Monday, February 22, 2010

Ski Cross

Saw this live, yesterday on BBC coverage of Vancouver 2010...
Real daredevils in action: a spectacular crash during ski cross

Ski cross is AMAZING...

A full report on the Ski cross event from yesterday, in Flemish, here:
Full report


Monday, February 15, 2010

Holy Cow!!

8 months!!

That's how long it's been since I've posted something on my blog...
Neglection in its purest form.

A lot of stuff happened in the meanwhile though, and trying to think of them in a chronological order is hard...

The offspring
James is 2 and a half now, and you can notice :-)
He's talking non-stop (Flemish to me, and English to mommy), singing along with childerens songs, playing with bricks, jigsawpuzzles, looking and telling us what's happening in his books, and crazy about Jungle Book. (especially the part with the elephants, where he demonstratively stamps around shouting 'Hup two three four, One two three four'!)...
2 weeks ago, we had a bit of a crisis though, as I got a phone call from the daycare centre, telling me that they were taking James to the emergencies in Gasthuisberg (Leuven Hospital), because he had had an accident... I called Cate (not being very prudent with my choice of words, making her jump into a sheer panic), and we both rushed from our jobs to the hospital, to find James happily chattering away with the nurses, stealing their hearts, but with a big bandage around his right index finger...
Apparently he had put his finger between the door and the door jamb, while another kid had pushed the door shut, almost tearing the top of his finger in two... The top part of the top of his finger (with the nail) had separated from the bottom part, you could say it was nearly cleft in twain.
The nurses and doctor calmed us down though, I guess they see these kinds of things, and worse, everyday, and as James bravely went through the operation, his finger was put back together with needle and thread, some support-bandages, and a couple of tears...
We're now almost 2 weeks further, and doing the follow-up treating of the wound ourselves, and I think it's looking good; all is healing wonderfully. Tomorrow a visit to our doctor, he'll probably let us know if the healing process is going well or not.

That's one...
Now number two, because yes my little neglected blog, you don't know yet...
Baby number two is on it's way! Beginning of June is for when it's calculated, and Cate and I really have no clue how we're gonna manage two rascals...
To be honest, the second pregnancy is a lot different than the first... Cate is in month 6, and it's only been lately that we've started to think about all the things we need to arrange for the newborn's arrival... (Where I think, with James we started thinking about everything from the day we knew we were gonna have him...)

Which takes me to the next item...

The House
Don't ask.

We're not doing bad, but a speedy renovation is the opposite expression for what we are doing...
James' bedroom is now our main-focus, because it needs to be ready asap, so that he can move in and climatize to it, before the new one arrives.
Since last weekend, all the wood-structure is up, now I need to find time to finish the last bits of wood, finish the roof and wall-isolation, lay down the floor, and finish/paint the room...

In a momentary impulse we also started putting in the roof-isolation and false ceiling in the kitchen, but of course we had to stop that, to focus on James' bedroom, as that's the absolute priority now...

With other words, we're continuing... Tim & Cate style.

I'm writing this blog-entry on my new pride & joy; a custom built monster of a PC, that I put together around Christmas. Parts bought through work, and case bought in the UK. It's softly humming in the livingroom, next to the TV, with its open side-window emitting a blue electric wave of light to the corner of the room, so that yours sincerely can quietly satisfy his sudden needs of pc-tinkering while still being sat close to his family... Everybody happy(most of the time) ... :-)

Of course the new PC has an important role in my BOINCitis (see my previous blog), delivering 90% of my total daily credits. A true crunching machine :-)

Voila, that's it for now, I'm quite sure I'll be posting a bit more often now, as I'm quite ashamed I have neglected my dear blog so much in the last half year...

Monday, August 03, 2009


That's what our house must be...

Last week the installation that will take the iron out of the (ground)water was put in place. But... just as we wanted to activate the pump (that's 40 meters below surface) the fuse that's controlling circuit to the motor of that pump blew.
Strange... that pump has always worked, and now, all of a sudden, it seems to short the circuit.
- Bypass the pressure switch, on top of the pressure vessel in the basement, to make sure it's not that pressure switch causing the short in the circuit.
- As I try to disconnect that switch, it breaks apart. Hmmm, I guess this thing could be the problem, so I go buy a new one.
- Connect everything up again, with the new pressure switch: same problem, the fuse blows.
- Bypass the pressure switch: same problem, the fuse keeps blowing.
- Next step: find the well-pump, and check it.
- Problem: we have no clue where that well-pump is situated in our garden.
- Solution: dig... dig... well, excavate is a more proper word for it... I spent a whole day digging holes and trenches in the garden (up to 100cm deep!) to find the pipe leading to the borehole. After 6 hours of exploring I found it, and waited for Cate to get home (serious man... eh... girlpower included), to hoist the pump to surface. (You should know, the motor of that pump weighs around 50 kg, and there's 40 meters of flexible but heavy pipe attached to it.)
- Disconnected the electricity lead from the pump, and activated the fuse again: it stayed up... no short in the circuit anymore.
- Conclusion: The motor of the pump is blocked or broken, and needs to be replaced.
- Problem: The motor (and pump) were made in the USA in 1983... For a well-pump that's reasonably 'old-age'. No motor can be found that fits the pump we have...
- Solution: a completely new pump needs to be ordered. (And whop! Another bite in our non-existing budget)

Hopefully a borehole and well-pump specialist that lives close-by will have a new pump for us by tomorrow (latest by Wednesday), so that we can start pumping up water again. Then the people from the iron-filter need to come again (fortunately free of charge) to put the installation in service.

I also need to buy 2 new filters for our rainwater-installation, as after 4 months of usage, the current filters are saturated.

Where's that guy that invented eco-friendly building and living? I'd like to shoot him please.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The current home- and foreign affairs

I expected myself to blog more often since our move to Elst... but the contrary has been proven

The House
Let's be honest. It's still just a camping tent disguised as a brick-house.
The water (and consequentially the heating system) hasn't been connected yet, because the water contains too much iron and lime. Filters are needed, but the installer-guy is taking his time to order and install it...
The toilets and outside-tap are working though, because they use the water from our rain-pit. (Which was nearly empty two weeks ago, but fortunately (yep, I'm happy when it rains now) some grand downpour was soaking our region last week)
The bedroom is nearly finished. I still need to finish-off some of the joins of the plasterboards (those up near the crest of the roof), and then it can be painted. After the paint, the laminate floor will be laid, and then finally we can move our bedroomfurniture and clothes upstairs and sleep in the bedroom!
The bathroom is also nearly finished, only the ceiling needs finishing, some lights need mounting, and the shower window needs putting up.
The kitchin is running at 40%. The microwave works, but the oven is (already) broken. The cooker is installed, but the cooker hood isn't. The fridge and freezer are working. The cabinets are installed very professionaly by the kitchenplace, but not 100% correct. (They need to come back to make corrections... weehoo).
And the rest... is for later... :-)
Yes, that's something we learned doing this house: one thing at a time... otherwise you don't finish anything at all... (well, i'm not sure if we really learned... we know it; that's a more accurate description)

The Garden
The 4 cats have a new hobby: "Find the mole".
And eventually kill it, but don't eat it.
We've had 6 (dead) moles on the patio at the back so far. Not bad.
As it turns out it seems like our whole garden is actually one big mole heap. Where we thought they were ratholes; they must be from moles... We haven't seen any rats, just a couple of mice, and loads of moles...
(Yes they are cute... but not in OUR garden! Thank you Musti, Joey, Louie and Malley.)

The grass in the garden has reached about 1m40 now. Poor Old Betsy died on us when we just moved in. (For those who don't know her, Betsy is an old Countax ride-on mower we bought in the UK last year) After trying to troubleshoot what was wrong (what do I know), the conclusion was 'it's probably the solenoid'. Great. What's a solenoid? Well, shortly said, it's a thingy between the battery and the starter engine. If it fails, the mower doesn't start.
As we were in the UK last week, we bought a new solenoid, and yesterday I replaced the old one with it. If I hadn't left my keys in the UK (what? typical? noooo), I could've tested the mower by now, and let you know if it really was the solenoid that wasn't working...

He's doing great. He has lots of fun in the new house, running from one side to the other, climbing on ladders and stairs, chasing the cats and playing in the garden. (well, the little piece I managed to mow with the other mower) His talking is improving (that is, he's talking more and more, expanding his vocabulary, but unfortunately he's turning out to speak Japanese, instead of Dutch or English...)
He also made a giant leap in doing his puzzles (you know, baby-jigsaw puzzles), looking at the shape of the piece and then neatly putting it in the right spot almost immediately. Looks like a click was made in his mind last weekend in the UK. (Aah, thàt's how you do it!)
He's still obsessed with cars ("auto auto!"), and Piet Piraat ("piwaaa"). But new interests are coming: Kabouter "Pok" Plop, Aunty "Aati" Aki, and poo ("kaka") (yes, the excreta).
He's 620 days old today (1 year, 8 months and 12 days), and I've enjoyed all 892800 seconds of them :-)

My dear munchy is under quite some stress. Mostly from her job (of which I cannot speak... I even signed a confidentiality document because as you know she is a secret agent for a secret crazy company with even more secret (and crazier) people), and a reasonable amount of stress caused by yours truly; I'm not doing the household things I should be doing (I seem to be preoccupied with sleeping, working, working more and then some sleeping), which makes the cleaning and tidying-up land on her shoulders alone... It's not fair, so that'll have to change; I'm gonna start tonight by cleaning up the house before she comes home, so she doesn't need to be bothered with that anymore. (And I intend to do that more often in the future as well)

I abandoned the Windows XP Operating System on my home pc, and installed a Linux OS (Ubuntu). Why? Because I wanted to try it.
It looks nice, it works faster, but you need to dedicate some time to it to make it work just the way you want it to... And that I lack at the moment, so I regularly switch back to Windows (it's a dual boot system) if necessary.

I also re-joined BOINC (Berkeley Open-Infrastructure for Network Computing), which uses the idle time on your computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) to cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research.
You might know the most popular project of BOINC: Seti@Home. (Search for extra terrestrial instelligence using telescopic data)
Why? Because it's fun (for a geek). You don't need to do anything at all, but you do help scientific studies. Really. I even intend to install a Linux system on my Playstation3 to do just that thing; use the power of the cell broadband processor of the PS3 for scientific research. (Later, when there's time, after finishing the house for example :-))

I stumbled upon a 'new' series on a new channel '8', which broadcasts mostly HBO series and shows... The best one so far (and it's really really brilliant I think) is Flight of the Conchords. If you don't know them, please check this and this YouTube video... That's the kind of humour.
(I'm sure my dad will love it as well :-))
Aki got me and Cate hooked up to The Wire as well, so we have a lot of screenwatching to do... when we find some time :-)

As I already mentionned, we went to the UK last week. I don't know if you had noticed, but it's full of British there... I hope they have a good foreigner-policy.
Cate's mum was delighted, of course, to see James again. I can imagine it's not easy for her, only seeing her only grandchild every 3 months... Maybe we should start using the webcam a little more often, or let James call her more often. (I'm not kidding, James has started to understand the concept of making a phonecall! He listens, and talks when a question is asked. Not that what he says makes any sense, but it's the idea! :-))
A country full of foreigners also has nice advantages: cheaper stuff than in Belgium. So we bought plenty of new trousers, tops, socks and underwear and a baby-slide for indoor and outdoor use, (yes, for James), and some other things.

Pictures... take time to process, and I know I've been lagging enormeously with posting new ones, but I'll try my best to do some updates this week. That's a promise.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


After 36 hours of non-stop moving, we managed to transport all our stuff from Lotenhulle to Elst. The new house is hardly ready for us, but we are ready for the house :-)
Apparently our internet connection is working, so Telenet did a good job here on Thursday. Cate's filling the kitchen cupboards, half asleep, and I'm emptying the vans (still), trying to find a place to put all the boxes... The garage is as good as full, and there's still a big full van to unload...
Yes.. good planning is a term unknown to us...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


How about an update?

Quite a lot has changed since my last blog post...

Aki's coming back to Belgium (for her a decision made with mixed emotions, but I can assure you I'm glad she's coming back! :-)).

James is still not making any sense while 'talking', but he thinks he is though... You should hear him explaining to Cate and/or me how his toys should be properly arranged (Usually in a for us, silly parents, very chaotic way)... There's some words becoming more and more pronounced though, like Miaauw (cat), Banana or banaah, ball or babaal, Ballauwn (balloon), girauw (giraf), leuuwww (lion), broom-broom or auwtt... auwwttt..o (car)... It's grand.

I started working at Newtel on the 1st of March; what.a.difference! I get time to study, nice collegues, free lunch, better salary-package, and the idea I can make progress (carreer) again. I really needed this change in my life; one of the better decisions I made in the last few years.

Our house is almost ready for the big building-up again. The leveling of the floor is done (under screed is laid); all electricity has been pulled out and renewed (and this time it's nicely integrated under the floor and in the walls); the future office-space (which used to be the kitchen); is level with the rest of the ground floor (and the tiles will nicely merge from living room to office space); All pipes for sanitary and heating on the ground floor are ready (top floor needs a few more); ...
Next week the guy that so professionaly laid the under screed will put all tiles down in the kitchen, living room, hall, little toilet, sauna space and office space, and then we can start putting the gyproc (plaster boards) against the walls and ceiling on the ground floor. We're getting nearer and nearer to the finish!
(I'll post some pictures of the current state of the house later on, probably tonight at home).

Voila, that's it for now... As progress is made, more news will follow here :-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


What's HDR?

High dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of luminances between light and dark areas of a scene than normal digital imaging techniques.
The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to shadows.

And how is it done?
Well, you take (at least) 3 pictures of the same scene, but every one of 'em should have an increasing step of luminance. (First one underexposed, second one correctly exposed, third one overexposed)
And then it's photoshop time. You can merge the pictures to 1 HDR file, and then start tone mapping to get the picture right.

I tried this for the first time this evening, and here's the result:

Van EarthBlues