Saturday, December 19

Finally, Some Pictures

I finally took the time to process some pictures (the ones that allowed for processing with Picassa).

Petronas Towers and Clouds

Buddhist Statues

LongNeck Village

Little Friend in the jungle

Wednesday, December 16

It's tiring

This is tiring: we've been to the Golden Triangle today. We went to Laos and the guys drank snake whiskey, we have a plane in the morning and had one three days ago to get to Chiang Mai.

I rode an elephant, had strange (but good) food each day and experienced Thai massage.

It's a tiring trip ;)

Monday, November 23

the beauty of leaves

the beauty of leaves
I took this on Saturday, at the Atomium, in Bruxelles while on a photo-walk organized on www.meetup.com/Brussels-photography-Meetup

Friday, November 20

First Week

First week in a new place just finished and here are some impressions:

I would expect driving to Liege and back every day to be tiring, but (to my surprise) I look forward to it. Maybe it's the novelty; maybe it's the car; maybe I just have low standards ;)

Whatever it is, it's fun.

The guys in office are nice (yeah, most people are decent people and nice, each in their own way); they are nice people though and that's what matters. They speak french though, and I understand enough to figure what they're talking about, but not enough to get the jokes :(. I'm getting better at it, and I'm sure I'll get there ... eventually.

My tasks are OK also. I cleaned up some code these days and made it work (for some reason I enjoy making code work better, refactoring and all that jazz). I am also in that phase where everything is new and tasks that I usually don't like (like testing) are opportunities to find out something about the industry. At this point it's all good.

I also find a new sense of purpose for myself, that comes from keeping busy all day. It's nothing surprising (I was expecting it) but it's a welcome change.

There are the pros; the cons?

I am still getting used to the schedule (I'm tired), the car I got is a mess (and I'll be cleaning it tomorrow - thankfully) and I need to get myself some secondary activity on the way to Liege - either some good music, or some french lessons CDs (or something similar).

It's all good though.

Saturday, November 7

No substance / random update

Well, G, it seems I haven't posted anything of substance on this blog lately (that is, in the last year or so).

I figured it's high time I did something about it, started this post, then realized that this post will actually not increase the general noise-to-signal ratio on the blog (yeah, I'm full of myself).

Let's see:
  • I'm starting work in a week or so. It's a relatively large consulting umbrella company dispatching consultants to various clients.
  • I am moving forward with all this and I finally feel I'm making some progress (yeah, it's all subjective).
  • My focus shifted somewhat:
  • I'm no longer doing any shamanic work, reiki is at the moment suspended (I still watch my awareness from time to time though) but I started looking into more concrete and down-to-earth things (something that was missing in my oh-so-spiritual life).
  • I'm preparing for a trip to Thailand.
  • It's an idea that was taken at the wrong moment (or is that the right moment afterall? I can never tell) from a financial and organizational point of view, something that I jumped right into without thinking much. These kinds of decisions have their place I guess.
  • I am back into photography,
  • having taken the lead in organizing the photography meetups in Bruxelles.
  • I'd like to get into Aikido again,
  • but that's very much a matter of opportunity right now.


There's a bunch of other stuff going on, but I'll post some of that later on.

Maybe.

Tuesday, November 3

Best Food I've Ever Made

The Knoblauchcremesuppe (Austrian Garlic Cream Soup) is the best food I've ever made (just finished eating it).

Here's the recipe:

For the chicken stock (for vegetarians, the recipe can be made with vegetable stock instead):
- some chicken bones/pieces (approximately 2-300 grams)
- two bay leaves
- olive oil
- two tablespoons of salt
- one large onion
- 1 liter of water.

For the soup:
- eight large cloves of garlic
- one small onion
- one tablespoon of butter
- parsley
- two tablespoons of flour (though I think I should have added more)
- two slices of bread (for croûtons)

Making the chicken stock


Dice the onion, and cut the chicken to small (2cm) pieces.

Fry the onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes (stirring occasionally) over a medium/large fire until it starts to become brown; then, remove from the fire.

Fry the chicken pieces of chicken until the meat becomes white, then add the onion, cover, reduce to the smallest fire possible and leave to fry for 20 minutes.

Parallely, bring the water to boiling (start boiling the water when the chicken still has 5 minutes left).

When the chicken has been fried for 20 minutes, add it to the boiling water along with the salt and the bay leaves, then leave it boiling over a large fire for twenty minutes.

When finished, strain it to separate all solids (they are not needed). The liquid is apparently called chicken stock.

Making the soup


Chop the garlic and onion to very small pieces (alternately, the garlic can be crushed).

Melt the butter over small fire, then add the garlic and onion, and fry them over a very small fire (otherwise the garlic burns and the soup is ruined) for ten minutes.

Add the flour in very small doses with small quantities of milk (stirring continuously) so that the flour is mixed homogeneously, then add the chicken stock, the parsley and the rest of the milk and bring it to boiling.

While the soup boils, cut the bread to pieces and fry it to make the croûtons.

Then, enjoy!

Thursday, October 29

Wednesday, October 21

on enlightenment

Enlightenment is like continuously falling off the cliff,
and being completely comfortable with that.

Shinzen, in his talk on the ox-herding drawings

Wednesday, October 7

A Global Poll

It is said that at one point, the UN decided they would do a world-wide poll, using the question According to your personal opinion, is there a lack of food in the rest of the world?

Apparently the poll failed, because:
  • In Africa nobody understood the word food
  • In China, nobody understood the phrase your personal opinion
  • In Germany nobody understoon the meaning of the word lack
  • In the USA nobody understood the meaning of the words the rest of the world

practice

practice

rain on their parade

rain on their parade

After Dark in the center of Bruxelles

After Dark in the center of Bruxelles

four forty-two in the afternoon

It's four forty-two in the afternoon and it's raining outside.

I've been reading all day, except for some emails I sent and making something to eat.

I was cleaning my years just now, with the last cotton bud in the box and suddenly, I had this clear sensation of an end and a beginning. I'm not sure what those represent, if they represent anything more than an impression in my mind. And end to what? A beginning of what?

Isn't it strange to think about a new beginning in a random moment like that?

It's like the first moment of consciousness in somebody sleeping, or the first spark of light in the darkness.

Monday, September 28

Seing is Believing ...

... or, How I Got Repeatedly Duped in Egypt.

A few years ago, I visited Egypt, along with a group of friends. We went with an organized tour and were taken by a professional guide, to see the Pyramids and the Sphynx, the National Museum of Egyptology, the Nile and a bunch of shops we weren't interested in. These shops are what I wanted to touch upon:

We saw leather shops, Egyptian parchment shops, volatile essences shops and a few other shops that our guide insisted were a good idea, but that we didn't really want to see. In all these shops, we also bought a lot of things we didn't need (parchment spelling our names or reproducing writing from the Pyramids, essential oils and so on).

It went like this: we were angry with the guide for bringing us to the last shop. He would insist we still have one to see, we would go into it determined that we wouldn't buy anything at all and we would exit the shops half an hour later, having bought new stuff and happy about it. It would take us between a few minutes and an hour to realize we had been duped again.

I tried to realize how these guys did it: how did they convince a bunch of strangers that buying that crap was a good idea and how did they do it so reliably?

Now, a few years later, I may have found an answer in reading Why You Can’t Help Believing Everything You Read.

Apparently, absorbing information is done in two separate steps:
  • First, you comprehend and believe what you hear. That is, all in one step; seeing really is believing.
  • Second, you think about it in critical terms (eventually confront the information with what you already knew or with new information) and determine it's validity.


This means that if you don't have the time (or inclination) to think about it, you just absorb it as "fact", as the way things are. This not only explains what happened to us all those years ago in Egypt (the shop keepers sat us down, and talked continuously, not giving us time to think about it), it also explains some hypnosis techniques (create more than one thread for the attention of the subject to focus on, then use one of them for your purposes), why charismatic people get their message across easier and a bunch of other things.

Now, take the time to think about this :-)

Wednesday, September 23

Saturday, September 19

What Are You Doing! What Are You Saying!
A koan for Christians

Koan from deoxy.org:

In modern times a great deal of nonsense is talked about masters and disciples, and about the inheritance of a master's teaching by favorite pupils, entitling them to pass the truth on to their adherents. Of course Zen should be imparted in this way, from heart to heart, and in the past it was really accomplished. Silence and humility reigned rather than profession and assertion. The one who received such a teaching kept the matter hidden even after twenty years. Not until another discovered through his own need that a real master was at hand was it learned hat the teaching had been imparted, and even then the occasion arose quite naturally and the teaching made its way in its own right. Under no circumstances did the teacher even claim "I am the successor of So-and-so." Such a claim would prove quite the contrary.

The Zen master Mu-nan had only one successor. His name was Shoju. After Shoju had completed his study of Zen, Mu-nan called him into his room. "I am getting old," he said, "and as far as I know, Shoju, you are the only one who will carry on this teaching. Here is a book. It has been passed down from master to master for seven generations. I also have added many points according to my understanding. The book is very valuable, and I am giving it to you to represent your successorship."

"If the book is such an important thing, you had better keep it," Shoju replied. "I received your Zen without writing and am satisfied with it as it is."

"I know that," said Mu-nan. "Even so, this work has been carried from master to master for seven generations, so you may keep it as a symbol of having received the teaching. Here."

The two happened to be talking before a brazier. The instant Shoju felt the book in his hands he thrust it into the flaming coals. He had no lust for possessions.

Mu-nan, who never had been angry before, yelled: "What are you doing!"

Shoju shouted back: "What are you saying!"


Comment: Shoju was true to his teacher. So was Mu-nan. There is no contradiction.

If a teaching denies truth even while it speaks of it, how do you follow such teaching?

Sunday, September 13

Destino - A Creation of Walt Disney and Salvador Dali

Arkon 2x tele-converter

50x2-experiment
Focus and bokeh experiment with a new/old setup: I have bought an old "Arkon Auto Tele-converter 2x".

This is a focus and depth of field test with my old 50mm/F1.7 prime with the converted attached.

The only problem I have with it is that it doesn't allow the camera to set the lens aperture and for newer lenses (no aperture ring) the aperture is impossible to control.

Also, the colors are altered to a degree: they are softer and contrast is reduced. It is nothing that can't be fixed (if you want to) and it adds a dream-like quality to the shots.

Amsterdam Channel

Amsterdam Channel

Crow in Bruxelles

Crow in Bruxelles

Tuesday, September 8

Randy Pausch on Time Management




Some ideas from the talk:

  • Time is the only commodity that matters
  • Very few people equate time with money
  • The money is not important. You can earn it later. Your time - you can never get it back.
  • Time management is a mean, not an end. The end is to maximize fun.
  • Being successfull doesn't make you manage your time well. It's the other way around.
  • Doing things right is wrong focus. Do the right things instead.
  • If things are not going well, it means you're learning a lot. They will go better later.
  • If you can dream it, you can do it. (Walt Disney) If you refuse to allow yourself to dream it, you won't do it.
  • Plan on multiple levels (today, this week, this semster), but be fluid. Have a plan.
  • Break things into small steps.
  • Being a boss is about growing your people.
  • When you do lots of things, do the uglyest thing first.
  • cluttered paperwork leads to thrashing.

Face Your Fear

(via Jay)

Monday, August 31

Monday, August 24

South Park - A Christian Critique

The internets have proven time and time again to be an inexhaustible source of fun.

In today's installment of the stupiamusing things you might find on the internet, we'll be talking about movie critique (Christianity-influenced).

These guys critique South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, from a Christian perspective. At least they try to - I found the critique to be ridiculous and funny, not Christian (except for the references to the bible and imagining of devils casting souls into the fire - or something).

I don't usually care for things such as these, but I found this one hilarious and wanted to share it with the world (along with some comments).

Here are some excerpts:
South Park is an incredibly dangerous movie for those who do not understand or are developing an understanding of the Gospel ....... INCREDIBLY dangerous. Some of the scenes in South Park reminded me so much of the image of demons screeching and dancing around a boiling cauldron as Satan gleefully looks on from the background as the demons pitch soul after soul after soul into the burning cauldron..
This is so full of FAIL I don't even know where to start. The scenes just made me laugh though.
Hussein waves his disembodied male member around. And it was not a cardboard drawing like most other images of the movie -- it was of photographic resolution.
Oh noes! Children watching the movie might see a P-E-N-I-S ... err ... I meant a disembodied male member! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Get a hint guys! Half of the population on this globe has one. The other half will see one by the time they are twenty (if they are educated and lucky enough, or uneducated and unlucky enough).
And you cannot imagine the depths of the influence of this sort of entertainment! In the months that followed our posting of this analysis report we received thousands of emails from adolescents who have seen this movie and spoke just like it. [...] And some people actually believe movies do not influence kids.
First, it doesn't take a big effort to imagine people influenced by what they hear. Why, it's only been a few centuries since people (influenced by the church) burned people alive for being afraid of them, just to eradicate them (in the case of Jews), justified slavery with a biblical story and killed people in the name of love.

Second, to believe the people writing you hate-mail are using vulgar language because they saw the movie and that's the whole reason implies a level of naivety that is startling.

That's all about the actual review.

The guys apparently also have a scale called WISDOM to rate movies on. Sounds nice?

It stands for:
  • Wanton Violence/Crime
  • Impudence/Hate
  • Sex/Homosexuality
  • Drugs/Alcohol
  • Offense to God
  • Murder/Suicide


Wisdom is not quite the best acronym for that. Guys from CAP, trust me on that!

Sunday, August 2

How Differential Gear works (BEST Tutorial)

This is the best explanation of a car differential that I've ever seen (with fun images and great comentary):

Saturday, August 1

UFOs on Youtube - kind of

I came upon a movie on youtube where Paul Hellyer, ex vice-premier of Canada(*) talks about UFOs and exopolitics.

Usually when I see stuff like this I look for reasons it is wrong (errors in logic, leaps of faith and so on). The guy was unassuming and not trying to convince anyone (well ... not is any obvious way) as the interview is not on a "hey they are real" tone, but more about expolitics as they are currently practiced (?!).

Then, I decided that I'd like to see what else one can find on UFOs on youtube and came upon some interesting stuff.

Following are three videos - feel free to come up with your own conclusions (**):

First, here's the original interview:


Here's a compilation of UFO (that is, flying objects that were not/could not be identified, not necessarily aliens) sightings, most of them official footage from the Russian Space Agency and NASA:


Here's a montage/interview with Buzz Aldrin recalling an encounter with ... something during the Apollo 11 mission:


There are much more, but the sources and connections they do are ... making me stay away.



(*) He was not actually Vice Premier. The position was (according to wikipedia) Senior Minister in the Cabinet, a position roughly equivalent to what the Vice Premier position is today.

(**) I automatically dismissed videos with titles like "MUST SEE!!! ABSOLUTELY AUTHENTIC" and generally videos commented in ALL CAPS or with lots of exclamation marks, people talking with what seemed to me to be a quasi-fanatical conviction and so on.

Tuesday, July 28

Like a River

An old zen master was on his dieing bed, surrounded by his disciples. He prepared to speak and everybody waited in silence.

He said: After years of investigation, I can certainly tell you that wisdom is like a river.

After a minute, one student broke the silence and asked: Master, forgive me, but what does that mean "wisdom is like a river"?

Ok, the master said - it's not like a river.

Then he died.

Monday, July 27

B

B
B, taking pictures on the beach in Knokke.

no-bathing

no-bathing
No-bathing sigh on the beach in Knokke.

Knokke beach

Knokke beach
Moody beach, yesterday afternoon in Knokke. We had gone to see the Northern Sea and maybe get a beer by the seaside.

Unfortunately, the beer was very expensive, and the weather was rainy. It made for a decent picture though.

speeding home

speeding home
There were traffic jams on the highway as we came back from Kokke. We exitted the highway and took some minor road through a forrest.

Sunday, July 19

Midnight Ramblings - and the Half-Blood Prince

It's midnight and I felt the need to write. I'm not sure why; maybe I needed somebody to listen to my thoughts and ramblings and there was nobody available. It doesn't matter much 'why' I guess.

We went and saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince tonight (just got home). I found it entertaining (in the same way I used to find fan fiction entertaining), but the party I was with, got bored.

I can see where they're coming from: the movie is a continuation of the previous one, and ends by opening the path to the action in the last book of the Harry Potter series. Thus, you have no introduction at the beginning and no ending at the end and the characters are completely unknown if you haven't seen the previous ones.

I wanted to post some more random stuff (like "hey, when I go to sleep I like standing in the dark in my room and watching the clouds pass by in the sky outside") but I'm getting sleepy, tomorrow is a long day, and it's around my usual bed time.

As such, good night and all that.
Pleasant dreams!
utnapistim

Tuesday, July 14

production and quality control ... sort of

production and quality control ... sort of

About the Most Important Question

A zen master told his student: If you ask the most important question, I will give you a completely truthful answer.
The student asked: Master, what is the most important question?
The master said: This one. And this answer is completely truthful.


So ... what is the most important question?

chillout

chillout

No Comment

respectfully