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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What's Up Doc?

Had a very inspiring meeting with Otto, who works at FHV BBDO. We're working together on a new trend presentation. Got talking about a lot of things. Things that irritate me, for instance, always mean something. Why do Paul Witteman and Jeroen Pauw, with their late night show on Dutch television start to irritate me? It has something to do with changing moods in society. More and more I feel you can't pin truth down on people. Truth in itself has become a flexible cloud of meaning, that changes every day. And they still try to get 'the real truth' out of people. And their guests can't answer, because their truth has so many layers, they don't know where to begin: "I can give you a sort of state-of-the-truth as is today, but there might be a subtle new dimension tomorrow..". That's why I registered last year, for all the people that have more layers of truth than (for instance) our National Shame Rita Verdonk. Away with people (and Brands..!) that claim to have the real truth.
Anyway, we also talked lighter subjects like music. I feel there must be a change ahead. Not much really new is happening right now. But somewhere, there must be some people inventing the new disco or house, right now. Disco, with its strict marching rhythm, was able to recycle any older song in its march. That's why it was King for more than a decade, starting mid-70's. Just like House, with its specific spiral, building up into a trance, dominated the nineties. From march to spiral, what's next? I felt like it could be something like a network-beat, meandering in ever broader rivers that come together and flow apart again. Does that sound too strange? Well, perhaps I should ask a few DJs.. Otto told me that internationally famous trendwatcher Li Edelkoort (..) expected a new form of folk. Tuned down songs, sung by individuals. Guess the new music for a new era shouldn't automatically be dance music.. But it's getting me very interested. Something new will come up. That much is sure.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Came home today and answering machine was full of messages.. Put some old stuff on Engelse antieke kast met spiegeldeur. And two other things. Amazes me how fast people react. Three plastic chairs I offered at 8.05 pm. At 8.30 the first caller bought them. But the rest keeps calling. But it's always good that someone will take the pieces. Have to clear the cellar before I leave, so my neighbour can combine it with hers and make a room out of them. Good luck to her, she'll need it, judging the state of my part. But always better than being forced to move for the need of an extra room. And she's a nice neighbour. Want her to stay.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Was at the Fashion Week in Amsterdam today. And we got talking about books, after three glasses of champagne. Yep, I know, but you can't discuss a fashion show for more than an hour. Marcel wanted to leave early to get to Scheltema Holkema Vermeulen, the best bookstore in town, before they would close, to get me a guide to Shanghai.
Never, I said, will I set foot in a store that calls itself Selexys. I just can't stand my favorite bookstore losing its identity in such a shameful way. I HATE Seelaxia, I want Zeelendis to die, I want the owner and now killer of the original brand to be arrested and put to trial! I..
Marcel said I was grossly overreacting: the shop had not changed at all. Not changed at all??? It's like your favorite uncle saying "I'd like you to call me stupid decadent oversexed brutal offensive childmolester" from now on. "hey, but I haven't changed at all!"

How can anyone in a right state of mind change a personal (be it may be a difficult) name like Scheltema Holkema Vermeulen into something like Zeelexiez? Books ARE personal, not some sort of anonimous, interchangeable fancy product! Things DO have to change sometimes, but loosing your identity for something this superficial and generic is just too much for me. What's the point? Who's benefiting from this change? Is it important that now I can see a Saloxis in Leiden also? I never buy books in Leiden, because I live in Amsterdam. And if I would, a small sign saying "hey, did you know, we're in the same family as Scheltema Holkema Vermeulen in Amsterdam" would do it for me.
Luckily, Dorothee totally agreed. I am not mad, I am ANGRY.
Please, people, join me in a full boycot of this store until the owners come into a right state of mind.
Hand me another glass of champagne, please, I need a drink.

Friday, January 26, 2007

failure is NOT an option

Ha! Reached the embassy at 9.05, early enough to be number 21.. But the staff work steadily, so I left the building at 10.45, with a visum for China. YES, it is official, the door of the land of the endless opportunities will open for me, next week. If I don't get sick, that is. My eyes feel watery and my stomach is slightly upset. Will try and swim it off before returning the borrowed car to Sylwia.
'Failure is NOT an option', is the text on the rubber band I got from Dorothée. She brought it back from Houston. Have to laugh every time I look at it. Some people don't understand, even think of it as a little offensive. But I love the paradox between the humour and the power of the message. Typical Dorothée. And it works for me too. Will wear it all day long while in Canada. But it will also help me through this more than busy last month in Holland.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Not my day

This wat definitely not my day. Had to rush all day and inbetween get a visum for China. You have to do that personally, at the embassy in The Hague.
And then, between Schiphol and The Hague something started rattling in my beautiful classic car: a BMW 3.0 cs (1973), but rebuild into a convertible by the best specialist in the Netherlands It hasn't failed me yet, honestly, I was just thinking that, when I joined the motorway. True satire life plays, sometimes. The noise became so loud I stopped at a gas station and called the ANWB. Then the big wait started, after one-and-a-half hour their technician arrived. By that time I was completely ZEN. First you feel stressed, but after 15 minutes I knew I would never reach The Hague in time and I closed my eyes to enjoy some winter sun through my car window. Shame my feet got cold after an hour. Shame also that the technician couldn't do anything but call a towaway service. There he went, my beautiful red. The only good thing was my little brother who woke up little Oshoun (pretty daugther of 1,5 years old) and drove up to collect me. After a few sips of a Burger King vanilla milkshake, she even started smiling at me. Makes your day.
And so I walked into the office at just after two o'clock, not even that depressed. Forgetting I had to be at a research agency about an hour later.
And please, no jokes about classic cars. Real beauty has its price. That was what I was thinking, waiting in my car. Now I hope the price of a new transmission will not be too high.. And tomorrow, I can try again at the embassy.. With a borrowed car. Thank you Sylwia.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My own strength summarized..

Been approached by a few headhunters. Always interesting to hear what they have in their portfolio, but have answered them that I will not be available until september, earliest.
Feels good (and a little cool.. Having the arrogance to say: 'no, thanks, not now').
It brings on discussion about my strengths and weaknesses though. Re-reading yesterday's post I was reminded of them. Following the creation spiral(, my primary strengths must be in the first few steps: understanding wishes and desires, and being able to give them words, meaning and some sort of visualization. I can inspire people and help them unto the next level. After that, I face some weak moments: the detailing and planning. Researching everything, reworking details and planning everything in the right order. I hate that, as friends will heartily agree. I keep forgetting to plan details for birthday parties ('have you invited everyone, Tom??') or the project of moving to Vancouver ('got a ticket? An appartment?').
Mostly, I just skip this stage and move on to the decision phase. I can easily make decisions, just because I hate bothering about details that might scare other people away from making the decision in the first place. For me, it's an easy way: I just decide and in the end, I will have to deal with details and deadlines. And in the end, of course, most details are worked out fine. Or you get help from control freaks.
After the decision another strength appears: I do not have trouble holding on to an idea, and working on it. Can be stubborn even. Did some sensitivity courses during my studies and even then most members depicted me as the one they felt would always see them through, with a joke that makes the problems seem just a little bit smaller and thus surmountable. Keep going!
And to finish: I LOVE getting applauded. Hey, I am a Leo..! Funny as it may seem, most people have problems on this part of the circle. It is difficult to stand and take the praise. But if you don't let them praise you, they will not see the specialty of what you did and thus make your contribution smaller than it basically was. Taking praise is a course in itself.

So: my advice: skip details, make decisions. See what problems arise. Deal with them. Most will vanish by themselves. And enjoy the ride, once you start. Easy enough for you?

Monday, January 22, 2007


Why do I write this blog in English, Anke asked me. Good question. I just started in English, without much thought. It feels like the internet language, but moreover, it brings me in my Vancouver mood (I can dream, can't I..?), and I can start practicing already. And even my few English speaking friends can't complain I will not send any mail from Vancouver..
There is a difference between writing and speaking of course. Turnaround talking, I might call it. Now I am talking Dutch all day and writing English. In Vancouver I will have to talk English and write Dutch, at least my book. Tried to work on a synopsis of my book this weekend, but too many other things on my mind. Seems I will have to look for a publisher after writing the book.. Have made a list though of all the things I still need to do. If I do two things each day, most of the list will be cleared before I leave. Fun. Not my best side, this.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Statement Store

Been a busy weekend. Saturday opening of the Individuals StatementStore, invented and coordinated by a good friend of mine, Nannet van der Kleijn. Great idea, having students design a label together and going through all the motions to get their ideas produced. Nannet once had her own label (Orson & Bodil), but has since moved on, until she became head of AMFI, the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. Good shop, nicely thought through and conceptualized. And a very small catwalk. One amazing model, though. She looked like from outer space and stared straight through us, showing the clothes the students of AMFI designed. Good clothes, but I shall refrain from further judgements, because women's fashion is not my specialty. Check it out at Spui Amsterdam.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Shanghai, here I come..?

It seems Shanghai is becoming reality for me. Giving two advertising seminars about 'how to write better creative briefs' in two days.. But having two extra days to look around. Great!
Have been discussing going to China for about a year now, as a member of the Re:set committee in the Netherlands (aimed at getting advertising agencies to innovate more), but until now we couldn't materialize a trip for agencies, to go and watch the future over there. And now, suddenly, I am going..!
I feel very sorry for Bert, my former colleague who came with this opportunity. Personal circumstances make it impossible for him to go. Strength to him.

Gave a seminar today and it went well. I have the tendency to talk too much (roeptoeter!)because I like my topics so much. But fortunately I could withold myself from going into too many sideroads. Felt like there were so many opportunities for the company I was helping, that it almost feels a shame to leave them to it, at six o'clock. Discussing real brand strategies still excites me..

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Storm And Rain, Winds from the West..

While in Vancouver the rain is hitting hard (at around zero degrees), we're suffering the worst storm weather in 20 years, here in the Netherlands. My, this last year we have broken every weather record in history. Rainiest August, Hottest Autumn, warmest winter. But this storm, it seems, has nothing to do with global warming. That's reassuring. Three deaths, though. Broken trees everywhere and all traintravellers throughout the country stranded. At work, I was holding my roof together, in my mind. My whole high pointy roof full of small bricks. And the little tower stretching out, catching all the wind. But, fingers crossed, until now everything is staying in its place. Even the plants on the roof terrace are still there (as far as I can see, that is..)
Feel a bit stormy myself. Loads of things to do still, before I leave. Makes one restless.
And to add to all this: the news of the day is that Bert, a former colleague of mine, called and asked me if I could take over a seminar from him. IN... Shanghai...! 4 days China, 1 and 2 February. It's not certain yet, but busy as I may be, this sort of challenge I will definitely take on.
And to make matters more interesting, the agency I left in september had to evacuate their offices because the building next to them lost a lot of its front plates. And they already are in the middle of a stormy merge with another agency. I can see a lot of change storming through, in 2007. Prepare!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


A nice suggestion for the Dutch that love fashion: a new, hip store in Amsterdam, supervised by a friend of mine..

Leuke tip voor komende zaterdag: op het Spui in Amsterdam opent de nieuwe StatementStore van Individuals. Individuals is een nieuw kledingmerk, ontworpen en gemaakt door studenten van AMFI als onderdeel van hun onderwijsprogramma. Nannet van der Kleijn is als art director verantwoordelijk voor de introductie van Individuals: 'Ik wil dat het onderwijs aansluit bij het ritme van de modemarkt. Van inspiratie opdoen op de stoffenbeurs, twee keer per jaar een collectie uitbrengen met alles wat erbij komt kijken tot en met de winkelinrichting.' Als studenten producten op de markt brengen, ondervinden ze aan den lijve wat de consequenties zijn van hun beslissingen. Daarbij krijgen de studenten professionele ondersteuning van docenten.

Twee keer per jaar ontwerpen studenten een kledingcollectie, positioneren het merk en tarten de grenzen van productiemogelijkheden. Het is een combinatie van onderwijs en de dagelijkse praktijk van het modevak. In ieder kledingstuk zit het individuele handschrift van een student. De totale collectie is een verzameling van verschillende handschriften. Die verscheidenheid tekent het karakter van de collectie; een gelaagdheid als het karakter van een mens. Een mens met verschillende gezichten.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

bobo and k'nex

Just back from celebrating my litlle nephew's birthday. He's 6 years old now. He wanted a whole lot of K'nex and we played with it until after ten o'clock, because he demanded a working set-up when waking tomorrow morning. Didn't know that technical kids stuff was that impossible to grasp.. Got something working OK, but it doesn't really look like the picture on the box. For me, that's the fun part though. I always just try to click everything together and see if I can get it working. Not only with plays, also with new household appliances or bookshelves.. (and while I am already screwing everything together in what I think is a logical order, I see Marcel sitting on the couch, reading the user manual- to each his own..).
Tried to get my nephew to just work from pleasure and click things together the way he felt like. He started with enthusiasm, but in the end he kept looking at the box. Kids of his age need structure, it seems. He demanded it should at least look a little like the picture. Hope he isn't dissatisfied with my work tomorrow. At least he can read the Bobo (kid's magazine) I bought him. Always stimulate kids to read, is what I say. And he likes to read, now he can, a little. Against the trend, I know. But no harm in trying. Must read for every kid will always be the Bolke The Bear series by AD Hildebrandt. So you know what to buy YOUR nephews.
(Thank you for asking, the shoulder still hurts, but it is slowly getting better..)

Monday, January 15, 2007

buying into flying

Only six weeks to go. Have tried to step into the wonderful world of buying airline tickets, but it is a bit of a let down. Unless you know exactly when you're flying back. And that, my friends, is what I do NOT know. Who knows when I'll head back. Ever tried to book a one way ticket? It is not only more expensive, as you would expect. But can anyone explain to me why a one way KLM ticket to Vancouver is MORE THAN TWICE as expensive as a return ticket?

Found out about some strange but fun airlines though. Maybe I'll fly business class from London to Las Vegas for 500 euros (by and then from Las Vegas to Vancouver for 65 euros by some unknown American charter?? Possibilities enough. We'll see.
I'm not doing that much typing today because my shoulder still feels like it has been torn off and has been hastily glued together again. Ah well, we suffer be it not in silence anymore. Advice to friends is not to make me laugh, that hurts the most.

Friday, January 12, 2007

all good swims come to an end?

Saturday. My last swimming tournament before leaving. Wanted to break the one club record on the breast stroke I did not have yet (small ambitions are still ambitions). The signs were bad. Ate Deep Freeze Spinach the night before that obviously had, somewhere in it's career, passed the 'deep' barrier. At least, it wanted to leave my stomach badly starting 11 o'clock at night. But after several nightly stops in the bathroom I stepped into a fellow club member's car to drive to Zwolle. The question 'why am I (still) doing this' only slowly started to creep up during my 200 meters breast stroke. It all went reasonably well, but on the last turn something in my shoulder snapped. Ah well, there goes. Not enough warm-up. Too old for this. Too little training. Anyway: too many thoughts during the final lane. Missed the record by three quarters of a second. Did not miss out on pain though, coming out of the water. AnneMarie (team member) gave some massage, but the shoulder decided to keep punishing me for trying too hard.

Funny thing about swimming and my own mental drive though: had to do the 100 meters freestyle later. Usually I start like lightning and end like a beached whale, but this time I decided to start more slowly, because I felt I would only survive going on technique and keeping the shoulder still as possible. Amazingly I managed to finish in a sprint. And took more than a second off my personal best. Bizarre tricks of the body or is it a mental thing? Even at 45, you can still better yourself, if the circumstances give you just that little extra you need..
After 8 years of competitive swimming, this felt like a surprisingly good ending.
For now. We'll see whether I feel like taking it up again after returning, or if another good thing has come to and end, making room for something new.

Why? Some FAQ's

When are you leaving? -3rd of march
Have you booked a ticket yet? -No
Have you got an appartment yet? -No
Are you going alone? -Yes
Aren't you afraid you'll be lonely? -No

It seems the fact that I travel alone does something to the imagination of people. Not that I want to leave my partner. I just want to write a book. And I have never managed to write more than three days in a row in Amsterdam. Of course Marcel did not like the idea that much, me leaving. But he told me I should do what I need to do, just like I knew he would. That's why we have a good relationship. Being together does not mean always mean sitting next to each other on a couch. It means stimulating each other and enjoying the steps the other takes in life (try it, it's not that hard). He loves Indonesia, I hate it. He went with a friend. I want to write a book, he has to work. I'm going alone.
I will get lonely, I think. Only, I have never been afraid of that emotion. Loneliness and melancholy moods suit me fine (bring on one of the desperate Joy Division albums..!). I would be much too cheerful otherwise. Knowing no one in Vancouver has it's advantages. Now I can even write all evening!

Anyway, the most funny question was from an ex-colleague I met in town: "Back already? How's the book?" He asked, all earnest. That's what you get if you talk too much too soon. But hey, talking about it made it real in the first place.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why Vancouver?

What can I say? I was there a few years ago without even thinking of writing a book. I loved the city and found myself walking streets and looking at appartments like I was going to live there. Now, six years on, I still have a street plan in my head. Of course I could go on about the laid back athmosphere or the sea and the mountains, Vancouver Island. Truth is, it was pure intuition.
Far more interesting than city character was that when I visualized myself writing a book, it always was in Vancouver. Never had another place in my mind. I even started dreaming about it: I was in Vancouver in an appartment with a laptop. And the laptop was important. There was nothing else there. Just me, a desk and a laptop, with a view on Vancouver through the window.
Follow your dreams, they always say. So I did.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

More info on the creation spiral (see other post)..


our wishes are premonitions of what we are
capable of realizing in our lives.


see also some English explanation of the creation circle in this article:

making dreams reality is easy, it just happens..

Yesterday I drove out to Lent, a little town near Nijmegen, to meet the other boardmembers of the 'Vereniging voor Creatie'. Founder of this club is Marinus Knoope, a former physic who, in his own words, discovered the Creation Spiral (, sorry, no English version yet, though we're working on that). He wrote a book about it and does presentations and workshops that are a rare mix between comedy and spirituality; a very involving experience.
His theme is that it's very easy to translate personal dreams into reality, just like in nature there is a very natural way to go from seed to harvest. He created twelve steps, starting with a wish and ending with relaxation into a new reality. Easy as that. Read his book. It's not only funny, it helps too. It is serious matter, but treated with enough humour to make it that involving experience. More about it later. Also about what I plan to do with it.

I met Marinus a year ago, when I asked him to speak on a seminar I was organizing. In my introduction I mentioned that I always wanted to be a reverent, but since I lacked any religious faith, I chose advertising instead. In his speech, Marinus told us he always felt a bit like Jesus: preaching the truth, but people keep forgetting. We should get together, I shouted, we could start a sect! And so it began.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Still thinking about the comment yesterday that I am a midlife crisis victim. Such superficial judgement, Frank2be! Brought to mind the domain I claimed this year: (nopinie means nopinion). Haven't made it into a site yet. Perhaps I should. Sometimes I feel that these days everybody has an instant opinion on just about everything, being sure he is right without giving it a second thought (I say what I think and I do what I say). Well, my opninon is that it is inpolite, and hostile towards anyone thinking different. Would be nice to have a site where no opinion would be allowed. Where everybody is forced to search for the nuances in issues. The truth is so damned difficult to find, these days. Let's help eachother by asking questions instead of shouting judgements! I know the net is destined to be the place where everyone can just shout anything anonimously, but it would be great to have a slow, nuanced, witty, open and intelligent discussion about current issues. Instead of just trying to ridicule and belittle eachother, killing every fresh thought before it might turn into something good.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Am I a security seeker?

What is it with rental agencies? Or am I to be labeled as a security seeker? Getting an appartment in Vancouver is going to be a last minute affair. Tried to find residence for the first time in september 06. Reaction varied from 'no answer' to: get back to us in a few months time..
Tried again the last couple of days. Still mostly zero reaction. Points are scored by Bruce Ward Realty, though. They at least reacted positively, be it with a motherly style referral to an earlier mail (I had all forgotten about):

hello tom - happy new year and thanks for keeping us in mind for your upcoming stay here in vancouver!- however - *sorry* - its still too early for availability/bookings (remember - "approximaltey 2.5 weeks prior to arrival date...") -

Keep the faith.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

this is me..

Vancouver.. Still a map

Amsterdam, view from my roof terrace

where to start..

So it's 2007 and I will be moving from Amsterdam to Vancouver in two months time to start on my first book. Leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again..
So far so good. You just make a decision and stick to it. Even if everyone asks you 'why Vancouver' and your answer does not seem to be satisfactory: 'because my intuition told me it would be a good city and writing it in Amsterdam is no option'. Of course there are a million cities and I chose Vancouver. Of all the cities I have visited, it was one of the most pleasant. And it's far away enough to secure the romantic loneliness and melancholy I too associate with writing.
After twenty years of working in Advertising Agencies I figured that I should limit my daily communication to 'an espresso and a turkey sandwich please' and stop my mouth from already phrasing every word my hand would like to slowly trust to paper.
So Vancouver it is. The coming two months will be a cascading agony to get an apartment (know anything..?), rent out my own apartment (know anyone..?) and make sure I won't get arrested when returning at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for not paying every bill that will be posted to me during my absence.