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Putting an off day to good use

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Since I've a day off I somehow decided to make the best of it. Even though it's not even 9:30 yet, I'm already doing laundry (sheets, shirts will be done later today), and I've potted a small piece of plant I removed from a larger plant as I was trimming it earlier during the week. It should grow fine in the new pot.

That's it for now, not much else to report.

Oh, if you - or someone you know - may be interested in taking a large lot (100+ up to 1400) of erotic/adult/porn DVD's off my hands, let me know and I'll be in touch. Price is open to discussion depending on number of DVD's purchased. I've got "brand new (sealed)" as well "as as good a new (unsealed)" and "unpacked (no box)", though the latter are the minority. Buyer(s) are preferably located in Europe in regards to shipping cost.

If a good trade is offered, that may be considered as well.

Lightbringer

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As I found out late last night that I wasn't scheduled to go in for work today, on this last day of 2013, I kept busy at home.

My neighbor came ringing because he had noticed two roof tiles had come off during a rather intense storm a couple of days ago. I hadn't even spotted it! Luckily, I had invested in a long ladder a while ago, so putting them back into place was pretty straightforward. Even better is that the neighbor offered to do that for me :)

As that was taken care of, I decided to check if any water had found it's way through the holes during the past rainy days, so I headed to the attic. No obvious water damage to be found, luckily, but I did notice that in one of the rooms of the (for now unused) attic there was no light, yet electrical cable clearly was available.

Taking into account that I decided to finally put up a light fixture in the kitchen as well - I could have done so ages ago, but always found more fun things to do - I tackled both today. While working the lighting, I ran two loads of laundry, since that needed no further input from me. I've got light in the attic now, and then fixture in the kitchen is also installed and working fine. I did find out however, that none of the bulbs I had at home fits, and heading off to the shop, didn't really remedy the issue, lol. I managed to buy more sizes that don't fit :) There's definitely no waste though, as they'll fit in other fixtures.

That leaves me with one last thing to do : Wish you the best and may 2014 bring you the ability to look at problems with an open mind, roam as a free spirit and live your life the way you like. Health and prosperity for all, you reap what you sow.

Happy 2014!

Reflections

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A while ago, I was telling someone how I invested in an organization that offers micro credit to new entrepreneurs or small businesses, often based in third world countries. These starting companies either lack access to mainstream bank funding, are considered too high of a risk, or are being developed in countries with an unstable political climate or society.

One of the responses I got was "Invested? That means you want to get a profit out of it too? You should just give your money to support them, if you care about the cause.", which I found rather bizarre. I wasn't in the mood to discuss it any further at the time, but I've been thinking about it nevertheless.

Let's see what the pro's and con's of a couple of options are, shall we?

Option 1 : put the same amount in a savings account.
Option 2 : invest the same amount into different mainstream stocks/stock market
Option 3 : invest the same amount in this micro credit organization
Option 4 : donate the same amount to a non-profit organization

Option 1
Pro : 1.85% gain/year (average inflation 2013 : 1.13%.) Net result : +0.72%/year
Pro : money available at all times (though that would severely impact yearly return)
Pro : rather safe, probably no risk for losses
Con : bank uses money to invest in various stocks and trades, of which some are certainly unethical.

Option 2
Pro : higher gains possible, the sky is the limit
Cons : 100% loss is absolutely possible
Cons : Time needed for research, needs regular fine tuning and follow up
Cons : Possible unethical investment if incorrectly researched, or hunting for highest ROI

Option 3
Pro : Invest in ethical organization and funding of those who need it most
Pro : Organization which has been in business for 20 years, of which the last 16 years with positive returns
Pro : yearly return of 3.35% to 4% (based on last 5 years, no guarantees). Net result : +2.22%/year (taking inflation rate into account)
Pro : one time tax benefit of 5% on invested amount
Pro : returns allow for other investments to be done or own life to be improved
Cons : 0%/year return is possible
Cons : 100% loss is possible, though highly unlikely
Cons : stock can only be sold first 6 months of year (less liquidity)

Option 4
Pro : Invest in ethical organization and funding of those who need it most
Cons : amount is no longer available for other investments
Cons : 100% loss is implied (it's a gift)
Cons : organization needs not "answer" to stock holders regarding projects and attribution of funds

Hence, why I decided to "invest" instead of making a gift. Agree? Don't agree? Feel free to let me know, I may have missed some valuable insights or points. I'd be happy to hear about them.

Last day off

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Even though my initial idea was to chill out today, I kept kinda busy instead. First I mailed of a postcard to congratulate someone on her upcoming birthday, then I stopped over at the bank to get an issue resolved (caused by my own stupidity that is), then I did some shopping.

After completing the shopping run it was off to my garage to pick up an old TV set (which still should be in working order, though I ain't sure) and (almost) finally, off to my girlfriends place to do some stuff there as well. After all that was done, I dropped off the old TV at the thrift store so they can check it out and repair if needed and as such help someone who may actually use it. That always beats throwing old but still working things out adding to the ever increasing pile of waste, doesn't it?

Home now, listening to the Nostalgie New Wave top 100. Hey it's not electro or EBM, but New Wave is quite enjoyable too :) Many of the songs in the top I wouldn't strictly call New Wave though, but labeling stuff is so overrated anyway so who cares? I'm enjoying it...

I don't do facebook,

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but I have to admit it's a superb source of (often unintended) humor.

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Inner security geek nerd

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I recently ran into an online action site, selling various items from bankruptcies. While some items at first seem very cheap, it all comes down to how much interest they generate, just like when you bid on something on for instance ebay.

I did manage to pick up an entry-level DVR and camera system though, which I plan on toying around with. If it all works as planned - after extensive testing and updating - I may very well incorporate it in the current security setup already in place.

It appeals to my inner geek as well as my inner security nerd, so I really had no way to resist this offer, grin.

Ah, so it seems I skipped posting here altogether in August, lol.

I don't even recall what I've been up to on Saturday (I think it consisted mostly in lazy hanging about) but Sunday we went to a flea market - didn't buy anything, but enjoyed the nice weather - and then I moved 13 bags of waste out of my garage (not in use) so they can be picked up on Monday. Apart from that I've also filled a huge cardboard box with old paper and more cardboard and stuffed it in the trunk of my car. I'll have that picked up on Tuesday.

So, you might wonder where the heck I got 13 bags of waste all of a sudden? Well, on Friday as I was over at the apartment anyway, I decided to take a look into the garage, which I hadn't opened in like 6 months, maybe even longer. When I cleared out the apartment, I moved a ton of things there, meaning to either use them, or clear they out, but that obviously didn't happen till just now. It's strange how time flies and boxes never get unpacked, ain't it?

Am I finished? Far from I think, though most of is is out of the way now. I believe there's still an old 28" TV sitting there (weighs a ton) and some random boxes that need to be checked and or tossed into the bin, but if I put a couple of more hours in, I should have the garage clean a available for rent by the end of lets say October. Yeah, October 2013 that is, lol.

I've checked the going rates of similar places in the neighborhood and truth be said, they're depressing me. On the other hand, there is practically no further upkeep or taking care of to be done, and the yearly extra income would pay for one month of mortgage on the apartment. Guess it's something, right?

Truth be said, I often wonder if I didn't overstep it when I decided to just keep the apartment and get my new place. It's not that the mortgage is killing me (for now) but renting out is not just collecting rent and sitting on your ass, especially if the property has reached a certain age and starts needing refurbishing, repairs and investments.

I also was under the misconception that I owed the bank just 36 more months of mortgage, but I just checked and it's 55. Don't know where that brain fart came from...

Where has he gone?

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I know I haven't been around for the past two/three weeks... There was a good reason for it though. We've spent a very enjoyable holiday abroad and after returning home, I felt so recharged I promptly decided to tear down my toilet and start rebuilding. Yes, I know... I haven't finished the bathroom, and it probably would have been "wiser" to continue that project first, but I'm kind of stubborn every now and then, ain't I? Besides, I was looking for a "short and easy" project to fill the last 5 days before heading back off to work.

Apparently though, the toilet rebuild hasn't turned out to be so "fast and easy", and truth be said, one gets bored taking a dump on a bucket (lol, though no kidding), but I've finally reached a stage where I see things change for the better.

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Pleased

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Since I'm off from work today, and I had several things to do and places to visit, I decided to take the new bike for a short ride. My total ride was just over 10km, so it would have been a stupid idea to take the car out, especially taking into consideration all shops were located in the city center and everyone knows how easy it is these days to find a parking spot nearby.

So, go up early(ish), read mail, grabbed bike and set off. I didn't bother putting on the special pants or top since it was to be a short ride anyway, and the temperature wasn't so high to begin with. Here's a short overview of my activities and commentary :

Stop 1 : The bank. Placed bike right in front of the building. The bicycle stand wasn't fit for the width of my MTB wheels though, bummer.
Stop 2 : Bicycle point. Drove bike right into the shop and had it registered (is supposed to help prevent theft and recovery when found).
Stop 3 : Computer store. No bicycle stand near, so parked it in front of the shop.
Stop 4 : Locksmith. No bicycle stand near, so attached bike to a nearby traffic sign.

Yep, a smooth ride and good service everywhere. I'm pleased :)

Stamina - or rather the lack of...

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Let's face the facts, shall we? I've reached - give or take - the halfway point in my life, I'm overweight and terribly lazy when it comes to working out. I'd rather sit on my ass and do stuff on the computer that involves brain activity opposed to actual physical workout. I dislike walking, am no fan of team sports such as soccer, and running is definitely out of the question.

Swimming is pretty intensive and fun, but usually involves a whole routine before you can actually do it - I sure don't have a swimming pool of sufficient size at home, maybe you do? - and while bedrooms sports are even more fun, requires little to no planning and/or specialized gear (a participating partner will do), it kinda gets hard when you're home alone (pun intended).

So what's left? Martial arts? Been there, done that. Power lifting or workouts at home? Ditto.

I must say I've always liked jumping on my bike and riding around, especially at a good pace, though not racing. Convinced now is the time to actually step up and do something about my shape, BMI and total apathy when it comes to sport, the answer is this.

I plan on taking it for spins regularly, as my girl likes riding her bicycle too, so whenever we're able we may head out for some fun. No, not that kind of fun, although ;-)...

Today I picked it up and already took it for a short spin in the evening sun, after I installed my bike computer, the sensors and such. I didn't grab the heart rate monitor yet, but will do so starting tomorrow. I didn't need a monitor today though : it was pretty clear that after doing a mere 5.3km's in about 15 minutes I was beat. Average speed of 21.6km with a top of 26.8km/h and zero stamina, lol. I hope to see that improve over time though.

41.000 people can't be wrong

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Who am I to give people advice regarding their finances, or finances in general? I'm but a regular guy who happens to read up on things every now and then, so basically I know about as much about finances and financial institutions as you.

I however also happen to be someone who tends to back projects and ideas that make sense to me, and as such I'm pointing out NewB.Coop to you today. The idea is to start and license a brand new cooperative bank in Belgium, with specific ideas and values. Will they (or we, as I'm already a cooperative member) make it? Will we be able to go from an idea to an actual bank? I don't know, and nor do they. I like the idea though, and as such I decided to get involved.

What do I have to lose? €20,- and two hours of my time. The two hours aren't even mandatory, but I opted to go to their presentation in my hometown, to get some extra info and meet some other (potential) members and hear Marc Bontemps present his ideas.

Does the idea of a cooperative bank in Belgium sounds solid? Does it interest you? Go take a look at www.ikbankmee.be or newb.coop, and make up your mind on whether or not you want to join the 89 organizations already involved as well as the +41.000 private members.

Whoa, where did that come from?

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Maybe it's the sun finally really being present that has given me extra energy, but as I wrapped up a full day in training, I decided to pop round the shop to get new soil for some plants that could do with a larger pot and new nutrition. I also picked up a new pot and plan to get them all changed tomorrow.

Then, as I was watching TV, I sifted through a stack of papers that had somehow organically grown to a huge pile and shredded what I no longer needed and gathered those still of some value. Why now? Because they'll be picking up scrap paper in the morning and I may as well get rid of it today, right?

Don't know how long this bout of energy will last, so I better do something with it now!

Weekend @Lommel

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Spent the weekend cycling in the region of Lommel, where we had booked a hotel for the night with the kids. We rented the bikes and were very impressed by the quality of them, so we had a ton of fun cycling in the area and near the canal. After a 3 hour trip we returned to the village for some drinks and ice cream, and then it was time to check in at the hotel. After freshening up - we did, not too certain the two girls bothered, lol - we headed out for dinner and had a very nice meal at 't Stadhuis if I recall correctly.

Unfortunately, a good night's rest was a bit hard to get since a bunch (around 20) of young German girls that were staying in the hotel as well found it fitting to run around and be noisy till 23:30 and even louder and more noisy when they got back up at 06:30 and gathered their stuff and headed off to breakfast. A stern warning in fluent German by my girl didn't do much to change their behavior, so we decided to just ignore them altogether. Unfortunately, I woke up with a pretty painful back, so I skipped the "blotevoetenpad" walk in the afternoon. The three of them enjoyed the walk though and I had refreshing brinks ready when they returned, which was very welcome going by the time it took to finish it.

A quick bite along the route later we arrived back home, having enjoyed a superb weekend away with the kids, whom really behaved themselves very well (apart from occasional "I'm tired", "I'm hungry", "Can we go now?", "Can we stay?" whines, grin).

Work continues

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Making the best of my day off, I've cleaned up most rubbish on the building site and truth be said, it looks much better now. I've also requested pickup for the big bag filled with another 1.5 ton of construction waste, and with that out of the way, I think I'll pick up another empty bag for the rest of the work that needs to be done, which would then bring the total weight moved out in waste and rubbish to 4.5 tons. Rather impressive, ain't it?

I don't even dare think how much material I've bought and used so far, let alone what I'll need over the coming months, grin.

Next on the (still long) list : install floor and heating, build supports for the bathtub and raise shower wall, wire the complete bathroom, install drains and water and probably a ton of other things.

It's been a while

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Yep, it has indeed been a while since I last updated this blog. I don't know if I've lost interest in it, or I just don't feel like sharing anymore, but the lack of updates hasn't been due to a certain dullness in my life. In fact, quite some things happened in the past weeks.

One of the major happenings was a birthday celebration, which was quite a surprise thanks to my girl. She had arranged for us to meet up with friends so it was a nice 8 person party as all the kids were there too (yay for all hanging out!). I've already said thanks to her, but really, I have to thank everyone for the very nice birthday I had. I enjoyed it very much and will enjoy it again soon when some the gifts are put to good use.

What else is new? Well, I have continued working on the house a bit more - in fact I'm only writing this update because the wireless screwdriver is recharging as it had run out - and I've finally solved a technical issue that needed resolve. Actually, that's not entirely true. I was just plain lazy and the cold and rain didn't really allow for much work to be done. The theoretical solution to the issue was found weeks if not months ago, but only yesterday and today I've started putting that into a practical solution and guess what : it works :)

I had planned on completing an essential part today, but due to some issues at work yesterday, I wasn't able to do as much as I wanted, so it was mainly preparation for today. Today proved to be too cold to build using glue, so that another set back, but since (almost) everything is now ready to use, once the weather picks up I can finish and make a phone call to get a window installed (finally, right?).

Why the sudden burst of activity? A certain large female pussycat has been whispering in my ear that she wouldn't mind taking a bath in a brand new bathroom someday. Well honey... I can't promise it'll happen this year (lol) but progress has been made, grin.

On a totally different note, the links below all have something to do with occurrences since my last update. Feel free to browse them.

taxonweb - skoda - Lampiris Coop - NewB.Coop

Oh, wonderful

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You know, getting woken up at 4AM because an employee calls in ill, sounds bad to most, but I'll try looking at it like this : I've got a long day still and plenty of time to get things done. Or so I thought.

Ready to leave for work, the car won't start. It makes an attempt, but they the display throws up a failed injection pump error. Nice, exactly what one needs on a Monday morning, especially since a visit to the garage was planned anyway later this week. Guess I'll be wasting my time at the garage earlier. While waiting for assistance to arrive, I'll be updating my mobile phone with new firmware (yes, jelly bean 4.1.2 is finally available here). I definitely hope that doesn't break either.

Oh, on a side note : it's bloody cold! I rarely suffer from being cold, but really... it's insane today. I feel as if I'm freezing!

A slight miscalculation

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Apparently, all the issues I wrote about in the last post, are invalid for now. With all the figures and dates I managed to overlook that the mortgage rate review is not this year, but in 2014. Ah well, with that out of the way, everything's back to normal.

No stress - let's go for that

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It's been a while since the last update, and that mostly is because nothing shocking has been going on in my life to be honest. Is there nothing to tell at all then, you may wonder? Well, there always is, but it's just mundane, boring stuff.

So, what about the (near) future? Well, if I knew what the future was bringing, I probably wouldn't be sitting here, but I'd either be out enjoying myself as if it were my last day on this planet, or well... doing the same :)

There is one thing that really irks me though. I've still not received a final calculation regarding taxes filed last year, and I'd really like to know what is expected to be received or I still owe. Going by my calculations, I'd be getting money back, but one never knows with taxes, do you? Anyway, the reason I'd like to know what's up is that I'll be making some rather important decisions regarding my mortgage(s) in about the next week or so, and it would really help to know what my financial limitations are. It would be pretty dumb to partially repay the mortgage, and then ending up owing the government money, resulting a complete lack of financial buffer. On the other hand, if I end up getting money back, I could invest that and as such lower my overall and monthly cost.

I suppose that if I have no final outcome before decision time is due, I'll just base it on what I know now and not fret about it anymore. No stress - let's go for that.

Extreme couponing? Not really...

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Went shopping today and spent a total of 24,61 euro. However, since I was promo shopping, I'll be getting a refund of 15,31 euro, and I gained 6 points on my loyalty card on those refunded products, which represents another 6 cent. Total savings : 24,61/15,37 = 60,11%

In case you now think "but you probably bought a bunch of stuff you otherwise wouldn't have", I disagree. Everything I bought is useful, although I wouldn't have bought it if it wasn't refunded, that I admit. On the other hand, food is food, and one needs to eat anyway, so why not try something different and afterwards just revert to the brands and things you like?

Yes, all the promotions are of course attempts to lure customers to a specific brand, hoping they'll stick to it in the future. Unfortunately for them, I rarely fall for that kind of marketing.

Bankshopping

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Earlier this year I scheduled a number of appointments with banks representatives in the area I currently live to see if they could get me a better deal on the mortgages I currently have. On Friday I had the first of two scheduled visits and the first banker told me after studying my files and numbers that they wouldn't be able to do better, taking into account the rather large cost involved in ending the current mortgage and opening a new one at another bank.

The banker I was scheduled to see in the afternoon turned out to be on holiday, so that meeting was moved to today. The weekend had no obligations but relaxing with the girlfriend - spent the day in a wellness center, followed by a night in a hotel - and meeting up with old friends on Sunday. Monday however, three more appointments on the agenda, of which two are already past me as I type out this entry.

Unless something drastically changes this afternoon - which I doubt - the final conclusion of reviewing the finances by 4 competing institutions is as follows : the rates I currently have are pretty sharp. I had a meeting with my own banker earlier today and they confirmed that - even with plummeting and all time low rates nowadays - it would be hard to beat the current deal.

So, what does the future bring? Once the time to renew rolls around, the monthly mortgage payment for mortgage 1 will drop considerably - although I'll probably opt to shorten the remaining time instead of lowering the monthly cost - and as such be debt free on that one sooner.

Mortgage 2 has a fixed rate and that is not too bad at all, so it'll probably stay as is.
Mortgage 3 has a yearly adjustable rate, which will drop considerably, due to the current lows. I hope to be able to clear a small portion of that debt as well, which should help in either further bringing down the monthly cost, or shorten the remaining term. How much I'd be able to repay shall depend on the tax return result I'm still waiting for, unfortunately.

Was all the time invested worth it? As some of you may know, I do value my time, and as such you could say that the hours spent have not really given me much of return. On the other hand, I've learned a lot, have made it clear that I'm not scared to speak up and compare institutions, which accounts for something too. I'd say... yes, it was worth it. It's always worth knowing and understanding your finances.

Video release soon

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I just finished the - probably - final first version of the videoclip I was working on for the studio recording of "No No No" (blue blot) by After Six. Once I know it's to their liking, I'll provide a link to it, probably hosted on their youtube channel.

Note : I need a proper story board, script and better (or more) video equipment if we plan on doing more clips in the future. It turned out to be acceptable for a first clip, but there's lots of room for improvement in the future. Then again, the clip wasn't scheduled or planned at all, and the only footage available was shot with a low cost handycam in the studio.

Beware, the Germans are coming*

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Packing my bag for a trip to Berlin, attending a wedding. I'll be back before you know it :)

Hope the weather is better as it is here : rainy and coldish.

* Wait... I'm going over to there, they ain't coming here. lol.

September so far

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I managed to catch a rabbit - the type with legs, long ears and a small tail, not the battery operated kind - earlier today. As I had safely tucked it in a rather large plastic box so it could relax a bit, I saw my neighbor looking around outside. It turns out it was their next door neighbors bunny. All things ended up swell, and the bunny has returned home. I won't be having rabbit for dinner though - folks, that's just a joke. I wouldn't eat it, it was too skinny ;)

I'm looking at a busy life in the upcoming weeks, right now my agenda contains a date where we're gonna see a play (braakland/zhebuilding), a movie (premiere of Skyfall, the new James Bond movie), take a 4 day trip to Germany (attending a wedding), studio time for the band my girl sings lead in, attend another wedding, and then I have to see if I can find a mutual spot where we can visit my sister still. I'll try to get that sorted this weekend, coz those meetings are always very enjoyable.

Drilling, cutting, grinding

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I'm covered in brick dust, when I blow my nose anything that comes out is red, and I suppose that if I take a dump in a couple of days, that too will have a nice red color. Yesterday I went out and bought myself two angle grinders, a 125mm and a large 630mm one, and I'm putting them to good use today. Yes, I could have just called my dad and borrowed his grinder(s), but I decided to go out and get my own material since I know how it goes : I borrow them and then they sit here for weeks on end unused and he can't use them if he needs them at home.

So I invested in the continuity of my ongoing renovation project instead. Taking a short break now, then it's back of to the salt mines :p

Update : the support beam is in and I'm pretty sure it won't fall down overnight. First thing to do after putting in a support beam : bang your head against it. Repeatedly.

Who said anything about the heat?

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So, Egypt... I've gotten quite a few questions on how our holiday was and most of the time I start talking about the heat first, followed by our frequent trips to the toilet, a visit in a local hospital and a snorkeling trip we made. Was that all that was to it? No, probably not.

Those are the most memorable things that spring to mind first though. Our trip by plane was rather uneventful and smooth, but after we arrived we got stuck in a bus for a good thirty minutes because we were waiting for a police escort. Around 23h30 - or was it even later, I don't recall - we finally arrived in the hotel and had something to eat. The first impression of the hotel was good, and the food was quite OK too. Service was good and friendly but I'll get back to that later. The room turned out to be spacious, pretty nice but not exactly what we expected.

While we decided to book a family room with two separated chambers - after all, one would like some privacy too - it turns out that "separated" is a nifty concept in the eyes of a hotel owner or travel agency. As I talked to our Neckerman representative - the all knowing "Emiel" - it turned that according to them separated can be "on another level, but without any physical divider", "behind a door", "behind a curtain", and more of that kind of bullshit.

There was little point arguing with them over it and as he said he would make some calculations whether or not we could be moved to two rooms, and how much it would cost us, we decided to let him do so, knowing we would end up accepting this room anyway. That night was also the first time we had an argument between the two of us and it was not even all about the room, lol. Apparently, traveling for hours on end, being stressed and tired made us both recall things of the past which are then projected on the current partner who doesn't even know about them, or has nothing to do with said past. After a long and open talk we knew what was and what wasn't an issue and fell asleep, both aware of ourselves and better aware about the feelings and emotions of the other.

Saturday morning, hotel and travel agency info meeting where we were once again told that the running water was OK for showering, brushing teeth etc, but not for drinking. Got ya! Bottled water it was. The rest of the meeting was rather uninteresting, though we learned that of the two trips we would have considered making, one would cost us several hundred Euro extra to book for all four of us and a second one wasn't being organized due to issues in the Sinai desert which could lead to being kidnapped or held. Probably quite the experience, but we decided not to push our luck :)

Spent quite some time at the swimming pool(s) - which was very nice indeed - in the mornings, but once the clock hit around twelve, the temperature had reached around 44 degrees Celsius as well (in the shadows) so we usually went back in for food and then spent the next 3-4 hours in our air conditioned room, waiting for the sun to start setting around 4-5PM. Even with the sun setting, it remained a good 30 to 35 degrees, so it was plenty hot to stay in or around the pool till very late in the evening.

One day, while my girl was floating in the pool, suddenly she experienced quite some pain in her neck and within minutes was crying out in agony. It turns out she couldn't move her head anymore in two directions, so after trying to get it solved ourselves with some rest and aspirin unsuccessfully, I headed over to the reception and requested a doctor to be called in. Luckily for us, a fully equipped medical center was within 3 minutes of our hotel, so not before to long a doctor and male nurse showed up at our room and checked out her neck. They decided x-rays were in order to rule out any serious injury - which probably was more about getting more money from us then anything else, but really you're not gonna go argue with a foreign doctor while on holiday over a neck injury, and off to the medical center we went. A good hour later we were back in our room, with x-rays taken - nothing to be seen - and a muscle relaxant injected. She was already feeling better so there still was hope. Went to the pharmacy later that afternoon to pick up medicine and the pain diminished slightly every day.

Many hours were spent inside sleeping and resting so I read quite a couple of books while dividing my attention between the kids and making sure my girl was doing fine. Luckily, with kids aged 10 and 13 and them being pretty mature and smart, they do well on their own so apart from having to tell them several times a day to apply sunscreen and wearing a t-shirt in the pool, they did excellent. Thanks girls :)

Then while the neck/head was getting better, the ass was not, lol. The combination of using the water to brush the teeth - remember what Emiel said? - and the medicine which could have an effect on the digestive system, lead to my girl spending time in bed interrupted by a visit to the loo every 30 minutes or so. A problem that was only really fixed well after we got back from holiday and after visiting her doctor here. I was spared slightly and only had to run to the loo every two hours or so :)

As Thursday - one more day to go - rolled around, we had booked a snorkeling trip and luckily everyone was feeling a bit better so we went out and spent the day on a boat looking at fish. We even got to see a blowfish all blown up and floating just under the surface, pretty impressive!

Friday was spent packing and getting ready to back home and truth be said, we all were relieved we were heading back. The trip home was quite a bit longer - bus picked us up at 17h15, we put the key in the lock of the door at home just past 4AM - but hey... we've been in Egypt :)

Next year will probably be Iceland or so though :p

Oh, I almost forgot about the service in the hotel, how could I? All the waiters are trained to be friendly, which makes sense. However, greeting a guest 7-10 times over the course of a meal, is a bit much. Likewise for asking how the food is, saying "have a nice meal", "bon appetit", or "nice to meet you sir". We're not used to it, leave us alone. Ask once, then get the fuck out of there. It's good that we were leaving after a week, or I would have started returning the courtesy to them, greeting them every couple of minutes, asking them how their day was.

The batteries are dead

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I've been off from work for just over 14 days, part of that time was spent abroad (Egypt) far away from work, so one would assume my batteries are fully charged and I'm ready to start anew today.

Quite the contrary : I've not slept a minute peacefully because my brain wouldn't stop trying to wrap around all the crap my colleague briefed me on yesterday, and this morning around 5:15AM I'm faced with the first problem already, even before I started.

I really should hand everything in and go find something else to do, this is getting bloody insane.

I may write up a holiday post later, if I find the time for it, this week seems to be pretty busy already.

Massages

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A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon a deal that would allow my girl and I to learn how to give proper a Swedish massage, during a 21 hour course. I signed up on the deal for the both of us and on Thursday we went and talked with the man running the massage salon and offering the course. While it all seemed quite fishy to say the least, after spending about an hour talking to him, we were more or less convinced that it was legit, and my money wasn't just lost.

We picked a couple of dates we could make it and that fit his agenda and off we went. This morning we had our first class, but about 1.5h before it was about to start, my girlfriend gets a call that the teacher won't be able to make it. Once again we are doubtful when he tells us just to head over to the salon anyway, where two of his masseuses will be working and showing us how they work. We decided to do so, after reaching the understanding that if it's not what we expected - him not being there and all - we can take that session again without charge.

While today was supposed to be a "watch and learn" session, we actually got the chance to both do some massaging ourselves as the customers were rather open to us sticking around and learning the ropes.

We've got another 5 or so sessions to go, and by the end of that, we both should know rather well how to properly give a massage. It's a skill I've been wanting to pick up sooner or later and now I'm actually doing it.

City Tripping

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Last friday we did a city trip to Germany, Berlin to be more specific. We had been invited to the "jugend feier" of a niece, and decided to load up the car and drive over there. Berlin is not as close as one would like it to be, so after getting ready on friday morning, we hit the road around eleven AM and arrived in the hotel around 20h30, where we got a bite to eat and then set off to visit T., R. and N. even though it had been a long day and even longer drive.

The remainder of the day was filled mainly with chatting, after which we headed back off to the hotel for some well earned rest. The girls had been asked upfront to stay with their niece, so we had the rest of the night to ourselves. First thing that happened after we arrived in our hotel room was crashing the bed - apparently it was not built for a full grown male sitting down abruptly on the corner - and as such I found myself sitting on the mattress on the floor, lol.

We didn't bother calling in room service to get it fixed, we just lifted the whole thing back up, swapped some parts around and didn't fall through again. The rest of the night was spent sleeping like a baby :)

Saturday morning, trip with the U-bahn through Berlin to the venue where the jugendfeier was to be held, and I was enjoying myself quite a lot I must say. The weather was good, the company even better, and the jugendfeier itself was not too boring either. It had some speeches - I did pick some german over the years, but speeches are something else - but mostly performances and shows, so the 2 hours went by rather swiftly. Afterwards we strolled through Berlin towards the restaurant where a long afternoon was filled with more talking, laughter and superb food.

In the evening S. and I decided that I needed to be shown around in Berlin, so we hopped on the U-bahn once more - this time just the two of us - and set out to see Brandenburger Tor, walk Unter Der Linden and we even made it to the jewish memorial site. It would have been better if we were able to actually walk under the Brandenburger Tor, but that was impossible to several thousand insance soccer fans watching a game on the big screen there. Polizei everywhere and if it weren't for my girls' "charms" and superb German language skills, we wouldn't even have been allowed to pass to visit the jewish memorial site.

Uneventful U-Bahn trip back after visiting the East/West demarcation line - interesting fact that I observed : the U-Bahn stops in and leaves for a station in under 25 seconds, so you better hurry up - to the hotel. We decided to try the Berliner Kindl beer, of which I seem not to be such a fan and we threw our own private party while overlooking the city of Berlin observing soccer fans doing silly things whilst heading home.

Sunday morning we picked up the kids at T. and R. and set off for another long drive back home. We traveled a lot, but only one word wraps up the weekend quite nicely : fun.

Money should be functional

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It's been a long and stressful past couple of days, but I've managed to get through so far. Friday started very early and consisted mostly of waiting and sitting around in the hospital, but I was fine with that, I had taken the day off with that exact purpose. Saturday was filled with taking care of my girl, shopping, a school dance performance and visiting a brand new kid. Yes, I became the proud godfather of a small girl. J&M looked thrilled with their new daughter, and they should, she looked absolutely stunning :)

Just grabbed a bunch of paperwork that needed attention - purchasing and ordering stuff is fun, paying for it a bit less - and as such paid for our trip to Egypt, and paid for the insulation job that was finished two weeks ago. Couldn't find any other bills, so stopped paying right there, grin.

I should look into the best time frame to make this years pension fund deposit though, as I didn't do it right at the start of the year as I normally do.

Last day well spent

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My last day off from work was spent well I'd say : went to Vlissingen this morning and spent the day at the beach with the girl and kids. It was quite foggy when we arrived - we couldn't even spot the water from 5 meters out - but it cleared up nicely and around noon the sun broke through and started burning fiercely.

Applied plenty of sunblock and so far it seems I didn't burn too bad. Hope the slight red color will turn into a tan over the next couple of days.

That's it for now, gonna log and see if I can find all the gear I need to head back to work tomorrow.

Swiss cheese

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Someone is drilling about a hundred holes in my house as I write this entry, hence the reference to cheese. They'll - at least I expect them to do so - also fill those back up afterwards, once they're done insulating the cavity walls. This relatively small investment should pay off quite well over the course of time, with ever increasing energy prices. I'll never be able to make the current house a Low Energy House, because to do so would require extensive changes, which are realistically only possible when taken into account while building.

The cherry on top of the cake is the fact that 42% of my investment is paid for through various local and federal government grants.

In case anyone is interested : Pluimers Isolatie.

Cheese, cake... could it be that I'm slightly hungry? Off for a bite!

vkgoeswild

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Should have been in bed hours ago, but spent too much time listening to vkgoeswild at vkgoeswild.

Don't blame me if you spend a couple of hours listening to her work the piano like she does :)

-EPS +XPS +DUST everywhere

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I am probably the owner of the best insulated shutter enclosures (DIY that is) in the country, after finishing up today. It's been a long day of hard work, but sure enough it'll pay off I guess. I had to rip the current enclosure to shreds because someone deemed it necessary to use screws and nails randomly, to cover them up, before finishing off with a layer of paint. Sure enough that left me with no clues to find out how it all was built, let alone take a well thought through approach for disassembling it.

While closing off the cavity walls - which was the point entirely - I replaced the EPS insulation panels (Styrofoam) dating back from the 70's (I'm just guessing) with 40mm Jackodur XPS (extruded polystyrene foam) panels, which should give me better insulation value and a tighter fit (the old panels were sort of thrown in there, whereas I sealed everything up nicely).

So, what's left to do tomorrow? I have to get a large wooden panel, which I'll cut to the right size so I can build a new enclosure. Seems all to simple when compared to today's demolition derby, grin.

Note : using a circular saw inside is a bad idea. I'll be eating dust for weeks.

Yes, please!

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A wonderful home?

Sand and rocks included

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We stopped over at the travel agency on Saturday to take a look at the options for the summer holiday, taking into account our preferences and budget. The agency clerk was able to come up with a 7 night stay in Corfu for "only 200" euro above budget. We had her look up some other destinations and options, but the budget required only got higher as we progressed. We agreed on taking an option on the Corfu deal, but were rather convinced we should be able to find something ourselves within budget and "all-in".

Sure enough, I started looking at the tour operator websites today and scored a 4* all-inclusive deal in Egypt well within budget... I have little to no doubt that it may be unfair to compare the two deals, but all things considered, I wonder why she wasn't able to come up with a similar deal?

Off to Egypt we go :)

Three days in 15 words

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Let's see if I can wrap up three days in 15 words/links...

+1 - ossobuco - coconut reika - late night call out - wishes - No D - cuddles - Eve - Chocolate Moelleux - fun - kisses

There you go. 15 words, all focusing on positive stuff, because I'm trying to no longer be bothered by what or whom annoys me :)

Links, zwo, drei, vier

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Yes, the Rammstein concert was once again very very entertaining and worth every cent. The company was good, the music was equally good and a very fun evening was had. I was kind of glad the concert came to an end though, as I had already walked quite a few kilometers at the Batibouw fair earlier today.

I managed to get in touch with a good number of companies though that offer insulation services, and I hope to start receiving quotes or requests to visit the property to take measurements and give quotes in the next two weeks. Sure enough, it will cost me a fair amount of money, but the investment is not on supported by the government (= tax reduction and all kinds of incentives/cash back offers) but also the proper way to tackle the issue of heating and the cost of energy. While the quick way would be to buy a new heater and to be done with it, I've decided to take the correct path and insulate first, then have a calculation done as to what heating source would suffice and based on that, get the proper heater installed.

Last year it was new super insulated windows and glass, and I got and old small roof replaced and insulated as well, for 2012 I want wall insulation to be completed and a new heating source picked and installed.

In that regard, I received a letter from my financial institution that my mortgage - which is partially variable - has reached it's first annual review date, and guess what... it seems I'll be paying less. Sure enough - I just looked up the correct numbers - it'll only save me €96,24 over the year, but it's a start, ain't it?

You are probably one of the millions of computer users that use a computer each and every day, yet have no idea how to look out for themselves. You run scared if you hear the words "malware", "virus", "trojan" or "APT". "DDOS" doesn't ring a bell, but "cybercrime" and "spam" sound familiar because you've heard about those on the news before.

Well, all of those are threats for sure, but you don't need to panic about them. Common sense will help you more then high tech software, firewalls and consultants.

Some tips :

  • Don't just click just every link you find or see on the internet, or receive by mail.
  • Keep your computer and programs up to date

The first tip is more about being aware that something could be fake or a potential issue, and as such avoiding it. Keeping your computer and the programs on it up to date can seem a difficult task, but I'll just point you to Secunia PSI, which is an excellent little tool to help you do that.

It's free, reputable and easy to use. Even if you run it in simple mode, it'll help you - or rather your computer - stay up to date, less prone to security issues and trouble.

So, take the next 30 minutes of your time (it'll probably take much less) and take a big step forward towards a safer computer experience.

  1. Surf to https://secunia.com/ (I could link to it, but security awareness is not to just click whatever link you see, remember?)
  2. Find the free PSI tool, download and install it.
  3. Run the Personal Software Inspector (PSI)
  4. Be all amazed how many programs, applications actually need an update
  5. Follow the instructions to get things updated. Even if you can't make some things update, it'll have been worth it.
  6. Reboot your computer after you updated as much as you can.
  7. Surf to http://www.safer-networking.org, pick your language and download Spybot S&D
  8. Install Spybot S&D and then run an update for it (Update Spybot-S&D)
  9. Run Spybot S&D and let it fix whatever issues it finds
  10. Reboot your computer
  11. Enjoy using it, feeling and being quite a bit safer.

Sales

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Quick entry : I've taken the day off from work and will go shopping, as I could use some nice clothes. Hopefully the weather won't be too bad, though I'll be prepared for wind and rain, lol.

Tomorrow it's probably off to the movies, see trailer below.

Wrapping up 2011

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As the end of 2011 approaches at neck breaking speed, I just wrapped up a letter to my tenants, informing them that monthly provisions will be increased starting January 2012, and - unfortunately - that they have an outstanding debt due to the fact that they seem to heat the place up rather well, pushing heating costs through the roof.

I've got no clue how they'll react - I don't usually have to interact with them all that much, they pay on time and don't bother me, so I leave them alone as well - but I've made sure that the letter is in line with legal regulations and I've referred to the proper stipulations in the contract.

I can imagine their new year starting off in a better way, but unfortunately this is the way it'll be I suppose. In order for them to feel a bit less pressured, I've included an option to pay off the outstanding debt in two terms - which should make the pill a bit easier to swallow. There is no point in me losing good tenants, so I'd rather give them some extra options opposed to getting them into financial trouble.

Anyway, enough administration and drafting up things for today, off to bed I go.

Oh, the visit to the dentist this morning was pretty damn swift, I was in and out in under 20 minutes and my teeth are looking swell again :)

PS : I'll try to write out that mail tomorrow, but I got caught up in this whole tenant and monthly provisions administration thingy.

The tooth fairy sucks

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Dammit! For the third time this year a piece of my front tooth has chipped off... I'm gonna try and get hold of my dentist tomorrow to get it fixed for a last time. I guess that if it comes off again, we'll need to come up with another and more permanent solution. I'm not pleased :(

In order to end this post with something a bit more positive, I've just bought x-mas cards and I'll be sending or handing some out this year :) Yay me...

Closing the gap

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I finished closing up putting the last opening where a door will be installed somewhere next year, hopefully. I had already done quite a bit of work over the week, but then my jigsaw broke down and I was forced to stop. I picked up a brand new circular saw a couple of days later and it cut through the plate like a hot knife though butter today :)

I'm a bit concerned about a couple of drops of water that I noticed dripping from a wooden support beam when I was putting up some final sheeting, but not too concerned. I assume that rain had accumulated somewhere between the support beam and a piece of wooden board and that by drilling into it, the water drained, because there are no apparent signs of a soaking anywhere else. if so, I'll deal with it accordingly, but not now.

Off to watch an episode of Fringe (Season 2). I need to get some good night's rest tonight and catch up on sleep.

Storm ahead!

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The weather is taking a turn for the worse, quite some rain the past few days, but it's especially the strong winds that are causing me to concerned : when I came home today, part of the covers I had attached to keep the building site clean and dry had gotten torn away. Wind speeds are predicted to rise even more this night, so I'm rather certain that I may be facing a small disaster in the morning.

As soon as I noticed what happened, I took out the ladder and started reattaching things as good as possible, strengthening where I could, but I fear it won't survive the night after all. Which sucks balls... and not in a good way.

Tomorrow evening I'll be unable to do any fixing should things have gone wrong again during the day, and on Friday I've been invited over at my sisters place for a chat and a meal, which will only be the start of my evening, grin.

Birthday party invite on Saturday, but as that's later during the day, I may be able to do some more work on the house in the early afternoon, depending on when I get up. Or rather, when I get out of bed. I've not been feeling to well the past couple of days, and I hope things are clearing up soon. Feeling under the weather is not what I call much fun.

Off to watch the news and then take care of some other bits and pieces that need attention.

Wordswordswords

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Some, if not most, people will consider me strange, weird or even a freak, yet I'm rather certain most of my readers won't be surprised at all if I state that I enjoyed watching a documentary titled "Man over woord" that I just caught the first episode of on Canvas. It took me, as a viewer, upon a rather interesting trip explaining the origin of certain words, dialect and common spelling mistakes and how or why they are so difficult to prevent or spot.

I've always had an interest in language and as such I'm a huge fan of word games, playing with words and language, the various meanings of words, related to the context they're used in. I find it relaxing and challenging at the same time, which may appear to be a contradiction in itself.

Seriously : if you have any interest in the origin of the Dutch language, take a look next week.

Word.

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Sure...the lion is king of the jungle but airdrop him to Antarctica...and he is just a penguin's bitch.

This and that and such

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It's foggy outside and temperature is around 5° Celsius, even though it feels like 2°. However, I'm rather pleased, as it's November 13th and there has not yet been any frost. I hope we can get most - if not all - of the support beams in place today, so I still have a chance of finishing off the outer wall before winter really hits.

It may still be early for most people - especially on a Sunday - but I've already dried my clothes, washed my dishes and prepared to start building in about an hour. While I'm typing up this entry, my mind is trying to figure out how to tackle some of the issues we may come across when placing the support beams. I'm on a multitasking spree it seems, grin.

Note to the IRS : how about refunding me my excess taxes next week? I could use the money :)

Will there ever come an end to this?

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I've just finished construction for the day, and I've made a calculation as to what material I'll need to finish the walls. Truth be said, it was kind of disheartening. A quick calculation tells me I'll need at least 50 more blocks to raise the inner and outer walls to the level of the roof, and I didn't dare count the blocks needed to finish the outer wall completely.

Apart from it all becoming rather tiresome, the financial impact is starting to become important as well. After all, this is all just structural work I'm doing, the functional elements and materials (plumbing, electrical, tiles and such) are not yet on site, nor ordered. Still I'm staying optimistic and hopeful that I'll be able to get the room weatherproof before the winter really hits (crosses fingers and hopes for a few more weeks of relatively few days of rain nor snow or frost).

Off to watch Paranormal Activity now, last night I decided to watch I, Robot instead.

Movies, entertainment, no work

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Yesterday I went and ordered the support beams I mentioned in my previous post, so I'll be able to put those in place next weekend. Tomorrow - I think I'll abstain from doing any work today - I'll raise the walls a bit more so everything is more or less in place to get those beams installed next weekend.

Went out with S. last night, went to see Paranormal Activity 3, which was - if you ask me - not a freaky as PA 2 was, but it was still pretty good and entertaining. It gets my recommendation :) Since I haven't seen the original Paranormal Activity movie yet, I picked it up on Blu Ray, and I may decide to watch it later tonight. As we were having drinks after the movie, S. said that a new TV series titled Fringe was rather interesting as well, so I googled for some more info and it seems like fun indeed. Can't wait for it to show over here.

Ain't dead people supposed to be cold?

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Is has been a rather busy but very entertaining weekend so far... On Saturday morning I moved all of the remaining Ytong blocks - about 60 or so, give or take a few - to the building site in preparation of construction that was scheduled to go on on Sunday. Right after I finished that, I took a quick shower and headed of to Den Deugeniet where I met up with old friends and their kids. Even though I always end up being the single guy with no kids in an indoor children's fair, I enjoy hanging out with the kids of my friends :)

Around five we all split up because everyone had things to do, so I grabbed a quick bite and then went to see J&E so we could head off to see Rihanna live together. As we were discussing things at the table, J. mentioned that a former colleague was rather disappointed that she wasn't able to get any tickets. I said that we had a spare ticket, so after a bit of confusion and looking for mobile cell phone numbers, his former colleague raced from her home to Antwerp, where we all met up to see Rihanna.

The concert was ok, but I was by far not as impressed as I was with Lady Gaga or Pink, both performers that I've seen in the same venue. The sound at the Rihanna show was awful... the volume was way too loud, so things even got distorted and the bass was pushing everything else away. Even a song prominently featuring a piano, didn't get the piano clear and tuned. I sure hope the sound techies are not getting paid based on their performance, because if that's the case, some people would end up very hungry.

After the show we said our goodbyes to the former colleague, went home, changed and turned ourselves into a witch, a skeleton and erm... another witch more resembling a 5 dollar hooker? At the small but very enjoyable party, lots of partying was done, and within minutes after arriving I had taken off my skeleton mask - too hot to wear - and got myself painted into a proper and definitely cruel looking skull. The painting was done by a slightly drunk Laura Palmer - of Twin Peaks fame - who did an impressive job, despite being drunk and rather dead.

After a short night, I got up, thanked J&E for the wonderful evening and headed back home to do more construction work. Dad came out to help - thanks! - and while it may seem like not much has been done, we did lay the foundations on which I can continue building on my own this week.

Things are definitely moving along nicely now and while lots still needs to be done, I'm calling it a (working) day for now. A new week of work lies ahead and I'm still recovering from last, lol.

Next weekend : birthday party and more construction work. I'll give Laura PaImer a call later tonight to see if she's recovered enough to set a date to go see Paranormal Activity 3 in the next week or so.

Loved #2, soon watching PA3

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<3

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The clip sucks major ass, but I'm totally in love with this song... whenever I hear it I sing along and feel relaxed, no matter what was going on before.

Catching up?

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It almost seems like I'm running behind on pretty much everything. I can't seem to get caught up at work, work in house seems to be dragging along (although construction should be going on this weekend, yay) and when I just opened my mail at home, there were 17 mails waiting for my attention. In a probably fruitless effort to get in control, I read and deleted everything not needing a reply or action, sent a reply to N., sent a reply to J. and did some banking and paid some bills. Tomorrow I'll have to do a follow up phone call to J. to see what the issue with his computer actually is, and whether or not I can solve it.

While checking my accounts, apparently the 250,- euro cash-back deal I applied for was deposited on my account, which is nice. The other cash-back has not yet been deposited, but that's not surprising as it involves a semi-governmental institution. The bill - to which the cash-back deals relate - itself still has not been paid and my bank seems to be dragging things out. I think I'll shoot my contact a mail on Thursday if things haven't moved by then. Paperwork, why does it have to take so much time?

I'll be heading off to bed very early today because I seem to have sprained a muscle in my back and I was barely able to breathe earlier while heading home from work. It still aches now, but the sharp edge seems to have faded and breathing has become manageable again.

I'm still pondering whether or not I should or shouldn't react to a mail I've received a while ago. While I assume no intention to actually hurt me deeply was behind it, it caused me to feel like having a knife stabbed in my heart and twisted around violently and repeatedly. Whomever said that time heals all wounds may have a point, although they were smart enough not to specify how much time it takes.

Oh, a new discovery : vice-and-poison.tumblr.com (definitely NSFW, though that probably depends on what line of work you're in, lol)

11 AM, and busy already

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When I woke up this morning, my back hurt and I have no clue why. I probably just laid in bed in an awkward position or so because even though I went out last night, no back breaking activities took place. We had a nice sushi meal at Umi's in Antwerp, then ended up in a karaoke bar for a few songs (I didn't sing any though, my voice was rather bad to start with) and then it was to an Irish pub for a last drink.

When walking back to the car we looked at real estate adverts that were in a window and wondered how anyone can afford to pay 230.000 euro for a loft or an apartment. I know that in real estate location is everything, but really, some of these prices are just insane. I don't think I can see me cough up over 1.4 million for a - admittedly nice - house somewhere in Schoten. (Note : I'm not buying anything new for the time being :-) No need to bring out the movers, lol.)

So, where was I going with this? Ah yes... even though my back hurt, I got up, did dishes, plastered some left over parts that still needed attention near my windows, then I vacuumed, moved my light tower (which sounds way cool, but actually is nothing special) back into the corner, then my sofa went back onto it's proper spot. Finally the shoe cabinet was moved into the hallway and then I decided to turn on the heating because it was getting rather chilly. I'm a bit of a person that ain't complaining about cold temperatures fast, but an inside temp of just 16 degrees Celsius was getting a bit on the low side, even for me.

Luckily, I got it running very fast, coz I remember struggling with it quite a bit when I wanted to turn it on for the first time back in March.

Raising the roof

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Maybe I picked the wrong weekend to take down the roof, but truth be said, I'd rather do it in this heat opposed to doing so while raining. Quite some sweat was dripped, but after just over six hours of work, we - thanks for helping dad! - took down the old roof, and cleaned up the area.

While I took down some leftover support profiles, dad took a look at the multitude of cables and electric wiring that really wasn't supposed to be as it should, and eliminated some issues there. Sure there is much left to do on that topic, but we do take steps in the right direction :)

The material that was salvageable was stored in the garage, while the rubbish was put in my gigantic building waste big bag. I also took the opportunity to grind a long slit into the back wall to provide space to put in new wiring after the roof is on.

I just quickly washed my face and arms - I'll hop in the shower soon - and the clean water that hit my head turned pitch black by the time it hit the sink, lol. I was a bit dirty to say the least.

Depending on how things progress over the week with the new roof, I may be able to put in more work next weekend.

Woot, progress is on the way

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I don't know whether my mail to the groupon guys was actually read, but it solved the scripting error their site was having and I was able to complete the order for those sheets after all, yay!

This weekend - hoping for the nice weather to continue - we'll start taking down the old roof and then on Monday the builders will start working on the new one. Looking forward to getting that completed, and then I'll finally have to figure out a way to build up the wall that's been on the to-do list for ages... well, months at least.

I'm not claiming to have a fully functional bathroom with everything installed before winter arrives, but I should have a fully closed room at a minimum :)

No black satin sheets :(

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Crap... I just spotted a nice deal on the groupon site - black satin sheets for my bed - but they seem to have fucked up the script on their page, so all orders seem to fail. I've already sent them a mail, but I doubt I'll get a reply before the deal expires. Too bad, I wouldn't have minded getting those sheets :(

Note : who'd have known that sending someone a text message and a mail on facebook - a site I rarely visit - would lead to a rather angry/disappointed reply caused by the fact that I didn't react immediately after reading the reply from them? I tend not to spend all of my time online chatting or mailing and when I do, I take the time to compose a reply that makes sense, which means you may need to wait a while for it. Sorry to have caused you the trouble, I won't do it again. Aarrrgghh... why is life such a bitch? Maybe I'm really not fit for any kind of social behaviour?

DVD to Blu-Ray : Evolution must be

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Yesterday I went shopping for a home theater system and I ended up getting the Samsung HT-D5500/XN. I had originally picked out the HT-D6750, but that proved a bit too expensive and pretty damn impossible to find in shops. Online it was available, tough with a 2-3 week delivery time, which was too much for me.

Since I needed a blu-ray movie to test the new system with, I picked up "Lesbian Vampire Killers" with the idea nothing is better to test a new audio system than boobs, blood and gore. I had fun watching the movie, but wouldn't call it anything better then a B-movie, lol. Not enough boobs, but plenty of sound effects and gore, so it worked pretty well for what I needed it, grin.

Setting it all up was rather straight forward, though if I were to set one up again, I'd not unwrap all speaker cable at once... it became a bit of a mess that took me longer to untangle then it took me to set up the complete system. Since both my digital recorder uses an internet connection as well as my new Blu-ray player, I added a switch I still had laying around to get them both hooked up easily.

I'm not sure how useful all the SMART Hub applications are, but it's nice to get the weather forecast on your TV, browse youtube and such. I'm definitely pleased with my purchase, and as such, I've moved into the era of Blu-Ray instead of DVD :)

Oh, the amount of time I have now

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It's 7:50 AM on a Saturday morning and I'm having a chocolate milk + banana breakfast. No one in their right mind would be up and about this early, unless they had to, right? Unfortunately, it was decided differently for when I got a call from work just past 7:30. Ah well... at least I'll have a long day to do things :)

Bye!!!!!

Time is....

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Even though I still have plenty of work to take care of today - mostly work related - I also am quite happy that I wrapped up pretty much everything that was on my list yesterday. I didn't end up sending H. a long mail yesterday, but made up for it today.

I also was able to convince the window guys to show up today (by mail) and get the final piece of glass in - a colleague at work has been trying to get her window installation finished for over 4 months - and I've come to a deal with the roofing guys on their quote as well.

Late last night I also sold my old car - which is still parked in front of my garage though - and the buyers said they'd be picking it up today, but haven't done so yet. I've got the cash, so for what I'm concerned, I don't give a shit :)

Off to get some food now and maybe wrap up some work related reports.

Catching up

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Since there is nothing on TV today - apart from fucking football crap - I'm taking the time to get some administration sorted out and mails replied to and sent. There are a few loose ends I have been meaning to tie up, but I hadn't gotten to it yet.

pay bills (done)
mail about roof estimate (done)
mail about windows bills (done)
mail H. to see whether we're on for another date or not (to do)

While especially that last entry may seem a bit strange, it's exactly how I feel about our last date as well. It was rather enjoyable, she's a very interesting woman, and quite pretty too, but I'm not sure there was a spark. We both were rather distant even though we laughed a lot and had a very nice (late) breakfast, that lasted almost 2 hours. I'm a bit stuck on how to proceed now, as I'd like to see her again to find out a second date reveals something more, or whether it confirms the "no spark" feeling I have right now. On a mental and intellectual level I'd dare say we are quite a match, but there was no "passion" so to say, she didn't get under my skin, and I think she may have the same feeling about me.

Ah well, I'll shoot her a mail or give her a call and see what's up, but first... those other mails.

Daters, beware

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Meeting someone is difficult, even when you're not looking for love so to say. Last night I was watching a documentary on TV about "exotic love" where men try to find love abroad, often dealing with women from the USSR, Thailand, South America etc. Let it be clear that I don't want to generalize and claim all women from these countries are fakers, but as I was watching I was wondering... "how can they not see what's going on? How can they not see they're being taken for all they have and left to rot?". Well, I do understand how it happens... you long for companionship, you want to feel loved and wanted, and you develop tunnel vision very quickly. You lose the capability to think clear and let emotions run wild, affecting all decisions. Bad, bad, bad.

Anyway, that was just an opening to show it doesn't just happen to others. I've been a member of this dating site for quite a while now and have had dates that were very enjoyable, met new people and had fun. However, I also had fake profiles contact me and had the strangest on site messages sent. All of this on a site that actually is pretty strict while screening their members. Last night I received a message from a profile that made sense. In fact, I already replied and we'll see what happens next.

I also have been mailing back and forth with another woman for a while now and would like to meet her in person to see if we do match in real life as we may match in virtual space.

Then late at night, another profile messaged me, claiming to be Jessica Wilson from Holland ([email protected] - yes, I'm posting the e-mail address they used here for all to see. That's what you get when trying to fake things), yet writing to me in a mix of two languages and with very badly formed sentences. Really, an automated translation would have made more sense. As I read the mail and looked at the profile, I immediately knew it was fake. How? I've developed a second nature to detect fakers I suppose. To make a long story short, I reported the profile for being a fake.

Minutes later, I get a new message - from a different profile - containing pretty much the same text I got before from the other profile. The name is changed though, and so is the e-mail address (I deleted the message after reporting the profile, so I can't post it here). It just shows that dating scams are run by groups, they are organized yet as dumb as a brick.

My point being : you're not just trying to scam people for money. You're playing with their lives, their emotions and hearts. They may very well never be able to trust again, or fall for the same fake promise for love again and again, because they've gone x-files : "I want to believe".

Window, Smart, Code

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Yesterday we had a (mandatory) family get together for my grandma's birthday. After getting home I finished up some things and went to bed coz I had to get up pretty early today. Yes, today is day three (or two and a half if you like) of getting the windows and door installed. And to be honest, I doubt they're gonna be able to finish it all today :(

I just confirmed tickets for the Code 37 movie avant-première in October, thanks to my Belgian domain registar (Nucleus) whom I've been working with for quite some years now. As I had the movie release date set in my phone anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited. If you're interested in joining me on the 18th of October, give me a yell. If there are many candidates, I'll pick a lucky one :)

Just had the first people over to come and see the smart that I put up for sale yesterday. They said they'll be returning later tonight to have a second look and then decide whether or not to take it.

Just got off the phone with my sis and checked how T's first day of school went this morning : apparently he had a bit of a rough morning, but once they arrived in school, he went right in and had no issues with mom and dad leaving for work. I think mom and dad were more stressed then T. was, lol!

Work continues

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While employees of Ramen De Clerck are busy taking out the old windows and installing new ones - they arrived perfectly on time as promised - I've kept busy updating my Linkedin profile, added all the courses I followed over the past ten years and read some mails. In the mean time it's getting rather chilly inside due to my door remaining open and all windows on the first floor being removed, lol.

I already had 2 companies reply to my request for a quote for my roof so far : one has passed the request on to a partner company that supplies material for DIY builders (if that were what I was looking for, I wouldn't have requested a quote for all the work, would I?), the other company replied that their current planning doesn't allow to take another project (as small as it is) and complete it by the start of November 2011.

I'm already starting to see a trend forming here : no one will be interested due to the work requested being too small a project. I suppose I'll have to give the DIY approach a second chance; after all that shouldn't be too difficult if materials required are supplied along with instructions.

Update 15:34 : All windows are installed. All you say? Well... all but one. Apparently, Polypane - the company that makes the glass - fucked up and broke one window while manufacturing. Now, they don't tell that to the people placing it all upfront. No, they just deliver the lot and then when people start installing, it turns out they are short one window. After a call to the company, they admitted breaking said glass and now - as far as I know - they'll be redoing it next week and then have it installed, which I find - quite frankly - unacceptable. It'll leave me with an uninstalled window for how long, a week? Maybe two? Sure enough, the installation crew was nice enough to put in a temporary solution, but what if it were at ground floor? Do they expect me to stay home for the next week to prevent people from breaking and entering?

Another thing just popped up : apparently, the finishing will not be completed today. This crew just installed the windows, but tomorrow - hello, tomorrow? - another team comes over to finish it all off. Mind you, when I ordered the windows, I was told that everything would be installed and finished on the 30th of August. Which is today. Nothing was mentioned about finishing up taking another day of time. I think I'll go send a mail about these two unforeseen facts.

Raise the roof

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I just finished writing up a mail to ask for price quotes to have a part of my roof done, because the current roof is inadequate (plain old plastic sheeting, no insulation of any kind). I've sent off the mail to 7 roofing companies in the vicinity of where I live and hope to get some calls or requests for information in the coming days. Once some of the quotes are in, I'll compare and decide who gets the job.

Just for good measure - in case anyone has good or bad experiences with these companies, please let me know - here's the list of companies/people contacted :

Dakconcept
Dakwerken Ferket
Dakwerken Matthys
Dakwerken Plaquet
DVV-Repair
Omniroof
Peter De Schrijver

On a roll

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Even though today is my first day off, I've not really slept in : got up at 7h30, took the good old smart for a last spin around the block to make sure it was still in good shape and give the battery a recharge, then parked it in my garage, took off the license plates and drove over to Kontich to hand those in. It was a pretty long trip due to bad weather - rain... now, didn't we have this before? - and on the way back I did some food shopping.

Unloaded the food, cleared space in my kitchen to store the soon to be expected delivery of more bathroom stuff, and I just finished writing up a mail to my insurance broker to request the policy for my car to be cancelled.

Next on the list : do some research on selling a secondhand car, and then give some people or companies a call. It should all be wrapped up by the end of the month.

Is there anything else to report for now? No, I don't think so...

1879 characters

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I've got some things to take care of on my first day off tomorrow : I'll be taking off the license plates of my old (personal) vehicle and returning them permanently. Then I'll see if I can find a dealer or export company interested in the car and sell it. I'm expecting a shipment of bathroom furniture tomorrow as well, and I may head in to work - yes, I do have a day off, I know, but I need to finish this in order to make sure things actually keep on running while I'm out - for a short while.

On Saturday I'll be spending quite some time with J&M and little T, already looking forward to it. I'll try to find a good and sunny day - could be rather erm... difficult if the past weather is anything to go by - to head off to the sauna for a nice and relaxing day, and I'll be trying out a new Sushi place in Antwerp somewhere in the next couple of months too.

I've got a birthday "party" coming up soon as well, and then there's a concert in October to head off to.

I've also updated my curriculum vitae to reflect my recent change in job (same employer though) and I've listed all the courses and training I had in 2010 and 2011. I'm not planning on moving any time soon, but I think it's wise to keep it all updated and it'll help my soon to be new employer to realize better who I am, what I'm worth for the company and what I can do for them in the long run. Even though I'm not worried about sudden changes for the worse, I think it's healthy to try and decide where I'd like to be in 5 or 10 years, professionally.

Where I'll be in the same time frame family related or when it comes to housing is much less clear. I do see a place in the sun however... partially as a long term investment, partially as a potential new permanent place to call home one day. I haven't looked into that too seriously though yet, and the list of options and countries still is undefined.

Balance

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In life, everything is about balance. If something goes well, another thing goes sour... just to keep things in balance. The trick is to have slightly more things go well, so that you are close to that tipping point, yet not actually crossing over. That way you achieve slow but steady improvement.

Take today for example : I installed my new american stores and I'm mighty pleased with them. They look absolutely stunning and they fit the colors of the rest of the house nicely, if I say so myself. Good. +1

I have been mailing with a woman back and forth for a couple of days and over the weekend she asked me to release my profile photo to her online. I replied and I did so. Even though she has been online since I did, and she has read my message, she has yet to react. I either said some awful things (which I think I did not) or I really am not her type. Bad. -1

And there we have it... balance achieved!

Note : it's a bummer to be in touch with someone who then suddenly breaks off contact. Then again, she doesn't get to enjoy my new window decoration. Her loss :D

Crisis averted

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It doesn't really matter what newspaper you open, where you watch the news or what radio station you are tuned into, the headlines are all similar : "a crisis is upon us".

Well, let me tell you that I singlehandedly solved part of the crisis by going out on a shopping spree this morning. First I got gifts for you people getting older, and I treated myself to some nice CD's and DVD's as well (Sons of Anarchy season 2, two triggerfinger CD's, the True Blood soundtrack and Free Souffriau's "Gewoon Free"). As I was about to head out the store I realized that I actually also needed a new vacuum, so I picked up a new AEG Electrolux T8 Bagless one. No clue whether it's any good, but it'll beat the old Ufesa which is about 7 years old for sure.

Then I paid for and picked up my American stores, hopped over to Ikea where I got a low TV cabinet that should fit under the flatscreen, and when I dropped all of that off at home, I went to pay and pick up my shower tiles and necessities.

I tell you... that so called crisis no longer has a chance of setting in :)

Loading up the car now and heading off to the party... here I come!

One of those days

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Some days you walk into the office, having planned and laid out the day, meetings, reporting, evaluations, you name it. And then suddenly the bomb drops and before you know it 15 minutes later you're en route to a national meeting with the complete operations team, CEO's, COO's, HR etc. Today was one of those days. While the news itself is rather surprising, I am handling it like any other issue that I face ever so often : calm and without panic.

What the future brings will remain to be seen, but I am rather optimistic for now and I see a load of opportunities ahead. Oh, and challenges :)

iHunt

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The first ever iBoot Hunt I was manage to pay a bit of attention to. Saw some interesting things come by, but they were either considered too expensive, nice but not necessary, or sold out in a matter of minutes (if not seconds). I did order a Panasonic SDR S-70 camcorder though, hehe.

I should also get myself a new photo camera as well, since I seem to have lost my golden olden Canon Digital Ixus (with not that many mega pixels to be honest) quite a while ago during all the moving I did the past two years.

Who knows, maybe a good offer shows up soon... the iHunt is on!

Time 4 music...

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I just want to share some artists/bands I've (recently) discovered, maybe you'll like them too :

Triggerfinger / Kallima / Homo Futura / Chase & Status / The Subs

Gone shopping for relaxation

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After spending an afternoon and evening in Nieuwpoort, enjoying the company of J, M and T, I left them this morning to head back home. While it was even sunny out there yesterday afternoon and evening, my trip home was accompanied by rain and lots of clouds, as well as a 5 degrees drop in temperature. Gotta love this climate :)

After looking everything over once more, I headed off to x²O to order the rest of my bathroom, which took under 15 minutes due to the fact that I knew pretty well what I wanted. I was only uncertain about the bathtub still, but after taking a look at them in the shop, I reached a decision rather quickly. So, now I'm awaiting delivery of a Cyrus Shower door, Linie Apollo free hanging toilet with Blaufoss build-in reservoir system, a Blaufoss Andros shower faucet, a Blaufos Andros shower/bath combo faucet, a Linie Vegas rainshower set (which will be attached to the Blaufoss Andros shower faucet obviously) and a Luca Varess Capri Duo bath (links to PDF file) as well as a ton of necessities to install everything.

Only thing left now... prepare this building site so one day everything will actually be installed and functioning :)

Swim!

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Packing for a quick trip to the coast - I was invited and initially declined, but changed my mind rather quickly. It'll be fun for sure and it has been raining pretty much non stop everywhere, so I might as well enjoy the rain in a coastal area :)

What's the time, baby?

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I treated myself to some new things today, yay. I guess some of you would not refer to some as "treats", but hey... it's new and shiny so I consider them a treat :)

Two new boxer shorts, new socks, a new pair of cheapo sunglasses (since the previous I bought in Croatia last year broke less then two or three weeks after getting them), huge platter of sushi - I just love that stuff - and... a new watch. I definitely didn't need a new watch, but I did want a new watch, lol.

It'll help me accessorize - never thought I'd ever use that word, let alone do it - when dressing for various occasions. I'll probably be wearing my good old and solid Sector stainless steel watch when going to work, but now I can use my new Fossil analog watch (image) when going out to parties or going for a casual look. Who knows, I may even wear it when I'm a suit, just for the contrast.

Yes, suit. Apparently, next week I'll be attending a national meeting and I'm expected to wear a suit. I've got a blazer kind of thing, but a regular work suit? Nope, don't have it. Another thing I'll be getting somewhere next week I suppose.

That's all folks!

Roof, rubbish and rebuilding

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I finished tearing down the wall yesterday and filled up the big bag with a good 1.5T of building rubbish. I already arranged for it to be taken away, so that should be done somewhere in the next week. If I have some spare time and weather permitting, I'll take out the last tiles and then think hard about how to proceed next, lol. Yeah, I admit that my actions are not always as planned out as I'd like, grin.

Since it was pretty rainy today I opted to do a couple of small things in the house such as watching two movies (Screamers and Kingdom) as well as a few episodes of Dharma & Greg. Totally helped me in the "get this house up to par" section :)

Nah, I also fixed the issue with my bed, took out an old heater that I don't plan on using any more and closed up the chimney it was attached to. If I can figure out how to get the foundations done in detail - I get as far as digging hole, putting in reinforcing wire and pouring concrete - then I hope to get that covered next weekend. Because... when that's taken care of and ready, I can start thinking about rebuilding things :)

Oh, if any readers of mine have recommendations for a company or person that can do roof construction, shoot me a mail, give me a call or whatever. I'd like to get a grasp of how much cash I'd have to dedicate to replacing the roof over the kitchen, build a new roof over the bathroom to be, have light tunnels installed and possible even make it a green roof (energy wise, but possibly also used as a garden/terrace). I'm starting to have the feeling that the lack of garden in this house may really become an issue in the long run. Sure enough, I could fix this up and then move again, but on the other hand, I sort of am starting to like the house and region I live now. it ain't perfect, but it'll do for a couple of years. Or rather... it must!

While others are probably enjoying the sun in the garden, are making a trip to the coast, or doing other relaxing activities, I decided to use this extra day off to tear down the remainder of the outer wall and a portion of the inner wall as well. However it's getting too damn hot outside now, so I'm heading back inside to regain my breath. I think I've moved a good 500kg of building waste already, which means the big bag that I bought just two days ago is already a third filled, lol.

At this rate I'd better arrange for pickup already since it takes 3 to 5 days to have it taken off. I'll do some move rubbish shoveling later today when temperatures go down again.

For now, I leave you with two music videos : The first one by CCP, creators of Eve Online and the other by The Guild because I find the melody quite catchy. If you wanna date me - and not my avatar, lol - be in touch ;-)

Money talks, money walks

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People often think they are not being heard, they can't change the world on their own, or they "have" to comply to the rules as corporations and institutions dictate. Well, let me tell you different. If you don't agree with something, be vocal about it. If you honestly feel you can't live with the actions or view of corporations, look for alternatives. If you think they'll just ignore you, make sure they know and understand why you are moving your business, goods or money elsewhere.

Believe me, there are alternatives, you just have to look for them. Yes, it may take a bit more work or time, but exactly because you are acting in a specific way, making an informed choice, the organization or corporation you leave will feel feel compelled - over time - to adapt it's way, and the alternative you picked will start growing and feeling stronger.

With all of that in mind - whether you do something with it is up to you - I present to you "The Inside Job", a documentary about the financial crisis and more importantly how it all grew into a bubble that burst, leaving the mass in despair and the top executives walking away unscathed, millions richer and off to their next "job".

If you ask me whether I have already taken action after watching the documentary, the answer is no. I only watched it today, but even if I had seen it weeks ago, I'd have to reach my own conclusion and find a balance between ease of use and moral and ethical principles. I already know though that I will be looking into making a few changes. Nothing big for now, but in the long run some banks will find themselves making less on me whereas other more ethical organizations will get my patronage.

I'm not one to tell you what you should or should not do, because everyone's view on things differs, but I'll leave you with these links : Risico op schadelijke investeringen : hoe scoort uw bank? (via netwerkvlaanderen) that may help you (in Dutch) and banksecrets.eu.

Bizarre Bunny Boobs

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You know you never know what you'll be getting from me...

Today I'm recommending the NSFW movie "Malice in Lalaland". If you're not into adult entertainment (hell, why don't I just call it porn?), I suggest you don't click that link.

However, if you are, or maybe you're just curious, I really urge you to to take a look. It's a rather interesting and bizarre movie, based on "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" (neither of which I've ever seen as far as I can remember).

Anyway, you've been warned. Click the link above for the site of an enjoyable yet pretty bizarre adult movie, or just click the image if that strikes your fancy.

Taking down the wall...

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All the windows are out and I was able to save 2 out of three. Not too bad a result I'd say. Half of the outer wall is gone already, so I may need to work hard tomorrow if I want to get it all finished by Wednesday.

The spammer already found my new comment script name, so that solution lasted about 48 hours, sigh. I really am fed up with it and about to throw the towel in the ring. Why is it that some idiots can so easily ruin it for everyone else?

The jitters

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This morning I took out the first window of the wall I'm planning to tear down. I was able to tear off quite some wood paneling without too much issues, but it took me quite a while to actually get the glass and frame removed. Now that I have an opening, I hope to be able to get the next window out without tearing it to pieces. After all, it's still in rather good shape, just not adapted to modern standards.

I took a break around 1PM, went shopping and just had a bowl of salad and tuna (unfortunately, not home made but rather store bought) and a "Golden Power" energy drink. I hardly ever drink those kind of drinks and I already know that the massive amount of caffeine in it will make me totally freaked out for the next couple of hours - I don't even drink coffee, so ,you can imagine what 75mg of caffeine does to me. Apart from that, whenever I read "Golden Power" somehow my brain links it to "Golden Shower", which is something entirely different, grin.

Off I go to take down a couple more windows... the wall is planned to come down tomorrow, in the afternoon I'll be of to relax and on Wednesday I hope to clear away most of the rubbish. If all goes well - which I seriously doubt - I plan to dig a nice hole for a foundation for the new wall next weekend and maybe even pour concrete as well. The weekend after that I may be able to start building up then, who knows. Yes, there's plenty of work to do :)

Situation Dirty

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Remember how I wrote my day couldn't get any worse? Well, that was until I banged my head while getting into the car, grin. I shrugged it off though and the rest of the day was pretty good. Got a couple of tasks done that had been put on the back burner for a (long) while and at home my laundry is about to finish it's first ever program. Not with any laundry in it since apparently it's supposed to do an empty run once before putting it in use, but even then...

I got a fully functional laundry machine now... but no detergent to use in it, lol! Yeah, those kinds of things happen :)
Will pick some up tomorrow (all shops closed for Easter today) and get through that big pile of dirty phantasies clothes during the rest of the week.

On a totally unrelated note : I've really turned up all spam setting for this blog, because even after banning two complete IP ranges in China as well as quite some US addresses, the flood remains constant. The spammers' work is pointless 'coz nothing gets published without my approval, but the cost to them is so low it doesn't stop them from mass commenting on every blog they find. If this keeps up, I'm really going to consider turning off all comment options, at least for a while. Too bad to see the few good pay for the bad apples but the balance is way off :(

Grrrr

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I just woke up in a very bad mood. Not just "below zero" bad, but closer to -273 degrees Celsius bad. Anyway, being the optimist I am - sometimes - that also means things can only get better from now on. World - in this case "work" - here I come :)

Hoping to finally get that laundry machine installed and running later today, coz I'm running out of clothes.

Running Water

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No, that's not my Indian name :)

Today I popped over to my dad to pick up the large power drill and punched through that wall with it within minutes. It was pretty much impossible to do by hand, so I didn't have much other options. Picked up some more pieces in the local hardware store and installed the plumbing where needed. Now there is running water in the house again, meaning I can take a shower later, yay! Showers are nice, hihi.

I didn't fix the electrical problem yet but I hope dad will take care of that tomorrow (not in the first floor room, but outlets for the laundry machine etc), because the current wires are too short and I don't feel confident enough to open up the breaker box myself and start running new/longer wires. It's just not my thing, and I know it.

Hopefully we can finish installing the laundry machine tomorrow so I can take care of my laundry - it's been building up after all and soon I won't be able to look past it no more. And I'd have to go to work in the nude, lol. Not sure if I'd mind, but others may object, whahaha.

Before I started working this morning I took the time to send out a couple of mails that were long overdue (sorry about that) and got in touch with some women that may prove to be interesting. Setting up dates and all :) A man has to keep busy, you know?

Off to play some Eve Online now, check my Hattrick games and generally relax. It's Sunday after all, ain't it?

Who closed my socket?!

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What a week so far, and there is one more day to go. After which another week starts, and it just continues I suppose.

I don't know what it is the past week or two, but I can't seem to focus on anything at all. Is it personal things keeping me busy? Is it work that keeps me awake? I have no clue to be honest. I sleep well, I do my job as I'm supposed to be, and I'm more or less able to live my life. Yet I can't seem to even wrap my head around some things that are lingering in my life and actually need resolution.

A couple of days ago someone asked me something - sorry for being a bit (well, a lot) vague - which would otherwise make me rather active, exploring, thinking things over and looking things up in relation to the question and the options available, but now... nothing. I simply can't bring myself to even think about it. Similar pattern in relation to my personal life, the rebuilding of my home I'm undertaking. It seems it (or I) is all stuck in a time bubble. Nothing moves, nothing gives.

However, I do know this can't go on much longer. Every day I get home from work with a headache, something that didn't happen to me before. I get home, look around and see what I can or should do and I just don't.

There is some good news too though. Today my dad came over to give me a hand to get some of the larger jobs done and while some things really didn't go as planned (electricity for instance) we were able to accomplish one thing quite well : create a mess, loads of dust and piles of stone everywhere. Well, not everywhere, just in the old bathroom and the old laundry room. Tomorrow I'll be popping over to dad to pick up the really large equipment and drill out the rest of that wall, so I can actually turn the water back on. Yes, due to our work today I'm now without water. Which I only realized a while after calling it quits for the day, lol.

I had a very nice evening with J&M last night and little T. was really into it as well. Excellent meal and starter course, but while playing Formula D (a board game) I was eating a lollypop and I broke my front tooth. Luckily I ain't in pain, but it'll need fixing because it's plain ugly and uncomfortable. Another thing to add to the list of things to do.

Time to hit the bed now, getting up rather early again tomorrow so I can finish the plumbing and electricity job that we didn't get finished today.

No TV (yet)

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I just got off the phone with Samsung, followed by call to the local repair technicians and I must say that so far I'm impressed, even though I wasn't when I first called them. Allow me to explain :

Friday afternoon I log a fault on my TV (no picture nor sound when turning on the TV). The call center tells me they'd call me on Friday (unlikely) or today (Monday).

As I hadn't heard from anyone yet, I call Samsung again and check the status of my call. I give them my customer number and they retreive my data. I explain that I haven't been called yet, and what is up with it? They give me an order number and other phone number to call, that brings me in touch with the local technicians. After giving them my order number they can immediately tell me that parts have been ordered and they'll be in touch as soon as they come in.

I tell them that I'm a bit suspicious that they (can) order parts based on the sole information that I get a standby led on the TV for a few seconds, but no sound or display, but it turns out it's standard Samsung policy to first order the parts before dispatching a technician. And it also turns out that it's a common fault on the TV I bought. Whether that's good or bad remains to be seen :)

No doubt to be continued.

Oops

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Sorry about the site going down for a while there. Editing a specific file using two different methodes (one manual, one semi-automated) resulted in a corrupted file, presenting all visitors with a nice fat Internal Server Error. Which basically means something somewhere got fucked up, but the error itself is so vague it is absolutely worth nothing when it comes to troubleshooting.

I had quite a fun and interesting evening yesterday. Went clubbing with a new group of friends and I think we got along pretty good. We got back to their place around 4h30 AM and I got home around 13h30, still quite tired even though I had slept a full 4 hours or so, lol. Looking forward to more of the same in the future.

After getting home and watching cops, medics and firefighters do what needed to be done to resolve a traffic accident at the intersection right in front of my place for a while - I wasn't blatantly being a "peeping tom", I had just gotten home and was washing my car (good weather, being outside, feeling the wind through my hair and such) coz it was damn dirty - I worked a bit more on stuff that needed to be done inside. I fixed the cabinet covering the utilities that get into the house in the living room, I installed my desk and moved my computer(s), which is yet another step into getting things in order.

Don't know yet what next week and weekend will bring, but I think my dad may be over in the weekend to give me a hand getting some of the larger jobs done, maybe do a checkup, or replace some of the electrical wiring and fusebox. I'll also be doing everything to get my laundry machine installed and running, so I can do some laundry.

I may meet up with a few people during the week - if they don't call or talk to me, I'll go over there and drag them out ;) - and I'll set up more meets in the coming week(s). I hope to talk to the Samsung technician on Monday as I called them to register a fault with my TV (no image, which makes a TV pretty useless) and have them come by asap, because I don't like paying for something I can't use.

Signing off now, after deleting another 80.000 spam comments... Enjoy the sun and remember that I ain't far away if you need me, day or night. Yes, if you read this, you know I'm referring to you specifically.

Fighting (for) it.

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Let's start off with the good news : thanks to some great helpers the move on Saturday went pretty smooth. I was pleased because even though things were organized upfront, moving is always a stressful activity. It was a long day nevertheless and after J&M left, I unpacked a few more boxes, assembled a cabinet and a table, and called it a day. I crashed in my new chair, watched two movies and went to bed early.

Later in the afternoon, whilst making the last pick up - I was alone by then - I noticed that something was seriously amiss with someone - it's hard to hide things from people that know you and (still) care. I don't know what to think of it, and it's been going round and round in my mind, even though I'd be better off not caring at all, but that's not who I am, or how I live.

I got the chance to talk to J about it today, and I needed it. While our talk didn't offer a/the solution, it was good to be able to just vent, let it all pour out and... I can't find the exact words for it, but it was good. What the future brings, no one knows, but I do realize that it's up to me to deal with whatever it is that weighs on me, to give it a place, to embrace it, or to crash and burn fighting (for) it.

Where's the time that I was all rational and hardly ever emotional? It seems so far away...

Energy Efficiency

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More house news :

Today the first company representative came over to take measurements for my new windows and he guaranteed me that they'd send out the offer by next week. A rep for a second company is coming over on Thursday, so I can compare offers and go with those with the best price, best service and best feeling. Those three things are not guaranteed to all be present in one offer though, although I sure hope one offers just everything.

After a long day at training again - we start at 7AM - I stopped by IKEA and BRICO to pick up some things I still needed and spent over 130 euro. Some things sure are expensive, though I must say that I find installing smoke detectors and new locks an investment worth doing, despite the cost involved.

After arriving home and giving the window company representative a quick tour, I started installing the new locks, replace some light bulbs, assembled three lighting armatures, replaced two old lighting armatures that still had inefficient regular bulbs and replaced them with new armatures with energy saving bulbs (class A).Yes, I'll be taking energy efficiency and savings into account when making purchase decisions, though I may stray here and there probably.

The fridge I ordered - and to which I still don't have a confirmed delivery date, so much for their 12h shipping advertisement - has an A++ label (for more info on the EU energy labels, click here), the washing machine has an A+ label (with spinning and washing both being assigned an A label), and the TV carries the Samsung "Planet First" label, whatever that may mean. One always had to take labels - especially those invented by commercial entities - with a grain or two of salt.

Power will be delivered to the house by my trusted supplier Ecopower, while for gas I opted for Nuon. The latter was mostly, if not purely, based on price and didn't take environmental factors into consideration.

That's it for now, more work in the next couple of days. I may or may not be able to update on those though, as I not yet have internet access at the new house, and it'll take at least another 14 days to get that installed. In the mean time, you can always follow my feed on twitter (@friedkitten) which gets updates from my phone.

Organizing things

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This morning I accomplished the following already :

contacted the water supplier and gave them all my details as well as current meter read out
contacted my electricity supplier and gave them the current meter details

Much to my surprise, most of the things that have to do with moving can be accomplished online, which I do appreciate a lot. So I think I better get in touch with an ISP to get a connection going at the new place as well, even if it is just a very basic one for the time being.

Off to the notary this evening to become the official owner but before that I'll have to pick up some things and bring them over there. I'll be busy :)

It was a bad idea, wasn't it?

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Today, after work, I went over to my new place and took another tour. By the time I was done, I was pretty depressed and really wondering why on earth I ever thought I could just buy a house and get everything in order myself. I saw myself sitting there, on a construction site, for the next year or so. There suddenly seemed so much more to do! I can already smell the dust, see the trash and feel the odours of fresh paint tingle on my skin, and it definitely/doesn't feel right. Not at all.

The last two - actually three - times I decided to undertake such an adventure I wasn't alone. Sure enough, today I can do what the hell I please, pick the furniture, colors and anything to my liking, but it also means that I have to do everything. And to be quite honest, I'm scared. I have no clue where to start, what to do!

However, after a phone call with my dear sister, I was feeling a bit better already. I must admit that visiting a house that needs work and that you officially own as of tomorrow after an 11 hour day at work was not the best of ideas. I can only assume that my sis was right when she said I'd feal a lot different about it in the morning. She may be my "little" sister, but damn, she's smart :)

What I did notice though, was that there was no fridge anywhere to be seen. I had assumed that one of the many cupboards in the kitchen was hiding a fridge, but that was silly of me to think. So, once I got home near 10PM, I went online, browsed a few sites and reviews and ordered myself the Siemens KG36VX47 fridge/freezer combo with stainless steel look.

With that taken care off, offers for new windows coming in the week after next week (hopefully) and a laundromat and bathroom furniture being delivered as well, I think I can see progress. And progress is what will be keeping me up. That, and a little help from my friends and family :)

Yes, I'm thanking them in advance, and for what they've already done for me. They deserve it.

Moving large pieces soon

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On March 19th I'm organizing to move most of the larger stuff (furniture) around in Flanders. I plan on renting out a small truck, pick things up on address 1, then haul it all to address 2 where most of it is dropped off, and finally move the things I can use to my place. The moving itself is not the issue, but having enough people load and unload could be.

So, if you have a bit of free time on Saturday March 19th, get in touch with me if you feel like giving me a hand. Even if you can only come help out at one address, I'd appreciate it. Feel free to contact me, or wait for me to ask :)

Step by step

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I'm slowly getting more or less ready and prepared to move into my soon to be new place. I'm sure I will be facing quite some mental issues once things are actually becoming more real, but in the mean time, I'm also taking care of things that need to be done.

I signed the last papers with the bank today, went shopping for a laundromat - Test Aankoop listed the Samsung WF8714BSH as "best buy" when taking price and quality into consideration - so I decided opt for that model.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find it at such a low price as they listed (€419 to €580) but I found a store that would sell it to me for €550 including transport which is a deal I could agree upon.

I'm about to wrap up sending out e-mails to companies that make and install windows to see some of their representatives so I can get at least 3 offers in and decide who'll get the job. So far I've contacted ISP Ramen who'm I've seen at Bouw & Reno, EcoWindows who'm I've talked to at Batibouw and De Clerck who my sister was really pleased with.

I'll be opting for a PVC housing with 1.1Ug or 1.0Ug glass in it, giving me a good balance between price, insulation and sunlight still entering the house.

On the "to do" list for the next two weeks :


  • pick the color and type of tiles I want to use in my new to be bathroom

  • decide upon the type of bath and shower I want, as well as mirror

  • find out if a new fridge is needed (I just don't know, the current kitchen may have one)

  • arrange transport and help to get some furniture moved half across Flanders

  • + probably a ton of other things I haven't thought about yet, lol

Shopping for bathroom stuff

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I went shopping for some bathroom furniture today, and settled upon 2 Balmani XN Macassar closets of 67,5cm combined with a 135cm tablet from the Balmani Tablo New series (with rounded sinks), equipped with 2 Blaufoss Kato faucets and a matching Macassar XN hanging closet.

Still undecided on the bathtub and/or shower though. I'll probably also get them at X²O because I like their products, but I don't know yet whether I want - and can afford - a free standing bathtub, or a regular one, a walk-in shower or a regular one, and how I'd fit it all into the bathroom. After all, I'll be creating a bathroom from scratch, so I have quite a few options to move things around, but I can't make the room any bigger, nor can I move doorways. That combined with a lack of measurements makes it pretty hard to decide what fits and what doesn't.

For those interested : X²O - Balmani - Blaufoss

Crappy

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I've got a terrible headache that doesn't seem to ease up. When I arrived at work this morning - around 11AM - I was still fine, even though I had spent 2.5 hours in the garage already waiting for my car to get fixed. Somewhere in the early afternoon, it suddenly was there and I've been feeling awful ever since. I also feel weak, though I don't know if that is due to only eating two slices of bread, or that I only ate two slices of bread because I had something brewing.

It's one of those difficult days again I suppose, where I feel alone and sad, even though I'm surrounded by tons of wonderful people. Sometimes it all just gets too much and with work not getting any less stressful and demanding, it slowly eats me up. I feel as if it's me against the world, and today I'm not much of a contestant. Ah well, there's always tomorrow.

Impressed

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After hearing the new Rihanna single (S&M), I'm even more pleased with the fact that I ordered tickets to see her live later this year, because the new single just rocks.

The lyrics are simply stunning and subtle in a special kind of way. Some would call them explicit - to some they may be - but I just love the way they play with words and create a setting that is not immediately obvious when just looking at the sentence.

'Coz I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don't care, I like the smell of it.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me

just perfect :)

Step by Step, Brick by brick

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It has been quiet on the Western front, hasn't it? Yeah, I know. I've been keeping busy at work, and generally just living. Even though I have things to look forward to - a new house for instance - I am also in a bit of a lull so to say. I know there are tons of things that will come rolling my way soon, but there is little I can do to prepare for them right now.

Hopefully things will change in the next week when I get to visit the new house again and I can take some measurements, hopefully I can also reach an agreement with the current owners on some issues at hand - which would allow me to take care of a few things that I'd feel better about when taken care of - and as such we take a little step forward day by day. March 13th is still quite a while away, yet not so far away either.

I visited the Bouw en Reno fair today, where I was able to pick up some information about companies that make or install bathrooms, windows and doors. Once I have the final measurements, the time has come to get offers from them and decide.

That being said, who has first hand experience with the following companies?

De Clerck from Vrasene (Windows)
ISP Ramen from Grobbendonk (Windows)

Feel free to leave your experience in a comment, or to contact me directly. I already know J&M had a positive experience with De Clerck, but I'm having a hard time finding out much (experience wise) about that second company, even though I spoke with them at the fair.

Oh my...

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What the heck?!

I think that's the best way to describe the past three days. On Sunday morning, I woke up feeling pretty ill. Spent most of my day in bed, only got out to run to the toilet to either empty my bowels of puke my stomach out. Took half a Dafalgan 500mg during the day, another half before going to bed. Woke up Monday morning, popped another Dafalgan (a complete one this time) in order to be able to even function. Got over to the garage where I waited for three hours to get the car maintenance done, and hear some bad news. Extra issues were discovered and those needed to get fixed too, so they did and ordered the missing parts for the day after.

Went to bed on Monday evening, but barely slept at all. Ran downstairs another three of four times and was running a serious fever. Started to feel less bloated by 3 or 4 AM. Got up at 8h30 for the next visit at the garage, where they fixed the remaining issues. After that I took the car in for the mandatory yearly checkup which went well. It's good to go another year. (yay!)

In bed now 'coz I start work again tomorrow, so the two days off were totally wasted on my car, in bed, on the toilet or hanging over a bucket. The "sales" shopping I had planned fell through, as I was too busy and they car took way too large a chunk out of my budget.

It now being Tuesday evening, I was able to hold down some food today so far, and I feel way less bloated as last night. Hope it stays like this and that the end is near. I've had it with illness already.

Visiting a property on Saturday, and got plenty of fairs to visit in January and February. I hope to have made a purchase by then.

And so time passes quickly

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Last week I made an appointment by phone with a realtor to visit a house today. When my dad and I showed up today, no one was there. We waited for a while, then called the office to check up on them. They told me the appointment was scheduled for the 29th.

1. Why would I ask for an appointment on a day I was planned to work all day?
2. If I didn't show up on the 29th, and their representative did, why didn't they call? I did leave my name and number when setting up the appointment in the first place.
3. They were unable to send someone over, as their rep was on another visit now.

I'll see if I can arrange another meeting next week, but I doubt it. Starting January 4th, I'll be working every day of the week with probably no option to leave early. The property was still looking interesting though, so that's why I'll try to get a new visit set up. This time by mail - no "get out of jail free" card for them this time.

Lovely evening

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Great company, lovely food, presents that are enjoyed and a damn nice atmosphere. What more could I wish for? Thanks everyone!

Off to bed now though... one too many large Martini's :)

Raw

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Visiting two more houses today, and got another one lined up for a visit on the the 30th. Hopefully one of them will be what I like, need and can afford, you never know. Especially that last one has - purely based on photographs I've seen online - tons of options, but the location is a bit more worrying. It's practically sitting in the backyard of a huge non-ferro company, which has confirmed pollution in the wide neighborhood in the past. It was sanitized a couple of years ago, but that never is 100% and there is a continuous emission of gasses, heavy metals and all kinds of less than healthy by-products even though those have diminished considerably. Anyway, I'm still gonna take a look at the property, even of it is just to know for sure that I don't want to live there.

The properties lined up for today has one that seems very interesting (in the afternoon) and one that could have possibilities, but I'm uncertain about. The first one is more expensive and has no garden and as far as I know the heating is not up to par with current installations but apart from that practically ready to move in, the latter is a total renovation but less expensive and it has room for a - small though - garden.

Off I go... First to Mechelen to sign even more paperwork - I tell you, this is the last I sign until I start seeing some cash coming my way - then visiting the properties.

Oh, I got invited last night to a meal in a Japanese sushi bar in January... Looking forward to it :)

Long, Semi, Short

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I made some calls today and have myself set up for two house visits on Wednesday. One of them is a full scale renovation project as well, the other house seems to be in a better shape, though also slightly more expensive. Based on photographs though, it looks quite nice. Major bummer with it is though that it doesn't have central heating and no yard. It has three bedrooms though, is quite spacious, affordable and comes with a garage.

As I was driving home - well, driving is a bit of a misleading choice of words - I had plenty of time to think things through and I was wondering why I wouldn't invest in a small apartment building in which I can occupy one apartment myself and rent the rest out? I was not planning on returning to an apartment, but on the other hand, it could be a wise choice to do it like that and then rent out the last place when I find a new house for myself. It would essentially pay for itself and maybe even make me a bit of a profit.

Long term, short term... I don't know what's the best way to look at it. If I look at the long term, I'd prefer a new house, with a yard and at least three bedrooms in which I can settle and house a family should the time arrive. Semi-long term I think I could find something I can use myself for now and rent out later. Short term I just buy whatever is affordable and then see what happens next. Hm... that doesn't sound like much of a plan, does it?

Off to do more calculations browse houses. Hopefully that architect gets back to me tomorrow.

let's "c"

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I just had a lovely afternoon, hanging out with old friends from school, and their kids. It was superb to see S. back (an ex-girlfriend of mine) and her daughter B. For one reason or another B. and I just clicked and we had a fun time. It also made me realize something that I had been suspecting for a while : I really like kids.

Anyway, it was fun and such. This morning I went to visit that other house that I was interested in and when I compare it with the house I've already visited twice, it has a few pro's, yet cons as well. Allow me to refer to them as House 1 and House 2.

House 1
needs complete overhaul
has only small garden, in the front of the house
3-4 bedrooms possible
architect needed
priced at 139k right now (add about 14.5% for costs), but lower may be possible

House 2
needs smaller overhaul
has large garden (1000m² of property in total)
3-4 bedrooms possible
needs new expansion to be built in order to make it nice
needs architect
priced at 125k, but selling publicly so it can only go up (add 18% for costs)

At first sight, House 2 seems like the more rational choice, doesn't it? However, as it's a public sale, people will be putting in bids, which would raise the price considerably rather quickly. The last public sale I went to, had a house starting at 132.5k sold for 161k (excluding costs). There is no certainty that the same would happen with this property, but chances are rather high. If that was to happen, it would be pushed right over my budget, or leave no room for the overhaul.

I think I'll think it over this weekend, do some drawing and decide. Tonight I'm going out to the movies - not yet sure what I'll be viewing - but first I'm gonna the fix the C key on my laptop that often fails. So if you see words that look a bit off, they may be lacking the letter "c".

Violently Happy

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I'm about to hit the sack and sure hope to get a better night's rest then I had last night. I fell asleep around eleven thirty and woke up just past one AM, sweating, shaking violently, feeling angry, disappointed and robbed of something that was very valuable to me.

I guess it'll be quite a while longer before I can give what happened over the past months a place and move on. I even know what triggered the - for lack of better words - nightmare : someone who I hadn't talked to for quite a while asked me how I and the girlfriend were doing. Quite a normal question, and I was able to keep my composure while I answered and explained a bit, so I thought it would be alright. The backlash followed the same night, so apparently I'm still far from "alright".

It's a very strange and awkward feeling to know we're in the last straight line untangling the final knots and whatever we have left that tied us together once : it's a relief to know that the end is near, but it also makes me feel sad, alone and it even enrages me sometimes.

The fact that I'm usually pretty much in control of my feelings, have the ability to practically shut down my emotional side and make very clear cut rational decisions is what keeps me sane and alive right now. I'm not proud of those abilities, because humans should never be totally without emotion, but if I have to make a choice between crashing and burning, and building a brick wall that allows me to go on - at least for now - I'll do the latter. I've done enough crashing and burning - can't take no more - and now I've switched into survival mode : don't open up, don't let anything or anyone get to you and as such prevent any more emotional damage from occurring. Once again, I'm not proud of it, and it'll probably make me seem unappreciative, cold and heartless, but I have to protect myself now.

I can't yet separate the different relations, feelings and emotions that fill me and are around me. It's all or nothing, and that - unfortunately - also affects those who are out there that care for me. I know who you are, and I love you for everything you do, say or put up with. I may give it another shot one of these days, but please... don't feel bad or sad if it doesn't happen. I need time to find the right approach, time, words, mood and place.

Last time that survival mode lasted for about 7 years. I don't plan on letting it get that far this time. Talking is the best way of dealing with it, but also the hardest. And it's so damn scary.

The title refers to a Björk song, which I've always liked, and seemed somehow fitting for this emotion filled entry. I actually considered changing the title to "Violently (un)Happy" but that is not the positive attitude I always try to have in life - even during the hardest of times. I'm gonna leave you with the lyrics of another Björk song that describes more about who I am than anything else I could think of. Remember : life is beautiful and beyond all rotten, vile outer layers lays a deliciously sweet and tasty center.

it's. oh. so quiet
it's oh. so still
you're all alone
and so peaceful until...

you fall in love
zing boom
the sky up above
zing boom
is caving in
wow bam
you've never been so nuts about a guy
you wanna laugh you wanna cry
you cross your heart and hope to die

'til it's over and then
it's nice and quiet
but soon again
starts another big riot

you blow a fuse
zing boom
the devil cuts loose
zing boom
so what's the use
wow bam
of falling in love

it's. oh. so quiet
it's. oh. so still
you're all alone
and so peaceful until...

you ring the bell
bim bam
you shout and you yell
hi ho ho
you broke the spell
gee. this is swell you almost have a fit
this guy is "gorge" and i got hit
there's no mistake this is it

'til it's over and then
it's nice and quiet
but soon again
starts another big riot

you blow a fuse
zing boom
the devil cuts loose
zing boom
so what's the use
wow bam
of falling in love

the sky caves in
the devil cuts loose
you blow blow blow blow blow your fuse
when you've fallen in love

ssshhhhhh...

Gathering information

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Picked up the last X-mas gift today - well, not the last as such, as I still need another two, but those I hope to get my hands on next week - and bought myself a bunch of interior design magazines showcasing stairs, floors and such.

Especially the stairs are of interest to me right now as I'm looking at the options available to change some things around in a house I visited recently. The type of stair is not gonna be conclusive as to whether or not I decide to go through with it, but it will help me reach a final idea as to what I'm thinking about it obtainable, both financially as well as structurally.

Apart from that, the magazines are full of nice and wonderful ideas - at a price - that may help me see the light.

Off to read some more articles both online and offline.

Tomorrow I'll make some phone calls and find out what are the limits imposed on another place I've got my eye on. Planning on visiting that on Saturday morning.

Yawn, need sleep.

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Heading out for a second visit to the house I saw on Thursday, this time with someone more experienced in the technical side of things. I have a tendency to underestimate things every now and then, so this should help get a more precise look at the tasks at hand.

Planning on visiting another house on Saturday morning, then Saturday afternoon I'm meeting up with a bunch of old friends and an ex-girlfriend. Will be great to see everyone again, I'm looking forward to it.

Off to bed now, need sleep. Early shift tomorrow and there's gonna be a load on my plate for the next couple of weeks, maybe even months. I'll call you tomorrow, dad.

Tap Tap Tap

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Still got an extra ticket for Lord of the Dance performance in Ethias Arena Hasselt on Saturday December 11th. If you're interested to come with - or meet me there - give me a call, send me a mail, or leave a comment. It would be stupid to let the extra ticket go to waste.

(Found excellent company, ticket is gone.)

A bit of everything.

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This entry will be a ratatouille of topics, so if it seems a bit unbalanced, so be it.

Just ordered tickets for the Rihanna concert in Antwerp next year. I thought they would sell out real fast, but strangely enough, 15 minutes after the tickets went active on the site, there are still tickets available in all categories. I remember the Rammstein concert, which sold out in a mere 2 minutes. I admit that Rihanna is not comparable to a group such as Rammstein, but still. I'd have thought it would go faster.

Yesterday morning I visited another potential house and let me describe what happened : I checked out the region as I was a bit early anyway, then waited for the realtor to show and was given a tour through the place. It needs tons of work - basically I'd have to strip the place and then redo it - which was not what I was looking for. However, while waiting at the first red light for it to turn green, I took out something to write and started drawing rooms and noting ideas. It kind of surprised me to say the least. I usually know instantly when a place is something for me or is not, but apparently this place triggered something that brought it from "definitely not" to "there are options here".

I'll let it rest for a bit now and then in a couple of days make a decision. I'll have to find out whether or not it is hooked up to gas as well - the info sheet stated yes, but we couldn't find a meter anywhere - and what priced I'd be willing to pay.

After that I went shopping and was able to find pretty much everything I needed gift wise for the upcoming holidays. I'm glad I did my shopping already, 'coz it is definitely already getting more crowded out there, and I hate shopping in a mass of people that know they need something, but don't know what exactly it is.

I spent a nice evening having drinks with 'Kat' on wednesday, then went out for food and drinks with 'Kar' on Thursday. I think we all had a fun evening out.

I'm still in bed now, having a terrible headache and snot is building up in my nose - it's gonna be a wonderful day. I'll have to look for my Lord of the Dance tickets as well, since that is on the program for tomorrow and I have little to no clue where I left the tickets. Moving is a pain, lemme tell you.

Whipped

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All bits and bytes should be back in order and we're back up and running. If you run into any problem, shoot us a mail so we can investigate.

Things on the program for the upcoming days :

Drinks
Visit a potential house
Shopping
Food
Watch kids
Lord of the Dance
Games afternoon
Back to work on Monday.


Today

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I learned that house number one was sold.
I learned that house number two was sold.
I still am undecided on house number three. While it has possibilities to turn into something nice and cozy, it just doesn't rock me. So far I've just known or felt it whenever I stepped into a property I was checking out as a possible home. That's the way I purchased my first apartment, that's how we decided on the second property (long sold now) and how we found the current place, where I've moved out.

I'm wondering whether I should look at the intrinsic value instead of my gut feeling, or just follow the path I've followed since my first purchase and take that feeling into account?

Off to look at more places... who knows. I guess there is something out there that I just connect with and which is in my price range.

Positive?

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Crossing my fingers as I head off to bed. Let's hope I get some solid good news tomorrow and then am able to pull it off - with a little help from my friends/family if needed :)

Yeps, short entry

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Work has been pretty hectic, which leaves less time to call around and keep in touch with people. However, tonight I'll be making some phone calls, just to keep in touch.

Bleh, the story

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The world is bleh. Well, maybe the world ain't, but I certainly am feeling bleh. It's a phase, it'll pass. Maybe in an hour, maybe in two, maybe in a year, but it'll pass. I'm a boat, battered and cut loose, sailing the seven seas, leaky and barely floating.

But I'm a lifeboat, I won't sink. One day I'll be a strong and majestic sailboat again, sails filled with gusts of wind, my bow splitting the waves, carrying me to unseen places and sunny beaches, spreading joy and enthusiasm wherever I dock.

But right now I'm a battered and leaky lifeboat. So it is. It's life.

White fluffy stuff

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Bloody hell! It's white outside. Apparently it has been snowing (lightly, but still) all night and when I opened my eyes and window this morning, I noticed a bunch of the white cold fluffy stuff. I was impressed to say the least. I'm up relatively early today, and plan on browsing more houses and get in touch with a few owners/realtors. I mailed and texted someone over a house last night, but didn't get any response. Maybe they're out of the country, who knows?

One thing is sure though, I shouldn't take the photo's and appearance of the house in them for granted, because I've found out that those photographs were taken by a professional photographer. Adverts for buildings with photographs made by pro's should come with a warning : "warning - objects may appear larger then they are".

Anyway, off to check my mails now and wake up.

Balancing the positive and the negative

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Had two pairs of extra eyes this morning while checking out a possible new house/home. Joco took quite a lot of photographs again - which is quite helpful when you need to recall a certain state or part of the building, or haven't spotted something while there, yet notice it on the photograph - and Jess was busy looking around as well, while I was listening to the current owner who was answering my questions.

Pro's :


  • bathroom is done quite nice

  • kitchen remains to be placed, so I would be able to pick and chose, depending on preference and budget

  • living room floor needs to be placed, same pro above

  • new windows and doors installed

  • heating installation is only 2 years old

  • electricity has been redone

  • affordable

  • close to my current place of employment

Cons :


  • bathroom is rather small, but not too small (two adults would work, if there would be kids involved, forget it)

  • two bedrooms (one large, one small) with no possibility for a third one

  • two obvious leaks noticed (one in the front roof, one in the back). Back roof would be repaired due to guarantee according to owner

  • state of walls in back section is dubious though not completely clear

  • new stairs are needed

  • roofs are not or very badly insulated (though a set back, it would also be an opportunity to do it correctly and even get some financial aid doing so)

  • kitchen needs to be installed (see Pro's)

  • Livingroom floor needs to be done (would allow for proper insulation as well)

As you can see, I've been going over pro's and cons quite a couple of hours already. Should I decide to make an offer, it won't be anywhere near the current asking price, and I'd have to take into calculation at least 2-3 months of work that needs to be done. Apart from the time needed to get it all installed and finished, I'd guess about 15k worth of investing would be needed as well. Which still is not that much, but definitely a factor to keep in mind.

Off to bed now, gonna let it rest for the night and review everything again tomorrow. Advice or first impressions may be asked from my two extra pair of eyes :)

Commute calculations

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Just got a call to see whether I can come in to work an hour earlier for a meeting. I suppose I can. Yeah, I'm working loads and loads right now, and it definitely is a change from earlier this year when I was winding down the time working to be able to spend more time with my family, but since that no longer applies, I put in more hours now, which will allow me to have a slightly higher budget when I find a new place to live.

Yesterday, as I was driving home, I made a quick calculation, which is actually quite confronting. Should I move to the house I'm checking out tomorrow, that would save me 30 minutes of travel each day, and that's a very low estimate. I think it may even be as much as 45 to 60 minutes depending on the time of day when traveling. Anyway, let's go for 30 minutes a day for the time being.

30x220 (the average number of working days in a year) = 110 hours

Moving closer to work would save me 4.5 full days a year, that I could spend on something more fun then being stuck in a traffic jam. I know that figure doesn't seem all that impressive, but if expressed in average work days (8 hours) we're talking about close to 14 days!

It certainly opened my eyes. Just for the fun of it, based on a 45 an 60 minute shorter commute, these are the figures :

165 hours saved = 6.8 days = 20.6 working days
220 hours saved = 9.2 days = 27.5 working days

Slowing down

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I don't know whether it's the time of year, or even the time of week, but it seems everything is slowing down. I have several triggers set up on sites that alert me when anything interesting pops up (for instance when it comes to houses appearing on the market) but the past couple of days nothing has moved. Same situation on another site, where I have several communications in progress, and suddenly everyone seems to have vanished.

/me looks outside to check whether the world still exists... yep, it's still there. Ah well, probably just a temporary fallback.

GaGa, the review

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I just returned from the Lady GaGa Monster's Ball concert in Antwerp, and while not blown away, I must say that I was definitely impressed. So far I only knew Lady GaGa from her hit singles (Paparazzi, Pokerface,...), but I must admit that the lady stands her ground, also on more intimate songs. She definitely can sing, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. I wouldn't put her up there yet with Pink (whom I've seen perform in the same location and who did blow me away), but she certainly earns a spot in history.

Off to watch the first episode of True Blood now, and then head off to bed. See you later, little monsters ;-)

PrtSc - SysRq

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I once again realize what friends are for. They are the ones that tell you what they think or feel, without hesitation, without holding back. It's what I need, plain and simple. They are the ones that look out for me if I don't - though in this case I'm pretty certain I wouldn't get caught in the trap called life again - and warn me when they feel I've lost it.

With that said, I've selected 13 interesting houses, that I'll be reviewing more in detail during the week. I hope to be able to go visit some within the next week or two, to see whether they are what I need, or not. If none of the places is what I need, or can afford, I'll just load up another batch and look around more. House are like girlfriends I suppose : you can take a look at many, yet not find one that really does it. But then, one day, one time, you'll just know you've hit gold and found one that fits you.

I'm forwarding most of the data to another e-mail address right now, so I can make a couple of calls tomorrow and on Tuesday.

Oh, the house in The Netherlands is still an option, though the term which the couple that has currently a bid on it has been extended with one week. More on that next week I suppose. I'm not putting my money down on it though and am actively for a new house. And girlfriend, but that's something entirely different. You don't go inputting data on a website to find the "perfect" or "affordable" match. If I had to though, here's my list :

Character : Witty, intelligent, likes humor, honest, open minded. Did I mention honest?
Physical : slim, tall, sexy, small breasts, lovely ass
Treats : non-smoker, kids welcome, enjoyable

While it may seem strange or even not masculine at all, I listed character before physical appearance. Character doesn't change, looks do. I take everything with a grain of salt and would rather live and be happy with a girl that lacks all of the physical appearance but has every single characteristic then the opposite. Oh, MILFS are welcome. I've learned first hand that children can be a very welcome addition to my life, and would love to include some again. On the other hand... they also make it ten times harder to let go if things go wrong. (Cries).

I'm not yet at a point where I can open up and be ready for someone new, the roller coaster has not yet stopped, I don't even see the end of the ride yet.

Good and Bad

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Back to square one we are. The house I was interested in got sold for a whopping €161k, not including costs. Way over my budget that's for sure, so I had to fold during the bids. It was good to have experienced a public sale of property as it has helped me understand the mechanisms and costs associated with it, but at the same time I'd rather would been able to buy that property.

Anyway, scouting more houses online today. It sure keeps me busy.

Hunting for information

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I've visited a house that seemed rather interesting on Saturday, along with my friend Joco, who offered to join me and shoot a ton of photo's. While the house itself still has my interest, there are some things that need to be cleared up before I'll even consider putting in an offer on Thursday evening. Actually, there are three major concerns right now :

1. somehow water has found it's way down, so a leak is occurring in the kitchen, where water leaks down from a light fixture. Not good to say the least. We've looked everywhere, but can't find any other wet spots or leaks for now, but it could indicate a major issue with the house. That combined with the fact that the outer wall of the house is obviously very wet in three different places, makes me believe the roof is not as waterproof as it should be, or there is any issue with the drains being blocked. It's hard to tell without further inspection and I'm not sure we will have the chance to investigate further before Thursday.

2. The costs are not only higher, but also calculated differently on this sale opposed to a regular sale, so I'll have to contact the notary to find out more and get a detail. I don't plan on offering 150k if I'm facing another 26k in costs, not including work that needs to be done in the house (for instance the leak issue, some heating issues and such).

3. An EPC certificate has been delivered and mentions a score of 638 which is incredibly high. A recently built house would score under 200 (a lower score means less costs heating the place). I do realize that an old but renewed house - such as this one - will never be as well insulated as a building that uses the latest techniques and materials, but I fear that this score would incur such a high additional cost that the whole thing falls down the drain. On the other hand, the certificate should mention all the insulation issues and even advice on how to fix them.

I'll be on the phone with the notary tomorrow to gather more info, and decide based upon that. If I can arrange for a second visit, I'll be taking my dad to see what he thinks about the place in general and the leak and/or roof issues. If it turns out that they are minor or relatively fixable, I'll take them into account and adjust the price offered depending on it.

Last but not least, I'd have to be able to get everything organized mortgage wise as well, because I believe that I'd have to pay the costs within 5 days (best case scenario) or 24 hours (worst case scenario) and the total price within 6 weeks. The latter I'm not so concerned about, but the costs could be another issue as I've not yet been bought out by my ex girlfriend. The paperwork is drafted up and signed, but not yet official. I sure hope that it doesn't block my ability to move on, that would suck big time.

The house in The Netherlands is still not listed as sold, so that - hopefully - too remains an option, though it would definitely complicate things.

#music : currently enjoying Robyn - Robyn from 2005.

An overview

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Today was a bit of a rough day for me, but I think I did quite okay considering. This morning I went to see the notary with my ex-girlfriend to get everything started on the paperwork for me leaving the house to her. I was not looking forward to it - nor the meeting nor the paperwork - but I was able to remain calm and I didn't break down as I feared. It still hurts to see her, though I'm coping with it a little better each day. When I think about the kids though - which ain't even mine, though I consider them to be - that tears well up and I crash and burn. I miss them so much, I'd never thought possible.

As I write this, tears flow down my cheeks and I'm not even ashamed about it. I would never have imagined that those two could have such an impact on my life, for the better. It also makes me both sad and angry that I won't be able to see them that much anymore. She said I could come visit, and they could come visit me when I'm back on my feet and in a place of my own, but for the time being that ain't the case and I'd just break down anyway. I've not been able to give that a place in my mind or heart. I'm not sure I'll ever will be able...

Enough whining for now, let's focus on something else entirely. Went to work for but a few hours and then got stuck in traffic on the way home. After a delicious scampi and pasta meal, Joco and I worked out a bit - a 20 minute cycling session, followed by some light power training - and then took a sauna. I got out after 15 minutes, and completed it with a nice shower. I don't plan to go take a sauna every day, but I could get used to it. The workout though, especially the cycling, I can see me do every day/evening. I'm sure it'll help drive my weight down even more.

I did update my files, did some finances and read my mails, so now...

Off to play some Eve Online!

Scouting

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Even though I'm starting to feel "at home" a bit more every day at J&E's house, I'm still longing for my own place again. So, I've been scouting the web for interesting houses, and I've got two or three options that really look good. Two of them are just across the border with The Netherlands, and one is in Belgium. I suppose November 18th will be rather important since that's the final date for one of the house to be sold, and on November 19th (at the latest) I'll know whether or not that first property I spotted in The Netherlands is still available.

I've called for an appointment to visit a house in Belgium somewhere this or next week, but am waiting for the realtor to get back to me - they have to check with the owner - and on Saturday I'll go check out the house I'm definitely considering in Belgium (based on photo's for now).

In the end there are quite a few options it seems at first, but it'll all come down very much on cash flow and availability. I hope to take a very important step tomorrow and get more info on how and when I'll be bought out of the current house in Mechelen. I'd have it sooner rather then later, because that would give me more options to put down a substantial part if needed.

I'm definitely not aiming for February, as that would keep me restricted way too long.

Truck

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I have little doubt that I'll feel like being hit by a truck tomorrow morning, but I actually wasn't. I've been working out together with Joco, and since it's been quite a while, it's bound to hurt... a lot :)

I do feel good about it though and will probably work out again tomorrow evening. See ya peeps!

Is that a demon?

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Yesterday I ran into a friend of a friend online and we ended up going to the movies, where we saw Paranormal Activity 2, which I can really recommend if you're into that kind of horror flick. I enjoyed myself, and I think she did too.

Planning the future

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Moved most of my stuff out, and took what I needed for daily or weekly routine into my room at J&E's place. I was already able to hook up the computer - hence this post - and the TV was showing the Simpsons just a couple of minutes ago. As I type this, I'm drooling over Cara Van der Auwera, who was just on the screen, grin :)

Tomorrow, I've got a meeting with my banker, and later my sis will be over. Today I'll try to head off to bed on time, because it's been a busy day and I haven't slept all that well last night. Lol, last night, quite an appropriate choice of words indeed.

Tonight I'll try to work on some documents that I hope will give me a clear outlook on what is feasible and what is not. I did spot an opportunity while moving today, so I'll be looking into it, keeping in mind that I don't plan to get my ass served to me, again.

Off to play Eve Online for a while now. If you're interested in giving Eve Online a shot too, send me a mail or leave a comment, and I'll send you an invite which will give you 21 days of free access (opposed to the regular 14 day trial account).

Research pays off...

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October 26th 2010 - a day I will not lightly forget. I won't go into details for now, as I feel there is no need to do so (yet, or even ever), and those who need to know, already do.

I spent my day at nipacenter, getting my back done (last treatment for now), then visited J&E - thanks for being there for me when I needed you most! - and surfing the internet for household appliances. While your specific needs may differ, here are some the top deals I was able to scout online.

Laundromat : Whirlpool Denver 1600 - Dryer : Whirlpool AWZ 7660 - Dishwasher : ETNA EVW 8161 - Freezer : AEG-Electrolux Arctis 60120 GS4 - Fridge : Siemens KG 33VX47.

I can cook

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Quite a bold statement, I know, but I really know how to cook a meal. I even am able to not just boil eggs, make a spaghetti or make a toast... Complex dishes don't really scare me, even though the outcome may not always look as good as it does on the picture, or is described. Well, one thing I had never done before - without using a home bread maker that is - is bake bread. Last week I came across a recipe for garlic bread with herb cheese and it looked so delicious I just had to give it a try.

I picked up the ingredients yesterday and the dough is rising as I type this (50 more minutes to go). For those interested in giving it a shot themselves, here's there recipe :

500g water
50g yeast
800g white wheat flour with (high in protein) (I opted to use a darker blend of flour)
50g olive oil
8g garlic powder
250g herb cheese with garlic (I used a mixture of boursin + a common store brand)
17g salt
8 fresh mirabelle plums (I opted to leave those off)
a couple of straws of chive (got those from our garden)

Mix the water, flour and yeast to a dough. Add olive oil, garlic powder, 50g herb cheese and salt and knead into a sturdy but smooth dough. Rest for 1 hour, then spread out to about 2cm height. Smear rest of herb cheese on top of the dough, add the mirabelle plums, straws of chive, sprinkle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 240°C.

You can find a photograph of how it should look when baked, or the recipe in Dutch here : Knoflookbrood met kruidenkaas.

Looking ahead

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Do I apologize for not blogging as much as I used to do? Not really. I know people read this blog, but I don't have as much need to describe my life and what happens in it as I used to have. One would almost say I now have a life, though that would sound as if bloggers by default have none. I think it's all a matter of finding a balance between being online and living your life. Lately the balance for me has shifted from being online 24/7 to being online (and blogging) every now and then.

Since last entry - what was it, August 22nd or so? - we've accomplished quite some things. We had a very nice house warming party, celebrated the birthdays of the kids, went to see a couple of movies, visited the Zoo, relaxed in the sauna, enjoyed a musical, worked hard (both at home as in the office) and generally kept pretty busy.

As I write this I'm waiting for the sun to break up the fog so the temperature goes up and I can finish off the garden shed - I was putting on the last roofing yesterday and need to get some details sorted - and put down some more tiles on the terrace. I'd do it all at once, but unfortunately my wallet says otherwise.

Then again, we've done a great deal of work here in the past months, but there remains a lot to do. If I'm not mistaken, a path has to be dug and laid in the back yard, the terrace needs to get finished, the front yard needs an overhaul as well (though that looks better already, just not "good" yet) and next year we plan on getting the lawn leveled and resown.

If it seems as if we only work, you're wrong. We've got two "cultural events" planned before the year ends, and I'm convinced the few spare weekends will soon fill up as well :)

Work and play

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Friday : work and an evening out with Schattie (food at Lord Nelson, then performances at vis-pop.

Saturday : up early, clean out garage in Deurne, helped out H. and returned home, to help Schattie dig a hole for the concrete that we hope to put in this week (for the garden shed). Installed most of the borders for the concrete. Cut down the branch of a tree that took away too much sun and was overhanging our property. Looks better now, though we'll have to cut some more.

Sunday : Up early again, though less early. Installed some ropes to get things level and filled another two boxes with cut up wood for the fire basket we'll use during winter.

A busy Monday evening

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I had quite some things to do tonight, and while I didn't get all of them done, those most important were accomplished. I'll be wrapping up one last mail I have to write and send that out before I head off to bed though.

I finished the first - and possibly final - draft of a flyer that we'll need soon, I did manage to talk to my little sis for quite some time, I created a DVD with all the images from our recent trip to Croatia (will have to burn at least one more copy) and I created an e-bay account for Schattie upon her request. I re-listed my playstation 2 console with 22 games, dualshock II controller, multitap, memorycards and eyetoy camera, as well as a copy of the Suicidegirls book (brand new, 155 pages).

Off to get that mail sent out and then to bed I head.

Digging for gold

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The apartment is definitely starting to look.... worse. Well, I wasn't really expecting it to be different, but still, it does kind of surprise me. I just walked back in after hauling 10 bags of trash from the garage to the pavement for pickup in the morning, as well as the carpet and the sofa(s) and it just struck me as I stepped in. It seems so empty, even though there is still a lot to be done. Next one the list is take out the last two chairs, which means no more comfy seating for the rest of the week, unless I plant my ass on the tiled floor, lol.

It's quite late already, but I'm planning to fill up the last bag and then head off to home and grab a quick snack on the way home. Back on Tuesday right after work for more cleaning and throwing things out. Looking forward to the 15th, yet not at the same time (depending on whether or not I make the deadline I've set myself).

* unfortunately, I've yet to find gold in here. The only thing I found so far is trash and things I no longer need, care for or fit in. I did bring 4 chairs from the new house here to put them out for collection tomorrow, but when I just walked out, they appeared to have been collected by someone already. Guess they could still use them. Suits me fine, I've gotten rid of them :-)

My home is not where my bricks are

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As I'm cleaning out the apartment, I've come across things I had long forgotten I had. I found photographs - you know the hard copy kind - that are ten years old. They pictured me and my ex-girlfriend when we were renovating the apartment. Well, it looks more like were we tearing it apart, which is pretty much what we did before we moved in to it. Ah... memories.

I don't really feel sad or sorry for having moved on though, or moved at all. My bond with this apartment is long gone and it had become no more than a place to rest and eat when needed. It stopped being a "home" a couple of months after we broke up. You know... a home is so much more then a place. A home is feelings, emotions, not just bricks and a roof.

Anyway, back to slaving I go. I'm still shooting for August 15th, though looking at the mess and work still to do, it could become difficult.

Update : I just managed to haul the two, three seat and the corner piece of my sofa down thee stories on a small common hallway. Why? Because it needs to be down by Monday morning 7AM, otherwise they won't pick it up. I almost broke a leg doing it, but hey... almost is also how close I usually come to winning the lottery. I'm gonna bring down the next two bags of junk and one more cabinet, and then call it a day. Tomorrow I'll work on the computer room some more - anyone interested in a server cabinet by the way? - and take out the carpet that has been in the living room for over ten years. The remainder then is - if I'm judging correctly - one

Cataclysm

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I got access to the new World Of Warcraft Cataclysm Beta... installing it as I write this. The new Starcraft II looks superb as well, too bad I don't have the time to play it all :)

My life is more than games and work nowadays...

Croatia

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Spent a very nice vacation in a rented caravan in Park Umag in the Istria region of Croatia. When we arrived on Saturday evening around 22h30 after a 19 hour trip (of which we drove over 17 hours, the rest was spent at stops to eat, toilet breaks, etc) we were still welcomed at the reception and were quickly told where our spot was. We were even able to still get a pizza, so even though we ate close to midnight, everything went rather fine. The trip however was really taxing and we got stuck in traffic jam after traffic jam, either caused by road works going on or general congestion, especially at the Tauren Tunnel and around Munchen. We lost loads of time there. But... enough of that, let's get on with the vacation itself.

When we woke up on Sunday - too early, due to rain pouring down - we looked at each other and the kids an wondered if it would be like this for the rest of the holiday. Luckily enough, the sky cleared up in the afternoon and after dinner we went out, exploring the camp site. Even though it is one of the larger camp sites, it is very well layed out, so that you never feel like fish in a barrel. Loads of open spaces, green grass and play fields for the kids to enjoy.

While we spent quite some time in or near the swimming pool - which sports a large pirate ship in the midst of it - we also took trips to nearby towns (Pula, Poreč, Pazin, Labin, Motovun, Novigrad, Umag, Rovinj, as well as a day long boat trip. We all caught loads of sun and the kids had the time of their life in and around the swimming pool.

The last couple of days though, we were greeted by dark clouds and thunderstorms coming in daily from around 18h00, which cut our days at the pool short, and forced us to visit Labin and Pazin in rainy conditions :(

When we got back to the camp site on Thursday, it turned out that we had escaped from the worst of the weather though, while city tripping : the camp site was flooded in places, electricity went out - and stayed out for 20 hours! - in the zone were we were and everyone scrambled to get rid of the water. Due to those conditions we decided to leave on Friday evening instead of Saturday morning, which - I must say - turns out to be a good if not great decision : instead of looking at a trip of over 19 hours, we got home in just under 13h and thirty minutes.

Photo's will be shared with those close to us later, once we have had the time to go over them, finished doing laundry, clean up and get some much needed sleep.

Hot, too hot to write.

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It's only 31 degrees today, so I'd dare call it "not that hot" though it definitely doesn't feel like it. It's damn damn hot!

This morning I was informed that the rental contract has been completed and signed, so I think we're good to go. I'll be registering the contract soon and inform the bank that it has been signed and starts earning rent in September. I think they'll like it as well. Sure enough, that means loads and loads of work to be done before August 31st and preferably August 15th, but we'll see whether that is actually feasible.

Too hot work on the computer more, so off I go.

Rented out?

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Had quite some people calling me about the apartment for rent, and today I saw the first couple. They immediately loved it and told me they'd take it. I'll be sending them a contract tomorrow for them to sign and then we can proceed. I've got another woman coming in to see it, but I'll tell her right away that it's probably gone, but that I'm willing to write down her details in case the first couple backs out again (one never knows).

After our trip to Croatia, I'll have tons of work here, but I might be able to get it all cleaned out before August 15th, which would make things easier on them, as well as allowing me to charge half a month rent earlier.

I sure hope they keep their word and sign and send the contract back to me, so we can get this issue out of the way for once and for ever. Off to play some WOW now - I did ponder about going out to see Iron Man 2, but I may do that one friday instead.

Working on...

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Spent most of my day so far by looking up info on building a terrace. Called dad to see if he had suggestions or answers to the many questions I faced while thinking over the project. Contacted 5 companies to make me a price for the job and will then compare their prices to the option of attempting it all on our own.

We're talking close to 18sqm here with a thickness of 15 to 18cm. I used a quick online calculator, and lets be honest... I don't see us taking in 2500kg of sand, 1096kg of cement, 3.130kg of stone and 548l water to make concrete. If we opt for "chape" we're talking 4695kg of sand, just 783kg of cement and 392l of water. Which is still an awful lot of materials!

Hopefully the plumber will show up today as well to give us advice or a solution to the leak we had or still have, so we can file everything with the insurance company. The rainwater pump pressure vessel is also leaking, so I'll have to replace that as well, possibly tomorrow, depending on what else is pushed to the front of the to-do list.

Life = working on improving life

202

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That's the score I got on the apartment's EPC, which is not that bad for a place built back in 1973 I'd say. The house we live in now scores 112 or so which is pretty good, but then again, that was built in 2001.

Off to finish the description and set my price, then drop it all in the mailbox of the neighbors and wait for a response. I want this place rented out already...

Making progress.

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I just mailed 14 people that are certified to check and deliver an EPC certificat for the apartment I still own, but plan on renting out. Due to new regulations, everyone is required to obtain such a document before advertising or renting out, so if I want to do so, I'll have to have that sorted out first.

Update : 7 replies so far, with prices ranging from 200,- euro VAT included to 120,- euro VAT excluded. That's a price difference of 15%. I'll see what the others have to say before I decide based on price as well as delivery time.

It's clear so far that rates are not too exuberant and the certificate can be delivered within days instead of months. I'm shooting for a first rental in September or October 2010. I still need to clear out the place, clean it up and then find a renter. There has been an inquiry before, so it could going rather fast, depending on when they are able to cancel their current rental apartment. To be continued.

Looking forward, not back

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Since my insurance company is being a bich I went out and rented a car myself. Costs me close to 200 euro, but at least I'll be able to go to work and earn money. As soon as this incident has been taken care of, I'll kick my current insurance company out and switch to a more customer oriented package.

I'm still looking at new cars as well, even though I don't have the money for it. We really need something larger so I can bring and get the kids from school as well, without traveling many extra kilometers to switch cars.

My neck still hurts, as well as my back, but I don't seem to have a headache for now, so I assume that I've escaped a whiplash.

Very much looking forward to two weeks off in July with Schattie and the kids, we all need it. Oh... I got tickets to the Lady Gaga concert :D yay!

Dazed, Confused and fed up

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Yesterday, en route to work, the driver of the car in front of me decided to slam his brakes because his friend told him he had already missed the turn to the left he had to make. I wasn't able to react in time and thus parked the front of my car into the back of his. No one was injured - though I am experiencing pain in the neck and back, sure hope it's not a whiplash - and the cars were not too damaged. I did ask for mine to be towed though since the front passenger wheel was rubbing against some of the framework and that wouldn't have been safe to drive 50km home.

A colleague was able to drop me off at home last night, but today I'm pretty much screwed. Another colleague had called in ill yesterday, which means I'll have to cover for him today, but I'm not mobile. I already tried arranging for a replacement vehicle yesterday, but as is common with insurance companies, they're passing the hot potato around. In twenty minutes I'm gonna call my broker again to check what I'm entitled to, and see if there is a solution. The insurance company claims the garage where the car was towed to should be giving me a replacement, the garage claims they don't have one free till the 15th of June. Which would leave me with 8 days without transport of which I need to work 5. Plain impossible. I'm really wondering what I'm paying these insurance bills for!

I'm really getting tired of pretty much everything and feel as if things are slipping away and there is so little I can do about it. I'm running around in a circle, not able to stop or turn things around, and it is really affecting my private and personal life as well, which is something I don't want to give up or see break down. The problem is that I don't see or have a solution either :(

It's getting hot hot hot

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Even though it's just a couple of minutes past nine, the sun is out in full force - it'll be a hot hot day. Over the weekend we're supposed to get temperatures up to 28°Celsius even, which will be a good way to get used to it for when we head off to Croatia, where it'll be even warmer.

I've just started shedding skin from the weekend in the sun at the coast (two weeks ago) so I think I'll try to get some more sun before I head off to work a late shift. In between things that is, of course.

The laundry is in the machine, I'll vacuum the place a bit and unload the dishwasher. Oh, wait! I can get a tan while I install another screen in the garden! Good thinking :) It'll also provide some privacy for Schattie and the kids when they are out in the garden over the weekend, which is good.

Minimalistic, but can't be arsed

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The blog is back up, all the entries have been republished and all the archives are still in the same place as they were before - I hope. Quick basic minimalistic design that looks like another zillion blogs out there, but I'm lacking the energy to start editing and dissecting all the different templates right now. It has the most important things covered, which basically is the content, and the rest of it will have to wait till I feel like customizing it.

One good thing comes from all this (check previous entry) though : all the crap that had gathered over the past 9 years of maintaining this blog has been removed. Yes, that's right... this blog was started on August 4th 2001, and still going strong.

Faucets

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I installed the new bath faucet yesterday, which wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Had to pick up some extra tools in the store though, but once I had those, things were going rather smoothly. I did manage to get my finger cut on a tile though, which resulted in me bleeding all over the bathtub because I hadn't noticed it right away, but one band aid later things were back under control.

However... the faucet seems to be leaking a tiny bit on the right hand connection, so I already tightened it up in the evening and this morning the leaking had practically stopped. Will keep an eye on it today and take it back off tomorrow if the leakage is not fixed permanently. Update : took it off already and used some extra telfon sealer to seal things off properly. Doesn't seem to leak anymore now.

Tomorrow : town hall, post office and attaching cables to the wall.

Unbelievable

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Yet true... yesterday the sofa we ordered earlier this year was finally delivered to our home, which means we can now sit properly, instead of "sitting" in the "cozy yet too low and too small for adults" bean bags for the kids. When we ordered the sofa, the sales guy guaranteed us that it would take about 10 weeks to be delivered, which would have been perfect. We ended up waiting 17 weeks. Never ever trust furniture sales people when they talk about delivery terms...

Yesterday I got to spent the day home, vacuumed, took out the trash, played some World of Warcraft, went shopping for food, cooked a nice meal for Schattie and we planned to go out to the movies in the evening. In the end we just stayed home and watched the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Not exactly the same as catching a movie, but we were enjoying our new sofa, she wasn't feeling too well and was a bit tired too. Guess we'll be rescheduling that movie date for who knows when.

Due to circumstances at work, I'll be working 13 or 14 shifts in June, were I was supposed to have gotten rid of those. Illness, time off and such however mean that we all have to put in an extra effort, but we were able to give almost everyone in the group the time off they had requested. I can't say that I'm pleased with how things are going right now, but considering the issues at hand, I think I should be pleased.

I'm looking forward to my own time off in June, and I've already asked for another week of in November when I'll be taking up all the overtime I'm putting in now. Past two months : +35h and counting.

That's the update for now. I'm off to vacuum the first and second floor now, do more food shopping and prepare another meal for the both of us this evening.

Boom!

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Spent the day at a military installation getting an introduction course on IED's which proved very interesting to say the least. Learned a lot which will help me make decisions while at work, though it also made me realize you can't detect or scan for "everything".

Came home, entertained the kids in the garden, waved my Schattie out - more training for the performance on Saturday - fed the kids, gave them a bath (first time for me and I think it went rather well) and just put them to bed.

Now I'm gathering all my data so I can file my taxes for the year and I think I already have most of it, if not everything. Only thing lacking is my login details, lol.

Bummed

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Just got home from work a couple of hours ago, unfortunately to an empty house. Schattie and the kids left for the Belgian coast this morning, where I'll join them on Friday evening. I just sent her a text message to see if everything is good and well there, but much to my surprise, I heard her mobile phone make noise, which shouldn't be happening when she ain't here.

Sure enough, she forgot to take her phone with her, so now I've got no way to contact them, which is a major bummer indeed. I'm really considering stepping into the car and heading over there, just to make sure they're fine. Yeah, maybe I'm a bit over concerned, but I like knowing those I love are fine. I like hearing her voice, seeing her smile, holding her hands.

Maybe she'll find a way to call me - I sure hope so.

We had a bit of discussion last night about me working so much, and while I do like my job, I'd rather be home with them instead of working another weekend or shift. We don't see each other too much right now with me heading off to bed early - waking up between 4:45AM and 5:45AM stinks - and her training so much for the dance performance next weekend (22nd of May).

If I'm every asked - or forced - to choose between my job and my family, I won't really have much of a choice to make : family comes first.

Not on hiatus, just busy

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Whoa, has it really been this long since I published something on this blog? I didn't know that. Anyway, today I was able to sleep in (till just past 9AM) thanks to Schattie who took it upon her to get the kids out of bed, fed and to school. Kisses she deserves!

Once I was up and dressed, I drove off to my old apartment to fill a couple of bags with things I no longer need - really, who realizes how much stuff they have, till the day they have to move it? - and to take apart the book cabinet and my desk. Schattie later joined me there 'coz her car is just a bit more practical to move stuff then mine, lol.

Came back home and installed the book cabinet and desk in the "office room" filled it up with most of my books. I don't think I brought them all though, as the shelves are (not yet) filled. Yeah, I've been an avid reader since I was ten or eleven, and - luckily for me - my parents never had a problem with it. They did monitor a bit what I wanted to read at that age, but rarely told me I couldn't read something, and they did have a ton of books for me to enjoy and delve into.

Just had the police at the door to check our address, so I take it once I take in all the documents, I've officially moved. Yay!

What a great start...

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I worked till 11h30 and then got my ass home as soon as possible, in order to meet with the telenet technician who was scheduled to arrive between 12h30 and 18h00. As I was in the car, I received a call from an unknown number on my cell phone : sure enough it was the telenet technician asking me whether I was home already. I explained I had been called to work, and wouldn't be there for another 30 minutes, but that was no problem.

Under 5 minutes after I arrived home, he pulled up and started working on getting everything installed. I must say, he did an excellent job, worked clean and tidy and worked fast. After getting everything installed, he explained what needed explaining and we even had a chat about network security and access to the modems he installs at customers.

I made sure that all the temporary passwords were changed ten minutes after he left and that I reconfigured my modem to be more secure. Not because I don't trust him, but I happen to like setting my things up myself, so I know they're secure.

Anyway, less then 5 hours after the install was completed and everything tested, I'm on the phone with support because I lost internet as well as my cable access - so... no TV either. Turns out that a rather large node has failed and put over a thousand customers out of service (internet, TV and phone combined). It took them an hour to fix it and get it back up.

I sure hope this ain't the start of a bunch of problems, coz I'll have it all taken out as fast as it was installed ;)

In and out

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Schattie is off to the coast with the kids, and I'm home alone. For those who think that means party time, I've got some bad news : it isn't.

Tomorrow afternoon the internet connection should be installed, so I'll have to be home and up for that. We started the front garden this weekend, as well as doing the "office" room, so there's plenty to paint.

Tomorrow morning I planned to sleep in - would be the first time in about three weeks or so - but the kid of a colleague is ill, so he can't make it to work. I'll work an early shift from 6AM till 11h30AM and then rush home to hopefully make it in time for the telenet technician to show up.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday is more work... on Sunday evening the familiy returns from the coast, but I'll probably only see them for about an hour or so before we all have things to do and places to be.

More updates later. I'm gonna quickly log in to facebook now to show people I'm still alive :)

Swift

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Lots of things have changed, especially related to work. Will update more when I have a stable internet connection (should be next week on Thursday).

Still unpacking, though Schattie has made a major dent in the number of boxes left to be unpacked. She rocks, and rocks my world.

6 days and counting

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On Saturday we took down a garden shed sized 3.2m x 3.2m. Mind you, one could do that by just picking up a sledge hammer and tearing it all down, but we didn't. We emptied it - man, you can't imagine how much stuff one can fit in such a shed! - and then labeled all parts and took it down piece by piece. In the mean time, Schattie was already transporting things to the new house, which means less to move on D-Day (in 6 days).

Don't worry though... there'll be plenty of things to handle, carry and move around still, so if you're "enlisted" to come help out next weekend, you'll have all the work you can do.

Today I finished the garage box project completely : it was finished on Friday, but some loose ends were still hanging about. I replaced some screws with nuts and bolts today (less chance of anyone getting injured) and filled the waste bag up some more. I took out close to 1 cubic meter of waste on Saturday, so today it was just the few remains I didn't spot earlier due to it getting too dark.

Note to helping hands : We'll send out a mail this week to let everyone know where to be and at what time.

It's getting very close now, and while we do look forward to it, it'll also be a very awkward and stressful day, so if anyone feels like they're getting their nose bitten off by us, don't take it personal : your help is much appreciated but there is so much to do and arrange that we may not always be as good a host as one would expect. We'll make it all up later, we promise :)

Shapes and colors

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Today our new bed and cabinet turned up, yay. Sure enough it's still very much looking like a bunch of wood in carton boxes, but we know it's a bed and cabinet, or so we hope.

Should get it all unwrapped and installed this weekend. The house is really taking shape now and with Schattie giving the living room and kitchen their final colors, it's starting to look just wonderful!

Can't wait to really move in.

Off to bed now, got another early shift tomorrow :(

Too busy to blog

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Sorry for the total lack of updates on the blog, but life has caught up with me it seems. Spending all of our time decorating and fixing the new house, combined with work and two kids leaves little to no time to blog. It's all work, travel, work, eat and sleep, no time to play.

Working shifts again has seriously affected the plans we had made for the new house, and as such we've changed things around and adapted to the situation as well as possible.

I sure hope it'll all become more manageable at the start of April, though I don't really expect it to do so just yet. Could we ask for some peace and quiet in May maybe?

Bathrooms and Bedrooms

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Worked hard today and on Saturday. Had help - thanks! - and visitors to the new house - hey, hope you liked it!

Thanks to the help of B&H, as well as M, the Disney Castle in Yenthe's bedroom was completed, the old furniture and sinks in the bathroom was removed and two new cabinets were installed. Schattie covered the walls in our bedroom in a layer of painted and several more kitchen cabinets were cleaned and disinfected.

More wall paper was removed and everyone was working hard and it shows. The kids' bedrooms are almost finished and we are slowly moving away from the phase were you only tear things down and create a mess, towards a phase were you see things change and get finalized.

Still loads to do though and March will be a true challenge, especially with me being forced to work shifts again, which means less weekends or days we can work together in the new house :(

Went to see The book of Eli in the theater and liked it. Off to work some more, late shift this afternoon. If you wanna reach me, just call my mobile phone, I won't bother with putting my schedule online as I'll be at work all the time anyway (either at my job or in the house).

The weekend so far...

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Spent all day at the new house, tearing off wallpaper and trying to get the heating going, which in the end didn't happen. Even though it's not freezing cold outside and the place is rather well insulated, it was chilly to say the least. Working hard helped, but it was pretty cold still.

It seems the circulation pump on the heating has broken down, so we'll need to have that checked, confirmed and fixed, preferably before next weekend when the kids will be at the house as well. Small kids don't do that well in a chilly place.

More working in the house tomorrow, we'll be doing more grinding, tearing down wallpaper and cleaning out the garden. The painting is mostly Schattie's job, as she's pretty good at it, while I'll be taking care of wallpaper and garden duty. I also hope to be able to get some final notes on paper regarding building a storage level in the garage box, which will help us when we move to store things we don't really need every day, yet can't throw away (yet). All that, without losing any free parking space in the garage.

Off to bed now, need to take care of some other things now.

Project(ile) vomiting

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After having an enjoyable day (see below, went ice skating with the kids) Siebe wasn't feeling too well, just past two. He got really ill and we ended up scrambling for a bucket. He wasn't the only one, just a couple of hours after we finished having Chinese food, I was feeling bloated and generally not well. Sure it could have been the food, but I doubt it. Just before we went to bed, I got ill and deposited all of my food into the toilet bowl, not following the regular exit though. After an hour or two in bed, the rest followed and I was running a fever.

Called in to work that I wouldn't make it, and I'm glad I did. I'm on the couch right now and feel weak, have trouble staying up and have a terrible headache to go with it.

Schattie has managed not to catch it (for now), and I sure hope she doesn't either. First day at the new office today and not feeling all that well, I don't envy her. Gonna give her a call later today or text her to see how she's doing.

Enough sitting up for me now, I'm gonna lay down and go back to feeling crap now. Laters!

Ice and moving mode

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I've been getting into moving mode myself, though only recently. I've canceled my land line at the apartment, so if you're trying to reach me there starting February 1st, you'll probably get a "number no longer in use" message, or something like that. I've downgraded my internet access to a light package using raw copper - so I still have access the few times I am there, but no longer pay for a heavy use package as I did before.

In short : my mail will be forwarded to the new house, my phone line has been canceled and if you're trying to reach me, use my mobile number. If you don't have it yet and think you should, ask me in person, or shoot me a mail requesting it.

Went ice skating with the kids today, was fun though a looooong time since I did try. I managed to stay up, lol.

Cartoons

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There ain't much news for now, but I just wanted to let everyone know that we're all still here and doing fine. Wednesday Schattie is heading of to her doctor to get more info on how serious her illness is, and Wednesday evening the both of us will be at the notary to get some things on paper regarding us buying a house together.

It may not sound or be very romantic to get things in writing, but we're both adults and know it is for the better.

That's all for now, folks!

Shopping spree

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Went shopping today, ordered our new bed and closet and found ourselves a nice set of matching night tables to go with it. Also found several other small things we still needed for the new house. Note : don't take Schattie into Maisons Du Monde, she likes that store way too much ;-)

We also went looking for two different set of lights (one strawberry red, one lime) but both stores were closed on Saturday.

It's all coming rather close now, and we're so looking forward to it!

Steam'd up

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It seems all good news is rather quickly compensated by some bad news. We were able to convince the sellers of our new house to hand over the plans already and we hope to get the key on or before the 1st of February. The sale itself will be finalized on the 9th of February, so we should be able to get everything in order and ready before April 1st. Yes, I do know that seems like an eternity, but after having a look at what Schattie has planned, we'll need that time and maybe even more, though it shouldn't prevent us from actually moving in April 1st. Definitely exciting times, ain't it?

We'll be calling in help for sure, so if anyone is up for it, let us know. We'll need at least a painter for the kids' room and may need someone experienced in electricity to read the plans or check things around the house. I've got little to no experience with it.

Wednesday morning Schattie went to the clinic to have her blood sugar levels measured, but she was turned away before the testing even commenced. Apparently her sugar levels were so high they couldn't give her any more to actually perform the test. Off to the doctor we go again to have the reading verified and off to a specialist later to confirm or test further. As soon as I heard when she called me around 09:25AM, I went over to the paramedics at work to request some info and hear their opinion on things. Sure enough they said they couldn't give individual advice since they ain't doctors nor do they know the levels, but they were able to give me broad information about diabetes and what can or can't be done about it, but more importantly even, they were able to put me at ease that even though it is a serious illness, it is not totally life rupturing or altering. Food is still allowed, so is sugar or candy, fruit and exercise. Key is to measure regularly and know what a certain type of food or exercise will do to your blood sugar level and to anticipate.

Definitely things will change in all of our lives knowing this, but none of that scares me. I'm here to help, aid, love and take care of those I love.

Lelo Liv

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I've had an very nice and enjoyable weekend, once again. Yes, it seems to have become a constant factor in my life, so I think that's good. I guess that's what happens once you are happy. Friday evening we headed off to friends where we had a very nice home cooked meal and played singstar on PS2 till 02:30AM, probably much to the disliking of the neighbors, coz none of the four of us would really make it as a lead singer, lol. It was a ton of fun though, and all those song that seem soooo easy, definitely are harder as then look when you try getting the words, the rhythm and tone correct. But it definitely is a lot of fun!

On Saturday the two of us went out on a shopping spree, got ourselves a nice new garden table, and - believe it or not - we even found a clothing cabinet and a nice new bed. Our style when it comes to furniture is sometimes quite different, yet we we both rather fond of this set we spotted. I think we'll be heading off to the shop again later this week (well, next week since I'm writing this on Sunday evening) to have the order taken and a deposit made. Then we can have it all delivered at the new house and enjoy it as well.

While we were over at the new house - we had to take a look at the garage - our soon to be neighbor popped his head out of his door to see what was going on, and immediately invited us in to meet the family. We accepted and sat down to meet Mehdi and his family, had coffee - which I normally never drink, but it just didn't feel right to refuse their hospitality, so I finished my cup while talking to them - and fresh dates (dadels in Dutch for those who wonder). Mehdi is Iranian and has been living here for years, and the whole familiy was eager to know who would be moving in next to them in a few short months (67 days and counting we think).

I think we'll have great neighbors there and hope they had a good an impression of us as we had of them.

Saturday evening I was thrown to the lions as I was about to meet two aunts and an uncle of Schattie, but - as you can read - I wasn't eaten alive. In fact, I was accepted it seems. It was quite a fun evening as well...

Off to Sunday (them weekends sure look longer than 2 days, don't they?). We got out of bed rather late (that's what you get for spending time with family on Saturday evening) and I went out to get some food while Schattie cleaned up in the house a bit. Later in the afternoon when everything was more of less tidy, we faced the snowy roads to head of to an erotic fair where we did some shopping (mainly clothes, massage oil that doesn't taste bad when you happen to taste it "by accident" (editors note : according to Schattie, I should have just written "lickable" and be done with it) and a couple of toys, before we returned home to wait for the kids to return home.

Had food, showered the kids and now we're ready to take a shower ourselves. Tata!

2-0-1-0

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Service announcements :

@nurse kody : I've never had a flu shot before, so neither did I get one this year (or last year, since I'm writing this in 2010). Don't know what I had, guess it was the I'm fed up with everything and my head is full of snot and slime and I feel generally like crap illness.

@Kenny : thanks dude! Wish you the best for 2010 and we may run into each other again soon, who knows.

@Hilda : I think they are just doing their job and don't get rewards of bonuses for making ill people go back to work anyway. They're just evil.

So... this is two thousand and ten! I wish you all the best and I may post an overview of 2009 later, if I get to that, it is.

As good as it gets

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Had a wonderful evening and dinner thanks to Schattie. She managed to make it cozy and prepped a tasty meal and lovely experience, even though she was (and still is) suffering from whatever kept me down and out for the count for two days. Schattie, I love you! Wish you're feeling better soon though, I hate seeing you be ill and feel bad and there is so little I can do about it. I can be there for you, and I am, but still... it makes me cry.

On the 23rd whilst sitting down, my WoW authenticator broke :( The display cracked right in the middle and now I can't read the digits properly. Tried ordering a new one, but for that I need to be able to log in, which I can't. Now my account is locked out due to too many failed attempts :( Already sent off a ticket to the support team, but it'll probably take days before they get to it and help me out. Ah well... the authenticator idea is solid, but obviously it also has it's flaws...

Doc vs Doc

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Doctor 1 : You're ill. I recommend you stay home till the 24th. Better don't risk infecting your colleagues.
Doctor 2 (who appeared at my door today) : You're fit to go to work. You can start again on the 24th.

Whatever. I kinda hope all my colleagues get ill and they have to shut the whole place down because no one shows up anymore. I wouldn't wish it onto them for the mere fact that I wish no one to feel as ill as I've been the past weekend, but the rebel in me yells "fuck it all".

Note : I don't really wish that things have to be shut down, or that everyone gets ill. So if that was the impression you had, get a new impression now, please :)

Life, as it shouldn't be

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What do you do if everything hurts, your head seems to be filled with snot, you're coughing as if you smoked three packs of cigarettes a day for the past decade and your running a fever up to C39.7°?

You head off to bed and listen to your Schattie who declared : "if you're heading off to work on Monday instead of the doctors, I'll be very pissed."

Point taken, and right she was. I was still running a (slightly lower) fever this morning (only C38.2°) and the doc has written me a complete collection of meds that I'll be taking for the next couple of days. I'd rather be healthy and off to work, lemme tell you.

Schattie, thanks for getting through to me - finally, I admit - that I can't just keep on running around as if I can't get ill. I haven't been ill as much in the past 8 years as I've been in the past 2 months. Guess I'm catching up on my bacteria and viruses :(

Off to bed I go again... more rest is needed.

Loads of things to do

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Had quite a busy day at work, then went swimming with Schattie. We even behaved :)

Gotta give dad and Hil a call tomorrow, then we head off to the sauna for some relaxation. Have one mail to sent, one to reply to, and some shopping left to be done. When will I do all that? There's only 24 hours in a day!

Saturday

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Spent some time today taking the kids for a bus ride into town, did a bit of shopping - still need some things though - and then got home and got the x-mas tree unwrapped and installed. Schattie turned the plain green tree into a wonderful red x-mas tree, with just the right amount of ornaments. Not too little, not too much.

Kids are just off to bed - tad bit late but the decorating of the tree took a bit longer then expected - and now we're relaxing a bit. Tomorrow we're off to J&E's to celebrate A's birthday.

Thursday, Friday, Weekend

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Got out of bed around 10, after answering the phone twice (once work related to ask whether I could fill in for a colleague this weekend - no, I can't. Got festivities to attend, second time it was the dentist to see if I could come in earlier as her previous appointment had forgotten about it), and headed off to the dentist where I spent no less than 4 hours in the chair, only interrupted bt a very brief toilet break because I couldn't hold it any longer.

As I walked out just past three, we all went to the swimming pool (with "all" I'm referring to Schattie, the kids and I, not my dentist) for a swim. It was fun and the kids had a blast, but after about 45 minutes they were both shivering and cold, so we got out and took a warm shower and headed home for food. First food I had all day apart from a tiny slice of leftover pizza I had this morning. Schattie makes a very nice couscous dish, let me tell you. Not nearly as good as her lasagna, but then again, there's little that can even compete with that...

Rammstein and Combichrist was excellent last night, loved the show. Made some photographs with my mobile phone, if I don't forget to pick up my charger on Sunday, I may even remember to post them somewhere.

Saturday we'll do so more shopping and generally hang around and entertain the kids, Sunday we're off to a birthday party.

Waiting

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* For my Schattie to get home
* For pizza order to arrive (hopefully after she gets home)
* For the Rammstein/Combichrist concert to start (20h30)
* To sleep in tomorrow (till 9AM or so, not much later)

Today I went to Nipacenter for my 3rd session, before that I did some x-mas shopping for various people, later I went out and fixed a computer and laptop for someone. Yeah, I've been keeping busy :)

Chew on this

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It's just past 8AM, helped Schattie to get the kids ready for school, made them all sandwiches and such, then waved them out. Took the trash out, as well as old paper and am now preparing myself to get my day started. First off to the bank to get the mortgage sorted out and signed, then off to the dentist for my first appointment.

Providing I will be able to actually chew food in the hours after, I'll cook a hearty meal. If it proves challenging, I'll opt for a soup with bread and vegetables instead I think. Off I go, my day calls!

This and next week

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So... what are the plans for today and the next couple of days? Tonight I'm heading out for dinner with my sister, while Schattie goes Jazz-dancing. What she doesn't know though, is that I'll be heading over there to come see her train, which she'll hopefully like.

Tomorrow she's off to see Clouseau in concert with some friends (I'll be driving them to and from the concert), and on Saturday we hope to sleep in - it's becoming a necessity after days of hardly enough sleep - and then go shopping for presents. Saturday evening we're off to a play (comedy) and on Sunday we plan to sleep in more and then celebrate Saint-Nicolas with the kids around 5PM. Somewhere in between those two activities laundry needs to be done, as well as ironing and cleaning.

Monday is the start of a new week of work, though I'll be off for 3 days. Tuesday, I'm heading off to the dentist, Wednesday work calls again, Thursday I have an appointment at Nipacenter and we're heading off to the Rammstein concert in the evening, followed by another dentist appointment on Friday. There are no hard plans for Saturday yet, but I imagine we'll be entertaining the kids, or vice versa. On Sunday we're off to J&E to celebrate Alex's birthday.

Somewhere in between all that, I imagine new things will pop up randomly and be taken care of as well.

Fun times and bad schedules

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Had a very busy but enjoyable weekend. It's been fun meeting up with old friends, have friends/family over for dinner and visit a show with the kids, who had a blast. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, so before I realize it fully, I'll be starting yet another work week.

I also received my work schedule for December and once again the fools manage to fuck up my social life in a major way. After having a X-mas party with the family on the 25th, I'm supposed to go work an early shift on the 26th. Right, that ain't happening.

I'll be talking to the planning supervisor tomorrow, and if that fails, take my griefs further up the chain of command. I'm getting really fed up with being a puppet on a string. I didn't really care much for it the past 8 years, but now that I've got a fantastic family, I wanna spend time doing fun things with them, opposed to working early, late or night shifts on the weekend.

So far, all the weekends I was scheduled to work were the few weekends that I had the opportunity to sleep in with my Schattie and get out of bed whenever we want. I won't let some crap schedule interfere with it on the 26th!

Spareribs, tight asses and dresses

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Saturday, after working an early shift, I met with my Schattie and headed off to an unknown destination. Unknown to her that is, I knew perfectly well where I was driving to. Quite a few weeks ago - at Sinner's Day to be precise - I noticed a small clothing shop where I thought she'd find some clothes to her liking. Especially one tight fitted dress looked nice, but I decided not to gamble and buy her something she may not like, or something that doesn't fit.

Instead, I planned on taking her to Maastricht to visit the shop itself, so she could feel the fabric, try on the clothes,...

So, off to Maastricht we went. It was a bit of a hurry because we were only able to leave around three PM, but we made it to the shop in time. Unfortunately, the dress was sold, and the other clothes were a bit too extravagant or unsuitable for everyday wear. They probably would fit at a vampire party, but we don't go there all that often, so it would be a waste.

Luckily, we walked into Wonder Woman, where we picked up a dress that suited her just perfectly. I could try to describe the dress itself, but I'll let it speak for itself when she wears it. One tip of the veil I can lift though : her perfect ass looks superb in it ;)

After the shopping - we also picked up some things at The Body Shop - we had a nice sparerib meal at Gauchos. Yummy, yummy!

Enough talking now, I'm gonna finish the x-mas gifts lists and send those out, once I finished inputting a bunch of bills into my online banking tool. Hope there's some money left after paying all those bills, lol.

What's the latest news?

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Is there anything new really? Well, yes, I suppose.

On Wednesday Schattie and I signed an agreement to purchase a new home in the neighborhood of where she is living now. It means I'll be living about 5-6 km's further from work, but that is not impossible to overcome. For those that were not as up to date or informed as some others were, this may come as a big surprise, but for us it ain't. Though it is kind of exciting, that I admit.

Later this afternoon I'll be heading off to the dentist to get my molar fixed. Wednesday night I woke up with a terrible headache and tooth pain, and even an aspirin did nothing for me. Which in itself is a surprise as I hardly ever use medicines which makes them that much more efficient. I called my regular dentist, whom gladly offered to see me on Tuesday evening at seven thirty. Right. Imagine called your doctor to get a broken arm set and plastered and hearing that you can get an appointment in 5 days. Luckily Schattie's dentist was able to squeeze me in today to get it looked at. I'm not looking forward to getting needled, drugged, sedated, cut, drilled and filed, but if that is what it takes to get the problem fixed.... gladly.

Tomorrow I'll start working two early shifts (Saturday/Sunday) followed by 5 regular day shifts. Yeah, it's so not in line to regulations but my employer doesn't seem to care about those too much. I'll definitely keep that in mind for later.

On the 3rd I'll be having an evening out (food, drinks and conversation) with my little sister, which will be fun for sure. We should try to see each other more often but with two agendas filled to the brim it's hard sometimes.

That's it for now people. I'll go figure out what the correct address is for the dentist and what meal I'll be cooking tonight. I'm leaning towards a turkey roll with baked potatoes and a gravy, but haven't settled for it yet.

Halloween has passed, right?

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Spent most of the day studying for tomorrow's exam, but took a break to go shopping for food. In 15 minutes I'm off to pick up the kids from school.

I cleaned up the place a bit, did some transfers from one bank account to another - will be simplifying things even more (less accounts) on Thursday when I meeting with my banker - and cut and cleaned half a pumpkin from which I'll be cooking soup after I return from picking up the kids. Got the onion and paprika's ready to cut, so unless I mess things up in a major way, soup should be ready around five PM. Cross fingers, first time that I'm doing pumpkin soup, lol.

Exams

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Just finished my training course, with one examination left on Wednesday, which happens to be the most difficult topic : rules, regulations and laws concerning security. I did quite well on two exams so far : cultures and diversity was rather easy according to me, so I scored a straight 10/10 and today we wrapped up our first aid course (20 hours) where I scored a 91/100 on theory and 100/100 on the practical exam (reanimation).

If I do as well on the exam on Wednesday, I'll be one happy camper.

Thanks

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Even though I know I've got family and friends I can call upon for pretty much anything I'd need, it's wonderful to see it happen as well. Dad, this one's for you, from us : thanks.

Oven fried chicken in a Parmesan crust

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The chili con carne was quite enjoyable, and we've put two small containers in the freezer to enjoy when there is less time to cook. Today I cooked my love a meal consisting of spinach with a touch of boursin and garlic draped over a tagliatelle dish and oven fried chicken in a slightly spiced up Parmesan crust. It was a long shot combining two dishes I hadn't cooked before, but it seems it worked well.

I think the spinach should be replaced by freshly cut and cooked spinach next time though, as it is just a bit more tasty and better suited to create zones, tastes and colors on a plate.

I hardly ever cooked for myself the past 8 years, but when cooking for my Schattie, I enjoy doing it providing I have the time and space. Yeah, that still hasn't changed a bit : when I'm cooking, get out of the way, out of the kitchen and only come back or in when called for.

Kicking the day off

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For it being the one day off this week for me, I'm up early. I've already vacuumed the downstairs and will be cooking up a storm later. Well, either a storm or a fine meal, I'm not sure yet. I plan on making a nice chili con carne dish, but don't really know how to start and what to serve with it. Guess I'll be surfing around for recipes soon :)

If you happen to know the best ever recipe to make chili con carne, feel free to post it in a comment, or leave a link should it be on the internet somewhere, thanks!

More updates later, maybe.

Update : We've just received some very exciting news to say the least. I will not share it here for the time being, but a very select group of people may be getting a phone call in the next couple of days.

Work, Republishing and Meals

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Working late shifts again, at least for now, two weekends in November I'll be working early shifts as well. Can't imagine the joy that was spread when that news was announced. Not too pleased with it, and will definitely take the current lack of proper scheduling into account if (or when) the question is raised "do I wish to continue working like this?".

Went looking for some real estate today, and found something we both rather liked, or at least agreed that it had plenty of opportunity to make it into something where we could settle nicely. The next couple of days will tell us whether or not we can, should or could go through with it, so consider that to get a sequel in the coming days, weeks or months.

I've also decided to republish a couple of posts that had been "unpublished" a while ago, in order to avoid uncalled for attention. It's not that I think the commotion in itself was wrong or unwanted, but I was not interested in becoming the center of some part of it myself. Now if you want to go hunt down what it is or was all about, be my guest. If I cared whether or not people knew, or wanted to keep it all quiet, I wouldn't have written about it in the first place, would I?

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and sometimes they match, and sometimes they don't. Should you decide to dislike me for something I decided in the past, that's your loss, not mine. Just give it a good thought or ask me how I came to decide as I did and you may see it my way.

Enough writing for now, just had an excellent meal - prepared by my Schattie - and I'm heading off to bed to cuddle and get some sleep. See ya folks!

Note : to all the cutting edge readers that end up at this blog due to them linking Front 242 to www.front242.be, I excuse myself. Yes I'm an avid Front 242 fan. Yes, I was at the Sinner's Day festival and enjoyed the Front 242 gig, but I can't help that they linked to my front242.be url instead of the correct www.front242.com site. So everyone that was looking for the official Front 242 site, it's www.front242.com! Go there now, or keep on reading here.

Sombrero's, Corona and Spanish Fly

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Yesterday afternoon I left work because I was feeling pretty ill. It had been brewing for a couple of days to be honest, but I decided to inform people that I would be going home before things went really bad. After a visit to the doctors later that afternoon, it turned out that three out of four of us are suffering from some kind of flu - whether or not it is the Mexican variant is unclear, more tests would be needed - so we all got to stay home. To me it doesn't really matter if it's Mexican, Bird, or Spanish flu, they - at least I assume - all make a patient feel equally bad.

Spent most of the evening and afternoon in bed, not doing dirty but oh so pleasant things, feeling like crap. Slept till 10h30 this morning and feeling a tad bit better, though I've got a headache (still) and my nose and head feel as if they're stuffed with cotton balls. No fun. Hope that I'll feel better soon, I'd rather have fun with the family or be at work than be home ill.

Maybe more later, after I've had some more rest. Chill!

PS : I'm not allowed to leave the house, so no running around for me, and since the flu is rather contagious, no visitors either I suppose.

Roadtripping

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Trips for today include : Westende -> Deurne -> Pulderbos -> Deurne -> Mechelen.

The first leg of the trip is already completed, as I met up with Joco on Deurne to give him the work-out bench and weights, then went voting against the Lange Wapper bridge, and soon I'll be off to Pulderbos to troubleshoot a fluke with a linksys router. After that, back here to pick things up, then off to Mechelen to meet up with my love again.

Weekends like this are the reason there is so little activity on the blog nowadays, it's not that there is nothing going on, I just don't get to the point of actually writing and sharing.

Oh, as I'm blogging anyway, we were in Plopsaland yesterday and the kids had a blast - as we all did I think. We were asked to help look out for the Thieves that stole Mega Mindy's DVD by some "police officers" at the entrance and in the park, and the kids happily obliged and searched for clues while enjoying the various rides. Fun Fun Fun!

Note : in the past three months I've spent more time at the Belgian Coast than I did the past 25 years.

The weekend awaits

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When things go wrong, you can blame the world, blame the cause or you can shrug it off and realize that there's more to life then cries and woes. That's what I usually do, so when I drove all the way home to meet up with someone that ended up calling in that he wouldn't be coming over after all, I shrugged it off. Those things happen - there's plenty of time to meet up again later. Was I not a little pissed? Well, I was, but only for a couple of seconds. Sometimes things don't exactly go as planned, but such is life and what makes it interesting.

Won't be all that reachable over the weekend - relaxing is key - but back to work on Monday.

Life - Work - Play

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First day in the new team proved to be quite busy and made us all deal with tons of people that came unprepared or not packing the right documents. I don't really understand that you present yourself at your new job and not have everything on you that's required, but maybe I'm just too much of a nitwit.

Anyway, this morning apparently I was expected to work the early shift, but as I worked a day shift yesterday I didn't. They called another colleague to fill in for me, and I've agreed to work it tomorrow. The way the schedule is made up these days is just too funky to describe in words. I hope that it'll all be settled soon because the idea was to have more of a regular life, not less.

I plan to finish installing and patching this laptop, then have food and enjoy the rest of the day. Yesterday evening and this morning were very enjoyable, I hope to have much more of these moments and days in the future, and I think I will.

@Hilda : it's not really a promotion, but rather a change of department/team for the next three months.

A longer post...

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After finally getting the DSL line up and running yesterday afternoon, this morning I grab my laptop and notice a small pin laying on the ground. Immediately I know that it's the pin that's needed to put juice in the laptop. If it was the external connector, I wouldn't really care as it's easy enough to replace, but now it's the internal connecting pin that's broken, and I doubt I'll be able to replace or fix it that easily. I don't mind opening up the laptop itself - warranty is long gone - but finding a replacement part could prove impossible.

Work related news now : I've been asked to help out another section for the next three months and after some calculations to verify the financial side of things, as well as talking through the upcoming changes with those that matter to me, I've confirmed that I'll be joining them starting Friday next week. I'll sure miss my colleagues and working with them, but I'm also looking forward to a new challenge and competences to be acquired.

Connected

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Got a stable DSL connection at my disposal now, so updates will be more regular soon. Have a few bits of news to write about as well, so stay tuned. More later (tomorrow?)

Several updates

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@Dimi : so far no extra information on the "stabbed in the back" post, so I'm starting to believe that I'm not affected/included at all. Which would be good.

I've just downgraded my internet access which will save me 16 euro a month. Not really all that much, but I no longer have the need for the top of the bill access with every possible option there is. I once had, but that time has been long gone. In fact, I should have downgraded about a year ago, but I never got round to it. After searching the online support pages for my provider, it turned out that you can upgrade through their eServices, but you can't downgrade. Sneaky, ain't it? I called their support line and after punching myself through a seemingly infinite number of menu's I finally reached an operator that called herself Elke, and she handled my request very professionally and swiftly. Thanks.

Got word from my current employer that they'll be sending me on a course in November. Finally, I suppose. That is, if they don't cancel it last minute as they did before. Not looking forward to a (possibly) boring course, but am looking forward to getting all my certifications in order once again. If I don't follow that 1 week course this year, I'll get stuck with a 3 week course next year, which I don't intend on settling for.

Bleh

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I wanted to quickly finish leveling my warlock to 36 - only 10k XP to go - but Kazzak is full as usual and there's a 450 player queue. Guess it'll have to wait, coz I'm prepping for work and after that I'll be off for a couple of days.

Sorry about the scarce updates here, but for the time being, that's they way it is, and I'm not sure it'll change anytime soon.

Hugs and kisses to all that deserve it,

ServMe.

Updates and Relaxation

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I just got a hold of my schedule for September and have updated the data on the blog accordingly. If you can't seem to reach me, try my mobile phone and/or leave me a message. You can also try leaving me a massage, but I'll probably fall asleep after thus totally forgetting about getting back to you, lol.

The sauna experience at 't Mineraal was quite enjoyable though it always feels a bit awkward going to one you're not used to. The food was excellent, the company even better. Next time we may try Brasschaats Badhuis.

Observations

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It's been a while since I was able to post an entry here, which is not due to lack of things happening in my life, but rather due to loads of things going on right now. I've been experiencing quite some things I had no or little prior experience with, and as such, this observation wraps it up nicely I suppose :

As a non-parent, most things in life are easy - just a few things are complex. Once kids are involved, everything becomes complex. Even the complex issues you faced while being a non-parent now suddenly seem easy and trivial.

Enough observations for now though : here is what I plan on getting done today :

- laundry (in progress)
- pack stuff (in progress)
- visit and relax in sauna (not my regular one though)
- play wow (commencing shortly)
- check, prepare and update my photo gallery (postponed)
- upgrade the blog installation (completed)

Oh, since I have limited internet access these days, I do read my mail, but can't post blog entries from the phone (yet). Until I get that issue resolved, I suggest you follow me on twitter because - since "peep" is an excellent twitter client on the HTC Hero - I'm using it to update my whereabouts every now and then. (@friedkitten)

Hero, finally?

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Sorry about the total lack of updates, but I've got very limited access to the internet these days (I'm at home right now, for a few hours) though that will change quickly once I pick up my HTC Hero in The Netherlands on Monday. Yeah, I've decided to cancel that order I had open since July 4th, and pick up a unit I ordered today, on Monday. That's how easy it could have been had Google and the Belgian Government not been playing cry baby over some youtube license issue (or that's what the store tells me).

For those anxious to know how everything else in my life is currently progressing, the answer is to talk a lot and even more important to listen to each other. So far we've been doing good - great may be a better word - but there's still a lot of ground to cover and obstacles to clear.

Look, he's here. Oh... gone again

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Over the past couple of days I've been very busy, most of the time spending little to no time at home and constantly on the move whilst working my regular job as well. It's taxing and the heat is sometimes just too much - aaarrrghhh, fuck global warming, I want it to be cooler! - which every now and then makes for a very irritated and grumpy ServMe.

Got limited access to the internet, hence the lack of updates. I'm trying hard to keep up to date on mail and such and for those who really need me, call my cell phone. I'm hoping to get the new one (HTC Hero) on Friday, finally. That's it for now, Folks!

Back to doing laundry and packing things before I head off again.

Packing up and moving

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Helping a friend move, so it'll be a long day packing things, lifting boxes, moving boxes and unpacking them again, resulting in total chaos in at least two places. I can't say that I'm looking forward to it - moving is always a bit of hell - but in the end the hard work will pay off.

Gotta run!

(Hoping it doesn't get as hot outside as is predicted)

Talks, booze and lazers

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Had my first session at nipacenter today and feeling a bit under the weather now. I was told that it would be possible to run a little fever overnight due to my body suddenly being asked to get rid of a whole lot of waste products, and I guess this is how I respond to it.

My back aches (doesn't hurt though, but feels as if I've been working in the garden all day long, bending and lifting things), I've got a light headache and I'm sweaty as hell. All of that occurred within 2 hours of finishing the session. I'm sure I'll be feeling much better after a good night's rest. More updates tomorrow if nothing more important is up.

Had a very nice evening with J&M and little T. Excellent food, home brewed limoncello - M. described it as more fluid as the commercial brands, a bit heftier on the alcohol, but definitely nice and drinkable. He had a few, lol - and good long talks. Excellent evening and company!

Nighty night people!

Notice

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I feel like I should be writing something here, but I just can't find the right words. Maybe later, maybe not...

Update : the word I was looking for was "emotional". I'm feeling a bit better now, though these are very difficult times and they may get worse before it gets better. I'm definitely looking forward to the 'get better' part.

Lazy weekend

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Having a delicious home-made fruit salad containing pineapple, melon, red berries, banana and grapes. Next salad will also have mango mixed into it.

Plan to relax on the couch for the rest of the day/evening and entertain (or be entertained by) the four legged monster named Whiskey that will be be staying at my place for a while. Looking forward to the company, not looking forward to the hair :)

Lemons, To Do Lists and Booze

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Without falling asleep so far, I was able to accomplish most of my long list of things to wrap up today. Some of it I postponed till tomorrow, but other things I already finished while I had planned to tackle those on Saturday. I'm pretty pleased with myself :)

Got my consultancy done at nipacenter and will be starting a first session (of 6 to 8 in total) on Thursday. If you want to know what exactly I'm getting done, feel free to ask, you may just get an answer.

I also finished my first batch of home made Limoncello! Even though it was still lukewarm, I already had a tiny sample and the taste seems excellent to me. When it's properly chilled - close to frozen - it should be sublime. I think Joco and Eef may be the first one's to give it a try on Sunday when they drop off Whiskey.

I think I've got enough references to booze in one post... blog to you all later!

Routing for efficiency

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After having a full 4 hours of sleep, I feel like crap, yet I'm up again and ready to rumble. Gathering the last bits of information I need and then I'll be planning the most efficient route to get things done today. Sounds overly practical? You betcha!

If you're a user of firefox, update to version 3.5.1 now. Don't wait till tomorrow or even after lunch. This newest update fixes a critical vulnerability that is being used in the wild, and you don't wanna end up on the wrong side of the stick. Easiest way to update? Open firefox, go to "Help" menu and "Check for updates".

Today/Tomorrow

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Just finished doing the windows, mopped the floors in the bedroom and bathroom and tomorrow or Saturday morning I'll finish doing the hallway, kitchen and living room.

Working the last night shift of the week tonight, getting home at 7AM tomorrow (hopefully), hop into bed for a quick nap, do some shopping (clothing, linen, food,...), meet my 4PM appointment/consultation at nipacenter after which I'll be heading over to M. to meet up with the one that stole my heart.

Peaches

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Ash, could you mail me? I can't seem to find your e-mail address on this machine and the one I thought it was, bounced. Thanks!

Rather tired after a long night, will sleep soon, dreaming of pleasant things. While driving home this morning I suddenly had an urge to post the Hillary joke and the Koala Bear joke to this blog once again. I guess I just like those :)

Oh, what do you think of when you read this description : "That first bite into the fuzzy exterior giving way to such soft flesh and juices bursting forth is sublime."? Apparently, some think of peaches. I think of something entirely else that also fits the description perfect ;-)

Roadtrip, Family, Fabulous

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Today I drove about 400km to spend the evening with the family and have a nice get together, and it was worth it. Bit tired now though, so I'll be off to bed soon (after taking out the trash).

While with my family I told them all about what's currently going on in my life and they were all pretty happy for me, which was fabulous. I can't really say that their reaction surprised me, but I still would like to let everyone know that they are fabulous. Word.

This week will consist mainly of working night shifts, sleeping during the day, cleaning up the apartment a bit more, hopefully picking up my HTC Hero (scrap that, once again delayed, now to July 24th!), a trip to Nipacenter for a consultation and having an awesome Saturday evening/night.

If you lack updates for the rest of the week, just assume I'm doing all of the things listed above :)

Update : Already cleaned the toilet (100%) and have done a part of the bathroom (60% completed). Off to do some shopping now, night shift later. Tomorrow I plan to finish the bathroom and hall, then start on the bedroom.

Whoa!

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That's about the best way to describe the evening. On the way home I stopped to get myself two bottles of Aquarius (Ice Blue and the new Green Splash) to rehydrate, lol.

Off from work tomorrow, on Sunday I'll be heading to Houffalize for an evening with the family, on Monday I'll start night shifts again and I'll be counting down the days till the 17th (end of night shifts) and 18th (more whoa!)

A close friend said it best a couple of days ago : "It's been a long time since we've seen you this happy", and I suppose he's got a point.

A bit of everything

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Off to do some shopping, need a gift for an upcoming birthday party, will be checking out the sales as well - hope it ain't too crowded.

Suddenly the release date for my pre-ordered HTC Hero mobile phone was changed from July 10th to July 17th while Amazon UK went from July 15th to 24th. Can't say I'm pleased with it.

Possibly heading out to the sauna later today, depending on the weather and Joco's workload.

Generally speaking, good things are going on right now and that makes me a happy camper.

Quickie

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Had a couple of hours of sleep and went to get a haircut. A trim would be more precise because you can't cut much hair if you ain't got it. Shave and shower to follow shortly, after catching up on my mail and such. Will be heading over to H. near M. later today, which is something I've been looking forward to for the past two weeks.

Raining again today which will suck the last heat out of the rooms hopefully. Can't say I dislike this cooler environment.

Relief

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Fat drops of water falling from the sky, gusts of wind sweeping the streets clean and thunder rolling in the distance - all hail the mighty clouds! Too bad it only lasted for about 10 minutes :(

The temperature dropped a couple of degrees though, so I'm pleased nonetheless.

Saturday + Sweaty

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I've spent my day sleeping till noon, then looked up some information on the internet and headed out to pdashop.be to personally play around with the HTC Hero smartphone that I've written about a couple of days ago. It pretty much impressed me and even though there seems no easy way to swap the virtual qwerty keyboard for an azerty version, I remain convinced that it can be done.

That same virtual keyboard was giving me a bit of trouble at first - my fingers are too fat I assume - but after a couple of minutes I was getting quite used to it quickly. Even more impressed I was by the 5 megapixel camera that took excellent video and still shots. I looked up a video on youtube and had it play on the phone without any issues whatsoever. The wifi connection worked flawlessly and I think it won't really come as a surprise that I pre-ordered an urban brown HTC Hero.

I think it'll make it easier for me to stay into contact with others, using various means, going from text, call, video, twitter, facebook and all. More when I actually have the phone in possession and it's fully configured (probably in about a week, possibly two).

Off to work a night shift in a few hours, hope that it'll cool down tonight and stay like that tomorrow.

If you like art, especially photography, and have an open mind about various lifestyles or choices people make for themselves, I can definitely recommend the new 2009 summer website and portfolio by Jerome Abramovitch. Jerome is all about passion, dedication and more passion and it clearly shows in his work : even if you don't agree or understand exactly what is depicted, the sheer beauty of the composure and talented photography will get under your skin.

Time to let the images speak for themselves : chapter9photography.com - new 2009 summer site & portfolio

Simple things

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It's been a pretty busy day at work with quite some stress but also with periods of relative calm. Looking back on everything that happened today, I think there is room for improvement - ain't there always? - but we did pretty well overall.

Based on a first oral interaction with our customer I think it's fairly safe to say that he was rather pleased, though he listed some issues that didn't really go as planned. A couple of those I also marked for improvement, which means I did my job as an observer well I suppose.

After getting home - aargh, hot car, hot sun, phone call while driving, sweaty - I took a nice cool bath and headed out for food. As I was walking home, I noticed a Muslima and her little daughter walking on the pavement towards me. The child was reaching for the flowers all the time but mom kept on telling her not to pick them. As I was about 2 meters away from them, I took a couple of steps to the left and picked a flower from our garden and gave it to the little girl when they were close by. Both mom and child thanked me, I smiled and wished them a very nice day.

Sometimes random acts of friendliness are excellent countermeasures against close minded racist propaganda - that unfortunately also decorates the street here. I hope they feel welcome in this neighborhood.

Call me anytime

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Since I couldn't sleep at all (various reasons, but the damn heat being the most annoying one) I hopped back out of bed around 2AM and finished the check up on that computer from a colleague. I think it's pretty close to running as smoothly as it'll get without popping in extra RAM and such.

While I was finalizing updates and patches on that machine, I used mine to browse the exciting new Android phones a bit more. Sure, I still have my trusty Motorola RAZR V3 and it does what I expect it to do (make and accept phone calls and messages) but my geeky heart aches for something new : a smart phone.

They're relatively expensive when compared to a regular "make calls and no frills" phone, but then again they also keep you in touch all the time, which seems fun. On the shortlist for the time being are the Apple iPhone 3G S, the HTC Magic, the HTC Hero (expected in July) and the not yet released Samsung I7500.

I was able to toy around very briefly with an iPhone from a colleague a couple of days ago (older model) and was impressed with some of the features and widgets it had. I haven't been able to lay hands on any of the HTC handsets yet, but the Android platform appeals to my "open standards" belief.

I'll be keeping an eye on some of the online shops to see what the final cost of these phones will be, but I expect they'll all sell in a €0 to €400 range depending on provider and tariff plan you get stuck with. I'd most likely go for a simlock free phone as that doesn't tie me down to a specific provider.

2call.nl lists the HTC Hero (with Sense UI on top of Android) Urban Brown for "only" €443,- whereas PDAshop lists it for €479,- and Phoneshop lists it for €469,- all of them without being tied to a provider. Expansys lists it for €520,- so there seems to be quite a spread. Maybe prices will fall in line a bit more as it becomes available? If you are able to get your hands on an HTC Hero for a better price - definitely let me know. I'm not interested in stolen or misplaced phones though :)

I am very aware that it is possible to get the phone for "free" when signing up for a 2 year plan, but for the time being those options are still rather limited in Belgium. Check out HotGSM for some bundles though (they don't have the HTC Hero on the page yet).

The King Has Stopped

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Seems like June 25th was a bad day all around for celebrities. After Farrah Fawcett replacing the now for the eternal, Yasmine singing her last notes, now The King of Pop has popped out for an eternity.

I brought home the computer of a colleague because he wants me to check it out. I specifically asked him to bring everything with him and I must admit that all cables are there : screen, mouse, keyboard, power cable, the works. The one thing missing though are the account passwords. I could relatively easy just hack my way through or around that obstacle, but I won't. I'm gonna head off to bed and give the fool a call later today.

This doesn't make me happy

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Zangeres en presentatrice Yasmine overleden (Dutch)

I haven't been an avid follower of her musical career as such, but over the past couple of years I came to appreciate her "easy listening" songs for the beauties they were. Most of her songs I found to contain multiple layers that you only started understanding when really listening to her music. Who takes the time to really listen to music anymore nowadays?

I'd recommend Pret-a-porter (1997) and Blauw (1999) in case you know nothing of her repertoire.

Yasmine official site.

Schedules

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I just received my schedule for July and have made the appropriate updates on the site. Just so you know, the schedule posted here is just an aid and no guarantee you'll find me at home on days marked as "off". It just gives you a slightly better chance to be able to reach me, lol :)

Anyway, I hope it continues to prove useful to those that need/use it.

Paper and steam

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When I woke up this morning, head filled with snot and a sore throat, I decided not to waste my one day off from work by giving in to some illness. Instead I finally am doing preparations to get that bedroom wall redecorated after I had some issues with excess water pouring out of my walls a couple of years back.

Back in the days my insurance company kindly offered me a settlement to get the whole room redone, but I decided to keep the cash and do the work myself. Sounded like a very good plan, but it has left me sleeping in a bedroom with a ruined wall for years. Not that I really minded, when you're asleep you don't really notice, do you?

Anyway, about a year or so ago, I picked up some new wallpaper and had set my mind to redoing that wall. It ended up in a corner where it sat... till now.

I've already washed down the bare wall - it's drying now - and am now collecting everything I need to get the job done. I know I own most of the tools, but where exactly they are seems to be another issue altogether, lol.

So I'll be spending an hour or two fighting with 2.5m long bands of heavy wallpaper next... or I could head off to the sauna and relax instead. Damn, why did I think of that just now?! Now I'm very tempted to just put the job aside and go do the fun thing instead :(

Note : I'm very well aware that a certain someone has offered to come give me a hand several times over the past years to get that redecorating job out of the way, for which I still am very grateful. However, if I can't even make myself do this simple thing, I ain't worthy of any help offered.

Update : I'm covered in wallpaper glue head to toe, but the result seems rather spiffy, if I say so myself. I'm not claiming to be a top of the bill decorator, but I'm pleased with my work so far. Hopping in the shower in a couple of moments, after cleaning up the room and tools.

New week

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A new week is about to start and I'm still more or less recovering from that night out on the town on Friday. However, as much as I hate to admit it, you all were correct : it was the right thing to do.

Off to work, will keep you updated on news as it happens.

Think!

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I just received a mail confirming my successful purchase of tickets to see Rammstein, yay! However, now I've got some more serious topic to write about : "Lange Wapper aka Oosterweelverbinding".

June 24th 2009 is the final day to file a complaint against the building permit for the Lange Wapper Brug which would be built by BAM and follow a trajectory that runs over the city of Antwerp. Apart from the fact that it would massively change the currently skyline of Antwerp, the traffic it attracts would also be responsible for pushing out tons of fine and ultra fine dust in the air, leading to even more pollution and related deaths.

Building more roads and highways is not the correct solution! Build more roads and you'll attract more traffic, which basically makes it a vicious circle with no way out. What's next? Turn Belgium into a gigantic highway in order to accommodate the ever increasing stream of traffic flowing through the country? Once there are highways everywhere, add 20 years and you'll be looking at the biggest parking lot ever seen.

I've been personalizing my complaint and will be sending it out on Tuesday, using registered mail. For more info concerning filing a complaint, check out the following websites : stRaten Generaal - Ademloos.

To look at the complete file concerning the permit(s), point your browser here : Openbaar Onderzoek Oosterweelverbinding (dutch only).

The website of BAM NV can be found here : BAM NV. (Dutch/English)

I do understand that some of my readers won't agree with my point of view, and truth be said, I don't even mind them disagreeing. Not seeing things the same way makes for better solutions, providing there's ample discussion and all parties are equal.

Think for yourself - it's the only advice I can offer. If you need help or advice on how to file a complaint, feel free to mail or even call me. There is NO need to live in Antwerp in order to file a complaint!

Rammstein, maybe?

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As soon as I got home from work - which is about 35 minutes ago - I turned on my computer to be all prepared to order tickets for the Rammstein concert on December 10th. I surfed to the GoForMusic site to be greeted by an "All servers busy" message, followed by an internal server error, and various other messages that made it clear that the servers were - once again - crashing under the load. Mind you, this was at 07u40 - twenty minutes before sales would start!

Furiously refreshing several tabs at once, I suddenly was greeted by an emergency-sales page that allowed me to pick various types of tickets and I immediately ordered what I needed. When I refreshed, the first category of "standing" tickets going at 44.5 euro a piece were already sold out. I looked at my clock : 08:05AM. Phew... those things go fast! I did get a reservation number for my order, but I won't be happy until I got my confirmation mail though!

It seems the servers are stabilizing now though as I can relatively easy refresh and surf the site for the time being.

Update 08:19AM : "standing" tickets at 54.50 a piece : sold out
Update 08:21AM : "seat" tickets at 54.50 a piece : sold out

Old times

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Time to hit the bed and catch up on sleep. Have not been feeling too well last night, suffered from a headache which no doubt was caused by an acute lack of sleep, but meeting up with that old friend yesterday was totally worth it. The kids were pretty active though, so our talk got interrupted every other second.

Plan to meet up again after their holiday and head out for a meal then so we can properly catch up and chat over good food and drinks. Never knew meeting old friends could be this much fun.

Will attempt to order tickets for Rammstein on Friday morning, wish me luck!

Week to come

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I washed the car - oh no, it shrunk! - went over to the shopping mall to have some photographs taken, and tomorrow I'll get my drivers license changed/renewed (required for my job) and maybe pop in at the hairdresser as well. Wednesday afternoon I'm off to meet with an old friend, should be fun.

Working night shifts all week, so it's taking quite some time out of my "potential sleep" time, but I'll make sure I don't overdo it and sleep too little. I ain't 25 anymore :)

A place to call home

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I got up a bit too early so I'll be heading off to do my duty and go vote for whom I believe most in. Well, I wouldn't even call it a duty but rather a privilege instead. Yes, I find voting extremely important and the TV will be on to keep an eye on the first results as they roll in.

I bet some - not to say most - of my colleagues wouldn't understand why I find it so important and even some friends and family may look at me as if I were a freak if they read I'm watching such a boring and mandatory event with interest. Feel free to ask me about the reasons why next time we meet.

Oh, for those that didn't catch it on TV (it was broadcast on Friday June 5th if I recall correctly) : HOME (by Yann Arthus-Bertrand).

Update : I'm back, let the results roll in :)

Oh, I do frown at people that take their car to drive over to the polling station that's less than 500m from their door and then park where ever they can find a spot, blocking the road, handicapped parking lots or bicycle stalls. Use your frigging feet or cycle there people. Stop being lazy a bastard!

Yes, I did cycle over there. I do all of my shopping on foot since I've got stores and all a couple of hundred meters away, so I had to first get the bike ready : check tire pressure (way too low - inflated them), check brakes, re-grease chain and gears, do a short test ride. Grabbed my helmet and went voting.

Looking for Tits

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A few days ago, I cleaned out the nesting cage I have outside, hoping to attract a new couple of Blue Tits to settle in and raise their offspring. The past two - or has it been three already? - years I've seen the parents build and raise their little fluffy kids to self sustaining flying miracles.

Last year they built right on top of the previous' years nest, so I figured they might do so again this year, but so far I ain't seen a single bird, hence the complete cleaning out of the cage to offer a clean slate and possibly a different pair to find themselves a new temporary home.

If you're wondering what these little birdies look like, check out the post(s) about the nest I had in 2005 : More Tits, Peek-a-boo and Blue Tits.

Testing

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I don't know yet whether to "believe" this enneagram test that I took, but after answering 52 questions, it categorized me as a Type 1 (The Reformer) with a 9 wing (The Peacemaker) while instinctual being an SO (Social Variant). That is, if I understand it all correctly.

Does it fit? Do I think it fits? Do you think it fits me? Lemme know!

Working overtime

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I've just updated my schedule for the coming month and it sure will be a busy one. While I usually start out with somewhere between 160 to 168 hours and end up doing 170 to 180 by the time the month is coming to an end, the June schedule has me planned for a full 180 hours from the start.

Anyway, now that I've got the schedule, I'll be trying to squeeze in a visit to the dealership for a routine maintenance check for the car. (Done)

Note : While you may get the impression that I'm whining about all the (extra) hours I'm putting in the last couple of months, I don't really mind. It's just that sometimes I get ahead of myself and forget that every now and then one needs a break too.

Here we go again

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It's been a long but very fun day so far, and now I'm heading off to work a night shift. I'll regret it in the morning - hell, I'm partially regretting it already - but when people keep calling in ill, sometimes you just have to step up and do what's necessary : in this case, go work an extra shift (only the third time this month). Sleep tight everyone, I'll make sure things remain safe :-)

To Link or Not to Link?

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I've never been too keen on social networking tools or sites such as Facebook or netlog. Sure, I do agree that they have their value and probably are worth their while to some, but I consider the trade off between the privacy one gives up and the benefit their use may offer to be unbalanced.

However, after careful research I've created myself a profile at LinkedIn. Find it here : http://www.linkedin.com/in/jerryneeckx. That's all I've got to say about it.

Helping people out

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I decided to pop into my local bank branch to withdraw some cash before grabbing a bite to eat when something struck me as out of the ordinary as I entered the building. An elderly couple was sitting on a bench inside looking a bit lost. We made eye contact as I entered and I greeted them, they greeted me too.

Because I sensed something wasn't right, I looked around while I asked whether they had gotten stuck or something like that, with it being 8:20PM and all. I knew that the bank wasn't having a late night opening today, so their presence was definitely out of the ordinary. While I was withdrawing some cash, the woman started explaining that his card probably got eaten by the machine, yet neither of them seemed too convinced about that.

I could have just shrugged it off and not care, but it became quite clear that if I didn't do something to help them out, they'd still be sitting there for who knows how long. Since I didn't have the numbers for the bank telephone center on me, nor for card stop, I grabbed my statements because I knew they'd be printed on the back of those.

After doing so, I grabbed my pen and copied both of the numbers to the back of some advertising present in the branch and handed them over to the couple, explaining the difference between the both. They were happy, yet still confused. As I was talking to them about the phone numbers, the man pulled out his wallet to make sure his card hadn't slipped in there without him noticing, and he flashed quite a wad of money. Definitely not a wise thing to do, as you never know who you're dealing with, or who's watching.

I immediately blocked the view on the couple so others wouldn't get funny ideas, because people kept coming in and going out while this all was happening. His card wasn't there. Then the woman suggested that maybe I could phone the call center on their behalf, since they really had little idea what to do next. He had his cellphone on him - I didn't carry mine as I was only popping in and out of the house - so I used that to call the bank's call center. Even though it was close to eight thirty by now, I did manage to get a representative on the phone and I proceeded to explain the situation.

Then it turned out that the couple had managed to withdraw cash and their statements - so the phone numbers had been available even if I hadn't thought of requesting mine - and the operator asked for the account number. I read that off the couple's statement and it quickly turned out that the machine had indeed eaten the card. After verification that the last transaction - a withdrawal for approximately 300 dollar - wasn't fraudulent (the man confirmed the withdrawal was correct), I thanked the operator and started to relay the information to the couple.

After a couple of minutes, they relaxed a little, knowing where their card was, and that no one could get to it. I told them to pick it up first thing in the morning, since due to public holidays, banks will be closed for 4 days straight starting Thursday.

It took me about 15 minutes dealing with something that I wasn't my problem really, but I didn't mind.

Observations in traffic

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As I was heading home from work, I came across two pairs of geese along with their babies. I think the first couple had 5 - can't be sure as they were heading into the long grass at my side of the road - and the second couple had 4 in tow. As soon as I saw the two families on the road, which luckily isn't that busy on a Saturday afternoon, I slowed down, came to a full stop while keeping an eye open for any traffic behind me (none) and turned on my hazard signal to make sure they could cross safely.

As I said, the first family had almost crossed when I arrived, but the second family was a bit more cautious, even when I stopped about 2 meters from them. It took them a while to realize I wasn't gonna drive on before they started crossing. After they safely made it into the long grass I continued my way home.

On the ring way around Antwerp I spotted a car with the "L" prominently on the back, making others clear that it was a driver who was still learning. However, that same driver was going 120 on the left lane while both the middle and right lane were clear. The speed limit is 100 there by the way. I positioned myself in the right lane (no traffic there, remember) and when the driver slowed down a bit, I passed it.

Turns out there was a blond woman driving, seat so far to the front she could bite the wheel while her boyfriend (I assume) was in the passenger seat, shoes off and feet on the dashboard. If that's the way you're teaching others to participate in traffic, I can only hope that Darwin's Law of natural selection applies.

Recommendations

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Here are some things I can recommend because I've experienced them myself :

Looza B-3 - The stuff is yummy, especially when cold.
Apocalypto - Broadcasting locally tomorrow, already seen by me. Enjoyable.

About to head off to bed soon, early shifts starting tomorrow.

Dead Wood

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Apart from the all too regular letters and bills, my mailman stuffed my mailbox with that copy of "Building the Alaska Log Home" today. I wanted to take just a quick peek through, but got sucked right in! I quickly flipped to page one, started reading and was captivated by the words. Tom Walker (the author) really knows how to bring things to life, even - or especially? - for someone without background on the subject of building log cabins.

No doubt I'll have many more hours of reading pleasure from this book.

Can't speak, can write

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After having a cup of mildly hot tea with loads of honey and lemon juice, I am more or less able to talk without too much discomfort for about an hour. Too bad I always forget to shut up in time, or when my tea soothing effect has worn off. I guess more tea will be in order over the next couple of days.

Today at work I was appointed/offered/given a task that can either be deceivingly simple or overwhelmingly huge. According to my first impressions, there will be time for it (time=budget) but I don't know yet how much or when exactly. Over the next couple of days I'll be trying to find out what it is that's needed, what it is that is wanted and whether those two essential limits can be brought together enough to actually make things happen.

I am interested to take on the challenge, but I must know in advance whether it is doable. If not, it would just (another?) waste of precious time. More to follow later (possibly on the blog, otherwise just ask me about it in person).

Self pity post

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I'm feeling like crap this morning. An irritating cough, sore throat, a sniffy nose and a back that kills makes me be in quite a bad mood. I've been tossing and turning all night long to finally fall asleep just past five, which is way too little sleep when getting back up at 9:30.

Sure enough, I could have slept in for a couple more hours, but that just didn't work out. Popping off to work later this afternoon, I hope to feel better by the time.

Maybe I should have drunk loads of beer or alcohol last night - at least I'd know why I'd be feeling bad today, alas that was not the case. Maybe I'm just pushing myself too hard and this is the way to letting me know it has been "enough"? Who knows. It's not like I really do anything apart from work these days. I get home, turn on the TV or computer and that's it. I shouldn't be feeling tired, unless I'm really getting old.

Maybe I need some more physical exercise? How about building that log cabin in the woods - thanks for the feedback Hil and Ash! - or driving a motorcycle to work instead of my car? The latter is not really physical exercise compared to the log cabin building, that I admit but it is more "active" as it is driving a car, not?

Should I want to pursue that, I better get my ass studying though as I'd have to take an exam about the traffic rules and regulations and we all know how well you recall those after you've been on the road for several years. Good idea, I'll go get myself some food and then look at traffic signs till it is time to leave for work.

Sweaty yet cool

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I'm so hungry I could eat a lion - wait, that doesn't seem right, does it? Lions have little to no problems eating humans, but I'm not too convinced that lions are all that edible. Anyway, what I was trying to say is that I'm quite hungry, which is something that usually happens after a long visit to the sauna.

I came home around seven AM, took a quick nap from nine till twelve and then started preparing to head out to the sauna. Met up with Joco and Alex just past one PM and had a relaxing afternoon.

Tomorrow I've got a day off, on Sunday I'll be working an extra late shift to cover for a colleague that has been ill for the past week now. All this extra work will hopefully pay of in the long run.

Oh my, what is he up to now?

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Call me strange or even insane, I wouldn't really be surprised. Somehow I've got this idea stuck in my mind that building a log cabin by hand is a good idea. Of course you don't go building a log cabin in your backyard in Belgium, especially when you live on the 3rd floor in an apartment. You simply don't have a backyard, lol.

Jill and Aaron built one in Alaska a couple of years ago and have posted quite some information about their adventure and the building process at their AlaskaAntlerWorks site. Sure enough, they both seem to be young, fit and go-getters that did quite some research before heading off on this adventure. Since finding their site, I've been researching things online as well, mostly by taking a look at the experience others had and reading up on building tricks and tips. Last night before leaving for work, I ordered myself a copy of "Building the Alaska Log Home". Should I decide - after reading the book and doing more research - that building my own log cabin is not my thing, or quite unrealistic, I should still have learned some new things, right?

Let's look at how things look though, purely for the fun of it :

* I don't have a piece of land to build a log cabin on. That's something that can be fixed pretty easily though.

* I have no clue on how to build a log cabin. That's something I can - theoretically - learn from a book, right?

* I have little to no experience working with wood or power tools. That would probably take most time to tackle, but is definitely not a mission impossible. Unless I manage to cut off both arms with one swift move of the chainsaw on the first attempt at cutting down a tree. In that case things would get slightly more challenging.

* Starting such a project on my own wouldn't necessarily complicate things, but having a couple of helping hands would make it easier. Once again, something that can be remedied, providing I don't decide on building my cabin on the North Pole. Then again, maybe someone would like to move there, helping me out, who knows?

* If I move to the wilderness, I'd have to learn how to live with and from nature. Something I suppose most "modern" people have long forgotten. With some clever planning though, the adaptation could be done smoothly I suppose.

* What if I get bored of looking at the same mountain, lake or tree line after a couple of weeks? Then again, I've been looking at the same set of houses in my current place for the past 10 years. I guess it's a moot point.

I'm off to bed to find out whether this whole log cabin building idea fades off or not. If not, I may soon be looking for someone that owns a small or large lot of forest land in Belgium and who wouldn't mind me cutting down trees and building an experimental log cabin. I'm pretty sure building a first version locally would teach me a bunch of skills I currently don't possess, making things much easier should I pursue this weird idea abroad.

Ear Candy

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I went out on a shopping spree just now and returned with a couple of gifts for others, but also gifts for myself :-) I clearly won't be listing the things I got for friends and family since I know they read this blog, spoiling the surprise would be dumb.

This is what I got myself though :

The Neon Judgement - Smack
The Neon Judgement - A Fashion Party
The Neon Judgement - Redbox
Nid & Sancy - Color at the darkest Disco
Nid & Sancy - Yeah Yeah Yes
Front 242 - Moments 1

It had been a while since I purchased new music, but I think I caught up well now.

Update : gotta head back off to the shop to return a couple of gifts because some people can't send out mail properly.

The show goes on

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I've had a rather busy but very enjoyable Saturday. It first started off with meeting up with J&E and the kids A&M to head off to church to get them baptized. I'm no fan of churches - well the building themselves ain't the problem but the religious demagogy is something that really rubs me the wrong way - but since it seemed to be important for some, I showed up. After all I'm the godfather of A and I doubt that he's old enough to fully grasp my aversion and views on religion.

I know that by just showing up I was "supporting" the whole event, let's not go there. I was there because of the kids. It was important for them, hence important for me and that's what counts.

After listening to a bunch of Jebus - as Homer would call the man - yadda yadda, A&M got blessed with holy water and became children of god. Headed back to their place and soon after parted ways as there were other things to do for everyone.

I tried making sure I'd have a table for 4 at Trinacria around 18h00 but was met by a "open at 17h30" sign at the door. I took a gamble and let the others know that we would be having real Italian Pizza around six and texted them the address to meet me at. They showed up right on time and I think they were all rather pleased with the food.

We walked about two blocks to arrive at the venue where Katinka Polderman would be presenting her new "Polderman kachelt door" show. Loads of fun, small chuckles as well as laughter rolling as thunder depending on her way to bring comedy. She has clearly evolved a lot since her first show and while definitely different, it is not better or worse. From her first show - which I caught on TV - I recall the wittiness and very direct way of telling things, and this has now been replaced with (more) subtlety and finesse.

This means you have to really pay attention to get every joke and subtle play on words but it is oh so rewarding when you become one with the flow and pick up all the layers that are hidden in her songs and stories. Katinka manages to bring a show - we all were impressed with her vocal abilities - with lots of songs and if you close your eyes while she brings them, you just picture what she describes. The sign of either a vivid imagination or very capable performer if you ask me.

One of her songs explains the feeling I'm trying to relay to you : "Een lied is als een wereld, die je, als je heel goed luistert, ziet".

I hope I got that right as I couldn't find the exact line anywhere on the web to verify it's accuracy.

Watchmen (the movie)

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I went to see Watchmen last night. Fast and Furious 4 was also a contender for my attention - featuring the incredibly hot Michelle Rodriguez - but when I arrived I decided to follow my instinct and pick the lesser known movie in which none of the actors sounded familiar. I definitely haven't regretted my choice as Watchmen is so much more than a fight between good and evil, right or wrong.

For those who've seen Iron Man last year, I found the atmosphere to be similar which is a good thing as I enjoyed that movie a lot as well.

Back to Watchmen however : the movie is an adaptation of a DC Comic book series published in 1986-87 that features the rise and fall of a gang of super heroes in the 1940's and 1960's. I have never read those comics, nor did I have any background knowledge about these heroes as I sat down. It didn't take me long to realize that Watchmen is not just another Hollywood creation where Good triumphs over Evil and everything is well - there's a dark side in everyone and sometimes in order to do good, you have to be bad and lies can be necessary to create a truth more fitting to the world.

Plenty of special effects and visual roller coasters, but I could easily see through that flimsy layer of eye candy to dive into the background and really get to know our super heroes who turn out to be as human - or inhuman - as you and I.

I usually prefer to watch women over watching men but this a 2 hours and 41 minutes of my time well spent.

Yawn, yet still here

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I've been thinking about what option to pick for a couple of minutes, but finally reached a decision : I'll first run over to the bakery to pick up fresh pistolets and head off to bed after. See you all later tonight.

Note : I hope to be sending out a mail concerning next Saturday soon so you can stop wondering whether I forgot :)

Too little Zzzz's

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Day 7 : I tried staying up late last night, but totally failed. Crashed around 9PM and woke up at 8AM. It'll prove quite challenging to stay awake tonight while working the graveyard shift. Hopefully my colleague is talkative, lol.

Simple. Funny.

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I look
She doesn't
I smile
She doesn't
I stumble and fall
She looks
She smiles
I don't

Not a new project

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While heading home today, I decided to stop over at that place I mentioned yesterday to take some notes. I was surprised though to find no more trace of phone number or real estate agency name at the site. Have I been dreaming? I sure hope not because it would mean I've been driving around while asleep and that can't be good.

I did find get some extra information, just by taking a good look at the site : it seems to have been a gas station before, and it's currently being sanitized to remove all traces of gas oil and such from the soil. It seems in a worse condition then I previously assumed as well - can't confirm it though as I haven't been in. Don't think this will turn out to be a project that I can or want to take on after all.

It's one thing to have a vision or to "see" potential, but then there's reality to be taken into account.

5 days of work past me, another 5 to go - I'm half way through and so far I'm feeling good. Will need all the rest I can get, so I won't be making it too late tonight.

Windowshopping

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When I arrived at work this morning, it turned out I had not lost one team member, but two. Another one became ill - in fact he came to work over the weekend while he could (should?) have stayed home - and will be out till the 19th. My other colleague will be returning on the Friday so I'll be covering his shift on Thursday night. Yeah, it means I'll be working 10 days straight but sometimes you have do what is needed. It'll also mean more cash at the end of the month, although I don't necessarily need it, it could always come in handy...

While driving to work I once again drove past a building that has piqued my interest for a couple of days now. I think I may briefly pull over tomorrow to write down some contact details and see if I can find some information online as well. I could just call the agency to find out more, but that would be too simple, wouldn't it? To be continued!

My mistake

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Sorry about temporarily taking the site offline - an euphemism for breaking the damn thing - but as I was toying around in my .htaccess files an error was made which resulted in an internal server error 500. Should be fixed now though.

I've been running tests during the week to determine why my IP range ban wasn't working as expected. Only today I was able to identify a second IP range in use that is also blocked now. I am well aware that IP bans are easily avoided, but for the time being, it'll do I suppose.

Off to do some shopping and enjoy the nice weather!

Watch out, Vixen returns!

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I saw a single post appear on April 1st, so I didn't really get my hopes up for a real return of Vixen, but today another post appeared at The Daily Dildo A Month of Thursdays so I guess it's real : the one and only straight-to-the-point-and-nothing-less Vixen is really back and I'm totally happy about it. She disappeared from my radar for a couple of months (if not longer) when she started a new blog but I never removed the link to her RSS feed, hoping she'd return.

If the doctor recently prescribed you a frequent dose of sarcasm and political incorrectness, go check out A Month of Thursdays. I'm totally in love with her (style of writing, mind, humor,...)

4494

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is the amount of Euro's in total I'll be saving over the next 107 months by spending just over an hour talking to my bank representative. Can't say I'm disappointed :)

Fools Day wrap up

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I'm glad to see some people kinda of enjoyed my April Fools day blog post ;-) I know I had a ton of fun writing it and getting all the little details just right, which made my day(s) even before I posted it.

To be honest though, that post wasn't all fake and made up, nor was it as far fetched as some may. Sure, I don't own land in Canada, I don't live in a sphere in a tree, but as James Bond once said, never say never. I was definitely impressed by the Canadian outbacks when I briefly visited, and the thought of living in a sphere high up in a tree, as close to nature as possible while not leaving that much of a foot mark is something that does sound tempting somehow.

I just guess that F.O.O.L.E.D won't be there to help me realize all of that so if I want to accomplish things, I'll have to do them on my own.

Packing up and relocating

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I've kept quiet for quite a long time - I actually came very close to telling some people by accident - but now I can finally spill the beans : I'm moving.

It's not the blog that is moving, nor am I simply moving from one city to the next... I'm packing everything up and moving abroad, more specifically to Canada. Ever since I visited the country back in 2001 I've been impressed with the massive size of the forests and abundance of wildlife so a while ago I bought a 22 acre lot of land in Saint Paul (Kent County), New Brunswick. Photo's available here : Saint Paul, New Brunswick.

About three weeks ago construction workers have started building a cabin which will serve as a place to call home while I wait for Free Spirit Spheres to finish building and installing the first two spheres. I had hoped to be able to skip the cabin building cost but due to the cold during wintertime, a standard sphere is not up for the job - unless I want to use one as a freezer, lol - and they need quite some extra padding and insulation to withstand the harsh conditions. At the same time the presence of electricity and a cabin will make work progress much faster when we get to that point.

Although everything is good to go, I'm still waiting for a final set of documents of the Federal Organization for Observation of Local Expat Development that will make integration and settlement in Canada much easier. Click link for more info...

That English Dude

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Went to see Nigel Williams with B&H and had a ton of fun. Very witty and to the point, fully using his capability to observe those around him as an outsider and turning those observations into comedy. If you got a chance to go see his show, do so.

Razorsharp!

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Daddy's got a brand new toy : my ATI Radeon HD 3470 video card arrived just now and of course I couldn't wait to install it. When I did and booted the machine up, I got a 1024x768 screen resolution - which I had before - but the graphics and text was very vague (as in fuzzy). No I hadn't been drinking!

I installed the proper ATI drivers and after a reboot I've got super sharp 1280x1024 resolution, which I must admit, takes a bit of time to get used to. I may switch back to my old resolution later but am gonna test is as it is first. Maybe I'll get to like it, who knows. Next on the list to decide upon is whether or not I'll be getting a second screen as the card does offer two DisplayPort connections. (It came with a DP to DVI convertor cable so I could easily hook up my current 19" Dell 1907FP)

Time is money

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Yesterday was a long but fun day visiting relatives all over the country, which means I'm sort of caught up again now. This evening I'm hopping over to J&M to make them sushi, tomorrow I'm off to see B&H and catch a show of Nigel Williams.

Starting Monday I'm back off to work, on Thursday I've got a meeting scheduled (reminder for myself : 15h30) with K who's a customer representative of the bank to look at the options to renegotiate the current mortgage.

Shipped, Stripped and Clipped

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I just finished updating my schedule for the upcoming month and I'm not looking forward to it at all. Two early shifts, immediately followed by 3 night shifts, what the fuck? It's hard enough to adapt to that change with a day in between, imagine what it'll be now. For those of you that have no clue, try waking up at 4AM on Tuesday, followed by waking up at 4PM on Wednesday, each time taking into account you have to be focused and pay attention at work for 8 hours straight.

In a couple of hours I'll be making a road trip with J/M and T to visit some relatives, should be fun.

Getting annoyed with the fact that Dell doesn't update their order status page all that regular. My parcel was first shipped on the 24th, then the 25th and now it seems stuck at "in transit". I don't mind it being in transit by itself, but I hate the fact that no additional is made available, nor a shipping number that I can track. Ah well... they'll probably show up on Monday :(

Interconnected

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I dig new things, but usually tend to stay away from them for a while to see what's happening and how things are evolving. I value my privacy immensely and as such have not joined facebook, linked.in, netlog or myspace. Well, I do have a myspace account, which I never update or use, lol.

A couple of minutes ago I signed up for twitter, to check out whether such a short message system - because that is essentially what it is I believe - could provide something extra for my readers. Right now I'm not yet convinced that it'll add extra functionality/publicity/attention/whatever to the blog but I'm open to test things out.

Right now, I'm setting it up in such a way that a new blog post gets posted to twitter as well (keeping in mind the 140 character limit). I don't think I'll ever consider twittering (or is it tweeting, I'm not really into the new slang) my every move.

Find me here : @friedkitten

Documentary Night

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Luckily I caught wind of two documentaries that were showing on TV and actually recalled that they were on today. I first watched "Six Degrees Could Change the World" about global warming and how life on this globe would change with each rise in temperature of 1 degree. Both shocking as well as informative.

A couple of minutes after that I tuned in for "What's the problem with nudity?", a documentary that runs a series of scientific tests in order to find out whether the all to often shame about naked bodies is inherited, part of our genes or something we grow up with depending on the society we live in.

Unless I totally missed the point, it seems the conclusion is that we are naked (as in not really having fur opposed to many mammals) because our skin acts as a gigantic cooling unit for our brain. On the other hand, we clothe ourselves because nudity is linked to sex and being tempted by nudity could lead to partners splitting up before their offspring (kids in normal terms) is raised to a level where they can stand on their own feet.

You can watch the program at the site of the BBC, but only if you are browsing from the UK (or find a way to make them believe you are there) : "What's the problem with nudity?".

BIC my IBAN!

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Do the acronyms SEPA, BIC, IBAN or SWIFT ring a bell? If they don't, read on. If they do, but they make your eyes roll and your heart go into overdrive, read on as well.

If you didn't hover over the acronyms I used above, do so now, it'll help you understand things quicker. However, I'm not about to write a complete essay on the what, how and why of the IBAN conversion, for that I suggest you read up at wikipedia : IBAN.

What I want to write about is the fact that quite often your bank requests a valid IBAN account number and their terminals no longer accept the old BBAN format. However, most bills I still get do not list the proper IBAN or BIC codes which means that I have to contact the issuer of the bill to request such information before I can complete my payment to them. I could simply let them know that I won't be paying my bills till they start adopting the new format, but that would probably lead to nothing as I'm hardly a multinational or government that can strong arm the other party into adopting their way of doing things.

As I had the same problem with the Dell purchase I made yesterday I started looking around on the web for a converter and sure enough, I found one (in Dutch and only for Belgian BBAN's) : IBAN DEMO. I can't give you any guarantees as how correct the tool is, or how long it'll remain online but I converted 5 BBAN's to their IBAN version and they all turned out to be correct. I then proceeded to convert 4 more numbers of which I had no way to verify the conversion right away, and all IBAN numbers turned out to be correct as well when I used them to pay some bills.

If you receive a bill that doesn't list IBAN and BIC, ask them to send it to you. The sooner we all start using the new format, the easier it'll be for everyone.

I want a low card

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This morning I ordered a new video card for my Dell Dimension 5150c - nothing fancy at all, but something that should give me a bit more graphics power than the current ATI Radeon X600 with 128MB Ram that powering the box. I had been looking around for a replacement for a while, but the 5150c model is a very tiny and compact machine which results in video cards sporting low profile and half height brackets can even be considered. And truth be said, there are not so much of those around.

I finally opted for the ATI Radeon HD 3470 Low Profile with 256MB Ram on board + it has support for dual screens. Not that I actually have two screens right now, but I'm not opposed to getting a second flat screen where I can run video or a web browser on while playing World of Warcraft.

I am fully aware that it's not the most powerful video card out there, nor probably the best. If it fits the machine though - big IF there, as Dell only lists the Optiplex 960 as being compatible and NO cards at all for the Dimension 5150c - it will suit me just fine and deliver what I need for a reasonable price. I'm not using my computer to play the latest first-person shooter or cinematographic animations or DVD.

If I wanted to do that, I should have bought a full sized tower 2.5 years ago. Instead I deliberately picked a SFF (Small Form Factor) machine that looked nice and was compact and reasonably priced for what I wanted to use it for. You just can't have it all and I've learned that spending thousands of euro's on top end computers is usually a waste of time and money. Sure, I too like toying around with the latest and greatest but if I think about it, it just makes no sense. By the time you walk out of the shop, your high end gaming machine has become obsolete. Nowadays, I buy what I need immediately or expect to require in the next 3-5 years.

I'll keep you updated as to whether or not I can actually get the card fitted. Which will take a while as Dell doesn't mention their SEPA compliant bank account number (IBAN/Swift/BIC) in their mail, nor on the site. Which means I have to mail Customer Support to ask for something they should have included in the first place. Ah well...

Note : talk about speed - This post was picked up and indexed by Google within the hour. As I was searching for some more info about this video card and WoW, my own blog entry turned up at page three, only being published 56 minutes ago. Sweet!

Chop Chop!

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I've got some rice soaking in cold water, and in a couple of minutes I'll start cooking it to make sushi. I've bought smoked salmon, tuna and (fake) crab (surimi sticks to be exact) as well as nori, japanese rice vinegar, soy sauce and red paprika. Making sushi takes some time but it's so worth it...

Swoosh

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I was heading home when I suddenly spotted something a couple of meters ahead of where I was going. It was about the size of a shoebox, had different colors but mainly gray and white and it slowly moved directly into the path of the car. At first I thought it was a piece of newspaper that had found freedom and was now gently pushed around by a slight breeze. With that first impression I didn't really think about it for but a split second. However, as I was getting closer it dawned on me that it made this repetitive rocking motion, which is something newspapers usually ain't capable off.

Lemme think : gray and white, rocking motion, moving into my path, about the size of a shoebox... Fuck! Erm, I mean Duck!

Indeed a duck had picked the exact same time to cross the street as I was driving along it. I hit the brakes, swerved to the right and... nothing. Not a Quack, not a thud. Newspaper after all?

As I drove along, I looked in the rear view mirrors and saw the duck get up again, stretch his (or her) neck and continue crossing the road. Luckily these creatures are very good at one thing : ducking.

Music makes the world go round

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As I was reorganizing some of my music, I came across a folder titled "DJ Testosterone" that contains 1.85gig of mixes by the same DJ. I had been following her work pretty closely in 2007 and 2008 but then I suppose I lost track somewhere, so I decided to see if she was still in the mix scene and sure enough, she is.

I'm grabbing the last mix of 2008 - "Change isn't just a jingle in your pocket" - and the first one of 2009 - "When does wonderland open" - as I write this, so if her work is just like the old days, I'll be listening to some excellent creations in a matter of minutes.

If you're up for it, point your browser here and enjoy : DJ Testosterone. Keep up the good work, elleinad!

Note : the new Zombie Nation CD "Zombielicious" also is recommendable.

Quick update

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I ordered tickets for the Katinka Polderman show next month, and later this month I'll be seeing Nigel Williams with B&H. Today was a busy day at work, and before I headed off to home I stopped over at my granny who I hadn't seen for a while. We had a nice chat and caught up. I plan to go see my other granny at the end of the month when I've got some time off - she lives quite a distance away.

Just spend about an hour troubleshooting the wireless connection - or rather the lack of one - over the phone when Joco called me and while at first everything sounds alright, the thing doesn't really work as supposed. The computer get an IP assigned, yet fails to resolve any DNS. Flushing the DNS didn't magically solve things, so I'll be heading over there tomorrow to use a hands on approach. I'll be taking my bag full of goodies - laptop, two wireless cards, UTP cable, CD's, Drivers, network scanners and such - with me to troubleshoot.

Lights Out,

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Spot on? Well, the lights did suddenly go out, but I couldn't find some spot following me around, nor a stage to jump onto so I figured quickly that something else was wrong. I was happily leveling my Paladin in WoW when suddenly the spots behind me died, follow within a fraction of a second by my computer. Since the light and outlets are not on the same circuit - yeah, I do know a little about electricity and wiring - that means it can't be a fuse that popped for no apparent reason. It could be several fuses, but that would be unlikely.

I grabbed my cellphone and flipped it open so the light came on, then took the flashlight out of the pocket of my jacket and took a peek outside : darkness in the street and the one that intersects with it. Global meltdown, who knows. I knew I had candles somewhere, so I grabbed one and then realized I didn't have anything to light it with. Funny how simple things suddenly become complicated, ain't it?

About 25 minutes later, the power was back on. I had already turned on my laptop and was about to get ready to borrow the wireless link from a neighbor in the street over when suddenly things came back alive.

Note to self : prepare emergency box that contains several things that come in handy during a power failure, drought or flooding. If I work on such a thing, I can better be as complete as I can, don't you think? First on the list : lighters and candles, and a box in which I can stowaway quite some things without it getting bulky or too heavy. The idea is to hang it on a wall within reach and easy to find. New project :)

Suggestions for what should be in the box are welcome, feel free to mail or leave a comment.

A Busy Friday

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I had a rather busy day, working till 8AM, getting home around nine and Joco gave me a call around 10 announcing that he was heading off to the sauna later that day, and whether I wanted to join him and Lex. Even though I hadn't slept a minute, I agreed and headed off to bed, did a quick 3h nap and met up with the both of them at the sauna.

Enjoyable and very relaxing for sure. Surprisingly I still don't feel all that tired, so I may stay up for a tad bit longer before hitting the bed. Oh, I finally made the call in regards to the possible investment I was thinking about and it turned out to be out of my league, so I can put it to rest for now. I'll be keeping my eyes open though since I'm still convinced that investing in real estate is an excellent long term idea.

Catching too many Zzzz's

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Went to bed this morning around nine AM and I briefly woke up at 3PM because my alarm clock went off. Somehow I decided that it was too early to actually get out of bed and I must have drifted off again : when I opened my eyes again it was dark and my alarm clock read 19h46! I assume I really needed that kind of sleep but now I'm a bit stuck as well : No food at home, leaving for work within the hour and working two extra hours tomorrow morning.

No doubt an interesting situation to be in. Add to that that I'll be working with two completely incompetent colleagues tonight and one who is slowly starting to find his own way around the site without me having to hold his hand all the time, you can imagine I'm really looking forward to it all. Ah well... I'll solve the issues as they arrive and "try" not to get too worked up.

Next week I'm off for a 4 day course which according to colleagues is a breeze and very relaxing when compared to the normal/hectic every day work issues we deal with, so it may be a very welcome change.

Katinka rules

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For the Dutch and Belgian readers that have a heart for Cabaret and like the same kind of humor and entertainment as I do, check out Katinka Polderman.

While I had noticed her show in the program guide while flicking through it during the past week, I had totally forgotten about it till I came across it while changing channels. She grabbed me by the balls right away and kept a firm grip while I was squirming all over the couch due to the subtle yet not so subtle humor in her scenes and songs. Stand up comedy is on thing, cabaret is something else, yet she manages to combine the two in an excellent and very entertaining way.

She came out winner of the Leids Cabaretfestival in 2005, and received the Zonta-award in Februari 2007. She's been touring The Netherlands and Belgium with her show Polderman and just recently released her new show "Polderman kachelt door".

If you ain't seen her yet, get a taste of what she does at youtube : Katinka Polderman Compilation - Katinka Polderman - Pi-Pa-Pijpen. Enjoy!

Note : I just noticed she'll be touring in Belgium too, so anyone up for a show on the 25th of April 2009, let me know and I'll make sure I have a day off of work :)

Visits and lol's

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Yesterday I went visiting my sister and the brand new creature she and her boyfriend made early February : Little T. Definitely a work of art and fascinating to hold and see. Can't wait till he grows up and I can start interacting with him.

Tonight I'm off to look after A. and M while their parents pop over to school for a meeting with the teachers. Will be fun for sure. Those kids always have fun stories to tell and things to do :)

The lol's go to CBG for calling me today after I got home after work : they wanted to let me know whether I could work a 10 hour day shift instead of an 8 hour night shift on Monday. First of all, I wonder why they have to call me at home when they (should) know that I'm working for them today. Why not just call me at work? Secondly, why would I give up an 8 hour shift that pays better as a (busier) 10 hours shift that earns me less? Finally, they don't seem to understand that I've been very flexible already - working longer shifts - accepting unscheduled training and a medical visit.

I can only strongly suggest they get a grip on things and stop plugging holes today only to have that create a new one tomorrow. That's not working towards a solution for a problem, that's pushing it ahead.

A new day

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Apparently, I'm doing an excellent job at disappointing people and at being disinterested in things I should be interested in. I could say that they are totally correct and that I couldn't care less, but that would be a lie. I could say that I just didn't get to what is expected of me, but that would be a lie too. The truth is - as is often the case - some undefined point in the midst of a multitude of points of view and it shifts around depending on where you are standing.

Anyway, I'm gonna let it rest because I know that if I write more or even think about it for much longer I will say and write things we will all regret later, which would be quite silly. Tomorrow I'm gonna go for the clean slate and start it all anew, how about that?

Mashed, no potatoes

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I was browsing the web a bit and ended up at Mashup-Charts, a site dedicated to mash-up's. Let me tell you that I spend quite some time listening and watching various excellent new creations. I'll let you explore for yourself, but if you have no idea what it's all about, check out a few direct links :

Could you be intergalactic (Beastie Boys vs Bob Marley)
Rubberneckin' time (Pink vs Elvis)
The Robots in the Kraftwerk tonight (Kraftwerk vs Genesis)
Get this zombie party started (Pink vs Kernkraft 400)

Filling the page

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Sometimes I really hate myself for being all too compliant and willing to clean up the shit of others. On the other hand, I can be very stubborn and rely on my principles. I think I'm a bit of a complicated person every now and then, though that doesn't make me special. We all are complicated and special in our own way.

This entry has no meaning whatsoever to be honest. I just thought it was time to let the world know I'm still around and frankly, I had nothing better to write about at 6.45AM.

Bus(t)y Friday

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Taking a look at tomorrow I already know it'll be a busy day : Early shift means I'll be getting up at 4AM, starting work at 6AM till 2PM. Directly after there's a work related meeting which will probably run till 4PM, and then I should really stop over in Doel 5 for a drink with some colleagues that have recently quit working at our site.

However, can't make that all too late as I've got a dinner date with two women in the center of Antwerp (restaurant Mostar) at 6PM. I carefully picked the word dinner date and not "date" which could otherwise signify romantic involvement, which there is not. If I were to go on a "date date", I wouldn't take 2 women at the same time either, as that would mean I've got to divide my attention between them. Seems like a bad idea :)

Hope to feel better tomorrow as well, the quick nap in the afternoon today did help a bunch so I can only hope to wake up in the morning all shiny and new.

Note : Today I finally received my schedule for the upcoming month through snail mail. Last month we got it on the 30th so technically speaking, they're making progress by getting it to us on the 29th this time. Can't say I'm all that pleased with the extreme delay though, especially since we used to get it on the 25th at the latest while working for the previous employer. Anyway, it's up there for those who wanna take a peek or need it.

Anyone want a snotty tissue?

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I woke up rather early this morning, taking into account that I'll already start doing early shifts tomorrow and thus need to get to bed at a reasonable time tonight. After popping another synutab - most should know I dislike meds - and loads of hot tea, I felt better for a while but have nothing but a blazing headache, snotty tissues everywhere and a cough to boost it all right now.

I can barely keep my eyes open and my head feels like a balloon. I'm back off to bed to sweat it out, and hope to feel better tomorrow. I had planned to reply to some mails, but I'm pushing it back till I can focus more, maybe later this afternoon.

The story continues

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I've managed to go from having just a sore throat to sore throat, cough, headache and snot running from my nose, yet I'm heading out to work again today. To me it doesn't really matter where I am when feeling ill, as it won't change a thing.

Yesterday afternoon I got so fed up with some stuff going on at work that I called someone of the union and informed him about what the current problems are. While I've never met him in person nor ever talked to him before, he got back to me within the hour with an answer.

Later that evening, one of the managers from my employer turned up at work to come talk to us. Coincidence? Who knows... Definitely to be continued.

Looking ahead

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My throat hurts so I already knocked back two mugs of tea with honey and a good squish of lemon juice to grease the inner workings. Skipping sleep Saturday to Sunday probably only contributed to it, though I slept quite well last night. Got up early and went to the post office to pick something up and finally mail out Nogi's Vexillium Praetoriani shirt. It was supposed to be sent out last year but I kinda forgot, oops.

In between my busy work schedule I'll be redesigning my dad's network on paper so I can start redoing it all (hopefully) early February. That being said, it's the 26th today and I ain't got a schedule for next month yet. Will take a note and blame some people for that on Friday during a mandatory meeting after I finish work. Scheduled at 16h00 is a medical checkup (also mandatory) and then I'll be off for food with a couple of girls from work. Won't make it all that late because on Saturday an early shift is planned.

Free Weekend

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My alarm clock went off around 16h00 after which I turned it off, rolled around and promptly fell asleep again. I just got out of bed a couple of minutes ago. Tonight I'm off with a group of current and ex-colleagues for food and bowling. Tomorrow is birthday party with family, on Sunday I'll try to catch up on sleep. Monday is work time once more.

Opportunity or Disaster?

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Even though I went to bed rather late (around 4AM'ish) I was out and about at 1PM, so tonight may prove a challenge as I'm working the night shift. Over the weekend I went pussy sitting for a friend - this kind of pussy, you pervs - and I had quite some laughs while doing so.

I've been eying a storage space (garage box) for sale a bit further down the street, for which apparently there is no high demand as the "for sale" sign has been up for quite a while now. At first it was for sale for €15,000, then the price was lowered to €13,500 so I wonder if they'd be prepared to lower it even more? I've got some money set aside but I'd rather not use it to purchase very long term investments such as realty. On the other hand, if I don't need the money, it may be better to put it to good use. How about I put about 5k to 7.5k into it myself and then find a partner (or my bank) to finance the rest? Guess I should just check whether it's still for sale, maybe the sign should have been taken down long time ago?

Funny thing is that I've been thinking about this particular "opportunity" for weeks now, but I've not yet reached a decision. Any of my readers out there that has advice, or wants in on the purchase/loan? Lemme know :-)

Try concentrating now...

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Incredibly hot, arousing and probably not safe for work... which of course depends on what line of work you're in, lol. Does anyone know where I can order one of these?

Mara, Italian Cowgirl.

Note : it gets a tiny bit too explicit at the end though. I don't mind explicit video's nor explicit girls, but it just doesn't fit the "tease" in the rest of the video. Feedback welcome :)

Another thing of beauty is the Tesla Roadster Sport, expected to ship in Europe at the end of 2009. If anyone got €99,000 to spare, order me one, please? Drool at Tesla Sport Photo Gallery

Stay safe

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This morning I got up at 07h15 after working till 22h00 last night and getting home around 22h30. To add to it all, this is my one day off, as I'll start early shifts again tomorrow.

You may wonder why I got up this early if I had the chance to sleep in? The car was due for a mandatory technical checkup on the 17th of the month and today was the one day I would be able to get it taken care of without spending hours waiting. No real hiccups in the results apart from an initial concern that my front brakes had a 35% difference in breaking power, but as I had those replaced at the same time about two months ago - which I explained to the inspector - he ran the test a second time and it came out fine.

Before I headed off to the inspection, I verified the expiration date on my fire extinguisher and it turned out to have ran out in 2007! Luckily it wasn't checked, but I'll have it replaced today anyway. Those of you think that mandatory checks are nothing but a way to make people pay can take the above as an example : if I didn't need to take the car in, I'd never have thought of checking the date.

That's all of the updates for now. Remember that it's Patch Tuesday, so expect some Microsoft Windows updates fixing various errors and vulnerabilities later today or early Wednesday depending on your time zone.

Distracted, part 2

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Funny how I also managed to forget to take the tea and the honey to work. My throat does feel better though, lol.

Distracted?

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I get out of bed and notice my throat is aching a little, so when I go shopping I gotta buy some new lemon juice to put in my tea (whenever I'm feeling a bit ill I revert to some hot tea with plenty of lemon juice and honey, combined with just sweating it out. Works quite well).

I still have an empty glass bottle at home that I need to get rid off, so I put it in my coat and head off to the store. I get back home and still have the empty bottle on me and no fresh lemon juice (or lemons) to be seen. Go me. Guess it'll be tea without lemon and just honey :)

Old to New

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I spent my new years eve quite relaxed at home, watching 4 episodes of The Shield on DVD, drinking Ice-T and nibbling on some candy. Suddenly I heard a lot of noise outside and when I glanced over at the clock it turned out to be one minute past twelve. The year 2009 had started and people were shooting of fireworks to celebrate. I continued watching my show.

Either I'm getting old(er) or I realize that most of these festivities are nothing but commercialized mass events where everyone is supposed to love each other, be all happy and joyous and things like that. Even though I think it's pretty much a day like any other, I did send out some text messages to people, and intended to call others personally, which I promptly forgot about later. I may do that today.

Not entirely unexpected but a little shocking nevertheless is that two of my text messages were answered with "thanks for the wishes and happy 2009 to you too, but who are you?". One of those came from a colleague that only left the company 3 months ago and the other came from someone I've spent 5 years of my life with. Guess it's time to clean up the address book and move on.

An interesting week to come

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January 1st and then new year is approaching fast and I'm still missing a contract to sign and a schedule to follow. The schedule (and contract) should be in the mail and arrive soon, even though the fact that it's not yet here is a violation of sector wide regulations in itself. Since the situation is kind of difficult and new for everyone, I won't be putting too much thought into it though and see what the next months bring.

I've also applied for online access to the site but so far my application has not yet been responded to. Taking into account the time of year with people off on leave and such, maybe not too surprising, but rather inconvenient nonetheless.

A time of giving

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After a superb X-mas party and dinner last night I came home with an overall good feeling, full stomach and lots of books and DVD's to entertain myself with in the next couple of weeks or even months. To everyone present and those who once again made it all possible, a big thank you!

I hope everyone everywhere is happy with the presence of those around them and the gifts they received or handed out. It's not the gifts that count though, but the idea and meaning or emotions behind them. I know for sure that at least one person must have gotten the best gift ever, and something they couldn't have imagined unless it was right in front of of them. To everyone... enjoy!

Final Call

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Most of the work related bad karma that had been building for a couple of weeks finally has disappeared : On December 24th around 14h30 my new employer and I came to an agreement acceptable for both parties and I told them to prepare and send me a contract to sign. While this is a major step forward - me being the Last of the Mohicans in these negotiations - it's also just the very first step in a long path ahead.

Things haven't been all that smooth in the past year and the road that lays in front is sure to be bumpy and full of potholes and cracks. Now is the time to use the experience I gathered to steer clear of those and bring the new ducklings safely to the other side. Should be interesting to say the least :)

Bite me

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I've been awake for close to three hours, read mails, read blogs, went shopping, saw a whole lot of people shopping. Noticed X-mas decorations and things like that, yet I've got yet to have the first smile appear on my face. To be honest, so far I've done nothing but curse and be annoyed with every living and dead creature or object on this world. Yeah, I'm feeling very joyous and festive today. I wonder what's the reason? (Sarcasm fully intended)

In a couple of hours I'm off to work, luckily with some people I'm rather fond of and have grown to like (I may even lean towards "care for") and some that are really really getting on my nerves because fucktards like them ruin everything for others. It's the way the cookie crumbles, right?

Anyway, I hope to be able to put it all aside tomorrow when I'll be attending family festivities and get into the spirit. Here's to hope!

Screwed

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After a promising talk yesterday, today I received some new information which - if it is completely accurate - will mean that we're screwed in every other hole without even being consulted. More to follow as things evolve.

Exhausted

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Mentally this has been quite a rough weekend with a couple of lows, but luckily also some highs to even things out. One of the issues has been resolved - likely not to the satisfaction of some, for which I'm sorry - and others will be discussed more in the very near future (a matter of days).

I have gotten very good feedback from a couple of people I care about a lot and while no one has the answer - neither have I - their points of view will no doubt help me take a (realistic) approach in a very pressing and lingering case where a sword of Damocles is hanging over the head of quite a few people. There is a time to face the music and a time to be as sturdy as a rock. Which it'll be will be decided upon very soon.

On the one hand I would have liked to be able to please everyone, but as honest as I am, I also have to stay true to myself and when I don't feel good about it, I shouldn't continue. I'm not an half assed guy and when I do something I like doing it the best way possible and with every drop of passion and dedication I can put into it. If it doesn't sit right in my mind, I know I can't do so.

Look, more letters!

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Sorry for all the incomplete and/or fuzzy posts lately, but I've got but 24h a day and a whole lot of stuff going on right now. I barely have a moment to sit down or sleep properly and the pace seems to be picking up and slowing down at the same time. A kettle that is close to boiling can't stay on the stove too long or it risks boiling over, exploding or it needs to be put elsewhere in order to cool down.

I'm currently looking for feedback and idea's and places to vent about a whole lot of the issues currently going on, but I know and feel I can't just pick anyone about any of these things. You may or may not hear from me over the weekend or later today, but whether you do or not has got nothing to do with how I value your opinion or as a friend. There is a time and place for everything and while touching base with others I will be trying to find my own way as well.

I admit this is hardly more informative, but it's the best I can do... for now.

3.5 train to sickville

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Three and a half hours later, I can only conclude that the HP software for the HP J5780 is total crap. I'm able to scan with the All-In-One using windows tools, I can print to it, but whenever I run the HP Solution Center (version 8) it proudly states that no HP devices are installed and that it'll shut down. Gratz!

When I woke up this morning, I was actually planning on giving R. a call that I wouldn't be coming over to finish the HP installation massacre coz I wasn't - and still am not - feeling all that well.

I'm extremely tired, my back hurts, brain feels like exploding and this morning I had a case of diarrhea that probably was worth an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. After having a quick bite, I even felt like throwing up and even as I write this I'm still shivering and not feeling like even looking at food. Which means it is serious...

Contemplating whether I should just head off to bed right now and sweat it out, but risk not being able to go to work tomorrow, or just grab myself by the balls and carry on and head off to bed in the early evening, and hope I'll feel better tomorrow. Choices, choices.

Before I decide though, I'll be updating my schedule - just for you, really - and send of a not all that nice mail to HP support.

Take 2

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I just got out of bed and in about 30 minutes I'm off to take that bloody HP printer issue head on again. Doing some research right now, which will hopefully give me a clue on how to spank the thing into submission. Once I get back home, I'll be updating my schedule - long overdue, I know - and then just relax. Well, that's the theory anyway.

Brain reboot

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Today was the busiest so far and truth be said I've got little to nothing to show for 4 hours of work. I called R. to discuss the replacement of his Lexmark X85 All-In-One printer that broke down last week and we quickly reached an agreement where I would pick up an HP OfficeJet J5870 in a shop, get over to his place to uninstall the X85 software, and install the new printer.

Sounds all too easy, but the HP software refused to recognize Outlook Express as a valid e-mail program and reverted to Outlook instead. Strangely enough every other program has no problem using OE. I installed, removed, reinstalled and tried pretty much everything including Live Chat with an HP representative which solved exactly nothing. To make a long story short, 4 hours of work and the scan or fax functions ain't working yet, but at least he can print documents again. To be continued Tuesday for sure.

I had promised B&H to come over later today to take a look at their very complex network which was totally messed thanks to a Telenet technician - not that it wasn't messed up before - which after a long install declared the router to be dead. Well, it definitely wasn't dead when we reinstalled it last week, but then again neither was the modem - but that's another story.

Since I was having so much success doing printer installs today, I called them saying that coming over to fix a complex network would be a very bad decision. It's hard enough to figure out and correctly configure when in a good mental shape, so I better keep my hands off after a long tiresome day. Pushed to next week as well, at least they've got internet access and can use some of their machines without too much problems.

After all this bad techy news, some good news also arrived by mail when I got home, which pleased me quite a lot. Some issues that had popped up were affecting me more than I even realized.

Keeping busy

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Just got home after a three hour ordeal to get 4 winter tires fitted on my car. I can understand that these are very busy days, but three hours is totally over the top. Now I've turned on the heating in my apartment and will soon be ordering some pizza. Then I'm gonna write a long(ish) mail and play some WOW. Tomorrow is my last day off and Saturday work calls again.

More updates

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Just got back home from getting a new exhaust pipe fitted on the car, and tomorrow I'm going in for a set of winter tires, setting my back another 300+ euro. All things considered, the car has cost me a lot over the past two weeks but it'll be in a great condition to survive winter and icy roads.

If you are unable to reach this blog for the next 30 or so minutes, don't worry too much. I'll be working on the back end patching a cross site scripting vulnerability that was announced yesterday.

Update : Upgrade/maintenance has been completed and should not have caused any problems. I believe I also fixed a blatant error on my part where I forgot to update a file that was handling comments in the last upgrade. I'll comment on this post myself to verify the fix, lol.

Finally

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I've finally gotten around to creating a wish list for the 2008 festivities with the family. I usually get complaints that my list is either too short, too long, too specific or too difficult and guess what : this year won't be any different, grin.

What can I say? I'm not one to just purchase things for the mere "look what I got" sensation, and if someone asked me right now "what would you like to get most" I'd probably give them a blank stare and reply "an idea". Weird sense of humor too, I know.

Anyway, the list has been sent out and those curious as to what I've selected so far, can find it on the Amazon Wish list link in the right navigation bar on this blog. Happy browsing and if you find anything intriguing, feel free to leave me a comment or send me a mail about it.

Fill'er up*

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I've got a couple of days off from work, but planned so much that these will be gone before I know it. In a couple of minutes I'm off to J&E's place to keep an eye on the kids - which is gonna be fun. Tuesday evening I'll be pouring a couple of hours into a project I recently started participating in and on Wednesday afternoon I'm taking the car in to have a new exhaust pipe fitted. Thursday and Friday are clean slates for the time being, but as it's only Monday afternoon right now, who knows what may pop up?

Apart from these planned events, I've got a full list of short to-do things that I'll be working on as well.

* yepz, I got a full agenda these days

Up, down, shake it all around

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I certainly hope that this morning was the last time I had to get up at 4AM for a while, I'm really fed up with it! Usually I don't mind early shifts, nor getting up a insane hours, but combined with a busy schedule it rapidly wears one out.

The special situation I referred to yesterday turned out to be nothing at all so we received word that we could tune back a number of extra measures, but I'm already prepared for the next wave hitting us due to a certain video being released yesterday. It just never stops, does it?

Challenges

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No matter how things evolve over the day, getting to and from work will prove interesting due to the large amount of snow that's been coming down during the evening and night. When I left the gaming party last night around nine, it was already a quite taxing and slippery ride - taking mostly main roads - and I can't imagine the situation having improved over the night.

Hopefully everyone at work will show up in time as due to some circumstances beyond our control, we'll need every experienced man or woman we can get, and even with everyone present it'll be a challenge to assign them in such a way I can get the crucial spots secured and ready.

While I like and often thrive in special circumstances that demand the best of everyone, fixing a space shuttle with a broken spoon and a power tool stuck at 3000 RPM is hard, not to say impossible. I won't be fixing space shuttles though, that was just a figure of speech.

And then it catches up

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It seems my recent hectic life is once again catching up with me. Yesterday afternoon I wasn't feeling all too well - especially tired - and today I woke up with a headache even though I slept for close to 8 hours and rather well too. The nose is clogged up and my head is heavy. The good thing is that the snow that has been expected has not yet reached my region, so the drive to work shouldn't be too bad.

Sometimes I wonder how others manage to balance their personal, social and work without drowning? It's not like I do all that much at once - or so I think - yet the 24 hours a day consists of always seem hardly enough.

Off to have a quick bite, then off to work the early shift. Tomorrow is early shift as well, in the afternoon it's game time with the family - if I feel like it, though I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again - then Monday and Tuesday more early shifts.

I hope to get more info on one final issue that remains unresolved - or unclear to be more specific - after which I'll be able to sign a contract with the new employer. I already have the badge and uniform I'll need on January 1st, but the paperwork is lagging behind. I'll have to do some digging as well later today, in order to complete my personal records for them.

Fair Trade?

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I just went shopping and while browsing the isles, I ran into a newly build and rather small section containing some products labeled "OFT" which stands for Oxfam Fair Trade. Truth be said, I never bought such products before, but was somehow intrigued by a 1 liter bottle of orange juice today, priced at reasonable €1,29 + 0,20 for the glass bottle (which will be refunded when the empty bottle is returned).

Curious - as I usually am - I went over to the juice section to compare the price on regular/mainstream brands of orange juice. Those are usually priced lower, and when I browsed the apple juice section, I came across a 2 liter plastic bottle for €1,99. That was the store's own brand though, and while comparing apples and oranges is not fair, even though it's exactly what I'm doing here.

I stood there thinking things over for a couple of minutes and finally decided to satisfy both my inner consumer as well as my inner feeling of solidarity and drive to change the world and I bought the OFT orange juice as well as the mass production apple juice.

The apple juice purchase was a purely economic decision taking into account cost, quantity yet skipping the potential waste and production issues. The OFT orange juice was purchased mainly because I wanted to try it while also sending a message to the local store owners that these Fair Trade products also sell.

Shopping gives you power people, always remember that!

Keeping busy

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Just got back from the garage and the strange noise I had been hearing wasn't imaginary : the front brakes needed replacement and it got a maintenance service as well. Next on the list to get done is a new exhaust early December as I'll have to take the car in for mandatory inspection later that month and they definitely won't let it pass with an exhaust that has a small fit.

I'll be looking up some prices for winter tires as well, as the current ones are almost up for replacement too and I might as well fit a more appropriate type for the upcoming winter.

Yeah, I'm being a busy bee today :-)

Check-up

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No clue why, but I really didn't sleep all to well last night. I just kept turning around, looking at the clock and being restless for no apparent reason. Guess I'll pay for that dearly later today when I head off to work. The good thing is though that I'll probably sleep quite well tonight :)

I just put up the work schedule for the rest of the month - yeah, it's late, I know - so those who were asking about it should now be happy again. Mind you, it only lists work related events, not other events that I've planned, so you may still not be able to get a hold of me, grin.

Thursday for instance, I'll be off to the garage real early to take the car in for maintenance, and I fear it'll be quite expensive too. They mentioned the exhaust was deteriorating on the previous check so it may very well need replacement now, it's not unlikely that new tires should be fitted as well and then there's the strange noise I hear when I brake. Well, unfortunately that was the situation up to two days ago, now it sometimes makes the noise as well when just driving around. That's also the reason I'll be seriously cutting back the use of the car till Thursday when I take it in. It's not like I drive around just for the fun of it, or use to car to go shopping, but still... only necessary kilometers for the time being!

Finally, the King arrives!

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Wrath of the Lich King - the long awaited World of Warcraft expansion - released today at 00:01, but I was working so no chance to head over to the shop. Instead I came home around 06h30 and then proceeded to keep myself busy till just before 10 so I could head out to the shop to pick up my reserved copy. I was back home and installing at 10:09 but truth be said, I won't be able to stay awake much longer. As soon as I've finished the installation and patching I'm heading off to bed for some much needed rest.

Brain, what brain?

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As soon as I woke up I made a phone call to check whether I could pick up a small parcel still, as I had once driven over to the shop on Saturday to find out they closed at 12h30 already. Determined not to make an uncalled for drive again, I checked upfront.

I was told they'd be open till 18h00 today, so I once again drove over, this time to find out the parcel wasn't there. I think this is pretty strange, as I had received 2 phone calls in the past week letting me know there was a parcel waiting for me, but to be honest, I couldn't care less. New way of thinking : I don't go to parcels, they come to me. If they don't, I don't need/want them anyway, lol.

Oh, I'm suffering from a condition called Obsolete Mind Distraction. Well, actually I'm not, but it would be a very fitting term to explain why I couldn't recognize OMD (as in Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark) earlier this morning. Yeps, not "A voyage into trance", but the OMB hit singles. As soon as the first notes of "Enola Gay" came blasting through the speakers I knew what I was listening too, hehe. That song remains one of the happiest sounding songs I know, with a story that leaves little room for laughter.

Those of you that know the song, but never really listened to it, take a couple of minutes to do so. I guarantee you that it'll never be the same. If you don't have access to the song, feel free to follow link 1 first (lyrics) and when things still don't make sense, read further at link 2 : link 1 - link 2

Frown, Think, Wonder

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As I was driving over to work, I had Destiny's Child to listen too, followed by Ministry... yeah, rediscovering your CD collection sure makes you end up with quite a surprising variety of artists and tracks. I'm still wondering why I ever bought that Destiny's Child album - maybe because they're hot, or based on the hit single Bug-a-boo?

Anyway, as I was driving back home just now, the Ministry album was finished and I ended up with a CD that made me frown. I ain't really pop, nor is it techno or EBM. It is some kind of electro, that's for sure, but even as I reached track number 3 I had no clue whatsoever which artist I was listen too. After cheating a little and taking a peek at the list posted earlier, I can only assume "A Voyage into Trance" is what I'm listening to now.

It still puzzles me enough to pop open the CD switcher later to check, but not enough to run down and do that right away. If I ran anyone of the road due to being tired and distracted while trying to figure out the right CD, I'm honestly sorry. It's not like I reached down, fiddled with CD's or so, but I most certainly wasn't paying as much attention to the road and traffic as I probably should have.

Depending on when I wake up later today, I may be able to get some stuff accomplished which would allow me to move it to a more concrete stage later this week, or early over the weekend, who knows?

Meetings, Mails, More

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I just got out of a meeting with my potentially new employer, and the last questions/issues I still had were either answered or resolved, so now I'm totally ready to compare old to new. My decision will no doubt be forthcoming as I tend to make up my mind quickly once all cards are on the table. To be continued...

Of to re-read and answer a mail now that I had put on the to-do list, not because I don't know how to reply or what actions to take next, but because it's been fairly busy with the first days of a shut down at work and reflecting upon changes ahead. I'm making time for it right now though, as I know someone is waiting for that reply.

Oh, has anyone seen preliminary results yet from the elections in the US? I haven't had time to get caught up.

Music Wrap Up

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Thanks everyone for picking out some numbers, I've decided to put a nice overview of the albums in the car already. Feel free to pick another set of three - even if you've done so before - as I've still got some empty slots available! While you're making up your mind about new numbers, were there any surprises so far?

2 - 15 Minutes of Fame (Sheep on Drugs)(Single)
8 - Turn Up The Bass 1991 Megamix (Various)
23 - UFOrb (The Orb)
28 - Acidfolk (Perplexer) (Single)
48 - Steam (East 17)
50 - Twenty first century skin (Praga Khan)
68 - On The Night (Dire Straits)
76 - love, sweat & tears (Soultans)
99 - Debut (Björk)
102 - Post (Björk)
111 - Best Popsongs Ever (Various)
118 - Roots of Country (Various)
144 - Angels vs Animals (Front 242)
178 - Abba Gold (Abba)
188 - A Voyage into Trance (Various)
210 - So Addictive (Missy Elliott)
222 - This is not a test! (Missy Elliott)
249 - The Soul of R&B (Various)(2CD)

Frustrated with public holidays

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So I get out of bed, head over to the bank to check up on some things and plan to walk over to the supermarket to purchase food for the weekend. As I approach the bank, I'm starting to wonder why the regular Saturday market ain't out, but think no more of it. Maybe they skipped a week, who knows. I finish my tasks in the bank and as I get closer to the supermarket, the place seems awfully quiet and dark. Hm... something's not right here.

Closed. November 1st, public holiday. Crap. Luckily I've usually have some backup edibles in my fridge and freezer so I'll survive, but it once again reminds me why I hate public holidays so much. I work in a 24/7 service industry myself so weekdays, weekends, nights and days are all alike. I spend quite some time connected to the internet, which also doesn't know day or night, week or weekend.

Since we're talking about a global economy, why don't we just move everyone into a 24/7 system? It would spread out the daily traffic jams as well, which means you can actually get to your job quicker!

Note : I'm mostly kidding in frustration. I doubt a 24/7 economy is a good thing.

Pick a number and I'll listen

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I've been driving around with the same old CD's in my car for too long, so it's time to take them all out and pop in some new ones. However, since I tend to grab the same over and over again, I need your help in selecting some new music. It's not hard at all, just read along :

I've got about 250 CD's in the rack, and let's say I need 32 CD's to listen to in the car. Everyone who wants to play along can pick three numbers between 1 and 250, and I'll take the CD corresponding with your picks and let you know which one it is. However, to make things a bit more random and to prevent ending up with 6 Madonna albums, your numbers should be at least 30 positions apart from each other. Example? Ok!

1 - 72 - 240 would be a good range of picks.
62 - 81 - 100 would not be, since there is no real spread between them.

I don't know whether it'll be fun, but I'd be rediscovering my cd collection and you'd be discovering my rather broad and possibly strange choice in music :)

In the mix

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This post will probably touch upon a couple of different subjects, some related to one another, others will have no relation whatsoever. Here we go :

Language. Just as I was parking my car, a song on the radio had this line - "what kind of girl do you think I are" - in the lyrics and immediately I thought "crap, how can you sing or even write such a thing?". What happened to "I am"? Sure enough, language is a living matter and it evolves constantly, but even evolution has it's limits, wouldn't you say? Unless it has to rhyme with "bar", "car" or "Arrr, I'm a pirate" that sentence has no linguistic value at all if you ask me.

Mail. I've prepared a long mail which I'll be sending out later today after a good rest and a final review with probably a few touch up's here and there. I've also got some very short mails to send out, which I'll do as soon as I've finished my posting here.

The bubble bursts

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Here's an update about things that are clear so far, but much more currently remains unclear.

On Monday I had a talk with the representative of the customer I've been working at for the past 5 years. We went over the test I participated in last week, in order to see whom of 4 candidates would be best to fill a position at the customers company. If all of that sounds complicated, let's say that I work in an outsourcing type of job, which may help you get the situation. To make a long story short, he was quite happy and impressed with my test, but I also made some mistakes and was not as complete as I could have been. Two of the other candidates have been selected to make it to the final round, for which I congratulate them. Things change and evolve all the time and it was made clear that while I may have come in short this time, with the progress I've made so far, I will definitely be in the running should a similar position open up in the future.

Now... To make things slightly more complicated, the company I've been working for for the past 5 years, has lost the contract with our current customer, and starting January 1st 2009 another company will be providing the services on site. So for the next month or two, we will still be working on site, while we know we no longer will be doing so in 2009, at least not if we decide to stick with our current employer. I have little doubt that both my current employer as well as the one that has gotten the contract may be contacting me in order to see what I'll do.

For the time being, I'll refer to them as Company Current and Company Future. Company Current lost the contract, yet didn't officially fill us in till I was called around 16h00 today. Yet the customer had already handed over a letter to the colleagues and I yesterday around 13h30. In other words, a third party had to announce that a very important change was to affect us all, while my employer (Company Current) didn't even talk to me till 36 hours after the initial announcement. To say the least, I'm not all that pleased with their communicative skills, yet it doesn't surprise me either.

I have no clue what'll happen next, but I suppose it would be talking to both Company Current as well as Company Future to see what they have to offer and what guarantees they are willing to commit to. And no, I won't be considering verbal promises, I want things in writing.

To say the least, the situation is rather edgy and most people are running around like a chicken with its head chopped off, which really ticks me off. Example : when we started our day at 6AM this morning we had a few extra people to which we could assign tasks. By the time 9AM rolls around those are caught up doing tasks that were not planned, and by the time I get back at my desk around ten, we're one man down and I step into what seems a war zone with people discussing and generally being very agitated.

Whether or not they were right or wrong doesn't really matter. What was clear is that there was a lot of talking but very little work getting done, let alone it was up to par with the requirements in effect. Maybe I'm excellent at separating feelings and work, or have mastered the art of not giving a fuck anymore when some weird situation rolls around, but I really felt like I was the only one still trying to meet expectations and getting things done.

Tomorrow is yet another early shift, but I hope to have some time this weekend to sit down with everyone in the team to figure out what their intentions are or how they see things. I'll respect everyone's decision though, just as I expect others to respect mine when I take it (I have not, and won't till I've at least have talked with all parties).

Off to bed now, I'm more exhausted then I previously figured.

Shoot!

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Someone brought up an interesting topic in the comment section of this blog : semen donation and whether I ever considered it.

I've never considered it, but morally I think I'd have little to no problem with it. One could argue that making a baby with someone you don't know - in case of anonymous donation - could make you wonder later what ever came of the child, but I see it more like helping someone out. Anonymous donation sure wouldn't score as high as making the deposit personally - hey, sex is fun, what can I say? - but knowing you get to help someone would come close I suppose.

One thing that could possibly be something that holds me back would be a reversal of current legislation - right now donors and receivers are anonymous in Belgium - which could lead to donors being sued for child support and such, even if they never had anything to do with the child and its life besides the initial "donation".

If I agree to help someone out, I would like to be pretty damn sure that such a thing doesn't bite me in the ass later. If I wanted to have a child of my own to raise and support, I'd do so. Oops, doesn't that require a partner?

Those that know me IRL will probably not be surprised at all by my point of view, others may be shocked or don't understand how I would be willing to just give away a piece of me (or my DNA) to someone I don't know, to put a living creature into this world but at the same time denying it part of who conceived said child.

I'm a firm believer in choice, whether it is in life, or in death. If someone wants a baby but can't make one, there is nothing in my mind that would have me speak out against such a choice. If someone decides they no longer want to live, there is nothing in my mind that would make me speak out against such a wish.

Go!

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This time the right 16th of the month rolls around and I'm ready to take a shot at a new future work-wise. The competition will be no laughing matter, yet on the other hand I bring quite some qualifications and potential to the field of honor myself. I'll keep you updated as things progress.

(Peeks around the corner)

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My activities so far include strolling the market, purchasing three brand new jeans, a shirt and belt and I was actually planning on going for a haircut as well - the little hair I have sometimes needs a trim - but it seems the hairdresser has decided to take the afternoon off. What is planned for the evening is a night out with the colleagues from work - it'll be a group of about 16 to18 people I think - and I think it'll be good fun.

First we'll head off to Ellenbee which is the restaurant where the Italian Stallion - a former colleague of ours - is currently working, and then we may be heading off to Feestpaleis somewhere in a far far away "town". Don't know yet whether I'll be arsed to join that last trip, yet on the other hand, why not.

As you can read, I've done some things already, will be doing some more later, but the one thing I haven't done yet is sleep, so I'll head off for a quick 3 hour nap now before I head out.

Geek at heart?

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I just got home from my first night at work after being home for over two weeks, and it's as if I've never been away, lol. There were only 74 mails to read, reply, save or delete and I managed to bring that back to 38 already. The rest of it will be handled tonight.

While I would be playing some world of warcraft under normal circumstances, I can't as it's Wednesday and patch day, meaning the servers are offline till at least 11AM. Instead I've verified the connection to this blog - it was briefly unavailable yesterday evening due to a network cabinet switch that FUBAR'd - and whilst having a quick bite I'm reading a study titled "As the Net Churns: Fast-Flux Botnet Observations", which you can find here, should you be interested : http://honeyblog.org/junkyard/paper/fastflux-malware08.pdf. Once I've finished those 9 pages, I'm off to bed. See you all later.

Recovered

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Thanks to everyone who has left a comment or inquired about my health. I'm feeling much better and doing quite well.

No Disco Fever, unfortuntately

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During my visit this morning, the doctor asked me whether I was running a fever, to which I replied negatively. I just checked it and it seems I am. Even though I should be staying up all night in preparation for tomorrow's night shift, I'm heading off to bed to rest after popping some of those pills I got.

End of File

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The past couple of days, things have progressively gotten worse and no matter what some people try to change things around, I often feel like it's all just a waste of time. Once the ship starts sinking, the rats leave, which really makes one wonder who's the smart one? The furry little critters that try to swim to shore, or the captain who's trying to keep the ship afloat, only to be discarded when a new and shiny vessel approaches the harbor.

When people is what you need to get things done, it would be smart to reward them even if just with a kind word or comment. We never ever see our employer or their representatives unless it is to get our balls busted about things that were out of our hands to begin with. It's like getting the order to cut a piece of metal into smaller chunks and receiving a toothpick to work with. A blunt toothpick of course.

It makes me very tired and irritated at times. On the 16th I've got a shot at something new, though realistically speaking, I don't stand a chance if... I'm not going there.

Rebooting life

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Sometimes you just need to cut away from everything and focus on the issues at hand, and that is exactly what I did this weekend. After working two series of night shifts in a row, I was a mess, my place was a mess and I was suffering from headaches frequently, my nose was clogged up, yet I wasn't really ill. I got home from work on Friday morning and so far I directed all my remaining energy at sleeping, cleaning up the place and having a decent meal.

I probably sounds bizarre to some as sleep and good food are all to often a given for most, but then again there are those times you just don't have or make the time to do either. All of that has been rectified this weekend. I feel better, had plenty of sleep and am back to a more or less "normal" schedule, the place looks less like a war zone - still have some things to do though - and I'm ready for a new week.

46828*

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I just got home from a quick trip to Gamemania to reserve my copy of World of Warcraft : Wrath of the Lich King because it would be quite naive to think that Blizzard can cope with the high demand when the expansion set finally is released. WotLK has been delayed several times already and according to Davina - still as hot as the last time I wrote about her - it'll be pushed to December rather than November as announced on the gamemania site. If push comes to shove it may very well be 2009 before the world actually gets to play.

Anyway, I'm off to bed, in the early evening off to feed a pair of hungry cats and tonight work calls.

* The number of spam comments blocked on this blog so far. One would assume spammers would get the point, wouldn't you? Their crap never makes it onto this blog, give up already :)

Site upgrade

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I just finished installing a new(er) version of the software that powers this blog, so if you run into anything that doesn't work as expected, please let me know. Thanks.

Off to kill some Horde now.

Southpark in WoW

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Probably already known to those who love Southpark or those who play World of Warcraft and utterly mind numbing for those that do neither, but here it is :

Note : I drank a restorative potion to get rid of some XHTML validation errors on the page :)

My day so far

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It's been a rather productive day so far, and I've got yet to head off to my full time job. Got out of bed around 9, loaded and started the dishwasher, then headed out to pick up a parcel and stopped over at the bank to take a look at some services they offer. Gathered information and told them I'd get back to them.

Headed back home - stopped for a quick sandwich - and did some shopping on the way. Right as I write this post, the Blues Brothers (Best of) is blasting through the speakers. There's a bowl of rice cooking, chicken marinated with soy sauce is being fried, paprika is sliced and ready to go, so are the mushrooms. Yep, I'll be all ready to go to work in about 15 minutes.

Good news I can finally share

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A couple of days ago I got the official "all clear" from J&M to publicly write on the blog that they're expecting a first baby around February 2009. I had posted it before, but that was before everyone knew, so I pulled that one real fast :)

Something different now : if you use Gmail, make sure you have set it to always use SSL. If you are not certain on how to do it, or why you should, read on. Open your Gmail account and go to "settings". Then scroll to the bottom of the page and select "Browser connection: Always use https". Make sure you update this setting for all your Gmail accounts. Always log out of your account when you're done (not just when changing settings).

Forcing the browser to always use a secure connection will help prevent unauthorized access or even identity theft. Check the support entry for SSL on Gmail here : Enabling the HTTPS setting.

Strange

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I have no clue why exactly this is happening, but for a couple of weeks now, I don't seem able to sleep as well during the day as I did before. Mind you, I only sleep during the day when working nights and for the past four years I had no trouble doing so. Not anymore it seems.

Ah well, it may be a temporary thing, who knows and all things considered, I still get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep which should be enough.

What's so hard about understanding?

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If there's something that really ticks me off, it's people or companies not following instructions or preferences I've clearly laid out for them. Allow me to pick just two examples, both of which happened today.

I've labeled my snail mail box as such that I deny unaddressed spam and advertising leaflets that companies still consider a good way to advertise their business. I don't read the advertising, it consists of a gigantic pile of wasted resources and environmentally unfriendly by products, so I've expressed my desire not to accept it.

Today, I received an advertising leaflet from die snail mail spammers, die (company name removed, but clickable if you really want to know) who are letting my know that they are installing new windows on a wharf close to where I live. If I wanted or needed new windows, I'd be picking up the phone and calling around and be selecting companies and products on my own. Truth be said, I have been considering replacing some of the windows in my place for a few years now, but this company has guaranteed a place on the "non competing list" for my order. Too bad for them and when I actually decide to have work done on my windows, I'll make sure they know why they don't get a chance to compete for the job.

Next case is a bank branch offering their services and current rates, this time the company is die banking brand snail mail spammers, die (company name removed, but clickable for the curious amongst us) and they too make my "avoid at all costs" list of companies. If they can't even comply with my wishes before we have a customer relationship, why would I expect them to honor them when we do?

Finally - oops, that'll be three examples then - today I received a discount card of a large brand of supermarkets, that I didn't ask for. Yes, I was forced to register on their website a while ago because a colleague of mine picked that company to do business with and if I wanted to get him what he wanted, I had to. I didn't ask for a discount card and actually let them know immediately after completing my order to remove my details and not share them with anyone. I suppose they didn't get that, or chose to ignore me.

die, well known supermarket brand spammers, die! In fact, I hope some of you follow the links provided as it will leave a trace in their logs and maybe they'll get the picture after all, who knows?

Off to vent on their sites now...

Update : I have to admit that the supermarket brand was very quick to reply and act on my mail. In less then an hour I had a reply that the card had been canceled and was removed from their database.

Simple things

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I've had a very enjoyable sunday : went over to J&M's place where we met with J&E and the kids, played games, had pancakes.

Just finished having a nice sushi meal - home made - and now I'm updating the blog while sipping from a cold Corona. Does it get better than this?

I've updated my schedule for the month, but while entering the data, it looks so FUBAR'ed that I wouldn't be surprised if changes are made during the month.

Weekend, Water, Wounds

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I was up around 13h00 already, which is very early considering a night shift is coming up combined with the fact that I only went to bed around 07h30. No doubt I'll pay for that later today. Unless the weather changes drastically, I'm looking ahead at yet another hot hot day - not the kind of hotness I'm looking for - and I just made an appointment to go troubleshoot a computer tomorrow afternoon between three and four PM. No sleep for the tired one...

Tommy was picked up earlier today ending his stay over, which was already extended with a couple of days. J&E were looking at going camping, but the torrential rain that has been coming down locally made them change plans. I'm sure Tommy had a good time here, but he really missed the possibility to stroll outside and meet the world. I hope that by the time he returns for another visit the scars on my arms and legs have healed up. The monster plays like a monster, lol. And I'm not one to pass up on a challenge...

Too hot to handle

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Even though it's only a bit past 4PM, I've had a long day already and with the temperatures running in the high 20's today, I feel tired - very tired. So, I'm off to a nice and cool bed for a quick nap and cool off.

Tying up loose ends

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I've got some things to take care of today - not because I'm facing a hard deadline, but rather because I've got the time for it now - and some things to look forward to. One of those things is the fact that Tommy (Joco and Eef's cat) is coming over for a visit starting Sunday for a week. It'll be fun for sure, as he takes after his keepers : seemingly perfectly normal with a undeniable twist, lol.

OK, off now to actually get things rolling... first up on the list : put up my schedule for the month on the blog, then depending on what time it is I'm off to the bank to get something settled, and do some shopping.

Before I sign off though, some information that may be eye-opening to some : An unpatched computer connected directly to the internet is likely to be attacked and infected within 4 minutes (though it does depend on location, IP range, Operating system etc). Other sources claim the average time is somewhere around 16 hours. (SANS : Survival time on the internet - Honeyblog : Survival of the fittest)

Know thyself

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I just got home from a rather busy - though if you asked me, I probably wouldn't be able to tell you what I've done all day long - day at work and an equally exhausting drive home. Isn't it funny how people just seem to lose all their driving skills when a drop of rain hits the ground? Anyway, I was very annoyed by the delays initially, but after turning on some good music and singing along - loudly and most definitely out of tune - with Lais (Douce Victime) and The Blues Brothers, I made the best of an hour and a half of traffic congestion. I rock, and roll, all day long... sweet Suzy.

I've got food, I've got beer (yummy, Hoegaarden) and I've got a long night ahead of me staying awake. I'd call out for some sexy hot lady to help me with that, but being realistic, I won't, grin.

Dumb, bloody dumb

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Yesterday I was cutting some dry pork sausage and in order to cut it, I used a rather new and pretty sharp knife. Unfortunately, I ended up not just slicing the sausage, but also my left index finger. The benefit of a sharp knife is that is leaves very smooth cuts, the disadvantage is that those tend to be deep. I was lucky I hit it sideways so it was slowed down by my fingernail, and ultimately stopped.

After rinsing it under the running faucet and lifting the chunk of skin that was partially separated from the finger, I put some pressure on it - in order not to bleed all over the place - and headed for the bathroom where I looked for bandages (which, I apparently don't have). Instead I settled for some gauze and a bunch of medical tape. The bleeding quickly stopped and after about a hour I took the improvised bandage back off. I cleaned it up a bit using wet and dry q-tips and made sure the loose flap of skin was nicely in place.

I am very well aware that it'll probably dry out and loosen up anyway, but for the time being I'm settling for leaving it where it is. Should help the healing somewhat. On the other hand, I'm not opposed to just cutting it away right now and let it heal as it is.

For those concerned that leaving the cover on so to speak could lead to infection : so could leaving it exposed. Besides I am usually very quick to recognize an infection and have no issue dealing with it properly. If it starts turning red, is slightly swollen or feels warm it's time to give it a good squeeze, lol.

It's not that I hate doctors, I just rarely visit them and especially minor injuries like a cut as this don't warrant a trip to one just to get someone to clean it up and bandage it. I can do all that myself. I guess I take after my dad :)

Oh, if you are worried after reading all the above, don't be. It's not like I cut off half my finger! In fact, after ripping it open again 30 minutes ago by getting the loose part caught on the edge of the pocket of my pants, I'm typing using all ten fingers already. I'll survive :D

WoW : Davina is hot

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While in the background my machine is working hard installing the World of Warcraft addon Burning Crusade, I've got the time to launch another public statement : Davina, shop employee at Game Mania Deurne is totally hot.

I wouldn't dare estimate her age - probably somewhere between 20 and 22 - but her ravenblack hair, superb smile and overall look almost caused me to forget why I stepped into the shop in the first place. That would kinda suck for sales, having employees so hot that shoppers forget why they entered the store, wouldn't it?

53% installed, only two one more CD's to go. Off to work another night shift later today, but first I'll finish making spaghetti and have a nice meal.

The situation at work is definitely getting out of hand (again) and I wouldn't be surprised if something very large and (un)expected came crashing down on us sooner rather then later. It's either that or some of the best people in the various teams leaving because they're fed up with everything that's been going on recently.

I'm not claiming that I would be able to be a better job, but honestly, I don't think anyone could do worse.

Nice

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If you're working a constantly switching shift system, it is very nice to have a couple of days a year where you can just turn off the alarm clock and let your body decide when it's time to wake up. Today was one of these rare moments and at 11:46 I woke up. Sweet :)

Plans for today consist of the following :

  • play a bit of WOW (done, need to do some more to level to 27 though)
  • gather all the paperwork needed to file my taxes before July 1st or so (done, took quite some time, lol)
  • head over to B & H's place (I'm here ;-) )
  • reconfigure their network to include a wireless AP/router (easy, just switched two cables)
  • update the firmware in the wireless router I bought for that purpose yesterday (not needed, up to date)
  • set up a secure connection between the new laptop and the AP using WPA2 (too easy)
  • configure the laptop and possible remove Vista and install XP instead (she'll stick with Crapsta for now)
  • prepare taxes and get information about how to submit certain expenses (next on the list)
  • chat and have a good time while doing all that (doing that right now)
Yeah, that's about it I think...

Firefox 3

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Today at 10 AM PDT, firefox 3 will be released, and they are shooting for a world record. More info about my favorite browser at Spread Firefox.

Mind you, some addons may not yet be available for this new version, so I suggest you verify if any of those are critical to you. Local release time for Belgium : 19h00.

Zzzz... No! Stay Awake!

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I've been trying for the past two days to get into a night shift sleeping rhythm, but it seems I've failed miserably. I usually don't have any problem switching from early, late or day to staying awake at night, but this time I just can't do it. Strange.

Anyway, tired or not, off I go...

Interesting project : RepRap

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As some of you know, I'm not that much of a DIY person myself, but that doesn't mean I can't see or appreciate the efforts of others. Let me introduce you to the RepRap (shorthand for Replicating Rapid Prototyper), which basically is a 3D printer capable of "printing" the parts needed to replicate itself.

If you are lost already, don't worry. If you are thinking "a printer can't print a working copy of itself" you are correct. However, the RepRap is not a common 2D/flat printer that puts ink to paper, but a 3D printer that uses Rapid Prototyping Technology also know as Fused deposition modeling (FDM) to create plastic 3D objects.

Hence, the first printer can print all parts to create a second one - it can replicate itself!

Apart from that fact, all tools needed to build or create a RepRap are freely obtainable, and it would cost about 400 euro to build your first one. However, there is also a RepStrap project being developed that would allow you to build a low budget initial printer which then can be used to create the parts for a more advanced version. All software is available as well and the templates that the printer needs are created using Art of Illusion software, but commercial CAD packages usually also are capable of exporting STL files.

The Razr lives again

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Today a replacement battery for my Motorola Razr V3 arrived and after testing it seems to have revived my phone. Last week it suddenly stopped working and whenever I tried charging it, it didn't seem to hold it's capacity. Problem solved :)

Ebay is quite the marketplace, and I hope to receive some other parcels rather soon. It had been a while since I shopped at it, but I guess I'm back, lol.

Please? Especially for you...

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I was under the impression that hardly anyone used the schedule I post on the site and those that try using it, generally end up confused, but in the past week I've had two people independently say that they missed knowing when to reach me. So, as soon as I'm done editing this entry, I'll start adding the schedule for June.

Because I love you all so much, yes I do.

Faster, pussycat! Kill! Kill!

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I get home from work and switch on the TV and notice some old movie playing. After some searching I find out that it's Faster, pussycat! Kill! Kill!

First released in 1965, I'm still enjoying this politically incorrect flick.

On the Moov

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After last weeks experience regarding unannounced maintenance on roads that seriously affected my ability to get to work, I decided to step into the era of mobile navigation.

I hope this new toy will help my avoid wasting my time and swiftly move me around, over or under traffic jams. I realize that it is not a chopper that'll fly me directly to my destination, but it should come quite close.

I had the latest issue of CT magazine handy, where a bunch of affordable personal navigation devices (PND) were tested and compared, so after spending a morning searching for some more info, I set out to shop. One of the devices that had already caught my eye was the MIO C620T, which was top of the line and had a TMC receiver built in. It had quite a good review, though it was a bit more expensive than I preferred. The new Moov line of Mio wasn't tested yet, as the devices came in after the deadline.

I came home with the new Mio Moov 370, sporting bluetooth (so I can pair it with my mobile phone and call hands free), TMC that should guide me around traffic jams and accidents, a 4.3 inch color display with 2D and 3D maps for Europe. Including a protective bag to safely carry it around when not installed in the car, it set me back about 270 euro, which is not all that hefty if you ask me. If I spend a couple of more hours in a traffic jam, it would cost me as well.

The second I walked out the store and stepped into the car, I set the PND up and let it guide me home. I'm rather impressed by it's performance. The map is updated quickly and upcoming turns are announced right on time, not too early, not too late. Sure enough, testing a new device when drive a route well known may seem like a bit of a fake attempt, but I gave it a bit to chew on as well, lol. Once the route was calculated, I headed off and then decided not to follow the proposed route, but instead make an early turn to see how quickly it would pick up and reroute me. Seconds after deliberately leaving the route, it had noticed and given me a new route to follow. Nice, very nice!

Once I got home - of course - I hooked the device up to the laptop to see if any new updates for it were available. It also sports a database with the locations of speed camera's and such, which could come in handy, though I usually stick to the limits pretty well.

Wakka Chikka Volume 2, baby

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I can't recall whether I ever blogged or referred to Wakka Chikka Wakka Chikka Porn Music for the Masses Volume 1 on this blog, but I'd like to point out that Volume 2 was released earlier this year - on February 14th 2008 to be precise. You can take a look at the track list or download it entirely at WM Recordings.

Since I seem to have lost my Volume 1 disc, I downloaded that one again as well, and then
burned both volumes.

Apparently, the zip file for Volume 1 doesn't seem to exist anymore at Comfortstand, but you can still grab all the individual tracks.

For those utterly confused as to what they are to expect when downloading : it's music, not porn :) However, in order to really appreciate the album, I suppose some exposure to 70's porn would be beneficial. Think grooves, think deep voices, think sex. Think Roller Girl in Boogie Nights. Which reminds me : who borrowed my copy of that movie?!

If you like the music, also check out fluffertraX.com for more goodness.

Better get out of my way

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When I arrived at work last night, I was annoyed. Well, maybe annoyed isn't really the right word, seriously pissed off may better describe my state of happiness.

I left home a couple of minutes past nine PM, expecting to arrive at work about 35 minutes later. Instead I arrived an hour and 45 minutes later! Warning signs popping up on the displays above the highway once you actually are driving on it, announcing that maintenance work is underway in a tunnel up ahead, is not really helpful! Warn people about traffic jams ahead of time, before they drive onto the highway, not once the choice has been made and there is no more escape route.

Anyway, I arrived at work an hour late and ready to tear some heads off. I'm glad to be back in Belgium, I tell you.

Slow day

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After hitting the bed real late - starting a graveyard shift tonight - most of my day was spent sleeping, cleaning up, unloading the dishwasher, doing laundry, checking and paying bills and filing paperwork. In about a month the yearly tax forms have to be filled out as well and to be honest, I think I'm still lacking a lot of documents. Or I did receive them, but filed them somewhere I can't recall.

I guess I'll spend some hours digging for them this weekend, unless someone comes up with more interesting things to do :)

Uh Oh!

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While trying to revive a shopping service I haven't used in months, if not years, I came to the conclusion that the email address attached to the account is no longer active. To make things worse, I have no clue what password I have set up, so it's not a simple matter of logging in and changing the destination address to which a security reminder would be sent.

So, I log in to the domain on which the e-mail account is supposed to be active and find out it is not. No wonder my messages are not arriving as expected :-) While trying to figure out if I can add on a second mailbox - should be a piece of cake, but not with the setup as it currently is - I switch over to my actual hosting account where I can easily set up numerous mail accounts. While taking a look at the available resources, I find that one specific catchall address has gathered 2092 messages, all of them spam, lol.

Needless to say, all messages are removed and I'm checking other accounts to see if the same problem may exist elsewhere. As soon as I'm done with that, I'll turn off the catchall and start moving the first e-mail address to my hosting account instead of the register account and then - hopefully - be able to access it once again.

I guess a regular checkup on accounts and settings is the best way to go, before things really turn into a mess.

Update : the changes have been made and everything is once again functioning as expected. While browsing for information about a specific type of magnetic card reader/writer, I visited the site of the manufacturer, located in Korea. I will not provide a name nor link to that site, because I have a very strong suspicion that is has been compromised and is serving visitors malicious code that is being loaded from a Chinese site. I'm running a full system scan as I write this and even though I did also visit the site with IE - a browser I rarely use - I have good hopes that my defense in depth has averted an actual infection.

The site administrator has been contacted and I'm awaiting a reply.

ServMe vs Wallet

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Do you know how hard it is to find a wallet that's just right? No frivolous attachments no one ever uses and just enough space to fit the multitude of plastic you gather over the years? My last wallet had pretty much all of that, and the replacement I got today seems to come close, but it misses two see through flaps to hold drivers license, ID card etc. The one it has will have to do I suppose. It also has a separate section for coins, which I doubt I'll ever use. It just takes up space, makes it unnecessary bulky and a ton of change doesn't sit well in a back pocket.

Still, as the old one had been reduced to a collection of leather flaps hanging by threads, I had little choice but to go out and buy a new one. I just finished moving the contents to the new wallet and since everything fits, I suppose all is well. However, day to day use will have to confirm that.

A very short update

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I'm back home with only about one hour of delay. I also located my mobile phone - battery dead as a mummified pharaoh - in a pair of shoes I decided not to take with me last minute. Off to make a bunch of phone calls, sift through a huge pile of snail mail and I don't even dare looking at the amount of e-mail awaiting me. (I just looked : only 511 messages, most of them spam, phew!)

Update : I got a call around 21h55 from someone at work, wondering whether or not I was coming in for a night shift. I explained I had our site supervisor give me the days off two weeks ago and that he confirmed by mail. Apparently, he "forgot" to arrange someone to replace me. Never mind, I won't be going in for work.

In under 24 hours we should be on the plane taking us back to Belgian soil, back to more moderate temperatures, possibly rain, though we had a bit of that over here as well today. All things considered, it seems we've picked the best week so far to stay, as the weather forecast for next week for the "Gay capital of Europe" consists of a mixture of rain and sun. I think I've seen as much sun and sand in the past seven days as I've seen in my whole life so far and I've definitely spent more time laying by the pool and in the sun than I've ever done before. There may even be a hint of a tan forming on my pale white skin - if it ever moves past the lobster red phase, he he.

It turned out to be a very relaxed holiday mostly consisting of laying in the sun, taking long walks along the shore - feet cooling off in the breaking waves - and strolling around the town. Other activities included having cool drinks, eating and looking at women. I never imagined I could fill this much time with quite so little.

Was Ibiza everything I thought it would be? To be honest, I don't know. I had visions of all night parties, and we didn't really party at all in the literal sense of the word. Instead we relaxed, enjoyed the view and had many a drinks on the hotel terrace, chatting amongst ourselves or with people we met. Was it everything it could be? Certainly. Because - this is something I seem to understand a little better each day - life is what you make of it, the strictest limits being those you set for yourself. I've finally come to the conclusion that there is no point in pretending to be what you are not. You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Depending on the world I reside in, I am King, Beggar or Joe Average.

So, how was it to basically live together with Joco for a week? We've known each other for many a years now, and have come to accept the other as he is. I must say that a week is enough and I'll be glad to be back on my own for a while. I sense I'm getting close to my "get the hell out of my way and leave me alone" threshold though I doubt that is specifically due to his presence, but more to my own ability to continuously take into account the feelings, needs and expectations of others.

I've been a bit of a loner all my life - independent with but a twist of dependency - and no matter how you turn it, it seems to be the basic state I return to.

Okay, enough with the sappy emo posts now, once I am home and caught up, I'll return to my regular mixture of posts, possibly much to the dispear of some readers, grin.

Ibiza blog part 8

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Ola amigos del Belgica; eso so Joco.

Saturday afternoon, only 2 days to go... time flies if you're having fun, even if this means doing nothing at all all day long.

As you've all been reading above, we spend our days by doing exactly what we are good at, for me personally this means, in random order: eating, watching bikini's, monokini's and things that have no name cause they are way too small to deserve a name, and of course : drinking cuba libres (although today they suddenly don't taste that good anymore - I think my body doesn't like the coca-cola anymore) .

This together makes days in Ibiza almost perfect, but let me be honest, although having great fun all day long, during nights, I miss that perfectly sweet lady that has been in my arms at night for over 13 years now, you all know who I mean, the lovely Eef.

The attention from our new friend Petra does not help at all :) Although it's nice to realise that even bad looking men with a huge stomache get attention from the other side. Damn I felt strange when things turned out she was after me instead of ServMe. This was not the plan behind it... life is strange.

But I'm just trying to turn this into my advantage, I think I'm the only one in the hotel getting personal drink service at the pool... but it's now really neccessary she understands that nothing at all could help her getting even closer to me. I told her about Eef, the kids, and all she replies is : you're in Ibiza, they are not... like if this changes things... no way!!

Anyway, back to normal life in 2 days, damn I'll be glad to have Eef in my arms again, and my 2 lovely sons Alex and Michael. I bought the kids some nice presents, found some nice things for Eef, and for myself of course the henna tattoo, which is great and I really think about getting a permanent one just like this one, but I'll have to speak to Eef about it first cause she should of course like it aswell.

Being here, walking at the beach during the nights makes you realise what's really important in life...

I always knew I loved the 3 of them, but never really realised how much, until being away for 7 days, only hearing them a few minutes a day during telephone conversations. Does this mean I regret the trip?

Not at all!!!

This was the best choice I could have made after quiting my job, I needed some time away, to let some things go through my mind, and not fall into the well know dark hole, and the death of Peter 3 weeks ago made me realise again that we should live in the "now", use the experience from the past, look forward to explore the future, but enjoy life now, every day you live.

Suddenly, carpe diem seems normally to me. Strange after 14 years of hard working and to less enjoyment.

Tomorrow, we think about going into sea with a catamaran and some jetski's, could be real fun but I hope the weather will not be as today : being too hot to handle. It feels like 35 degrees in the sun.. when laying on the beach/at the pool, I start to understand how cokes feel when dropped into a barbeque that is been fired up :)

While writing this post (ServMe is in the shower) I'm looking outside on our terrace, a huge ferry just arrived, the size of a skyscraper, our hotel would fit into it like 50 times I guess. Damn, this post is getting to serious now, must be ServMe's influence :)

Anyway, time to have a siesta... I'm still a little ill, I keep coughing all day long. The medicine does not help, so I
need to go to a doctor when back in Belgica.

Ciao bella's !!!

Ibiza blog part 7

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Joco describes it as "loud banging", almost like an amplified heartbeat on steroids, while I'd use the words "light buzz". I guess cuba libre and wodka lemon have a different effect on the type of headache one has in the morning. I'll probably be rewriting the next paragraph a couple of times, so if you read it again and suddenly wonder if there wasn't anything else written before, you could be right. I won't be doing that to "protect the innocent", but to work toward a text that accurately describes my own view on it. Yes, there is a 50% possibility this will end up in a deep and meaningful post, but it could as well end up as a shallow bunch of filler. I'll find out as I shape it in writing and in my mind.

When we were sitting outside having drinks with a couple of other guests - a German couple and three Americans - we were having quite some fun. Joco went to play in a table tennis tournament organised by the animators in the hotel and thus met a lot of new people. I on the other hand opted to stay out in the sun and read a couple of more pages in my book. This in itself is quite a clear exemple of the difference between the two of us.

Later during the evening, as some people were following a dancing lesson inside, out walks one of the waitresses and we get to chat a bit, and Joco has a dance with her, all in jest and fun. A couple of minutes later he tells me that he thinks she might be looking for something else as well. I agree nor disagree simply because I haven't got a clue, but if he says so, I tend to believe him. He reads people well, I don't read them at all.

Fast forward a couple of hours and the evening is coming to an end - in the hotel that is at least - and the same waitress walks over to the table again, cleaning things up. We start talking again and learn that her name is Petra. I check when she's getting off from work and it turns out she'll be off in 30 minutes or so and whether we'd like to join her in a local bar - Amnesia, the one we were at earlier, remember? - but Joco refuses and I'm quite torn about it. On the one hand I wouldn't mind hitting the bar with her, she's fun and outgoing and speaks practically perfect English, but at the same time I feel it's just not my thing. I'm not a social guy, really. Anyway, after mulling it over for a couple of minutes - Joco is getting a bit irritated by now that I'm not jumping on the opportunity - I get up and head to the hotel room for a shower and a change of clothes.

By the time I get back, Joco tells me that she's off to take a shower too, and to meet her at the local bar. I head over there and meet some of the other hotel guests sitting accross the street in another pub. I walk up and down the street a couple of times, waiting for Petra to arrive, chatting with the guests in the other pub, and at the same time keeping an eye open for her. I finally get in to Amnesia, order a coupe of Cuba Libres and wait patiently. At the same time I'm wondering what the heck I'm doing. When the clock reads 01h45 or so I decide to call it a night and head back to the hotel. Petra never showed according to me. Got back in the room, hit the bed - I'm not only a bit wasted, but also a bit pissed off to be honest - and fall asleep.

On friday morning - I should say "around noon" we get out of bed and head off to the hotel bar. Ten minutes later, who shows up? Petra. As she walks by us, I check with here as to where she was last night? The answer is surprising, yet not really : "I was at the bar, where were you?" I was at the bar, too - no, we couldn't have missed each other as there was maybe 5 people in there tops - and left around 01h45. Her reply "Oh I get there around 02h00" sounds honest to Joco, but I have my doubts. She leaves us to go do some other work and then heads back to the table, stands behind Joco and rubs his shoulders. All the pieces are now falling into place for me. She never came out to meet me in the bar. She wasn't interested in me either, but in him, lol. Good luck trying to seduce him, I doubt it'll work ;-)

Funny how things go, ain't it? The one time I actually go out and give it a shot, I get the door slammed into my face, hard. Do I blame Joco? I certainly don't - though I'll play with him a bit regarding what happened coz I know he sort of feels bad about it, lol - nor do I blame her. The only one that was the stupid fool here is me. Now if Joco reads this he'll tell me I didn't do something foolish and that I was damn right to take the shot, but while knowing that he's right about it, it doesn't feel that way.

Evolution is all about adapting to situations. However, if you stay in the cornfield and don't stick your head out, you're perfectly fine, and if you finally gather enough courage to take a peek, you may get your head chopped off. If for every successful peek you take, you have to get your head chopped off several times, I wonder whether it is all worth it? Some will say it definitely is, but I tend to disagree. As I said before : you can't change the nature of the beast.

I'm a "not so social geeky type of guy" that actually feels quite fine alone. I surely need some interaction and companionship, but I think I can get by with very little. The possibly most surprising part is that the confidence I lack in my private social life, I have in abundancy in my professional life. Go figure.

Now that I'm thinking it all over, that duality really shows in my blog posts as well. I often post about technical topics, give advice and point out where things are going wrong, but all of those are non threathening to me : they are well defined facts, conclusions and ideas. I hardly post anything about who I am - because I don't know who I am myself. Which is a very scary feeling sometimes...

Lol, look where a simply night out in Ibiza gone wrong lead to. I'm spilling heart and soul, and I think I won't be editing the post after all. It's fine as it is and apart from maybe a tiny edit replacing one word for another to better explain things, this seems fitting.

Ibiza blog part 6

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I just finished shaving - apparently, my beard ain't in holiday mode - and am now ready for another day in Ibiza. Last night I had trouble once again falling asleep, but after a nice shower I drifted off rather quickly. Could it be that all the sun cream blocks my pores and that it makes me at edge when trying to fall asleep? Not sure, but the shower really helped me getting rid of the remainders and I slept quite well.

As some of you may have noticed already, we managed to get some updates out the door last night - they were posted yesterday, but obviously date from earlier this week - but the fun didn't last too long. After both being online for about 15 to 20 minutes, complaining how the internet access was damn slow, we may have overloaded the one backbone the island relies on. Pages weren't loading anymore, all connections timed out and when Joco went off to an internet cafe to try there, it turned out all of them were having similar issues. So much for reliable and stable connections to the world wide web :-)

Ibiza blog Part 5

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Quite a few new faces in the restaurant today, so a new load of tourists arrived I guess. Most of them are Thomas's though - we decided to use code to quickly relay to oneanother what language people speak, so we don't freely comment on people not realising they actually understand us. "Thomas" is code for German, "Pascale" is code for English and "Botten" is code for Italian. I don't think we ran into French people just yet. We don't have code for Dutch or Spanish as in case of Dutch we assume they speak multiple languages - as we both do - and we while we don't understand a bit of Spanish ourselves, it is pretty safe to assume they don't understand Dutch either. The hottie traveling with mom I mentioned earlier, turns out to be a Thomas according to Joco's intel by the way. Scheisse - I understand a bit of German, but speak none and don't feel any connection to the language either, making any attempt to conversate with anyone in German laughable at best and foolish for sure.

English and even French pose much less of a challenge to be honest. While the language of Moliere is not something I use often outside my place of work, I have little to no fear using it being well aware that my sentences are far from perfect, but I can get my point across without too much problems. I even use (very basic) Spanish to interact with Hotel staff if I can, because I know they appreciate the effort, and even a bad attempt goes a long way. Besides, ordering a Wodka Lemon and a Cuba Libre ain't all that hard, no matter what language you use, lol!

Oh, before I forget : While taking a stroll through the streets surrounding the hotel, we were propped by a gorgeous girl with long blond hair, a smile to die for and eyes to drown in. She was wearing a white snug fitted top, a mini miniskirt and long white leather boots that really showed off her long legs. If she had been selling apartments in Ibiza, I probably would have bought one. Being well aware that she was a propper, I decided to play along and we followed her to a pub a couple of meters down a small street. We ended up
paying 15 euro for 4 cocktails - it was buy one, get one free, so we actually only ordered 2 - that contained little to no actual alcohol if you ask me. Joco felt the same way about it, though he was paying more attention to the waitress that sported an "I love blue jeans" top - which was green - then the actual contents of his glass. Allow me to correct that : I think he was paying more attention to the contents of the t-shirt and blue jeans. No matter how nice the wrapping is, it's the content that counts, ain't it?

While laying at the pool today, I realized something important about myself and my life in general : you can't change your nature.

Update 17:45 :

Joco just popped in again, proudly showing off his arm. Wait, allow me to correct that : his now tattooed arm. I should have know that the sun and the heat would leave some sort of trace on at least one of us, grin. It's a henna tattoo though, to see whether he likes the placement, design and feeling of a tattoo. Maybe I should have started off by writing that it was a temporary one, instead of wondering whether anyone fainted while reading this entry.

Ibiza blog Part 4

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14-05-2008 13:39

Ended up going to bed early last night because we both were pretty tired. It's bizarre how spending a full day on the beach laying in the sun and reading a book and looking at women can wear you out. Joco wasn't feeling too well - still coughing a lot, but it seems to be improving - so decided to call it a day around eleven PM I think. Then spent a couple more hours having fun with one playing a song on the ipod and the other one naming title and performing artist. In fact us playing the game could come in handy as the animation team of the hotel is organizing a music quizz around 21h30 today, lol.

After going through over 1100 songs - skipped some though - we both turned to fall asleep but failed miserably. Ended up having long talks and didn't fall asleep till 3 after chasing some very persistent mosquitos away.

I didn't wake till eleven this morning and had a slight headache - which I still have now - and it ain't from drinking too much I suppose, though I had a fair share of wodka lemons throughout the day. Skipped breakfast as they had stopped serving it by the time we arrived. Joco proposed to rent a scooter to go explore the island, but it didn't really float my boat, so We decided to part ways and meet at the hippiemarket, but I never made it there. After standing around for 20 minutes waiting for a bus to arrive I called it quits and took a long stroll along the beach instead, all the way over to the town of Ibiza, which is about 3 kilometers give or take a bit.

Off to have dinner now and I think I'll head back off to the pool, even though it's quite windy and cloudy today. It's still dry, and even with the overcast skies, the temperature is very nice. Most bikinis are swapped for a top though it seems, but I'm sure that's only a temporary set back.

Ibiza blog Part 3

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Back in the hotel room right now, getting out of the sun for a while. Joco is already showing some signs of sunburn, so we're trying to avoid too much damage that could spoil the rest of our holiday here.

Ibiza blog Part 2

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I was woken up this morning by sudden harsh beams of light penetrating my eyelids. Apparently, Joco had opened the curtains just a bit to let some light in and it woke me up. Funny thing is that he had been awake for 30 minutes at least, went right passed my bed, took a long shower and none of it disturbed by sleep of the dead. After just 7 or so hours of sleep, I feel mighty fine. Went off to get breakfast in the hotel - no milk to go on the cereal to be found anywhere, but the fresh orange juice was to die for - and then headed off to the beach where we laid claim to two chairs and plunged down on them to relax in the sun.

The weather is quite nice today, a few scarce clouds in the sky and a hot hot sun. I've covered myself in suntan solution factor 30 and after about 30 or 45 minutes out, I put my shirt back on. I still recall the day I was - not even seriously - sunburnt and almost ripped someones head off at night for not even being able to stand the soft touch of a sheet on my skin. Yeah, the sun and I have a suberbly balanced relationship : If she doesn't mess with me, I leave her alone too.

As soon as I'm done writing down this post, I'll be calling back home to let everyone know how we're doing and then it's off for some food. Don't know yet what the afternoon will bring, but around 19h00 there's some sort of an information session by one of the jetair hostesses. If it's Melissa who's hosting, I'll definitely attend ;-)

Spotted one particulary nice woman in the hotel yesterday as well, and we definitely exchanged looks, several times. Looks like she's traveling with her mom, so we'll see where that leads.

Ibiza blog Part 1

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It's about 23h35 and in the past 32 hours I haven't slept, waited on an airfield for almost three hours for a delayed flight - we left around three instead of 11h45. Anyway, right now we're in Ibiza, tired as hell and after a couple of drinks it's time to hit the bed. We explored the beach, the immediate surroundings of the hotel and had dinner.

Unfortunately, communications are extemely limited as there seems to be no wifi connection I can "borrow" and the one communication tool we planned on relying on - my mobile phone - was not where we both expected it to be : in my bag. It either was removed during shipping - which I doubt - or I totally forgot about it while leaving in a hurry this morning. Anyway, to make a short story even shorter, Joco called Eef and the kids to let them know we arrived fine.

More to be posted in case I manage to find a connection somewhere here, otherwise it'll all have to wait till we're back. Oh, and when it comes to hunting down bikinis, I scored the first point when I spotted one while having dinner in the hotel restaurant looking out over the beach. Some of the girls - or should I say I say women - are pretty hot and who knows what may happen during the next few days.

Off to a well earned shower and rest now, more fun in the sun tomorrow. Oh, "more" is maybe not really the correct word, as we arrived in a drizzle and had overcast during most of the early evening, but then things cleared up quickly. More overcast and possibly a storm to be expected tomorrow - I of course didn't pack a sweater or jacket - but the forecast for the days after tomorrow is much better.

Preparing for takeoff

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I've just gotten home from the store - went food shopping - and along the way got a haircut. Not that we have drive-by-hairdressers over here, but there happens to be one on the way to the store, lol. Anyway, I usually do my own hair as it comes down to taking the trimmer and shaving most of it off, but around the ears and the back of the neck is always a bit of a struggle. So I decided to give it a shot and for the €11 that it cost me, I'm quite pleased with the result. Nicely trimmed, clean neck, everything I needed.

In a couple of minutes I'll be heading off to the kitchen to prepare food to take to work. I'll have to boil eggs, fry a chicken breast, cut tomatoes and radish, then throw it all in a large container and mix and cool it. I've got cheese, a salad mixture and various nuts to go with it, along with some mackerel. Seems like a perfectly balanced fresh meal to me.

Yesterday I went store hopping for a pair of swim shorts, and a couple of T-shirts and I've come to the conclusion that "stores only carry sizes for tiny/small/skinny people". I'm not fat, I'm just big boned.

Off to cook I go!

Updates are available

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Service Pack 3 for Windows XP has been (re-)released, after it was pulled last week due to some incompatibility. Download it from the usual MS update site at http://update.microsoft.com. I've installed it on one of my machines already and have found no problems so far.

While you're doing updates, consider replacing your AVG Free 7.5 with the new 8.01 version as well. Download from http://free.grisoft.com/. I could point you directly to the download link for the free version, but have decided against it. After all, the free version is only available because some people buy the full version, so it would hurt everyone in the long run if I skipped all the links to the full version, understand?

Anyway, that's it for now. I'm off to get some things taken care off before I leave for 4 more days of work and then get into a large bird in the sky that's gonna take me to Ibiza.

Note to self : do NOT use the vacuum cleaner to clean a keyboard (while in use). It results in digging in the dustbin for missing keys!

Midday update : All XP machines patched to SP3, one Ubuntu installation salvaged and upgraded to Hardy Heron (8.04) and one missing "K" key retrieved and reattached to keyboard, lol. Left to do : shopping, and encrypting the complete windows partition on a laptop.

Afternoon update : Ubuntu has been removed, the partitions merged and the complete disk is currently being encrypted using AES. The initial test was good, so I've decided to go for full disk encryption. Lets hope I don't forget my pass phrase now :)

Iron Man

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I'm gonna make some time to go watch Iron Man on big screen. Not because I am a fan of comic books, or movies based on comic books, but because the trailer looks promising and the Iron Man track from Black Sabbath is used in the movie. Yeah, I know, I go watch a movie because it uses a certain song - a song I've got at home and to which I could listen any time I want, go figure.

Anyway, I hope the use of the Iron Man song will introduce some youngsters to the full oeuvre of Black Sabbath, as it's definitely been an influence tons of other groups. I remember being introduced to the group by my dad - not so much as him saying : "this is cool, listen to it" because we all know how that would pan out when said to a teenager - but rather going through his record collection and hearing him play those tracks back in the days. I was hooked immediately, and own a couple of Sabbath CD's myself now.

That being said, I got an introduction to various musical styles from my parents, as they both owned a broad range of records. I recall listening to Johnny Otis, Gene Vincent and Louis Prima (all on Rock 'n Roll Club), The Beatles, James Last and many others. There was Kleinkunst, Jazz, Metal, Pop, you name it and they had it. To this day, I'm still grateful for growing up in a family that had an open mind and broad view on the world - and it's exactly as I would raise my kids if I ever have some.

Ready to party?

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I just called my site supervisor to verify whether he managed to change two shifts for me, giving me an extra two days of holiday, and much to my surprise, he told me he did. But let me start from the beginning :

On Tuesday, he came to me to see if I could work nights on the weekend of the 10th and 11th instead of a late shift. I explained to him that while I was not opposed to it, it would cut into my planned holiday, starting the 12th, and as I already had few days of leave, that would only complicate things further. So I proposed to him to cover those two nights for him, providing he'd find a way to cover my night shifts of the 19th and the 20th, which would give me an extra 2 days off.

He's happy, I'm happy, so that's all good I suppose. Of to Joco's now and they we're off to actually book the damn holiday, lol.

For those who have been wondering about the question "who’d be my 2 favorite “fuck” choices according to you", the answer is quite difficult. Joco suggested Cameron Diaz and Rihanna, while Nadia picked Sienna Miller and Jessica Biel. I think my top choice however would be Halle Berry, and any of the others would be a still very enjoyable second fuck.

Cameron is totally hot in reality, but really doesn't look all that good on the picture used in the Top 100. Halle looks stunning anywhere and anytime if you ask me and Jessica is the hot girl next door, but her boobs are too big. Though I must admit they fit her frame nicely and look all natural. Sienna looks like a classy lady in the photograph and Rihanna in her leather (or is it latex) suit could get even a dead man hot I guess. Rachel Stevens looks like the perfect girlfriend but Vanessa Hudgens and Holly Valance win me over with their smile and twinkle in their eyes.

All things considered, I think my top two would be Halle and Sienna.

Note : The flight and hotel have been booked, and I've left a pointer as to where we're going in this post.

FHM - Top 10

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I was taking a look at FHM's Top Ten entries in their 100 sexiest women of 2008, and here are my first impressions (solely based on the photographs that are next to their position) :

10. Keira Knightley - hm... no.
09. Angelina Jolie - not my type really
08. Hilary Duff - no again
07. Cheryl Cole - too fake
06. Scarlett Johansson - oh my... bimbo anyone?
05. Hayden Panettiere - never heard of her before, but promising
04. Elisha Cuthbert - oh my, now we're talking the good stuff. Mentioned her before in my blog, didn't I?
03. Keeley Hazell - nice, but too busty for my taste
02. Jessica Alba - cute but doesn't have that undefined something I'm looking for
01. Megan Fox - uh? Is this number 1?!

Lol, the top ten doesn't really rock my boat, apart from Elisha I suppose. I've taken a quick stroll through the other 90 contestants and here are some ladies that sparked some interest from me :

Sienna Miller (70)
Holly Valance (62)
Vanessa Hudgens (61)
Cameron Diaz (60)
Abbey Clancy (55)
Rachel McAdams (50)
Halle Berry (46)
Rachel Stevens (29)
Jessica Biel (13)
Rihanna (11)

In case anyone finds lists like this degrading, my comments painful, offensive or blunt : too bad. Women are more than tits and ass, men are more than dumb muscle with a short fuse, yet sometimes that is exactly what both are. There's a time to be all politically correct, polite and in line and there's a time where all that is swept off the table and there's nothing but lust, screaming and fucking. This entry is neither politically correct, nor pure lust and sex.

Just for the fun of it, in the above list of 10 women out of the "100 to 90" contestants , who'd be my 2 favorite "fuck" choices according to you? (Let's pick two because I'm having a hard time deciding myself. I'd do them all, grin)

I don't fail. I learn.

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This may sound like a whiny post, but that's not the intention. It's just some kind of venting that ain't even necessary.

Left home at six AM, got home at 6 PM. Worked 9 hours, traveled three. Was able to get a very quick - uninterrupted - bite from 13:00 till 13:10. Had a whole three glasses of water - I drink about 2.5 to three liters of the blue gold on a regular day - and my throat hurts like crazy from dealing with everything that was coming my way today. But... I love my job and will only get better at it. I'm nearing the end of my training period (as far as I know) and the next weeks (or months) will turn out to be a challenge, stressful and tiring. However, they will not be a disaster : I've got enough experience in life and other jobs to adapt and grasp what knowledge I still lack. The need to constantly fine tune, lead and correct is not unlike my current/previous position, and I survived that too. No doubt I'll have cold feet at times, or take incorrect decisions, but neither bothers me really. It comes with the territory and those who fear failing, usually are first to fail.

I don't fear failing, as every failure is an opportunity to learn and do better. Falling down teaches you how to get up, and once you know how to get up, you start learning how to prevent falling in the first place. Life is a roller coaster. Ride it and enjoy, or get the fuck of the fast train.

A quick list

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I'm too tired to write a full blown entry, so for the time being you'll have to rely on these scraps :

- sleep (very much needed, now!)
- car maintenance on Friday (get up early - completed. 153 euro + 2 hours of my time)
- traveling companion offers (got a fellow traveler already, but thanks!)
- travel destination suggestion (from Vixen, hmm...)
- Untraceable
- add extra memory to Dell box (completed, 3GB up from 1GB)
- continue troubleshooting D's computer and hopefully fix
- finish cleaning the place
- do laundry

A. Quick. Update.

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Even though it's way past bed time for most - including me - I wanted to make a quick post to show people I am still alive and kicking. In fact, I kicked myself into gear over the weekend and vacuumed most of the place on Saturday. Sunday I may kick myself again, and finish cleaning things up, who knows.

I ordered 2GB of extra RAM for the Dell box I've got, and ideally it could also use a more beefed up video card, but it being a Small Form Factor box, I doubt a regular card would fit, and replacing one 128MB card with another seems a waste of cash to me. I'll see if the spare RAM makes things run even faster first - if not, the cash (less than 40 euro) spent on it ain't that hefty a loss anyway.

Off to bed now, otherwise I'll never wake up before noon :)

Blue Monday

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For a Monday, I've accomplished quite some goals I had set for myself. Well, I write "for a Monday" but to me the day ain't different from any other day, it's just that some people who work only weekdays dread Mondays.

Anyway, I went shopping for food and some cleaning stuff I needed, I checked the new location of the vet (she moved) and I just finished arranging a visit to the garage to take the car in for maintenance. Over the next month I'll be working lots of day shifts, meaning I need to plan better what can be done when. The positive side of working days is having weekends off and the ability to actually watch some TV during the evening and not having to revert to recorded shows, DVD's or late night reruns. Not that I watch a whole lot of TV, but it could prove a nice change.

Off to do some laundry now. Cleaning up the place is for later tonight, or during the week, possibly the weekend depending on how well I feel up to it. Got everything I need to actually do it, so no more excuses apart from... not feeling like it, lol!

And... gone!

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It's been a busy few days (weeks even) and the big load is still ahead of me. From March 10th till March 24th I'll have had exactly 2 days that didn't include something work related. I'd be looking forward to a couple of days off, but I guess I'm not annoyed enough with things to actually take some time off, lol :)

Last night I drove over to dad's place to check out the computer network, as it appeared to have stopped working. Sure enough, so things were strange, so we talked over what exactly it was that needed to be set up, and then I started scrabbling things onto paper to plan the layout. After moving a machine to another workgroup, swapping some UTP cables around and reconfiguring a bunch of printers, everything seemed to work as planned. (Note to self : if you share a printer it makes perfect sense that it won't be available when the host is offline.)

Then we hooked up the NAS and toyed around with it a bit as well. At one point everything worked as planned, but soon after things became unresponsive again and I wasn't able to pinpoint the reason for it. Could be some windows XP caching issue, a security application blocking certain packets, who knows.

Went out with B&H to watch a play and had lots of fun. Hadn't seen it before and was laughing out loud several times. I managed to predict the final plot right after the second scene ended, which was somewhere in the midst of the play. I don't know what tipped me off, but when I checked with H - so damn convenient to have the author sitting next to you - she was rather surprised I was correct.

Last night and most of today was spent sleeping and after getting some food in a couple of minutes, I'll be heading of to J&M to go take a look at their new place. Can you believe they moved a couple of weeks ago and I hadn't visited yet?! Then after the visit, I'm off to work a graveyard shift.

Just finished upgrading the firmware on the router - was tipped off due to a vulnerability coming to light on another version of the router I use - and everything seems to work. Can't connect the notebook to the wireless though, but that's due to it sitting in my car, not due to the wireless dropping out.

Anyway, enough talk for the day, off I go!

Shaping my country

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My virtualSecond country in NationStates is definitely starting to reflect the political and general choices I make (or would make) in life. Today I had to decide upon the following issues : cars versus bicycle usage and whether or not to allow euthanasia in certain circumstances. Both rather interesting issues and while the final result may differ from what I had in mind, I'm following my own lead and believe that the outcome will prove to be beneficial to my residents, though maybe only in the long run.

Ruling a country is looking ahead, and that sometimes means making very difficult decisions with immediate negative impact, while the positive outcome in the distant future remains less certain. I really like this kind of game and am already looking forward to what'll be on my plate tomorrow.

I rule the nation

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I apologize for running a bit late on pretty much everything. I've got mails to answer, blog templates to update, but I just keep putting all of it off. Instead I joined yet another virtual game : NationStates. If you expect superb graphics, stunning gameplay or adrenaline pumping action, you'll be disappointed. However, if you are interested in seeing how you'd do running your own country, NationStates may very well be something for you.

Starting your own nation is as easy as filling out a name, email address (optional!) and answering a couple of questions to get your nation started. Total time : under 5 minutes.

You are presented with a single issue a day, on which you have to either take a stance, or which you can dismiss. If that pace is too slow for you, you can play around with the settings allowing you to get two issues a day. There is such a thing as vacation mode (when you can't play) and you are able to set whether to get issues only on weekdays, or weekends as well. Guess that makes it very fitting to sneak into your day at the office ;) Purely web based, no downloads, installs or fees to be paid.

So... this is the kind of game where your political decisions shape the nation and/or have undesired results. You are able to join the UN, participate in discussions and all, but I'll be sailing a solo race in this game. I want to see where I'll end up when applying my own ideas and principles to an entire nation, without outside interference.

So far I've dealt with two issues : today it was Animal Liberation Front protests and yesterday it was... erm... I don't recall, lol. Maybe I wouldn't be all that good at leading a country?

Feel free to check out The Democratic Republic of virtualSecond, and/or to sign up for an account for yourself. My nation is currently residing in the Pacific region - you can move it around - and I'd love to see some of my readers nations pop up there as well. Maybe we can even form a region of our own later?

If you decide to play along, leave me a comment on the blog, will you?

Yawns, frowns and looks dazed

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It's gonna be one heck of a long day. I went off to bed pretty early last night - before ten - and then read a couple of more pages in "The Art of Deception" by Kevin Mitnick and turned off the lights around eleven. Woke up around 4, took a leak and had something to drink before I went back to bed. Tossed and turned for another 15 minutes before I decided to continue reading my book for a while. Turned the lights back off around 6 and lay awake listening to the birds whistling their songs outside. Finally got out of bed around 7 and have been up since. Am starting to yawn already, but it's too late to head back to bed now, so I'll have to push myself to stay awake. Off to work in a couple of hours and won't be home till late. Guess I'll head off to bed pretty quickly after that.

Yikes

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Has it really been that long since I updated? Has another month gone by? Before I realize it'll be 2009!

I've got little to share, as life mainly consists of RL work, SL work, and sleep. No exciting things have happened, and I don't see anything exciting happening in the near future, though of course one never knows. Much fun was had last Sunday when we went out to the pub after work to meet up with an old colleague and have a couple of pints. Fun fun fun!

Oh, I talked to Jarhead on Friday and agreed to start the training for the new position. It'll take quite a while before I'm done, and certain parts of the job really rub me the wrong way I suppose but when he asked whether I was certain as I expressed my doubts about it, I replied that I once I commit, I take my job very serious. I guess he should have known that by now...

Anyway, maybe more changes then I recalled when starting to write out this post, lol.

Food shopping

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I'm quickly going to pop over to the supermarket to get some ingredients to prepare sushi tonight. A colleague from work said he couldn't find everything in his local supermarket, so I promised to get some stuff for him too : seaweed, Japanese rice vinegar, a bamboo mat to roll the sushi rolls, wasabi paste, and I'll get a couple of different brands of soy sauce for myself, as I'll be running out soon.

I'm looking forward to it already, drool!

friedkitten - delivering content, always

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Here's a live version of Laïs performing "ni vandaag" in Utrecht, Hilda.

This morning as I was driving home, I noticed a couple of drivers making the strangest and most dangerous moves one can imagine. While I can understand being a bit sleepy still, I can't understand nor condone sheer stupidity.

My reply : The antidote

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Because I sometimes like to swim upstream when everyone is going downstream, here are some lyrics for February 14th 2008 :

Ik zien u zo graag
Ik zien u zo graag
Ik zien u zo graag
Maar niet vandaag

Later maar nie nu
Later maar nie nu
Later maar nie nu
Je ne peux plus

Hey gij, komt niet dichterbij
Blijft waar da ge zijt
Ga ver weg van mij

Experimental/Evolution

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Last night I went out with J & M to see Laïs perform live. It was my first time seeing the ladies perform their magic live, and I was looking forward to it. No matter how many hours you've listened to their work on CD, a live concert is always a different experience. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

After meeting up with J & M we headed off to Mechelen for a nice dinner in D'Afspraak, a small bistro close to where the concert was taking place. A good meal of steppegras later, the clock had struck 20:15 and we headed out to the venue. When we arrived we found out that 20:15 was not the time to open the doors, but rather the time the support act started playing. J & M had already seen Maskesmachine on a previous occasion, but I hadn't. The name rang a bell, but that was about it. Both of them were not all that impressed with them last time, and the term "they suck" was mentioned quite a number of times. I wanted to see them anyway and with an open mind, so we snuck past the already closed doors and into our designated seats.

What can I say... Maskesmachine is experimental, strange, silly, yet they seem to enjoy themselves a lot. At certain times I felt I was watching ballet, then I was submerged into a wall of sound, with folk, jazz, some electro and rap influences. Maskesmachine reminded me of some Bjork songs, where sounds that are totally unrelated are mixed and piled on to of each other to create something new. If I was to get to know the band based on just their latest CD "Ge kun et", I probably wouldn't have been too impressed, but their live performance was just too energetic and joyful to forget like that. I kind of like silly music and pretty girls, and they got both bases covered. Douchke pakken?

After the support act, it was time for the main course : Laïs. I was told upfront that their latest CD was going in a very different direction then their previous work, but I hadn't heard it yet. Which was good, as it once again - just as with Maskesmachine - allowed me to sit down and enjoy the music open minded and without prejudice. The folk songs in old Dutch and French are not gone, but they have gotten a number of siblings with a more international sound in English. Instruments are increasingly used as well, and while they play a larger part in the body of the different songs, the angelic voices of Jorunn, Annelies and Nathalie remain the main ingredient : the most versatile, powerful yet delicate instrument of them all.

Those of you that have never really listened to Laïs before, may like this "The Ladies’ Second Song" album (their 4th already) because it's easier to get into. Listeners that are used to the older work may wonder what has happened for a moment, but will then realize that this still is Laïs, and that they have evolved. Where they were mostly folk, they now have added rock and electro to their mixture, delivering a yet unheard sound to their listeners and fans.

I recall listening to Douce Victime : at first I was shocked to hear how they had put that many French songs on the album, how their style had changed. After listening to the CD in the car for days - weeks even - it has become one of my favorites, and I see the same thing happening with The Ladies’ Second Song, no doubt about that.

(Added later) The Cat Power album "Jukebox" comes highly recommended by me as well. I'm listening to it as I add my review to this entry and am impressed. I think it's a superb album to listen to while using the ipod waiting for your train. It'll carry you away and take you onto a musical journey, yet drop you right back off where you started. Don't blame me if you miss your train though, blame Cat Power ;-)

Out goes old crap

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Spring clean continues I suppose : I've just killed off my long time e-mail address (which had evolved from @ping.be -> @pi.be -> @scarlet.be), which had gotten to the sad state of just being a spam magnet, but nothing else. I had that e-mail address since 1992 if I recall correctly, and had kept it on even though I moved ISP a couple of years ago. It no longer served a purpose, so I finally got rid of it.

The web space assigned to that ISP will shortly be killed off too, but at first sight, I no longer had anything on that server worth keeping anyway. All domains that were pointing there at one time were changed long time ago, either to my new ISP web space, or to servers in the USA.

Confused? Hardly

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On my playlist and blasting through the speakers right now (and on repeat even, lol) :

Jose Nunez feat. Taina - Bilingual (Dirty Mix)
Mega Mindy - Mega Mindy Tijd
Sint Andries MC's - 't Dialect
Klute - Tequila Slammer

Cute bunnies and skunks

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It's been a slow day so far. I've returned home about an hour ago after doing some shopping, mainly for food. The bill was close to 60 Euro, but I've got all the food I need for the next couple of days. I've got rice on the stove and once it's done cooking I'll let it cool off so I can make a couple of sushi rolls later tonight. Some of the rolls will be eaten today, the rest will go into the fridge for tomorrow. I won't be taking sushi to work this time... Instead I got myself some bread and cheese, which will be easier to eat while working.

I also got some laundry done, changed Tai's litter box, emptied the dishwasher and filled it up again. Taking into account that I only went to bed around 6h30 AM and slept till eleven, it seems I got more done than what could reasonably be expected, hehe.

For those wondering why I went to bed that late (or early, depending on how you look at it), I blame that on Second Life and one very cute bunny that was interested in some petting and having a roll in the hay with a cute skunk. If you are not into SL, that probably sounds impossible, dirty, unbelievable or immoral. I you are immersed in SL, it may sound the same, but it sure was fun ;-)

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. The same rule applies for Second Life - no pictures!

Catching up on movies

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Yesterday I got home from work and after only a couple of hours of sleep I went to relax in the sauna. Very good, as always. I love sitting in a jacuzzi while you see dark clouds drift above and feel wind blowing around your head. The weather was simply excellent for a sauna visit : windy but far from cold.

After relaxing for a couple of hours, it was off to Joco's place to have spaghetti and a good time with the kids. A. has really picked up reading now and is surprisingly good at reading short texts. I was very impressed.

As I drove home, I decided to stop at the video store and pick up some movies. Not that I don't have enough movies at home, but I figured it would be a nice opportunity to catch up some movies I missed earlier. I grabbed a copy of "Reno 911", "I, Robot" and "Phone booth". I popped in Reno 911 expecting to have a good time watching it, but I was rather disappointed. Apart from a chuckle or two, the complete movie was boring as hell. Or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for that kind of humor, who knows. (I think it was the movie, lol).

Later today I'll watch I, Robot and get back on that later. I way head off to the movies to see I Am Legend as well, haven't decided on that yet.

As I'm typing this out, Tai is sitting at the window, looking at the wind that's playing with leaves on the balcony. He's all excited and trying to chase leaves as they bounce against the window, but when I actually open it up so he can get out there and really get playful, he jumps right back in. Too windy, too noisy, too everything. Dumb cat ;-)

Pushing the envelope?

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I just attempted to run multiple Second Life viewers on the old machine, and while it was possible, I noticed two issues at hand : the system ran out of virtual memory within the first 10 minutes of operation, and CPU temperature went through the roof. While it normally sits in the low to mid 50's, it was now pushed up to 65 degrees Celsius, which can't be healthy for the machine.

I'll do another test on the new(er) DuoCore machine and will possibly start using that one as a dedicated Second Life machine. That one also has 1GB of RAM if I'm not mistaken, which would definitely make things faster as well. Off to switch machines and see what happens.

Hm, I just remember that I don't have a spare set of speakers for that machine. May pick one up later today if the results are good.

Update : Initial tests are good. The 1GB of RAM and a less ancient processor definitely help running multiple clients - I tested for up to three - at once. I also tried out the WindLight viewer, but was not all that impressed with it's performance. Land that was otherwise very smooth now appeared jagged and edged to me. And I'm not imagining it, as I do happen to know my own sim rather well. The skies were fabulous though, that I'll give you.

I Am Legend

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Well, maybe I am, maybe I'm not. It's not for me to decide - I'll leave that up to others.

Anyway, I'll be off to the movies in about 15 minutes as I've gotta go and install and configure a complete Vista system tomorrow at A's place. Two movies have made it to my shortlist so far : "I Am Legend" and "American Gangster".

With American Gangster being released earlier then I Am Legend, I probably go see that first one, before it disappears from the big screens again. I can still catch the other one later.

A good start

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I started off the new year in quite a good and unselfish way I guess. As I was driving home, I took the exit off the highway and turned left onto the underpass to continue my way home. A car was sitting in the left lane, four indicators blinking to warn others for the hazard it was obviously causing. As I drove by, I noticed a woman grabbing something out of the trunk and thought not much else of it. As I continued my way home, I started thinking that maybe it would be wise to make a U-turn and see if I could lend a hand.

After all, the car was sitting in a zone that was hardly visible, it being in poor lighting conditions and in a turn. While the speed limit is only 50 km/h, most people ignore that and drive quite a bit faster, especially when traffic is low - as it was around this time of evening. At the first traffic lights I made a turn and headed back to assist. After parking my car a bit further on a parking zone, I grabbed my coat and safety jacket and crossed the road towards the woman, who by now had found her safety triangle and was standing near the bridge talking on her cellphone.

As I approached I heard her say "yeah, that's OK. There's already someone here to help. See you in a few". As she was finishing up her conversation, I grabbed the safety triangle out of her hands and went to put it up a couple of meters further to secure the area the best as possible for the time being. As I returned, I check what had happened. She clipped her front wheel on the curbstones after trying to avoid another driver that swerved out of his lane.

Her brother in law was already on the way to assist, but I decided that since I was there already we could start jacking up the car and replacing the front tire. While she grabbed a safety jacket too - I told her to walk back a couple of meters as I wasn't planning on getting splattered under a car by some driver that had missed our warning signs - I grabbed the spare and started working on the issue at hand. Unfortunately, there was no way to get the clipped wheel off the car as it had some kind of security lock on it, and the correct key was nowhere to be found in the car. As her brother in law arrived, I explained the problem we were having and they tried to fix it, but failed too. While they were working on the car I went over to signal other drivers into the middle lane.

To cut a long story short : they ended up driving the car a couple of meters further, off the road and parked it there so their dealer could provide them with the correct key the day after, so they could replace the wheel.

It took 45 minutes of my time, it was damn cold outside, yet I feel that I did the right thing. It was quite obvious that no one else was even thinking about pulling over to assist, or didn't realize the hazards of the situation present. What's 45 minutes in a lifetime when you can help someone else out or prevent more serious damage or loss of lives?

Yeah, I started off 2008 quite well... (pounds on chest)

Sniff, Snort, 2008

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Despite sleeping close to 9 hours last night, I woke up feeling crap. My back hurts, my throat hurts and my nose is dripping. It seems I'll be kicking off 2008 in less desirable condition. However, always looking at the positive side of things, if I am ill during the first day of 2008, I don't have to go through that for the rest of the year, lol.

Best wishes to everyone - look confidently to the future, realize that you can accomplish everything!

Words, Lines, Chapters, Books

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I was just pondering for a moment whether I'd launch my SL client, but instead I decided to throw out a short blog entry and head off to bed. I've got a few more pages to read in my magazine, then I'll see if I finished Chatter and if there's some time left and I'm not too tired, I may start reading "Cradle to Cradle : Remaking the way we make things", or pick up the book for nerds (Google Hacking).

An alternative would be to finally finish "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" - a book that I only can read a couple of pages in before I have to put it down. Definitely not because I'm not interested in the topic and underlying psychological cause and effect interaction, but because I'm not a psychologist and it's rather heavy stuff, especially when reading it in a language you're fluent in, yet is not your mother tongue.

So many books, so many topics, so little time...

Win some, lose some

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Yesterday I went over to M's to see if I could find the cause of her not being able to send out mail using Outlook again. Unfortunately, the outlook was pretty bad after I gave the system a first check. Running a - not so genuine - windows XP Professional on a 800Mhz P3 with 256MB Ram is a recipe for disaster if you ask me. The system had been working rather OK up until a couple of months back, but I explained that there's a time they just give up.

Hoping that cleaning up the system as well as I could would magically restore functionality, I spent quite some time scanning it for malware (tons of it), patched it as much as possible but without even an SP2 installed it's nothing but a band aid on a dead body. Got QT updated to the last version, got rid of an ancient Java version and trashed about 330MB worth of temporary internet files. I'd have done more, but the reaction of the machine was so sluggish that it constantly went into a stall. After scanning for over two hours, the damn thing froze when attempting to remove the found nasties. Way to go.

I promised her I'd look up some deals for a new machine that would be perfect for her needs, yet not cost her an arm and a leg.

The list grows longer

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I'm off to bed, but here's my to do list for tomorrow (technically speaking, today) :

- write three new link posts (man... they're requesting like crazy!)
- finally find a decorator that'll even bother coming to check the work that needs to be done
- update and prepare software needed to diagnose computers for trouble
- fix a computer in the early evening
- work SL job and do customer support + decide where I want to go with it
- watch 3rd episode of The L Word (and thus finish DVD 1)
- copy Gwen Stefani CD so I can pop the copy into the car player (no originals in my car!)
- ...

A day off

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My day in short : Listened to my new Gwen Stefani CD - watched the first episode of season 3 of The L Word - played some games on the computer - updated and patched a bunch of programs on my other machines - went shopping for food. I mostly just hung around and was lazy.

I'll be heading off to bed shortly to work a relatively long and probably very boring day tomorrow.

Signal : Flat - Intelligence : Average

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As I was doing some shopping, I came across a book that vowed to tell readers how to work only 4 hours a week, yet have the same or a higher income. I take it everyone is interested in working less and earning more, but as I opened it up and took a peek, I was wondering what the book would be able to tell me. After all, I do "know" that cutting back on all time consuming crap would earn you more income, relatively speaking. Let me give you a quick example : shopping.

I went out and needed 4 different items, but most of them were probably for sale in the same shop. I went into a shop, fought my way to a crowd of people that shop because they have no other purpose in life, and found 2 of the items I needed. I made a note of the price. I went to a second shop, where I found all 4 items. Needless to say, I didn't go back to the first shop to get the first two items... I purchased everything I needed right there. If that sounds logical, or maybe even efficient to you, let me tell you otherwise.

If I had the time to compare prices online, and order directly, it would have saved me time, effort, gas and a lot of irritation. After all, there is nothing optimized about shopping in a store. Walk the hundreds of products, load them into a caddy, walk over to a sales register, wait in line for the clerk to become available, have all products scanned, load them into bags, pay, head over to your home (or car) and unload it all again.

Anyway, I think there's a lot I can change in my life to optimize my time, yet I don't do so. Why is that? Well, that's one of the questions I still have to answer. Is it because of fear of changes? Is it because I wouldn't know what else to do with my "spare" time? Is it because it's not socially acceptable to be ultra efficient and seen as inhumane cutting anything that doesn't directly benefit oneself? I think the two last statements are the core issues at hand. Peer pressure is a huge factor in how we position ourselves in life and how or why a group of people all react the same generally speaking.

Interesting idea, I must admit. Will need to read up on peer pressure and influencing large groups of people through subtle changes, while correctly predicting the outcome. But first I'll finish reading "Chatter - Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping" which takes a shot at disclosing the secret world of sigint, a book I picked up three days ago.

Why do I always pick these weird techy topics to read and write about?

My Tuesday

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I just got back from a funeral and despite the word having the letters FUN in it, there is little fun or enjoyment to be found at these services. Later today I'll have to do some shopping and convince some painter/decorator to come over to my place and write up an estimate. I had mailed no less than 3 different companies on Friday, and none have even reacted to my inquiry. Go figure, I take it they don't want to earn money?

I have a...

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Even though I came home from working night shifts on Wednesday, I keep on waking up around 6AM, very bizarre. It happened to me yesterday, and again today so this time I got up, grabbed a load of laundry and put it into the machine before heading back to bed. As I was still tossing and turning 30 minutes later I read a couple of chapters in a book I started (re)reading last night. Not a terribly exciting book I must say - one of the CSI series - but that could be due to reading it for the 3rd time now, lol.

Laundry is almost done, so I can pop that load out and a new load in while I compose a mail to a friend/colleague that suffered a serious loss two days ago and then I'm gonna set up appointments with decorators/painters to get an estimate on repairing the damage done by that last leak.

Before I sign off, I found this photo utterly hilarious. If you somehow feel offended, I think you may be taking life a bit too serious ;-)

I Have A Dreamsicle!

After all that is taken care of, it'll be time to head off to work for a late shift. Yeah, I tend to keep rather busy :)

Anyone who wants a glass of water?

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As I heard Tai play with something in the living room, I got up to investigate. When I spotted him and picked him up, his tail was wet. Not just a little wet, but soaking wet. I knew for a fact that he hadn't been playing in his water bowl, though that wouldn't be a first. So, he must have found water elsewhere. My apartment is not equipped with fountains or natural springs, the radiators ain't leaking so it must be something else. Ah, I spotted the problem : another leak in the apartment and a puddle of water in my living room. Nice!

Luckily, for the time being, the problems ain't as big as they were in 2005, but I've sent a mail to the super of the building none the less and will be informing my own insurance company tomorrow. The leak in the bedroom has sprung up again as well, only because it rained a bit harder before. The trick is actually catching these things - I just went to check up on the leak in the living room a couple of minutes ago, and there was no more trace of it. The drywall has soaked everything up I suppose.

Anyway, I gave my leak hunting cat a treat and a cuddle. If it weren't for him, I may have never noticed as I don't run inspection rounds in my own apartment every couple of hours. A story to be continued...

Catching up

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I just got back from dropping off a piece of paper that got stamped and will be processed by computer later. It took me an hour just to get that done. I wonder why in the year 2007 it is still not possible to have all institutions and agencies involved in the administration pass around all the necessary data and just send a confirmation note to the beneficiary along with a statement that unless it is contested, amount X will be paid on date Y. It would cut back on resources used, that's for sure.

Anyway, I'm gonna spend some time catching up on mail now, and shoot out some of myself in order not to make things even harder on others.

Update : Mails have been read, sent and orders placed. While browsing online, I've treated myself to the following : Schwarze Nacht Tanz 1 & 2. Yeah, I've ordered two dark electro goth albums, while Mish Mash - Speechless is blasting through the speakers here. I may have multiple personalities, but I wouldn't necessarily call it a disorder, lol. Hush, you, it's my turn to write now!

*alive*

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While you may not reach that conclusion by looking at the activity on this blog, I am in fact still alive. Most of my time these days is however spent between sleeping (too little), traveling to work (about normal) and working (too much), which makes it rather pretty boring if you ask me. That's also the main reason no new material has been posted here.

I hope that things will slow down as December progresses, but there is some uncertainty about recent developments and how they affect schedules and stuff like that. Nothing that has a direct impact on my personal situation, but they do add a lot of last minute changes, adaptations and revisions to my professional life and schedule. Before I head off to bed, I'm gonna bring my schedule for December online - I had promised that before, but didn't get round to actually do so - but take that with a huge grain of salt. Most dates are probably correct, but times may change, so if you can't reach me, try again an hour later.

Around the world

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A number of articles, news facts or things that somehow sparked my interest over the past couple of days :

Maria Carolina, a Chilean escort, will be holding a 27 hours sexathon to aid disabled kids. According to the article at The Register, the presenter of the TV show said that the charitable shagfest was out of their moral boundaries, but as prostitution is legal in Chile, they don't appear to have a problem accepting the cash raised. My opinion? Two thumbs up!

Both for Maria (her site can be found here, but can be hard to reach due to servers getting overloaded, or try here for a version served through the coral content distribution network) who seems like a very sexy lady, as well as to the presenter to admit that while it may not within their "moral boundaries" they set aside their personal opinion and handled the topic as it had to be handled : professionally.

Last night I spent some time in Second Life and while at the Elegant Pleasures club I heard a song that I was able to track down to being Jose Nunez feat Taina - Bilangual (Dirty Mix). Incredible pumping beats with a smooth and sexy voice over, if that sounds like something you like, do a search for it. I really like the song.

A couple of nights earlier, I was at Club Industry, where I met Khaos Republic, one of their DJ's. She was spinning the discs that night and was putting on a really tight set. Excellent industrial and EBM tracks were pumping through the speakers, so I'll definitely will try to keep track of where she plays. If I can find her playlists online again, I'll include a link here.

For those who may have missed the announcement or update, Mozilla released Firefox 2.0.0.10 about two or three days ago, fixing some vulnerabilities. Update your older Firefox version! Consider running the NoScript addon for increased safety. Quicktime is suffering from some in the wild exploits as well, but at this time, no vendor released patch or update is available.

Oh my...yawn

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I'm beat. It seems I'm getting too old to skip a night of sleep on a regular base, so tonight I'm gonna make up for the sleep I didn't get yesterday. I doubt the 25 minutes of sleep I had during the day have made a real difference, lol.

Note to myself : Monday : regular, Tuesday : 30 minutes early, Wednesday : 2 hours early

My brain sex ID

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I'll post my results from the BBC Sex ID test below, but here's what I read into it :

I possess neither a strongly male nor female brain. I've got excellent 3D skills, but lack empathy and am not all that good at systemising either. In other words, I'm Joe Average with all the shortcomings and none of the advantages. It's good that I make up for that with my sense of humor and ability to make fun of myself, lol.

Angles : This task tested your ability to identify the angle of a line by matching it with its twin. This is a spatial task, which looks at how you picture space.
Your score: 19 out of 20
Average score for men: 15.1 out of 20
Average score for women: 13.3 out of 20

If you scored 18 - 20: You have more of a male brain. On average, men outperform women in this task and those with more mathematical knowledge tend to score quite high as well. In past studies, 60 per cent of the people in this range were men.

Interestingly, men's testosterone levels fluctuate through the seasons and studies have shown that men's scores are lower in the spring, when their testosterone levels are at their lowest.

Spot the difference : This task tested your ability to identify which objects changed position. You lost points, if you incorrectly identified objects.
Your score: 57%
Average score for men: 39%
Average score for women: 46%

If you scored between 34 - 66%: You may have a balanced female-male brain.

Hands : You said your right thumb was on top when you clasped your hands together.

Right thumb on top: This suggests the left half of your brain is dominant. Many studies have tried to establish whether there is a relationship between handedness and brain dominance. Some scientists believe that if you are left brain dominant, you would be more verbal and analytical.

Emotions and Systems : This task looked at whether you prefer to empathise or systemise.

Empathising
Your empathy score is: 3 out of 20
Average score for men: 7.9 out of 20
Average score for women: 10.6 out of 20

What does your result suggest?

Empathisers are better at accurately judging other people's emotions and responding appropriately. If you scored 15 and above, you are very empathic and would be an ideal person to comfort people in a time of crisis. Women in general are better at empathising.

Systemising :
Your systemising score is: 9 out of 20
Average score for men: 12.5 out of 20
Average score for women: 8.0 out of 20

What does your result suggest?

Systemisers prefer to investigate how systems work. A system can be a road map, flat pack furniture, or a mathematical equation - anything that follows a set of rules. A score of 15 and above suggests you're good at analysing or building systems. Men in general are better at systemising.

Scientists are keen to learn more about people who score high or low on both tests. They want to find out whether or not empathising and systemising are linked. Is a possible to make yourself more empathic?

Eyes : This task tested your ability to judge people's emotions.
Your score: 6 out of 10
Average score for men: 6.6 out of 10
Average score for women: 6.6 out of 10

What does your result suggest?

If you scored 4 - 6: Your result suggests you have a balanced female-male brain and find it neither easy nor difficult to judge people's emotions.

Fingers : We asked you to measure your ring and index fingers. Your ratios came to:
Right Hand: 1.01
Left Hand: 1.01

Average ratio for men: 0.982
Average ratio for women: 0.991

It's thought that your ratio is governed by the amount of testosterone you were exposed to in your mother's womb. The ratio of the length of your index finger to the length of your ring finger is set for life by as early as three months after conception. Even during puberty, when we experience intensive hormonal changes, the ratio stays the same.

Men generally have a ring finger that is longer than their index finger, which gives them a lower ratio than women, whose ring and index fingers are usually of equal length.

Faces : This task looked at how you rate the attractiveness of a series of faces. The images you looked at were digitally altered to create slight differences in masculinity. Your choices suggest you prefer more masculine faces.

Highly masculinised male faces possess more extreme testosterone markers such as a long, broad and lower jaw, as well as more pronounced brow ridges and cheekbones.

3D shapes : This task tested your ability to mentally rotate 3D shapes.

Your score: 10 out of 12
Average score for men: 8.2 out of 12
Average score for women: 7.1 out of 12

What does your result suggest?

If you scored 10 - 12: Are you an engineer or do you have a science background? People with these skills tend to score in this range. Past studies have concluded that people in this range have a more male brain.

Words : This task looked at your verbal fluency.

Your score: you associated 7 word(s) with grey and you named 5 word(s) that mean happy. We are assuming that all the words you entered are correct.
Average score for men: 11.4 words total
Average score for women: 12.4 words total

What does your result suggest?

If you produced 6 - 10 words: Most people in this range have a female-type brain.

Ultimatum : This task asked you how you would divide money.
If you had to split £50 with someone, you said you would demand £25

So far on the Sex ID test, men have demanded 51.6% (£25.80) of the pot and women have demanded 51.0% (£25.50), on average.

What does your response suggest?

Sex differences are small in this task. Demanding less than 60% of the pot (ie £30) is more typically female. Demanding more than 65% of the pot (ie £32.50) is more typically male.

Scientists believe that people with lower testosterone levels tend to take fewer risks so they are probably more willing to keep less for themselves. Those with higher testosterone levels tend to drive a harder bargain and are less compromising.

It would suck

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The past couple of days, I've had a sore right wrist. I didn't bounce it into anything as far as I know, nor did I strain it lifting heavy objects. My first idea would be RSI, and if I am correct, I'd not be pleased, hence the title. If the pain remains, I'll have a doctor take a look and diagnose, but for the time being I'm actively seeking out solutions, just in case it is indeed RSI.

I have installed Workrave (Workrave.org) on my computer, and I hope that small tool will help me take a break every now and then, as well as suggest some exercises to relax my muscles. If you work with computers and mice quite a lot, you may want to read up on the site, it has plenty of suggestions on how to prevent RSI.

Over time I may feel the need to move away from a mouse and start using a trackball instead. The Logitech Trackman seems like a good solution, though there must be other devices out there as well. If you know of, or use a trackball yourself, feel free to send me your experiences on them, benefits, disadvantages. The cost of the device itself is the least of my concerns, if it'll allow me to remain productive while not wrecking my wrist.

Hm... now that I think about it, my wrist hurts most when I move it sideways, so maybe the culprit is not the mouse, but rather my keyboard? I'll take a look at the Microsoft Natural Keyboard as well, though I think they look rather strange and not all that ergonomic at first. It's probably just something one needs to get used to, right?

Good Cop, Bad Cop

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Whoa! I just got up about 20 minutes ago, which means I've slept for close to 12 hours, though the last two of those twelve were more snoozing then actually sleeping. Guess I needed that after the long hours I've been putting in at work lately. I even was 30 minutes late on Friday morning as I got up at 4AM and seem to have dozed off again, coz when I opened my eyes again the clock was reading 5:39 and my first reaction was : that can't be right. I grabbed my cell phone, verified the time on that and said "Fuck!". Just as I was going to the speed dialing numbers to call work, my land line phone rang and I greeted the colleague I was supposed to relief of his duties.

A couple of days ago I was browsing through a dating site that I open every now and then and I noticed the profile of a woman that seemed interesting, so I opened myself up and sent her a quick note to show my interest. It usually takes a few days to get a reply - not everyone logs on every day - so yesterday I decided to see if I might have missed the mail stating I had a new message waiting for me. There was no new message. There was even no more profile of the woman. She either removed me from her list, or removed her own account from the site altogether. <sarcasm>If you want to build confidence and self esteem try the online dating scene, you'll love it!</sarcasm>

Ok, off to the good news now : tonight I'm off to spend some hours with A & M, the two kids of J&E. It'll be a fun evening that's for sure! We'll be cooking together - they love to help out in the kitchen - so I can only imagine what the area will look like when we're done, lol.

Glad

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For the first time in three days I got home this morning without someone trying to run me over, or drive me off the road. I can't say that I was surprised in the least by any of the attempts - once you drive around long enough, you get pretty good at recognizing the fools, those that pay no attention or are plain drunk - so I was able to avoid each and every one of them, but today nothing like it occurred. Refreshingly nice, if I can say so.

I just heard a noise that sounded out of the ordinary, so I headed to the living room to see what Tai had pulled off now, but I couldn't find any sign of him being the source of the noise. Nothing fell down, nothing was torn up, so I thought it was just the neighbors making noise. I picked up Tai coz he was "hiding" under the living room table and I though he had been startled by the sound as well. When I did, I started cuddling him when I suddenly noticed his hind paws were wet. Not just wet, but soaking wet. I put him down, went over to his water bowl and found it empty and hanging at a 45 degree angle. Lol, there was the source of the sound I heard and the reason "my pussy was soaking wet" (*).

I felt like Moses splitting the sea (**), only I used a towel to create a dam in front of the stream of water on my floor. As I was cleaning up, Tai was sitting at a distance looking at me and his empty bowl of water and the looking in his eyes expressed this : "what the hell are you doing? Don't you see that I've ran out of water and that I'm thirsty?".

* hey, I couldn't let the chance to lure some perverts over go to waste, could I?
** Not a clue whether it was Moses splitting the Dead Sea, or any other sea, and frankly I don't care. It just sounded right and fitting for my own tale. If you feel like pointing out the errors in my reference to religious tales, go do so elsewhere ;-)

Updates

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I called the vet concerning the results of the blood and urine samples that were taken of Tai earlier this week : the blood showed nothing out of the ordinary and while it'll take a little longer for all of the results of the urine sample to come in, they were already able to verify that the sample didn't have any crystals in it, which is good.

However, there were clear signs of infection and blood in the urine - which we already knew - but it'll take a couple more days to verify what bacteria is exactly causing the infection. Once we know that, we can start curing Tai. In the mean time, his urine has cleared up significantly, and while accidents still happen, they seem to be less frequent. The vet said that the Cystease he's getting daily is helping him be more relaxed and also relaxes his bladder resulting in less trouble peeing. A story to be continued for sure.

Right now I'm doing a second round of filing paperwork, and it's looking rather positive. I think I've gathered everything I need apart from one document that I may have filed elsewhere already. I need that though to cancel my insurance on the mobile phone, as it no longer serves a purpose if you ask me (the insurance that is, not the mobile phone).

Update : found the original bill of the phone, called the insurance company after looking up their phone number online, and was told to head off to the nearest shop. I hop in my car, drive over to WS to be greeted by a mass of people that have nothing else to do but stroll through a shopping mall at the average speed of a cripple without their rolling chairs. I swirve around groups of people that use the pathways as conference rooms, couples with kids in strollers, seniors with canes and ice cream only to arrive at The Phone House and find out the outlet is closed due to renovations going on. Superb, 30 minutes wasted and the contract still ain't canceled.

Oh well, I'll keep the bill in my jacket and first time I come across a TPH store that happens to be open, it's cancellation time!

Quick updates

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No updates on Tai yet, and I don't expect anything to be known before Friday. The good news is that it's still so easy to feed him his daily meds, that it surprises me again and again.

I've updated my work schedule for November, so if anyone is wondering when best to contact me, you should now be able to figure it all out. I'll try to get that date off in December, but it may be hard or even impossible depending on what dates colleagues have requested.

The end of procrastination

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I've had several days off from work over the past 2 months, yet I managed to keep some tasks ahead of me. One of them was - and you probably know how it is, the longer you postpone them the more challenging they become - filing all my bank statements. Today I woke up and decided to work on them till they're done. As I write this, I've just sat myself down at my computer to update my monthly expense sheets. Last time I properly did so seems to be March 2007. Ouch!

Sure enough, some things were noted and kept up to date, but as the majority of data is easy to retrieve from the statements, I had not bothered. I'll spend the next 30 to 45 minutes going through spreadsheets and entering numbers, lots of numbers.

Tomorrow I'll be taking Tai to my old vet, because the last antibiotics he got haven't helped either. He's still peeing all over the place and generally not feeling too well. He's still playful, so that's a good thing I assume, but we both need a permanent solution to his illness. The vet I was seeing before had told me to call her in case it wasn't getting any better so she could refer me to a vet who has the option to do x-rays. Well, my old vet can do x-rays, so I'm not gonna bother with the call and head straight over there. More updates hopefully in the late afternoon tomorrow.

Off to crunch numbers!

Real Life Presentations in Second Life

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I've just spent quite some time attending a presentation in Second Life by the World Bank Group titled Doing Business 2008. Data and information can be found on the website Doing Business. Most of the data presented was new, but the mechanisms and underlying ideas were not, at least not to me. I've read a couple of books on these subjects (The Mystery of Capital, The Corporation : the pathological pursuit of profit and power, ...) so I was getting some other work done while listening to the audio stream. Which was buggy at best and had to be restarted a couple of times. Those things happen in SL though, so it was no surprise. Others that were attending their first mass event were less patient and understanding and kept on demanding to start the presentation. Ah well, either they will stick around and learn how SL sometimes is what it is, or get frustrated and leave.

While the Activ8 sim soon filled up as the presentation was about to commence, when I headed out, a lot of chairs had gone empty again as well. Was it due to technological problems, a topic that was not what they had expected, or something else? I don't have a clue, but my best guess would be that some people left because they found the presentation not too interesting and totally unrelated to their own Second Life business or experience.

I think that it once again shows that you can't just take a real life institution or company with their ideas, brands and reports and drop them into this virtual world. Unless they really tie into the whole experience and "get" it, they'll be disappointed and so will their SL visitors be. In this virtual world, they don't call the shots, they don't make the rules or dominate the playing field as they do in Real Life.

Roar!

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After careful consideration and reading up on the subject of polyphasic sleep, I've decided not to attempt going down that route. My current shift schedule is wicked enough as it is and while that could be seen as prior experience to deal with the changed perception of time, it would also affect my ability to find and follow a stable sleeping schedule with naps every 4 hours. If I were working from home and on my own, I would definitely give polyphasic sleep a try.

For those of you that have not yet read the articles I posted below (thanks again Nadia!), I do suggest taking a look at the Steve Pavlina blog entries on this topic. A very interesting read for sure.

I'm gonna go see The Simpsons Movie later this afternoon. While I'm not a big fan of afternoon movie trips, it's only being shown at 14h15 so I fear that if I don't catch it this week, I'll have blown my chance to see it on the big screen.

That's all folks...

Polyphasic sleep

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Thanks to Nadia I now have a couple of very interesting articles to check about polyphasic sleep. For those of you interested, here are some links she sent me, and I've added some other articles I dug up.

Whether or not I will attempt this remains to be seen. Going by the bits of information I've already read, a very strict schedule is required to successfully keep it up, and unfortunately a nap every 4 hours is out of the question for me. I don't think I'll be allowed to doze off for 20 minutes in the midst of my shift at work. Then again, maybe there are ways around it. If one can train the body to go through all the sleep cycles in 20 minutes every 4 hours, I take it it may be possible to train towards 40 minutes every 8 hours as well, wouldn't you say?

If anyone has attempted or successfully lives their life using polyphasic sleep, I'd love to hear your experience with it.

Inventors wanted

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I'm looking at a long day in which I'll try to get some sleep even. It's close to 7AM as I write this and I got home from work about 30 minutes ago. Between 7 and 8 I'll be tidying up the place a bit, then I'll be waiting for the people that take up the yearly heating meters to arrive. If it's anything like previous years, they'll be here around 8 which would be nice. That way I can take Tai to the vet again around 8h30 coz he's still suffering from his urinary tract infection it seems, and I fear there may even be some blood in his pee. I'm not all that certain, but it doesn't look healthy either.

Once I get back from the vet I'll try to get in three to four hours of sleep, then I have to make some calls to set up a meeting for Monday morning. And look at some dumb idea I had on the way over from work.

While I'm writing this post, the new firefox version 2.0.0.8 is downloading and I'll be installing it once I'm done here. So many things to do and so little time. Can't anyone just invent a body that doesn't need rest or sleep?

Update : There I was with my my cat at the vet, but there was no vet to be seen anywhere. Probably because she doesn't have an AM consultation hour on Fridays... Will try again around 5PM. Nadia, if you happen to find that article again, definitely forward it to me, I need longer days, or shorter nights.

Literal vs. Figurative

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Nadia submitted a review that she thought I could have written about the movie "The Girl Next Door", and I must admit... it definitely sounds like me. Read along, will you?

In short the movie is about a Porn Star that moves in next to a somewhat geeky kid and, surprise surprise, they hit it off together. Whereas the plot is a little too fairytale-ish for me - he runs off to Vegas to save her from the evil porn industry - I did enjoy the movie, in a it's-Friday-night-so-I-don't-need-my-brain kinda way. Although if I were the kid, I'd probably have stayed in Vegas and started a business of my own. Oh, did I mention he gets filthy rich at the end with the earnings of his own "porn movie" (read: sex ed tape)? Volunteers can contact me via the known ways :-D"

But, of course I wouldn't have had that challenge posted if I hadn't taken a break from my regular tongue in cheek yet to the point style of writing. Here's my review after watching the movie (for the second time) :

"The Girl Next Door has everything a classic mainstream movie needs :a cute woman/girl, a shy boy who falls for her, some jokes and bad guys. Stir it all up, add something resembling a plot and off you go. Nothing worth mentioning, let alone blog about, right. So, what makes me like it?

Is it the insanely sexy Elisha Cuthbert? I've gotta admit that it probably has something to do with me liking the movie, but I think there's more to it. It almost seems as if the flimsy plot appeals to me - go figure. The shy kid gets the cute girl. Not instantly, there have to be a couple of bumps and trouble along the way, but in the end things turn out well. Isn't that what I'm looking for subconsciously? Isn't it what we all are looking for at some level? Love and be loved?

Yeah, that must be it : find a girl that you just hit it off with, that challenges you yet stops you from doing really dumb things. Someone who's there to cheer and celebrate, and to comfort when things are rough. Someone to hold and cherish, to let go and be a free soul.

Crap, did I just write down my own definition of "love"? Did I tear down those walls, even if just for a second? It scares, surprises and makes me happy me at the same time..."

So... that's my review, kind of. I guess that if I was to write it again in a couple of months, it could look entirely different, who knows. I must admit that I like Nadia's idea in the review to start up a business myself, however if I had to make the choice between the girl and the cash at some point, my reply would most definitely be "screw the cash".

Wait, that is a bad choice of words I think. Let's give it another try, shall we : "however if I had to choose between the girl and the cash, I'd most definitely pick "screw the girl".

Better? Still a bit vague and open for interpretation, ain't it? Ah well, you can keep the cash, as long as I get (to screw) the cute girl ;-)

B minus 1

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I've got a little story to tell about how everything that could go wrong seemed to wrong last night.

I head off to work a bit early because I plan to pick up some bread from a vending machine - I did have the time to go get bread during regular shop opening time, but I lost track of time so I forgot. I take the car out of the garage, drive over to the vending machine to find it empty. Grr... nice start. If I don't find some bread, it'll be a long night.

But, don't despair, there's another vending machine on the way to work, so I'll stop there and make a second attempt to change my coins into bread. I arrive at the second vending machine to see that it's empty too! Wait... no, it's not empty, yay! I pop in two 1 Euro coins, clang clang, and I get a 10c coin back. I open the door and... there's no bread. The stupid machine has offered me access to an empty compartment!

I close the door and - can you guess - the damn thing rotates to the next compartment, which does contain a nice bread. Arrghh. Of course, by now I had run out of coins, so there was no way to give it another try and I seriously considered using my size 43 boot to gain access to what I paid for after all. However, being the easy going guy that I am, I decided to chalk this one up to bad luck.

What else can we do? Aha... pick up some cash from the ATM about half a mile up the round and stop over at the fast food outlet to have something to eat after all. I arrive at the ATM, which is "out of service". Nice, this is what I needed. By now the early start that I took has turned into a 5 minute delay. Back off to another ATM that I know should work, which is located... 250m from the first vending machine. Finally I get some cash, and off we go to the fast food restaurant.

Let me assure you that it has got nothing to do with fast food when you have to wait a long time to actually get your food. Eating while driving to work (not safe, I know) I arrive only 10 minutes late, but still on time. What an evening...

While driving to work, I've got the nagging suspicion that I've forgotten something important, and then it hits me : October 15th, my mate Joco's birthday. I considered calling him around 21h30, but decided against it coz he'd probably be asleep already, so I sent him a mail when I got home this morning, and will be calling him in about an hour... after I do some shopping!

Nadia, thanks for your review, it'll be posted tomorrow after I finish my own review.

Oooh shiny!

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Lol, I start working night shifts again tonight, even though I was awake and out of bed around noon - it'll be a long night, especially as I'm yawning already. Could be a lack of food too though, so I'm gonna have something to eat and see if that helps, grin.

Nadia, I'll be looking forward to your review written as if you we me. Confusing, ain't it?

Here's a video made by Alex, Michael, Joco and Eef : Jumping at Alex Disco. Quite a creative bunch, ain't they?

Choices

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I get home from a day at work that actually went by pretty quickly and as I eat some Chinese food, I turn on the telly and have the following options :

Yasmine, licht ontvlambaar on Eén (Concert recorded on February 2007)
Sporza, België - Finland on Canvas (Football)
I am Sam on VTM (Movie featuring Sean Penn)
Unfaithful on Kanaal2 (Movie, thriller)
The Village on VT4 (Movie, directed by M. Night Shyamalan)

What would you watch, and what do you think I'm watching right now?

Update : thanks to Marianne and Hilda for the comments. Both of them guessed that I would be picking The Village, while I was actually watching the Licht Ontvlambaar concert by Yasmine.

None of the movies really sparked my interest and football is definitely not my favorite way to waste time. When I turned on the TV, I landed in the midst of the Yasmine concert and I stuck with it. I actually have a Yasmine CD at home (the real deal even, not some download and burn to an empty disk rip off CD), surprising as it may seem to some.

11

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hours of work a day is enough for me. I'm tired and got home to find a tax bill for over USD500 in my mailbox which didn't really cheer me up a lot. Next year - or rather this year - I need to either earn less, or make sure I got more costs to deduct, otherwise I work more to have less in the end. Mind you, I don't mind paying taxes at all, but there is a limit to everything. Once you exceed the level people tend to find acceptable or fair, they revert to cheating and magically disappearing numbers, and that ain't good for anyone in the long run.

I did run into a very hot lady in the supermarket though and we exchanged smiles. On the parking lot it turned out we were parked next to one another and we exchanged smiles again, but that was it. I'm so gonna approach her next time, promise!

Now it's time to lay down and rest. Blog for you all later...

Flexibility vs Principles

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I got a call around 17h30 from one of my superiors to see if I could work some extra hours after my shift on Thursday. Contrary to popular belief, I don't oppose changes or things I feel are incorrect just to cause trouble or give people a hard time. I just don't bend over and let anyone screw me over if there is anything I can do about it.

So when he called to ask about Thursday, I could easily have said no, but as I had nothing else planned there is no point in doing so. If he had asked on Thursday during my shift, I would have declined, purely on principle : if someone doesn't show me some courtesy, I tend to become quite inflexible and to the point. So, extra hours on Thursdays, no problem!

I added my schedule to the blog - finally - so people actually know when to contact me.

Tai seems to be doing a bit better today, as he's been playing and running all over the place like crazy. Right now he's asleep at my feet while I blog this entry and watch the two sexy ladies Ilse Demeulemeester and Cara Vanderauwera in Huizenjacht on TV.

Too interesting a study to skip

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If you're not up for a rant, don't read this post - you've been warned ;-)

According to a study released by CREG on October 4th - an institution that controls and regulates energy use in Belgium - there could be a shortage of electricity of as much as 2000MW in 2008, which would result in an increased reliance on import of energy into the country, as well as operating older and more polluting sites for a longer period of time.

It goes without saying that purchasing electricity abroad is usually more expensive compared to producing it yourself, so if I jump to a conclusion here : in 2008 we're all looking at increased costs for electricity.

The study is available in PDF format (dutch|french) and as soon as I'm done reading it, I'll add to this post.

1 hour later

I just finished reading the 25 page study and I'm not going to comment on it after all. The study in itself is too interesting yet complicated enough that I feel I wouldn't it justice by trying to summarize or highlighting aspects. There is however one quote that I want to put into the spotlight - something I feel was sorely overlooked in the reporting about the study in general media :

De nodige hulpbronnen worden in deze studie voorgesteld onder de vorm van productiecapaciteit van het centrale park, al is het "in fine" uiteraard aangewezen een oplossing te overwegen die tevens in hogere mate beroep doet op hernieuwbare energiebronnen en op maatregelen ter beheersing van de vraag en ter verbetering van de energie-efficiëntie.

In short, I blame the media for creating spectacular headlines stating that we're heading towards an electricity shortage in 2008, while a part of the solution is within the grip of each and every one of us : stop the yearly increase in demand for electricity (currently projected at 0.96%)

Hey

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I feel much better today after sleeping a good 7 hours, I guess I needed that. The sun is shining and as it is Saturday, the market is out so I may actually head over there and do some shopping. I need food anyway, so I think I can combine enjoying some sun and shopping at the same time.

I've got the option to write another sponsored post, as requests keep on coming in. I know those may not always be the most fun to read, but they do cover a part of my monthly bills, so you're gonna be stuck with them every now and then. I don't accept all of them anyway : last month I turned down one about satellite and dish networks, and 1 about marriage and divorces. I felt I had nothing worthwhile to write about those topics anymore so by accepting the opportunities I wouldn't do my readers nor the advertisers a service. I don't mind accepting some cash to review a site or a service, but not at all cost, well on the contrary :-)

OK... and now I totally forgot what else I wanted to blog about. Crap, gotta love the attention span of a goldfish!

1, 2, 3, 4,...

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I'm not counting the hours till work calls again, I've got a clock radio to wake me up in due time. Yep, another week of holiday has gone and I've accomplished... nothing. Lol, that's not totally correct, but not far from the truth either. Today, I took out the trash - or was that last week? - cleaned out Tai's litterbox, emptied the dishwasher and did some laundry. After all that "hard work" I felt I had accomplished enough and decided to go get some take out Chinese food.

Grin, all that in over 8 days of not going to work. I think I need a certificate as Master of Procrastination.

But, because I don't want to leave you totally empty handed, I give you : Kama3D (also known as "Regards sur la bête" or "Aspects of the beast")

Ash to the rescue

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I should have known that Ash would come to the rescue and provide all of us with a detailed explanation on what exactly half a bathroom is. Ash rocks :-)

Nadia rocks too, for getting her system up to 90% safety. Not yet quite there, but probably outranking 99% of all the systems in use around the globe. And believe me when I say that even small efforts help a lot.

Later tonight I'll be off to the movies with J. after we had something to eat. Currently considering Disturbia and Ratatouille although the latter doesn't really spike my interest. Guess we'll decide when we are there. Up on the list to watch this week are The Simpsons Movie and 28 weeks later - maybe I should first watch the earlier movies?

On the release calendar, Sicko (a new Michael Moore movie) seems interesting, and I've placed a big red cross next to Planet Terror, the counterpart of Deathproof in the Grindhouse series.

Looking ahead, staring in the distance

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You may have picked up that I was looking at some new options over the past couple of weeks, but I remained rather hush about it. I had and still have my reasons to fly under the radar and not blog about all that relates to work as openly as I used to do. For the time being it may seem as "back to square one", though that is far from accurate. Nothing was lost and a lot was gained in the process of working one of the opportunities, so in the end I benefit, which is always a good thing I suppose. Hence the referral to Pink's 18 wheeler lyrics a couple of posts ago.

That what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger. The more you beat me down, the more powerful and agile I will rise and stand up against you. Each blow is reduced to a mere punch. I absorb the power, reverse and channel it into my own positive self. Negative emotions and feelings I shake off, and I see them fall down like water that runs off a feather.

Off to look at new horizons!

I'm exhausted, more to come soon

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It's been a long, very long day and I'm exhausted. While work was not all that exciting or even challenging, for some reason I'm just beat today. I'll be heading off to bed any minute now, after given Tai a cuddle.

I'll release more info on a bunch of things tomorrow as I've got a full to do list cut out already. However, believe it or not : these lyrics perfectly describe my answer to whatever is thrown at me :

Can't keep me down
Can't keep me down, down
Can't keep me down
I said you can't keep me down
You know you can't keep me down
I said you can't keep me down
Hey, hey, man! What's your problem?
I see you tryin' to hurt me bad
Don't know what you're up against
Maybe you should reconsider
Come up with another plan
Cuz you know I'm not that kinda girl
That'll lay there and let you come first
You can push me out the window
I'll just get back up
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler truck
And I won't give a fuck
You can hang me like a slave
I'll go underground
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler but
You can't keep me down, down, down, down
Can't keep me down, down
Can't keep me down, down, down
Can't keep me down, down
Hey, hey, girl! Are you ready for today?
You got your shield and sword?
Cuz its time to play the games
You are beautiful
Even though your not for sure
Don't let him pull you by the skirt
You're gonna get your feelings hurt
You can push me out the window
I'll just get back up
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler truck
And I won't give a fuck
You can hang me like a slave
I'll go underground
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler but
You can't keep me down, down, down, down
You can push me out the window
I'll just get back up
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler truck
And I won't give a fuck
You can hang me like a slave
I'll go underground
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler but
You can't keep me down, down, down, down
Everywhere that I go
There's someone waitin' to chain me
Everything that I say
There's someone tryin' to short change me
I am only this way
Because of what you have made me
And I'm not gonna break!
You can push me out the window
I'll just get back up
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler truck
And I won't give a fuck
You can hang me like a slave
I'll go underground
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler but
You can't keep me down
You can push me out the window
I'll just get back up
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler truck
And I won't give a
I won't give a fuck!!
You can hang me like a slave
I'll go underground
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler but
You can't keep me down, down, down, down, down, down, no, no
You can push me out the window
I'll just get back up (I'll just get back up)
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler truck
And I won't give a fuck (you can try - I won't give up)
You can hang me like a slave (hahaha)
I'll go underground (I'll go underground, ground, ground ground..)
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler but
You can't keep me down, down, down, down (Can't keep me down!!!)

*GONE*

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Just a quick entry for now, I may come back later and expand it, or add a new post depending on available time and necessity to inform.

I've got at least two new paid for posts to write for this blog, it really seems people - and companies - related to satellite TV and divorces think I am the bomb. Well, I am of course and I'm very modest and humble as well, grin. So look or avoid them as I bring at least one of them online over the next couple of days. While you may or may not like them, they increasingly do pay the bill of hosting and keeping this blog self sustained.

I need some food, have a shave and *POOF*

Food

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It took me just over two hours to check the system - which was rather up to date to be honest - and come up with a solution to what was basically a user error (solution : explain and teach the user) and install some patches. My daily bills are paid for the week :)

RIght now while Tai is sitting outside sunbathing - he already walked the railing again, so I chased him down - I'm having a baguette and an extremely dry pork sausage. It's so dry I can't even peel off the skin, so I'm eating it. If I shit wrapped poo later this week, I'll know why, lol.

I picked up some fresh raw tuna and I'll make myself sushi rolls tonight - I'm already drooling just thinking about it! Note : yes I'm aware that blue fin tuna is going extinct. I watched a very interesting documentary about it a couple of weeks ago, but I can't recall the name of it. All the more reason to eat some while I still can. (Totally irresponsible, but I can't save the wold every second of every day, now can I?)

Oh, look... an update!

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Very quick update. Off to shower and shave, then I gotta be somewhere to do a general checkup on a computer. I've been spending very much time in Second Life and on building a website related to my activities there. Feel free to go take a peek at virtualSecond. More work needs and will be done, I for once didn't get round to uploading a ton of photographs of the new sim and land for sale, but I expect that to happen today.

Joco, I didn't notice your call till past twelve PM last night so I'm gonna be calling you today.

Up, Out, Away

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I'm only popping in for a very short post right now seeing that it's seven thirty on a Monday morning and I'm on a holiday (not away from home though). I'm up at this early hour because I'll be taking in the car for maintenance at nine and then I have nothing else planned till Friday, woot!

The maintenance session will take two to two and a half hours, so I'll be grabbing a book - I'm still hoping to some day finish "On Killing" by Dave Grossman - and my laptop. I'm pretty sure it will run out of juice in under an hour, but I hope to be able to plug it in somewhere, and unless I'm mistaken I should be able to find some wireless network as well. As long as I stick to some light surfing and don't need access to any secured sites or data, I don't mind borrowing a connection :)

Setting up a framework

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I just finished printing out 15 pages of covenants for Second Life land ownership on various private sims. I'll be reading through these over the next couple of hours and take notes on how others tackle the various problems that arise when dealing with "virtual" assets backed and purchased with hard cash. I've seen virtual worlds becoming much less virtual as the amount of money (game tokens, virtual currency, whatever) increases and as it becomes exchangeable for real world currency.

If I do this, I want to do it right and be prepared for most cases that (can) occur in world, by drafting a set of legal documents - call it contracts if you wish - that I and my customers can fall back upon if things are unclear. As this is an ever evolving world, I know it to be virtually impossible to foresee everything right now, but with a good set of basic rules and guide of conduct, much can be covered from the start. The rest of it will be drafted as we run into things.

A separate domain name has been registered for this endeavor and a licensing request for use of Linden Lab logo's and trademarks was sent out a while ago as well. I expect to have the sim transfer completed this weekend (cross fingers, it's been delayed a lot) and aim to complete the website by the end of the month.

Character Profiling

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I just called the HR people of my current employer in order to get feedback on the tests I did for them about two months ago. According to her notes and the test results, I'm a rather individualistic person who's assertive and believes in his own strengths and knowledge, while looking for a compromise between emotional stability and facts. This makes me a direct leader who is not only interested in performance, but also in the wellbeing of the team.

When it comes to negotiations, I base those on my own capabilities and don't rely on others to get things accomplished. I'm not an emotional person and combined with my no nonsense attitude this can lead to others perceiving me as dominant, harsh and a brute.

When she asked me if that profile fits me, I agreed with her, it's rather accurate. It's who I am and how I work...

Just to refresh my mind

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- arrange checkup for car next week (completed)
- create 468x60 banner for a medieval village in Second Life (completed, off for approval)
- file bank statements and get the most recent ones
- shop for food
- verify meeting
- enjoy myself (in progress)
- entertain Tai

* Waves hand *

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Even though it may seem as if I've vanished from the face of the earth, I have not. Just like the Mars rovers were shut down a while ago due to storms, I'm laying low and flying under the radar as much as possible. This includes disappearing every now and then and generally working on lots of topics and projects behind the public scene often known as my blog.

Yesterday I called in to work to check whether a schedule for September had been released and much to my surprise it had. Approximately 48 hours past the deadline and I still don't have it in my hands but I hope to gain access to it tomorrow as I work an early shift. Once I have the long overdue schedule, I'll be updating the sidebar to include that information.

Bearforce1 : lift off!

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I definitely like my partners more female - a lot more female - but I can understand why this video is a huge hit on YouTube right now. It's well made, has handsome guys (or should that be gays?) in it and it "borrows" heavily from the some of the best music and artists ever known to mankind. Enjoy.

For those of you "shocked" by this video : I'm rather surprised you're still reading, and am really wondering how you ended up on my blog, seeing that I'm very much a liberal and open minded live and let live kind of blogger.

Oops

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As I was going through some paperwork, gathering all things related to work and what they paid me over the past two months, I suddenly notice something peeking out from under a stack of paper. It looks like a bill, it smells like a bill and even though I didn't try licking it or eating it, I'm sure it would have tasted like one too. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an unpaid one :(

I took at look at the amount - ouch - and a look at the due date - ouch again - and made the payment immediately. I don't know how forgiving the government is, but I suspect I ain't seen the last of that bill. Serves me right for not being as organized as I used to be. Better clean up my act, which I'll be spending quite some time on tomorrow for starters. I should have it all back in order before Wednesday.

Looking back and ahead

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I've got a bunch of bank statements in front of me and I should really get around to filing them correctly, but I've been putting it off for weeks now. I know that if I delay it any further, the chance that some of them will get lost increases a lot, yet I don't feel like doing it today. Instead I spent some time playing Hobowars where I've risen from a "in the gutter" level 1 to a "a little less in the gutter" level 6 over the past 2 days. I noticed a friend of mine joined as well, but I've got no clue yet whom it is.

While playing I was also taking a look at my current investments and the goals I had set for the end of the year. It seems very unlikely that I'll be able to meet them this year, mostly due to the car accident at the beginning of 2007 that has set me back quite a lot financially. All things taken into consideration, I'm at 68% of the goal I had predicted to reach at the end of 2007. Sure enough, there are a couple of months left in the year, but as there are no major increases or setback to be seen in the near future, that percentage won't rise or drop too much by December 31st 2007. For 2008 I have set a 17% increase over the goals of 2007, so I'll definitely know what to do if I want to make up for 2007 and make the raise for 2008 :-)

I don't know how all of you deal with finances, but I take a detailed look at them a couple of times a year, to see where I'm at and where I'm heading.

While installing the latest patches for my OS, I remembered reading about an extension for my mail client. I hopped over to the Mozilla site and grabbed a copy of the 0.5 release of Lightning, a calendar plugin for Thunderbird (there also is a standalone version named Sunbird). I never used nor needed a calendar for private use, but after using it extensively at work where I'm forced to use the Outlook calendar, I am convinced it has benefits. So when I learned about the Lightning plugin, I just had to download it and try.

Installation is easy as hell, and I already added my first "event" to the calendar. Time will tell whether or not I actually will use it, but as I open my mail client frequently, I think the current setup is the best approach to find out.

I sure hope not, coz if you did, better skip this entry :)

Boomshine - 12 levels, make the dots explode in a chain reaction. Simple? Sure!

Lol, I'm such a dork

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Since I have to head out to work early tomorrow, I figured I might as well pop the laptop in the car once more and do some wardriving and scanning while I travel to work. As it's been a long while since I did some scanning, I wanted to prep the laptop tonight to see if everything was still easy to set up and configure. I've found my laptop, I found both antenna's but I can't seem to locate my extra wireless card, nor the external power supply.

I went downstairs and checked the trunk of the car, but there's nothing there. I checked upstairs, but even after turning my place upside down, I can't find the parts I need. Last chance is that I've thrown everything in the garage as I cleaned out the car a couple of months ago.

I may run down again in a couple of minutes to check, but right now I've got a very interesting documentary about spiders and silk spinning animals running on TV. I've seen it before, yet it remains fascinating.

Is it a game, or is it not?

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I did more or less expect the comments as posted by Ash and Nadia - for that didn't read those yet, it basically came down to "do you spend real money in a virtual world?!" and "stop over regulating everything and the inhabitants will find their own way" - so I'll try to answer the questions posed and in the mean time throw out some new one out there for everyone to choke on.

For those that don't have a clue what Second Life is, I'll try to write it as I see and experience it. The "What is Second Life" question is also the hardest one to answer, as it definitely is different for everyone involved and we all may get something out of it, even if it's the exact opposite.

Some say that Second Life is a game, and one with no predefined purpose. Some say it's a glorified chat box where you walk and fly around and talk to people from all over the world - social interaction at it's best. Others consider SL a true virtual economy or a micro nation even with everything that comes with that : money, work, laws, regulations, banks, stock markets, land ownership, Intellectual Property rights,....

My opinion on what SL is exactly was "it's a game" at first but within days that changed to "it's a virtual micro nation" as I took a dive deep into the economic system and became part of it. I'll throw in some numbers to give you an idea about the economic powers that lies within Second Life : in the past 24 hours a total of $1,040,450 was spent in world.

That's a figure in USD, not in the virtual Linden Dollar L$)! I must admit that I don't know how Linden Lab came up with that figure, and there is a possibility that their data is inflated in the same way as their number of total residents (8,501,546) is far from the daily average population online. But even if that is the case, over 1 million USD in a 24h time frame is massive. It definitely changes my point of view when it comes to defining something as a game or not.

Anyway, where was I? Ash wanted to know whether I - or others I assume - spend real money on this, and once again the answer is different for everyone : I have indeed pumped a nice stream of hard earned Real Money into this virtual world. Some don't and only use the resources they also earn in SL to do their thing, but back in the days I opted to inject real money into Second Life to support and grow my virtual self. Money can be brought into the game, by buying L$ on the LindeX or some of the third party L$ exchanges, and using the same mechanisms you can sell L$ and transfer it to a bank account, credit card or paypal account. There is a very real link between the virtual L$ and the USD.

By establishing that there is more to this than pure fun, I think in some way I also answered Nadia's question or statement that there should be less regulation and moral judgment passed upon others. However, as we all - should - know, businesses thrive in an environment that is stable and regulated just enough so they get to protect their investments yet are very free to pursue and chase their goal of making a profit and keeping their shareholders happy. Second Life is a micro nation with the fundamental laws being written as it grows and expands, and at times this leaves the economic foundation of this "world" very vulnerable and in flux.

This is what happened on July 25th when LL decided to ban wagering in Second Life effective immediately : all the financial and emotional efforts that were poured into creating and running a virtual business were nullified and erased with a stroke of a pencil, or in this case, a post of a new policy on the SL official blog. Sure enough, not everyone was struck as not all of the SL residents ran a casino or entertainment place, but the economic numbers don't lie either and SL is not that different from Real Life : sex and gambling are a considerable part of the economy and often rather innovative when it comes to technological challenges and creations.

I'm gonna leave you with a blog post by Nobody Fuzagi titled Towards A Healthy Economy - an interesting read if you want to know more about this "game".

Bad press?

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As some of you know, I've been spending a lot - too much? - time in Second Life the past three months. This virtual world with virtual currency was my new playground, and pretty much allowed me to do and be whatever I wanted to be. It was a sunny world, with lots of positive energy and limitless opportunities to prosper, but the past two weeks the complete world has been covered in thick black clouds. The fun is over, the ship could be sinking and avatars are panicking.

I'm not one to easily panic or to jump ship - I rather sit out the ride when the roller coaster goes down, and I wait for it to go up again. But let's take a look at some of the recent happenings in Second Life, shall we? I'm too lazy to come up with an exact time line and data, so if I put one thing before another, excuse me. You too are responsible for doing your homework, I'm just pointing at some recent occurrences.

- Land prices are constantly rising and virtual land is a hot asset.

- Linden Lab floods the market with tens of new sims a week, and these sims often are auctioned off between USD2,500 and USD3,000 a piece.

- Land prices drop hard, and people are getting stuck with a pretty much negative ROI.

- LL announces a new continent to be formed soon : which means more land in the world

- LL bans all advertising for gambling related games and businesses through their central search directory and classifieds.

- LL bans all gambling (for the specific rules and words, check the SL blog) effective immediately, invalidating the investment (both financially as well as emotionally) of thousands of virtual entrepreneurs in SL.

- One of the largest virtual stock exchanges for SL suffers a loss of L$3.2 million (about USD12,000) in what could be considered theft. Details remain rather unclear, but this stock exchange which had 75 companies listed has remained closed for the past days. During the closure, the ATM's were offline for several days, trading has been halted, recommenced and halted again effectively freezing the assets of several companies, and the investments of hundreds of investors. As I write this, trading should be open again at 12PM PDT today. Earlier deadlines have been extended several times before, so I don't see anyone meeting this one to be honest.

- Some people are investigating some of the - unregulated - banks in Second Life, claiming there may be a scam going on. On the other hand, it could also be a result of the current economic panic that's happening which people trying to recoup as much as they can. Who knows.

- Servers go down, virtual goods and creations disappear and they can often not be recovered. This happens mostly during weekends when the load is high. Wednesday are "update days" when the grid goes down for several hours and everyone eagerly waits to see what's been borked in the newest release. Teleporting is impossible or rather flaky at best, if you can log in, you don't gain access to your L$ balance (which means no purchases or sales) yet the official blog happily states : all issues resolved!

My conclusion : in this virtual world nothing is safe and nothing is set in stone. Rules change and are changed by the Upper Deity (in this case LL) as they see fit, and businesses are unregulated, virtual and possibly fraudulent. Is an investment in a virtual world a game? Is it real and should it comply with real world rules and regulations? I for sure don't know where it'll all be heading, but I know that it will be an interesting path to travel.

Contributing to the hype

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Help, I've been simpsonized! - click to enlarge
by simpsonize me (click/enlarge)

So nice

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I get home after a long day at work, to find out I can't get my ADSL modem to sync with the ISP modems. I just managed to hijack a wireless connection in the neighborhood, but it took me long enough to find one that wasn't based on the same ISP as I use. I guess that means the problem is not so much with my modem, but rather with their infrastructure. It better work correctly on monday, coz I've got a ton of things to do that require access to the internet.

Tai is sitting outside with me on the terrace, at 00:36 which is the middle of the night for most people I assume, even on a Saturday night.

That's all folks!

Let's get married

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Yesterday evening I was invited for the festivities surrounding the marriage of D and M, and let me tell you : the couple knows how to throw a party :) Congrats to them both, and it won't be 500 miles before we see each other again!

Oh my...

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It's a good thing that Joco and I decided to go to the sauna yesterday, we had a wonderfully sunny day with few clouds and no rain at all. Today it's pissing down like crazy. I sure hope this doesn't ruin the day for a few people :)

Different and definitely more up tempo, but still very recognizable as Bjork - I like it...

I love Open Source :)

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As I was searching my hard disk to find a program to mount a CD image file (.cue + .bin combo) - something I know I have, somewhere - so I could preview the contents of the file before burning it to a disk, I noticed that according to the icon my VLC player should be able to open and play it. Refusing to believe it, I double clicked the file and without much ado VLC opened and started playing the video in the image file. How's that for ease of use?

Now I'm gonna watch Clerks 2, a movie that has Rachel and Shannon appearing in it briefly.

VideoLAN is the software project behind the free cross-platform multimedia player released under the GNU license. Download here : VideoLAN - VLC free cross-platform multimedia player

Fall - Cat - Skin

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It's July 6th, the summer should be in full swing but for the past two weeks it appears to be Fall over here. It's rainy, it's windy and I love it. Apart from the rain, I admit. Right now I'm sitting outside on my terrace, looking out over the street and checking my mail and some sites while Tai is strolling around trying not to get in trouble. Well, I don't know whether that is his intention, but I sure do hope so. He's hiding under a turned over plastic dog bed, probably because he doesn't like all the wind that much. My tiger really ain't a tiger, but rather a big pussy.

When I came home this morning, I stepped out and enjoyed the morning chill. I bet if people would have seen me they'd think I was crazy, but I don't mind. I guess I'm getting used to it.

The weekend should be getting more sunny and warm - who knows, I may even go outside and let the sun warm my white skin :)

And some good news

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I just checked the stock market and am glad I caught a trend yesterday and adjusted my orders accordingly. I had gotten 31% net growth on one of the stocks I purchased about 2 years ago, and decided to cash in, which I did successfully today.

I still recall some people advising against buying this particular stock, and for a while it did indeed drop like a stone but I rode out the bottom wave and got out at the current high. It wouldn't surprise me that it pushes through to another high - possibly even €27 or €27.5 - but that's all water under the bridge.

Cash in and get out when you're ahead is my way of working, if you want it all and go for the last drop, you often end up empty handed.

Oh, Lotsa Fun

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The weather stinks, Kleine just called me to check whether it would be bad if he didn't show tonight for the OLF party and Pinkie has other things on her mind as well. Cabana Boy had already said he probably wouldn't make it, and Snorrie doesn't know when his girlfriend is done working. Yeah, it's gonna be a fun evening :-)

I'm gonna show up anyway and stick around for a while, you never know : I could run into that one girl that becomes the love of my life. If that doesn't happen, maybe I'll run into that one hot body that'll be my love for tonight, grin.

Anyway, I need to get out more and when I plan to do so, everyone bails on me - while it irks me, I do understand and since I always reserve the right for myself to decide not to go somewhere coz I don't feel like it, I should accept others from doing the same.

Keeping busy

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Later today I'm off to help a friend out who needs a hand. I've got laundry to do, I need to get some things to eat and I should be doing taxes as well.

So far I've helped a couple of customers out in Second Life, I've upgraded the Photo Gallery and added new content to it as well. Yes, the Devil Cat named Tai has his own spot in the gallery now, you can find him under "Fuzzies".

I need 36 hour days

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Over the past couple of days I've been busy, even very busy. I put in an extra 2 hours at work on Thursday and Friday, and I'll be working an extra shift today - it was planned for, but not in my "regular" (lol!) schedule.

Tomorrow I've got a full day off from work, then Wednesday early shift starts again. When I'm not at work or commuting, I'm spending most of my time in Second Life, working a Second Life job that's taking a lot of time and effort as well, but also brings in some virtual revenue.

Friday : party time at OLF (see previous entry) - Saturday : Birthday Party (or parties) - Sunday : sleep, sleep, sleep - Monday : night shift starts again.

I've received my working schedule for July and there are some unexpected tasks to be performed. I'll see what happens once we get to those days and tasks. While this schedule still looks rather normal, we're all very curious what August will bring, due to all the recent and upcoming changes.

If I had a 36 hour day, would I get more sleep? I actually doubt it...

Grindhouse

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As I slept way longer than I intended, I'll probably stay awake for another night I guess. I'm off to the movies in a bit, and I'll go watch Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino, which is a part of his Grindhouse project.

Should be fun...

And so it ends (case : ELE721)

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I just received a reply about the election case I filed last week, and I'll be posting it here for everyone to see :

1. Volgens het Kieswetboek, art. 147bis, §4 :
“Ten einde tot de stemming te worden toegelaten, overhandigt de gemachtigde aan de voorzitter van het stembureau waar de volmachtgever had moeten stemmen, de volmacht en een van de in §1 vermelde attesten en vertoont hij hem zijn identiteitskaart en zijn oproepingsbrief waarop de voorzitter vermeldt "heeft bij volmacht gestemd” ”.

Dus de gemachtigde moet uw eigen oproepingsbrief niet hebben om bij volmacht te stemmen.
Bij gevolg moet de voorzitter van het stembureau niks op uw oproepingsbrief vermelden.

Uiteindelijk moet de voorzitter de volmacht en het bijgevoegde attest bewaren.

2. De voorzitters van de twee stembureaus hebben een fout gedaan.

- Voor het stembureau 213 :
Uw gemachtigde moest alleen een kaartje krijgen.

- Voor het stembureau van uw gemachtigde:
De gemachtigde kon niet meer in dat bureau stemmen want de vermelding “heeft bij volmacht gestemd” werd op zijn oproepingsbrief afgestempeld.

So, it turns out the president of the first election bureau did correctly follow procedure when it came to marking the paperwork, though both presidents made a mistake when it came to the number of votes that could be cast.

In short : an extra vote was cast and no one seems to be too alarmed by it, lol. Anyway, I rest my case and will consider it a fluke in the democratic process. Better be sure I'll keep my eyes and ears open in coming elections.

Yawn

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I just yawned as if there would be no tomorrow. I could head back off to bed, but my colleagues won't appreciate that, as I've gotta leave for work in about 15 minutes. It'll be a busy two weeks with too much work and not enough time off. I get home from a nightshift on monday morning, have tuesday off, and wednesday I start working for another 6 days. One day off, then early shifts start again. When those are completed, it's the last weekend of June already.

Which reminds me : I still have to get back official confirmation my leave from work is granted, I want to go skydiving this year!

Friday update

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Not much news to report - I've not gotten an answer to the complaint I made about the elections, though that is not really surprising if you ask me. Either they take it serious and look into it before getting back to me, or they shrug it off or refuse to admit that there is a problem and they hope that it'll go away on it's own. All good reasons why I didn't get a reply yet I suppose.

In the next two weeks I'll be going out a couple of times and I'm looking forward to it. On the 24th it's pintjesdag and even though I have to work one more shift on the 25th, that doesn't deter me, then on the 29th it's off to the Openluchtfuif Nieuwkerken and on the 30th Mark is throwing a birthday party and so is Dirk. I promised Mark I'd be at his party, but I may head of to the other one later if time permits.

Nap time

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Yesterday as I came home from work, I was feeling a bit tired. Around 18h00 I decided to take a quick nap, I woke up this morning around nine :-) I guess I needed that...

Thanks Hilda and Marianne for the comments about the previous post. Politics are always a theme that seems to get to people, and that pleases me very much. If no one cared, nothing would go right - or maybe things would go more wrong, I don't know. Some people are whining that globally seen the majority has voted "right", but as Marianne points out quite well, that's the way a democracy works. It's not because you vote left, center or right that the final outcome will be what you like it to be. Your voice is just one of many and while it is important to be heard, voicing your opinion doesn't guarantee anything.

Concerning the trouble Joco went through when voting for me : I've found an e-mail address that belongs FOD Binnenlandse Zaken, whom should be able to handle my complaint, or at least point me to where I need to be. I've mailed them a couple of minutes ago, pointing out obvious errors in the process and that I'd like it to be investigated. If I get a reply, I'll definitely let you all know. If I don't get a reply, then I guess I'll have to inform the media about it and see if that puts things into motion.

Let it be clear that I'm not attempting to make things hard on anyone, cause trouble or even am suggesting that a new election should be organized, but I am voicing my concern that if obvious errors and (not even intentional) manipulations are not being caught by the current verifications, there is no guarantee that the complete voting process is not open to organized fraud and thus undemocratic.

Update : the mail I've sent has been received by FOD Binnenlandse Zaken according to the return receipt I've requested (which doesn't prove anything though).

Sent: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 14:54:14 +0200
was read on Wed, 13 Jun 2007 14:56:48 +0200
Final-Recipient: RFC822; [email protected]
Disposition: automatic-action/MDN-sent-automatically; displayed
X-MSExch-Correlation-Key: jeSZJp1Tkk+qZ/dKpHBOnQ==
Original-Message-ID: <[email protected]>

Update 2 : My complaint has received tracking number ELE721. (posted here in case I delete the mail).

Too hot to handle

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What is cool to one is warm to someone else and maybe even hot to a few. I think it's hot outside and I'm not liking it too much. I perform and function much better at lower temperatures : I guess I run hot too easily.

The only real "task" I did so far was walk over to the store to get some food, and I'm sweating like a pig already. Which makes me wonder... do pigs actually sweat? Rational thinking makes me come to the conclusion that they most be able to sweat, but I'm not too certain. Or was the expression "smelling like a pig" and not "sweating like a pig"?

I told you the heat was affecting my ability to function, didn't I?

No new chapters on the "Clowns, Whistlers and Those in Charge" story for the time being, things are slowly developing and once they all go even more downhill, I'll report back.

Hello World

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I'ts 08:41 as I start typing out this entry. Sunday morning and I've been up and out already. Yesterday I decided to head off to bed instead of wasting more time on the internet. Can't say that it's the best decision I've made in a long time, but I don't feel bad about it either. I spent some of my evening watching a the beginning of Assault on Precinct 13 - Maria Bello is hot - but I turned of the TV at the first commercial break. I had seen the movie at least once before, and thus I gathered all the mail that had been spread out over the place, and quickly sorted it into four piles : "paper recycling bin", "glance through", "read thoroughly" and "follow up".

Some the glance through pile I took to bed with me, so I had a relaxing environment to catch up on things. Around 2 I turned off the lights and fell asleep. I woke up at quarter to seven, and still have no clue why. I turned around a while and finally decided to open the curtains wide, suck in all the light and sun, and listen to the birds outside. I grabbed the new Douglas Coupland novel jPod - arrived on friday - and read for an hour and a half. So far I find it less captivating than MicroSerfs, but then again, I've read that one 5 times or so already.

I went out to the bakery to get some food and while Tai was chasing ants outside - and jumping onto things again, so now he's inside - I had a koffiekoekske and am listening to the radio.

I've got the sunday paper to read, and then I'll probably see what I need to do in order to have my voice heard in next week's elections. Last time we could vote till 16h00, but this year they close at 15h00. I have to work till 15h00, so that'll be kind of impossible.

I can fill out some paperwork to allow someone else to vote for me, but then I need to find someone willing to do so, vote according to my wishes and not live too far away. I could ask my sis to do it, but she'd have to travel quite far, kind of making the whole idea behind it worthless. I also need a paper from my employer stating that I can't vote myself, and get that to them along with other paperwork and my voting registration card. I think I'll ask Joco if he's up for it, but I'll wait till a bit later so he's awake. It's a Sunday after all :-)

Blue Tits

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As I was waiting for my computer to finish installing some updates - when did you last visit Windows Update or run the Secunia Software Inspector? - I had the door open and I was listening the the birds sing their song. Suddenly I realized I hadn't heard the Blue Tits in a while, and especially the young ones were rather vocal about their presence.

I grabbed my camera, opened the lid of the nesting cage and snapped a shot. When I transferred it to the PC and enlarged it, I noticed only one young Blue Tit. Wait a second... that doesn't make sense, does it? While would only one be left, as there had been 4 or five, like previous years. That called for an investigation : I grabbed a pair of rubber gloves, stepped outside and lowered the nesting cage to the ground. Nothing squeaked or flew off, so that could only mean one thing... As I opened the lid, it became quite apparent that the nesting cage was deserted, apart from one young Blue Tit that didn't make it. Was it the heat, was it something else, I'll probably never know. I'm not about to do an autopsy on it, and even if I did, I'm not a vet.

I cleaned out the nesting cage, freeing it up for yet another couple looking for a place to breed and raise their young. I've never had nests twice a year, but with it being available again this soon, who knows?

The Fresh Prince

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About two weeks ago I was at work and one of the colleagues had brought some fruit to make a salad. As he'd worked in a kitchen as a sous-chef before he joined us, he's full of tricks and knowledge about food that I just don't possess. It's so interesting to see him prepare things, and to hear him explain as he goes along. One thing that grasped my attention this time, was how he cuts his oranges. I usually just peel off the skin and eat it - though I admit that wouldn't make it part of a fruit salad - but he took a different approach to go from a full fledged orange with skin to yummy orange pieces in under a couple of minutes. And without too much of a mess!

Today after I got up - too early if you ask me - I was looking for something to drink and noticed I had no liquids at all in the fridge. As I bought a bunch of fruit and veggies yesterday, the solution appeared before my eyes : squeeze a couple of oranges and have some fresh juice.

Instead I grabbed two oranges, my sharpest knife - which after all didn't turn to be that sharp at all - and I started cutting at it using the techniques I had previously visually stolen. To my surprise, I ended up with nice fresh orange parts without skin and I even managed not to chop off my fingers. Yay!

More about oranges is to be found here : All About Oranges.

This'll be a mixed entry, as I've got a few subjects I want to touch briefly mention :

First off, we'll start with an interesting read titled "observer's instinct (JLDR - Just Doesn't Look Right), written by Jim Goding. The article was mentioned on the always interesting Schneier on Security blog. It tries to explain that gut feeling that experienced observers have when observing their surroundings, and how to act on those instincts. While I don't work in a casino - though I wouldn't mind, they usually have state of the art equipment - the tips and mechanisms mentioned in the article work in every security related job : if you don't feel right about it, investigate! Never ignore that feeling.

With Second Life being down for maintenance, I'll be deep into the CRM software, updating customer details and completing missing information. There is nothing more valuable to a customer than a liaison that knows what they are talking about and who has all data available instantly. The same goes for a service oriented business : a good customer relation beats any problem that may arise.

tor got a 2-3 page article in the latest CT Magazine, I hope that'll make more people realize that anonymity is not just a buzz work on todays internet.

That's it for today, I'm off to the shop (again) to pick up some things I needed but forgot to get during a previous trip. If the brain forgets, the feet pay the price, right?

Cooking

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I've just gotten out of bed and will only be popping in here shortly because I've got an whole lot of cooking to do. Today is the last graveyard shift and tradition says that means someone of the team prepares a meal for the colleagues and today is my turn. I'll be making a simple but delicious dish consisting of chicken, applesauce and fried rice with nuts. We're quite limited when it comes to our options as we're not allowed to fry anything at work, just heat up.

Nadia asked how the building was going in SL, and well... pretty good I'd say. Here are the snapshots of the rental houses with a pond and a swimming pool, the latter being sLwim enabled. Click the thumbnails for a larger view!

Horowitz PG Sim rental house 1 with Pond Horowitz PG Sim rental house 2 with sLwim enabled swimming pool

Note : I started cooking about an hour later than expected, but due to some creativity and allocation of more resources, I was able to get everything done with 10 minutes to spare. I'm getting dressed as I write this and then off to work it is!

Prims in the sky

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I just got back from the vet where I got a new bag of food for Tai. Last time I picked up chicken flavor, this time it's Ocean Fish, and going by his reaction he loves it. The minute I had filled up his bowl and put it down, he started eating, and afterwards - full of energy - he wanted to play.

My building skills in SL are increasing as I spent some hours yesterday completing the pond on the first rental lot, and I had put in the basics of the swimming pool on the second one. Today I finished most of that, though I still have to figure out a way around some terrain limitations that I ran into. I think creating some kind of stairs in the corner will be the best option, covering the land underneath and providing easy access. Alternatively, I can create a small section where plants and such grow, sort of a pond inside a pool. I'm not sure that will work, but once my creations are completed, I'll post some pictures here.

For the SL'ers that are interested to come check out the rentals in their current - unfinished - state, use these SLURL's : Vibrant Group Rentals - Lot 1 and Vibrant Group Rentals - Lot 2.

Building things

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Today, I'll be building a swimmingpool and a pond. I've got experience building ponds in real life, but I'm not sure it'll help me do the same in Second Life. However, I wrote "will be building" not "will try to build", so that shows determination and confidence, even if I have no clue on how to start it.

In fact, I think the pool will be easier as the pond, since it'll be large square chunks mostly, and for the pond I'll need to create rocks somehow. There is no such thing as a predefined "rock" shape in SL, so I'll have to be creative :)

Trouble in paradise

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Ok, my place maybe doesn't qualify to be titled paradise, but there's troubles nonetheless. As I woke up I heard an alarm sound and when I check it turned out to be the CPU was overheating again. Sure, it's hot outside too, but it's only the end of April, what'll happen when we hit mid summer?

I shut the machine down, grabbed a screwdriver and took off the other side cover as well - it had been running fine for the past months with just one side opened - to give it more air. Next the vacuum came out to remove as much dust from the heat spreaders and fans as I could. It runs again now, but at a 64°C CPU temperature already and it's been on for less than 5 minutes. Not good, I tell you.

All fans seem to be operating normally, so I've got no clue what is causing the issues. Last time it was the power unit fan that failed, thus sending massive amounts of heat into the case. This doesn't appear to be the cause today. Ah well... if you don't see me here again for a while, you just assume something got fried.

It could be that my computer is overheating due to playing this video - I know I am getting hot from watching it - too much. She's probably doesn't qualify as a "babe" for most people, but she definitely has that undefined "something" that tickles me. And before you all yell "pervert" - even though you'd be correct, a dirty mind is a joy forever - even if this video was much less explicit, she'd still have that something. So... you're warned : some call this explicit, or NSFW... I call it a feast for the eye : Strip.

Don't Cha

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I think this may be the song I was looking for earlier, but the more I hear it, the less convinced I am.

Anyway, I spent some time in meatspace again today, since my virtual world is down for maintenance. Don't be fooled, I still spend much more time in Real Life as opposed to Second Life, though there are days, I admit... As I stepped outside on the balcony to give Tai what he wanted, I remembered a colleague stating yesterday that it hadn't rained for days. Sure enough, I look at the few plants that I have outside and they look - erm - dead? Nah, just bad, not dead. I watered them down good, in fact so much the neighbor below peeked up to see where all the water was coming from. Oops! The plants can drink now and survive :)

And, because there is no such thing as "too much disco" :

Can there be too much Paris Hilton?

I was actually looking for one song that really stuck in my mind, unfortunately I don't know the title nor the artist. Only word I remember from the lyrics is "delicious". I tried looking up the playlist for the station I heard it on, but nothing there sounds like it. If I find it, you can be sure I'll post...

Wow!

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Has it really been 4 days since the last time I added an entry here? I can hardly imagine... So, you probably wonder what has been going on in that time. If only I knew. I do recall spending too much time at work, not enough sleep, a fun night out with the colleagues on sunday and too much hours of "game time/work" in Second Life. I've taken on a new job in SL, much more serious than anything I've ever done before in an online world. I've been studying procedures, CRM packages, you name it. In a virtual world you also have to network - or try and pick up the skills to do so - ane build your reputation and image. That being said, it doesn't differ from real life apart from the fact that I don't posses meat space networking skills. I hope the skills I develop through my virtual entity can benefit me elsewhere too.

Message to J&M : Tai often sleeps on the top level of his new toy. It gives him a good overview of his surroundings and he seems to like it a lot.

Nice, very nice

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I just finished a series of three night shifts and as I arrived home and got out of the car, the day was breaking, the birds were happily - or so I assume - whistling their songs. Life can be beautiful :)

Oh, in case you didn't know yet, I've got another nest of Blue Tits this year. I've seen the parents flying in and out for the past two weeks, and I'll see if I can manage a quick sneak into the nesting cage to see if there are eggs yet and if so, how many. This is the third year I've got a couple of Blue Tits nesting here, and I'm very pleased with the results.

Catching up

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I just started catching up on paperwork, bills, letters and everything that should have been filed long time ago. The bills were all paid on time, but the necessary administrative follow up just wasn't happening. After spending about 30 minutes looking for papers all over the place, I'm pretty much certain I've got most of it in order. I just have one small stack of 3 bills for which I miss a part - which is nothing but a small annoyance, since I know they've been paid - and the funny thing is that I know that I paid all of those at the same time and date, and stuffed the missing parts into the pocket of my coat.

However, three months later, they no longer are in that pocket, I think. Anyway, can't find them but they'll turn up sooner or later. Off to file all payments electronically now and then - time permitting - I'll grab all work related paperwork and file all that correctly too. I may even take most of it to work with me, so I can keep myself busy while the night progresses.

Eyes wide shut

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Wow... today was rather easy and slow at work, but due to a lack of sleep I had to fight several times to not drift off into a short nap. The drive home was a pain in the ass - as expected - and it took three times longer than normal to cover the same distance. I parked the car, took a quick pee, browsed through my snail mail and went off shopping for food. On my way to the supermarket I stopped at the bank to make some payments. Got back home, filled the fridge, played around a bit with Tai on the terrace and gave him a comb getting rid off more hair, yet still he manages to shed like crazy.

I'm watching the news right now, will be making dinner soon and then I'm off to bed. I'll sleep so well :)

I will be busy today

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I seem to have my tasks cut out for me today. I just got woken up by the mailman delivering a parcel sent to me from Australia, containing a secondhand Grundig 6 Disc CD Player for my smart fortwo that I acquired for just over €52 (including shipping, handling,...). I guess that means I have to install - or at least test it - today.

I've also got to do a quick web page sample for a colleague and I promised B&H that I'd be over today before they leave on holiday tomorrow morning. Early afternoon I'm expected to meet G. online for some Second Life, and I somewhere in between all that I have to slightly adjust the door in Tai's litter box because I think it may snap sometimes blocking his access. Either that or he's just being lazy.

I intended to sleep till 9h30 but that plan was shot down when the mail man rang the doorbell, so I just hope that the fact that I was up in bed reading till 4AM doesn't catch up with me too soon. I'm looking at starting early shifts on saturday, so getting up early and going to bed early seems like a good plan anyway. I may add more details or a progress update as the day goes by.

Update 1 : Tai's litter box has been fixed, and cleaned. The CD changer has been tested and is almost installed. I just need to get some cable wraps (which I have) to tie everything down neatly and some velcro (which I'll be getting shortly) to secure the unit without making it unmovable should there be a need to do so in the future.

I've started working on the web page as well, but man... are my XHTML skills rusty or what?! It took me a good 30 minutes to get a table looking the way I wanted coz I kept on going back to the reference guide for formats and attributes. I do recall the days I wrote HTML and XHTML as if it were my second language but those are long gone. I'll get used to it again soon though and as with everything, laying the framework is the hardest thing to do. Once that's in, I can build/add/change as I like.

*Waves*

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Yes, I'm still alive! I know I've not been blogging much lately, but I've been too busy doing other things. Not that I'm neglecting any of you here, at least not on purpose. Let's give you a quick overview of the last couple of days :

Thursday late afternoon (18h00) : wake up.
Thursday Night : Work Night shift.
Friday : Get home, refuse to go to bed. Stay away all night
Saturday around 7AM : go to bed. 37 hours was enough.
Saturday 14h00 : wake up again, attempt to get back into regular sleeping schedule.

Thats about it people. Oh, club FK no longer exists in Second Life. I've just finished removing all objects (DJ gear etc) because every time the people that said they'd show never did, or they showed late. It was no longer fun for me and getting a headache and stress from a game is just not worth it. DJ's walking in 20 minutes past the time they should be up, not showing at all, or showing up an hour late (yesterday) and then run into technical problems so the set is shortened to barely 30 minutes, I've had it. From this day forward, I'll deal with machines and expand my casino/entertainment branch. The new Zyngo games are tons of fun, by the way :)

More photo goodness

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Jerome's new website is up : chapter9photography

Nice

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First things first : thank you all for the birthday wishes! They are much appreciated, whether they arrived by phone, mail, pigeon, snail mail or direct mental connection, I loved them.

Yesterday was spent at J.&M.'s place having a very nice meal - M. is a superb cook - and just enjoying the company. I had tons of fun with everyone present and it was good to all come together again. Thanks.

Today I slept in as preparation to working night shifts tomorrow, and I was thinking about going to the movies later but I can't seem to find any cinema playing Our Daily Bread, which doesn't surprise me in the least. An Inconvenient Truth was about as alternative as these mega corporations are willing to go I guess. No problem, I'm sure I can pick up a copy of it on DVD somewhere.

The rest of the movies showing don't really spark my interest to be honest. Unless someone has a recommendation, a movie I just have to see according to you? Then please let me know before 20h30 and I may go and watch it.

As I was browsing my one of my favorite sources for DVD and CD's a couple of minutes ago, I decided to order The Green Wing Series 1 & 2, and the jPod novel by Douglas Coupland.

127

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My day so far has been pretty uneventful, in fact waking up this morning probably was the most exciting thing that happened. Oh, apart from that very sexy medical assistant at work that I saw. Haven't seen her before - but then again I rarely am around the medical quarters - but she was definitely sexy in her tight jeans and fitting top. The whispering was due to a loss of voice, not because she thought yelling in my ear would be over the top.

The title refers to my score at some IQ test I just took, and while I feel I didn't do too bad, I'm sure I could have done better as I missed the instructions for the paper folding questions, and I had no clue what way to unfold to match patterns. The only really hard questions were the north-east-south-west driving ones. On those I both tried guessing as well as calculation, but the latter proved futile in the short time limit. I either got lucky on some, or I really did well on all the rest of the test. The language section was a piece of cake if you ask me.

Off to have something to eat, tomorrow I plan on cleaning the windows of my car and applying Rain X to them, so I'll be all set for the thunderstorms and pouring rain that is predicted for next week. In combination with the Bosch Aerotwin wipers that I'll fit to the car in the weeks to come, it'll have superb dealing-with-bad-weather capabilities. Further down the list are more expensive mods/alterations such as new alloys (with wider tires, probably 175 on the front and 195 at the back) and an X-gauge.

Lol

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I noticed three different IP addresses searching this blog for the word "birthday". Quite a coincidence if you ask me, or maybe there is something else up? In case you wonder, in less than 24 hours, it'll be my birthday and I get to tell people I'm officially old. Well, one year older to be precise.

I hope this gives the anonymous searchers the answer(s) they were looking for.

Fresh air, sun and...

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We had another fun "pintjesdag" last night, and it was a welcome change from the crap we've been dealing with over the weekend. The weather outside is too good to stay in today, so I'll be out on my terrace with Tai - who up to this point has been sleeping like a baby on the couch - to get some air, sun and sand. Well, not sand maybe.

I had planned to meet up with a colleague from work in SL, but he didn't show. He probably also thought it was too good out to stay in. Wise choise!

Update : Ok, sitting outside didn't last that long... out in the sun it was getting a little too hot for my liking, and my laptop screen proved next to impossiblle to read on when in the sunlight. So I've moved back inside but the large window is wide open so sun and air is abundantly flowing in. My laptop is currently running a disk check in preparation of a repartitioning, which in turn is preparation to install a dual boot system running XP (currently installed) and Ubuntu Linux. While the check is running - it's taking quite some time - I've made some behind-the-scenes changes to the blog, that should lessen the server load, making everyone more happy. If you suddenly notice something broken or not working as expected, please tell me about it.

I have only little experience with running linux - a couple of years ago I had a distro running on an old PC, but after two kernel compiles I promptly forgot the root password and either reclaimed to box after sitting there for a couple of months, or I took it apart for spares, I don't remember - but this seemed like a fun project to do on a single day off. Yes, I'm well aware that installing a new OS and getting acknowledged with it will take longer than 8 hours, but I just don't seem to learn. I've always been like this, and will always be...

Update 2 : Several hours later, the Ubuntu install (44% finished) is finally running. It was the old XP install that was giving me trouble. Every time I attempted to repartition the disk, it would exit claiming there were disk errors, no matter how many chkdsk commands I ran. After tossing Partition Commander in the bit bin and finding an old copy of Partition Magic, I freed up a nice 16GB of HD space where I'm now installing linux on.

Cooking

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My dinner is in the oven and while I was preparing it - a nice macaroni and cheese dish - I squeezed a bunch of oranges and 2 lemons to make a refreshing and healthy drink for tonight during my night shift. I've got even more oranges and lemons to make another batch for tomorrow night.

Hey, I am up here!

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You know how everyone always says they read Playboy for the articles? That's a bunch of crap in my case. I just love looking at beautiful women and if the woman photographed catches my interest, I dig deeper. Same goes for the articles. But I'm straying from the path...

Through 2girls I found the website of Jordan Matter and more specifically his "uncovered" project. I clicked the link to look at breasts, but I stayed to read the stories. The view was pure bliss, the stories captivating. Look beyond, I tell you, and a whole new world will open...

Yawn

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Another night that I didn't sleep, and when I finally head off to bed in the morning, I still have trouble falling asleep. I wonder where this all is leading? I need a serious energy boost, so I'm heading off to the store to grab myself a cart full of fruits and veggies.

Oh, last night I threw the first ever club FK try out in Second Life - the purpose was to see what needs changing, fine tuning and what still lacks - and it was a massive success if you ask me! I've got pictures somewhere, and may put them up later if I can find them. Poor brain, acting all wonky.

The only thing that went terribly wrong was a L$ 2000 sploder that distributed L$ 95 instead of 2K, and those who "won" didn't even get paid because the system wasn't able to process the transaction requests. Sure enough, I can't help it that the servers (owned and operated by Linden Lab, creators of SL) are not being able to keep up, but I felt so miserable.

There were a bunch of people that had shown up for the try out - much thanks to Bellagirl, the new club FK Hostess - eagerly anticipating the distribution of a considerable prize, and then it fails terribly. Good thing this happened during a try out/test run and not during opening night!

For the record : everyone who had paid into the sploder pot was fully refunded - I keep logs of everything that happens - so no one lost though they didn't win either. What had to be the apotheosis of the night became a nightmare reputation wise, even if I got nothing but positive feedback from everyone when I refunded them. Most even said that they were surprised by the efforts I went through to make sure everything was fair. I think it was only normal to do so, but apparently not everyone honors the same attitude...

The sploder is off till further investigation shows me what caused the problem, and how I can fix it.

What a night...

Busy

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Sorry for the messed up layout, I don't know how I missed it, or why the validation tools I use did. Fixed now!

Have to run, off the the garage for a regular checkup of the car, then I'm meeting with Joco for a couple of hours of relaxation. Mate, I'll call you later today to see where and when we meet, ok?

Update : I got so fed up with using an available but unstable open (and thus insecure) wireless connection today that I went over to my desk/office/server room, ripped out the hardware firewall that was acting up and rerouted a bunch of cat 5 cables into the wireless router. 45 seconds later I had internet connection restored to two desktop machines and the laptop is happily sending bits over the secure wireless connection it is supposed to use. I should have done this earlier, but didn't feel like fiddling with cables for a while. Yeah, sometimes I am extremely lazy, that I admit.

FK Entertainment in SL

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I've been working hard at building my own place in second life, and the time is about to come to officially open it to the public. To be honest, it's been open for a couple of days now, but there has not yet been an "official opening" with drinks, invitations and prizes.

I think that'll happen next Friday or Saturday (February 22nd or 23rd) unless I get some things completed early and move it all to tomorrow. One never knows!

If you are a SL user, you can find me through Search (Everyone is a winner! - FK Entertainment) in the Ezquerra sim, or by simply following this SLurl.

In case you wonder what exactly I offer in SL right now, here's the notecard that people get when touching the LandMark tool at the entrance :

Hi,

Welcome to the FK Entertainment Group outlet. We aim to please you because a happy customer is a return customer.

* Casino/Gambling :

We offer Ultra Low Stakes (L$ 2) to Ultra High Stakes (L$ 500) Devil May Care games for your pleasure, Horse Racing (L$ 10 - L$ 100) and a Raffle ball (L$ 50) with a L$ 500 pot.

A Sploder is available, and FK Entertainment offers you a chance to participate in the brand new gridwide RaffleTron sytem as well! More games and entertainment added on a regular base.

* Free L$ :

If you'd rather get free L$, make sure to stay in the vincity and try your luck with our Money Ball, or be the first one to sit down on our Prize Chair for extra free cash. A Money Tree is available in the center to the room, so make sure to check it out!

* FK Entertainment Group Adult Play Room :

If you'd rather spend some time with your loved one(s) in our Adult Play Room, check out the first floor. At a rate of just L$ 100 for half an hour you can't be disappointed. Use the teleporter on the right hand side of the entrance to go up to the Adult Play Room and use some (or all!) of the toys available :

- Heart shaped bed with poseballs and candles (Valentine Recommendation!)
- Playboy bed with poseballs
- Silver Play Rug with poseballs
- U-Shaped Cuddle Couch with poseballs for slow starters
- Deviant Bed with menu driven actions for your enjoyment
- Light bondage devices are also available

If you have any special requests, make sure to get in touch with ServMe Nakamura (owner) or any of the Staff (FK Entertainment CRW) so we can cater to your desires.

It is all so simple

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As I write this, the world is slowly awakening, people are having breakfast and making a dash for the door, running to the car and try to beat the daily traffic jams. I'm doing none of that: I just got home from work - way before the madness strikes on the roads.

I should (or could) be heading off to bed, but I'll postpone that till nine or so, in order to be able to make a couple of phone calls and set up some appointments. Then I'll head off to bed and this afternoon I'll be less of a zombie and hopefully working some extra gigs.

I probably sound naive and old fashioned, but the fastest road to money is working for it :)

I don't believe in the "All work and no play makes ServMe a dull boy" statement. And the reason(s) I don't believe in it are quite simple :

- I like my work, thus don't consider it "work"
- The income I get from work pays for my play time.

Maintenance

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I woke up about an hour ago and called the smart center to set a date for a first checkup on the car. It has run close to 32000 kilometers by now and needs to go in. It'll take about 1.5 hours but then should be all good again. (Not that it's not driving well right now, but don't they always drive just that little better after being checked?)

Completely off topic : I hate being ignored on my own grounds in Second Life. Some newbies are plain stupid.

Potpourri

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This entry will probably end up as a collection of various topics, hence the name.

Just went shopping, nothing worthwhile happened during that bland experience. Check my mailbox and found 1 publication from the city council, my weekly Humo, a letter reminding me that I hadn't made a yearly donation yet - done now - and some promotional pamphlet for Record Bank.

I have a very clear sign on my mailbox stating that I don't want to receive such mailings yet they refuse to honor my wish. Makes one wonder how correct they are when it comes to financial transactions, doesn't it? Ah well... no time to waste fretting about it, just another company on my shit list.

Yes, call me stubborn or even foolish, but I do keep a mental list of companies I'll never deal with due to their arrogance or non-compliance. In fact if they come up with a really good deal or promotion, I'll request all information, make them work for it and then when all is about to be finalized, back out and tell them I can't do business with them. If they feel right abusing my valuable time, I can waste some of their resources as well. It's the only way to make them understand. Ok, enough about that now...

Time to update/patch your windows installations, people. Over 20MB worth of patches have been released today fixing vulnerabilities in windows XP, Office,...

Anything else? Nah, that'll be it for today.

Life - Work

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Time to head off to work. I'd rather stay home as the weather is kind of nasty, but hey... the job needs to be done. I'm just wondering if I'm gonna take the time to shave before I leave, or finish this entry, pack up my things and run to the garage to get the car out. It'll probably be the latter :)

I've sent a text message to "Tasja" letting her know I had a really good time on Friday and that I'd like to see her again. Not a clue whether or not I'll get a reply, but that's something out of my hands, ain't it?

I noticed I use a lot of exclamation marks in blog entry titles, so I'm going to try to cut down on those. That's just something I felt like saying, lol.

24

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I just got home from my date. On thursday I met this girl online, and today we met each other in her hometown. We had a long chat while drinking wine (she did, I didn't) and having tapas. Very enjoyable evening and she is almost a copy of me character wise as far as I can tell. Which is scary yet very interesting as it leaves me with the question : "would I date myself?".

She's even prettier in real life as she is on her profile photo. I hope see her again, but we'll see how she feels about that.

Oh, the title of this post refers to the number of hours I've almost been awake so far. It's really time to get some rest now!

Winter?

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Apparently, there are also benefits to working in shifts. When I was already working a couple of hours, snow started falling from the sky and the land was turned into a slippery white yard of death for automobiles. Around noon, no less than 350 kilometers of traffic jams had formed around Brussels, and accidents were reported everywhere. On site, everyone pretty much stayed inside which made it quite a relaxed shift for us.

One truck couldn't make it up a hill - even after two crews had been working pretty much non stop to get the roads free of snow - but after a second attempt from a longer distance he made it. That also was about the most interesting fact of the day for now.

The white carpet has now transformed into a slushy goo, nice!

A memory like a sieve

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Yesterday I had some topics of which I immediately thought "this I have to comment on", but today, after a good nights sleep, I have no clue what they were. I suppose that puts it all in perspective and means they weren't that important after all?

Ow... I just recalled one topic : the "Lights out around the world for 5 minutes" movement that wanted to make a statement about energy consumption and light pollution. I turned off some lights at work from 19h55 till 20h00, and asked a colleague in another building to do the same. Unfortunately, 30 minutes later a thick fog was forming outside which made me turn on additional lighting on the site perimeters, thus totally invalidating whatever energy saving we had done before.

Apart from that, later in the evening I learned that turning off the lights for 5 minutes and turning them back on actually consumed more energy than just leaving them turned on. Net result : a higher energy consumption, but less light pollution. The overall idea was to awaken and inform people on the topics of energy use and light pollution so I suppose that actually worked, but maybe next time a middle ground should be found between informing and actually saving as well?

If I recall the other topics I wanted to tell you about, I'll be making updates to this post, or even write a new one - depending on how much I want to elaborate on them.

Warning

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I play several games online, bootleggers is one of them. It's an online text based game where one attempts to go from scum to Respectable Don, leading a mafia family. I'm ranked Godfather right now, and last night a player at Respectable Boss level (which is 1 level below GF) scammed me. 6 hours later he was in a coffin.

I don't play nice with scammers, frauds and dishonest people. Just so you know.

A sociology experiment named SL?

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An interesting observation, or an attempt to read more into it than there is : My big, fat, lily-white Second Life (The Register).

I'll add you, Louis, though I no longer work at Dark Angels right now. It was a short career :)

Update : link fixed. Thanks Joco!

Whoa!

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That's about the only way I can describe my first party/working night in Second Life. As you could read earlier on this blog, I got hired to be part of the security team for the Dark Angel Night Club. Tonight we were having a Leather and Lace event that pulled in a nice crowd, and Buddy (the DJ) really worked the masses.

ServMe Nakamura at work Everyone was having loads of fun till a couple of people started getting verbally abusive and calling each other names. After they got a warning - several warnings in fact - the event host got so tired of it that she warned them as well to take it outside or discuss things through IM (which wouldn't bother the rest of the party people).

Things calmed down for about 30 seconds and then the first insult was thrown back in the room. By that time, Wulfe (Head of Security) had already taken position, I was in place as well and Saga was positioned a couple of meters on the other side. The insult appeared in the crowded party room, and I kicked two offenders out. Things got quiet after that, and the party went along, everyone happily to enjoying a trouble free event once again.

II think this is the first time I've had so much fun in SL, and even though I'd rather not have kicked someone out, it was necessary to ensure the good vibe for everyone else. SL really isn't all that different from RL :)

Off to bed now, need some sleep and tonight... I work a night shift in meatspace.

I scored a job in SL!

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I feel much better today, after a good night of sleep. Woke up somewhere around eleven, and went shopping for food and stuff I needed. Entertained Tai and dove into SL. Sold two more lots of land and seem to have scored my first job in my Second Life : I'll be part of the Dark Angel Night Club Security staff and work for tips. Well, I don't see how security should be allowed to accept tips, but then again this is only a virtual world. The club owner is American and as we all know, the USA of all about tips and low wages.

Off to grab something to eat and clean out Tai's litter box while I watch some TV. The club opens in a few hours, so I should be busy tonight.

*Waves*

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I'm still alive, just don't really have updates to post about.

SL - the first real steps

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Instead of troubleshooting network problems, I've been rezzing in Second Life for a couple of hours. In fact, I sort of created my first object today : a small rotating box that has the FK logo (you know it from the stickers) on it on all sides and when people click it, it offers to bring them here. A small step for mankind, but a necessary step for the promotion of this blog ;)

I say "sort of created" because I grabbed an object from someone else, and then modified it to suit my needs. Hey, it's the first step I take into SLS, so bear with me, will you?

Anyway, I doubt many of the 2 million SL residents will notice my boxes - I kept them small and as little intrusive as possible using a very slow rotation angle - but if any of you SL'ers end up here and read this : Hi!

Lazy Weekend

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I've not accomplished much this weekend, really took a lazy approach to things. I just got back from R. who was having a bit of trouble with the computer again - really small problems - but he likes it when I come over every now and then and update and check the machine while we chat about the stock market, telecoms and other things I really don't know anything about.

I fixed his word and excel probs - a toolbar went missing - and installed the Java RE 6 edition (uninstalled the previous versions), updated AdAware and Spybot SD, removed old and vulnerable Flash installs and put the newest version on, and I did the same for Acrobat Reader. He should be good for quite a while now.

Off to see if my Red Hot Beavers can win another game of soccer on the field of honor, have something to eat and clean out Tai's litter box.

Oh, yesterday I went for my first wardrive of 2007 and it was pretty successful : 563 new AP's found in under 1 hour time, and another 510 AP's have been updated (those were spotted before). Bringing my total to 3164 AP's discovered, not including the ones I scanned on the way to and from R. today.

Yummy

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I switched from 10 Things I Hate About You featuring Julia Stiles as the bitchy but utterly sexy "Kat" to the sci-fi thriller Cypher. Before that I watched Ashley Judd in Twisted. So far it's been a very good evening for watching sexy women on TV.

Thanks!

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I owe a huge thanks to everyone who has voted for me so far in the smart and the city contest - thanks to your hard work I've been catapulted right to the number 1 position as I write this.

Jerry in Smart and The City! This is way beyond my expectations and better than I ever could imagine. However... the contest ain't over yet and only closes on January 22nd. I'll be keeping an eye open on developments as they happen and please - ask your friends to vote for me - let's make this a gigantic avalanche of votes and the biggest adventure for me yet.

As a reminder, here is my profile : Driver Profile : Jerry

Let's go for a drive!

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You should know by now that I drive a smart fortwo. The new smart fortwo has just been released and there's a trip through Europe to be made with it. I'm one of the drivers, or more correctly : would like to be one of the drivers. For this... I need your vote!

Jerry  in Smart and The City! Head over to www.smart-and-the-city.com and register (quick and easy). Then vote for the driver of your choice - which should be me of course ;) - and you'll find me easily by browsing to "Vote for Drivers" then selecting Belgium/Flanders.

Here's a direct link to my profile : Driver Profile : Jerry

Life ain't cheap, that's for sure. I usually don't mind paying the bills, but this months they're quite exceptionally high, and totalling over 1200 euro. 1 insurance bill for the car (yearly), 1 phone/ADSL bill (bimonthly), 1 Visa statement (monthly), 1 energy/electricity bill (3 months), and some small bits and pieces that add up to a fair amount.

It's a good thing I work full time and make relatively good cash each month, but it still kind of hurts. Ah well... what's paid for today, doesn't need to be paid tomorrow. It just kind of all piled up into January I suppose.

I'm home for the weekend and start graveyard shift on Monday. I'll be sleeping most of the time - during the weekend, not at work! - because I slept for less than 4 hours last night. I ain't 20 no more!

Quite early

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It was still quite calm at work yesterday, but I managed to climb up and down a set of stairs 12 times. 4 of these climbs turned out to be unneeded.

Yesterday I learned that after I did some updating and patching of E.'s computer on Monday, her MS Word program disappeared, as well as her documents. Troubleshooting a machine you don't really know so well over a Skype hat was challenging but I quickly pinpointed the root of the problem : a fubar'ed path setting. I had her changed the path and after a reboot things appeared to run better, though the documents are still missing. It's quite possible they were never on the machine in the first place. M. will take a closer look at it when he's over.

I really got to leave for work now, early shift and I still have to shave and get dressed. More updates possibly later today...

Getting it all out of the way

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Happy New Year, Merry Christmas, Have a hopping Easter, Drunk St-Patricks Day, ... No matter what special day(s) you happen to celebrate this year, consider this entry to be my appropriate best wishes for it.

Got home around one this afternoon, entertained Tai, watched some TV and will be heading off to bed soon. Early shi(f)t calls tomorrow and I'll be updating my schedule along the way - didn't make the time to get it online completely yet.

I've not made any real resolutions for the new year as I failed to accomplish every single one I didn't set for myself in 2006. This may change during the year, as we move along. I saw one dude give out some great advice though : make your resolutions for 2007 on December 31st, 2007. Then select things you did accomplish and feel damn good about yourself.

If you really insist on getting a resolution from me, here's one : "stay alive". In case I fail that, I probably can't be bothered by it anymore. Yeah, sounds like the perfect resolution for 2007!

Did you know

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that a common parasite (Toxoplasma Gondii) can - according to an Australian researcher - make women prettier and men dumber?

Women infected with Toxoplasma Gondii tend to "be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected women." Men on the other hand, are reported to "have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans. They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women."

I always thought it was "nature" that caused men to like "friendly, outgoing and (more) promiscuous women", and women to be attracted to "higher IQ, high education, social and open minded men". Apparently it all comes down to a parasite. Excellent excuse for the morons on this world - but there's only a tiny chance they'll actually learn about this research, don't you think?

Dying inside

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A foul stench is spreading through the apartment, even though I flushed the toilet right after I was done. My intestines must be rotting but I feel perfectly fine. That's the only reasonable explanation for the poisonous cloud I can come up with.

Went shopping, got some things I needed but couldn't find everything. Found a new toy for Tai and what's his reaction? A look that shows "What the hell am I supposed to do with this?!" or "Should this be fun?!".

Ain't pets lovely?

Great

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I've just had a full week off from work, and now I realize I've prepared nothing at all to file my paperwork in 2007. I usually prepare everything upfront, so it flows from one year into the next without any problems, but this year I simply forgot. It's only when a bill arrived that I'll be paying in 2007 that I figured out something was amiss.

I'll pick up some color coded files tomorrow and label them to ensure a smooth transition. I did manage to get my electronic filing extended till the end of 2007 and the overview can take data up till December 2010.

Interesting!

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That's the least you could say about last nights x-mas festivities. When we arrived a couple of clochards were hanging around the carport and it then became clear that the theme was that of the homeless for this year. Every detail was there : the burning fires, warm gluhwine, cold temperatures.

When we moved inside later on - after a short incident with one of the four legged companions, which in the end turned out less serious as we feared at first - the details just continued. Appetizers were served in recycled tin cans, not a plate or glass on the table was the same and there were various brands of wines around. Very well done Hilda!

By this time the party of three that had left for a quickie to the graveyard - lol - was back and patched up and joined the "festivities". There were tons of gifts and once again the way to distribute these to the intended new owner was quite fun : we had to open up walnuts which contained a number and then head out to search for the corresponding gift.

It's a good thing that I've got a few more days off from work because I received wonderful gifts. As I'm writing out this entry, Missy Elliott's Respect M.E. is blasting through the speakers, and then there's the "The Cookbook" album - her newest - waiting my attention. A bunch of DVD's will result in me laughing for days : "Best of Smack the Pony", "Alex Agnew's Kaboom!", and if I want to color my life rose, I can pop in P!NK's European Tour DVD. Splendid!

After all that entertainment, I'll have to clean up the place and what's better than Sien & Maria's Schoon en Meedogenloos book for some tips?

If I have to head off back to work, the Laïs Documenta 3CD collection will certainly accompany me to bring peace and relaxation. And all this will be done while enjoying an original HIL painting for which I'll find a good spot. If you'd like to take a look at it before I have the chance to make some photographs of it, look here : Scheepjes for the original blog post by the artist containing a picture of the painting.

Goth Special?

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I a couple of hours I'll be off to celebrate with the family. I got up this morning and put the battery back in the car, and it started right away. Took it for a drive - had to fill up the tank anyway - and it showed no sign of problems at all. I still called to the smartcenter and will be going in on tuesday so they can give it a quick check.

When I look outside, it doesn't look like x-mas at all. No snow, not really that cold. Where's winter gone? The fact that I'm listening to DJ Morgana's Distorted Circuitry 2005 Halloween Goth Special doesn't help I suppose. But the music sure is good!

FK Challenge 2006 - The End

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This entry officially closes the 2006 FK Challenge. The last question was once again an interesting one - going by the answers that came in.

Hilda, Marianne, Jess and Joco were unanimous : Annelien Coorevits
Nadia didn't send in an answer, so you were all... wrong :)

Farah Pincé did something for me - she was open, to the point and honest. Adrey Henrot looked like a "tuttebel" and my oh my : she can't sing yet she did. I do admit that Annelien's cooking performance was original and her explanation even more so "I can't sing or dance, but I can and do love cooking." It may be unconventional, but I found it refreshing. Halima did nothing at all for me - nothing positive, nothing negative and Elise Van den Branden was a total baby on the body board if I recall correctly.

So, the one and only correct answer was : Farah Pincé!

Let's take a look at the scores with this new information available :

Hilda : 12(-2)
Nadia : 12 (no answer)
Jess : 9 (-2)
Marianne : 7 (-2)
Hans : 5 (no answer)
Ash : 4 (no answer)
Joco & Eef : 2 (-2)

So, we've got a tied first place - which I was kind of fearing. However, as Hilda answered all questions and Nadia failed to answer the last one, I declare Hilda aka Kuifje the winner of the 2006 FK Challenge!

She wins a voucher* worth 25 euro to spend at any online retailer she picks.

* Such a voucher does not exist - I'll purchase online whatever she wants and pay for it ;)

Smarts are cool - if they start!

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Joco was feeling bored and when we met on Skype, we decided to head off to the sauna. I never got there because the car wouldn't start. After a quick call to Joco to say I probably wouldn't make it, it turned out the place was much too crowded anyway.

After several attempts to get the car started I gave up and called my first aid line : the dealer that sold me the car. After describing the symptoms they thought it was the battery that was dead. Beats me, but should be happening on a car less than 2 years old. Unless the battery doesn't get charged while the engine is running, but with recent cars there is no way to check. I can call back in tomorrow if needed, their chief technician will be in.

I then called my second aid line - for more practical problems : dad. And as usual, he came to the rescue. First we hooked up cables and surprise : the car started up right away. He brought his battery charger so I just took the battery out and it's charging as we speak. I wonder if I'll be driving my car in the morning? If I get it started, I'll head over to the smart center anyway so they can check out the battery and if it's dead, explain to me how that is possible.

While removing the battery, I discovered something else : glass. Underneath the carpet there are particles of glass, so I guess that the previous owner got his window broken. I'll ask about that as well ;)

Second Life

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I'm now roaming the