Archive for December, 2005

Up Yours, Stanley.

So there, I did it. 2 days and 2 nights in the wilderniss, at temperatures down to around -5 degrees Celcius and lower. Nothing less than the bitch I expected it would be, but not any less of an amazing experience, either. Loneliness gets a whole new meaning, really. The cold pales in insignificance when it comes to toughening the whole thing. Next time I’d like to do it with someone else. It really isn’t all that difficult, your biggest enemy is hypothermia. There were several times that I had to stop what I was doing and take a walk or something to warm up again, because I was starting to lose all feeling in my toes and fingers. It’s not the air that cools you down. Everything you use, is freezing to the touch. Mornings are the most dangerous. The only heat source is your own body, after all, and when you put on pants that have been laying in the cold, your body temperature takes a punch. And then you’re still not wearing any tee shirt, sweater, socks or shoes. Without the proper time to get warm again (that takes at least an hour) you have to first break down your tent, including isolation mat and sleeping bag before you can take off.
The first symptom of hypothermia is losing the will to do anything. The only thing you want to do is just, go sit someplace warm. If you’re in a group and someone starts going "I don’t want to go on, I can’t" for no apparent reason, be sure he/she is suffering from hypothermia. It’s a very powerful feeling and a bitch to tackle. Cursing and swearing generally help. You can go on quite a while past that feeling, you should really get worried when you’re starting to feel sleepy. So! You grit your teeth and try to get it done as quickly as possible so you can go on and walk again.
Nothing I’ve seen before in my -I admit- short life has come close to the stuff I saw here. The funny thing is, people here are so used to it, anyone seeing me must have probably wondered what the hell I was looking at. Waterfalls at various locations seemed as if they had just frozen instantly, very weird. To me, anyway. Mountain tops, completely orange from the sunset. I’m not even going to bother describing it all.
To people who’ve been supporting me, much thanks. To you who have been going "You’re crazy, Don’t do it" and all that: Up Yours.
 
The days before and after the hike have been amazing, as well. First a couple of Belgians stayed at the same hostel as mine, and the day after I hung out with a group of Brits. Right now I’m staying with a lady who was so kind to take me in. The view from her apartment over the town is simply breath taking.
There are 2 days in Norway on which it is legal for shops to sell fireworks: the last 2 days of the year, which is now. And I’m not talking sparky sticks, either. I can see people trying out the fireworks they got in town right now, it looks like there’s a war going on. Some of the sets available in shops were hilarious, from oh-look-there’s-sparks-coming-out-of-it to rockets the size of my fucking Leg.
 
Another thing I noticed, is that there’s slots machines all over the place. You know, the gamble things. Any big shop has them, and they’re being used, too. Norway is exceptionally expensive and if that wasn’t enough people go and spend their change on gambling.
 
Weird people, Norwegians.

See my tent!

As said before, I picked out one of the mountains surrounding Bergen and climbed it. Damn it would have been a lot easier with at least some Oxygen in the air. Seriously, it’s not that hard to come by, it’s sold by the liter in Bejing. People here might want to import some before tourist seaon or People Will Die. Also, get fricken’ Azerty keyboards. Nobody cares about øountqins. The rest should be okay, I heard the sun would provide some warmth at least and the moon promised to take care of chips ‘n drinks.

 

Tomorrow I’ll be officially homeless. Maybe not officially but homeless nonetheless. I set up and took down my tent a couple more times, I think I’ll be able to do it in the dark now. If I’ll manage 3 days in it remains to be seen. "Time to show what you’re really made of. Sometimes that means dying, sometimes that means killing a whole lot of people."

I’m going to leave here by boat so I get to see some fjords, and I developed a fobia for busses. Like… a busfobia. I’ll be going south more, to Stavanger. Google Earth (if you have a fast pc, get this program, it’s free) didn’t display any mountains there, though. But eh there’s plenty of time after newyear if I still want to break my neck.

 

In the mean time, I have been blessed by the arrival of 2 Belgians. Really nice people, we went out and I showed what I’d seen of Bergen so far which wasn’t an awful lot because there’s nothing open during the holidays. We did climb the mountain again, which is basically all there is to do out here this time of year. Today the shops and tourist office are finally open, so I can finally get some stuff I’ve been meaning to buy. A small cable for my camera, post cards, viking sword, stuff like that. I also need a decent hat since I lost mine before I departed and even though it has only been a couple degrees I can really feel it getting colder the last few days. Weather forecast predicted even lower temperatures so I rather be safe than sorry. Hence the viking sword, also.


Still no white christmas…

I’m sitting in a youth hostel, a lemon tree to my left, BBC News to my right, a qwerty keyboard in front of me and a bunch of australian-new zealandish-british people behind me that I really don’t feel like talking to. This must be the loneliest christmas eve I’ve had so far. But I expected as much, didn’t I.
 
Norway on itself has been great so far, I especially like the town of Bergen. No snow here, though, unlike Oslo. I nearly slipped coming out of the hostel there. Good thing I didn’t fall, with about 35 kilo on my back I probably wouldn’t have managed to get up on my own.
It all seems very unnatural to me, only a few hours of sunlight a day and cities in ice. All the time I was in Oslo there was a constant fog, so that everything seemed in black and white, and the sun, even when it was up, was never really visible. As if trying to compensate for that many Norwegians have very colorful houses, and there are lights everywhere. If I’m not mistaking Norway has the lowest average population density of Europe, but they’ll sure as hell have the highest electric bill.
 
The train trip to Bergen was, despite a very sore as from the bus trip, way cool. We ended up in a fricken’ blizzard the minute we left Oslo. Whenever we would go through a tunnel, the world outside the windows went completely black, and when we came out it just turned white. Later in the afternoon, when it got dark, you had to look closely to even see if we were in a tunnel or not.
The weather must have been pretty harsh even for Norwegian standards, because a freight train before us derailed and the locomotive ended up in some river. We had to drive the last distance ("only" 2 hours drive) by bus. By then it was pitch black outside, which gave spectacular effects on the road. Coming from "the country with the best illuminated road netwok in the world" (and boy are we proud of it) I found it very unusual that the roads had no lights at all. It’s weird how dark it really gets when there’s no "light pollution", as they call it. More often than not, the only thing you could see ouside was the reflection of the snow. It was unlike anything I’d seen before, you could recognise the shape of a rock or tree just by the snow on top of it.
Bergen, however, has no snow at all for the moment. Lots of water, though. And mountains. I love mountains. I want to climb one tomorrow, I hope the weather stays dry.
 
Ignore any typos here, I’m not used to qwerty. There’s plenty of wicked stuff on here, though. There’s an Ø where the M should be and an Æ instead of the question mark.

**Your pack a splode.**

I’m stuffing my pack so full I’m really concerned it’s going to explode once I get there. I can’t even get all my clothes in the center compartment. Either I’m going to have to cut down on clothes, or find another way. Damnit I should have paid better attention when I was buying a pack. Cutting down on the sleeping bag wasn’t a great idea, either. "A few extra liters" that would have cost me double of what I paid now, screws up the whole thing. I can’t put it in horizontally at the bottom, where it’s supposed to go. Instead I have to shove it in vertically so that it takes 2/3 of the center section. Smooth ey. I can jam my socks and small stuff in the corners next to it, but that’s not much. 2 fleece sweaters on top, also taking a lot of room because I didn’t bother to take lightweight ones, and it’s full.
I think I’ll manage. I will get this shit to norway if I have to tie it on the outside, which I’ll probably have to. The tent, sleeping mat, shovel and medkit are already strapped on the pack.
What I am most concerned about are breakable things. I want to take a few unnamed items that Will break when jammed in the pack like that. I still haven’t figured out how I’ll sort that out. Oh well I got time. I’m only leaving like, TOMORROW and I’m going to my friend’s later today. Oy the stress, my poor system.
 
In the mean while my stepmother does everything to make it more difficult for me. She throws my shit off of anything I put it on whenever I turn my back. "I don’t want these filthy things on my table" or "That’s my daughter’s bed. (a never-used bed in the computer room) You’ll get it dirty." are her excuses. The fact that this gear has never been used and is clean as can be, makes no difference to her. So right now it’s all spread all over the fucking floor and now she’s giving me shit about that. It seems like she doesn’t want me to leave, she probably just loves me too much. Where the fuck else am I going to pack? In my room? It’s full of shit that isn’t even mine after years of treating it like this house’s dumpster. I got a fucking couch in pieces in there. So whenever she opens her mouth now, I just smile and pollitely give her the finger. She can cram it.
 
Positive thoughts.
I can’t believe I’m leaving tomorrow. What the hell I’m doing, not a soul knows and I least of all. A cool thing is, if it totally turns out to be horrible, I have no one to blame but myself. If you can blame someone else you don’t learn a thing, but if you know what You did wrong, you’ll be able to do it better next time. It doesn’t nescessarily have to be a totally super amazing trip, as long as I learn from it.
Dumb fact is, I know I’ll get homesick. I know I’ll miss my friends, Sven Co-op, my guitar, questionable content, pretty much everything except for the source of stomach ache that has, thank god, left the house right now.
 

 
Alright, Today is the day. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, and I miraculously managed to jam most of my gear into py pack. I’m letting it cool down for a moment.
 
"Today I’m going to Norway." I could say it a hundred times but it’s still not getting through. I’ve never done anything remotely like this, so I have no clue what to expect.
 
Thanks to my friends, you guys were incredibly supportive. Too bad you couldn’t come. Next time, maybe.
 
I’ll see you suckers. Don’t wait up for me.

I hate you all.

Did I mention I got my camera back?

Okay, I got my camera back. And Typically my kinda luck, I had to pay Twice for it. 200 something stinking euro’s to get 1 lousy camera fixed. Each.

But… How is this possible? With all the technology and advanced customer support they have today, surely such a thing is unthinkable?

Belgium was built on an indian graveyard. The corpses were first dug up, pissed on, buried again, and Then a country was built on them. (thank you South Park) Therefor Belgians, their children and their children’s children are doomed to an existance of retardlinesness. Allow me to explain.

Two weeks after I took it back to the shop, as promised, there was a letter in my mail saying "your camera is fixed and waiting for you in the shop". I found this very strange because I never gave my permission to actually fix it, they’re supposed to tell me what it’s going to cost me and Then ask if I want it fixed. But ey I was going to say yes either way so I wasn’t complaining.

In the shop, some guy who was obviously totally oblivious to what the fuck he was doing told me I misinterpreted the letter, and that the camera was actually waiting at the Sony factory, for my approval to have it fixed. A retard thinking everyone is a retard but him, you catch my drift. But hey I just wanted to please have my camera in working condition so I was prepared to smile and do whatever they wanted of me. And he wanted me to sign and pay. So I did. 200 something euro’s, I don’t recall precisely and the receipt is just out of reach and I’m too lazy to lift my yellow ass. So I paid and was promised I’d get a call or letter when my camera would be done.

4 months later, I’m starting to suspect our retard may have forgotten to notify me. So after 5 times of spending a rediculous amount of time to get to a closed shop (as I mentioned before) I go back there, with a shaky smile and short temper. A "I may be reaching 50 but I’m still young at heart" lady behind the counter. "Oh but your camera has been here since september", which was the time of my first visit/payment. So my camera was in fact in that store when I first came to get it. They brought it out and put it under my nose on the counter. "Just sign here and pay."

What was I supposed to do? Yeah sure I tried to tell them. I called the fuckwad from before with me and Ah Yes he sure remembered me once I took off my cap. He did not remember me paying, though. But there was no problem, if I could just show the receipt I could take my camera with me. Only, I don’t remember Getting any receipt, let alone I’d bother to carry it with me. I could prove I payed by showing my payment logs I get monthly from my bank, but "those are no official proof of payment". My camera was right there before me, and I couldn’t take it home with me until they were happy. So I paid. Again. And Yes, I Kept The MotherFucking Receipt Already.

Once they had their money, they smiled and said ‘thank you, come again.’ I didn’t think so and that’s what I told them, sonuvafrickenfrshtrfs….

 

My stepmother has a remarkable talent of being a total bitch. Day in day out, she has to show me how much she hates living with me. She closes all the doors to the room I’m in, shutting me out from the rest of the house, she keeps telling my father what a nuisance I am to have around, and refuses to co-operate with anything that concerns me. At all. My girlfriend once called our home, crying and upset, and she answered, I was still in bed. My stepmother said she’d wake me up and tell me I should go see her, but did she do it? Hell no.

Oddly, she hardly ever bitches to Me. She never talks to me at all, let alone tell me in my face what she thinks. Doesn’t matter all that much anyhow, if she does, I just say "if you say so". She doesn’t see any further than her nose so her opinion on just about anything really doesn’t bother me one bit. Call me an ass, if you have to live with such a person day in day out, you don’t even Want to bring up the effort to respect her. I doubt she made it into our family by her intellect anyway; the first time I saw her, she was wearing my mother’s fucking bathrobe. For all I care, she just fucks off instead of ruining our family any longer.

 

DartMUD players would love this: a colleague of mine is actually a baron. Really, it says so on his passport. No, he doesn’t own a castle so you don’t even have to try for housemage, he inherited the title from his dead relative. "Oh that’s nice", you’d say, but to me, it’s a fucking charade. He’s an ex-convict, and he got out early because of his title. What Does That Mean!?!

First, I’d like to mention that, by Belgian law, the court must stay absolutely independant of civilian or political influences. HowEver!! This granny of his was really really fond of our king, and she also happened to be filthy fucking rich. So she payed off some of our king’s debts (yes our king has debts. after all he lives off the state and it’s safe to say the state is up to its ears in debts) and was therefor granted the title of "baroness". Ding Dong the bitch is dead and now her grandson has the title and got out early for it. SO, let’s backtrack, shall we. Since he inhreted the title, he got out early because of who his family is. Since the demented old fart did something for the king, he got out early because the king likes him. And since she payed a LOT of money for it, he got out early because his family is rich. In short, he got out sooner than anyone who is wrongfully accused or really sorry for the things he did, because of his family, politics, and a lot of money. AND THIS ISN’T EVEN AGAINST THE LAW. Justice, my balls!


Snakker du engelsk?

Preparations as far as booking is concerned are pretty much done, I think. I had to book one night in Oslo and then straight to Bergen, because Oslo is completely booked around christmas-newyear. I read the trip has a spectacular sight, I’m quite curious about that. 3 days before newyear I’ll have to set camp, up until newyear where someone is so kind to take me in for an undetermined but short while. Let’s hope that works out.

After newyear, I’m in a bit of dilemma. I don’t want to be stuck in one city, and I don’t want to be forced to leave if I really like it there. So far, I haven’t booked anything yet. I realise it’s risky but we didn’t plan this trip because it looked easy, now did we.

 

I finally got around to buying me a backpack, or "rucksack" if you will (the word seems very weird to me since it’s directly abbrieved from the dutch "rugzak" which means… well, backpack). A 65 liter hiking pack. I think I made a good deal, aside from a number of details I only realised after I got home. It has no straps to attach your tent or sleeping mat, for instance. We’ll have to get creative to accomplish that.

There was no way I’d be completely satisfied with it, anyhow. It’s not military issue. The packs we used there were more practical than anything I had seen before, and the same goes for the tents. I’m afraid I won’t get my hands around one of those in time, either. But, I found a similar model in the AS adventure store.

Another item I won’t find with the same quality than I’m used to, is cooking gear. The "gamellen" (Hell if I know what that is in english) I’m used to are made of thick aluminum and can be clicked together. Every model I found in the shops can be bent with bare hands and fall apart when I try to put them together in the same way.

I guess the army is good for something after all. I might spontaneously combust saying this but I miss it.

 

Also, I bought some more nifty gear! The lady at the register recognises me now and joked "you’re preparing quite well, aren’t you?" to which I replied, "I’ll never be prepared enough." Okay what’d I get… A better first aid kit, complete with isolation blanket for hypothermia/overheating, and some straps to tie things to my pack with. Simple things like that, like plastic bags and rope/string, are invaluable. The first aid kit is mostly for ego tripping, I don’t expect to get hurt and care enough to take care of it.


Placebo’s

I worked 4 days in a row this week, crazy shifts as usual. I hurt, I bleed, I ache, I bleed some more, I’m on the brink of extinction. I’ve been feeding on candy and whatever flavors of sugar were provided, and almost no real food. I’ve hardly had any fluids at all, and sleep has become a rarity. I had to leave my last job early because I was about to collapse, luckily my colleagues understood. Some do cocaine or speed to stay on their feet but I don’t do drugs. Call it purism, straight-edge, I don’t care, I just don’t.

But I’m not complaining. I did well this week. Time to put it on hold now and concentrate on the trip to Norway. I’m still not anywhere near ready.

 

Infinately more insulting than not being wanted somewhere because of who you are, is someone, supposedly someone who accepts and respects you, is ashamed of you. Yeah yeah yeah, reasons, reasons, excuses and more. I’ve heard them all. You’re not like that and you really do like me for who ever, or Whatever I am, it’s just that… and so on. Hours at a time they could talk, apologize, and reason about how and why. But What It Comes Down To, is that they’re ashamed. Not nescessarily because of my looks or beliefs, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. ‘You should leave, my parents will be home soon and I’ll get comments over dinner again.’ ‘I love you but please don’t tell my friends you’re with me.’ Yeah sure. Anything else? "Hello my name is Maarten and I’m not really his friend, just someone who believes so so he could make fun of me behind my back. I’ll be going now so I don’t jeopardize his MotherFucking popularity. There’s some of my spleen left in the freezer if you’re hungry."

"No no, it’s not like that at all, I’m not like that." It’s exactly like that and so are you.

 

Oh boo our subscription for Eos magazine has expired. Eos is a scientific magazine working closely together with Scientific American (can I get a "NERD"). So shoot me, I’m interested in science. A lot of the crap I tell to look interesting comes from that magazine. Did you know rats laugh when tickled in the neck? And that a bridge has a certain ‘frequency’ and if engineers don’t take it into account, the bridge collapses by itself at the slightest bit of wind? And um, that laser sattelites that could theoretically burn you to death, are up in the sky right now, used to bring down nucleair missiles?  Besides, as indie music lovers all know: Science + Music = Sexy. And indie music lovers are always right, except about Depeche Mode.

It’s a good read. Just about the only reading I’ve done the last couple years. And now our subscription has expired. Oh no, my poor lonesome brain…

 

After I got my computer reformatted and working, believe it or not, my screen acts up. It now ignores any settings you put into it, and displays the input so wide that the edges disappear. After hours of trying to figure out how to fix it I discovered that it can be temporarily fixed by… hitting it. At first, anyway. Now it’s safe to say nothing works anymore and it’s ready for the trash.

It is frightening to think that technology like this is supposed to keep planes in the air and nukes on the ground.


Time to freak

11 more days till I leave. The idea seems more and more absurd by the minute. How interesting.

 

I still don’t have a tent, or even a backpack. Everything else is quite alright, I think. Aside from some (still important) details I’m getting well equipped. Next week will be entirely devoted to rounding up. I realise it seems early but better too soon than too late with these things.

Actually I do have a backpack but it came from a "tent, sleeping bag and backpack for €50"-deal. My two stepsisters almost drowned in the tent at Rock Werchter (it only has one layer for crying out loud. But would they Listen to me? nooo….), I practically go hypothermic whenever I sleep at my friend’s with the sleeping bag, so needless to say I don’t trust the pack one bit, even though I haven’t really put it to the test, yet.

What I’d like to do is buy both the tent and pack at the army. I used them at boot camp and they amazed me with how practical and well-made they were. The only problem is, I need my military passport to get in, and I never got one. Bureaucratic reasons. So I’ll see if any "stock americain" has anything the like, and if not, pay AS Adventure another visit. They like me, I’m like a kid in a candystore there.


See you auntie

Man, past week has been quite busy. Today (saturday) is the first day I have for myself. So if you don’t mind me sitting on my lazy ass, I think I’ll just… sit on my lazy ass.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the company and everything. Just, for some reason it takes quite a bit of energy. Lack of sleep might have something to do with it. Sitting alone now feels strangely… familiar. Almost comforting. But, as a good friend once cleverly noted: It’s only comfortable to be alone when you’re not lonely. There is an immense difference between the two, I’m sure I don’t have to explain.

 

In the mean time, believe it or not, People Keep Dying. What the fuck. Now it’s another friend-of-a-friend who was found dead in his couch. He was a wheelchair patient and was in constant pain, so suicide is considered an option, autopsy will reveal that. This is narrowing friends and relatives who haven’t lost someone down to disturbingly few. You’d almost think I’m causing it and they should stay away from me.

I never believed in any of that crap, but really, this stuff is creeping me out! This guy was my age! His girlfriend is an absolute mess and blaims herself. If anyone has like, those wise oracle phrases that can actually comfort a person in this situation, email me. Or call me. I suck ass at comforting people.

 

Well, my computer is reformatted. It took me some effort to get it back to actual Working state (does anyone at all know what ‘msiexec /regserver’ stands for?) but I think I got it right. We have like 3 Dulle Griet-sized (BIG) antivirus and -spyware and -whatnot programs so let’s hope things work out better in the future.

 

 

Damn. No moaning about my girlfriend, my own place that I Still don’t have, or self pity. I feel naked.

Extra points for who gets the title. It’s inspired by Tool.


‘eavy metal, baby.

Yeah yeah I know, will you shut the fuck up about your work already. I just gotta, have to, must mention that apocalyptica absolutely fucking ruled like nothing that has ever ruled before. For those of you dwelling in ignorance still, here’s a quick FAQ:

 

Q: Who, in the name of Her Majesty The Queen Of England, are Apocalyptica?

A: Apocalypcita, oh ye of lousy music taste, are 5 guys playing heavy metal on cello. They have covered a lot of bands, including Metallica, a whole album long. They came to play in Ghent, tuesday november 29 in the "vooruit", and I helped build their set.

 

Q: Dude what the fuck. Cello’s are for Von Trapp pussies.

A: Wrong. In this particular case cellos are for long-haired, skinny, bare-chest, tattood folk who know how to rock. If you think you can’t do with a cello what a guitar can, you are sadly mistaking. I’ve seen them play Metallica’s Enter Sandman and there was surprisingly little difference between the original and what they played. Also, with cello’s you can do plenty of things you can’t do with guitars.

 

Q: What metal band has no singer?

A: They had the audience singing for them. I was up in the trusses when I watched and the effect was simply amazing. Part of what makes Apocalyptica so good in the first place imho is the lack of vocals. When songs we all know are played purely instrumental, they can be enjoyed in totally new ways. I’ve seen it happen at the first U2 soundcheck, and when Bono finally arrived, I was almost dissappointed. It’s like black and white photography.

 

So in short, yeah I quite enjoyed Apocalyptica. Sure, they looked like junks, sure, the stage was full of skulls and other heavy metal clichés, but some things can have all that and still rock.