Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meet Stijn "Fatboy Coke" Gors

Fatboy & I worked together in Bratislava & he came to visit me in Amsterdam he actually lives in Ghent (yes, a Belgian but let's not start on that Dutch/Flemish thing). And Yes, we had one hell of a night!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pink Floyd, the fountain in Vondel Park & My old flatmate.

Today was a really nice sunny day - the rays of the Father Aton bringing love & light.

So, I decided to spend the afternoon in Vondel park & I had a particular spot where I was headed - there's a huge fountain that sprays about 20 metres into the air & I find it really relaxing to watch (There's something about watching/listening to running water - stream, fountain, river).

I arrived @ the park yes, of course it was packed! Tourists, Locals with they're Children, Dogs & Cyclists (of course). People on mobile phones talking loudly in all languages! (I used to think I'd prefer not to understand what they're saying but actually someone shouting loudly in a foreign language you don't understand on a mobile while you try to chill is just well, annoying, enough said) but, I found a nice piece of space to myself.

I'm @ the park watching the Honey's - some of the Dutch Ladies are awesome - long, tall all with these little teenagers ar$es (even when they're 50;-) as they've been riding a bike everyday all of their lives  (Sorry, can't help it they're all over the place!).

Anyway, I digress.

So, I'm enjoying the Sun like you do just staring into the fountain & Whoooosh I got a flashback (yep, we're gonna go back, way back.....15/16 years ago not sure I think I was about 27/28 years old) to when I took my first contract abroad - I was working for TMI an Italian Telecomms company with an office in Amsterdam - we used to call it Too Many Italians;-)

After smoking a Dutch cigar I had been listening to Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon & watching some birds flying round the fountain.

As I relaxed the Music & I just drifted Ahhhh I zoned out man, 'twas lovely.

When I came back it was akin to having some sort of revelation - this was the first time I had lived in a different country, on my own & I just felt like the Music was giving me the vibe of "New country, new you.....Explore & enjoy"

After this moment I felt like the Universe had spoken in a different way, sort of like a different type of Music can have a different vibe - yes, I know I had a smoke but, I still get this sort of vibe even now when I'm stone cold sober & that's why for me, Music is the voice of the Universe.

Anyway after finishing the album I hurriedly called my close friend Pete I had to share this with someone!

Now, Pete was a musician & Studio Engineer who I had shared a flat with in West Hampstead (not lived with, shared;-) it was still a time when house, drum & bass wasn't in the mainstream so he was involved in running an independent little label called "Engineers without fears".

Sometimes he'd come back with a tape from the studio really late @ night (CD's were still a novelty then) he'd wake me all excited like a big kid & say
"Mate, Mate you gotta listen to this I just recorded it in the studio".

For a moment I'd get pissed but, then I knew that Pete was a Purveyor of the finest beats & other fine quality music.  I just knew it was going to be cool & many times it was "WoW" & we'd raise our hands & high 5 each other;-)

I really like his music.  He made an album called Future Retro it has a track called Hypersleep that after all this time still kicks for me everytime I hear it. Oh yeah & another track called Get Carter (Wicked, wicked, wicked!).

"Ahhhh some of the Phattest beats in all of Babylon".

He introduced me to Alex Reece but, when he said Pink Floyd & showed me the album and yes, I admit for a moment it caught my interest (well, it did have a little flashing red light on the box!) but I had a sort of mental block against rock or anything that sounded remotely like it & just said "Nah, No way, mate I'm not having it" - funny as I remember this like it just happened last week.

So Anyway after he had picked up the phone I said
"Pete, Pete! Pink Floyd Man!! you gotta listen to this"
he just said "Mate, I'm really happy for you, that you've finally got there, but I did it 10 years ago! Now, go do some Jimmy"
"Who?" said I.
"Jimmy Man, Jimmy Hendrix go have a listen & come back to me, Mate".

Although I was deflated (Well, The realisation that I wasn't the only person or the first person to zone out on Pink Floyd & have a Eureka moment) it made me laugh as Pete didn't actually say "yeah right whatever" he was too nice for that - but instead he threw me another peanut.

By the way, he was right - I f#%^*€$ tripped out on "Jimmy" when I heard it......Thanks Pete;-)

Nice day @ the park though;-)

A big, fat, huge, enormous smile on my face;-)

Friday, May 6, 2011

To be Dutch means

I have learned since living here that there are 6 things that are mandatory to be Dutch:

1 Ride a bike - going to work on your bike wearing your suit & best shoes or high heels are "de rigeur" here or using an umbrella if it's raining whilst your on the bike. A Dutch person who doesn't ride a bike is like an Italian that doesn't do Pasta! Just weird.

2 Own a boat whatever size small or big or @ the very least have a healthy interest in boats.

3 An obsession about saving money. Dutchies will always want to tell you what a bargain they got & if it says buy one & get one Gratis - it's snapped up immediately! It's called "going Dutch" for a reason.

4 Drink Milk - these people just love milk! Lunchtimes consist of potato crockets or sandwiches followed by a glass of milk - its difficult to take your boss seriously when he has a milk moustache;-) They also have a thing called Carney Melk here it comes in a Red carton & it tastes like a Yoghurt gone bad.

5 Wearing Orange @ all national celebrations, Queens day or when following the National teams. I think it's impossible to find a Dutch person who's not sporting the colour on this day. Orange Is Everywhere on Queen's Day really! I remember seeing a cow painted Orange one year, that really freaked me out - I was on the train looking out the window & I'm still not sure to this day!

6 Making fun of the Belgians:
"The Belgian king asked the Dutch queen to do something stupid so people would stop thinking the Belgian are always so stupid, so she built a bridge in the middle of the Sahara. After a few months, the Belgian king called the Dutch queen again and said, okay, you can take the bridge down now, and the Dutch queen said, yeah, I could do that, if it wasn't for the three Belgians sitting there fishing." 

A friend asked me about the Dutch & the Orange thing today......

I still have memories of the Dutch national football team back in the 1978 World Cup where Arie Hann scored against Italy (Crazy goal!) with the Orange shorts & thought "All the fans wearing Orange?, what's that about?".

The colors of the Dutch flag are red, white and blue there's no Orange at all (although I later learned that the red used to be Orange).

So what's the deal with the Orange?

Well, Orange or Oranje as the Dutch call it, is the colour of the Dutch Royal Family. The House of Oranje-Nassau dates back to Willem van Oranje who fought a war against the Spanish Habsburg occupiers his grandson became William III of England.

William III of England.

What? How I hear you say - Well, William III was a Calvanist Protestant and the English were fearful of a revival of Catholicism under James II & William was Married to James' daughter Mary & he was invited to become King. 

I would say invaded but some English like to think the last time was 1066, so i'm not looking to burst that bubble here, right now. Anyway, James fled to Ireland & William's victory over James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is commemorated by the Orange Men who march in Northern Ireland to this day wearing Orange.

But while the Oranje has royal roots in the Netherlands, now it symbolises pride in being Dutch.

So, Koninginnedag ("Queen's Day"), the April 30 holiday commemorating the birthday of the (former) Queen is a huge party all over the Netherlands & that means Heineken/Amstel, boats, boats & more boats all surrounded by a sea of Orange.

Jacqueline & Yours truly 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This is a rant about People Who Text While Walking or riding their Bike!!!!

I can't think of many reasons why you have to text right there & then on your bike - I can only really justify on a life or death decision basis (then you have my permission). And I admit some jobs do require 24-hour information.
I really shouldn't laugh but hearing about the teenager that walked into an open manhole while texting. Living and commuting in Amsterdam I am confronted with these muppets on a daily basis - They drive me insane!.
Is it really so important that your friend or colleague tells you “OMG I’m LMFAO because I figured out what ROFL means.” or “That honey in accounts said hello to me!” I mean F*&^%$#, & get real.
I really am starting to think Twitter is an absolute, mind-numbing waste of time and you know what the really, really saddest thing about it is? our attention span has become so bloody dull that you cannot relate an idea in more than 140 characters.

Other than that you need to realise that the rubbish or just plain B*llox your friends & acquaintances are twittering is so important that you cannot even stop to read it. Most of the people I see doing this are not children or little teenagers so why is it so important that we simply must let the whole world know - Right there Right now.

Its really sad that we have become a society so steeped in gossip that we need to have a steady stream of blow-by-blow s*ite from every person we know at all times in a form that is easily digestible.
I just don't get it - I'm riding on my bike through the Harleemerstaraat in Amsterdam cars coming at me as I ride on the bike path having to overtake some F*&%$#@ Muppet who's texting there & then! What your so cool that the whole world needs to know.

We have to have Crackberries so we can get the latest inspirational e-mail chain letters telling us how great we are, so we can pass them along to ten friends.
Most of us have become so selfish & seem to think that we are the center of creation.
And so everything I am doing and everything my friends are doing must be known. Now!!!

And these moronic backward rasses talk on the phone at high volume on the train or in restaurants & other public places - In London soon you can use your phone on the underground - WTF! so soon you'll be hearing people shouting above the noise on the train or face buried texting - mind numbing instaed of perhaps learning soemthing by reading a book (anyway I digress).

Selfish, selfish, selfish - So what if I am inconveniencing everyone else?or putting lives @ risk - I just have to know the juicy details about who got kicked off Dancing With the Stars! or how good voice of Holland was!!
These Oxygen thieves go tap, tap, tap on their phones all day long, I have been in meetings discussing a heavy financial loss or the late delivery that will cost us a few hundred thousand Euros & our client is threatening to cancel the contract - lean over to the lead Exec & the other Exec's whos face's are buried in the Crackberry or some over smartphone whats your opinion "erm yes, I think thats great news - lets just carry on in the same direction" Oh great 20 mins i've been explaining our position & that W@nker has not heard a word.

They are so important to the world, in their minds. So what if I am endangering other people walking/cycling on the crowded street? So what if I get hit by a car because I am not watching, or fall into an open manhole?

Is it about Vanity, ego and narcissism to take the place of common sense and decency. iPhone users demanded, and got, a see-through phone app for their phones.

In the scheme of things it doesn't matter - Stop reading your F*&^$%@ work e-mails while cycling/walking down the street. Your job is a farce, nothing you do matters unless you are one of the two groups to whom I bestow my blessing above.

And you & your friends crap are not so important that you cannot even ride your bike down the street without a damn Crackberry so you can text or read as you go along.
Breathe, that feels better until the next time;-)

The internet, social platforms & Data privacy.

Today I had to provide some personal info online which started me thinking of the sharing personal data thing.
We are now given more opportunities to share ourselves & our lives than ever before.

We can tell Twitter what we are doing. On Facebook, we can tell everyone a relationship is on the rocks, or share pictures of embarrassing nights out & where we are.

But there are 2 sides to this - sharing also means we can work together, support each other, meet new people, gain new interests & keep intouch whilst jduging whats appropriate & whats not;-) But there is also the need to keep some online data private just to protect ourselves & thats not including the Social Engineering techniques that can be used (is the act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information, rather than by breaking in or using technical cracking techniques. While similar to a confidence check or simple fraud,, the term typically applies to trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or computer system access;

Its amazing how much info you can get about people online from even just a birth date (I only become aware of this when I worked with some Info secuirty experts & now my Eyes have definetly been opened).

The old adage the safest way is just say "No" the issue of keeping private online is really that simple.

"When you're faced with a Twitter box or a Facebook status boxin front of you, you can choose to put something in it, or not."

You can also just provide the most basic of info on your profile, In a world of tweets, status updates, blogs, YouTube clips and dating accounts it is, ultimately, a personal choice. Although most of us are quite keen to embrace the Internet & Technology in general not everybody is keen to embrace for one reason or another

I still cannot understand why the concept of tweeting away the minutiae of daily life has become such a big success.

We share where we are, who we are with, and what we are doing. We need to keep in mind that it can be used against us - spouses etc that facebook relationship status has had people break up/divorce or even killed!

Even if you are careful about what you share - you also have to be careful about what others share in relation to you! remember that its not always just your friends, looking their info/account can get hacked too.

Globally privacy worries are high on the political agenda - In March the EU, outlined ideas for the reform of data protection laws - "four pillars" of privacy, including the "right to be forgotten", and "privacy by default".

But i'm asking myself "Do we really understand what we are sliding into?".

Before we've been able to escape the gaze of our neighbour, the gaze of our parents, our wives, our children.
Now depending on the info you share the world will become a place where we won't be able to escape the gaze.

Without a doubt: Evil

(The power of Love & Light) - I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that: Martin Luther King Jr.

"The last time I saw so many deluded people dancing around celebrating the death of someone horrible from the East there were munchkins involved".

So, is the world now a safer place then? No I don't think so & yes, I feel with some certainty there will be revenge attacks to some misguided people unfortunately he will become a martyr - I hope that in the future annals of history he will go down as the evil sadistic b*stard he was & I'm happy for once that history is always told from the side of the victor.

Obviously, its causing emotions to stir, how would we feel if one of our own had gone down but I am sure that I would not celebrate it with the joy I have seen some do as if they have just won some Championship league type title.

Yes, I believe he was evil - without a doubt.

Reveling in joy over the amount of people he killed - many Muslims included he was never going to allow "Crusaders" to capture him alive absolutely no way.

For once I think the Americans have handled it properly, no parading his body publicly as proof but showing real constraint by observing Islamic customs and having the body washed, wrapped in a white sheet and buried within 24 hours - Islamic scholars have condemned the burial @ sea but it's absolutely forbidden to cremate. It is my opinion that if he was buried on land people would be looking for his burial place like pilgrimage to a shrine.

Location:Langestraat,Amsterdam,The Netherlands

Monday, May 2, 2011

Natalie from Paris via Stuttgart

My friend Natalie came to Amsterdam on Business last Monday so, we went for Dinner @ Wagamama's as she wasn't keen on trying some Dutch cuisine!
We had a relly good evening lots of laughter especially watching her trying to ride a bike;-)

Great to see you Nats come back soon....

About Me

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Just passing through and enjoying life. I use this blog to keep hold of my thoughts & opinions. In general anything that interest me.