29 March 2006

That Perfect Little House

Recently, Carol emailed me and asked me what I was doing.

I emailed back that I was looking at pictures of my house.

I remember hearing a story about an unhappy someone who went to a wise man asking for advice.

The wise man's solution was that he should slowly over the weeks bring more and more of the farm animals into his house to live with him.

The man did it although he kept coming back to the wise man and asking how in the world this was supposed to help him feel better.

Everything was a huge mess.

The pigs were filthy. The cows were loud. The chickens were scratching the furniture.

After several weeks of this commotion, the wise man's advice was to slowly remove the farm animals from the house.

In the end, when they were all back in the yard, the man came back to the wise man to express gratitude for his new found joy.

He thanked the wise man for giving him this wonderful new outlook on life.

The wise man nodded.

Both of them knew that the only thing that had changed was the man's perspective, his ability to look at things differently.

I can't wait to get back into my house.

My perfect little house.

Technorati tag:

28 March 2006

Sinking and Floating

When I returned house keys to my friend, Colleen, last weekend, she said she had been thinking of the ways I'd been trying to simplify my life.

She wanted to simplify too.

I told her that although I was getting a bit tired of urban camping (four more months to go!), it had been great to change around my whole 'life routine'.

Six months ago, I 'shook up' everything and now it feels like certain things in my life are floating to the top and other things are sinking to the bottom.

I had been holding on pretty tightly to some things.

This year's routine helped me to let go of a lot of those things so that they could naturally move in one direction or the other.

I'm starting to get a better perspective on which routines I want to keep in my life and which ones I don't need anymore.

Technorati tag:

27 March 2006

Urban Camper Down

Two weeks ago, my classmate, Gino, went to Barcelona for a weekend.

After his return from two days in the warm sunny atmosphere, it took him over a week to re-acclimate to his student routine in the cold grey Dutch winter.

I went to Brazil for over two weeks in January and it seems that it's taken me six weeks to get back into the swing of things.

Maybe there's some kind of formula that applies to people who travel to drastically warmer climates, something like, 1 day of 'swimming in summer' = 2 or 3 days of 'struggling to keep your head above winter' when you return.

I just couldn't find my rhythm for the new semester (a process not helped by teachers changing classrooms and making reading material difficult to find).

It also snowed a lot and I got sick.

Anyway, the bottom line of my whining is that this month, I caved (no urban camping pun intended).

When Carol's roommate moved out, I moved in with the offer to pay half of the living expenses for one month.

It feels like I've moved from six weeks of 'lack of routine' to four weeks of 'lap of luxury'.

Technorati tag:

26 March 2006

Competitive Nomad Pack Strategies

Perhaps distant cousins of urban campers are those involved in the 'backpacking light' movement.

Their 'practice' is to create the lightest gear no matter what it takes.

They even have online discussion communities about how they make their gear themselves.

I love this bumper sticker from one of their sites.

I need to apply this strategy to my nomad pack.

Technorati tag:

15 March 2006

Motel Mozaique Festival Rotterdam

Also mark your calendars for the 6th annual Motel Mozaique festival on 14-16 April 2006 in Rotterdam.

Programs at about 10 different locations showcase new and upcoming movements in pop music, dance, theatre and the visual arts, as well as crossovers between these disciplines.

Part of the Motel Mozaique tradition is that locations are creatively turned into motels where visitors can sleep over while artist collectives arrange breakfast and other items of comfort.

It's just one more way to urban camp in Rotterdam!

More info in English:

Technorati tag:

14 March 2006

Urban Camping Festival Rotterdam

For the third year now, Rotterdam is setting up a camping site in the city.

Mark your calendar to participate from 6-10 July 2006 on Noordereiland.

Rotterdam is well-known for having WONDERFUL summer festivals.

(This year's program will be ready in May. This site will also have an English translation.)

Although you can just sort of show up, the idea is to reserve a place and a tent ahead of time and sleep over.

For five days, they arrange all sorts of kitsch activities for the inhabitants.

For those of you that read Dutch, there are more details here: www.campingrotterdam.nl.

Technorati tag:

13 March 2006

Microsoft's One Device

Microsoft is working on making me happy too!

They are creating an ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) called Origami with the slogan, "Go everywhere! Do everything!"

My friend, Isaac, is not excited about this ... but it sounds just like what I want!

This device is meant to bridge the gap between a personal digital assistant and a notebook computer.

It weighs less than two pounds and has a 7-inch screen.

It has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth and offers full Microsoft Windows XP functionality.

Cynthia Brumfield, president of the consulting group, Emerging Media Dynamics, says that "... the enterprise market is ready for a portable media device with a big screen that can serve as a computer."

Yes Cynthia!

I'm ready for the 'one device' that will facilitate my 'get-up-and-go-in-the-global-village'!

I can even have 'movies on the move'! Critics point out that the UMPC's biggest shortcoming is its three-hour battery life, which is a quarter of Apple's iPod and a lot less than high-end smartphones that check e-mail and display office documents.

OK, I could use a couple more hours of battery life, but then again, the urban jungle has electrical outlets all over the place.

I don't mind doing a dance between plugged and unplugged.

They also say that the UMPC runs a "modified version of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system".

I don't know what the consequences of a 'modified version' are.

Another analyst, Ashok Kumar, from Raymond James, says that the new devices need to have cellular connectivity, not just Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

I agree! The 'one device' needs to be my phone too!

A technology strategist, Pip Coburn, from Coburn Ventures, a New York-based investment advisory firm, says, "This is yet another failed attempt to jam everything into one device. The way I see it, they don't really know what they want it to be."

Pip! I know what they're trying to do!

Urban nomads like me want it to be everything!


Please don't discourage them!

Oh, and I would also like an infrared collapsible keyboard to go with it.

But if it doesn't work out, I also really like the cute chic Sony VAIO BX Series Notebook.

And here's how I'm going to connect:

Technorati tag:

12 March 2006

Movies on the One Device

An email just arrived to let me know that Amazon is working on something I really want.

Abbey Klaassen wrote a 10 March 2006 article titled, "Amazon in Talks to Set Up Movie Download Service: After Music and TV Shows, Movies Are Next Frontier for Digital Content".

Whenever I'm out in the urban jungle and a movie I haven't seen pops up in conversation, I want to be able to pull out my little laptop or 'one device' from my nomad pack and use free worldwide WiFi to download it from a movie library service.

I have no interest in owning a TV.

I prefer to get my content from the Internet.

I would pay for a service that would allow me access to high quality downloads of every movie ever made.

The film critics from the New York Times made a list of the 1,000 best movies ever made.

I want to watch every single one of them.

One of my favorite films from the Rotterdam Film Festival was Noi Albinoi.

I want to be able to download it and show it to all of my friends.

My friend, Luisa, loves Paper Moon.

An old acquaintance in a discussion group told me to see Logan's Run.

A former colleague told me to see Roman Holiday.

My friend, Aden, loves The Hairdressers Husband.

Hurry up Amazon!

I've got a lot of movies to see!

Make it easy for me.

I don't even mind if a movie takes a couple of hours to download.

It's still quicker than waiting for the next Netflix (or the Dutch version, MovieMile) DVD to arrive in my mailbox.

Technorati tag:

07 March 2006

Bartering in Practice

I've only tried bartering with two friends: Ella and Carol.

Ella's a good cook.

In August, she spontaneously invited me to dinner with another colleague.

I had just started my urban camping spree at the time and was acutely aware of pinching every penny.

As she made a delicious dinner, I bounced around cleaning dishes, caring for the plants, giving her a massage.

At one point, she replied, "Please sit down. You're making me nervous."

I suggested that maybe I could come over for dinner sometime in exchange for cleaning dishes or giving a massage.

So, we did arrange a barter dinner a few weeks later.

During a stressful period, I acted as a sounding board and exchanged a massage for one of Ella's wonderful home-cooked meals.

Technorati tag:

06 March 2006

January Urban Camping Spots

January urban camping spots were: 1 night each at the houses of friends: Bill, Leon, and Johan.

5 nights working and camping in my studio/healthclub.

2 nights on airplanes.

5 nights at Carol's house.

16 nights in Rio at the house of my friend Ricardo.

Technorati tag:

04 March 2006

Local Exchange Trading Systems

Another community barter network is called Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS).

It's a very active and well-established 'organism'. Chapters exist on every continent and The Netherlands has oodles of LETS groups.

Each member has a credit/debit account going as s/he trades items and activities within their group.

It's OK if the points or 'favors' in a member's account go into the negative for awhile.

The group tries to regulate a balance and keep the trading activity going.

Technorati tag: