Sunday, December 31, 2006
Well, it went to house that has dramatically changed over the last year. One year ago we had just barely finished the floor heating system and poured some concrete on top of it that had to dry. Walls had to be painted afterwards, lights installed, tile floors in the hall and kitchen, a wooden floor in the living room, furniture that has moved down, a fire place has been installed and a basement has become a practical and clean storage space.
It went to a project that managed to successfully switch 5 drinks wholesalers to a different software, thanks to lots and lots of overtime and cursing and bug testing.
It went to a fantastic trip to India, an exotic paradise full of colors, temples, wildlife, excellent food, ... it also went to Brittany full of menhirs, cliffs and impressive medieval cities and family joy. It went to some blistered feet in London but good fun with friends and it went to the wineries and delicious dishes in Burgundy.
It went to baby nieces and nephews growing up to funny toddlers.
It went to summer festivals, to good thrillers read, to some fun TV shows, ....
Anyway it was good!!! Excited to see what 2007 will bring! hope it will be a good one for all of you as well. Have a great New Year!
I don't know if it is a Flemish thing, but December is a musical heaven!
- End of November already I think Q-music had its top 2000 or something of greatest hits.
- 2nd week of December,4 fm had a top 100 of the 60ies on Monday, 70ies on Tuesday, ....with a top 100 all times on Friday. Fun fun fun in the office and lots of singing along. (hihi my boss loved Monday best :p).
- The week before Christmas Studio Brussel had their hype charity action in which they sold requests for the Red Cross 6 days 24h/24h "Music For Life". Some people thought the action was a media overkill, and it was a hype indeed. All of a sudden all of Flanders seemed to be listening to StuBru or were standing in line 2 kms from our house to get a glimps of the 3 DJ's locked up without solid food in their glass house in Leuven. Well, I loved it, the more I listened to it. All this generosity and charity activities brought me in the Christmas mood and the music was damn good.
- Around Christmas I must have missed the Radio 1's "100 op 1" , 100 top Belgian classics. Too bad, but I can still listen to it on the internet. Pheww.
- During the last week of the year, traditionally Radio Donna plays non-stop its top 2006. A week that is just getting better and better with the top 5 on New Year's Eve.
Pff it'll be hard to adjust to normal radio again in January: to listen to one hit commercially launched dolls that try to sing :(. Why can't it always be musically December?
Friday, December 29, 2006
And I didn't even get done what I hoped to do. Pff. But with the help of Jan tomorrow morning, I hope to be able to give a first layer of paint in our bedroom tomorrow. At least that'll change the look of it again.
Jan and his dad did good work in the basement though! It has gyproc walls and a floor!!!!! Talk about a total transformation. And so when I am done on the first floor I play the plastering queen downstairs. .... One day...one day it'll be ready. I am looking forward to next week when we have no renovations planned!
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Odd, that was very odd. The girl was certain to have programmed the heating. Yett the appartment did not felt like a cold stranger, not expecting them to come home. 13C. With a nervous feeling, she tested the water in the tap... but it remained ice cold as well. Shit, this was Christmas night. Would they have to sleep in the cold and get up in the cold and wash themselves in that temperature with cold water. Not a comforting thought at all! Visions of a similar night 2 years ago came back. Then the neighbours had come to help the next day but after half a day of checking the boiler, they had only succeeded in breaking down their own boiler as well. It took another day to get the gas company to come over and fix the problem that apparently ended up being really simple.
But now the appartment of the neighbours looked dark and deserted as well. Who could help on a Christmas night???
Of course Jan did! After surfing the web a bit and cursing at the boiler, he managed to add water to it because the boiler had locked itself into security because somehow the pressure had diminished. Wooohooo he rocks and my macho neighbours suck!!! (they don't read this so I can write it :) ). And with a bit of delay we curled up in the bed close together to keep warm while the heating started chasing the cold away.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Some time to relax and enjoy the christmas atmosphere.
Excellent food and drinks
The magic of His Star
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Last month, Jan all of a sudden noticed that a car had crashed and was laying on its roof on the street a little further. Today a lot of sirens came by, but they often do so we don't really pay much attention to it anymore. Emergency vehicles often use them for crossing the traffic lights next to our doors so it didn't even trigger my attention that the sirens stopped just in front of us. But then we realised there were 2 flashing firetrucks outside and a flashing police car. Huh? Is our house on fire?
7 fireman were walking around on the sidewalk in front of our houses and those of the neighbours with a "sniffer" whereas the policeguy was a bit nervous because he anxiously wanted to know whether he needed to evacuate. We soon realised it had to do with the gas smell we often notice outside.
Gosh when we phoned the gas company they didn't even move within a week to come and check it out !! They assured us on the phone that it was a known problem but not too bad. Next time we'll sure think about phoning the firedepartment as well. The type of reaction that is triggered was surely different!
The gas company arrived too, with flashing light, they checked out the spot where they worked last time. The sight was funny: 7 firemen and 1 policeguy in a little circle around a gas technician on his knees on the parking spot, all staring at his fingers closely, with half of the street being blocked by flashing emergency vehicles. Unfortunately the end result was not that impressive since the conclusion was that the gas smell was too faint and that the risk was too small to do anything.
I wonder if they'd all come out again if I phone tomorrow that there is a gas smell in the road? When is it bad enough to phone? Pfff tough question.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
You didn't click yet? Well you sure are missing something! Click click here!
Don't you think that always sounds so weird "See you next year" "ok send me that report when you're done but I won't be able to read that this year anymore ..." :p. I always sounds as if you'll be gone for ages, but I am only taking 6 days off really. But thanks to the weekends and holidays, it is almost 2 weeks.
And the best thing is: I go back to work for 2 days in the beginning of January and then I am taking once more a week off because Lisa is coming over to visit me from Canada! Yeaaaaah!
I am really looking forward to this time off. I needed it. The last days were quite stressfull at work and I just felt that I was overreacting to a lot of stuff. A simple discussion with my boss seemed to take all my energy. A disagreement with some other manager who was mad at me for not being available for giving training at her new employees (my old boss and my new boss had given her the good news that that was not my task and that I had not enough time available, something which she apparently had assumed). She unexpectedly took all her frustrations out at me and I couldn't set that discussion out of my head for the entire day and evening. And our suppliers consultants really drove me crazy. Probably I simply just still lack energy after being ill. So it'll be good being offwork for a while.
Let's just hope that I won't get much calls next week on the days that I am backup "on call" for the systems helpdesk. Grrr what a great moment to switch external helpdesks and start with a new inexperienced team but hey...who can foresee that 2 people quit at the same moment.
Only 24 hours and it all seems a totally different far away world already ;-). Our minds are already totally focussed on the coming holidays and the renovations that we want to fully boost on the first floor!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Obviously by the time I got to see the doctor on Monday my bowles got calm and silent. What else would I have expected huh? Anyway, I caught up more sleep, started enjoying food again and today I was back at work (tired but that's often the case). I am slowly filling up again :).
And the lady in the kitchen of the cantine had the interesting news that the directors secretary, the postman, 3 people in the kitchen and someone else all had been ill. I figured you'd all want to know that news as well ;).
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Fortunately my appetite and sleep are improving so I am feeling better already.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
It was all fiction in order to trigger some discussion in our country.....well I think they sure triggered discussion alright! Geez, what were they thinking? They could at least have indicated from the beginning that it was fiction and just announce the documentary rather than to interrupt the emissions as breaking news.
I think they have also triggered some discussion how our tax money is being used to create a great panic wave in half of the country .
In the mean time Flanders in itself was very oblivious to it all, busy watching the European soccer game here at 1 km from my door. (massive police turnout here with even a helicopter flying over! But that is to keep the Dutch fans quiet, not because of a revolution going on.).
Anyway....I'd actually want to see the emission that is now causing such a fuss...Is it on YouTube already?
Monday, December 11, 2006
We choose for an artifical tree because it's easier to set up and to maintain and in the long run cheaper. And main thing for me: you don't see the tree dying over the weeks and you don't end up with an almost dead needleless tree by the time you clean it up again. Somehow I find it sad that we grow trees to cut them and let them slowly die. But the big disadvantage of the fake trees are that they don't smell like christmas trees!
Anyway, it sure was a new experience to make a Christmas tree with some kind of Ikea-like guidelines and by having the spread out all the branches ourselves.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Going back to The Hague is always a bit special. I've only lived there 10,5 months but there are so many memories there: being on bus 23 together with Jan, the Japanese restaurant near the Kurhaus where some of the colleagues had a sake drinking contest and got completely completely waisted, the Daendelstraat where I started my first job ever with its tiny cantine and a crazy Indonesian as cook, the many pubs and restaurant where I went with my many many French colleagues, the Mercure hotel where I lived my first hotel, my appartment near the beach where I lived for the first time on my own with the narrow parkingspace and the outside gallery to go to the front door which was always very slippery when wet, the beachrestaurants where we spent allmost all summer evenings outside, the fresh juices bar where Remi took me for lunch to comfort me on the day my aunt had passed away, the little park in Scheveningen with the pregnant goats being locked up due to foot and mouth disease, having my best friends all coming over to visit in my appartment, the train station where Melanie and I took the train for an evening in Amsterdam, ..... The city really feels like home since I have memories on most spots and I know my way around.
But on the other hand, a weekend like this does not feel like homecoming anymore. All the nostalgic feelings I used to have so strongly in the beginning seemed to have faided away. The weekend felt like what it was "a visit to good friends in a city that I know very well and that I like very much". The Hague has been a very dear part in my life because of my first job, my first time living on my own....and of course falling in love and meeting Jan!! But it's not part of my life anymore at this moment. I have now a different life that I like very much as well! And besides, I know realise with hindsight that the furniture in that apparment there was horrendous ;-).
I just wonder if in a couple of years I'll feel as much an outsider and stranger in Ghent as well?
A - Available or Single? - Nope, not available anymore since a while already.
B - Best Friend? - I have some great close friends that know me very well but couldn't pick out a "best" friend as in a hierarchy type of way. Just want to thank Sandra, Sofie, Katrien, Marlies, ... for their great listening capacities and for making me laugh so often!
C - Cake or Pie? - Neither of both please. I am not into sweets....why don't we start with an appetizer like peanuts or potato chips or nacho's or olives or ....
D - Drink of Choice? - Coca Cola Light
E - Essential Item you use Every Day? - Hair curling thing,...to brush some volume and movement in my soooo straight hairs.
F - Favorite Color? - Our olive green on the kitchen wall :)
G - Gummies or Worms? - what ???
H - Hometown? - still for 6 more weeks travelling in between Ghent and Leuven, but after that only Leuven it is! But lived in Deinze most of my life.
I - Indulgence? - see C!
J - January or February? - January! Still in the mood of the holidays!
K - Kids and Names? - No kids yet.
L - Life is Incomplete Without? - Love and hugs
M - Marriage Date? - Not married
N - Number of Siblings? - A older sister, Griet
O - Oranges or Apples? - Oranges! They are much juicier. But at work it's easier to eat an apple, but only really like Granny Smith apples.
P - Phobias or Fears? - Heights, my face covered unther a blanket and not getting enough air, lack of toilets nearby,
Q - Fav Quote? - Don't sweat the small stuff, it's all small stuff
R - Reason to Smile? - Too many to write down! I am happy.
S - Season? - Summer....without any hesitation: the summer. Give me the sun, give me the light, the heat!! Give me the music festivals, full beaches, the smell of sun screen, ...! Give me breakfast, lunch and dinner eaten outside, drinks on a terrace late at night outside, give me bike trips, ...
T - Tag Three People - hmm I fear not to have a close circle of blogger friends to send my tag to.
U - Unknown fact about me? - My punky hair when I just wake up, since I cut it short....stands up straight in all directions.
V - Vegetable you don't like? - Cooked "witloof", asparagus, salsifies, ...
W - Worst Habit? - staying up too late, sleeping in too late
X - Xtremely BIG Husker fan? - what????
Y - Your fave food? - A long long long list...but it depends on my mood. Chocolate is definately NOT on the list!
Z - Zodiac sign? Libra
Three websites I love:
1. www.standaard.be: my most frequented newssource
2. www.google.be: starting point of so many searches for information!
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Mmmmmmmmmm Burgundian snails! The best!
And rabbit terrines. And coq au vin. And charcuterie....
And the wines!! And the cassis! And then things like cassis mustard and cassis butter!! Mmmm
And a assortiment of excellent cheeses at the end of each meal. There was one particular cheese that I loved with a very strong and salty taste and so I asked the name of it in the restaurant. She said " ..pice Homard de Bourgogne".
What? Lobster ? What has that cheese to do with lobster. She could not have said Homard.
Jan who was in the washroom when she told me and he didn't believe the lobster part either.
So when she came to clear the plate, I asked again and now she clearly confirmed "Epoisse Homard de Bourgogne". Ok fine, lobster cheese it is, although their is nothing in the taste that reminds me of lobster.
the next day we went to the supermarket to buy some of the local specialties. When checking out the cheeses in the store we found two that resembled the ones we liked so much. All of a sudden I cracked up when reading the label:
"Epoisse au marc de Bourgogne"... Au marc or Homard: some pronounciation but clearly something different. Mard de bourgogne is a liquor that is used int he production of the cheese! And there I stood in the store realising that the cheese had nothing to do with lobster after all. It was so funny.
We bought 2 pieces: "Epoisse au marc de bourgogne" and "Amis de Chambertins" which we had eaten in the restaurant. Something we soon regretted because the smell in the car was ...well lets simply say "very strong". Everytime we had stopped somewhere it took our breath for a minute when getting back in :p.
Fortunately we seem to be able to contain the smell at home due to a special cheese boll. So visitors should have no fear !! At least we have a hell of yummie cheese at home! Yeah.
A little bit frustrated that the entire morning we only found closed doors at châtaux and abbeys, we arrived on a walk in the village of Chambertin. The local castle/winefarm had also tours without appointments, so we gave it a try. A bell with a thick cord had to be rung to indicate our presence at a small gate.
The bell rang but only silence followed. The place looked very deserted and we already wanted to leave when all of a sudden a door opened behind us and a tourguide I did not expect at all descended. "Vous voulez faire la visite?" he asked and I must honestly admit that there were some seconds of doubt in my mind. In front of me I stood a hunchback whose face I could not see and whose mumbling I could hardly understand. This was not at all the castle's son or daughter I had expected who'd proudly start explaining their excellent wineyards in a marketing approved manner in order to end with a tasting to get some sales going.
As soon as I could say "oui", he waved to follow him and so we did. He strongly smelled like earth and grapes and ... and we surely had to get used to his talking. It is very very strange to get a tour by someone whose face is invisible and who seemed to be poking in his eye unstoppingly as if he needed to keep it open with his finger. And he didn't walk very smoothly either, and it did not seem to be cause by his rubber boots. When leading us up the stairs, Jan thought at one point that he would stop breathing.
The tour was not about the vineyards but about the history of the castly where he now seemed to live: the furniture, the old floors, the tiles, the windows, the ruins of disappeared towers, .... I must admit it ended up being more interesting than I first thought and the tower had a nice view. In the end I was happy to have had the tour of the hunchback of Burgundy.
And drivers along Metz: there are more rader camera's on the ringway than indicated on the roadside panels or on the internet itineraries.
So we took a long weekend, jumped in the car and drove south. That's what I adore about France: it is so closeby, it has nature, culture, food!!! And this time Burgundy would be our final destination: a medieval wine country with whome Flanders shares part of its history.
After a short stop in a roadparking in Luxemburg, where I was the only one buying some sugar waffles rather than numerous 'almost without taxes sigarettes' (I was an outsider there with my little waffles!!), we hit the French border. We were stopped by a Luxemburg police car that raced by and that came to an impressive standstill with a big U-turn in front of us while we were crossing the border. I swear I did not know until then that not buying sigarettes in Luxemburg was an offense ;). I am innocent!
The agent did not seem interested in us though and let us drive by while he jumped out with an impressive automatic weapon in his hands. It looked quite sensational but I don't know how that story ended since we happily drove on into France.
Our first visit was Nancy, the capital of Lorraine and a city that I had driven by so many times on the highways without knowing which beauty it holds. I can surely recommand to other people to make the stop next time as well! Especially the "Royal square" was breathtakingly beautiful. The fact that it was sunny all brightened it up even more and I bravely sat on an outside terrace in my sweater only although I regretted that in the end because the wind ruined my '1st december in a sweater outside experience' a bit. But I was stubborn and managed to finish my meal without putting my jacket on.
As true tourist, we had to eat Quiche Lorraine there. What else could we have chosen, huh?
A few hours later we arrived at our destination, ready for an evening walk through the little wine village and then ready for a delicious big meal with the appropriate wines of course.
The next day we explored the "Hautes côtes" and the "Côtes de Nuits", the local area where we were staying. Unforatunatly we were there very very off season and so not many wine châteaus wanted to give a tour of their domain and winery and also the famous abbey of Citeaux kept its doors quite closed, except for their store. Pfff.
In one château we had an 'interesting tour' but that story is coming up in a seperate post. Although we remained in the area, all our little loops from village to village, from château to local products store, to historical site kept us pretty busy for the entire day! At one point we were on a hill top looking for some ruins when from the surrounding woods, the sound of hunters with their horns and their barking dogs. I head never heard that before and it sounded great!!
On Sunday we drove one hour south to visit the remains of the once most powerful abbey of the middle ages: Cluny. For all of you who are ever interested in doing so: apparently from December to somewhere in spring, the entrence is free on the first Sunday of the month! We didn't know so that was a happy surprise to us. It was really disappointing that only so little of it was left as it must have been a very impressive abbey in the past!
Currently a technical school is housed in the buildings and we arrived in the middle of the initiation of new students, which involved a big parade through the village of chanting people holding each others shoulders. Cool to see.
In the afternoon we drove all the way back to visit Dijon, the capital of the Dukes of Burgundy where we also could see some Flemish artifacts.
We left Monday this beautiful region to head for the Champagne region including a tour in the famous house of Moët & Chandon and their caves. Mmmm
Anyway, today apparently they have received the authority (maybe some more neighbours phoned) and now they are happily digging in the parking lane a man deep hole to check it out.
So far so good, but one of the guys is smoking there! Is it just me who thinks that is worrying? I am not sure, but in my mind a gas smell and smoking are not 2 things that go together well! Seeing that gives me a very very creepy feeling!
On the other hand it's been there for a while now and I'm sure lots of pedestrians walked by with a sigaret in their mouth and there are all the time cars pulling up here at the traffic lights as well. but it does not really reassure me.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
* Next time the helpdesk gets a call that every picknote in depot also prints an unsollicited 8 page report: Warn me and let me escape before the system falls apart!
* Next time the helpdesk gets a call that users see all numbers on their screen multiplied by 1000: Same instructions.
To the person that was smart enough to somehow delete or corrupt an important object on the iSeries server in Edingburgh: Thanx a lot for making our day not boring at all!!
Anyway, we managed to get some workaround so that all depots could already start to prepare some orders and then after a couple of hours , we announce relieved that all was up and running again.
But some questions remain :
* Why are Scottisch people so difficult to understand on the phone? And how often can you ask someone to repeat himself before it gets embarrassing for yourself?
No offence guys, but could you try to articulate just a little bit more? I must admit that I sometimes just say "ahuh, yes yes ahuh...." while thinking "what?? I hope that last bit was not important."
* Why does our team always picks up eurovision song contest songs...to be sung out loud?
If the Ernst & Young auditors sitting in the room next door to us, think the company is wacko, we will look very innocent!
Tee tee tee tee teedeedeedee (go Thor!)
* Would it be effective to tell some users that the crash was either caused by A) one or more users that keep on passing on their logins to unauthorised colleagues despite multiple warnings B) users not counting the inventory on the instructed day C) users persisting in not following procedures ???? Could that maybe change their behaviour?
* How come that all depots complain about a lack of personnel but they can catch up 4,5 downtown with relatively little delais???
* Why is it so hard to write the text of a training or procedure if you can't access the software to make screenshots even though you do know the process by heart?
Tee tee tee tee teedeedeedee!!!!!!!
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Still waiting for green light for a retest later on tonight. This way my pile of ironing will never get smaller. I am tired now. I already came home late because of traffic jams due to the busy traffic coming from the coast. Seems like the weekend has to end with some frustrations.
So Sandra and I went out for a good walk along the promenade in Knokke and a walk on the paths in the nature reserve of "'t Zwin". It was lovely out today and we were definately not the only ones out there who tought so.
....ok ok I admit it, it wasn't that hot as in the picture. Since we both didn't take our camera's along, I copied a promotional picture from www.knokkeheist.be . (I am sure they don't mind that there promotional pictures get more exposure. ) But it was almost too warm to keep our jackets on! So when we finally went for a deserved drink, we were surely not looking for a hot choco to warm up ;).
We had a good view there on the local traffic coming by which was clearly not what you on average see in Belgium: 10 Porches in an hour, many more SUV's, Mercedes's, etc... It was more remarkable than walking around in Chelsea, London! Some parts of Knokke clearly still live up their rich reputation!
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
I just read it in the Standaard newspaper when Jan told me about it as well. The gascloud was blown by the wind out of the direction of my appartment and soon afterwards it turned out to be non toxic, just slightly irritating a bit if you were on the spot itself. So it really was nothing and hardly in the news in the evening anymore.
The incident just made me realise once more how small the world had become due to the Internet. Mind you...Jan was telling me to watch out when going home, while he was working in the Emirates!
Then I get a flashback of '96, when I made my first steps in the Internet and e-mail world. I just came back from my exchange in Canada and I was e-mail a lot with my different host families. Mark (4th family) was in Vern's home room at school (2nd family). I remember that at one point Vern asked me if I knew where Mark was, because he'd been absent in school for a couple of days already and I could answer him that Mark was home with the flu. :p . I still think that was funny.
So I suppose this post has become obsolete. I only showed one young couple around in the beginning of November. After my very proud little tour, they said they intended to take it and it sounded very credible. I was so surprised that on the real-estate website my appartment just remained 'for rent' . I did not get any calls anymore for seeing the appartment though (the first day I got two of them).
So either Immoboss is 16 days late in updating their site (way to go! very professional) or they've just rented it to people that did not see the appartment. I suppose it's the first option. Maybe the couple did not pay right away and the real estate kept its options open?
So my feeling that this place would be rented again right way, seems to be correct. I started to doubt my own judgement about this appartment: that it is very nice, modern, well equiped and a good deal.
It's a relief that there are already new renters but it's also a bit strange. Somehow I consider this as "my spot" even though I am taking more and more distance of it and I don't spend much time here anymore in Ghent. But this is still "my appartment" in my mind. It's hard to picture other people in here in different furniture. I guess it's just a Belgian reaction: I have not moved much yet and as a result I am always very attached to the spot where I live.
When driving a Peugeot, I had to bring it in once for a fault the car dealer didn't even know about? Last June my Renault got the back seat belts fixed for something and tonight I found a new letter in the mailbox: the slides of the windowsuspension mechanisme could work incorrectly what could potentially lead to a break in the mechanism. For the insurance of the lease company I am obliged to go back once more to the dealership to get this fixed.
In this week where it's all in the news that the VW factury in Brussels is losing its production line for the Golf (4000 of 6500 employees will loose their job), I can't help but wonder if many of their Golfs would ever been recalled for production errors?
When it passes by me I thought that it was going pretty fast for a light truck and then I saw a couple of guys hanging out of the windows of the passenger seats shouting in my direction. "Stupid childish macho's" I thought, thinking they were just making gestures to me because I was a woman behind the wheel. Only then I realised they were all holding a can of Jupiler beer out and pointing to them. I couldn't help but smile ...
...there are moments I still forget I drive a car with Maes beer publicity on it. And that it draws more attention then an anonymous car. Although they made it very clear they preferred the beer of our biggest competitor (and the Belgian market leader), I didn't feel insulted. They caught me that much by surprise that they actually left me with a smile on my face.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
While going home I wondered how much time I had already spent in that car. that must be a lot! At this moment my average speed is pointed at 55km but I know it was resently reset and in the last week I spent an incredible amount in traffic jams (grrrrr) and when I come from Leuven to work I have to take a normal road and whereas coming from Ghent I almost only drive on the highways.
So assuming that usually my average speed is about 75km, then I've spent 666 hours in that car or almost a month! Wow... I am stunned by that. Isn't that a shocking tought. I knew it was a lot, but 28 days?????????? Holy cow, how about that.
I think since i work, I've always driven about 50000 km a year, so it's the 5th year in a row like this.
So what do you do in the car besides driving? Listening to the radio. I always have music on and it is rarely ever a CD. I actually only listen to the radio when I am in the car : once at home there are CD's playing or more frequently the TV is on. And I admit...I am an active singer in the car. Regardless whether I know the tune or whether I know the words, I manage to sing along. Loud! With mimic if necessary.
I am also a "zapper" champion. I don't think I leave the radio for more than 15 minutes on the same radio channel. Partly because at xh and xh30 there is traffic info at Q-music or 4FM and at xh15 or xh45 at Donna, StuBru or the other national radio channels. But other than that, I can't stand that they talk too long on the radio (radio's are for music!, I read online newspapers to get the news), when the music sucks, ... Sometimes I am so bad that I keep on switching channels for 5 minutes or more until there is one song that I like on any channel. A good song to sing along loud!!
When I am waiting for traffic lights, it's my moment to get some make -up. I carry my mascara and pensil and lipstick in my purse. So when there are a couple of slow traffic lights coming up, I dig them up and get ready to put them on. I don't care that other people see me doing so. I only am ashamed when I am behind a colleague that I know. It just looks to funny when you observe someone via the back mirror behind you. But if I don't know the person in front of me, then I can go ahead. Without traffic jams of traffic lights, I usually arrive without make-up at work. So you can see in my face how traffic was!!!
If it really does not move at all, I start reading a book. i'll never leave for work without my book that I am reading at that moment. This week I managed to read 40 pages! It has not been a smooth week in traffic!
I also like to check out the different nationalities on the road; Especially on the E17 or E313 there are so many Polish, Tsjech, Lituanian , Austrian, Spanish trucks etc... Incredible sometimes. I'll see a lot less of them once I move to Leuven since on the local roads, it's only "local" people driving around. So I won't be able to blame cowboy behaviour on the road to foreigners only. I'll definately notice less the Dutch camping car rush that takes place every summer to the South. That is a good thing, trust me!
Since I have a small bladder, I also regularly have to stop at the parkings along the highway and that always give me a sense of vacation mood. Nostalgic flashbacks of our vacation trips to Spain as a child automatically pop-up.
Am I an agressive driver? I don't think so but I sure can be very fed up with other drivers. There are so incredible stupid and dangerous drivers out there. And very annoying ones. Driving back and forth from Ghent to Leuven in the weekend is a certain guarantee: all drivers are on the middle lane. Arrrrggghhhh, I could shoot them. They are dangerous, they slow down the traffic, they are arrogant....;and if you pass them by the left and then go to the most right lane in front of them...... they still don't get it. Gosh, can anyone help me to get rid of them , please????
But also other behavious can piss me off though. Tonight a nice lady persisted in stubbornness when I had to merge in her lane and I was signaling and half in front of her and she made sure she speeded up to stick at the bumper of the car in front of both of us and managed to continue to drive next to me until I really had to break and merge behind her in the narrowing road. Thank you very much , lady in the dark green peugeot 306 , TFA 920 !! Grr.
I didn't see too many accidents, fortunately, ...usually you are stuck in the traffic jams behind them and by the time you arrive at the spot, the road has been cleared already. The most scary time was last spring, when driving home from the platform at the coast: I was on the middle lane passing another car, when all of a sudden, before I had realised what had happened, an incredibly speeding car had passed us....IN THE MIDDLE OF US!! My heart surely skipped a few beats there, only to manage to continue driving straight ahead and seeing some other suicidal stunts the car did before they were out of sight and their incredible speed. The car to the right of me had to go to the sight, those people were so in sight, standing there with their mouth remaining open. For a moment I wondered if I happened to be in the middle of the Gumball race at that moment.
A couple of weeks ago, a truck's tire exploded a bit in front of me. Nothing happened but it is spooky to see though. Fortunately it was a big truck with probably 10 tires in total, so he was still stable and managed to safely go to the side.
I also have had one accident myself. Also last winter at the coast, I was in an incredibly hurry to leave for an appointment with the dermatologist. It was just before our deadline so I was extremely stressed, with thoughts in my mind all over the place, I was late and I was deadly tired. Smart me just made a huge backwards U turn on the parking lot and in a moment of blackout I forgot that there were other cars on the parking lot. A big crack stopped me and there was a car...well let's say unusually close visible in my backwindow. It took me a minute before I realised I actually did drive backwards straight into another car. Great! Smart me huh. The other guy actually had found back his new car all dented in the previous weekend with no sign of the guilty. His car was then in for repair and I dented his replacement car. Oops. He wasn't too happy, although he was very relieved I showed up to sign the necessary papers. Lesson learned: even if you are late...don't rush... accidents and paperwork make you even more late!
Well lets hope that I can drive the next 50000 km as safe and uneventful with fun music to sing along!
Monday, November 20, 2006
* thinking that all necessary tools are part of the Ikea packages is naïeve! You still need your own tools.
* thinking that a little tool that you still had laying around will survive all the bolts that need to be fastened is naieve. You are just to strong for that and your force will break your tool.
* Bolts from Ikea have slight differences in size so even when you fix your tool as good as you can, it only helps for half of the bolts.
* There are no "do-it-yourself" stores open on a Sunday afternoon. Even when you think that they should because they are abroad, they remain closed! Driving around does not convince store owners to open up.
* It is easier to first do the most difficult corner and then continue building from there. But hey...why would you make it easy if you can later on twist yourself in impossible turns to twist those last bolts and to fit the pieces in between the exact space that is left for them?
* Being experienced in sliding puzzles helps as you might need to move some pieces out of the space where they are meant to be, to get other pieces in their spot, to move back the original place.
* Belgians must be winedrinkers since the wineracks were out of stock (3 missing).
But don't we have the cooles nicest space to stock loads of stuff!!!! Yeaaah we rock.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
But today Stef got some of them to relieve his recurring ear infections and since I am still in the mood of child memories, I remembered that I have had ear tubes as well.
I remember being in the hospital in a hall with lots of babybeds and we all were wearing white pyama's or clothes or robes??? That was probably the only time ever that I've been a patient in a hospital. I don't remember at all how long it has taken or what the mini-surgery was like. I only remember being in the bed with my mom next to me and she told me not to cry. And that was unfair because all the other children were crying in their beds and they were allowed to. I remember very strangely this feeling of unfairness (or jealousy?).
Later on I mainly remember getting my bath and my mom washing my hair with the spray. Then I always stuck my fingers in my ear, in order not to get too much water in my ears. or I held a washing cloth from ear to ear, also covering my eyes. This had a double function...it also kept the foam out of my eyes. Too bad I don't have a picture of myself doing so.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Hurraaaaay. Hurraaaaay. Belgian tennis rocks!
Ideally my final in the masters would have been Kim against Justine though with Kim winning the final. Then Kim would have won the final and Justine would still have ended the year in the number 1 position. But in an incredibly thrilling match on Saturday Amélie Mauresmo beat Kim in the semi finals. Wow beautiful game that was.
I did have a very clear picture of our digestion system inside our tummy. My tummy was inside a big gothic hall with a throne. My heart was on the throne, I did understand the heart was the highest in rank. My tummy hall had huge pillars, 2 rows of them. Other than that it was fairly empty but with an endless stream of little pieces of food walking by in a tribute to the heart. When the stream of foodpieces ended, the heart was angry and then I became hungry and I had to eat again. I could also not eat tooo big chuncks because that was not pretty or eat to quickly or too slow. Hmm too slow? No i don't think I ever had a problem with eating too slow.
I also remember in church that I thought the church books were full of fairytails about snowwhite. And when the priest bowed down, i was convinced for years he was just checking that there were no candy papers on the floor!! It is very important to keep your church clean, you know!
And prison was like a collection of gardenhouses next to each other (don't ask me why!!!) but dark as night inside full of monsters unther the bed. Not a nice place to be locked in. That was the picture I got when a far relative scared me with some stories about prisons.
Geez do all kids have such absurd imagination?
I also remember at one point that I was drawing a house and a man. The man was about as big as the house and clearly would not fit through the door. Other kids next to me had drawn about the same thing (it was a drawing competition ). But all of a sudden I realised my man could not go through the door, so I had to readjust the house and draw a door up to the roof. It didn't look as pretty but at least my man could sleep inside at night. I didn't win and I was very disappointed because I had the only house where the man could go inside!!! And the jury didn't notice that. Pffff.
Monday, November 13, 2006
I remember when studying for exams at university that I studied about 20 pages in the morning, 150 in the afternoon and 300 in the evening! Diesel Ellen, that is...definately not a morning person.
I also notice that the weekend that I don't plan to do anything are usually the weekends I get to do most. I love to sleep in and then spend a long morning at breakfast/tv/sudoku puzzles/... Then it is time to clean up a bit, but not without any reading breaks or maybe even a Vitaya tv show or something. Before I know it , it is middle afternoon on my lazy afternoons.
And then there comes a point that I am tired of watching tv, since there is really nothing decent to watch at daytime, tired of reading a book and all of a sudden I remember all the chores in my head that really should be done. And I start cleaning or washing the windows or ....
Last Sunday was no different. Jan and I really relaxed most of the day, we went for a short walk in the neighbourhood to check out the fitness prices of the nearby fitness center (yes yes the intentions are there!), ....and at 5 PM I really felt the urge to finish the painting in the basement. The planned 90 min that I said to Jan became 150 minutes, but I am so glad that it is done! Now it is all ready for the racks to be bought and installed and our stuff being neatly stored...only to free up the other basements that clearly still need loads of work.
After painting the metal supports on the ceiling bright red, the floor got its finishing layer of paint.
One part of the basement done....but visibly more space urgently needing renovation! Makes up for a nice before and after picture, no?
Saturday, November 11, 2006
We opened the wall more between our future bedroom and dressing and we kicked out the old fireplace. While Jan's dad and Jan did the heavy work of breaking out, I did my best to clean out the fallen pieces of bricks and dust and plaster into big bags asap while trying to remain out of the falling zone. We progressed quite fast and soon we could start cleaning up and Jan had the honor to carry the heavy bags of approx 40-50 kg ( 20 of them!!!) downstairs. Amazing how much waste we collected by doubling the door opening and breaking down some fireplace!! 800 up to 1000 kg! Poor Jan. Poor van taking it to a container park.
And afterwards the fun remained to free the entire house of the dust layer that we had gathered. Oh what a joy!!! (yes you notice some irony in my remark, although it feels rewarding to see the dust disappearing again). So now we are sitting in a seat and that is sooooooooooooooo nice! Enjoying our progress we made today and the clean house. I feel like a nap though.
opening the wall
taking out the fireplace walls that stick out too much.
A bit of explanation: the back wall (currently grey) and the white wall next to it becomes a dark wardrobe that continues in the dressing next to the bedroom in the form of an F. So the opening won't stay as wide as currently. The dressing isn't like an open wardrobe, just a small room next to the bedroom with only wardrobe in it and the entry to the bathroom. I really hate the wardrobes without doors...haven't seen any that I like and I keep thinking that your clothes gather more dust. Or maybe I know I am just too messy to keep it all clean and tidy. The sliding door in the bedroom (incorporated in the wardrobe and therefore hiding the door opening if closed) will be opposite to the sliding door of the bathroom which is again directly opposite of the opening the the lower bathroom and the window there. It should all become nicely aligned.
Friday, November 10, 2006
This is sooo over the top that it becomes funny.... This is where our taxmoney is going to: a government movie to teach us to be more proud of our country. Well I suppose that in comparison with other nationalities, we are indeed not known for our pride in our country and its symbols.
As a counterweight to this movie, I can add that Belgium has lowered on the UNDP report(UN development programme) from the 11th place to the 13th place concerning prosperity. Apparently this does not mean that we have become less prosperant, our score has remained unchanged in the last years, but other countries are catching up. Weird though that in 2004 we were still ranked in 6th place??
Last week the CPI index for 2006 was also republished. That is a perceived corruption index. Also on this index, Belgiums score went down a bit, so we are now the 19th least corrupt country in the world. We share this spot with the USA and Chili.
In all those indexes, it's the Scandinavian countries that are on top. But also Canada does always very well, I must say. Well, I already knew that Canada was a great place to live. Even without a government video ;) . And I do love Belgium as well to be honest.
12 kms before Lokeren I see all of a sudden the cars in front of me turning their orange signal lights on on both sides to alert the cars behind them for an upcoming traffic jam. ...noooo this could not be that slowed down traffic, was it? While coming to a standstill I soon realised that it was. And so I crawled over the highway during 35 minutes to finally get to Lokeren, where in the mean time Q-music persisted in its message. Grrrrrrrr
Tonight I fortunately checked a traffic website before leaving the office and guess what....there was an accident in Lokeren, this time in the direction of Ghent, with about 12 kms of traffic jam as well. Noooooooo.
So I looked up an alternative road, which should be an almost straight line to Ghent from Waarloos (where the office is) and I'd arrive on the highway after a long "scenic" road in Lokeren, just behind the accident. And so I went.
In the city that would lead me back to the highway I followed some signs to the highway. I knew there were 2 roads there to choose from as in a V , one leading me before the accident, one leading me to Lokeren behind the accident. (For the Belgians: being in Dendermonde, I can either drive to the Zele/Temse/Sint-Niklaas exit or to the Lokeren exit on the E17). That was something I had thought about in the office....that I had to take the correct road. But apparently my 45 minutes memory is very bad and when arriving in Dendermonde, I just kept following the signs there to the highway without any suspicion.
When I drove by a kitchen store that I had visited with Jan which was supposed on the road I did not have to take, I simply thought...."Hmm that store is on this road after all, I thought it was on the other one. Strange, I would have bet that it was on the other road". Only when I saw the city sign of Temse, it finally hit me, that the store wasn't on the different road....I was on the wrong road! And whereas I had lost 20 minutes by taking the local roads, I ended up at the spot where the announced traffic jam was. That was just fantastic...I was already late, I had already taken a detour, only to go and sit in the traffic jam.
My despair was big, very big and I still considered turning around back to Dendermonde, when I saw on the bridge across the highway that at that spot, there was no more traffic jam. So I took the risk, went on the highway to discover that in the mean time of my detour, the big traffic jam had dissolved itself. yeaaaah, so after all it did not take me that much longer to get home with my distracted mind.
Note to myself : There are 2 possibilities to drive to the E17 in Dendermonde! Ellen, TAKE THE CORRECT ONE NEXT TIME ;-)
Anyway, I was supposed to go downtown Ghent tonight, but when coming home I was so happy to be home and so hungry that I decided to stay home. Grreeeat!
Sunday, November 5, 2006
Adres: Arsenaalstraat 78 - 9050 Gentbrugge
Totale oppervlakte:- m²
Bewoonbare Opp.:- m²
Bebouwde oppervlakte:80 m²
Appartement in recente nieuwbouw, bestaande uit: leefruimte met open keuken, badkamer met ligbad, kleine kamer, grote slaapkamer. Op 5 min van oprit E40/E17, toch heel rustig gelegen, nabijheid van voedingswinkels.
I do enjoy wondering around for a little bit, but in the end I never have the patience to remain next to Jan and so I start running around on my own, getting quickly the things we surely need to buy and then I run back to where Jan is in the mean time to put the things I carry in our cart. And sometimes I loose where he is and I am going up and down the mail isle to check in all side directions where Jan would be in the mean time :p.
Yesterday we were getting some groceries as well because we'd have a friend over for dinner in the evening and although I had already cooked a cow tongue ready, but we needed the ingredients for Madeira sauce , vegetables, ..... At one point I came up with some peeled and cut tomatoes in a can because I had used them all and I see Jan a bit further looking at some wine. Glad I found him again, I put the can in the cart, only to see a very surprised woman turn around "I think that is my cart". At a glance I notice that indeed in the cart, there are not the things we were buying.
A bit embarrassed and a bit amused I stumble " Oh sorry, i just wanted to recommend these peeled tomatoes to you to help you choose". She rambles a bit about the difficult choise in choosing wine and we both went away. But a bit later, I actually see her buying 3 cans of peeled tomatoes !!! Haha that was so funny. She did not buy my suggested brand though, but I don't know if it was a coincidence that she actually went up to buy peeled tomatoes.
So maybe I just invented a new marketing technique....have some distracted "shoppers" in the store , accidently adding products other peoples carts. I guess it would work as long as it isn't widely spread. Just imagine such a strategy being applied in wide-scale....you'd just get paranoia from other shoppers walking closeby your cart "Leave me alone, I am not interested in your product, don't touch my cart!!" :p.
I must have been a bit too distracted because we came home without the madeira wine for the madeira sauce. Oh well, our cow tongue and its sauce became still exellent with Jan's help and we enjoyed it very much.
Allie, here is a picture on your request. I should have thought about taking a picture before it was cut up though...that would have been more interesting to show you :p...but I am sure you can find pictures on the internet of a huge boiled cow tongue.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Today was a public holiday in Belgium dedicated to All Saints Day....so I enjoyed a day at home in Leuven. All public holidays in Belgium are very strongly related to Catholic holidays. And the fall vacation for schools is always in the week of Nov 1st.
Despite the fact that it is the celabration of "All Saints and Martyrs"...it is a day that mostly our dead relatives and friends are being remembered (2nd of November is All Souls day but is not a public holiday anymore). It is a tradition here , as in some other countries with a deep catholic culture, to go to the cimatories today to bring flowers to the graves. Those flowers are usually a pot of "chrysanten", a flower that does well in the colder temperatures and can resist to the first days of mild freezing temperatures. And if the weather gods know it, tonight will be the first night with temps going unther 0C. This morning I felt like going for a small bike tour after church, but it became a very very small bike tour due to the cold wind! (yes....ok and my poor shape as well, but I intended to work on that).
Anyway, there were traffic jams to the nearby graveyards here in Leuven and some additional flower sales stands as well. I really love the sight of the graveyards in this time of a year! They are just seas of colorful flowers. Very nice.
Traditionally the news reflects today some trends related to graveyards and funerals. 40% of the Belgians choose to get cremated (I honestly thought it would be more already) but it is increasing. So the sight of the colorful graveyard will change in the future to more and more walls or little gardens where the urn with ashes are kept.
Hmm I just think about the fact that I was working last year. We were preparing the first go live of System 21. Wow that seems ages ago, in the mean time we've had all 6 go lives. I remember we were all rather pissed off having to work on a holiday despite the fact that the go-live had been postponed. But there were already foreign consultants booked to come over, so we had to come in as well. Because our traditional sandwich delivery store was closed, as were all other grocery stores etc, we convinced our boss to go with the entire team to the nearby Pizza Hut. Well, you should try to go in with about 12 people at once there....it took ages before we got our food. i think we were out there for over 2 hours, so can't say it was a very effective working holiday. At least we supported the sales of Grimbergen and Maes well in the Pizza Hut that day :p. That was the least thing we could do no?