Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wanna play?

Everybody loves to play.

Huizinga
in his theory of culture as play states that play is an integral part of producing and signifying culture. Learning is playing and an important part of that process is learning to play. In my new (and first) job as elearning course developer I see the possibility of bringing back play in to our learning modules. Luckily for me, I haven't yet met the workflow, budget and technical restraints, which will undoubtedly surface once I start being swallowed up by the day-to-day affairs of simply 'doing-your-job".

Therefore is now the time to shoot high flying ideas and thoughts here, for future reference and/or hope.

So what to do with play and games. Let me start off with stating that I see a lot of boring stuff passing by me every day: safety regulations, compliance training, guidelines, definitions, work flow procedures, you name it. They are all things that are necessary, but dull to the bone. Things we need to know for our jobs, but aren't really interested in knowing. Merely bashing it into the people needing to know it, is what mostly happens in these cases. Flying the flag: "What needs to be done, needs to be done, so do it!" is what makes endless training sessions, illegible powerpoints and sadistic trainers flourish.

We want a student to know "all the ins and outs of the job", which is of course perfectly reasonable. But all too often the extent of "all the ins and outs" is taken too literally by content specialists. The result is a gargantuan amount of content which needs to be 'taught' to the student. Every drop of information needs to be poured into the brain of the student - but knowing it all is an illusion.

Instead it is much more sensible to aim at providing someone with what s/he needs to know to be good and efficient at what they need to do with this knowledge. Notice how a dimension of 'action' enters the equation of learning here: knowledge doesn't needs to be learned for the sake of knowledge (that is something which happens mostly tacitly or voluntarily) but we need knowledge to enable us to act.

In short: we need to learn how to play.

knock, knock

"Anybody home?"
*sneezes*
"Jeezzz! It's dusty in here!"
*flips light switch*
"And... hmm.. it's not really a treasure cove here either."
"Look!"
"What, where?!"
"On the floor! It's stirring"
"Indeed. He you! You alright mate?"
"All good, no worries"
*sighs*
"Just our luck.. an Aussie"

I'm back, with just a little touch of Aussieness left, now living the corporate life and again using this blog as a whiteboard for my thoughts on the things occupying me, especially concerning my new job as elearning course developer. So expect a lot of game, simulation, learning and personal change posts.

If you happen to find it enjoyable as well, than good on ya mate! ;)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Going Down

Yes, we are still alive and kicking.

Astrid too, don't worry.

Behind us are 6 days of insane, wonderful, colourful and beautiful traveling. 2 days in Darwin was all the rest given to As to recover from her long flight, before we headed out of the city to Kakadu National Park. We went on an Unleashed tour and it lived up to its name. It was an amazing experience, we've seen so much beautiful places, slept under the stars in a swag (a big canvas bag which you just dump on the ground. Put your sleeping bag in it and you are ready for the night - awesome!) made some cool hikes, swam in gorgeous lakes and gorges. Mix that with a fun group of people and a cool tour guide and you have the recipe for a great success.

After the tour we went back to one final night in Darwin before heading down to Alice Springs. Most of the group rocked up and we went completely crazy, so the next morning As and me where still in the party mood when we had to get up at 5:30am after 3 hours sleep.
Unfortunately those moods don't last long, so the first day of our road trip down to Alice was not really a success.. Both groggy and tired, a big new group of people and to really loud English girls behind us. But over the remaining two days we and the group started warming up to each other. The tour guide Dee was completely crazy and addressed everybody with either: 'gorgeous', 'precious', 'beautiful' and 'groovers', very funny.
Along the way down to Alice we saw some pretty cool stuff, but like my trip from Cairns to Darwin, it was mostly driving from place to place.

Today and tomorrow are two free days to recover from all the early mornings and constant driving. We've deserved! Sunday we start on the second half of the big trip down to Adelaide. 3 days Uluru and the other spectacular rock formations here and after that 3 days to get down to Adelaide. But tonight first another night of good sleep, jeez I'm tired haha!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Darwin

The Top End, The Outback, and The Nature Territory,

All names for the same part of Australia: The Northern Territory. And man, it's HOT! But first things first: the road trip.

As I had said to some of you, I made a road trip of 4 days through the Outback from Cairns to Darwin. In those 4 days we traveled a staggering 2800 kilometers. In a big 4WD bus we traveled mile after mile over mostly dirt roads in a barren and empty land. Now I really understand the vastness of Australia. All the land in the Outback is divided in cattle stations, differing in size between 6000 up to 33000 square km. Cows were therefore the species we saw the most. Occasionally we saw kangaroos, emus or other animals, but mostly just cows. The cows are different though, not the fat cows we have, but bony and bumpy cows, the sort you associate with India, with humps on there backs like camels or buffaloes.

Although we sat most of the day in the bus, during lunchtime and late-afternoon we made stops at often really beautiful places. Oftentimes with rivers or natural pools nearby, where the dry land suddenly changed into lush tropical growth. The presence of water is a weird thing here in the Top End. 4 months of the year it is dry, we are in the middle of that season now. The whole countryside is yellow, brown and red, the native trees are green all year round, but all the grass and other plants are dried out. After this dry season, the build-up season starts. For 4 months the humidity is a 100% and the temperature slowly rises. This season is the most unbearable time in the year, then finally the wet season sets in. During the wet it basically rains continuously and the whole country floods. To give an example, the Katherine river sometimes rises up to 18,5 meters! We drove over pretty wide bridges in certain places, but there was not a drop of water in sight. It was impossible to imagine that during the wet, all of this would be turned into a massive torrential river.

The group in the bus was really cool. Lots of interesting people and everybody was enjoying themselves. Now that we are in Darwin, I am staying with quite a few of them in the same hostel and it is good to have some friends to explore the town with and go out. Darwin is a nice place. Not as touristy as Cairns, the weather is hot, but we have a great pool in our hostel and drinks are in close range, so we manage ;) These weeks the Darwin Festival is on as well, so free concerts and other gigs are all over the place, very convenient.

And next Thursday Astrid will be here, FINALLY! Can't wait to see her again and explore the rest of Australia with her!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

After the jump

Sorry guys!

I should have known that you were all worried stiff about me and my skydive, but I can assure you all: everything is perfectly fine! I just had no inet time left to post a message here! I used my time to upload the pictures from my skydive, so that's why.

But you are all dying to know how it was of course! Well in one word: AWESOME!!!! It was such an amazing experience! Totally crazy, totally cool, totally exhilirating and adrenaline-rushing! I have a dvd of the thing, so when I am back, Ill show it to you all and you can all laugh at the distorted faces I am making and my yelling and screaming :)

I was the first to jump and because of that I got to sit right next to the opening through which we were to jump out. When the plane took off I had a fantastic view over all of Cairns, the rainforest and the reef, so that was a good appetizer before the jump itself (be it somewhat scary: being pressed against a thin layer of rambling perspex and nothing else to safeguard you from falling out) When the perspex door was rolled up, I had to sit on the edge of the opening and 2 seconds later I was falling. And falling, and falling, and screaming and yelling. It was so cool. After what felt like an instant and an eternity at the same time, the instructor pulled the parachute open and with a big jerk we came to a hold. Able to appreciate the surroundings and I could even have a go with the steering of the parachute. And then suddenly the ground came up to us real fast and we were landing! A smooth bump and that was it! Back on solid ground.

And one hell of an experience richer! People, if you ever get the chance, do it!

Monday, July 30, 2007

psst...

Guess what,

Im going skydiving tomorrow!

Ha!

:D

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Resurfaced


!!! NOW WITH WHALE !!!


Ok guys, here sits a certified Adventure Diver!

:D

Me and my diving buddy Ben

And I have done it all! A deep dive (3om) a night dive and a photo dive (the pictures are terrible haha, have a look at Flickr). The whole trip was awesome. On Thursday we were picked up at 6:30am to go to the boat. With 36 divers we set off for the Reef. After 3 hours we arrived at our first dive-site and we all jumped right in.

It was amazing! Fish everywhere! Huge blocks and outcrops of coral, unreal. And being able to navigate leisurely between all that: wow! It was really a kick. After the first dive a fantastic brekkie was waiting for us and after breakfast and a briefing we went for our second dive. This one went muucchh smoother than the first one. You start to notice how to control your buoyancy (= being able to go up and down with your breath and as little movement as possible, your lungs act as suspensions when you breathe in and as weights when you breathe out - nifty!) how you can swim efficiently and you have some time to better appreciate all the different fish, clams, coral, invertebrates and all the other wonders of the deep.

A giant clam

A school of fusiliers

The second day started at 7:45am this time, luxury! We did 2 dives in the morning on which we saw turtles, sting rays, clownfish (NEMO! :) and barracudas, but the best was yet to come. After the second dive some of the divers had spotted a marvelous surprise: a whale had come to take a look at the boat and its inhabitants! And believe it or not, but I have swum with the whale :D:D!! It was unreal, out of this world! It was sssooo big and so majestic and beautiful! An unbelievable experience to swim just a few meters away from it and stare it in the eye (some people had underwater cameras, so I will try and get some photos off of them).

Swimming with a whale, that is probably a once in a lifetime experience and it has been the most exhilarating thing of the whole trip I can tell you that! The night and the deep dive were also very cool, diving at night is extremely disorientating and strange, we saw different fish and it just feels weird and even more otherworldly. With all these dives done, we had a couple of 'fun' dives to explore the reef on our own and after that we were given our diving certificates! Yeah baby!

The boat and all the gear

I enjoyed this trip so much, diving is fantastic, I am sure I will be doing it for the rest of my life, the underwater world has so much to see and enjoy. My instructor told me that there is some diving in Darwin as well, supposedly there is a wreck near the harbour somewhere which is very cool!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

btw..

I KNOW HOW IT ENDS!

Harry rules (or does he die? Who knows? (ME! ;)

:D

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Taking the plunge

My first day of diving is at an end!

It has been exhausting and so much information has been fired at me, but I am feeling confident and happy. The day starting with a classroom session (OMG, how long ago that felt, sitting behind a little desk and listening!) where all this info was dumped on us. The afternoon we spent splashing around in the pool, swimming tests, a medical check ('completely fit' was the verdict) and of course toying around and getting used to the scuba gear. Man, that stuff is HEAVY! A weight belt, a tank, a BCD vest (I can't recall what it stands for, my mind is too clogged with info) and a bunch of tubes, meters and breathing regulators.

In the water we had to do all sorts of skill exercises with our gear on and me and my buddy Ben passed with flying colours. Tomorrow we will have another day of training in the pool and then on Thursday we set out for the Great Barrier Reef :D Three days of diving in the actual ocean amidst the wonders of the deep. We were promised sharks, turtles, many fish of course and if we were lucky barracudas, sea serpents, maybe even: whales! That would be so freaking awesome if that was the case!!

But first things first! I am going to leave through my theory b0ok and prepare for another day of information overload and water treading.

Bear with me :)!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cairns! Diving and don't forget: Birthday!

We made it!

We are in the diving capital of Australia. After another 'lovely' bus trip of 10 hours we stumbled out of the bus at 6:45am. I guess Greyhound is under the impression that you should enjoy your birthday for as long as possible! Yeah that's right, today I am turning 23. No longer the double 2's for me! Fortunately after a good hot shower and shave, I can safely say that I have lost none of my charm and good looks ;)

To celebrate Job and me went to the new Harry Potter movie this morning (which was in part also due to the fact that we couldnt check in until 1pm at the hostel so we had hours and hours to kill!) After seeing it, I can't wait for the final book which starts sale tomorrow! I am pretty sure that when I get it, I will be cut off from the world for 2 days just to read and read!

Also, today as the big present to myself (thanks Mom and Dad :) I have booked my diving trip! AAAHH!! I am sssoo looking forward to that. It is a very hefty blow to my budget but I am sure it will be all worth it, I went with the most accredited company and will be doing 11 dives, 6 training and 5 "pleasure" dives! Fishies, turtles, mantas and sharks, here I come!

But this Monday, Job will already be going home! Time really flies! We have seen and done so much, at the moment I am uploading all the photos to Flickr and seeing them again makes me go: "Oh yeah! We did that as well" and "Indeed! That was so much fun!" and "Oehh, the whales! Awesome!" I think I speak for both of us when I say that it has been really great. We were quite a team actually :D I thoroughly enjoyed it and the bond between us has definitely deepened, which is a really good feeling.

So from next week I will be all on my own again until Astrid gets here! I will keep you all posted!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

From South Molle Island

Ok, it is all true:

Lush green islands, blue blue water, white white sand and after I went snorkelling today: MASSIVE turtles, flocks of fish and even whales! At the moment we are at the resort on South Molle Island. We are not sleeping on the boat, we have been dropped here to spend the night on the island in dorms, which is fair enough, a nice hot shower after a day in the sun and salt was just what I needed, so I am not complaining about the fact that we are basically dumped on a boring island resort instead of staying on the boat.

And today we had such a good day! We set sail at 7:30am, and although early we were immediately rewarded with whales! Just alongside our boat a big whale and its calf were swimming with us!! Its size was so impressive, it is quite hard to imagine that the sea is full of immense creatures which you will probably never ever see or notice. The mother whale was so big, but when it went under again, it completely vanished, strange to experience.

The main destination today was Whitehaven Beach. It was quite pretty and very white. Supposedly it is one of the most photographed sights in the world, but even though it was a nice beach, it was still just a beach. The good thing was though, that there was a little bit of coral just off shore and that is where we saw our first fish and turtles, it was so cool! On the bottom in between the boats there was this HUGE turtle going about his business, it was so otherworldly, seeing this giant beast and touching his scale (it is really smooth): wow! Now I am adamant that I want to go diving in Cairns, it is so much fun!

Now dinner is waiting for us and then tomorrow the boat will bring us to a spot where the snorkeling should be really good, so I am looking forward to that!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sailing!

Ok, I only have 5 minutes of inet time left so:

Fraser = FANTASTIC! We had so much fun, we saw sssoo much beautiful stuff, white sands and crystal blue water, enormous dunes, rainforest, miles and miles of beach where we slept on (COLD!!) and we saw heaps of dingoes :D

The group was a mixed bag, but we met 2 English girls and 2 French girls and they were great fun, so we basically did everything with them and the rest of the group just followed us. The nights were really cold, but the mornings were beautiful with the sun rising from the sea and a completely clean beach and huge waves crashing.

At the moment we are in Airlie Beach and tomorrow we will embark on our sailing trip in the Whitsundays. Snorkelling with the fishies and visiting white, coconut palm beaches is what the flyers and adverts promise, so it will be good!

Still no time to upload photos, so hang on!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Packing up for Fraser

Tomorrow 6:45am Job and me will embark on our Fraser Island adventure. At the moment we have stayed for 3 days in Hervey Bay with absolutely nothing to do, which is rather boring, but since I am having quite a bit of a cold it is good to just relax and build up some strength for the coming 3 days of crazy 4WDing on the Island!

Before we arrived here in Hervey Bay, we stayed for 3 days in Byron Bay which was really nice. The bay was GORGEOUS with beautiful rainforests and mountains in the distance and the view from the lighthouse was spectacular. We met some nice people and had a bit of a party here and there, but mostly chilled out. We would have liked to take some surfing lessons, but unfortunately there were virtually no waves at all.

We were supposed to stay a night in Surfers Paradise, but once we got there with the bus and saw all the high rising skyscrapers and cloudy atmosphere, we decided to just catch another bus and head straight for Hervey Bay to have a couple of days before Fraser Island. Everybody we have spoken to says that it is awesome and we have just met the group and they all seem pretty alright and friendly, so that is a good sign. Job will be a driver on the island and although he can be quite the silent type I have the feeling that he is looking forward to that.

After our trip I hope to find a computer where I can upload the pictures and stuff and give you a good account of what we are seeing and doing here.

G R A D U A T E D :D

WWWIIIEEE!!! :D

I've done it! I AM GRADUATED! It is not the best mark, but it is enough, so who cares! It is done, over, finished, finito, KLAAARR!! I am so relieved and happy!

And hereby you are all invited to my birthday annex graduation party when I get back home! You will all know that Jago is back home in September!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Heading off

We are booked.

Tonight, 6pm we are heading for Byron Bay, and it is not a moment too soon. It has been my third time to Sydney now and I can tell you: I have seen most that there is to see a couple of times now. For Job everything has been new and cool of course, but I am getting the feeling that the vastness, skyscrapers and seedy King's Cross are not really his cup of tea. And while the weather has been good the last couple of days, the prospect of over 20 degrees in Byron Bay and the beach supposedly right around the corner from our hostel, means that I can't wait to get there!

Yesterday and today nothing real noteworthy happened, but Tuesday night was kind of interesting. Tuesday night Job and I tagged along with the people from the hostel for a 'night out'. It was the most depressing 'night out' imaginable. The people were either boring or complete bogans, every place we went was dead empty and the music sucked big time. So I decided to move down to Oxford St. and see if the gay scene had something better in store for us. And it did, in a way. It was just as empty and the people just as nasty, but suddenly Job caught sight of: Floortje Dessing :D How cool was that! Of course we started a little chat, the gay guy who was with her immediately snagged me and told me they just came off the plane and were in Sydney for Live Earth. I hadn't even realised it was on. They were all there to make a report about it for Link (which I didn't even know excited either) Unfortunately the Dutch radio called for an interview and they had to take their leave (robbing us of the opportunity to take a picture!! Darn!)

So for now Job and I have to wait a couple of hours and then we leave Sydney behind for all the good stuff: Fraser Island, Whitsunday's - here we come :D

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Back in Sydney

It is Tuesday and it is day two of our Sydney stay.

After a sad and quite emotional goodbye party on Sunday, Job and I caught the plane on Monday to Sydney. We are staying in 'Mate's Place', in Kings Cross. It is everything what comes to mind when you think of a hostel. Heaps of different people, bunk beds, old carpet and party central all night. But it is good. Our roommates are mostly out, but everybody is friendly enough. We are out ourselves most of the day anyway. After our arrival and settling in, we walked to the CBD and had a browse around Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Hyde Park, George St. Pitt St and of course Circular Quay with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. When we came back, we were so knackered that we just fell on to our beds and slept.

Today we went to the Eastern Beaches and had a good long walk along the coast and the beaches. It wasall very pretty, with empty beaches (it is winter), rolling waves and high cliffs. We even came across a cemetery which was nested along the cliffs, very special to see. Well I need to hand over the computer to someone else again, so just look at the pics here and on Flickr!



Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lil'Bro is here!

He's here!

Job, my little brother (21... so not REALLY little) has arrived here in Adelaide. Unfortunately we were a little too late to catch him right out of the gate (6:30am, enough said) but we skidded around the corner just as he walked out. And I have to admit: he hasn't changed one bit! Completely the same as I had left him :).

He was of course a bit knackered and had bloodshot and saggy eyes, but his spirits were soaring and smiles all over. In an effort to keep him awake, I dragged him all across town and into the Adelaide Hills to see the vista from Mt Lofty and pet the roos and koalas in, you guessed it, Cleland! But he couldn't keep his eyes open for one more minute, so he is sleeping now. Unfortunately for him, I will have to rudely awake him around 6:30pm, because we are going out for dinner and he needs to get into the day rhythm here anyway. But I'm sure that after a good and happy meal with Liam, Tara and Aki, his bed will feel even more welcoming and a well deserved rest awaits him :)

Tomorrow a new day, with some beach viewing (in the cold..) some shopping and a meet-up with the Dutch neighbours (and of course a big night out!)

Photos will be coming up, but since my own laptop is no more, I have to juggle with electronics and wires and shit, so hang on a bit.

No word from my supervisor still, so that is still a very gray and uncertain topic, but I hope my supervisor will be in contact today, we shall see.

Still, the good times are here!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The fun starts from 1:45 (Dutch)

(thanks Spunk)

Work-wank, don't you just love that word?


O M G!

Still, the new GQ had an interview with a doctor who argued that if men are under high pressure and stress, a wank on the job could be beneficial to relieve it a bit, but yeah... leaving your evidence or 'attributes' behind - yikes!

Monday, June 18, 2007

HOWTO: piss off your supervisor

Try to forward a feedback email she sent to you with some added complaints about her to a friend, but instead reply it to the supervisor in question...

0_o

A U T C H ! !

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Gotye - Heart's a Mess

Gotye is Wally DeBacker (His ancestors must be Dutch), a guy from Melbourne making very special and interesting music. This song is from his album Like Drawing Blood and it is absolutely captivating - both the clip and the song itself!

Your reputation preceeds you, Mr. van den Akker.

I'm in demand.

Not only with the boys (and the girls as Aki keeps pointing out to me) but apparently also for jobs! Since I will be graduated when I get home (hopefully) it will also be time to step out of uni life and into the real world where Arbeit spass macht!

So to make a good start I made an online cv on monsterboard.nl where everyone with a little computer knowledge posts his cv. Just to scan what kind of jobs are available, what it pays, where they are located and if they give me the idea: "He, this could actually be nice!" I found many jobs in London and the rest of England which matched my profile, in Nederland a couple, but no so many. After browsing these jobs I didn't give it much thought, until two days ago I suddenly received an email from a company in Rotterdam. They wanted to know if I was interested in talking about a possible position as eLearning Project Consultant (How cool does that sound! ;) within their company. The job description was vague, but looking at what they do with elearning I think it could suit me. I think it will involve a lot of different clients and projects all over Nederland, maybe even international - if that is the case I will say YES immediately.

So just a few days after I get back I will be having a job interview with them and who knows! I guess fate is telling me that it is time to come home.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Revelations (thanks Yoko)

Bless you for your anger,
Its a sign of rising energy.
(transform the energy to versatility and it will bring you prosperity)

Bless you for your sorrow,
Its a sign of vulnerability.
(transform the energy to sympathy and it will bring you love)

Bless you for your greed,
Its a sign of great capacity.
(transform the energy to giving,
Give as much as you wish to take and you will receive satisfaction)

Bless you for your jealousy,
Its a sign of empathy.
(transform the energy to admiration
And what you admire will become part of your life)

Bless you for your fear,
Its a sign of wisdom.
(transform the energy to flexibility and you will be free from what you fear)

Bless you for your search of direction.
(transform the energy to receptivity and the direction will come to you)

Bless you for the times you see evil.
(evil feeds on your support. feed not and it will self-destruct.
Shed light and it will cease to be)

Bless you for the times you feel no love.
Open your heart to life anyway

In time you will find love in you.

You are a sea of goodness,
You are a sea of love.
Bless you, bless you, bless you,
Bless you for what you are.

Count your blessings evry day for they are your protection
Which stand between you and what you wish not.

Count your curses and there will be a wall
Which stand between you and what you wish.

The world has all that you need
You have the power to attract what you wish.
Wish for health, wish for joy,
Remember, you are loved.

The world has all that you need
And you have the power to attract what you wish.
Wish for health, wish for joy,
Remember, you are loved,

I love you

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Passive-aggressive

Ah the wonderful world of passive-aggressiveness. How often don't we all feel like we want to scream, shout, tear the walls down, smash someone's head in, drive over them, slice their throats or throw them off a cliff just because they AGAIN didn't do the dishes, AGAIN didn't close the door behind their back, AGAIN left the lights on, AGAIN stole a piece of cheese from the fridge, AGAIN 'borrowed' your shoes, AGAIN didn't clean the toilet when they dumped their shit in it or AGAIN made noise till 3 in the morning? Come on! Admit it!

And when it comes to passive-aggressiveness everybody will also be familiar with: The Note. Because we are all so 'civilized' we don't give in to our Freudian primary anger feelings, no, we channel them into something else, a note. Poured in the smallest amount of words and as sarcastically polite as possible we vocalize our inner anger as written testament that we do not tolerate it anymore, that we have reached our limit and that whatever is bothering us must stop now!

This blog is all about notes like that. Some of them are just fantastic, you can feel the anger dripping from every word. Everyday they post a couple of new ones and they are perfect to alleviate your mood! What is more comforting than knowing that there are numerous people who are so much worse off than me. It makes that pile of dishes and the dirty floor in the kitchen much, much more bearable!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jia Ren Qu

Do you have that? One particular song which you carry with you everywhere you go? At any point in time it can pop up and it plays in your mind. I have one and it is actually a pretty strange one. I don't know who has seen House of Flying Daggers, but in this movie Zhang Ziyi sings this cute little song called Jia Ren Qu (or The Beauty Song) It is originally a very old Chinese poem. Ziyi doesn't do a very great job singing it, but somehow it has been stuck in my head ever since I have seen House of Flying Daggers and at the strangest of moments it comes into my head and I need to sing it.
Must be a weird sight to behold: a tall white boy singing a strange Chinese song. Here are the lyrics and when you are in my company, listen carefully and you will definitely hear me humming or singing it one day.

Bei fang you jia ren
Jue shi er du li
Yi gu qing ren cheng
Zai gu qing ren guo
Ning bu zhi
Qing cheng yu qing guo
Jia ren nan zai de

Translation:

A rare beauty in the North...
She's the finest lady on earth
One glance from her, the city falls
A second glance leaves the whole nation in ruins
There is no city or nation that has been
More cherished than a beauty like this

I think that one day it will become the lullaby I will sing to my kids :)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kou

“Koud he?”
“Nou.”
“En zo vroeg voor het seizoen.”
“Zeker.”
“Ongekend.”
“Zeg dat.”
“Hoeveel graden zou het zijn.”
“Ja..”
“Graadje of 5?”
“Oh zou kunnen.”
“Maar schaatsen zal het wel weer niet worden dit jaar.”
“Wie weet.”
“Echte kou kennen we niet meer tegenwoordig.”
“Nee..”
“Ik weet nog goed, in mijn jeugd, nou jongen, toen hadden we het koud! Rijp op de binnenkant van de ramen ’s morgens. Tenen verkleumd onder de dekens, je adem die als wolkjes om je heen drijft en je dekbed een dampende haven tegen de kou.”
“Aha.”
“’s Morgens de kachel in de keuken weer opstoken om het huis beetje warm te krijgen. Nee, kou kennen we niet meer tegenwoordig.”
“Ik geloof het.”
“Maar toch, vorige week. Vorige week is mijn man overleden en weet je jongen? Ik heb het nog nooit zo koud gehad.”
Allebei blazen ze wolkjes uit.

Einde

Het is donker, nu kan het.
“Hou je van me?”
De vraag blijft even hangen.
“Tuurlijk! Hoezo?”
“Gewoon.”
“Waarom zou ik niet van je houden?”
“You tell me.”
"Oh alsjeblieft…”
“Ik mag het toch wel vragen!”
Hij draait zich naar me toe
Hij kijkt naar me zoals hij altijd doet.
Ik durf niet.
“Je mag het altijd vragen.”
Ik probeer een glimlach.
“Dan is het goed”
Ik zie z'n rimpel ineens verschijnen.
“Is er iets?”
Mislukt.
Vermoed hij het?
“Nee, doe niet zo raar!”
De snelheid, de stemverhoging; het is er uit voor ik het kan tegenhouden - Leugenaar!
"Waarom vroeg je het dan?”
“Er is niets, ik wilde het je gewoon even horen zeggen.”
“Dat mag lieverd, maar ik ken je.”
Ken je me? Ken ik jou?
“Ik hou gewoon heel veel van je en ik wil je niet kwijt.”
Maar ik ben je al kwijt.
Zijn uitdrukking verzacht.
“Ik jou ook niet, dat weet je toch.”
Hoe kan hij dat nog zo zeggen.
“Tussen ons zit alles nog goed he?”
Ik zie het flitsen, het is alles wat ik nog nodig had.
“Tussen ons is alles super”
Mijn hart breekt.
Het kan niet anders.
Dan breekt ineens de aarzeling door op zijn gezicht.
“Ja toch?”
Ik blijf op mijn rug liggen, stil, ijsnaalden van binnen.
“Lieverd...”
Ik kijk opzij, de aarzeling heeft plaats gemaakt voor angst.
Ik zou niet weten hoe mijn eigen uitdrukking eruitziet, misschien is het wel een spiegel van de zijne.
In de stilte die tussen ons in hangt klinkt ineens
“Waarom?”
Eén van ons snikt.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

PIRATES!

I went to the midnight opening screening of Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End. You all know by now that Adelaide isn't the most vibrant of cities, but nevertheless it was a full house at the cinema. Ben and me were even condemned to some pretty bad seats! When I was scanning the audience I came to the conclusion that it was full of bogans (probably all unemployed, who else is able to go to the midnight screening of a 3-hour movie besides students and people with no jobs!) throwing popcorn and burping (not kidding)


But we were there for the movie, so how was it?! Unfortunately it was "mwah". Of course it was actionpacked, an exhilarating roller coaster ride, but with too many bumps and weird jumps. This third installment introduced around a dozen new characters which were not really important and instead of adding to the plot, they obscured it. With a solid 3 hours it had way too many almost-endings and climaxes and around two-thirds in the movie you start to think: "I can't take more! For the love of God - kill the dramatic music, put those swords away and silence those cannons!!" but then the amazing end battle starts and you admit: "Alright, just a little bit then"

Pirates 3 is definitely the weakest of the 3, but if you want swashbuckling spectacle it is still a must. Not in the least because Jack Sparrow is still, well.. Jack Sparrow (and wait till you meet his family ;)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I have to admit...

I was skeptical. Rihanna's new single "Umbrella" didn't get me really hooked, but I have to admit that the album is great. It is R&B Pop all the way with catchy tunes and breaky beats with of course the occasional ballad, but believe it or not, they are actually quite enjoyable as well!


So click once more and listen!

Also added to the music pool is something from a more indie side of things. The single from Feist's new album. Cute is the word here and I think you will all agree after hearing and watching One Two Three Four:

-

I feel scared now that it is actually about to happen. Weeks of anticipation and careful planning all let to this moment. How can he be so at ease? He looks so.. ready, a little frown on his brow, deep in thought. I can't keep silent, I have to talk.
"Have you ever done it?"
He looks up, surprise written on his face.
"Of course!"
"So, what is it like!"
He chuckles.
"Well you are about to find out yourself soon enough."
"Oh come on! I just want to know what it feels like - I'm curious" and after a short hesitation "and a bit scared"
A grin grows on his face.
"Yeah I can see that."
Thanks...
"Forget it, never mind"
He stretches out his hand and softly squeezes my shoulder. "He, it is supposed to be fun, I'm sorry, I was just trying to be funny. I'll tell you what it feels like if that eases your mind" I look skeptically at him "Don't give me that look!" I keep looking. "So?"
"Alright, alright! What does it feel like. I think that I would describe my first time as exhilarating. It gave me the feeling that every fiber and muscle in my body was singing with tension, excitement and anxiety. Your senses broaden, time slows down, everything becomes clearer, light brighter and somehow you can see every detail around you. Your heart pumps like crazy, the blood rushes through your body and you feel free. Free from space and time, one with the universe"
"Wow"
He laughs loudly "Yes, exactly that - and now it is your turn!"
I feel the rush coming, he was right. Anxiety and excitement, the fear and hunger for what is coming next. My heart beats, I can feel my breathing becoming louder and heavier - this is it!
"Are you ready?" he asks with that radiant smile
Oh hell yes!
"I am"
"There we go then!"
He slides open the door and we fall into the sky

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What next?

The last 2 weeks I have done next to nothing on my thesis. Terrible, don't you think? I spend large amounts of my time just staring at a big word document in which I change the odd word here and there, but mostly scroll up and down and read things over. A big pile of articles and books is lying besides my laptop and I leave through them, marking a few passages, but that's it.

And you know why? Because secretly I don't want to be finished yet. It's scary! Freedom awaits: no more books, no more articles, no more lectures, I can go and do what I want, where I want. But what do I want and where do I want it? A job? A PhD? More traveling? Experience living and working in another country again? What about a place to live? Living with Ak & Jan is of course no drama, but not ideal either. It is all just a bit uncertain and it all starts when that thesis is signed, sealed, delivered and I'm graduated. I guess it is this feeling that makes so many near-graduates postpone their thesis over and over again.

But then again.. after I finish there will also be a few months of fantastic traveling with Job and Astrid lying ahead of me and that will be the drive for these last grueling weeks of writing. Leaving those worries for when I am back in NL.

Monday, May 21, 2007

yoga newsflash

I did it!

Yesterday during yoga class I made a full split with one leg in front and one back! How do you like that! Ok.. it took some grunts and moans, but I made it flat to the ground. Bend and snap!

next step: legs in my neck ;)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Geta

Moms are great,

Yesterday both Aki and I received a parcel sent by them. What I got? Read previous post, I've already devoured it. Aki on the other hand got a whole bunch of make-up and clothes, but also something for me! She got me geta. "WTF are geta??" Well, geta are Japanese thongs. They look like logs which you bind under your feet, superfunny. I'll put a picture up soonish :)

Tegenspel

Sequel to Schijnbewegingen:

read it -period-

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tori is back

Woepie!

Tori Amos has a new album out and it is as weird as ever! American Doll Posse, now available for download ;)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Beperkt Houdbaar

[Link from Laura]

After this link you will find the Dutch documentary: Beperkt Houdbaar. I don't know if it has been shown on Dutch television as well, but it was truly fascinating.

The docu is a testament against the beauty and cosmetics industry. It doesn't tell anything new: we all know that beauty products don't really work, that being slim is the ideal and that every photo we see around us has been photoshopped. Although we all know this, the documentary shows that even with this knowledge our perception is gradually shifting to a place where being normal is not an option.

By constantly taking her own body as the reference point, the documentary maker shows us how far this is going. For example: she has a perfectly normal and defined figured with a pretty face, but when she visited a (American) plastic surgeon. I was staggered to see that when she asked him what could be improved on her, the plastic surgeon immediately turned the could to a should: "You are definitely a candidate to undergo this and this operation." He talked to her as if she was a lost case and needed serious help (from him of course). Most of all she was definitely a candidate for vaginal rejuvenation and a inner vagina lip re-sculpting (or whatever he called it) In short he listed 3 different operations which needed to be done on her vagina - so she could finally have that Ideal Playboy Vagina which every girl wants - and it would only cost around 8000 dollar per operation.

You need to watch the final 10-15 minutes (all in English with Dutch subtitles, so everybody can watch) to see what people like that plastic surgeon and the unrealistic images around us are forcing upon us (especially women) and how normal is becoming abnormal.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Did you know?

[link from Neatorama]



I'm ready for it :D

Sunday, May 6, 2007

internet is dead

just a short message from behind the neighbour's computer:

our internet is dead! For days we are trying to survive without and you can imagine what a struggle that is! We are thrown back into the Dark Ages where we need to amuse ourselves with board games, lots of reading, cinema visits and poker nights.

Pray for us!

:)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Some pop and jazzy love

I recently found out about the Dutch group Room Eleven. With a jazzy pop sound their songs are happy, cute and sometimes a little moody. Very enoyable, we will hear more from them I am sure. Here one of my favourites: Listen


And then there is the new cd from Hilary Duff. I know, it's terrible and I shouldn't like it, but her new album Dignity is real pop heaven and has more than a few super catchy songs on it. Judge for yourself after listening to Gypsy Woman

another announcement

YES!

I finished my internship officially now! I have my grade - a 7,5!

Woepie!

Now only the thesis and some annoying paperwork remains.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

*this message contains spam*

O M G !

For the first time in my life I have dyed my hair - miracles do happen!

But ok, ok.. I have to admit, it's not all that spectacular, just a little blond here and there, but it looks hot hahaha!


*end of message*

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Back

Having your parents around for 3 weeks after not seeing them for 6 months is a special experience. For 6 months I have been on my own here in Oz. In this absence from home, you start to think that you are becoming a completely different and new person. That you have matured, that even your physical appearance has changed significantly. But having your parents walk out of the gate at the airport cuts these illusions short.

Mum hugging me:
"It's so good to see you! You haven't changed a bit!"
(but... but! These jeans! And these broader arms, don't you see!)
"Like no time has past"
(How can she not notice!)
"Ever the same"
(am I?)

In three sentences all my expectations evaporated and I had to agree: I was and still am the same - and that is for the best. It showed me that time is of no importance. Of course I am gone and miss certain things, but they are not gone. My old life back home is waiting to take off from exactly the spot where I have left it, seamlessly. Strange and reassuring at the same time.

But enough of this, lets tell a bit more about the trip. (all the photos here)

After the hugs and exclamations of joy we went to pick up the hire car and to my place for breakfast. Those fantastic housemates of mine all woke up at 5:30 to go with me to the airport, so everybody was in need of a hearty breakfast to wake up a bit more. With breakfast in our bellies, mum, dad and me went off to Crafers where our vacation home was. Although I am quite a pigeon when it comes to finding my way in cities and reading maps, I guided us completely down the wrong freeway, but after this rather big detour we ended up in the Adelaide Hills at the house, beautifully situated in the bush, with lots of birds (and millipedes :S).


From here we did all the nice things in and around Adelaide. We went to Cleland for some obligatory kangaroo petting. Had a stroll in the city centre and Botanic Gardens. Went out to dinner with the West St. gang and Sara and Todd. Had Aki, Liam and Tara over the following night as well for a barbie and Settlers (/Kolonisten). Paid a visit to some wineries in the McLaren Vale and a big lunch on Maslin Beach.

With this first chapter of the trip already packed, it was just a taste of what was to come. Saturday we flew off to Melbourne for Easter. We stayed at a flashy hotel in St. Kilda, with the beach just around the corner. I completely fell in love with Melbourne. It reminded all three of us of Rotterdam, with the Yarra river running through the city centre, the trams and the skyline.

Melbourne was also much cleaner than Sydney and it didn't have the 'rushy' feeling Sydney gives me. Sydney has the sights, but Melbourne the vibe. We visited the National Gallery and some parks, shopped a bit, had a look at the art fair, went up and down the beach for lunch and dinner and I went out on Saturday night which was good.

Tuesday we set out to get our new hire car for the third part of our trip: The Great Ocean Road. Stretching some 500 km from Melbourne to Port Fairy, the GOR is the first half of the 'scenic route' back to Adelaide and it was wonderful!


With enormous cliffs and rock formations everywhere, gorgeous ocean views and cute little towns, the GOR made for a pleasant drive back to Adelaide, where the final stop awaited: Kangaroo Island. (but not before we found a garage with my name on it in Port Fairy!! :D Look:)


Stretching 150 km wide, KI is Australia's third biggest Island with lots of untamed bush and heaps of wildlife. Our place was right next to the beach - all day you could hear the waves crashing. The beach itself was gorgeous, stretching far and white. What was even more cool about the place though, was that a little before dusk all the wildlife would come out. At the front of the house, the kangaroos and walibis would come from everywhere to eat the carrots and feed that the owners of our place placed outside for them. Sometimes there would be around a dozen hopping and bouncing walibis! How cool is that :D
KI was extremely fascinating, wild and 'untouched'. It was so good to just sit on our veranda, enjoy the view, listen to the sea or read a book - tranquil. The only significant trip we made on KI was to Seal Bay, but it was a good one! On Seal Bay you can walk right up to the sea lions taking a rest on the beach. They hunt for three days straight out in the ocean and then come back to just rest. To stand there amidst those groups of animals - super special experience.


And with those final days on KI, our trip was over. Time to go home. Me back to West St. and Mum and Dad back on the plane. And with a final hug, a little swallow of grief and a reassuring smile we said goodbye once more - but I'll be home before you know it!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

I'm busy!

What a nice change! And to think that my parents will be here on Sunday and then of all the things I still want to have done before they are here - time is short! But once they are here, three weeks of complete relaxation and enjoyment will be my share.

So Jaag: back to work! You can rest later!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Just write

I've told some of you already that of late my work has been stagnating a bit. The feeling of: "Why am I doing this", "I just want to get it over with!" and the absence of a hard deadline and obligation to go into uni every day, have all contributed to this. But! Just a few days before my mom and dad will be here in Adelaide (joy!) I am beginning to see the light again.

I was reading some articles about how beginning academics tackle their biggest problem: keep writing on their research. Not that I am an academic (yet?) but the problem is of course the same. The solution however is as obvious as it is simple: just write. I know, it sounds stupid and too straightforward, but looking at my own way of working, it makes sense. I think too much, or better to say: worry too much. I can hear my mom in my head saying: "Maak nou eens geen waterhoofd!" (Stop turning your head into a water balloon!). The fear of writing has become the driving force behind my procrastination and that is why yesterday I punctured the water balloon and just wrote - 4 pages on end and a rewrite of my previous argument.

I have to admit, there are no academic references yet, but I can fill those in later. The important thing is that finally my argument is becoming solid and clear for my machinima research:

Map out and identify the different practices inside machinima and how these practices relate to machinima's position in-between both game-culture and traditional film making.

Sounds pretty workable to me!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Papillon d'Amour

Beautiful short about what a dear friend of mine calls: "Same shit, different name": of course the fragile balance between love and life. About how butterflies struggle to come into this world and bloom for such a short time.

Lecture

Yesterday I have given my first lecture! In English and about machinima. It was Monday morning at 9am. Although I had built in a buffer of 20 minutes, the Adelaidian bussystem still managed to make me late. At 9:05 I came rushing into the lecture theater with a lot of anxious looking faces turned at me. So much for an easy start. But once I got the powerpoint on, I was in business. And it went great! It felt really cool to stand there and just talk about the stuff that I'm doing at the moment with machinima and they even found my quirky jokes funny (don't forget: 9am...)

Afterwards Katie said she thought it went really smooth and natural, a born lecturer. Well thanks Katie.

And now I am going to do it again tomorrow, at 10am this time and with a slightly different focus, away from gaming and more towards film making. Should be alright, I'm feeling confident! Although I will need to be really concise for I only have 30 minutes instead of 50 - I say: high speed, low drag.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A hint of music

It has been a while since I put some music here. I don't know about you, but at the moment I am a bit in a classical and film music mode, so here are some things to enjoy:


Deportation / Iguazu by Gustavo Santaolalla
For those of you who have seen Babel recently, you will instantly recognize this hauntingly beautiful piece of music. Gustavo's work is excellent as are the other songs on the Babel soundtrack, which is spread out over 2 cds and incorporates a lot of styles and influences, an intricate tapestry, just like the movie.


The Illusionist - Philip Glass

Philip Glass, you love it or you hate it, there doesn't seem to be a middleground when it comes to this man and his minimal music. The soundtrack for the Illusionist is again a nice piece of work and this main theme is instantly recognizable to those who know any of Glass' other works. (he also did the Notes on a Scandal soundtrack, which is better enjoyed in its entirety, than as seperate songs)

I love Magnatune! They let you listen to everything for free, with just a little note at the end of each song. I can always find something new and interesting there.

Bach: Transcriptions of Italian Music by The American Bach Soloists has been one of these finds. A very vibrant and emotive performance of two very accessible works by Bach in his lighter mood. Especially the first part of the cd, the Concerto for Four Harpsichords is fantastic. Lots of energy and swirling musical motives.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Fringe is in town

Last night I went into town to go and see what was going around the Fringe Festival. Every year during the whole month of March, Adelaide is host of the Fringe Festival. With over 400 acts there is something going on basically every moment of the day. An enormous bunch of streetperformers, upcoming artists, theater-groups, comedians and heaps of others are filling the theaters and other places which resemble a stage (streets, parks, squares, you name it) to perform.

The main hub of activity is in the so-called Garden of Unearthly Delights, in Rundle Park and it was there that I went last night. The Garden is open all day, but it really comes to live after dark. With lights, people, music and circus tents scattered about, it had the feel of a fair. I strolled around the place and found some small tents here and there with magicians and other performers. For a couple of bucks you could go in and watch the show. When the performers were rallying spectators I could here a couple of them talking with a very distinct Dutch accent, so I went up to them and asked. And yes! They were from The Netherlands! Really funny, they had been travelling all around the world in pursuit of festivals like this. It is a small world after all :)

After watching the Dutch magicians doing a cool coin trick and a Dutch girl and her dad doing some quite freaky telekinetic stuff (I still can't figure out how they did it, or even scarier: how it could have been real!) I found Michael strolling around the place and I tagged along with him and Bruno for some drinks and dancing.

All in all a good night and I will definitely go back a couple of times during the remainder of the month!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Winning big @ The Adelaide Cup 2007

WWWOOOWW!!!

I won money!! :D

Australia, you just gotta love it!

Today it was Adelaide Cup day. What kind of cup is that? Well.. there isn't really a cup.. the Adelaide Cup is all about: horse races! Aussies are weird people, a public holiday for horse racing. Every major state has its own Cup (with the Melbourne Cup being the biggest event, celebrated all over the country, but only as an official holiday in Victoria) and this Monday it was Adelaide's turn! I have never been to horse races, nor placed a bet on anything in my life, so me and Aki decided to go.

It was at the racing grounds in Morphettville. I knew from the Melbourne Cup that everybody dresses up pretty and chique, so Aki and me went in our slickest outfits of course, my cowboy boots being an instant hit. I can't count the times (drunk) people stopped me to say they liked the boots so much. It was a very 'straight' happening, with all the guys in very safe (and boring) suits and jackets, so yeah it takes a bit of courage to pull cowboy boots off ;)

In this very buzzing and happy atmosphere Aki and I placed our bets. Of course we both knew nothing of horse racing, so we sneaked up on old guys who had heaps of papers and books with them, obviously the retired men who devote all their time to that one passion: horse racing. We got a paper from one of the men and he explained how all the odds and stuff worked. With this new knowledge Aki and I made some 'educated' guesses and even went to predict a couple of quinellas (where you predict both the number 1 and 2). With our tickets in hand we went to the track and shouted with the crowd at our horses and after a nose to nose finish we realized in an instant: WE HAD WON! Not only did we predict the correct number one, we won the QUINELLA!! :D

So both Aki and me could reap our harvest of a 110 bucks!! (of course wishing that we had bet more money on our quinella, like 5 bucks instead of our 2, because we got a whopping 43 dollars for every dollar we bet on that combination!)

As a tribute, see here our prize winning horse, Gallic:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mardi Gras | Reloaded

As you all know the theoretical concept of "tomorrow" is up for debate, since every new day has a tomorrow. I do however acknowledge that I have been lacking to update all of this and leaving you all wondering about when "tomorrow" turns into "today".

Well: Today! I have been sick these last couple of days. Yes I know - nasty, fever, strep throat, dizzyness, blablabla, not over yet, but well on my way to recovery - anyway: I am back here. To fill you all in on what I have been doing those six days in Sydney during Mardi Gras.

I left Adelaide at 9am on the first of March and this time I was well on time. No rushing, instead I had to wait and wait. More people were apparently leaving for a nice long weekend interstate, because the whole departure hall was full of people with large suitcases. Oh well, what can you do? Nothing, just stand in line. Of course at a slug's pace the queue shortened, but it was worth it, because the friendly lady behind the counter could swap me over to an over wing seat - I never say no to some extra space! And with that done I was checked-in, seated and ready to go.

The flight went by in a breeze and 2 small hours later I was on the train and on my way to the heart of Sydney. Thursday night I had called upon one of my internet buddies in Sydney, Saad, for a place to sleep. Saad had to go to Uni all day so I dropped my backpack at the Central Station and went into town. First stop was the Art Gallery again, I read that there was an anime exhibition on and I was curious about it. Unfortunately it wasn't really exciting - just a bunch of pages from anime comics framed with short explanations about what the pages depict. Lunch was then my second thing to-do. I went to a salt-water pool near the Art Gallery before and I knew that they served food as well, so I decided to head there. After a hearty lunch, I went down to the pool itself and came to the conclusion that even with goggles on, salt water is not fit for swimming. As luck wants it, just that same afternoon there was a yoga-class at the pool, so I joined and enjoyed that.

Time to pick up my stuff and go to Saad. A short ride on the train brought me to St. Peters where his apartment building was. After a short refreshing shower and change of clothes, we went to a very nice Indian restaurant in Newtown. For dessert we went elsewhere: Oxford St! When we arrived in what would be the main hub of activity over the coming days of Mardi Gras madness, it was still quite a shock to see gays everywhere. Where did all the women go?! Scary is too big a word, but the testosterone level was intimidatingly clogging my senses for sure!
We danced and talked a while in the Stonewall and left for a good night sleep, because I knew that sleep would be scarce over the next couple of days.

Friday morning I left Saad's place and went back to the city to wait for Gianni and Te-Yu to arrive from Adelaide. After some nasty checking-in delays at the hotel I could finally drop my backpack and leave it in the same place for a couple of days. We all got our own access key for the room and the hotel was right on the corner of Hyde Park and Oxford St: perfect! We had a late lunch and another friend of Gianni's and Te-Yu's walked past, he sat down with us, introduced himself to me: Wayne and of course asked who I was.
"Jago, from the Netherlands."
"Really? Last night I met up with 7 Dutch guys, how funny!"
"Indeed!"
"I'll bring them along tonight."
"Yeah for sure! That'll be interesting."
And so it was said and done. That night I met Richard, Jeroen and Michael, as Dutch as you can get them! We had a good night, but we, the Dutchies, really felt that everybody was holding back a bit. Nobody was completely out there or partying like there was no tomorrow. We came to the conclusion that they were saving themselves for the big parties tomorrow - the day of the Mardi Gras Parade. How boring, 'we' in Amsterdam party for days on end when the Pride is on (probably not true at all, but being 14000 km away from home makes you a bit melancholy about such things)!

Saturday. The day of the parade! During the day we did basically nothing, just like the rest of the city. Everybody was buzzing with excitement, a few early birds were already sitting along the route with their blankets and picnic baskets, but most people were just roaming the streets and shops in anticipation of the parade, which would start at 7:30pm. After a last shower and change of clothes, Gianni, Te-Yu and me went to Taylor Sq. at 6:45 to watch the parade. We had an OK spot. We could see most of it, but occasionally someone would step into our views - oh well, that's the price for being so late. What was a bit more of a problem however was that we were surrounded by a group of deaf-mute gays and lesbians. The fact that they were deaf-mute was of course not important to me at all - to live and let live is my slogan. However they were rapidly becoming really drunk, and really aggressive, resulting in them shouting and gesturing at almost anyone who came near, in the belief that everyone was making fun or insulting them, which wasn't true at all. It soon became so annoying and irritating, that we decided to move, since the parade was a bit boring as well.

The parade itself lasted for 2,5 hours - far too long! I have posted some pix on my Flickr page of the interesting cars and people that came along. In between these interesting parts there was a lot of boring stuff. Just a bunch of people, not really in costumes or with attributes, just walking and waving some flags and/or cardboards with scribbled messages. The Dykes on Bikes with headlights in all the different colours of the rainbow was probably the coolest part. We were glad that we didn't wait all day along the route to have a better view! After the parade finished the fences were opened by the police and everybody flocked into the streets to follow the trail of the parade to Fox Studios were the after party would be. After a hearty walk we arrived and it was party time - with 5 different venues and 17000 happy people, I was ready for it!

I partied from 10pm till 8am, it was an awesome night! The music was good, everybody was enjoying themselves, lots of beautiful people to watch, laughs to share - a blast! (and yes, I kissed with one really hot guy, he looked like a younger version of Sam Neill, with a body to match!) And I wasn't the only one who found a hottie - at 5 in the morning I got a txt message from Gianni saying:
"I am taking Joe back to the hotel room. Don't come back in the next 2 hours!"
Understood Sir! The night is young and love is in the air, sort of.
At 8:30 I stumbled in the hotel room and both Gianni and Te-Yu were still up. Gianni just worked his Joe out of the door and Te-Yu was back from Oxford St. We all had a great night, that much was clear.

As you can imagine, most of the Sunday was slept away of course, but at 2:30pm I put my bathers on and caught the bus to Bondi Beach. It was rather crowded, but a bit of the party mood was still hanging everywhere. I just relaxed and enjoyed the sun, the sea, the waves and the people. After a nice dinner on the boulevard, I went back to the hotel and decided that it was no more partying for me that night. I just crawled under my blanket and blissfully watched television. Gianni and Te-Yu needed to go home the next day, so they went out one final time.

Monday Gianni and Te-Yu had to go back to Adelaide, I waved them goodbye and I went off to Kathryn in Newtown. Kathryn is a friend of Liam and Tara's, I had met here several times already and I really like her, so I was excited to see how we would go this Monday and Tuesday together. She was staying at a friend's house in Pott's Point and said that it would be no problem for me to crash there as well - a godsend of course, because otherwise I would have had to pay dearly for a hotel room! Monday we had lunch, talked a lot and went to see The Illusionist. After that we went to her friend's place, freshened up, had dinner with some more friends and later drinks. But Kathryn and me felt that we wanted more: we wanted to dance!
So for the 4th time during my trip, we went back to the city for a night out. Again it was a super night with great music and laughter with Kathryn, she was great company! The night ended very pleasantly for me in the company of Taron.

And then it was Tuesday, my final day! I would leave at 6:45pm, so I went shopping with Kathryn for a bit, had lunch and a final look around town, saying goodbye to a wicked couple of days. After my last shower I looked in the mirror and concluded that I looked like shit and completely exhausted - it was time to go home and rest!

And so I did. Packed my bags, said goodbye to Kathryn, got on the train, got on the plane and finally came down the escalator of Adelaide Airport where Aki was waiting for me.

The journey was over. I'm still not completely recovered, but man.. it was well worth it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Back from Mardi Gras

I am completely exhausted, partied for 4 days straight, watched the sun come up twice, laughed my ass off, dragged my bags and stuff through all of Sydney, went up and down to cool places, restaurants, bars and clubs, met lots of different and interesting people, have feet that are still hurting from all the dancing and walking around the city, laid on Bondi beach, had some encounters with beautiful strangers, met my deadly limit of gay people - they were EVERYWHERE!, watched the parade, went to the movies, did some shopping - but to make a long story short:

I'm back from Mardi Gras

[the details come tomorrow, I need my bed now]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pallalink

[from BoingBoing]

Simply amazing: Kazuhiko Kawahara's intricate cut and paste re-works of architecture photographs.



more

Friday, February 23, 2007

Stick to your First Life

Most of you will have heard about Second Life. The online free-to-all, build-everything-you-want and live-happily-ever-after world set up by LindenLabs. At the moment the whole world seems to be obsessed with it. Take for instance the things we have seen in the Netherlands: a funeral company based a 'virtual' store where, among others, you can design your own coffin, political figures have their own avatars, companies have organized events and concerts inside Second Life. At the moment there is the biggest thing yet: the Dutch government wants to ban the child porn which is happening in Second Life. A bunch of weirdos are making avatars who look like children and let them have sex with other players.



But why? I played it once during my time at MediaMatic. You all know that I am some kind of a geek so I can familiarlize myself pretty fast with things like this, but not Second Life. First and foremost: it looks hideous! The aesthetic appeal of Second Life is nil. Child porn? Well, you need a pretty darn good imagination to be turned on by what you see in Second Life. Second: the controls, which don't respond and are not intuitive whatsoever. Next: the loading times and horizon. If you play a Massive Multiplayer Online game, the world stretches endlessly before you. In games as World of Warcraft or GuildWars, you can actually SEE this world, in Second Life everything is continuously building itself up painfully slow, with ugly textures, cheap JPEG pictures and uninteresting architecture and if something is interesting it will be so heavy on your system that it will take so long to load that you won't even bother.

And finally: it is just no fun! And you want to know why? Read this [link from BoingBoing]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

*coughs*

"Ok, ok I'll go already!!"

After several urgent pleas to see a doctor about my cough, I went and saw Dr Tim Moss - a friendly, big bellied and happy gentleman, today. After the obvious confirmation of Dr. Moss that I indeed had a rather persistent cough, he prescribed me a puffer. With the prescription in my hand I went on to the nurse and had my third hepatitis B shot, after which the presentation of the bill followed - 50 dollars for the lot. Happily I paid - this was a bargain!

In good spirits I went to the pharmacist to get my prescription medicine. The girl was nice and, I guess fueled by my radiant smile, started talking enthusiastically about what kind of medicine it was ("See, it has two main working ingredients, one is a steroid which calms the lungs down and suppresses the irritation. The other one opens the lung vessels again, which might have been clogged by your mucus or by the severe coughing spasms). This very friendly and nice scene quickly turned around when she finished with:

"Well, that is 89,24 dollars than!"

WHAT?!
90 dollars for a puffer?!
But wait! I've got insurance - don't panic.
You'll get your money back Jaag.
And even if you didn't - can you really put a price on your health?
No, you are right

But I still hated to swipe my credit card through that machine!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Potential

I have been brooding over this for quite some time, but now that I am nearing a conclusion I would like to share it with you all.

I smell opportunity in the air.

There you have it! I said it! I may be a complete arrogant prick, but I smell opportunity and potential for myself. Coming to a new country, with new people, different standards and different views you are confronted with yourself as you really are. You go back to your core, to the essence of what it is that makes you "you". And you discover that some parts of this essence work, but that others don't. At home I wouldn't change these habits, because everybody would think: "What has happened to him? Who is this person? Where is Jago?" but here nobody knows that Jago, here Jago is completely modifiable and can be changed at will. I can experiment with it, with different personae.

And this is showing me something very evident: there is potential everywhere! Some of you already know that after I had a picnic 2 weeks ago, a professor from Adelaide Uni who was present there, offered me a job as tutor (werkgroepdocent) for some media topics. I was flabbergasted! Just like that. I had spoken with her for 5 minutes, that was all, but apparently I hit the right spot. Most of you also know that I've always had the ambition and wish to become an university teacher, so this really felt like a godsend. A once in a lifetime opportunity, up for grasps.
I already started thinking about what I could talk about. One of the topics was about semiotics: "How can I make that difficult differentiation between icon, index and symbol clear?" "Should I use the French terms from de Sausurre: signifie and signifiant or the English translations?" "I could totally use that cool assignment I had to make myself once about analyzing the trailer of a movie!" Basically - I had already started.
But then it hit me: this is what that professor saw - my energy. She could smell it. And they want that everywhere! Not only here in Adelaide, not only this professor. There is a whole world out there who wants that energy. This is just the beginning! Hell, I am beginning to think that one of my other silent dreams might be within reach: studying / working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where everything BIG in new media theory happens.

.. but I shouldn't run off to chase these future prospects just yet.

I have some papers to finish and damn...

I wish I had a bit more energy that focused on seeing things through and finishing it up instead of dreaming the life that is to be lived as a dream!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Real love

Valentine's Day has passed me by completely uneventful, but here is a reassuring post-Valentine message to all of you that love does exist!

Click on the picture to see this amazing love story (18+):

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Capoeira!

Yes, I went to capoeira tonight!

And it was great fun! I have bleeding blisters on my big toes, but it was cool! A lot of moves were fired upon us and of course I made a big mess of it all, but at the end of the lesson I felt that I could at least grasp the essence of what I was supposed to do. I even stepped in to the ring or "roda" to do a sparring session with the teacher.

I showed my double kick, but I don't think the crowd was very impressed ;) Some of the people are so good, they make enormous jumps and mid-air somersaults! Oh well, practice makes perfect. At least my cartwheel is already good, that's a good start.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Say goodbye to the speed of light

[from Neatorama]

Light travels fast, libraries full of scifi books have been written about the promise of time travel when we humans will be able to travel faster than light. Traveling leisurely and constant at 300000km a second all physicists agreed: light can't be slowed down.

But Harvard professor Hau has done it! And not only that, she stopped it all together, transformed it into matter, transported it and then send it on its way again, completely unchanged, or if you want: changed! With added or encrypted data. This is simply unbelievable. Watch the short video and read the accompanying explanation. It will bring a completely new way of looking at travel, communication and data storage.

[quote from article]

"Light carries information, so think of information being manipulated in ways that have never before been possible. That information can be stored - put on a shelf, so to speak - retrieved at will, and converted back to light. The retrieved light would contain the same information as the original light, without so much as a period being lost.

Or the information could be changed. "The light waves can be sculpted," is the way Hau puts it. "Then it can be passed on. We have already observed such re-sculpted light in our lab."

A weird thing happens to the light as it enters the cold atomic cloud, called a Bose-Einstein condensate. It becomes squeezed into a space 50 million times smaller. Imagine a light beam 3,200 feet (one kilometer) long, loaded with information, that now is only a hair width in length but still encodes as much information."

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Privacy: from exposed to exhibited

Today I read a fantastic article in New York magazine:

Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy

Where just before the millennium everybody was dreading the loss of privacy, the potential danger of saved data about us and the irreversible traces, pictures and thoughts we leave everywhere on the web - the current generation is embracing all of this in a celebrity kind of fashion. A new generation gap is dawning.

I have a blog, I have a Flickr account, I have a MySpace, I have a Hyves profile, I have a Gaydar profile, Googling my name brings you at the things I have done for Mediamatic and Flinders, as well as some comments I have posted at several places. In short - I am all over the web, readily available for anyone interested in me. My email addresses have leaked out to spambots, people who really dislike me can trace me back with relative ease - use my 'private' pictures against me, could wipe my blunt reactions and blogposts in my face. Question is, do I care?

No.

And that is what the zeitgeist of 'my' digital generation is all about. We know that we are exposed, in full view, that maybe the person you show ur body to on your webcam is recording that on his side of the screen, or that for a job interview people might trace back what you write on your blog, or that stalkers put all the bits and pieces together to retrieve your telephone number, address, bank details and other highly personal information - information which we used to hold dear. That is why we are entering the stage which comes after the fear: the indifference. We are not afraid of being exposed anymore, we are celebrating the exhibition of ourselves.

We are becoming the celebrities of our own life, always aware of being watched and followed. And we laugh about it, otherwise we would crumble to pieces, holed up inside our houses with fear of the world. We are throwing off the shackles of privacy, fear, shame and prudence:

Here I am, enjoy!

But it is not this enjoyment alone, it is above all a cry for this: link back to me. Link back to me, so my network grows. Let us connect and contact each other. Leave comments on my blog, send me a Friends invite on MySpace, send my pictures to your friends. Fullfill my and our need to be seen and acknowledged.

Now you know everything.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

YEEESSS!!

I MADE IT THROUGH!

And with a 7! Thank God THAT'S over!

It was helpful as well that I now understand that for me, when someone asks:
"be more specific"
I need to answer it as if they asked:
"be more general"

Another academic mystery has been solved!

*super happy mode!*

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Alleinich fur die Niederländers

[stolen from Spunk which had a "Queen special"]



O M G! This is sssoo fucking hilarious, I couldn't stop laughing. THE ACCENT!!!!

Monday, February 5, 2007

The date is set...

...Wednesday night I am having my oral exam.

Pray for me!

Other updates:

Coughing like an aids patient
Went out on Saturday, same old, same old
Sunday:
For the first time in my life I have made a budget of my expenses.
The shock was great, but not devastating.
Today:
For the first time in my life I did groceries for the whole week

So tomorrow I am having a Mexican stew
Wednesday chicken stir fry
Thursday is the only night eating out
Friday I am having home made burgers with lots of roasted veggies
Saturday chicken curry
Sunday... crap... I dont have something for Sunday!
The money I save is going to my savings account for my travels here in Oz.

And when I have my first job back home, I want to invest money in stocks.

and the Lord saw it was good
.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Webtag!

Ok, I have to admit, I havent been tagged myself, but it is still heaps funny! :D

I'm subscribed to a lot of weblogs and recently there is a webtagging frenzy (oftewel weblog-tikkertje!) going on in the blogging community. Bloggers are tagged by other bloggers after which they need to write down 5 things which probably very few people know about them and afterwards tag 3 other bloggers to do the same!

So guys, here are my 5 things and read below who I chose to tag (and I havent told them yet, so that will be heaps funny!)

1. My childhood dream was to become an eye-surgeon - however, after I saw an actual eye surgery on television, I was cured of this desire.

2. I have the strong belief that it is much better NOT to put your toothbrush under the tap prior to brushing your teeth and let the saliva take care of it all.

3. I judge people according to the shoes they are wearing, especially men.
A brief introduction to how this works:
Nike Air Max: trouble!
Cheap sneakers: boring!
Ugly fake leather shoes: please don't let ur mom decide anymore
Shoes with really big and fat rubber soles: always walks on the safe side
Converse: interesting
Cowboy boots: confidence and charisma
Stylish leather shoes: potential
Thongs: AUSSIE!

Of course this is a gliding scale and there are other factors who determine a positive or negative result.

4. In my imagination and daydreams I like to think that I am a very lethal and stealthy assassin who takes revenge on all the people who did me wrong (very Freudian.. it is probably the way for my subconsciousness to deal with stress)

5. At some points in time I have faked orgasms (yes! You cán do that as a guy and sorry! I just didn't know anything else!!)

Well these were my revelations and I can't wait to read what Astrid, Laura and GJ will write!