Let me unveil my new mountain bike, a CUBE LTD 29. This was my birthday present from myself, and I have to say I must know myself very well, because it made me very happy :) I hope to have the first ride with it tomorrow. Wish me luck!
And again, I have not written anything for more than a month. Sorry about that. It’s just that I am busy living my life, and even though sometimes I really feel like writing about stuff that happened with/around me, by the time I sit in front of the computer and open the admin interface of my blog, I am too lazy to really do it.
So, stuff that I wanted to talk about, but I have not done it: 1) I finished my first level of Dutch (A1-Breakthrough) in December. I had 120 hours of classes spread over three months (3 times 3.5 hours a week), and my results (coming from three exams) were the following: Grote onderscheiding (Kennis 17/20, Lezen 8/10, Luisteren 16/20, Schrijven 16/20, Spreken 24/30). Just to have an idea, this comes with a vocabulary of ~1000 words, and a lot of grammar. I had my first class of Level 2 (A2-Waystage) yesterday, but this time it is only 2 times 3.5 hours a week. By the end of this level, we will be finished with the Vanzelfsprekend book (368 pages!).
2) We mad a big decision, and bought the apartment we had been renting for already more than a year by then. (On my side, I need to thank my parents for the financial contribution.) It was a good test-ride, and since the owners wanted to sell it, we decided that this was the best thing to do. So we do not have to pay rent anymore, “just” the loan, but at least after 20 years, we will have something valuable which is 100% ours, instead of 20 years of rent-payment behind our backs. This of course means that I am very serious about staying in Belgium, so I should indeed be good at my Dutch classes… Among others. But I will come back to that later.
3) We have spent a nice long weekend in Grenoble, visiting Clio’s friends. We had a great time, even though they were completely overwhelmed by trying to move into their new-but-still-under-construction house with their baby :) Even with all the difficulties, they were great hosts, and we had a nice time over there. I hope we can visit during the summer too, then I can go cycling into the Alps. This time I did some running (a bit more than 20 km in three runs), which might be a surprise for even my oldest readers, since I used to hate running… It is indeed a relatively new thing (I would not call it a hobby, I am still not in love with running…), I started it last January, when it was way too snowy (yeas, still talking about Belgium, I am serious) for biking, and I was fed up with riding on the indoor trainer with my bike. Of course I only run with a Garmin Forerunner 210 on my wrist, I am not going anywhere without a GPS :)
4) Speaking of sports, January 2013 was my best January so far, with ~800 kilometres (~31 hours) of running and cycling, irrespective of the cold (ok, not so cold this year), wind, and darkness. That’s pretty good. “Unluckily” now I have lots of Belgian friends on Strava, who did twice this much… Just to put things into perspective :) But in any case, thanks to this, my weight is almost at the level where I like to have it during the summer months! All the Christmas kilos are gone :)
5) I applied for an FWO Postdoctoral fellowship. If I get this grant, that will mean that I can continue with my research for another 3 years at the KU Leuven after my current short term postdoctoral contract ends on the 31st of December. Based on the number of applicants/available money during the previous years, I have around 20-25% chance, so please, keep your fingers crossed. If I don’t get it, then I will have to start looking outside astronomy :(
6) I spent last (work)week in the Observatory of Geneva on a work visit, which was quite nice, especially because I always like solving problems for other people :) I also gave a 45 minute seminar about my PhD, which I finished with my time-lapse video about Mercator and by distributing some fine Belgian chocolate for the after-lunch coffee, so I am convinced everyone left the auditorium fully satisfied ;) But seriously, the talk was also fine… I also did some running on two afternoons (running uphills hurts big time) when it was not raining cats and dogs, and I got the opportunity to eat bison meat on one of the evenings. It was really great!
7) I got 29… On one hand, a few years ago this seemed to be so far, and now it is suddenly here, but on the other one, a few weekends ago I went cycling with someone who lives just around the corner, and I was really hurting while I tried to keep up with him, and he is 49, so clearly, for at least another 20 years, I don’t need to worry about getting too old for cycling :) I just need to keep Rule #5 in mind. I will write about my birthday present (besides the massive fruit tart I got from Clio) in the next post in a few days ;)
See you soon!