Arik Einsten

Arik Einstein Yesterday, at the age of 74, Arik Einstein passed away. Today he was buried in Tel Aviv, his and mine beloved city. Mr Einstein has been so influential to israeli culture that it is hard to explain it to non Israelis. There is simply no Arik Einstein here in the Netherlands. He was a musician, a singer, an actor, a comedian. He was enormously influential because he was simply incredibly good at what he did. It sometimes seemed like success was just an unintended side effect. He never chanced it, he was just to good to not achieve it.

Writers much better then myself will no doubt write about him in the coming weeks, so I will focus on my personal angle. In august of 2000 I moved to the Netherlands. I moved alone and knew no one here. The first few years were at time exciting, at time magical and at times very lonely. It was Mr. Einstein's "In San Francisco On The Waterfront" which have became the hymn of my life at those years. We never actually met, and yet there were time in which I would sit and listen to that magical song and it felt like he, and only he fully understood what my life was like. That sort of bond feeling never left me. The first hebrew song I sag to my son was Mr. Einstein's "Saturday Morning".

All I have left to say is thank you, Mr. Einstein. Thank you for everything. You will be dearly, dearly missed

A reminder

I was feeling somewhat demotivated to ride after all the trouble I am having putting my new bike together. Today's ride in Amerongen was not only a lot of fun, it also reminded me that mouton biking is about riding your bike, not what bike you'r riding.

I needed that reminder

The beginning

It all started with somebody else's dream. A friend of mine has always dreamed about crossing the alps on a mountain bike. This guy was definitely not new to mountain bike adventures. He has already cycled, over a period of three months along the rockies from Canada to Mexico. One evening in February 2010 we decided that this is going to be the year to do it. In the few months to follow we gathered a group of friends together and in July we left for Austria.

Mountain biking has been a hobby of mine for a few year then, though I cannot really say that I have been serious about it. In the three years preceding the trip, I had about 6 mountain bike weekends in the Ardennen and an occasional ride in the Netherlands. Actually, I was way more interested in snowboarding and longboarding at the time. Also I was not very fit, while the rest of the group where all very fit people. All this led me to expect, upon returning, that I would probably want to throw away my mountain bike, or at least not see them for a long long time.

As I expected, I was dangling behind the group a lot, but as the week progressed, that distance became smaller and smaller (My stamina was improving while everybody else's was decreasing). More interesting was that with each day I was enjoying myself more and more. At the end of the week, I wish it would not end, I want more. A lot more.

Upon returning to the Netherlands, instead of storring away my bike, I just wanted to ride them. All the time. So I decided to try a marathon race. Together with Erwin, who also got the mountain bike bug during our transalp adventure, we signed up for the Houffamarathon. The Houffamarathon in Houffalize, Belgium is one of the hardest in europe. Since I have mountain biked there before I knew the area was great for riding. Erwin opted for the 117km, I went with the 77km.

It was cold and rainy, the course was full of mud, and it was an absolute blast. For some weird reason, I found out that though my body was in pain I was having the time of my life. It is then that the words of Dean Karnazes came back to me

"Somewhere along the line, we mistook comfort for happiness"

I was definitely not comfortable, but I was very very happy. After the fun I had at the Houffamarathon, I participated in two more before the season ended. The dutch mountain bike marathon championship at Groesbeek (Hel van Groesbeek) and the Bart Brentjens challenge. Again, each race was an enjoyment. It was hard, and I was in pain quite a lot, but as a whole I was feeling very happy.

It was not just races though. After returning from the transalp, I started cycling to work (A 22km ride) almost every day, and riding trails as much as I can. Some weeks I was exceeding the 200km. I was feeling happier, and as another nice side effect I was loosing excessive fat. It is next to impossible not to be motivated when all this is happening.

Winter is now at full force here in the Netherlands with temperatures under freezing most of the time and a lot of snow, so even though I do try and ride trails I have not been able to do a lot of it as of late. The good news is that spring is coming closer inch by inch, and this time I will be ready. I have applied for a racing license and this season I intend to compete in as many races as I can physically and mentally manage.

The changes that I have gone through this last 6 months have been way more then simply a newfound passion for the sport. I am more confident, my focus has improved and all in all I am happier.  Loosing a few Kgs extra weight has also been very appreciated.

It would be to far of to say that I have, in a sense, reinvented my life. My priorities have shifted, I live more fully and I am fitter an healthier.  My intention here is to keep myself motivated but also to try and help other people started in this wonderful sport.

It all started with somebody else's dream. A friend of mine has always dreamed about crossing the alps on a mountain bike. This guy was definitely not new to mountain bike adventures. He has already cycled, over a period of three months along the rockies from Canada to Mexico. One evening in February 2010 we decided that this is going to be the year to do it. In the few months to follow we gathered a group of friends together and in July we left for Austria. Mountain biking has been a hobby of mine for a few year then, though I cannot really say that I have been serious about it. In the three years preceding the trip, I had about 6 mountain bike weekends in the Ardennen and an occasional ride in the Netherlands. Actually, I was way more interested in snowboarding and longboarding at the time. Also I was not very fit, while the rest of the group where all very fit people. All this led me to expect, upon returning, that I would probably want to throw away my mountain bike, or at least not see them for a long long time. As I expected, I was dangling behind the group a lot, but as the week progressed, that distance became smaller and smaller (My stamina was improving while everybody else's was decreasing). More interesting was that with each day I was enjoying myself more and more. At the end of the week, I wish it would not end, I want more. A lot more. Upon returning to the Netherlands, instead of storring away my bike, I just wanted to ride them. All the time. So I decided to try a marathon race. Together with Erwin, who also got the mountain bike bug during our transalp adventure, we signed up for the Houffamarathon. The Houffamarathon in Houffalize, Belgium is one of the hardest in europe. Since I have mountain biked there before I knew the area was great for riding. Erwin opted for the 117km, I went with the 77km. It was cold and rainy, the course was full of mud, and it was an absolute blast. For some weird reason, I found out that though my body was in pain I was having the time of my life. It is then that the words of Dean Karnazes came back to me"Somewhere along the line, we mistook comfort for happiness"I was definitely not comfortable, but I was very very happy. After the fun I had at the Houffamarathon, I participated in two more before the season ended. The dutch mountain bike marathon championship at Groesbeek (Hel van Groesbeek) and the Bart Brentjens challenge. Again, each race was an enjoyment. It was hard, and I was in pain quite a lot, but as a whole I was feeling very happy. It was not just races though. After returning from the transalp, I started cycling to work (A 22km ride) almost every day, and riding trails as much as I can. Some weeks I was exceeding the 200km. I was feeling happier, and as another nice side effect I was loosing excessive fat. It is next to impossible not to be motivated when all this is happening. Winter is now at full force here in the Netherlands with temperatures under freezing most of the time and a lot of snow, so even though I do try and ride trails I have not been able to do a lot of it as of late. The good news is that spring is coming closer inch by inch, and this time I will be ready. I have applied for a racing license and this season I intend to compete in as many races as I can physically and mentally manage. The changes that I have gone through this last 6 months have been way more then simply a newfound passion for the sport. I am more confident, my focus has improved and all in all I am happier. Loosing a few Kgs extra weight has also been very appreciated.It would be to far of to say that I have, in a sense, reinvented my life. My priorities have shifted, I live more fully and I am fitter an healthier.  My intention here is to keep myself motivated but also to try and help other people started in this wonderful sport.

The history of Johnnie Walker in 6min

The first whiskey I ever drank was a Johnnie Walker Red Label. It was horrible. Burned my mouth completely. I was, as can be expected young and knew nothing about whiskey, aside form the name. And that it was apparently "cool" to drink. So I tried. After that one sip I stayed of whiskey for over two years. The second tim eI tasted whiskey, it was a Johnnie Walker Black label. It was strong, burning, and delightful. I do not know what has changed in those two years or if something changed at all. Maybe if I had tried the black first instead of the red, I would be set right off the start. For the next three years or so I only drank Johnnie Blacks. As my taste evolved I stated trying more whiskeys. Like most people I started to value the single malts more and more. Eventually completely abandoning the blended sorts, of which Johnnie was my darling. Nowadays I have at home a small collection of singles, out of which I drink a glass almost daily. Whiskey has definitely become my favorite strong drink. Johnnie had a lot to do with it That is why I was so delighted to see this 6 minute film over the history of Johnnie Walker. Even if you are not a fan of the drink, or the brand, it is worth 6 minutes of your time

Update: Unfortunatley the film was removed due to copy-write violations. quite unfortunate

Opposite directions

You probably heard about justice Scalia of the American supreme court saying executing an innocent man is not unlawful because he was found guilty in a legal trial. New findings which can acquit said innocent man, are, for justice Scalia, no reason not not proceed with what a court has found to be just. That may sound strange, even scary coming from a supreme court justice. The thing is, I have seen this kind of thinking before from people who give service to society. Sometimes they seem to loose sight of what is actually the grand reason for them being there. They stop seeing their system as a system that gives service to society, but that society is there so obey their wonderful system. This I believe is exactly what happened to justice Scalia. He lost sight of the reason he is there. To serve society. Executing an innocent man does not do that in any way. Look at it from the other direction, and you can see how he reasons. One must ask himself if someone who completely lost sight of what its all about could, or should, remain in his position. For more information on this case read this.

A photo a day for a year

The sun reflecting on the Hooglandsekerk as seem from Aharale & Geiske's window

A few days ago I came upon this idea and I really liked it. Each day, one photo, with one or two sentences, for a whole year. It helps you remember each and every day in that year, while making you a better photographer. I found this picture to be a good starting picture. Yesterday I was feeling down about loosing two ships in Eve-online Today, I am celebrating this world, and starting on what I believe to be a great experiment in living.

How I ended up disliking religion by being with religious people

Let me start by saying I am not a religious person. I did not have a religious upbringing, even though I was at a religious kinder garden, and I do not believe in the existence of god. Or gods. These last six months I have been working with, almost exclusively, quite religious people. Since I work at the IT branch this is something that is note worthy. Most IT people I know are not religious. Some of them believe in the existence of a god, others don't, but I would definitely not classify them as religious. However, as I stated, I found my self in a team in which I was pretty much the only non believer. Coming from Israel, religion has always been something that is there. Though I am not a believer, I always thought that there is a lot of good coming from all these people. You could say my disposition towards religious people was positive. I now have a strong dislike towards anyone that is considering himself religious. and let me tell you why. In the first few weeks I was completely fascinated by these people. My friends are not religious, neither are my parents. You could say I grew up with little direct influence from any sort of religion. I do realize a lot of the traditions I was raised with come from the Jewish belief, however they were, at least for me, nothing more than that. A tradition. And here I was surrounded by this group of true believers. We talked about faith, about why they believe, about what they see and how they experience the world. All 4 of them (note: 3 Christians and 1 Muslim) renounce evolution. I got answers like "Are you a dog?" and "I do not come from an ape". And that was about all the proof they had. That was all the proof they needed. Well that and the holy scripts. It bothered me that I could not get through with rational thoughts to these people. Yet at the time I did not know quite why I was so bothered by this. I noticed I slightly shifted from being slightly positive to getting angry with them. Here was a group of people who are capable of thinking, that at some trail of thoughts completely lost touch with logic. That transaction was making me frustrated and angry. why is this happening? Why can they be perfectly logical one minute then completely break with logic the other. They brought up their arguments, I blew them away with pure and simple logic and so we always ended up with two things: 1. God's plan is impossible for us to understand, or Gods way are mysterious, or things that to us seem illogical or impossible are actually logical and possible to a God. 2. I just know it is, or, it says so in the bible. And that was that. There is nothing to be brought against those arguments because they are just like "because". No logic, no thinking, no reason, just "because". After a few of these talks I started to see what was making me so upset. It was that these, otherwise intelligent people were CHOOSING to see it like that. For the life of me I could not understand why anyone would want to do it. Then again if I could I would probably be a religious person. That was when the last shift was starting to happen in my attitude towards them. I moved from getting angry at them to feeling sorry for them. And then it finally hit me. The difference between how they think and I think. I look at the world, and then shape my ideas of it They have their ideas, then shape the world so that it would fit. And that was that. These people, and this is the worst part, by their own choice are blind to the world. They know for sure how everything is, it is for them just a matter of interpreting everything in a way that matches their idea of how the world is. I now understand how people can do all the terrible things that they do in the name of religion. They do not see it as terrible things. I am actually convinced some of them see it as a good thing. A just thing. My colleges think that being gay is a choice, and that its bad, because it says so in the holy bible. I'm serious. So now all I do is feel pity for them. They have chosen a path that was a bad idea in the middle ages, let alone in modern time. At the same time I am growing anti-religious by the minute. Look at the conflicts we have in the world now. Look at how many of it is religious based. What's that you say, "Religion is just an excuses given to the masses". Maybe, possibly. However, remove that excuses and it becomes a lot harder to get so many people to do so many horrible things. Religion might be misused, but if it is, than it has been for centuries. Maybe its time we realized that the only way to stop making religion an excuse is to reduce its power so that it can't be used as such. Think I am being to harsh, look at the world map again, think of the conflicts that are going on now in the world. How many are not religion related? How many are? Exactly I rest my case. Last note. There is still hope. Every generation there are more of us thinking people, and less of then bling people. One day, relgion will be a marginal group. That will be a good day.