My cute little boy is only eight years old. But when he lets loose one of his impressive sneezes, the whole house vibrates from its very foundations. Like there is an earthquake coming on, and every soul within a radius of fifty yards jumps with a start into the air. Cats and dogs go scurrying away around the corner, and flocks of birds break up and spread out, escaping to the distant horizon. I guess it is a Gish kind of thing. My father had it to the extreme. Unlike my cute little son, my father provided potential victims no warning sniffles, no huffing and puffing beforehand, just one instantly amazing barrage of sneeze particles and tens of decibels of sound spraying all over the place, blowing the house down. Nearly gave me a heart-attack every time. Funny how sneezes of the present trigger the mind to remember associations of the past.
So what the heck am I doing reading good old entertaining fiction? When I should be concentrating all of my efforts now on setting up a half-decent business, e.g. if I happen to have any time left over at the end of the day to read books then it should have something to do with book-keeping, management, marketing or whatever. Heck, I am not some humanoid machine purring endlessly over there in the corner now am I? Tough luck, I need to relax once in a while. I cannot help it if I am addicted to good books now, can I?
For some reason I have read Hornby's books backwards, that is in reverse chronological order to publication dates. The third book High Fidelity I ended up reading by him happens to be his very first book, the one which got him famous in the first place. Not as good as the other two: About a Boy (made into a film with Hugh Grant) and How to be Good. But if you can get beyond the British slang and the pop music trivia it can be quite entertaining. Even some one as boring as I had a good laugh during some of the more hilarious scenes. I recommend it highly for the beach where you just need to distract your mind, not think too much, and enjoy the ocean breeze.
If you are wondering what the book is really about, here's a generic objective kind of review I found on the Amazon.com web site:
"For Rob Fleming, thirty-five years old, a pop addict and owner of a failing record shop, these are the sort of questions that need an answer, and soon. His girlfriend has just left him. Can he really go on living in a poky flat surrounded by vinyl and CDs or should he get a real home, a real family and a real job? Perhaps most difficult of all, will he ever be able to stop thinking about life in terms of the All Time Top Five bands, books, films, songs - even now that he's been dumped again, the top five break-ups?"
Check out Death of a blogger for an interesting discussion about the so-called thought-viruses which through the art of blogging everywhere produce walking and talking and self-propagating memes.
All those poor innocent little chickens. They all have to die. And it was not their fault at all. Just happened to be there when the awful chicken influenza virus struck. Clucking around the farm, and then all the trucks came and rounded them up for the gassing. All nine thousand of them and more. See you later. Real bummer little chickens. Extra safety precautions demand that even the healthy chickens within a radius of thirty kilometers also have to go. Round them up along with all the rest. Too bad, but you never know now, do you?
This is what a local Dutch newspaper had to say:
"Het ruimen van de eerste verdachte boerderij in het Gelderse Laren is maandagochtend begonnen, zo heeft een woordvoerster van het ministerie van Landbouw meegedeeld. De kippen worden in een bak bedwelmd met het gas CO2. Daarna worden ze voor destructie afgevoerd."
Which when translated into broken English means something like this:
"The clearing away of the first suspicious farm in the Gelders Laren started Monday morning, says the spokeswoman of the Minister of Agriculture. The chickens were first gassed with C02. Afterward they are taken away for destruction."
Just to tickle your fancy, here comes the ironic part. The truth of the matter is that in this country more than a million chickens are normally killed per day just to feed us, the all consuming "hungry souls" who rule the planet. That's alot more than nine thousand chickens, a hundred times more, but does that ever get noticed? You never see any front page news about that happening now do you? One million nine thousand chicken lives ended in a fraction of a second, just like that.
Gruesome, isn't it? But that's life. Isn't it?
In protest I will refuse to eat any chicken for the rest of my life. Well, at least the rest of this week anyway.
Alright, so the time gap since last year September since I was last employed and doing something useful in my life has become to large of a blank period. Meaning that my resume has to be updated to reflect the fact that I have not been bored stiff in the meantime but rather have been amazingly active, productive and energetic.
So this is what I added to the work experience section:
October 2002 - Now
Founder and Principal E-business Consultant
As owner and principal consultant of my own company called GishTeq, I have been providing independent consulting services to companies developing and deploying e-business solutions. Services include project management, web site analytics, business process improvement, as well as web design, implementation and deployment. All the services focus on leveraging the strengths of the best of all possible web products in order to maximize the effectiveness of the customer tailor-made solutions. Customers are middle to large organizations who sell and/or promote services and products through e-business, e.g. Internet and/or Intranet.
You can check it out for yourself by viewing my online resume firsthand if you are not sufficiently impressed or if you do not believe me or whatever. If you are sufficiently impressed and think there could be an interesting opportunity for me, please feel free to download this resumé (doc 58 kb).
According to the news this evening it is now official. The rate of unemployment has never been this high since twenty years ago. That is about the time when I first started living here of all places. But the bad news does not stop there. The experts predict that the unemployment rate will continue to rise steadily for the next half year or so. The prognoses is the worst for Information Technology (hey that's me) and the best for the health sector (hey that's my wife). Now imagine the war with Iraq breaking out and the effect this will have on the European economy and unemployment. Try to remain positive? Hang on tight, we're headed for rough seas. I hope I do not get too sea-sick this time around.
Right about the time I was around six years old or so is when I first realized that indeed I would one day suffer some form or other of one or more neuroses. At the time I was too young to fathom the true implications of this mental prediction of mine other than that I knew it would happen some day and that I had best start preparing for the moment as soon as possible. Already at that young age I was suffering one phobia or other, minimal and repressed, though occurring and reoccurring nonetheless.
One example was my extreme fear of anything mechanized, especially those objects containing wheels. An example was the rumble of an occasional car in the distance. I would dash indoors and hide in a closet before the evil metallic construction made its way down the road and past my house. In my mind I could imagine the creature pausing for a moment directly in front of my house, peering into the front windows in search of the next innocent child victim. Then again if I hid long enough, the machine would abandon its search and continue down the hill. As an extra precaution, I would wait an extra ten minutes to make doubly sure it was safe before I dared venture outside again. Often enough right at the moment I opened the front door, there would occur yet another car's rumble off in the distance, and I would have to run inside again to repeat the whole process all over again. Ten, fifteen or even twenty times a day, a kind of weird repetition neurosis. My very first (conscious) cracks in reality's way.
Later as I aged I figured that the best policy was just to ignore things and hope it would not happen. Even much later is when the first cracks of unreality appeared on the mirror of so-called reality. Cracks opening up and spreading and encompassing everything around them like one gigantic spider web. So much so that eventually it became almost impossible to tell the difference between the real and the unreal, where the cracks were and where they were not. Everything seemed like a cracked mirror. This makes life a bit more challenging but also frustrating.
Like it is a matter of life and death which it is not.
So there's this awful looking growth getting bigger and bigger on the inside of my palm just below where the thumb meets the hand, right there at the base. Slowly but surely it has been getting bigger and bigger, swelling like a balloon of mush. In fact, it has gotten so bad the last couple of days that this slit has burst open underneath where the bulge hangs over and keeps oozing out puss. It is so unbelievably itchy that I cannot bear it just wanting to scratch at it scratch it. But I know that I must resist as this will only make it ten times worse, accelerating the process (which is inevitable). I should have never waited this long pretending that it wasn't there. Now it is too late. I will have to tell my wife and kids, but I would rather conceal it because they will only get all worried and upset. Pretty stupid of me. It looks so awful in fact that to be honest it surprises me that they have not noticed it already. How come? I have done an amazingly good job at hiding this monstrosity and pretending that it is not there, quite an accomplishment when you think about it.
Sometimes you go through life hearing a certain word or term being used and you have never understood what it means because you have either been too lazy to look it up in the dictionary or you have felt too embarrassed to ask the person what it means.
Such has been the case for me with the word dovetail. I have heard it used on occasion but never understood what it was. Hard to believe for someone like myself with a university degree.
Today I was watching a television interview with some mid-east political expert and he was explaining how everything was "dovetailing" so nicely in favor of Bush and the war with Iraq for which he was preparing. Obviously in this context it means "to connect or combine precisely or harmoniously" and at least that much made sense.
So this time around I decided to look it up in the dictionary and I found the following definitions:
"A joint formed by inserting a projecting wedge-shaped member into a correspondingly shaped cutout member; A fan-shaped tenon that forms a tight interlocking joint when fitted into a corresponding mortise."
Just in case this is the first time for you also, I have created this blog entry so that you too can impress your friends and relatives with your new found knowledge. Pushing you along further on the road to learning all there is to know in the world.
The letter came from Southern France, and when I opened it this is what I read:
"Nous vous remercions d'avoir bien voulu confier vos vacances à notre camping. Nous avons bien reçu votre contrat de location d'emplacement ainsi que votre versement de... Aussi, nous vous confirmons pars la présente la réservation définitive d'un emplacement camping à votre nom pour la période ..."
Hurrah, it is now official! We are going to the Côte d'Azur (Frejus) this summer for our vacation! At the Camping Caravaning Le Frejvs to be more precise. We are sure excited.
He could never stop himself from longing for the good old days of his youth. As if that was the one time in his life when he could have done something about it all. Now things were all different, irreversible and the end was in sight. A choice had to be made to either keep harping about days long gone or make the best of the days still left. Logically the decision was easy but from deep inside of him he was unable to loose himself from the other choice.
Boy, I am sure looking forward to my course today covering all the ins and outs of bookkeeping (the Dutch way). Not really. Some things just have to be done, and for any business this is basics that everyone needs to know in order to keep things up and running like they should. In addition, the course offers me a good excuse to get out of the house, meet new and exciting fellow starters, and fill my mind with various tid-bits of valuable information.
I really hate wasting my time for nothing, especially when there is so much to do and so little time left. Doing something completely stupid makes matters that much more worse! Take this morning for example. I could not get my computer to connect to the Internet anymore. I tried everything, and finally romped around the new room screaming and yelling and cussing all over the place. I was almost on the verge of tossing something out the window, but fortunately I restrained myself. Just barely enough to give myself just that much extra time to spy on a tiny detail which had escaped my attention. That is when I realized that none of the LEDs on my ADSL modem were working anymore. As it turns out, I had inadvertently dislodged the plug of the modem from the wall socket under the table by wiggling my big toe the wrong way. Unplugged means no electricity means no energy means modem dead as a door knob. Get it? So I plugged it back in, and lo and behold everything started working just fine again. About three hours of valuable time gone down the drain! That was a morning which screamed by in a blur and a complete waste of time. What next?!
"The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves."
- Carl Gustav Jung.
Note: according to Jung, it is essential that one first get in touch with the Shadow (and then next with the Anima/Animus) before one can truly get in touch with the inner self. Otherwise, things seemingly outside of our control are bound to get the worst of us by the inevitable conflicts of fate.
I am totally against the upcoming war with Iraq because of the following reasons:
Here are a few examples of how much more paranoid I have been getting because of the recent developments with the Gulf War:
Trying to keep pace with the whims of technology is not an easy task. This is known to be especially hard the older one gets. What could be the real reason for this? Research has shown that older folks retain something like ninety-eight percent of their original brain cells, so it appears that at least the ability to learn has not decreased significantly. Rather the decreased ability seems to have something to do with the desire to learn arcane stuff, which I can imagine gets less the older you get. One's priorities change and other things become more important. Because of the reduced interest, one's concentrations gets worse and (subconsciously or not) it just does not seem that much worthwhile any more. Where are the true values, those which make the difference in life? Not so much buried in facts and figures as somewhere else.
You see, I still love technology and cannot get enough of it. But while the bits and bytes and other factual details may be important in one way, I feel the the real value comes in using one's mind in a creative way in order to make the best match between the potential of technology and how it best fits the needs of an ever-changing society.
That is what life is really all about. Who wants to remain a technology nerd anyway for the rest of one's life?
Right now on the television there is a plethora of an ever-repeating cycle of information flooding the media. One seriously wonders what is true and what is merely dramatized propaganda. Events so far covering the attack on Iraq seem to be running amazingly smoothly, in fact the incursions on various fronts are going way ahead of schedule. There is very little if any resistance, droves of enemy soldiers are turning themselves over, and one town after the other is falling in American and British hands. Watching the so-called spokesmen and women on CNN makes one shudder with disbelief. With overly smiling and confident faces all events are proclaimed as expected and tremendous successes. Once in awhile, there are slight letdowns (a couple of soldiers killed, helicopters crashing, sporadic resistance in the desert) but these are brushed aside as negligible. One seriously wonders what is really happening out there, what the military is purposely withholding from the public. To make reports look even more convincing, there are a couple of journalists out there riding tanks cowboy style like in some action movie. I am really letdown by the way that the station CNN is allowing itself to be brainwashed and led on with this kind of misinformation. I have all but forsaken this laughable station for the BBC which at least tells some of the truth once in awhile (be it by accident at times). One glaring example is this. Do they actually believe that few if any innocent civilians will be killed? What with this pinpoint accuracy of the surgical strikes, surely modern technology would not dare to disappoint us? This is scary politics, and I wonder how many Americans are being mislead, as if this is one big game filled with fun and adventure.
The peace and quiet of the sauna is an ideal place to just sit and meditate, think about nothing and become one with the surrounding energy which is warming your body and mind. Enclosed and dark, sweating away the poisons, not a sound any where, just you and no one else. In the end it becomes too much more to take, and like a deep sea diver I must clear to the surface to gasp that cool fresh draft of air. Oxygen to keep on going, coolness to return to the planet Earth, and the tiled surface beneath bare feet to show the way down the hall.
I was very pleasantly surprised to receive an email the other day from a fellow Kiffin. There are not that many Kiffins out there, but what can you expect from a unique breed? He is yet another Kiffin who was also named after Kiffin Yates Rockwell. To make the coincidence even more amazing, it turns out that his father also read the very same book "They Fought for the Sky" as my father did. Both of them were so impressed that they decided to name their sons Kiffin. Small world where distant paths occasionally intersect in unexpected ways. Below is a picture that Kiffin took way back in the eighties which he thought I would be interested to see. And I most certainly am.
Alright so I decided to go out and splurge on a nice new fancy mobile phone. I was sick and tired of carrying around my Nokia brick (back then it was state-of-the-art but not any more). I needed something with the following requirements: small, light, easy to use, with a color display and vibrating alert.
I still have to figure out how the darn thing works, beyond just calling people and sending so-called SMS text messages. Things like vCard support for exchanging electronic business cards, sticker notes, SyncML with online calendar and contacts, WTLS full WAP security, games and even more games, SMS concatenated (long text messages of up to 1530 characters), WAP 2.0 compliancy, voice control, high speed data (HSCSD), fast and reliable WAP, enhanced by GPRS, screensaver, MMS and all that mobile Internet stuff, ad infinitum.
It also has this miniature joystick for scrolling and selecting menu options which takes some getting used to. So far the teeny-weeny buttons are a little on the smallish side, and I cannot imagine what it would be like having long fingernails. Because the phone is so small, I need some practice with calling in that I never know if I am speaking directly into the microphone alright or not. So far no one seems to have any problems understanding me.
I will need a whole day to study the user manual, if I ever in fact get that far. Well, at least it looks nice and people think that I am so "modern and cool" carrying it around.
Finally the second time around, I managed to pass the demanding certification test required to sell the fine Webtrends product line. In other words, the future-famous Gishteq company has been officially appointed "certified web analytics consultant" for the NetIQ Authorized Consultant Program.
Check it out for yourself and tell me what you think.