Tag: MIL

Ballueder Thinks (7) – Summer innit?

It’s hot at time of writing. 27.5 degrees in the car, as I wait for my son to finish his karate lesson. The first ‘real one’, face to face, since March, and parents are no longer allowed to watch. Life has changed. Next time I take the bigger car with the air conditioning. We adopt to the new rules of course, as we all do.

Today, at time of writing, we were supposed to go to Ashford, then Folkestone tomorrow, drive to Germany and celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. The government put Belgium on the list of countries to not stay in and if you come from there, you have to quarantine for 14 days. Surely driving through it would be an exception. But it isn’t. Several calls to the government hotlines got us the same answer and it was: if you touch Belgian soil, even in a car, not stopping, you have to quarantine. Loose your income for 2 weeks. Can’t train for the marathon. WTF. This got changed at the time we rebooked…but hey, you have to make decisions when you do.

So with a heavy heart we postponed our trip to Germany, fearing that France would end up on the list soon too. And it did when we were supposed to be out there, alongside the Netherlands. Why risk it? I haven’t seen my parents for 8 months, yet they can’t postpone their anniversary. The original plan was to go on a cruise, which ultimately got cancelled. And our flights got reimbursed. So that’s good at least.

Cut a long story short, we went to Scotland instead. Staying in the Greater Manchester area over night, driving on the M6 through a lockdown area. No quarantine necessary, despite my arguments on the phone with the government, this isn’t the same use case. There are no restrictions to do be on ‘Manchester soil’. Nevermind. I would argue otherwise, but who am I to criticise the government?

Actually I do. I think they properly f* it up. The UK as it was 19 years ago when I was attracted living here, is no more. The handling of the Corona crisis and the amount of dead people speak for itself. The recession and Q2 GDP contraction figures higher than any other country. I am hugely disappointed with the state of affairs and handling of the situation. Nothing screams ‘Brexit will be a mess’ more than looking at the clowns on the top. Never have I felt more passionate about politics in any country. And looking at A-Level results, both in Scotland and England, I can only say WTF again. Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be a political or blog post ranting, but I guess sometimes it just needs to be said. But what’s the alternative?

Maybe it was naive to think we could leave the country in a pandemic in order to travel. Or it is naive to think we are out of the worst, and that there won’t be a second wave. I don’t know. Looking back at the first half of the year, I have been lucky to have work, as a contractor, and actually uncovering opportunities, regardless of the situation. Things might not be as planned, but who had planned 2020 and actually got what they planned for? Hence, I am actually very grateful for what we have, the health we are in, and the prospects we have. It confirms my decision to go freelance. To be my own boss, and make it happen, without relying on others. This is a huge blessing to be honest, even if it is hard. But why would I want to rely on others to have a job at this stage? I am not saying I am not tempted to join a company full time, but that needs to be the right opportunity. Anyway, not pitching 😉

As anyone at the moment, I just like to have a good life and want this virus to go away. Yet we need to think what life would be like if the virus won’t go away anytime soon, or ever? How will our lives, jobs and situation change? Location won’t be an issue once of a sudden. Barbados, New York, Toronto, London, Singapore – as long as you can work in the time zone of the company you work for, you can live anywhere. It also means that education for your kids and living standards, e.g. activities, are key for location preferences moving forward.

There is something else I read in the Financial Times: a lot of people used the lockdown to clear out rooms, cupboards etc. However, a lot of people also cleared out emotional backlogs. I agree. As a matter of fact we cleared a lot of stuff from the loft and garage at the end of last year, and emotionally I have been on a journey to change and clear things out for about a year. I made huge progress, and recently went through some more hypnotherapy sessions. Contact me if you want to find out more, but I find it super useful to clear out any blockages, and explore what is holding me back. My confidence and self awareness took another step up, and I highly recommend anyone doing it. It’s like clearing out your garage, your mental one.

The main reason me bringing this up is as I have been speaking to more and more people experiencing anxiety. The lockdown and loss of human contact, will result in a huge crisis from a mental health perspective. I am super proud of the companies that have worked with me throughout the lockdown to teach their employees mindfulness in the workplace ; one group in particular has done very well by allowing for a weekly session discussing mindfulness, and any mental health issues. The group coaching sessions are ongoing and helping massively to put the lockdown into perspective, whether that is from a mental health or personal perspective. If you or your company employees are effected, and they likely are, you should consider having similar sessions. I am not saying this to advertise my services, but highlight the importance of doing it. Whether with me or any other mindfulness coach or practitioner. The hungover of mental health after the pandemic will be huge; combat it today! Be proactive, you will thank me later.

Our holidays ended up being fantastic. We had splendid weather in Scotland, and hardly any rain. It was warm, and allowed for me to continue my marathon training. I will update everyone properly once it is all confirmed, but the London Marathon 2020 will be a virtual one, and all donations roll over to the next physical one, which I plan to run in October 2021 or April 2022. I prefer the former, so let’s see what we get. I shall update my Justgiving page as soon as things will be confirmed. Bear with me, not a logistical walk in the park for the London Marathon organisers.

I love being in Scotland. It’s a rough terrain, friendly people, good greasy food and lovely ale. Walking, running, or just enjoying the countryside is fab. We rented a wee flat in Inverness and visited the MIL up North frequently, whilst doing our own family things, like looking at amazing forests, Loch Ness of course, or just shopping in town. Visiting a white sandy beach.
Scotland is a lovely country, and if we knew we could work remotely forever, I would go and buy a wee house in the middle of nowhere. However, we don’t know, and there are question marks around some infrastructure here, but that’s for another time. The idea sounds lovely though.

As you can imagine, running your own business, you still work all week. However, I have been lucky as I wasn’t that much in demand, and people respected me being slow to respond. I actually didn’t do much work at all, and we enjoyed a lot of quality family time, a change of scenery, and just doing nothing. Yes. I managed to just sit there, and do nothing. Not like me, but it is so important to reflect, drain your brain and just sit and think. I enjoyed the time off, the company and making memories with the family.

When you read this we are just back. Time to kick-start my 2nd year as a contractor/freelancer and kicking some ar*. I am ready to make a difference, take on more project work, run a marathon and conquer the “world”. Get rid of the virus, spend more time with the family and balance work and life. A holiday puts so many things into perspective, so does Covid, and there will be more decisions coming our way. That’s certain and that it’s certain that I lost all confidence in trust in this government.

For now, enjoy some time off, disconnect and make memories with your children and loved ones. Time you never get back.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world.
Volker

Sunday Column (454)

This week was an awkward one. Somewhat anyway. I left the house on Monday, just as the installers of our new multigym arrived. My kids had their last day of holidays and went back to school on Tuesday. Daddy left Monday morning and came home late Tuesday night, important meetings with dinner/drinks in the evenings. I was home on Wednesday though, partly to make up for it, but mainly because I had a small surgery, removal of a mole, nothing big. Nothing serious. Yet with it all taken a bit shorter than anticipated, I managed to pick the kids up from school. That was nice.

Those weeks make me think of what would it be like if I am not around at all. No, I am not afraid of dying, or that the mole might be cancerous, it is more about prevention. Hence the multigym, my runs, the diet. I want to be fit as long as possible to see as much as possible of my boys. Guide them, listen to them. Yet, and partly this is due to our choice of moving that far out of London, I often don’t see them. And with the three busiest travel/trade show weeks in the industry, September is a tricky month. I have to admit. Long hours, out of the office, late nights. This is just part of what I do. And I was around a lot in the summer. Not that I need to justify myself, but somewhat this is what I do. At the end of the day, you cannot make up for lost time. The age they are in makes them notice it a lot more. Hence when travelling for most of the week, I try to work from home a day a week.

So when you come home only after being away for one night, it is great. It feels like being away for ages, as you missed them so much. School started. The wife shared some amazing pictures of the boys, and the little one does so look like me! Very proud!!! And when you come home late, and they are asleep, and you tug the oldest in, without waking him up. The moment he turns to his side, enjoys the comfort of the blanket, sighs and continues to sleep. Priceless. That’s when I feel humble, sentimental and I am full of love. Or the youngest, after taking him to the loo, snuggles up with his soft toy and goes back to sleep. And they feel that you are back, and that you are watching over them, care for them. And you feel their love and that they feel safer and more comfortable with you being around. That’s the bond, the invisible touch, no one will ever explain to you, cannot explain to you, but every parent feels it. It’s a mixture of love, trust, comfort, protectionism, challenge as well as fear and safety at the same time. It works both ways. That’s when I feel truly blessed.

Work: we finally announce the merger/take over. I knew when joining my company in January that either we will be sold or we will have lots of challenges. I cannot speak about it in detail, neither do I want to, but we officially sold to Sizmek this week. That puts us in an amazing position within the ecosystem. A full stack solution. End to end demand side. Creative, DCO, DMP, AI, execution, ad server, reporting, analysis, brand safety and much more. Amazing, and exciting times ahead. The potential we have moving forward is immense. My third exit in the industry and I am excited about the prospects. The meeting this week actually showed me how much I care about building a useful and exciting demand side technology stack, yes I can actually get excited about what I do! I usually do 😉 Anyway, I keep you posted on any developments but for now I am super pumped.

With the pain in my back (see above minor surgery) I  didn’t exercise the rest of the week. So I took a break and caught up on some sleep. The next few weeks will be rather sleep poor, as I also just confirmed another international trip. The joys. But I love what I do, see above, and shall not moan.

Saturday happened my long planned ‘boys day out‘ of the year. A few friends of mine and I met in London to hit the pubs, eat lots of food and play some pool, drink some whisky and so on. Yes, it was a great day! Whilst on the one hand I dread those days, they give you so much back by just letting your hair down a bit, talk ‘men talk’ and having a good time, forgetting about everything else. So another long sleep on Sunday and a first trial at getting back into exercise despite the back strain.

Anyway, have a fantastic week ahead.

Volker

Sunday Column (397)

bright side

I have been to Scotland over the last week. A long drive up, a short and delayed flight back. I love Scotland. It is a peaceful country. It feels kind of rough and you feel close to nature. Whether that is the rain, the cold or the rocks and trees. It is an outdoor country where you don’t necessarily have the weather to be outdoors much. So the coal and peat fires go on. The heat from the natural resources keep you warm. You are close to the heart of yourself, the earth and close to what’s happening deep inside this planet. We did a 25K run which was nice too. Very connected to the elements I have to say.

That’s how I feel. I also felt a bit detached from civilisation. Whilst of course Tesco is still there, same products and offers, which gives you the consistency you are not necessarily longing for, there are a lot of new things. Paying with Apple Pay got a reply from the waitress that ‘this is the first time she has done this’ or looking at the mobile phone reception, you might think you are somewhere in the bush in South America. Other than that, it feels so good to be there, and maybe it is because of these isolation that it does.

Sunrise at Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Sunrise at Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

I relaxed a bit. My MIL helped with the kids, I had snoozes, was cooked for and enjoyed some down time. I shared my bed with my eldest and he was literally heating the bed whilst outside it was down to 3 degrees. Yet it was bright light at 9 pm at night. So when I came back to London it was dark at 9 pm, I thought of putting the fire on and with the drizzle it felt like October or November even. Autumn arrived, the summer is over. Yet we managed to have a great sunny day out on Saturday – boy’s day out.

So I chilled out on the flight back, to turn on my phone and got a message from someone on Facebook. Nothing too uncommon but that I haven’t spoken to her for 21 years. If I say I had forgotten about her, some memories came back. We met 21 years and for some reason she went through some old stuff discovering my name, looked me up, and got in touch. That was rather nice. A blast from the past. Sometime in 1995 our life lines touched. We then went off in different directions. She got a kid, I got kids, I got married and to be honest, the past 20 years, I probably forgot who she was, and this is not meant in a negative way. I am fascinated by those stories of people that come to your life and the reason they do. Some show you a different side to yourself, sometimes you help someone and sometimes you just have a fun time together. So it is without offence that I forget about people sometimes. I discussed that with a friend this week, that we both had friends we tried to find closure with. A few years ago I sent out a couple of letters to reach out to people, thanked them that they were part of my life, and that I never intended us growing apart without clearing some things. Some never got back to me, and of some I don’t even know if they ever got my letter. That’s life I suppose. Life’s little stories.

ppl in life

This week was very productive in terms of getting a lot of reviews done for my next productivity book. No, it is far from being finished, yet I made some progress this week. Now a lot of tidying, adding and stuff to do. But my hope is that by end of year this should be finished. Fingers crossed. All depends on undisturbed time I suppose, which is getting less. There are so many plans moving forward and life will change a lot. But it can only get better, as things always improve in life. Things change for a reason, and those reasons are always worthwhile. I have been meeting up with interesting people over the past few weeks. Again, everything happens for a reason, some reasons to be discovered further down the line. Job opportunities, product discussions, industry discussions, chewing the fat, discussing life over lunch and wine, partying even with friends. I am having a great time. Every now and then I am in the position to reach out to my network and give back and receive. This was one of those weeks, amazing people!

People are fascinating, so is life. It seems a theme this week, which makes me think how much I appreciate the life I have. The people that are close to me which I miss. The people worth dying for if you like and the people that are close to me, part of my life, and the ones, like above, who came into my life. And I could fill a whole life just to speak to people and philosophise on things, but then I have to focus again on everyday work, and do what I have to and what I want to do. That’s happening too. And then you bring focus back into your life and push back on some meetings. You naturally prioritise.

And I guess that’s how we all live our lives. Bound to our own little back yard, own little circle of friends which every now and then expands. And you suck a few new ones in the circle and you get sucked into other people’s circle, and then you continue as you were. A pulsating way of extending your horizon and circle of influence. I am pulsating. I am breathing. I am alive and I am enjoying my life and my circle of influence and friends. I appreciate you. Thanks for being part of my journey.

Have a fantastic week and make the most of the summer!

Volker

Sunday Column (303)

The last post of 2014.

Christmas has passed and it was fantastic. I love my family and wife so much, it is unbelievable. I am very grateful for the happiness I feel when I am surrounded by them. That, I guess, is the biggest present I got this year. Being with them in the moment, enjoying quality time together and also being physically apart without being apart. Not much else to wish for!

What else was great at Christmas? Long walks in the winter sun with our dog. It is amazing what a walk can do to relax and unwind. Particularly when you have lots of things going on. Even in the rain. Long walks, short walks. Then the catch up with friends and family members.

As it is now tradition we had Turkey on Christmas Day and pulled pork the day after. Lots of wine, a new Japanese whisky from the MIL, a train set from Lego and lots of presents for the kids. Almost too many yet we kept it to closest family and friends. Madness nevertheless.

From the 24th in the afternoon, just when the email came in that the last campaign would be set up, Christmas began. New to us this year was the wood burner which kept us going all week, day and night. It couldn’t have been cosier or more homely! Thanks to my wife, for a fantastic year. For sorting out the house, the renovation, the kids, the dog, and our lives I suppose. And of all I remember best this year: the campervan holidays.

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I wrote my yearly review last week. Yet this week is more about focus. Looking at all the great achievements we had. The renovation, the dog, loosing weight and keeping it off, getting fit, getting the oldest son into school, managing day to day, visiting friends….and as I type life in front of my eyes accelerates. We seem to go at a 120 miles per hour, often neglect some things on the way. This is not deliberately, that is how life is. Or we slow down and seem to achieve less.

From my point of view work life balance isn’t anymore so much about the job and family life but about balancing your day life at work and your home life around it, including family but also friends and hobbies, which is maybe for another time to go deeper and discuss how to make a hobby a job. As always, I am lucky. I love what I do for a living, I live what I love. Happiness.

When looking back we also want to look at sad things. We had a few people that left us, extended family, but also last week there were a few famous people that passed on (as I like to call it): Udo Juergens and Joe Cocker.

Latter has been someone I have admired for many years. And below is a video of him at Woodstock. Many many years ago. That’s how I got to know him (from the Woodstock video, not live, I am not that old ;-).

I believe this is a nice song to end the year. Reflect. And wish you all a happy, prosperous 2015.

To you and yours!
Volker

Sunday Column (218)

I often start with how quickly a week went. This one did. I went to a meeting on Monday despite the bank holiday and worked in the morning on some Central Europe related business. No rest for the wicked.

Tuesday and Wednesday were busy with working on a project that finishes early June and Thursday I spent in town in meetings. This resulted in a late night, and a slow Friday finishing off what I had to do and attend to the family.

Life is great if you are flexible to work but it also puts a lot of pressure on to get money in and feed the family. I have been discussing this with a few self employed people and came to the conclusion that it will be best to go back into full time employment soon. We shall see what the next few weeks bring. It seems that a few avenues open up and opportunities show themselves. I guess that only happens when you have time to let this happen. It doesn’t happen if you are tied down in the daily grind.

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My MIL (mother in law) arrived much to the joy of the kids. They just love having their grandparents around to play, read, spoil them and show them things. It is fantastic to see that and the bond they are building. It makes you almost wish for a big family get together, like at our wedding. I am always thinking of having one for my 40th birthday but maybe we don’t need an excuse. Why not set a date and celebrate life and family. We need to think about that one.

I actually do think we don’t celebrate life enough. I am so astonished at life most days at the moment because I see my four year old discovering things. The blackbirds that pick the worms out of the ground and the snails going into their house. The bean stock that grows to heaven etc. This independent, clean and simplistic view of life that we lost. Naivety, curiosity and eagerness to learn. How many of us wouldn’t like to be childish again and jump in muddy puddles? Of course we would and I tell you: just do it.

There is nothing wrong with letting go and having fun. Of course there is a time and a place for it but regaining this childish feeling for just 5 minutes is amazing. Anyone who has kids is aware of it. Or should be anyway 🙂

I need to moan as well. After I finally got over my 6 weeks ordeal of colds, I started cycling and running again to find myself getting another cold last week. I don’t understand it. Not sure if my vitamins aren’t working or if my immune system is so down or if I am just relaxing and properly unwind to have another cold. Cough and snotty nose. Nice ey. But of course I will get over that as well and soon I am back to normal strength.

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My new daily routine includes writing an hour in the morning on a potential book, so that’s is slowly coming along. I actually use a Bluetooth connected keyboard for my iPad to speed up the process. Writing in the clouds allows for editing on the go. You gotta love technology.

At the weekend we took the kids to a day out with Thomas the tank engine. We went to Tunbridge Wells were we met the fat controller, Thomas and Diesel. We then went on a 25 minute journey, got off, and they changed the engine around. We then made the same journey back the kids absolutely loved it. It is great to do those things at weekends. And the weather was good too, sunny and dry. Looks like it won’t stay like that.

We washed the car too. C and me went to the car wash and he rather enjoyed it. I used to cry going through the car wash as a child but not my boy, he cannot wait to go back and take his brother along. Other than that we struggle to get a good night sleep but hopefully teething finishes soon and we get our sleep back.

So yes, another quick week. Balancing work life working and living at home seems more complicated and challenging than anticipated. A lot of change but for the better at the moment. Let’s see how long it lasts 🙂

Have a great week,
Volker

Sunday Column (165)

What a fantastic week. I think so anyway. I went to Madrid on Monday to support our local office, interview for new people and had a very good and long meeting with one of our clients. I like to be useful and travel to support folk. It makes you tired and I didn’t see the kids, but overall I actually enjoy it.

So I was back Wednesday night to find my MIL (mother in law) staying with us. In order for me to keep up my running training I slept on the couch to run at 6 am on Thursday. Friday I worked at home sitting in a conference call until late. I always seem to be busier working from home than being in the office; no idea why to be honest.

What else happened? As my MIL was baby sitting my wife and I went to our most favourite Thai restaurant in Beckenham. The result was we were home within an hour. Conveyor belt service plus us feeling “too old” to mingle with the locals in the pub, meant we preferred to be home early. Saturday we used the whole day (!) to go shopping. I bought myself a “Buddha hand” as an early birthday present. We went all over the shop (literally) whilst my MIL was suffering with the kids. A knackering day for all of us!

Another thing happening to me was on the flight into Madrid. A bloke, between 60 and 65 I’d say, felt sick. He then went to the toilet and all, and they cleared his row, however the main thing was that I felt so sorry for him. Luckily I have never been sick on a plane. But when we flew into Madrid hitting air pockets and jet streams I really felt so sorry for this bloke. And I felt very helpless too. I hate to not being able to help people who need support.

Never mind. In total I feel so much better since I got new trainers, go running every morning (almost) and eat a bit better. There is still a lot of improvement to be made, particularly when travelling, but overall I think I am doing ok. I haven’t lost a huge amount of weight but I feel better, healthier and more energetic. Fingers crossed I keep it up of course 😉 But I will.

Contracts for the house should be exchanged this coming week. I am off Monday for a special family day 😉 and then have a fairly quiet week ahead. Most of the European offices have bank holidays, however I used the week to arrange a few meetings in the UK that were well overdue. Same for the week after until I go travelling again.

The joys….

Have a fantastic week.
Best
Volker

Sunday Column (131)

What a fantastic week we had. Monday was bank holiday and little Colin and I went to pick up “nanny” from Kings Cross. He loved going on the train, then on the tube, then to Starbucks for a milkshake, and then of course meeting “nanny”. He is very taken by her, and loves her being here. It just shows that our decision to stay in the UK was the right one!

So my MIL is staying with us, and she is helping us a lot. My wife and I went out for a meal on Friday night. We of course had some wine. After my detox I have been quite a lightweight. A glass on Tuesday night made me rather tipsy. Also, I lost interest in alcohol a bit, particularly beer. How long will that last for, I don’t know.

We also got off on Saturday for a quick shopping spree in London whilst the MIL watched the boys. Fantastic!

Rohan is getting cuter by the day. His blond hair and blue eyes get him a lot of attention. Whilst writing this post he is crawling backwards across the living room. Not long and he will be up to lots of mischief.

We then made our own kebabs this weekend. Not too bad for a first time. It is all plan of a healthier lifestyle by knowing which meat and food goes into your kebab. We are in for a lot of change. One of many is a potential move next year. We got our house evaluated and are quite chuffed that prices have recovered, at least we should break even (minus the fees). The next few months we will look at Ofsted reports for schools, areas to live in, visit places and then decide what to do. My aim is to move by Christmas 2012 but we shall see. We are in no rush.

Besides that there hasn’t been much else going on. Lots of work but that is all good. We are recruiting for three new staff, so exciting times going into Q4. There is lots of things happening in the industry too, new technologies, new companies entering the market, and dmexco coming up. That show and the Ad Trading summit will see a lot of folk coming over to London.

I need to say that I really love my industry. It has been a good move over 5 years ago to join online and digital marketing. It is exciting to be part of new technologies and services entering this still young industry. The right move, the right decision. I am loving it 🙂 So let’s see what new announcements will be made in the next few months with the trade shows coming up.

A nice week, a busy week. I am very happy at the moment, knowing that the effort I put in is paying off. One by one.

Have a fantastic (maybe) sunny next week…. 🙂

Cheers
Volker

Sunday Column (130)

We are staying in the UK – I guess that sums it up. After weeks and months or mulling over the possibilities of eventually moving to the USA or Australia, we decided to stay put. This has mainly to do with us wanting to bring the kids up closer to their grandparents. So London, or greater London, is a great compromise for a Scottish lassie and a German lad. Now we might look into moving further out of London, closer to a good secondary school, and into a bigger place. But there is no hurry of course. Finally we are going to settle.

Phew, as you can imagine there was quite a lot of thinking going on. I still consider an international career but that would be limited to travel rather than moving. At least for the time being and positions that might be coming up as far as we can judge it at the moment.

Work wise this week has seen an increase in meetings and longer hours at my desk. Slowly but surely we are moving towards Q4 and Christmas. I cannot wait. Our space is very exciting!

My 30 day challenge is coming to an end too. I actually start looking forward to a nice glass of vino. The wine shelf is stacked up. But before I might have a glass as early as tomorrow (I know it is the 29th but that is fine), I have to finish my fast.

On Thursday I had a great steak at Gaucho. Friday I only drank water, fruit juice on Saturday, and Sunday I slowly started eating a bit again. I haven’t done a fast in a long time but thought it might be a good thing to do at the end of an alcohol free month to properly cleanse myself. Result!

I also had a massage this weekend, and today we went to “my daddy cooks“. A while ago I filled in a request to join a live cooking session on Facebook (first time I have ever done that), and got tickets for the family to go. Colin has been a bit grumpy, but it was a good day out after all. We haven’t been to London with the family for a while.

Tomorrow my MIL will arrive. Actually I am looking quite forward to seeing her and her helping us with the kids. I suppose that supports our decision to stay in the UK. So it is all good.

This sums up a another week. Tomorrow is bank holiday, so extended family time. You need to get your priorities right 🙂

Have a good one, September is upon us.
Volker

Sunday Column (81)

This week was busy. My mother in law stayed her third week and her boyfriend came as well. Her staying helped us a lot and we were glad she was here. However, I am also glad to have our house back to ourselves.

We got our kitchen floor done this week too. This added to more stress, but luckily (or unluckily) I have been away with work a lot. I went to Leeds on Monday, not returning until very late, and also attended some webinars in the US which means long and late hours in front of this lovely laptop.

Dreams: I want an HTC Desire Z. It is an Android powered super machine with a physical keyboard. Just a bit on the expensive side still but we shall see how prices will come down towards Christmas.

I had several blasts from the past this week. Facebook made it happen for me to connect with my host sisters in the US who I haven’t seen since 1993. Also another friend from the US I haven’t seen since either, and it makes me wonder how modern technology helps you so much to share your life. But is it what you want? Being connected and available, and share your life across the world? I sometimes wonder.

Next week is going to be another busy week at work. After that it hopefully will quieten down for a week or two, so that I can get back into a routine. I neglected practising my Tai Chi form but started a new course for pushing hands which I enjoy a lot. It is a more practical approach to Tai Chi and is what I always wanted. Still it helps me a lot to relax and connect to my inner self.

This is really most of it this week. Colin is a great joy but a bit on the grumpy side. Not only does he get another tooth he also seemed to have some allergic reaction again to a virus. Next door’s child seems to have some illness too, so that is daily life for you.

I let you go for this weekend, but surely see you again next week.

Have a good one,
Volker

Sunday Column (81)

81 weeks ago I started my Sunday Column. Ideas, thoughts and general blurb from Volker Ballueder about all sort of things. It developed a bit into a “only column” as I got too busy keeping up to write a daily or bi-weekly post.

Anyway, yesterday was 9/11. Now, as for many people, it is like it was yesterday that I heard about it. Sitting in a friends old Peugeot, he gave me a lift back from my pre-university maths course in Aberdeen, both of us entering the 3rd year, when the music in the radio stopped with the breaking news. I had been in the UK for less than a month. It was raining, cold and grey. And 9-11 had just happened.

If you followed some of the news over the last few weeks, then you wonder. You wonder why a pastor in Florida wants to burn the Koran. Why would he? If he is a man of faith, as his title suggests, then he should be able to forgive. He should be able to foresee the consequences his action might have. Was it all a media stunt?

If I say forgive, then I don’t mean “to not care” but in the Buddhist believe, in my interpretation, you close a chapter, accept the fact and try to make the world a better place. And I believe that is what most Americans have done. If I say “embracing Islam” I don’t necessarily mean that in a literal way, but I believe that more Americans know today what Islam is about compare to 9 years ago. And, if you followed the discussion about the Moshe they want to build close to Ground Zero, then you could clearly argue that this is to honour not only the Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Mormons that died in 9-11 but also the Islamic people that died.

I am not religious, I am a Buddhist. I am not political. At least not more than anyone else. Everyone has a right to have their own believes, values and passions. For some they are wrong in most people’s eyes, e.g. terrorists. Of course. But just because some fundamentalist claim that they did it in the name of their god, doesn’t mean that everyone believing in this god is a terrorist. Come on, a child understands that. A nation as great as America which overcame the discrimination of black people, understanding that they are not 2nd class citizens (sorry Mitch, I am sure you read that), should surely understand to not blame someone because of the colour of the skin, or religious belief, or origin……

Now, enough about 9-11. I am not American, but I feel very strong for them, as I lived in this country. Having lived there, I understand their belief and them being proud of their country. An amazing country, and they should be proud. I never forget buying that T-Shirt in D.C. off a Vietnam Veteran. It had an American flag on it and read “It is an American thing, we should all understand” – relating to the Vietnam war.

In my life in the UK there hasn’t been many developments. I worked a lot last week, and was very exhausted on Friday. I hardly saw the boy which is a shame. My MIL is still here and her boyfriend will come next week. So it will be busy with family and work. My wife is feeling better and the specialist says she is going to be ok for a while, so that my MIL will be leaving the end of next week. She is a great help and we enjoy her being around. However, I also looking forward to having our own life back too.

Now, I enjoyed the weekend, spending lots of time with Colin, not working at all. That was great. My wife and MIL went out on Saturday night so I had a whole Saturday night to work on some stuff I wanted to do for ages.

See you next week.
Volker