Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

Axel Schoevers (Photo: A. de Krook) Name:
Axel Schoevers
Rijswijk, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Family Tree

In front of my parent's house, it is the last of the original trees standing in the street. Planted in 1958, when the house was built, it has seen me and my brother grow up; seen many plays of marbles and heard, and felt, the trembling happy ending Chinese celebration crackers on the New Year, hanging off it. It has weathered many, many storms. Listing a bit since I can remember, standing fierce. It has seen many new arrivals and final departures.
A tree, how does it cope with loss? The tree will grow new leaves in Spring. Seeing new families, either living in the houses in the street below or nesting up on it's branches. On this shortest day of the year no birds are singing to the new day. Now I look out of the window to see the tree covered in air hoar and a pigeon making itself comfortable on one of it's branches and singing. The other day a magpie was picking for food below; if anything, the tree knew.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Moving Metaphors

These are very moving times.
In a light-hearted move, but totally unplanned, my internet domain names are moving to another domain registrar. The building they were in, had demolition orders. And nobody was left there to answer my calls. From the silent green pastures in the eastern part of the Netherlands to the bustling 24/7 Amsterdam scene.

My websites are moving across the Atlantic to somewhere in Houston Texas. There it has more than 300 times more space and the roads can deal with more than 100 times the monthly traffic. I made sure that everything was wrapped-up and packed-up before the movers arrived and that I could close the doors behind me. And that nothing is left behind. There are four home domains to be moved. Two new ones popped-up out of nowhere. Not all the moving vehicles arrive at the same time nor will they arrive at the new addresses at the same time.

My e-mails are currently forwarded until all the dust of moving has settled. A hectic time. Messages are 'returned to sender' until all post offices and mail exchanges are aware of the new physical location of my mail boxes.

My phone will get disconnected shortly, awaiting to be transferred to the new shiny small mobile home with the big bright window. It will serve as my new mobile communications centre.

Dad moved as well. Some strange circumstance had him wake-up in hospital last Thursday. He wants to return home A.S.A.P. Like I said earlier, moving times...

Christmas time is getting nearer. Hope that all the moving dust settles and that there can be family time at home. In all this hectic, there is still no Christmas tree set-up. But that is not critical yet. Tomorrow is early enough. The family tree usually lasts well into January until after the arrival of three Kings. For some reason they have been on the move every year for about 2007 years.

Dunno when this posting can be read (again). Moving on...

Moving stranger, does it really matter
As long as you're not afraid to feel.
Touch me, hold me, how my open arms ache
Try to fall for me.
 Moving liquid, yes, you are just as water.
You flow around all that comes in your way.
Don't think it over, it always takes you over,
And sets your spirit dancing.
(Moving - Kate Bush)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mini Multi Mega PDA Gadget

When it comes to actual buying new technology items, I think I belong to the (impossible?) category of "the late majority / early adaptors". Having an IT background by education (pre-PC era) I have always been very skeptical at what is technically possible in relation to what is really working and "needed". I only started on mobile phones when they started to give them away for free (Postbank). Off course, I keep a keen eye out on new technological developments, but when it comes to actual buying, I put in a "delay".
In 2003, while in the US, I was "shocked" to see a kayak guide talking for hours on her mobile phone with her boy friend (while setting up camp) and me wondering how that would run up her phone bill (and keep him off work...). Then she told me that she had an "unlimited plan". Apparently there are only so many minutes in a month...

This year I thought it would be the time to buy car navigation. I have to drive more and more for business to "random" places. Saving time and high fuel prices would by now "pay" for the cost of car navigation.

Before I knew it I was lost in the "maze" of function packed Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's) and talk-time plans. The phones are generally "for free", but off-course there is no such thing as a free lunch. Offsetting the price of stand-alone car navigation to the monthly payments of talk-time plans. Dazzling...200712130000L.GIF

And there you have it... Last week I bought the HTC P3300 mini-multi-mega PDA smart-phone gadget. It has built-in GPS, TomTom Navigation, WiFi, FM Radio, MP3 player, 2 mega pixel camera, voice recording/recognition, touch screen and Windows Mobile 6.0 with Mobile Office. And before I forget, one can make phone calls with it. The plan it comes with allows for unlimited internet access (while in the Netherlands).

The HTC P3300 is not of the very latest technology (it came to the market a year ago), but I am happy that it works, and even better than I had hoped for.

There is off course that BIG question of: "Do I actually NEED all of this gadgettery". Is there not a better (smarter) life without it? Having spent days on fiddling, tweaking and updating and correcting my Outlook contacts to synchronize with the PDA, I could have been in the outdoors instead.

I also set-up mobile news feeds of my favorite blogs.

Thinking of my old-time favorite science fiction TV-series Star-Trek, I haven't yet found the type-II phaser button or a transporter function... Energize !

Or on a more personal note: would I today wish for a Tricorder?

A star fall, a phone call,
It joins all,

(The Police)

Thursday, December 06, 2007



In the Netherlands, 5 December marks the anniversary of Sinterklaas. His annual arrival in the Netherlands by steam ship from Spain is covered live on television. His "birthday" is anticipated by all children already a month in advance by putting shoes under the chimney for Sinterklaas and his many helpers to put sweets and small presents in. There is daily televised news coverage of Sint's preparations of getting all the presents to the children in-time; a major feat! The BIG DAY for presents is 5 December. The presents sometimes are in surprise packages and can contain 'sharply formulated' personal rhymes. It is engrained in the Dutch culture. It brings back memories of a care-free childhood and wonderful page-long personalized rhymes from Dad.

For many the tradition perpetuates when there are children, and grandparents for who you will always be a 'child'. Our family celebration of Sinterklaas lasted through me and my brothers' twenties.

This year I celebrated Sinterklaas on the island of Texel together with Karien, Jannie, Leo and Wim. Because in this case there was a game and 'chance' element, it was never clear that the present one unpacked would be the present that one would take home. We had a wonderful Sinterklaas evening.

I was amazed by the detailed knowledge that Sinterklaas has about sea kayaking. One 'glitch' might have been the 'tow line' that he gave me. It could have been a 'mistake' of a junior assistant Piet. Or Sint is reminding me that there is more in life than only sea kayaking... It indeed has large clips, it is strong and it has a shock absorber. But in any case, I now finally have an excellent tow-rope for my car. Thank you Sinterklaas!

Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten
Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten
Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten
Taai, taai, taai, taai, taai, taai
Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten

De beste vrienden van ons allemaal
Voor altijd en eeuwig, altijd en eeuwig, altijd en eeuwig
Altijd en eeuwig, altijd en eeuwig, altijd en eeuwig
Gul en royaal

Sinterklaas, wie kent hem niet - Henk Westbroek & Henk Temmink