Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It'll happen in 3 months

It was about time, wasn't it? I am sure that multiple people already wondered when it would happen. During the last couple of months, it was not much more than a cost. I've talked about it for years, but the last months it was postponed a couple of times.
I am tired of driving up and down and not having my stuff at one spot... It wasn't time yet because we first needed to have some essentials ready on the first floor and in the basement...Around New Year is a difficult time ....

Hundred of thoughts had already crossed my mind why I should postpone even more or why I should have done it a long time ago. But yesterday I give up my rent in my appartment in Gentbrugge. There is a fair risk that our bedroom/dressing/bathroom won't be ready in Leuven by the time my 3 months notice is over, but I've postponed already 2 months and it's just silly right now. I think I slept there 4 nights or something in September. So it was time to give up the rent. We'll figure it out in 3 months if things aren't ready yet in Leuven. But on January 31 I'll give up the keys of my appartment in Gentbrugge.

Although it's been in my mind for a while, it was weird to write the letter. I've never done that before. The only time I left an appartment was my appartment that my employer rented for me in The Hague. It was my very beloved spot, even though I did not quite share the taste of decoration and interior with that house owner . Naturally a location at the promenade at the beach makes you forget the interior decoration quickly :p. It was the very first time I lived in my own appartment (on weekdays), where I could make my first attempts to cook for myself (not always very succesful in the beginning...hey but I never touched that can of Ravioli that I bought myself as last minute saver...although I did prepare other warm up meals though), where I had my first own guests, ...

When my mission in the Netherlands was over I cried my eyes out on the parking lot when I had to drive back to Belgium with my car full of stuff. I felt devestated after I left my keys behind. I am not good in leaving a place that I have loved. Remember when I left Canada after my exchange ...the stewardess came to ask me in the plane if I was alright since I did not stop crying. I am so nostalgic, clinging to the good times in the past, even when I know that much more good times are ligned up in the future. I do have a tendency to look at the past.

So I already feel nostalgic about leaving Ghent. That was my first true own appartment, not rented by my employer, but the first and only place I had on my own , where I closed off the electricity, gas, water, tv, telephone, ADSL, ...contracts and where I did the decorating. I already knew 3 years ago that it would only be a temp spot so I never actually bothered to put more than light bulbs on the ceiling. It was a temporary spot but it was a good one. It's time to go, but I'll miss it very much.

I lived in the last months almost exclusively in our new house in Leuven and it's very exciting to see it evolving from a construction site to a home. It does feel like home already. And I spent so little time in Ghent that sometimes it feels weird to walk in there again. As if I was a visitor in my own house. I'll be relieved not having to travel back and forth again !! But already a sad feeling pops-up as well. It'll be next to The Hague, a special place that i'll miss later on.

So in 3 months it'll happen. I'll officially move to Leuven, try to integrate all my stuff in our renewed house (oops hope the cupboards and basement will be ready after all !!). I'll become an inhabitant of a new province !! And Jan and I will officially have the same address.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fall in our little garden

This thing was huge!! I had never seen pumpkinlike mushrooms but now there are 4 of them in our little garden. Beauties, don't you think?

By coincidence I made some pumpkin soup this afternoon, inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe I saw on tv. I don't like her show really since I think it's too much of a stereotypical "housewife" idolation and too much an "ego" show with ideas presented that aren't even that great or stylish at all. But since a couple of months, Vitaya (a lifestyle tv channel I often watch) seems to be completely invaded by Martha so I can't escape her really.

But this recipe seemed cool and I kept watching the explanation: pumpkin soup finished with some berries and roasted chestnuts. And the tip to easily deal with pumpkins helped a great deal. Usually I struggle with cutting up a very hard pumpkin to pieces to then boil it soft. Following the tv tip I just cut it into 2 pieces and put it in the heated oven for a while. Afterwards I just needed to scoop up the soft meat out and it was already a orange puree. No more need to mix it either. Now I can't wait to taste this soup.

Unexpected visit out of Washington

The world is small isn't it? Today Jan came home from a congress in Orlando, flying over via Washington. And Greet, my high school/neighbourhood/university friend, who currently lives there to work for the IMF was on the flight too. She is on her way to an economic review of Kenia and had a 2 day stop planned in Belgium.

So we had a small unexpected visit in our house in Leuven this afternoon from her and some friends, which was really cool. We don't get to see each other very often anymore since she lives in Washington. She has an extremely busy and tough job and travels all over the world. Her job seems to be at quite some other level then mine if you compare judging countries economic and budgetary measures and giving macro-economic guidelines to training some people in a new software :p. But I wouldn't wanna switch with her life though. Working for the IMF is very demanding on your personal life if I can hear so although many consulting jobs are like that as well (hence why I am not so interested in a pure consulting job anymore). And despite both our economic studies, I do not share her passion for macro-economics anymore. Still ...I am so glad for her that she made it into this job that she takes on with her usual enthousiasm.

Hey Greet!! Cool to have seen you again. Always welcome to hop by next time again!! Have a good time in Kenia no matter how busy and challenging it'll be.

I also recognise her struggle to find Dutch expressions in our conversations when she is just back in the country. When I came back from Canada after my exchange, even after 3 months, people still gave me comments on Dutch mistakes in my sentences. You would think that one cannot loose its mother language but you sure can loose some fluency in it because you started thinking in another language. All of a sudden you notice that you are making literal translations from the other language to your own mother language which sound very unnatural. Yet, you cannot find the right construction immediately.

When I start talking about my experiences in Canada to friends and colleagues here, that struggle still pops-up now and then. My memories about Canada seem to be registered in my mind in English and some experiences from there I only have learned in English. All of a sudden I need to find a Dutch translation to something I never ever had to translate. And there you have the embarrassing situation that all of a sudden you can't find the words anymore in your own language. Not all people seem to understand that and think you are just bragging or trying to get attention. But I simply believe that that is the way the mind works. When Greet to talks to us about day-to-day stuff , she speaks correct Dutch but when she explains her job to us, she gets trapped in English expressions...because all associations and jargon she learned about her job have only been registred in her mind in English. So Greet, no appologies needed next time.

Goofy meets goofball

A little present from Orlando.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Difficult choice

Since the bad discovery last week, we received today a new design of the living room cupboards. It's very much in the style of last time and actually probably better and more symmetrical. Hmm I'll let it sink in and then decide. We still need to check which doors will now open how, since some of them can be connected to make one bigger door even when it looks like multiple doors.

I am still in doubt whether we should put little doors everywhere or leave the middle space open (like it is designed here). Jan prefers to have doors everywhere whereas I always thought that an opening would make it less monotoneous, stress somehow the symmetrical structure, give me some space at least to put a plant or a nice sculpture or ...later on since the rest of the house has to be quite minimalistic.

1 row open

But I do start to think that all doors closed would look more modern? but would it not be too boring? Pff touch choice. Let me hear your comments!

all doors

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Spooky telephones

Tonight I came home, tired from a too long day at work and I heard a vague ringing sound upstairs. Pff the phone was ringing but by the time I'd be up there, it would be too late already. So I thought.

Just a few minutes later I realised I still heard the phone ringing. Who would keep it ringing forever?? Very strange. l listened a bit more and realise that the phone was truly ringing without stopping. Was anybody ringing me urgently that whenever it stopped they redialed instantaneously?? So I ran upstairs when the ringing of both phones became much louder.

I picked up the phone and heard nothing... I hang up and it was ringing immediately again. I picked up the phone and heard nothing... I hang up and it was ringing again. I pushed it off and it was rining again. Arrrgggh there were two phones that did not want to stop ringing. How could I stop them, what was happening, how would I be able to sleep with two ringing phones, how long had they been ringing, could the neighbours hear it without stopping????

After some advice from Orlando (Jan on the non ringing cell phone), I resetted the router and ....silence. Phewwww, glad that is over. I think it somewhere got stuck. So glad to have an IP phone (catch the irony in that phrase!!). But next time I know what to do.

It reminds me of one time, long ago , at home with my parents when I though the phone was possessed as well. We kept having some of those joke phone calls when people phone and then don't say nothing. So we were having dinner and were fed up with it all and my dad and I walked downstairs where the phone was and unplugged it. So there, that would give us some rest until the joker was tired of not reaching us. Just when we were going out of the room...the phone rang. Oh my God, that freaked the hell out of me. I saw the plug, lonely on the carpet, but the phone was ringing loud. Gosh that was so creepy, I had no clue how that could happen.

Only afterwards we realised what had happened....since our phone was downstairs we had an extra bell on the main floor to be able to hear the phone and to make it more loud. Unplugging did unplug the phone, but the extra bell was linked directly to the incoming signal and therefore it could still ring.

I hate the rain and the cold

ok, I changed my mind since yesterday evening. I am complaining about the pouring rain.... Rain can be very nice and strengthening a cosy feeling when you are at home inside, nice and warm closeby the fireplace.

But if you are in an office where the heating is still broken en now in the stormy wind flurs the front door blows open all of the time and it is pooring rain on the windows...IT IS NOT FUN.
I am cold :(

Monday, October 23, 2006

Global warming

Do you think it is a sign of global warming that there were still mosquito's in my room last night that bit me??? It's almost end of October !!! Geeez.

I really love these nice warm falls and I hate the end of the summer, but I guess it is not good that all our trees are still full of leaves by now? Not sure but it seems unusually long. Well it is still 17c . This week we expect the first fall storm/bad weather and I suppose there is more risk now that branches break off due to their heavy load of leaves still.

So I won't complain about the rain that is pouring down now...I'll just enjoy the cosiness of being inside and accept that the fall is finally there. And can in the mean time someone let those freaking late mosquito's disappear please?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I am auntie Ellen!

Today I went over for a short visit at my sister because I hadn't been there in a couple of weeks. Stef was full of energy as often, running around the house looking for his ball or dancing to music and turning around until he was clearly dizzy, which made him laugh out loud.

But today was the first time he has identified me!! Griet asked all of a sudden after my arrival "Where is auntie Ellen" and he clearly pointed to me without hesitation. Yeaaah he knows who I am :). I was a proud auntie today.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Today I went shopping with Sandra in Ghent! Yeaah got myself a nice brown bermuda (with a tiny pink line in it), a brown top with a big pink scarf, or a big brown sweather with wide neck. Cool stuff.

The real reaction of Vlaams Belang on the elections

I heard a lot of talk about it, but didn't see it myself. Thanks to Youtube, now I did. So can you.


Boombal in Handelsbeurs

Last time (cfr Goofballsworld: Boombal in Deinze) I promised myself to learn more dances, and so I did yesterday.

Sandra, Sofie, Jan and I went to the Handelsbeurs yesterday downtown Ghent where there was a boombal to gather money for one of Sandra's colleagues who lost their home in a fire last spring. If a boombal on its own wasn't a good reason to go already, then knowing it had a good cause just increased the incentive to go. (although I honestly admit, it was mainly just the boombal itself that convinced me :p).
Hahaaa, this time I learned them all : a Breton-type of line dance (the andro??), the Scottisch (this times in the arms of my Jan), the magic circle (yeaah who can turn around faster?), a jig , ... Tiring if you are not used to it but a lot of fun. I just hope that next time they teach also that Canadian fiddle type dance, as it looked fun to dance. And I somehow think the musicians spared us by not playing the fastest dances for us. It was the first boombal for the others, but I think they enjoyed themselves. Here are some pictures!! Let me know if anyone can find us, but I didn't find me on the pictures so far. But they turned out to be quite good...I guess that guy that seemed to hold up randomly his camera in the air and taking pictures without looking himself wasn't such a nuthead if you don't mind all the moved pictures.

I was amazed once more on the popularity of boombals and the variaty of people and ages that come to it. When seeing the flags and the T-shirts of the organisers and instructors I realised that "BOOMBAL" is becoming a successful brand in Belgium. Oh well, that is ok I suppose although a bit strange. I wonder which organisation is behind it all, organising them all across Belgium, sending instructors and folk bands out, .... How does it all work? Is it lucrative (it is a "vzw" , so should be not lucrative) , is it costly (costprice to invite them is 2000 euro approx. says the website) ? Is there rules in organising it or can anyone organise its own boombal using that name? I really start to wonder when I see everywhere the same logo. There is now special dance courses (so apart from the 1hour initiation in the beginning of each boombal), music courses, boombal "intiem" (with limited number of participants to guarantee room, etc...), boombal for kids, a 4-day festival, ... As I said, a true brand , so the economist in me can't help wondering how it is all managed.

But it remains fun and I guess it's one of the only type of parties where young and old dances together....but of course only folk lovers. I must realise that most of Belgians populations is probably still oblivous to the hype.

Before the dancing part, their was also a very nice concert of Souther Wind : people of Olla Vogola singing together with a few excellent South-African musicians. Very swinging and nice !! I wish them a lot of success on their next concerts in Belgium.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

We have a functional fireplace!

We have a functioning fireplace since yesterday!! We are ready for winter. Gosh that thing sure has power. And we are ready for getting a cupboard around it, since right now it's very ugly :p

So Jan's dad installed it on our request at only half the height that was foreseen, which is much much better!

Oh and last weekend we put in the carpet at the front door, so from now on dirty feet are forbidden in the house and we also got a new staircase to the basement.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Inspiration at Interieur 06

Now that we have to redraw our living cupboard from scratch, I am very happy that we just went to the interior design fair "Interieur 06" last weekend in Kortrijk! It is a fun fair to go to, much nicer than the usual Batibouw and Bis since it only focusses on the interior decoration of the house and you do not have stands anymore with real estate dealers, brick producers, .... but only about the look and feel inside your house. And more specifically only a design modern look and feel in the house... not the kitchens from which we wondered the last weeks who on earth would still buy something like that.

So we liked what we saw in Kortrijk! And we sure got some inspiration from all the straight strict lines and colors we saw there. And we got our ego boosted a couple of times because whenever we asked for information, the first question we got was "are you in the design business"? I don't know if we look as if we are architects or decorators? Or is this fair not visited a lot by ordinary people (I would assume so???!). The best one was when we were talking to the sales guy from Duravit. We intend to buy our bath there, a corner bath triangle shaped and we were explaining we wanted to mirror the triangle shape further in the bathroom on the other side with our glass wall for the shower. He then said "oh...are you interior architects or do you just have such good taste" Wooohoo, I am very proud I must say, although a lot of ideas have to be credited to Jan's dad too! Thank you! And I have to put things in perspective...the guy already knew we had chosen a bath from his brand, so he couldn't call us stupid right :p.

Here's some trends we noticed:

  1. Carpets have to be long haired again in all color variations you can imagine....but they must be long haired. Welcome back the 70ies?
  2. it's all about contrasting dark colors (dark brown or black) with white for kitchens and bathrooms etc... The more subtle greys, aubergine etc we saw on Batibouw 2 years ago are gone!

    eg. www.interieur.be and check out the kitchen of "aform"

  3. The strict straight lines are still a must...yeah we love it . Check out the bathroom from "agape". A beauty, isn't it?
    I sure hope that we can later in the future take out the door of our toilet downstairs and change it to a frameless door. It is sooo much nicer. But it is no priority right, ...having a door in the toilet is much more a priority :p.

    seen at brems doors

  4. Although the basic furniture has dark-white contrasts, other furniture especially seats and chairs can be very very brightly colored (orange; green; .... ) (welcome back 70ies?)

    hihi go to www.interieur.be and to the exposant "arcade avec": there you have the perfect combination of bright colored seat and long hairy carpets. Geez, if you have that in your house, I'd be scared it starts to bark all of a sudden. It does look like a genetically altered dog , doesn't it?? So don't worry, we won't buy anything of that kind.
  5. After getting flat tv screens worked in the kitchen appliances (in fridges, on your cooker hood etc), they are now invading the bathroom. Mirrors that perfectly switch entirly or partly back and forth from a perfect mirror to a tv projection screen. They can even be in your shower wall.

    Well I should not get one of those because I'd be even later every time than I am now. Imagine watching a DVD while getting ready in the morning???? uh uh, not a good idea. Although then you could have a bath or shower while watching your favourite show :p.

I also saw a cool floor that would fit perfectly in our basement with our new metal stairs and the office space we want to create. It would strenghten the cool, industrial looks of the stairs. But I suppose it's a bit stupid to spend a lot of money on a high tech floor in your basement that is mainly used in offices and stores if I can look at the references. But it is tiles (or fixed carpet) made from vinyl and glassfibre. Cool huh.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Back to scratch

Pff we were preparing the installation of our gasfire in the living room because they come to measure up for the livingroom cupboards... and then we realised the design did not fit. The fireplace needs more space than was foreseen because the technical design in the box required more space than the one on the website. Dugh !!!! Thanks a lot Dru, how are people supposed to design their living room before they have bought the fire. Anyway with fires you cannot take any risk so if they say we need to leave more space, that's what we'll have to do so the cupboard design will need to readjusted.

A second reason we now realise is that the fireplace had been drawn much too high. Although it looked good on paper, it looks rediculous real.

So we'll have to cancel the measuring up this week because first the design needs to be done back from scratch. Darn and I liked it so much. Can't find a good alternative right now. Shit, I am not happy right now. But better now than later huh. Fortunately we bought the fireplace before hand to install it first.

Time to have a night sleep on it full of dreams about designing a living room cupboard around a fireplace. sigh.

Very local showers of white powder??

When we wanted to go to a babyvisit at some friends, I arrived at my car parked just across the street only to discover to my surprise that the entire front and sides were covered in a white/blue powder! When stepping in the car, I was just looking at a white non-transparant cover.

My main fear was that it would have been some biting chemical substance that would hurt me when touching it or which would damage the car. But there was nothing else I could do as to pour some water over the windows (which just stayed sticky white at that moment) and than go over it with a sponge as to clear the windows a bit. Although I could leave, the sides of my windows were still very white as were my doors and after the side windows dried a bit, I had to rewash them to keep them transparant. Second time was a good one because then I could drive safely.
Just went to a drive-through car wash...so happy that I have a clean car again!

In the mean time I keep on speculating what could have happened.... playing kids with gigantic balloons filled with washing powder, playing in front of the car with one exploding on mine???? Vandals emptying the fire estinguisher on my car? Somebody unloading the car and tripping and accidentally pouring a huge box of undefined powder over my doors and windows??? A very local shower of CIF cleaner out of heaven? A Bollywood movie recorded in the middle of the street in front of my car for which they sprayed fake snow???

There was no powder on the ground and no more cars parked just next to me...the other cars were untouched in the parking lot. I am afraid it'll remain a mysterie. Oh well, as long as it only happened to me once. Sure hope it is not a recurring thing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Cordon Sanitaire remains

Yesss, in not a single town in Belgium the elected political partys have made a coalition with the "Vlaams Belang". The "cordon sanitaire" remains and Vlaams Belang has no single mandate. Their strategy has failed. Too bad they are still so big though. Pffff.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

oh you must be kidding me

but now it posted immediately?!!! What the hell? This must be coincidence because I am suffering this problem already for over a month. And it was before also that I could post something if I hurried and then all of a sudden my luck is over.

haha, there it was already, the message of connection problems coming up and then it disappeared. And probably in a few minutes it'll be there for the rest of the evening. Booohooo.

Blogging problems

AAAh I am getting so frustrated. Since a couple of weeks, when I spent some time in the edit screen of a
new post, below the screen it all of a sudden says 'Cannot connect to
Blogger.com . Saving or publishing might fail. Try connection'. Once
that appears I can give up hope to publish anything.

I always get that in the evenings in Leuven but had it the first time in Ghent actually. When I try to add a post to my blog at work, I have no problems at all. When I have the connection
problems I can still connect to the Internet, MSN, e-mail etc and
online friends confirm me that at that moment they have no connection
problems whatsoever. When I log off from Blogger and when I try to get back in, I only get
an empty white screen!! Other variant is that I can login, I seem to be
able to publish and then when I hit the button publish I only get a
white screen or 'page cannot be displayed'. I have already switched from IE6 to firefox but same happens there.

Can anybody tell me what is going on... problems at Bloggers end ?? my
browser settings? My isp (tele2) ?? Damn, since it only seems to be when I am at home it must be computer settings or tele2 somehow and I suppose that swithing to wordpress will not help either.

Oh well, I'll try to post this to see if tonight is any different. If you see this posted around lunchtime than you know I've mailed it to myself once more and posted it at work. grr

A bit less of me

After a month, the infamous bandaid has let go of me! Should I feel sad now for its unannounced goodbye?

Maloja nostalgia

ok I know I am months behind in catching this news but I honestly must have missed it somehow until I was reading a bit in a folder that landed in our mailbox and there it was: the CM Maloja palace has been sold.

Apparently it is old news, so is shown here or here or here . But it came to a shock to me although it makes sense. This huge building, once built as a luxury hotel more than a century ago has been for over 4 decades the home of 14 year olds coming here for a fun summer camp. Gosh I think my mom even went there ...No she went to Leysin (which still exists as well). But I went for the first time to Switserland in Maloja when I was 14. And I slept up there in the mountains for the first time in a hut. And I came back there as a camp leader as well. Maloja is a wonderful place and it was special to stay in this hotel with its impressive major staircase, its big hall and especially the stunning nature all around it with the huge lake and the high peaks. The Maloja village in Switserland has hosted for years about 500 kids + a few hundred staff all summer long each week and this village only counts about 800 inhabitants. According to Tom , 1 out of 8 Flemish kids would have spent vacation in Maloja. Gosh talk about the closure of a monument !! It must be such a change to the inhabitants as well not seeing all those 14 year olds with their bagpacks around anymore. Although they probably will commercially benefit from the sale of the building especially since the 'Palace' would be restructured to its old luxury hotel position.

I guess it makes sence for the CM and Intersoc (social security departments specialised in organising kids and youth camps throughout Europe for Flemish children) to sell this huge costly building that apparently needed urgent renovations that would cost billions. It is true that teenagers aren't that interested anymore in mass camps with 500 kids around, although all their activities were in little groups of about 20 kids. The mass remains, the shifts in the 'restaurant' remain. But they'll miss the mass singing gatherings on the major staircase while waiting for their restaurant shift though with the youth leaders of different districts challenging each other up in front. And it is true that the kids are more interested in water and mountain sports which maybe Maloja could not offer as much as Schwarzee and Fiesch etc. But their mountains are so much lower, Maloja was the only location at 1800m high. As soon as you hike a little bit there we were on top of 2000 meters, on top of the world !

Pff I am just getting so nostalgic looking back. Forgive me to ramble away like that, it probably interests nobody except some fellow CM youth leaders that have known the Maloja Palace. Hey district Limburg, do you remember how often we (district Ghent) went into your teamroom and moved all the furniture out and spread it all out over the staircase while hiding for the nightguard....Haha hilarious . I have flashbacks of barbecues out at the lake a little further that did not want to light. And Adelwijn, did you ever go back there and did you wake the kids up again with your bagpipes?? Would the guests that pay loads of money in the future to sleep there know that there were bunk beds with duvets inside before and that on the balconies on front there were kids standing on bare feet before they went to bed, because they claimed to have drunk too much water and they couldn't pee??? Gosh that building holds so many stories.

Oh well let me look at it this way.... since I am not part of the CM organisation anymore I probably would not have had a chance to stay in the Maloja Palace anymore. If it becomes a private hotel again, I could one day treat myself with some vacation there if the budget permits. It should still be cheaper than the mondain St Moritz a bit further. So thanks CM giving me the possibility to go to Maloja again!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An new bit of me???

During my last painfully fun trip to London I had a blister on my heel. First I tried to continue the sightseeing trip with normal bandaid but those persisted in falling off again. No problem, this was London with a Boots on every corner even open on Sunday. So we went to buy some special blister bandaid especially for blisters on your feet with a curing gel.

I've always heard and it was confirmed by the instructions on the box that you have to put them on and then wait until they fall off themselves. Then the blister is cured. But the next day it was fallen off already with the big blister untherneath. Hmm weird, but no problem , there were plenty more blister pads in the box. I carefully stretched my heal and put a new one on.

And now we are one month later and it is still there. This stubborn bandaid does not go off and I don't dare to pull it off. Ok I admit it that I tried a little bit last week but it was still quite firm so I stopped. Most of it was actually torn and loose but this one little bit of it stays firmly on my heel. It had become quite gross so each time a bit came loose I've cut it off. Now only a little bit of bandaid is left and it seems determined to stay on my heel. So should I consider it as a little new bit of me???

Intolerance, tolerance and elections

A few weeks ago I wanted to start a post with the title 'I am afraid of the Americans'. Although the title is of course a bit too black and white, it is partly true. The post was going to be inspired about a few news bulletins that I heard in the news. A law would have been past in the Congress that officially allowed torture on terrorism suspects and once convicted no appeal is allowed. I was so shocked. I know that I probably never will be able to understand what changed in the Americans mind after 9 11... their untouchable continent attacked. We can try to empathise as much we can, we can mourn about all the victims all we can, but we can never change the fact that it did not happen in our country and on the other hand that we've always been used to violence closer by ( IRA, ETA, Yugoslavia civil war, ...). I agree that we have to fight terrorism with a united world strength, but this law is so unacceptable. Torture?? What on earth are they thinking? How can they lower themselves to that level? How can a democracy tolerate this? I can understand it can be tempting but as civilised beings we have to be able to stand up against that impulse. And then you'd here their politicians sometimes imply that our civilisation would be better than some moslim civilisations?

Secondly I am afraid of the ever growing influcence of radical Christians in the USA. Radicalism is never good and I am convinced that they've worsened the gap between Christian and Moslim civilisations a lot in the last decade rather than approaching them. As a Christian myself, I feel akward when I hear them testify as I then feel mainly a spirit of judging others. And that is not what I consider the spirit of Christ.

While I felt quite bad about the new law in the USA and about the documentary about an extreme christian university at tv, I also realised that while being afraid of extremism in the USA, I am also afraid of the growing extremism in my own country. With the city council elections approaching everywhere, all media attention was focussing whether or not the Vlaams Belang, formerly known as Vlaams Blok (legally condamned as a racist party and then restarted unther a new name) , would continue its ever increasing victory of the last 1,5 decade or not. My teacher Latin in high school has put a lot of time in teaching us to be critical and to spot a demogogue. Well the leaders of the VB comply with all of them. it's scary how they can twist all discussions to their advantage with non arguments. And I honestly feel sorry for their voters because I think they are really sad people... they must have such a negative view on society, scared of all novelties, foreigners, .... VB is just a political party thriving on negative thoughts, fear for foreigners and fooling the people with simple slogans as if those can solve complex society problems. Because you can say a lot about the VB but they did find some true existing problems we have in society.... but their so called solutions are not solutions at all. When I hear their slogans like 'own people first' I feel sick in the stomac.... when I think that 1 out of 3 in Antwerp and other big cities vote for them... I feel sick in the stomac.

Last week a group of artists organised free concerts for tolerance, the 0110 concerts. The concept had received a lot of attention in the previous months with pros and cons (mainly that making such a political statement a week before the elections would just make them turn in the victim role even more, something they like to do). The concerts became a huge success with 140 artists performing in 5 Belgian cities and >100000 people attending the concerts that were being broadcast all day on several tv and radio stations. Last Friday all musea and cultural centra rang their alarms for 15 minutes out of protest againt extreme right. I must say that those initiatives really warmed my heart. They might nog have an impact on the elections result, but they sure helped all those democratic souls that are left in our country to continue believe in our case.... Media has focussed so long on the negativity of VB, now it was time to send out a positive message and show people that there are lots of us still believing in a multicultural society and in tolerance between people. I so wish I could have gone to one of the concerts despite the pouring rain that didn't stop the people from coming and partying all day. I tried to follow it as much as I could by radio and tv and even while not being there myself, the atmosphere touched myself. It was so energizing !! Thank you Tom Barman, Sioen, Arno and all other people involved with the organisation!! You are no foolish idealists, you were great! Thank you the 100000 people standing there in the rain to make a statement for tolerance ! Thank you artists not getting intimidated by the ridiculous and sad threatening letters that the VB had sent you ( burning CD's.... how close can you get linked to the Nazi's burning forbidden books??).

Yesterday was election day in Belgium. All town and city councils had to be re-elected. We don't have the right to vote, we have the duty to vote. That means that we mandatory have to go out to vote. I love that... in a couple of hours time 7,5 million people get out of their house to go downtown and bring out their vote. As a result it is always a big social event with people walking up the streets everywhere, seeing old friends again and having a chat in the street. And after the vote, in late afternoon we all turn our tv on to see the voting results come in. First the small villages etc are done with Herstappe who wins always since they only need to count 84 votes :p.

The first results were very disappointing once more... VB who had also been mainly a big cities phenomenan really had its breaktrough all across the country. I believe that now they had in each village about 10% of the votes . Yikes. I feel very much simalar as the note that An Nelissen , press photographer of De Standaard, wrote that afternoon. It was so disappointing and you really start to wonder about your neighbours and other citizens. How can this happen each time again? However at the end of the evening we all felt a lot more positive as in Antwerp they lost votes in comparison with the last federal elections, in Ghent they lost votes.... So the trend in the cities seems to stabalise or turn. Hopefully Flanders has reached its limit of intolerant people. Lets hope so. And to all VB voters.... the cordon against you isn't antidemocratic... if you get 10 to 33% of the votes it still means that at least 67% of the voters deliberately voted for a political party that vowed to keep you all out of power. It is democracy that still keeps you out of the city councils. Thank goodness for democracy.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Laundry instructions

No comment

(don't have the clothes myself... I just found the picture on the internet :p)

Friday, October 6, 2006

Thank you Allie


and also all my other friends and family sending me e-mails and cards, sms's, leaving messages on my answering machine :)

La vida de Pablo

Tonight I've had the honor to go to a very nice flamengo concert in the Handelsbeurs with Jan on the expense of my good friends. Yes yes, in case you guys were wondering, I did exchange the gift voucher you've given me last year for my birthday and I chose a special day for it to do it....this year's birthday :p.

I had picked out "la vida de Pablo" because I like the Spanish music, I would love to see flamingo dancers once and the concept was based on paintings of Goya who is a fantastic painter!

After a long week in Wellen at work (with lots of 'great' bugs as usual) and a week spent in the Holiday Inn there, it was great to be back in Ghent and spend my birthday in an unusual way to me . Unlike my habit to arrive always and everywhere late, we arrived nicely at time downtown Ghent despite traffic jams in the city everywhere. For a moment I figured all the cars came for the filmfestival, but then the big publicity boards told me that the International Filmfestival of Ghent is only starting next week. Oh well, so for some reason lots of other people felt the need to enter the city by car as well, maybe they all wanted to celebrate my birthday there, but we made it quite at time so no stress at all. If we would have been 10 minutes later, I would have gotten quite stressed because by the time we had parked in the underground parking lot it was full!
Oh and thanx Jo Depoorter (or lookalike?) for just barely not hitting the tail of my car when I wanted to turn off ! Geez, leave the people some space so they can break! I did not experience a collision with a Flemish tv celeb on my birthday.

I have no clue why the teleticketing service had told me that i could still choose either seats on the front row or on the fifth row (fifth please, in that case!) as if it was almost completely sold out a month ago already. Much to my surprise the hall was only filled for 40% really... Hmm weird, so why so little choice on the phone??? They must try to fill in solid blocks of x rows at a time to avoid little groups of people scattered in the concert hall? Yeah, that sounds logic, I'll go with that explanation.

The concert started off quite introverted and intimate with a virtuous guitare player giving a solo while Goya's paintings came by, later on joined by a nostalgic cello. Out of Goya's paintings, they were following the life of Pablo...a little boy with a very happy childhood that comes to a dramatic end when his mom gets killed during the war. What follows is his dispear and confusion, his morning and his fatal decision to join the army.

With paintings, guitar, cello, percussion, sang and an impressive dancer, the story was brought to live. The musicians were already great to listen to, but in the parts where the singer and dancer joined them the concert was truly top. Wow, those feet of the dancer were amazing: his heels were clicking with lots of energy on the wooden floor in an ever accelerating rhythm to come to a sudden standstill accompagnied with a powerful arm movement. Very goodlooking guy by the way but he looked so incredibly tormented. I hope he's a good actor.

The story was quite sad and solemn and so it was weird and even inappropriate having a lady in the row behind us, screaming an OLE after every part of the performance....also when Pablo dropped dead after his execution (dance) !

But at the end of the concert, the performers had to come back, this time much more expressively joyfull and they all gave a little improvised flamengo dance, being cheered on by their colleagues. Quite funny. Ole ole I was thinking as well!