Local Heart, Global Soul

June 24, 2019

An Endurance Race To Help The Human Race…

Filed under: LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

Sometimes we don’t do very much with ourselves to attempt to change the world because we think “I am just one person, what can I do? What difference can I make?

Well, draw up a seat, today’s post is all about one person making a difference and he has a large majority of the Netherlands currently (as you read this) watching him do it.

This amazing individual is Maarten van der Weijden.

Some people outside of the Netherlands have heard about the famous Elfstedentocht winter ice-skating race.

Elfstedentocht” literally means “eleven city tour” and it’s where when the winter ice is thick enough, 300 speed and 16 000 recreational skaters race around an almost 200 km (120 mi) circuit that connects eleven cities on the northern Dutch province of Friesland.

The biggest problem though is that the entire race takes place on natural ice, so weather has to be cold enough to form ice minimum 15 centimetres (6 in) thick and once this happens, before the freeze turns to thaw,  the Elfstedentocht race gets a green light only about 48 hours before it actually happens. Therefore thousands of Dutch skaters train hard in the hope of a hard winter and the forming of thick ice. These skaters are selected each year by qualifying in other races (speed skating group), or from clubs and general public by lottery (for the rest).

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

It’s a grueling race, natural ice is not smooth like ice-rink ice so it take both endurance and concentration to finish the 199 km race, and many fail to finish.

When my Father was a child he said he remembered one Elfstedentocht after another, actually there have been six of them between 1940 and 1956.

However global warming has meant warmer winters so there have only been four Elfstedentochten in the past 50 years.

If humanity stays on it’s present course of C02 emissions, then my children may never see one raced in their lifetime.

So, on a super sunny weekend in June, why are we talking about a winter ice-skating race? Because it’s being raced again… not on skates this time but swum by a long distance swimmer.

Maarten van der Weijden is a Dutch Beijing Olympic Gold medal winner of the 10 km Open Water event, Gold medal in the Seville World Championship 25 km Open Water event, plus an impressive list of other long distance open water swims. Maarten swims many long distance events in aid of cancer research and attempted this 199 km swim in 2018 for the first time but his body failed him due to sickness at 163 km, three days into this four day, day and night endurance test and he had to leave the water. He raised 5 Million Euros for eleven cancer charities and after a short break, decided that he wanted to try again this year.

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

Many lessons were learned, the water quality in some of the canals had been below par and this is what had caused his sickness. The water quality issue has since been rectified. His 2018 wet-suit was not enough to keep out the cold, they had planned too few warm meals for the amount of energy he was burning swimming almost 24 hours around the clock, four days straight, the nights were mentally challenging, swimming in the dark.

Lessons learned, he is now wearing a custom made specially insulated wet-suit, a a volunteer chef on board the support boat makes hot, high calorie, but most of all tasty meals roughly every 40 minutes, so that Maarten eats even when he’s too tired to feel like eating, he’s swimming on the weekend closest to the 2019 Summer Solstice (Friday 21 June) when there are the most hours of daylight and thus the shortest nights.

He sleeps for 1 hour at a time in a tent rigged on the boat (judging by the pics on TV he doesn’t look like he even takes off the wet-suit) and this time he is swimming for more charities and hopes to raise much more.

Maarten has said that with the lessons learned from his first swim he hopes to finish this time and he also doesn’t want to be known as the man who set out to do this twice and failed twice, so that should keep him going.

If you are reading this between the Sunday evening 23rd June and Monday evening 24th June 2019 (GMT +1), Maarten is swimming as you read.

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

He also said he has a secret weapon on board the support boat: his wife, who’s job it is to tell him whatever he needs to hear to keep him going through the toughest moments, but so that she doesn’t feel like she can be hurting him by pushing too hard there is also a Doctor on board who’s job is to get Maarten out of the water if for medical reasons it be deemed unsafe for his health to continue.

So far he has swum close to three quarters of the Elfstedentocht route, the public have come out to support him in droves, sometimes lined up 10 deep in the cities. They have been there supporting him during the night too, tractors and cars lined up with their lights on in fields alongside the canals, crowds of people on bridges with lamps and phone lights in the middle of the night, and in small villages between the cities.

Dutch television is following his progress and so I snapped these photographs from the Children’s News (Zapp) because that happened to be where I caught up with Maarten’s progress tonight. Thanks therefore to the NPO TV Channel.

Just like in the official Elfstedentocht winter race there is a card that has to be stamped at a checkpoint in each of the eleven cities he passes through in order to have officially completed the race. Maarten’s support boat carries it for him whilst he swims becuase it’s a large symbolic board, and he gets it back directly before handing it in at the checkpoint.

If swimming almost around the clock from Friday evening until Monday evening was not enough, all of this is personal for Maarten, who is himself a leukemia survivor.

I am not only proud of what Maarten van der Weijden is doing, I am also amazed at what one individual can do to contribute to changing the world for good.

Wiki/Maarten van der Weijden / Elfstedentocht / Cancer Research / Swimmer /Open Water / 199 km/ 4 days / The Netherlands

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

Maarten eating a warm meal that’s on a floating tray so that he doesn’t have to get out of the water…

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

(photograph © NPO Zapp Dutch Television)

June 9, 2019

FIFAWWC: When BBC Commentators SERIOUSLY Dropped The Ball…

Filed under: LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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I’m just popping an extra (unrelated) post in between my Sand Sculpture Exhibition series. Two days ago on the evening of Friday 7th June 2019, saw the kick-off of the FIFA WWC (Women’s World Cup) in the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France. Whilst there have already been six other Women’s World Cups, this is the first one I have really been aware of.

According to the Dutch commentators, viewing figures for previous Cups were in the hundreds of thousands, but viewing figures for this one is expected to be just over one billion spectators around the world. Whilst this is still not in the same league as the mens game that captured some 3 billion viewers but it’s a HUGE leap in the right direction and my dream now is to see both World Cups held together, simultaneously.

After all, if we can have one month of crazy football that everyone loves, why not two? We don’t have a separate Men’s and Women’s Olympics after all.

One of the biggest contributors to these viewing figures is that even in football crazy Netherlands, this is the first time not just the final, but ALL of the games will be broadcast on a major TV channels. There are 24 countries taking part, divided into groups of four (by random draw back in December 2018) and this is called the Pool stage of the event.

Each teams takes a turn at playing each of the other teams in their group, their total scores of games won and goals scored determining if they move on to the elimination rounds. The elimination round is where entire countries bite their nails as they watch their teams play these knock-out games.

This televisation of all of the games on a major TV channel is a major step forward not just for womens football but for all female athletes around the world, as they try and bridge the gap between men and women players especially in professional levels. There is still a massive discrepancy in prize money, sponsorship and TV coverage in general, but this at least is an excellent first step.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I was also delighted to see none of the “dramatics” of the mens game where players feign falls from non-tackles in an attempt to gain penalty shots or unfair advantage.

There was no aggression on the pitch, no red or yellow cards given out, an example many of the Mens teams could learn from.

Best of all were the marked increase in women in the stands and not only that, but seeing so many little girls with them, cheering their heroes on the pitch. So, therefore on the pitch at least everything is exceeding my expectations.

I was listening to the Dutch commentary but wanted to try and get some information about the New Zealand team (or even an alternative view of the Dutch one from a non-Dutch country) so switched to the BBC1 coverage halfway through the second half.

I didn’t get the commentators names but “Johnathan”, Alex” and “Sue” were mentioned, Surnames I also don’t know, or the players names (yet!) so apologies for that in advance.

The BBC1 commentary soon however had me spitting sparks, so much so that I immediately wrote what they said as best I could into my phone so that I could transfer it here later as accurately as possible.

The scenario was as follows: The FIFA WWC Opening match, France are playing South Korea and the score was 3-0 to France (at that point). France have dominated the game, the Koren players often getting possession of the ball but not able to keep it for long enough to make any attack on the French goal.

One of the Korean players gets the ball and proceeds a fair way down the pitch, she then looses the ball to a French player and the male commentator said: “Korean player (name) lost possession of the ball, she was doing so well, so she must be heartbroken”…. and a short while later the female commentator said: “player (name) was so brave getting right up to the box” (btw: the box is a square area directly in front of the goal).

I have watched countless mens football matches and NEVER have I ever heard the words “heartbroken” and ‘brave” used by commentators. Worse still it was also mentioned that one of the French players was less involved in play than expected before the match, the remark then followed that “she had cried during the singing of the French national anthem and so was probably quite emotional” THIS  given as a possible reason for her lesser involvement. Seriously?

Excuse me, but I have seem plenty of tears during the playing of national anthem for men… it’s a stirring moment, when your National Anthem plays, the full realisation probably kicks in, feeling both the pressure and pride in playing for their country and knowing the game is being televised to billions. I see NO shame for tears during a National Anthem, be they mens or womens.

But why are the commentators using words during the game that appear to make female players less than their male counterparts? Why are emotional words being used for the women and why are we aren’t getting the same sort of commentary that I expect to hear during a mens match? Shame on you BBC1. The Dutch commentator managed quite easily to talk all about the game and players without using these “soft” words and making it personal. Those players on the pitch are professional athletes, not sporting lightweights, they are tough, young and playing the game at full strength, just like any young man does.

The BBC commentators choice of words are in my humble opinion belittling these fine athletes, effectively forcing one step backwards, for the two steps forwards for all of womens sport that is taking place on the pitch.

Rant over.

Wikipedia / FIFA / Women’s World Cup / France / 2019

May 27, 2019

Sand Gets Everywhere, Especially Your Best Memories…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There is a definite advantage to living close to the coast.

Not only that, we live very close to the beach so there was nothing that our kids liked better when they were small than to go play in sand with a bucket and spade.

Sandcastles were not always in fashion, but creating canals and waterways for the incoming waves to rush into was always popular.

Our old washing machine probably met with an early grave having to cope with all the sand that buried itself in the depths of shorts or pants pockets, and jackets too if it was warm but a little freshly windy on the coast.

No matter how many times I  shook them out beforehand, more of the stuff would find it’s way into the internals of the poor machine.

Caps would be wet because they’d blown off in the wind and landed in the waves. Trousers would have wet seats and the cuffs at the bottom would be soaked, their hair would be streaked from their sticky hands, a mixture of sunscreen, sea water and sand. I’d pat the kids down with a towel before they stepped into the bath but there would always be a smudge of sand in the bottom when they got out. You know, I wouldn’t change it for the world, especially when they were toddlers.

They loved, loved, loved, getting filthy dirty in sand and wet through. Apartment living means we don’t have a garden, so sand in a way was their ‘dirt” and they loved it. Every kid should get to have messy play times. We had a large collection of “special” sticks and shells, but drew the line at seaweed and any shell that looked like it might still have an inhabitant. Some of the shells we kept, now living on top of the soil of the window-ledge pot-plants. This sculpture piece in the 2017 Garderen Sand Sculpture exhibition reminds me of those days.

The Information board translates as: “Building sandcastles”, “On the beach near the tide line building sandcastles with the whole family. Towers and walls, a moat so deep that it fills by itself… And when the tide comes in we see it slowly crumble and disappear in the waves.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 19, 2019

The Cutest, Most Determined Perseverance…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I usually try not to post photographs of children but since almost every photo I took of this little girl does not show her face, (and the one that did, I edited), I decided to break my rule.

The other reason for posting this is because I took the photos back in 2017, so this child is no longer in nappies, will have grown a heap and would be rather hard to recognise from just these photos of her back.

I’m guessing her age in these photos to be between two and a half and three years old, and she demonstrates a serious determination, and a perseverance that I am sure will mean that she will grow up to be someone who chases her goals and dreams with a vengeance.

Without interruption, intervention or verbal encouragement that I heard from any adult or other child, she repeatedly attempted to put to the ball into the lowest hole “goal” on this adapted truck. This was part of the entertainment at the 2017 Food Truck festival, where there were quite a few entertainment possibilities, making this also a family friendly festival. I was very impressed with her tenacity, the fact that even though the first goes failed she kept trying. Without having the co-ordination to aim the ball and throw, her efforts were never going to pay off. I was torn between going to help and not interfering,  not seeing who the parents were and expecting that they would probably intervene any moment holding me back. Luckily her father stepped in to help eventually and she scored her ‘goal” with a big celebration afterwards. I was proud of her and her efforts, loving how she determined she was. You Go girl,  you are fabulous!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 10, 2019

Bring Your Kids,… and Pets?

Several years ago I attended a weekend Food Truck festival. Himself and I started out early but everything started to fill up fairly quickly. At first I thought this was a small travel pram and assumed a child was inside. Imagine my surprise when the head of this little dog suddenly popped up instead. It was only when I looked more carefully at the “pram” again later that I realised that maybe this hadn’t been something built with children in mind, but was instead a pet carrier. (Not having pet meant this probably wasn’t immediately obvious to me at the time.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 8, 2019

This Thin Strip Of Plastic Goes Digital…

Filed under: LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY,ROTTERDAM,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Technology is growing around us at a rate that we can no longer keep up with. Even the most simple things in life have gone digital.

I undergo treatment which requires week long infusion every three months in an effort to combat my severe and constant pain.

That’s currently done in a hospital fairly local to me. Concurrently I have also been going through a selection process in a different hospital, and got accepted for for a much larger medical trial: Neuromodulation.

I’ll expand more on what exactly that is in future posts. Today’s post is about the slim white band that gets slapped around the wrist of every hospital in-patient during the registration process.

It’s your ID so that when you are in an unconscious state snoozing off the anesthetic you can be identified and treated correctly. Usually this thin white strip contains printed data: name, date of birth, patient number and maybe a few other details essential or the hospital system. On this occasion I find something extra: a QR Code. Hospital staff can actually pull up a huge amount of my medical data just by scanning my wrist. I attempted to scan it myself with the QR data App on my phone but got no results.

Just in case it’s readable some other way, I have erased part of the QR square, as well as (obviously) my usual printed identifying information. I’m surprised to see that such a simple piece of “equipment’ has gone digital but thinking about it, it is amazing sensible. After all if you are moving patients around from multiple departments, scanning, x-ray, operating theatres and rooms, then having as much detail available on them at possible can be life-saving if things are going wrong. This information also remains private within the hospital system. Introducing a QR Code to my wrist seems to be one digital advancement that makes perfect sense.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 21, 2019

This Former Church Is Now Jumping…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following yesterdays post, I think I am looking at a way of repurposing a church with an activity that almost can not be better suited to the building.

The former church located at Stadhoudersplantsoen 28,  Den Haag (The Hague) is now houses a trampoline activity centre called:  Planet Jump..

The high walls and roof of the church are ideal for an activity such as trampolining, and the current fashion of laying out many trampoline beds in rows and also on the sides, using the large interior space that is free of columns or internal walls.

Apparently there is an area upstairs for toddlers and very small children, they are separated from the larger children for safety’s sake.

I didn’t attempt the stairs to check out that part personally, ergo, no photographs.

Our kids and their friends like coming here, it’s an excellent school holiday outing and I like that the attendant supervises how many kids are on the trampolines at once and restricts the numbers if there are too many kids wanting to jump at once.

One thing though, the staff could be a little friendlier at times, they are sometimes very abrupt bordering on rude.

I hope that they work on this because it’s the only thing that lets this place down.

Bad customer relations is not a trait that goes well in any enterprise where dealing with the public is essential for the life of your business.   At least on a positive note, this building is well suited to it’s new use… this church is now jumping!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 20, 2019

Giving Former Churches A New Lease Of Life…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s a sad fact that many Christian churches are closing.

Less people have faith, and a lot of people (like me) who do, do not attend church very often.

For me personally, it is more important to be actively helping people around me than sitting in church listening to sermons.

I rate faith by why you do in life and not how many bible verses I’ve memorised.

It’s very much a personal thing and I do not mean in any way wish to belittle or diminish people who do attend church and listen to sermons.  It’s just that after many years of doing so, I find that it doesn’t work for me.

Himself and I try to be actively helping people around us, they are not family in the usual sense, but in a way are “family” to us.

I won’t go into detail here because these are human beings and not “projects” of any kind. It’s also not something to brag about, the best thing about giving in an unseen manner is the sheer pleasure it gives us, knowing we make a difference in peoples lives no matter how small. We would like it to be more of course but resources of time, money and health are finite.

It’s not always about how much you do, it’s the fact that you “do” something at all. This is my faith worked out in a practical manner and it works for me. I live by the words “To whom much is given, much is required”.

Churches, in the brick and mortar sense, have sadly become less and less wanted in society today. Some get demolished, others get repurposed. This former church in The Hague is one such that has been repurposed: and the high walls, with the ceiling far above, standard features in most churches, have special importance in how this church has been given a new lease of life.  First let’s take a look at the outside… the architectural detail is still beautiful.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 17, 2019

Mate, …We Got Your Back.

Filed under: CHRISTCHURCH,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A cowardly attack by someone armed with an automatic weapon against innocent, unarmed people on their knees in prayer.
What chance did these peaceful people have?

The perpetrator livestreamed innocent peoples last moments of life as he murdered them, how low can a human being go?

Human being is too good a word, calling him one casts a shadow over all of humanity who find this utterly deplorable. This coward is a monster.

Apparently according to his manifesto the thought that a little out of the way place like New Zealand was immune to this kind of thing, was precisely the reason why Christchurch, New Zealand was *chosen* for this attack.

This coward of a perpetrator wanted that people felt that nowhere in the world was safe.

R.I.P. the poor souls who only wanted to pray peacefully: you didn’t in any way, shape or form deserve this.

My condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims: our tears flow with yours, we feel angry and outraged, disturbed that this awful thing has happened.

We want to show unity, we want to let you know that you do not stand alone in this terrible moment of darkness.

I do not utter the name of the coward who did this: let his name be deleted from the history books, let his name be nothing but a redacted black rectangle on the page.

Let instead the spotlight of these days and history be shone on the victims of this rampage and the good things they were doing in their lives and in this world. Let us grieve for them together, let us show solidarity, let us be the shoulder you can cry on, the one you can talk to, the one with whom we can share prayers.

It’s not:us” and “them

It is:You‘ and “Me‘, and we together are Kiwi’s (Readers may insert the name of your people here.) no matter where we live. Stay strong brothers and sisters. When enough good people stand united, fear and hate will never bring us down. Not when we know that no matter what happens, our mates have our back. We are all in the same boat. Let us always steer towards Peace.

March 10, 2019

The Devil Confirms The Most Evil Of Road Users…

Filed under: ART,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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I’m always on the lookout for quirky things. Coming home from out 2017 Easter break, passing Rotterdam we got stuck in heavy traffic. The car in front of us was a Volkswagen or as I usually say it a “Vee- Dub”. I don’t know what it is, but often (back during my driving days) if there were incidents of people cutting in front of me, racing last moment through exceptionally “stale” or even red lights, not indicating or just generally being an inconsiderate fellow road user, then it would very often be a VW Golf the culprit.

Himself thinks that maybe a certain type of person is drawn to buying this make and model of VW, and he adds Alfa Romeo drivers to his list of inconsiderate drivers too. On the occasion of this sighting, this German VW driver was behaving himself, (not that you can do much in a traffic jam). Apparently confirming our stereotype, around the VW emblem on the car boot, was the figure of a devil. It seems that even the drivers themselves know they are the most evil of road users!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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