Monthly Archives: December 2010

The future of education?

The future is apparently a lot closer than I thought. Robots are teaching English in an elementary school in Daegu, South Korea. Ok, so technically speaking it’s not a real automaton, as they are being remotely controlled by teachers in the Philippines. And I can’t help but wonder what this would mean for real teachers if this phenomenon really starts to catch on.

Still, it’s pretty cool, and just think about all those story ideas you can generate. You can turn it into a sci-fi action story where the robot teachers go rogue (highly original, I know). Mix it with a dash of teenage drama, get some beautiful girl to fall in love with a handsome cyborg teacher and who knows? You might end up on the bestseller list! People are bound to get sick of vampires and werewolves soon, right?

On second thought, that’s probably not a story I’m going to write any time soon.

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2010 – The year that was… in writing

Last week I wrote a post reflecting on 2010, and particularly on my emotions. I had intended it to be the first part of a series, but I left it a bit on the side after writing that first post. Now I’m reading the post again, and it seems to me that  I’m trying my best to sound positive, but it all feels a bit forced, like I’m really just trying to convince myself. Underneath that thin veil of optimism there is a strong underlying pessimism that is constantly trying to claw its way onto the surface. Maybe it’s just me, but the whole piece just feels so indecisive… so messy. Then again that was probably the way I actually felt last week, so in that sense it is an interesting piece to read back. Fortunately I feel much better now. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the usual cycle of emotions I’m going through, and next week I will feel horribly down again. But let´s not dwell not that for now and make use of this rare bout of optimism to write some more reflections on 2010…

When I think of 2010, one of the first things that comes to mind is writing. I started the year as a real wannabe writer. I’m still reluctant to call myself a true writer, but in 2010 I’ve taken my first real steps to shedding the wannabe label. People say that time flies and normally that’s true. But then I think back on the very first writing course I’ve followed via Amsterdam Writing Workshops which is taught by Lisa Friedman. That was March this year, a mere nine months ago, but it seems like such an eternity already.

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Writing Session – The Awakening of Sweden

Last weekend I went back to Maastricht to visit my cousin Gwen (who is a starting but talented journalist by the way) and we held a short writing session at a lunchroom. We took one of the magazines lying around on the table and picked out a sentence on random, and we had to use that sentence as the beginning of a story, which we had about 60-90 minutes to write. (Thanks to Thaumaturgist by the way for suggesting this method for the writing challenge a while ago. It has become one of my favourite methods whenever I’m looking for a writing prompt). The article we ended up with was an article about IKEA, and the sentence we picked out was “Zweden wordt eindelijk wakker”, which is Dutch for Sweden is finally waking up. Well, I quickly had the idea of taking that as literal as possible. What if the whole country was really in sleep for years?

It was a lot of fun to write. However, the whole piece is basically just background story. I probably would have done it completely different if I had to do it again. I would have placed the main character from at the start of the story, instead of including him when the time has almost expired. Now it seems as if the main character is merely an afterthought in this story. Still, I am quite satisfied considering the time constraint. I think it can be the start for a potentially cool storywith a lot of different possibilites, although it would be quite complicated to write correctly. Anyway, here is the English translation of what I had written (click on Read More), with the Dutch original included after the translation. Enjoy, and let me know what you think 🙂

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2010 – The Year that was… in emotions

A word of caution beforehand. The post below is very personal, and in fact it may sound very sentimental and cliché. But still, this is the way I feel, and sometimes I need to write crap like this to make myself feel better. Oh well, go ahead if you still want to read it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I always get into a reflective mood at the end of the year and this year is no exception. 2010 was… well, an interesting year emotionally.

It was a year of self-denial and of self-awareness.
It was a year of expectations and of acceptance.
It was a year of inner turmoil and of inner peace.
It was a year of hope lost and of hope regained.
It was a year of loneliness and of… wait a minute… of… umm… I’ll get back to you if I ever start feeling whatever the hell the opposite of feeling lonely is.

In short, 2010 was a year of conflicting emotions, with the negative and the positive alternating each other in rapid succession.

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Top 10 Songs Part 4 – #1!

Before going into the number 1 song, let’s look at the breakdown of the list by decade. Why? Because I’m a geek and I love shiny graphs. That’s really the only reason I need to create gorgeous, colourful pie charts that nobody is waiting for except me. I swear that someday when I find the time that I will set up my own personal database full of worthless information.

Conclusion? The nineties kick ass. Although it would have been a tighter competition between the 90’s and the 2000’s if I had chosen a more recent Usher song.

However, if you have been paying attention, you’ll notice that the number one song is from the fifties. But I guess I have been dragging this thing out long enough already, so without further ado, the number one song is…

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Top 10 Songs Part 3 – #4 to #2

Here is finally the next installment of my top 10 songs of all time after a break of a couple of days. This time I will be discussing the numbers 4 to 2. Some of these entries will be quite long, as I will go more into the lyrics in a couple of cases. The number 2 song especially is very strong in its literary quality, so that will require some space to discuss. Well enjoy, and don’t forget to check back for the number 1 song later!

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Top 10 Songs Part 2 – #7 to #5

Welcome to the second part of my top 10 songs of all time! Things are definitely getting more interesting now, as we now leave behind the borderliners, and we now discuss the songs which are regular fixtures in my top 10.

7. Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)

I really love this song, but for some reason I find it really hard to pinpoint what I really like about it. I’m listening to the song and singing it in my head over and over again, and the song just has this very unique feeling and sound to it. Perhaps it is the opening piano intro that gets you hyped up immediately. Perhaps it is the feeling of mystery and darkness that pervades that throughout the song. Perhaps it is the vocals which is at the same time emotional and yet subdued. Perhaps it is the epic and ambitious scale of the song.

But perhaps it is the words “But I Won’t Do That.” I remember thinking to myself just what “that” is, what “that” really signifies, and in fact I still often think about it now more than 15 years later. This is what the female vocalist Lorraine Crosby sings at the end, after which Meat Loaf sings that he won’t do “that”: Continue reading

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