Archive for March, 2011

I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but during Linds’ hiatus from Belgium …

I grew a beard.

Yes, a beard.  That most hallowed and revered of all the many facial-hair configurations.  No other is so honored as to have an entire month—two, if you count both Novem-beard and Janu-hairy—dedicated to its cultivation and coiffiture.

In doing so, I have joined ranks of great thinkers like Socrates and Augustine, writers like Jules Vern, strategists like Clovis, the first Frankish king, Ulysses S. Grant and Rick Aguilera.

And of course, yours truly.

Damn.  I look good.


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In all our posts complaining about our apartment, I’m surprised that we’ve neglected to mention one of the more humorous problems (if it can be so called) of living where we do. That is to say, all the sounds we’ve become accustomed to.

We live in a generally “quiet” part of the city. I say “quiet” because it’s really a relative term. I mean, not all noise is bothersome or annoying anyway. We avoid most of the obnoxious sounds coming from the busier streets in town, luckily, but we cannot escape it all. We tend to get the occassional drunk, student group returning home from a night of partying in the Oude Markt (Old Market, where the bars are). This inebriated lot will often stop outside our building shouting up to their friends on the second or third floor who are hanging out their windows shouting back.

(This is a method of communication which I think we should employ more of in the US. I mean, really. Why waste expensive cell phone minutes calling someone when you could just as easily annoy the entire building, or even neighborhood, by yelling out your window at passersby?)

One would expect to be bothered occassionally by loud college students in a college town. However, I could never have forseen the issues brought to my attention by living so close to a bowling alley.

Yes, we live within a block from a bowling alley. It’s weird. The bowling alley is located behind our building on an adjacent street. We’ve never been inside, but I’m curious to know what it’s like in there.  The thing that’s so strange is just how constant (and I mean CONSTANT) the sound of bowling balls rolling and hitting pins is.

I mean, SERIOUSLY!? Do Belgians really bowl this much? I am not exaggerating when I say that the sound persists all day and long into the night. Every day. Every night.

The sound isn’t really annoying at all unless you think about it. It can actually be kind of soothing at times like the sound of crashing waves on the beach or distant thunder…if the waves were made of bowling balls crashing against a beach covered in bowling pins. I guess we don’t have that much to complain about on that front.

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Bee Keeper

As many of you know, I am terrified of bees.

Not just any bees really. Those cute fuzzy, round things that fly around pollinating fragrant blooms and making honey and wax for my cosmetic enjoyment are not what I mean when I say that I hate bees. A hatred bred from fear.

No, indeed. I am referring to the more aggressive pest. The one that ruins your wonderful late summer picnic by buzzing around your food,  impossible to shoo away and defying you to swat at them, stingers poised, ready.

This lot includes wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets to name a few. Honestly, I’m not sure what the differences are between the species, but I do know that they are NOT adorable and soft looking, but hard, mean, sharp, and threatening. Though small, they are anything but defenseless. A honeybee might honorably sacrifice its life for the greater good of the population if threatened. But I challenge you to come up with an instance where you intentionally bothered a wasp knowing that they possess multiple stinging capabilities and will not die in the act of defending itself.

In short: wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, etc are assholes. Bullies.

As with any irrational fear, the reaction to the feared stimulus is usually quite dramatic and volatile. In the case of myself and bees of the above description, this includes, but is not limited to: screaming, whimpering, running away, and begging someone else stronger and more courageous than myself to off this tiny bugger.

You may now be curious to know why I’d bother to write a post on bees in the first place.

Well, spring has sprung in Leuven! Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and people are taking advantage of this beautiful town in all its glory. However, spring comes with a few downsides…

Our apartment, though tiny, is fitted with two very nifty windows. However, given the slope of the ceiling and general configuration of these windows, it’s impossible to fit a screen on them. This is annoying. In the fall, we battled with a bug bite or two and fought off the pesky moths that drifted in attracted by the light bulbs. However, the spring comes with another challenge…bees.

Since I arrived in Belgium last Friday night, we’ve had at least (AT LEAST!) 4 wasps fly into our tiny abode, each swiftly and efficiently killed by Trevor while I hide in the hallway. I don’t like those odds. Something fishy is obviously going on as there aren’t any flowers or really anything resembling one in the vicinity, so they could not be attracted by the sweet smells. Methinks a nest is probably to blame. But where?

As we’ve already had two of these unfriendly visitors today, I think an urgent message to the landlords will have to be dispatched. I’m sure they will see to it that it is dealt with with the same level of inefficiency and laziness that every other complaint has hitherto been dealt. Here’s hoping.

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Oh crap.  It’s been nearly three weeks since either of us last posted on the blog.  Have you ever gotten really behind on something and then realized that it’s really tough to catch up?

The mountain of my laziness seems near insurmountable.  Sorta like this.

Worry not, dear readers.  Linds is back.  Things will get back to normal soon enough.

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I choose you!

Since the Platygator’s appearance last Friday, I’ve gotten a lot of requests for more.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a tablet to draw on or even a scanner to … scan with … so this is what you get: two notebooks photographed with a blurry camera in a poorly lit apartment.

I decided to give the little guy an opponent for this post–one who’s newly released video game makes him an ideal target.

The lightning rat is going down.

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Today I stumbled across an article and video from one of my very favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, at ComicsAlliance.com.  I’ve seen Gaiman speak in person, heard him read his poetry, purchased it in hardcover, bought entire runs of the comic books he’s written or influenced, and basically attempted to gobble up anything I can which bears his mark.  Whether you’re into Science Fiction, Fantasy, or superheroes is sort of irrelevant when it comes to Gaiman.  He’s a phenomenal writer, and the worlds he weaves are so deep and engrossing, so lush with character, characters, and insight, that there is no one to whom I would not recommend at least one of his works.

Odds are, you’ve seen or read something by him, even if you weren’t aware of it.  The movie Coraline, for instance, is an adaptation of a book he wrote as a fairytale for his young daughter.  I could go on listing his literary accomplishments, but I’ll leave it to you to look them up.  But be warned: it might take a while—they’re many.

The Comics Alliance article basically just reposts and explains a comment which Gaiman recently uploaded to YouTube about the nature of piracy and sharing.  You might have caught my brief, noncommittal jab against censorship and in favor of piracy in an earlier post, and it was making that comment that led me to link the video and the Comics Alliance article here.  It’s worth a look.


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