June 4, 2017

Hang in there

Over 15 years of depression and PTSS and since about a year, I am finally able to watch the news again without shutting down. I am finally recovered and I manage to go through life in a way that could be considered healthy. It is like stepping out of a bubble and to be frank: It is scary as hell. First I was scared about what it meant to be considered healthy, then I was scared to fall back, and then I slowly turned back on the news channels, daily newspaper, actually clicking the links to articles, reading about attacks, hatred, torture, pollution, the sadness, the demolishment, the exclusion.

Then there are these discussion going on in my head, about what the world needs to become a better place, about how to make people aware of the consequences of their actions. The discussion about what actually is good and bad and the acknowledgment that there is no human to make that decision, and so on… Discussions that I have had over and over again for way longer than those 15 years.

I can hardly think of solutions that do not include accepting that what I feel might be the right thing to do at this point, might turn out to be the absolutely wrong thing in the long run. However, I am convinced that it is better to try to take action instead of absorbing all these dark stories, dark headlines and dark feelings and just sit here at home on the couch crying, or lay awake at night, overthinking these troubles.

I always tried to keep supporting those in need, even when I was in my darkest days, no matter the species, nor their specifics. I know the lonely. I know the hate. I know the ready to give up. And I know it is worth to keep fighting. Because between all the scary headlines, I read all the messages of people who just cannot understand the horror. I see the love all these species can give and receive. I see the warmth and the hope hiding behind the despair and the fear.

So here I sit, after a major episode of crying over forgotten abducted school girls, bombings and attacks, demolished forests and (near) extinctions of their inhabitants and dying relatives of relatives (and so on). I sit here, writing this, and I wonder what it is I really want to say. Do I want to say “hang in there, it will get better”? Do I want to say “I know what you are going through, you are not alone”? Or do I want to say “You have the power to change some of it, no matter how small, your actions count”? Well, I guess, I want to say all of that.

So here I go: Hang in there, it will get better because you have the power to change some of it. No matter how small, your actions count. I know what you are going through, or at least I can relate to a part of it and you know what, you are not alone. There is no honor in complaining about how bad any situation is unless it is for the sake of you getting back on your feet, gathering your power to fight your personal demons, or the demons of the world. We cannot oversee the consequences of our actions over the long run, however, there is science that can help us to try to make good decisions and then there is respect and being open minded, so we won’t start to radicalize our ideas and think we are better than anyone else. Everyone makes mistakes. If that happens, well, complain a bit, get back on your feet and start trying to make this world a better place again.

Today, I want to celebrate diversity in all its forms. Tomorrow, I will continue my quest. Feel free to join me on this adventure.

March 31, 2017

Artificial Jelly-bots

Or in other words: Biodegradable sub-sea data collection mechanisms.

During the Our Oceans Challenge I was one of the moderators at the Our Oceans Challenge platform. An experience that enabled me to talk to many innovators and to hear new ideas on making the offshore industry a sustainable and green industry, a beautiful goal. But also an opportunity to dream about new tools and methods myself.

Top 20
OOC-LinkedInYesterday during the top 20 announcement, I got to promote two of my ideas that were selected as Top 20 ideas. One of them was a down to earth idea: a pollution localization method using photo collection and image recognition. Quite feasible and possible to realize in two or three ways. The other one is the “dream big” idea: biodegradable artificial jelly-bots capable of collecting sub-sea data to gain knowledge on the quality of the sea, pollution, sub-sea noise disturbance and who knows, maybe even biodiversity and more. Both ideas are runner-up to become one of the winners of the Our Oceans Challenge. But before the Grande Finale, a lot of work needs to be done.

I believe in this idea. I am sure there are quite a lot of changes that need to be made to the initial idea to make it feasible and doable. And once we have done so, I believe we can gain a lot of useable knowledge about our beautiful oceans. The goal is to collect this data for both commercial use and science. There is still a lot we want to know about our ocean and by collecting data in a way that won’t harm the ocean, we can respectfully learn in order to preserve.

A lot of questions
I am not a specialist on marine biology, chemistry or data science. There are quite some questions left on feasibility and design. And I am going to need a lot of help to get this idea to the next level. Down here are some of the questions that will need to be answered. However the design will change, sustainability is and will remain a basic requirement.

  • Which data should we collect?
  • How can we create biodegradable data vessels?
  • How can we code these vessels / which code do we need?
  • How can we retrieve data from these vessels?
  • How can we process the data and make it available for third parties?

You can help
I want to ask you to get involved. Can you answer some of my questions? Can you get involved in the project itself? Or you can help me by connecting me to people who can and want to join this project, who want to help answer these questions or who can share their knowledge in order to evolve the idea into a design that can be built within reasonable boundaries of time and money. Maybe you are not sure if you can help out. In that case, send me a message. What you can always do to help is share this post.

Get in touch
For more information you can send me a message or e-mail.
Click here for information on the Our Oceans Challenge.

Ps. I am quite confident that I can create a good plan for the photo idea, but still, if you want to join in on that project, you are more than welcome.



November 11, 2016

Hate is not a solution

Hate is not a solution to fear.

Not if you fear religion.

Not if you fear politics.

Not if you fear discrimination.

Not if you fear sexual diversity.

Not if you fear a colour.

Not if you fear women.

Not if you fear men.

Not if you fear economics.

Not if you fear a president.

Not if you fear the voters.

Not if you fear polution.

Not if you fear hunger.

Not if you fear diseases.

Not if you fear culture.

Not if you fear art.

Not if you fear opinions.

Not if you fear leaders.

Not if you fear followers.

Not if you fear enemies.

Not if you fear friends.

Not if you fear education.

Not if you fear the lack of education.

Not if you fear democrats.

Not if you fear republicans.

Not if you fear conservatives.

Not if you fear liberals.

Not if you fear pessimists.

Not if you fear optimists.

Hate is not a solution, ever.

Nor is violence.

September 5, 2016

Enough? Right? Wrong?

Last summer I went on a little trip to Austria with Remco. As we drove through Germany, there were stops for toilet breaks and food. At one of those stops, I saw a man fishing plastic bottles out of the trash cans. Remco and I started talking about what might be the reason behind this. Somehow we could not figure out if this was an act of a man who was trying to collect his food for the day, someone who was doing something for a better environment or a worker at the parking place. What I did observe was the looks on people’s faces as they passed by and it made me feel bad. Very bad. I had the feeling people looked at this person disparagingly.

I had to walk back to the car and as I passed the man a second time, I was trying to figure out a way to acknowledge him as a human being, his value as a human being, and hopefully give him some joy for this day. I remembered I still had some toilet discount tickets and so did Remco. I collected his as well and walked up to the man. “Can I offer you these?” I asked him, waving the tickets. He smiled. He said thanks. He straightened his back. I wished him a good day and walked off, back to the shop, to get coffee. All I could think on my way back to the shop, was: “I have not done enough”, “I should have invited him for coffee”, “I should’ve listened to his story if he would have been willing to share it with me”. And then I hated myself for these thoughts. Who said this man needed my help? Was my help pitying him, dehumanizing him just as much as the looks on the other people’s faces? As I sat down at the restaurant I cried.

As a person who always wants to do the right thing, always wants to help out others, always searches for ways to make the world a better place, I often get stuck. I never have the feeling that it is enough. I never have the feeling that I am doing enough, giving away enough, caring enough. I wonder if I do the right things and if it is not just my arrogance to think I can actually make a change in a person’s life. I struggle with the question if I should even blog about things I do. Yes. Doing good makes me feel better, but to be honest, most of the time it makes me feel desperate or sad just as much.

I believe that if I act from the heart, at least I should have some peace of mind; Maybe I am actually helping someone out. Maybe I am actually doing something good for this world or giving an animal a chance to live by my actions. I do not know the answer to a very substantial question: What is good and what is bad at the end of the day? Is it even possible to answer this question at all? How can we know the way our actions influence the future? How can we really know what is important in life beside our own values, beside the things others teach us to value?

How can I judge someone with an entirely different childhood, who grew up in a different culture, with different values? How would my values be any better than anyone else’s? This question is obviously not new. I am just writing down my personal struggle, not a new discovery of any kind.

I did learn one important lesson that day. During the conversation with Remco, he convinced me that sometimes paying attention to someone is enough, and paying attention can be positive, no matter what the situation or background of the situation. That, however big someone’s problems are, another person cannot always be, nor doesn’t have to necessarily be, the solution. Treating people as you would like to be treated yourself, trying to treat people as human beings, respect nature, our planet and try to avoid damaging it, that is what I can do. I hope that one day I can learn to have peace with the actions I take. I hope one day I will think to myself: I did enough this time. Even if it is mere ignorance. Even if it is the truth. One day I hope I will have the feeling that I did enough. That I actually helped someone along his or her path in a meaningful way. But you can never really know, can you?

In the meantime, I will just follow my heart. Do what I can in the hope that I will help some people along their paths and in the hope it means something.

August 23, 2016


Alsof elke nacht
een gedachte bevat.
Een gedachte aan jou.
Alsof elke gedachte aan jou
een nacht duurt.

En de nacht duurt voort.

Terwijl jij daar bent.
En ik hier.

Terwijl de nachten ons scheiden
ons te verdrijven
van elkaar.

Want de nachten brengen
met elke gedachte
die verstrijkt.

En dan duurt het ineens
meer zo lang,
maar lief,
wat mis ik jou.

Wat mis ik je woorden,
je gedachten.
Wat mis ik je handen
en je armen.
Wat mis ik je smaken
en je geluiden,
je geuren
en je adem.

Wat mis ik alles
aan jou
wat jou
tot jou.

Wat mis ik de nachten
alleen in gedachten
te verblijven ver van jou.

Want bij jou is zoveel fijner.
Bij jou voelt zoveel beter.
Denkt zoveel vrijer.

Lieve man,
ik hou v­an jou.



** Voor Remco