Friday, May 19, 2017

Vacation

Hello world,

After a very nice vacation on Crete, I had to some catching up to do. Between accumulated mails and chores, I need three days to get things back on schedule. But now my house is clear, the fridge is stocked and I have time to write my blog again.

While on Crete, I have actually made an interesting discovery about my blog. I've been mispronouncing the name for ages. Xanthi Rising is named after the Battlestar Xanthi. And said Battlestar is named after the town of Xanthi in Greece. I picked the name because Xanthi is located in an area known as Thrace, which was a nice tie-in back to Kara Thrace (aka Starbuck).

The thing is...in Greek (both the current version and the ancient), the X stands for CH. And that is pronounced as a soft G. So while you write Xanthi, it is pronounced Ganthi (or maybe Chanthi ?) The things you discover on while on vacation. 😉

Books

Another thing I did in my vacation was make some progress in my book case. For...well, way to long, I have had a shelf of books I still have to read. But now I am slowly making progress. And speaking of books....

Martijn

On 14 May 2014, my cousin Martijn passed away. And now, there is a book about him. Alas - sorry for my English readers - this book only comes in Dutch. I picked up my copy today and have already skimmed through it. And I can tell you...it is a true work of art. For those of you who wish further information, there is more behind these links...
Scrapbook

Finally, today I got around to updating my scrapbook. When I was in my pre-teens, I would often ask my grandparents about how things were they were young. And some times, they could not remember the answers to the questions I asked them. This inspired me to 'secure' some things for nephews and nieces for when they were older.

So I brought a photo album and started gluing in little things, creating a personal (family) history books of sort. Amongst the things found in this scrap book are a couple of movie stubs, pieces of airlines tickets (including one from my recent vacation to Crete), a article on the moon landing, some old stamps....

And plenty of other things. This left me with one last thing to do. Update my blog. Which is now done as well.  😊

Edmond Dantes

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Still here...

...alas, the last (couple of) month(s) have been far from inspirational. But now the waters are calming down again. And summer is approaching fast. Which - over here in the Netherlands - always begins with a day of sadness and a day of joy.

The 4th of May is the Day of Remembrance. We remember all the people who died fighting for freedom in WW2 (and since). The 5th is Liberation Day, the day the Nazi occupational forces surrendered. These are always odd days.

Beyond that, there is no much to tell. I'm getting around to some chores I have been putting off for a while...such as properly writing my LinkedIn page (the current version is rather minimalist, and basically version 0.5) and taking another hard look at my Bol.com page. And, of course, dusting off Xanthi Rising. Hopefully, this will increase my Internet visibility a bit. (Basically, the time has come to do some Internet housekeeping.)

Edmond Dantes

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Why I picked Edmond Dantes as an alias...

...or why the Netherlands isn't perfect either.  (Trump, Wilders, George Lucas and Chateau d'If.)

With the elections creepy near over here in the Netherlands, I felt it was time to write this blog. To begin, I have a run-of-the-mill piece of news. A couple of entries ago...I kind of promised that I would write an NCIS story on FanFiction.net. I am happy to announce that work on Chapter 1 began today. Alas, since this outside my comfort zone of writing (aka Science Fiction) - which was the whole point - it will take time. And now, on to the main show....

Trump and Wilders

The point I was trying to make with my open letter to Peter David was that Trump was a threat to the US of A. Not just because he's an idiot - which he is  - but because he represents the class society. (He's a spoiled, pampered, arrogant <insert long list of curses>.) The very thing that the founding father wanted to get rid off. Donald Trump is the antitheses of every principle the country was founded on.

What does this have to do with the Netherlands ? Well, the words are very different - as is the history - but the Netherlands' constitution is based on the same principles. And we even have our own Donald Trump. He's called Geert Wilders. And like Donald Trump, he's a (racist) idiot. As the saying goes...those who fail from history are doomed to repeat it. And Geert Wilders is a repeat just waiting to happen. And the only way to prevent it is to go vote, for anybody who is not him. Who you should vote for instead ? Well, that is for you to decide for yourself....

George Lucas and....

Moving on. The subject name for this section was a bit hard to lock down. This because I was inspired by an episode of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Indy run into Doctor Albert Schweitzer and the two of them have a conversation on a boat. (It's a long story, it would be shorter to simply watch the episode.) But since George Lucas created the show, he gets the title slot. So, anyway, to get to the point....

Albert tells Indy that society doesn't want men to think and come to their own convictions. It wants servants who do as they are told. And that people go along, because it is easy to let society do your thinking for your. That way, all you have to do, is follow.

The sad truth is that this was true when Albert told Indy - during World War One - and it is still true now. When I got started on this blog - years ago - it was basically a very angry, very immature rant against my day job in a sheltered workshop. (PDD-NOS is a bitch.)

It's not something I'm proud of, but fortunately with time came wisdom and self-control. But that does not change the fact that I am very critical of the whole concept and the management of the sheltered workshop in Zwolle. (Which is called Wezo, for the record.) Which brings me to my next subject.

...Chateau d'If

People say the class society is gone. But - at least in my experience - when you work in a sheltered workshop or have some kind of disability, that is far from true. In the 2002 movie version of the Count of Monte Cristo, the main character - Edmond Dantes - is send to a jail called Chateau d'If. Edmond tells the warden he is innocent - which he is - and the warden tells him that he knows that this true. Because Chateau d'If is the prison people who are politically inconvenient are locked away.

While the sheltered workshops in the Netherlands were once about what was best for the people who worked there, but in time that changed. And not for the better. The workshops became about commercialism. Which is where what Albert told Indy shines through once again. This became painfully obvious when - a couple of years ago - the folks in The Hague made a decision.

Everybody (at the sheltered workshops) had to be seconded to commercial companies. This was not done because it was the best for the employees. This was done because the sheltered workshop program had become to expensive. At the same time, they decreed that every company above a certain size that to have a certain percent of handicapped employees. They also decided that companies which did not do so, could be fined up to 5000 Euros. The thing is....

To hire somebody full-time (or two part-timers, who together make up one extra employee) costs at least 1000 Euros per month. Times twelve + vacation money + the Christmas bonus is 13000-ish dollars per year. In short, it is cheaper to pay the fine, then to comply with the law. (And that's just the new employees paycheck. I'm sure there are other costs as well.)

Further more, the cynic in me says that if it was that easy...why were the sheltered workshop created in the first place. That same cynic also says that the answer was so that society could hide away the handicapped people without having to feel guilty. After all, it was their own good, sending them there. Wasn't it ?

Conclusion

But when you are on the inside, it feels like Chateau d'If. (At least, it did to me.) A prison where the people made only mistake. They were born different from the rest of society. And so, Edmond Dantes seemed fitting.

Edmond Dantes

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mister David's Answer to my Letter

After writing my letter on my blog, I used the comment system on Mister David's blog to deliver it. This is what he wrote in reply...

(Edmond Dantes)

I don’t know if we have a class society in the same way that, say, the UK does, so much as a determination of where you are on the financial side of things that is determined by where you start out. But there are plenty of examples of people being born with nothing (including our previous president) who was able to build himself up. Trump may indeed be a part of the one percent of people who have tons of money, but that doesn’t put him in another class that is exempt from following rules. That is a fact that he is currently discovering, and it’s clearly pissing him off. Thus far throughout his life his money and position have exempted him from having to deal with the same laws that everyone else does. But he’s discovering that the founding fathers indeed saw that someone like him might come along and built safeguards–checks and balances–into the governing process. He wants to do something unconstitutional and the courts are saying, “Nope,” just as Sally Yates knew they would.

PAD

Sunday, February 12, 2017

An open letter to Peter David

Regarded Mister D,

I hope you do not mind me using you as a crutch, but I feel that this entry would work better as a letter. One with lots of questions, but no answers. (I do not do answers. You can blame Anton Chekhov for that. It's a long story.) So, anyway....

Looking at the world today, I feel the question must be asked....does freedom exist ? Not long ago - from a historical point of few - humanity lived in a class society. (As anybody who has seen Titanic will attest, this was still visible as late as 1912.) Have these days truly passed ? Or have we simply become better at hiding the lines ?

Do we not all follow the expectations of society ? (A good example of this question might be Another Brick in The Wall by Pink Floyd, Part 2. Is it ? Decide for yourself.) We go to school, we get a job and pay the rent. Is this freedom ? After all, how many people actually chase their dreams ? And how many of us put these 'on hold' ? For practical reason, we tell ourselves. And we do not have to worry to about our dreams.

After all, as soon as life allows it, we will resume chasing them. Won't we ? And how many of us are lying to ourselves ? I do not know. I will not say. Instead, I will - as I often do - let people decide for themselves. (Despite not having meant it that way, I seem to have to developed that as a catchphrase. But I digress...*wink*)

To conclude this letter, I would like to speak about why I picked you as the receiving end of this letter. It is The-President-whose-name-shall-not be spoken. Is he not a symptom of the class society attempting to dig its claws into the US of A ? Or am I - as an outsider living the Low Lands - seeing this wrong ? Is this not the true threat to the Land of the Free ?

Should America not demonstrate its principles now ? Which - as I understand them - are that anybody can become anything, as long as they would hard and - this is where it becomes sticky for President Donald Voldemort - play by the rules. (In this case meaning the law and the US Constitution.) And should not demonstrate them by showing that nobody is above said rules ? (No matter how much idiocy they catapult at judges and media.) And is the best way to do this not to remove anybody - regardless of money, rank or status - from office ?

Regards,

Edmond Dantes

P.S. I know the chance of me getting a reply is 0.0 percent. But no pain, no gain. Also - for anybody reading my blog (if there is anybody) - up next in this series....Why did I pick Edmond Dantes as an alias. (Or...why the Netherlands is not perfect either.)

Putting Opinions into stories (The Chekhov Paradox)

Dear Want-to-be-Writers of the World,

Today I want to talk about the practice of putting opinions and morals into stories. This is something that many a writer does. But in my opinion, should not be done. And thus, in three sentences we have hit what I have called the Chekhov Paradox. It is named after Anton Chekhov, who believed that - in order to write good stories - a writer should write from a neutral viewpoint. And that realism should take precedence over providing answers.

This is a paradox, because while I agree with this view, I can never say so in a story. Because if you do so, you violate the very principle of not putting an opinion in a story. (Fortunately, this blog is slightly more flexible in that regard.)

To continue....I feel this neutrality is not only better story telling, but it forces the reader to think. If the writer does not provide a morale or answers, but merely questions, the reader must find them for him or herself. Further more, I agree with Mister Chekhov that talent is more important then opinion.

Why ? Well, as I said in my previous entry.....Writing is easy - there are plenty of writers out there. But good writing - which has a chance of improving the world - that is hard. Extremely hard. And rare. One last opinion....

Never, ever presume/say you have talent. The only writer I know to have done so, was Harry Mulish. (I know many people in the Netherlands consider his books classics. I do not.) The man was arrogant and selfish. At least...In my opinion...But was he really ? Or do you agree ? Decide for yourself.

Edmond Dantes

Edit: After I finished this piece, I read it on the blog myself. And I noticed it had an aura of arrogance. So while I accused Mister Mulish of arrogance, I have to admit that I am susceptible to it as well. So, my last tip....keep your ego in check.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Quantity and Quality

Hello want-to-be-writers of the World,

After I finished my post yesterday, I realized that there was something else to discuss. The issue of quantity versus quality. To be honest, most of the posts here are run-of-the-mill announcements - continuing work on this, posted a chapter of that - and posts like Inspiration and Chess and Chekhov are much rarer things.  As demonstrated by the multi-month gap between the two.

However, whenever I do research on how to promote my blog, I always find the same thing.....write regularly. But is that enough ? You can write a lot, but if the quality is sub-par, why should people read it ? This is another reason why writing is hard. Or perhaps is should say that writing is easy, good writing is hard.

But that is exactly is good writing? Well, as I often say, decide for yourself. It is after all a matter of opinion and taste. (I could do a piece on putting opinions in writing, but that can wait.) But I will give one simple piece of advice:  Don't be afraid to step outside your confront zone. Yes, you will fall flat on your face (probably more then once). But it is the only way to grow.

As for me....I am currently pondering writing a NCIS story on Fan fiction.net. (And you can consider this the announcement.) I have no idea on which character it will about and what the plotline will be. And there is a good chance I will fall on my face. But as Frankie 'Blue Eyes' Sinatra would put it, that's life....

Edmond Dantes