Thursday, October 29, 2009

E-mail etiquette: what not to do

Just imagine that a colleagues asks for a service supplier's phone number just in case something urgent needs to be done while you might be absent. So imagine you promise your colleague to e-mail the phone number.

Just imagine this hypothetical situation.
According to the e-mail etiquette you should not in that case e-mail the phone number in the body of an e-mail without further explanation....to that service supplier himself.


If you would do so, you might receive a polite but very confused e-mail in return from your supplier after which you might start to laugh out loud into tears after which you might need to explain your error to everyone around you in the office.
...in that hypothetical situation of course.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sorry I can't come online right now

......because I am listening to this and so much more.......LIVE at the moment



update:

man man man...oh boy that was good.
Now I can go to bed with sore hands from clapping and images of 4 floors of waving people, little Otto and his pacifier and elephant drawing, a hairdresser on Sunday night in the Carré, garden tools perfectly used as music instruments, curtains flying over the piano player, 'krakkemikige krukken uit Krakau' (which is also near Kalmthout in case you wondered)......and the sound of Algerian percussion, the intimate impression of Jacques Brel, mambo, folk, brilliant mucisians, etc...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One of those (summer?) days

This was my mood most of the day, although a lot less cheerful than Lily Allen.
But don't worry, I'm unwinding now and now I can sing along the cheerful song instead of wanting to type a long rant that I should not want/dare to publish on the internet anyway.




And now I start looking forward to tomorrow evening when we'll go to see a concert of Bart Peeters in Leuven. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A autumn walk around Spa

Spa is a historic city in the middle of the Belgian Ardennes, well known for the many sources , its mineral water brands , its wellness hotels popular among nobility throughout past centuries making the word spa a synonym for thermal treatment resorts in different languages.

The beauty & the proximity of the region combined with quiet fall weather made us head out to the south-east of Belgium this afternoon for a walk. And on our drive back home through the valleys, along the meanders of a little rushing creek with view on the woods with turning leaves, I thought for a moment that I was in North America, I felt on vacation...



Some boglands just south of the city of Spa


Fall colours...Yes Lilacspecs , we do have fall colours here and there :p. Not red, but some yellow & orange



Walking


Source the Géronstère





Wow what a beauty. It moved me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fateless

Over the summer I read some books I owned myself (among other the good detective "The Poet" from Michael Connelly!), but 3 weeks ago I quickly went into the library. Due to time restrictions, both for the wandering around the many isles full of treasures as for the reading time before I had to return the books, I dutifully restricted myself to selecting 2 books. Books with a historic icon have an advantage to get chosen and I quickly walked out with a holocaust book and a book about the Armenian/Turkish conflict at the beginning of last century.

First I started reading "Fateless" by Imre Kertesz. Totally unknown to me, I was a bit shocked & ashamed that I had apparently obliviously picked a well-known controversial book by 2002 Nobel price winner.

Anyway....Fateless

It's one of the rare books where I reread the ending to try to understand. Kertesz describes his own experiences as a deported Hungarian Jew to the camps of Auschwitz, Buchenwald & Zeitz which he barely survived. He describes all events and although his person is steadily dehumanizing due to the horrible circumstances, he manages to live through it all while rationalizing, taking distance of the linked morality & injustice.
The end reasoning is truly thought provoking and quite shocking as Kertesz returns to Budapest claiming he had not seen the hell in Auschwitz...on the contrary due to the extreme circumstances he had experienced there his strongest moments of happiness. He refuses to be a victim because we are all partially responsible for the holocaust: in a totalitarian regime you must choose to collaborate to some degree if you want to survive. He doesn't seem to state anywhere that holocaust was not evil & horrible but never points an accusation to anybody for what happened and by doing so he accuses us all including himself.

Euh....yes....as I said, shocking and thought provoking and in a way refreshing to read about the holocaust without the usual sentimentality & sadness& evilisation that we are used to. I totally don't get him though. I think I'm gonna put "Kaddosh for the unborn child" on my to read list where he deals with a man who doesn't want to father a child in a society that allowed the holocaust to happen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nightly logic

I had already been struggling for more than an hour to fall asleep after trying & failing for 90 minutes to get a printer functioning just before I went to bed (much too late) and after getting all frustrated & wound up over it.

While laying still in a semi-concious state and trying way too hard to driff off asleep in vain, I feel all of a sudden a finger poking firmly in my side.



"What?"

"What are you doing?"

"Huh? Trying to sleep"

"Are you still in the basement?"

"??? ...No, I'm in bed next to you"

"Ah ok" after which he turns around and sleeps on.




And then he mocks me for inviting him at night to watch flowers on the terrace.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crossing people

"Is this the way to the train station?"
"euh....euh yes, continue strait ahead in that direction"


The lady from the butcher is washing the windows after the shop has been closed for the day.


A couple walks by the bookstore. When they've just walked by, the girl pulls his arm resulting in a big turn of them both when she points to one of the books in the window.


"Pfff il fait chaud ici dans le bureau"
"oui, c'est vrai, très chaud"


"It's not busy right now, I can help you until I get a new customer" says the post office employee while she sits down at the desk next to me and starts sticking stamps to part of my pile of envelops.
"Oh wow, thank you that's so nice of you"
"Those sticker stamps are quite fast to use huh"
"euh, yes yes, easy"
...
"I think there's somebody at your desk now"
"oh yes, bye"


"We have to search the family name marked on this statue" says the girl holding the quiz book to her husband who's already staring at the the big sitting posture of the former local industrial Rémy.


A big group of KSA youth (a well known youth organization) is gathered in a big circle on the square chanting songs to each other while being observed at some distance by a group of tourists.


2 families with little children sit down at the park for a pick-nick.

Another group of people arrives at a woman on a bench who welcomes them and starts explaining them a game in which they seem involved for the next 2 hours and that will use boules.




**************

So many people on their way, each with their own story, goal, direction, .... Amazing when you start to think about how many paths you cross on a simple walk through the city.

Googlies October

It's becoming a monthly tradition to check in the statistics which search terms have been used to land on my blog. Check out Brillig's blog to see more funny results.

As usual most key words were pretty obvious: if you are looking for my blog I suggest to type in "Goofball" or "goofballsworld"....those might be helpful.
But the following were a bit more remarkable:


* Several people in the Netherlands seem to be planning a trip to Deventer with some special interest when they googled the following variations
=> "deventer red light" / "red light district deventer" / "Red lamp district deventer"

* "goose parade vlanderen" : May I suggest you post yourself at the entrance of our parliament building? Lots of empty headed quacking and tail wobbling guaranteed.

* "I got the mexican flu" : Tough luck for you. If you would have had it a few months ago, it would have been special and you might have been announced in the news. Now you just have to sweat it out. Maybe check the WHO 11 steps to wash your hands guidelines for next time.

* "tallpeopleparty" => see september googlies...apparently Scheveningen is the place to be.

* "How to make rubber limbs?": First boil up a lot of elastics...When I say " a lot", I truly mean a lot of them. Boil them all until they become one smooth fluid substance. Then you take the limb that you want to transform, break the bone inside and pull it out. You can pour the fluid rubber in the created void. That should do it, I think.

* "is it mandatory go to school in Belgium?" : no it's mandatory to study (& to take exams? and to be registered to be a homeschooler??), not to attend school.


* "snacks for friendship": chips, lots of chips....definitely chips!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The summer of 2009 in music: Rex by Customs

Yesterday morning I had to scratch ice from my windshield for the first time....Time for another song from this summer. A promising newly discovered Belgian group "Customs" with there first succesfull single.

Very pulsing, energising and sticking.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Clusters

Has anyone noticed also that famous people always seem to die in clusters? One big name is announced in the news with an unexpected dramatic death....and you can bet there will follow a couple more in the coming days:
or do I imagine that kind of stuff?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jef

Ninde was just a small rural settlement in Werchter (long before the village became a famous rock festival scene) which is currently part of Tremelo, with a stretch of more furtile soil along the Dijle which soothened the life of the farmers despite the harsh economic situation in 1840. There was one stone house owned by Frans De Veuster and his wife Anna Katrien who was known as Cato. Little Joseph, "Jef" as they said, was the 7th child out of 8 children, their fourth son.

Frans was a farmer and grain trader but when income was low he took his oldest sons to go to Austria where they got leeches to be sold to Belgian hospitals who still used them in medical therapies. When Jef is 7, tragedy struck as the youngest girl in the family, Melanie, dies from cholera.
The children of the family all went to the elementary school of the nearby village in Tremelo but from the age of 14 Jef starts helping at the family farm. He's a hard worker and enjoyed the outside work. 2 of his sister's joined a convent and his favourite brother August joined the order of the Holy Heart in Leuven. When his sister Euginie passes away in the convent, his other sister Pauline takes her place.

Frans envisioned Jef as his successor on the farm and decided to send his youngest son to a boarding school in Wallonia at the age of 17 in order to learn French. His study and the transition to this environment wasn't easy for him and he corresponded a lot with his brother in Leuven who invites him over the summer. His return to school wasn't very successful and he writes his brother to plea his entrance in the order of the Holy Heart. His parents weren't happy to loose yet another child to the religious world but they gave in and Jef joined the Holy Heart convent in Leuven as novice in the winter of 1859. His brother teaches him Latin and helps him to catch up the base education he needs to start his priest study. His strong perseverence was succesfull and he was sent to Paris to study Latin, Greek, French & theology and to finish his noviate. He takes his religious vows in 1861.

When his brother is too ill to leave on his intended missionary to Hawaii in 1963, Jef quickly convinces his hierarchy to send him instead his brother. After a quick visit to his parents to say good-bye, he boards a ship in Antwerp and travels to the other side of the world to set foot in a totally new world near Honolulu together with 15 fellow missionaries. The local French bisshop Maigret is rather annoyed that they've sent him fathers who hadn't finished his priest study yet and Jef receives the sacrament of priesthood in 1864.

For several years he works on the big island where he is responsible for a large parish. During this time he's confronted with leprocy and the social exclusion the patients had to deal with. He heard about the existance of the leprocy colony where patients were left behind to rot away.
When the bishop Maigret wants to send a volunteering priest to the island for a period of 3 months, the Belgian missionary volunteers right away. With the instructions to never touch anyone he sets foot on land where he's greeted by a group of deformed people. The smell of rotting flesh was all around.

Jef stays among those left without hope and learns to accept them as fellow people. Together with them he organises the small community of about 1000 (always changing) parishers, builds a church & a hospital & an orphanage, sets-up a graveyard, nurses the ill, baptises, marries and burries people, he organises a music band etc...He chooses to give everyone respect & hope despite their religion. He continously asks for funding at his clerical hierarchy while disobeying their rules and those of the administrative health council stubbornly until he was considered a real pain in the ass....probably quite correctly. But his work did get the attention of local media and he got support from Protestant & Anglican churches in the USA and UK....which made his relationship with his own order even harder.

In 1876 he notices the well-known leprocy symptoms on his own body. When he addressed his parish as usual "We lepers", it now had a new dimension. Since at that time leprocy was considered to be caused by syfillis, his illness feeded rumours about forbidden sexual contacts nicely spread by his opponents.
Until the end he continues to fight for his cause, while new lepers get simply dumped in the water in front of the shores of Molokai because "currents would be too strong" and when he requests confession from another priest at the end of his life, he needs to shout it from a little boat to another for everyone to hear as an ultimate humiliation.

But in the mean time his PR had done its work and his cause had caught the attention of the world press. When he died from leprocy in 1889 in Molokai among his community of lepers, his message and work is not forgotten.


***************************

Joseph De Veuster, better known as father Damien, was canonized by the Vatican this morning and is now called Saint Damien from Molokai.

The catholic canonization process can be easily criticized for its weird "miracle" prerequisites, the hidden agenda's and potential hypocricy of the clerical hierarchy, the many unrecognized & forgotten saints, .... Father Damien would have probably hated the pomp & circumstance of such big catholic events, he would have hated labels, ... He'd gone mad when he knew parts of his body are now travelling the world as relics.

And yet it was a huge event for the Belgian/Hawaiian/global church today.

When you grow up in Belgium, you grow up with Father Damien. There's schools, hospitals, restaurants for the homeless, ... named after him. His life story is taught to us in schools. One of the biggest yearly recurring charity events Damiaanactie (against leprocy & TBC) (part of the global ILEP) inspires every year a lot of volunteers to set-up fundraising activities and gets yearly coverage in the news. Father Damien is the only statue of a non-American in the US Capitol.

Much to my surprise the (secular) press has covered massively this canonisation in Belgium with live blogging from the festivities in Tremolo last weekend and from Rome this weekend with special news editions, extra news emissions etc... Thousands of Belgians have travelled to Rome to be there.

"Damien inspires" say the banners hanging in most of the Belgian churches at the moment. I guess that's true. He does inspire us to overcome prejudices and labels we put on people, to reach out to the excluded, to never give up hope, to fight for the right cause, ... Pope John Paul II has canonized a record number of people because he wanted to give our modern generation examples in this world, people that inspire us.
And that's what today was all about. That's why he's a saint to us.

Let's go swimming in the pool, let's go swimming in the water

This weekend Aquatec, a promising new Belgian diving equipment company came to present its roadshow during our training.



And the best thing is that we all got to try their prime quality products and do a wet test....


SpLAsh!





Floating with wing BCD's....Nice stuff, nice buoyancy...



The swim training is quite interesting to watch from down below :p

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The summer of 2009 in music: House am see by Peter Fox

German music in the hit parade....it's rare. And those that did so in the past are usually now only in the "wrong" hit parades again eg Matthias Reim or Nicole.
This summer there was a refreshing German song constantly on our radio's though. Too bad Peter Fox is already tired of the success and attention this hit gave him and he's stopping his solo career after one hit (I think he has a band though?? not sure).

So what do you think? Catchy huh? Do you want a house at a lake?



Sunday, October 4, 2009

You have to fry it very hard so you get a korstje

and you need no sticky pan"

Jan and I love to watch "SOS Piet" and see how he comes in Flemish families to watch them cook day-to-day dishes, see what they do wrong and then intervene and teach them in his typical way with his heavy accent from West-Vlaanderen.

Oh today we both cracked up in laughter so often when he was trying to teach someone in English. He sure was trying his best and most of it was excellent but his English sounded now and then like the Jean-Marie Pfaff's German. Check out an extract here. In the end his Flenglish was clear enough and they got what they wanted "in fact, ne fajitas must be een opgerold pannenkoekske". Ok got it ;)

Oh VTM must do this more often: it's a educational cooking program and a comedy at the same time. I still feel my belly from laughing.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The summer of 2009 in music: Diggy Dex ft. Eva de Roovere: Slaap lekker

The exceptionally mild & sunny September is now in the past and all last traces of summer are gone. Fortunately there's still good music to listen to in order to relive that summer feeling.
This song always made me turn up the radio each time. It's such a beautiful mixture of the soft warm delicate voice from Eva De Roovere and the energetic mix of DJ Diggy Dex. A fun contrast between the Flemish accent and Dutch one, the folky pop song and the rap.
(background: Eva De Roovere is a well known flemish singer-song writer with a folk background known for her pure simple songs. Yet she doesn't frequent the hitparade. The song "Fantastig toch" was written while watching her sleeping boyfriend. It got picked up by the Dutch DJ last year and became a hit in the early summer in the Netherlands and Belgium afterwards).