December 31, 2011

The more things change....

Today marks the end of yet another year on the Gregorian calender. A perfect moment for retrospection and analysis.
Last night, I was listening to a song from way back in  my youth and I realized that this year wasn't as different as different as some years from when I was in my late teens to early twenties. It's a comforting thought, but at the same time it makes me wonder how intelligent we as the human race really are. We don't seem to learn from our past. My hope for 2012 and beyond is the might all grow to be better people and that as a whole we might progress past pettiness.

Take for example 1985:
There was famine in Africa. People were starving left and right. A group of singers and songwriters decided to throw money at it. People were given fish, but were never taught to fish. In 2011, people were still starving in Africa.

Many charities are  still out there trying to the poorest of the poorest. I find this quite commendable, but somehow this is not enough. Human egoism and egotism  are still taking their toll.
Not all of us are cut out for charity work. But I don't think we should only chuck money at problems from our comfy homes. Mentalities will have to change all over and that is something we can all help  achieve. We're not all cut out to be charity workers or social workers. Nonetheless, we are all teachers. We teach by example. a kind word here, a helping hand there, these seemingly gestures start out as ripples in a pond, but can grow to be huge waves of positiveness.

Actually, this wasn't even the song I was listening to. I was listening to "Civil War" by Guns and Roses. It seems as if the same old wars are still going on. Different countries maybe, but it's the same thing all over again.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

December 26, 2011

One tool to rule them all

It's incredible how much of how personal information is being aggregated nowadays. Worst part of it, is that we're doing most of it ourselves. Albeit, with the 'help' of certain big corporations. Facebook, Picasa, Blogger, Google+, LinkedIn etc etc, we're being given the choice to connect them and 'manage' our information better. But should we really be doing this? Have we really thought about all we're putting together.

With all the information we're putting 'out there' on the net, I wonder what the next generation  of secret questions are going to be for password recovery. It's hard to choose "What is your mother's maiden-name" when your mom is on your Facebook list and sharing information like that herself.

I've been using a set of tools to facilitate keeping my address-book and birthday calender up to date, but sometimes they really scare me. And I mean they REALLY scare me.

Just imagine the following:
You meet a nice guy or girl in a bar and you exchange first name and e-mail address. By next morning, you know this person's last name, date of birth and place of work. All, without having to do a lot of digging around. Or, even worse, without any extra effort. All because this person's information is publicly available on the internet and interconnected. 

At one time or another, we all say that we have nothing to hide. But is that really so? It doesn't necessarily  mean that we want all our information indiscriminately available for all and sundry.

So next time you put your information out here on the Internet, think what you are sharing and who you are sharing it with. It might even be a good idea to compartmentalize different aspects of your private life. At least, try to keep professional and private information apart from each other.

I might be overreacting, but decide for yourself. Google yourself and see if you were aware of all the info that you find shared.

November 12, 2011

Still going on

I just realized how long it's been since I last posted something on my blog. I keep finding new things to write about. Once home, they slip my mind. It must be an age thing. :)

I've been limiting my time at the keyboard lately due to health issues. My shoulder has been acting up again and we're at an impasse. It doesn't take the hint that it should just buckle up and get back to work and I wont take the hint that it might be a good thing to visit a doctor.

With all respect for these learned individuals, I never seem to get a clear-cut answer out of any one of them. Maybe I just expect too much.

These past months have been yet another roller-coaster experience. Not going to think too much about the negatives right now. There are much memories.

Folks, I got a baby brother. How many people in their forties can say that? Who cares that he's in his early twenties by now? He's still the Benjamin among us. We're forging a relationship and making up for lost time.

Maybe we three brothers should go have some kind of team-building experience. Would be hilarious.

Just a thought for all the people out there who have issues with their siblings or are estranged:
"Family above all" and "Blood will out"

May 8, 2011


Langzamerhand, wordt het in heel de wereld verboden om in openbare gelegenheden te roken. Als reden wordt algemeen belang en volksgezondheid aangedragen. Behalve in Nederland. Hier werd het rookverbod ingesteld om de werknemers te beschermen. Ze schijnen het recht te hebben op een rookvrije werkplek. Er werden mazen in de wet gevonden en opeens staan overal weer de asbakken op tafel. Officieel mag het nog steeds niet maar het wordt, typisch voor Nederland, gedoogd.

Als een ex-roker en iemand die niet van de geur van sigaretten houdt, pleit ik voor het terugdraaien van het rookverbod zoals het op dit moment in de wet staat.

Toen het roken in de horeca nog mocht, hingen er meestal wel van die filters. Ze waren wellicht niet 100% in staat om de stank tegen te gaan, maar het was in ieder geval iets. Tegenwoordig staan de kleine cafe's weer vol met rokers en mee-rokers. Alleen die filters nog. Als er weer gerookt mag worden, kunnen die verplicht worden gesteld.

Het is wel jammer dat de uitbaters van kleine kroegjes en cafe's zo getroffen werden door zo'n half-doordachte wet. Desinvestering voor zij die zo'n filter hadden en het massaal uitblijven van het publiek. Je zou bijna pleiten voor een schadeloosstelling, zij het dat het dan weer uit onze belastingcenten wordt betaald.

Mochten we met ons allen vinden dat een rookverbod wenselijk is, dan kunnen we het beste kijken naar hoe anderen het voor elkaar hebben gekregen.

May 3, 2011


I must admit that I felt ashamed and disgusted today. A son, brother and father died and all over the world people celebrate this death.

Yes, he was the leader of one of the most violent and despised organisations of the last 70 years. Yes, he was a thorn in our side, the bane of our existence. Under his command and in his name, thousands of people were assassinated. Such acts should be abhorred!

We should never forget all the people who gave their lives willingly and unwillingly in this guerilla war.  The killing of Usama bin Laden, should be seen as a legitimate act of war, a consequence of the choices he's made.

Just as it was uncalled for when some people around the world celebrated our casualties, it is uncalled for for us to celebrate his death. I feel that any and all deaths should make us pause and meditate on the loss of a life. By shamelessly celebrating a death, any death, we show our lack of respect for creation. And we show that we are not much better than those we oppose.

We should celebrate, yes. Let us celebrate that so many people have not died in vain. Let us celebrate that yet another terrorist organisation has been disrupted, at least for a while. Let us celebrate with dignity. Let us celebrate that JUSTICE has been served. Let us NOT rejoice in revenge. For revenge is not ours to take1.  If you are not led by Christian values, at least let yourself be guided by the Declaration of Human Rights2 and the Geneva convention3. We should measure ourselves, not by how we treat our friends, but by how we treat our enemies.

This coming May fourth at 20:00 CET, the Netherlands will hold 2 minute silence for all who died in the different wars. No matter where you live, I want to ask you to take just two minutes out of your day and give thanks for all who have fought and given their lives for JUSTICE, PEACE and FREEDOM.

April 18, 2011

Ten years

Last Friday, the 15th of April it was the 10th anniversary of my emigration to The Netherlands. A good moment to pause and take stock of all that's happened in these years. It's been a decade of highs and lows, of sorrow but also of immense joy.

Some events of my last two weeks on Curacao are engraved in my mind and heart. I visited my most beloved places and took the sights in, recording the views, the smells and the people in my heart. This is the Curacao I will always remember.  I fondly remember all my friends who were with me till the end and even where present at the airport amidst my family. Your friends are the family that you choose.
I also remember panicking at the last moment because I needed a new a pair of shoes. The last frantic trip home, making sure that I wasn't late. And the family-friend who insisted to drive me to Hato (airport.) Neither, will I forget a certain person who left work early on my last day on the job, just so he wouldn't have to say good-bye. The reason will always be between him and his god.

I arrived in The Netherlands, with a bag full of illusions and a heart full of hope. Once here, I got a lot of love and support from friends and family here. Within six weeks I had a job, too bad it didn't work out. Within two weeks of quitting that one, I landed the job I still have. After five months of searching, I found an apartment to call my home. Within a couple of years, it was too small and I just needed a bigger one. I had to prove to myself and everyone, at all costs, that coming here was a good choice.

Remember the new shoes? Talk about a bad decision, wearing new shoes on a transcontinental flight. Or wearing those same shoes while beating the streets looking for a job. Major blisters and pain were my reward!

These past ten years, I recognized a lot of my illusions for what they were. I've seen people at their best and I've seen people at their worst. The latter being at the moment I could most use a helping hand, shoulder or ear. Many friends turned acquaintances or even strangers, sometimes all due to me. On the other hand, some strangers turned out to be awesome friends.

Some family members passed away, some were added to the family. I even found new members of my extended family. The one family member I'm really grateful I 'found' is my younger brother. It sure was worth it to, to put childish ways behind us1.

Sometimes, I wonder if migrating was such a good idea at all. I think I will let history be the judge of that. I do know that I was working myself to the ground back then. How many years of working 50 to 60 hours a week can one take? I still make 18-20 hour days, but with much more time for myself interspersed. I went from working 50-60 hrs a week to 36 hour weeks. This must be much healthier.

I had the chance to travel and see places I've never been before. Discovered new hobbies and interests. I remember celebrating NYE in Paris, amidst loads of strangers from all over the world and enjoying it.  This past NYE, saw me in one of my darkest periods and even here a friend stretched out his hand and practically forced me to enjoy myself. I even got to try ice-skating for the first time and didn't fall.

Not all decisions I made in the past decade were the best or the most intelligent, but they were mine. Let us not forget that every single step we took, every decision we made shaped us into the person we are. If nothing else, I learned a couple of lessons of it all and will learn more in the future. That is not to say that life didn't throw a spanner in the works. After falling into the same trap as before, I've been forced to reconsider my life and priorities. I just hope to be a better person at the end of it all.

I made a new home here in The Netherlands, for better or worse. They say we never forget our first love and it's true, I will never forget my "Dushi Kòrsou."

April 11, 2011

Spring Jitters (Lentekriebels)

Isn't Spring a marvelous thing?
Land-hugging fog in the morning
The sun rises earlier every day
The birds are singing, hurray!

Ducklings in the ponds
Green leaves on the fronds
Nature is in bloom
Gone is the gloom

Coldness cowers
Colourful flowers
Pollen in the air


April 6, 2011

Old fashioned?

Last night I was invited for a walk along the beach, followed by drinks in at the bar in a nice hotel. A nice and old fashioned romantic date. Only, it wasn't a date, just two friends spending time together. But, that's not the topic of this blog.
I grew up in a time and society where, as a male, you observed a certain decorum towards the female of the species. Little things like holding doors open, standing up when greeting a lady etc. I understand that not all these niceties are practical in all situations, but still. 
Try to picture the following: Boy and girl go out for dinner at a (not so cheap) restaurant. Body language screams "We're a couple." Boy walks ahead of her to their table and sits down, girl arrives at table and sits down. Nothing wrong with that you'd say? 
To me it's rude. In my eyes, he should have guided her to their table, check which seat she wanted and maybe even hold it out for her before sitting. To me this is all common courtesy, like giving up your seat to pregnant ladies or the elderly on public transport. 
Now you'll tell me it was a one off and the guy was just rude, well think again. Not 10 minutes later, a second couple arrives and nearly the same thing happened. In the last case, the Maître half-heartedly held out the chair for her.
I commented this to my friend and he found it quite normal. My friend and the two guys belong to roughly the same demographic group ( mid-twenties, males and Caucasian), the only difference is that he's a friend of Dorothy
These scenes left me questioning myself and society as a whole. 
a) Am I just old-fashioned
b) Did the equal rights movement kill chivalry?
c) Are we turning into an egoistic and egocentric society?
d) All of the above
e) It was just a fluke?

I secretly hope for e.

April 3, 2011

Life begins at forty, a retrospective

As the magical date approaches, I start thinking about the truthfulness of this adage. The more I think about it, the more I believe it to be a fallacy.

If life really begins at forty, that would mean that all my life so fas has been inconsequential. To even contemplate this, depresses me much more than the simple act of turning 39+1. It would mean that anything I've gone through all these years is nothing compared with what has yet to come. Talk about scary.

By no means am I saying that my life has been inherently harder than anyone else's. I'm not stating that I've had a better life either. All I can say is that it has been *my* life. So far, I've led a life of ups and down. Of love and of hurt, but never of hate. I can honestly say that I never hated anyone, nor did I ever set out to intentionally hurt anyone. While there are some things that I might have done differently, I am not going to apologize for any thought, word, action or even inaction. These are all things that made me into the man I am today. To apologize would mean to negate the lessons I've learned or will be learning. I do acknowledge that some situations could have been handled differently, but that how life is. There is no use crying over spilled milk.

In the last 14607 days, I've met a lot of people who have made an impact on my life. Some more pronounced than others. In some cases, the impact has been like fine mist on blotting paper. Other people have been like the proverbial bull in a china shop. Even so, my thanks goes to all of you. my life would have been so much duller without you.

The next 3655 (and a half) days of my life will be anything but boring. I vow to myself to live my life to the fullest, to seize the day. I will relish in the full range of emotions yet again from the highest of the high, to the lowest of the love, for such is the nature of life.

This coming 7th of April at 11:07 GMT I will celebrate my 40th year alive. And I lived it all *My way*

As a last thought to all who deem it their right to judge me on the life I have lived and the choices I've made, all I want to say is that *I am what I am*

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