More Reminiscing

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Let’s sail  through…

For the first 19 to 20 years of my life I walked along a long and interesting path towards adulthood. O, how I hated the consequences of growing -up. “Act responsible, stand-up straight, only speak when spoken to, don’t pick your nose… ANY NOSE, for that matter!”.

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Life was indeed going way too fast. And just before turning legally into an adult, at the age of 21, the Dutch government changed the legal age to 18… Bastards! I was so hard trying NOT to be an adult and when my body turned 21, it was already three years over due.

Luckily, I did live my live to the fullest… Especially as a child. All the way up to the military service…

From then on I was to become a man… with enough space reserved in my heart for a big child.

Let me take you on a trip down my memory lane, passing 4 places where I had my innocence tested…

Meppel played a huge role in your life, while exploring your boundaries… boundaries of any kind. I have fond memories on you being in Meppel. It was the place of your voluntary birth and the place where you followed your secondary education. And where you enjoyed weekends filled with bars, drinking, dancing, headaches, first loves and second regrets. You also had your first weekend jobs in Meppel. Let me help you spill some of your beans…

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Our neighbour’s son was called Roedi. He was almost a year older than I was and my first memories of Meppel definitely involved him. Apparently I used to escape the backyard of our house and climb into theirs, ending up at their backdoor, pressing my face against the window and with a snotty nose shouted “OEDI OOK? OEDI OOK?”… 

cartoon, doodle, painting-1300894.jpgI still have some speech issue with the pronunciation of the letter “R”. Even had special classes when attending Primary School in Nijeveen to learn how to say words containing the lettel “L”, together with my long-lost fliend, with whom I did the naughtiest stuff thloughout oul fliendship. 

Another traumatic memory popping up in my head, was me being dressed up as Flipje Tiel for some yearly parade in the city. Flipje is a commercial character, representing the Jam business of the city of Tiel. 

My mom made the whole outfit by herself and everybody seemed quite impressed with her work. I hated it! I HATED IT! I was so upset on anyone even coming near me… DON’T PULL MY BERRIES!!!! Everybody did that and I HATED THAT SUIT!!!! I AM SO NOT A BERRY!!!!!


I sit here wondering why I recollect so much about what happened with me during my toddler years. Some of it I recollect as a “I will tell you what you did”-stories told by my mom. But most memories are sourced from deep within me. Like this one.

At a certain age, my mom would drop me off at some toddler day-care facility in the neighbourhood.

But one morning I found myself on the backseat of a bicycle, locked in between Oedi and… his dad? WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? MOM? I HARDLY KNOW HIM! I WANT OFF!!! I NEVER CONSENTED TO THIS…

I must have smashed his dad’s back to a pulp… I felt so angry, sad, confused, abandoned and alone… Mom… why?

You always tanned very quickly into a deep dark-brownish boy. You won many tanning competitions while in primary school. The foundations for a good tan were laid when you were still crawling around in your diapers in the backyard of the house in Meppel.

When the weather would allow it, your Mom would have you play outside on a blanket or in the pram, almost naked, enjoying the sun. She once told you that many people who saw you wondered if you were adopted…

Nope, all natural baby… just taking good care of my skin… you should try that once.toddler, baby, child-213697.jpg

And my mom told me a story involving my little sister and her kindergarten school. 

One morning my mom received a call from the kindergarten, asking “Do you miss Jan?” My mom panicked and immediately checked the garden at the back… called out my name and run back inside, exclaiming “YES… HE IS GONE…”.panic, big eyes, crooked hands-1393619.jpg

“Well, no worries… he is here… looking for his sister… Yes, he is ok… in one piece yes… we will keep him here and you can pick him up later… yes, he is fine, really!”.

My mom wasn’t really angry with me, she told me. I did give her a fright when she recalled the route I must have followed in search for my sister.

That route was not for sissies and from that moment on she knew I would find my way in life just fine.

Your first weekend jobs were also in Meppel. At 15 you had your first weekend job, working as a stock clerk at the Albert Heyn in Meppel. That was fun! Within two years you got a position as a cashier, manning the registry together with 10 ladies, and… Oedi! Your neighbour-friend, from your toddler years, also got a job as a cashier at AH. O, WOW! What a fun you both had!

We always had long queues of desperate housewives queuing up at our counters for an exciting time of grocery-shopping and a laugh… or two… Those were the times prior barcoding and a scanner… for real!register, cash, money-810546.jpg

Every item had to be manually registered. Every price of every item typed into the registrar, for final totalling. “Isn’t that item cheaper?”, “Doesn’t that come with a free cup?”, “Aren’t the Brussel sprouts on special?” Oedi and I were masters in our creative ways of addressing those doubting, spending, till slip-879498.jpg

I remembered we would register lesser amounts on some items and correct the shortfalls later in the process, by upping the prices of other items. Those who checked every entry kept quiet as long as they saw the lower price but would almost climb over the counter when they registered a higher price. They learned quickly that we are NOT there to be micro-managed… BACK-OFF! GET YOUR HANDS OF ME…

But we always stayed very professional, overly friendly and customer centric. Still, in the end we were not allowed to sit next to each other anymore… Not even for moral and emotional support. BUT… we had fun! Till I moved on to my second weekend job at an age of 17 years.

The second weekend job was in the same city at a record shop, called Spans, selling LP records and small musical instruments. A mecca for someone loving music so much. I worked there for about a year but experienced hundreds of years of musical development during that time. I witnessed the introduction of the CD and was always allowed to play whatever I wanted to hear over the store’s music system. 

I also had my first girlfriend during that period. Man! School… a job… a girlfriend… and a future to think about… what a stressful life I had… I need a beer…

Luckily Meppel had a great disco & bar scene and, after being introduced to it by my youngest sister, I spent many weekends strolling the popular bars and disco. 

My youngest sister shared with me all the tricks in the book of “how to deal with overly strict parents, while still having a blast of a time…” and I was a quick learner… I had many blasts! And many friends sharing in the blasts. I could write a book, covering all the fun and nonsense we had in Meppel and in Nijeveen, but let me first reminisce Nijeveen.

One challenge crossed your path while spending time having fun and that was a short, but nasty gambling addiction. Almost every bit of money you made, was spent on satisfying your gambling habit.  You had to deal with it before it would destroy your life and your relationships.

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And you did deal with it… at some point! Proud of you…

Yeah, I think that early in your life you learned to face your demons, acknowledge them, and deal with them. Sometimes it took other people to open your eyes, but you never kept them closed out of stubbornness.

Well done!

You lived together with your ex in Meppel for most of your tertiary study times, commuting between Meppel and Groningen for almost three years. You got married while living in Meppel and started your professional carreer from there, commuting between Meppel and Almere for almost two years. 

compass, map, navigation-8324516.jpgYeah, commuting became a familiar way of life quite early in your life… even before you started your career you seriously moved around. But not to Brazil, or any place in South America for that matter. That continent is the only continent on earth where a public toilet doesn’t carry my name… “Jan might still be here…look around you…”

All that traveling and moving around might have contributed towards your unfortunate divorce, and maybe if… 

Nahhh, that was for a completely different reason, but let’s not give it a name… ai generated, woman, portrait-8490591.jpg

You lived in Nijeveen from 1971 till the start of your higher studies in 1988. Your enjoyed your Primary & Secondary school years in this smallish village. And there was always something to do or to discover in and around Nijeveen.

You had a diverse mix of friends. Some were considered loners or weirdos by the popular gang, but they too brought you some valuable experiences. And shocking developments in the world even impacted a small village like Nijeveen and brought in a new classmate. A very beautiful girl from Vietnam, who escaped that country by boat, packed with hundreds of others… unimaginable… and she was just the first of many “foreigners” to come.

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There were a few friends that played a huge role during your adolescent years in Nijeveen. Weekend parties, New Year celebrations, cycling to secondary school or the bars and disco in Meppel, were predominantly shared with a few, and they remained in your heart. You even had a reunion with most of them back in 2017, while visiting the Netherlands for your divorce proceedings.

Some more memories…

I loved growing up in Nijeveen and could stroll for hours through the fields, filled with cows, mud and hidden age-old artifacts, like old clay pipes and faulty condoms. Yeah, going through my primary school years was a time filled with swamps, cows, angry farmers and dirty clothes. Coming home after school, have something to eat, drink lots of tea, change into a proper discovery outfit and away I was.  “Be home in time for dinner Jan!”

Destination was always a small stretch of swamp, where only the brave would dare to play. But not many dared to go there on their own. Minimum two… that was the unwritten rule. One would face certain death when adventuring to the swamp by oneself. Drowning, shot by a lost German WW2 soldier, the tigerrrr, or the police who tried to catch you and lock you up for life for trespassing. 

fog, fall, nature-267978.jpgI can recall several occasions where the farmer and its accomplishes had alerted the cops on us trespassing his land. They would stand at the gate, waiting for us to pass, to teach us a lesson. We already saw them the moment we decided to go home. The swamp was about 750 meter inland and in stead of them teaching us a lesson, we would try to lure them into the swamp, teaching THEM a lesson on how to be young & fearless.

We would approach the fence up to maybe 200 meters, all the time wildly gesturing, “WE’RE COMING… WAIT… WHAT? CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Of course we heard them quite clearly. “WE KNOW YOUR NAMES! COME IMMEDATELY HERE… OR WE WILL DEAL WITH YOUR PARENTS!”  “WHAHAAT?” 

smiley, emoticon, naughty-681580.jpgAnd we would continue playing deaf and dumb till they were so frustrated that they started to jump the fence and chase us… WOW, how red their faces were and how clumsy they tried their best to stay on their fancy leathered feet, while cursing their courage to the highest levels. But the coppers were no match for us. We knew where to safely jump the water channels. But they were persistent and getting more and more frustrated. Steaming!

Anyway, we always made sure NOT to get caught and ultimately lure them into the swamp. There we could run freely and follow our yellow brick road… there they were doomed to wet shoes, socks, pants and very badly damaged egos. 

My mom never forbid me to go there. She understood the pains and pleasures of growing up very well. Thanks mom. You are my rebel!

Having three siblings, with you being the youngest, has its advantages. One big dis-advantage was the fact that no new stuff was to be bought, till the old was absolutely of no use anymore.

And bicycles, although an important part of the Dutch culture and definitely gender specific, were passed on from sibling to sibling. I always ended up with my sister’s old bicycle… Not such a big deal, one would say… but they were girl’s bicycles… WITHOUT A MIDDLE BAR! Everybody could see that immediately! Comments like “Still not ready, are you?” and “Jan is a gu-hirl”, were getting to me. I was almost 10!

Out of protest I mounted that bicycle as if it had a middle bar… like mounting a horse… I would demonstratively swing my leg OVER the saddle, without any foot on the pedal for balance… just to show all I was worthy for a middle bar and that my balls dropped ages ago.

One day my parents made me the happiest boy by telling me that I will get a new bicycle for my birthday, with a… MIDDLE  BAR! A boy’s bicycle! And on my birthday I run to my parents, begging for my present. “After breakfast.”

After an annoyingly slow family breakfast my parents told me to check the garage. “your new bic…”… Before my dad could finish his sentence, I already opened the garage door. And there… In the middle of the garage… stood my… sister’s old bicycle… with a broomstick taped between the saddle bar and the steering column…? “ARE YOU GUYS SERIOUS?… WHAAAHAHAHAAA….”. Quick… a getaway! I felt tears welling up… Surely I was adopted… 

The same morning my parents gave me my real gift. A brand new bicycle, with a bright yellow banana saddle and BMX wheels, plus high steering bars. 

WOW… now, THAT was any boy’s wet dream… at ten!

witer, birch trees, birch-1446498.jpgBoth winters of 1978-1979 were long – more than three months – and harsh. There was so much snow that large parts of Drenthe were cut off from the outside world. The snowy mountains were meters high! In addition, a thaw front caused prolonged freezing rain. As a result, the roads were very slippery. But in addition to the nuisance, the extreme weather also made for beautiful winter pictures. And we as kids we had some days off from school and were having ice-skating tournaments on the streets. I loved it!

I had some pictures of me on my skates, but must have lost them. The video below will give you some idea of how bad the situation was.

Winter 1978- 79 in the north of the Netherlands

In the last years of you attending primary school, you spent many weekends in and around Havelte.

The far stretched forests attracted you more than the dangerous route you had to cycle to get there, would deter you from going there. And dangerous it was. 

Big brutal tractors, operated by farmers or their helper, would pass left, right or centre. No designated lanes existed yet, and now I can understand why my parents were not happy with me going to Havelte all by myself. Then it was part of my growing pains. Sorry mom and dad! 

My mom knew, and most of the time she would pack me a sandwich and some drinks so I would not be found somewhere on route dying of hunger or dehydration. 

“And you wear clean underwear Jan? You never know what happens…”. My sweetest mom was always worried about me ending up in an accident and, while being transported to a hospital, my skid marks would be discovered by the emergency personnel… “DO WE HAVE A PULSE? HARDLY? WE ARE LOSING HIM! THOSE SKID MARKS ARE… HUGE… AND SO DISTRACTING! COVER THEM!” 

I love you sooo much mom!

I spent most of my time by myself in Havelte. Havelte was filled with kms of narrow sandy paths, glowing through the forests. Excellent to show off your cycling and BMX-skills to all the impressed locals, walking their dog… enjoying the vast stretches of forest.

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They didn’t particularly appreciate a young lad on his bicycle disturbing their well-earned peace. And many send their dog chasing me around on my newly created BMX track. They didn’t bite as foul as their owners barked and I learned to avoid those who seek a fight for next to nothing.

I did however knew how to quiet those barking owners, by shouting at them that “THIS IS NOT THE LAST OF IT! I KNOW YOUR PARENTS!”. That would normally create a silence during which they would scratch their heads, wondering “what?”, giving me ample of time to vacate the area to a different stretch of forest.

ohh la la, french, france-2270869.jpgAround the time I, or rather we, experienced my first French kiss, my fiends and I would cycle up to the Havelterberg for many hours of fun, while having butterflies making love in our stomachs. During one of such outings, what started as a controllable fire, turned into a runaway full heathland fire.

It was in the middle of summer and the heath was dry and the grass pollen growing in between were brown and even dryer. Optimum conditions for a veld fire.

Some of my “friends” disappeared as quickly as the butterflies made way for the panic bugs. Wow! We used our shoes, jackets and tops beating ferociously on patches of fire, but could not do much more than hoping for some serious firefighting equipment to arrive. 

After some time help arrived in the form of the military fire brigade, stationed at a military field close by. They were alarmed by the thick patches of smoke circling around the base and came out in full force. That base was one of the American Nuclear Storage facilities within Europe…. that might have expedited their help.

Anyway, most of us staid in support of the military efforts till we could hear “CLEAR” all around us. We were scolded at, right fully so, and promised NOT to do that ever again! They played as stupid as we did when the police questioned us. Maybe they already knew that most of us would suffer from nightly nightmares, involving burned remains of people, pets, jackets, sheep and shirts. 

My mom questioned me about the burn marks on my jeans, shoes and the loss of my jacket. But most concerning to her was seeing me with a crumbled package of Drum Tabaco in my back pocket… “JAN!? DO YOU SMOKE…?”

Me…? why?

O God! How I missed my jacket…

Giethoorn is also called the Venice of Netherlands, with its many canals, boats and tourists. Over 50 narrow wooden bridges cross the canals, excluding the 100+ privately owned, big arching ones, leading to private properties and officially restricted to the public.

The narrow crossings were just wide enough for pedestrians, with maybe a dog or a baby stroller, but not really for two lovers holding hands while crossing the bridges.

And especially not for a bunch of wild young ones, cycling through traffic like they were they only ones using the narrow pathways and crossings.

Giethoorn used the police force of a different village and they were hardly ever there. But when they were there, patrolling the canal sidewalks, they were a force to be reckoned with. But on foot… and no match for some daredevils on their “wild horses”. But the risk of ending up in the canal, diving for your bicycle, was real and high… What a challenge!!!

Much later they really enforced the “NO CYCLING” rule and all had to dismount their bicycle and walk next to it…

Party Poopers!

Sometimes we would rent a boat and get stuck in between the many, many other inexperienced captains trying to navigate the narrow canals. And when Asia discovered Europe and found their way down to Giethoorn, all fun ended.

Have a look.

It is about 10 km from Nijeveen to Giethoorn.

The route would take you passed huge stretches of agricultural land. And the closer you got to Giethoorn, the more you became aware of the influence the water had on the shape of the land. And all that water required big and smaller bridges.

Under one of such picturesque bridges I had my first French kiss…. with no experience but friends guiding me through all the expected facial movements, hanging over the edge of the bridge, making weird gestures… awkward… very awkward…

Luckily way before any mobile was ever on the market… No pictures…

While going through my Secondary school years in Meppel, I befriended a guy who lived in Giethoorn. His family owned a beautiful, partially renovated, huge farm on the outskirts of Giethoorn.

The joy of access by road or by water, without the nuisance of too many tourists.

They were a lovely family and I spent many weekends on their farm, learning to play guitar or together take the family boat for a drive on the canals and the lakes. He was a really good friend and I learned lots of good character traits during that period.

He used to lent me his Solex to commute between Giethoorn and Nijeveen on days I could not stay over, only on the promise to return it the next day. He entrusted me with his best! What a friend.

I loved the time on the water. Especially during the spring time, when all the reed farmers would burn their unharvested reeds.

Thick clouds of smoke filed the skies, your lungs & your clothing and laid a thick blanket on top of the water to navigate through.

What a joy!


One of the early Dutch, world renowned,  actors and parttime comedian lived in Giethoorn. His name was Rijk de Gooijer (RIP)…

Most acting roles he got, were related to the second world war, WW2. Playing a German SS officer was his forte. But I knew him best as the celebrity who would do his own shopping in Meppel… at the Albert Heijn… where I worked as a cashier. 

And I had the pleasure of having had him twice cueing up at my line. I liked him. No arrogance, just accepting the wait. Even with his wife acting like a diva, Rijk always kept his composure and politely awaited his turn.

It must have been his second cueing experience at my checkout line and for some reason I felt it right to simply not show any form of acknowledgement of his celebrity status. The others in front of him were excitingly mumbling his name, while thumbing as discretely as possible over their shoulder towards the one we all saw first!

There was a guy in line just before Rijk, excitingly awaiting his turn and when our eyes locked, he loudly whispered “That is Rijk… RIJK DE GOOIJER!!!”, while thumbing my focus from him, over his shoulder, to Rijk.

I took a long, long look at Rijk. Examining his posture as if he was a picture of something never seen before. I refocused my stare to the guy, who was clearly awaiting a compliment for his unsurpassed observatory skills, and I said somewhat annoyed “No, he’s not…” 

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“IT IS…. IT’S HIM!”, he reacted way to dramatically. 

I looked at him with utter surprise of his ignorance and blunt stupidity, and beggingly replied, “HE IS NOT HIHIM… ASK HIM!”, gesturing my head towards Rijk. 

He indeed turned around to face Rijk, and asked Rijk, “You are Rijk… Rijk de Gooijer… aren’t you?”. Rijk took a moment and then looked him straight in the eyes… acting totally flabbergasted, and responded, “No? NO! WHY? Why would I be Rijk? NO!”. 

I helped that guy through his confusing reality of still having to pay for his groceries, as if nothing really happened. All the time Rijk did not interact with me, other than asking for his receipt, accepting his change, and nodding a nod of goodbye…

Most who served for their number, as we would call the compulsory military service in the Netherlands, ended up with the ground forces and felt like their time in the army was just a waist of time.

You were lucky to be selected for the Airforce. A way smaller force in numbers of heads serving and openly encouraging learning and personal growth.

After a somewhat funny two months of basic military training, you were assigned to the Wing Operations, WingOps, at the military airfield of Enschede in the province of Twente.

There you served in shifts of 1.5 days on and 1.5 days off. When on, you were stuck in a deep and dark bunker in the middle of the airbase and the only daylight you saw, was when you took your 30 minute breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You were part of a team responsible for scheduling the sorties (flight planning) for the pilots stationed on the base and bulldog (callsign to contact the individual pilots) the planes into the air and safely back on the base. That was quite an experience.

The WingOps was also the dedicated point of contact for the airbase in times of war or national threats. And you had to be able to handle whatever came to you during such times. And there were many times during which all bad scenarios were simulated. The Americans normally played a dual role of enemy and evaluator. They were very impressive…

But you can’t share too much about the WingOps, as the dark forces know where you live… Nah, just kidding… or am I…

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Let me not risk any signed NDA violation and simply share some funny memories. These all passed a rigorous clearance process back in 1998 and most remaining skeletons are buried somewhere deep inside a few Eastern European countries.

My nickname given to me by my superiors at the WingOps, was Alf. Alf was a fictatious character from an American television sitcom that aired on television from 1986 to 1990. The title character, ALF (an acronym for “Alien Life Form”) crash-lands in the garage of a suburban middle-class family. Alf becomes the main source of disaster within his new family. 

Just for clarity, I was called ALF due to my highlights in my hair. NOT because I caused so many disasters… Nope… They were few and far between… compared to Alf.

One disaster I am aware of… but that really was more of an opportunity for improvement. 

One day we had the NATO military command over to evaluate our WingOps performance during a joined NATO exercise. The day before I was tasked to check and report any possible weak links I saw on the officers’ platform, from where they gave instructions to us, the plain workforce.

The WingOps was like a three-leveled auditorium, with the officers on the highest platform, the soldiers managing the flight planning in the middle, and up front the actual flight board where all flights of the day were manually registered and maintained, the so called TOT (Take Off Time). 

Anyways, during my round on the officer’s platform, I passed THE MOST CRITICAL communication panel of the whole bunker.

Two military phones, placed right next to each other, and labeled WARLINES, DO NOT TOUCH! Similar to the picture. They were ONLY TO BE USED during war time and represented the direct lines to the war command centres situated somewhere in the Netherlands. 

And the simple fact that such a vital piece of communication, was so stupidly positioned, made me pick up both the receivers, twist them around and place them back on the opposite holder. Expecting that the officer following me with his clipboard, noting down all possible failures, would correct my action and scold me for the remainder of the tour, I left it as… I switched it.

The next day the USAF came to bomb our forces to smithereens and we had to give up the airfield, redirecting all air borne planes to different airbases and handover command to the war centre… using the dedicated warlines… “I HAVE NOTHING… OR WHATSOEVER!” For more than 5 minutes they were confusingly trying to figure out WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WIH THIS? All the while trying to bulldog the airborne pilots to their dedicated base… And that bloody panel kept on ringing… I felt very, very uncomfortable… Could not move for minutes…

The American evaluation team was quite upset and came with a damning evaluation report. One of their demands was the separation of the respective war lines. My colonel was angry but very reasonable and fair with me. Ever since I always looked for the obvious points of mediocracy while living my professional life.

Thank you Alf, for kickstarting my professional me.

I was pretty impressed with the USAF pilots stationed on several airbases in the Netherlands. Airbase Volkel was one of the airbases with an American squadron of F15-s. 

They were from a different planet and their skills were unmatched during joined operations. Mainly because they were not restricted to any rule, other than KILL FIRST…. APOLIGICE LATER! They would normally play the enemy, attacking our base from all directions, ignoring any safety rules and existing borders… just to test our radar defense system. And, whenever possible, I would lay in the field just watching the radars trying to lock onto a plane. And when the radar stopped spinning, I knew to brace myself for the spectacle about to be shown… What a controlled chaos they caused on our base. I really enjoyed them and the turbulence they caused.

USAF F15 Departure From Volkel

Yeah, your time in the army was well spent and you learned lots about strategic intent, tactical execution and operational readiness. You gladly served additional stints, being part of the conception of the 11th Air Mobile Brigade.

Well done Alf!

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The first year of study was very difficult for me. All subjects were diving way too deep into the matter and the broader picture of the applicability of the individual subject within the broader scheme of things, was totally lost on me.

After 6 months I sat with the school management to discuss my predicament and asked for their help in finding a solution. And they did!

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They were already  planning to officiate a one-year Business Administration course into a fulltime HTC study, called “Industrial Engineering and Management”. For the remainder of the year the HTC management allowed me to attend the classes as a guest student. And I loved every second of it! Please, let me first find out IF the maximum pulling power of Palladium is a variable to even consider, before we incorporate it into the model.

Ok, I lost a year BUT gained tremendous insight into my future opportunities and I was motivated like hell to start the new study. The next year I started off with a full week of study orientation and team building, while sailing and helping on a ship. 

For the induction week they hired multiple flatbeds from the Dutch Bruine Vloot, to have us sail across the Waddensea, up north of the Netherlands. We visited the islands in the Waddenzee up north of Groningen and we had lots of fun.

By coincidence one of the flatbeds was owned and operated by the sister of my best friend. Occasionally I used to join her and my best friend as a shipmate when she had to construct humongous pieces of her own art on one of those islands for the yearly Oerol festival. She was a well know artist up north.

Yeah, I made good study friends on that trip and with one of them I did my final graduation assignment, which we passed. But I will reminisce on that later.

Some nice to know WIKI-information about the Waddenzee. 

(Start of WIKI) The word wad is Frisian and Dutch for “mud flat” (Low German and German: Watt, Danish: Vade). 

The area is typified by extensive tidal mud flats, deeper tidal trenches (tidal creeks) and the islands that are contained within this, a region continually contested by land and sea.

The landscape has been formed for a great part by storm tides in the 10th to 14th centuries, overflowing and carrying away former peat land behind the coastal dunes. The present islands are a remnant of the former coastal dunes.

Towards the North Sea the islands are marked by dunes and wide sandy beaches, and towards the Wadden Sea a low, tidal coast. The impact of waves and currents carrying away sediments is slowly changing both land masses and coastlines. For example, the islands of Vlieland and Ameland have moved eastwards through the centuries, having lost land on one side and added it on the other. (End of WIKI)

The picture of the flatbed lying on the bottom of the Waddenzee, is real. Not photoshopped, but a truly amazing experience one will have when sailing on the Waddenzee. With low -tide most of the seawater disappears and the ship rests peacefully on the bottom of the sea and all passengers can disembark off the ship.

They can walk around, play soccer, or set-up the netting for some volleyball or tennis. BUT don’t be too brave and venture out on your own.

Before it is time for high-tide, it is time to be back on the ship or safely back on main land. The upcoming tide will bring multiple streams of seawater, coming in from the North Sea, with currents up to 1.2 m/s… and it happens quickly and before one knows it, the flatbed sails again… with or without you. If you are too late, your body will end up somewhere in Germany…

Many things happened in your life while doing your tertiary studies. Some were less enjoyable than others, but all helped you develop in the person you are now. 

You made many mistakes while trying to live by yourself and if it wasn’t for your then-girlfriend, you surely would have fckd up your future. 

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Her brochure and questionnaire on “Am I an alcoholic?” showed you the dangerous path you were walking on. 

Like everything in life, recognising and acknowledging any challenge in one’s life, is the first crucial step to take, prior overcoming the challenge. And you quickly learned not to BS with the challenges you recognised and learned to deal with them. 

The first challenge presented to you, was the fact that your choice on the field of study, might not be the right one. That challenge brought other, more personal, challenges with it. Like, you had to find a way to make your parents understand that this was not going to work for you… Not that they would oppose your change of study… for long… but their wish to have you follow the success story of your brother, made it into a very complex personal challenge. You love your brother… and he was an  example, but you are so much different than your brother… Mohom!

ethics, right, wrong-2991600.jpgAnyway, you had to show you parents you were serious in your choice and could arrange for a smooth transition from one study to the new one. Even the school principle was impressed by your persistent attitude and supported the move from beginning to the end. 

And you needed him and the other directors more than you expected during your final graduation project. 

You couldn’t deliver on your assignment. Your assignment was to save money for a local car importer, the project assigner, within their outsourced car-handling processes.

lada, limousine, free and edited-4898842.jpgApparently their supplier, performing the car-handling services, waisted money. Improvements MUST BE MADE! 

But the supplier was doing a fine job and there were not many opportunities to save considerable amounts of monies. And after digging a bit around, you discovered a huge amount of creative book keeping and a string of “fraudulent” claims from the owner of the car importer himself towards the car manufacturer.

He threatened to block your graduation and, thanks to the understanding of the principle and director, you were allowed to discretely present your project.

You passed your graduation with success and ever since adapted a healthy level of integrity in your work. And you were not afraid to reflect your integrity onto others.

Some appreciated your attitude and some hated you for it.

Bad luck!

During the 17 years you were actively working, you held different positions within a very diverse set of companies. You even run your own company for a while. And you worked in almost all continents, except for South America.

And thanks to the crossing of so many different borders, your passports were filling up quicker than anticipated, especially with those page-wide Saudi visa stickers. Sometimes you needed a local Dutch embassy to issue you a temporary document before you could continue your travels and work.
Luckily it always worked out. The Dutch Embassy and the consulate personnel were always very helpful.

Thank you all!

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During your career you applied several principles. Most of them you still hold high, telling me that they became part of who you are.

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And most of them you already applied even before you got familiar with them through the hundreds and thousands of presentations and trainings you attended and conducted. Let me present to you the most important ones… Those principles that will help you understand who you are.

Let’s start with two of them, to which you got formally introduced to further up into your career. Both became very applicable within the very first two jobs you held. 


Let’s start!

time, clock, head-1739629.jpgYeah, there are countless wise men with much wisdom to share, but this is not about Steve, Sun Tzu or Pieter. Their wisdom, with the exception of Pieter’s, are bundled and published to smithereens. For you, I want to highlight two lesser knowns…

Both were brought into the world ages ago and both addressed the different kind of people there are within any environment. All with their own personality and motivational drive and not always in favour of what you want to achieve.

The first one was brought into the world by a guy called Machiavelli. 

An Italian diplomat, political philosopher, military strategist, historian, poet, playwright, and humanist based in Florence during the Italian Renaissance around 1500. He is considered the founder of modern political science. He said many things, but one was so applicable during my first two jobs…

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the innovator has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.”

YEP… Machiavelli could have said those words while observing you in your first two jobs. But somehow you managed and achieved your objectives. 

You, more by accident than applied knowledge, also used the principles, or written observations, of a second 16th/17th century person, being Christopher Wren.

Wren was the world’s most famous architect, who was commissioned to rebuild St Paul’s Cathedral after the great fire of 1666 that levelled most of London. He came with the parable of the three bricklayers and that goes like this:

One day in 1671, Christopher Wren observed three bricklayers on a scaffold, one crouched, one half-standing and one standing tall, working very hard and fast. To the first bricklayer, Christopher Wren asked the question, “What are you doing?” to which the bricklayer replied, “I’m a bricklayer. I’m working hard laying bricks to feed my family.” The second bricklayer, responded, “I’m a builder. I’m building a wall.” But the third brick layer, the most productive of the three and the future leader of the group, when asked the question, “What are you doing?” replied with a gleam in his eye, “I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral to The Almighty.”

You quickly learned that, as in normal life, in the working environment there are many different people, with different personalities, and different set of skills. All working to satisfy their own motivational characteristics. The only difference with life is, that on work you better learn to work with them… No escaping reality.

Use them according to their strength and help them to grow into their new role, using their own strength and efforts. But don’t be afraid to have dead wood chopped… from the top and the bottom.

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Don’t exclude those opposing the change, but get them involved during the design and implementation of the change. Some need to actively taste the benefits of the new way of working while changing their mindset from opposer towards promoter… and some simply need to be chopped.

Later, while you were running your own company, your brother introduced you to a concept called NLP, Neuro Linguistic Programming. Trying to understand what motivates a person and how that motivation fits the job at hand. What makes a brick layer a cathedral builder? Both are required within any organisation… just not in the same seat.

You applied the basic concept of NLP during most of your career and enjoyed helping others to understand their best fit. 

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Don’t be afraid to share what you know, the value of knowledge only comes to the surface when applied correctly. Till then what one knows, is just expensive information for any potential customer to waste his money on.

Your strength has always been to make it work when the customer needs it… let him spend his budget on measurable benefits. How to apply a method or a best practice, is your forte for which you charge your customer fairly.

Your customer has to have budget for the “what’s next”, not for the catching up or to get certified.

You see this collaboration in knowledge sharing as the best way to learn new stuff. 


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One principle, that stayed with me throughout my career, was thought to me by the Senior Consultant for the MFG-Pro MRP production system. He was adamant that every change registered in the system, was entered by the Giant employee responsible for that data. And as I was accountable for the successful implementation of the full system, he made it very clear that it was not HE but ME who had to press the button “MFG-Giant Going LIVE”. I, as the client, better be sure that everything is in place before the final push might result in a disaster.

checklist, check, circle-2470507.jpgI checked and re-checked all data entries and departmental process steps captured in the system with the responsible employees/departments and made them sign-off on their task.

That saved me from some guaranteed disasters and I applied that principle on all levels throughout my career. When the time came to go live, I knew we minimised the risk of failure. 

We went live on the scheduled day with no errors or disruptions. And my customers knew the drill… are we sure?

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 Thank you… Willem… Piet..?

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But show confidence in gaining what you need to know.

And if you don’t know what you are doing, STOP DOING IT! Don’t fail because of pride.

Remember… most of the time you know more about your field than the customer. Help him become confident in your field. Most of your projects were run on knowing 70% of the matter and having 100% confidence that the gaps will be filled in due time and to a successful completion for all.

And give recognition to those who do know. 


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Be a pig and live a long and happy life. Don’t be a hog, as you will suffer the consequences when you are ready for slaughter.

This was told to you by your counter part at Unisys Americas. He contracted you for many different customer projects, where you charged Unisys for your team’s time. He made it very clear to you that…

“you can charge me a high fee and get filthy rich within a very short space of time, but know that I will not spare you a long life with Unisys. You will be slaughtered ones fat enough. Be a pig and I will happily feed you into a long life. Be a Hog and I will have your bacon for breakfast.”

Thanks Joe! 

The principles of a Fair Exchange were brought to you by a dear friend and colleague during the Bentley West period. He was part of your Unisys/TSA team and loaded with tons of experience and blessed with a brilliant mind. You used him on other projects within the South African market after your Bentley West period. And while discussing the fee-structure, he would refer to the concept of Fair Exchange and judge the fee-structure accordingly. Yeah… a bit in line with Joe’s pig and hog story… but then different. Nobody gets slaughtered in a Fair Exchange.

The Concept of a Fair Exchange is a simple one, and yet it governs every single interaction we ever make. It has nothing to do with money, or the actual “thing” being transacted, and everything to do with the perceived value of what’s being transacted. Therefore, it can apply to physical objects and emotions just the same…

If you GIVE more than you TAKE, you feel RESENTFUL.

If you TAKE more than you GIVE, you feel GUILTY.

Unfortunately the greedy don’t feel much guilt. Please stay a Fair Exchanger.

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Thanks Mr. Murray…

Disclaimer…The person portrayed in the picture above, is fictitious. No identification with Mr. Murray is intended or should be inferred… Any likeness is somewhat purely coincidental.

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Pieterrrrrr… how much fun we had… working with you (you… as in you, Pieter… not the you, as the third -person me. Could be me though. I always enjoyed working with me. Funny guy… me…) we always felt like discovering new grounds on which to test proven principles, practices, and models.

We both knew that smart people defined smart ways of working, but always wondered why execution seldom brings the expected benefits. Why do we waste money implementing a benefit, if the benefit is not measurably benefiting the beneficiary? Why do we seldom measure the right stuff, at the right place and the right time? I mean, isn’t that common sense?

I remember Pieter once jokingly questioning “What is so common about sense?”.  

photographer, silhouette, camera-4882729.jpgWe knew that what was common to us, might be totally foreign to others. Not everybody shares a common focus on sense. 

And most of the time we applied many creative, and sometimes bold, ways to get all stakeholders to start from the same common grounds in order to make sense out of our joined efforts.

In 2008 we even went so far as to write a book on a subject many of our clients struggled with. 

How to translate strategic intent into tactical plans and operational structures… and make it all measurable and manageable… at all levels… That sounds quite logical and reasonable, one would say. Well… DON’T ASK ONE!

Pieter and I were always a bit wary about our client’s understanding of their own strategic intent, and if such was translated into tactical and operational structures and measured accordingly. And we were right to be wary…

From governmental departments to multinational corporations, most organisations we worked with had no strategic measurable intentions put on paper, which could be translated and interlinked towards tactical plans and operational structures. Like… increase 2009 nett profits considerably… What does that even mean?

Still, most executives accountable for achieving a fictious strategic intent, were making 6 figure bonusses for a job well done… really?

Out the door common sense went… together with the baby…

Love you lots, Pieter!

I don’t like to tell you how sad you might be or how many tears you have shed over the past years. I do however would like to emphasize to you that you hold a special gift in you. A gift that colours any sad event with bright colours. A gift that turns any loss into a lasting win. Don’t forget that it is you who allows that gift to emerge from behind any shade of tears. 

Some people might tell you to give up on your dreams, your independence, and your way of living. DON’T! Jesus wants you to continue being you. You are so good at it!

And do you like my title…? Isn’t that a beauty? Yeah, worthy a book. Go and colour your shades.

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Don’t think too much about it.

Just do it here.

Feel free to share…

Thank you!

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