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Friday, February 27, 2015

Do you like to plan ahead?

Do you also take pleasure in planning? I do, and so does my sister.

We have great fun on Sunday afternoons planning our next stay away from home. Like last Sunday, when we were busy comparing prices for hotels and planes for a trip to Sweden and Gotland. We'd like to go there in the summer of 2016.

Or spend entire days and weeks looking for paints, and textures when we are redecorating.

Our greatest fun was when we bought a new flat on plan and could watch it being built. And then afterwards, chosing the furniture, the color of the wallpaper, ....

Perhaps we should have started a company, because there are lots of people who don't like to do all these things.

Which kind of person are you?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Belgium at war against Facebook

Our Belgian ministers have begun a fight against Facebook. In their view, Facebook uses too much of our personal data. They use pictures you take in advertising, watch which sites you visit and then offer advertising just for that (I know, every time I look for a hotel on Booking.com, this hotel pops up on my page already an hour later), sell your info to third parties, allow discriminating video's to be seen by all, etc.



Our ministers think this is infringing our privacy too much. Facebook should learn what is allowed and what is not!

Therefore, they have begun action, along with some other (small) countries in Europe. I wonder if they'll be able to pull this off. What do you think? Are you bothered by the lack of privacy on Facebook?

Personally, I'm not - but then I don't put up much personal info on my page.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Where is the world going to?

Lately, I've noticed that some people are getting more and more crazy. Tbere are no boundaries for their lunacy anymore. Take those fools of IS, who murder at random. Another example is the fool who is threatening food chain Delhaize. He wants to get money (for what? for having his credit card declined because his credit line was overdrawn?) and if he doesn't get it, he'll kill 5 people at random. He has already thrown acid into the face of a cleaning woman at a supermarket in Antwerp.

Can you believe this? What are all those fools thinking?

Another thing that worries me is how more and more youngsters take their own life. Committing suicide at 13, can you believe it? Two days ago, another victim became known. A young boy who was bullied at school. And the parents blame the school, of course! (I think that is the worst part of it.) When a teacher notices some kids bullying another, he or she will intervene of course. But a child should not be bullied. Where is the use of calling someone names if that person doesn't pay credit to what they're saying?

My sister and I were raised to think for our own. We were made aware of all that could go wrong, and how to react on it. That is the task of good parents. And believe me, both of us could have been bullied at school. My sister was a little bit too fat, and I had a bad eye (even with an operation by the best physician of that time, it still isn't what it should be now). But nobody called us names. They knew what would happen. I can bring down someone both physically or by words only. This ability to use my words freely has often helped me in my classes. Cracking a joke can disarm possible dangerous situations, you know. An example: of of my nutcases at a given moment jumped off his seat and ran to the window (third floor of the school). He opened the window, put one leg out of it and then turned to me. "What are you going to do now?" he asked tautingly. So I replied: "Nothing, of course. I'm not going to crack my back by holding back your weight." And the whole class laughed. The guy closed the window and returned to his seat. (Well, later on he murdered an old woman just for a few Euro.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Everyone talks about... sex

I don't know about you guys, but lately it has come to my notice that more and more people seem to be talking about sex. There are programs on tv where the lenght of a penis is discussed in public (and the next day, the papers were full of it) and one of the stations has a program where couples are forced to have sex daily...

I'm not a prude (far from it) but I don' see why sex is so important. As a teacher (now retired) I have seen enough young girls of 14-15 coming to school in outfits fit for hookers. It's what they see on tv and film of course, but I don't think it is proper. I've known a girl who wore ultra-short skirts and had practically nothing to cover her breasts, and then she came and complained to me the boys wouldn't leave her alone. I gave her the advice to lenghten her skirts and wear blouses that only had a minor decoltage. It helped.

I don't want to say that all men are obsessed with sex and would violate you when you're dressed like a hooker (a girl has the right to chose her own clothing) but you just have to know for yourself what is sexy and what is decent enough. A dress closed up to your chin can be just as sexy as something that doesn' t cover your body. It has all to do with style.

I never wore skirts that were too short or blouses that left my cleavage, and I got more than enough interest from the boys. I'm rather classic in my way of dressing, still are. I prefer clothes with style and which are comfortable to wear.

And lately, I've come to think that sex is of little importance. To be right honest, it's not better than having a good meal, or sitting on top of a horse in full gallop, or racing down a ski slope.... I think chocolate has more kick than sex. I know people who say they can't understand how nuns and monks can go without sex. Well, I can. Your body doesn't need it, that's why. It's fun but there are other sources of amusement.

What's your take?




Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Last day of the carnival

Exactly at noon, carnival will be over for another year. You do like carnival, or you don't.

For the die-hard fans it were four days of festivities and not sleeping a lot. Especially in towns like Aalst carnival is a must. Also here in Heist the fishermen celebrate carnival quite heavily. Well, you can understand that. Their lives are hard and they never know whether or not they'll return frm sea. That is why they start their carnival with a mass for those lost on sea.



This year, the carnival makers had a lot of fun with politics (as usual) but also IS (and more especially Jejoen Bontinck) were target of fun. Because when you can't laugh at things, you better be dead, they say.

I'm not much a lover of carnival. I find it foolish to dress up in a silly costume and go out drinking for a couple of days. Not my thing. I prefer a good dinner or just being at home, with a glass of wine and good company.

What about you?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Secrets: Diary of a Gutsy Teen

After the success of her previous novel,The Truth, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein launches a next book in the Gutsy Teen Diaries: Secrets

To mark this launch, the author is doing a virtual book blast tour with Goddess Fish Promotions on Monday 16th February. She is also giving away a $20 Amazon/B&N gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter, via Rafflecopter. Please use this code:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f845/



Blurb

Following in the footsteps of The Truth, Secrets: Diary of a Gutsy Teen begins as the thirteen-year-old protagonist makes a move with her family to a new town. She has grown up a lot over the past year—and has made a list of everything that’s important to her now that she doesn’t want to forget when she gets older. But now, as she enters her early teen years, she begins to write down the secrets she wants to keep—and the ones she has no one to tell about. From new school experiences to a new baby in the family to a new crush, this new teen finally feels empowered on making her own decisions with confidence and keeping those secrets she holds dearest for herself.

In a positive and supportive diary-entry format, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein encourages tween and early teen girls to carry the most precious parts of themselves into adulthood. A great book for mothers and daughters to read together, Secrets is aimed to improve communication, understanding, and self-esteem for young girls as they enter the rocky road of teenager-dom.


Excerpt

Date: June 27
Dear Diary,
I can’t believe it. Today we moved, and I feel like I’m in a dream. I just keep walking around our new house and wondering when we will go home. It feels so different and strange.

Everything is on one floor (that’s called a ranch house). The floors are all bare wood. My mom said our rugs would look terrible here so she let the people who bought our old house keep them. I think she was probably right. They were a dark maroon and the walls here are a light cream. I don’t think that would look good.

I went to the bathroom three times since we got here and every time I used a different
bathroom. I can’t believe it. Three different toilets in the same house! Only my friend
Susan, my rich friend, had more than two bathrooms in her house. And four bedrooms!
And a family room. I can’t believe we have this much space now.

When I look out of the windows I expect to see the shrubs and the Hudson’s house who were next to us on the left, but I don’t. Instead, I see a big open field that will probably have houses built on it by next year. That’s what my dad said anyway. And when I look out to the right I expect to see our clothesline and the Dixon’s driveway, but instead I see rose bushes and a wooden bench under a tree that the last owners said we
could have.

Tonight, we had to eat supper off paper plates and use plastic forks, knives, and
spoons because our boxes are still packed. My aunt made us a big picnic basket full of
food and that’s what we ate for supper. It was delicious. There was fried chicken, potato salad and potato chips, cupcakes for dessert, and fruit salad. And at the bottom of the basket under the ice was a whole package of Hershey Kisses. Yum!

My brother already started to play with a kid next door who’s about a year older than he
is. He’s so lucky. I have no new friends yet and that’s the truth!



Author bio and links

I have been a positive psychologist in private practice for the past thirty years. In the course of working with my clients, I originated the idea of THE ENCHANTED SELF(R), a positive psychology therapy where I teach people how to recognize and utilize their strengths, talents, skills and even lost potential. I have developed a number of methods, including using our memories to rediscover what is right about ourselves and our lives, rather than what went wrong, helping people to overcome adversity, experience positive emotions and live the good life!

Since developing this concept, I've been able to use many tools to bring the Enchanted Self to everyone, particularly women and girls. I've written many books, starting with THE ENCHANTED SELF, A Positive Therapy, and then Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!  My books for girls are very popular, as they are great fictional reads and also help deal with many of the questions that trouble kids as they move into the tween and teen years.  The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween and Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen are the first two books in this series.

I really love to teach and educate about happiness and how to benefit from positive psychology in ways that let us lead lives of meaning and happiness. You can find me all over the place on the web. In particular, www.enchantedself.com, www.thetruthforgirls.com, on Facebook at Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein: Psychologist & Author, on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/barbarabeckerho/ and on You Tube. Just look for me on You Tube via Barbara Becker Holstein.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The top-3 Flemish dishes

Some weeks ago, famous TV cook Jeroen Meeus (from the daily program 'Dagelijkse Kost' = your daily food) asked his viewers to come up with a list of their favorite dishes, as soon he'll be doing his 1000th show. That week, he'll only cook the traditional and most beloved dished of the Flemings.

Today, he announced the top-3 of this program:

3. Steak with salad and pommes frites



2. Ham rolls with chicory



1. Flemish stew with pommes frites



If you feel hungry, come over to Belgium - most restaurant serve these dishes (and we also make them often at home).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Flu epidemy

Here in Flanders, more and more people are going down with the flu. Primary schools are finding it hard to replace teachers who have turned ill.

Some time ago I too wasn't feeling well, but now I'm really down with the flu! I have a temperature, am coughing up my lungs and my entire body feels as if it's being dragged along a brick road. Yeah, not funny!

So bear with me for placing just short messages now. Once I'm better I'll get back into my writing mode and blog like always.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

From Me to You

A Belgian housewife has come up with an original idea to bring back some goodwill into the world. "There is so much of negativism," she claims. "I want to bring some light again."

What does she do? She puts down a little present (does't have to cost anything, it can be self-made) somewhere, with a message attached. Then she waits until she sees the present being picked up.


Most people enjoy finding an unexpected present, and will put down one for others as well.

The idea is already well-spread in our country, but now it's going abroad to France and Germany and also to the United States.

So if you want to be original, go and spread presents!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Broken Dreams

Good morning! Today I'd like to introduce you to author Nancy Pennick. Nancy has written Broken Dreams, a YA historical romance which became available from January 29th, from Fire & Ice publishers.This is a YA imprint of Melange Books.

Today Nancy is doing a book blast tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. For this occasion she will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment, and stand a chance to win:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f815/



Blurb

Two friends...
Blood sisters till the end... 
Until they're not.


One cold night in a boarding school dorm, two fourteen-year-old girls make a blood sister pact. Friends forever. As young schoolgirls, they're determined to find true love, learning the hits and misses along the way. As graduation nears, the girls have different outlooks for the future. Lucinda longs for adventure. Anna chooses city life and marriage. Finding their way back together, the girls head west for an experience of a lifetime until a handsome cowboy bursts into their lives, changing the course of their friendship forever.

Excerpt

Anna shook her head. “I’m glad it’s over.” She slowly closed her eyes and took the deepest breath possible. “But I’m proud of myself. I hate the sight of blood, but it was worth it.” She lifted her left hand to examine the cut. Blood trailed down her finger.

Lucinda also raised her left hand. Her middle finger dripped with blood. “Then let’s get started.” She lit a tall taper candle on the table. The flame flickered slightly giving the darkened room a mystical glow. “On this day of January the twenty-fourth …” She stretched out her arm toward Anna. “I, Lucinda Ann Walker, being of sound mind and body, make you my blood sister.”

Anna giggled. “You make it sound so formal.” She could tell Lucinda fought back a smile, but her face stayed solemn. “Alright, then.” Anna cleared her throat. “I, Anna Grace Douglass, also being of sound mind and body, make you my blood sister in the year of our Lord, 1923.”

They positioned their hands together, fingertip-to-fingertip, mixing the blood. Anna’s finger throbbed with pain, but she felt happy. She was thrilled she decided to come to this very exclusive private boarding school on scholarship. When she met her roommate she never dreamed they’d become best friends. Lucinda’s personality was bigger than life, quite the opposite of Anna. Now five months later, they were a sorority of two.



Author bio and links

Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Nancy currently resides in Mentor, Ohio with her husband and son, plus a delightfully entertaining lovebird. Her writing is influenced by all the years of working with young people as a teacher and raising her own son. When not writing, Nancy loves to travel with her husband and enjoys a good cup of tea. Broken Dreams is a stand alone companion piece to her young adult Waiting for Dusk series.

Publisher- Fire and Ice


Links to me:
Twitter- https://twitter.com/npennick   @npennick


Wordpress blog- http://nancypennick.wordpress.com/



Links to other books:
Waiting for Dusk

Call of the Canyon
Stealing Time


FREE short story:
Taking Chances: A Waiting for Dusk Story


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Weekend again

And what do you do when you don't have to work?

Being a bit under the weather - both my sister and I - we decided to stay at home after doing our shopping (on foot) and have been searching the net.

We played some computer games first and then went looking for what's going on in the world. We already booked an extra trip to London (we had planned three trips for 2015 last year already - to La Rochelle in France, to Saint-Raphael (also France) and Rome (Italy). Now we are thinking about going another time to Dublin. During the Easter break Jersey Boys is on tour there, and the lead role is played by Tim Driesen, whom we have known for ages.

The air fare is not expensive and Dublin is a great city!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I must have done something right...

Apparently! Just heard in the news this morning that one of my former students (who was in my class for Dutch and English) has a great chance of winning the most important literary prize in the low countries.

Fikri El Azzouzi went to school in Temse, where I have worked for ten years. I taught a whole generation of youngsters there Dutch and English. But at the time I would not have thought that Fikri would amount to such heights. He was a bit lazy and did not have the right attitude.

But students can surprise you, as you can see. Others of this school have also done great things. One of my former students is now a biologist who studied in London and another has become a journalist.

I'm glad to see that lots of the guys from Temse still befriend me on Facebook. That way I can keep up with what they are doing in life. I loved teaching there and have good memories of those classes I taught - even if there were some (the biologist) who liked to set the class in uproar. One day he put a push pin on my chair... But I knew my guys, so I went to inspect the class before the lessons started - and put the pin on Ilja's chair. Have we laughed that day!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Do schools have the right to check their pupils' Facebook profiles?

Big consternation here in Belgium because a school in Aalst (a town in the province of East Flanders) has looked into the information on their students Facebook pages, and found two of them propaganding IS. Consequently, they gave the names and addresses of these two students to the police.

Not long after, a storm of protest arose. Lots of people claiming schools don't have the right to see what's on the Facebook pages. Goes against the laws of privacy, they say.

What do you think? If you are a teacher, and you find information that gives cause to concern on a (public) Facebook page of one of your pupils, isn't it your duty to report this? Or would you just pretend you hadn't seen it, and let this student go on telling the world he or she adores what IS does? Telling others they should do the same? Even join IS?

I think we teachers have a duty to protect our pupils - even against themselves. You want what is best for children (or what is considered best). I'd report abuse by parents if I knew about it. I'd do the same if one of my students is a radical and out on hurting people. Whether this is by him or her spouting racist talk in the classroom or doing it on Facebook.

It's a new medium but it can be dangerous. I always warn my students about what they put on Facebook. I knew a lot of bosses check out profiles of aspirant workers. So if you put on Facebook you hate working, there's a chance people will believe you and you won't get a job! The same goes for claiming you are going to fight in Syria. You can say it in jest, but there is an even bigger chance they'll believe you!

What do you think?


Monday, February 2, 2015

The teaching profession

This morning, I heard in the radio news that more and more teachers become ill after they'd turned 55. Last year, more absences were noted than the previous years.


Small wonder. If the government changes a lot of rules (the most important one being that you could take a form of pre-pension when you were 55, with 85% of your normal wages, named TBS) you can expect more people to become ill or depressed.

Now the former TBS can still be had, but only from age 58 - and for less than half of your wages! Who'll do that?

I'm nearing my 59th birthday, and from experience I know teaching becomes tough when you're getting older. Not that I don't like my job anymore, or can't get along with the youngsters, but it's becoming harder and harder to work full time. Classes for language teachers are big, and you have loads of administration to do.

It would be an improvement if the minister could change some of the rules for older teachers. Like doing 5 hours less and having less administration. That would make it easier to remain working until you are 65. Or use older teachers to train younger ones.

How is the situation where you live?