Saturday, June 30, 2007
The VRT news tonight:
* Truck crashed onto bridge pillor on ring road around Brussels. Ringroad around Brussels closed all day...
* Fire at an exposition at the music festival Couleur Café : 22000 people evacuated but concerts restarted at 9 PM
* ULM plane crashed in a garden. Pilot dead
* Opel negotiations still going on for the foreseen lay-offs
* Since the new weapon law in Belgium xxxx weapons collected
* The still ongoing investigation in a parachute murder months ago now leads investigations to US
* World naked bike ride came by in Brussels
...and then finally foreign news: the terrorist attack at Glasgow
ok I can apprecciate nicely splitting Belgian news from foreign news, and I know we have a bit more relaxed view on terrorism than other countries that actually have been under attack...but hey, couldn't they have had their priorities nevertheless just a little pit out of order?? Dugh!
It always brought a special atmosphere. A happy and excited and energetic one, yet also mixed with a bit sadness and nostalgia. I remember afternoons on the warm playground, making plans for the summer in order to meet friends, excited dreaming about the summercamps and vacation travelling we would be doing...I remember dances and other outside entertainment we were doing in primary school since there really was no point in serious classes anymore those last days and we probably had a "thank" mass at school as well. I was in a catholic school after all.
In high school we had had exams and there was always a few days gap in between the last exam and the last school day in which we were already free at home anyway, so basically vacation had already unofficially started. Then we had to come back for half a day in which we had to collect our report cards, clean up the classroom and empty it, bring back our books (in which we had spent hours erasing our pensil notes the free days before if we wanted to be able to sell them back to the school or directly to a lower grade student) and all our notes needed to be bundled nicely course by course. Then we had to line up class by class to bring our cardboard archive boxes into the schools basement. They had to be stored there for a couple of years in case government inspection came by (they have to make sure we truly studied something at school, right, hence they can pick out a student and check all the school notes of 6 years!) (in the mean time I've received them back and they are on my parent's attic somewhere). All of a sudden the classroom looked so empty, sterile after the many hours we had spent in it that year, the many stories we had gathered. It always gave me a weird feeling.
After the morning our vacation had truly started. yeah, freedom, exciting adventurs, here we came.
At university the picking up of report cards was a bit more nerve racking: we were all gathered in the main aula of the department and the deacon started first to call out the names of the students that passed with the highest marks and then lower and lower. If you failed, you were not called out loud. I was quite fortunate to hear my name each year relatively soon so my stress switched quickly to relief. But then your ears start listening to hear the names of good friends, ...the longer it took, the greater the stress on their faces.
After that, all of us ran out to a way too small office where we had to collect in great chaos our report cards to see the details of our results. Obviously there was no cleaning of rooms done by us, but the vacation period also called the end of a year, some goodbyes to friends that were changing courses or schools, ....
Right now, I am a working girl. The idea of 2-3 months of vacation are just a wishful dream. I get vacation when I take some vacation but unfortunately never that long. Nevertheless I often catch myself to still think that a year starts in september and ends in the summer. I confuse other people about stating having done this last year, when it was just before the summer, etc... Hey, I was in school for >20 years, I cannot shake that feeling off so easily!
The last 2 years I worked on an ERP implementation project. That has officially ended "last year" in December and since January I am part of the IS team. However in reality, the ancient team was still sharing an office in the 'chalet' still working on some follow-up smaller projects. But last Thursday we had to empty the chalet because it is used as a company day-care during summer. So I had to pack up my stuff and move truly to the IS department. And for the first time after 3,5 years in this job I won't be working directly with my ex-boss again. And we said goodbye to some consultants that have worked with us over the last 2 years as well. It was a little bit the end of the schoolyear in my job as well. Let's hope summer vacation will be as exciting as in the past!
Friday, June 29, 2007
For all of you that are big fans of the funny outfits from 70ies disco music, for all of you who get excited whenever you hear the village people or Boney M or Abba, for those who can't stop dancing silly dances including the obligatory hand movements at weddings, for those of you who secretly sing along on pathetic Dutch , Flemish or German schlagers or "smartlappen" in their car, for all Eurovision song contest freaks, ....
....the most important radio event of the year is going on today. You can join in for the last 3 hours (until 4 PM CET I think) to hear the "Wrong top 128" (de foute 128) at q-music. It's the sixth edition this year and it has become quite famous. Wrong music is coooooool in Belgium. We love it. Yeaaaaah we especially brought a radio in our office not to miss it! Let's shake and sing and have fun.
And if you are too late, you can still check the list and download songs here. Apparently the party tonight in Ghent is totally sold out after some line ups in the record stores.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
2 days ago I was still convinced that the diagnosis of the moved bone was wrong and that my tendon was infected and that I'd need a cast to make it rest. Or if the bone was indeed moved, that I'd need some surgery to move it back and that I'd need a cast as well.
So hopefully all is back normal after one week? we'll see.
Monday, June 25, 2007
But not anymore, I am getting tired of a painfull wrists that limits your movements much more than you think. Grrrr, 'silly bone', what an euphimism. And what if it is a infection after all? I'll go back in a couple of days if nothing changes. In the mean time I'll limit my blogging since it's difficult to type and I'll have to reserve my typing time to work unfortunately.
But I am not the only one: Jan is suffering since a week from a painfull neck due to some "silly spinals". He got it X-rayed this morning and is awaiting the results. So check us out in the evening, each with a hot cherrypit pillow :p... We must be getting old.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Today the pain was some moments making it impossible to type at work or to put the palm of my hands down...but a bit later it was gone again. Very weird.
The doctor gave me the answer this evening: my pisiform bone had moved out of place. Oh great, how on earth did that happen? We'll never know but those things can happen. Anyway, there is no clear solution for it either. I have to soak my hand in warm water and massage it a bit and then apply some relaxing anti-infection cream. And repeat that until it gets better. So if you excuse me now, I'll go and bore myself a bit in the kitchen while I soak my hand in the kitchen sink until it's all rimpled :p .
- couldn't fall asleep at time since I had been so dumb as to drink a coupld of glasses Coke that evening
- Had to go to the toilet at 1.30 AM
- The curtain dropped on the floor at 3.40 AM. The clips couldn't hold the weight of the heavy curtain anymore and obviously it gave up in the middle of the night!! Murphy's law, huh! I had to search for an eye mask to keep it dark for me to get back to sleep
- Heavy thunderstorm starts at 4 AM. Had to run around to close a window and couldn't fall asleep
- Had to go to the toilet again.
- Had to get up one hour earlier than usual to get at work earlier for meetings
combined with already some lack of sleep, some PMS, exhausting and demanding meeting marathons, .... => I was drop-dead tired the last days. But the good news is, I was even too tired to keep up my bad habit of going to bed too late. I was so tired, I could only sleep and as a result, I am starting to catch up.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I already posted a youtube video about his amazing first audience in this contest a couple of days ago. It was awesome as you could see a little black duck transform into a swan when he started singing much to the visible amasement of the jury. They clearly didn't expect anything from this badly dressed, modest, insecure nervous man. The faces of the jury were priceless when he started to sing. (check out my previous video). So cool that he actually won the contest and got a record contract. What an experience for this guy who was an anonymous sales guy a couple of weeks ago! And thankx to youtube he's already internationally famous. Cool.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
But not in Belgium. We have plenty of political parties, not always that different from each other. And they all have an associated color (most of them are internationally used, also in the Netherlands, Germany, ...). Socialists are obviously red and will always show up at press conferences with red backgrounds, or red dresses or .... Liberal parties treasure their blue color. Christian democrats in Europe are orange. Ecological parties have obviously green logo's and symbols, .... Since our government has to be made up by a coalition, it is easier to name the coalition with colors and not the partie names combination. Only orange is replaced by "Roman" referring to Rome => the vatican => the ancient long disappeared association with the "Christian" aspect of their name. So 8 years ago we got a purple/green government : liberals with socialists and the green partie. 4 years ago the green party got beaten up in the elections and we had a purple government. This purple government got seriously defeated last Sunday. So all new potential color combinations are getting studied right now: Roman-blue? Roman-red-green? A very big rainbow coalition?
It's going to be quite interesting...as always. The cards have been shaken a lot more than was expected. You have to know that our parliament has Flemish and Wallonian representatives. In the north of the country we can vote only for Flemish political parties and representatives. In the south of the country they can vote for frenchspeaking political parties and representatives. And traditionally we vote very differently. And we don't even know each others politicians well. And the political programs are very different across the language border anyway. The Flemish socialists SP.A are not linked to the Wallonian PS, etc etc...
Nevertheless the coalition has always made up symmetrically across the country so far. This time however the Christian Democrats have had a big victory in Flanders, whereas their southern counterparts are not that big. In Wallonia the liberals are the big winners....who have lost in Flanders. Let's see if that works out again.
I bet it will be long negotiations all summer to make up a government program that everybody agrees too. All Flemish political parties want further restructurations of our democratic institutions, making the different regions more autonome than they already are. Especially the Flemish Christian Democrats made that their principal electoral promise. They are even allied with a separatist party. The irony is that such changes in the constitution need 66% majority on each side of the language border. So either they make a huge coalition with at least 6 polical parties ...or they have to break their major promise already. But how could they convince all those other parties to join them without major give-ins on other points then? So actually it's not so bad to be less big anyway: they are needed so they do have a strong negotiating position.
Anything is still possible. A lot of people actually seem fairly amused. Yves Leterme, the expected prime minister to be is not loved by everybody and so they are expecting him to struggle a lot, ...with some amusement.
To make it even more interesting: those same political parties make up the regional governments as well. So they could be an ally in the federal government and lead opposition against them in the region. Just to make it more complex. You wonder why so many people loose track in Belgium and become anti-political!
It's actually quite interesting to see the Flemish blogosphere and media. It seems to be quite "purple" colored: Lien, i. , Ann openly say they vote red, Huug seems very blue minded, also Michel and the sponzen ridder don't seem enthousiastic about the election result. Actually that feeling seems to be reflected in all newspapers and comments at work etc as well. Somehow I have the feeling that nobody wanted the uppercut for the socialists and liberals to be that big. So you wonder where the heck all those "tsjeven" (nickname for 'christian' conservative voters) live?
I didn't think our 'purple' government was that bad either, it had its ups and downs as does every government. But all by all I think they did a good job. I am fairly suspicious for the christian democrats, I was missing any positive specific program points to support. I definately don't like their seperatistic ally! But on the other hand, since all our governments are made up by coalitions, all extremes are usually faded out anyway and we get a fairly stable ruling. So it should be ok.
And I think it is natural for politics to change after x years. 8 years seems to be the expiration time of any government: Martens was our prime minister for longer than that but had to step down, Dehaene was our prime minister for 8 years, Verhofstadt was our prime minister for 8 years. Clinton could rule for 2 periods, I am convinced that Bush will not start a 3rd period either. Tony Blair had to step down after x years, .... I think it is healthy as well for a society to change. Power for too long makes corrupt and lazy.
Additionally, in the 90ies the socialists seemed to get in power everywhere in Europe: Tony Blair, Schröder in Germany, Jospin in France, ... And now we are shifting to the right all over: Tony Blair looses elections in UK, Wouter Bos lost in the Netherlands and Christian Democrat Balkenende is prime minister, Angela Merkel (christian democrat as well...CDU???) is chancellor in Germany, Sarkozy beats Ségolène Royal big time in France. Interesting to see those international links , huh??? Although I do regret that shift to the conservative, non-tolerant right!! Let's hope the swing will swing back in a couple of years huh?
In Flanders at least the Vlaams Belang, our racist extreme right seperatist party has lost a seat. After 16 years of growth, they seem to have reached the limits of their potential. Pheeeewww. That is the best news those elections have brought us! 3 cheers for that!
Hey..and it's not even sure yet that Yves Leterme will become prime minister yet...anything could happen in Belgium. Colorful and complex!
Colleague: "So what does the baby announce?
Me: Is that a question to me?
Colleague: Who else?
Me: baby? me?
Colleague: There is a baby no?
Colleague: I couldn't miss it.
Me: I am not pregnant!
Me: Ah, I feel very confused now.
Colleague: And since the counting down days are not there any more.
Colleague: Am I talking to someone else?
Me: I am goofball, your ex-colleage. I do not have children yet and I am not pregnant.
Me: And I never had an online status or picture referring to babies.
Colleague: Bizar, it says here that I am chatting with Catherine!
Me: Haha, no no it's me Goofball.
Me: Very weird!
Colleague: Very very weird!
Me: So you are E. right...or am I talking to someone else as well?
Colleague: I'll try to talk to Goofball who is on my list as well.
Colleague: yes yes, I am E.
Me: oh yes, very exciting!
Colleague: It says that you are in a meeting now and you don't respond!
Me: haha that was not me, I did not get any message.
Me: Very bizar.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Nevertheless I can appreciate all the drama that is linked to those debates and campaigns , as long as it isn't only about criticising the other. I appreciate political parties that come with a positive energising program.
On the day itself you see all the people coming out, walking around with their little white voting letter. It's like a big event: everybody comes out in the streets and since it's usually useless to drive up there, you see people walking and on their bikes all streaming together in public places like schools, sportshalls etc... You have to understand that Belgians don't have the right to vote, they have a duty or obligation to vote. So we must all get out of the door in those couple of hours on Sunday morning ! So it's a big procession of people going and returning and then meeting each other and waiving with a loud encouragement "vote for the good ones , eh!".
And then the tv shows start. I pity the journalists that need to keep on filling all the time even before any serious results are in.
And then the drama starts again: first the smaller personalities of all political parties give first reactions usually stating that they can't say anything yet since the results are still very provisional. After more pushing by the journalists, they slowly start admitting to the trends that they are seeing and reacting cautiously to the losses/wins. The more final the results are, the more big personalities show up in the different tv-shows. You litteraly see them running from one tv station to another, to their party offices (to check which is the official reaction ...with journalists on their heels) and back on the screen.
First the losing political parties give a reaction with maybe an emotional goodbye and at the very end of the evening (hey, it's all about timing and suspense), the winning party makes its entry with a lot of applause, claiming their electoral victory.
What a drama :p. You gotta see the fun of it all. And it's such an essential part of our democratic process!
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Four new things I have learned or experienced in the past four years:
1. 4 years ago I was really not happy in my job anymore. I felt that I did not get the opportunities that I deserved and it made me loose my self-confidence. Instead of going for the opportunities myself, I started hiding myself in the office, sucking myself into self-pity. In the end I did change jobs but only after feeling miserable for a long time.
I think I learned from the occasion that hiding is not a solution at all. When I say "I learned" it does not mean that I always stand up for myself either. I have to remind myself each time I feel less happy in a situation at work. But I know that I won't let the situation drag as long as before. I'll stand up for myself quicker or I'll search for another job. At least, I should when I need to.
2. I learned to paint, plaster, decide on designs and decorations, ... In the last 2 years I helped Jan and my father-in-law transform our house from an old neglected place to a modern minimalistic home. We've spent a lot of our weekends working in the house and you'll see that we are not professionals. I have to learn to accept that we cannot do it all perfect and that I will always see those spots that didn't really work out as I want. But nevertheless I cannot say how proud I am to have helped on putting floor heating in, dragging bags of sand around, making plaster, plastering edges and corners, painting, ... It's so fulfilling to work on your own house!
3. I learned how to dive :-) . Hurray for me and the underwater world. hellooo fishies.
4. I moved out on my own, rented my own appartment, learned to cook for myself, get all my household chores organised for myself, etc... And then I moved in with Jan this winter in our renewed house and we are now managing our household of 2.
Four things that I want to try to do in the next four years:
1. Do some sports: I want to do aerobics again and I want to be able to bike around Leuven without grasping for breath at every little hill. I should do a start to run program as well in which you learn step by step to run 5 km.
2. Learn a new instrument or get active again in playing the flute. That might not be in the coming year though, but I want to join a choir in the near future again.
3. Design and build our little garden
4. Get local friends in Leuven
I tag the following four people:
1. Betsy: I hope you get your internet sorted out soon!
2. Jenn in Holland
3. Julia : I dare you to bring your blog to life again ;)
4. Chui Hsia
6. Leen blogging life from her project in India!
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
And it was fun being at a big international tournament with teams from 16 countries of the world and also multinational spectators.
Kenya - Fiji in Final Bowl
Kenya - Fiji once more
It must have been a tough weekend for this Canadian fan: the Canadian team has lost all games
Hmm was Kazachstan playing??? Even Borat was watching!
And at the end of the final he managed to pass security and run on the field.
The Kiwi's celebrating the New-Zealand tournament victory and at the same time their series victory with a traditional haka
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Thank goodness that I memorised carefully with my colleague some alternative tiny roads through the villages along the national road I usually take. Thank goodness the concert fans didn't want to venture all out through the small roads, so it ended only being a delay of 20 mins. Pheww. And for a while, once I had passed Boortmeerbeek and Haacht I felt like a lonely alien stubbornly going in the opposite direction. Hahha and now I know yet another bypass of a busy slow road. Sorry people living there, you might see my Maes car coming by more often.
Gosh, I wonder what it would have been like if the concert had sold out. Pretty amazing that such a concert couldn't get sold out huh? But I do wonder what will happen in 3 weeks when the one of the biggest rock festivals in Europe kicks off again. I sure hope that those 60000 people each day will arrive a bit spread out throughout the 4 days and will take public transport. I am more worried about TW Classic going on the week afterwards! but I am fairly save now with my bypass roads memorised!
3. Toasts and speeches