Categories
Blog

Connected Watches & Confinement

A few years ago, Soforah and I purchased an Apple Watch serie 2 for our wedding anniversary. At first, it was new and fun, we could track the amount of steps we walked during our lunchtimes and it looked cool on our wrists.

Not being a big fitness guy, I never used it for anything else than checking the time or tracking the daily amount of steps I walked. But still, I enjoyed it, it was a cool gadget and I love gadgets.

Then, we got confined for months and I didn’t even recharge it anymore. Why would I? I am home all the time and I don’t wear a watch at home, it would make me feel uncomfortable, like wearing shoes inside.

We had planned to purchase the latest Apple Watch (which was announced yesterday evening) as a New Year’s Eve gift, but I really don’t see any reason to spend 400,00€ for something that will stay on my bedside table 99% of the time. Even if the confinement ends (you never know), I still work from home 3 days a week, which brings the grand total of days outside to 2, it’s a little bit weak to justify such an expanse.

Now I know that the definition of a gadget is something you don’t really need, but still you should at least use it…

All in all, I start to wonder if I shouldn’t go back to wearing Swatch watches. I’ve been wearing them since the 80s and I love them. Also, they don’t need to be recharged every 2 days, which is still a big plus for something that’s supposed to give you the time.

Categories
Blog

ACNH made me do it!

After a very unpleasant experience with Pixelmator Pro, followed by an OKish experience with Affinity Photo, I finally subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud. After all these years screaming that I would never pay a monthly fee to use a software, why did I finally do it?

Well, it wasn’t a comparison spreadsheets on Reddit, no Sir… What truly got me are the Lightroom presets for Animal Crossing made by creative folks like Saturn and quinn on Twitter. Yep, you read it correctly: I now pay 12,00€/month to Adobe because I want to make my Animal Crossing screenshots look cute.

After a few days of using the combo Lightroom/Photoshop on my Mac, my Ipad and my Iphone, I’ve learned a few things:

  • Adobe softwares are the most intuitive, I found back my PS automatisms faster then it took me to develop new ones on any other software;
  • If you read online comparisons between Photoshop and its alternatives, you don’t really do it for the results. You do it because you don’t want to pay a monthly fee and you need to be comforted in the idea that you won’t be using Adobe softwares anymore;
  • 12,00€ is cheaper than the enamel pin I buy from Etsy each month (now, I’m convincing myself).
Categories
Blog DIY

Frappuccino

Last week, during the first heatwave of this summer, Chris and I were dreaming about a good refreshing frappuccino. The first time we’ve drank this cold delight was years ago at Starbucks, when they still had a lactose free version of this drink. Years later, we’re still craving for a cold “coffee” beverage for summer so, we decided to order a blender that can crush ice, and make a perfect frappuccino.

Yesterday was quite a hot Saturday, too hot to do anything so, we lazied up, hanging in the couch while sipping from our jar of frappuccino, and re-watching Breaking Bad.

After a few experiments, this is our favourite recipe until now (for 2 persons):

  • 2 cups of coffee;
  • 2 cups of lactose free milk;
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar;
  • 12 ice cubes.

It’s very easy to make too, just throw all the ingredients into the blender, and a few seconds later it’s done. I know that a lot of people add whipped cream, and a whole bunch of other stuff, but both Chris and I prefer our food as simple as possible.

Yesterday was an amazing day, and I’m ready to have more of those. Let the summer begin!

Categories
Blog

17th Wedding Anniversary

17 years ago, I was getting married to my soulmate, my partner in crime, Inge (aka Soforah). Much has happened since then, we’ve changed apartments a few times, we’ve moved to another town, Inge has found a new job… Some things haven’t changed, we’re still the same geeks who enjoy to game and watch TV together. Inge has changed my life for the best and I only wish to be as good to her as she is to me. I am a lucky man.

Categories
Blog Movies

A R’lyeh Great Easter

In the summer of ’94, I started hanging out with some school mates that apparently were into roleplaying. One day, a bunch of us had planned to hang out in the attic room of my best friends’ old house, where they surprised me with a campaign of Call of Cthulhu. I had never heard about H.P. Lovecraft and his universe before, but since that day I’m a huge fan.

When the movie “Color out of Space” came out, Chris and I wanted to keep it for a special occasion. This Easter holiday, I thought it would be a great idea to make it a Cthulhu inspired day.

We first opened a good bottle of wine and enjoyed the beautiful weather on our balcony. It was a great moment, and Chris even got a little sunburn.

After that we crashed in the couch, and started watching “Color out of Space”. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect of the movie, I was too afraid to watch the trailer and get disappointed. Never have I been this wrong, the movie was stunning! It was so great, I don’t even know where to begin. The direction and cinematography were meticulous, alongside with a screenplay written as it should be in honour of the work of Lovecraft.

The casting was perfect, no one can portray a man taken over by insanity like Nicolas Cage does. The man is craziness incarnate, just too bad for his overacting which grows tiresome at times. Also, props for the witchy elements which they made look darker than I initially expected. I actually love all about this movie, it was surreal, disturbing, visually pleasing, and the horrific creatures were beyond grotesque.

All I can say at this point is that I can’t wait to watch this movie again. A perfect tribute to H.P. Lovecraft. Just one question though: what’s up with the alpacas? I know they’re funny, but of all animals, alpacas?

To finish the day in beauty, we watched the H.P Lovecraft documentary “Fear of the Unknown” during the dinnertime. It’s a 1 hour and 29 minutes documentary on Youtube where writer Neil Gaiman, filmmaker John Carpenter and others discuss the life and legacy of Lovecraft. When I saw the time stamp of 2007, I was baffled that it took me 13 years before even hearing about this documentary. Nevertheless, it was highly interesting, and perfect to end this Lovecraftian Easter.

Categories
Blog

Three Weeks

These last 3 weeks have been some of the strangest weeks of my life. It all started on a Tuesday, I woke up having flu like symptoms, with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, I had to contact my doctor. He decided that I was infected and had to stay in quarantine until I was fully recovered. We are three weeks later now, and I finally start feeling better, and better each day.

When I look back at the last 3 weeks, everything seems like a blur, some moments were lucid, others have become blank spaces in my memory due to the fever. During the moments that I was lucid, a lot has been going on in my mind though. It has been quite a long time that I needed to rethink my life, and so I did. Between my soul searching and dreaming about tropical destinations, I’ve watched a lot of TV-shows and movies. But more about those later since I tend to make a blog post of most of the things I watch.

This pandemic is until now the biggest world crisis that I’ve ever lived through, and it’s about the weirdest time to be alive. A world wide quarantine situation that forces the people to stay inside with only essential shops like supermarkets and pharmacies that may remain opened, social distancing, and the police fining the people that don’t respect the measures. You can’t go outside without a valid reason, and if you do you need to wear a mask and gloves.

While some people are completely negligent, others are in panic. I have to admit that, at this point, I stopped reading too much about it because I don’t want to live in panic either. We just deal with it, and ration our supplies as much as possible even though some things are hard to come by in these times such as medication, toilet paper, soap, masks, gloves,…

Last week I bought a sewing machine so I can make masks myself. It was quite the thing to setup since I never used such a machine before, but I managed to make one mask with old sheets and ribbons from old PJ-pants. It doesn’t look like much, but at least we have a mask for when Chris needs to do the shopping on Tuesday. That’s the one thing that scares the living hell out of me, that something would happen to my better half.

On the bright side of all this is that I learned to use a sewing machine, and our planet seems to recover thanks to the lockdown. The air is so much fresher, and it’s the first time since I live in Brussels that the sky looks blue without the blurry effect of the smog. It makes me think so much about the global warming and pollution, and how everyone can make a big difference with little effort. I wonder what the world will look like after all this, are things going to change for real or are people just going to pick back up from where they’ve left? Only time can tell!

For me personally, a lot has changed during this pandemic, and all in a positive direction. Meanwhile let’s try to stay safe so we can live and tell the tale.

Categories
Blog

The swings on the playground don’t even fit me anymore

I was 17 years-old when Smells like Teen Spirit came out. I had friends who were also into grunge music, we were spending all of our time together and we were going twice (sometimes even three times) a week to a bar that was filled with other grunge people, most of whom were playing in bands. We had goatees, we were wearing t-shirts of bands and flannel shirts and we were living around grunge music. We didn’t give a damn about much, all that mattered to us was to get drunk on loud music and to give the world the middle finger.

We were meeting new people all the time, at concerts, at bars, at parties, everywhere there was beer and music. My friends even bought a van and we were coming back from music festivals with more people than we came with.

Eventually, everything started to change… The essence of being grunge was to be alternative and, when everything started to turn commercial, most people moved on… Some of us got jobs, other moved on to electro music, the world changed again and, just as it came, the grunge era disappeared.

Even if alternative music still exists, the new sound is different. It’s hard to explain, but something simple and pure that belonged to that time is gone. The 90s had their very own soul, something that can’t ever be reproduced.

Inge, who’s from another part of Belgium, has lived the same experience. More than two decades later, we still both prefer our grunge playlist than the new alternative music.

I wanted to write a post about Star Trek: Picard, but I realized that my feelings toward the franchise are very close to my feelings towards music. That’s why I just rained my teenage nostalgia over you.

Before going any further, let me get this straight: TNG, Voyager and DS9 are the only real Star Trek to me. Some will agree, some will stop reading my blog, but that’s my ST world and no argument will change that.

Voyager controls are more “Star Trek”

Those three shows were simple, each episode was a little adventure in itself. It wasn’t overloaded with CGI or modern tricks to make the experience more futuristic. A simple crew, with an incredible alchemy, living simple adventures in space, that’s what Star Trek is and will always be to me.

Just as with grunge music, the world of Star Trek has lost its simplicity and, with it, all that made it a show that I could watch every Sunday evening until my last day.

Picard is a good science-fiction show but, even if I was very happy to see Seven of Nine, Riker and Troy back, it isn’t Star Trek to me.

I could continue my analogy but I think that you get my point. Modern days have brought many good things, but complicated scenarios in TV, sophisticated sounds in music and CGI overload in cinema came at the cost of simplicity. And, to me, it seems that we’ve lost more than we’ve won.

Categories
Blog

20 Years Ago

On the first of April 2000, I started working at my office. I had spent 2 years searching for a job in my hometown, without success. When I finally applied for jobs in Brussels, my employer (not sure I can disclose) contacted me for a one year contract. 20 years later, I still sit on the same chair.

The office has changed a lot in twenty years. At that time, people (me included) could still smoke while working. What a chocking sight it must be for nowadays folks to see a full ashtray beside the keyboard. By then, it was totally normal. There was only one computer for the entire office, no internet connection and no home-working. We had drinks every Friday afternoon and we were spending our lunchtimes at the pub next door.

A drink at the office, 17 years ago.

I spent my first salary on a colour printer and the first picture I printed was a picture of Björk. Only three months later, I was moving to my first place, which was more of a studio than an apartment, but I loved it. I lived there alone for two years, I was playing a lot of Counter-Strike and drinking a lot of beer.

The world has also changed much. Everybody has a smartphone now, when I started working I was the only one of my office to own a cel phone, a Nokia 5110. I was still renting movies on VHS, video clubs have long been replaced by streaming services. Not everyone had internet at home, now it has become a necessity.

In 20 years, I got married to my soulmate , I quit smoking and I almost don’t drink anymore. However, even if the world around me has changed a lot, I haven’t changed much. PC gaming is still my thing, I still watch a lot of TV and I’m still more interested by Reddit’s most popular posts than by the news (which I still don’t watch).

It feels like yesterday that I entered my office for the first time, nervous and dressed with the suit I had bought for the university exams. The song I was the most listening to was Bouga – Belsunce Breakdown and my head was filled clichés from Matrix. While I realised that I am not Neo (I swear), my head is still filled with the same cyber-dreams as it was before.

I wonder what the next 20 years will be filled with. By then, I’ll probably be getting close to retirement, if such there’s still such a thing and if the world still exists…

Categories
Blog Video Games

Countdown to ACNH

Tomorrow Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be released, and as you can see, I am ready for it!

With the COVID-19 pandemic, my flu-like symptoms and quarantine, this couldn’t be a better timing. If you would have told me at the beginning of the new year that the whole world would be on a lockdown at some point due to a deadly virus, I would have laughed, thinking you watch way too much survival stuff on TV. Yet, here we are, and it would be pretty boring if it were not for netflix and video games. So yes, ACNH is more than welcome at this very moment.

Categories
Blog

Strange Times

Since New Year’s eve, I’ve been concerned with many things but the pandemic wasn’t one of them.

Today is the first day that I have to stay home because of the virus. In fact, I’ve just received a mail from the manager of my team, we officially don’t have access to the office anymore.

Half of me feels like Ferris Bueller, the other half like Rick Grimes.

The building and the street are very quiet. The neighbours are not slamming their doors, you can’t hear many cars in the street, the kids are not shouting on their way back from school, even the birds seem more silent than usual.

It should feel strange, it just feels good. The world is on pause.

I haven’t been posting much since the beginning of 2020… I was too busy being adrift, but all it took to put an end to my inertia was a worldwide crisis. Or was it the near release of Doom Eternal?