Belgium World Champion Government Formation

Support our heroic politicians in their attempt to break the mythical world record for the longest coalition talks.

This calls for a celebration! Let's count the days together !

We're having a big party - Thursday 17 February 2011 - Ghent, St.-Jacobs

The world title is within reach for European record-holder Belgium. Already having broken its own 194 day national record for the longest coalition talks, the European record was beaten too, on the date of 7 January 2011. The world record, currently held by the present Iraqi government (249 days), is getting in sight. To get there, the Belgians will need to continue negotiations beyond the 17th of February.

Support this frivolous campaign, which is unrelated to any political, ideological, or philosophical inclination.


Barbarism vs Modernism

Had another good exam today, Preservation of Monuments. I got a news paper article on a demolished villa built by Victor Bourgeois and had to comment on it.
I always feel sad when reading how Belgium treats its architectural heritage.


Dr Pencil and Mr Hyde

I still have no clue why Mouser gets so annoyed with my pencil each time I'm using it.
It is an object that causes Mouser to morph into Mr Hyde.


Someone's got to be...

Mouser caught its first mouse! It took a while, but I was looking out the window and I saw Velvet Claws zip past heading for the front door. Mouser rung the bell deposited the mouse accordingly and started wailing until I opened up to encourage and admire.


Welcome to the family

Kitteh has officially accepted the Franco Belge stove as part of its new surroundings.
Mouser did an inaugural nap right next to it while it was giving off loads of heat.

My exam on 19th century art went pretty well today.
They call it 'the long 19th century'. I hate that phrase. What it actually means is 1750-1914.
So, three down, two to go. Both exams next up are on a Saturday. After that I'm spending some quality time asleep making up for lost hours. And I hope the weather shapes up so I can go gung-ho in the garden.


History is history

My exam didn't go that well on the history of general history.
I had to put a quote from Richard Evans' book In defense of History into context. I thought that scientific history just meant the history of science, but the professor saw it in an Isiah Berlin kind of way. Not as in the history of the scientific method. Also she wanted to know why Evans defended the post-modern view on primary sources. But he didn't, really. Quite the opposite. The post-modernists don't think there is such a thing as a primary source. I was wondering if we really were talking about the same book here. So I was very much confused.

Also she asked me what historical context was. So I started off on a ramble, which, I thought was a pretty solid explanation about what it is, how scolars need recreate it to handle and interpret their sources correctly etc.
Which was apparently not the answer she was looking for. I had to use meta-theoretical stuff.
Professor: 'Don't you remember the 8th lecture I gave. I did an entire lecture on Context.'
Me: 'Yes, but I'm sorry, I really can't help you with the answer.'
Professor: 'I talked about a football match. Ring any bells?'
Me: 'Yes, I remember there being a picture of Zinedine Zidane giving a headbutt in the power point. But I'm not quite sure how it fits in with the question.'

Right. I looked it up while I was waiting for my train home. It had to fit in with the agency (the action of the football player) in a structure (a football game).
I think I'll have to retake the exam after summer. It was quite tedious to study. I know what to read if I have a sleepless night. It puts my lights out under five minutes. Just like Mouser next to Ludmilla Jordanova's History in Practice.


In with the new

We had a little inaugural burn-in yesterday evening. It took us some time to slowly heat the thing for the first time. Best not to use it full blast, the cement inside needs to warm up slowly so it doesn't crack open. After a while we heard strange hissing sounds coming from within. Probably some moisture evaporating.
We weren't too sure if the fire was still going, it's awfully quit and the window is too small to see anything.
It'll take some getting used to how to light it properly and how to have it give off enough warmth without burning too much wood at the same time.


Out with the old

On Thursday the new stove was fitted. The Odd Job Man came and made a new outlet for the thing in the chimney. Very neatly done and all in just 2 and a half hours.
We're very pleased, but we can't light it until Sunday because the cement and brick work needs to dry out until then.

Here's the old thing, a British made Spencer. I think the model is called Frank.

Then Odd Job drilled some holes for the new outlet and removed the bricks that weren't complete. We didn't find a Santa or the panel of The Just Judges wedged half way up.

Next step was putting some new bricks in and cementing the thing shut.
And yes, no photo of the result as yet.
I will take one when we're trying it for the first time.


A bit of Fry

Had the history of art history exam today. It went ok. Except my brains left me in the lurch when it came to Roger Fry. I knew he was involved in the Bloomsbury group, but couldn't put my finger on why he was important with regards to Formalism. Trust me to know tidbits like Fry having an affair with Clive Bell's wife Vanessa.
Ah well. I think I'll be let off with an acceptable grade, but not the top one.
I went on a celebratory shopping spree and bought Venitian Villa's by Michelangelo Muraro and Paolo Marton. A steal at 3,49€.


Happy Birthday Buzz

A very happy birthday to my favourite engineer/scientist/astronaut Buzz Aldrin!


Richard Evans - In Defence of History

Just finished Richard Evans' book In Defence of History in time for my Historiography exam (the one on Monday on general history, I have another Historiography exam this Friday on the History of Art).
Pretty smooth read all the way through. The post-modernist-bashing does feel a little outdated (I'm reading the edition from 2000).
Hope I can still read my summary and retain all of Evans' arguments and score extra bonus points.


Touring help

Dr Livingstone's car has left him in the lurch again. His hand brake seems to be sticking to his wheel. The car goes all wobbly after a bit and there's some extreme heat coming from behind the tire. I had to keep an eye on Mouser. It's very curious about everything new. Don't want to get a call and have to pick Velvet Claws up god-knows-where because it jumped into the technician's van.
On Wednesday Dr Livingstone'll be driving to his LR dealer some 175+ kilometers from here to get it fixed and serviced.
I've had to drive him to his workshop on Monday morning. He'd gone a shade of green before we got there. He really doesn't like being driven around in Mini Me.


Bonnie and Mouser (not Clyde)

This is the other cat that caused some confusion in December. It looks very much like Mouser, bar the little white patch. It makes the same kitteh noises as our cat does. They seem to tolerate each other. Just the hair moves a bit. They just squat and stare at each other for at least a quarter of an hour at a time. According to the well informed child next door the cat is called Bonnie. There used to be another cat called Clyde, but that one is dead.



Dr Livingstone found a stove on teh interwebz. We didn't need much concurring on this one and went out to buy it this morning.
It's a Franco-Belge Continental 5. (Alas not a Bentley Continental, but that wouldn't fit in our living room anyway). The thing we have now is actually a coal stove and it involves an enormous amount of skill to burn wood in it and have it disseminate the warmth in the room instead of up the chimney.
Apparantly Franco-Belge is now being manufactured by Godin. That other well known cast iron stove manufacturer. It's made in the same factory.
We haven't installed it yet, we need to make another hole in the wall of the chimney.
More on this new adventure later. I'll just put up a picture I made of it when we had just unloaded it from the car.


Telly Catdicts

Last night Dr Livingstone and myself were watching a documentary on tigers in Bhutan, which were discovered back in September. Mouser was on my lap, where else, when it suddenly leapt off the couch and sat watching the telly when some cats were caught on camera. It was fascinated by the movement.
When a bit later a pack of dogs was shown Velvet Claws fled for safety.



Mouser has been sure not to miss out laying on my lap every available minute of the day. Most of the time I can get some work done, and kitteh is fast asleep. Sometimes it gets annoyed with me writing with a pencil and little Velvet Claws has a go at the pencil and it is confiscated.
And then my feline pencilcase holds it for me. The tricky thing is getting it back without it putting up a fight and having it chew on the gum at the end.


Moronic Mail

I've posted about the hideous mailbox we had out front. It was so impractical and the rain could get at it we bought a new one straight away.
We dismounted the house from its fake plaster tree stump and put it on the ground, the front facing away from the street and into the bushes.
Clearly not in use anymore. No house number on it, no easy access, clearly cast away. Idle, inactive, unused, unemployed, disused, not in use, out of use, out of action, inoperative, nonfunctioning, out of service.
These slight hints didn't seem to be sufficient for some moron to still put the mail in there.

/rolls eyes.
/double facepalm


Down with historiography

Mouser wants to be with me most of the time. When I'm not sitting behind my desk it jumps on my lap and sticks to it like glue until my legs go numb. Yesterday I tried a new spot in the house. I put a lounge chair in front of the bedroom window. It faces South, so I got to sit in my own private solarium for a couple of hours. Mouser didn't want to stay outdoors, kitteh could see me sitting there and wanted to join me. For some time it stayed on the sill, but then, using my legs as a pontoon bridge, crossed over to stand on my historiography course and looked at me very intently:
'This is no competition. Put the historiography down. This is my spot now.'


Staying in the closet

Mouser didn't get a lot of attention the first week or so when we moved, I was busy unpacking, cleaning, trowing out stuff, arranging my books when the bookcase was finally finished.

Kitteh has now annexed all the kitteh-spots in the house. There's one in particular where it tended to sleep, I've put one of its fancy red pillows there to make it more comfy. I see it as a sort of silent protest. The reasoning behind Mouser's decision to sleep in one of my book cases is simple. 'I'll pretend I'm a book, maybe she'll notice me'.


Feed the birds

Super, this conservatory. Although it is too cold at the mo to sit in it, it serves as a good buffer to keep away the cold from the living room windows. And I can spy on the birds with my camera in hand and not have them fly away.
So far the ground has been covered with snow the past two weeks and the little ones are very hungry. I've put out loads of food. There's something for everyone. I've got a little house filled with seeds, some netted grease balls with nuts, some slices of bread on the ground for the bigger lads.
They were a bit slow at first to find it all, but after a day or two I've seen some regulars. The list so far is made up of the usual suspects:

- Crows (Corvus corone)
- Pigeons (don't know what kind, not into pigeons)
- Jays (Garrulus glandarius)
- Blackbirds (Turdus merula)
- House Sparrows (Passer domesticus)
- Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
- Robins (Erithacus rubecula)
- Great Tits (Parus major)
- Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus)

I haven't seen a Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) yet. I did see a Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) swoop down about 3 meters from me while I was behind my desk in the kitchen. It had caught another bird and started plucking right away. Spectacular.


Partial Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipse today! Of course it was cloudy. So I had to look for a live webcast. Even in Pakistan observations were messed up because of the cloud cover.
Thanks to the Spanish Agrupación Astronómica de Sabadell I was able to see it! Even a tiny group of sunspots was visible.
Moltes gracies!



"Apple has confirmed an iOS bug where non-repeating alarms fail to ring on the first few days of the new year, recommending that users set recurring alarms until Jan. 3, when the alarms will resume working properly."

Or in this case: NOT.
Dr Livingstone slept like a baby and was an hour late waking up.



More on the tacky side of life: a hideous electric fireplace, with all the fake trimmings to make it look real, like a rotating transparant filter to simulate smoke, sparkles on the logs to make them shimmer, dimable lights for effect.
It just had to go. We put it up for sale on internet.

So on Saturday these people come over to collect the thing. Dr Livingstone explains how it works, how you can flip a switch to increase the heat and turn on the fan etc.
Suddenly the lady asks: 'So you don't need matches to light it then?'.


Really. I don't know how Dr Livingstone managed to maintain a straight face.

We should have thrown a packet of matches into the bargain for free. It would have been all kinds of awesome when they took it home and lit it on fire...


Happy New Year

A very Happy New Year to all my dear readers who follow the Gregorian calender! You know who you are.
We're already having a swell year in our new, warm home. We've become very attached to the nice, real, log fire.

Some things to look forward to this year: a partial solar eclipse on January 4th, tackling my new garden with still to buy power tools (every girl should have power tools), Dr Livingstone resumes touring again after his back trouble.