Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Landing on a soft mattress

Several fervent and loyal blog readers have recently noticed some dramatic changes have been taking place in the life of the pioneering photographer.
And many being with this blog for a long time and empathizing strongly with the protagonist would definitely appreciate to be allowed to understand better the current situation.

This sincere request cannot be denied.
And therefore an excerpt will be published here of a letter recently send to a dear friend who has been also a mental coach from the first day the Queen of Dreams entered the life.

“What surprises me is that my feelings for her have evaporated.
I do remember not too long ago I was crazy for her, desiring her, seeing a future with her.
And now there is nothing anymore.
There are moments I wonder if this is normal.
How can a total switch that quick be possible?
Does it say something about the depth of my emotions?
Or am I a survivor who pragmatically fights his way back to happiness again?

With due respect, I think I am normal and have seen that being involved with the Queen of Dreams was destructive and therefore I managed to change course”.

The dear friend and mental coach replied:

“Your feelings changing so dramatically regarding the Queen of Dreams is SO NORMAL.
Yes, you assessed the situation correctly. You are NORMAL, I am sorry to say (ha ha).

Once you had some distance from her, you were able to gain some objectivity and then you realized very deeply how brutal and negatively her existence in your life was.
It is totally normal that you would therefore let go of all your deep feelings for her”.

Now that it is confirmed that it is a normal response to a situation to have some time ago deep feelings that disappeared completely due to the events that took place, there is a comfort and relaxation.
Like landing after a heavy storm on a soft mattress and freely stretching and flexing the body, the mind and the heart.


Weird portraits

In 1986 life was in a big house in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
One large space was transformed into a photo studio.
Equipped with Bowens professional flash equipment.

At the time there was an intensive social life.
In Amsterdam were many friends.
And without having a clue today why, these friends were invited in 1986 to come to the house to have their portrait taken in the photo studio.

But the intention was not to make ordinary portraits.
The challenge was to make portraits where one could not see the face.
With other visual solutions an effort was made to show nevertheless a version of the personality of the portrayed person.
And in fact to reveal much more about the person as could be done would the face had been visible.

For about a year friends were invited and not one had any objections.
No objection to come to the photo studio and even not refusing to pose in often rather extravagant ways.

These portraits at the time were widely exhibited and published.
And awarded an important Dutch photo prize.
The portraits were considered rather unusual.

For over twenty years these portraits have been in a dormant state.
But now they have been added to the website http://www.szulc.info
Go to: “works” and click on “Portraits”.

A small selection:


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Clean dancing

There is in Poland the small town of Nowy Sacz and the even smaller town of Stary Sacz.
Nowy Sacz means “New” Sacz and Stary Sacz means “Old’ Sacz.
But legend has it that the new town is in fact older than the one saying with its name it is the oldest.

So what, many fervent and loyal blog readers would lead the majority of the world population to have as an opinion about this issue.
And that’s right.
Who cares?

In Stary Sacz is a traditional restaurant where the family likes to go and have dinner.
This they do at 4 p.m.
That’s Polish dinner time.

The border with the country of Slovakia is only 10 kilometers (6 miles) away from Stary Sacz and that deep in Eastern Europe the menu of a restaurant is filled with cross border dishes.
Polish dishes, Hungarian dishes and Slovakian dishes.
Like, as an appetizer, herring with puszta sauce.
Or a fried trout with horseradish sauce.
Good, exotic and tasty food, although on the heavy side.

On the market square of Stary Sacz was the annual fair.
Called in the Polish language “Jarmark”.
Obviously a deviation from the German word “Jahrmarkt”.

There were many stands selling local handicraft and on a large stage a traditionally dressed band played old regional music.
Until a group of dancers appeared on the scene.
Dressed in traditional Polish costumes.
Doing dances from times long forgotten.

And these dancers, all very young people, had so much fun.
Looked so happy and elated to dance as their forefathers and mothers did for centuries.

It gave an opportunity to reflect on the times we are living now.
It is not so common anymore that nowadays people are interested and enjoying seeing traditional dancing.
Most annual fairs have “middle of the road” music and if a band plays it is contemporary tearjerking music.

Tradition is less and less guarded.
Honored and celebrated.
Probably because the value and importance of traditions are not recognized anymore.
Traditions had as one of its functions to transmit important knowledge over time.
When traditional Polish dancing is observed for example, one can learn a lot about how the relationship between men and women can be organized.
The way they interact, touch and are in unison.
A spectator could take it as instructions.
Getting the message of the dancing that respect for each other is rule one.

Another important observation one can make when seeing traditional Polish dancing is that it is high speed, dynamic and full of happy energy.
The dancers must be in good shape and must have a good memory to remember all the many steps that must be taken together right at the same time.

But it is especially the happiness that one strongly feels radiating from the dancers.
They are obviously in an elation when dancing.
And isn’t that a wonderful and hopeful message coming to us from the past?
Once we were happy and we can still be?


The hula baloney

Eddy came with fresh Polish sausages, a bottle of French Elzas wine and a lot of warmth and friendship.
Cousin Jerzek fired up the limousine like barbecue and we all sat around the table on the terrace overlooking the illuminated garden and talked.

Eddy wanted to know for how long the stay in Poland had been.
He mentioned that it was possible to be happy in Poland only when the language was not understood.
Because Eddy says: it is total bullshit in this country.
The issues that play in Poland, the trouble that is made, the corruption that is going on, the materialism that grabs everybody, the conflicts that rise, the politicians who fight.
Eddy says he has had enough.
He can’t live in his country anymore.

Eddy’s plan is to sell his business and house in Poland and to leave with that money to retire on one of the Polynesian islands.
“I am tired, Michel, I am SO tired” Eddie says dramatically.
He desperately longs for sipping a cocktail under a palm tree with his feet in the white sand enjoying the sun and watching the hula of the Polynesian girls.

This is Eddy’s dream but what he doesn’t realize it is a potential nightmare.

The first thing is that nowhere on earth paradise can be found.
It is an illusion to think that if one is not happy in one country, happiness will come by moving to another country.
It is also an illusion to believe that a Polynesian island comes close to paradise.
Once there many things will be discovered as most unpleasant.
Like the flies and other insects that constantly bother.
And to be a stranger among Polynesians.
To become very lonely.
To be outside of a society and not participating in it anymore.
To become an outcast.
Boredom will creep up and eventually dominate.
The sun shining abundantly every day makes a European long for the changes of the seasons.
Alcoholism may become rampant.
And in the end, life is as unhappy as it was before at the point of origin.

It is probably true a lot of bullshit is going on in Poland.
But this goes for many countries.
There is no country where no bullshit is going on.
And in every country a lot is going on what cannot be considered as bullshit.
Beautiful things, good things, nice things, interesting things.

Therefore Eddy should realize that his malcontent with his country has everything to do with himself.
And that his dream of going to a Polynesian island is nothing but a smokescreen in order not to see that the problem is within himself.

What to do when a good friend is met who is that unhappy and ignorant?

It will not help at all to explain there are constantly flies on every Polynesian island.
And that the girls only dance the hula for money.

It also will not help to try to explain that when bullshit is noticed everywhere, that it is a reflection of oneself.

And it certainly will not help to suggest to the friend that some personal problem resolving would be the way out of the mess.

One can only listen.
And definitely not identify.
To remain balanced.
And to accept that each river has to flow.
Eventually, we all end up in the sea anyway.


Friday, August 27, 2010

An airline lies

Every fervent and loyal blog reader remembers how recently a plane from Wizzair was delayed for over three hours.
But that passengers can claim € 250 in that case based on a ruling of the European Court of Justice.

This claim was made and next Wizzair requested documents.
Like the boarding pass and the invoice.

And now an e-mail was received from Anita Oláh who works for Wizzair customer relations department.

She explains that
“An unexpected technical fault caused the delay, and under the relating regulations on operating air carriers the liability is excluded or reduced in cases where an event is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken”.

Her conclusion?
“Since all the required strict service checks had been made regularly on that air carrier, this flight delay was outside of our control and we are not obliged to pay compensation”.

The only thing Wizzair is prepared to do is:
“ Please be informed that in accordance with our General Conditions of Carriage in case of delay we reimburse the unexpected expenses, as such meal, refreshment, 2 phone calls upon reception of related invoices”.

Obviously the response of Wizzair to the claim is to send the complaining and claiming customer into the woods to get lost.
A well known strategy for which consumer friendly websites are warning.

The essence of the denial of Wizzair is this:
“An unexpected technical fault caused the delay, and under the relating regulations on operating air carriers the liability is excluded or reduced in cases where an event is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken”.

There are two aspects to it.

Liability, according to Wizzair, is excluded or reduced in the case of an unexpected technical fault.
But this is a strange contradiction.
Because if there is an unexpected technical fault either Wizzair is responsible and has to pay compensation or not.
It will be excluded or included.
But it can never be excluded or reduced…
Because if liability can also be accepted as “reduced” this exclusion of liability is logically impossible.
In legal terms it is a contradiction and a flaw.

What is worse though is that Wizzair lies to avoid paying compensation.
It says that when an unexpected technical fault causes the delay this can be seen as “an extraordinary circumstance”.
And if there is “an extraordinary circumstance” Wizzair is not responsible to pay compensation.
This now is simply not true.
A similar case has been brought to the European Court of Justice and this has made the verdict that an unexpected technical fault is definitely not “an extraordinary circumstance”.
Hence, there is official and binding legislation saying it is not and Wizzair pretends it is.

Anita Oláh, the new friend who works for Wizzair customer relations department, has received a new e-mail explaining the answer was not to the satisfaction of the customer and the European Court of Justice.
And the claim was made again that Wizzair by law is obliged to pay € 250 for a delay of over three hours.

There are two options now that are predicted.
Either Wizzair drops the case and no reply is received.
Or they make an offer of about € 100.

In both cases a next step will be made.
There are special agencies in Europe that handle these kinds of claims of air passengers.
For a fee of about 20 % they go after the airlines.
The claim now presented at Wizzair has been seen by one such agency and recognized as legal.
Wizzair has to pay, the experts say.
If not willingly, then the agency and its lawyers will do the job.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

the male Jane

"After the dinner, sitting outside in the cold because many of the party were smoking, but seeing the full moon climb to its zenith, the wine and wodka were making the friends happy and frolic. And it was told by the gorgeous hostess that she and her husband were polygamous. That they were married but nevertheless allowing each other total freedom. When he is with other girls, I just look the other way, she said. Her husband having overheard the conversation and high on vodka said with a voice so loud that the whole party fell silent: “Michel, listen to me. We love group sex”.

This blunt preference of the friends triggered a useful memory.
Once life was in the Netherlands in a provincial town in a huge house with a beautiful woman and her son.
There was a dog, a Chien Briard, as well and two cats.
It was a happy life and of super intense sexuality.
Everything possible was researched and enjoyed.

Then one day an ex-girlfriend came for dinner.
Let’s say her name was Jane.
It was a most pleasant dinner but then too late for her to return home.
So, naturally, she was going to stay and spend the night.
Somehow, because those details have escaped the memory, it was decided to all sleep in one bed.
Once in bed, Jane noticed that her two companions for the night were completely naked because this was how they slept.
“If that’s the case, I’ll take my underwear off too”, she said.

It was a sandwich situation in that bed, the man being the ham and cheese.
And again the memory is not storing who exactly started the whole thing.
Who was the first to start touching someone else’s body.
But the memory still has as a clear film to show how everybody was willing and full of appetite, lust and desire.
It turned into an orgy and explosion of experimenting, enjoying, challenging, overtaking, exploring, laughing, caring and threesome satisfaction.
It was a night not meant to sleep.


After a few hours of rest and vague sleep, the sun rising, the whole promiscuous elation repeated as if never enough of this rare fruit could be enjoyed.

Eventually after communal washing and breakfasting the partner in life had to go to her job.
And a walk was made in the park alone with Jane.
And Jane was sad.

She said that she had an extraordinary experience she would never forget.
But that she also felt at that moment in time very alone.
Because her friends would continue to be a couple and she would continue to be single.
For the friends the happiness in this way would continue but for her it was unknown when such an intimacy would repeat.

Her loneliness through the experience of the night was felt strongly.
And deeply understood.

There had been an extraordinary togetherness.
That would continue for the couple.
But not for Jane.

“Michel, listen to me. We love group sex”.

Fine for you.
But no ambition to become a male Jane.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Group sex

By now it is more and more known that status has changed to single after a glorious but dramatic time with the Queen of Drscreams.
And this sometimes results in surprising experiences.
Like last night when invited for a dinner of shrimps fried in a generous volume of butter and plenty of garlic with a 2009 Medoc from Argentina to drink.

After the dinner, sitting outside in the cold because many of the party were smoking, but seeing the full moon climb to its zenith, the wine and wodka were making the friends happy and frolic.
And it was told by the gorgeous hostess that she and her husband were polygamous.
That they were married but nevertheless allowing each other total freedom.
When he is with other girls, I just look the other way, she said.

Her husband having overheard the conversation and high on vodka said with a voice so loud that the whole party fell silent:
“Michel, listen to me. We love group sex”.

Cousin Jerzek, also there and not very much into these kinds of things, used his great sense of humor by responding immediately with his sonorant voice:
“Group sex yes: you and your beautiful wife and Susha, your dog and the two cats”.
Having talked himself and his stunning wife smartly out of a possible orgy.

But the frivolity persisted and an invitation was presented by the married but free friend to go inside and dance to the sensual music of a black R&B singer.

That was OK.
Nobody had any problem with it: not even her husband who was even happy for her to have chanced on this promising opportunity.

What is a single guy to do in such a situation?
Grab the sweet and swallow lustfully?
Join the libertines and go all the way in the cave?

Cliffhanger: tomorrow part two.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Three Dee

After the Second World War slowly TV’s appeared in every household.
Bulky pieces of furniture with a small screen on which a faded black and white image.
But because nothing better had been seen nor was available, people watched with fascination and addiction.

After the black and white TV’s, in the late sixties’, the new TV’s showing a color image were a true revolution.
Color TV was a sensation and soon all black and white TV’s were dumped.

But as of then, nothing shocking has been seen coming to the market.
The color TV’s became bigger and flatter.
The image improved.
High Definition, LCD and LED came available.
But nothing truly revolutionary.

This now is going to change as of the end of this year.
Toshiba, the electronic company from Japan, will launch the first 3D TV for which we will not need these silly 3D glasses anymore.
The trick is to project inside the TV the image on the screen from different angles.
Called the “multi-parallax” technique.
Nine separate images are projected with a 1280 x 800 effective resolution and 480 nits of brightness.
There is a 30 degree horizontal viewing angle so the couch must be right in front of the TV for the best view.

Toshiba 3D TV prototype

This will be a tremendous breakthrough.
Because 3D TV is the future.
It will replace all the TV’s now in living-rooms.

We should be aware though that we are the people from after the Second World War who are the first to have spend a substantial part of their income on electronics.
Imagine how much an average person spends in a life time on TV’s, mobile phones, computers, laptops, Nintendos and watches?
And this because the development of the technique goes so fast.
Within a life time, for example TV, has gone from black and white to color to now 3D.
Same for computers.
It would not have made any difference to us if the coming on the market of color TV or 3D TV had been taking 50 years instead of 10 years.
Except that we would have been able to spend that money on for example a better education for the kids.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Miss Univagi

So we have a Mexican 22 year old girl who has been crowned Miss Universe.

She had to parade in gown and bikini and answer questions like how to handle kids and Internet.

Piece of cake for Jimena Navarrete from Guadalajara, Mexico.
She is a model as of the age of 14.

Hopefully she realizes that as of now she has reached the top and is it downhill from now on.
Unless she focuses on other targets in life.
Let’s say more spiritual matters.

For the moment though she brings some positive PR back to her home country.
From where the world hears only stories of drug related violence of the most cruel kind.
Like yesterday, five guys hanging from a bridge with heads and genitals cut off.
While around the corner lives now Miss Universe…

Another issue for Jimena Navarette will be more than ever guys trying to conquer her.
In general young women, and it doesn’t matter much how they look and what personally they have, have always guys trying to have sex with them.
Where ever they go, they are approached by sweet talking fellows who compliment for nothing and spray sweet water all over, what they will have forgotten once they have landed their load.
Many young women believe that all this attention comes their way so easily and frequently because they are somehow special or attractive and beautiful but the truth is that the attention only comes because they have a vagina.
The one of Jimena Navarrete is probably the one the most sought after these days and if she is clever, and she might very well be, she should go for the guy with the most money in the bank.
Have him for a year, divorce him with a load of alimony and live happy ever after.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wizarding Wizzair

The trip to Poland was made by airplane.

Flying from the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands to the city of Katowice in Poland.

Using a low cost carrier from Hungary called Wizzair.

Wizzair is a fine airline.

They use relatively new Airbuses 320, they have friendly stewardesses and they are pretty well organized.

But this time something went wrong.

The Wizzair plane was delayed.

And not five minutes.

But more than three hours.

It was explained what was the reason.

The plane had left its airport of departure too late.

The different countries in Europe have all their own laws.

However, there are also European laws that apply to anybody in any country that is a member of the European Union.

One of them is Regulation 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004.

It is a law to protect the rights of air travelers.

If an airline cancels a flight, denies boarding or suffers of delays, the passenger has specific rights regulated by European Law EC 261.

In the case of Wizzair having a delay of over three hours on a flight of less than 1.500 km, the European Law EC 261 says each passenger should be paid € 250 / $ 317 as a compensation.

That is remarkable because the price of the ticket for this flight is about € 60 / $ 76.

Of course Wizzair didn’t invite the passengers to file a claim.

They just announced repeatedly through the PA system that the flight was delayed.

As they are also required to do by law.

In an Airbus 320, the plane Wizzair uses, are 180 passengers.

If all passengers would file a claim, it would cost € 45.000 - € 10.800 = € 34.200 / $ 44.000

The profit margins of low cost airlines like Wizzair are super slim: they will have to make many profitable flights before to have recuperated this € 34.200

Nevertheless, a claim was made.

On the website of Wizzair, contrary to other airlines like KLM, there is no option to present a claim due to a serious delay of a flight.

Hence, a message was sent to Customer Service.

And indeed, very quickly a reply was received.

Dear Passenger,

Thank you for your letter sent to our Customer Relations Department.

Please accept our apologies for any inconveniences caused by the

disruption of your flight.

Your claim will be handled according to the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004

of the European Parliament and Council and our General Conditions of

Carriage. For further details please visit the following websites:





Our Customer Relations Representative will contact you in order to

settle your claim.

Thank you for your time and your patience until you are contacted.

Wizz Air Customer Relations

On several consumer websites it is explained that to get some financial compensation from airline companies is a dreary, lengthy and often impossible task.

But it has been initiated and now we all together will see what happens.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Not too smart but having fun

This Summer in Poland a lot of rain has been falling.
In certain regions of apocalyptic volumes.
Even in the area good cousin Jerzek is living there have been inundations.
People used boats in the streets where normally cars drive.

These heavy rainfalls and subsequently overflowing of rivers comes with electricity supply failure.
For long periods of time the houses have no power.

Not only is good cousin Jerzek an innovative man, he also takes very good care of his family.
So he bought a generator to make his own electricity when needed.
He put it in his garage next to the black Mercedes SL 65 Cabriolet.

And then one day there was heavy rainfall and a problem with the electricity.
The house was without power.
He walked to the garage to start the generator so the refrigerator and the freezer would run again and the water pump to have water in the bathroom and kitchen and to have light and watch TV.
But then in front of the garage good cousin Jerzek used without too much thinking the remote control to open the garage door but nothing happened.
Obviously not.
The garage door opens and closes using electricity.
This had slipped his mind when he put in there the generator.

Of course, this hilarious anecdote, told over dinner with the whole family together, caused heavy laughter.
Nothing personal towards good cousin Jerzek as only to realize together once more that life has funny tricks on us.
To promote more laughter, the proposal was made to open the garage door right before the power cut.
And then another smart member of the family proposed to keep the generator in the living room.

But no, good cousin Jerzek told he could open the garage door by hand using a special tool.
Making life a little bit less absurd.


Strategic birthday presents

Arrived in the family home in Poland immediately a huge new machine was spotted in the kitchen.
A big metal juice making machine.
Sophisticated because you put in any fruit and next on one side the juice comes out and on the other side in a plastic container the skin and other garbage of a fruit.

On the same kitchen counter is another complicated machine.
A large round plastic container in which we are supposed to put any kind of fruit or veggies.
Next a four bladed helicopter wing starts turning and messes up everything so well, there is drinkable pulp.

When someone enters a kitchen and these two machines hit the eye, can a fervent and loyal blog reader imagine a question arrises in the bright mind?
Why would a human being need these machines?

Therefore this vital question was asked.
And Irena replied the new impressive machine was the birthday present from her husband, cousin Jerzek.

Herself, she would always make her pulp vitamin rich juice from the old machine.
And didn’t really know first why she got this new machine.
This she discovered the next morning at breakfast.
Her husband asked where was his freshly squeezed fruit juice.

This made her rather disappointed.
Because she had to realize that the new machine was given by Jerzek to her, his beautiful wife as a birthday present in order to have fresh fruit juice with breakfast himself.

Discussing this mean and vile strategy, the war committee consisting of the victim and three more members of the family, a plan was developed.
With a lot of humor and pleasure, because these kinds of things are not picked up to have a conflict about, but to have a continuation of the excellent time the family has together.

Eventually, after hard thinking, a fabulous plan was developed.
Next time Jerzek has his birthday he will get as a present a beautiful vacuum cleaner.
And two days later we will start complaining to him the house is so dusty.


Friday, August 20, 2010

No Piña Coladas yet.

These days the final stages of the project “The most beautiful people in the world” are happening.
It is intense, busy and hectic.
Like a climax.
And because the project “The most beautiful people in the world” is in the final stages a field is opening for a new project.
So there is now the climaxing of the project “The most beautiful people in the world” and the excitement of a new project.
Two forceful feelings side by side.
Making it a glorious time.

Is there already an idea for a new project?
A follow up to the project “The most beautiful people in the world”?
Many fervent and loyal blog readers may want to know.

For a long time it was believed that the project “The most beautiful people in the world” was going to be the “magnum opus”* of the 40+ year career.
That nothing could be done in the future that would be as strong and as successful as the project “The most beautiful people in the world”.
That it was the top and no higher peak available.

This was a kind of depressing thought.
Because what to do with the rest of the life?
To sit in a comfortable chair on the beach reminiscing how the success from the past and the piña coladas taste?
Having to realize that the job has been done.
The role has been played.
The duty done.

But then a good friend from India, Mr. Rajendar Menen, proposed to make a book together in his beautiful country.
And that proposal triggered the creativity.
As a natural phenomenon.

Within two days an idea popped up in the mind that has enormous potential.
Just like that.
Not forced or after deep thinking.
But in a natural, matter of fact way.
The ideas, that come by themselves, are always the very best.
Exactly like this one.

And similar how it has been going and still goes with the project “The most beautiful people in the world” , it is the idea, the concept, that affects in a most positive way the persons that get to know about it.
For example, after Mr. Rajendar Menen heard about the idea, immediately he saw the potential, value, importance and commercial possibilities of the plan.

And exactly the same happened with the designer of the book of the project “The most beautiful people in the world” .
Mr. Teun van der Heijden.
When he heard about the plan immediately he was involved.

And this is so beautiful.
It is the plan that becomes a thing by itself and by getting more and more people involved it grows based on their involvement.
It is not the artist-photographer who works with a personal and final concept, as is the tradition.
In this case, like with the project “The most beautiful people in the world”, there is hardly any ego.
It is only the frame that is originating from the artist-photographer and with others the content comes into being.
A fascinating process.

Now, some fervent and loyal blog readers may ask what is the idea of this new project.
To avoid pirating, this question cannot be answered yet…

* Magnum opus, from the Latin meaning great work,[1] refers to the largest, and perhaps the best, greatest, most popular, or most renowned achievement of a writer, artist, or composer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Peace in Iraq

Today the last American soldiers crossed the border of Iraq into Kuwait.
After 7,5 years, a military intervention has ended.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s have lost their lives.
The Americans lost 4.419 persons in Iraq.
And has paid over 780 billion Dollars for this war.

In spite of what is called the last American soldiers leaving Iraq, 50.000 remain behind.
To train and lead the Iraqi army.
They will leave January 1, 1012.

Is this good news?
That Obama kept his promise to be out of Iraq before August 31?

Any answer to this question could be meaningfull.
There is no right and no wrong in this.

But one could say that this Iraq war, the third Gulf war, was a terrible mistake.
It was started by a bloodthirsty and revengeful President.
And the whole world was manipulated with false information to believe it was the right thing to do.
And to even join the fighting as many other countries did.

Once it started, it was difficult to stop it.
It would have been the recognizing of having made a mistake.
And that is an impossibility for a world power.

Foreign troops are out of Iraq now but the war President Bush started is not over.
The ethnic clashes, in control during the reign of Saddam Hussein, have erupted once Iraq was invaded, the Baath Party made illegal and Sadam hanged.
Even last Tuesday a suicide bomber killed 59 persons.
Obama can claim the job has been finished but it is going to take many years before there is peace in Iraq.


You're bad because I feel bad.

Several times she has said that the glory days as an artist photographer are very far in the past now.
And that achievements since those glory days were but a shady imitation.

The first time this judgmental opinion was expressed, forceful opposition was presented to try to prove it was not true.
But when this opinion returned on another occasion nevertheless, in spite of factual evidence of the opposite, it was understood there was something behind it.

Why would someone say that the days of glory are long gone when worldwide successes have been experienced since then and even now the work gets in the worldwide spotlight entertaining and enriching people all over the globe?
It is now a career spanning 40 years and still the results of recent work are published in newspapers, magazines and as a book.
The nature of the work still makes journalists worldwide interested resulting in radio and TV appearances.

So why would someone say the days of glory are long behind?

Explanations could be that the person is jealous.
That the person herself is unable to have made anything that could be awarded any glory.
Not in the past, not today.
And therefore is unable to enjoy the success of another person.
If the success is destroyed, it stops the feeling of jealousy and to have to realize the own inadequacy.

Or, as a dear friend explained, the criticism is not at all about the photographer targeted .
It is criticism that should not be taken personally because it is about the one who critiques.
Who enjoys feeling generally negative.
The critic feels fundamentally unhappy and unsatisfied with life and existence and society.
Not being able to find a successful way of living herself and therefore projecting this complex issue of being lost in life on other persons.

Such a person should be approached with compassion.
But not much more can be done for the person.
As only that the person herself should learn to see that life can be glorious no matter what are the results in the work.
And next to master to live in a glorious way and that possibly results in glory in the work.

If criticism comes from an internal personal frustration, it immediately devaluates itself.
The criticism is about the critic, not about the target.
The expressed opinion continues the state of being of the criticaster.
While for the same money someone could be inspired and motivated by the activities of the other person that attracted the attention.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Through traumas

The house is big and having all comforts.
The life is quiet and relaxed.
Most of the time working on hundreds of images with Photoshop to prepare them for publication in the photo book of the project “The most beautiful people in the world”.

This relaxed, peaceful and harmonious situation gives finally time to reflect on the last eighth months.
A reflection that is not initiated but that comes naturally.
Like when a wild sea has calmed down and the surface now undisturbed see bubbles of air come finally to the surface.
To evaporate in the air.

This naturally occurring reflecting results in flashbacks.
Like seeing short movies of experiences from the recent past.
They pop up in the mind suddenly after they had been forgotten.
But now they return and in detail.
Memories that are horrific and shocking.
Of extreme, excessive, hysteric and aggressive behavior.
So hard to believe now that they were tolerated to happen.
Hard to understand now that the whole affair was not stopped when was clear extreme behavior was epidemic.

All these memories made the memorizer sick.
Physically sick.
Feeling pain in every corner of the body.
Having no more energy.
Suffering of insomnia.
Serious headaches.

The only way to live life was to be immobile.
And to accept that happiness, optimism, joy and bliss had left the stage.

But then the news came that an important newspaper in the Netherlands was going to do a major publication of the project “The most beautiful people in the world”
This great news worked as a bulldozer.
That moved forcefully the sufferer out of the position of digesting the recent past.
To make enter the question: what is so important about it?

Of course when someone has had dramatic and traumatizing experiences, one must work on giving them a safe and non disturbing place in the memory.
But it is important not to have the digesting slip into dwelling.

Now that the mind is surfing again on good energy, guess what: the body is healthy as always.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

The loyalty of a dog

In Japan was a dog called Hachiko.

A picture of Hachiko around 1930

In 1924 a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo took Hachiko as a pet.
Each day when the Professor would go to work, Hachiko would see him out at the front door of the house.
But in the faternoon the dog would walk to the Shibuya train station to meet the Professor and together walk back home.
Somehow the dog always managed to be at the train station in time.
This went on for a year when the Professor died.
He suffered fatally from a cerebral hemorrhage and therefore was not at the train station anymore as of that day.
For the next nine years, Hachiko the dog would go to the train station and waited loyally for his master.
Who obviously never came.

People noticed the dog and found out the story.
They understood what an extremely loyal dog Hachiko was.
In 1932 a story on Hachiko was published in Tokyo’s largest newspaper and he became a national sensation.

His faithfulness to his master's memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve.
Teachers and parents used Hachikō's vigil as an example for children to follow.
A well-known Japanese artist rendered a sculpture of the dog and eventually, Hachiko's legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty.
This sculpture of Hachiko was erected in April 1934 of course at Shibuya Station where the dog had been coming in vain every afternoon for nine years.
At that time Hachiko was still alive and present at the unveiling of the statue.

The statue of Hachiko at the "Hachiko Exit" of Shibuya Station in Tokyo

He died on March 8, 1935.
His heart was infected by filarial worms.

When the Second World War broke out, the authorities decided that they needed the bronze of Hachiko’s statue.
It was taken from the console and melted.
But the dog was not forgotten after the war had ended.
A group of people created “The Society for Recreating the Hachiko Statue”.
They managed to erect a new monument in 1948 made by the son of the deceased sculptor: Takeshi Ando.
Even today, the statue is a very popular meeting spot.
Each year on April 8, Hachikō's devotion is honored with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Tokyo's Shibuya railroad station.
Hundreds of dog lovers often turn out to honor his memory and loyalty.

Hachiko exhibited at the National Science Museum in Ueno, Japan.

It is 75 years since Hachiko died.
And the only thing he did was making a walk to the train station every afternoon for nine years.
Hachiko is of course in the heaven for dogs and what he pleasantly sees is long lasting loyalty to him now.
He won’t be forgotten because he expressed and demonstrated a strong emotion.
Was he as we would like ourselves to be?


Borderline behaviour

One day she told a dramatic story.
She was in the South of Europe escaping from a situation in the North where she felt unhappy and failed.
In a town near the sea, one night she became very depressed and desperate.
Seeing no more future in her life she decided to drown herself.
She went to the sea and in the dark walked into the water.
Determined to go as deep as necessary in order to drown.

When she was deep enough to leave life, her instincts to survive and live again took over.
She managed to return to the beach.

This story was remembered when one night in the Fuso Szulc next to the Pacific Ocean a serious argument had ended.
She suddenly said: “Please tell my mother I am very sorry. And please tell her I loved her very much”.
Next she left the Fuso Szulc and walked towards the Pacific Ocean in a night with full moon.

First it was not considered as something serious.
Although it was understood she was intending to drown herself.
And after fifteen minutes she still had not returned.
The idea came into the head that possibly this time in the wilder Pacific Ocean her attempt had been fatally accomplished.

More and more it was believed likely she had maybe drowned.
To possibly rescue her it was decided to go and look for her.
From a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, beautiful in the light of the full moon, carefully the waves were checked for a person in the water.
And nobody could be seen.
It was realized then that very likely she was dead.
That her body would wash ashore and would be found somewhere on the sandy beach at daybreak.
This realization made clear that the own life, by her suicide, would be destroyed forever.
Never the beloved location could be visited anymore.
And what to do with the body?
How to inform the authorities?
What would the Mexican police do?
Would it not result in an arrest?
And how about returning to the Netherlands to face her mother and her father?
What to explain?

At that stage the whole existence collapsed.
Like getting to hear to have terminal cancer.
The life as of then not ever to have any value or quality anymore.

The search went on.
Down from the cliff to the beach to check if her body had washed ashore indeed.
But there was no trace of her.

Realizing nothing could be done, totally depressed and devastated the return was made to the Fuso Szulc.
At the moment to enter the expedition vehicle, suddenly she showed up.
Happy and normal.
She had been sitting in the dunes.
A fake suicide attempt.

For her nothing special had happened.
How it was experienced by her partner, she couldn’t care less.

These kinds of experiences from the last time in Mexico come back now as flashbacks.
As if the shock it was at that moment returns to be more digested.
These flashbacks, unwanted and detested, do not make life a very happy event.
In the Netherlands it is raining.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lacking empathy

The most recent blog was about TV in the Netherlands.
How seven channels out of ten were showing almost exclusively American films and series.
Mostly of poor quality.

The blog was not critical about those American products.
It criticized the responsible Dutch persons for the seven TV channels in the Netherlands for thinking only of money.

One sensitive American loyal and fervent blog reader was unable to understand this.
He wrote a comment saying:
“Dude, you need to calm down a bit and focus on the positive. You dwell on mostly negative things in, or about, the USA. Don't be a hater”.

Not only was the man unable to understand what the blog was about, he assessed incorrectly that most of the blogs are about the USA.
Why, we may ask, does this man feel that the USA is attacked?
When it was not.

In his comment he even goes more berserk:

"You take nice snapshots with your cameras, so do that and write about that".

The man is most judgmental and again lacking any expertise.
But he is not without an extreme high dose of arrogance and pretentious paternalism.

Regretfully this man is demonstrating to be unable to have empathy.
He is so deep inside his own American self satisfaction that he is unable to imagine the situations of other people.

As an experiment, imagine you are an American and living in the USA.
You watch TV and you have only ten channels.
But on seven of them are only Chinese films and series.
How would an American feel about that?
Would an American appreciate that?
Would an American not ask why he cannot see American films and series?
Would he not criticize the responsible persons in the USA for putting only Chinese films and series on American TV?
Would he not be outraged?
Hence, why can’t a European not be dissatisfied by a similar situation?

There is another flagrant example.
How would an American feel if his bank accounts in the USA were open for monitoring by the Chinese authorities?
So that the Chinese authorities can see how much money comes in and how it is spend?
An American will scream hell.
Based on liberty and privacy no American would tolerate this kind of spying.

But the fact is that the USA is doing exactly this with the Europeans.
The US Government monitors every bank account of the Europeans.

What must a European feel about this?
Will the European not think in the same way about this like an American who realizes his bank account is monitored by the Chinese Government?
Therefore, why is a European not allowed by a fervent and loyal American blog reader to be upset?
An American with a minimum of empathy would understand it very well.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dutch TV is American

In the comfortable house in the centre of Amsterdam, temporarily home, is a large flat screen TV.

Sometimes this TV is switched on and an amazing discovery was made.
There are ten TV channels in the Dutch language.
Three TV channels are sponsored by the Government and seven are from private companies.
All ten of them show commercials.

The three Government sponsored TV channels show programs made in the Netherlands.

With the seven TV channels of the private companies it is different.
They show films and programs they buy abroad.
Take last night.

The private channel RTL 5.
They start with Dr. Phil.
Followed by the comedy series “The king of Queens”.
Then “Everybody loves Raymond”.
At 18.15 h “Dharma and Greg”.
At 18.45 h “Masterchef”, an English culinary program.
At 19.55 h “Take me out”, a datingshow.
At 20.30 h “Leverage”, an American action series.
At 22.20 h “House”, an American drama series.
At 23.10 h “Shock doc: Life after burns”.

What on the next channel?
At 20.30 h the film “Speed” with Sandra Bullock.
At 22.55 h “Ticker”, American action film by Albert Pyun.

How about Net 5?
First “Friends”.
“Will & Grace”.
“Bondi Rescue”.
“The little couple”.
The American film “The wedding date”.
“Cold case”.
“Law & Order”.
“Medium” American crime series.

With the two last private TV channels it is the same kind of programming.
Most programs on all seven private TV channels are from the USA.

Why would this be?
Can’t they make TV programs and films in the Netherlands?
Can’t they show TV programs and films made in European countries?
They could.
Nevertheless they show exclusively films and series from the USA.
The explanation must be that they are the cheapest.
To show an old film like “Speed” with Sandra Bullock fills almost two hours of airtime at a low cost.

Hence, the criteria of the private TV channels is not to show a decent and educative and entertaining evening of TV.
They simply try to make as much money as possible.
On the one hand selling TV-time for commercials for as much as possible.
On the other hand keeping costs down to a minimum.

Obviously, this strategy results in poverty.
Poverty of the mind, the intellect and the heart.
Because most what is shown and came from the USA is of a very low level.
And made with the same principle as how the private TV channels operate: low cost productions, mediocre actors, few locations, superficial story, no imagination, no artistic efforts, to be as much in the middle of the road as possible, making money by selling this bullshit in bulk worldwide to private TV channels as there are in the Netherlands.

There is a TV in the comfortable house in Amsterdam but most evenings are spend reading a book.


The loss of innocence

Another, but more serious subject was discussed recently with the lovely friend over dinner in this trendy Amsterdam restaurant.
The lovely friend is from the USA and because of Archie Bunker’s reruns these days on Dutch TV as the topic of the discussion, it spread to remembering more TV series from the days innocence dominated.
Remarkable that the lovely friend never heard from an American TV series called “The Texas Rangers”.

It ran from 1955 to 1957, produced by Screen Gems, starring Willard Parker.
It is clearly remembered how the TV show would start with the actors marching towards the camera singing “These are tales of Texas Rangers”.
That song can still be heard in the head.

Fortunately another TV series was remembered clearly by the lovely friend.
Who will not remember the heroic female dog, a Scottish collie ?
“Lassie”, the TV series was created by producer Robert Maxwell and ran from 1954 to 1973.

The faithful and friendly dog Lassie was having his adventures in a small farming community with Jeff Miller, an eleven year old boy, his mother and grandfather.

Why this Jeff Miller had no father and his mother no husband has never been explained.
And as a child this was very puzzling.
What happened to that family lacking a strong man taking care of the wife and son?
The producer of “Lassie” had the idea that everybody would understand that the woman was a war widow: the Second World War had just ended.
But this was not understood at all.

“Lassie”, in black and white, was a weekly visitor in the life of children.
And obviously affection for the dog developed.
Because what a dog it was.
He always was loyal to his owner, the young boy.
Lassie would even get him out of the trouble the boy magically was suffering every week.
And Lassie would never lose, give up or die.

Lassie was seen as the ideal dog.
The perfect companion.
A dog that could be loved.
Because he was only goodness.
Even never needing to pee or poo.

But then in this fancy Amsterdam restaurant the lovely friend revealed truths about Lassie that made evaporate the last vestiges of innocence.
He said: “Lassie was a female dog, right?
Actually, she was not: Lassie was a male dog!”.

If this shock was not enough, the lovely friend continued:
“You saw Lassie and believed this dog performed in all the episodes, right?
Well, in fact they have used six different Scottish collies in those films.
It was not the same dog”.

Illusions are beautiful as long as one is not aware of the truth.
Lassie has been an icon all the life.
There has been a lot of misery in the world but in the USA at least was a dog that had the heart in the right place.
Whatever awful things happened, Lassie was there in the memory, yes, almost as a saint.
The world was bad and so were the people and life was shit but hope was found in remembering the heroic acts of loyalty and perfect sense for justice of Lassie.

But now, after so many years, the truth is found.
She was not even a female, dammit.
All is lost now.

Lassie, where are you?



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Human Shop

There are many friends in the life.
Some are very dear friends.
Some are long time friends.
Some are special friends.
And one is a lovely friend: last night was dinner with him in a nice restaurant.

As so often the subject of conversation was how high the level of humanity is in situations of work.
If there is still enough empathy and concern for others or that it is mostly these days about one thing only: how to make money out of the other.

The fantasy was to open a shop where selling products was not the primary purpose.
But to allow people to come in for conversation and sharing to begin with.
And that after the socializing possibly purchasing a product from the shop becomes the interaction.

This is nothing new as a sales strategy.
In many countries in the developing world selling and buying is a social activity.
An excuse to meet and to socialize.
To chat about each other’s families.

Of course in those societies with humane market activities time is accepted in life in a different way.
Priority is given to ways of living that are in the developed world rejected.

But would people in the developed world be prepared to pay a little extra if in a shop they were pampered personally?
If genuine interest in their lives was demonstrated?

A shop for humans?
The Human Shop.

One this becomes successful, the next step will be to start an airline where the passengers are not treated like cattle.
Air Human.