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Erick Van Houtte’s blog is moving to

I have worked to clean-up and better structure my website (  This structuring is enabling me to align the blog that has a “WordPress” address to be integrated with my website.  The look and feel of the website is still different from the blog (and still in process of being refined…I am testing different themes).  The new blog is actually still running an WordPress, but drops the address.

You can now access my blog at the following address:

If you are currently subscribed, I kindly ask you to re-subscribe at the new address.  I will keep both going for a while…a few months, but plan on shutting down the blog at the “WordPress” address in July.

I’d love to hear your comments on the “Themes” you like and recommend.  The current theme is cool, but dark.  I like lite and slick, but need to find one that has the features and functions I need.  This current theme does.  This weekend I will explore how to change the colors.

Thank you for your understanding.


To be explicit:

– current blog URL is:

– new blog URL is:


Eclair…mascotte à Vélizy

Eclair à la plage

(English version below)

Durant notre assignation en France, notre fils est allé à une merveilleuse petite école…nous donnant l’impression d’être dans la France d’il y a 100 ans.  Sa maitresse, Mme Dubel, nous a fait ressentir tout le meilleur de la France.  Le plus émotif de notre voyage…l’expérience vécu avec l’école Jean Macé de Vélizy-bas…incroyable

La classe de notre fils a une mascotte…Éclair…un petit nounours adorable.  À chaque weekend, un élève de la classe l’emmène à la maison, s’en occupe, vie une petite aventure, prends des photos et raconte son histoire au retour à l’école.  Toute la famille participe.  Nous avons eu la chance d’avoir Éclair le weekend de Pâques, donc trois jours.  Il était difficile d’être indifférent.

Dans le contexte de « Molière à Westford, » nous voulons proposer la même idée : une mascotte avec laquelle que chaque enfant pourra passer quelques jours de souvenir et contribuer à l’histoire de notre communauté.

La décision à prendre : quel animal sera notre mascotte?  À ne pas oublier, il lui faut un béret ou un petit maillot de marin 😉

Dans un prochain post….un peu plus sur l’école Jean Macé de Vélizy-Villacoublay.


While on assignment in France, our son went to a marvelous little school that made us feel we were 100 years ago.  His class teacher, Mrs. Dubel, helped us discover all that is good about France.  The most emotional aspect of our trip…the experience with the Jean Macé little school of Vélizy-bas…incredible!

The class has a mascot…Éclair…an adorable teddy bear.  Each weekend, one fo the students brings him home, takes care of him, lives a little adventure, takes pictures and tells the story once back in school.  The entire family participates.  We were fortunate enough to have Éclair during Easter weekend, so three days.  Quite difficult to be indifferent about the experience!

Within context of “Molière à Westford,” we propose the following: have our own mascot that each children can also bring home for a few days of memories and contribute to the story of our community.

The decision we must take: what animal as a mascot?  Not to forget, he must wear a beret or a traditional French navy uniform 😉

In a next post…a little more on the Vélizy-Villacoublay Jean Macé school.

Update on current activities – Mise à jour des activités courantes

(version française suit)

With the translation of the Van Houtte Family story, the Molière à Westford blog and the within Context project, I should be writing more content and providing more frequent updates.  This post is an update to help followers know what is going on and to keep you interested …. to be a little patient with me…

  1. our assignment in France is ending in a few days.  We have been fully engaged in the return plans to the USA, which includes immigration, moving (international !), and the usual income tax – particularly complicated as a Canadian citizen, on VISA in the USA on assignment in France);
  2. saying goodbye to everyone in France.  A Fantastic experience that contributed to many things (most good, some not so) such as the creation of ‘Shakespeare in Vélizy‘ leading to ‘Molière in Westford;’
  3. the day-to-day with children…
  4. and….I dived deeply into making and the blogs, make sense.  I do not want the blogs to be babble, I want them to have purpose…
  5. so the within Context blog is taking on a particular life.  Since this is a blog and website that will be a collaborative project with others, I am taking additional care to set it up properly…almost done.

The above is the situation.  We will be taking a little vacation in in Spain in two weeks, and I suspect I will have time to work on the Van Houtte Family story.  When we land in the USA, ‘Molière in Westford‘ will be much more active; on that subject, I plan on making the connection with ‘Shakespeare in Vélizy‘ stronger as there is good reason to share.

That’s it.  Over the next few days I will provide a specific update to each subject.  Thank you for your understanding and continued support…..


Avec la traduction de l’histoire de la Famille Van Houtte, le blogue ‘Molière à Westford’ et le projet within Context, je devrais écrire plus de contenu et faires des mises à jour plus souvent.

Ce post est une mise à jour pour vous aider à comprendre ce qui ce passe et vous garder intéressé….d’être un peu patient.

  1. Notre assignation en France ce termine dans quelques jours.   Nous sommes complètement sur la planification du retour aux USA, ce qui inclut l’immigration et le déménagement (international!), en plus de la préparation du rapport d’impôts – particulièrement compliqué car nous sommes des citoyens Canadiens, en VISA au USA en assignation en France;
  2. Dire au revoir à tout le monde en France.  Une expérience fantastique qui à contribuée à toutes sortes d’émotions (des bonnes et des moins bonnes), telle que la création de ‘Shakespeare in Vélizy’ qui a mené à ‘Molière à Westford;’
  3. Le quotidien avec les enfants…
  4. Et…j’ai plongé dans la mise en place de et les blogues pour qu’ils aient du sens.  Je ne veux pas un site et des blogues de blabla, je veux qu’ils aient une vraie raison d’être…
  5. Donc le blogue with/inContext prends sa propre forme.  Étant donnée que c’est un blogue et un site web qui sera mise à place avec d’autres personnes, je mets une attention particulière pour que le tout soit bien structuré…c’est presque terminé.

C’était la situation.

Dans deux semaines, nous allons prendre prendre une courte vacance en Espagne, et je devrais avoir le temps de travailler sur la traduction de l’histoire de la famille Van Houtte.  Une fois aux USA, ‘Molière à Westford’ sera plus actif; sur le sujet, je prévois faire une connexion avec ‘Shakespeare in Vélizy’ car il y a de bons fondements pour partager.

C’est tout pour le moment.  Dans les jours qui suivront, je vais faire une mise à jour spécifique sur chaque sujet.  Merci pour votre compréhension et votre soutient continue….

How to be spontaneous with virtual teams/working from home?

In the early 90s, as computers were really starting to be accessible and the Internet was emerging, a trend was accelerating:  work from home offices.

At that time, a friend of mine started a business with two other people to help businesses set-up remote environments for their teams, with the biggest challenge being “psychological.”

  • How could a manager manage people he/she never or rarely saw?
  • How could you trust employees you could not see?
  • Could an employee survive without daily supervision….and interaction?
  • How was company culture maintained?

For the last ten (10) years, we have figured the above are not such a problem.  There are also many guides on how to effectively work from home (whether a one-person business or part of a large corporation):

  • get up in the morning and prepare like going to the office
  • have a dedicated room used ONLY for work and fully equipped for work
  • etc

There are tools to facilitate communication and collaboration

  • File sharing  like SharePoint or even Dropbox
  • Instant messaging with Communicator or Messenger
  • Practical tools like Evernote or OneNote
  • Conferencing tools like WebEx or JoinMe
  • Social Media….indeed…for business, though still being really figured out.

One subject is not resolved and requires a little more thinking….how to handle spontaneity in the virtual world!

Very mature organizations have the discipline to understand and respect that not everyone is in the same building, same floor, same room….interactions are very different when you are face-to-face or via a camera or just a telephone.  Structure is important for a sustainable business.  As much as spontaneity has its merits, you cannot run a company on it….But…(capital B), there is much to say about impromptu meetings.  How many times have you clarified a nagging issue walking down the hall, running into someone accidentally and asking an ad hoc question?  How many times have you peered into your partner’s/manager’s/co-worker’s/employee’s office for a 12 minute white-boarding discussion and come out with a clearer thought to help you act and make decisions more effectively?

within Context of remote versus proximity:

  • in a mature organization/function, with established processes, structure, governance, tools and management….where operations are regular as clockwork, little proximity is required.  People know what to do, onboarding is straightforward, tasks are clear…age-old clear.
  • in a start-up, during a period of change/transformation, with many new faces….spontaneity and informal meetings are essential

The question:  in today’s reality, how do you do spontaneity effectively, preserving context, when proximity is not possible?

Think about this one…as it is a fundamental of within Context.  If you have some ideas, let’s share!

Preparing the Return Home

My assignment in France is ending April 30, 2012.  Focus over past weeks has been planning the return trip (new childcare for children…again, moving logistics, plane, transition at work, and also some R&R).  Soon enough, we’ll be back home in Massachusetts, starting up the BBQ…with all our friends and neighbors.

This has impacted the progress on the Van Houtte story… truth, my “writing/translation time” time has been dedicated on reworking my website (  and my online platform.  Have a look at the website and let me know what you think.  Though there is still work to do, I feel much more comfortable.  I have learned a great deal over the past months to set-up and plan an online platform.

Added to the Van Houtte story is the addition of the “Molière à Westford” community and blog (accessible on this site under the category of the same name).  With our return to the USA, this has become a priority for very personal reasons….family first!  In this case, my wife and children (sorry to the rest of the Van Houttes, but this little group is MY priority).

Added to the two above is the “within Context” blog.  This one is truly a subject of strong interest and passion, so I will definitely commit to it.

As in everything, 80% of the work is in the planning stages (what nobody sees).  This is what I have been doing.  The production stage is now going to become more active.

Think and Act within Context for …

I’m not busy enough:

  • a 4-year old and a 30-month old
  • a more than busy job
  • after one year on assignment in France, planning the return home(and then some)
  • translating a book (the Van Houtte Family story)
  • start a French-speaking community for our children in Westford, MA – back home (see the Molière à Westford category).

So why not start something else?  What?  Another community, another blog!

This time, it is a little more professional.  I have my strengths and my weaknesses.


  • Help Management (I’ll get to that later)
  • Enable others to succeed (yes, quite particular, but enough people have told me so)
  • Management Reporting for analysis….for decision making.  Thus my tag line, which I have used for as long as most people know me (Think and Act within Context for … Effective Decision MakingEfficient OperationsSimplified Technology, Organization and Process)


  • more than many, less than some

Well then, what about this new blog (which is more of a category for now; if enough people are interested, I’ll create a new dedicated blog).

Here is what this is about:

  • The use of methods, office productivity tools and expertise to help Think and Act within Context.
  • When looking for information on the Internet, the answer is either lost in virtual space, is too technical, is on the site of a consultant wanting to sell their services, on an unknown blog you must join, or not precise enough
  • Provide a source for Executives and Managers, Teams or Individuals for … Effective Decision MakingEfficient OperationsSimplified Technology, Organization and Process.
  • How to best use tools such as MS Office, Dropbox or SugarSync, OneNote or EverNote, Hotmail and SkyDrive or iCloud, Outlook or public webmail (gmail,, etc) or private webmail, on Mac, Windows, IOS, Android, on the cloud (or not), hosted website vs a blog, etc – or all of the above together.

I’m a non-technical Power User of the technologies and constantly look for means to improve my effectiveness and efficiency.  When I want to do something specific, I quickly discover I have to figure it out on my own or with my trusted network of experts.

Consequently, I want to provide this source of knowledge so that other people like me (us) can also benefit.  Technical people are welcome, but this is not to provide technical expertise, there are plenty of sources for this.

This subject is now launched.  Let’s see where we can go from here.

If you want to follow this, just comment.

Retour aux USA de la France en Mai 2012

Ce premier ‘post’ n’est que le début.  Nous retournons à la maison, Westford, Massachusetts USA en mai 2012.  Dès notre retour, nous allons activement poursuivre la réussite de cette communauté.

Si vous habitez Westford MA ou une ville avoisinante, nous vons invitons à commenter sur le blog.

La première action pour ce blogue étant de “l’ouvrir”, ce qui est fait, il faut maintenant l’animer…le faire vivre.  Ceci nécessite du temps, et surtout, des participants.

Nous (notre petite famille de quatre) sommes encore en France, avec un retour prévue à Westford, MA USA pour le mois de mai prochain.  Les enfants iront probablement dans un daycare de Westford (Next Generation Children’s Center – NGCC de Westford).  C’est une fois que nous serons de retour à Westford que « Molière à Westford » pourra être plus actif.

Déjà, nous avons commencé à en parler….connaissances, NGCC et autre.  D’ailleurs, aujourd’hui je vais informer la Ville de Westford de notre projet.  Ainsi, avec un peu de chance (et surtout de l’effort), nous aurons un certain momentum une fois les enfants à NGCC.

Un sujet demeure : la communauté s’appel « Molière à Westford » alors que nous hésitons aussi avec « Molière in New England ».  Le premier est plus intime, le deuxième un bon jeu de mots et plus ouvert.  Pas important pour le moment, car ceci peut toujours évoluer, et j’aime la vue « intime » avec Westford.

Dès notre confirmation avec NGCC, nous allons essayer d’activer les choses et en parler à nos voisins et des connaissances de Westford.  Par la suite, nous devrions voir un petit effet boule de neige.

Progress on translation of Van Houtte Family story with new method

I’ve had a few interesting discussions about my approach for the translation of the Van Houtte Family story, mostly about if this approach would be more effective overall.  In the end, it may prove that there is not much of a difference, but for one thing:  feeling of advancement.

There is no  doubt in my mind:  until this weekend, I had translated some 2,000 words (from the French).  This weekend, I translated almost 1,900.  Granted, I’ll have more reviewing to do, but I also believe this will be the case for the first set of translation.

Bottom line, I am much more encouraged as I now see the words and paragraphs accelerate in translation.  This feeling is worth quite a bit.  Once I have my raw translation, I will enter a new mode and mind set.  Also, I’ll be able to share the draft with others to dig deeper into the content, from all angles.

Out of a total of approximately 61,000 French words, I now have 7%.  If I maintain  the pace of this weekend (which is probably about three to four hours (say 4), I’ll need about 100 to 120 hours, or 35-40 days at that pace.  So at 3-4 hours a week, that a will be about nine (9) months.  I suspect I’ll improve my translating abilities (not because I’ll be better in one language or the other, but because I’ll be more comfortable and have better rhythm.  This means expect to see the raw material ready for the end of 2012.  I’m going to try for September or October, by counting on improved efficiency and ability.

Planning for Publishing and Distribution

In parallel (part of my time for this project), I have been reading up on blogging (go figure just by this blog) and ePub.  This is all clearer to me now, and will require time to set up my actual plan for publishing and distributing the book.  Since I will not be going through a traditional publisher/editor, I will considered as an ‘indie‘ author.  This is more and more popular.  So extra research still required to do this well.  Such as:  Amazon or Smashwords (or both, but how), get an ISDN number, copyright, etc.  If any of you are ‘indie,’ let me know, I’d love to share experiences.

Why my approach to translating the Van Houtte Family story?

In my last post I addressed my approach for the translation of the Van Houtte Family story.

This post is about why. The ‘why’ is about how my mind is wired!

Those that know me well will understand: my mind is fully bilingual (French and English).

This bilingualism is not about how well I write in either language, but rather how my mind connects to each language.

Some facts about my language development:

– from birth, language at home and with family has been French
– from age 5/6 school has been English
– from 11 street talk has been mostly English
– from 15 to 17 work was French; I got the job because I could speak English
– from about 15 my sister and I mostly speak English
– at 22 I barely knew how to properly write in French and I counted in English
– due to the political context in Québec…I educated my self to count in French (I now do both effortlessly)
– I taught myself as best as I could to write in French
– since then, my career has been a mix of French and English, my friends are both
– my mind searches for the most appropriate word, which means I can switch between two languages multiple times in one sentence
– I know less than a handful of people I can talk this way with

Is all of the above good or bad? Make me better or worse? Not the point – this is mind set, not ego, not culture, not snobbish, just the way it is.

I believe people learn some words only at home, some only at work and others only on the street. If you are predominantly of one language, you’ll never know. My view is the mind has many subconscious dictionaries, but consciously only one. For me, there are many conscious dictionaries.

– I know the name of some vegetables (or home items) in French and struggle to remember what they are in English (words learned and used only at home)
– I know some guy stuff in English but not in French (learned and used on the street with English speaking friends only)
– I know some work vocabulary in the language of the work environment.
– reverse is true in all situations

For the book and approach. Example going back to my Québec City days.

– since my mind switches between dictionaries, when in a French or English only environment, it sets on that language and uses the respective dictionaries.
– when my French speaking friends in Québec would tell a joke with an English twist, I did not understand it (they’ll certainly remember situations). My mind would listen in French and pull my French dictionary; when there was a play on words referring to English, the dictionary drew a blank.
– over the years, I’ve adapted and learned to decode; in a mixed cultural environment, I detect interpretation by others due to language barriers (more some other time).

So for the book!

When I translate for work, personal or other, I tend to do word for word translation first (in either language). I then reread and correct. Once a text is in a language, my mind then uses the appropriate dictionaries and I write more effectively.

This is why I will attack the translation with raw instinct first to have on English only document, even if horrible. I can then take the English raw material and tackle content. My mind will be focused on English, my dictionaries and references will be in English. Then methodology can shape the raw material for:

– grammar, syntax
– flow of content
– accuracy on historical data
– etc.

Ultimately, a better book for the family archive and more pleasant for reader.

How I am attacking the translation of the Van Houtte Family Story

Translation progress was slow for the Van Houtte Family Story; not due to lack of effort.

Work has kept me considerably busy (I do not take time at the office to work on this project).

I took time to structure my online Brand.  I have no fantasy of getting rich with this book, having stated this project is an opportunity to learn and have fun.  I made good progress on my online brand by aligning and updating the following:


Blog:        (used to be

These will help when the book is ready for publishing.


So far, I was translating each paragraph, sentence and word of ‘La famille Van Houtte, l’histoire d’un bon café‘ with the intent to properly do it the first time (grammar, prose, historical pertinence, etc).  Nice intent, but slow.  Now, I will approach the translation in phases:

1) Conduct Raw Translation – about efficiency, nothing fancy, I will translate intuitively, knowing there will be many mistakes on all angles.  This will allow me to efficiently rip through the French version to end with only an English one (even if of low quality).

2) Sculpt Raw Material – about effectiveness of quality, once the raw translation is done, I will have a rmv.001 (raw material version) in English of ‘The Van Houtte Family Story‘.  Since there will be many reviews, I can attack quality more effectively.  rmv.001 will become rmv.002, etc.    Like a sculptor starts with a raw block of wood, clay or marble, the raw translation will be my raw material.  I will reread an undetermined number of times the rmvs for quality of the English, structure, flow, historical accuracy, refinement of interpretations (filling-in of the blanks where facts are not available), etc. until I feel ready for official draft versions.

3) Shape Material – at this stage, the raw material is no longer a clump of mud, but actually looks like the eventual finished work, which requires refinement and polishing.  This is where I will have draft versions ( of the book for review by others.  I will be emotionally tested.  In RM, I’ll be able to rebuttal critique easily, but in Shaping, the intent is to take and accept criticism, no matter what.

WHY THIS APPROACH….read-up on my next post!  😉