From deep in my heart I wish each and every one of the fine readers out there a really great year:
Enjoy and peace on Earth.
When it was time to wake up again, he realized that almost everything around him had changed. Almost everything. The differences between the moment of going to sleep and the moment of awakening were barely discernible but they were there nonetheless. Subtle changes to the this and the that shifting and moving in a different time frame. Ascending and descending at the same time. Another dimension to explore. The long thin wire was still there for some reason, and the flow of electricity through it hummed in the distance. He could hear it very clearly. If he concentrated hard enough he could actually feel the slight heat as it flowed along. Something sliding and emanating and pulling him along further. They had told him earlier with a very convincing look that this was impossible, but he knew that this was not and could not be true. Even if their tones of voice then became louder and more threatening. Now if he could just do something about that wire then life would be so much easier. Wouldn't it? He knew that the wire had to remain in place lodged deep and unseen by anyone except himself. All he had to do was roll over pretending to himself that some day it would go away. That is what he did just before he stood up and walked over to the window. And what an amazing view it was that waited for him over there. Thanks to the wire that is. Thanks to the way he was thinking.
In the middle of the night, Maarten called his mother. Since she was sleeping very deeply and did not hear him, I went downstairs to his room and handed him the usual glass of water. After two quick swallows, he looked up at me and with a sleepy though concerned look on his face said, "You haven't forgotten to keep looking for a job, have you?" He was under the false impression that because nothing had lately materialized that this could only be possible because I was neglecting my duties, eg. forgotten to search (because of the holidays). I reassured him that this was not the case and that he should not worry about it. Go back to sleep.
"Every year brings new mistakes. In 2002, several of the worst mistakes in Web design related to poor email integration. The number one mistake, however, was lack of pricing information, followed by overly literal search engines..."
For more information you might want to check out Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox which always provides a wealth of hints and tips for those folks out there who are serious about good web design.
So the question which has been burning in my mind for the last few months has been whether or not to donate my organs when I die. I have been thinking about it seriously for some time now, vacillating between an insecure "no" to an enthusiastic "yes." When I think about it rationally it makes perfect sense, but when I let the emotional side of me take over, there are a number of bothersome doubts. What if this or what if that or should I this.
All of a sudden it hit me. Who am I to decide whether or not I should donate my organs? When I came into this world, God gave me with all his pureness of love this wonderful body of mine, including all the organs and tissue. Nothing less than a blessing from above which I should appreciate with every fiber of my being. Realize that when the time comes I should thankfully and freely allow the less fortunate others to use vital parts of myself to give them a better life. This is truly a miracle. This is not for me to decide, how dare I think that way! So I have become a donor by filling out the required donor registration card. Let's just say that not a single viable organ or tissue of mine has been forgotten.
Every viable part of me is ready to enhance life and spread the love of God. If you are also thinking about becoming a donor, then I can recommend checking out the Foundation for Donor Information site for more details.
Last night I had the most amazing dream you could ever imagine. In this dream I had somehow attained complete and total enlightenment, and I was filled with this perfect happiness. I felt spiritually content in an ultimate way and knew that I had finally found the answer to everything. Every single thing. It was this kind of weird and vague feeling deep down inside of me like I was drowning in an immense ocean of warmth, but it was so convincing and real that I almost felt like never waking up again. As if that were possible. One could say that it was similar to that of an insight of a deja vu but vastly more powerful and engulfing. When I try to reflect back upon the actual contents of this dream, the details escape me completely. To be honest I have absolutely no recollection of the dream except that it happened and that that is how I felt. Too bad these things can only happen in the real world and not in the artificial one in which we all live, if you know what I mean.
"When considering a life change, we let our fears govern our decisions. Rather than challenging the validity of those fears, we accept the boundaries set by those fears, and end up confining our search to a narrow range of possibilities, like the guy looking for his car keys under the streetlight because he's afraid of the dark." -- Po Bronson.
The sagging economy is getting worse and worse, forcing many people to turn inward and re-evaluate their careers. One begins to wonder what it is all worth and what is the best route to take after one has supposedly accomplished everything (or nothing).
The book What should I do with my life? is an attempt to chronicle the quest to the answer of the most important question there is. If you have Real Audio installed, you can listen to the Morning Edition Audio from the NPR homepage.
The most common misconceptions turn out to be that:
You might also want to join the Yahoo Life Goals mailing list. I did. Now it is my turn to do something with my life.
A Dutch lesbian has given birth to the world's second cloned baby, the Raelian movement says.
No, I am not making this all up. Yes, I am telling the truth. Believe it or not it really happened. Read all about it in this Reuters article.
Sometimes one seriously wonders where the world is going to. These Raelian folks sound like a really strange bunch of dreamers with their cult. Check out the Raelian Revolution homepage if you really feel like flipping out.
There is this thin layer of crisp dry snow on the ground this early morning. The cool sub-freezing air bites ever so slightly as you breathe it into your lungs. Giving one strength with each inhalation. When you place those gentle footsteps on the snow, the feeling is like walking on snippets of egg shell where crackling and sliding sounds cause you almost to slip but not quite.
Today is indeed a very big historical moment in the life and times of the upcoming company to be called Kiffin-dot-org. Time to celebrate.
The reason is that I found my very first investor who is willing to offer some venture capital to a worthy cause. I didn't even have to ask first, as this person just came up to me on her own and volunteered out of the blue. Who is this person you may ask? Well, believe it or not it is my good ol' Dutch mother-in-law (schoonmoeder). She gets a very special thanks from me, as well as a big kiss and a hug. Wow, does that really make a difference. I assure her that her money will be in good hands. The extra funding will prove to be a worthy and lucrative investment, that's for sure. For the time being this will help out alot with the basic beginning stuff I need for the infrastructure, mostly equipment, an accountant and training purposes. This month I have to fork out an arm and a leg for a so-called Web Analytics Technical Mastery training program as well as a couple of workshops for starting entrepreneurs organized by the Chamber of Commerce, so the money will certainly come in handy.
For startup firms with exceptional growth potential like mine, risk capital is an essential element for a new business venture in its earliest stage of development. Otherwise it just falls flat on its face.
Thanks alot Mrs. Karssemeijer. Heel erg bedankt!
As if change of fate does not influence the immediate surroundings in strange and mysterious ways, I randomly happened to discover an interesting link in my latest BBC Science weekly email newsletter.
Have you resolved to start the new year with a new career? What do you want from a job? Take the careers test and find out what sort of work might suit your style.
Don't forget that while taking this questionnaire, you should not worry about whether you have the necessary abilities, just about what "most appeals" to you.
There are six types of person defined and this is how I scored:
Might suit my interests and preferences:
Less likely to suit my interests:
My results are kind of boring. Nothing really out of the ordinary that I did not know already. Would be curious however to hear from others how they scored and if they were enlightened by the results.
There are all kinds of other psychological tests available here for those interested in learning more about themselves in a pseudo-scientific way.
Yesterday I purchased the Dutch book "Handboek Freelancen 2002/2003" and have since then been devouring its contents in search for valuable hints and tips on how best to start my life anew as a future-famous freelancer.
Actually I do not like the sound of freelancer, and I prefer to see myself as kind of new age entrepreneur, a self-navigator, a pioneer e-lancer. In case you already don't know, the term "freelancer" originally dates from the middle ages where it meant a medieval mercenary, from a French term meaning free-lansier.
According to the first chapter of this book, today's freelance professional can in essence be described as follows:
"Freelancen betekent kwaliteiten uitbuiten, kansen benutten en risico's nemen. Het is niet alleen een vorm waarin je je capaciteiten aan de man brengt. Het is ook een manier van leven die je houding en sociale leven beinvloedt. Een freelancer is in de eerste plaats op zichzelf aangewezen, hij is verantwoordelijk voor zijn eigen succes. En voor zijn eigen falen."
Translated into English you get something like:
"Freelancing means exploiting quality, taking advantage of chances and taking risks. It is not only a manner with which you present your abilities. It is also a way of life which influences your attitude and social life. A freelancer is at first entirely committed to himself, he is totally responsible for his own success. And for his own failure."
So which way will it be for me?
Risks are a part of life, but I sure hate taking them. The problem is that you cannot just think about yourself but also how your decisions will effect others around you, mostly family and friends. Some so-called stronger people have the ability to brush it off like it is nothing, but not me. That's what you get for being born with an excess sensitivity to the way things are and the way things turn out.
Has another week passed by already? I guess so. Things seem to be picking up and I have been developing my business ideas even further. For those of you interested, you might want to check out the new-and-improved Kiffin.Org site. Personally, I think it is looking pretty good, but who am I to decide? The important thing is to benchmark with others, remain alert and flexible. I would be curious to hear any reactions.
The process of individuation is a never-ending struggle which can be compared to a religious quest. Whether you realize it or not, each and every one of us has embarked on this journey from the moment of birth. Perhaps even initiated before birth and perhaps even continued after death. What's the difference? The trick is to pay careful attention to the subconscious right now in order to figure this out. There is a thin line which at the lowest level of detail looks like a churning sea of micro-waves and micro-bubbles bursting all over the place. Wholeness and integration are necessary conditions, made clearer through fantasies or dreams or slightly different ways of thinking about the this and the that. At times this slightly different way of thinking can verge on the insane, putting you in an unusual and uncomfortable situation that has to be dealt with through your own honesty and perseverance. Strange how such a necessary quest can in the end lead to your complete destruction, your ultimate demise. So please be alert out there, walk carefully. Belief in your own talents and strengths is a good way of avoiding such an unwanted premature end. But it is not a guarantee.
"GeoURL is a location-to-URL reverse directory. This will allow you to find URLs by their proximity to a given location. Find your neighbor's blog, perhaps, or the web page of the restaurants near you." You might have noticed the little green button I added in the upper right-hand corner.
So would you like to have the same on your web site? Well, just add the following code in the
<head> section of your web page:
<meta name="ICBM" content="longitude, latitude">
<meta name="DC.title" content="site name">
After you have done that, then you have to ping the server in order to indicate that the page has been updated.
The other day I was gathering up some money from the local bank's cash dispenser just around the corner when this homeless person came up to me. I was at first startled by his appearance, but upon closer inspection he appeared to be harmless enough. Or so I thought. He asked in a soft and scratchy voice, you know the kind that makes you feel a hundred times more sorry for the poor guy than you should, "do you have some extra change for a poor and helpless soul?" Hmmm. I felt in an especially generous mood, more than likely because it was five below zero, and this poor guy was shivering in the cold. The hand he held out to me was shaking quite violently, almost as if he had some kind of disease of his nervous system. So I dug into my wallet and carefully handed him a two euro coin, saying "This should be enough, I hope." There was this really warm feeling inside of me, the kind that almost gives you goose bumps or tears in your eyes. I guess I had expected him to be overly surprised by my generous donation, and I was waiting for the satisfying smile of surprise on his face. Instead, he looked at the coin in the palm of his hand, frowned a little with his bushy eyebrows, and mumbled back, "Howabout two fifty then, that would be better." I felt like I had been given the short end of the stick, sucked into a bad deal, so I told him firmly, "no that will be enough for the time being." I was a little nervous being so harsh and to the point, and believe it or not I almost felt guilty. So I just walked away at a quick pace, hoping that he would not attack me from behind. But he didn't and I emerged from this adventure feeling quite disappointed with a world that was not happy enough with my openness and generosities. Another micro-quest of mine to save the world which had failed miserably. Life is full of interesting surprises which make you do double-takes, don't you think? Because of this episode I have changed my philosophy of life ever so slightly.
So you have finally decided that you want to look representative and professional. You say that this is necessary in order to come across in a more positive and convincing manner. Alright, I can relate to that. The first thing you have to do is have a look at your hair. Yes your hair. Go ahead and have a look in the mirror. This is one of the first things the person over there or the potential customer or the secret lover sees, and like all first impressions it can be a big disappointment, for him or her as well as for you or me. Take my own hair for example, what little there is left that is. Last summer, I decided to be cool and to shave it real short. Like what they used to call a butch. This was alright for a time and it did look sharp and clean for starters, but one big disadvantage was that I looked balder and thus older. About ten years older than I really am. Not that that is important but you know how it goes. Nowadays I want to compete with other young bucks who are dynamic and enthusiastic junior entrepreneurs, but an old man sticks out like you know what. No way to compete in the world this way and expect to win. Gotta look younger and energetic and pretend I can keep up with them. The answer then is simple you would think: just grow your hair. And that is exactly what I have been doing for about two months now. At least, trying to do. But look at it now! A large ball of see-through hair tangled in a gossamer mess of nothingness and a half, pointing all over the place. Not very representative at all, unless of course I am trying to sell cotton candy or want to land a job in the circus. This phase is a necessary evil in order to grow my hair to the proper length, a middle path to success, a half-way house along the way. I will put extra effort in extrovert motions and expressions in order to distract the potential customer or distant lover from the way things are. Hey what's that giant bird doing over there? This will be good practice for me since by nature I am an introvert trying to prove himself in more ways than one. Looks are a big part of it, but actions and imaginary tendencies are more than enough to keep you going. I have had enough of the halfway house for now.
Just at the painful point in this long and tiresome investigation when I begin slightly to lose some of my inspiration, I discover the following random newspaper article which excites me some and gives me extra energy: "Nederlandse webwinkels zijn klantonvriendelijk". Translated into awkward English you get something like "Dutch web-stores are customer unfriendly." This is great news! In essence, the article explains how lousy the Dutch shopping sites on the Internet are, how they are losing tons of money because dissatisfied customers cannot find what they want and are leaving in droves, and how in America things are a hundred times better. Isn't that exactly the market in which I was hoping to find my own little lucrative yet comfortable niche? So there is still hope afterall. Don't tell anyone though. At least not until I tell you first that you can, okay?
One of the things they warn you about during the "starting your own business" workshops is that it puts an amazingly big strain on your family situation. This is not to be underestimated. Although I find myself just at the very beginning of the whole process, the first steps of re-orientation and market research, I can be quite honest when I say that I am now already feeling these strains. The extra weight of responsibility is no fun and it is not a laughing matter. Indeed, these so-called strains are heavy and it takes a strong will (and mind) to overcome them. I firmly believe that through perseverance, a positive attitude and good common-sense, there is much to gain. However, if you are not very careful and alert enough, you can easily lose alot more than just money.
This is what my dear dentist had to tell me that morning. "You see, you can compare it to a porcelain teacup which has a very small crack in it. Perhaps it could be that the crack is very, very small and not visible to the human eye, but it is there nonetheless, I can assure you. As time passes and you keep pouring yourself yet another cup of tea, the crack will get bigger each time the teacup is used. Now, you could choose to do nothing about it if you feel it does not bother you, but in the end the crack will get big enough that a piece of the teacup will break off altogether. It is up to you really." But that is not my question, in fact I had not even asked a question in the first place. Also, I never drink tea and have never been a real tea drinker type of person. Typical how dentists do not listen very well to the patient. They just go off into the clouds on these weird tangents trying to explain such complicated matters as cracks in teeth by comparing them to porcelain teacups. As if I am some moron, who cannot figure things out if they are described in adult terms. By gosh, I went to the university and have a diploma to prove it. I will have to bring a copy of my diploma with me for my next dentist appointment so that I can show him the proof. How dare he treat me that way! All I had said was that this pain I was having in my bottom right molar had started in the first place when he had replaced the original filling. At the time he claimed that it was getting too old and turning blue along the edges which meant it was time to replace it before something more major came up. Ironically, by actually replacing this filling, rather than preventing potential problems as he claimed, it had caused a major problem, namely this aggravating pain I had been having for the last two years. But the dentist would not listen nor admit that perhaps his previous treatment could have ever possibly caused this pain of mine. Could even be just a mental thing for all he could care about. No, I was certainly mistaken. I had later on more than likely bitten on something really hard, a seed or piece of bone or walnut shell, and this is the cause of all my misery. He held up his forefinger and thumb to my face holding the imaginary piece of whatever it had been. I could almost see it he was so convincing, at least he thought. When I tried to explain things chronologically using facts and events and dates, he did not want to listen. Instead he went on and on about this porcelain teacup episode. In the end, I just let it happen in order to avoid a major conflict. When I left I stopped by the reception and made an appointment to have my filling replaced and this (mental) crack of mine fixed. Life is like a teacup, isn't it?
In order to start a successful business in The Netherlands, it is a definite advantage to be familiar with the terminology. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have collected quite a new arsenal of words in the last couple of months. So many new and interesting words, like these:
Begroting - budget. Acquisitie - acquisition. Auteursrecht - copyright. Algemene voorwaarden - general conditions. Offerte - quotation, offer. Markt afbakenen - stake out the market. Onderneming - undertaking, enterprise, venture. Kosten - costs. Risico's - risks. Markt verwerven - win over the market. Boekhouding - bookkeeping. Aaskever - carrion-beetle. Beroepsaansprakelijkheidsverzekering - professional liability insurance. Niet geschoten is altijd mis - not shot is always miss.
Here are a number of (pretty good) reasons I have decided to do what I am doing now:
The expression she made was not quite out of the ordinary nor was it what one could call exceptional. Glancing ever so slightly to the side it became apparent that there was a deeper meaning behind each and every one of her actions. These actions were normal but in slow motion at the same time. Mysterious and uncertain, reaching out for the unknown and at the same instant a subtle movement of body and skin worth noting. Maybe it would be more convenient to think up something else? That is when I decided that perhaps it would be better during my waking moments to react from within my mind by forming thoughts in order to prevent these dreams from coming back again and again. At least one may influence the subconsciousness easily enough, but can it be done the other way around? The days will be different as they are created from the pseudo-worldly dreams of another time and place.
The way I see it there is never enough time to learn everything that you want to learn. In fact, the more you learn the more you realize that you will never get there within one lifetime. The chances are even less if there are indeed more than one lifetime to experience. Nor within two lifetimes, three lifetimes, nor more. There is simply too much catching up to do, so why even start in the first place? Starting all over again that is. Perhaps in that regard the best action to take is no action at all. So let us then assume that you decide to take no action at all. Where will that lead you then?
As conversations slowly become more frustrating and aggravating because no one understands what I am saying. Or because everyone seems to interpret my words and sentences in a way foreign to all intentions, almost like they are doing it on purpose. To bug me. To make me insane. Like I am slowly losing touch with reality, and the real conversations of which I am never a part. Then it is time to rethink things all over again. Why can't they figure out what I am saying? Just rubbish. Makes me often feel like I am talking complete rubbish. While I know for sure that I am not. So whose fault is it anyway? Speak in simple and clear terms, slowly and more slowly. Even then there is room for misinterpretation. Restrict yourself to straight forward facts, numbers, exact figures, lines on graphs, round circles connected with dotted-lines and arrows, that kind of thing. Point exactly to the spot in three dimensional space about which you are referring, without a doubt. Wagging your forefinger should be avoided, and do not stare too much that it seems you are getting cross-eyed. See, there it is again: seems. Do not embellish and never hint at something personal because emotions just gets in the way. Every time. Be brief and repeat. Civilization seems to be regressing back to the primitive days where language was made up of grunting sounds and waving hands. Was that exact or not?
Of course, you would never expect such a morbid discovery when you are making the bed of your youngest daughter early that morning. Being in a mad rush to get everything done before it is too late does not make matters any better. It was raining pretty hard outside and the wind was blowing if that matters. So what happened exactly? Well, I was straightening out the green covers nice and taut, and I had to slide the bed out from the wall in order to tuck in the covers on that side. As I moved the bed out a ways, this strangely oversized shoebox which had been wedged in there fell hard to the ground making a dismal and muffled thump. The lid popped off and some of the contents spilled out. There was this dangling arm with streaks of blood on it and a smashed-in head of a half-decomposed body, all this greenish mold and oozing substance which had solidified over time. Not the usual adult body that one might expect in these kind of dreamworlds, but rather the thinnish body of a small child, say around five years of age. I recognized immediately who it was, and I did not have to think about what had happened. I woke up with a start. I am still recovering from that episode, that's for sure.
Exactly fifty years ago to this very day, this is what large parts of south-west Holland looked like:
For those fine folks out there who are more interested in exploring the historical background to this terrible event, the following links will provide you with more information: