Bookbending the rules

Here's more stupid from one of the other continents in the Western hemisphere!

I ordered a book online. I've had trouble with couriers leaving a parcel at the door without me signing for them. That's not the actual problem, but when I get home it has usually rained half the day and my book is soggy.
Not all shippers wrap the book in some kind of extra plastic for weather proofing.

So: I hung up a sign next to the front door saying 'please leave parcel in car port so contents does not get wet'.
Usually if I'm not home, the courier leaves a note in the letterbox, bla bla, will call again tomorrow...
You know the drill.

Now I had a track & trace number on the parcel and it said 'delivery executed today at 8.17pm'.
But I was home yesterday and I saw no courier and did not have a book, albeit it being pre-paid.

So me, this morning, on the phone to the customer service of the book shop complaining about the missing parcel.
The help desk person sent me the slip of the shipping note, because 'somebody' had signed for it.
I opened up the email attachment and: lo and behold: someone had forged my signature.
Me very angry about this of course. This is not the first time I had trouble with the shipping company before (not FEDEX fyi).
Help desk person said she'd log a complaint with shippers (also not their first complaint either) and refund me for missing book.

Me slightly disappointed at not having book, but relieved at someone sorting problem out.

This afternoon when I got home I decided to ransack the car port in case I missed the parcel before going to the police to file a complaint for identity and property theft.
So after a good 15 second rummage around: Lo and behold: parcel left there by courier. DOH!
Me on the phone again with customer service to plead with them to drop the complaint against shipper.
Book Lady: 'Too late, I've already sent the complaint (where's inefficiency when you need it!). I don't think it is very nice of someone to forge your signature anyway.'

Moral of the story:
1) Me ashamed for tricking a courier into breaking the rules and him/her signing off on a parcel that should have been taken away again.
2) Me worried because said courier will have received a complaint against him/her from the people upstairs and will never ever again leave my parcel in the dry car port of the unthankful people ordering books.
He/she was being altruistic and I jumped to conclusions too easily.

Mea maxima culpa.

But I have my book now, so I'm pleased right now.
If you're wondering which one, it's Architecture of the Night. The illuminated building edited by Dietrich Neumann.


Hanging Santa

Hanging Santa's are not a thing of now, but are a thing of every decade. They've been around as a tacky Christmas decoration since at least the 1920's.
What's a Hanging Santa you may well ask? It's a doll dressed up in a Santa costume and pinned to one or other part of the roof or gutter to make it look like Santa himself was mucking about on top of your house.
I found a picture of one, accompanied by his airplane in a 1926 brochure by the National Lamp Works, the R&D department of the General Electric lighting company called Yuletide Lighting.
Looks like degenerate taste is embedded in our genes and will not go away for generations to come.


New Blogger Interface. What happened?

logo blogger Pictures, Images and PhotosI just logged on to Blogger. They changed the whole interface layout of, well, everything I was finally comfortable with. It was very neat and tidy, no superfluous things getting on my nerves. Great way to chuck everything out of the window and put me off blogging for now. I'm not getting the hang of this new interface. It's very white and empty and filled up with crappy news feeds and stuff I don't want and the things I do want take me ages to find. And no, I haven't tried looking for the options where I can disable them or click the magic "change back to the Old Interface"-button. I didn't switch to the new layout thing a whole while back, but this is going to need plenty of time adjusting to it. I just google around and found out I'm not the only one not liking it. Reactions range from: "The new blogger interface sucks a lot", "it has proven a real nightmare" to "New Blogger interface: Aargh!"


Speakers in al Azhar mosque, Cairo

I found an image in the 1930's Dutch catholic magazine I'm leafing through, of a completely new Philips-speaker installation in the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt. You can see a man putting up a sign in the court yard saying 'Philips Radio' and the Philips star logo.
This must have been installed ca. 1936 under the auspices of Mustafa al-Maraghi who was rector at the time.

The author of the little text clarifying the picture applauds the use of modern technology for religious services. He writes: 'In our country people are hesitant toward or reject outright the idea of speakers in a catholic church. The muslims thinks differently about the application of modern technology and have just installed a completely new speaker-system!'


Hibernation mode

If this cold spell lasts any longer I'm going into hibernation mode. And I think Mouser will gladly join me.


Working with a man-system

I take care of the administration since the workload spiraled out of control, but Dr Livingstone regularly takes ring binders and writes stuff on the back saying: 'This should go here from now on.'
Which is not cool, because I have my own system of filing stuff and we tend, to put it mildly, hold different opinions on the matter.

We used to have a binder with quotes we make for customers and quotes we receive.
It used to be in one binder. But because the number of quotes going both way have increased, he decided to separate them into two binders.
This is what he came up with:

I was confused as to what was in or what was out. Following conversation took place:
Dr L: ''The arrow pointing away from you are outgoing quotes'.
Mrs B: 'Yes, ok. But which one is that then? If I stand on the left side of the binders one of the arrows is indeed pointing away from me and if I stand on the other side, it points in my direction. So where should I be standing exactly?'
He walks over to the cabinet, not getting my question.
Dr L: 'Look, it is all very straight forward.'
Points randomly at binders.
Dr L: 'This one is in and this one is out. That arrow is pointing outward.'
Mrs B: 'I still don't get it. Why don't you just write IN and OUT on the back. They're not long words.'
Dr L: 'Because it is easy to remember.'
Walks away.

Several weeks later (in the mean time I forgot all about it and did not write in or out on the binder to avoid further confusion), I need to file something again, but forgot how the man-system works.
Dr L: 'It's fairly simple. The arrow pointing to the right is out. Just like handwriting.'
Mrs B: 'I don't follow.'
Dr L: 'Well, it's the same rule. We write from left to right. So to the right is out.'
Mrs B: 'Whatever.'
*writes IN and OUT on the back.


Where's my spring?

Since we've moved here I've really missed having a magnolia in the garden.
I love the smell and the nice flowers in the spring.
When the garden gets re-done I'm planting one.
When we went to the Lady Chapel for the beer festival, at the back a big old magnolia was in full bloom. Delicious.

I'm not too sure if we're really having one form or other of Spring. It's very cold during the night and well into the day, I'm having my second sinusitis attack as I'm typing and the trees look as if they can't decide between staying without leaves or letting them grow.
I'm indoors next to our loverly wood stove and going nowhere. If the sun does pop out for a teasingly brief time, the conservatory heats up in a jiffy and it is fairly agreeable to sit there.
But were not there yet. Alas.


Cemeteries of the Great War by Sir Edwin Luytens

I just can't help myself. I ordered another book just before the Easter weekend and it was here on Tuesday.
In light of the commemorations of the start of the First World War I'm sure I'm going to be doing some guided tours here and there, so to brush up on post-war building I am going to use Cemeteries of the Great War by Sir Edwin Luytens by architect Jeroen Geurst [OIO Publishers].

The book first of all puts Luytens work in the Interbellum context and then deconstructs every aspect of the cemeteries. From the shapes of the headstones to the trees and landscape layout.

The second part of the book is an alphabetical listing of most cemeteries with their most distinguishing features, 2D layouts (hurrah!) and 3D maps.
It has a very neat lay out, the book is decked out with nice pictures and the author's discourse is very clear and straight to the point.
The format is pretty practical to take with you to look something up if on site, albeit it being a good 470 pages.


Rebel without a Specola Vaticana

I stumbled upon a review of the inauguration of two new telescopes of the Vatican observatory at Castel Gondolfo in the mid 1930's. The Specola Vaticana at that time had a Zeiss Visual Refractor Telescope (aperture 40mm, focal lenght 600mm, and a Zeiss double astrograph installed in the pope's summer residence 24 km south of Rome. It chose this location and moved out of the Vatican gardens because of light pollution tightening the grip on modern Rome.
The article contained a picture of Pope Pius XI standing outside the observatory talking to father Johannes Stein, the Dutch director of the Vatican Observatory. It reminded me of another scene in front of an observatory. I was thinking of the famous knife fighting scene in Rebel without a cause at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
Sure, James Dean is no pope (and vice versa), but there is an eery similarity between the two settings...


Gothic Revival beer tasting

I suppose most people spent Easter eating loads of jummy stuff or hunting for eggs. Dr Livingstone, Miller B, his spouse and myself went to a beer festival in a decommissioned neo-gothic chapel. How much more Belgian can you get?

The Lady chapel of the hospital, in the Gothic Revival style, was completely restored in 1998-99. It was built and inaugurated in 1905 and was designed by Peter Langerock. The seven neo-Gothic stained glass windows were designed by Gustave Landon a glazier from Ghent. In 1926 the walls were decorated with neo-Gothic designs. The frescoes of the Cross, along with two other painted scenes of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Elizabeth of Hungary were made by Hungarian painter Gábor Balogh Bëod.

Alas Miller B's wife doesn't like beer and Dr Livingstone volunteered to be Bob (that's the designated driver for you non-Belgians). So it was just down to two of us to order beers and pass them around to taste.

Dr Livingstone did order just one, which none of us liked. It seemed stale, no foam when the beer was poured out. It didn't actually taste of anything special, so it was a bit sad to have to clear away a full glass.

We started out with blond beers Vossen met de Meynen and Excalibur, accompanied by Dr Livingstone's St Bernardus' Wit. It was a pity, he had been looking forward to tasting this, it had been on his to do list for some time.
He did order a dark low alcohol dinner beer by Bavik brewery.
We had some amber beers for our second helping. Miller B moved on to Buffalo Bitter and I decided on a Cuvée des Trolls.
Last order consisted of dark beers Val Dieu and Dikke Mathile.

I asked Miller B if he had ever dreamed he'd one day be drinking beer in the very same chapel where he had to go to mass on Sunday.
Roman Catholics are not averse to using alcohol during mass, but they're not too big on beer fermented after bottling. Body of Christ-wise.

It was fun, albeit a bit short. We should have had some bread to clean the palate in between because after my first beer I could not really distinguish other tastes clearly.
Anyhow, I did have a slight lingering head ache on Monday...


Insect Hotel

It's been full speed ahead this week again, still struggling with a severe cold, but it is slowly clearing up. Last week I went to the garden centre and bought five insect hotels. They're supposed to house solitary bees, butterflies and ladybirds.
They're meant to be fixed at a hight between 1,5 and 2 meters and face a east-west direction.
We've put up three in the neighbourhood of the stables, one is in the car port and another one is going up in a tree.
After just two days we saw that a couple of holes of the hollow reeds were filled up nicely. Will post a picture once they're full up.
We're not exactly booked solid for the Easter holidays, but the weather isn't that great. It has been below 10ºC during the day and it might freeze at night, so all insects are not coming out to play.

I did make one myself, cutting up some neighbourly bamboo shoots I cut down that were growing into our garden.
I stuffed them together with other bits of material lying around into a wooden wine box (which I was actually planning on making into a bird house). It has been up for nearly a month now and so far I have only seen spiders dangling from bits of twigs.
Dr Livingstone pointed out to me that the holes were actually to small to house any bees.


Dat is architectuur

I've been ill the last couple of days. Another whopping big attack of sinusitis complete with fever, the works.
Typical, two weeks no classes because of the Easter holidays and I'm struggling with a blocked head.
In the mean time I'm trying to do serious reading work, working on a presentation due in three weeks, working on my paper and preparing for my exams at the end of term.

I finally got hold of the book that is compulsory reading for my Architectural Theory class Dat is Architectuur!
I ordered a second hand version of it last february (it was half the price of a new edition) but the delivery service (TNT) couldn't find my house and subsequently lost the entire shipment.
Luckily I got a refund. I'm not going to order anything anymore through the bookshop's webshop if it can only be delivered through via courier.
So I went to the shop and bought a new book.