Monthly Archives: December 2009

2009 was


French Schadenfreude*

Nasty little article in the European Voice about a poor French guy who mixed brackets and quotes.  Though the question is not if the importance of the French language in the European institutions will decline but if the French will manage in time to learn speaking anything else.


3 books

First place: Shared between Jane Eyre and The Jane Eyre affair. Both for their great female characters, the second book for its craziness and the dodo.

Runner up: The road – Dark, threatening atmosphere. A book to be read quickly, impossible to put aside, disgusting and thrilling all at once.

Looser: The glassbook of the dream eaters. Good critics, good start but overdetailed boredom half way through.

3 movies

First place: The Wrestler – best performance of the year, great sound track, a movie where everything just works.

Runner up: Star Trek – good special effects, nice story, a bit of fight, a bit of love. Far more than a fan movie.

Looser: Public enemy – Lack of patina. A good story styled to death.


9 9 9

9 topics published 9 days before the end of 2009*

Smell – The first day that smells like spring, or summer, or autumn or winter. Most people don’t believe me but there is always this one day when the smell in the air announces that the season has changed.

Taste – Of success; a deserved one on top of it.

Sound – Silence. No longer any colleagues putting on elevator music in the office.

Pride – “Do every day one thing that scares you” – Standing up for what I believe is the right thing to do.

Record – Lowest amount of books ever read in a year. It’s all the fault of the West Wing…

Shock – OMG, this year can’t be over already. It barely started yesterday. Alternatively: No way that I did all that stuff in less than a year.

City – Barcelona!! Beautiful city, lovely atmosphere, good weather and a beach. Unbeatable.

People – All those who were there for me when I needed them: friends, family, colleagues and the perfect stranger in the street.

Project – Challenged, fascinated and persistently working on it. One year is not enough…

* Idea stolen from Quoi de 9 Cécile.

Christmas mood in BXL

  • The bonheur to step into a pub and have a warm tea after a long walk over the Christmas market
  • People dancing on Grande Place at 10pm by -10°C
  • The quietness and beauty of snow…


Announcement on the train – being 2 and a half hours late due to that bit of snow that dared touching the ground – arriving into Paris: “Nous arrivons à Paris, Gare d’Austerlitz. Nous sommes bien conscients de notre retard mais avec des conditionnes pareilles, vous pouvez être contents d’être arrivé tout court.”*

* We are arriving in Paris, Gare d’Austerlitz. We are aware of the delay but with the weather conditions, you can be happy to have arrived at all.

Selfish altruism

I was always worried that the tailor who does all the changes on my cloths would have to close due to a lack of customers. Since long, I advise all friends who need a tailor to go to her: she’s friendly, very attentive to detail and with an excellent price-quality ratio.

Today, I had to wait for the first time ever, three – 3! – customers were in line before me; all bringing good business. No need to be worried about her business any longer; only about my stuff being finished on time.

My mustard

A long distance relationship between Rome and Brussels – no problem – one can fly home almost every weekend. Having meat everyday, no problem whatsoever apart from obesity perhaps, buying clothes that might never be worn – normal – if they hardly cost anything. But, everything has a cost. We can’t afford any longer to act as if our actions did not have a price; they always have.

I come more and more to believe that only the (forced) awareness of those costs – environmental, social and long term often political – might lead to some change.  So, what about:

  • Limiting the flights / person / year; through a limited number of air-miles for instance. Unused air miles could be sold…
  • Consumption based taxes as opposed to work based – low taxes on environmentally friendly products – making it hell expensive to own a SUV for example
  • Taxes by driven kilometre as to be introduced in the Netherlands. Makes perfectly sense and is not going to happen any time soon in Germany.
  • Reduction of meat consumption esp. beef through increased taxes

One thing is for sure: It’s not going to be easy nor popular.


30 billion dollar till 2012 for developing countries to cope with the effects of climate change.

1.100 billion dollar to bailout the American banks in 2008/2009.

There couldn’t be a better way to symbolise the importance the ‘developed’ countries attribute to the Copenhagen negotiations.


What’s better: Good memories or a bad present?