Today has been a really weird day. Outside it is snowing really hard and everything is covered in a nice thick white blanket. The space shuttle disintegrated upon re-entry killing all seven members aboard. I got up extra early this morning, setup my shiny new work laptop on the dinner table with piles of books and information about starting your own business, figuring that I could accomplish something, but ended up doing nothing except reorganizing my contacts list in Microsoft Outlook. The kids were fine and so was I. Thea the combination working woman, wife and mother worked hard all day at the new department and was tired so she lay an hour on the couch. Weird day, don't you think? In-flight breakup, silence of snow and then life just goes on as if nothing matters. Seems like a normal day but it wasn't. Not at all.
All four of my children have just loved jumping up and down on their beds using it as some kind of wonderful trampoline that they can never get enough of. With the oldest two, I gave up having to tell them all the time, "stop jumping on your bed, you're just going to break it." This warning never works, no matter how stern I may look or how angry I may make my voice sound. Kids just cannot figure out that bouncing weights the size of children are not good for bed frames, especially those made out of wood. My bed breaking? That's impossible, just doesn't make sense. So after I came back from the fitness center this morning, feeling invigorated and healthy, I spent a large portion of the afternoon fixing Sabien's bed, whose left-side had split right down the middle of the wooden balk. I had already fixed it three years earlier, but even the four evenly-spaced thick screws were in the end not enough to hold back the incessant abuse of jumping kids. The only way to fix it was in fact just to strengthen it with a few more screws neatly drilled into the spots exactly between the original ones. Measure the distance and divide by two. I think it should hold out pretty well. At least until Sabien and Maarten become teenagers and decide to release their pent-up energy in more creative ways. So as you can see, I accomplished something very useful today, the day of rest, and I feel pretty good about it.
What I mean by frozen in time is that while I make myself believe that I am really busy every day and every minute and every second trying to get this and that and all of this other stuff done, the fact of the matter is that I am getting very little if anything accomplished. Actually nothing to be more precise. Kind of like remaining motionless all weighted down at the bottom of a ocean with its strong current streaming by and my arms and legs waving back and forth in the turbulence but caught in this big huge net at the same time. I mean, each day is just passing me by with a blink of the eye. Then what? Okay, then let's slow things down, at least in the mind the perception of events, think things out and get focused. That's it then, concentrate and focus. Slow things down in the mind's eye.
There I was again one evening at the fitness center called Living Well. After nearly an hour of intense spinning followed by a nice warm sauna (my reward for a good job done), I had this really good-feeling about everything while I was putting my clothes back on downstairs in the dressing room. To my left there were a couple of dark-colored folks going on happily in some foreign language just laughing about nothing particular, either Turkish or Moroccan I don't know which. Over to my right was this Dutch guy with whom I had done the bike exercise, a burley fellow with lots of dark hair coating most of his exposed (muscular) body. He was distracted by the intense conversation from the other two young bucks and had this tight frown stretched across his face as he glanced in their direction. After the two left all laughing and the door slammed shut behind them, the Dutch person turned to me and said, "Don't you just hate it when they speak like that, I mean can't they just learn Dutch like everyone else?!" There was this hatred beaming out from his eyes, and I was almost shocked by this look from hell. Despite his threatening demeanor, I felt brave and told him how I actually felt about it. Okay now, let's be honest about it if you dare. "Well," I mentioned nonchalantly, "afterall it is their mother tongue, so I can imagine that it is more convenient for them to speak it among themselves." He either did not like this answer of mine or he simply had not heard it, or maybe he was just restraining himself from murdering me. "You know," he continued, "why don't they just talk like they are supposed to or just get out." Out of the country, is what he meant. This guy was serious, deadly serious, and there I was stuck inbetween it all. I mean really, of all languages in the world, expecting someone to prefer speaking in the guttural gymnastics of such an insignificant language called Dutch? Rather than in your own comfortable language with friends of the same nationality? Who was this guy kidding anyway? It goes to show you that racial discrimination takes on all kinds of extreme forms and causes the carrier of this awful disease to lose contact completely with reality because of his own narrow-minded (and severely blackened) ideas. Hopefully some day the world will become a better place.
I just finished the book "A Landing on the Sun" by Michael Frayn, and like all of the other books I read by him (Headlong and Spies), I really loved it. This is the plot, in my own words.
"When a conservative civil servant mysteriously falls to his death, rumors abound that this is somehow connected to a top secret defense project. The author, a civil servant himself, is called in to investigate the events leading up to this tragic event. What he slowly and professionally unveils is a complicated and bizarre series of entwined occurrences and coincidences. As it turns out, the esoteric topic 'The quality of life' and the research project led by a firm-handed but lovely Russian woman, combined with the blindness of love, is what makes this story no less than remarkable. What at first appears as a mundane, boring and predictable theme, unfolds with elegance and skill. An excellent plot mixed in with just enough philosophy and psychology to keep the reader going until the very end."
This is a fantastic book which I can recommend highly for those readers out there who do not shy away from slight complexity and an occasional vagueness in pursuit of the more intellectual awards these kinds of books have to offer.
Today is a memorable moment in the history of this fine blog called Gibberations. Some visitor out there had unknowingly triggered an email notification to be sent to me. It contained the following message: "On Thursday, February 06, 2003 at 16:53:14 (PST), the hit-count for Gibberations became: 10,000." Compared to other blogs this might not sound like alot of hits, but for my modest future-famous blog it is quite an accomplishment of which I can be proud. All in all it has been more than worth it.
Decided to choose a final name for my future famous company. Not very satisfied with the original name of Kiffin.Org I gave it some good long thought and came up with the following list of alternative names:
And the winner is? Just click on one of the links in the list above and find out for sure. Hopefully by the time you read this my new domain name will be pointing to the right place. If not (the browser times out and you receive an errorpage), then please come back tomorrow and try again.
I have in my hands two boxes
Which God gave me to hold.
He said, "Put all your sorrows in the black box,
And all your joys in the gold."
I heeded His words, and in the two boxes
Both my joys and sorrows I stored.
But though the gold became heavier each day
The black was as light as before.
With curiosity, I opened the black,
I wanted to find out why,
And I saw, in the base of the box, a hole
Which my sorrows had fallen out by.
I showed the hole to God, and mused,
"I wonder where my sorrows could be."
He smiled a gentle smile and said,
"My child, they're all here with me."
-- Author unknown.
I asked God, why He gave me the boxes,
Why the gold, and the black with the hole?
"My child, the gold is for you to count your
blessings, The black is for you to let go."
"I have drawn the conclusion that the fact of human alien contact at this time is probably the least understood and least recognized major force that will shape the future of the human species during the twenty first century and beyond. I do believe that not only are we being impacted by alien intelligence at this time, I believe we have probably been impacted throughout the entire history of human culture. I do think that eventually we will understand that our relationship with beings from other worlds or other zones of reality goes back to the very beginning of our sense of time. I think that's going to be one of the most extraordinary and perhaps devastating discoveries in all of human history. We will discover that practically everything we know is wrong, that actually reality is alot more amazing than we thought..."
Welcome to Earth
Everything we know is wrong
Just suppose that somehow, sometime, I were able to land a lucrative and challenging job position somewhere with an interesting international technology company. Should I even consider it?
Every true marketeer worth his salt knows all about the power of the four Ps. Or at least that is what they tell me. Here are the four Ps along with a short description just in case you do not already know what all this P stuff stands for (shame on you):
Of all the weblog entries I have made so far, by far the most popular in terms of the number of comments is crackedty-crack. At the moment of this writing there have been sixteen comments which is pretty amazing. I never realized that there were so many folks out there with similar concerns about cracking their knuckles. Interesting isn't it? All knuckle crackers unite!
Of course as far as promotion is concerned, it would be nice to have a fancy company logo. With this in mind, I have been playing around with various ideas, one of which is the following:
Not that pretty and basically a humble attempt, but I will need the aid of a professional agency in order to have something really good tailor-made to the essence of what this so-called company is supposed to emanate.
Often enough it is the case that at the moment when you are feeling less inspired and question fundamentally what you are doing, you come upon a jewel of wisdom that makes you feel alot better. That is exactly what happened to me this weekend while reading "The Essential Jung" by Anthony Storr. Here follows an excerpt from the chapter in which I came upon this hidden truth:
"This seems to me to indicate that regression is not necessarily a retrograde step in the sense of a backwards development or degeneration, but rather represents a necessary phase of development. The individual is, however, not consciously aware that he is developing; he feels himself to be in a compulsive situation that resembles an early infantile state or even an embryonic condition within the womb. It is only if he remains stuck in this condition that we speak of involution or degeneration."
- Carl Jung, On Psychic Energy (CW 8, pars. 60-9)
In other words, in order to take a step forward you often first need to take a step backwards. Don't get stuck and whatever you do be sure to use the wisdom acquired during setbacks as impetus to rebound and progress.
My father was just about my age now when I first really started to get to know him as an aspiring five year old boy. Slowly but surely, I am starting to notice a number of familiar personality traits, psychological idiosyncrasies, bad habits (like clearing my throat, cussing and complaining) and behavioral tendencies which I more than likely acquired from him, either through inheritance, imitation or just plain learning. Now it is my turn to stand in his shoes and deal with these on my own terms. The way I look at it, there are a number of options to take, namely on or more of the following:
This morning I received an interesting email. The message was from some one who claims to be a journalist on assignment for the Washington Post health section, doing a (rather lighthearted) piece on knuckle cracking. She asked my permission if she could quote from my blog entry Crackedty-crack. I said alright, although at the same time I am a little weary of having droves of potential readers flooding my site and studying all the personal details of my life. I would sure hate finally having become famous because of some dumb article I wrote about cracking your knuckles, when there is so much more in life that I can offer. However, that's the funny way that fate works sometimes.
Trying to start your own business in the big bad world of commercialism means learning to build up trust with strangers with whom you plan to work and develop long-term relationships. This is quite similar to walking on unexplored ice because you are constantly on the guard for the thin sections which can crack and then collapse underneath you without the slightest warning whatsoever. At the same time, it is important to continue radiating a warm sense of unwavering confidence and not show that you are unsure about the potential partner with whom you have initiated a common sense let's speak openly type of dialog. How far are you willing to go? Go too far and you will get your head chopped off right at the neck. Go too short and you will lose momentum and fall to the wayside. Choosing the middle path does not work any more and will get you nowhere. Be dynamic, flexible, alert, on your guard, ready set go.
Every once in awhile you wake up with that tired ho-hum kind of feeling and it just refuses to go away the whole darn day. The more coffee you drink the worse it gets. The more you concentrate the harder it becomes. Lying around and doing nothing does not help either. The best approach is to let it shake itself off of you in its own time and not to worry about it too much. And then again as the day progresses, and the time starts to become elongated in that greyish shadow-like distance over there, you just stop wondering without meaning to. Just like that. Simple.
The true reason that he had entered the church in the first place was not very clear to him, only that in the end he had chosen to turn right rather than left which is what he had always done. Until this moment in his life at least.
Inside it was rather dark and smelled somewhat of stagnant water which had been dripping on the stone slabs below him for ages and even longer. The slabs were in fact markings of fine folks of days past with an inscription about this and that and some numerals etched in at the very center above the very same cross of death. There was not a single person in the whole place, although if he listened very very carefully he could discern distant steps from another day or a hidden whisper over there around the corner or something else which at the moment he could not quite make out.
Some beams of sunlight shone in through the variegated shards of glass, and there was this shadow of a flying creature which glinted from left to right with an amazing sense of grace that was unfamiliar to him. At least not until this moment in his life. There it went never to be seen again.
Because there was this slight heaviness pressing down on his shoulders, he took a seat at the very front which in his mind had been reserved for him since the day he was born. There was indeed a sense of urgency to it all and he could do nothing less the follow this feeling. In order to get there he had to cross the center aisle which meant that if he were not to anger that fire-breathing god over there behind the altar he would have to kneel and cross himself. No way that they are going to make me do that he mumbled to himself, but he did it anyway just in case.
Time passed by, perhaps an hour or even more, and it started to get dark.
After sitting there for just under two hours, just thinking and looking around and meditating a little, he knew that it was time to go. But he also knew that he would never ever be returning to this place again, at least not until this kind of moment occurred in his life once more, just once more. Virtually impossible but still ever so slightly possible nonetheless. The time would be different and he would not be exactly the same, but surely he could do something about it if he really wanted to.
He stood up and spun around slowly on his right heal. Someone could throw an awful spear at him from behind and it would pierce his chest from the back through his heart and out the front of his sternum, blood splattered all over the place. He walked backwards for fear of being struck down if he were not careful enough all the way to the rear until his back scraped against the wooden door which was not only meant to keep people out but to keep everyone inside as well.
The big iron ring was cold to the touch and he pulled it open and continued outside.
Back to the same corner where earlier he had turned right he decided to turn left again as always. The sun was starting to shine and the glint off of the church windows caught his attention as he walked by this time on the other side. And when he finally got to where he was going, though he knew perfectly well that that could never really happen not in the strictest sense of well-being which each and everyone of us is familiar with, he rubbed his forehead with the back of his hand.
The same hand which now smelled like rusty metal from the door ring he had touched so nervously about thirty minutes before. Sweat and rust and ancient metal which in time had all melted together.
After some thought followed by a few fleeting random memories of dreams, he decided that yes it could be possible again much earlier than allowed. Say in a year or slightly more, but definitely not longer than that. Let's make it ten months just for the heck of it, he thought to himself. And then after that say nine months, and then eight and then so on and so on. Until there was no more time inbetween, no more time left to do what he was supposed to do, a sliver and then nothing at all, in a last burst of awareness that he knew would be coming sooner than he had hoped and expected.
Better start preparing myself now, he thought to himself, and then just for good measure wrote it down on a piece of paper.
Better start preparing myself, but not just yet.
So one would imagine that by now I should be able to remember which toothbrush belongs to me. Or not? For someone who claims to have a knack for details and enjoys a nearly perfect photographic mind since birth, how could such a trivial thing as a lame toothbrush be so difficult? As if just the color would not be enough of a distinguishing factor, a natural characteristic. Was it the purple or the blue one? The blue one. Wait, there is a dark blue one as well as a transparent blue one, which one is it? You see, there had to be an absolutely unique and overpowering factor which in my mind at least would cause my brain to recognize, reach out and grab the correct artifact without an inkling of hesitation. So what I did was this: take a strip of black electrician's tape and wrap it around the base of the toothbrush in such a way that the correct utensil stuck out enough for me in the mixed up crowd of six plus toothbrushes that there would be no room for confusion. And the amazing thing is that it works! So from now on, the very first thing I do whenever I buy a new toothbrush (who cares what color it is any more, the design and/or shape of the bristles) is rip off the plastic wrapping, open up the box, cut off a strip of black tape and wrap it in place. Solidly and unhesitatingly in place, parallel and connected and taut so that it stretches just enough to be able to withstand the moisture common to all bathrooms and to remain affixed indefinitely. The toothbrush acquires a sense of professionalism that does not quit, and the friction of the tape in the palm of my hand feels amazingly good to the touch, as if by brushing now everything works much better than the default state of mind. To imagine that toothbrushes are not the highest form of spiritual awareness is a risk I am not willing to take. You never know, so just in case.
You would expect that after all of these thousands and thousands of years of war and misery that mankind would know better by now. The ironic thing is that while the majority of us have figured it out long ago any way, there are still a couple of awful people in power who think they know things better than the rest. The trick is not to stand in the way when the next war starts. This time around we hope that it will not take place in our neighborhood, but somewhere sometime it will. No matter how hard we try to prevent it.
If worse comes to worse, my main concern at this very moment is not whether or not my business works out and I earn enough to survive. My highest priority is raising my kids properly so that they will grow up to be healthy and happy, up-and-running and well prepared to face life on their own as solid adults. I wonder if I will be successful in this regard. Actually, to be honest I feel more hopeful of doing alright on the father than the business front, so in the end at least I will feel I have accomplished something. When it comes time to look back on how things went, I mean.
Lennart looks up from the newspaper he is reading while having a late morning breakfast. He is aggravated by my presence for some reason.
"Why do you always have to do that?!"
"What?" I ask after feeling a little shocked by his tone of voice, as if he is the boss in the house not I.
"You always have to shift things around a hundred times until everything is perfectly straight."
He is absolutely right. Lately, perhaps because of a slight feeling of insecurity, unable to communicate with the older kids in a spontaneous and normal way, I have become neurotic.
I hang around and start straightening piles of papers, plates and/or cups, pencils and pens, a crooked magazine, any article with geometry, on flat surfaces with angles and sides which can be re-oriented to produce symmetry, parallel edges, converging lines, etc.
This activity has gotten so bad that I have not been aware of it. Got to do something about it soon before it becomes incurable.
My answer then, "Sorry, you are absolutely right. I will try not to do it any more."
After I grab my cup of coffee and head on up back upstairs, I realize that this promise will be hard to keep. My idiosyncrasies have gotten the best of me the last couple of months. Need to find a more efficient way to release extra psychological energy.
After redoing it about a hundred times, I think I have finally got it down pat. My voice mail announcement that is. Not too artificial, not too closeup and personal, down-to-earth and straight-forward, a message which is attractive enough to invite (potential) customers to leave their name and telephone number so that I can call them back.
Thank you for calling Gishteq, your Internet and e-business enablers. We're sorry, but there is no one available right now to handle your call. Please leave your name and telephone number after the beep, in English or in Dutch, and we will contact you right away.