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So those of you who read this blog regularly may be wondering why I haven’t posted in a while. You should also be aware, if you update yourself on our doings every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, that I am currently back in the YOU-Nited States of AMERICA!

I’ve had a rather exhausting week. Monday was spent hopping from Brussels to New York, and New York to Boston only to be followed by bouts of nasty stomach illness on Tuesday night, Wednesday, and a little bit yesterday.

But as of yesterday, I’m back in Minnesota, a veritable winter wonderland! After spending almost the entire afternoon napping, I ended up going to bed at 10pm and sleeping for a whopping 11 hours (silly jet-lag).

So, as you can imagine, I haven’t really been in the mood to post at all this week. What with the 5 airports I’ve been through and the almost ever-present nausea I’ve experienced in the past few days, I felt it necessary to take some time off from the blog. I will return next week, however, with many more unposted Belgian adventures to share. Stay tuned!

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Making an Exit

Yesterday I witnessed one of the more amazing moments of my (now considerable) time in universities.  I’ve been present for some fantastic lectures over the years, heard some downright inspiring and heartfelt appeals from professors, and watched my share of public dressing downs of over-puffed pseudo-intellectual students, but I’m not sure anything compares to the simplicity and elegance of what happened yesterday in Philosophy of Religion.

It was the academic of equivalent of mic drop.  And it taught me a lot about the importance of being able to make an exit.

I should explain.  To understand what I just said, you first have to know the player.

His name is Ignace Verhack.  He’s a 60 something retired professor in the Institute of Philosophy here, and we were lucky enough to have him come back for this one class.  There he is to the right.

 

First, Verhack—like a lot of older, learned, Flemmish gentlemen— is a very serious dude.  The guy makes his living talking about “being” for goodness sake.  By that I mean that his job as a philosopher is on one level to find out whether or not we can prove that we actually exist, and on another level to decide how/whether that really matters.  To say the least, there are a lot of, “Did that just happen?” moments.  A lot of, “Where am I and what am I doing here,” once class is over.

Second, he—again, like a lot of learned, Flemish gentlemen—has no problem walking into a class 10 or even 15 minutes late.  Really, what are you gonna do without him?  He simply walks—not strides, not shuffles, just walks, as if he invented it as a mode of transportation—into a classroom full of 30 or so people, sets down his notes, and immediately begins lecturing.  His nonchalance upon entering a room, though, doesn’t even come close to rivaling the downright disregard for his audience he shows when he leaves.

He will, upon finishing a pivotal sentence, simply—silently—decide that it’s time for a break and walk out of the room.  And when he leaves, he leaves.  Most of the class stays near the classroom, heads for the coffee machine, or goes outside to smoke, but Verhack, without so much as a jacket over his patented tweed sportscoat-over-sweater combination, flat out disappears.  And I mean disappears.  I would say he magically drifts into the ether, but I’m not sure there’s ether that’s unsubstantial enough to follow or contain him.  My friend Chris said of Verhack, “Most people worry about making an entrance; he just makes an exit.” (more…)

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Where my posts at?

It’s Saturday.

If you were checking yesterday, and if you were aware that yesterday’s today was Friday, and if you were aware that we traditionally write on Fridays, you might also have noticed that we owe you a post.  Sorry about that.  Fear not, your post is on the way.

The Christmas Market is in Leuven, and we’re working on a post (or two) covering it.

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Working from Home

As most of you already know, I’ve recently started work at my internship. It’s a part-time gig, but I still have to work everyday. And right now, that’s kind of perfect for me.

Going into my 3rd week working, I’ve discovered a few things that I really like, and just a few I dislike about working from home.

To begin, working from home is awesome. Do you need a list of reasons why it’s so awesome? No? Well, I’m going to give you one anyway. I love lists:

1. No commute = I don’t have to spend 10 euro/day getting to and from Brussels! WOOT!

2. You can roll out of bed at 8:45 and still make it to work at 9.

3. Don’t have to bring/buy a lunch

4. I get to eat lunch with Trevor 🙂

5. Don’t have to dress up in my best work clothes

6. The hours are super flexible

Just so you know, I still do get dressed for work everyday, even if it’s just jeans and a t-shirt. I mean, I am still at work. And I do have to commute to Brussels at least once a week on Fridays, so it’s not like I never see my co-workers/boss ever. Plus, this gives me a good excuse to get out of my tiny, stuffy apartment.

There are also a few downsides about working from home, though, I would say they are upstaged by the upsides. However, there are times when I would prefer to be in an office. These include:

1. Having to use my limited internet bandwidth to Skype with co-workers

2. Sometimes spending the entire day in my tiny apartment

3. My butt gets really sore from this chair

4. Being forced to listen to Trevor’s cacophony of noises which include, but are not limited to:

  • playing the same Michael Bolton song 9 times in one day
  • his chewing noises as he is in a constant state of eating something or other (he’s munching on a carrot as I write this)
  • his angry and/or excited exclamations as he reads the latest soccer news headlines

Not mentioned above is the fact that this internship is unpaid which is an obvious con! However, paid or not, it doesn’t change the fact that working from home is awesome, and I love it. Really, I recommend it. You should try it sometime. As long as you don’t have anybody chewing in your ear all day, I’m sure you’d enjoy it as much as me!

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Gobble gobble

If there’s one thing Belgians truly excel at, it’s having holidays.  Of course, here they’re not called holidays; they’re called Feestdagen (literally “Party Days”).  Since we’ve been here, there have been four, and there are even a couple more before we head home for Christmas.  But the Belgians, even with all their holiday taking, their minimum four weeks of paid vacation per year, and their two—count them, two—Christmases (more to come on the first one, Dec. 6, later), still haven’t had a holiday to match a good old-fashioned US Thanksgiving.

So with the prospect of another Thanksgiving away from home and our families (our third straight as a couple) looming, Linds and I were a little down.  Not too down, of course—it’s bloody Thanksgiving, and for my own part, the “Minnesota nice” in me rebels so strongly against any feeling of unthankfulness on or leading up to the day that I distrust even the tiniest internal display of dissatisfaction.  But even when we were in Boston, at least we were surrounded by a wonderful community of people we had grown to know and love, and who, perhaps more importantly, could really cook.

We didn’t expect much out of the day this year.  Linds had to work on Thursday, and I had to prepare for class on Friday.  Far from our families, our hometowns, from Theology House (which had become our home away from home for the holiday), even from football, there just wasn’t a very high likelihood that we’d get to have a real Thanksgiving like we had in Boston or at home, and we’d largely resigned ourselves to that fact.

Somehow, though, we found ourselves just as blessed as in years past.
How we were a part of a miraculous Thanksgiving, plus pictures after the jump!  (more…)

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An inDSent proposal

This post may go over the head of many of our readers, and for others it may miss the mark entirely.  Specifically, it may not be very pertinent to you if you don’t own one of these.  (Don’t worry though, Linds and her friend Linds are on their way back from Brussels, and they’ll probably have something for y’all before Monday is done.)

No, not the beer; the Nintendo DS.

This little device, despite having been available in various forms since 2005 (an entire era has passed since then, in terms of tech development), has got a pretty amazing ability.  It can let me play games with you from across an ocean.

Why haven’t we done that?  Seriously.  Here I am, having a DS.  And there many of you are, having your own DS and playing many of the same games I am playing a world away.  Howsabout you and me get together for some Mario Kart?  Howsat sound?  Hmm?  We can do a couple laps, have a balloon battle, maybe trade some paint?

Keep following after the jump for a list of games I’ll be playing while I wait for you guys to get online.

Also, rubbin is racin. (more…)

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In Ghent

Today is All Saints Day, so in Belgium, that equals a holiday. Actually, a two day holiday. This means little to me as I am currently unemployed, and every day is a day off. However, Trevor doesn’t have to go to school today or tomorrow, and his class last Friday was canceled. So while all of you were looking forward to the start of Hallo-weekend, we decided to take a little day trip to Ghent.

Ghent is a city close to Bruges. We went to Bruges once already (hoping to return in the spring when the daffodils are in bloom), and it was gorgeous. Very cute, touristy, medieval, beautiful, and generally very romantic. Ghent, however, is not as good as Bruges. It knows this, and doesn’t want to admit it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got everything you need to make a really cool medieval, European city:

1. River? Check, 2 actually

2. Churches? Duh, 57 to be exact

3. Medieval architecture? Got it.

4. Dimly lit restaurants with broody Belgians drinking beer and chain smoking? Obviously.

5. Good smattering of vintage shops, frituurs (fry houses), and waffle stands? Of course, it’s still Belgium.

So what’s missing? Why isn’t Ghent as awesome as it’s neighbor Bruges right down the road? I mean, the McDonald’s was so fancy, it was practically a historic landmark (see below), and we took an almost private boat tour along the river. Well, maybe it was because Trevor had the hiccups for literally the entire trip (I wish I was kidding even a little bit about this) that made the day seem less awesome than our day in Bruges. Maybe it was the general lack of chocolate themed museums, or the fact that no one made a movie with Colin Farrel where everyone dies and someone jumps off the belfry at the end (oops, spoiler alert!). I mean, seriously, In Ghent?? No one would make that movie, and there’s a reason: Bruges is right down the road.

Except, we had a great time. We actually would recommend going, and we might even go again. Yeah, it’s not a UNESCO world heritage site like Bruges is, but it was fun, and the people were nice. Honestly. Hopefully, next time Trevor won’t have the hiccups though.

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