Archive for January, 2011

Contrast

“I’ll be honest. I just saw what you call “your best shots” and I haven’t even been able to detect your definition of “good”. You have had no real practice, and it shows. None of these really jump out. I know that’s why you are here, but I have other students to occupy my time with and helping you would be a time consuming process. I suggest just starting classes next year, but not this class- the beginners class.”

***

“Let’s see here… All fours and fives (out of five)… Even from our sound practice teacher, who generally gives lower scores. Says here, “Most technically capable individual of the group”. Well-motivated, helpful.

In general, it’s a real pleasure having you around. You are correct and punctual –in most cases, and you are pretty much what we were looking for.

I have a flawless method for accomplishing success, and it goes like this:

  1. Be a failure. Fail at everything, even (especially!) at the things you have a natural aptitude for. Do everything half-assed and whatever you do, do not show motivation. For anything.
  2. Sit and wait. Let your failures sink in. Crush all expectations people had of you. Don’t allow them to project your successes onto themselves by accepting all help, and proceeding to still fuck up royally. Seem bottomless.
  3. Kickstart. Do something no one expected of you, that tears you loose from their image of you. A reset, of sorts.
  4. Pick what you enjoy and do it, and do it well. Expect no help because others have given up on you; succeed without it.
  5. Receive praise for things not even remotely as impressive as the things expected of you years and years before. A father could never be more proud of anything other than his 30-year old son learning to walk, after all.

Ever since arriving at step 5, things have been a little touchy-feely for me. Combining work with school is something 20-year old students do on a daily basis, but I have proven myself so incapable of it, that is utterly shocks everyone when I finally manage something of the sort. What I do seems impressive because I set a frame of reference far below average. And that is the trick.

I recently shot photos for two artists, and they were thrilled. Not because they were amazing photos, but because they were above average photos- for free. This isn’t quality you normally get for free and that makes it awesome: The frame of reference.

This of course changes drastically when that frame shifts. Sure, I might seem motivated as a student in showbiz (I’ve been working onstage for 6 years, after all) but when my photography is criticized by a (honest!) professional photographer, my charade is uncovered. He expected of me what he is shown on a daily basis from his students, and I couldn’t deliver. Busted.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m bad at everything. I too have talents, and in fact I can handle photographic equipment a hell of a lot better than most of his students can, but I am easily 5 to 10 years behind on the learning curve, putting me at a serious disadvantage compared to “normal” people. My low frame of reference, established in the past, saves my image, but not around those who weren’t there, back then. With them, I have to rely on actual skill and talent, which, as you can read in the first two paragraphs, produces mixed results.

Such is life.


I promise this is the first and the last time, but I’d like to mention a few things about this site.

I first started writing when I was sixteen or so, mostly spewing foul language (moi?) and cynical frustrations. I put them online (Windows Live Spaces) but made no mention of them, leaving it up to those who cared enough to discover. About 2 years later, I got into a fight about them, with someone I cared for too much, considering she was an American mother of two I had never met. I deleted everything I had and swore never to write again, but, like today, just couldn’t help myself.

What I miss most about those lost logs, were my letters to my girlfriend when I was in boot camp, that I copied and saved on my computer. All those are gone now. And then this happened:

Yes, I started writing again. Reason? I just like to. Helps me clear my mind, and spill things I don’t get a chance to tell others. Don’t expect to see names here. I don’t think the people in question would appreciate it.

Don’t expect me to watch my language. If I want to post about fisting choir boys (which I don’t) I very well do as I please. Feedback is nice to get, but critisism is unnescessary.

Typos and everything.

Around that time, I had about two visitors per week on my site, which left me wondering who would care. Now, no less than six years later, Microsoft outsourced their blog service to WordPress and while initially I mostly just found that annoying, it now allows me to observe much more closely which pages draw the most traffic, and where they come from. It turns out, I get about 10-20 visitors on a good day (near 30 on a very good day) and people are subscribing all the way from Germany and the US.

I still write for the sake of the memories. It fits my way of dealing with events perfectly: Analyze, over-analyze, drop it, move on. But I have other reasons, too: To try to improve my writing style, and to share my thoughts with others. I do watch my language a little more (most of the time) and have to skip many topics for the sake of privacy of those involved, but who says I’m not putting that up elsewhere, hmm?

Either way, thanks for reading, I really appreciate it. Thanks for commenting too, I can always use your insight. Just watch your fucking language.


Scales

I think, and I know how arrogant this sounds, that many people have their ideas on life and death all wrong. If I would propose eternal life to just about anyone in town, there’s a very good chance they would refuse it. Which means that they insist, one time or other, on dying.

I understand why they would say that, too. “Who wants to live forever,” right? Look at the examples: a large part of the vampire legend is based around the curse of eternal life. The so-called gift that leads to an acute and growing sense of boredom, eventually leading to insanity.
I don’t think of it that way. I’d like to point out that these examples, and any other you can think of, are entirely fictional. Cooked up by humans, for humans, neither of which have any clue about it whatsoever. The opposite might as well be true, that eternal life is in fact, a gift, and allows you to collect awesomesauce for eternity and eventually become the sickest thing on earth since the velociraptor. And just like with religion: If all signs point to one conclusion, why decide on the other?

They say eternal life is boring, that nothing excites or interests you anymore. I think they couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s few things I wouldn’t give to see the future of mankind. There’s so much we missed already: Real revolutions, unlike the brand-sponsored skirmishes of today, the fall of dynasties, inventions that changed the world. No, I for one, would love to see what’s in stall for us.

Surely I can’t be the only one to admit he is terrified of dying? Every moment of happiness is so important to me, that I dread the day I would go without. And yes yes, I wouldn’t even realize, but that’s just another thing to be afraid of. You’d make me the happiest man alive if you told me I have forever to live. I think people say they are not afraid of dying or accept it as a part of life, to suppress their fear of death and to put themselves above it. To claim that not only can they not make the choice, but they don’t need to- they’d just keep things as they are, with the worst possible outcome for them.

One might claim that this thinking is also irrelevant, because it’s not our choice to make. But that too, is a mistake.

We age because our cells deteriorate as they divide, something that doesn’t necessarily need to happen. In fact, there’s a type of jellyfish out there with cells that don’t have this quality (this is still being discussed, though), and they do, in fact, live forever. We age because we’re supposed to, to make room for newer generations and speed up our evolution and thus chance of survival as a race. Put simply: We live because we die.

Scientists are figuring out ways to stop this process, freezing us in our age. This would also greatly reduce the risk of cancer and other cell age-related diseases, drastically improving our chance of survival until they manage to beat those altogether.

They’re getting close, and soon, we, as a race and as an individual, will have important choices to make. And while I realize it’s “playing god” and unnatural and in some ways unethical, I don’t have anyone to answer to and my choice, depending on the drawbacks, will be pretty easy- if that’s even possible with these things.


When I say “alien” to you, meaning creatures from another planet, you’ll immediately think of little green men or grey hominids with almond eyes. Usually somewhat human.

Lately there’s been this hype about how wrong that is, and alien species just might be in all sorts of shapes, sizes or colors. New ideas consist of jellyfish-like creatures, upside down mooncows or even gaseous forms.
To me, this amusingly proves how difficult we have it to think outside the box. When provoked to really use our imaginations, we cut loose and cough up the most illogical, unfound ideas. This is another planet we’re talking about, not another dimension.

Here’s a hint: Gases don’t live. They can’t live, they’re gases.

Life is created when the right chemicals are brought together and energy is added, in the form of heat and light. A self-replicating molecule forms, attracts and binds with different molecules and forms a cell. And we’re off.

If that new race of single-cellular life would evolve randomly, it would only manage to form different colors of goo and never get anyplace. For that, the weakest must be taken away and the strongest must survive. And voila- Natural selection.
on earth or on any other planet, this process is the same. If there was any other, I’m quite sure we would have stumbled across it by now.

What another planet would have is another shot at this thing called life, under different circumstances and in different environments. What it does not have, people, is different laws of physics. The chemicals on that planet are the same as ours- perhaps in different quantities but otherwise identical. Since planets revolve around stars, there will be one sun, warm enough to melt ice but not too hot to evaporate it altogether. There will be a process of natural selection and eventually one race will pretty much go haywire and take over the world.

This means that this species had to have the edge on others. They will most likely be omnivores, making them adaptable. They will have at least two eyes, so they can see depth. Their response to light frequencies might be very different, but light is an abundant source of energy and it wouldn’t make sense not to evolve senses for it especially since it’s a relatively simple procedure. Same goes for testing chemical structure, like we have taste and smell. Hearing might work somewhat differently, since it’s little more than a measurement for kinetic energy, which is all around us in many different forms.

If there is high gravity, the creatures will be short and strongly built, likely with some sort of bone structure- internal (like us) or external (like crabs). If there’s low gravity, falling over will cause far less damage and they will be higher, and thinner.

Two arms seems reasonable. Two legs logical, perhaps more. All in all, I really don’t think, if their planet looks anything like ours (as opposed to a water planet, which is highly unlikely), they will be so terribly different from us.

What will be far more shocking, I believe, is any sort of cultural difference. Hell, it causes war on our own little speck of dirt, who knows what it will lead to when the men are literally from mars?
Try to list the things that we do, that would seem unusual and unpractical to an alien. You could probably write a book about it, from the very concept of music over clothing to religion- none of those really make sense, if you think about it.

What would those aliens come up with, then? I bet they sit in their little ship every other Thursday, staring at a bright source of ultraviolet light while touching tentacle tips to each other, going “Ohhh yeah baby” in Martian. Or use their newborns as a renewable form of energy despite the presence of other kinds- who says their ethical code would remotely resemble ours? They just might not be curious about us at all, naturally insensitive bastards, and wipe us out before you can ask why your brain is bleeding.

Here’s another little thing to consider:

Formation of the earth: 4.5 billion years ago.
First signs of life: 3 to 4 billion years ago.
Multicellular life: 1 billion years ago.
Mammals: 200 million years ago.
25,000 years since we learned to hold more than our genitals.

That means we humans have been around about 0.0008333…% of life on earth, which in turn is unsightly short compared to the age of the universe. We are a very young species, even in our own juvenile evolution. We may think we’ve got it all figured out but we’ve only begun to understand what’s going on around us.

If, in that scale, those aliens would be just slightly older than us, that might result in hundreds, thousands of years of difference. Imagine where we will be in 500 years, or 5,000? Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Those alien assholes, with their intricate knowledge of alternate realities (hell, they’ll make them if they turned out not to exist) can fuck us up before we can even comprehend the possibility of it. We think our newest technology is so advance because it has lasers on it? Their primates used lasers. They’ll laugh at it like we laugh with kittens playing with wool.

It’s not a matter of us discovering them, it’s a matter of them discovering us. And the only reason why they haven’t (if they haven’t) is because we’ve only been around for such a short time, and our planet happens to be an exceptionally insignificant one, orbiting around an exceptionally insignificant star, in a boring, everyday galaxy.


And now for something completely different:

I am so horny I could fuck a shower drain.

There, I feel better now.


Left eye perspective

There’s a funny thing I noticed when holding a camera. It’s something I had trouble with when learning to shoot in the army, as well:

I am right handed and right footed, but primarily use my left eye.

It’s called a “master eye” (in Dutch anyway) and you can check it like this: Hold your hands out in front of you with a hole between them, and focus your eyes on something through that hole. Now close one eye. If she subject shifts out of sight, the eye you had been closing is your primary eye, and the other is mostly used for estimation of distance and as a back-up.

I had never noticed before that when I hold up a BB gun of the 9mm-type, I actually use my left eye to aim. Imagine my confusion when handed a rifle and literally not being able to look down the sights, holding it against my right shoulder but closing my right eye when aiming.

This results in an unusual style when shooting pictures, as well. While most people look through the viewfinder with their right eye, I use my left and as a result, have a harder time checking my surroundings without moving the camera away, not something you want to do when shooting the action.

It’s most obvious when I’m working in portrait frame. Everyone turns their camera to the left and sort of leaves it hanging between their fingers, carrying most of the weight with their left hand on the lens. I turn to the right and let it rest in my palm.

Not a big deal you might say, if it weren’t for the fact that so-called battery grips are designed for tilting your camera to the left. Since I don’t know of any cameras with left-handed design, this means that those grips are useless to me, other than the fact that they carry extra batteries. Kind of makes me wonder if this will pose any more problems using tripods, flashes and so on.

When using a rifle, I just had to forcibly learn to use my right eye. But it’s not as good as my left, so I rather not change that habit unless really necessary…


An acquaintance who owns a saltwater aquarium once mentioned something that goes around amongst enthusiasts: Gallon fever. It’s the urge to always go a step further and buy a larger aquarium as soon as it becomes available. He described it as the feeling that your aquarium becomes visibly smaller as soon as you notice a bigger one.

Photography equipment: the exact same thing. Canon recently released the 60D, which distances itself a little more from the semi-pro and plants itself smack in the “advanced users” category. It’s sleek, it’s handy, and I fucking want one.

Pretty much everything about this camera is better than mine, and some features are ones that I really missed, like an articulating LCD screen and user-adjustable kelvin values for accurate white balance. It’s buffer size is immense (58 jpegs/16 RAWs at 5.3 frames per second wtf) and it looks like it’s aerodynamic enough to fly. It’s sex in an aluminium and polycarbonate resin with glass fibre body.

I got my camera back in february, which means it’s getting close to one year now. And it looks exactly how I wanted it to look when I got it: There’s war paint on it, the textile strap is showing signs of wear and the viewfinder rubber is torn and glued back on. It looks used, and like it has proved its worth in everything I put it through.
While a year is not much even in terms of electronics, this particular model (500D) is now 2 generations behind on the 60D. This is the point where professional photographers buy a new body to stay ahead of the game. Yes, I am not a pro photographer, but this isn’t a pro model, either.

I can’t justify this new body at the moment, but damnit, it’s painful to let it just sit there in the shop while at the moment, I could technically afford one. But, I have investments to make in a tripod and flash first, not to mention the audio equipment I am currently working with and the trip up north we’ll be making in a few months.

Sponsorship is, at the moment, more than welcome. Did I mention it’s my birthday tomorrow?


I’ve been joining a friend who takes photography class, hoping to get some feedback on my photos. People there seem quite welcoming even though I haven’t paid a cent for what seems to be a pretty legit class. I haven’t had the chance to discuss possible improvements yet, but I don’t want to skip in line.

The flipside of the coin? I have to be a model. I’d put up examples here but they’re not mine, and although I have them, I’m not going to distribute someone else’s work before they even had a chance to edit it or even give me permission to do so. So far I’ve been using them to experiment post-processing portraits on, flattering myself with dramatic lighting and smooth skin. Dark eyes make me look manly.

It’s strange how you get to know people in a very different way when editing their photos. I don’t like editing portraits with the model sitting next to me, because it often leads to awkward silences when I zoom in to darken certain bodyparts. I sometimes deliberately bring out imperfections on the skin (I actually love doing that with shots of myself), which always provokes reactions from the model.

I too disagree on what the photographer thinks are the best shots, because I think I look like a cocksucker on them. But if that’s the look she was going for, I just get to “stand there and look pretty” and otherwise shut my hole- my opinion is irrelevant. For an aspiring photographer like myself, I must say it’s a unique experience, and part of the learning process to experience the whole process from the other side of the lens.

PS I look dashing when underexposed. hint


Radio

We’ve finally arrived at PA class, where we are shown how a complete PA system is built and, in practice, routed and controlled. I know the drill by now by doing internships and voluntary work, but it’s nice to stand still with every step and go through possible problems or issues. I get off on analyzing these things to the very act of connecting a cable, so all this is just plain masturbation for me. Don’t tell the others.

Speaking of which though, I get the feeling we’ve all grown as a group, as well. Especially the other eight I work with the most, I’m starting to get along rather well with. We joke and laugh all along the way and even I have learned to communicate in a way that doesn’t come over as demeaning when I know the answer and someone else doesn’t.

I’ve got the technical part down to a fucking art. I can tell you the complete signal flow of both light and sound, and have shown that I can improvise different and needlessly complicated ways to achieve the same results, which, to me, is really what it’s all about. And yes, I know what all the buttons do.
When it comes down to the finer, subtle skills that makes a technician a good one however, is where I have a lot to learn. Stuff like equalizing and the relative volume of each instrument is still a bit of a mystery to me. Usually I can’t even tell you if it sounds “off” or not, but if you tell me I can usually figure out why soon enough.

So far I have often been working together with someone who’s got the opposite problem, and we make a pretty good team. We might not always agree on how it’s supposed to sound, but generally I let him take care of that and I just make sure everything works.

So yes, it’s going well, thanks for asking. I’m having a blast facing new challenges and as far as I’m concerned, this can keep on going for a few more years. The only setback is the fact that I’m trapped in this mentally decelerated country but it’s only so big, right? I’m bound to cross the border at some point.

That and getting up early. Still not used to that.


When deciding to give it a shot and try to join the stage technician classes, I knew I was going to have to make some sacrifices. And one that I knew I was underestimating, but still did, was to give up my stress-free life.

Last night I experienced a whole lot more stress than I bargained for. My classmate/colleague/pal had to work for a radio show and wasn’t going to be able to make it in time, so he called me asking if I was willing to fill in for him the first few hours. Naturally, I agreed; I’m not going to skip on an opportunity like that. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that we were going to be thrown in a studio with little to no explanation at all, and be expected to record, mix and send through an impeccable sound. We were able to do some exploration the day before, so at least I knew where everything was.

The following might be a little technical to your tastes. I’ll include a quick dictionary at the bottom. If you get bored, I suggest you just skip to the end result.

Before getting there, I got a message that we had forgotten to test the link from our control room1 to the broadcasting studio, and we were supposed to do so before anything. So upon arriving, I asked for someone to show me how to do that because frankly, I had no clue. I knew everything I was supposed to be working with but after staring at the broadcasting equipment for twenty minutes, I gave up. A woman came and started rambling as if just “freshening up” something I had known for ages.

Now picture someone explaining you how to perform brain surgery, rambling it off like it’s the most common thing in the world and then going “Now you. And oh, the whole city will be watching you.” That’s pretty much how I felt. But then she spoke the magical word “PFL2” and I help up my hand. “Hold it. That’s all I need to know, thank you.” She went quiet and blinked, not knowing what triggered that reaction. “Well you should know this better than I do, right? You’re the technician here.”
I grinned. “Right.” Inwardly begging God for a quick death.

So now that I knew how to check it, I arrived at the next problem: It didn’t work. Nothing worked. Whatever I did in the control room, didn’t help. I ended up sending the left channel3 to the broadcasting room and the right to my monitors4, and absolutely certain that I was indeed sending out a signal, just started chopping up the cables and by-passing patch bays5 until 45 minutes later, the bitch worked.

Three vocal microphones, two guitar lines, and two laptop channels. We got a lucky break there: that’s not much at all. What also seemed godsent at first was that one artist was a studio technician himself, and we let him work with us tuning everything.
Looking back, that was a big mistake. The very first lesson that we had in the beginning of the year was this:
1. There are no rules.
2. Except for the rules.
3. The artist is ignorant.
4. The audience is ignorant.

So we should have known better. This guy started tweaking his own monitor feed long before our gain6 was set. We only later noticed (amateurs) that the equalizing was completely set to zero, nearly killing the signal altogether. As a result, we had to start over completely 3-4 times, wasting time like we had days of it. When the artists were called into the broadcasting studio for an interview before the live act, our own balance was way off. We just sat there, looking at each other, going “We’re fucked, man.”

In the thirty seconds of commercials in between we could make a few more adjustments, and when the whole thing suddenly started (thanks for warning us, guys), it sounded something like this.
Yes, the voice is too quiet the first few songs and the bass guitar lacks body, but fuck you, it worked. I was so damn relieved about that, that it hardly even occurred to me to go and continue tweaking the signals. Which, as I stated before, is where I lack as a technician.

[/technical jargon]

1 Control Room: The room in which the technician sits, separated from the playing artists and in this case, from the broadcasting studio.
2 PFL Pre-Fader Listen: A button that allows you to check the incoming signal and its strength.
3 Left and Right Channel: Stereo sound, like the music in your headphones, actually consists of two separate signals, the left and the right.
4 Control Room Monitors: Speakers that allow you to hear what you’re doing. After all, unlike live music on stage, you otherwise wouldn’t be able to hear what signal you’re sending through.
5 Patch Bay: A device where all the others are connected to, so you can easily connect one device to the other without needing to go and crawl behind them every time.
6 Gain: Amplification of the signal as it enters the mixing desk, so that you can manipulate it without having to amplify the resulting background noise later. Must absolutely be set correctly before anything.


Void

I swear to fucking god, they put something in my toothpaste that’s keeping me awake. One moment I’m nodding off where I sit but when I exit the bathroom, I feel like I could lay down doing nothing for hours and not even doze. Which I then demonstrate.

Aqua, hydrated silica, glycerin, sorbitol, sodium benzoate, sodium lauryl sulfate, aroma, cellulose gum, titanium dioxide (wtf), sodium fluoride, methylparaben, sodium saccharin, sodium monofluophosphate, zinc citrate, triclosan, calcium clycerophosphate, salvia officinalis extract, propylene glycol, C.I 45430, limofene, sodium monofluorphosphate, sodium fluride and triclosan, whatever the hell all of those might be, but don’t you believe they would even mention the other 97%, which consists of Red Bull mixed with coffee grinds.

I have to get up at 7.50am if I want to be in Brussels at 10. I went to sleep around 2.30am, way to late as usual, and then proceeded to lay awake until 3.45. I think I did drift off at some point, but what I did most was toss and turn for what feels like 48 hours. So now it’s almost morning, and I’m not even sleepy yet. Bet your sorry ass that will come the very moment I sit my ass down in class. Always makes me have to come up with some big-ass artist I then lie about doing the load-out for, all night long.

I think I’m officially an insomniac by now. Before I always thought it was just my fucked up sleep pattern but this is seriously starting to worry me. Last night I crashed around 2am because I had an appointment around noon. It got cancelled, and I slept on until 3 in the afternoon. This isn’t normal!

I know the answer just might be some discipline and a few good habits, but that’s just not an option here. I am 26, single and unemployed, and I will damn well reap the benefits! It takes me about 4 hours for me to screw up my night rhythm up fundamentally as soon as I have no work or school the next day, which is technically impossible but I will still manage. The very moment I have nothing to wake up for, I turn as decadent as humanly possible with my sleep.

So it’s almost 5am now and count on it that I will fall asleep now, under three hours before that gruesome alarm sound will tear away at my birthing complex.


Enter The Void” (nsfw) has got to be the single-most trippy movie I have ever seen, which is admittedly not saying much. Nevertheless, to call this movie a mindfuck is to call Pearl Harbor “kinda over-rated”.

The story is about a junkie getting shot by the cops, and the events before and after, all from his perspective. A good part of the movie is shot first-person, blinking eyes and everything. When that is not the case, it’s simply because the “first person” is dead and either tripping his skull off or watching his sister get laid. Considering how hot she is, you can hardly blame him.

The plot revolves largely around an accident the protagonist and his sister were in when they were very young, killing both their parents in front of their eyes in a rather gruesome way. It becomes clear further into the movie what psychological impact that had on her (the scene in which she sits screaming, with her dead mother right in front of her is heart-wrenching). They are divided and both adopted, and find each other again in Tokyo, of all places. In record time, he manages to fuck up her life with his drug habit, which she adopts before even realizing, and they soon develop some semi-incestuous relationship that only his ethical code (and well-timed death) keeps from developing further. In some sort of afterlife, hovering above friends and relatives, he is then treated to the sight of the impact his fucked-up lifestyle and death has on the people that he loves. Serves him right.

If there is some sort of afterlife, I reckon this would be it. No Morgan Freeman explaining you how things work and why you’re here or there, but a slow aftermath of what your life meant for others and yourself. I wasn’t quite in the mood for the movie’s calm pace and sure as hell wasn’t prepared for the gore and soft-core pornography, but I must say I did enjoy most of it. I can’t even recall where I was recommended it, but I think I would do the same to certain (very few) individuals.

Either way, good or bad: Mind blown. I’m impressed.


Catch

IMG_7777

At the peak of chaos, when everything happens at once and I don’t know how to keep up, I sometimes wonder why I put myself into such a mess. But subconsciously, I’ve always known the answer: Because on days like this, I’m ready to break things.

I just slept from 11pm to 3am and woke up, because it’s not my usual schedule. I already went out to let off some steam, but considering how fucking boring a city can be at 5 o’clock on a saturday morning, I can’t say I accomplished much of that.

I am literally bored out of my mind and it’s the worst feeling possible. I’m not very good company for myself, I’m too much of a pussy to deal with my own character. I seriously need something to do, someone to be, to get some feeling of accomplishment in, if necessary, redundant things. I was supposed to be working again but that faggot Usher got sick so that leaves around 200 people, including me, without a job. Thanks for nothing, douchebag.

You know what the problem is?? It’s fucking winter and I haven’t seen the sun since what feels like 1989. There’s a photo competition I’m participating in but with this typically Belgian, shit for weather I’m not getting much done. There’s no work, I’m lazy as fuck and the internet keeps throwing “art” like this (NSFW) at me and if that’s supposed to be helping; it’s fucking not.

At times like this the whole world can explode, so I at least have something to do. It makes me wish I‘m back on the Horseshoe, or knee deep in trouble again, so at least I get the feeling I’m worth a damn.


Belgium hasn’t had a government since 22nd of April last year. If I’m not mistaken- politics aren’t my cup of tea. That’s over two hundred days. We seem to be faring rather well, all things considered, but everyone knows a lack of progress means recession, which in turn means disaster. All theoretical of course, because even this whole financial crisis didn’t make a lick of difference in my wallet, which is empty most of the time, anyway.

People are getting fed up. We pay these ministers heaps of money for ruling our country, and they’re not even showing up at work. What do these people do, all day?
Me, I don’t really care. I didn’t vote so it would be kind of hypocrite of me to be disappointed in anyone. As a matter of fact, never before since voting became mandatory here in Belgium, did so many people refuse to vote. Music to my ears.

de·moc·ra·cy
[dih-mok-ruh-see]

–noun, plural -cies.

1. Government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

Not quite what we have, is it? We basically have nothing, because the people governing us can’t get along, can’t make up their minds, and have a completely different agenda than the people electing them.

This should come over as alarming to you. If it doesn’t, I suggest you re-join the flock. Allow me to rephrase: Our opinions and values are not represented by the people we elect as our governing factions.

According to dictionary.com that isn’t a requirement for a democracy, but I fail to see the point of having one if we, the people, don’t rule ourselves through spokespeople.
Every citizen here in Belgium wants shit to get a move on and for our whole country, being the French speaking half and the Dutch speaking half, to get along. What our politicians want, is something only their sponsors know, because it just so happens to be what they want, which is usually profit.

This so-called “democracy” is doomed to fail because at this point, no one knows what they’re voting for, anymore. The heroes among us are the ones who no longer do, and can say “Our opinions are not represented in the government offered to us. We will not choose between two evils, we demand something that works and gives us a chance for further progress.” Couldn’t take all that much effort, could it? All we need to do is not vote, or vote blank, and have our answer ready when we are finally asked what we want.

I’ve said this before: We are the masses, we are the many. We have everything to say on every social, economic and political standpoint. We should answer to nobody, and they should all have to answer to us. Before that is accomplished, nobody can speak of a truly functioning democracy.


What we are

Well. Can’t say I’ve ever been caught before. It’s become a kind of hobby to go and climb stuff like a adolescent retard, armed with a camera and a craving for some adrenalin. By now I know my city’s skies and rooftops almost as well as its streets, and yet I have never been caught.

I’ve been spotted once or twice, by people who didn’t really give a damn or were too timid to undertake anything at all. Today was different.

I was already in a bad mood because of the poor weather. I had finally been able to get a hold on a rather talented acquaintance of mine to play model, and of course that very morning the weather changed and turned a featureless grey. I had to get up early and as I waited for her, the lights on the historical buildings died, leaving them boring and featureless. When we finally did make it up, it turned out that the building itself had workers inside, who could easily see us through the window where ever we went. All around us too, across the street, were rooms filled with people who no longer had to look up to see us. Needless to say, we soon became the latest hype. On top of that, it turned out I brought an empty battery.

We decided to call it quits, and started making our way down. At this point I was so frustrated that I no longer cared about getting caught, and slid down the roof rather noisily. I basically asked for it, and I knew it. People inside heard us, and what proceeded was something like this:

“Hi.” Two workers showed up in an open window.

-“…Good morning. Don’t let us interrupt your work.” In other words, get the fuck back inside and leave us be.

-“Where did you come from?”

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that question. “Ghent. And you?” Mimicing his west-flemish accent with an arrogant little smile.

He proceeded to explain that we weren’t allowed to come there (No Shit??) without the proper safety equipment, yada yada. A colleague who had gone around found us with a triumphand “Ah ha!” as if we were supposed to feel caught, and gave us a lecture of his own.

I didn’t care. We weren’t harming anyone, and we were leaving anyway. By the time we made it down, I was ready to mass murder a nest of puppies. Mother fucker, that could not have gone any worse. She thought it was quite the adventure though, never having seen our city from above. At least I got to share that.

She’s leaving for Honduras for twenty-eight years and four days (or something) now, so it won’t be a while before next time unless I find another model. Blah. It was easier when they spontaneously presented themselves.


God damn, two months of dealing with financial crisis through not paying bills and the whole world is on me. I already know the unemployment agency has the attitude of a pit bull short on Ritalin when it comes to paying back the money I owe them, but Christ, take it easy. Where other companies go like, “We noticed you missed a payment, please do that before this date”, the RVA, the single-most bureaucratic and slow mechanism in Belgium (which is saying a damn lot), sends you this:

We noticed you missed a payment. We added it to this month’s PLUS €26 of administration costs, which is this automated message sent by a robot. Pay the fuck up or we’ll rape you so hard your deceased grandmother will feel it.

Hypocrite, much?
It’s not the first time they send me this, and I think they’re largely bluffing because they’re constantly dealing with the poorest percentage of the population, who have a different attitude towards paying what they owe, than most.

Still, I didn’t see it coming when someone sic’d their fucking lawyers on me. What the fuck, man? They send me one bill every year and I was late with paying it; exactly two weeks later I get a letter from their attorney saying “Better pay up, or else.” It went on how they would be forced (woe is them) to confiscate and sell every single thing that I own until the payment is met. And that this matter could be solved directly, without pressing charges or whatever. That they were playing nice and I better play along.

At that point I sort of went,

tshirt_off

No wait.

Anteater

That’s the one. I spend too much time on the internet.

Seriously, motherfuckers? You all have the reputation of being Europe’s most unhelpful, retarded and slowest companies, but you’re right smack on fucking time when it comes to raking in the cash, you bastards.

So yeah, I paid.

The reason why I was able to in the first place is because the government decided to pay me the €999.26 (to the cent) they owed me since february last year. That’s right, while they were paying law firms to milk my hard-earned cash from me the hard way, they let that small fortune sit and collect interest for just under a year.


People per definition, are boring. Watching somebody walk home quickly grows dull and when you let them talk freely, they run out of relevant things to say before you know it. They always have their guard up, out of fear of being judged, most of all. No one, including me, wants to be found weird in a bad way.

The trick is to catch people off guard, usually when they are alone, with trusted people, or in a fantasy setting like the internet. Back when I became moderator of the MUD I played, the first thing I did was install a system through which I could observe others whenever given permission, explicitly or (usually) implicitly.

And I would observe, like I do now when given the chance. I don’t think it’s spying, because I don’t follow them or undertake any action to probe deeper into their lives. I only take the chance when given, which is surprisingly often. Not many people really care about being seen as much as they claim to, under the strict circumstances that you stick to the following rules:

  • Leave your morals at the door. Always keep in mind that you are no hair better, with your own sick fantasies and dangerous ideas.
  • Stay passive. Never ever intervene. Don’t push, don’t follow when left alone.
  • Don’t be seen.
  • Don’t necessarily be honest, but always be sincere. If they don’t want you watching, don’t.

Stick with these and it’s amazing what they share with you- Actively, even. You and me and everyone really does have a whole lot to say if they genuinely feel safe.

My own social needs (damn this weak human flesh!) of course makes it hard to keep a constant distance, but when given the chance, I do still enjoy sitting back and letting things happen. My job as a technician is perfect for this. Some folks have really blown my mind in the past with what they showed to be capable of. It happens only rarely, but it sure makes it worth the wait.


If you think I get personal with my writing, you should check out
this guy.

Yeah, you’re welcome.


6am thoughts

Some friends I can talk to better than others. Sadly, the times we talk aren’t in proportion.

One of the most “under rated” ones among them told me once, that he believed that literally everything is possible. That reality is nothing more than our perception of it, and that structure exists only in our imagination.

After all, how do we perceive the world? We have sensors of five kinds, that transfer forces all around us (of luminescent, kinetic or chemical kind) into electrical pulses, which in term are gathered and interpreted by our brain before it is fed into this… gaseous bubble, our consciousness. For all we know, we could be completely wrong and somehow force-fed a reality that doesn’t actually exist, and there is no way we could possibly tell the difference. With all the different possibilities, who says that our perceived world is the “real” one.

What he claims, is that we can alter reality simply through imagination. With that, he means our subjective reality, inside our mind. If you can only imagine it vividly enough, it is possible. If you actually see yourself stand up and walk through a wall, and the next moment you see yourself on the other side of it, what is there to prove that you are wrong? If your mind accepts this as real, it is real- to you. And just like that, you can do the most unimaginable (no pun intended) things, reversing the way your senses work and redefining reality with the power of the mind.

He continued that the only reason why we accept things as true is because we were told to do so. Did you know, for example, that men and women see colors differently? It could go as far as someone seeing the color red as green, but since childbirth they learned that it was called “red”, so red it is. If you were told something is big, small, dangerous or soft, you would soon grow to believe it, and thus your world is shaped.

I really appreciate a fresh intake on such things, although I disagreed wholeheartedly. I have a much more “classical” view on life, singing along with just about everyone not even giving it any thought. I believe that there is in fact, a reality “out there”, outside our minds and bodies, that defines things before we perceive them, and despite the distorted view that we have on it, can not just be changed in any way though the electrical pulses inside our brains.

Let’s take Newton’s apple; I hold it in front of me, and as we both watch, I let go. The apple immediately falls downwards, and makes a little hop as it lands. I ask you to pick it up, and you do not reach anywhere else, but down to the exact location of the apple, and effortlessly pick it up. At that very moment, you and I agreed flawlessly on an observation, prediction and manipulation of reality. This couldn’t be something we learned. This is Darwin’s formula, of the apple going at 9.8m/s2 and nothing else. It’s so obvious and logic, it has become predictable to the point of simple math.

That doesn’t guarantee that someone or -thing isn’t fucking with our heads. We could both be caught in some “matrix” type situation and the things we think we see, are really just some sort of story made up, and might not even approach reality as it is. There might not actually be such a thing as light, gravity, or even other people- they might just be phantoms fed to our mind.

I’ve considered this in the past and found it terribly confusing, until I ran into some text written by some guy much more clever than I, that explained the core principles of philosophy to me. One of the first was that we need to accept that there is such a thing as reality.
If we are indeed being lied to, by our senses or some outside entity, there would be no way for us to find our through reasoning or observation, so it would be of no use at all to think further on it, other than rhetorical thought experiments or entertainment.
In order to analyze it, we must accept that the reality that we see, is real. If you can’t even agree on “what”, how could you go on asking “how,” “why” and so on. Even things that we cannot mentally grasp, like infinity, still have to be accepted if we ever want to think further on it.

While my friend has a valid point, it is one that makes itself obsolete because it is purely theoretical. There is no aspect of reality that follows his reasoning, unlike Newton’s laws. Our senses are the starting point; Our reasoning the way out.

I’m writing all this while playing chess against a computer that shows its thought process. Dear Keenan, I’m like, so sophisticated. Getting my ass kicked, but still.


January

Happpy Newyearrr everyone and may you get lots of socks and cash and not die of an HIV infected needle.

Another day, another year. It’s frightening how they seem to speed up as you grow older. When we were kids, every christmas was fucking epic, with presents and a huge christmas tree (for a small kid) and Santa Clause and all that shit. Nowadays, we pay a visit to family, do our round of kisses (three per person this end of Europe) and cause a scene. Because everybody knows Christmas get-togethers always end in a scene.

New years however, is more something to be celebrated with friends and the only reason why it didn’t end in a scene, is because I kept my fucking cool while my ex was around.

Fuck You yes, I’m going to go on about my ex again. If I were my own shrink I’d consider this two leaps backwards so Fuck Me too, You try pulling a plant from its soil and see if it stops nagging without water.

She and I have gone through some rough shit now and then, but when she had to open her yap and speak the words “Harry Potter” without sarcasm, I felt cheated on, all over again. She went on about how some Simpsons episode ruined the ending of one of the books, something only Harry Potter fans really give a shit about, and how, instead of partying, she preferred to sit at home with a book.

I laughed, and gave her a look. “You are such a prude.” She didn’t even know what I was talking about, so I had to explain. “Yes well,” she retorted, “I remember you calling me a prude before,” and everybody knew she was talking about the decades we spent in each other’s beds. She never was very good with her comebacks.
I could have taken that discussion to a whole new level, considering that I had to find out mine wasn’t the only bed she had been seeing, but I snapped my mouth shut and swallowed it in.

It wasn’t easy, let me tell you. Perhaps that’s just exactly what I need: To pin her in one position and explain to her, in vivid detail, what a bitch she is and what exactly she put me through. Because just like her being a prude, she wouldn’t even get what I’m on about- still doesn’t. She found it appropriate to give me back a pair of gloves I gave her four years ago, because “she had her own pair now”.

But I didn’t. Because we weren’t alone, and I’ll be damned if I’ll be the one starting a scene, the drunk uncle who finds his personal grudge much more important than presents or holiday spirit.

Anyhow.
New years resolutions! If you made any, you’re an idiot. They never work. They’re cute because they emphasize the feeling of a fresh start, but if you keep self-improvement reserved for the first of January, you are either perfect as you are or (far more likely) quite the asshole. Hell, I make resolutions twice a day and I’m not exactly a role model, myself.

This is what we do, humans. We tinker and change and endlessly imagine a more perfect future. And, at the same time, we idealize the past. So, we’re trapped. Progress’ constant companion is nostalgia for the way things used to be.

-Ira Glass, This American Life


I just saw “Into The Wild”, an obscenely popular movie about a kid throwing away his belongings, including $24,000 of savings, and ditched to travel the world (well, the American side of it, which is technically a different fucking planet) to end up in Alaska for two years. What I thought of it will surely become clear later on, but that’s not what I want to go into.

The reason people are so horny about this movie is because it invokes a sense of freedom which they otherwise lack in their life, and provides them with a bite-sized alternate philosophy, which they’ll never have. Who wouldn’t want to go out and live carelessly, you know, aside from not starving to death?
Okay since you asked: I found this movie greatly romanticized. Even in the fucking wilderness, this kid somehow wet-shaves and never do you see him struggle to find food. He’s never cold, never begs, end –get this- refuses to fuck
this chick because she’s not of legal age.

That’s not how it works, people. In reality, even dashing young men like him (The world is just full of beautiful people today) only get so far on others’ sympathy and they too have to steal and for fuck’s sake, he would have strangle-raped that girl before she could have said “Twilight Saga”. Which would have been similar to killing Hitler in his youth.

While greatly distorted, movie seem the most realistic to me near the end, when it greatly reminds me of my time in Norway, where I went hiking by myself for a week or so, and my hitch-hiking trip through Ireland and England. While everything is peachy and beautiful, there is no one to share this happiness with and it therefor (seems to) become entirely meaningless. After realizing this, he finds out he is trapped in place by the swollen river (after years of preparation he could have seen that one coming) and soon his supplies run out and after little over a hundred days there, he dies, like normal people do in the wilderness. Did I just spoil the ending for you? There’s always Harry Potter.

Into the Wild, Fight Club, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Trainspotting. All cult classics, all with a very strong morale and important lessons on how to dig up more from life. Everybody just adores these movies, yet so very few take their lessons to heart. The romanticizing of chaos, freedom and hard-headedness appears to have a strong effect in theaters, but has no grip at all on public opinion outside.
In part, I think that’s a dead shame, because I like to think I have plenty more of those in my life and I feel they have enriched it immensely. When I try to share that philosophy with others, pretty much the same thing happens as in those theaters: They smile and nod and agree, then turn around and go work in a factory, longing for their retirement where they are free (!) to watch TV all damn day.
Movies like these.


 

So I guess I’ll have to demonstrate yet again, that just because they can’t, doesn’t mean that I can’t, either.

This is something I caught myself doing, too: To project the lack of enthusiasm and early stage of problem solving (which is problem detecting) onto anyone with a great idea. “You know how difficult that is, right? I mean, there’s this and that to consider, not to mention all sorts of issues with irritating individuals like myself who seem out to discourage you.”

When you are one of those people –and everyone is sometimes-, learn to shut the fuck up. I’ve encountered your kind so many times in my life, and if there is something holding people back from becoming the best they can be, it’s you. When an idea is proposed and you have nothing to do with it, get that straight and shut the fuck up, your opinion is not appreciated. The right phrase, if any, is “Wow man, I never would have thought of that (because I’m a douchebag). If you need any financial support or discouragement, contact me and I can provide you.” That way you’re still honest, without bringing down someone with better ideas than yours out of sheer jealousy or whatever makes you tick.

With just about everything I’ve done or intended to do in my 26 years, there have been people watching, shaking their heads and yelling their unasked and unappreciated opinions. I bet your ass some dumbshit uncle was watching me take my first steps saying “Are you certain about that? You’ll surely fall.”