Friday, January 09, 2009

It has been five days now since my wife and son left for a holiday in the US. I call almost every day and try to keep up to date a bit by mailing and reading her weblog. More than actually missing their presence and being with them I currently miss meeting my oversees family. Not being with Theresa and Thyl is, obviously, not fun but not being with the Sloans and other friends and family while they are does make me feel more 'alone' than actually not having them around at home.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I don't remember when I first got to meet poetry in my life. It must have been when I was a couple of years old at last. We had to learn kids poems by heart in kindergarten and we also did "newyears' letters", a tradition whereby kids write a letter to read to their parents on new years day, generally written in rhyme to help with memorization and reading out loud.

I can not say that I have very vivid memories of this era but I do still know one of these songs/rhymes by heart, even after more than 27 years... The next poem that I really remember must have been from when I was 'much' older, around ten or so and is about looking at clouds .

Later in my life I studied poetry for several years in a poetry expression class but of those six years hardly anything really stuck, a poem here and there but nothing 'major'... Maybe I was not very susceptible at that time or maybe there was so much to see, learn and experience that other things won over poetry.

It was in my fourth year of university (which for me meant that I was still in my first year, as I did four years over passing the first year) that I got back in touch with poetry through various courses. From this period comes my new found love of word-music, largely inspired by M. Bartosik. I got to know British and American poets, studied Donne, Blake and others with Prof. Wellens and got to meet them and so many other ones, in different languages in the classes of Michel.

The most inspirational classes in Poetry I got from a professor who was a poet himself. I have written about him as well... He was as inspirational as the poems he made us read. He could talk about poetry as if it was, and I believe that to him it might have been, an essential part of life like water, food or the air we breathe. He was a good man this professor and I will always regret not having told him how much he really meant to me.

Not all poetry in life is purely written though. Some things are like poetry without being written down. Some songs are more poetry than song for me... Leonard Cohen is one of the singer/songwriters that I consider poet more than singer. His lyrics are deeper than normal lyrics go.

Now, in my life after university I have taken a couple of poetrybooks off the shelves to revisit them. Brodsky is a name that comes to mind ("the hawk's cry in autumn"), so are Blake, Shakespeare and Wallace Stevens.

People who teach you to savior poetry teach you something of immense value...

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

As with so many other things, my mind wanders and comes back to few people that have made a lasting impression on me. I was introduced to Wallace Stevens in several lectures of M. Bartosik, one of the few professors at the VUB that I did not merely like but that I really loved in a way only a pupil can love a professor... an admiration that was deeper than he ever knew or, sadly, could have known.
For weeks before his death I planned to tell him how I felt, how much he had meant to me during my career as a student and how often I thought of his classes or the conversations we had in the hallway, his office or on random occasions and encounters. Conversations that were far too few...
From Wallace Stevens, for Michel...

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom the book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Wallace Stevens

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fire and Ice

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

at the passing of

As posted in Sisyphus Lodge, april 3 2008.

So this is goodbye,

Our profile information says we have been here since 1999 but it seems like there was hardly a time before that that we were not, in mind, already connected to so many people here at We have been on the internet since 1994, which is about half of our lives. We have built our lives with and around all the enigmas that we have faced. We smile when we here things like Billy Idol's sweet sixteen, because we know at least part of the story behind it now. We look for the odd things in everything, we have anagram solvers, rot-13 decoders and mayan calendars in our bookmarks now. Pink Floyd is even more enigmatic than it was before as no veil has been lifted from the mysteries that are hidden in the songs, the story, the history of the band, but we still like the music.

We started out with figuring out what the formula is to find out when easter will be, we ended with the final six. We have, together with a lot of people, broken our heads and cursed the SK's over Manifest Destiny, we have read pages and pages of strange and weird stories that could have fit right into thestone but somehow never made it. We've read the black book, the white book, the black book again and we have not understood even half of the clues.

We have found our other, and we eventually got the 'other' stone from her as she didn't really play anyway. We have joined our stones, one 'stone', one 'plastic'. We have a gathering stone, we have given away numerous stones as gifts but nobody really made it to the lodge (although quite some people got really hooked for a while, but life caught up with them I guess).

We have given nudges to a lot of people, we have received even more. We never made it to a stone gathering, which we now regret but we have had online conversations with the best of stoners. It would be wrong to try and name all of the people we have met this way. Obviously a lot of you in the lodge these days have been there longer than we have, as we have not participated in the final six, some others may not make it back here anymore or have stopped playing. A few names though, that should not be forgotten. Moebius, Jiggly, Art of Fantasy, Gary, Ray, uhuru, Polodiabolo, grissy, norske, kingohugs, junebug, Frogmistress (wow, that's a name from the past...) and to me, the most important, my tess, my other, the other aa5-33a. The nights we have spent on the stone have brought us together so often, have made us strive to a common goal even if we were going through a difficult time personally. If I have forgotten your name, I'm sorry, it was not on purpose, and I'm sure I've forgotten plenty of names.

We have our own new enigma now, he's 20 months old and maybe when he's older he'll find our folders where we printed all puzzles and all solutions, stored for... who knows.

So this is goodbye, it is not farewell, although I hope you all will have the best of times, it is a goodbye with the sincere hope to find you all, in person, mind and spirit, somewhere along the paths that our further life will lead us by.

Thanks for everything,

Dragonmaster & Tess
AA5-33A (x2)

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

A weekend filled with staring at the rain outside, well,... that and reinstalling my beloved powerbook.

When I got to work on friday my powerbook (G4) had given up all signs of life. Pushing the powerbutton resulted in the frightening noise of a plane that is crashing and very fast on its way down to the ground. A familiar noise unfortunately that it had been making a while ago already so I knew immediately that there was something seriously wrong. Nothing but an apple desktop with that questionmarked folder telling me that a system disk can not be found, so around 9 a.m. I was already on my way from work to home to see if I could perform any black-voodoo-magic on my powerbook to revive that harddisk.
Luckily I had learned from an earlier hdd-failure that my Apple could be booted from an external drive as long as that drive had OSX on it installed. One of the reasons why I like this system. Booting from an external harddrive was not a problem; accessing the internal 80 gigs of information however seemed to be 'not working'; always the noise of the disk trying to spin up but not being able to do so.
The sollution was simple, this baby needed a new hdd if it had to work ever again without having to use an external drive. I called the friendly people at Macline over in City 2 and told them of my problems. Luck was on my side, again, today and they told me I could have my beloved computer back in a couple of hours if I dropped it off there; they only had one more hdd in stock so I rushed over to bring them the patient that needed urgent treatment.
Waiting was awful. I had lunch with my wife, who came in to town when she heared I would be there, and walked around Mediamarkt, Waterstones and other big shops while constantly looking at my phone to see if I did not, per accident, miss any calls from the store to say that I could go and pick up a revived apple. It took them several hours to replace the hdd and try and salvage some information from the hard drive. Unfortunately the latter did not work and the harddrive had officially become no more than a paperweight.
Since the earlier crash in 2006, which had cost me several months of work that were lost, I had fortunately learned to schedule very regular backups of my information. My userdirectory, with all libraries and preferences was saved on a weekly base and often, when I'd be at work, I would run the backup software 'just to be sure'. My last backup dated from right before I left work on thursday evening... a true blessing that was as I may have lost about 3 or 4 mails since then and no documents at all. The only problem is that everything needs to be reinstalled in order to be able to work again. So this is my weekend, while staring at the rain outside, I wait and install and wait some more and restore information, data and applications...
Thank God for backups but a pox on him for hdd crashes.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Imagine a world without religion...

“Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian Partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of Jews as ‘Christ-killers’, no Northern Ireland ‘troubles’, no ‘honour killings’, no shiny-suited bouffant-haired televangelists fleecing gullible people of their money (’God wants you to give till it hurts’).

“Imagine no Taliban to blow up ancient statues, no public beheading of blasphemers, no flogging of female skin for showing an inch of it.”

Can you imagine?

In such a world, the Twin Towers would still be standing.

(Quote from The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, which I’m currently reading.)

(this post shamelessly ripped from : )

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Monday, May 21, 2007

I'm aware that I have not posted anything for a while now. Maybe it would be better to just end this blog if I can not keep posting to it, maybe it would be better to take away this site and give you back the time that you all spend looking if anything has changed, only to be left with disappointment.
I have finally taken the decision that my time has come to leave my job here at the VUB. I have indicated in my yearly progress that I don't plan to do anything next year and that I am at the end of my ideas on how to evolve my phd in a direction that will be scientifically correct as well as satisfying to myself. We will see how things evolve after this. I am now going to try and find a job with more vigor than I already had, as I need to find something before my final weeks/months at the VUB are over. I want to start working instead of feeling like the only thing I do is sitting at my desk reading papers and writing scientific nonsense.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Piping Down the Valleys Wild

Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:

"Pipe a song about a lamb!"
So I piped with merry cheer.
"Piper, pipe that song again."
So I piped: he wept to hear.

"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer."
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.

"Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read."
So he vanished from my sight,
And I plucked a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.

W. Blake

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Smokers are the new Jews

The hunt for smokers is an ever ongoing war within our society. Smoking bans are being issued up to a ridiculous level where in some places it is even forbidden to smoke outside. A Belgian school has just pushed one of the possible limits of what is acceptable. They have thought up a system where smokers will be required to wear badges, showing a set of blackened lungs and a slogan "my lungs can look like this".
The anti-smoking community is not 100% happy with the new measure that was taken by the school but the fact that a school can issue such a rule is beyond the imagination of everyone who knows a bit of history...
In a time when racism is one of the most vicious crimes one can commit in the eyes of the politically correct mass of self-convinced leftist groups, it remains possible and even is encouraged to limit the freedom of the smokers. First they were forbidden to smoke in certain parts of restaurants, now restaurants are required to be completely smoke-free and some politicians are even pushing for a ban on smoking in pubs. The European commission recently debated about the fact if employees could negatively discriminate smokers (luckily the answer was 'no').
The segregation of smokers and nonsmokers is something which I, as a humanist, can not support up to this level.

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