Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Josef Stalin, is 76 years old today. How would you like to be in her shoes with a father like that? I wonder how she has dealt with the sins of a so-called dad who is directly responsible for millions of unnecessary deaths as a terrible dictator. Maybe she doesn't know, or doesn't realize, or has no ill-feelings, or is just plainly and completely senile now. Maybe her time spent on this planet was consumed with feelings of guilt and depression. The world continues to turn and history recedes faster and faster into the darkened past.
I thought that the following article might be an interesting read for you fellow bloggers out there. I liked it.
A Blogger Manifesto
"Why online weblogs are one future for journalism."
In the far distance there was a mountain range that extended to the full angle of sight from far left to far right. "There it is!" hollered the boy to my left. We were both playing like we were in the army, reclined with our bellies on the slope holding imaginary weapons ready to shoot. I could not see anything. "Look, look can you see it now?!" For the life of me, all I could see in the distance were the mountaintops, a few melting clouds and the darkness coming along as the sun started to move away. "Okay, hold your fire until I give orders to attack." He was the sergeant and I was a lowly private so I was expected to listen to him although I didn't feel like it. What are you talking about? "The thunderbird is coming." I had heard a lot about the thunderbird. Indian legends had been told for centuries about this mighty creature who always flew by like a mysterious dark object. Was I a soldier or was I an Indian? Sweeping down from the sky just in front of the cold windy clouds before the storm. I could feel the storm coming, but no thunderbird in sight. Where is it? "Over there, now get ready to shoot." I couldn’t believe my eyes, because in my memory I could see it perfectly well. It wasn't really there but it was there at the same time. So clearly and a sharpened vision in my head. Like the Indians had known for years. Thundergods and thunderbolts. Get down, duck low. I was nervous but did as the sergeant ordered. He was more experienced than I and knew what he was talking about.
Way off in the distance it came, first a tiny dark speck above the mountaintops, growing ever so slightly until it became an elongated grayish flapping of feathers. “Ready, aim…” I panicked, got up and turned my back despite the dangerousness of the situation. I could not see it but I knew it was there. I felt it inside of me and outside of me at the same time. Swooping down to reach the very spot at which I was standing in trepidation. The thunderbird was swooping. Then I ran, ran as fast as I could. A real coward, but at least I would survive. I opened the back door of our house and ran inside, cowering behind the couch. It was the very same couch behind which I cowered during every evening showing of the “Outer Limits” on our black-and-white television. I peeked just above the top of that couch and stared outside. The speck was now returning to the place of its birth, the origin of all thunderbirds of ancient Indian legend. The swooping went in backwards motion, fluttering of wings, motions of feathers, an elongated thread of gray, and then it was gone. Just behind the second highest peak of the mountain range. I never saw the sergeant again. At least I had survived.
This is a true story. It took place in Redding, California when I was about six years old. I remember it well. Back then I had quite an imagination and my perception of reality was much more accurate than it is now.
There is a really fine line (razor thin I should say) between shaving yourself well and cutting yourself all over the place so that blood splatters arise on your freshly ironed spotlessly clean collar. This is especially annoying if you are wearing a white shirt to work with a professional-looking artificial silk tie (don't tell anyone), and during the coffee break you discover this in the bathroom while looking at yourself in the mirror. No one dares mention it for some reason (they must be polite and unintrusive, of course), but you know that everyone has noticed it. Today is Saturday so I had the opportunity this morning to do some experimental work without the fear of ruining another important presentation at my work. I took my time but shaved the very best that I could and as carefully as possible. The very same result, chop and chop and drips of blood oozing out. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that my face is not perfectly smooth, as I had previously suspected. It had a number of bumps and irregularities in the contour, meaning that these cellular maxima were neatly sliced off even if these tips were only a few microns across. The homeostatic properties of the human body mean that internal blood pressure will elicit an oozing of redness through these breaches in the skin holding you together, no matter what. Oh well, the solution is to give up shaving altogether or figure out a way of removing facial hairs more patiently without the barbarious implement referred to as a razor blade.
Alright, I have decided to dedicate myself even more to the future of blogging, as I am convinced that this will in the end help save the world and humanity. So I am pretty modest, aren't I? The reason is that I will be writing reviews from now on about blogs, believe it or not. This seems to me nothing less than a very noble pursuit, and I look forward to becoming more and more involved. Coming in contact with new sources of infinite wisdom, helping others, exchanging ideas and inspiring bloggers everywhere to keep up the good work. In order to remain completely anonymous, I will not reveal where I will be writing reviews. Good luck, watch out and happy blogging to all.
Nowadays it is nearly impossible not to embarrass your children in one way or another. Especially if they are teenagers, but also for the other younger ones and even my wife as well. If I greet one of their friends at the front door with something like "Hello, nice to see you again" then I get immediately barked back at with a "C'mon, act normal!" If I do not say a thing and just stand there at the front door, trying not to smile too artificially and using my arms to gesture the best I can to get the point across in complete silence (okay, so maybe I am exaggerating just a "little" bit), I get yelled at with "C'mon, just act normal, jeez!" If I do not move, but stand as far away in the distance without being seen, I get the same old angry reaction "C'mon Dad, stop it!" Once a fashionable girlfriend came over dressed to kill. I could not help noticing the gigantic round metal earrings she had hanging from her ear lobes, causing them to sag and droop so that the earrings touched her exposed shoulders. It reminded me of those faraway African tribes one sees on the National Geographic television channel. I couldn’t help myself from complimenting her by saying "Those are (cough) nice earrings you’ve got on there." My daughter nearly blew her stack, but I guess she didn’t want to embarrass me either. Even my wife is often ashamed when I walk around with my slippers on, wear my jogging pants outside, don't shave on Sundays, clear my throat and hack out loud, crack my knuckles, stare at other women, or cuss at the neighborhood brats who play soccer by kicking brutal goals knocking over my fence planks. My conclusion is that it seems pretty funny (bizarre) how everyone else in this household is embarrassed about everyone else all of the time and everywhere. A waste of energy, but perhaps we can blame this on society, what is expected from us and what we falsely expect from ourselves. Except me, which makes me somewhat of an outsider, a special person, a real weirdo. Just act normal, will you.
You know, I never ever could have imagined that a film about drinking coffee could be so spiritually stimulating. Slurp.
This is a very interesting message which I composed on my Palm Vx. The sole purpose of this deeply meaningful missive is to see if this state-of-the-art manner of blogging is really possible. Did it work then? If you are reading this then I guess so.
So I decided to go jogging for the first time this year. Normally I start much earlier in the season, but the cold weather, snow or rain or lots of wind, has not provided the ideal jogging experience for me. The ideal jogging experience, what is that anyway? Good excuse, but pure laziness nonetheless. The official "first jog" is a yearly tradition for me, and in a way I certainly look forward to it very much. The route is a thirty-minute run in a large circle along the Dutch countryside with lots of water to look at for extra inspiration. In order to prove to myself that I am still not getting too old, too bald, too fat, too weak, that my dynamic mind processes are still in control and that my body heeds to every electric neural spark to push onwards no matter what, I unleash mental orders to my youthful self in the hopes of not stopping. Believe it or not, I did not have to stop, huffing and puffing at the very end ready to collapse at every downwards pounding of my right and then my left foot, but I did not stop. Quite an accomplishment I felt, at least for myself. I did not stop, good job. You are still as young as you feel. Let it remain so far as long as possible.
we would stay and respond and expand and include
and allow and forgive and enjoy and evolve
and discern and inquire and accept and admit
and divulge and open and reach out and speak up
The great thing about Maarten is that he is still young, spontaneous and happy with most things in his life. Something for which we should all strive, even in our coming old age. Even if you are still young. Maarten can be a real goofball and jokes around alot, acting weird but in a fun kind of way. The film clip below attests well to this fact, if you know what I mean. Okay everyone, each morning before you go to work, stand in front of the mirror, look at yourself, and do the exactly as the following film instructs you to do:
Maarten goofing around and making funny faces.
I know for a fact that you will feel much better afterwards, that you will be much more relaxed and therefore productive at the office. This I know based on my own personal experience. If you forget to follow these instructions, it is not recommended that you try to make up for your oversite by practicing in the office bathroom. You will receive strange looks and might even get fired. Be careful out there in the real world.
"Goedemiddag met IQUIP, receptie Reeuwijk." This afternoon I get to work as receptionist. When the telephone rings, that is how I am expected to greet the caller. What am I doing downstairs behind the reception? Good question. As part of the general cost-cutting activities lately, it is expected that we all help out in one way or other with the more menial chores, if you don't mind me referring to them that way. I don't really mind, although it is not my favorite activity picking up the telephone and greeting visitors as they enter or leave the premises, keeping track of the badges, collecting the internal mail, that kind of thing. A sobering yet enlightening experience, getting to know more intimately the other dimensions of company life. Of course, my colleagues have to joke and mention something funny about me sitting here, chuckling as they walk by, but everyone has either done it already or will be punished soon enough. This is yet another role I have assumed with success. Knowledge and experience in a professional environment. I will add it to my resume, somewhere at the top: Class B Apprentice Receptionist, at your service.
According to my sitemeter these are the number of hits I have had so far this year.
Total ........................ 3,227I would say that almost fifty hits a day isn't that bad at all. Rather than droves of pilgrims constantly passing by I receive an occasional traveller asking for some tidbits of food before he continues on his way.
Average per Day ................. 48
Average per Visit .............. 1.4
This Week ...................... 317
Alright, I have been putting it off now for quite some time, but I have finally decided to go out and splurge. So this is what I did yesterday: I ordered a state-of-the-art Dell computer. This is because through my work I can deduct certain so-called office equipment from the taxes, a good deal which is hard to resist. Now this is what I finally ordered:
Dimension 4400 with P4 1.8GHz/256K No Sound with Floppy DriveAm I spoiled or what? It will take ten working days before it is delivered to my doorstep, just in time for the new entertainment room we have had built above the garage. Now we will have a grand total of no less than FOUR computers in the house. I plan to hook them all up in my own home network, if that is not too much work. Hopefully, I will finally have my "own" system to play on without having to fight with the other kids who have completely monopolized the computer with all their emailing, chatting, gaming. However, Lennart is already bugging me to use the new Dell Dimension for his latest games because of the GeForce3 video card he can increase the resolution and it looks real cool. And then we can also play against each other over the network. Real cool. Not sure what the future has in store for these children of modern technology who will have to grow up one day to become the leaders of the world and take care of you and me. Even if we all had our very own personal "wow" computer, that would probably not be enough. At least the quality of my blogs will increase exponentially, as if the type of machine makes such a big difference. Let's just be honest and say it is the person penning the words and that's it. Pen and paper should be enough, but lately it is not. But let's keep on pretending anyway.
Dimension 4400 English Documentation and European Power Cord
512 MB266Mhz DDR RAM Memory (1*512)
80GB (7200RPM) IDE Hard Drive
24 x CDRW and 16 x DVD
SW DVD Decoder for XP
European - 17in Performance Midnight Grey (P793) Monitor
64MB Ti500 GeForce3 Video Card
Creative Labs SB Live Value Sound Card
European - Harman Kardon 395 Midnight Grey Speakers
Dutch - V.92 Data/Fax/Voice Internal PCI Modem
10/100 PCI WUOL Network Card for Dimension
Mouse Pad with Dell Logo
MS Intelli-Explorer Optical 4 btn PS/2,USB
US - Dell Quiet Key (3 Hot Key) Midnight Grey Keyboard
English - Win XP Pro with Norton Anti Virus 2002 for XP
UK- MS Works Suite 2001
Each and every one of us has a very first memory that we can recall. At least I do, and it goes way back to when I was around three years old, I think. This is how I remember it. This is not to claim that the mind of a child is accurate in the mental impressions it saves at any given moment, and definitely not that the very first memory is more valid. Maybe the "real" truth is slightly different, or it is not entirely accurate, or maybe it never ever happened, not really. However, in my mind it is a secure block of timelessness that goes something like this:
"It is in the middle of the night and I have a very sore throat. A really bad sore throat, that is. Also I have the urge to cough, but whenever I do cough, I have this stabbing pain in the back of my throat, hacking sounds emitting outwards. My mother is leading me by the hand to the kitchen where she turns on the light. I cross the boundary between the carpet in the hall and the kitchen floor, a thin metal strip which marks the division betwen the here and the there. I can see the reflection of the light which has been just turned on, in the pitch-black window above the kitchen sink. I cough again and it hurts even more. I look down at my bare feet and I can feel and see the cool linoleum floor which has symmetrical repeating designs. The floor surface is smooth, not slippery and matted slightly. The cupboard door opens and my mother grabs the bottle, unscrews the lid and pours out some of the gooey thick green liquid into a tablespoon. The viscosity of the medicine bulges slightly over the top edge of the concave spoon, but because of the adhesive force of the liquid does not spill over. My mother looks into my eyes with a concerned look bordering on despair, gently places it in my mouth, and the edge of the spoon gently clicks against the inside of my teeth. The liquid is sharp and strong and goes down with a burning warmness that soothes."
That's all I remember, that's exactly the point in my memory where it ends abruptly, like a dream from which you awake all of a sudden. And then I am here forty or so years later where reality has taken on yet another dimension. My mother brought me back to bed and probably tucked me in under the covers with a lovingly kiss on my forehead. I closed my eyes and went to sleep, feeling better, dropping away, watching the darkness surround and give me strength. Strength to go on and survive, be something in the world, make my presence known, et cetera. Bringing me eventually to this place I am at now, the place I was going to end up at, the place from which I will continue and leave behind like when I left that same moment of time in the kitchen behind that late night.
Why is it always such a hassle getting the kids off to school on time? Lots of arguments, complaining and other extreme forms of grumpiness. Eat, drink, put on your clothes, don't forget your lunch, put on your coat, no, yes, no, no. It is enough to tire one out completely, and there is still the whole day to go. These are my wild and crazy kids. Four different personalities competing in life, a life centered on selves, the selves who they are and who they are meant to be. Asserting ones existence. Well, I should be thankful that they are strong, vocal, assertive, confident and resistive. It is better than having a boring bunch of passive kids who could care less. Once they are all off to school, it is round two this early Monday morning. Another week will pass by, a month and a year, and then they will all be grown up and gone. Then they will (hopefully) come and visit me once in awhile, bringing along their own bunch of wild and crazy kids, my grandchildren. Enjoy and learn while you can.
Let's start off then with the color which appeals to me the most at this particular moment in time, the so-called fundamental color which is the starting point for this weblog:
This means that there are a number of possible harmonic combinations which will be the most pleasing for the average human mind perception and so forth. According to scientific theory we can define the following interactions of two or more colors:
|Complementary||1 + 7|
|Split-Complementary||1 + 6 + 8|
|Triad||1 + 5 + 9|
|Analogous||12 + 1 + 2|
This information is based on the color schemer online which I can recommend highly for anyone who wants to learn just a little bit more about the influence of colors in our lives.
"http://active.macromedia.com/flash4/cabs/swflash.cab#version=4,0,0,0" id="harmonic_colors" width="98"
"98" height="100" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage=
Is this near to the harmony of colors I had originally intended or is it a bit off base or is it completely wrong? Some people call it color scheming, others call it color therapy, some view it as an artistic endeavor, and still others appeal to the appearance of some invisible aura. I call it this: trying to get my blog to look nice enough that it does not scare everyone away before they have been able to get lost in my jungle of completely off the wall thoughts. It is up to you to decide the future and how I will have to deal with it in technicolor induced mental unawareness, if you know what I mean. Are there any interesting reactions to this once in a lifetime challenge?
This weblog entry can also be found on my homepage at the Harmonic Colors page.
tr.v. Chiefly Northern & Western U.S. horn·swog·gled, horn·swog·gling, horn·swog·gles To bamboozle; deceive.
Click here in order to hear for yourself the official pronunciation.
Our Living Language We do not know the origin of hornswoggle. We do know that it belongs to a group of “fancified” words that were particularly popular in the American West in the 19th century. Hornswoggle is one of the earliest, first appearing around 1829. It is possible that these words were invented to poke fun at the more “sophisticated” East. Some other words of this ilk are absquatulate, also first appearing in the 1820s, skedaddle, first attested in 1861 in Missouri, and discombobulate, first recorded in 1916.
The Hornswoggle Problem describes how various philosophers have proposed setting conscious experience apart from all other problems of the mind as "the most difficult problem.
The past is what made us what we are today, and the experiences and knowledge so acquired is required baggage for our further adventure into the future. For those of you out there who would rather just forget the past and get on with your lives, first check out Attack on America. Lots and lots of pictures, videos and stuff covering that terrible moment in the past, more than half a year ago. Yesterday, really. Pause for a moment of silence and then continue with your life. Never forget what made you what you are today.
Is it possible as humanoids to be able to make proper judgements in a totally objective non-emotional way? So that truth is attained no matter what? Not that truth over there but the real truth, everywhere and nowhere. The absolutely really real truth, as in the perfect forms of Plato. I think not.
You will always bring yourself along. The words emitted from your mouth will always carry the tones of your thoughts and other subtleness. The gestures are results of musculature and the electrical impulses sent to induce their movements. Thoughts guiding objectivity in a forced and restrained manner. Feelings are hurt in the long run because we are doing as if. As if it is so objective when it is not.
And do not forget the reactions, if there are any. Hurting the feelings of others will hurt the feelings of even more others and the circle will come around. And slam down hard as it turns the corner at the same time you turn the same corner. Being objective is not possible. Being honest is. It is judgment day for all of us humanoids. Be on your guard.
Had an interesting chat yesterday evening with author of the Obvious? weblog. There I was pounding away on the keyboard staring endlessly at the monitor trying to figure things out, when my chat window popped-up. It was Euan and his first mysterious and off-the-wall message was: "this is what you get for putting your AIM name on your blog!"
Not that there were that many philosophical issues to ponder, afterall that is not the main purpose of chatting. I have always enjoyed Euan's site, a bit intellectual but with a nice mixture of challenging ideas.
Euan's most recent weblog entry ends with a quotation concerning someone's ideas about a so-called sphere of thought surrounding the earth. Interesting.
Pondering life's many guestions is the real driving force behind this blog. Each entry is yet another view, using references to other places via links or recounting actual daily experiences. If you enjoy being confronted with interesting twists from within a mind-set not quite your own, then this site is a very challenging stop for any and every blogger.
When Thea called me up at work to say that my new computer had arrived already, my heart started beating faster and faster. Boy was I excited and could not wait to get home. Two more hours of work to kill and then I cycled home with tremendous speed, this time the wind is blowing at my back which is unusual for Holland. Threw my bike in the garage and dashed inside. There were the boxes. First things first, and before I knew it I had everything unpacked, and with the help of Lennart and his expert eye we succeeded in arranging all the required componts on the floor ready for assembly. The only problem was the empty boxes. Too much of a temptation for Maarten who was completely captivated by the boxes and all of the adventurous things you could do with them. Climb inside, close the lid, and roll around, back and forth, giggling and laughing all over the place. There is a huge expanse of newly laid carpet which is a perfect invitation for all kinds of somersaults, cartwheels and other six year old activities required for expending pent up energy. The only problem, if you can call it a problem, is that he was noisy so that we could not concentrate very well connecting all the wires and stuff. Also, by rolling around everywhere he was continuously bashing into the computer we were trying to setup. In my extreme excitement I had a really bad headache, probably all of that adrenalin streaming through my body because of the new computer. Like a little kid on his birthday, couldn't I control myself better? No of course not, there are too few pleasures in life that no one was going to stop me from enjoying this state-of-the-art super toy. Bash, bang, there goes Maarten again and he knocks of the sub-woofer. He opens the lid of the overturned cardboard box with an semi-apologetic smirk on his face, but in doing so the lid scrapes across the monitor and nearly knocks that down also. I am really proud of myself because I am restrained and do not get angry and yell. So I just give up. Stand up, turn around by 180 degrees, first place my left foot and then my right foot in front of me and head on downstairs. Maybe this weekend when I have more time (sure). Wait just one minute, I remember that it is the weekend already. Lennart continues, and gets two of his fanciest games installed: Medal of Honor and Operation Flashpoint. Realistic graphics and the sound effects are amazing, he tries to tell me above the noise of battle that is shaking the whole house.
I think that spring is coming up quickly, and that makes me feel alot better. How do I know that? Well, for the very first time this year, the climate control in my car kicked on the air-conditioning. Just like that. Each year when I hear this long awaited for click followed by a gust of cool wind inside of the car, my mouth turns up its grin and I am reminded again. Reminded of the good old warm weather that I grew up to appreciate. Heat waves in the San Joaquin Valley, felt so good, a number of decennia ago. Turlock wherever that may be, that is where it was. Seasons are all right and I can logically accept the fact that these are necessary natural changes in climate, depending on where on the Earth you are currently residing, walking and breathing and getting by. I have never been a fan of coldness, shivering hands and frozen toes, and though I can appreciate the first snow and that crunching sound beneath my boots, no thanks. No thanks again, see you later, I rolled down all the windows of my car and drove around soaking it all in. The radio was loud, not cranked up but loud enough. I took my bike into town and felt the sunlight on my face. There were these strikingly whitish rays with a subtle sharpness to them that soothed my forehead and cheeks, lips and all. Warm, warmer, almost hot. It all felt so good. I remain a hardcore Californian beachcomber at heart and can still really get into the sun goddess. With open arms I greet the coming change of climate. Soak it up, soak me up.
I was backing out of the parking spot when someone drove into the side of my car. So I pulled back into the spot and someone else slammed into the other side of my car, this time denting the front bumper. So I then pulled out for the second time and this other person sped in from the left and side-swiped me. The passenger door was bent inwards, and shards of glass flew all over the place. I was relieved that Maarten had decided not to accompany me to do the shopping that afternoon. Now I had no less than three cars wedged in various orientations around me. So I looked to the right, and the only part of the car still exposed received a pounding blow from some massive truck, the driver wearing a tight T-shirt with a cigarette dangling from his lips unshaven, the impact nudging me sideways. I could see those flags which all truck drivers have hanging in their cockpits swaying back and forth because of the impact. This is too much to believe, it cannot be true. I got out of the car. I was a little bit upset, more confused about the whole situation you might say, and I was a little surprised myself that I was not completely angry and infuriated and cussing. Everyone had driven away, I assumed, because there were no more cars around. In fact, the whole parking lot was empty, completely deserted, and it was starting to get dark. I took a quick tour around the car. Strange, it looked just fine now, and there was not a single dent or scratch to be found. In fact, it looked brand-new as if I had just driven it out of the sales lot. The metallic coating shone and looked sharp, the lights from the streets lights reflected almost like the side of my car was moist from the early evening dew. That is when I woke up.
There was that old guy again. This time he was standing next to me. I had never seen him before from so close and it was a little getting used to. So many wrinkles that his face sunk inwards, nose hairs splayed out of his nostrils like tentacles, greased down strands across his scalp, and worse of all was that smell. He smelled like sweat. He smelled like sweat and leather and alcohol all put together. But he was shaven, clean-shaven, and he was wearing some sweet-smelling aftershave that almost, but not quite, came through the mixture of all the other smells. It was the thick curtain through which his head peered out between the slit just opening. I has seen him often walking past my house, clear on over the opposite side of the street, hunched down looking at the ground, weaving back and forth, his long arms swaying and elongated, almost touching the ground like a gibbon ape. He was always mumbling, about this and that, but because I had never been that close to him I could not make out the many words and complicated sentences. So there I was standing right next to him. Rather, he was standing right next to me. I turned my head and noticed that he was looking straight into my face. Only this time we was muttering again, and unlike the past I could hear his many words very clearly. It was no longer distant mumbling sounds, but actual consonants spaced cleanly with the smoothest vowels one could ever imagine.
"They are everywhere you know, all around, and you can see them but cannot see them at the same time," he said to me.
"They?" I asked
"Yes, they who have come to let us know that we have done well, amazingly well."
"Have we then?"
"Listen!" He shouted so loud that it startled me, but I became silent. I stopped and started listening. The old man pointed over there, and his forefinger showed me exactly where that thing or person was standing. And it was coming closer to us.
"They say...they say that we have done well."
"What then? What have we done so well?" I asked.
"We have nearly made it but not quite. We will need their help, accept what they have to offer us, surrender to the new ways..." His eyes rolled back and he seemed to be hearing voices, a song, some kind of harmony. He nodded his head up and down to the imaginary beat. I said nothing, waiting for him to do something or other.
With that he bent down, picked up an imaginary strand between his fingers and showed it to me.
"See, this is the proof, the proof that it is really happening. You do see it don't you?"
I nodded my head, not because I was being polite but because all of a sudden I could see it. I saw it with my own eyes. It was not a strand of hair, but it was a small note. On the note were scribbled a number of sentences, in some foreign language which I did not understand.
"I see that you cannot read the ancient scriptures," he said, and continued in the same breath "then let me translate the message for you."
I waited and waited, but the old man did nothing. He just stood there, looking more intensely than ever at that spot between and just above my eyes. Then he was gone.
That episode occurred six months ago. Since then I have been doing the same thing. I saw myself in the mirror that day, the real me. The old man had not disappeared at all. He was I, and I am he, now. Each and every day I wander along the opposite side of the street, hunched down looking at the ground. I find people and things and non-things all over the place. I translate for them the secret message.
And you know what? We have almost made it. So far we have done all right, not bad at all for imperfect beings, sinful creatures, squandering and drowning in our own mud puddles we call reality. We are good, we are fine and we are getting better. Better and better and better.
Then be silent now, and let me translate the message for you.
You know, I was really excited this evening. This is because I had an interesting series of thoughts that held together like nothing I had seen before. They were wonderful thoughts holding together like a long and winding gathering of this and that. These thoughts were bizarre, unusual, frightening, holy, insightful, as black as night and as bright as the sun at the same time, provocative beyond belief, and pretty interesting too. So then what happened, and why didn't I end up putting it in my blog, this blog? Well, just when the momentum started building up, the flow of thoughts coming out at nearly the speed of light, I panicked. I got subtly nervous and started to shake slightly. It is called fear, the fear of recrimination or extreme punishment. Like in the Middle Ages. I was afraid that what I was about to write, no matter how wonderfully fantastic, would be taken out of context and used against me. Gotten me fired from my job. Some renowned psychiatrist would deem me schizophrenic, and I would be banished to a mental institute up there on the hill. That hill over there, I mean. It is getting worse and worse, and you read about it more often on the Internet. People are getting fired for what they are writing in their blogs. Yes, believe it or not it is true. You might want to check out the following entries at Fired at Mastication is Normal, Collecting Unemployment at Douce or Welcome to my weblog at Diveintomark, for more insights into the arisal of this undesirable trend. The ironic thing is that what they have written is not that bad at all, simply an expression, a random couple of thoughts, a release of insight, which someone somewhere just happened to take a little too personally. Someone who was bored with life and decided it would be a little more interesting if he displayed a mask like being offended. People like to write for themselves, or for the sake of creative writing, or for pure art. Like me. The farthest thing from our minds is trying to chop people down or make them look bad. If we wanted to do that effectively, if we were really persistent, we would not have chose the ineffective medium of blogging to accomplish this. There are easier means that attract a much wider audience more quickly. Being fired for a blog entry? What a joke, I cannot stop laughing. This is terrible, I cannot stop crying. I thought that I was paranoid, but now I am getting even more paranoid. More and more and more paranoid. What if someone way over there who had never seen me face-to-face or even can spell my name correctly reads this and gets upset. "Hey!" he or she will shout, "I do not know you, and yes I do live way over there." To make matters even worse, he will never had met me face-to-face either. "And to make matters even worse," we is saying right at this very moment, "I have never even met you face-to-face, Griffen!" Short pause and then, "How dare you write that way about me!" I think it is better if I stop writing this blog entry now before I get fired or something even worse happens to me, like getting my blog taken away from me. Adieu, parting is such sweet sorrow.
Alright so it is time once more for me to commute via automobile again, at least for the time being. Of course, I prefer the fifteen minute bike trips, especially now that the weather is improving as Spring approaches. However, a more important project has popped up for a potential customer who has invited my company to provide a story in the form of completing a so-called RFI, Request for Information. Since this company is some big international organization, they ask that the report be done in English. I am the lucky professional who has been asked to review and correct the input from others so that something slick and attractive results. Time to score, and score big. This is an interesting challenge, but it is a longer drive to Diemen where the headquarters is located, just east of Amsterdam. I end up spending at least three hours extra a day sitting in the car. Yes, you heard it right, three lousy hours enclosed behind glass. Turn up the radio, listen to the BBC World Service, bring my CDs along, hum to Alanis Morisette, crank up Neil Young, and try to make the best out of it. Sitting in the car is not my ideal way to enjoy myself, but you are alone and can think alot about many things. Contemplate the future, play philosophy and solve the mysteries of nature. Wish me luck folks.
Just heard that the newest version of Movable Type came out. While I am really excited to try it out, I think I'll be patient and just wait. Avoid all the potential problems and pitfalls, let all the other enthusiastic bloggers try it out first. See what happens to them. You never know, sure would feel bad if all my blogs just happened to disappear into thin air because of some unexpected bug raising its ugly head. Give it a week or so, and then I will go for it.
You are not going to believe this when I tell you, but it really happened. You can take my word for it or just walk away empty-handed if you wish. Okay then, please allow me to explain myself. This is what happened. On my way home this evening, I was driving along the lake on my left taking a shortcut back home. As habit dictates, I regularly check my rear-view mirror and continue on. But this time when I looked, an amazing site caught my attention. It was a miracle. Off in the distance there was the church steeple pointing upwards. Directly in front of it was a pointed tree also pointing upwards, the trunk from the base to the very top of the tree perfectly aligned with the silhouette of the church steeple. In front of this perfectly aligned pair was a street lamp, and yes its length was also perfectly in line with the other objects behind it. A razor sharp edge was obviously splitting my view exactly in two, and I could not help noticing this dichotomy. Now for most people this would be enough of a miracle, but here comes even more. The left side of the rear-view mirror, the object which first directed my attention to these coincidental alignments, this flat edge was also in perfect alignment with the street light and then the tree and then the church. I wondered what the odds are that this can happen even once in one's lifetime, and before I could seriously contemplate the impact this would have on the rest of my life, it was gone. Gone forever and forever. One wonders how many of these perfections pass us by on a daily basis without us ever knowing about them. Here are some other dimensions to think about. You see, yet another miracle has happened to me today.
I am now approaching the age that more and more people seem to be dying all over the place. Relatives, family of folks I know, neighbors, people with whom I work, all the human beings which I pass daily on the sidewalk, on the highway, in the woods, over the Internet. Lots and lots of perfectly normal people out there are going away, forever. Not only have I lost a father a couple years back, but most of the neighbor friends have lost one or two parents within the last year or so. Who will be next? The hard facts of life keep coming back and hitting us even though we try to forget about them all of the time. Reminders of the way nature has always meant it for us to be. Get born, grow up, (optionally) have offspring, get old and older, then go off into never never land. Just before you thought you had finally figured it all out. Get reabsorbed into the reality we chose to leave when we went out and got born, a bubble of awareness, and then good-bye.
This weekend was certainly a busy one. A very, very busy one. I had promised myself and everyone else that I would finally set up the computers in the new so-called "entertainment room" and that is what I did. I had expected it to be alot of work, but in no time I had the home network up and running in no time. I could not believe it. However, one small trivial thing did not work, and I would not be happy until it was fixed. You see, while I configured my ADSL modem so that it was now a router and had hooked up the computers so each had a separate dedicated line direct to the Internet, they could not see (communicate with) each other. Drats. Perhaps I should have left it for another day, but I just had to get this problem fixed. Fixation, here we come again. Perfection to the extreme, no patience. Do not let it be. So it turned out to be yet another day trying all kinds of things, but it still did not help. You see, I had to connect the computers together for two reasons: 1) so that I could transfer my personal documents and other files from the old computer to the new one, and 2) so that the kids could play games against each other across the LAN. Of course you can imagine that the second reason is by far the most important, and the kids kept dropping by the room every ten minutes asking if they could play on the computer yet. Alright, alright, get this fixed or else. Well, late Sunday afternoon it finally worked. I was tired and had had enough of all the spaghetti wires all over the place, but it worked. Took a long run to shake things off and felt much better. Rewarded the whole family with McDonalds, and during the evening tennis match, I pulled off a last second point to pull off the win. I have to admit that it was an amazing shot, pounded down just between the two opponents, with a fine touch of true strength and sports ability. Capped off in style the good results of a long-and-winding weekend. Life goes on.
Today turned out to be a very long day for me again. Yet another important assignment had to be completed in time, and as you can expect in the business in which I dedicate myself, we all went into overtime mode. Why? Well, tomorrow is the deadline, at twelve noon to be precise, and not a second earlier. That is when our proposal has to be turned in to the reproduction department in order to make the fancy-looking brochure and offer. There is this potential customer who could offer the company all kinds of work, if we could only convince this successful company that we are the best of three candidates for the partner shortlist. So I continued until late in the evening. My job as native English speaker was to review the translated Dutch for general spelling and grammatical errors, but also to collect the input from the various sources and iron out the seventy odd pages to create a uniform and readable masterpiece. My question is why everything always has to be done so quickly and at the very last minute? Perhaps that is inherent to the competitive society in which we live where the hardest workers and most dedicated win the big deals for an insensitive economy. If one thinks about it more logically, it would make better sense to define well ahead of time a long enough preparation period for all candidates, providing a fair and reasonable chance for all. However, we have to prove ourselves, that we are the quickest and the best at the same time, rushing just a little too much in too little time.
I have this thing about doors that are slightly ajar, that is those that happen to be open just a crack. For some reason it drives me absolutely crazy. I cannot stand it, especially when for example I can hear a door upstairs which is slightly ajar and swinging back and forth. An innocent draft causes an unpredictably rhythmical clicking sound as the breeze tries to close the door but cannot close it completely. Click, click, and (wait exactly 4.7 seconds) click. When I was a small boy and went to bed, I would call my mother about ten times to come back and make sure that my bedroom door was completely closed, until it clicked. "Mommy, did it click shut?" When I became too old to be acting so childishly, I would get out of my bed myself ten times before I slept. I would grope my way in the pitch-black darkness and feel where the doorknob was. I gave the knob a quick jolt back and forth, rattling the door to insure closure and completeness. No crack. This is order to check and double check and triple check (plus seven or more additional checks) to make absolutely definitely sure the door was really closed without the slightest possible doubt. You can never know with absolute one hundred percent certainty now that the crack is gone, can you? This obsession and/or phobia and/or psychoses about cracks have extended themselves later into my adult life. It now includes any other items that might happen to express some kind of crack or slit or other thin opening that allows lightness or darkness to show through. Life is not that complicated after all. Life is full of cracks and that is the nature of things. When you walk on the sidewalk be very careful. Step on a crack and you break your mother's back. A desire for perfection and absolute certainty makes life less perfect and more complicated than it should be. Let's not get too cracked about cracks now, okay?
When I was around eight years old I developed this irritating habit of having to clear my throat continuously. I am sure it had something to do with nervousness, and I could not stop it for the life of me. There was this ever so slight mucous collecting somewhere between my lungs and esophagus, and I just had to get it out. The problem was that even though I would have temporary relief of this aggravating feeling after clearing my throat with pleasure, within a minute or so it would all come back and just start all over again. Whether or not it was (is) real in a physical sense is (was) not important. I could feel it and it had to be released someway. My parents and sisters would get fed up with this incessant noise, and they would lose patience, yelling at me to stop "rattling" as they put it. "Stop that rattling!" I felt bad about it, perhaps even embarrassed about this uncalled for behavior, but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Nothing. Feeling insecure or what? One of those childhood habits like biting your nails, picking your nose, blinking your eyes, that nag at you from inside. Scraping the back of your fingers on the ground ten to twenty times just to make sure. Rattle. Even to this day I have the tendency to clear my throat, coughing out loud if necessary, scraping the ground. This habit is aggravated tenfold when I recover from a cold, no matter how minor the illness. Two or even three weeks go by before the "rattle" decreases to below the comfortable threshold. Mucous collects and it must be extricated through coughing or wheezing seizures of compressed lungs and the ribcage thrusting air out by tightening its grip in one quick squeeze of release. "Rattle" and then some much waited for silence and then yet another "rattle." These are strange habits that elicit the release of unwanted pressures from within. Get rid of it or else. Touch the ground another ten times just to make sure.
My oldest daughter Marlies is a very sweet thirteen year old, but she does have what you could call an explosive personality. This means that when something goes wrong, no matter how trivial or seemingly insignificant, she will explode in rage and start screaming. It has to do with learning to deal with unexpected obstacles, frustrations, letdowns and that sort of thing. This behavior is perfectly natural for that transitory age from childhood into puberty, but I just thought it would be interesting to mention it anyway. Sometimes this explosiveness can take on an exaggerated form, so much so that it appears at times to be artificial, like an act to get our attention. But it is very serious and should be attended to immediately in order to prevent it from exploding outwards without control. Here is an example that should offer some insight into the situation. This morning everyone was lazy and slept out until past ten o'clock. We decided that the weather was too nice to waste it by just lying in bed the whole morning, so we got up to take a shower. Unfortunately for us, that was exactly the same moment that Marlies was also planning to take a shower, but while I was ready in my underwear carrying the towel under my arm, she was still dallying aimlessly in her room. Boy was she mad when I so-called cut in front of her, yelling and complaining that she had to shower at that exact moment and not a second later. Too bad, I took my shower anyway and she just had to wait. That is life and it is never too early to get used to these disappointment, however trivial they may seem. The ironic thing is that Marlies takes after her father (me) not only in intelligence (she is a genius) but also in her personality. I am also quite impatient and find it difficult to deal with obstacles in my path, especially when my goal is within site. Could be the genes, chemical, an attitude, or whatever, but this is not important. By watching one's children one acquires many insights into the way one really is, watching in effect oneself in a mirror where time is rewound back to childhood.
So tell me then, how does your normal everyday person take it easy and enjoy himself on a long four-day Eastern weekend? Trying to get a home network up and running, that's right. You see, last week I installed it so that my Windows 98SE and Windows XP Pro were hooked up to the ADSL modem just fine via the hub. I used the Alcatel Fun site as a reference so I could do a little low-level twiddling. I felt like a super star technical guru type of person. Not only could both computers access the Internet without a single problem when I was done, but they could also see each other. I have really bad experience with network trouble-shooting, so you can imagine how surprised I was that it was working. Well, much to my dismay this perfect of all worlds was short-lived. My kids decided to install some kind of illegal software on the older PC so they could download music for free. I had told them never ever never ever download anything without my permission, and if they wanted something then I would be more than happy to assist them (if it was legal and not pornography, of course). Since this was illegal stuff, and they figured that it didn't matter anyway because Dad had his new PC now and didn't care, they did it behind my back. As if that is not bad enough, the program messed up the network settings on PC1 completely, obliterating all the required TCP/IP parameters and timers and whatever else into thin air. The wonderful result was that it could not find the Internet anymore. The main reason for me to get a second PC was because the others had to bug me all the time if they could check out their email, chat with their school friends, ad infinitum. The second machine gave them another spot to do their stuff on and leave me be in peace with my new pc. So one can imagine how pissed I was, so much so but I kept my cool. I have an explosive character but am able to restrain this pressure unpredictably, That was two whole days ago, and I have been toiling away ever since. Either PC2 works while PC1 does not work, or vice versa. Once both PC1 and PC2 somehow started working again at the same time, and I was ecstatic. For one brief, fleeting moment. When I then tried reinstalling ZoneAlarm Pro that I had uninstalled along with a bunch of other software for pinpointing the cause of the problem, PC1 stopped working again. Who ever said that the computer age would make our lives easier and free us up for the more enjoyable parts of life? HELP! I do not know what to do, and I am ready to throw myself out the window (don't worry, it is only one floor up). I am using an Alcatel SpeedTouch (ADSL/Ethernet) modem that I upgraded to a router. HELP! What am I going to do? I am afraid I have been hacking around too many operating system parameters in pure panic mode, resetting and reinstalling an infinite number of components, and nothing has improved since two days ago when I started. All the kids care about is chatting and emailing and surfing for fun, and they are getting desperate like addicts trying to kick a cyber habit. Time to take a break and read a book before I get even crazier than I am now.