Monthly Archives: April 2009

How to make change happen

So far, the Ubuntu experiment was not working out very well. I had it installed in parallel to Windows Vista and hardly ever used it. I’m a normal user. I’m willing to click my way through programmes and modify the settings but everything which requires me to learn a new language in order to speak to my computer, goes beyond my IT capacities and my willingness.

I was considering to remove the whole Ubuntu linux thing; until yesterday evening. Thanks to Windows and a bunch of extremely stupid “we have to protect intellectual property” companies – I’m now much more in favor of Ubuntu than I ever was. What happened is that I could not play the DVD I wanted to watch because I had changed the region for the DVD drive too often. Excuse me? If a friend of mine has a book I’m interest in, I will ask to borrow it. Same for CDs and DVDs. And my friends are Americans, Europeans, Asians, etc.

Microsoft and others apparently think that this is, if not illegal, at least highly suspicious. Because I could abuse it and therefore limit the number of times you can change regional settings for the DVD drive. And if the regional setting of the drive doesn’t correspond to the one of the DVD, it doesn’t play.

Now, being p*ssed of by this kind of customer treatment and having a whole evening to spend, I not only fixed the booting problem with Ubuntu but also another problem with the mouse driver. The fan is still not turning as it should linked to a CPU problem and the build-in media player is not the best. However, I watched my DVD with a delay of 20 minutes only and decided that the Ubuntu experiment will be continued. With renewed energy and motivation.

Congrats to all those hyper protective, paranoid and greedy companies – your behaviour makes me embrace open source in a way it never happened before.


Open research question

For every question you answer in science, ten new will come up. Or just one, depending on the topic. Today I read that crabs feel pain too in an article starting like this:

Looking forward to eating seafood tonight? You might want to think twice before you boil that crab. New research shows that crabs not only suffer pain but they also remember it.

Remember before or after the boiling?

Times are changing

Courtship behaviourCredits for the picture go to:
  • I don’t know much about lizards and insects except that spider females eat the male after fecundation
  • Male birds sing or grow impressive, colourful feathers or even both
  • In most mammal species, the male is taller and heavier than the female, and often fight each other
  • For the human species, fighting over a woman has become outdated, and the female might be taller, older, and heaven knows, richer – there isn’t much left to impress. Playing guitar or another instrument indicates at least persistence, and if you’re lucky, passion. And even if this won’t  be enough for a creepy, ugly idiot, it is something to start with. Il faut bien commencer qq part.

Next time, just ask me.

That thing with time

Whenever I travel, one of the first things I visit in another city are the big, prestigious museum. I like museums – art, history, natural sciences, whatever. After over two years in Brussels, I still haven’t managed to visit the Bozar* museum. Since I have time, i.e. no clue for how long I will still live here, I keep it for one of those typical Belgian rainy-grey Sundays. Only, that in the last two years, on those occasions I used to stay rather inside with a good book and a hot chocolate telling myself that, after all, I have time. The moment, I’ll leave Brussels I won’t have the time. Can’t stop thinking about the word Trugschluss now.

* Palais des Beaux Arts (phonetic = Bozar; love it)


you happen to be in Brussels in the next two weeks, the Royal Greenhouses* are open to the public until May 10.

Queen's favourite place
If you can’t make it, you can nevertheless have a 360° look on the outside and inside.


* Les Serres Royales

Money laundering

There is a lot of information about the Euro banknotes but the most important is: It is perfectly save to wash Euro banknotes in the washing machine*. They get clean and are fit for use next time you go shopping. Alternatively, one could try and remember emptying all jeans pockets before washing.

Washed banknotes: 5, 10, 20 and 50€ (not all at once – this post reflects years of experience)
Washing programme: 30°C, 40°C, Colour and white

Fait exprès*

Every time I’m decided to really, really get to the shop and buy the material I need to set up an Internet connection at home, the unprotected WiFi is working fine.

But the moment I really need it to work – preferably on Sundays when shops are closed – it is down.

I guess someone is having fun watching…

*absichtlich tun; do something on purpose

How to spend a day doing nothing

Being one of those people who get stressed if they don’t have something to do, I put plenty of stuff on the to-do-list which I then safely ignore sitting with a good book in the sunshine after sleeping late and before going out for a drink.

Life is easy – you just need to know how to play it a trick once in a while

Antwerp – Second round

I’ve been to Antwerp before, just as I’ve been to Brugge and Ghent. Only that I’m wondering now how much I missed out in these two cities considering all nice squares, anecdotes and highlights Umwalker made me discover on Saturday in Antwerp.

Obviously, it is different visiting a city on half a day with a bunch of friends and being shown around by someone who lived in the very same city for over two years and not only has a fantastic memory but also a keen interest in history.

The tour was thus far more intensive from what I saw the first time (Rubens’ house, Cathedral, Schelde, drink somewhere, back to BXL). We had a nice walk through

  • The fashion area
  • The two streets making up the diamond area – with a note-worthy shabbiness of the houses compared to the 25bn dollar/year made in trade
  • The almost finished new station which makes you taking out the camera and not feel like running away
  • St. James church with a magnificent view over the city after a slightly adventurous walk up the very steep stairs
  • Lillo – a tiny village which makes you feel like on the country side for the 6 minutes you walk through it. Lillo survived the perpetual extension of the Antwerp harbour through which we drove as the pure lengths of it’s road network sums up to over 350 km. A bit too much for a walk especially after all we had already done.

And, though the pictures don’t really show it, I got a sun burn – the first in Belgium if my memory is right… A truly wonderful day!

Noise nuisance

One of my neighbours is playing bagpipe*. He, or she for that matter, is actually playing quite well. It is just one of those instruments which defies all sound-deadening insulation, not that there would be any in the building I live in. Which makes me think about the students’ hall in Grenoble where I lived for three years. The walls were but cardboard. Until today, I pity the neighbours I had at that time when I learned to play guitar there.

*Dudelsack, cornemuse