670 days of plague; and 19,989 days of me

So, as I expected, infection rates in Belgium have continued to soar, now almost 50% higher than the previous record; but the other numbers remain fairly stable, hospitalisations drifting slowly upwards at 10% ish a week, ICU numbers slowly decreasing, deaths likewise – the death rate reported for 14 January was the lowest since 30 October. And even the rise in infections seems to be decelerating. So I am fairly confident in expecting a significant relaxation of the restrictions in the next couple of weeks.

Myself, I was not feeling well for most of last week, which I put down to a slow reaction to the booster shot; I had to retreat to bed on Tuesday afternoon and again for most of the day on Friday. Fortunately it was a slower week than expected at work – one particular client crisis, something we had been anxiously anticipating for months, turned out to be a damp squib on Thursday, much to everyone’s relief. I have been feeling better this weekend, and got out yesterday to an exhibition at the M Museum in Leuven on therelationship between humanity and the universe, featuring a couple of really interesting loaned exhibits.

These are the Hamangian thinkers. They were made about 5000 BC, so they are 7000 years old. They were found in a grave in Dobruja, Romania, in 1956, and are normally in Bucharest at the National Museum of History. Most prehistoric art relates to fertility or hunting. These two are just a man and a woman, sitting there and thinking. They have had a lot to think about in seven millennia.

The telescope lens through which Christiaan Huygens discovered Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, in 1655.

The other thing occupying my time has been preparing the vote for this year’s Hugo award nominations, which went live a few minutes ago. Apart from the usual hassle of adapting existing templates to 2022’s needs, we had to integrate a couple of late rule changes (DisCon III, last year’s Worldcon, was only a month ago). This is now my fifth time on this particular gig, and while we now have established software solutions (the front end designed for CoNZealand in 2020, the back end designed for Worldcon 75 in Helsinki in 2017) there’s always something new to implement. Not being a programmer, my role is partly shouting encouragement from the sidelines but more importantly making sure that the software delivers what we need.

Speaking of time, back in September 1994 in Belfast we had a party to mark my being 10,000 days old. (27 years and 4 ½ months.) I’ve worked out that I will hit the 20,000 day mark on the 27th of this month. (54 ¾ years.) It’s bad timing for holding a celebration – Anne and F both have exams, and Wednesdays rather than Thursdays are my current days in Brussels. Still I’ll mark the date, and maybe hope for a more party-friendly situation when my actual birthday comes round in April.

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