Merry Christmas, and above all a Very Happy 2020

Merry Christmas and may 2020 bring what you wish for!

Thank you all for the support, the likes and the comments! Joining the blogging community felt like stepping into a warm bath.

Merry Christmas and may 2020 bring what you wish for!
Merry Christmas and may 2020 bring what you wish for!


Hand(s) • One Word Sunday

Hand holding my daily cigarette

Hand(s)One Word Sunday

Hand holding my daily cigarette
One of my hands

Entry for Debbie’s One Word Sunday. Although the prompt says ‘hands’ as in plural, I can hardly show both hands holding my daily cigarette.

‘Filthy’…’unhealthy’…’smoking kills’. Yes, undoubtedly. I’ve heard it all before. Moreover, I believe it. Yes, I do. I’ve quit many times, with all this at heart.

But then I heard one of the 6 top – in Parkinson’s Disease specialized – Dutch neurologists say in a speech that ‘they’ had found an inverse relationship with the incidence of Parkinson and smoking. Since I had an appointment with my own neurologist that same week, I confronted her with this, and got confirmation…

Not to take this lightly, I did some research online. Among other things, this article caught my eye:

It kicks-off with an abstract: ‘Evidence from epidemiological studies suggest a relationship between cigarette smoking and low risk of Parkinson disease (PD). As a major component of tobacco smoke, nicotine has been proposed to be a substance for preventing against PD risk, with a key role in regulating striatal activity and behaviors mediated through the dopaminergic system. Animal studies also showed that nicotine could modulate dopamine transmission and reduce levodopa-induced dyskinesias. However, previous clinical trials yield controversial results regarding nicotine treatment. In this review, we updated epidemiological, preclinical and clinical data, and studies on nicotine from diet. We also reviewed interactions between genetic factors and cigarette smoking. As a small amount of nicotine can saturate a substantial portion of nicotine receptors in the brain, nicotine from other sources, such as diet, could be a promising therapeutic substance for protection against PD.’

So ‘filthy’…’unhealthy’…’smoking kills’. Yes, undoubtedly. But I’d rather die from something I like, than from PD!

For previous posts on me and ‘my’ PD, start here.

#6WSP • With no shared memories…

With no shared memories • sign berlin wall east side gallery

Memories is this week’s prompt: Shweta’s Saturday Six Word Story Prompt for Week #17

With no shared memories • sign berlin wall east side gallery

With no shared memories… strangers again’

Entry for Shweta’s Saturday Six Word Story Prompt. Click the below picture to go to her blog

Six Word Story Prompt Logo

For my previous entries in #6WSP, start here.

For more of my six word stories, click here please.

Settle • FOWC with Fandango


Why can’t we settle for this in the meantime? My response to Settle • FOWC with Fandango.

Settle 1.FOWC Fandango
Why can’t we settle for this in the meantime?

Why can’t we settle for the renewable energy sources that we have?

‘Coal remains the single largest fuel in the G20 electricity mix. Despite notable increases in renewables capacity for electricity and decline in energy intensity in recent years, the overall share of oil, gas, coal and nuclear in the fast growing G20 energy supply has not varied substantially in the past 30 years.’

This is the main highlight of the 80-page report ‘Energy Transitions in G20 countries’ that can be downloaded @ › opac-tmpl › Documentos. It’s preface starts with:
‘This report was produced by the International Energy Agency (IEA) at the request of
Argentina’s G20 Presidency 2018, as a key input for the activities of the Energy Transitions Working Group (ETWG).
The G20 (Group of the Twenty) was created in 2008, in response to a severe international
financial crisis, and its members currently account for 85% of the global economy, 75% of
world trade and two-thirds of the global population.’

So, while the quest for really clean energy sources continues (or so we are led to believe) in recent years the overall share of (vastly) polluting energy sources has largely remained the same. In other words, given the rise in energy consumption of two-thirds of the global population, coal, gas, oil and nuclear powered energy has grown in absolute terms.

One of my nightmares is that one of my (grand)-children will stand before and accusingly asks me ‘you knew this apocalypse was going to happen. So why didn’t you do something?

As always, I’m open to a good, clean debate. Use the comment box please.

Meanwhile, if you’re getting bored, try this

Logo FOWC with Fandango

Red • Fandango’s Friday Flashback

Red • Cee's Fun Foto Challenge

Fandango’s Friday Flashback • December 20. The photo in this post from November 20, that I wrote for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, I’m more than a little pleased with. I’ve not nearly been blogging for a year, which is why I only go month back…

Red • Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Stones against red. Red • Cee's Fun Foto Challenge
Stones against red bench

Picture was taken in the Japanese Garden section of the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden, The Netherlands. Since I did not bring my Leica, I had to shoot this with my iPhone XR. Highlighted the colour red a bit in the Apple Photos and Adobe Lightroom apps.

For more entries into photo challenges simply click here.

Unhinged • FOWC with Fandango

Being not a native English speaker, for this Unhinged • FOWC with Fandango challenge I first had to look up what he meant with ‘unhinged’. It wasn’t at all what I expected, the Merriam-Webster gave me the following synonyms: balmy,barmy[chiefly British],bats,batty,bedlam,bonkers,brainsick,bughouse[slang],certifiable,crackbrained,cracked,crackers,crackpot,cranky[dialect],crazed,crazy,cuckoo,daffy,daft,demented,deranged,fruity[slang],gaga,haywire,insane,kooky(also kookie),loco[slang],loony(also looney),loony tunes(or looney tunes),lunatic,mad,maniacal(also maniac),mental,meshuga(or meshugge also meshugah or meshuggah),moonstruck,non compos mentis,nuts,nutty,psycho,psychotic,scatty[chiefly British],screwy,unbalanced,unsound,wacko(also whacko),wacky(also whacky),wud[chiefly Scottish]. So now I’ve got the picture…

A paradoxal approach to safety

Now, what immediately came to mind is the paradoxical approach to safety many of you Americans have. In order to ‘feel’ safe you want to be able to defend yourself. Preferably with a gun of some sorts, and preferably the bigger the better. But this knife cuts both ways: the antagonist can just as easily get hold of a gun then.
A lot easier some of you will at least think. They’ve got the black market to furnish them. Being in Europe, and being brought up with European norms and values, this whole notion of the ‘right to bear arms’ seems quite looney (to use a less polite form of ‘paradoxical’.) So could someone please enlighten me…?

Do I honestly need an assault rifle to protect my children

…from being shot in the infamous high school shootings that seemingly are becoming part of American Culture?
By the way, being a naive European, I ‘googled’ how many assault rifles there are in the US. The first thing the became clear to me was that there is a difference in ‘assault rifle’ and ‘assault weapon’. Are you guys really that unhinged, mental?

Assault weapon, or rifle?

How is it possible for the curators of Wikipedia to let this crucial question being fobbed off with ‘…and can not be known because of the different definitions in different jurisdictions.’ It seems to me that if you know about this difference in definitions you simply refine your search type you lazy gits? Or might there be some truth to the conspiracy theory that the gun lobby is so powerful that it silences even Wikipedia?

Guns as Christmas gift…have you really gone unhinged?

Yes, I’m serious…

Now, this is nothing more than a rant, and it is spoken from a European mind and heart. While I raise some fundamental questions, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface is my firm believe.

And please, if you do believe this whole rant against guns, assault rifles or -weapons (who gives a flying f*** about the difference in ‘kill-ability’) is rather unhinged, do let me – as a naive ignorant if you will and at heart pacifist European – know in the comment box below.

Meanwhile, if you’re getting bored, try this

What’s Behind This Door? • Thursday Doors

forbidden door • thursday doors

‘What’s Behind This Door?’ is my entry for this week’s Thursday Doors, which is hosted by Norm Frampton. To say he’s got a ‘thingie’ for doors is a bit of an understatement…

forbidden door • thursday doors
A firmly locked door

This door, in the dimly lit back of the basement of the Basilica of Our Lady in the city center of Maastricht, way down in the Catholic heartland of the Netherlands, caught my eye. It was firmly locked, but without any signs saying something like ‘No trespassing. Or the Wrath of the Lord will be upon you.’ Not a sign of any explanation whats however.

Then there was a soft but firm voice behind us asking what we were looking for and if the owner of the voice – a frail and well past middle-aged nunlike lady – could help us. We briefly introduced ourselves as sightseers who had wandered a bit of the beaten path – mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I then asked the question what was behind that locked door. Her eyes, which had been thoroughly locked on mine, suddenly went upwards. ‘My son, only our good Lord knows’ was her response. When she saw the you-don’t-get-off-that-easily look on my face she said in the sweetest voice possible that in all her time in the Basilica that door had been the only one permanently locked. She never had wondered why or what could be behind it. God ways are mysterious indeed…

Click here to go to my previous entry in Thursday Doors.

For me as a late baby boomer, my all time favorite pop-song is from 2003


All time favorite pop-song.

I just had to type this post as a response to Melissa Blake’s wonderful post on her excellent blog. While I vehemently disagree with the title of her post, ‘Forget Those “Best of 2019” Lists: Why 1999 Was Really the Best Year In Pop Culture’, almost just as much as I disagree with her choice of Christina Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle as the best pop-song ever. I do so sympathize with her paragraph on what she experienced when she first heard this song, which I do find to be a bloody cool pop-song. And I can very much relate to the sentiment of this song scoring with (late) millennials.

While I do believe the whole notion of generation gap (especially when it comes to music) has been vastly overrated, there is an element of truth in it. I was born in the spring of 1959 and thus qualify as one of the last baby-boomers. According to cultural sociologists, who deem themselves worth their salt, the differences between boomers and millennials couldn’t be starker. They are right I guess, as long as they leave music out of the equation.

My all time favorite pop-song

As of now, 2019 I mean, my all time favorite pop song is from a relatively obscure band called The Stereophonics that dates back to only 2003. It’s called Maybe tomorrow.

Written and produced by frontman Kelly Jones, it was used as the opening theme of the movie Wicker Park (2004) and was played during the credits at the end of the Academy Award-winning movie Crash (2004). Which is when I heard it first, in the Dolby Stereo equipped cinema after seeing that wonderful movie Crash.
I can be brutally brief about its impact, it was one of those rare songs that sent shivers down my spine. Much of the same experience Melissa had (and probably still has) for Genie in a bottle.

And then you just do what every other sane person does…

I went down the next morning to my favorite record shop and bought the CD… actually two of them. One for the car and the other for the home stereo. And I just hit the repeat button and played it at least twenty-five times.
Robert M. Pirsig, you know, the guy who wrote the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance way back in the 70s, called this phenomena dynamic quality. But then, even while it might still be your all time favorite pop-song, bar none, you substitute it for another flavor of the month and shelve the CD. But you always remember where and why, this is after all your favorite song, ever. For the time being. The sense of dynamic quality has shifted towards one of static quality.

That dreaded thing called ‘Generation Gap’

If there is something like brutally trying to kick in the proverbial open door, it must be saying that music evolves. But the point I’m trying to make here is that your taste in music can evolve too. It can become richer, more balanced, more in tune with the times. In my top 10 of all time favorite pop-songs definitely still is Jethro Tull’s Locomotive Breath, which dates back to 1971 when I was 12 or so.

For the puritans under you, this was the original single version, which I thought to be, during most of my teenage years to the best pop-song ever. If you’re thinking now this was just me as a 12-year-old rebelling against his classical music upbringing, you’re probably dead right. To a point. It still sits high on my list of all-time favorite pop-songs.

Last example of evolving all time favorite pop-songs

The song that has been on the top spot, in my book, longest is this one from 1972 which has much more of the jazzy soul-like qualities that I remember from my early teens in the Caribbean where I spent the happiest part of my childhood.

Although it stems from 1972, it only registered with me a decade later when I was completely smitten with Sade’s Smooth Operator.

Just goes to show that if you keep an open mind to wherever music goes (no matter how hard that is) you will stumble on new jewels the size off a rock. So please don’t get stuck only with the favorite pop-songs of when you were young.
As, the late, Herman Brood (of the Wild Romance) once famously said before he jumped off the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton: ‘Get your head out of your ass and look around. You just might discover a whole new world.’

My all time favorite guitar song and solo

It was late last night when I wrote this, and I completely forgot to mention Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain. Street-lengths ahead of any other famous song with an even more famous guitar solo (Led Zepp’s Stairway to Heaven, or Deep Purple’s Child in Time, or even the Eagles’ Hotel California). Just not possible I can hear some nay-Sayers think, but first listen, then shiver and then finally you pass judgement.

Let me briefly explain how this song came about. George Clinton, the headman of Funkadelic, tripping on LSD, briefed the late Eddie Hazel to write him a guitar solo as if he’d heard his mother just died. And then he had to turn this solo into hearing the news if his mother wasn’t dead after all. Anyway, the original track was so vastly different from anything Funkadelic stood for that the record company didn’t dare to pt this on their latest album and added it in a nondescript sleeve to it. Or so the story goes…

For more about me and my blog, go here

Common • Tuesday Photo Challenge

hello - it's been 35 years

Common • Tuesday Photo Challenge is my submission into Dutch goes the Photo challenge of the week. As usual, it is as brutally imaginative as it is common: ‘Whether it is the every day, common object or the things that you have in common, or crossing the town common… This is a word that allows for plenty of creative directions to be taken, so feel free to take the one that speaks to you!’

Now a common sight, back in 1984 a revolution that rocked the world

A revolution that turned into common-ness

This photo is of the very first Macintosh that was introduced slightly over 35 years ago (!) and that rocked the world for the three-and-a-half decade that followed.
I remember vividly how my brother one evening lugged home an IBM workstation, to which my father said ‘putting handles on a washing machine doesn’t mean it’s portable.’ But the most intimidating thing was when it had finally booted up; green command-lines on a black screen.
Then, roughly half a year later, a friend showed me, on his Sony Betamax machine, the 1984 commercial from Apple. The impact that one commercial had on me as a young man who just started out as a junior copywriter in a leading advertising agency was immense. I had never heard of someone who had the balls to spend the vast majority of his ad-budget on production costs and the cost of airing it just once (during the Superbowl). All of a sudden I realised two things: I wanted, come hell or high water, to make it to the podium of the Cannes Festival. The second was that I dearly wanted one of those insanely great machines.

Insanely great

Insanely great on its way to overpriced common-ness?

Call a Mac overpriced common-ness may sound bordering blasphemy, but the same friend who introduced me to the Mac called his new iMac exactly that. Overpriced and common. And to a certain level he’s dead-right. Apple is hugely expensive and seems to have become the norm that has however been successfully emulated by many Windows machines. The only point-of-difference that still makes the price worthwhile is its super-intuitive OS.
And as a fellow copywriter snarled at the finance director who threatened to substitute her Apple for a much more cost-efficient Windows machine: ‘the only way you can take away my Mac is when you’ve succeeded prying its mouse from my cold, dead fingers.’

Obviously I had no part in taking either of these photos which were probably sourced by Apple’s marketing PR dept. around the launch January 24, 1984. I just lifted them from the web. Which meant I had to do some (extensive) post prod in Apple Photos, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to make them look half-decent.

For a peek at my previous submissions in this Tuesday Photo Challenge, click on Fantasy, Peace, Glow or Mist respectively.