Sunday, January 29, 2006

Taking zen to the next level

Zen meditation is all about being able to be in the here and now, without being distracted by jumping from one thought to another. The latter is what your brain is doing most of the time. If you don't believe that, try to stop your thinking for half an hour. And that's without sleeping off course!

Stopping the thinking, or at least tempering the mind is a daunting task and progress is made with baby steps. No, make that rabbit steps. At most.

Since our house is more than 50 years old, we still experience the fact that (sound) isolation was a low priority after WWII. That's not handy while meditating. I once heard a complete episode of the GTST soap opera from the floor below, while I was doing zazen (sitting zen)!

So then I'd start yelling "I'M GOING TO MEDITATE NOW!" to Ester on the floor below. Not a tranquil way to start a meditation session. So I tried the official way. I bought a (very) small zen bell. Well, it's more a kind of a bowl. And a small one too. I couldn't get enough noise out of that little thing, so I had to hit on it several times before ester heard me. Most of the time I hit it that hard that fell from its cushion. But then I discovered a new technique to hit it in such a way that it gives so much noise that you won't believe it's coming from that little thing.

Larger bowls are even harder to hit right. It's so easy to hit it too hard or too soft that you have to be concentrated when hitting a large bowl gently. Since you have to hit it 2 or three times you also have to make sure that the volume is each time the same. As you see: you can meditate with everything. Even with a very small brass bowl.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Photographic adventures in Belgium

I'm not a very adventurous person, but since I've taken already a lot of pictures of Oss and the surrounding area, that I wanted to make a real photographic adventure now and then. This month I had my first in Liege, Belgium. And although it was a lot of driving and was bored after 4 hours of walking and shooting pictures, it was a success. Most of the pictures that I shot there and passed the quality check are now online on either or

Strange thing that happened that day: After I parked my car, I went to a shopping mall to go to the toilet. When I was on the toilet in the basement of the shopping mall, the alarm went off and everyone was asked to go outside right away, preferably through the emergency exit. But nobody used the emergency exit, but went quietly to the main exit. When I was finally outside, while not even have buttoned all buttons of my trousers, I saw that there were already people going in again! So much for an alarm.

River mirror

Monday, January 16, 2006

I earned $100!

...and I got a sticker for free!

Yes! Finally my first $100 cheque. Earned by taking pictures and uploading them to It took me from February 2005 to December 2005 to reach that amount, but the next $100 milestone can only get faster now.

For those who don't know what iStock is: it's an online databank with photographs and illustrations for sale. People like desktop publishers can purchase a few pictures (mostly $1 to $3) for a very reasonable price. 10% is for the photographer and that percentage will grow as the sales grow.

I celebrated that occasion with a photographic trip to Liege, Belgium. More of that later. For now, I'm still amazed by getting a cheque from some Canadian company (I thought Vancouver-based) that I only know by their website.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I bought a salami!

Great news! I bought a salami! And let me explain right away why: Unlike Ester I only want to eat meat from animals that could lead a happy, 'normal' life. On top of that I do not want to be a very strict vegetarian, because it's just not that black and white. But because Ester does the cooking and has resentment against all kinds of meat, I don't eat meat that often. Once a year is a lot.

That situation is ok with me. The only thing I sometimes miss, is chicken paws and salami sausages. Since I do not like to cook, the only thing I wanted to try was a biological salami. Last week I found it in our little reform supermarket. And I can say you: it tastes deliciously! Real Italienischer salami. With Schweinefleisch. Go figure...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Some pictures of New Year's Eve

Just some pictures I shot at Paulien's place on

Children with fireworks

December was -as always- a month of fun. Lots of social events and the o so needed time to relax. There's one thing that's always bugging me though: New Year. Or to be more precise: fireworks.

Now you may think it's stupid to be scared of fireworks. Well, I'm not afraid of fireworks but of the people who use it. In particular the children. And these children can be sometimes so young that they shouldn't play with fireworks no matter what. I mean, I've seen in our neighborhood children at the age of 8 playing/throwing with fireworks! That's why I try on the last day of the year to be indoors as much as possible. When I become a dad, I'll try to make sure my children don't get fireworks.

When I think of fireworks and children, I always have to think about the 'funny' story in the local media a few years ago. It was about a boy that lost a bit of his fingers because of fireworks. He said that some older kids had thrown fireworks to him, while he was playing. I knew the boy vaguely, because he lived in my neighborhood and I reckoned that he'd rather be a perpetrator type than a victim type of person.

A few days later a local newspaper issued an interview with the father of the boy. He was very angry about the fact that the people who had thrown the fireworks to his son still were not found by the police. I don't remember exactly what he said, but in my memory he complained about how the hell it was possible that children can play with fireworks and on top of that long before New Year's Eve.

A few days later after that it finally came out that the whole story wasn't true. The boy had to make up a story because he had to go to the hospital, so he had to give his parents some explanation.

So although I'm afraid of children (younger and older) playing with fireworks, I should pity them the most.