Happy New Year for 2012

Admittedly this is just a little early, but one of the peculiarities of being in NZ is that you are one of the very first countries in the world to see in the new year and tomorrow I will be in a pressurised aluminium tube for 24 hours flying back to Amsterdam.

So for everyone who reads this blog on a regular basis and even those who chance upon it, I wish you all the very, very best for 2012 and I will be curious to see what transpires over the next 12 months.


The truth from my child

This is the very first time that the entire family, including my two children has ever celebrated Xmas together and to make it even more memorable it has been in NZ. 

Early evening we sit down to dinner and at every persons place there were Xmas crackers.  I haven’t seen or used Xmas crackers for years and for my children it is the first time that they have seen them.  So everyone gets into pulling the crackers, hearing the ‘bang’ and of course looking to see what totally useless shit is included inside.  As expected there was a paper party hat, a joke that you only ever find in crackers and a small plastic useless object.  So everyone gets into reading the jokes which all begin with “What do you call xxxxx” and then some mildly funny, but usually stupid answer.

So someone reads out the following joke that they discovered in their cracker “What do you call a man with a spade on his head?”.  My 11 year old (with a completely straight face) answers – “An arsehole”.     Wonderful, as everyone nearly falls to the ground with laughter.

p.s. the answer was ‘Doug’.

NZ de-populates at the rate of 1,000 per week.

Just over 1.1% of the NZ population – 50,115 left NZ permanently last year for Australia. Only 14,300 made the reverse trip. The primary motivation is economic with more jobs and higher pay. Over the last 8 years the net migration total is 203,654.

Being one of those who voted with his feet I completely understand it.  It wasnt until I left both Australia and NZ, moving to Europe that I could actually save money.

Tales from the Twilight Zone – 2011

Each time I come back to NZ I am shocked by the level of violence in this country.  Talking to people there is acknowledgement and seeming acceptance.  Alcohol is of course a significant factor, but it is more than that.  I have my own personal views about the lack of cultural depth and the inability of a lot of people to articulate and discuss what bothers them.  Here is just some of the incidents in the last 2 days;

A 5 year old European girl travelling with her parents on their NZ vacation was attacked inside the family caravan whilst she was asleep and severely sexually assaulted that resulted in 4 hours of surgery and a lifetime of trauma.

A man bashed his partner of 19 years for refusing to cook him dinner, saying “Don’t talk back to me, just do as I am telling you to do”.

A man has been jailed for 18 months after running down 2 teenagers who were making fun of him because his car would not start.  The teenagers comments came after seeing the man with another man inside of the car making a woman push the car from behind.

A 31 year old mother has been jailed for 7.5 years for assaulting her children.  She punched her 9 year old daughter so hard that she broke the bones in her hand – then sought hospital treatment for her hand but not her daughter.  Other charges included assaulting her children with a machete and a hammer, kicking her daughter with steel capped boots, tearing off her toenail and then pouring salt and boiling water on the wound.  Her lawyer tried to blame the Government for not listening to her pleas for help.

A man who threatened his pregnant partner by dangling his toddler out of a window admitted being “a bit rough” with his son.

Top 5 regrets when you die

This is worth sharing.  Most of the time when I get these types of emails I trash them immediately because its always “send it to 10 people immediately or your right testicle will get elephantitis”. 

When I read it, I thought that this is probably the truth.  When I think about how many of the people I know (including myself), don’t think about this very much I realised it was worth sharing.  Read it and spend 10 minutes to really think about it.


For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness. 

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
-Frederick Koenig

Lets distract the ‘little people’

I find it interesting that when a country like The Netherlands begins to face real challenges such as the current economic outlook which require bold, intellectual responses the fine voted leaders resort to a campaign best described as distracting ‘the little people’.  It seems to be a tactic that is almost built into any politicians DNA, avoid talking about something that either a) “I might be held accountable for”,  or b) “I might confirm that I am an idiot because I don’t know” or c) “If they think about it in too much detail I might get voted out because somehow I am associated with this mess”.

So what have they come up with over the last couple of weeks.  Well the first one that has been causing considerable debate has been the horror expressed by politicians that anyone would want to have two passports.  Yes, TWO passports.  It would seem that if you have a Dutch passport then you have a divine responsibility to reject all others.  However, because this wasn’t a widely held belief amongst those with multiple passports, they made a law stating that you can only have one.  Exactly how having 2 passports is detrimental to your Dutch state of mind is not clear, however it is clear that for a number of Dutch politicians this is a considerable issue and it must be STOPPED.  What the morons haven’t thought through is that if you don’t tell them they will never know.  I have always found it interesting that people can attach so much of an emotional investment in a piece of paper.

The second one has been another debate in parliament about University courses being taught in English. Apparently English is becoming popular because “it is chic and because of globalisation”.  Halbe Ziljstra, the junior education minister added that  ‘if the subject requires teaching in English, it is logical to do so.’ However, if English is not necessary it is not beneficial to ‘pour an English sauce’ over a lesson, he said. Clearly this man has a bright future!

A lot of this idiocy is in reaction to Geert Wilders and his ‘anti-anything’ stance, however as I remind my daughters who are at school in this country and both think that Wilders is a fucking idiot,  he is in parliament because people voted for him.  That is what bothers a lot of people here, the fact that there is enough morons in Holland who actually think this is a good thing and confirms my original observation, when the going gets tough “wind up the little people”.