Aug 162014
 

For the last few weeks I’ve been taking sword-fighting classes. You take a plastic sword, a plastic buckler (small shield) and you cut, stab, parry, riposte and other things I know the name of but have clue how to actually execute.

One more skill on my list for becoming a real pirate!

One more skill on my list for becoming a real pirate!

Last class was dedicated to sparring. 1-on-1, trying to score a hit, whilst not getting hit yourself. A score on the limbs is 1 point (or 1 life off of the other person) and a score on the torso or head (fencing mask!) is 2 points / lives (it feels a bit like a real-life Super Mario game…).

Being the least-experienced I wasn’t getting my hopes up of actually scoring any hits, resigning myself to being out before I could really get my sword up.

I could’ve played in two ways. The first was to keep on defending, biding my time for that perfect opening. The second was to go all out, try to stab them before they stabbed me.

As I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and I wouldn’t see an opening if it bit me in the ass, the defensive way would’ve just meant that I was defeated slowly. Going on the offense however gave me at least a fighting chance (so to speak).

The motto for the sword-fighting club I practice at: “…because one day the bullets will run out!” I feel more prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse already!
I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t actually that hard to score a hit. Many a brave knight fell before my sword! The thing that was very difficult however was not to get hit back at the same time! I fell before many a brave knight’s sword while they were falling for mine…

Still, I managed to get in a few hits in without getting decapitated (figuratively) myself. Woohoo!

Life, as any game, can be played in two ways. You can play not to lose. Or you can play to win.

Personally I’m happy to always play to win. In life that means taking your chance, even if it means you leave yourself open to the sword of misfortune.

Trying means you can fail. Not trying means you won’t ever succeed. Which is worse?


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog 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!

Aug 102014
 

I remember the very first time I got money in my bank account from my real and full-time job! I can’t really remember exactly how much it was, but it was loads! In my memory…

Gold isn't strong enough to hold someone. The problem is, you don't want to escape...

Gold isn’t strong enough to hold someone. The problem is, you don’t want to escape…

Probably if I got that amount now I’d still be very happy. If however I would have to live on that amount for a month, it would be very tough!

That money became “normal” very quickly. And where as a student I was perfectly happy to live on a fraction of it, it wasn’t until long when I couldn’t do without it. I had a real job so I could get a real apartment instead of a student’s room. I could afford to shop at a “real” supermarket instead of the discounters I’d been going to. If I wanted something new, hell, I’d just buy it!

A year later and I got my first pay raise! Which I got used to as well. Quickly too, I might add.

So it went through the years. Every bit of additional monthly income very quickly became normal. And while it’s very easy to get used to having more it’s definitely not easy to get used to having less.

Did all of this bring me more happiness? Sure, I enjoy going out for dinner or getting fresh strawberries even in the dead of winter. But is that happiness? Is ever more consumption the thing to go for?

The one “raise” I got that really made me happy was when I moved from one company to the other. At the first I had a 40 hour workweek, at the second it was 36. Half a day off every week, which in practice became a day off every other week. A mini-vacation every other week: Pure bliss!

I just saw that it’s been more than a week since I posted anything. It’s quite uncommon for me to go this long without having something on my mind that desperately needs sharing. Having just spent a weekend doing absolutely nothing, I’m starting to realize maybe I have been trying to do too many things in too little time…
“Buying time” however isn’t that easy either. Not as a freelancer anyway: I’m expected to spend a full week at the job, else they’ll just get someone else.

Or… That’s my assumption. You see, I never tried. Never tried asking whether I could work for 4 days. Or even less? I assume that I won’t get the job if I don’t put in the hours. And I’m sure there will be some gigs where I really would have to put in my 40+ hours. And then the question becomes, am I willing to say “no” then, to let something interesting pass me by, hoping for something that better suits what I would like?

It’s scary. Luckily I’ll be “stuck” in my current assignment for a bit longer. I’ll give it some more thought…


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog 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!

Jul 162014
 

Today I did algebra. And calculus. And a bit of stochastics.

Yeah baby, you wiggle that differential equation real good!

Yeah baby, you wiggle that differential equation real good!

For most people this would be a description of a horrible day. For me it’s a good one!

I studied mathematics for 6 years (ok, I was a student at the faculty of mathematics for 6 years. Let’s not get into how much time I actually spent studying…). And then I spent another 8 using it in one way or another for my work.

It still stumps me, horribly so at times. But I also have the confidence that I’m able to get it. If I just keep hacking away at a problem (or even just a bit of theory), my mind will (eventually) wrap itself around it and I’ll come to some new insight.

Even though I know I will eventually get it, I need to work hard at it. It’s right there at the edge of using everything I have to get to the end point. It’s what gets me in a state of flow. Give me a good problem, some time to work on it and an internet to look up papers and definitions (yay for Wikipedia) and I’m happy!

I studied mathematics for 6 years, worked with it for 8 more. And I only just now realized this!

Funny thing, life!

Two functions are walking in the forest. “Look out, a differential operator!”, shouts the first. “Pah, he can’t hurt me, I’m Exp(x)!”, says the second. The first function ran and lived. The second perished. The differential operator was d/dy.

If you didn’t get that: Congratulations, you are not a math nerd!

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone”. Or in my case: “You don’t know what you missed ‘till it’s back“. My previous two assignments (spanning a year in total) were interesting, but not mathematically challenging. And as such I didn’t always enjoy them to the hilt.

The question is, what to do with this information? Only look for mathematically challenging assignments? I like mathematics. But I also know that no matter how hard the problem is, I will eventually solve it. Each individual problem is a challenge, but on a more meta-level there isn’t really that much of a challenge anymore.

In some sense mathematics is easy. Numbers don’t change their mind, don’t get angry, are always there. People throw fits, are gone when you need them, or in your face when you can’t use them. People are much more interesting.

Something with both people and mathematics (no, I do not want to be a teacher!). I’ll keep my eyes out for something like that coming on my path…


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog 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!

Jul 112014
 

I consider myself to be open-minded, non-discriminating. Which makes it all the more worrying when you catch yourself at being a horrible bigot…

The world would be even cooler if we had green and blue people (and I'm not just talking about a jealous or cold white person)

The world would be even cooler if we had green and blue people (and I’m not just talking about a jealous or cold white person)

My current job is in Canary Wharf, the (new) financial district of London. Glass-and-steel highrises, a huge underground mall, lots of eateries and pubs, all interspersed with bits of water from the old docks. And people. Lots of people. In suits (mostly).

It was during my afternoon walk-for-a-bit-of-lunch. As I mentioned, lots of eateries, so good to try things out (“pulled pork” is quickly becoming a favorite). I had gotten my lunch (a sandwich, if I recall correctly) and was strolling through one of the parks. I saw a guy with dark skin in a suit. And the thought popped into my head: “They should wear that more often.”

Now, as far as discriminatory ideas go, this wasn’t by far the worst of what the world has brought us. But it was a shock, as it was my thought!

I grew up in a smallish town in the North of the Netherlands. There was a hand full of Asian people around, but that was about it. When I studied just about everybody was as pale as a ghost as well. I’ve lived in Haarlem and Utrecht, also not known for their populations of dark-skinned people. I’d see someone of a different color than myself once and awhile, but this was definitely the exception rather than the rule.

I’ve tried being as politically correct as I could, so I very much hope I didn’t offend anybody. Not a simple subject to write about, but perhaps because of that all the more worthwhile.
Here in London however the people are an incredibly mixed bunch, with high percentages of people ethnically from Asia, Africa, South America, with a rainbow of skin colors to match. And it’s something I (seemingly) am not used to.

Two things:

  • I’m happy that I caught myself thinking something I’m not happy to be thinking. This way at least I can actively do something about it.
  • I’m hoping that living in such a highly multi-cultural society will make it more common (and thus more “normal”) to be around people different from myself (in whichever way).

Unknown makes unloved (in The Netherlands the highest number of voters for our right-wing anti-foreigner populist party are from regions where the number of foreigners is actually lowest). Which is a shame. Because I do love the new and the exotic!


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog 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!

Jul 062014
 

The house I grew up in was practically opposite a primary school called “Panta Rhei” (I didn’t go to that school, even though it was really close. It’s funny how you just accept things as a kid, my parents had decided that I would go to a different school so that was that…). Panta Rhei means “everything flows”. In my youth I was obviously not aware of any deeper meaning (things had names. This was the name of the school opposite us. You know, the one I didn’t go to).

Heraclites, the ancient Greek godfather of flow.

Heraclites, the ancient Greek godfather of flow.

Everything flows.

Hollywood (and especially Disney) have one-and-a-half to three hours to introduce their characters, get them in trouble and then get them out of it again. After which they live happily ever after.

Real life isn’t like that. Our adventures hardly ever are cinema-screen-worthy (though sometimes they are!), but more importantly, there is no happily ever after.

Everything flows. Everything changes. We have our times of happiness and our times of sadness. There isn’t a moment in life after which everything is fine, after which we can sit down and simply enjoy. The world will take it upon itself to bestow novelty upon us. And if the world is a bit too slow, we inevitably do it to ourselves. For better or worse…

The opposite of flow is stagnancy. A lack of movement, of growth.

Having been in London for a week now this is something I’m feeling deeply. Yes, it’s definitely not as easy here as back home: A hundred things that I need to arrange, not a lot of friends around, trying to figure out how this (huge, wonderful, amazing, weird) city works.

Another way of looking at it: “This too will pass”. Letting go can however be very difficult…
It’s not easy. But it’s good!

I’m learning, changing, growing, moving. I’m falling, failing, making a fool out of myself.

Everything flows. It’s good to be in that flow!


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog 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!