up into majestic mountains with spectacular sights and lovely waterfalls and little trails through the woods.

Ok if you tell me where this place is, I'll go and book it right away!

4. On your fries: mayo or stoofvlees?
Mayo!

And stoofvlees needs to be eaten with fries, but I don't throw all the stoofvlees on my fries as it makes them too soggy.

5. Imagine that historians have chosen you to leave a message that will be preserved in a time capsule for 1000 years. What would you want to say to those who will dig up the time capsule in 2109?

Never touch your eyes after you've just cut up a hot chili pepper





Do you want to get interviewed as well?
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." (and make sure I have your e-mail address in that case)
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Historic

Even though I am a bit sceptic about the big "Obamahype" that has been created over the last moments and I am a bit fearful about the too high hopes that everyone seems to carry, I did not want to miss this historical inauguration. (and just for once I am not working at that moment).

I do believe it is historical and watching the ceremony did give me regular chills down my spine.
I do believe the Americans have made the best choice they had on Nov 4th and I am happy for them. I am happy that they now have a charasmatic leader that does seem to inspire so many people.

As a probably fairly ignorant European watching it all, I had some thoughts....some more trivial than others :

* what an incredible crowd out there in Washington. The atmosphere must be incredible and unforgettable. I think it would be comparable to the world youth days in Rome where we also gathered with 2 million people, all cheerfull, everyone bonding together...but this event is even more special as everyone feels they are part of history.
* what a crowd....what if they have to pee? All afternoon I could not get that thought out of my head. It's so cold, that stimulates the bladder! But then I read there's 5000 mobile toilets on the Mall. 1 per 200 people....that's doable.
* why do they keep calling Obama the first black president? He's 50-50 right? So just as much entitled to be called white as black?
* Whereas the USA was ready for a semi-black president....they surely do not seem ready for an atheïst or non-christian president. I don't think such a candidate will be elected in the near future. Until then , even as a Christian, I can't help feeling awkward to see that a church service, a prayer before the oath and the famous sentence "so help me God" is part of the inauguration. How can you then represent all citizens I wonder, even if your country is founded by Christians?

I had a twitter search open during the speech...you should have seen the thank yous and responses when he did aknowledge being the president of a "nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers". There truly is a need for that acknowledgment!!!!
* I got annoyed but the amount of attention Michele's dress gets by our journalists.
* Many references to the environment, health care and education in the speech. I like it!
* "this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control " => more government interaction/intervention can be expected in the economics
* "And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."



Well, I wish you good luck Mr President. Your work can start now and the world is watching.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Glass glass and glass

This is how the "window" between the living room and the bathroom looked like this morning and the unexisting railing of our mezzanine.







And this is how it looks now .....



Sunday, January 18, 2009

Blood of flowers

Only a week ago I was telling you what I had been reading on January 8th. I had just finished some detectives which I find good entertainment, but I felt like reading something else.

...and I'm already finished. One book in one week is very very fast for me and is a good sign that I loved reading the book. This morning I was reading during breakfast, decided to continue for another half hour before I started other chores as I didn't feel like putting it down yet, and I ended up finishing the book 2 hours later. Then I had no more excuse for postponing my chores ;).

So now I'd like to recommend "The blood of Flowers" by Anita Amirrezvani to you. It's the story of a young Iranian girl living on the countryside in the 17th century. When her dad dies suddenly , her world is shattered and they struggle in poverty after which they move to Isfahan to become the servants of an uncle. She grows up in Isfahan in a position that cannot be envied at all, yet the wonderful city also gives her possibilities she could not have experienced on the countryside. Choices come with their hopes, consequences, struggles , dilemma's and emotions.

And before you know it you are procrastinating your chores :)

Random remarks

Yesterday I saw some extracts of an interview with Isabelle Allende on the Dutch television. At one point in the conversation she states that Chileans are rather shy people who talk quietly and use a lot of diminutives. When Argentinian tourists come over to Chile, the Chileans feel uneasy at their loudness, big movements that are consideret as arrogant. The Dutch interviewer was nodding all the time when she described the Chileans and then said in all earnesty that the Dutch were exactly like that too: shy, quiet and using a lot of diminutives.
*choke* cough*....did he really say that? Huh? Has he any idea whatseover how Dutch tourists are perceived abroad? Has he ever worked in a Dutch open office and measured the decibels?
Oh gosh, the idea that the Dutch on average would be shy & silent. Yeah sure :p

********

A friend of us bragged on FB that she had just made some pudding and how good it tasted. The entire afternoon I had this strong urge for vanilla and had nostalgic flashbacks to childhood moments where I could make a big pot of vanilla pudding with my mom. It seemed ages ago.
Later on Jan comes home and all of a sudden claims out loud "oooh I feel like making some pudding " (yes he's on FB too) and he headed to the kitchen where he cluttered with some pots and pans. I was quite curious because I knew we had no vanilla pudding powder , if not I would have already surprised him with some fresh pudding.
Sure enough a bit later a nice sweet smell drifted from the kitchen into the living room. He was making semolina pudding. And so we ended up late in the evening each with a big bowl of pudding in front of the tv after all. We can't remember who and when we've ever bought semolina though :p.

********

Now and then I get a wave of attention to work on my family tree. I started off with all the descendants of my great grand mother at my dad's side since that part of the family has shattered over 2 continents. I also prefer tracing down all the descendants as they are still alive rather than climbing back into history. when I was a teenager I had drawn on a few dozen papers a very wide tree. But as years progressed, I had clearly not left enough space among the people in the lowest row to add their partners and their multiple children below.
So a couple of years ago I tested some genealogy freeware to digitalise my previous work and find an easier way to share it with other people. I had built a big gedcom database but never found a good way to share beside some tacky PDF's or html files. During my search my cousin first removed invited me on http://www.geni.com/. Great tool to share, very interactive where multiple can add to the tree, add to their personal profiles, link events , pictures etc.... but I couldn't upload my database at that poing.

Yesterday a far Canadian relative had asked me if I could send my old files once again. It gave me the motivation to log onto Geni again and complete the work (the entire Belgian part was very accurate as my entire family contributes). After a couple of hours I had added all Canadians that I am aware off (last births were in the nineties so I am clearly a bit behind) and I invited them to join. And now some of them are contributing there as well and our tree is growing. Coooool. I can't wait until the upload some pictures so I can finally picture some of these "names".

********

Tomorrow is supposedly the most depressing day of the year (calculated by some professor). I hope that's not a bad omen since I'll have my surgery check-up in the hospital tomorrow. And we're getting a big delivery at home...dadum dadum, pictures tomorrow I hope! So I really hope it isn't going to be depressing at all.

********

I'm quite looking forward to Obama's inauguration on Tuesday. But I fear that so many people now have such incredible expectations that are unrealistic and I fear that Obama's popularity will inevitably start decreasing. I hope not, but I fear so.

********

Looking at the footage of the operations to lift the crashed airplane in the Hudson river , I still can't believe that nobody got seriously hurt. How fantastic to know that those pilot training sessions are truly valuable and those guys can save our life (sometimes) in case of a crash.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Flu

Many many people online or on the phone seem to be (start) feeling ill over the last couple of days. The newspaper already announced last weeken that that the flu has now officially turned epedemic in Belgium and will be worse than last year.


Yeah glad I am contained inside far from potentially dangerous encounters ;). ....Jan, if I get ill, I know who to blame :p

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

TV review

The advantage of being at home recovering, yet not being ill (and not being sleepy anymore) is that you can watch more television. And I do admit that I already watch it a lot: it's on all evenings when I'm home. But right now I have to cancel choir rehearsals, aerobics, yoga, diving practise etc... and the tv is on much more than regularly.

So here's some reviews

  • Do you know the "Doe-het-zelf-met-Roger" broadcasts on Vitaya? You know all those handyman tips to construct and renovate your house yourself? Recently we heard an interview with the guy on the radio. His name is not Roger at all! He's as a matter of fact the sixth Roger they hire for the show. And he has no special background in building either. I was so shocked. Not that I am truly surprised but I think they could have had the decency to call the show "do it yourself with André" or "do it yourself with Alan" .... Big deal ?? Now I can't see it coming by anymore without thinking all the time "Pfff you are not Roger, you have a different name...how lame to pretend to be Roger."

  • For more than a decade already "De Zevende Dag" (=the 7th day) is a discussion program on Eén (national Flemish public non-commercial channel) about the recent politics and social events in the news on Sunday morning. Since last week they did a new restyling: bright green walls and pink sofa's??? Did they borrow a Ketnet decor from the children's channel? Yikes. And then there's commotion apparently from the public that is still present but somewhere hidden in a corner. What were they thinking?

  • Isn't 2BE broadcasting the new season from "Without a trace" yet? Damn, they just stopped apparently at the end of season 6. I suppose broadcasting season 7 already would be a little too quick and too expensive for Belgium. :( .... Ok I have to rethink my traditional Tuesday evenings. Darn, my practical ironing show is gone.

  • Has anyone noticed that Eén is truly going multimedia recently. Well I guess that's not new neither shocking or innovating. Yet I find it a bit weird that a long-time soap like "Thuis" (home) which I do follow on an on and off basis for years now has a blogging neighbour now who truly interacts with her commenters and makes extra interviews with the charachters etc. And on Facebook some of the characters like Femke Fierens and Peter Vlerick that get status updates, added pictures, etc... in synchronisation with the events on tv etc.. That's still different from fan groups and fan pages on Facebook. It's a bit creepy how fiction and reality mixes there.

    and the hilarious thing is that some colleague actors are friends of them, eg Femke's stepdad is connected to her but not as the show's character but as the actor's own profile (for as far as it is truly his, but it seems protected so could be real).

    If you wonder whether I want to connect to these characters on Facebook since I am a fairly loyal viewer? No, the answer is no. I do not want to connect to fake characters and thereby giving unknown show editors access to my profile as well.
    Who said our online reputation, authenticity would become more important in 2009 and defriending would be a trend? Right, Bart?

    But I still find it amusing to see shows like "Thuis" trying to be modern and jump on the bandwagon of facebook, blogging, .... on their multimedia approach. Whaaaa, Thuis is everywhere ;).

  • Bart De Wever has now sufficiently proven he's a smart guy ...I do hope he doesn't break the record in this year's edition of "The slimste mens" (the smartest human). Don't exaggerate, ok? I wouldn't enjoy the fact that a separatist politician would pretend he's the smartest, no matter how ironic the quiz's title is.
  • I must check when the rerun of "Zonde van de Zendtijd" will be broadcast. We missed it again on Monday evening but last week we saw the first episode on a different day on Canvas+ or something. I saw a clip here and it looks pretty funny.

Ok enough reviews and comments now....I've got some programs to watch ;)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

All gone

I woke up this morning and the world looked grey and wet. Hey where did the white wintercoat go? Where's the freezing clear wintersun? Pfff I miss the snow already. ...No more freezing temperatures for the next week, just regular crappy Belgian winter. Too bad.

Some nostalgia pictures of our 8 days with snow in Belgium.




Sunday, January 11, 2009

I was reading on January 8th!


Last Thursday was the second annual "Day to Read" organised by Soccer Mom in Denial. And as announced I stayed away for one day from all blogs (reading or posting myself) and I took a book in my hands during that extre spare time.

As a matter of fact, I've done much more reading than I anticipated as I had little else to do. I had some minor surgery scheduled on Jan 8th around noon (the removal of a recurring infected cyst at my buttocks. argh) and I took my book to the hospital. Due to a minunderstanding I wrongly assumed getting local anesthetics but apparently I was supposed to get general anesthetics. I wasn't aware of it and had still enjoyed a breakfast so my surgery got moved on the schedule to the last spot of the day in order to get my stomac completely empty. All of a sudden I had hours to wait in the hospital bed to become very hungry, nervous and stressed.....and I could kill all of that time with my book that I had fortunately only just started.

Ironically enough my book was "Chili Death" by Susan Wittig Albert: a China Bayles Mystery with a mystery death at a chili cooking competition. Oh great, lots of references to ingredients and recipes....while you are getting hungrier and hungrier!!!!!

I had read a China Bayles mystery before (Hangman's root) and I liked the main charachter who gave up the rat race of being a lawyer in Houston and settled in a little made-up Texan town Peacan Springs where she is running a herb store. I love reading a detective that is sprinkled with little herb stories and a mystery where herbs are somehow involved in the plot. As you know, I do love herbs :).

This time China Bayles was attending the local chili cooking competition (apparently a really big thing in Texas?!) (and Texan Chili dus not have beans in it....hmmm mine does... a lot of beans) and somebody got killed due to added peanuts in one of the samples.

What I dislike in this series is the start of the book where you get to meet in a more artificial way (eg you come into the coffee shop and all the people present get described) the entire village with too many details at once. I like books when the story keeps flowing and actions happen. I do not like pushing myself through a a few pages of character discriptions while I worry that I'll never keep the different protagonists from one another later on in the story. This was the case in this story as well: a lot of villagers play a role and have their importance and it takes a while before you find your way around it. But fortunately the story gets more and more intriguing and the story builds up and then you really keep going because you want to know who has done it. And the author did manage to suprise me at the end.

So I think I'll look for some more books in this series next time I'm in the library. Anyone who likes a good detective in a small town setting should also like the China Bayles mysteries. It's not literature that will ever win the Nobel Price but it's good entertainment.
Other dectectives I really can recommend are the Lindsay Chamberlain series by Beverly Connor: an archaeologist/forensic researcher always ends up in local old mysteries that she needs to resolve. The story here usually flows right from the start at high speed in contrast with the China Bayles mysteries.

And with a lot of time on my hands right now that the sleepiness and nausea of the narcosis has worn off on me (and while I'm condemned to laying flat on my belly most of the day), I'm now ready to start reading "The blood of Flowers" by Anita Amirrezvani. The editorial comment claims it is as good as the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, which is probably very very subjective. But it's been a year since my themed winter with "islam world" books that I was reading last year and after 3 detectives in a row this winter, I'm ready for something different again. So I'm ready to travel to Iran of the 17th century.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Busted

....

So are you coming by to check my blog? Today? On January 8th? There's really no use stopping here though.. I am reading. I can recommend it. ...go on, give it a try, you might enjoy it :)

....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hockey and tall people

I just read this in the newspaper:

  • the ice hockey team from Leuven (Belgian champion) just beat a team of UBC 4 to 1 during an international tournament in Barcelona. Whoaaaahoaaa, I think I must go and see these guys at work!

    RC Polo Barcelona (Spa) - RHC Leuven (Bel) 5-3
    Dinamo Ekaterinburg (Rus) - RHC Leuven (Bel) 0-6
    Pedralbes HC (Spa) - RHC Leuven (Bel) 2-4
    RHC Leuven (Bel) - Univ. British Colombia (Can) 4-1
  • The Dutch are the tallest people on average: 181 cm for a man and 168 cm for a women (176 cm and 164 cm for the Belgians). They really need to stop drinking so much (butter)milk at lunchtime!

Have you made your choice?



Only 2 more days for our big Day to Read? Is your pile of books ready? Have you already started? Are you joining us in reading a good book on Thursday? Let us know! I've just started a new detective....not tell you which one yet!

check out SMID's post to see what the hell I'm talking about :p or you can read my own announcement.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's wintertime!!!!!!!




Wooohooo last years I so often complained about our sad, wet, grey, soft winters. But this time it's really making up. Most of december temperatures were fluctuating a bit above and below zero degrees. We had already a one day of snow in November that I won't forget lightly (grrrrr).

Last weeks all little lakes and ponds got frozen and the Dutch are becoming visibly nervous in their speculations whether they'll be able to organise the 16th "Elfstedentocht" 100 years after it's first edition (and 12 years after last edition).

And this morning we woke up to a snowwhite world. 4 inches of snow. We Belgians do get quite excited about it if we don't need to drive (yes yes, it's pathetic to all you who are used to northern weather climates but for us it's a big deal!). I had luckily a free agenda so I didn't need to join the 400 km of traffic jams right away as I could log on at hime until noon and then enjoy the cleared highways much more smoothly.

And white landscape is going to stay as tonight it's going to freeze -13C and it'll continue freezing for another 4 days. Oh my gosh that's cold. It probably has not been that cold in a decade (aha they just confirmed that in the news, it'll be the coldest night in 10 years time). Brrrrrrrr. I do hope there not too much snowslush around that will get very icy and tricky now.

But as long as I don't get into any winter traffic chaos, I am quite excited about having a real winter again for the first time in a long time and to walk through cracking snow in the park to the sportscenter.

Fun as expected

Sometimes you see a comment on a blog and you click through in curiousity (or you see a blog roll or you get a comment....) and you go over to read the unknown blog. And instanteously you feel a connection as you notice you share some interests or ideas. So you keep going back, you leave plenty comments (and you get them back) and the other blogger feels more and more "familiar". And you can't help thinking that you'd like each other if you'd ever meet in person.

The great thing is that you can easily meet up for a blind date if you both happen to live in the same city. And even greater if it turns out as expected into a fun relax evening where you chat all night long as if you are longtime friends. Coool! Let's do that again another time rozebril!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A hot deep dive at the start of the new year

I don't like diving in cold water. So my outdoor diving season stops in Belgium in the winter period. Needless to say I didn't hesitate a moment when other club members asked if we felt like going to Nemo33 again, the world deepest pool in Ukkel. Last year I didn't make it to the bottom, but this time it went a lot smoother and as a result I broke my own depth record.




At -10m

Taking a rest at -33m deep (notice how much darker it already is)


Going up again

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Dive in Scheveningen 2009

Since Jan made the new year's dive in Scheveningen last year, he couldn't really chicken out this year either although it was much colder. Not that he wanted to find an excuse though (hell he even scuba dived last weekend in a lake in 4C).

So we all bundled up and headed with our sleepy new year's heads to the Boulevard in Scheveningen. The crowd was considerably less as I remember we didn't make it through the people with the baby stroller. There were still 6500 people crazy enough to spash in the cold water as a way to fight their hangover (the other Dutch were gone skating since the first lakes were finally frozen). Fun to watch from the side :p






The brave Belgians who made it! Be sure to watch the movie below


video

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year in The Hague



First of all: Happy New Year to you! I don't know each single reader of this blog but I do hope 2009 brings you joy, health and happiness.

We celebrated last year new year's eve in The Hague with friends and that was so good that we drove north again on the 31st. After an enervating long slow drive at a restricted speed of 90 kms through Belgium where the cold freezing weather without any wind caused smog, we arrived in The Hague where the first fireworks were already lighted in the afternoon and were causing a stronger foggy atmosphere. This time we weren't so surprised anymore to hear the explosions sounds all afternoon already. Hahaha while the Belgians drive slowly to prevent the smog from getting worse, the Dutch were lighting fireworks and worsened the "fine dust particles" by 5 due to the many fireworks.


We gathered with a group of 14 Belgians and Dutch around the table and had a very pleasant cosy evening together. The food was excellent and plenty, so was the wine. After the appropriate kisses, bubbles and wishes at midnight, we headed outside to watch the neighbourhood fireworks.





The crisis could be felt as , at least the street we were in, there were considerably less flares shot up in the air. Around the block however there was a lot more activity so we made a little walk.

  • "Gaza", "this is a war zone", "we are in an occupied city", ...were some of the remarks of the first time Belgian visitors

  • "A lot less than last year" "ah here are some more", "ah yes those things over there, there were a lot of them in front of our door last year" , ....were the comments of the second time Belgian visitors

  • "where the hell are some decent fireworks?" where the comments of the Dutch visitors

While walking we saw a flair flying horizontally through the street though...Jan and I ducked down and I felt a knock against my forehead. I couldn't believe I was actually hit by some of the fireworks but didn't feel any pain and the others who asked me if I was hit, didn't see anything right away. So I didn't think too much of it at the moment...too much going on around me. Only afterwards when I saw a burn line on my hat, I realised that I really have been hit by flying fireworks. Yikes man, that's insane, but it doesn't suprise me if you see them lighting up whatever in the middle of the streets without safety precautions. I am so relieved I was wearing my hat! Next time I'll be a lot less at ease at New Year on the Dutch streets!




burn mark on the left side (that black line isn't shadow)

The mess on the streets the day after