Vending machines

The employees trickled into the room by the twos and threes depending on who shared an office with whom. A few went out again to form a short line in front of the vending machine in the hallway. But eventually they all gathered into the windows less meeting room with it’s yellowish walls at the appointed time. There were only two noticeable pieces of furniture in the room. A large table surrounded by chairs in the middle of the room and a whiteboard against one of the wall full of intelligible scribbles .

There they were joined by two managers. These were so called mid-level managers: men already too high up the ladder from them to speak to on a daily basis, but still low enough to be encountered in the corridors. Sometimes even greetings were exchanged during those awkward moments in the morning when an employee had a run in with one of those managers at one of the three vending machines in the building. Mid-level managers also used vending machines.

The men -there were only men-  had been informed by mail to attend the meeting on a short notice, the trigger being the removal of their direct superior, the news of which had arrived earlier on the day.   The highest manager took a seat at the table. Then the employees choose theirs.  Finally the other manager sat down at one end of the table and although he did not sit exactly opposite the other manager, he also did not sit next to him. There was a certain reserved distance between the two. The highest manager, a small man with hair as grey as his suit, was going to break the news, the other manager, a man with glasses and a pensive expression dressed in a buttoned shirt like the employees, was there because he was expected to attend, The hierarchy of the company positioned him in between the higher manager and the one that was leaving.

“Your manager will join us in a moment,” the highest one remarked, “In the mean time I bring you the news that he will step down from his current position.”

None of the men said a thing..

“At the moment we will have no replacement for his position. Instead we expect the foremen to take care of business. We will have individual talks during the week with some of your key people about the future of this department and its reorganization.”

The men accepted these words in silence as well, but they did look at each other, not entirely sure who of them were considered to be the mentioned key people, but also uneasy about their prospects if they were not  considered to be part of the group of key persons.

The highest manager, triggered by the uneasy stares,  tried to get a feel of the mood, but also avoided to look the men straight in the eye.   “Men, the company needs you all and we need you in the future as well. Some important projects are coming our way. Especially we will be needing you to work on the desktop replacement project. That will be some ten thousand desktops that need replacing, urgently. An important job which has been delayed far too often.”

At that moment there was a short interruption when the leaving manager arrived. He nodded to the men and sat down at the other end of the table. He didn’t say a thing, but folded his arms across his chest. It was a posture that was familiar to them all. employees and managers alike. It meant defiance, the kind that he had showed towards the other managers when it had been announced, earlier in the year, that the department was being considered for outsourcing to external interested parties.

One of the men asked the question that was foremost on their minds: “Does this have anything to do with the outsourcing project?”

There was another moment of silence before the highest manager braved himself to look the questioner straight in the eyes and deliver his answer, “No, this has nothing to do with it.”

“Then why does he leave? He has been our manager for twelve years!”

The manager looked away while he reacted with a lot of words. But those were simply meant to obscure the lack of a proper straightforward answer to the first question, which would have been very short and it would have sounded like: yes.  After the flood of words he stressed again the importance that the men would continue working as they had done before and mentioned their importance for the future of the company.

“Remember.. we need you.. for we got some important projects ahead of us.”

But who would believe a man that could not give a straight answer to a simple question everyone knew the answer to already?

A life in addictions: alcohol

Initially it was my intention to start my series of articles about addictions with the addiction to alcohol because it is such important one in my family and such a persistent and insidious habit overall.

Unlike smoking, the consumption of alcohol is still widely accepted and even seen as a welcome act. There are many advertisements that show a happy person, a joyous couple or a merry group of friends drinking or about to drink. Or not even drinking, but being associated with a drink. I recall an advertisement of whiskey that shows an attractive couple in a woolen shirts, all done in a warm brownish color scheme,  laughing.  Then a brand of whiskey is shown whose colors scheme matches that of the clothing and surroundings of the couple.Drinking beer is associated with friends and couples(lovers) having fun in pubs, bar or at concerts and the like. Fun is no fun unless you drink alcohol. That is the message.

Why do people actually drink alcohol?

The simple explanation is: because everyone else does and because alcohol is a relaxant. It helps in socializing. Like many addictions alcohol is one that you pick up from your friends and family.  You drink, because they drink. And if you refuse to drink you are frowned upon or even made fun off. Alcohol is almost an unique addiction because other people, not companies, actively promote the use of alcohol.

“A round of beer for all!”

“Yeah!” the group of friends roar.

“Not me.. I want a spa.” A lone figure raises a finger..

Ho-hum. Everyone thinks.

Eventually you don’t need your friends to drink : you learn to drink alone. I got a friend like that. He is also an alcohol addict. He has been off the bottle for years now, but it never let’s you go I understand. He has been off the bottle several times.  I asked him why he drank and he said that he gets lonely and then drinking makes you forget that. At least for a short while. Then you drink some more and eventually you try to be continuously intoxicated: just to forget your misery. It mirrors his inability to properly connect to people. That is because people suck. Most people have such high demands of others or better: the perceived demands of others, that you can never live up to.

My father was also an alcoholicus. Even more than I thought he was. He would start drinking in the afternoon and by seven in the evening he was so drunk he fell asleep on the couch. I think he would have had something like two or three liters beer. Perhaps even more.Years later I heard from my mother that he would rise late in the evening and then go to the local dinner and buy himself some more beer. This whole procedure would then be repeated the next day. And the next. And the next. On and on.

My mother drank wine. She didn’t drink like my father did and certainly not every day. She somehow never got into the habit or if she did I didn’t notice it. My brother never drank.

A few years ago I started to become annoyed with drinking. It is fun to drink at times, but I was starting to make a habit of it. I would drink a set amount at a set day. Mostly to keep it in check, but even then I noticed I needed more to get the sense of ‘happiness’.  So overtime I started to drink more and more.  I started to busy myself with combinations of beer. Like drinking beer in order of alcohol percentage. I also started to experiment with more stronger beverages, like vodka. Vodka can be mixed with something else to make it more interesting. Coca-cola for instance.

A year ago I decided to stop drinking unless there was something special like a party or a dinner. The reason was that it got in the way of my art and writing aspirations. I would drink and feel drowsy unable to do much more than play games.  The next day I would feel groggy. It prevented me from doing what I wanted to do.

So I stopped basically because I wanted to write about it. Seems this is good from something. At least for me.

I still do not like the way people consistently downplay the use of alcohol. Especially their own. I have worked for companies that arranged parties near highways because that made it easier for the employees to come. Many would drink one beer or one glass of wine, because they knew what they were doing, according to themselves. Over time one becomes two or three.

“But I know when to stop.” they will say, “I am in control.”

Thing is.. if you are really in control you would not need to stop: you would not have started at all.

And stating that you are in control when drinking while you know you are going to drive home later in the evening is an statement of the reverse. You are not in control: the alcohol is.

As I said before: it is an insidious habit helped along by people telling you it is cool, while they are making excuses and glossing over that they are consistently and persistently drinking, even at times that they don’t need to.

What is more is that alcohol is also almost unique as an addiction as  it can kill other people. It probably causes more deaths than any other addiction. Deaths of others I mean.

You might wonder yourself how addicted you actually are. Try and stop for a while or try and refuse a drink offered by another or try and have a dinner with someone else and not drink(or smoke). You might be surprised how often you drink and how it is slowly taking over your life.

Bottoms up!

A life in addictions: conformity

Perhaps no addiction is as disastrous  to the world as the addiction to conformity. Or rather: the desire to force others  to conform. Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norm(says the wikipedia). It might sound strange that in a society that seems to underscore the drive to be unique and to stand out, a desire exists to have others behave the way we want them to behave. But is it so strange?

An example can be found here:

Actually it isn’t at all strange if you come to think of it. In fact: standing out or excelling can only be done in a society where everyone conforms to the same rules; the rules that define who stands out or not. You need something to contrast with: the grey masses.

If nobody cares that you have a lot of money and don’t see this a as sign of quality, then money becomes irrelevant as a means to acquire status and stand above others who lack wealth. For a lot of westerners the idea that there are other means to acquire status besides riches is a strange idea. Yet it isn’t. There used to be and are other means to feel superior to others, means that are closed to those others. Just to give two examples: birthright and the caste system.

In the west the idea has developed that the best should lead and preferably lead without restraint. This is the essence of Objectivism, a philosophy that has been developed by a person called Ayn Rand and has found favoritism by a sizeable portion of (American) society, especially by those who belong to the higher echelons and see it as a vindication of their position.

Objectivism was an answer to the collectivism of  Socialism, Marxism and other ‘left wing’ political constructs.  Objectivism says that progress or the advancement of humanity as a whole is furthered by key individuals.  In this mythology examples of these leading people abound: Edison, Franklin, Einstein, Ford and so on.  The idea of the lone scientist who in his laboratorium discovers new theories and invents better things is so strong that is has become the leading staple idea of modern western society and is used over and over again in movies and books.(Ayn Rand will use this for her books as well.)

But one should take not that Objectivism is not to blame for this development. One should not think this philosophy was the cause or even the consequence of this idea of the unique individual who excels and should therefore lead. Objectivism is but a philosophy that fits the dominant culture of self centered individualism and finds favoritism with people who feel uncomfortable with their wealth and yearn for a reasoning that says: it is good to be wealthy. It is good to be rich.  It is good to strive for more even though you have more than enough.

Why do people feel uncomfortable with wealth?

This is because putting wealth before anything else doesn’t fit well with Christianity and the liberal democratic ideas that gave birth to the French revolution and the independence of  the United States. The French still have the essential ideas of their revolution on their official buildings: liberty, equality and brotherhood and Christianity still has it that everyone is equal before God and even, most shocking of all, that the meek shall inherit the earth.

This does not fit in well with Objectivism. But the power of humanity is such that it can combine diametrically opposed ideas into one culture: even in one person.  One can be a devout christian supporting the basic tenets of the Christian faith while at the same time be a devout follower of Ayn Rand supporting the basic tenets of Objectivism and denouncing those of the christian faith.  Ironically something Ayn Rand does and gets away with it.

Objectivism strongest asset is that it tells us that it is okay to be rich and we are not required to share our wealth with others because they should get their own.

But what has this to do with conformity?

The whole point of Objectivism is not what it says, but what it does not say. Few individuals are as brilliant and developed as the main characters of Ayn Rand book Atlas Shrugged. It is probably that you would not be able to find anyone in this world who is like them. They are makebelieve persons born from the fantasy of Ayn Rand, just like Superman is dreamed up by Jerry Siegel and given shape by joe Shuster. And yes.. Superman does not exist. Well at least not yet.

In fact the millions of people who might adhere to Objectivism might not find anything in that philosophy that describes their sorry plight and they will actually have to face the truth  that they themselves are not like Dagny Taggert, but just like everyone else: losers.

Thing is that a highly fabricated construct of Objectivism can only work if everyone else besides the Taggerts shuts up and does what they are told. For without the guys and gals cleaning the toilets, fixing the roofs, driving the cars and pushing the buttons that make the trains of Taggert go, the brilliant leaders of society would not see their plans bear fruit.

In a very ironical way Objectivism is not so much opposed to collectivism but a philosophy that develops it further. In collectivism everyone is equal, in Objectivism some are more equal than others.

Conformity is therefore essential to Objectivism and western society. You shall not stand out unless you do. And as long as you don’t you will be part of the grey masses whose sole purpose is to support those who do excel. In the meanwhile we entice you with the idea that you can stand out, but in fact few ever will. In fact you never will.

Objectivism is not so much a philosophy that explains, but a band aid for those who feel uncomfortable with their wealth and their positions. And when they appear before Jesus or God after they died, they can explain to Him(or Her) that they did it all to further the progress of Humanity just like Ayn told tells in her writing.

And Jesus will probably forgive them regardless, because the bible tells you so.

But I am sure that Ayn Rand will not forgive those who do not excel and in her heaven there is only room for those who are more equal than others.

And for all others there is just oblivion.

A life in addictions: madness

The pictures are Merit.. Merit is an avatar I made in Second Life. I made Merit represent me everywhere on the internet.  You can say Merit outgrew Second Life and lives in cyberspace. Merit is a figment of my mind that is something more than a fantasy. It is a desire. Not that I want to be like Merit, but Merit gives me a way to be something I can’t be in real life.  And that is madness for you.

merit-profile merit-fashion-jumpsuis copy 48f

Madness represents the psychological component that every addiction has. Addictions are often described solely for their physical components, but there is also a strong psychological component as well. In fact madness alone is a very important addiction, probably even stronger than any other because most people deny its existence. And things that are denied have the strongest effect.  But it’s greatest strenght it ties in with all the other addictions.

Addictions develop not out of the blue. Instead we are ushered into them. And that ushering is mostly done by ourselves.  When people start smoking it is not because tobacco they like it’s taste. Most smokers will tell you that the first time they smoked they did not enjoy it at all. When people start drinking it is not because they liked it. Alcohol is actually not very tasty and when taken in excessive quantities causes hangovers. Many addictions are not nice or enjoyable. That is because they are not about nice and enjoyable, they are about surpressing stress.

Addictions develop because we want something and it persists because we need to lessen our stress and this stress is mostly brought about by ourselves. We want to belong, we want to be part, we want to excel, we want to be better, we want to be richer, we want to be popular and we want to stand out while remaining part of a whole.. This creates stress. Stress is the gap between what we want and what we can achieve.

The dominant western culture learns us what we need to be. We need to be smart, pretty, sexy, fun to be with, a good mother, a good father, a successful worker, a caring community member, the best of our sports club. Feel free to extend the list. We should be the best and only want the best. From ourselves and others.

Like a friend of mine. Who is very popular with women. It is a kind of magic he has, which I can’t define. Women like him and you would expect him to be able to pick the best of all the women that like him. It doesn’t work that way.

You see the only woman he wanted did not want him. She was a lot younger and felt she needed to learn a little bit more of life before settling. So she said no. And he had a hard time getting over her. Unfortunately the consequence of her rejection was that she became the imaginary touchstone of all other women he met.

Imagine that you painted a picture or a statue that is your ideal partner. You ascribe all the best of qualities to it and then you compare all the other people to it? They will fail to match her or him. Nobody can beat an idealized fantasy

There is a short story about that, written by Clark Ashton Smith called ‘the last incantation that describes this idea.

Our dominant western culture is one where success by any means has become the norm. It doesn’t matter anymore how it is achieved, as long as it is achieved. Success has become the only means to value people and unfortunately: few people will be successful.

This means stress and this stress is lessened by having addictions. Addictions are basically repetitive predictable patterns of behavior that lessen our stress. The whole procedure involving addictions is predictable. And so is the empty attempt to get rid of an addiction. The drama involved, the pointless attempts and the failure to kick the habit in the end,  is done to avoid the ultimate truth: that you are a failure. And double edge as everything is: to beat an addiction becomes a token of success. Choose your addictions wisely because you can be a success by beating your failures.

Don’t you think that it is amazing that in such a culture the rate of suicides does not grow to huge proportions or addictions abound?  It is actually not amazing at all if you take into account that a lot of people simple turn crazy.  Like me.

The culture of success grinds people to dust and madness is a way to deal with it. Psychological stress leads to derangements ranging from depressions to hyperactivity. The cause of this problem is never really addressed because that would require a major cultural change,  it is the consequence that is fixed. Depressions and burn outs are mostly caused by the constant pressure to achieve success, but instead of stopping the machine that creates these illnesses, we  patch up the victims and send them back into the ratrace. There is a movie about that: it is made by Charlie Chaplin and called Modern Times.
Do you recall that Charlie gets crazy in the movie? Perhaps he was on to something. Crazy is what one becomes.

It is clear that I am mad. Of course people will deny that. Say: you are not mad at all. What they fail to see is that I can fake sanity very well and I fake it by inventing make belief people like Merit. Or the dozens of characters that now inhabit my writings. I slowly publish them to the internet. Not that I think it helps. But it does give me a lot of things to write about though.. Maybe I reach success that way!

Who am I kidding?

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.


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.


Men in fast cars..
..get girls like this. At least for a brief moment.





Also here:



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.