Category Archives: All

All of the posts on this site.

Storming the Capitol, War Movies, and Defund DC

I have always thought war movies are stupid. Now that I have seen what Americans think war is, I can accurately identify why.

My Glorious War

I have been to war. I spent a total of one year in Afghanistan as a transport helicopter pilot. This is how an infantry Marine would politely describe my experience for me:

“Sir, you lived on camp cupcake. You slept in air crew air conditioning every night and had a hot shower most nights. You ate like a king three meals a day and shit on a toilet whenever you wanted. You never made the decision to pull a trigger to kill, you were ‘shot at’ one time and the enemy didn’t have snowball’s chance in hell to hit you. In four deployments, nobody in your unit was killed and only a few were hurt badly enough to be sent home. Nobody received so much as a scratch from the enemy. Thanks for the lift, sir, but you didn’t really see war.”

Infantry Marine, thanks to God, the US government, the USMC, Chesty Puller, good logistics, effective leadership – and most importantly your efforts on the ground, your description is absolutely accurate.

A year flying transport helicopters out of “camp cupcake” was my experience with war. It was no World War 1 trench, but when I see a riotous, frustrated mob walk into the capital building thinking they are starting some conflict, I see a bunch of soft, pampered, TV-saturated fatsos who barely have the attention span to bring a cooler and sunscreen to their picnic conflict. From what I heard, three of the five deaths were attributed to heart attack or stroke … ? Is this true? Some preparation.

War Movies and Video Games

“You have to see Saving Private Ryan, the bullets whizzing overhead are so realistic.” – If the movie didn’t make you physically cringe uncontrollably and say a spontaneous prayer, then no. One training throw of a hand grenade or close proximity to a 50-caliber machine gun being fired are the cure to believing that Saving Private Ryan is realistic. No speaker in the world can imitate the explosive concussion of a single hand grenade or a 50 cal. It is not a “sound,” it is an emotional experience bordering on religious. Trust me.

“What do you think of Band of Brothers? Is war like that?” David Schwimmer looking stupid is about the most realistic part of that show. Plan and enjoy a week-long camping trip with three friends or your family and you’ll know more about war than David Schwimmer and his merry band of whiners ever will with their endless strings of ironic one-liner complaining.

“Braveheart … Freedom!” William Wallace’s wife was beaten and then executed. His friend’s wife was raped. In the end he had his guts ripped out in public. Scotland voted to remain in the UK in 2014. Glorious.

Waste of time, and worse, now we have mobs of people who believe violence is an end in itself.

How many Americans have now grown up spending thousands of hours playing first-person shooter games? Required military officer reading literally references violent video games as training to commit violence:

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, by Dave Grossman

On Killing is recommended reading for officers in the US military. You want to know what violence and war are without going camping? Read it.

The Greeks fought violent hand-to-hand combat and logistically supplied themselves with their own families behind the front lines. That was war in ancient Greece. Tough people indeed. They had “cry sessions” after battles to overcome the trauma of close combat. They strictly forbade the depiction of violence in their entertainment.

What About the Various Anti-Police BLM Riots?

Also dumb. You want to be like them? Have those movements made any progress? Achieved any goals? You want to live in Seattle?

Work, Dedication, and a Cause

There are many frustrated Americans right now. Violence is not the solution. This is a good thing. Nobody has to be hurt or killed to get what we want.

We are frustrated with a central government that has grown too powerful and does not listen to you or care about you. You directly fund bloated Washington DC and the corporations that support it with your lifestyle, habits, money, and data. This is what you do to “fight” it:

  • Go outside. Go camping. Get in shape.
  • Cut all entertainment subscriptions including cable and Netflix.
  • Save money.
  • Support local food at farmer’s markets.
  • Learn a trade at a technical school.
  • Start a blog.
  • Lifetime boycott all social media.
  • Recycle your TV. Lifetime boycott all television.
  • Support local sports. Join a league. Join a gym. Occupy basketball courts. Occupy golf courses.
  • Lifetime boycott pro sports. They sold out. Sports are not television. Sports are not fantasy leagues. Sports is not ESPN. Support a minor league baseball team in person. Support the local D-3 student athletes and inspire your kids to participate like that. Life lessons.
  • Lifetime boycott college sports unless you or family are participating. D-1 sports never really represented university academics and universities folded with the rest during the pandemic.
  • What will you do with all the extra time? Learn to play an instrument. Start a garage band. Learn painting or photography.
  • Learn to cook healthy food.
  • Start a garden or organize a community garden.
  • Hunt. Support the humane lives of animals we eat. Stop supporting processed food corporations.
  • Like guns? Connect at the local shooting range. Support the local FOP. Learn who your sheriff is and what he stands for.
  • Prepare to home-school your kids as necessary. Organize with other parents around youth sports.

Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment. Defund DC.

Not easy, but the right thing to do.

Defund DC

Defunding is a strategy. The closest war word is “siege” and it is an effective strategy, especially long-term. Cutting off supplies is extremely effective.

Amateurs talk strategy and tactics. Professionals talk logistics and sustainability.

I support Americans for Tax Refrom: https://www.atr.org/about

Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment. Defund DC.

BRIC-US

What do Brazil, Russian, India, China, and the United States have in common? We all have capital cities that are geographically isolated from the populace by sheer size.

BRIC-US account for five of the seven largest countries in the world by area.

Brasília, capital of Brazil. Brasília’s population of 4.3 million is just 2.1% of Brazil. Distance to other major population centers: 16 hours to Rio de Janeiro / São Paulo, 30 hours to Salvador, 28 hours to the mouth of the Amazon River, more than 30 hours to Recife, Natal, or Fortaleza.

Moscow, capital of Russia. Moscow’s population of 12.5 million is 8.5% of Russia. Distance to other major population centers: 8 hours to St. Petersburg, 45 hours to Novosibirsk. Notable quiz question: how many cities in Russia are there with population over 2 million? Just two: Moscow and St. Petersburg. Wow.

New Delhi, capital of India. New Delhi’s population of 26.5 million is just 2.0% of India. Distance to other major population centers: 24 hours to Mumbai, 36 hours to Bangalore, 28 hours to Kolkata.

Beijing, capital of China. Beijing’s population of 21.5 million is just 1.5% of China’s population. Distance to other major population centers: 12 hours to Shanghai, 22 hours to Guanzhou, 28 hours to Xinjiang.

Washington DC, capital of the US. DC’s population of 6.2 million is 1.9% of the US population. Distance to other major population centers: 7 hours to Boston, 10 hours to Atlanta, 11 hours to Chicago, 21 hours to Houston, 39 hours to Los Angeles.

Social Programs

What happens if you administer education out of Brasília? Favelas. Brasília does not care.

How is Beijing on human rights? Xinjiang, what do you think? Concentration camps. Reeducation. Dystopia. Beijing does not care.

What are the chances of a fair election against Putin? Alexei Navalny, would you say Moscow meddled in your election? Dictatorship. Moscow does not care.

How is Washington DC doing on health? Multi-generational obesity epidemic feeding a bloated, confusing wealth care system that even the nurses don’t respect. We have a disease management system that profits from chronic illness and lobbies DC to continue poisoning Americans with high-fructose corn syrup, GMOs, sedentary lifestyles, and television advertisements for unnecessary pills whose side effects require more pills. Washington DC does not care.

Political Science

Want to give me a dissertation on why some large isolated capitals are okay and not others? Want to lecture me on why Washington DC is actually just fine? I am not a poli-sci major because I studied when I was in college and stuck with a real degree. Poli-sci graduates, your four years education is a bunch of details that cloud your common sense.

Common sense: sending tax money directly and automatically to a capital isolated from more than 90% of the population by more than an 8-hour drive is a horrible idea.

Follow the Money

What happens if I send my tax money along with millions of other people to a city completely separated from the population it “represents,” specifically designed to distribute tax money? Corruption. Cesspool. Swamp. Career politician = dictator.

In the US, people got frustrated and elected a reptile to fight a swamp full of reptiles. The professional thieves in DC have now ejected the foreign reptile and they think their swamp is safe to continue misrepresenting Americans and selling out to corporations.

BRIC-EU?

Hell no. Europeans from Dublin to Madrid to Berlin to Athens are not stupid enough to send 20-30% of their income directly and automatically to Brussels. They are paying attention. We need to.

Drain the Swamp

Sounds like I support the storming of the capitol, doesn’t it? Sounds like I support Trump maybe?

Absolutely not. Debacles both of them.

There is one fundamental aspect about America that feeds the corruption. The professional politicians in the swamp of Washington DC know it. Direct income taxation. Americans’ income gets siphoned directly from our paycheck before we even see it to get mad about paying it. The professional bureaucrat thieves from DC set it up that way purposely. Even state sales taxes do not have such an insidious arrangement – we see the price we pay and then the state sales tax gets added and we notice it and bitch about it. Even foreigners visiting the US complain about sales taxes.

$3.9 Trillion

$3.9 TRILLION per year quietly, voluntarily, automatically gets directed from Americans to far away Washington DC to fund the embarrassing circus of corruption that we show the world. It needs to end.

To put $3.9 trillion in perspective, which is just the income tax revenue of the US government in Washington DC:

$3.9 trillion would rank fourth in the world as a country’s GDP behind only the US (of course), China, and Japan. That means $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of Germany. $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of the UK. $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of any individual European country. $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of India.

$3.9 trillion sent to one city causes corruption: Washington DC really is a swamp.

The Solution

There is only one way to fix Washington DC. The bad news is it is difficult. The good news is it is straightforward and effective. We must repeal the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Do this and America survives. Do it not and we continue to directly fund the DC swamp.

Defund DC. Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment.

The money does not disappear. DC does not disappear. The money gets directed to local and state governments where real people are paying attention. The taxes get managed by people who are not separated from their constituents by a continent that allows them to thieve at will. The taxes get managed locally by mildly shady local politicians who have to consider what their neighbors think. Local politicians are shady but get the job done. Career politicians are criminals.

Republicans, you want to drain the swamp? Do it. For real.

Democrats, you want representative socialism? Do it – but pay attention. Administer it from Boston Massachusetts, Austin Texas, Saint Paul Minnesota, Columbus Ohio.

Bernie followers, you want free universities? The systems are already in place. California public universities are already free. In-state tuition is already low in most states. Make it lower, but do it from that list of capital cities that are within a morning’s drive from all of their people who pay for it and benefit from it.

The US Versus BRIC and MORE Government

What separates the US from the BRIC countries? One thing has historically made the US the world leader and not among a list of huge countries that remain in the third world (BRIC). The one thing is our public schools. Our public schools are locally-funded and give the vast majority of Americans at least a chance at college prep. Our public schools are effective local government.

You want to tell me the US is becoming a third world country? I know. That’s the point. This is why and this is how to fix it.

You want to complain about the US and compare us to Brazil, Russia, India, or China? Sign up your 7-year-old for an exchange program to swap with a kid in any of those countries. Millions of 7-year-olds around the world would be signed up for the exchange. The exchange 7-year-olds would show up ready to wear the most restrictive uniform you could find, no cell phone, and starve his / her way through school for a chance to be educated in America. Their parents would put their 7-year-old on a plane tomorrow not to be seen until they are 18 if their kid had the chance.

Local funding works. Fund local social programs. Organize locally.

Replace DC.

Counter-Examples

Canada is probably the best example (besides the US so far) of a successful large country with a geographically isolated capital.

Australia finishes out the global top seven and might be a good counter-example but most of the population is on the east coast together with the capital. The Aussies have to stay united or they risk becoming a province of China.

Look down the rest of the list beyond India. Of BRIC-US, except for India, each is more than 3x the size of Argentina, the eighth largest country in the world. BRIC-US countries are huge. Our scales do not compare to any other countries in the world.

Argentina is the largest country in South America besides Brazil. Buenos Aires contains 34.7% of the Argentine population. If you include Córdoba and Santa Fe provinces, you already account for 49% of the Argentine population. Easily more than half of Argentines live within 8 hours of Buenos Aires. The rest of Argentina is Patagonia.

Kingdom of Denmark is high on the list only because of Greenland.

France is the largest country in Europe by area besides Ukraine. Paris contains 18.8% of the French population. Paris is not in the geographic center, and still the furthest major city is Nice at the southeastern extreme of the country, only 9 hours away. The European portion of France is the 48th largest country in the world by area. India is 6x the size of European France and Brazil is 15x the size of European France.

The Pfizer Genetic Immune Boost

I posted this around 12 December and within a week my web host had a hardware failure on my server in which I lost data for the first time in six years of having a site. This is the re-write. Let’s see how long it lasts this time.

This is a summary of what Pfizer and the CDC themselves are saying about their own injections. This is plain as day on their sites and should be common knowledge with some basic informed questions they are not publicizing because they don’t know the answers.

Sources: Pfizer, CDC, FDA, Wikipedia

https://www.pfizer.com/news/hot-topics/the_facts_about_pfizer_and_biontech_s_covid_19_vaccine

https://www.pfizer.co.uk/behind-science-what-mrna-vaccine

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/8-things.html

https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine

The Word “Vaccine”

The word “vaccine” comes from the Latin word for cow because the first effective vaccine was to introduce cowpox to children to initiate an immune response. Most vaccines are a variation of this: give a weakened form of an infectious agent that triggers an immune response.

Vaccines are kinda natural.

Genetic Immune Boost

These injections are RNA. The ‘m’ in ‘mRNA’ stands for ‘messenger’ or ‘mod’ I have seen both. RNA is genetic. Fact. These injections are a genetic instruction to your cells to make protein. Making protein is exactly what genetics is. These injections are genetic instructions. Do they change your DNA? Not directly, but they are genetic instructions. Do they trigger an immune response? Yes, that’s the point in this case.

Genetic immune boost is not natural.

Injections, Plural

Why am I saying ‘injections,’ plural? Not just one or two – continuous. The truly effective vaccines that have given vaccination such a good name rely on our immune system’s durable immunity to an infectious agent. For diseases like smallpox, measles, etc. our immune system needs only see the infection once and it gains immunity for life, or at least decades. This is not the case for COVID-19. There have already been reports of individuals infected multiple times with COVID-19. Even Pfizer is not claiming the immune boost lasts longer than 6 months to two years. These genetic instructions must continue.

Note: Pfizer and the CDC are changing their sites fast. I can no longer find the “six months to two years” reference … The CDC is currently saying immunity after infection with COVID-19 is 90 days! 90 days, not even six months!

Effective?

Will genetic immune boost eradicate COVID-19 from the planet? Absolutely not. Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1979 and it is a miracle of modern medicine. Thank vaccines. Vaccines are great. However, the list of diseases for which we vaccinate that have not been eliminated is much longer, measles and polio for example. For those diseases, our immune systems have durable immunity. For COVID-19, we probably do not even have durable immunity to help out. Coronaviruses are here to stay.

Will this immune boost even continue to work for a few years with repeated injections? How long can our immune systems be forced into “high alert”? How many times can you inject RNA into an arm muscle and keep making and reacting to antigen proteins before the body stops reacting or starts reacting adversely? Long-term injection site scarring? Nobody is even asking that real question.

Synthetic and Cheap

One of the main advantages Pfizer lists on its own site is that the injection material is cheap and synthetic. Supposedly it is a good thing that they are injecting synthetic genetic material.

Side Effects?

We have all seen the list of side effects to pharma pills on the endless commercials especially in the US. Are we expecting these to be the first injections with few side effects? I am not. There will be side effects especially over time.

Pain at the Injection Site

Yes, of course pain at the injection site. What happens when we continuously instruct the creation of protein antigens and our arms get clogged up with extra proteins our bodies were never supposed to make? I would say “pain at the injection site” is a good start, yes. Now repeat every year or so indefinitely and see what happens to your arm.

Complete Unknowns: Autoimmune Diseases?

Will the injections cause these diseases specifically? I doubt it, but life is a finely-tuned chemical reaction. You mess with it, the possibilities are endless. Anything outside the norm is bad. COVID-19 is bad, sure. Continuous synthetic RNA injections? I’ll take the occasional COVID-19, thank you very much.

Type 1 diabetes is a known autoimmune problem. Our immune system can harm us. There have been outbreaks among children who live in the same location that were never explained.

We still do not know what causes autism. Is it autoimmune related? We do not know, but Japan did a study to test it and did not MMR immunize a test group of children for three years to see if the autism disappeared. Autism did not disappear and therefore it was not shown that the autism is related to vaccination in that small study, but we still do not know and it was suspected.

Just look at this list of autoimmune diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis for example. You recognize them and we do not know exactly why they occur. We just know that our immune system causes them.

Bell’s Palsey? Maybe, we don’t know. No definitive connection established but it’s openly a possibility on the FDA website. Read, people. It’s not complicated.

There are many things we do not know. What will happen if we start injecting RNA instructions en masse? How long will it take for problems to emerge? We are not talking about allergic reactions here. Many months? Years? Do not tell me COVID-19 is an emergency. If this were an emergency, we would go outside and ventilate.

Search EBSRS3

Quit TV Cold Turkey

I quit TV cold turkey about 17 years ago, in 2003. I was about 20 years old. I had always watched some TV up to that point with whatever free time I had, maybe an hour a day. I did not consciously quit. I just moved and never bought a TV. I still watch movies if they are planned and I sit down to watch one I’ve chosen with friends. I also watch live sports, which I prefer to watch in a public place like a bar.

Stage 1: “I’m Missing Something”

For several years, I felt like I was missing something. I felt like people knew something I didn’t know.

Stage 2: “No, They’re Missing Something”

Maybe 5 years in, I started realizing I was getting all the relevant news within a few days just by hearing conversations. I wasn’t missing anything, I was just getting it second-hand. Instead of “news” I was seeing people’s emotional reactions to the news and it was very disconnected from real life. For the first time, I felt like they were missing something, not me.

Stage 3: Produce for Perspective

In 2014 I started a blog with the goal of being able to at least amateur produce every type of media available. In 2018 I spent a lot of time learning to record and edit video. That gave me really interesting perspective.

Often when watching a movie now I’ll switch to imagining the studio set around the scene instead of the movie plot and it transforms their acting into an awkward situation. You have to be a bit maniacal to act as intensely as actors do in a movie studio full of colleagues.

The teleprompter is the other thing I notice. For a monologue looking into a camera, one minute continuously is about the max I can memorize to record. Watching news anchors or commentators go on and on for 20 minutes reading a teleprompter with feeling as though they really believe what they are saying it is creepy. The teleprompter is obvious if you have ever tried to record a message into a camera.

Stage 4: Twilight Zone

Within the last few years I’ve more and more gotten the feeling that I’m John Boyega’s character from the movie The Circle. Fun to imagine I’m a hero of course! I still see people’s emotional reactions to news and TV shows that are mostly fictional or over-dramatized – but now those emotional reactions are widespread enough that they are literally the news. It’s bizarre.

With the coronavirus recently I made a concerted effort to systematically find the most truthful, reliable, objective news sources possible. It is helpful to have actionable information.

TV I Have Seen

I can nearly list all of the TV I have seen for 15+ years and why I saw it.

In early 2008 my roommate had several seasons of The Office on DVD. We binge-watched 3 seasons in a weekend. That’s the last TV show I really got hooked on and binge-watched.

In 2009, my roommate had a TV and I watched a lot of Family Guy by default because he watched it all the time. It was comical how little else we watched. Pure random Family Guy episodes. 90+%.

In 2011-2013, I remember that several of the new type of TV series started coming out because people were binging Dexter, Eastbound and Down, Breaking Bad, Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The conversations sounded like fun but watching the shows sounded like a chore to me. I never did. I would say by this point I had completely lost interest. I was irreversibly uninterested.

I played a video game for the last time in ~2001. I played Age of Empires for about four hours straight. I attended a swim meet afterward and I was imagining the people to be little characters from the game. I haven’t played anything since other than maybe Wii at friends’ houses.

Gone Sailing

On 2 November 2020 I decided to depart the corporate career path (energy engineer) for the rest of my life. My knee-jerk solution was to learn to sail and make sailing my occupation somehow. Regardless of what I do, I made the decision because of a fundamental idea: I am convinced that true progress in the next several decades will not be in new technologies, but in learning to use the existing technologies in a more wholesome way. As I went down the list of categories on my blog, I realized my decision affects almost every category.

Brazil Now What Migration Series: I once again do not know where I will go.

English Lessons: language is basic. Will I teach English from a sailboat?

Industrial Change Surfing: Industrial Change Surfing is about decisions – this was an enormous decision based on industrial changes.

Rage and Frenzy Politics: I believe the current polarized divisive politics partly arise from frustration with the diminishing returns of tech. (A pause for sailing is in order!)

Real Estate: boats are floating real estate. (the tax is maintenance!)

Travel: Sailing is the oldest form of long-distance water travel!

Ventures Quarterly: I have not been faithful to quarterly updates lately, but this obviously represents a ventures update.

Concentrated Exhaled Breath


This video on YouTube

Recommended: How Cabin Air Systems Work

https://pall.com/en/aerospace/commercial-fixed-wing/how-cabin-air-systems-work.html

Recommended: The Mathematics of Weight Loss

https://www.tedxtokyo.com/translated_talk/the-mathematics-of-weight-loss/

  1. Be outside
  2. Open the windows
  3. Put a fan in a window
  4. Ventilation
Everything else is show.

Solutions and Relevant Industries

  • Will outdoor meeting spaces get a boost?
    • Will we set up meetings in parks with mobile audio equipment? simple Bluetooth speakers for example. I have already heard of this in some schools.
  • Will we have hoses running to each workstation to selectively exhaust or filter exhaled breath? – this sounds funny but I really think we will see this if it does not already exist and I just don’t know.
  • Will we investigate air flow within each room of a building to maximize the exhaled breath content of the exhaust air? (better efficiency) Airplane cabin air systems already do this.
  • Mobile air sanitation devices?
  • air flow
  • ventilation
  • energy cost of fresh air
  • air flow visualization
  • energy recovery ventilation ERV
  • heat recovery ventilation HRV
  • air balancing

Search EBSRS3

Brazil Now What 10: Sailing

I have always been interested in sailing but I consider myself a land lover. I thought sailing would remain a dream unfulfilled, but now with the world freaked out by a virus, the ocean is calling.

Employers?

Sailing Holidays, UK

World Sailing, governing body of sport sailing, UK

PR Sailing, Netherlands

Brussels International Sailing Club

Dr. Sails, Barcelona

The Moorings Yacht Charters, Clearwater

Dream Yacht Charter, Surbiton, Surrey

Sunsail Yacht Charter

Nautal, Barcelona

YachtCharterFleet, London

ClickandBoat, Boulogne-Billancourt

Sailing Enjoy South America, Buenos Aires

Brazil Now What 9: KU Leuven Master of Engineering: Energy

Of all the universities in the world in 2020, I feel like I was at one of the best ones. The academics at KU Leuven are challenging and relevant. The university itself was taking the real action necessary to stop the virus.

Yet they still went online. I tried. I don’t do online.

Thanks you KU Leuven for the effort. I continued at KU Leuven much longer than I would have at most other universities, I am sure.

Leuven Info

Recycling and Separation

Step 1: know what the “fractions” are. Best separation info I have seen is the photo below:

This handy info is in the Living in Leuven from A to Z handbook under ‘W’ for waste. KU Leuven distributes the handbook at orientation. I wish there were a better photo of this somewhere. Maybe a poster? Anybody?

Step 2: get yourself some bags based on what you think you need. Maybe coordinate with neighbors as the bags are quite large for one person. Where to buy the recycling bags? I bought mine at Carrefour. Various places sell them. Ask at the checkout.

Step 3: the Recycle! app (icon below) can tell you when trash will be picked up at your address. Once you put your address in the app (ask your neighbors or landlord exactly what to enter) it tells you what will be collected what days and can remind you.

The app can also tell you where to take items in fractions that are not one of the main categories.

Note: I heard from multiple sources that in March 2021 the pink bags are going away and the items in that fraction will be joined with the blue bags – so don’t buy a lifetime supply of pink bags now.

The app cannot help you know what to separate. The grainy picture above is better than the app for that.

Groceries

  • Delhaize is good. It is the only grocery store I have been to so far. Delhaize also has a delivery option that works great.
  • Grote Markt has farmer’s food markets on Saturday. It may be everyday, but I know I saw them Saturday. I believe they are the best price.
  • ALDI has better prices than Delhaize I hear but I haven’t had a chance to compare yet.
  • There are little markets everywhere.
  • You can have restaurant food delivered with Deliveroo. Easy to use, but gets expensive fast.

Miscellaneous Shopping

  • HEMA is not the “saver” option but has many things: bed sheets, kitchen items, utensils, pots and pans, many things.
  • Carrefour is where I bought my city trash bags.
  • Action, I have not been to yet, but I think has more items like HEMA.
  • Handy Home Merckx is a big hardware store. I bought a coffee thermos and power adapter there.
  • SPIT is second-hand items so if you get lucky there and find what you want you save money. If you have extra, you can donate here.
  • Diestsestraat from the Leuven city center to the ring road, if you have a shopping list and walk that street you are sure to find many things you need. Also, the Stadskantoor (CIty Hall) is very visible at end of Diestsestraat and you will need the Stadskantoor. The train station is by the Stadskantoor as well.
  • Also Bondgenotenlaaan, which is one street over from Diestsestraat, has shopping.

Cell phone SIM card

If you need a Belgian SIM, Orange works great for €15 per month for 4Gb plus texts and 50 minutes prepaid. The data is valid for a month, so the result is usually €15 / month unless you want more minutes. If you do not need the data, the minutes and texts are valid I think 3 months so even cheaper that way.

Fun Dutch language material, click here.

Reality Overdose

With modern technology, media, and communication, one can access unlimited amounts of whatever one wants. For me, I went “extreme reality.” For years I selected entertainment that was pure non-fiction of some form. The following is a short list of the most mind-blowing descriptions of reality that I consumed, either by reading or listening:

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. I include this mostly because so many people mention it when discussing reality topics. It is good, but it takes a distant second place to Sapiens.

The History of our World in 18 Minutes, TED Talk by David Christian. Fascinating, just what the title says. The universe in 18 minutes. What to Watch 6

What is so Interesting about the Human Brain, TED Talk by Suzana Herculano-Houzel. Mind-blowing. “Man smart, therefore man make fire,” … ? No. Well yes, but, “Man make fire, therefore man get smarter.” The cause-effect is reversed according to her because of food energy. Makes sense. What to Watch 6

The Fall and Rise of China, a lecture series in The Great Courses, by Richard Baum. I listened to this beginning to end twice. The extremes of the Chinese Communist Party and China in general as a country are absolutely shocking.

What to Watch 24: Energy of an Industrialized Society. I do a pretty good job here of putting modern energy consumption in historical context – in under four minutes.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger. This is focused on US military experience and connects the experience to our human need to feel belonging in small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding.

Sand Talk, by Tyson Yunkaporta, a look at global systems from the indigenous perspective. Imagine there is an indigenous university with an anthropology department studying industrialized global systems. What he says is recognizable in everyday life.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Horari. This is the real kicker. If you want to skip the rest of reality, start with this. Every chapter, you are left thinking, “My God, no way. But yeah, sounds about right.” I personally think he goes too far in predicting a hyper-tech bionic man future with aspirations of “a-mortality,” but maybe I’m just hoping.

Sapiens asserts that a unique quality of humans is our complex language, our ability to communicate complex imagined realities, and our ability to act in unity on shared imagined realities. As he described what appears to be the probable objective reality, I felt the strong urge to immediately stop reading, and curl up into a ball until I can forget what he said and return to the blissful ignorance of human fantasy-land.

My favorite novel is The Great Gatsby. I read it for the second time in 2015 and that may be the last time I read a novel. But now it’s time to return to fiction.