Busy, busy, busy!

It is so surprising. I still get a few readers every day, although it has been many months since I wrote anything new on this blog.

Yes, I blame work for this. We are understaffed for the moment and the most busy period of the year is looming on the horizon. Last week I was 4 days out of 5 abroad (Geneva and London, as those who follow my Facebook will know) and the remaining days were filled with meetings, assisting colleagues and dining with clients. It felt as if I hardly got any proper work done.

But before the really busy time will be upon us, I will take some time off, starting next week on Wednesday afternoon.

Then I will pick up Zai, my lovely Thai girlfriend and her sweet darling daughter Korya at the airport in Brussels. I already booked a mid-week stay at Centerparcs and Disneyland Paris. We will have three weeks of fun. I will cook some Belgian food for them and I will be treated with delicious Thai cuisine made by Zai.

Zai and Korya

Zai and Korya

So this weekend I gave the house a good cleaning, prepared Korya’s room, put the car through the car-wash and even found time to cook me a real autumnal lunch (grilled beetroot, parsnip, turnip, carrot and fennel), a recipe originally invented by Jamie Oliver.

Now I count the hours till my darling will be in my arms.

Musings while waiting at the airport

These last few days have been very busy, so I did not find much time to be on-line.

It seems that the last days before I leave on vacation always brings a sudden awareness to my colleagues that in the next three weeks they will have to do without me. Not that I am that indispensable, they can do perfectly without me because I have trained my little monkeys very well. But anyhow, there was a steady parade of colleagues in front of my desk, all taking the opportunity to ask me for some guidance in one or other file. It almost seemed that they feared I would disappear of the face of the Earth and never return to the office.

But that is already behind me now. Presently I am at the airport waiting for the flight to Thailand. ETIHAD has granted me “silver” status which gives me access to their lounge so I can write this post in all comfort, with a cup of tea and some croissants and chocolate pastries. Yes, I like living it rough.

This time I managed to keep my luggage to a minimum: one big backpack of 17 kg. My total weight allowance is now 35 kg so I am not even halfway. I also have one small backpack as a carry-on with my tablet computer, e-reader, camera and GPS. I only have one book with me this time. I mean one “paper” book because I have a few hundred books in my KoBo e-reader and it still has room for a many hundred more. There is very little chance I will run our of things to read.

English: Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), Bangkok, T...

English: Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), Bangkok, Thailand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abu Dhabi will be my first but brief stop. Barely enough time to switch planes and fly on to Bangkok. In Bangkok I will stay for the weekend. No real plans to do something. Perhaps I go and visit a client or otherwise go to one of the parks and spend some time outside (in the shadow of course) or maybe go to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) on the other side of the Chayo Praya river.

Next Monday I will take the early morning bus to Ban Saeng and meet up with my lovely Thai girlfriend and her equally cute daughter. I do hope they will like the presents I have for them: real Belgian chocolates!

Good times ahead!

The last weekend before I leave on vacation. That means lots of chores and things to do:

  • Getting a haircut (so I somewhat resemble my passport photo again),
  • Doing some clean-up in the house,
  • Packing my bags (don’t forget to put in the chocolates and presents)
  • Loading my e-reader with some more books (it is a looooong flight to Thailand)
  • Print-out the boarding passes (if already available on the airline‘s website) and hotel reservations
  • Charging my stock of rechargeable batteries (for the camera, the GPS, the headphones)
  • Charging and updating the tablet computer
  • Activate my ATM cards for South East Asia
  • Stocking up on cat food so Hobbes will have nothing wanting during my absence
  • Applying for a e-visa to Cambodia so we can go and visit Angkor Wat
  • Thousand other things I cannot remember now, but which will wake me up in the middle of the night
English: All Seasons Place, Bangkok, Thailand ...

Bangkok, Thailand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thursday morning will see me boarding the flight to Thailand. A few days in Bangkok to acclimatize and loose my Western attitudes and then on Monday I will take the bus to Bang Saen to meet my loved ones. The first few days we will spend some time with my darling’s parents and her brother, visiting some nearby sights, then we will go to Ko Si Chang for some nice and quiet island time!

I love the sun.

Today is the first real spring day here in Belgium.

One cannot call it “warm” yet, but the sun and lack of cold wind made many people go out for a walk in the park and the city

I dusted off my bicycle, put some fresh air in the tyres, started up the GPS (yes, my bicycle has GPS) and off I went. I cycled for about two hours and went all the way to the river Schelde and then back via Park Spoor Noord and Rivierenhof Park. A distance of about 20 km.

Afbeelding

The picture shows the tower of the Cathedral, basking in the sun.

From hot to cold

English: Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore taken...

Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After spending two weeks in Thailand and Singapore and enjoying the hot climate there, I am now trying to keep warm during this cold spell here in Belgium. And no Thai girlfriend here to keep me warm at night. 

I can hardly believe that it will be spring in one weeks time. Please, can someone inform Nature it is time to set the thermostat to some more balmy temperatures?

 

Ready to go!

English: Provincial seal of Phuket province. ไ...

Provincial seal of Phuket province.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The luggage is packed, the last administrative tasks are done, the cat has received an extra hug and we will go to sleep early tonight (well, not really as early as intended).

Tomorrow the plane is scheduled to leave Brussels Airport at 10:50 and with a short stop in Abu Dhabi will deliver me to the Land of Smile, Thailand.

This time it is a business trip, but I will see my beloved next week.

First stop however is Phuket where I will speak at a seminar. Then it is back to Bangkok where I will spend some happy time with my Thai girlfriend, visit my colleagues in the Bangkok office and also meet some clients.

Finally it is off to Singapore for more work, client visits and talks to give.

The Joys of Open Source

Last weekend the FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Developers European Meeting) was held in Brussels. Check out FOSDEM 2013

Hosted at the Brussels Free University campus, year after year it is getting more and more busy with more and more people attending and showing their part of the Free and Open Source world.

As can be expected there is a definite “we against the corporate world” atmosphere, a bit of an anarchistic feeling, yes almost a “sixties” feeling there. Of course most of the attendants were not even born in the sixties yet, but you get the idea.

Perl, my beloved programming language, had a little stand there, thanks to Wendy and Liz. Once more they brought out their toy camel and the world’s largest Perl library. Not to mention the tons of goodies they gave away. And books, did I already mention books? I bought the 4th edition of the “Camel Book” and the 2nd edition of the “Modern Perl” book at bargain basement prices.

Although the Perl group applied to have a DevRoom too (“developer room”, a place where you can hold talks and such), there seem to have been too many applicants so Perl did not get choosen. Perhaps the organisers were thinking “Perl is a crufty old language, it is practically dead, so why does it need a DevRoom”? Oh well, Perlers are used to hear that kind of nonsense. So the room was given to some other “hot” language or group and then it turned out they could not fill it and barely two weeks before the meeting, Perl was asked if we could fill the room. “Please, please, pretty please”? In no time Wendy assembled 14 confirmed speakers (and 4 more as back-up) and a few lightning talks as well.

I got a small 20 minutes slot almost at the end of the day and I gave a non-technical talk about an application I wrote in 7 days automating some boring tasks normally done by our admin girls. Judging by some comments, people seem to have enjoyed it. For those interested, the presentation is available here.

I think next year Perl will have no problem getting a DevRoom. Not bad for a crufty old dead language.

Review of 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1.300 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

One week has passed

One week has passed since my lovely Thai Girlfriend has flown to Europe to meet me. Last Wednesday I picked her up at the Brussels Airport and drove her home to my place.

Since then we have been visiting Antwerp and the surrounding area. She has been making me wonderfully tasty Thai food and I have made some Belgian food for her. We really match together very well.

Today we visited the “Kalmthoutse Heide“, which is a heath area in the north of Antwerpen, close to the Dutch border. We had a lovely walk together and despite the rain, she liked it very much.

Heath of Kalmthout (Kalmthoutse Heide) from wa...

Heath of Kalmthout (Kalmthoutse Heide) from watchtower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow I have to be back in the office for one day, but I will rush home to sample the lunch made by my darling.

 

How strange did the dice roll

The voters have rolled the dice and oh my Buddha, did they roll strange! Snake eyes for some, box-cars for others.

In Antwerpen, the present multi-party (socialist-liberal-catholic-green) got beaten by the new NV-A (Flemish nationalist, somewhat right wing) party. The Open VLD (liberal party, somewhat conservative) got clobbered and scored even less than the PVDA+ (extreme left wing, former Stalinist –or was it Trotskisk– party). The CD&V (Catholic party) lost their Flemish nationalist wing to the NV-A: it seems their god is not as powerful as they imagine. The SP.A (Socialist party) did not do that bad, but in the eyes of many they lost heavily because they failed to win. The present (SP.A) mayor is ousted and will most likely be replaced by the NV-A’s president, Bart De Wever. The extreme right wing, some dare say, racist party Vlaams Belang, formerly the second largest party in Antwerpen, is reduced to its small hard-core membership of hate-everyone-who-does-not-have-white-skin-and-is-not-born-here nutcases.

Antwerpen Stadhuis crop4 2006-05-28

Antwerpen Stadhuis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now the funny thing is that the two parties, NV-A and SP.A, that fought a heavy handed campaign against each other are doomed to join hands in a coalition in order to get a majority in the city council. As SP.A and CD&V have made a pre-electoral cartel agreement to join their votes, that means that the “Winner” will have to allow all the “Loosers” to join in all this fun. It seems the NV-A’s promise “to rid the Metropolis of the Socialist scourge” will have achieved exactly the opposite. And they will receive those catholic chameleons as an added bonus.

Interesting times ahead, for sure!

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