24 April 2007
20 April 2007
17 April 2007
The Archives closed at 4PM, so I left to meet a friend on the beautiful summer-like afternoon. We walked, we parted, and then on my way to the train station, where I was to catch a train to choir practice in Bruges, I ran into another friend. We dined on the best Pad Thai I've had in Belgium, and off I went again to the station. On my way I got a call from my friend N, about to travel from Leuven to Bruges for choir:
"There's been a strike."
When I got to the station, at 6:30 on a busy Monday afternoon, sure enough I was met with a departure board that had only one train listed. And event though it was going to Bruges, there would be no guarantees that I would be able to get back to Leuven that night. So I decided against choir practice waited for a train. And rather than bore you with the mundane details of my sitting in a station, on a train, at another station, I'll just say that two hours later, I was finally home.
This was the big news in Belgium yesterday, but of course when I checked the New York Times headlines before heading to bed I was met with a very different story out of Virginia.
I have spent half of my life living and working on college campuses. They are unique communities that are in part designed to be safe havens for working, studying, and living. Eight years ago this week we watched TV and saw kids running out of a high school in Colorado. Several years ago a music professor was shot and killed on the college campus where Z now works. And then this.
Gun violence is horrific. And this kind of gun violence seems to be unique to the United States. Almost 1/3 of the world's 600 million guns are owned by Americans. I remember from when we lived in Texas that just about anyone can buy a gun at Walmart. What's wrong with this picture?
There isn't much else to say, I guess, but see how events unfold at Virginia Tech and wonder what tomorrow's news will bring.
15 April 2007
14 April 2007
This is something I do often, with a variety of different kinds of documents, and in several different languages. The name "Peter Philips" actually appears in many linguistic forms: Pierre Philippes in French, Petrus Philippus in Latin, Pedro Philippe in Spanish, Pieter (or Peeter) Philips in Dutch. Sometimes "Philips" is also just shortened to "Phls." And since none of the documents I'm looking at are in English, I can't just look for plain, old Peter Philips.
Just looking for the name "Philips" also presents problems in itself. For example, during the period which I'm studying we have:
- Philip II and Philip III, Kings of Spain
- A "Grd" (Gerard?) Philips, who was also working at the Archducal Court
- A Phillippe was also a monetary value used in the Low Country at this time
- Thomas Phellippes, an English cipher working for Walsingham
This last one poses a particular problem because of my recent theory that Peter Philips was actually more involved in plots to bring down Queen Elizabeth than previously thought. The regional spellings differences make the distinction between my Philips and this Thomas Phellippes a problematic one.
But maybe I shouldn't complain too much. After all, my composer could be named "John Smith."
09 April 2007
This already didn't look good. Hurray for Belgium for making the front page about something other than Justine Henin's latest tennis match. But what's up with the title? I quickly read through the article. Sure enough, the author--I will call him Mr. B in case you decide not to read it yourself--was highlighting Flemish men and women who spend part of their lives living in the middle ages. They go about their daily lives and then retire to towers and tents on the weekends, "roughing it" medieval style.
Mr. B determined that part of its fascination with the past was because Belgium suffers from a lack of contemporary national identity. According to a Belgian psychologist, "little Belgium is fed up with being Europe's laughingstock." There is a quick word about the extreme right Vlaams Belang, another tidbit about young people's interest in studying medieval history. The rest of the article focuses on the general "quaintness" of people wanting to stomp around in wooden shoes and drink spiced wine.
If Belgium is trying to shed its label as "Europe's laughingstock," then, well, this article certainly doesn't help. The title itself is "silly and quaint." There are real issues here: extreme nationalism, prejudice again Muslim immigrants, and the general apathy among young people to do anything about them. Belgium's problems may mean little to others, but certainly its people would rather the world talk about them instead of about this.
My morning coffee must be stronger than usual.
07 April 2007
I am kicking myself. I am kicking myself because I've been living in Belgium for six months and have only just recently gotten around to visiting Paris. Had I known it was so easy and inexpensive I would have done it long ago! The Thalys runs trains every half-hour from the South Station in Brussels to the North Station in Paris. So for only about 30 euros and 2 hours each way, you can have an easy, scenic trip to one of the greatest cities on earth!
At first glance Paris appears to be everything a city should be: clean, cosmopolitan, and welcoming. The Louvre sparkles, even when the skies are gray as they were when we first arrived. The Eiffel Tower glitters at night with bright lights that are spectacular and tasteful at the same time. The subway is cheap and easy to use, the food is divine, and the people are friendly. Yes, that's right: friendly.
But I should remind you that everything stated above was "at first glance." We barely had time for a second glance, having only spent about 36 hours breezing through the top sights. So it was more of a teaser than an actual visit. Here's a quick run-down of a whirlwind visit that I think would even make Rick Steves proud!
- March 7, 9:30 AM. Depart Leuven for Brussel-Zuid Station. Mom and dad get an "Americano" coffee to go.
- 10:10 AM. Brussel-Zuid. Scramble to get one more coffee before boarding the Thalys.
- 10:30 AM. Thalys pulls out of Station. Soon dad wanders to the cafe car for more coffee.
- 11:45 AM. Arrive in Paris Nord. Dodge the gypsies on our walk to the hotel near station.
- 12:00 PM. I attempt (in what is possibly my worst French ever) to check us in. The hotel clerk actually smiles warmly (!!!!) at my efforts and helps me through the conversation. Things are looking good!
- 12:30 PM. After dropping the bags we head for the nearest subway station and try to figure out how to get to the Louvre.
- 1:00 PM. Arrive at the Louvre with no problems. Our first view is absolutely jaw-dropping.
- 2:00 PM. After a light lunch we begin a suggested walking tour that takes us along the Seine to the beautiful Ile de la Cite. Along the way we stop at Square du Vent Galant, Ste-Chapelle, and Notre Dame.
- 5:00 PM. After a quick snack of crepes we take the metro over to the Arc de Triomphe. Mom and I walk the 500 steps up to catch a wide-sweeping view of the Champs-Elysees.
- 6:30 PM. Begin walking towards the Eiffel Tower along beautiful (and ritzy) Avenue George V.
- 8:00 PM. Take elevator up to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower to see the Paris skyline at night. Ahhhhh...
- 9:00 PM. Late dinner and return to the hotel.
- March 8, 9:00 AM. After a quick coffee it's back to the Musee du Louvre for a look at the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, along with a glancing look at literally thousands of other wonderful pieces of art.
- 12:00 PM. Grab sandwiches (mine was a delicious blue cheese ciabatta) and eat lunch "European-style" in the sun in the Louvre courtyard. We linger and enjoy.
- 1:30 PM. Wander past the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel towards the gorgeous Jardin du Carrousel. Mom begins to discuss with dad the possibility of a more extended trip to Paris next year.
- 3:30 PM. Head to the train station to catch a 4:30 train.
- 7:00 PM. Back in Leuven for dinner.
Phew! If you are still with me then you definitely have the stamina for the kind of trip we took! And what did we do on March 9? Recovered with Belgian waffles, fries, and beer.
Mom and me in front of Notre Dame
The view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Taking a break at the Arc du Triomphe.
One last look--the Jardin du Carrousel.
06 April 2007
Maybe I'm just in a sour mood because I'm about to make my first trip to the dentist in almost a year. But, really George, WHY?
05 April 2007
(I admit this last picture isn't mine, but it was the view I had of Mount Rainier on my flight back the other day!)