A life in addictions: tobacco

Smoking is one addiction I certainly can’t blame my parents for. My family did and does not smoke and I can’t recall anyone ever smoking in the wider circle of our family, except for my granddad on my father’s side that is.. I remember a picture of him sitting in a easy chair holding a cigar in his right hand. One day, when I was still very young, someone told him smoking was bad for his health. He probably nodded, put down his cigar and never smoked again.

Some years ago I was going through my grandfather’s legacy and  I found  some old black and white pictures from family parties from the fifties. The tables had white coffee cups filled with cigarettes. Like snacks you could take one if you felt like it. I think these didn’t have filters either so the rooms on those pictures were definitely cloudy. Smoking was a social activity like any other and everyone seemed to be happy and joyful. The spectre of cancer had not yet risen.

I did smoke because of my family background, I learned to smoke when I was in my early twenties when I started to study history at the University of Amsterdam. One day I was paging through a series of role play books in the American Book Center in Amsterdam,  when someone approached me and asked me if I liked those books.  I said yes and he introduced me to a role playing group.

People of this group also played in another group  and via that group they knew other people who roleplayed too.  It turned out there were a lot of people about my age who studied at the university and played role play games. Roleplaying soon became just one of the activities that we did: we went to movies, hung out in parks chatting till the sun came up or sat at the home of a good friend of mine playing risk and watching MTV and TMF. In those days those channels still broadcasted mostly music clips. I think they stopped doing that nowadays. At least whenever I happen to turn on the television and switch to MTV the channel is filled with anything but music clips.

It  this group of people that started to smoke. Actually some started to smoke as an extension of smoking weed. Weed was introduced by someone who made a  weed cake. People liked it, but making a cake like that took too long  and  therefore we bought weed to mix with tobacco. Later on hashish was also introduced. It also was cut up and mixed with tobacco.

Soft drugs are however expensive, so the habit developed to smoke tobacco in between the weed and hashish. And that is how smoking as a habit developed. After about one and a half year of doing soft drugs, everyone suddenly stopped. It was over like that. Just like you flipped a switch.

Smoking tobacco however did not stop that sudden, but lingered on for a long time. Some friends never smoked (I have to grant them that), some smoked for a very short time, others smoked for a very long time.. till their forties.

Here is a wicked formula that you might recognize: Alcohol and smoking are intertwined. Smoking increases the desire for drinking, drinking increase the urge to smoke.. Add salt to the equation and you might not find it strange that some bars hand out free salted peanuts. Salt creates thirst which is quenched with alcohol, alcohol creates the desire to smoke.

Still, over the years, one person after the other stopped smoking.  Two friends kept on smoking however, until one suffered a collapsed lung a few years back and the other got diabetes. They both were urged by their doctors to stop smoking because of health reasons: they had to.

Nowadays smokers in my country have been marginalised. I am currently in France where people are still allowed to smoke in cafes and restaurants. In the Netherlands this is forbidden. This policy started some years ago when a law was passed to protect employees from working in conditions where customers smoked. Everyone knew this law was an just an excuse to prohibit smoking. It is interesting how anti-smoking we have become. Interesting because we are far less strict regarding that other big drug: alcohol. Interesting also because smoking mostly affects the smoker, but alcohol has a tendency to affect others as well. But alcohol is too big to be touched.

People found a way around the law though:  if you did not have employees, the law did not apply. Hence bars develop where the owner ran the bar without employees.  However, this was just a stay of execution: this year the law was amended. Now smoking is just prohibited in any public place. It won’t surprise me that the next law will prohibit smoking altogether except for smoking in your own home.

I sometimes see the odd collection of smokers huddling together at the entrance to the office building I work in. If they don’t get some smoke related disease they stand a fair chance to catch a cold, for they have no shelter against the weather.The smoker has become the modern day pariah.

Poor smokers, I sometimes think, until I sit on a terras in France having my lunch spoiled by some French smoker blowing wafts of tobacco in my direction. Then I appreciate it that someone banned smoking from our public spaces.

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A life in addictions: caffeine

One of the saddest things I see in the morning when I travel to my work are teenagers slurping cans of soda. Their day has just started and already they are drinking unhealthy stuff.  A large percentages of those cans are energy drinks: Red Bull and the like.. I always associated Red Bull with lots of caffeine and sugar, and to be fair to them I looked it up. According to the wikipedia an average can of Red Bull contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee, but twice as much as a coke has. It contains the same amount of sugar as coke.

It  is not as bad as I expected but it doesn’t sound healthy either. Somehow seeing people drinking these things in the morning when they might drink something more healthier makes me feel sad.

What do I drink on a day?

I took stock. I usually drink milk and orange juice. But when I am on my work I drink mostly coffee. In fact a lot of coffee. Perhaps as much as eight cups on a day, maybe even more and not much else besides. It is important to note that the coffee on my work is rumored to be stronger than average. Maybe that is a joke, but it feels like the coffee is stronger than normal. It kind of burns in my stomach.

Whatever the truth of this, it is obviously that I am drinking too much coffee.  I read that drinking more that 400 ml of coffee might be considered unhealthy. And since one cup contains something like 80 to 95 ml, five coffee should be the maximum. I drink however perhaps ten on a day.

How did this come about?

Caffeine, the defining part of coffee is a drug. “It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug, but unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world.”(wikipedia)

It is a drug and we are addicted to it and companies like Red Bull are making the most of it by supplying, mostly young, people with a drug to make a buck. Is it that harsh? It is.

It must be interesting to work for a company that basically panders a drug. Do their employees and stockholders worry? Do they ever? They just say: we make the stuff, we don’t force people to drink it. Or: if we did not make it, someone else would.

Sounds familiar?

One can say: where there is a demand there will be someone unscrupulous enough to supply it.

But where did this demand come from?

Did we not create a demand out of nowhere?

To do that you start as young as possible. You slip in coffee into soda drinks and other,  like in Coca Cola or Red Bull for instance. Then you make it look cool to drink it. It is interesting to note that you see this with kids. They refuse to drink things that their peer group do not like and vice versa: they drink that what others find cool.

If I look back at my youth, I can’t recall when I started to drink coffee. I do know we drank Coca Cola long before I drank coffee. Does coke lead to coffee?

I really don’t know.

But once you are used to it, it’s not that easy to get rid off. I am trying now, sometimes drinking only tea and water. It is easier to not drink it when you don’t have it available.

Perhaps that is where you have to start.

Just throw it away.

That is what I did. Now let’s see if that works?

 

James Bond: drink zero and be a hero.
James Bond: drink zero and be a hero.

 

images
Men in fast cars..
red-bull-spends-30-to-40-percent-of-its-revenue-on-marketing-and-its-paid-off
..get girls like this. At least for a brief moment.

 

 

 

 

Also here: http://meritcoba.weebly.com/1/post/2013/07/a-life-in-addictions-caffeine.html

 

 

Little sister, part 2

I was sitting in the mahogany lobby of the  hotel with my legs crossed.  The couches, tables and chairs were the red brown color of mahogany, although the leather and fabrics were slightly redder. The floor was a fast expanse of red brown with a varnish that made it look smooth.

I was reading one of those glossy magazine’s. They made me curious because I expected one day to see an advertisement selling guns or saying something like: stop buying these ridiculous expensive clothes that are probably made by exploited kids in poor countries and required the death of three different species of animals. But instead I looked at women who looked a bit like me: slender, young, fashionable. Almost like me, but for the piercings and the red,black blond hair that was slightly too masculine. The piercings had almost made some of the staff blink, but they were used to lot more strangeness so they recovered quickly from seeing me, in fact so quickly that I hardly noticed..

Yrseke sat down on my lap.

One moment she wasn’t there, the next moment she had replaced the glossy.. She wrapped her arms around my neck and said, “So how are you?.”

I looked at her disapprovingly. She quickly stood up and moved over to a couch where she sat back making her body stretched out over the length of the couch, but leaving her high booted legs off .

Yrseke was spectacle.

If you looked closely there was a strong similarity with her older sister Taubie. They were the same shape, length and build, but you would not belief it when you saw them. The younger one, lounging on the couch, was playful, with gestures that were inviting and slightly sensual. She always wore skimpy clothes. Low rider jeans that were tightly fitted to her body. Shirts that revealed more than they covered. One of her favorite looks was wearing a bikini top with a open cut vest without sleeves on some tight low rider jeans. Her hair were always done with tails. Like now she was wearing pig tails. In demeanor she played often the naive somewhat gigglish girl who was open. She didn’t hide feelings and liked to be around people or with people. Especially attractive sensual people.

“How did you like my surprise?” She was toying with one of hair pigtails. Trying to wrap some hairs around a finger. She tilted her head slightly.

“I was surprised indeed. Not quite sure if I was supposed to jump into the bed or not.”

“I think they wouldn’t have mind one way or another. I did hear that you didn’t stay till the end..”

“Your friends called you to rat on me?”

“Friend from friends, actually.  Or more like friends from friends from friends. They sort of liked this kind of thing and I thought you might be needing something spicy to brighten your day..” She smiled broadly.

“The sun was bright enough. I was almost blinded by it’s glare.”

“I still don’t know if you liked it or not.” She mock pouted her lips.

“I still don’t know myself.”

“Well. I would have known what to do.” Her grin was very wide, “Aren’t they a pretty couple? Strange thing was. How did you know how she looked?”

“Because I saw her sitting when I went up. She was looking at me, a bit apprehensively.” I said.

“Well spotted.” Yrseke clapped her hands.

“You know.. I wonder what you do for a living. I mean the people you know. Where do you get to meet people like that?”

“Well I mix work and pleasure. Do a bit of this and a bit of that. Dance a bit for money over here, and serve drinks over there. And get hired to entertain.”

“And have you big sis cover the expenses.”  I poked at her.

She smiled and kissed me on the nose. “You should change, when you are a posh girl you get grumpy. I like you better when you are not.”

“What should I change into?” I pondered.

“I like the neko teen version of you. It is easy going and funnah. I had more or less expected you to be. You are most of the time.”

“I wonder what I would have done if I was like that…”

“I think you would have jumped onto the bed.”

“Was that what you were expecting?”

“Yes.”

“Oh hum.. you keep surprising me.”

“So change, change.” Yrseke urged.

So I changed into my nekish teen persona,. A teenage girl with green eyes, brownish hair, wearing a gypsy outfit with a long tail, cat like ears and a large beanie hat looking like a panda bear. I then jumped on the couches, chairs and tables.  It made Yrseke giggle. They tried to capture me, which at first did not succeed, until I was cornered by ten men. They picked me up by the tail and removed me from the lobby by throwing me into the street. Yrseke got away with without a scratch, because that is how things always went.

When I had scrambled upright I examined the sky and predicted rain. Then we looked at each other.

“I think I am going to visit some friends of friends who are having a party.” Yrseke said.

“I think I am going to visit Taubie.” I said, “She is probably alone making something. That is your big sis. Always alone and making stuff. She probably likes some company.”

Yrseke smiled at that and said, “Yes, I think she would like your company.”

I waved goodbye by stretching my arm and waving at her and she started to walk away.

“And you know..’, I said, falling back into my nekish attitude, and then shouted, “You knowish!”

She stopped and half turned to regard me.

“If you need any help..like with nasty people, just holler. I change into a big mean dragon and eat them all.”

She smiled at that and said, “I know you will.”

And I waved goodbye again.

Of course she knew I would. She is my little sister too.

 

Little sister, part 1

The red of dusk flowed into my room and  streamed over his almost naked body.The light came in from the only window in the room. It was facing the door I had entered.

The walls, now mostly  hidden in shades, seemed to be made out of large stone slabs which had been painted with a broken white. Somehow I got the feeling I was inside the room of a cottage or farm. There was a dark wooden table with a small lamp and a telephone to my left, a tall mirror on the left hand wall, a chair in front of me made of shining metal tubes and dark leather, a large dark wooden closet against the right hand wall.

In front of me was a bed with him on it. I now saw that his manly features were hidden by a towel strategically draped over his loins. I  barely glanced at him and then walked to the mirror, put down two shopping bags i held in my hands and then the shoulder bag. I looked into the mirror to see who I was.

The best way to describe myself was starting from below and then go up. I was wearing high heels with a leopard pattern. The heels made me my legs look long and fragile as if I was going to break an ankle if I miss stepped. I wore a short sheath skirt with the same leopard pattern as  the heels had and above the skirt I was wearing a wide loose pink shirt with a cross stitched on the front in the same type of leopard pattern.The sleeves reached over the palms of my hands. All my fingers had long nails and golden rings; the little fingers having even two. I had a necklace made out of oblong shaped pieces of wood and gold.. My face was riddled with what looked like piercings, although I suspected they were not. There were two round ones, the size of a small coin just below either side of the end of my lips. There were several around my mouth,  on my nose and on the bridge of my nose and two very small coin shaped ones on my brows. I had two ear pieces made up from the same wood and metal as my necklace. My hair was short, but long on top. The area around the neck and lower part of my head was shaven upwards and colored in with red and black. The top hair was dyed blond and brushed to the right side of my head.

The man on the bed did not say anything. He was laying on one side. His upper body held upright with the aid of his arm. His eyes, brown I expected, followed me about, he was expecting something, but with not with a nervous expression, rather it was a calm expression.

When I sat down in the chair the leather creaked a little. Sitting there I Iooked at him, letting my gaze meander over his body. He was deeply tanned, but not too much, healthy, but not too muscled. Shaven. Curly hair, not too long. I expected him to be a mulatto, but his features were mostly hidden by the glow from the sun.

Although I suspect I would not have needed to, I did put my a finger to my lips telling him to remain silent. I saw that my nails had not only long but painted black with leopard patterned crosses on them.

We sat there for a few minutes, while I kept my face blank and he kept his face expressionless as well. I wonder if I was sexually stunted, because I did not feel any excitement.

I took the telephone from the desk and called reception.

“How may I help you, miss Coba?”

“If I am correct there is a woman sitting in the lobby who has the following description. She has long brown hair and is dressed in a simple black silk gown. She is wearing simply golden jewelry.  She is tanned, caucasian and has either brown or blue eyes.”

“There is indeed someone like that in the lobby.”

“Tell her she can come up.”

“I will.”

A few minutes later she arrived. I had in the meantime removed my heels.

She glanced at me, then passed me by quickly and joined the man on the bed.

There they had the interaction that was called making love. They were passionate and fiery. I watched for some time, then left before they reached their climax.

Signs of life: tax

The blue lined letter dropped on the doormat around noon. There was no mistake about the sender. The blue meant one thing: it was sent by the tax-office.

The letter said, in more complex wordings; dear sir, according to our information you are in arrears concerning your taxes. You owe us the amount of twentythousand dollars for income gathered with work done in Rotterdam five years ago .

I was twenty-six, a student in history and had never been in Rotterdam, except for a one time visit to a tourist-attraction when I was fourteen.

How to deal with that monstrosity that is the tax office?If that creature thought you owed it anything and got it’s claws into you, it was not going to let go.. In other words: if they thought something existed, then you had to proof to them that it did not. How do you proof that something does not exist?

The first reaction was a reflex one. I bought myself a bottle of Glenfiddich and emptied it by half. It did not help at all with tax problem, but it cushioned the shock; first by making me roaring drunk and next by giving me a splitting headache.

So how does one get into a situation like this?

The first to call was the tax office. Why did they think that I had worked in Rotterdam and five years ago at that?

The man at the other end of the line was quick to answer. It was because this workagency had told them. It was located in Rotterdam and was an intermediate between companies looking for short time employees. Their speciality: plumbers.

The next logical step was to call the work agency and hope it had not disappeared in the meantime. I was lucky: it hadn’t.

It took two reconnections to get hold of the man in charge of the financial records. I  explained to the man that I was a student of history and was unlikely to qualify for the work, whatever kind it was. He agreed with me on that one and asked me to wait while he retrieved the relevant documents. After a few minutes of silence, he started to talk again. He said that he was sure it was very unlikely I had done the work, because the work involved required a skilled and experienced plumber.

It was even more interesting when the told me the name on the papers. It was my fathers name. Which would logical as my father was a skilled and experieced plumber. He had died the year before, however. His specter loomed over me. Was I going to need his signature to get this problem fixed?

The financial man asked me how I got confused with my father? Then he answered the question himself. Because of the social number. It was mine, not my fathers. This is how the tax-office linked it to me.

So was it easy to change it afterwards?

Well, said the man, that is no problem. I change the number to your fathers and resubmit it with the tax office.

Like that?

Yeah, won’t be any problem. Then the taxdebt would be reassigned to me dead father.

I was very happy that this guy could do it  that easily.

I asked him if he needed my fathers social number, but he said that he had already found it.

With that I took my leave.

A week later I got another blue letter confirming that I was no longer in arrears.

Question remains.

Did my father fill out this long social number deliberatly to avoid taxes and thus potentialy incriminate me? Or was it just a mistake? Considering it the social number consists of code made up out of twenty numbers and letters I think he did it deliberately, thus dragging me into his tax evasion scemes.

The second thing I found scare was how easily one could changed numbers and reassign debt. Apparently it just takes the right social number and you have just saddled a person with a debt. Of course it the truth would be found out easily, but imagine that the company who had send the information to the tax office had gone bankrupt in the meantime and without my father it would probably require a lot of effort to make the tax office change it mind.

There will never be a clear answers.

Signs of life: legacy

When my father died from a sudden brain bleeding I had my brother sign a paper together with me that rejected his inheritance.My brother was already diagnosed as a schizoid, so I had to tell him what to do. Not that he didn’t understand, but I had to tell him these things regardless for whether  he knew what was going on: he didn’t understand the consequences. .

Rejecting my fathers inheritance was no surprise to me, for I had already seen this one coming. The real surprise would be next year, when the tax office send me a letter telling me that I owed them taxes over sixty thousand. The reason for us to reject my father’s legacy was tied in with taxes however. Let me tell the tale.

“My father told me to get five thousand dollars as he was promised. ”

The young man behind the counter, I think he must be in his thirties, looked down on me. His face was set in a disapproving look. He was sitting next to two other people who sat behind the same grey counter handing out money the same way they were doing to me. The office was a shed that looked like a large sea container that was painted white overall on the inside and the outside, but was accentuated with grey at various points to break the monotony of white. Most of the paint had worn through.

I could have sworn he was about to spit, but he did not do so. Instead his hands disappeared under the counter and when they returned they placed an envelope on the counter. He took out a stack of bills and started to count them slowly. “One, two, three, four, five…”

All the while he did not look at the bills but at me. He ended at twenty-five.

“Twenty-five times hundred. That makes twenty-five hundred dollars. Twenty-five hundred, son. That is what is in this envelope.”

“My father said it was going to be five thousand. He said we need it for the holidays. They said they would pay that, because they owed him much more.”

He looked down on me for a long time. Then started to recount the stack ending at twenty five again. “Twenty-five hundred. That is what is in the envelope. That is all you get for now. He gets more in a few weeks.”

He handed the envelope to me, but just before I could take it, he snatched it away, “Count the amount and then sign here.” He pushed a paper forward. I had to count the money and then sign a paper.

A boy of fourteen.

I walked away, feeling his disdainful eyes following me.

My father was outside in the car. I told him the news. He did not say anything, instead stepped out of the car and walked into th eoffice. There was a lot of shouting as my father yelled at the guy behind the counter.. Eventually he left the office again. They had given him an additional five hundred dollars.

Without much words the incident was pushed aside into oblivion and we went on holiday, with two thousand less than was promised, but somehow it was enough.

“They never paid the full amount.” My mother told me later on.,

“It was all ‘black’ money. Unlisted money. To evade taxes. It was never in the books so there was never any proof what  they owed to anyone. It was how they conduct business. You can’t get any work, unless you do accept to work like that. Then they don’t pay you what they owe you. So they eventually owed my father tens of thousands of dollars, but then never paid the full amount.”  I got it. Like a drug. They gave you just enough to keep going, but never the full amount, because they knew you had no proof whatsoever. Eventually they owed you tens of thousands of money, perhaps hundred thousands as they never paid you the full amount. Always with the promise you get it next time, so you keep on going and the more they owe you the least likely you are going to stop.

“And then the taxmen came. They said: based on what you made previously or on you profile you ought to pay us this kind of money, but you never paid the taxes you owe us. And that times so many years.. It was a considerable amount. A huge amount.”

“Which you didn’t have as you never got it in full in the first place and what was spent was gone.”

“Then they declared you father bankrupt and there was this taxes due punishment for years hanging over his head..”

“Once you start to make money again, you have to pay taxes. And that is why we reject his legacy,” I said, “because any taxes my father has to pay has to be paid by his children after his death. That is how the taxes work. The sins of our fathers…”

And I signed the papers and had my brother sign them too. We both rejected his legacy, because there was nothing he had left us but a huge debt after his sudden death at fifty-three.

A life in addictions : food

You know, overtime I have gained a lot of addictions. In fact, there are a few I might not even be aware of. There are addictions to smoking, to alcohol, to food, to salt, to coffee, to negativism, to: the list can easily be extended indefinitely. I use the term addiction in a loose sense. Meaning anything that you crave on a regular basis or feel the need to partake of regularly. I hesitate using the word addiction though. Perhaps the word urge would better define this need, because hard core addictions are often hard to get rid of and are accompanied with anguish and suffering. In my idea some addictions can also be beneficial, although anything overdone might eventually turn out bad. For example: the need to write(and don’t forget to go to the toilet once in awhile.)

So it is addictions. And after decades of gaining them, I try to get rid of some of them or bring them under control. One of those addictions is the need to eat or actually: to eat too much.

Let me give a short history of where I think this addiction comes from. I don’t mean in a general sense, but in a more personal sense.

My eating habits have been defined by my parents, as their eating habits have been defined by their parents. I have not the ability go as far back as the days of my grand parents, so I will start with my parents.

My parents were born at the start of the Second World War. Their earliest childhood experience was that of the war years and they must have suffered hunger, because towards the end of it, in 1944, food was so scarce that the period is still called the hungerwinter. In addition my grandfather on father’s side was a train conductor and Dutch train personnel had gone on strike at the end of 1944 to support the Allied advance into the Netherlands. It meant he had to go into hiding, thus the family was thrown on the mercy of others.

After the war things changed for the better and as far as prosperity goes, it went from better to even better. It took some time to take off but like almost in every western country the economy blossomed and with it people got more money and access to more and more luxury products. For instance: television was introduced on a large scale, cars became commodity and the washing machine replaced hand washing. One of the effects of this prosperity was the availability of food. Not only in quantities, but also in kind.

However this part truly took off in the seventies.  By that time my parents had met and married. My father was a plumber. He was one of those people who directly benefited from the increased prosperity. In the older days a plumber was little more than a worker working for a boss against a fixed wage that wasn’t spectacular. My father however soon became a self employed plumber with an electronic background.  Due to the way of working (tax evasion was and probably is still rife in the building world and has evil and dire side effects of which I will write another time).

My father like many of his generation started to become middle class. They earned enough to buy houses, cars, electronic and electrical equipment and go on holiday.. We had for instance one of the first CD-players; a massive philips thing that could not even shuffle the song. I think it was probably like a five hundred dollars, compare that  to a DVD-player we bought five years ago: it was around forty dollars.

With this abundance of money people could  buy food that was up till then too expensive. And for my parents and grandparents the prime luxury food was meat. Meat and fish have always been expensive  products that you bought perhaps once a week for a special day. Now they could buy it every day of the week. The food served was arranged around meat. This was especially true for us, because my mother was at best a lackluster cook. Her idea of cooking is to cook until the food is in a state that it can be mashed to a pulp and shoved inside by the spoonful. But that did not matter. Meat was the heart of the dinner. Meat prices must have steadily dropped over those years. With it became the need to add sauces and salt.

This fascination with food, and especially meat, reached their peak in meat fondue which consisted mostly of meats of various kinds and sauces. If possible there would be some frites added(that is french fries for people in the US, in Holland it is called patat and in Belgium friet or fritten). And salt on everything.

This orgy of meat eating is something I still remember of my parents. I never eat with my parents nowadays.. My father has been dead for almost two decades and my mother is still an indifferent cook. She can’t eat much, but she still suffers a lot for her eating habits. My mother is a typical example of someone who continuously combats with food. She is overweight and ought to lose weight. She tries to slim down, which works for a short while, then she gets back into her old habits and she gains weight again. Our family has a history of sugar related diseases. She takes many medicines for various illnesses caused by overeating, overdrinking and no exercising.  She can’t ride the bicycle because she has no sense of balance anymore.

I am ambivalent about food nowadays. Actually I rather eat less and less of it and most of my food problems stem from eating snacks. My problems with food started a few years ago when during a company sponsored routine check my sugar levels were high. Which meant I had to take care with eating. This was a sign that time was catching up with me and it was time to get rid of some addictions.

One of those addictions is food. Food is easy – for me that is – I know many people struggle with it. The thing is to make sure you just don’t eat that much and I don’t like to eat anyway. Most food, especially in restaurants, are heavily salted and too much salt makes everything taste of salt.The problem is with the non-food items. Snacks, drinks and those sweet tasty things that are easy to eat and gone in no time and add calories like no other.

One way to deal with that is of course.. not to eat. You and me know that is not feasible. If it was that easy, everyone would do it. The best we can achieve is gain control. The  way I found to be handy is using a web site that gives an indication of how much you have eaten. There are websites who help with that. I am currently using one that I found by accident that is called my fatsecret, I bet there are others out there.

These website help you to keep a kind of record of what you eat. It’s not always easy to find the proper food, but I usually give it a kind of value, usually taking the worst ingredient and calculate how much it would roughly be and add something to it.

My idea is that if I generally try to stay on or below the line I will probably reach a good equilibrium.

But the most important aspect of this is how to deal with hunger and urges. This is my first priority. Inevitably you will find yourself hungry and wanting to eat. It are those moments that you have to decided what to do and how. It is these moments I am looking for.

When I know how to deal with these it will probably be easier to deal with food altogether.

Henry and Kristl took the Bridge at Remagen

“Once more over the bridge, my dear friends.” Henry waved a stick around and was wearing a bucket for a helmet. Kristl had noted that this bucket was quite versatile as it functioned as helmet from any time period and place and universe, including ancient roman times, fantasy worlds like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Sometimes Henry would add something to make it fit the mood. Like adding a plume to it to signify it being a knights helmet.

However today the bucket was sprayed over for the occasion with army green and was a Second World War helmet. It would function like that for some days to come.

“I thought that it was Shakespeare who had some king say that.” Kristl mused.

“I made it up, although it was inspired by Shakespeare. King Henry the Fifth said something like, once more unto the breach, my dear friends..”

“Shakespeare.. I never took you much for a lover of the arts.”

“I saw the movie.”

“Ah..”

“So over the bridge, my dear friends.” Henry waved his hand.

“Yes?”

“And they took it. Right up the fritzes asses.”

“Uhm..Lucky for them. I think they tried to blow it up. It must have been painful to push a plunger and nothing happens. Or it went boom but not  boom enough. Like in the movie.
Here is an interesting notion. Should a movie about the historical taking of a bridge be historically accurate or not?”

“What do you mean. Was the movie not historically correct?”

“Not everything. I read that the movie actions displayed in the movie were not although the background was: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remagen#The_capture_of_the_bridge

“Wadda you know. The whole fighting was made up.”

“More or less.”

“But it was an exciting movie. A bit cynical.  Very sixties and seventies. It reminded me a bit of Kelly’s Heroes, but more serious.”

“I think Vietnam was already having an effect. Like it shows the enemy, Germans, as normal people. In fact this is something I haven’t seen for a while. I recall the Longest Day and Bridge too Far being the same way. And of course Gettysburg, but that is probably because the opponents were American. So here Germans are not crazy creeps that shave their heads bald and seem to take pleasure from killing other people by stabbing them to death slowly.. These are normal people; just opponents. Of course such movies are very disturbing, for what is a movie without a proper loathsome enemy?”

“Well, it makes it less justified to kill them. It is less troubling to kill someone when he deserves it.”

“There is even this scene where Gazarra kills  that German boy who is shooting at them. When Gazarra finds out it is a boy he killed,  Segal tells him to plunder the corpse another day. assuming Gazarra is again robbing the dead for souvenirs.  Sort of: war is not fun idea.“

“Hmm.. I rather have them as heroes, then as these disgruntled figures.” Henry frowned.

“You know. I always find that typical Hollywood or even American. The idea that the enemy has to be loathsome so we don’t feel bad when we kill them. I realise now that it’s not typical for Hollywood or America to do so. Many nations cast their enemies into the role of despicable repulsive beings. I recall an Indonesian movie where  the Dutch are cast in the roles of  dumb greedy foreign oppressors. An interesting aspect is how these roles change over time.. In the old days for instance Arabians were cast in the role of noble warriors, remember Lawrence of Arabia? The Turks were the enemy, so they were revolting individuals. I think there is even one scene where Turks rape Lawrence.. or at least it is suggested. Now the roles are probably reversed.“

“Well.. in the end it has to be an exciting movie. Where people fight each other and the good side wins.”

“Even if it is all silly and unhistorical.” Kristl said.

“The problem with most people is that they take movies far too serious. They start to think that the nonsense that is seen is the truth.” Henry said, “My rule is simple. Whatever is on a screen, big or small, is entertainment or opinion and therefore not true. Let is just be good at entertaining for it will never be good at  telling the truth.”

“The power of imagery. One false image says more than thousand lines of historically documented, investigated and checked information. Historians must be pulling their hairs when they see nonsense become fact, because history has become democratic. When the majority believes something to be the truth.. it becomes the truth because wikipedia makes it the truth.” Kristl said.

“Whatever.. I like this movie. It had some guys bickering with each other, but finally working together to capture the bridge.”

“Well, I find the matter of fact almost cynical attitude better than the hopelessly over romanticized mood displayed in…..” Kristl mumbled.

Henry put a hand on her mouth thus stopping the last words and  then he put an outstretched finger on his lips, “We will not compare this one to another one.” Henry said. “Kapish?”

Kristl shook her head in acknowledgment

Bridge at Remagen on imdb

More information on my weebly site

Henry and Kristl barely survived Gettysburg

“Oh my god..”  Kristl  was holding her head between her hands.

“Did you know there is an extended version.” Henry gave her a rueful look.. It is only seventeen minutes longer. So well,  if you plan to sit through the whole movie, you might as well add the extra eight percent of the extended version. Just for kicks.

“Oh my god.” Krist repeated as if in trance..

“Must have been really cool to be one of those guys in uniform. One with the guys.  Playing at soldier;the biggest danger being to get a sunburn. That is what it basically is:  a reenactment movie with established actors filling in the important roles. And one has to mention Jeff Daniels; he was great..”

“Oh my god.”

“I can imagine those reenactors sitting together in a shack to display this movie: their movie. Son, that is us marching there and that is Wily Bee. And there is Sam Navarra, you know he runs the grocery store down the road.. And in the background just between the legs of Lee’s horse you see Luke “the Doc” Mcpharil tending the wounded.  And that there is…” Henry smiled, “You see that picture?”

“Oh my…”

“You can stop now.”  Henry grabbed Kristls arm, “You made your point.”

“It is so boring.They should make two movies: one for the civil war buffs and another for the rest of the world. The last one should be the first but cut by half and arranged around Jeff Daniels. And perhaps throw in some maps so we have an idea where he is.”  Kristl said.

“Hmm”

“There is almost no dialogue, mostly speeches. The kind where  they stare into the distance as if it is the future and they say something like: this battle will be remembered by future generations because they will know we stood here with proud hearts… etc.”

“They did it all the time and that is why most battles were such muddled affairs.” Henry said

“Commander.. what are your orders?” Henry mimicked a voice with southern accent..

“Sorry soldier, got to ride to yonder hill to make a speech meant for destiny! And away was Lee, leaving the tactics of the battle in the hands of whomever was willing to supply the asker with orders.” Henry said.

“Oh my…”

“I tell you the most important lesson of this movie though. Which can only truly be evaluated when watching another movie which is called Civil War reenactment documentary. About everyone interviewed must have been about  thirty pounds heavier than their civil war counterparts. Which is probably why you never see them much up close. If they could learn anything of this is that the civil war soldier was more likely to die from a bullet than from obesity, while now it’s probably the other way around. “

Kristl shrugged, “I can not understand why people want to reenact warfare. Especially when it gets pervaded with an air of snobbery like: we are doing something worthwhile here, while you are doing not. If you want delve into history as part your identity crisis there are so many peaceful ways.”

“Ah peaceful. Nobody makes a movie about non-violent stuff, because nobody wants to watch it. This is guys playing with guns and someone once said: never get between a man and his gun..”

“Oh my god. I bet it was John Wayne.”

“You’re a man or you’re are not.” Henry grinned.

“Wait a moment” Kristl grabbed her mobile and started to press the keys.

“What are you doing?”

“I get you a few pizzas. With about thirty pounds extra on that frame of yours, you might blend in with the reenactment community. Then you put on any old rags you can find and pass yourself off as a confederate soldier. You play with guns and act all snobbery because you have something of historical value to pass on, while all the while you are nothing better than other people playing video games, drawing pictures, doing origami, climbing mountains or watching horror movies. Because the only thing a war learns is that it is a horrible affair that should be avoided because it kills people.”

“Uhm. You are quite vehement about that.” Henry was taken aback .

“Yes. And I will tell you why. I happen to have been so stupid to spend most of life on the study of warfare. Now you think 620.000 people is much. Compare that to the Taiping Rebellion at roughly the same time. It killed at least fifty times as many people and might even have killed a hundred times more. And this was no warfare in which women and children were spared. No everyone was killed. Cities destroyed, countries wasted.  It was total war. And I doubt you will find anyone willing to reenact that.  Now if some civil war re-enactor wants  to learn something from his past, he might at least learn to eat less and exercise more, because that war is a horrible thing is apparently lost on him.” And, overcome with emotion Kristl stormed out of the garage.

Henry listened to  the door shutting and thought that letting Kristl cool down was the wisest thing to do.He then went to the kitchen and brewed some home made coffee according to a trusted and tried recipe that his family had handed down the generations and he knew it was something from his American past that Kristl really liked.

Gettysburg on imdb
Taiping Rebellion Wikipedia
Taiping Rebellion on you tube
Civil War Reenactment Documentary 1 on you tube
Civil War Reenactment Documentary 2 on you tube

Silly laws 2: moose

This was a flash version.

 

Unfortunately for the prosecution, Raine Moya got the help of the defense attorney Bulwark Trotski.  Raine Moya had been arrested together with her pilot after the latter had crashed landed their plane at Nowaki Airport. One of the two engines had blown and they had barely managed to reach the airport. They had only achieved this by feeding a captive moose two crates of Triple X beer before it allowed itself to be pushed from the plane.

The pilot got a fine, but Raine was facing an undetermined length of imprisonment due to the fact that she was charged with three offenses: pushing a moose from the plane, feeding it alcohol and watching it drop to the river while dangling from a safety cord attached to that plane.

Bulwark immediately set to work to badger, terrorize and ridicule the prosecution. It took him no time to convince the jury that dangling from a plane and watching a moose, was not the same as watching a moose from inside the plane, hence that charge was dropped.

In addition nobody had actually seen Raine feeding the moose nor seen her pushing the moose from the plane. In fact the pilot, now called up as witness for the prosecution, had to admit that he had not witnessed anything since he was more focused on flying the plane. Since Raine could not incriminate herself, she could be called up as a witness for the prosecution and therefore the pushing charge was dropped..

Finally Bulwark tore to shred the evidence surrounding the beer feeding, since the moose raided a village store and drunk itself into a stupor after it had swam ashore..

After being cleared of all charges, Bulwark even got Raine some compensation for all the trouble the state had given her.

“You have my gratitude” Raine said to Bulwark, “I would not know how to repay you…”

Bulwark looked the young slender hispanic with brown eyes and brown hair up and down and then said, “Maybe not with money, but I can think of other ways to be rewarded.”

And Bulwark Trotski grinned. He had no morals whatsoever.

 

(Alternative ending)

 

Then a perplexed look appeared on his face and he doubled over groaning with pain.

Raine had placed a well aimed kick in his crotch.

‘Women have no sense of gratitude.’ He thought as he saw the fiery hispanic strut out of his office while he was cringing in pain on the floor.