You've got mail

As some of my dear readers will know, I don't think very highly of our national postal services.

Another incident made me go 'I don't bloody believe it!' yet again.

I got a letter. It was in some kind of plastic envelope. A big chunk of the letter and all the paperwork was missing in the corner.
The text on the wrapper read something along the lines of:

"Dear customer, sometimes things get damaged in the process of handling the mail. This has happened to the contents of this envelope. So in view of this incident and all the unpleasantries that might result from it, I sincerely wish to express my regret.
Please excuse us, The Postmaster."

It's not even signed or anything.

So they have pre-printed apologies now do they? It looks as they're just taking the piss, aren't they?
Probably so they can say: 'See, the stats say we've received less complaints this year. And we've issued x apologies to customers.'

So what actually happened to my letter? The dog ate the postman's homework? It's a lame excuse by any standard, but some people really still believe they can get away with it through adulthood on the job.


Drop the dead donkey

Oh no. Wait... It's not dead yet.

Badly shorn sheep's™ owner is not very good at looking after his animals. Even the adorable stubborn donkeys look as if they've been reanimated five times over. Every morning when I look out the window I fear the worst has happened.
It is getting worse every day. A goat and a sheep are limping badly and he's not doing anything about it.
Animal welfare people have been to look in on him after we alerted the police a couple of months ago, but I've not seen them do anything. They just gave him a warning he needed to mend his fences.
Which he kindof tried and resulted into a farce.

Maybe I'll give them a buzz again when temperatures pick up and I haven't seen any improvement.
The poor beasts are void of any water. The little horse that was born last year is so skinny one could play ribcage xylophone on it. They don't get any extra feeding and have to make due with the non existent grass in the too small a field.

Poor animals are being maltreated and there's nothing I can do about it.


Soyuz docked to ISS

I watched the docking from the Sojuz to the ISS, as a little intermission from my Gothic Architecture studies.

The broadcast did start at 14:15 sharp, first we got a good overview of the Space Flight Command Centre. Then we got 'Programme Crypte: Insertez une Carte'. And then it went to colour bars again. It's not exactly NASA TV.
Good thing they are better at launching a rocket than public outreach. No, that's mean of me. They are doing a great job and very much trying to bring this to a wider audience. The Dutch ESA centre has some cool options for young space enthousiasts and artist/biologist Angelo Vermeulen is currently working on an art/research project.

Anyway, after some time the technical glitches were solved and we got a good look at the docking and very interesting audio commentary from André Kuipers, the Dutch astronaut about docking procedures and how the Sojuz has to rotate to have its solar panels pointed towards the sun.
...Radar information corrects computer predictions. Ground tracking control is lost once it flies over China, an antenna that is no longer needed is folded up, and we enter the night part of the earth...
Automatic docking took place over southern Japan at 14:35.

Once docked the space travellers have about 1 rotation around the earth to check everything. It takes some time to do this, they are in full space suits in case something goes wrong. Once everything is ok, no air leaks or what have you, they can open hatches on both sides.

How cool is this. Countries who were entangled in a cold war two decades ago cooperating on this kind of scale. Where politics fail science and technology succeed. How much more proof do we need?

Three cheers for science!

Oh, and the crew had a nine hour sleep before starting manoeuvres. So next time Dr Livingstone says I sleep way too long, I can tell him astronauts sleep late too on some occasions.

Two of a kind?

Irritating web banners, I have a thing for them.
You know, those things filling in the sides of web pages. Flashing, urging you to click on them.
Even dating sites do advertisements.
These ones caught my eye. They were on different sites but the girl in both pictures is the same one.
I smell scam all over. I wonder how much money they make by conning people out of their dosh. They cater to different audiences, granted, but gullibility is, alas, found all over the world.


How's this for irony

I've forgotten where I left my memory stick.


Famous Spanish Inventions

I've been trying to get the right healthy & energy foodstuffs in me so my brain makes it through this exam period.
I bought a bunch of oranges that come in one of those strange nets. The label assures me they were Producido en España.
Now, in the run up to the European elections, I was curious about the pre-concieved notions we Europeans have about other Europeans.
You know, Germans are sticklers for rules, Belgians always on holiday, French always on strike,... those kind of things.

Now a word about Spain. Plenty of cultural heritage, an ideal vacationing spot, lovely food.
But what about the other things? Spain's contribution to the world of inventions? They don't actually stand out as, say, Germany or England do in the field of famous inventions. The industrial revolution sort of blew straight by them. There are probably al lot of naval or warfare improvements around which the Spanish can claim were theirs, but I'm thinking commercial, well known stuff here. How many famous Spanish scientists do we retain from history? I'm afraidy wady I don't know a single one by heart.

So in an attempt to be fair I did a bit of a search and this is what I came up with.

Here are Those Famous Spanish Inventions listed in full:
-a machine that can de-seed pomegranates automatically
-the autogyro (think Little Nellie, the James Bond one seater copter)
-Spain, of course, goes without saying
-that's it.

I may be a bit harsh, but the label on the oranges kind of confirmed my pre-conceived notion about the Spanish.
I mean look at it. Take a good look at it. Even someone who isn't even remotely interested in mechanics will have worked this out in a jiffy.

So what do we see? We see a donkey attached to some kind of contraption by means of a fixed rod. What is the animal supposed to be doing? I assume it should go round the pointy thing (looks like some kind of a sombrero) in circles, Samson style.
But what is that big round thing? It's a waterwheel. The flow of the water is supposed to make it turn. The axis of the wheel is connected to the donkey through the sombrero.
Now what is going on here? A few questions leap to mind:
-Is the donkey trying to pull the wheel out of the water?
-Is the donkey powering the wheel and making the river flow?
-Where is the owner of the sombrero? Is he having his siesta underneath the palm tree behind the little house?
-And what has this got to do with the oranges in the net?

The more I look at it the more I am puzzled.
I can only conclude one thing: the Spanish sucko mucho at mechanics, hence no famous Spanish inventors.

Ok, so they may suck at graphic design as well.


Let's not split hares

It's been a while but Mouser has been bringing some unusual stuff home again.
'Look what the cat dragged in' has to be taken quite literally.
Mouser's been collecting hares. Just like the one it caught last year.

Some doors and windows were open and I heard that specific yelping sound it makes when it's caught something. I wasn't fast enough to go and have a look out. Mouser abligingly brought it into the living room for me to see. It sat proudly next to the hare. Just like a Golden Retriever.
I took it outside, no pulse, no breathing. It was still warm. Mouser played with it for a while and then I put the hare on the compost.
Cat didn't see I'd taken it and went looking all over.
Then it crossed the street into the field where all the cows are and went on the prowl again.
I resumed my computer work.
About ten minutes later I heard yelping yet again.
Another hare!
I was confused. Did it go and get the other one I put on the compost? I had to go see and check.
No, it was still there! She'd gotten another one!
I let kitteh keep this one. Mouser started to nibble on this one, half of it was already gone by the time I started typing again.
This morning the rest of the hare was gone.
What a good little hunter!
Too bad it's poaching other fields, it should catch all the mice and moles in our garden.
Ah well, they do say variety is the spice of life, don't they?


Towel Day

Today is Towel Day!

Always remember where your flanel is.
If you don't you're not a proper geek.

"A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have"


One for the road

For Bert, who is currently driving around in Scotland.


We learn from our mistakes?

People don't seem to learn any lessons from history.
Every group has it's own motivations.
Ironic how everyone uses the same kind of channels to get their different, nay, conflicting views across.
It seems hatred of human kind is latent in some. Even after much endured hardships.

Click on the picture to sample proof of an example found on Facebook.


Hitchcock was a Belgian

A friend of mine took a picture of a restaurant in downtown Toronto called The Fat Belgian.
Notice the logo in between the windows? Now compare it to the world famous silhoutte of Alfred Hitchcock.
See it?
Yes, Alfred Hitchcock was indeed a fat Belgian.


Mother Theresa on the washing line

As my neighbour was hanging some clothes on the washing line, I noticed something.
A slight resemblance. And I mean slight in the broadest sense of the word.
Mother Theresa’s head scarf.
Is it going to be a Second Class Relic some day if she makes it to sainthood?
Granted, the blue colour has faded a bit, but then again, sworn poverty does tend to put the strain on buying a new outfit once in a while, hence the faded trimmings.
Luckily there was no red sock amid this article of clothing.
A pink scarf would have been out of the question.


Belgian Army under fire

Belgian armed forces partaking in an exercise called operation Crazy Trip in Den Helder have had to endure a few complaints about their behavior:
-Dealing out spent and unspent training ammo to kids.
-Taking up position on a balcony of an old people's home and firing their weapons in the middle of the night.

A storm of protest ensued. Granted, dealing out ammo to kids is not very safe. And some of the old dears in the home probably relived their world war childhood.

Mind you, they did kinda apologize by taking them a bunch of flowers the following morning.

But this begs another question: Last year a similar exercise took place in Ostend on the 28th of August called FTX Storm Tide. This was a joint exercise including Belgian commando's, Spanish infanterists and Dutch marines.
Soldiers standing on top of the Koninklijke Gaanderijen were dealing out spent shells too. Pictures galore on the intertubes.
And no one started an investigation about that. Isn't that a bit odd?

The soldiers also had their picture taken when standing next to the statue of King Leopold II on top of the Drie Gapers.
It struck me as quite funny, it reminded me of occupational German forces during the war doing exactly the same thing and then sending off a few copies off to the home front to see where they'd been and all the nice places they'd already conquered.

Funny how history mimicks itself in the strangest fashion and the smallest details...

Elephant born in Antwerp Zoo

This morning an elephant was born in the Antwerp Zoo to Phyo Phyo, a 28 year old Asian elephant. They're calling it Baby K till they've settled on the name. And managed to make out its gender.
All the other elephants are pretty curious to see who their new companion is. This baby-elephant looks adorable. Dumbo looses hands down on the cuteness vote.