Summer vacation is over with (sniff), and today is the first day back in the real world for me. That is, if you consider bumming around ten hours plus a day trying to get a non-existent business up-and-running "the real world" then that is what it is, has become, and will be becoming. Now with the heat wave running on to the fourth day in a row, the rising temperature in my attic room office will make me sweat at an ever increasing rate (at least giving me the impression that I am struggling even more to become a future famous entrepreneur). And I will succeed...
Hard to believe it, but this blog called Gibberations has just passed the 20,000 hits mark. Meaning that in the last two years there have been alot of visitors coming to read my web log (you can check out the hit-counter for yourself by looking at the bottom of the lefthand margin). Quite an accomplishment, I would say.
Kiffin Rockwell scored the first victory by a member of the Escadille Americaine when he shot down a German reconnaissance airplane.
The Rockwell brothers, Paul and Kiffin, were idealistic that summer of 1914 when Europe exploded into war and the might of the German war machine fell on France.
When Germany declared war on France on the first day of August and sent its juggernaut rolling into the French countryside, 21-year-old Kiffin Rockwell was a student at Virginia Military Institute, and Paul, his 25-year-old brother, was a reporter on The Atlanta Constitution.
For the summer, Kiffin was home in their huge frame house on Hillside Street. On Aug. 1, he spent the evening talking about volunteering to fight for France, explaining that Americans would be accepted in the French Foreign Legion. He was deadly serious.
He called Germany the aggressor nation and France our sister nation that needed immediate help. "We can't sit back," he said, "and let the Kaiser take over the world."
In late July, when Germany's threats hung over France like an axe, Kiffin and Paul, both of whom loved France, had discussed the possibility of going to war if France's fears of a German attack were fulfilled.
Kiffin wrote the French consul in New Orleans, offering both himself and his brother to fight with the Foreign Legion. The consul wrote directly back and accepted the services of the Rockwell brothers. They were to report immediately to New York for embarkation for France.
Paul took his leave from the Constitution and hurried home from Atlanta and after both said their goodbyes they took the train for New York, shipped out for France, and went to war.
Upon arrival in France, Kiffin and Paul were taken directly into the French Foreign Legion. By November they had finished training and were sent into the trenches.
Kiffin wrote home that they were looked upon as mercenaries, but they felt anything but mercenary when payday arrived and they received one sou per day, which was about one American penny. They were paid every ten days, and three sous were automatically deducted for a tobacco allotment whether they smoked or not.
That's how the Rockwell brothers became the first Americans to fight for France, which made them also the first Americans to enter the World War.
Just before Christmas, Paul was severely wounded in trench warfare and was judged unfit for further infantry duty. Because of his journalistic background and his fluent French, he offered himself during his recovery to the Section d'Information of the French Army as a combat correspondent, and was accepted. He spent the remainder of the war in the role of war correspondent.
Kiffin continued to fight. On May 9, 1915, during a bayonet charge at La Targette, a German infantryman ran his bayonet through Kiffin's thigh, ending his fighting from the trenches.
He found something else to do, however, for there was talk of forming an American squadron in the French Air Service. He applied and was accepted, and the remainder of the story is history. He became the first American to shoot down a German fighter plane, and he became an original member of the famed Lafayette Escadrille. His commander, Capt. Georges Thenault, said he could confirm ten kills by Kiffin in aerial combat.
On Sept. 23, 1916, Kiffin received a hit in the chest by an exploding German cannon shell, fired from an enemy plane, and was killed. Paul said many times later than the shell that killed his brother was an illegal weapon.
Paul survived the war and lived to an old age. One of the highlights of my own journalistic career was sitting numerous times in the parlor of Colonel Rockwell's home on Hillside, listening to the yarns he spun about the World War and the daring escapades of the brave young men of the Lafayette Escadrille.
Taken from the article Brothers Fight for France.
You might also be interested in the article Kiffin Rockwell blazed a hero's path in World War I from the same newsletter.
More information can be found on my Kiffin Rockwell tribute page.
Just returned from a wonderful 3 week vacation and thought I might want to "quickly" check out my email messages which had come while I was away.
Turns out I had 3573 messages waiting for me! Not that I am such a popular guy, because most of it was SPAM. Those idiots!
In the end it took my email client (Microsoft Outlook) more than 90 minutes to download it all, first filtering through my spam killer application, including the many errors which occurred because of the immense volume (resulting in timeouts and retries).
All in all, after filtering out all the junk I ended up with around 156 relevant messages, e.g. those meant for me and those I appreciate receiving.
Not that bad, I would think. I am still kind of a popular guy.
Two years ago to this very day I started this future famous web blog and it is still alive and kicking! Happy anniversary to my good old gibberations and I hope that in another couple years it is still going strong.
Today is the last day before we set off on our three week long adventure through France, our long awaited for summer vacation. We have been looking forward to it for some time now, and while it may not be as exotic as our trip to America last year, it is a much deserved break which we will certainly enjoy to the fullest.
July 12 - July 13 : Nancy, stay over night in a Formule 1 hotel.
July 13 - July 18 : Murs-de-Gelignieux, camping Ile de la Comptesse.
July 18 - July 28 : Frejus, camping le Frejus.
July 28 - August 2 : Vesoul, camping International du Lac.
See you all in three weeks or so. Off we go...
Over there a couple of meters from where I was sitting I saw a single Blue M&M; poised ever so perfectly on the floor of the train carriage in which I was sitting. There it was right exactly in the middle of the aisle screaming for my attention. Amazingly enough, it appeared to be hovering perfectly in place no more than a fraction of a millimeter above the floor surface. Maybe it was even less than a fraction of a millimeter for all I knew.
As the train bounced and shifted from left to right or came to a stop and started again abruptly or initiated a slight curve, the single Blue M&M; just stayed there in place. It did not move, it refused to budge. This was against all the laws of physics I had ever learned in school. You know, where it is a proven scientific fact that objects in accelerating and/or turning vehicles will succumb to the centrifugal forces of nature by flying off to the left or the right depending on the changes in velocity. The causal observer would have expected the Blue M&M; to roll over to one side or the other, but it did not.
My mind was boggled in place, and then I realized that I was observing a miracle of which no one else in the train was aware. Yes, it was a miracle.
To make the miracle even more of a miracle, at each train stop where droves of passengers got on and off the train, passing along the very aisle upon which this vulnerable Blue M&M; was located, not a single stepping shoe crushed nor even barely touched the hovering candy treat. That crazy Blue M&M; just stayed there unharmed and unchanged as if it were always meant to be.
For the next thirty minutes or so, all I did was watch with much joy and awe this miracle of nature taking place. I stared and thought about how interesting it was that I had been chosen to observe this and no one else.
Finally it was my time to get off the train, but a couple hundred meters before the stop I got up early and ran over to the spot where the amazing Blue M&M; was drifting in a frozen dimension of space and time. Trying not to be too obvious, I bent down nonchalantly, placed my knees on the ground and inspected the little miracle up close with peering eyes. The casual observer must have thought that I was in prayer.
No my eyes did not deceive me, though the Blue M&M; was not exactly hovering -- still a miracle nonetheless.
What was really happening was this. The curved under-belly of the slightly flattened spherical shape formed a perfect tangent with the infinite flat surface of the train floor. A single dimensionless point held the two surfaces in tight contact, as if they had fused centuries before. The Blue M&M; had been able to affix itself like a parasite, because of a random coming together of natural processes: moisture, gravity, shape, sound, the angle of light and the coming of time.
I was tempted to extract this little wonderful blue miracle from its throne, and I could have taken it home with me as a souvenir of my amazing experience. I did not because it would not have made any sense to do so. It was not meant to be.
All of a sudden, the train shuddered to a complete stop. The many passengers stood up to get out. One old man carrying a walking stick accidentally pushed me to the side when the momentum of his weight carried him forward due to the abrupt train stop. With his walking stick flailing in the air, he was just able to regain balance by absorbing his collision with my left shoulder, and at the exact same moment firmly stabbing the train floor with his cane at the correct angle.
That is when I heard the crunch and then the silence. Oh dear.
The rubber tip of the walking stick had come down "exactly" on top of the Blue M&M; and crushed it in a millisecond. No it was less than a fraction of a millisecond. A perfectly thin two dimensional object whose length was approximately one meter and a half intersecting exactly a one dimensional point on the infinite surface of the train floor. The impossible had occurred, yet another miracle on top of a miracle on top of the first miracle. The innocent and unknowing Blue M&M; had been caught right in the middle of this meeting of unequal dimensions. What were the odds of this happening, exactly at the same moment when my eyes were glued on the little blue sphere?
I suddenly felt nauseous as if I had witnessed a most terrible accident, a tragedy of human existence.
The tip of the cane raised up and it was true. Tears welled up in my eyes and my throat became dry. I could not move. The single Blue M&M; which had been hovering perfectly in place for centuries upon centuries had now been flattened into non-existence.
I followed the old man out of the train, but I could not blame him nor have any ill-feelings. I could have saved that Blue M&M; and brought it home as a memento, but I hadn't. That also had a reason.
Tomorrow would bring me to other more interesting miracles and amazing feats of nature.
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By nature I am a very curious person indeed. You see, I love learning new things and am pretty much interested in anything that at least appears challenging and refreshing. The only problem is that there is a limiting factor called time which prevents me from splitting off into a thousand and one different personalities to absorb all this information.
Because I have been forced to live inside a single personality I cannot do this. Still I try and often get fixated and frustrated searching all over the place.
If I knew what information would lead to the best results then I could focus better on one area. But what area of knowledge is this? Some people just let it happen, but I need to know. Should I concentrate on what I think is the most interesting at the moment and hope that it leads to positive results in my life? Or should I wait before delving into one or more areas, do some serious research, and only after concluding which areas offer the highest chances then choose the most appropriate path?
The only problem is that even if you can successfully conduct exhaustive research you can never predict the future with one hundred percent accuracy.
So the best choice seems to me to choose what I think is the most interesting and hope it turns out for the better.
Isn't that how fate works anyway?
While I was taking a leisurely whizz early this afternoon, I was just minding my own business. I was standing there craning my neck so I could look out of the window above which was slightly ajar. When I heard a slight and quick tap-and-snap on the tiled wall to my left, I awoke ever so slightly from my reverie of whizzing. That quick tap sounded like a small pebble had been thrown in through the open window above me, coming right out of some dream world, and this tiniest object of objects had ricocheted twice before landing in the toilet bowl water right in front of me.
The ripples were spreading outward, and I bent down to look.
Upon closer inspection, I saw that the blackish pebble was not made of stone at all. It was floating. According to the laws of physics, a pebble would sink and disappear. And it hadn't. My mind started working and thinking and figuring things out, slowly but surely. Wait one minute! The thing was moving around slowly. There was a set of six tiny legs flapping around desperately in an attempt to turn the tiny pebble back over again. No it was not a pebble, it was an insect, a beetle kind of thing. A beetle. The little beetle had no hope in hell, and I could have flushed the toilet and put it out of its misery.
The natural thing to do, survival of the fittest, or not?
I decided that it was not the time for survival of the fittest nonsense, for something greater and more historical was in the making. Via this fluke of circumstance, nature had purposely challenged me. React you fool and do something, or else! So that is what I did. I ripped off a small section of toilet paper, reached down into the bowl, and lifted this tiny wonderful creature up and out of the ocean of water that was just about to swallow him up. Swallow him up forever and forever. And no one would have ever noticed. Except me, of course.
Who did this giant being think he was saving an innocent insect-soul for no reason at all? It was the beetle effect, that's what it was, the beetle effect. And it was about to make the biggest difference in the world.
Confused and wet and shaking all over, this beetle recovered very quickly indeed. Like nothing had ever happened in the first place. What had I done? The beetle was ready to jump off this throne of tissue right back into the ocean I had saved him from, but I wadded my fist shut to save him (again). I raised my hand to reach the window opening, shook the piece of tissue outside the window, opened my hand. Off he went, that little wonderful crazy beetle, the insect-soul.
I had saved his life, and the beetle would continue to do something. Something that he would have never been able to do had I not been awakened by nature's calling, challenging me to do something out of the ordinary. This might seem crazy, but it was not. That something the beetle was about to do would lead to something else and then to something else, on and on for who knows how long. The beetle effect, all over again. While not the first, I had made my mark within that sliver of time, and I had changed fate, all my own. Some day that new current of time would glance off of another glint of time and would come back to thank me with even more goodness.
Something small had changed and it would lead to something big, bigger and bigger.
[Note: The "Butterfly Effect" is the propensity of a system to be sensitive to initial conditions. Such systems over time become unpredictable, this idea gave rise to the notion of a butterfly flapping it's wings in one area of the world, causing a tornado or some such weather event to occur in another remote area of the world.]
Now that summer vacation is approaching quickly, I gave in and let my wife trim off all of that excess fur of mine. You know, all that hair I have on my chest, arms, neck and back.
[An aside. I do not mind having so much hair at all, but it sure bugs the heck out of my family (for some strange reason). I kind of like the feeling of that flowing, grayish hair rising as a thriving bush above my chest and flowing forth from my open collar. Although the hair is curled inward and does not seem at first glance to be that much, if I pull at a single and random hair just right, one is amazed to watch the strand stretch taut at no less than about six inches.]
"You have got to get it shaved!" they keep yelling at me. "Alright, do it then," I succumbed to an attack I could no longer ward off. Wads and wads of the fluffy fur were sheared off in single strokes of the mad machine, butchered into non-existence, falling like globs of leftover spaghetti, on my lap and then on to the ground.
Now that I have been transformed into a somewhat acceptable vision of a father, I can feel better wandering around the swimming pool knowing I will not be embarrassing my family (too much). I feel relieved that through exercise and diet at least my last year's pot-belly has all but disappeared. Otherwise who knows what means would have been necessary to shear it off also at the last minute!
Right now, my upper torso is itchy, terribly itchy and unbearably so. It is driving me crazy, but in a few days it should get less.
It sure feels good to be sheared for good reason, I mean measure.
You might be curious to check out the 13 Nieuports on display.
The following picture was taken at the most recent general meeting of the Association de l'Escadrille La Fayette, Souvenir Thenault - Rockwell:
This is a yearly ceremony given to the fallen heroes. A speical thanks go to Claude Louvigné (front right of the picture) for being so kind to send me this great snapshot.
You might want to check out my special tribute to Kiffin Rockwell for more information.
A couple weeks ago I placed an open advertisement (plea) in the Dutch Werk.nl web site for the unemployed folks who might be looking for my kind of work, e.g. e-business related activities. The volume of responses is unexpectedly huge, and I have been barely able to keep up with them all and still respond in a personal way. Here is the text I chose to use:
I'm looking for enthusiastic e-business visionaries who're ready to tackle the next phase in their careers.
If you are sick & tired of hanging around waiting forever with a WW-uitkering, unable to find work, then this might be right for you.
Take the challenge with me. Develop & fine-tune a product portfolio for e-business solutions. These tailor-made, total solutions are geared towards improving business processes of organizations wanting to sell products & services via Internet.
MISSION: to enable & facilitate e-business opportunities for service- & product-oriented organizations through measurement, analysis & process improvement.
As an upstart company I have NO FUNDS yet to hire. I'm open to discussing creative compensations with you. Bring in projects & financial rewards are aplenty.
Why sit around doing nothing when there is so much to do? Who knows what the future will bring!
Don't worry, mijn nederlands is goed genoeg.
Note: The use of the ampersand (&) in place of "and" was needed to get the length in characters below the maximum allowed. "WW-uitkering" is the Dutch unemployment compensation scheme. The phrase "mijn nederlands is goed genoeg" means "my Dutch is good enough" (so that I would not scare away the Dutch-only speaking folks who might not contact me because they were embarrassed about their English -- although most of the Dutch speak almost perfect English).
You see, right now I cannot really hire anyone, but I felt that there are so many creative and willing souls sitting out there bored stiff, that perhaps some would be interested in sharing my wonderful endeavors and helping me make a success out of it. Alot of people read over the part about me not having funds to pay a salary, even though it is capitalized (NO FUNDS). Wishful thinking I guess. So whenever someone emails me and/or calls the office, I make sure I repeat this clearly just in case, before continuing too far.
But there have been many people willing to talk and meet with me over lunch, even fairly high-caliber managers (believe it or not) who see some potential at least.
Well, it is alot better than just sitting around doing nothing and feeling sorry for yourself, don't you think?
For those of you interested in exploring the coast of California, that wonderful sunny state where I grew up, check out the California Coastline Project web site.
Highlights for me were the following hotspots:
You can click along the whole Californian coast and discover the rest of the pictures yourself. Have fun!
Looking at that mangled mess when I drove by hit me hard and really got me thinking. About how short life is and how it is over an an instant. The burnt out frame of distorted metal had been blackened so badly that it barely resembled the automobile that it had once been. The driver flamed into non-existence without a chance. You see, one moment you are there and one moment you have disappeared, perhaps one last instant of awareness just before the inevitable happens. I could not stop and think much about the event and just continued with the regular flow of traffic onward to who knows where.
The inner and the outer are complimentary aspects of the very same thing which exist in order to keep each other in balance.
According to Jung, each of us entertains essentially two personalities. The first and most obvious is the persona which is the commonly known personality that we project outwards and by which everyone knows us. The second and less known (and even less obvious) is the anima (for a man) and animus (for a woman). The inner and the outer personalities are complimentary. Men entertain an aggressive, macho, daring attitude which is balanced by the softer more emotional feminine attitude. Woman seem to be softer and effeminate on the outside, but more often than not they are solid and perseverance attitudes which keep them going in an insane world. Men like to act tough but cry on the inside, and women seem to get all emotional and teary while becoming stronger on the inside because of their ability to release inner tensions.
[Soul as anima]
"As to the character of the anima, my experience confirms the rule that is is, by and large, complementary to the character of the persona. The anima usually contains all those common human qualities which the conscious attitude lacks."
-- Carl Jung.
This is a picture of the poor unwanted tooth that Marlies got yanked out recently. It was necessary to remove this (bizarre-shaped) tooth because it was deformed and cramped the rest of her teeth too much, making them crooked. You see, this tooth never formed into a proper shape. Instead, its growth hesitated and then stopped half way as a spindly cone-shaped thingy. It looked like a miniature shark-tooth for some reason, kind of scary to look at, if you looked really closely. So it was good to have this fluke of nature extracted and removed from her life forever. But being the boringly sentimental person that I am, I felt a need to record the event and give the poor tooth some form of everlasting life on my web log. The tooth extraction episode took place a week ago now. Since then, her ever-tightening braces have shifted her teeth and moved them closer together. You can barely see (a slit) anymore that there used to be a tooth in there at all. Life goes on.
Now if you click on the random image up on the top left-hand corner of this web page, you will be shown a list of the images directory.
Give it a try and find out for yourself.
(Thanks alot to Kathleen for the following excerpt. I think it makes alot of sense)
"If you are spending your life struggling at work that has no meaning to you, and justifying it by saying that you must do it because it gives you the money you need to pay bills, then you are opting for some personal dishonesty with yourself. You have made money more important than your sense of purpose, and as long as you keep the priority in that order, you will always be lacking in purpose and total self-honesty!" -- DR. WAYNE DYER
DHARMA IS YOUR UNIQUE SPIRITUAL PURPOSE FOR LIVING
Everyone has a purpose in life, a unique talent, skill, or ability. Deepak Chopra states the following about dharma, "When you blend your unique talent with service to others, you experience the ecstasy and exultation of your own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals!"
It's a real challenge to find your unique purpose for living. Unfortunately, most people spend over seventy percent of their life "making a living" doing work that they dislike. This can make life seem more like a "prison sentence" than an "adventure in living."
Factoring in the Law of Karma to this metaphysical scenario, many people are sowing and reaping what they don't want because "what you resist persists!" The key to living a happy life is to find what you love and do it!
As Buddha said, "When you do the work you love, you'll never have to work another day in your life!"
John Caple shares with us in his book, Finding The Hat That Fits, that there are three reasons why finding the work that fulfills your purpose for living is so important.
They are: (1) To live on purpose is to discover your power, your capacity to add value to your every experience and to the lives of those around you. (2) Finding and living your life's mission adds meaning and dignity to your life, because living on purpose is a noble adventure. (3) When you have a sense of purpose, you stop worrying about life and you find joy in each moment. You laugh more and lighten up because you love what you are doing.
FINDING YOUR DHARMIC PURPOSE FOR LIVING
What would you do for a living if you had one billion dollars? What would you do for a living after you have bought everything that you always wanted and traveled to every place you ever wanted to see? Take a moment and contemplate what fascinates you. What are your hobbies interests, and talents? Allow yourself to imagine what it would be like to have the freedom to do anything that you wanted to do, absolutely anything!
A HU NOTE
One way that you can tell when you are working at your dharmic purpose for living is that time flies! When I am writing, five hours feels like five minutes! Another sign that you're working on purpose is that you feel that what you are doing is servicing mankind. Pay attention to any persistent impulse to do or try something new. Pay attention to new people who come into your life who seem to call you into a new direction. There are no accidents in a perfectly evolving Universe. Therefore, any person that comes into your life you have attracted there for a reason!
(This has been quoted from some book by a well-known spiritual teacher called HU something or other)