February 10th, 2012

A extraordinary man

This morning, around 1:30 AM my father passed away. Three of his four children were next to his bedside as well as two of my sons.

Life was no fun for him the last few months and I cannot view this other than a relief for his poor strained body. If anything, he is a better place.

I will do his eulogy coming Wednesday.

How sweet of you all to be here this morning. We, the children, love you all equally of course, but please allow me to say a word of special gratitude to Trudy and her colleagues, who have have taken care of Harm, an extraordinary man after all, with so much patience, love and compassion. We are intensely and sincerely grateful to you all.

An extraordinary man.

It’s asking for trouble when a father tries to impersonate the use of language of his children. When I came home a few years ago and instigated by a client and against my somewhat better judgement I told my kids I thought something or somebody was “lauw” [means lukewarm] instead of “cool” or “hot” or “fat”, I was met with surprised but sorry looks, while one of them added “Well sorry dad, but really, you can’t do that? ‘Lauw’, I mean, nobody says that anymore, not for the last couple of years anyway”. Okaaaaay.

So, when I started probing the new generation what they thought about their granddad, their qualification was simply “grandpa was boss”. And for the older youngsters here, I have been told that is supposed to be pronounced as “baassch”. From what I understand, and by now you should be a bit sceptical about that, it is the modern term for what you all found written on the funeral card: Strong, Unique, Willfull. And stubborn as a mule. We would probably say “An extraordinary man”.

An extraordinary man, as most of you probably have experienced. When mom and dad threw a party for the neighborhood, he would get up around midnight and announce he’d go to bed, leaving the others in a state of bewilderment. The neighbors because they were wondering if this was a not-so-very-subtle hint, and my mom for a short moment, wondering if it would be possible or not to be put in a more embarrassing situation. The parties continued of course.

An extraordinary man, who could seemingly fall asleep in the middle of a conversation. For his colleagues it was a cue that their meeting had deteriorated to senseless babbling, for my brother Harm an exquisite opportunity to place the butter dish under his slowly falling chin. Something that earned my sister True an unwarranted smack.

An extraordinary man, who could do anything. When during a fall storm rainwater was literally pouring down the chimney wall, he earned himself the eternal admiration of my mom by gluing a sheet of plastic through the water against the wall diverting it into a bucket. And that admiration was very needed indeed: he had bought that cold cold, petroleum heated ruin, including a half functioning sewer without her consent after a job switch. Hey, he was the man after all!

An extraordinary man, who did not interfere with the kids that much, after all, that was in my mom’s “job description”, but who on the other hand always did everything to ensure we would do better. Teaching, always knowing better, often grumbling how things should improve, nagging about the small things, but then, surprisingly easy, forgiving and generous on the big things, the things that mattered.

An extraordinary man, who always ensured our not too small family went on vacation abroad every single year, and I am not talking Northern Belgium either. We tend to forget that this is a must nowadays, twice a year that is, but in the 60’s, that was most certainly not the norm. And we, the kids, learned a lot from that. Not that the car ever stopped by the way. “When it rains, we drive”, “You can pee in that bottle” and “Oh, we JUST passed that parking lot?” have become serious words in our family.

An extraordinary man, with whom, and over whom we have laughed tremendously. And in line with those vacations, let me give you a cliffhanger. Ask my sis True about “The Camping Bed”. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

An extraordinary man, with a strong sense of justice, who not only quit a new job after he discovered this would not be his thing, but also returned his salary: his opinion was simply that the company had not benefited in any way.

An extraordinary man, who, together with my mom, bravely and with all his weight (literally and figuratively) scared away two armed bank robbers from the local bank office. When they were already in their 70’s that is.

My dad….. was an extraordinary man. My dad…… was “Baassch”.

Johannes Brahms, 3rd symphony, 3rd part Poco Allegretto

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Shirley Bassey, The Performance Of My Life (uh huh, he liked Shirley)

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Gustav Mahler, 2nd symphony, part 4, Urlicht (primeval light)

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O Röschen rot!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Not!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Pein!
Je lieber möcht’ ich im Himmel sein.
Da kam ich auf einen breiten Weg:
Da kam ein Engelein und wollt’ mich abweisen.
Ach nein! Ich ließ mich nicht abweisen!
Ich bin von Gott und will wieder zu Gott!
Der liebe Gott wird mir ein Lichtchen geben,
Wird leuchten mir bis in das ewig selig Leben!

O red rose!
Man lies in greatest need!
Man lies in greatest pain!
How I would rather be in heaven.
There came I upon a broad path
when came a little angel and wanted to turn me away.
Ah no! I would not let myself be turned away!
I am from God and shall return to God!
The loving God will grant me a little light,
Which will light me into that eternal blissful life!

John Rutter – Distant land

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A picture of him at the funeral of my mother, 3 years ago.


October 11th, 2009

The brain tumor

This is not a very nest-like post I guess. Last Thursday, a guy I worked with quite a bit at a client of mine passed away at age 36. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor about a year ago. As far as understand, if inoperable, it is next to impossible to eradicate those and the prognosis is almost always not good.

Understandably, he let them throw everything at him that was possible, to see if something would stick, up to the point his body was so bloated I did not recognize him on a picture he blogged (he did blog until a couple of weeks ago sharing what was happening to him, until he couldn’t anymore and his wife took over, occasionally). When there was no hope of recovery, something that dawned a few months ago, treatments like that were stopped and for the short time he had left, he looked pretty OK again. I was very, very impressed how he and maybe even more his wife was handling this.

J. is leaving behind his wife and young child, I think the kid is 3 years old. It is very, very sad.

January 30th, 2009

Dark thoughts

I just realized what has been bothering me about all the blather I’ve been listening to on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, and even Air America over the past few months. All: NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the BBC and Air America (just to name a few) have been focused on maintaining the “corporate mainstream,” as it collapses in upon itself. The news and opinion media has been using fear as its tool of choice. According to the mainstream media we should be quaking in our boots because if the investment houses and banks fail (haven’t they already?) we might loose our homes, loose our jobs, and we might not have enough food to eat. Hmmmmm. I have heard scant mention of the many alternative economic models that might prove helpful. The experts these media outlets have enlisted (NPR is by far one of the worst), are mum on anything that might change the basic configuration of our economy, even though many very successful alternative economies exist.

Why haven’t we heard about cooperatives, collectives or even community gardens from our media? Even Obama is mute on “alternative” economic models; hell why else would he offer up a $700-billion stimulus package to back up the trillion dollars plus of OUR money that Bush spent before Obama took over? Most of that money, from Bush and Obama, is being given to the folks that caused “the crisis” in the first place. Seems to me, that if times might get really bad the government should be spending my money helping people. I would suggest that the Feds start helping people by offering classes and workshops on how to successfully grow food so that we can survive hard times? Alas, there is little profit in it so why should our government bother? Ironic, no?

The folks that we are bailing out are responsible for destroying the manufacturing core of The United States and the jobs that sector used to provide; why are we rewarding them now with huge publicly funded subsidies? I have come to realize that we are being handed a bill of goods and a shitload of propaganda. It’s time to start talking about real alternatives to the systems that have failed us.

P.S. At least based on the reading I’ve done, experts on propaganda seem to agree that the purpose of propaganda has nothing to do with what you think – what you think is of little importance to the propagandist; the central focus of all propaganda is how you behave.

July 7th, 2008

The big bird

My friend J took a tiny detour on his motorbike today and snapped the biggest flying bird sitting on the tarmac of Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. Click for the hi res image. It’s also the only one flying.

Thanks buddy.

June 29th, 2008

The sharing

I try to be a little bit energy-consumption aware. Squeeze out the most mpg as possible, switch off appliances on standby, etc. Still, computer stuff being my profession, lappy runs most of the day and evening. And yes, I do switch it off when I go to bed and slam the lid (=standby) when I expect to be away for a while. But still, the thing is working it’s butt off when I am actually doing things on it, but it’s idling most of the time still. The cpu usage shown is what the task manager was recording while I was actually typing this blog post: about 1% is time the chip is actually working for me.


So, I installed BOINC again (what used to be seti@home for those who remember) and dedicate all that idle time to the world. The only issue left was what project to donate it to. I decided not to go for SETI (the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, even if I wholeheartedly support their cause, but instead join the World Community Grid, together with a small 400.000 others. This is a sort of meta-project, doing the selection and infrastructure for causes that benefit directly to humanity.

World Community Grid supports research that is:

  • Focused on solving problems to benefit humanity;
  • Conducted by public or nonprofit organizations;
  • Contributed to the public domain; and
  • Accelerated by grid computing technology.

Research projects that benefit from grid technology are those that perform computations that require millions of computer processing units (CPUs) and that can be divided into smaller independent computations.

Examples of potential fields of study include:

  • New and existing infectious disease research – development of treatments for HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), etc.
  • Genomics and disease – functions of proteins that are coded by human genes and how they might relate to cures for common diseases
  • Environmental research – meteorology and severe weather warning, pollution, remediation, climate modeling, and others
  • Natural disasters and hunger – earthquake warning, information on improving crop yields and livestock production, and evaluation of the supply of critical natural resources such as water

Go there to join, put that wasted electricity to work. And if you like, you can join the small team I am in  “Lotus Notes and Domino Support”. Here’s how my cpu usage looks now. I’ll probably write more about sharing, and less about political outrage, but who knows what happens.


ps: Yes, I do know lappy now even uses a tad more energy as the cpu uses less when idling, but that tiny offset more than compensates in my opinion the gift of 99% of my cpu cycles.

June 5th, 2008

The assault

Yesterday night, a family living pretty close by, actually 2/3rd of a mile as the bird flies were ambushed in their own house. The crooks came through the front door (forgot the night lock) and surprised the couple in their sleep. Beat him up badly, taped her mouth. With a 4 year old there mind you. The crooks were after money, which was not in the house. The family was terrorized for over an hour.

She’s actually a collegue of my wife. Scary when things like this come so close.

January 19th, 2008

The scandinavian scenery

I love Norway’s scenery, with it’s stunning fjords and exploding nature during the short summer period. Have a look here.


December 22nd, 2007

My world

A few days ago, it started freezing in hazy weather. While it will all be gone by tomorrow (we ice-skated most winters on ditches, small canals and shallow marshes when we were kids, that seems to be a thing of the past now), the sudden ultra bright morning sun and cloudless sky combined with the slowly grown crystals made for these pretty pictures. It’s not deposited snow or frozen ice rain. While it is not Alaska, enjoy.




October 17th, 2007

The growth of Skype

Skype, my favorite (and only production grade) IM and VoIP client, passed a 10 million concurrent users today. They will also integrate significantly with social networking giant Myspace (110 million users). That will have a huge impact. They will share/connect IM, presence and voice, starting mid-November. If you’re a MySpace user, you might want to create a Skype account with the same name (if not taken). I do urge you to stay on using Skype2Skype communications, as that is end-to-end encrypted, meaning they what is private stays private.

October 3rd, 2007

The incident

Yesterday evening I cam home around 8:45PM. My son came on his bicycle from hockey training around 10:00PM, to find the road toward our house red-taped and like four police cars scattered. Mind you this was 300 feet from our house. Turned out there had been shooting. One guy says he was attacked by a stranger and fired out of self defence. Shooter arrested, victim hospitalized.

Pretty strange, and a bit uneasy. Read the last bullet on this post to understand weapon possession laws here better.