Archive for September, 2009

Customization

I don’t fit the mold and I’m proud of that. But if there is one setback that just might convince me to do so, it’s the inability of others to comprehend that. Not only is my appearance uncommon and sometimes a little direct, I behave differently than what expectations demand, too. About half a dozen times throughout my life, I’ve had the privilege to hear, “When I first saw you I thought, Wow steer clear of that one. But you’re actually rather nice.”

When my old shrink asked me about it, I told him that it works as a filter. It keeps the shallow at bay, those who can only see skin-deep beauty have no business near me. Only those open to the personality of someone they already guessed is one way or another, I would accept in my circle. It’s a problem that solves itself. The therapist noted that I might, in my defensive means, actually offend those of the first category. I responded with a thin smile and a sincere, “Good.”

I’m an anarchist, but I pay a rent.
I have a mohawk, but I don’t even listen to punk music.
My whole posture might say, “what the fuck you looking at” but I really wouldn’t mind talking to you.

At 24, why do I still cut my hair like this? I’m not really sure, other than that’s just how I feel. It was the first thing I did when my long hair had to go as I enlisted, and somehow I haven’t grown out of it, still. Today I’m much less about defense or offense, as much as just being myself. And people don’t seem to get that. Speaking of which, guess fucking what:

It’s impolite to stare.

I don’t like it anymore than that kid with deformed hands. Just because I chose for it, doesn’t mean I chose for your dumb looks. I used to counter with a sharp glare and enjoy the uneasiness it brought them, but that happens to be something I’ve grown out of. I just look the other way now and hope they get the point, which obviously they don’t.

There’s no point to my looks any more than there’s a point to my lifestyle. I do what I feel like, and I look how I feel like. It’s eccentric, but I’m hoping it simply shows a non-generic character. It’s important to me, it’s not an active attempt to look mean or offensive. Your handbag happens to offend me, do I stare like cattle? I didn’t think so.

I’ve begun ornamenting the blandest of my shirts with custom stencils. So far it’s gone no further than monotone gargoyles and monkeys on my company shirts (since I think we, the employees, are a mix of both) but I am thrilled with the results. The final test will be to see how washing machine resistant the images will be.
I use a specialized medium to make acrylic paint stick to fibers, but I’m still not sure just how effective it is and to be honest, I’ve been cutting corners here and there. The chemicals are activated by heat so the shirts are supposed to be ironed afterwards. It is also possible to toss the shirts into the dryer for 45 minutes on the highest setting. So what do I do? I just drape them over my trash bin and put my electric heating on it full blast. The window is open and it’s still like a fucking sauna in here. Nakedness omg.

I’m working on an extremely low budget here, but I think it actually has potential. I can pretty much take any stencil and shirt, and voila: creativity ensues. I want to take this further, and start with multiple “layers” so I can get multicolored images. If my “capoeirista” work (which admittedly isn’t mine) works on a tester, my uniform is going to get a thorough makeover.

Let me repeat that: Any stencil. Onto any piece of clothing. Your own body as your canvas. Can you guess how excited I am about this? I’m not just talking about generic Banksy work (because let’s be honest, Banksy has become generic by now thanks to the shzemillion copycats) but slogans, statements, jokes inside or out, fucking advertisement.

Situations have context. People, including me, adopt different definitions depending on circumstances. A guy with a helmet climbing scaffolding is a worker; the same guy with “PAY PEANUTS / GET MONKEYS” plastered across the back is… something else.
Context can be taken elsewhere, and synthesized.
My other car is a Ferrari.
If you can read this, the bitch fell off.
If you can read this, the asshole won’t let me drive.
<- I fuck her.
All examples of context fitted onto an otherwise plain situation. And this is just text in a poor attempt at being funny.

The gargoyles are just the start. I want to find things and show them to the world, so they too will see the the joke, the beauty, or simply the story behind a previously uninteresting image.

 

If fact, for the ones who happen to be reading this, I could use some input, some general ideas. Got any? Hand ‘em over and don’t make any fuss.


Continuation of the supertheory: prediction and its methods.

If you want to build a computer that can predict the course of time, obviously you would need an infinitely powerful one. While in practice this is obviously not possible, infinity does exist in theory and thus in principle, it can be assumed possible for such a thing to exist.

Whether this assumption is true or not is irrelevant right now. Let’s assume that we want to build this hypothetical computer.
Let’s say you want to make this computer “consider” a single atom. Seems like a simple task, but might not be. Not only does this atom have a mass, it has an immense amount of information about it: It has a “spin”, it has electrons and thus electric charge, it even has gravity. It is connected with nearby atoms to form molecules. Speed, location, outside influence such as magnetic and gravitational, these are all just things from the top of an uneducated mind. The information an atom can store could very well be impossible to perceive. So how would our supercomputer store this information if it wants to calculate its future?

You could solve this the old-fashioned way: analyze and calculate, as computers today do. Each factor is stored individually, binary, and keeping all these things in “mind” (being RAM memory) it can perceive the concept of an atom. But that’s only one atom, and you need a whole computer to grasp something of which an inconceivable amount float around in space. You can’t use the same principle for each one of them, you would literally need a computer larger than the universe itself.

The most efficient way to store an atom’s information, would be to create an atom with the same properties. And voila, we managed to cram all relevant information into the smallest possible space. We can’t make any smaller representation because size happens to be relevant, as well. Maybe we could make a sort of ‘scale model’ but sadly, that happens to be impossible.
So if we make a 1:1 model of each atom in the universe, what we end up with is a duplicate universe. A computer that is a universe. But then we’ve only gone as far as grasping, conceiving, understanding a still life of reality. It isn’t frozen in time, but animates with the same speed as what it represents, and so, serves no purpose. If you want to use it to predict the future, you would have to speed it up.

This is where we end up in a bottleneck. What is time? Is it just another bit of information about the particles that follow its course? Or is it, as Einstein suggested, merely an illusion and can we skip our model to any given point in the past or future at will? Since both are figuratively set in stone, that would actually make sense.
But then what is the use of a scale model?
We need two separate timelines. If you go forward and then back in time, you can’t take any information with you because you haven’t been there yet. I really don’t think it’s possible to “look” into the future through any other means than logical prediction, which I just explained: a parallel universe that we can fast-forward so that its future “lines up” with our present. Then we technically wouldn’t be foreseeing our own future, but the future of a universe that just happens to match ours flawlessly.

If time is no more than an “aspect” of our dimension however, that’s a different story. For starters, since “speed” is no more a simple question of distance divided by time, it would become irrelevant. How would that work? You can’t divide a car by the fact that it’s green, you can’t divide a particle by its own information- at least, not that I know of.
This would be where shit gets a little too complicated for my feeble mind, so I’ll take the easy way and choose to ignore it. If anyone feels like enlightening me, please do so.

One could argument that currently, the weather is being predicted through logical means, by computers considerably smaller than the weather itself. That is indeed true, but those computers make a lot of mistakes. With all information irrelevant, a lot of factors are discarded that shouldn’t have been. What computers give us is an approximation. They don’t consider particles individually, but their effect on things as a whole. What is interesting however, is that they do manage to think forward into time, to fast-forward their model in mind to a point in the future, which they then display in the present. Is that proof that time is an illusion? That it is preset and can be accurately predicted through logical means?

It might be possible, as weather computers do, to make a less-than-perfect approximation of future events. To “compress” information to that most relevant and consider the rest a “chaos factor”. Weather computers nowadays manage an 80% accuracy, which is stunning considering all the influences on the weather. A single bird singing on a twig, or a butterfly’s wing (sound familiar?), all have effects on the clouds above. Just not a relevant effect.

Saturn’s gravitational pull can be discarded when it comes to predicting a single individual’s behavior, although it undeniably has an influence. More and more over the course of time, making it harder to accurately predict the person’s future decisions.
So in practice, it seems that the chaos factor can never be fully solved or ignored. Subjectively, there will always be at least a small part about our future that will remain a mystery. The smallest influence can have great consequences, so surprises (as in the weather) will always occur.

Someone recently mentioned human’s “free will” as a factor. Perhaps we can categorize it under this denominator and soundly claim that, at least in practice, we have our future in our own hands. The illusion of free will (not to be confused with politics) is honestly a wonderful thing that we could not live without. I for one, am endlessly grateful for it and accept each surprise, good or bad, that comes with it.

Because in the end, whether all this is true or not, subjectively it is irrelevant. Personally, the single goal in life is to be happy. I would choose the illusion over truth any day of the week, because it not only allows me the fascination of trying these educated (or uneducated, as the case may be) guesses at what reality beyond the obvious might be, but gives me the chance to be happy at the same time. To be proud of my choices or actions. To hope for better days. To cherish the past. To love the opposite sex. To live for the next happy moment. Because this? Is actually what you take to the grave. This is what composes your life, and it is all we have up to the day we die- the hour zero. Truth and knowledge are just… secondary. Extremely important, but not essential.


30 days of night

“Roadrunners are intelligent people, behaving like idiots.”

The job we have can hardly be compared with any other. It’s so much more than that: it’s a lifestyle, it’s an addiction. People who come back or keep in contact after leaving, always tell us how much they missed it after they quit. No other job in the world provides you with the diversity, adrenalin, sleep deprivation, stories and scars like this one. While I considered leaving because I didn’t feel connected with my colleagues in my first year, I now feel a bond, individually and as a whole, with the entire crew. While I am no crew chief by far, I try to step up and solve issues from time to time, or speak on behalf of the crew in a dispute with the forces above.

And disputes have been numerous, nowadays. Ever since August left us all bankrupt because of its lack of working days, frustrations have peaked and that translates itself into a negative effect on the atmosphere.
We will always find reasons to nag: it’s what we do. Some idiot who puts us all in danger, another administrative fuck-up, every job there’s a common enemy that binds us; we are each other’s shrink on the floor. But these days, it is progressing into something bigger. Our employer is losing our trust, and the crew chiefs, our respect.

It’s like a drug. You know it’s shit, but you’re addicted anyway.”

I am no capitalist, and I don’t own a company. I never studied anything like it, but I am on the receiving end of things gone bad and I see the effects clear like any of my workmates. And this is what I see:

  • The usual. Scraps for pay, office mistakes, long days,… it’s a factor that has always been involved.
  • A crew that works for a crew thief, rather than with him. I get the feeling sometimes the chief is more involved with the office’s agenda than issues within the crew. Complaints are to be taken seriously, and everyone is supposed to be working. Just because you can’t be occupied with lifting shit doesn’t mean you can go and sit on your ass in the local production office. You are part of the crew. Respect us, and we respect you.
  • Lack of communication. No one can help what August brought, but in contrary to the office, the crew was caught by surprise. We get a warning when there is a busy month coming up, why weren’t we notified beforehand when there would be no work at all? Our company demands that we are ready and prepared to work at their calling, but does nothing in return to reward it. Afraid that you will go and find another job, they rather keep you in the dark -and financial debt- than let us know that we better find another income.
  • Empty promises. “Don’t you worry, that will be taken care of.” We’ve all heard it, and we get so immensely pissed at it. The office asks big things from us, but does extremely little in return. While they would never work the hours we do, let alone for our wage, they don’t bother making us feel appreciated. An effort from their side, however small, is always a problem. Safety equipment, free tickets we know are abundant, tools and paperwork: always we get the same response. “We’ll look after it” and that’s the end of it. We are ignored, and it is immensely frustrating.
  • Disputes on higher level. What’s going on above us right now, is starting to look a lot like a power struggle. None of our crew chiefs get along, and the stream of new ones isn’t helping much. They have overlapping responsibilities and vastly different ways of handling them. As a result, they argue and while there’s little wrong with that, the crew feels the impact. They are so involved with their own ideas and agenda, that they fail to notice that we, the many, are on the receiving end of the shit. How do you expect us to respect you if you resort to squabbling and threatening? Even if you are right, you lose your crew because of the way you handled it.

A lot of idiots have gone AWOL and the crew has been friendlier than ever before. Sadly, there is little opportunity to enjoy that fact when the motivation to work is diminishing.

“I love my job. I love my colleagues. All the rest is just… too much.”

 

 

After thirty days of work, things have come to a rest once again.
There’s nothing in the pipeline, so as it is looking right now I’ll be home for an indefinite amount of time. And sitting here in my underwear, I don’t feel like doing much. It’s a bittersweet feeling to come home if you have no actual reason to do so.

My girlfriend broke up -on fucking msn- after an argument -also on fucking msn- so from here on, I’ll largely be spending my days alone, again. Left to pick up the pieces and move on. It seems that “coping” really is the goal in life. How pitiful.

We’re nearing the end of September now, and the summer is coming to an end. Already I miss the warmth if brought, at times it seemed like it would last forever. Winter is coming, and with it… What does winter really bring? Cold, dark days that make getting up a chore, extremely little work,… I’m not very optimistic about it.

Still, I’ve always had a strange affiliation with colder seasons. Perhaps I’ll end up in Norway yet again, and this time find both Pulpit Rock and myself before coming back. What else is there to do? How do we survive this damn cold to begin with? Let it be April again. Let’s climb again, let’s dance. Let’s watch sunsets and make music, dodge steel and scale mountains. The summer seems to have lasted a lifetime, but like any one of those,

It was too damn short.


Shove

Staring down the hole again
Hands are on my back again
Survival is my only friend
Terrified of what may come.

Tool’s ‘Pushit’ must be the single most quoted song in all of my writings. It’s hard to relate to their lyrics, unless you feel particularly passionate about human genes (46&2) or social philosophy (Schism). Love songs are extremely rare throughout their career but technically, this could count as one. Which is, perhaps, why I feel so strongly about it. It is a fifteen minute lyrical warning that I know from the heart.

In my book (because many of Tool’s songs can be interpreted in many ways) it’s about the mindset of a tortured man in a crashing relationship. Maybe now you can guess why I am posting it here.
I was reminded of this song when I noticed this “hole” again, where previously my girlfriend was. It’s currently out of reach, but it’s sheer presence is frightening.
When completely alone, literally or figuratively, for a longer period of time, it’s very easy for your self-reflection, which ideally is dynamic and evolves with you, to grind to a stand-still. What happens then is, you rust in place and have an increasingly difficult time to adapt to others. You get used to this situation and you reach a state that, in my opinion, borders insanity.

I am somewhere I don’t wanna be.
Push me somewhere I don’t wanna be.
Put me somewhere I don’t wanna be.
Seeing someplace I don’t wanna see.
Never wanna see that place again.

And there you have it:
She was my sanity. She gave me input on how to see myself, and the rest of the world. Among other things, this is an extremely important facet of a relationship, to me. It makes me dependant, to an extent, which I’m sure will rouse the hairs of many a feminist. Dependence in a relationship means vulnerability, the chance for the other to hurt you. So I guess this is just one more way in which I am hurting.

I saw the gap again today
While you were begging me to stay
Take care not to make me enter
If I do we both may disappear

The song is addressed to someone, and serves as a warning and threat. The subject stands much closer to insanity than I am, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth writing much about. In that sense, it serves as a warning for those in his position as well: It’s a slippery slope, and extremely difficult to get out of. The gap. That sorry state of being in which you are so used to being alone, that you feel alien and unwelcome in someone else’s arms.

In someone else’s embrace is one of the best places of this whole sorry excuse for a planet to be. It’s a bit of a submissive streak in my personality of which I’m not sure if I share it with many others (of my age and gender). Hugging is nice, being hugged when you hunger for it is priceless. That just might be the emotional reason (I gave the physical one a while back, for you hardcore fans) I used to hate being hugged by “outsiders”, I was afraid of hypocrisy. Just because I don’t mind opening up in a relationship doesn’t mean I tend to do it for each end every hug-happy hippy that can’t keep his fingers to himself.

Know that I will choke until I swallow…
Choke this infant here before me.
What is this but my reflection?
Who am I to judge or strike you down?

Above all, she was my friend. And I miss her.
Maybe, in the end, it’s better to let go. Loving is giving someone the power to hurt you terribly, and trusting that they won’t. And we never trust as easily as we did, the first time.

I’m slipping back into the gap again.
I’m alive when you’re touching me,
Alive when you’re shoving me down.

But I’d trade it all
For just a little
Peace of mind.

When I was 15, my father sent me to boarding school because of my bad grades and our progressively worsening relationship. Neither ever saw any improvement, but I did learn a few things there that I consider of fundamental importance. I learned to think for myself, be free in thought: while the school had a prison-like regime, they could not stop my mind from escaping. Also, I learned to write. I’m not talking about spelling or grammar, but writing, like a writer does. Like someone extremely lonely does to his lover on the outside of the walls. Though the place was extremely catholic, they could not stop the letters I sent my girlfriend, and its pornographic content. With all the rules and discipline they tried to enforce on me, they never managed to get out of my head what really matters in life.

At 16 I changed schools, after being kicked out because I openly declared to be an anarchist. I was not just a troublemaker they could punish (because punish they did), but I posed actual questions they had no answer to. While I behaved most of the time, they saw in me a problem they could not fix.
I continued to write, but the content changed. At this new school, our study time was private: inside a spartan little room we were put, for several hours each day. I never studied. I masturbated (Again, I was 16), slept (and had incredible reflexes for when the doorknob was turned), and wrote.
First, simple rambling about the stupidity of the masses, later about the deception of religion (for the record, my opinion somewhat changed on that subject). Two years later, I had gotten written thought down to an art, and I wrote dozens of pages of ideas that I later found to have been considered before by Aristotle, Descartes and Einstein. Imagine how proud I was.

Of course philosophy is tied to rules. I don’t know them all by heart but here’s a few that I followed, that later turned out to be base principles of scientific reasoning:

  1. There is a reality, and it is perceived by all of us. In distorted ways and unique for everyone, but it is there and can be analyzed through philosophy. Logic reasoning can discover things that can’t be seen, which can be accepted as truth unless clashing with evidence or sound arguments.
  2. Terms like ‘limitless’ and ‘nothing’ are impossible to truly perceive. That’s okay, they are simply concepts we cannot grasp. Get over that if you ever want to think about things bigger than you like time or space.
  3. Things must be thought of objectively. This is impossible to do fully, but must still be approached as closely as possible.

Especially rule 3 is what gave me trouble near the end.

I saw (still see) things like this:
Things around us, from galaxies to atoms, follow certain laws. These laws can be written as mathematics. Mathematics are logic, and logic is predictable. Thus, reality is predictable.
Of course I’m cutting things down to the very basics, but so far only one little idea has been brought against that, which is the chaos factor. Then, it boils down to whether the chaos factor can be “unraveled” to small logic factors, or if there is really a given in play that is simply, random. I think it is the first. I think that a hypothetical computer (not possible to actually make though) that can perceive every possible aspect of reality, could predict the future of our universe.
Might seem absurd, but it is being done as we speak. Think about it: computers today can predict something as vast and vastly chaotic as the weather. Not very efficiently, because a huge number of chaos factors are not taken into account, but in a sense they predict the future. And what are computers more than logic reasoning? Mathematical imitation of reality: the theory behind practice, that can be extended without proof, and later appears true. Analysis of reality in function of time.

This would mean that our future is set, and we can’t change it. You can imagine, as a 16 year old child taking this shit very seriously, it was rather devastating to me. Luckily I was seeing a family therapist, that my father had appointed to me to save his family, but that I used for my own personal agenda. He told me that although objective reasoning is indeed effective, it is also largely irrelevant. What is relevant, is what you do with it. And then the question changes: it is no longer “what is the purpose of life”, but “what purpose can I give life”. Because a cause for events is not a motivation, and consequence is not a reason. Things happen the way they do, for no one’s benefit or big climax and finish flag. Things just… happen, end of story. There would be no reason to assume otherwise. Thus, life is without purpose: a blank canvas for you to fill in. In the end, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Recently, I’ve found someone I can actually discuss this with. Someone who can follow the reasoning I give him, and disagrees. Although he hasn’t been able to give me the logic “counter reasoning” I’ve asked of him, I sincerely hope he will some time, and maybe we can continue from there and make discoveries equally exciting. Beside my therapist, I’ve had no input at all to continue writing, and eventually I reached dead ends and stopped altogether.

I still think these theories of mine, true or not, are essential, and everyone should have them. I have strong beliefs about life that -I- thought of, no one at all told me what to think. No one has barbs in my perception of life, and I can’t just be influenced to believe certain things. This, to me, is of the utmost importance because it helps to to think for myself, and not just blindly accept that there is truth in the words of someone who then exclaims “God save Belgium” or who speaks of justice and evil.

In a sense, boarding school is one of the best things that ever happened to me. It would be too late now to explore my own perception on life. And I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have someone I can talk to about this, who nods thoughtfully rather than declare me mad. Who responds to the subject at hand instead of ridiculing me for taking this seriously. It has been something I’ve never been able to talk to before in my life, can you imagine that? As a matter of fact, do you have anything similar to this? I would in fact, like to know.


How my day was

I could have died today.

The most frightening thing about these events is that they are potentially life changing, or even ending, and you can’t sense the impending doom above your head, like a Damocles’ sword, ticking backwards to the very moment. The hour zero. Sometimes I wonder, as I get up, how I will remember my day when I crawl into that same bed again. Of course, I can never tell until many hours later, at a moment like this:

Today is the day I nearly died.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, to be honest.
”Black Steel” is the given name for a type of scaffolding, that uses prefabricated tower structures to pull up a roof and pin it in place. It was during the assembly of one of those towers, that shit hit the fan.

Although towers are made beforehand, they come in sections and need to be put together depending on the height you want to go. Because the full length is often too heavy and cumbersome for the crane to handle, we put them up in pieces, climbing up each time to pin the next piece in place.
What was built at the time was no higher than five meters above the stage, and ready to be fitted with the “cage”. It’s a square piece that fits around the tower and to which the roof trusses are pinned to, allowing the whole to be hauled up around the tower using a complicated pulley system.

Fitting that cage is no easy task, since it is lowered right where you are hanging from the tower, forcing you to climb down as it moves into place. It must be kept steady at all times, because it is rigged with all sorts of protruding things for assembly which could easily catch.
This one hadn’t even made it over, though. I had my leg locked (so I had my hands free) as I was reaching up to guide the piece into place. My colleague was doing the hand signals to the crane from the other side of the tower.

I’m not precisely sure what went wrong. I do know that the crane operator was exceptionally lousy at his job, and that the view was obstructed for him to see the given signals. Either way, he did the complete opposite of what we asked of him. I took over from my colleague and gestured at the guy. I could hear him curse from down there, it must have seemed that we were giving conflicting signals. He jerked his lever too briskly, and the steel thing, weighing easily several hundred kilo’s, suddenly swung my way. Did I mention I wasn’t secured?

I had my hand on it at all times, so I sensed it early. Moving with it, I leaned back, my leg hurting like a motherfucker from the force on it. In regular limbo style I let the structure swing over me, and clung to the tower once again. I was now “inside the cage”, as the only thing sticking out from the top of the tower. I looked up to see if my colleague was okay, at which point I saw the opposite end of the cage swing back briskly, away from me.

There are several points you must keep in mind with a crane. The boom, hook, cable and cargo each have their own weight and swinging behavior, and the way they manipulate each other results in unpredictable movements when off balance. Enter the chaos factor.
So while the sudden change in direction didn’t come as a complete surprise, it did catch me off guard. I ducked and tilted my head sideways, to let the metal pass overhead once again. If I hadn’t, I think I most likely would have been decapitated where I stood. The other guy caught the piece with an impressive show of strength, and we both walked away unharmed.

For a close call, it was kind of an anticlimax. No noise, no explosions, or girls concerned about my safety- oh wait, there was one. Score.
In fact, it took a few panicky cries of the people underneath me to figure out that something was actually going wrong. It was only when I took a good look afterwards, that I saw what could have happened.

 

Ironically, this is exactly why I don’t secure when connecting towers or something similar. When things go bad, you need your space, you have to be able to climb down quickly. If at all, I click up as low as possible, so that I still have room to maneuver. Sometimes you’re better off unsafe, especially when falling is the preferable option.


Seashells

Have a seat. We have a lot to recollect.

Firstly, let’s get something clear once and for goddamn all:

1. POLITICIANS, BY DEFINITION, ARE CORRUPT.
2. MULTINATIONAL PROFIT-SEEKING ORGANIZATIONS, BY DEFINITION, ARE IMMORAL.

DO NOT TRUST A SINGLE WORD OF EITHER OF THEM.

Exceptions are there, but extremely rare: Do Not Assume that your preferred party/brand is any different.

1.
By politicians, I mean top politicians. Not your aunt who hands out flyers for this or that political party. Elected officials. They did not reach their status because, out of millions of others, they are exceptionally brave or idealistic. Those are qualities that are possessed by the most zealous of supporters, who sadly don’t have the capability to think for themselves.

In order to get elected, one must play the game as it is created, and not only adopt its corruption, but contribute to it. Not only will they accept funding of a third party with its own (hidden though obvious) agenda, but also they will pull the strings they find, blackmail competition, and manipulate the, earlier mentioned, supporters. They will hire people who make a living by playing the masses’ psychology like a fiddle, and have made large scale manipulation their field of study.

2.
Companies, from Coca-Cola to Chiquita to fucking Colgate, are systems that function near autonomously and have two goals:
-Make money.
-Expand and grow in order to make more money, faster.
Don’t think I’m making this up: these are the core principles of capitalism, simply put. The examples are there and you don’t even need to look for them to have heard about them. Nothing is safe: Health care, anti-conception, drinking water, if the company is large enough and it would get away with selling human rights for fat profit, it will without consideration.

By “evil” I don’t mean the kind shown in civil wars, or racism, although it will often lead to such situations. I mean child labor, chemical contamination of rural areas, financial exploitation of the poor. People are hired with one job only: to keep these things quiet. There are people who work to keep the search results for these scandals low on the google list, I shit you not.

Most companies that don’t indulge in these practices, refrain from doing so because they are either too small and thus too heavily influenced by the moral code of the individual employee (because an evil company can work without a single evil employee), or because they are simply in a position that does not allow them to do so. Because they are too closely watched or too inexperienced.

 

Neither of these two sources can be trusted on issues that matter, such as vegetarianism, environmental problems, moral issues, and matters regarding justice, faith (omg faith) and freedom.
Is it so hard to understand this?

Think for yourself.
Question authority.
Think for yourself.
Question authority.

“If I knew I would grow this old
I would have taken better care of myself”

-I forget

Upon being asked what I wanted to become back when I was a kid, I bluntly replied, “Me? I won’t live to see 20, I can’t be bothered with that.” Looking back now, I kind of regret that attitude. I have always focused on the present, then now- I could be dead tomorrow and I don’t want “I should have lived a little more intensely” to be my final thought. That in itself certainly isn’t a bad thing, but as a result I often ignore the long-term consequences in a decision in favor of immediate pleasure.

I’ll get to the point: I’m going deaf. I am 24 and I have the hearing of a 60 year old. I used to think I have exceptional hearing, until I was tested before boot camp and deemed unfit for the navy because I could no longer pick up low tones, which are used often on ships because of their low frequency and thus long carrying range. Nowadays, it has become impossible to ignore. To compensate for loss of hearing, your brain has a built-in “volume button” that goes up as you hear less. So when talking to someone, the sound of his voice doesn’t go down per se, but the background noise goes up. First symptoms are difficulties with conversation in a noisy environment. And Tigger, am I ever fucked.

It doesn’t come as a surprise. When I was 18 I blamed A Perfect Circle, now I blame my work. Hammering steel by my head, repeated exposure to 100+dB music, powertools… So very often have I worried about my hearing and now it’s too late. I will go deaf at a very early age and for the first time in my life, I’m concerned about that. I am quite perceptive and I want to stay that way. Besides, although I don’t share some of my colleagues’ habit of going “HA?” when I misunderstood, being asked “I’m sorry?” four times in a row must get damn annoying for my conversation partner.

Summer equals financial recovery for me. Taxes and “vacation refund” (a system I will never understand) get me through winter, and spring/autumn is when I can throw my money out the window because the warmest months have an apparently infinite supply of it.

This year, no different. January and February I went looking for myself in hills and cities, and in march (I think) I joined a couple friends on a hike through Scotland. To say I was broke was like calling Beyoncé’s latest album “unfulfilling”. The only difference this year is that summer brought next to no income at all. I haven’t checked my paperwork but I believe July and August brought me around €400, each. That’s about half of the poverty border. I can live on that no problem, if it weren’t for the fact that ”living” isn’t exactly my goal in life.

So I’m scraping together what I can. Three different employers owe me money now, and at this moment I’ve worked fifteen days with one day off, with my agenda booked for another five days of work. For the mathematically untalented among you, that’s twenty days, with one day off. The fridge is empty, the girlfriend is alienated, the couch has wandered halfway across the room because it could.

In all seriousness though, There’s a new element that has come with each job opportunity: my girlfriend works mornings, nights and weekends, giving us a 6 hour window each weekday to see each other. One that I haven’t respected in a long time.
We both have to work, that’s a given, but the difference lies in that I choose when to work. I have the freedom to refuse jobs as they are offered. In other words, with every job that I accept, I willingly choose not to spend time with my girlfriend, instead.

My self-enforced rule generally goes like this: Work comes first. Period. Not because I like it better, but because it pays the bills. And bills need paid, end of story. It’s not something you can put off, or cheat in. Since I can never tell if the current “wave” of work will last, I need to take what I can get.
This is open to exceptions. Theoretically I can make the money to cover my fixed expenses in about a week, since jobs most often go way outside the standard “Nine to five” package. But what applies to a month, applies to the year as well. I am never sure what the next season will bring. Besides, I need hard cash to bring my next world domination plan into practice.
So I try to compromise, not something I usually do. I’m going to try and get thursday or friday off, at least, so we can see each other properly rather than a few hours at a time. It’s all about priorities.


The Park

It’s been forever since I’ve been into a fistfight. That’s no coincidence; I may be a little quick on the draw at times but all things considered I am quite the pacifist, and prefer to get along with people. To compensate, I playfight through means like capoeira and kicking the shit out of road cases at work. But before I want to harm other people, I need to be pushed hard.

First things first: The last five days I’ve been working voluntarily for a local festival named “Dansen in ‘t Park”, or Dancing in the Park (th’ park?) in English. Because of my job, motivation and know-how, I’ve been a good contribution (called indispensable, mind you) to the whole event since the very beginning three years ago.

I’ve had several flashbacks from last year, when I was hardly capable of living with myself and I embraced this opportunity with both arms, using it as my distraction and link with humanity. In a place where social interaction was inevitable, it forced me to open up to it and accept its positive influence on my mindset.
I miss the days when everything had monumental value. A simple conversation with a cute individual not just made my day, but the rest of the week as well. Safe to say, despite the boredom when things went according to plan, the impact on my life could not be overestimated.

Of course, I’ve changed to a different person since then, and the experience this year bordered that of a “normal” volunteer. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the festival immensely, despite short nights and often tedious work. Here’s a few highlights:

  • Awkward Conversation. I was on bar duty with two women, who were quite a bit more skilled at the art of conversation than I was. It was quiet for a few moments before one of them said out of the blue, “You know, I think Maarten is a pretty handsome boy.” They exchanged agreeing words while I gave her a perplexed stare, and continued, “Yes, and have you seen his girlfriend? She’s gorgeous. But, she’s taken, so we’re not allowed to touch her.” I literally fell without words at that stage, forced to undergo their giggle fit. I knew how dumb I looked, but couldn’t manage to laugh at myself.
  • Wu Shu. Or, for the uninformed, a dance-influenced style of Kung Fu. We were introduced to the style of the snake, the monkey, the praying mantis and the tiger, followed by drunken boxing. Since it was the first initiation of the day and interest was limited, there were only five of us on the huge dance floor, imitating forms in regular white lotus style and jumping and rolling around like monkeys on acid. One guy in particular who obviously wasn’t used to following classes, complained about the difficulty of the orientation (our teacher was facing us, making things more complicated) and the pressing heat of the sun. She, a Kung Fu student herself, basically told him to suck it up and live with it. A woman to my liking.
  • Taiko. It’s a drumming style, originated in Japan, that has the philosophy that the rhythm is  merely an effect of movement and breathing techniques. Basically, you make a narrowly choreographed series of gestures, and there just happens to be a drum in front of you. It takes a damn lot of concentration to get your movements and balance right, let alone your rhythm synchronized. But the 15 of us pounding away on massive drums in a park under the sun, made quite an impression on the onlookers and ourselves.
  • Fist Fight, and here is what I was getting to.

Picture me this: A live band just got off stage and we are cleaning up while the party continues. A weird guy that has been causing trouble all day already, jumps up on stage and begins to dance on the cables we are coiling. My colleague (Let’s name him Bob) politely asks to leave, and is bullied back by a close stare and some threatening words. I see this from a distance, but nothing more happens: the guy continues to do his little moves on our work.
Later on I join in to help him, and we come to the point where we can’t continue without him leaving. I let Bob do the talking because I am too annoyed to be very friendly, and once again he is harassed, this time physically as well. I lose my patience and yell from my side of the stage, “Will you piss off please? We’re trying to work.”

A head bigger than me, he comes to stare me down. “Or else what?” To emphasize, he gives me a shove. I don’t like those any more than tumbling backwards off stage, so I grab his retreating wrists to keep my balance and push him back in return. Before I know it, I’m dodging fists and bracing myself because he’s charging forward. Bob grabs him from behind, and the both of us stop him in his tracks while I go through a “Ready, Set, Aim” routine and punch him square in the face. In order to get to me effectively, he has to lose Bob first, so turns around and tries to throw him back against the backwall.

There is no wall. There is only a poorly secured skin, which gives easily and allows for both men to tumble off. Bob lands on his knees on the coarse asphalt, grabbed by the hair of the attacker and held down to receive a beating. Seeing this, I jump after them and push the guy down, setting my knee in his plexus and threatening to beat him to death if he doesn’t let go of my friend. To my surprise, he just barks, “Go on! Beat me, then! Do you even know who I am?” I really didn’t care, and told him that. After 5 minutes of negotiating and promising he could dance when the stage was empty (“Why didn’t you tell me from the beginning?”) he let go and we each went our separate ways. Bob with our colleagues, me on stage coiling cables, and the freak someplace else.

Little did I know, Bob was showing his bleeding legs to our friends, one of which, much stronger than he looks, went “I’ll fucking kill him”.
When I caught that same attacker coming up the steps once again, I braced myself for another fight. But he didn’t come for that, he came to apologize. Although that struck me as odd, I was about to tell him to forget about it when I noticed movement behind him. That friend of before (Let’s call him um, Fred) grabbed him and hurled him off stage. If I knew how aggressive he could be, I may had seen that coming, but at the moment I was too baffled to do much as Fred jumped down and proceeded to throw him around. It took four of us to pull them apart, repeatedly because that idiot kept trying to climb back on time and time again, with Fred dragging him back.

By now we had gathered a small collection of tourists, who couldn’t help share their opinions on how uncivilized we were being. It lasted until the police was mentioned, at which point the mental case suddenly legged it.

Looking back, I have mixed feelings. First of all, I think I stood my ground well. I didn’t take a single hit and managed to give him one square in the jaw, although probably unnecessary.
On the other hand, although in my opinion I was defending myself, I really wasn’t in any kind of position to get into a fight. As part of the organization, I should have given a better example. Also, I may have wanted to listen a little better when he was going on about who he was, because as it turned out, he was the adoptive son of one of the organizers, a warm and gentle man.
I never got the chance to apologize. How was I supposed to bring it up, anyway? Sorry for beating back when your son attacked me? I heard that I was not the first, and he had spent a long time in an institution, already. That is why he ran when he heard about the police: he didn’t want to go back there.

Fuck him. If he hasn’t gotten himself killed by now, I hope he sits where he belongs. In the nuthouse, is my guess.