Wednesday, November 30, 2011

535 days

...and we have a government agreement.



It'll be strange to become a normal country again with an assigned federal government as of next week.  Weird. Let's hope they last longer than they negotiated upfront.

Made in Belgium: Gotye

Welcome at the start of year 3 of my "Made in Belgium" series on Wednesday. I hope you've enjoyed all the Belgian music so far.  I start this new year by cheating a little bit:  Gotye is a Belgian but has grown up since the age of 4 in Australia. Ha, this is my blog so I can cheat a bit when I want to.  Because Gotye was for me the revelation of the year.


The hit "Somebody that I used to know" seemed to come out of nowhere on the radio thanks to the many iTunes downloads & youtube views.  I just love it! Love it!  Great how it builds up from a fresh quiet sound to something that really breaks open ans is perfect to put on repeat in the car and sing along very loud while the fingers can direct the little xylophone sounds.

Immediately Gotye was a star, not only in Australia anymore but only in the country of his roots where he sold out several countries at record time (hmm after one hit?!?) and where Wouter De Backer now shows up when talking some very cute mixture of English & dialect Dutch that his parents used to talk.

Funny enough a Canadian friend shared a link for Learnalilgivinanlovin from Gotye this summer on FB claiming how much she loves his music....featuring a 2008 song from him that I knew quite well but I did not know it was his.

This week it was in the news that he has won 3 ARIA awards in Australia: Single of the Year, Best Male Artist and Best Pop Release. In Belgium he's nominated for 3 music industry awards: pop, solo artist male and video. I told you he was my discovery of the year.

Somebody that I used to know



Eyes wide open



Learnalilgivinanlovin



Heart's a mess


Making off

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Music in the attic

No wonder nobody heard the doorbell ringing....there was a party going on in the attic where the new generation discovered previous generation's music.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

The urgency of change

In management trainings you learn about Kotter's 8-steps towards change. Successful change management is often where big corporate projects go wrong so it is not something to get neglected. But everyone has a natural resistance to change.  Therefore the first step towards change, according to Kotter, is creating a sense of  urgency. You need to convince people somehow that a change is necessary and it is needed right now. Without that first conviction, it will not happen.  You need that before the next step: build a willing coalition.

Turns out that you are often mistaken on what is urgent in the mind of others.  Take the big Belgian political parties.  
  • The elections did not create them a sense of urgency to build a new government agreement quickly
  • The fact that their negotiations started to take longer than the previous time (known for a political crisis that lasted too long until the economic crisis forced them to form an economic temp agreement after 6 months).
  • The fact that we approached and passed the world's world record in government negotiations last winter...which used to be listed for Irak and Cambodja
  • The fact that European countries one after another got into budget problems and that the economic world started to loose trust in Belgium also with its high national debt while being without government
  • Citizen protests, absurd "nogov" parties and Belgian celebs not shaving their beards anymore until there would be a government 
  • The fact that our resigning prime minister from our resigning government had found a new international job and wasn't going to continue to save their ass forever.
  • The fact that our LT interest rated cracked the symbolic 5% safe and approached the dangerous 6% rate quickly this week.
  • The fact that while they were fighting on a few 100mlns savings or taxes....we had to pay already a billion more interest last week due to their lack of progress
  • The fact that a Belgian bank had to be saved last month
  • ....

No none of these facts created the effective sense of urgency to move from their positions or to not break the promise to negotiate till the end 3 times etc.


You know what worked though?   Standard and Poors bringing Belgium's rate down from AA+ to AA. If I wouldn't need to pay that effect in my taxes for the coming years, I'd almost thank them because hey....guess what....we have a budget agreement after a marathon meeting.

if in the next days they can quickly sort out what they'll do on justice, police, immigration and other policies and get to decide who gets which minister assignment, we might have a government next week! Imagine that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The underwater world moves....me

After the pictures, here are the video's!!
(our video's and one on courtisy of our new diving friends from divehut.co.uk!)

Our dive at the famous Dunraven Wreck



Our friend Tina the turtle



A lionfish




the stunning beauty at Temple reef...or how beautiful a safety stop can be




Me

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Time is not more on our side

529 days without a government

Several weeks ago we had agreements on the constitutional reforms, agreements on restructuring of the federal responsibilities etc....The pain points that had paralyzed this country for 4 years had been resolved.

And then the work started that each country must do: budget & priorities on the actual governing.  In the midst of the Euro crisis and a Belgian bank that had to be rescued, the discussion tensions were no longer Flemish/French  or a North/South contrast but Liberal versus Socialist discussion (ok ok, respectively that is also a Flemish/French difference) .   Budget savings or new taxes.


And the water seems to deep.  We've managed finally our constitutional reforms, but fail in agreeing on the ratio of savings versus taxes. So now they are thinking about their position and if they want to continue.



Sure....as if in this economic turmoil where our interest rates are going up spectacularly and Europe warns us , time is on our side. Hey, 529 days only, we surely can do better!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Made in Belgium: Ferre Grignard

Ring Ring I've got to sing is one of those classics that you simply know when you grow up, you can whistle along, they stick in your head....but in honesty I had no clue on background of this song or the singer. It's only when I was already grown up when I discovered much to my surprise that Ferré Grignard is a Belgian hippy sing-song writer living in Antwerp.






Saturday, November 19, 2011

Corals

When I started diving I was looking for fish....smiling at Nemo's, searching for murrays & beautiful lionfish etc and totally getting excited over anything bigger or more rare.

Now that I've seen all of those more often, I notice I start to enjoy & watch the beauty of the abundant corals much more. Gorgonians, impressive big table corals, little pulsing flowers, hard corals in multiple corals....Very beautiful









A ordinary Saturday

Lots of little chores done
a simple day
yet so fulfilling

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back among my friends

It had been 1,5 years since I had seen them. Remember my friends? I miss them already very much


Jack & Olly the banner fish who were having a family reunion





Chloe the crocodile fish






Beatrice the bat fish & her friends



Morris the giant murray and his cousin Malcolm






Louise the lion fish




Nemo and his dad






Tina & Tiny the turtles





Nathan, the Napoleon


Mr Ray on a night stroll

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Made in Belgium: Millionaire

Tim van Hamel isn't only a creatif source in Broken Glass Heroes but is also part of Millionaire (and ex-dEUS...). Millionaire brings indie rock and has been touring with Queens of the Stone Age and Muse.


Champagne


Come with you



Me Crazy, You sane

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On our way to meet some friends

Last week we went to see some friends we hadn't seen in a while. It took some travelling












and waiting





and messing with  equipment






but a rewarding effort to see our friends again

Monday, November 14, 2011

Don't feel like resurfacing yet

Last week I spent most of my time underwater. Yipeeeee, it was great. Absolutely great to be back in the blue. And now I don't feel like resurfacing again, so join us in the Red Sea