I’m sorry I neglected you. My life has been tumultuous of late and yet the vile and spittle I normally reserve for venting my spleen to you has been both contained and yet vented elsewhere. Many things have happened since the Olympics that fueled my inner angst with the need to shout at you with fists clenched and blood pressure raised. Much has passed and life has moved on.
To reflect on our last chat it seems NBC have decided to repent by showing all the footie next year and with Gary Lineker and other learned people of the sport. This is a good thing – anyone having ever having to endure watching on Fox will understand the abhorrent style of commentating. Yes I get it that American audiences to NFL, NBA, Baseball, Ice Hockey etc have a certain style that works but applying the terminology from Tennis to ‘Soccer’ *cough* does not appear attractive. Using obsolete or seldom referenced team nicknames repeatedly does not make you an expert on the game. And shouting out Cliff Dempsey’s name mid-sentence just because he is an American is neither funny or endearing. It fact it makes you look like and sound like a demented pillock. So goodbye Fox soccer – you will not be missed.
In other news I became single (awwww…) then met someone else (Woo!) who is so amazing (Yay!) that I seem to spend my entire life smiling (Houpla!). Then I got allergic to beer. Fucking seriously – of all the things in the world to get diagnosed with – forget leprosy, AIDS, Ebola – no I get allergic to beer. And pies. And Cake. However I have found since gluten free beer, cake and so on and some of it is rather good (Estrella Daura is amazing). I will survive dear Blog – but we have to change to do so.
..which segues me nicely into my apparent fitness regime and diet – well the diet had to change but also I have a bike and have even started to run again – albeit unsuccessfully as it seems every time I try I pull another muscle. I’m trying to do this couch potato to 5K thing in about 2 months but the first week in has been painful – I’ll keep trying but although I do pull up I am noticing slight improvements. Also my doctor assures me that I am very healthy for my age all things considered – even the supposed emphysema I thought I had wasn’t actually there in the first place – greatest misunderstanding ever.
So Blog that’s me in a nutshell. I’m surviving through it all – getting better every day in every way I can. I’ve missed you and know I should write to you more often and yes we’ll keep in touch – lets try not to leave it so long next time eh?
Being a father is absolutely life changing in so many ways – I’ve had to become incredibly responsible very quickly and this is something that I must remain for as long as I live (quite an undertaking as many who know me will vouch). I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching not just about how I should bring him up but also about myself and how I must appear to him – after all I am responsible for moulding this little chap into what I hope will be a respected and respectful human being. There are traits of myself I want him to have and others I do not – we after all are not perfect yet we strive to make our children as perfect as they can be.
I realize that as he grows he will have a plethora of questions and I imagine one day he will ask me about ‘god’ – I will of course be ensuring he gets a completely secular education but no doubt he will hear it from others – perhaps his mother who retains a sense of spirituality – but I will not as an atheist be inflicting any dogma on him of course and will fight to protect him from religious influence. As a child it would be callous to shield him from Christmas and Easter and the consumerist delights they bring (I’m already formulating these as celebrations for family, perhaps the coming of spring and so on) – but also simply as I do not want him ostracized from his peers in the playground – I’m fairly sure some atheists still do presents for each other at this time of year, especially for their kids for this very reason.
But there will come a time when I hope he comes to me and asks me about God, Allah, Yahweh or whoever and I have to treat this subject rather delicately – for one thing I will not do is deny him religion should he chose to find that, but at the same time I want him to be the most reasonable human I can make him. This throws up so many difficulties, especially when they are at a young age as you do your best to protect them. Take the example of death – heaven in this context is a nice comforter (without the religious malarkey) yet I do not want him to get his hopes up that there is an afterlife of any sort – I want him to live the life he has now and do something positive with it and not rely on a happier place afterwards. Yet at the same time we are brought up to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny which for a child of a young age are exciting and appealing icons and again I would not like to deny him these encouragements, even if they have religious undertones.
I remember myself as a child – and something recently I read on another atheists blog that reminded me – that when I was a boy I was fascinated by radios, televisions, motor cars and so on but I had to understand how they worked – this inevitably lead me to pulling things apart which I could then not get back together again, but this did later fuel a career in electronics and nearly an apprenticeship in the Navy as an aircraft engineer. It was this early fascination with the way things were constructed which later lead to my enlightenment as an atheist as although I cannot comprehend half of how the universe works, I know what facts are known are based on science and testing and no theory about some creator really stuck with me, even as a child. I didn’t understand all the fuss about god and remember very little about the one year we went to church on a Sunday. I also wasn’t really able to comprehend why we sang about this god feller and hymns to me were more about replacing lines for something that made them ridiculous or got a giggle (onward christian soldiers I always liked but only because it for me held relevance more to my action man* or Warlord comic that I read, and that we replaced the line ‘with the cross of Jesus’ to ‘with a sterling machine gun’ – I was quite army barmy as a child and still am to be honest…)
Perhaps if I can install this curiosity in Paul he may have the same thirst for understanding that lead me to my path to reason, but I imagine that still he will want an explanation and I have a lot of research to do about how best to handle this (atheist parenting seems a good place to start). For now I think I will explain to him simply that some people who don’t have all the answers to all the questions need an anchor they can use to answer them – they are brought up to believe that the world was made by a thing called god and that they believe they must do everything to make this god happy else he will have them burn forever in a place called hell. The only thing is that no one has ever seen god, or knows what he looks like, and lots of the people who follow him argue a lot about what is right and what is wrong, even going to war over it. The things they believe are written in books that were written 2000 years ago roughly and were mostly told from ear to ear, differing every time (a quick Chinese Whisper demo here should prove a point) and each person who tells stories in these books tells it very different from the others and that lots of it we know today are not true at all, yet these people refuse to listen.
And I shall tell him that some of the people who believe in god can be evil people who think they are doing nasty things because they think it will make their god happy even though this god has never actually spoken to them. And lots of people think that without believing in this god that they would be nastier people which is not true – and that his Daddy believes if they cared more about the people around them than this magic man that they had never seen, met or spoken to then the world would be a much nicer place. And that he should go through life not trying to please someone he has nor will ever meet, but to please his parents, family and friends and make them proud through his actions and choices.And I will also say to him that like the Monster under the stairs, god does not exist.
But probably the most important thing I can say to him – to teach him – is to question everything. Question what I have said and question what others may say on the subject. Check facts where facts exist to prove theories and to accept that it is perfectly fine that we do not have all the answers now or maybe never will. And maybe if he really wants to find answers to study hard and investigate them himself – of course in this technological age the answers to most things are a mouse click away but there are still so many unanswered questions that maybe he can help solve.
And finally I shall tell him not to worry too much about it all just now and to just enjoy being a young chap in this world and to enjoy growing up, but know that he can do this freely and without oppression from fairy stories
*Action Man is the English version of GI Joe, the popular dress up soldier doll
Read an interesting article today on the BBC about people being relocated for work – best you read it before I pass comment: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16789231
I was really surprised at the negative perspective of this article simply as it seems the journalist squarely relied on those who were perhaps unprepared or reticent to undertake such a life-changing challenge as moving abroad. Whilst I feel some sympathy for all the people mentioned within the article I do have to question why someone should undertake such a massive move if they felt it was not for them?
Living abroad – especially work transfers are not for everyone – in fact the more I think about it, it is one of those things you either embrace or reject completely – no middle ground, no sitting on the fence. You are either up for it and excitable, or you are simply anchored and abhorrent to the idea.
I myself have thrived on the idea of such adventure and have had a wonderful life dropping myself in unknown situations and adapting on the fly to survive – I don’t mean to share that as a form of boasting, but more a yardstick for decision. As I write this I am blessed to be on the balcony in Rio of a dear friend in the glorious sunshine whilst my friends and family all post on facebook about the cold back in Holland and the UK. Of course when it is this joyous one is naturally inclined to see this as the greener side of the fence, and with the birth of my son and the nationality of his mother I am considering this place as a future – maybe – place to drop anchor again. But this is where I go back to the article and the failures of those quoted…
Anyone considering a move abroad has to take off the rose-coloured spectacles and look at the place properly and in true honesty – are you really going to be happy here? Sure the sun shines and its warm, you are just a couple of blocks from the beach and the views are outstanding, but could you really survive without the most basic of things that you call home? Most people think that they could but I doubt their honesty.
I watched a program on the BBC of which I forget the name where people were offered the chance to live a life in Canada, New Zealand etc and follow their apparent dreams before being offered a free flight home You would see the Dad working his new trade at his new location and being paid a prime sum for said service. You would see Mum tending home in a gorgeous house 4 times the size of what you would get for twice the price back home. And you would see the kids fascinated by the new environment and doing amazingly well at school. Yet at the end of the 30 days, most would say ‘No Thankyou’ and emphatically wave goodbye to what they dreamed of (mainly fuelled by tear-filled messages of parents from home)
I guess the point I am making is that you either are built and prepped to do such a move or you are not. The sad thing about this article is that it was aimed at the spouses of those going abroad when what it should have done is questioned the adventurous families who thrive on such a thing. I was born in the UK, lived in Holland and Germany and now the USA and the Missus is from Brazil (where we are and our son has just been born) – we’ve discussed many places as future homes and any such opportunity we would investigate first before properly embracing but all with the precaution that anyone moving abroad for whatever reason should have. In simplicity, life is an adventure if you want it to be but you have to understand you cannot undertake such a thing lightly – you have to be prepared, go in head-first and be prepared for it to fail- but one thing I have learned is that the overcoming of these screw-ups is what makes the success of your survival.
Anyways, I still fancy Rio to live….. and if it doesn’t work out, well I will be ready for it….
Just a few early photographs of Paul Passos-Charlton, the love of mine and Ana’s lives
My son – Paul Passos-Charlton, born 30th January 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
There are simply no words to describe how beautiful he is.
Been an interesting week. Started for me really Tuesday, sitting all innocent like in my Datacenter in NJ1 in Jersey City when I noticed the walls were shaking and my mind was quaking. I was certainly not making it with anyone at the time so realized it must have been a minor earthquake – my suspicions were confirmed by fellow ex-pat Jess who was quick to point out the Mayans might have it right. Me? I am not convinced
Next up is the Hurricane – or Irene to her friends – anyone named after the lovely Ms Handel who I grew up thinking was my maiden aunt cannot be a mischief surely? But no, in America it seems the worst is yet to come. The end of the world is nigh – or at least if it is not, we are all slightly fucked – at least that is what the TV would have you believe…
I got my first taste of US natural disaster panic when aforementioned earthquake hit – I wasn’t to troubled personally by a but of a shake but it seemed our hosting company would rather I was evacuated – I was in Jersey city at the time and I went outside to find several hundred people, dawdling aimlessly yet with their faces affixed to their smartphones desperate for information – not for what had occurred as they were well aware, but purely as to the impact. Most people were evacuated to the pathway where you have a beautiful view of downtown Manhattan (scarred only by the lack of the Twin Towers, yet with the apparent Freedom Tower still under construction, still with it’s cranes in view perfectly still) completely undamaged and normal.
I retired (as I was not allowed back in to the facility) to the safest and most accommodating thing I could think of – Markers Bar had paid no heed to a minor vibration and had continued serving without issue – the only facility for those shit-scared was putting on ABC-7 who were reporting on the catastrophe that never was – footage of a 20 second disruption to an NY council meeting, a view of the White House from a surveillance camera half way up a pole showing how much the nations capital building was shaking (of course the pole the camera was on was the real culprit) – basically lots of reporting on the things that the media had wished had gone horribly wrong yet had in fact – well just not got wrong at all. A city scared of what might have been
And now here I am surrounded by people talking of nothing more than the incoming peril – I have spent hours on phone calls discussing our Business Continuity Procedures and assured people that my trust in our data hosts is with reason. I am expected to spend the weekend glued to my Android and iPhone in case of alert and be expected to swim to NJ just in case it all horribly goes wrong
Well I suppose at least all this prep is good on my CV – how many non-emergency workers in the UK’s CV’s include the words ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Earthquake’?
A country I love very much so devastated today.
My heart is with all the people affected. Mine dypeste kondolanser
So with the heat (oh yeah it gets fucking hot here) in NY I noticed that my 4 year old Tosh laptop was struggling to survive. 4 years is a fair lifetime for a laptop so I start shopping around – new tech, new chipsets, new hardware – it all makes for an interesting option or two. But one question was put to me more than once which I wasn’t sure to question:
“What about a new Mac?”
I like windows. No I *heart* windows (as long as it is the ‘7’ variety or XP circa a few years back). Its a fucking awesome OS from a techie point of view AFAIAC and has been a very happy friend to me over the years. OK everyone knows that the world and his wife hates Microsoft, Gates and all he stands for but for us in the business its been a pal, a confident and at least something that works for what we need it to do
However I’m now in New York and things are different here – first off just about every one who can has an iPhone – even I have one and I love the damn thing to bits. I hate the fact I love it because it is that lovely – so intuitive, so functional, so easy – so not windows really. So when the question comes to the point about a new laptop and “well you have an iPhone – why not an iPad/MacAir/MacPro/whatever as long as it aint MS toy do you want?” I get scared. I actually went – twice as it happens – to the Apple store in NY and stood – not drooling, not salivating – but purely evaluating Pro’s, Air’s and what not and tried to decide if they really would replace what has been a stablemate for years – a windows laptop. And the more I stood there, the more I realized I did not want one
Oh yes – the airs were light as a breeze and had the SSD I craved – but the proc was years out of date, and 2 Gig Memory? Antiquated….
The Pro – had it all – a new thing called thunderbolt, pretty screen, memory, power – just weighed a small fortune for it all.
No suddenly – and although at nearly 2K the Samsung Series 9 A04 was winning – and I was on the urge of parting with a lot of cash to bring me happily up to date
But then, this morning Apple decide to announce all the things that I had decided wrong with the air they would fix.I am not kidding here – crap processor ? Replace for i5. Not enough memory? We’ll up that to 4Gb. No Thunderbird connectivity? Standard across the board with anything over 13″
So I bought one.
And I don’t like it.
But it has X11 and a Unix interface under its skirt.
And it has iTunes which I know – in fact its like deja -vu – whilst its not familiar – it is like I have been here before. Not foreign, just different.
And it is pretty. And so light and portable. and… and… and…and I think I am sold.
Macbook air – the evilest of temptresses in the Laptop world. So wrong but so right at the same time..
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the end of the World.
At least that is what thousands of people would have you believe, all caught up in the ramblings of an 89 year-old ex-civil engineer turned ‘evangelist’ Harold Camping – a man who seems hell-bent on infamy through spreading fear amongst the weak and generally making a mockery of Christianity, Religion and the bible.
(Wait a minute… I think I am starting to like this guy….)
Now living in the United States one thing I have learned is that religion is taken very seriously here. The US has a secular government and each and every dollar bill is embossed with the words ‘In God we trust’. It seems the world and his wife is a reverend of sorts, and devoid of houses of prayer they use public places such as Subway stations to deliver their sermons and sometimes even impromptu preaching on subway carriages (which is why an iPod is every New Yorker’s must-have). And I find myself being very careful what I say to people as most people here worship some form of super-being. I’m quite open about my Atheism, but always and truthfully willing to back up that I have (for the most) respect for people who are spiritual, blessed and believers in one deity or another – this usually brings back a nod of understanding and all is right with us all. I never mock a persons beliefs – unless they are ludicrous and deserve such honour, and the May 21st brigade – or certainly the people behind it – are worthy.
The problem is that because of freedom of speech and the way people devoutly adherent to the Constitution and its amendments, people are allowed to quite vocally spread horror and hatred here. I’ve seen 50 foot high billboards and even buses carrying advertisements for the apocalypse – all aimed squarely at the easily lead, the gullible and the weak of heart – the people praying for a miracle because their own lives are hellish. The people who are today, sadly once more being disappointed.
I could be selfish here and hope the actions of Mr Camping make a few look at their beliefs and perhaps instead consider that life might be crap but to try to make the best of it as we all just turn to ashes and worm food – like the easter bunny, Santy-clause and Sasquatch, Jesus was just a figment of a story tellers imagination, but instead it just makes me quite sad that there are I imagine an awful lot of people distraught and lost today as they realise come tomorrow, they will just wake up to another day – no saviour, no escalation to a better place – just the same old life whilst one Mr Camping laughs as he has all the time to spend the profits from his preaching and book sales, and can start planning for his next cash call.
And one final thing – if the so-called
$3,000,000 $100 million + dollars that was spent alone for publicising this lie, instead of using it for false promises I just wonder how much good it could have done for many of the people down and out enough to want to believe such guff in the first place.
Fijne Koninginnedag allemaal!! Ja ik zit hier in NY maar mijn hart is op de plein met mijn maatjes en een Amstel!