Writing on Medium

This weekend I wrote my first article on Medium. Well, I say article, it’s more like an open question and some thoughts gathered in a couple of paragraphs. Still, I’ll be writing on there every now and again on topics that I’m involved with on a professional level… And perhaps some personal interests as well. Just to see whether I can reach a bigger audience that way… And because I quite like the writing editor on there.

Check out my first article here.

 

Live each day as if the next one is going to be pretty ordinary

Yea, yea, people say “live each day like it’s your last”. But I can’t. Maybe I’m too uptight, maybe I’m too responsible, I just can’t. If I’m going to truly live each day like it’s my last, I would do some pretty irreversible damage to my life. And I don’t even think my life is bad (my job makes me happy sometimes and I have some truly great friends). If today, however, was my last day, I’d take up most of my savings – which isn’t that much – and spend it all with those great friends on a day and night to remember (which I then won’t remember because, you know, it was my last day).

Is it a bad thing that I don’t live that way? No, because everything in the society I’m currently firmly rooted in is designed to make us live like there are still MANY days to come. We work for salary and aren’t paid at the end of each day, but at the end of each month. We pay rent/mortgages per month, we pay taxes per year. And if we’re truly going to make process as a society we’re probably going to have think bigger than the next day. And this required, I guess, for individuals to think like that too.

And yes… Sometimes that frustrates me. I guess our lives would be “richer” if we lived completely in the moment, taking each moment at face value. I can understand being mind-full and worry-free is much more satisfying than worrying you have to do “this and this and this”. But that’s not the reality for most people I know. Most people I know are right now building a career or private life like they were told to do when they were growing up. And some are doing something completely different – and that’s okay too. But nobody’s living like each day is their last.

In fact, a lot of people I know have just started their working life and feel like it’s all planned out. From here on out it’s a straight road towards career, family and retirement (if ever…). And I guess that’s not good either. Especially if you let the stress and responsibilities that come with that take over. I’ve had that, I know at least two friends who’ve had that. And I guess most of us have that at times. You shouldn’t have to worry about whether you’re able or need to buy a bigger/smaller house, I agree that much with living life like today’s your last day… But it’s unrealistic to say that these things don’t matter. Not unless you live like a true recluse in the middle of nowhere. When surviving is your daily life THAT’s when you live like it’s your last.

It may not be inspiring but the truth, I feel, is somewhere in the middle. Make the most of life, but if everything goes to plan there will be a tomorrow where you want to get a decent return on your “investments” (meaning friendships, jobs, hobbies and things like that – not so much financial ones). So make sure you can get those as well.

So what about the moments when friends urge you to “live a little”? YES! it’s good to let go and live a little. Choose the moments to go all-in and also the moments to opt-out. If you want it all, you’ll either end up tired and bitter or dead. I believe that life gets better if you do things the right way. So whenever friends tell me to live a little… I live a little. I live as if the next couple of days are pretty ordinary. They might not be. They might be awesome as well. But I don’t get disappointed if they’re not and I’m able to handle them if they are. They don’t need to be a recovery period, nor do they have to be a series of ultimate highs that come days too soon. And depending on the state of me I can still have a pretty good time.

In my life I value – outside of my personal well-being – friendship, music, family and work. After years of trying too hard to achieve everything I’m now engineering my life around those values. So yes I might be uptight and stressed out about tomorrow and next week and next year. That’s the way I roll. But when I realise that those four values are still present in my life, in the end, it feels like my life is getting better. And it only gets better.

Forecast.io is awesome

Like many Dutch people I am a weather freak. Not of the “weather station at home installed”-kind, but the type that frantically checks whether we’re gonna drown because it’s never gonna stop raining and we’re below sea level AND EVERYTHING IS GOING WRONG!!!! I’ve got several weather apps on my iPhone, besides the standard Apple Weather app: Weather Pro, Buienradar (the Dutch app that shows you where it’s raining) and Haze.

None of these apps satisfy my weather needs completely… I also like a good design, and more often than not, weather apps are too detailed (and ugly) or too minimalistic to satisfy my weather nerd needs (Haze).

Cue Forecast.io, a web app that almost feels like a native app… It tells you the weather condition for your current location and the condition for the next 24 hours. But the beauty is in what it’s not immediately showing: the forecast for the next 7 days is hidden at the bottom and can be revealed by swiping upwards. Even more beautiful: clicking on “Map” in the top corner reveals an extensive map that shows you animated rain clouds for the past days and the upcoming couple of days. While I’m not sure how accurate this all is, it looks beautiful and provides just enough detail to satisfy my needs.

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Forecast.io works in your browser as well, but it works way better on your phone, I find. I’ve added it to my homescreen as a webapp.

How I got a broadcaster RTL5 to broadcast ’127 Hours’ twice in 50 hours’ time

I say “How I got…” but this really is one of those social media stories. I am writing this down because I know I’ll forget the details in a couple of years and it’s nice to be able to look this up and remember. 

There’s a certain level of nostalgia and warmth to watching a film together on television as it is broadcast. When I was younger my dad and I used to watch all the James Bond films together (and to this day we go to the cinema each time a new one is released). So while I’ve used my iMac to watch tons of films since the arrival of broadband internet, I’m not totally against watching a film on commercial tv. Even if that means I have to endure several commercial breaks per hour and several pop-ups during the film promoting reality TV shows I usually have no interest in. It’s a nice activity to do with my dad and thus when I visit he usually asks me “Are there any good films on tonight?”
20130224_160553_james-franco-in-127-hours

Last Saturday night the answer was: “Yes, RTL5 is broadcasting 127 Hours, where a guy gets stuck in the middle of nowhere while canyoneering.” I had wanted to watch this film for a while, but hadn’t got round to it. So I was genuinely excited. And it was good, right up to the point – and I assume this is common knowledge – when THAT scene happened. That scene where Aron, played by James Franco, frees himself by cutting of his right arm. I assume that the fact that this happens is common knowledge, because it caused quite a stir when the film was released. And my tv guide actually announced the “moving and disturbing” scene.

Now I’m not one for gore in movies. I’ve never seen Saw. The only horror flick I ever tried to watch was The Fly 2 when I was a kid and that involved me walking away from the television whenever the (imagined?) gore became too much. But it was my choice to walk or look away. I like to have that choice.

 

(full disclosure: I did see Cabin in the Woods, but I put the volume down during the scary parts)

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Growing pains

January 2013. It still feels a bit like the future. So far, the month has been a lot like 2012, but with added snow and back pains. My first working week was troubled by a rib in my chest acting up. A guy straightened me out but I felt it for most of the weekend and didn’t feel good enough to play sports last Monday. So when I woke up Saturday morning and felt pretty good, I was quite happy with that. Then I took a shower and did something weird when using the towel. It was completely unnecessary what I did but it felt like something moved and immediately snapped back. Not sure what it was but my neck has been troubling me since. Last night I slept pretty good but I woke up whenever I moved my head. It didn’t feel like a broken night, so hopefully tonight won’t be one either. And I’m desperately hoping that tomorrow the pain will have lessened. For now I call these growing pains. I joke to myself I’m getting old. I hope I’m not though. I can’t be!

Meanwhile, fresh snow has fallen here in The Netherlands. Which delivers on lots of nice Instagrams and other pretty pictures. But I am not a big fan of going outside when the wind feels like the whole Western world forgot to close the fridge. The temperature outside was supposed to be a mere -2 (Celcius) but it felt like -10. Not comfortable at all. So apart from getting my hair cut, doing shopping and visiting a friend to play music, I stayed indoors mostly. I also blame it on my neck – a little.

The fresh snow did prevent me from seeing a couple of musicians and my favourite (still alive) children’s book author Toon Tellegen live in my parents’ hometown. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get back home tonight, so I stayed home and watched some football instead. I also caught up with some back issues of Wired. It dawned on me that listening to some jazz with some tea, a couple of candles and some reading is enough for me to get completely relaxed.

Oh and I did buy the new I Am Kloot while out and about yesterday. On vinyl. And while I had my reservations about These Days Are Mine and the Elbow-esque directions (while I like Elbow as a a band!) the album might head in, so far I’m not disappointed. The title track I’ve been familiar with for a couple of years, dating back from pre-I Am Kloot band The Mouth. This version is kind of nice though. The Kloot version is a bit more polished I guess…

So I wonder how well the new Kloot will sell and whether it’ll give the band more mainstream success… Time will tell. They definitely deserve some succes…

A phrase

The grander gesture. If you watch too much series, films and read too many books in a row, you’ll start believing that most people’s lives are made up of grand gestures. Of escape plans, of making a point. Of making things happen. But I don’t know anyone who actually does that. I’ve seen people break with their lives – in some form – and go abroad, start over and do something new. I’ve seen people travel, not caring about jobs or education for a while. I’ve seen people taking it easy for a while. But I haven’t seen the montage, the dramatic music, the making-a-point… It doesn’t exist like that, not in my real life.

I always dream up album titles, some good, some funny, some really bad. A while ago I stumbled onto a bad one. Still, it’s been stuck in my head, like some sort of mantra. It keeps popping up. Probably because I like to criticize my own behavior and choices. Like I need to move to an even better place but do not in the end. Not going through with something like that feels like letting myself down, even though I realize it’s actually the better option for so many different reasons. Simply the fact that it’s the less exciting choice, though, makes me feel like letting myself down. There’s no other reason. I’m getting better at thinking something’s good enough, I’ve grown in that way in the past year.

A good moment to reflect, these final days of 2012. But I don’t even want to do that. 2012 has been a good year but it’s also been a difficult year. Difficult to make it good. I think my life was way easier when I was just ignoring the bad stuff instead of trying to fix it. So, while my life is getting better, my main goal seems to be to make it better without working for it. No, scratch that, I don’t mind working for it. My main goal seems to be to make life better without caring about it on a daily basis. I wish I could let that go. That’s not my plan for 2013 though, that would be totally contradicting myself.

That crappy album title phrase? … And then I stopped caring and moved on with my life. But that’s probably never gonna happen. So how I’ll get an album full of songs about it I don’t know… And then I cared a little less and moved on with my life. Now that’s a bit more realistic. And even worse as an album title.

All the best for 2013 :).

Everything is like a chair, everything but Facebook

Facebook is used by so many people these days, that everything it does is viewed with a certain skepticism. Is this the moment Facebook is falling down? It is not. While a vocal minority hates every new thing Facebook introduces, it needs to fail pretty big to properly fail. It’s not gonna crash and burn overnight, but that doesn’t mean everything Facebook does is right. Like scanning your private messages for links. Or releasing this ad.

In this ad, Facebook is compared to things we use everyday. Because we use Facebook everyday. It makes sense. But to me, this feels like fifteen ads in one. Because after comparing Facebook to chairs, Facebook is also compared to lots of other things and then suddenly it turns into a philosophical video that ponders why we’re using Facebook in the first place.

Facebook is like a chair. No actually a couch.

We make things. And we make Facebook to make sure we’re not alone, but instead, sitting alone typing on a computer. Is that truly the definition of not being alone? It must have changed since I last had a late night Facebook session, I felt pretty alone at some point.

And of course, you can make fun of the Chairs-analogy;

  • What do you mean? I can sit ON Facebook?
  • A chair for more people? Isn’t that a couch?
  • Oh, yes I always leave messages on my chairs.
  • Can I sit on my chair and be on Facebook at the same time? Does that mean I’m sitting on two chairs or using two Facebooks?

Nope, everything is like a chair, everything but Facebook, but that doesn’t make it a bad ad. After all, ads usually aren’t famous for their great truths but for what they make you feel, do or like. The thing is that this ad mainly confuses. It makes Facebook looks like an everyday thing, but also like something grand, like something you connect with but also like something you use for something else (as a means to an end). It tries to do so many things, that it confuses. This ad is like a website cluttered full of features and too much content on one page and some parts of it… you just don’t get.

Come to think of it… That’s just like Facebook.

But I’m not sure that was the message they wanted to get across…