Bastiaan Reinink

Oct 252014
 

When you turn on your television (has to be yours, as I don’t have one) and you zap to the news, you will be treated to three different kinds of doom: Natural disasters are killing thousands (if not millions), humans are killing thousands (if not millions) and the economy.

Run! It's the economy, coming to eat you!

Run! It’s the economy, coming to eat you!

Diseases and war are very concrete but (mostly, hopefully!) far away. The economy however is vague but nearby (or at least, that’s what is implied).

“The economy” is a construct, or perhaps better, emergent behavior. And the reason it spells doom goes something like this:
Companies are not making enough money, so they fire people to safe money (or go bankrupt and the employees are still on the street). Because of this there are less people who have lots of money to spend, so companies sell less and are not making enough money… Rinse, wash, repeat.
It gets a bit more complicated than that, with central banks lowering interest rates so that it becomes cheaper to borrow, with the idea that this cheap money will be used to buy stuff, so as to get out of the vicious cycle described above. Which is not really working,..

“The economy” is a hopelessly complicated way of pumping around something else that we made up: Money; pieces of metal, scraps of paper and bits of bytes that have value as long as we all believe they have value. Once upon a time banks held gold which you could theoretically get when you handed in your bits, but they did away with that as it turned out we were all gullible enough to keep pumping around our scraps without it (and after all, you’d just be exchanging one kind of metal for another).

I think the only way out is to play the game long enough to get a decent amount of “fuck you” money and then to ignore it. It seems however that very few people ever actually get there…
Another once upon a time it took about 90% of humanity to provide basic needs such as food, clothing, etc. That percentage has now dropped to around 10% (remember, 92% of all statistics are made up!). Sure, we get something out of it; iPhones, fashion and management consulting. All of which we could arguably do without.

In the end we suffer for something that can only vaguely be pictured, that produces stuff that we only “need” because everybody else has it (ancient Romans did quite well without the latest Windows update…). The economy isn’t “for” us, it just uses us (be a good wage-slave during week days, be a good consumer the rest of the time). And as it’s “emergent”, we can’t even blame anybody for it!

Can somebody please tell me where the exit is?


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Oct 212014
 

What is more addictive than cocaine? What gives a worse hangover than cheap whiskey? What is the subject of just about every song, book and movie ever sung, written, directed? What costs a fortune yet leaves you empty-handed? What takes more brainpower than putting a man on the moon, but results in no more than scribbled hearts on a napkin?

All is fair in love and war. Which makes no sense at all! Who would use tanks or gunships in their lovemaking?!?

All is fair in love and war. Which makes no sense at all! Who would use tanks or gunships in their lovemaking?!?

Love

It’s nature’s way of making sure that we stick around after procreating, as well as the reason for the most famous war in history (the Trojan one, in case you were wondering).

Why this sudden interest in it, you might ask?

Well, there was this girl… Who seemed just a bit more interesting than the rest of them. And it seems that she felt the same way about me…

This blog however is not a cheap romance novel (it’s free after all), so I won’t bother you with how “his eyes met hers and her heart skipped a beat. She stood as though nailed to the floor, her breath becoming quick and shallow. Just a a few paces away, but he might have well have been on the other side of the world…” I’ll just skip to the end of it: They (we!) got together. Which is where in general the book (or movie) stops. And where real life begins.

Though very much enjoyable, being in love makes it so much harder to keep up a reasonable writing schedule. Sorry for not posting for a while!
And really, this isn’t a story for a book (let alone a movie). There was no seemingly insurmountable difference in background that did get surmounted, no being-forced-to-spend-time-together-even-though-we-seem-to-hate-each-other’s-guts that turned into true love.

There was attraction, plain and simple. There was shared laughter (and Prosecco). Backgrounds were different, but outlook in life very similar. There was little to be surmounted, perhaps only the tiniest bit of shyness and some logistical problems (date two was a two-hour train-ride away).

Life isn’t a movie. Love doesn’t work like in a love song. It is something far more real!

So if you need me, I’ll be enjoying reality.


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Oct 112014
 

Last summer I went on vacation with a group of friends. We took a plane to Dublin, got ourselves transported a hundred-something kilometers south and then over the span of a few days we walked back.

200.000 paces, that way. Enjoy!

200.000 paces, that way. Enjoy!

At the end of each day everybody was very glad to be off of their feet. Gently rolling hills can be quite unforgiving if you have to traverse them by foot. And every evening we were very glad to be there. To have reached the goal!

But, then what?

Sure, there is the sense of victory (and the enjoyment of putting your feet up), but trust me, the moment is fleeting. So you go for the next goal? The next hostel the following day – the next vacation next year?

Yes of course that is what you do. A new dot on the horizon, preferably slightly more difficult and challenging than the previous one; slightly less rolling hills, maybe add another day of hiking. The next (big) thing! To reach another goal!

For a vacation it should be clear that this is not what it’s about. Taking one step at a time, taking in the surroundings, the conversation or the solitude. Being there, seeing, feeling, enjoying.

It’s not about the goal. It’s about the path.

I write because I enjoy writing. I play saxophone because I enjoy playing saxophone. The fact that at some point I might have a blog post (or a book?!), or that I will have become a “good” saxophone player are nice and perhaps even important. But in the end they are secondary.

As far as I know nobody ever found the goal of life (if someone did, please let me know!) So here there really is nothing better to do than to enjoy the ride!
Don’t get me wrong, a goal can be extremely helpful. It’s good to have something to aim for so that you can break up the task in its smaller components; to get to Dublin, you have to put one foot in front of the other and you have to do that give-or-take 200,000 times. But if you don’t like putting one foot in front of the other, don’t make it your goal to walk to Dublin!

Goals are endless. You can always have bigger or better or faster. There is always something else (more!) to do.

But remember: 99(.9999)% of the time you’re working on getting there and not on being there. Make sure you enjoy the trip!


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Oct 062014
 

A few years back I was a bit tired of my first job. And like anybody else in that situation, I was applying for a new one.

You want make remark about tie?!?

You want make remark about tie?!?

Now, this was my second round of interviews I had done in my life (the first was for my first job of course) and as such I was a bit more confident about my abilities, but I was still quite nervous.

At one point I had an interview a bit further away from home. Was pre-occupied, rushing to make my train, thinking about the answers to the standard questions (“Well ma’am, one of my weaknesses is that I tend to bite the head off of anybody asking me un-original questions…”) and about the really smart questions I would ask in turn (“So, uh, you’re like, the boss around here?”). In my commotion it took me until the moment I stepped off of the train to realize that my pants and my jacket didn’t match!

I stood nailed to the ground (not very smart if you’re getting out of a train). My blood was pumping, heart was racing, sweat was pouring out of every pore. I felt I’d rather die than go on with the interview…

That was a few years back. In that time I feel I’ve gotten to be just a tad more confident. Yet still I care a lot about what they might think (for a certain value of they of course).

In those years I also did a tad of reading and one of the things that stayed with me was some research in how self-absorbed people tend to be, focusing only on what is important to them and basically ignoring everything else.

I’m considering a follow-up experiment: Wearing the exact same suit for another month-and-a-half. I’m just afraid that I would start reprimanding myself for being a filthy pig…
Combining my new-found confidence and my bookish wisdom I decided upon an experiment. After carefully selecteing the test population (the people at my office) I formed my hypothesis: “People really don’t notice they way you look”. And to test this I did the following ingenious (if I may say so myself) experiment: I wore the same tie to work every day, for 45 days straight.

The outcomes were quite a surprise:

  • Number of reprimands by the boss for being a filthy pig because of wearing the same item of clothing every day: 0
  • Number of remarks on the consistency of my wardrobe: 0
  • Number of careful and well-hidden questions to casually find out whether I indeed wore the same tie as yesterday: 0
  • Number of moments where there might have been the hint of someone having an inkling of an idea that what I was wearing was in fact the same piece of clothing as I had worn for the past month-and-a-half: 0

My conclusions are fully in line with previous research: People pay way more attention to themselves and what is important to them right here and right now than to anything that you might worry about!

Oh and in case you wondered, the interview I started off with went very well indeed and I worked for four years there.


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Oct 042014
 

I’m going to be donating some money (see the story here).

One of the more promising ideas for space colonization: A city floating in the clouds of Venus

One of the more promising ideas for space colonization: A city floating in the clouds of Venus

There are hundreds, thousands, millions of worthy causes in this world, all most likely very happy to receive my little bit. Meaning that I have a choice to make. How to allocate? Which in the end comes down to: “What do I find important?”

Thinking about it for a bit I came to the conclusion that there are three major categories in which “good” is done:

  • Keeping the (worthwhile) status-quo: Saving endangered species from extinction, keeping Wikipedia up and running
  • Making a bad situation better: Disaster relief, research into Alzheimer
  • Creating something new: Building a school, nano-tech research

Of course there will be large overlaps: A school is built to make a bad situation (lacking education) better. And after it’s set up it’s the status-quo, which needs money to be preserved…

Mars One is proposing to send people on a (one way!) trip to Mars. I very seriously considered applying. In the end it wasn’t the no-return that stopped me, but the fact that they will be sending too few people; four at first, then two more every year. I like my social interactions too much to deal with that…
Still, what I feel myself drawn to most is the last category, doing (trying) something new. I’m an adventurer at heart, I like change, maybe the answer is just around the next corner… Of course I’m well aware that “new” stuff in general creates as many problems as it solves, but call me a hopeless optimist, I do believe in “progress”.

So, some kind of research, preferably blue-sky. But into what exactly?

One thing I believe would benefit the world would be space exploration. Energy, resources and just straight space are incredibly plentiful out there. Maybe ESA will take my money? Or I could donate to Mars One or SpaceX?

This of course ties in very well with my adventurer spirit; we ran out of (physical) frontiers on this tiny speck of sand. And even from a more work-related perspective this makes sense: Putting all your eggs in one basket (all your humans on one planet) just isn’t very good risk management…

If anybody else knows anything related that might be worthwhile, do let me know!


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!