Final preperations

This is work I deemed lost. Here it is a global jam story from ago:

Final preparations

I’m busy these days. When I am not making overtime for work, fighting fires and or doing all the other volunteer tasks I’ve gotten myself into I study, not for career advances or anything but for the Jam. The Gig, early June. Slowly I start counting down to the day that I step on my flight. Hell I hardly have time to blog these days. I still try though. I love to do it.

Final preparations for such a musical events mean a lot of things. Early last month I got my reservations and flights in order. A couple of emails here and there, a few web forms filled out and a couple of phone calls because US airways put my last-name wrong on my ticket. Sigh, they say they made a note of it and that it won’t be a problem but I’ll believe it when I’m past homeland security.

As a good global citizen I correctly filled out my visa waivier which has been mandatory since 9/11. A green piece of paper where any no except the last one, can get you into serious trouble. These days we have to do it twice. Online and on the plane with a pencil. I guess it’s ok. There are plenty of lunatics running free these days. For instance that guy that screamed during our national 2 minutes of sillence in honour of all that protect and ensure our relative freedom. An outrage! indeed.

I also slowly am starting to gathering my stuff. Looking for the stuff I put somewhere around the house. I found the last of last years dollars stock. Looked up My AC converter So I can load my cellphone battery and other electrical appliances. Checked my wardrobe for Things to take and all kinds of that stuff. Most of the time however goes in to practicing.

Next to the 2 hours of practice in the car each day. I practice my new instrument the Clarinet and I practice some more, this time with the amp on to get myself adjusted to hearing myself over a speaker. It’s a matter of making everything perfect. I have to be able to sing the songs or play them in my sleep. Every error in a song means I have to do the next 3 tries perfect or until I do it 3 times perfect in a row. It’s about muscle memorization and memory. On stage anything can go wrong and the show must and will go on.

As the day comes closer tension rises. Every error a worry. No, no, no, it’s until that word in the backing vocals and not the other one. And a retry, another another, finally you got it right and now again. Global Jam is serious business. I know that some colleagues think it is all fun and games. I can’t blame them. But it isn’t, it’s hard work and endlessly practicing the same over and over again. So why, why do I do it?. For, for the music, for my family the musicians, for the dream, for the crowd, for me. For that great feeling while playing or performing, crowd at your feet. For that inexplainable feeling of utter joy and fullness afterwards. It doesn’t matter. Every piece or unit of energy put into the Jam is well spent.

After each practice session, I remember it. I remember them. My fellow band mates. I see myself drinking a pint with Julian or David in their home town. I see myself seeing Brad’s remodeled house, complementing him on the choise of furniture. Meeting up with Alicia in Singapore. Meeting up the band families. These are all persons and in their notes in their music. Their souls are concealed. The score is the same but each person plays their own tune.


Back at square one …… Almost!


Back at square one …… Almost!


A woman mid thirties was strolling to the metal bench in the center of the room.  As the light of the artificial lighting progressed past her slim face, it played shadowy tricks under her tight cheeks.

The images from the holo-screen displayed today’s interstellar news reflected on the retina of her deep grey eyes. She wasn’t paying attention to the screen or the news for that matter.  She sat down. Her ponytail rested femininely on the shoulder pad of her grey black top as she poured herself a drink. She sighed while she reached for the small console standing on a small coffee table in front of her.  She pushed a few buttons on the transparent touch screen of the console and cleared her throat with a sip of her “wild rose” cocktail. For a second she waited as the console display changed. A moment she hesitated and then pressed on the red circle on the transparent display.

She raised a narrative voice and started:”

Ikami VIII Forge region Goods and distribution center- Uzazi Spell gazer – personal log:

I cannot even remember how long I was marooned on that rock.  I was scanning the asteroid field down at Urlen when all went bad.  As I watched my Drake explode from my life pod I tried to warp to the nearest station. Little did I know.

Before you have it more than three years are past.  I was presumed dead. Dead …..Me! For crying out loud.

It is of no use now. A lot can change in New Eden in three years. “She sighed, “I can still remember Aaron’s face when he saw me on the video display. He looked as if he saw a ghost.  He just returned from a long and dangerous mining operation near the Amamake system.  He really did look as if he had seen a ghost.  The poor bastard.   Lucky for me he was just on his way to the Caldari sector to handle off the official business concerning the ill fate of his sister.  The only stroke of luck I’ve had in the past 3 year if I would have returned much later He would have sold all my affects and then I would be really back to square one.  At least now I still have my trusted cruiser class starship the “Razorback”. Uzazi closed her Eyes for a sec. “pause recording “, she said as she stretched her back.

As she closed her eyes she took another sip of her beverage.  The darkness hurled her back three years ago.  “Nothing to report, the mining sector is clear.”, she said. “Roger that, Uz! Glad you checked it out. The skirmishes alongside the Caldari border have taken up a lot of our resources of late. CONCORD is in your debt again.” a woman replied. “Thank me after you’ve seen my fee”, laughed Uzazi. “Come to the station and I’ll buy you one. CONCORD command, out!”, the voice replied.  Uzazi was just about to set the coordinates to her station when a small dot on her sensor readout attracted her attention. “Hmm that’s odd”, Uzazi said. “Uzazi turned her ship towards the anomaly to take a closer look. She carefully adjusted her speed. “Not to fast Uz, you never know. “, she mumbled.

A part from a small hum of the life support system and an occasional bleep it was completely silent in the command center of her drake. Usually she would have a few staff members running about, but she gave them the week off. This mission was sort of a personal favor and Uzazi had been looking forward to doing a solo mission for quite some time anyway.  She had always been capable of handling a ship by herself and the fact that this Drake was a 14 million ton battle cruiser should not make any difference. She knew she could control the seven missile turrets with ease.  It felt a little like the old days.  When she was still a  lone privateer.


Carefully she maneuvered her ship between the large amounts of asteroids in the field. Her shield could handle quite some damage but a hit from an asteroid was not something to be considered lightly. Uzazi slowly moved towards the signal which was now clearly visible on the sensor display.

The dim light of the command center played tricks on her perfectly smooth skin and displayed strange figures in combination with her freckled nose. Her broad mouth had a faint smile. Her eyes where focused on her screens as she carefully came closer to the anomaly.  She frowned her heavy eyebrows as she tried to figure out the readings. She’d seen those before but when.  She moved closer to the screen to see if she could see it more clearly. A tiny second dot appeared on the sensor screen.  Abruptly she pulled back from the screen and pressed her shield overdrive. How could she have forgotten? The next moment she fell on her back as a missile pierced through her shield with deadly precision and shook the entire ship.

She opened her eyes to rid herself of the raised specters and took another sip. “ Un-pause”, she said quietly,” I feel a stranger now.  The corporation fired me and I have been forced to work for the government agencies for some time now. I took up a job as errand for the Perkone Corporation which for now suits me fine.  It was good to see Aaron again. My little brother is starting to age and get wiser. If only mom and dad”, she stopped in the middle of the sentence a holo image of a thug showed up on her holo-screen. Uzazi briefly watched the bounty and crimes of this guy. She put her legs on the bench and laid back against the pillow on the left side whilst taking another sip from her cocktail.” Where was I?”, she said.” Ah yes Aaron.  Recorder remove last sentence”, she commanded. “Aaron was very pleased to see I was still alive and had tons of questions for me after he had overcome his fright.  There was nothing more than tell him the entire story. “, Uzazi paused. “ I am now desperately trying to get back into shape.  Luckily I still have my Mule and old Razorback.  When I am back in business I’ll contact Das to see he can make use of me in low-sec space. “, she said.

Uzazi turned left to see a where the beeping noise was coming from. A blinking message symbol appeared on the console on the table. She pressed it.  Stop by the Pionen system Uzazi Spellgazer I have a job for you. A man’s voice said while a face appeared on the console.  Pionen, she thought those where the days. She closed her eyes again and was immediately thrown back to her ship.” Warning, Warning! Hull systems critical”, a computerized female voice said. Uzazi was hanging over the command centers console as she came to her senses.  “Warning, pressure drop in cargo bay one, Hull breach!”, the computer said. She groaned with pain. What happened?  She saw herself crawl to the escape pod and then all went black.  She shrugged as she came back to her senses. For a moment she was startled. She was still on the bench. The console was still on the message screen.

She closed the message and un-paused the memo recording.  Uzazi cleared her throat.”Well its back to ghosts from the past I guess.  Pionen was my former base of operations and now I’m getting called back again.  Last time I was there it did not feel like home anymore, nothing feels really at home anymore. I wonder if it is me. Being marooned in space for two years does that for you I guess. Still”, Uzazi stopped.  The near mentioning of the past 3 years made her flashback once more. “She was in her escape pod, bleeding, barely alive as she clung to the small control terminal inside. Don’t warp to the gate she, remembered thinking, that will mean the death of me. With the last remaining control of her body she navigated to a near asteroid of reasonable size and set down her ship.  Then she passed out.  She did not know what time had passed when she came round again. But there was no sign of any threat anymore.  She brushed her head and felt dried up blood.  Her lips where ripped and her clothes where torn.  She was lying down on the floor of the escape pod. At first she did not know what had happened. Then it slowly came back. She tried to stand up, only to be stopped by her sprained ankle.  It was cold in her pod very cold. How log had she been here? Minutes? Hours? Days?, she did not know.  She only knew that every piece of her body ached like mad.

She pulled herself up and watched the control panel.  She was still on the asteroid.  Uzazi punched in a few commands and the pod slowly lifted off.  She then set the coordinates to the nearest friendly station and pressed the warp button on the console.  Nothing happened.  She pressed it again, still nothing.  Then she passed out again. When she came round again she was in deep space.  Her warp drive had warped her but to where?  Days passed by with Uzazi passing in and out of consciousness.  Then she came round again. She was extremely thirsty and hungry too. She tried to crawl up and succeeded. Still everything ached but she felt a little better. She found her emergency rations and drank and ate all she could.  Immediately she felt better.  Her instincts of survival came back to her. Where the hell was she?

Uzazi tried to activate the external camera to see if she could pinpoint her location by navigating the stars. But she could not make them out. She had never been here before.  Her navigation system wasn’t any good either it just was plain static. She checked the vitals of the life pod and found out that it was badly damaged.  She had basic life support being maintained by the remaining solar panels still functioning on the hull. She ran out of fuel so she wasn’t going anywhere on her propulsion system. Her warp system was functioning but without navigation systems she could end up anywhere in the galaxy.  Her maneuvering thrusters worked but still without any notion of where she was. She was done for.

Uzazi found out that she had been drifting for over a week now her warp drive warped her to somewhere and her propulsion system had caused her to drift of even further.  She stood up and limped to the small bed capsule on the far side of the life pod and sat down on it for a while. She still could not think strait and she knew she was running a fever. She tried to calculate her odds in the emptiness of deep space.  The hibernation program.  It was her only hope.  She configured the hibernation chamber to wake her up if she was closing in on any radio transmissions. And lay herself down into the small capsule it closed and then she dozed off.

Other posts on Uzazi Spellgazer :

Another day

Meeting Up

Disclaimer: All names of places stations or equipment are found in the eve-online game.

A practitioner of faith

A practitioner of faith

Got your attention didn’t I? Yes , I’m still alive. Just a bit busy of late, doing stuff.  Stuff? All kinds of stuff you know the kind of stuff we all have in our daily life. Work, paying bills, parenting, hobbies, birthdays and all kinds of social obligations. You know, stuff!

Writing requires a subject, the will to write it down, A PC, pen, etc. when you have that story in your head, the time and state of mind to put it all down.  Here I am putting it down again.

While I was killing time the last 10 minutes before the end of a long working day(no sense starting something you have to quit 10 minutes later, is there?) I went to my Facebook page to see a friend of mine had added me to his list. As I watched his info screen I saw Buddhism as his faith. I clicked my profile and saw Gnostic. I Clicked it and found a bunch of groups about the subject. The one first on the list catch ‘d my eye.  It’s avatar of a picture of an ancient damaged book intrigued me.

Click, Click.

I scrolled through the page and found that some one posted a question: How does one practice the faith of Gnosticism.

To me at first, the question was a bit odd. But as it started drifting about in my mind, I could feel the urge for someone to pop it.

Most religions have a certain amount of rites or rituals to practice it’s faith. So what about gnosticism. We’ll it works a bit differently with Gnosticism.  Yes you can preform all kinds of silly rituals each day or week, like praying or blowing candles, eating bread and wine or whatever other thing you can think off. The essence of Gnosticism isn’t like that at all. To tell you the truth in Gnosticism It doesn’t really matter.  Gnostic’s do not have to go to church each week or turn to the east. Gnostic’s don’t have to do any of these foolish silly rituals.

Au contraire, the last thing a gnostic wants is to let his faith be distracted or clouded by rituals or rites that  can get him of the track or get him worshiping a demigod of some sort. Not that it isn’t allowed for a gnostic to get a little of track from time to time(will get there).  A Gnostic connection to god, the All  or the supreme being is very personal. It is the basis of a Gnostic ‘s faith. Being a Gnostic means that you practice your faith 24/7.  A Gnostic believes that one can come closer to God by living.  A Gnostic ponders about what he has seen heard or experienced and makes his conclusions accordingly.

A Gnostic should be  a skeptic about religions; Christianity, Buddhism, COFSM, Atheism(Yes you believers in the absence of a deity, it’s a religion too, there is just as much proof of the absence off a deity, as there is off one), but foremost of his own faith and his own conclusions.  Christians and most other major religions want exactly the opposite. To just simply believe what they want you to believe. This is the fundamental difference that separates Gnosticism from most off the other religions.

As a matter of fact most Gnostic ‘s will get of track a few times in a life, because of their skepticism. (See 🙂 ) A Gnostic does not believe it can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime.  But he does believe each of his lives will bring him closer to the All.  Now I am not able to write a blog about the All. It’s impossible because of the size of it. The all is the grand design, the Alfa and Omega, God, Nature. The All is… the all is the omnipotent, neither good or bad, ying and yang, left and right, up and down, in and out. The All basically just is and also isn’t. (See why I can’t blog about the all?).

So how does a Gnostic practice it’s faith. The question is as easy as the answer.

He or she just simply does!

Jezus of Nazareth( The most famous Gnostic), once said. Love another like yourself and God above all. This is the thing a Gnostic tries to achieve.  Which I must say is challenging enough for a mere human being. The only other thing a Gnostic does is try to learn, learn  from the lessons of life itself and learn from the experiences of the lives of others.  A Gnostic lives his live,experiences and watches.

A Gnostic will try to rethink every moment, every interaction, every feeling and thought and look for it’s learnings. A gnostic handles in the believe that he is responsible for all of his actions and their consequences, however small they might be. They realize that every action has a reaction. Every cause has an effect. A Gnostic tries to be aware of all that he or she does.  A Gnostic realizes that life in general is sacred and will always try to avoid hurting the soul of a fellow human being.  A failure to do so, shows a gnostic how insignificant he is and how much he has still to learn. Love another like yourself a daring task indeed.  A gnostic should know that in order to  love another he or she must first love himself. If a gnostic does not love him- or her- self, he should first learn how to achieve this.  Gnosticism isn’t practiced in a church.  For a gnostic the true church is life itself.

Maybe now you understand why I found the question a bit odd. Why? because of the answer: A  Gnostic practices his faith all the time.

Playing the Orlando ballroom with Global Jam

Tuesday night the 7th of July 7:45 pm Orlando ballroom, The Hilton Orlando, Florida USA. Backstage in the green room the band begins to gather. 24 musicians from 11 countries, spanning over the 5 main continents of the globe,  make this band, truly  global.  A mix of nervousness and both excitement fills the atmosphere. Tension is rising. Just a few more minutes and where on. Bottles of water , tea , coffee or soda are consumed at great haste softening the vocal folds or just to get  it in. By the end of the night we will all be sweating.  I down a cup of ginger tea and chew on my last throat gum.  Trying to ease my vocal  folds, which I over stressed 2 days before during practice.

After 7 months of hard work we are here. The day that we have to do it.  A deadline as hard as a brick wall, unmovable and inevitable.  It is now or nothing. There is no second try. There is only this one shot and it must hit it’s mark. If it doesn’t this could be the end of Global Jam. If it does at another gig will come.


We have come a long way October last year we started out. Calmly, at ease we all picked the songs we liked to perform. Then at the end of the December the voting began. By the end of January the song-list was there. Practicing at home in the car or wherever, we learned our parts, wrote sheets and scrutinized the songs until we  all new what to play. Conferencing on sunday, each 2 weeks about our progress with the group and in smaller groups about individual songs.  Skype, Youtube, Wiki, chat, etc. All collaborative tools available were used to get us working together and making sure we all knew our parts.  2 days ago we all met again. face to face. For some it was the first time, to others it was a most welcome reunion of friends and family. Global Jam is family in it’s own way. It’s family because of this, here and now. The gig! knowing our limited rehearsing time before the gig we started Sunday 10am. Our practice room in a remote corner at the conferencing center of the hotel started to fill.

After the cacophony of sounds you get from tuning instruments and testing them we started. Song after song after song. Only stopping for a quick bite. until late in the evening. Blisters formed, muscles ached, blood flewed from swollen lips and  throats hurted.  We literally played until we couldn’t play no more.  2 days of intense rehearsal. We are up against what most musicians will think off as being impossible. Getting a gig together with 2 and a half days worth of practice time.  Most bands will tell you it is  not possible. But we know it is possible. We did it before and we will do it again.

7:55 pm Bill goes to the stage.  This is it. We’re on. A few words of comfort, a soft yell, a few high fives follow. After the short blinding effect of the stage lights we see our crowd.  over a thousand of our companies colleagues, clients and partners gaze upon us. The introduction.  Quickly the people not on the first song go backstage again. tick, tick, tick the sound of the drummers sticks tick the first beat. one, two, three, four and the train starts. Global Jam 201o is a go.  The first notes of Mustang Sally sound through the speakers.  34 songs to go.  As we watch our colleagues on the back of the projector screens from backstage we await our own appearances on stage.

David going at it on his axe

I’m up on the fourth song. Disco inferno. I test my voice which still feels a little soar. I will just have to do extra. Blue suede shoes follows Mustang Sally and then Tin tho a Vietnamese song. We deliberately added these foreign songs to exclaim our global nature.  A few minutes later I stand next to Detlef my German co worker, dressed up all in black with only a white tie and white shoes to uncover my rebellious nature.   We ‘re backing up on this song. As the baseline of Disco inferno is played by my Australian colleague Bill. We count for our cue. ‘Burn baby burn’ , we go. The first sound of your voice over the stage monitors is always a bit awkward. As if somehow startled by your own voice. But there is ample time to cope. ‘Burn baby burn!’, ‘Burn baby burn!,”Burn baby burn!’. It has to be on count to work. As the song  ends I experience the applause for the first time this night. But there is no time to enjoy it. There is a lot more work to be done.

Our arena

I quickly  grab my D harp out of my harp case and clam it and my hands around the green bullet( a harmonica’s microphone).  1 the first beat of the bass drum goes. 2 the guitar kicks in. 3. the rest of the instruments now. 4. the intro. As the drummer does his first riff into the first chorus I wail my harp making it sound like a train horn ready to depart  and where off ‘Call me the Breeze!’, Joe sings.  The wail liberated me. What first felt like as reservation is now gone.  As I let the music get into my bones I harp a lick or 2 here and there. I feel great.  a few more notes and a grand chord exits the song.  Now I need to be fast. In order to play my clarinet on baker street I have to switch Marks trombone mike and adjust it for my woodwind. There is only the time of the next song to do it. 30 seconds later I slip past Julian who’s going at it with his saxophone.  I quickly drink some water and when the song ends I follow some others back on.

Now this is a hard part for me . My first ever performance playing the clarinet. I would not have dreamed about it before 1 day ago. We started rehearsing Baker street. I knew there was a clarinet on it so I secretly studied it. And when we started rehearsing I tagged along.  But now I had to do it in front of all those people.  I must admit I had a slight fear over there. Not being able to play the Artissimo notes on the intro before yesterday. But they went smooth as a whistle. I can only imagine the smile on my face after that song. Here we go! Suddenly a short shriek. Standing to close to the monitors can cause resonance which causes a terrible shriek. Manu our stage sound guy. Cuts the mike to my clarinet. As I back away from the monitor he turns it up again. The song goes by in what feels like seconds. Next Superstition.  Vivek is made for these songs. We watch him back stage. Hitting every note. Brilliant.

Rocking at the Jam!

The next song for me is on lead vocal. We will rock you!  company style. As I clear my throath  Bill heads up next to me. Clap! Clap! Thud! Clap Clap THUD! Oh man this is so great. We should do this every day I think. The lyrics are sung according to the song and then, ‘ HIT IT!!!!’. Charles Kicks in with a guitar solo. The crowd goes wild!  Now comes official part. As the song ends we are ordered to introduce ourselves.  Most of us hate this part. We just want to play! luckilly this is over fast. We’re on a tight schedule here.

Next the beautiful Brasilian Elaine sings Girl from Ipanima. As she sings it she moves just like the girl from Ipanima sensual and on count.  You can feel how she catches the crowd. As the song finishes and she comes backstage again we cheer for her. This was her first time.  Song after song  pass by Chan Chan, by Axel and David, As with its massive choir part. Taking care of business and before you know it there are only 6 songs left on the setlist. Summertime. Some of the musicians  have been looking forward to this. With Lem on lead guitar You never know what will happen so it is jam time.  Stretching the song to over 6 minutes we play and all  do our solo parts. terrific that was fun.  Then it is time to end it. As we finish our last song we tell the crowd that this is it. We want more, we want more it sounds. Of course! We always save a few songs for the encore.  Love shack starts. Sung perfectly by Jill and Seth 2 veterans on the band. With everyone on stage for the last 2 songs it is pretty crowded.  Peopl not playing or singing just dance.  As we play our last song Picking up the Pieces Jeroen steps down the catwalk and plays his trombone In the middle of all the people.  Then on the final chord. It becomes sillent.  We are engulfed in thunderous applause and cheers! as we thank our audience.  We did it. We did it again. As we come back stage we hug and kiss each other over the success we just had. All engulfed in this wonderful feeling of fulfillment. We quickly stow away our instruments and head off.

From left to right: First row: Axel (Peru), Huy (Vietnam), Mark (Australia), Jeroen (Netherlands), Jim (US), Julian (UK), David (Australia), Joe (US), Lem (US), Detlef (Germany), Bill (Australia), Pavel (Denmark), Charles (Australia) Second row: Elaine (Brasil), Brad (US) , Me (Netherlands), Seth (US), Vivek (Australia) Third row: Gwennie (US), Fred (US), Sharon (US), Alicia (Singapore), Nick (South Africa) Fourth row: Jill (US)

Time for a beer!

P.S.: I want to thank all my fellow band mates and our company to making this thing possible. You’re great guys (and Galls) I love you all!

Just another callout for the fire brigade

Being a fireman gives you a lot of unforgettable experiences. Sad ones, thrilling ones and funny ones etcetera, etcetera. But there are also the ones quite ordinary or not even thrilling at least for me as a fireman that is. Getting to firetrucks in front of your house and 10 fireman pounding on your door is of course enough to most people in an uproar.And so it happened just the other day.  Now for us firemen the least favorite callout is the OMS.

One of the fires I helped put out. I was on the other side getting ready for an in house assault

OMS in Dutch stands for Openbaar Meld Systeem which roughly translates to  public alarm system.  When you have a building or business of reasonable size an OMS is mandatory. But there are a lot of smaller companies who have them.


Smoke and fire detectors are connected to a fire panel.Whenever a detector detects something, smoke, dust or whatever triggers it, the fire-panel responds usually by sounding the evacuation alarm. This for a section or an entire building.   and signals the appropriate personnel, that there is a detection in progress ( Detection, keep it in the back of your head for now)

When a company is connected to the OMS the detection also triggers an event at the emergency control center.  The control center will respond by dispatching the nearest fire truck or multiple trucks to the address of the connected system. The size of the rescue force is entirely dependent on the size and  nature of the property which is connected to the OMS.

Unfortunately Smoke detectors sometime detect dust, or steam, or whatever. Or the just detect for no apparent reason. So in 90-something percent of the time the calls are fake, bogus or just plain annoying.

Smoke detector

Imagine getting paged out of your bed at 3 am. during a working day,  dress up, race to the fire-station, get your gear on, race to the address and inspect a detection on the 10th floor of an office building, which unfortunately has to be reached by the stairs. Because the use of elevators is prohibited until their is a clear picture of the  situation. So there you go up the stairs packed with breathing apparel and all.  Flashlights and a bunch of other stuff that increase your weight.  ( Keep in mind that a firesuit, breathing gear, helmet, boots, flashlight and firefly weighs approximately 15kg(33 pounds) And that’s for starters)

You can probably imagine that we are less pleased with the OMS system, when we reach the 10th out of breath and then find, that there is absolutely nothing going on.  If you are lucky the system can be reseted and you can use the elevator down. But mostly the detector is faulty and you’re only option is the staircase,Again!  Great fun indeed.

It may not come as a surprise that these OMS calls make up the most of  our callouts in the Netherlands and since there is always the chance of an OMS call being genuine we have to treat all of them seriously. Yes! All of them.

I often moaned in the middle of the night reading my pager, first 3 letters OMS.

Until recently I never experienced a genuine OMS call. But then a few weeks ago we had one.  We where rushing to the address.  Together with a mate I was putting on the breathing gear, whilst twisting and turning through alleys and corners.

All of a sudden I had 3 other firemen on my lap while I was squeezed against the side of the firetruck.  The driver forgot to shout corner so they and me with them, never saw it coming. I pushed my colleagues back and we laughed while we thanked the driver for the lack of communication.  A few seconds later we where at the address and me and my mate jumped out of the car.  As we rendezvoused with the fire chief in front of an apartment building for elderly people we where greeted by the nurse a small woman in her late 40ies, with red dyed hair.

Well…. greeted….  more like. She was hysterical. Together with another nurse they had entered the room to check if the call was genuine and found an ashtray engulfed in flames.  She had picked it up and had thrown it in the kitchen sink. She had turned open the tap.  quick thinking had saved the room which otherwise would be blazing right now.

‘It’s ok, it’s ok she screamed. I put it out. I put it out’, she could hardly believe it herself. The women hardly took time to breath between sentences. It was the ashtray on the 4th floor room 413, psychiatric wing. ‘She tried to catch breath. ‘Calm down, calm down’, I said we’ll take it from here.’ You did excellent’. ‘The hall, the hall is covered in smoke. me and my colleague’.’….. Calm down’ ,the chief said, ‘ Guys,  go have a look. Take a heat camera. ‘

We already had  it and run inside, up the stairs. On the 4th we met the other nurse. Quite  a sight for sour eyes,  if I do say so myself.  A young woman in her mid 20-ies.  Well proportionated and a nice face.  Her ebony brown hair, dark eyes, an slightly tinted skin gave away her Arabic ethnicity. Hell, she looked like she had just fallen out of  1001 nights, except for the  nurses costume that was.

There was no time to get a better look. we rushed to the wing we where pointed to which was covered in smoke. Yup!  something went down here.  409,410,412,413. The door was open and the lights where on.  On the right we saw the ashtray in the sink.  It was out, no more fires. But we had to check for hidden ones. As I pointed the heat camera around the apartment, you could clearly see where the ashtray had stood on the table as it lighted up brightly on the camera.  A scan around showed that there where no other heat spots in the room. All clear.

I had 2 freshman with me. One just graduated for his exams in fire-training. I pressed the button on my Walkie-talkie. ‘110, here 111’, I said. ‘111,here 110’, the chief replied back. ‘ 110, all clear, but we need a ventilator to get the smoke out. We are heading back your way’, I said. ‘ Roger, I’m coming up for a closer look.’, the chief replied. We have to get a ventilator I said to my mates come on.  Halfway down the stairs I met up with the chief. we walked back as my mates went down to get the fan.   Come with me I said.

Together with the chief we examined the room and then looked for a suitable spot to setup the overpressure ventilator.  we walked back to center spot where the staircase and elevator met. As we got there my mates just had brought up the ventilator. Taking it all the way up by the  stairs. A nasty 20kg (44lbs) contraption with a  moped engine and a huge fan.  I took the guys to the spot and lighted the display of the ventilator. Gas open, Choke on.  pull the chord. a few seconds later a huge noise came out of the engine. Choke back and throttle open.  The sound of a huge lawnmower roared through the hallway of the psychiatric wing.  blowing away the smoke through the open door and open windows of room 413.

We had put the ventilator outside on a small balcony at the other end of the hallway and within minutes the smoke was gone. Some curious inhabitants where peeking out of the door to see where the noise was coming from.   ‘ It might have been easier to use the elevator to take the fan up’, I said to my mates as I smiled sarcastically. ‘, ‘ It is a fire elevator’. I could see in their eyes they got the message.’ Think about it next time. there is no damage to the elevator shaft’.   I walked down to room 413 to see if the smoke had cleared.

I noticed the table where the ashtray stood. Next to it there where 9 half empty cigarette cartons and 6 open packets of shag. Jeezz this guy was a chain smoker. Apparently the old man living there had left his burning cigarette on the full ashtray and went to sleep.  the smoke detector had saved his life. The nurses successfully evacuated the man and put out the fire.

‘Great invention the smoke detector. They should give the inventor a nobel prize, if you ask me.’, I said to my mate who just entered. He nodded. I pointed out to the smoking apparel on the table. ‘ My God!, that’s crazy’, he replied. ‘Well we are on the psychiatric wing’, I replied. My mate could not suppress the grin.

Under the cartons and a news paper I saw a worn out bible. The entire table was covered in ash and was full of burn marks from cigarettes. It was a sober room.  On the sill where a few succulents and a picture of an old woman.  Probably his deceased wife I thought.  for the rest there was a wall cabinet in the room with a small TV in it  a few books and some trumpery filled the rest of the cabinet. There where  a few simple chairs and a bed. Nothing else, very sober. ‘Poor sod’ , I whispered and sighed. ‘ Come on lets shut the fan down where done here.’, i said to my mate. A shiver went down my spine as I thought to  myself I did not hope to end out like that.

We saw our other mate at the end of the hall. ‘Kill it’, I shouted and beckoned it by slicing my hand in front of my throat.  He nodded and went to the fan.  When we got there he was looking for the off switch. I turned on my mag-lite and pointed my finger to the switch whilst shining at it. ‘ Over there’, I said.  I picked up my walkie-talkie again.’ 110 here 111. All clear here. You can reset the system so we can use the elevator.’. ‘Ok, I’m coming up for a final check’, the chief replied.

I went down back to the lobby by the stairs together with the chief, while my colleagues took the elevator. The nurse had calmed down. Her boss had also arrived to assess the situation. She told us that the Arabian beauty was on her first night here. ‘Lucky you’, I joked as I looked at her. She shyly smiled back at my. ‘ You all did a great job. Keen thinking on the kitchen sink. I said to them. They nodded.

It was keen thinking, nurses are trained for this, but still. It could have been much worse. That would have meant the entire building would have been  evacuated and the entire room would have gone up in smoke.  We packed our stuff back in the fire truck and went off again. Another job well done. Back at the station  we told the stories. the cartons of cigarettes the hysterical nurse.  The Arabian princess. We told all about it.  Then we finished our soda’s and went back to bed again.

Business as usual

Authors nightmare

And there you have it.

The ultimate drama. I had this nice post, all prepped and ready for you guys to read and then……. Well It’s gone, I forgot to save it, It got lost while saving?. Whatever the reason, it’s gone.  It was called Final preparations. And so now I leave you the reader to imagine the contents of the post.

Feel free to comment your findings

Meeting up

Uzazi Spellgazer

Uzazi Spellgazer.  Looked up after gazing at the liquid substance in her glass. Ixian ale, they say the recipe dated back a few hundred years. The early settlers of Eve took it with them from earth. They called it beer over there. Earth, did it exist. She probably would never know.  But this ale thing, this ale thing was pretty good.  She looked around the bar, canteen, diner or whatever you could call it.  She didn’t like it very much. In fact she didn’t like the facilities in any space station very much. She was rather drifting somewhere in space.

The stars, how she loved them. If she could afford it she would never dock again on a space station. The  air reeked of to much recycling and  the Neon lights of the facilities hurt her eyes. She was used to the empty darkness of space. Only used to the dim lights  of her spaceship. Dim to save power. Ships these days had an near unlimited amount of energy when taken care of well.  But she had learned it this way and was used to it. When she just started hauling cargo the ships power supplies where less reliant and the only way you could make sure that you had enough power was by saving as much as possible.

Dimming the lights was one of the less painful ways to do this.  She could still remember that one time as a crew member that they had to set life support below 100%.  Rather dim the lights.  These days it wasn’t necessary anymore but she still did it. Better safe then sorry, she thought. All this meaningless power consumption on the station bothered her.

She took a sip off the glass and relaxed for a minute. Damn this was good stuff. She would get her hands on some traversing from station to station once every while but she hardly ever drank it. So by the time she did it was past the storage life.  Drinking in space was dangerous. Getting drunk or drowsy could give a raider or thief the edge they needed. In space there was a constant threat. Even in protected space you could be hit by a hit and run raider.

That’s  how she lost her missile barge. Her great and powerful battle cruiser. She named it Kite of doom. But she was drowsy that day and accidentally shot  someones cargo. mistaking it by a nearby thug she was hunting. Within seconds federation ships where all over her and blast her to D.  She was lucky enough to end off in her life-pod. Luckily she hadn’t sold her Caracal.  But she still felt bad about loosing it. Federation troops did not listen to mistakes.  Laws where laws and she broke them resulting in the destruction of her ship.  She sighed while thinking of it.

The bar was reasonably quiet and no one was paying attention to her. No young guy trying his luck this day.  If it where up to her she would never have come here.  In fact if it weren’t for Aaron she wouldn’t even have docked here. But she had to. Aaron send her a message that he was in her part of space for a cargo drop off. Aaron. Aaron was her twin brother.

The only family she had, they were both orphans since they where very young. their mom an dad died in  corporate war. innocent bystanders just at the wrong place at the wrong time. They jumped out of hyperspace and where in the middle of a violent corp war a few seconds later and it was over for them. They didn’t even had time to raise their shields. The life pod with her and her brother in it was picked up a few days later.  they had almost starved to death by then.  Aaron was nothing like her. He lived on the other side of the Eve universe and was a small time cargo hauler. He even found a girl on one of the planets over there and married here.  Marriage ,  Uzazi could not think of such a thing. Anyway it was a special occasion if Aaron and Uzazi where near to each other and since the last time was over 2 years ago she was anxious to see him again. Sure, they spoke a few time each year over comm but that was scarce. They did mail each few weeks over interstellar comm. But the times they met up where special  indeed.

Here she was, waiting. She had arranged to meet at this awful place this evening. Making a more accurate appointment would be foolish the both knew what space travel could be like.  She gazed back into her glass thinking about Aaron. She always had treated him as her baby brother. Even though she was as old Uzazi was always keeping her brother out of trouble as a young girl. Oh Aaron. She was indeed  very pleased that she would see him again.

She didn’t notice the guy entering the bar. He was slim and  had bright blue colored eyes which stood out quite distinct under his black eye browse.  He looked around as if he was looking for someone. Then he spotted the girl sitting lonely at a table gazing into her glass of ale. He smiled and approached her. Then he lay his hand on her shoulder. As the girl  woke up from her trance and was startled, he said:’ Hey Uuz, How ‘ve you been’.

It was Aaron he had finally arrived.

Other posts on Uzazi Spellgazer :

Another day

New beginnings, the clarinet

New beginnings, the clarinet

Clarinet I Used to play on

My first Clarinet

When I was a kid I was sent to do clarinet lessons. I survived those for about a year and then quit. But my love for the instrument never went away. I don’t know what set me off. But I have been meaning to pick it up again for quite some time. years a go I got an old clarinet from a fair but the mouthpiece was broken.  I nagged my family for years that, what I really wanted was a mouthpiece  to try if I could  still play.

Then about 4 years ago they gave me one for my birthday. When I tried to play the instrument all it did was squeak. Of course at first I thought I’d lost my touch and the thought of playing again faded away again. Then last year I tried it again. Squeak again! I still wasn’t totally convinced it was all my fault. Specialists ( my brother and sister) told me that it was a crappy instrument anyway and that it wasn’t much good except as a wall decoration.  Stubborn old me of course wanted to make sure.  A month or so later the ghost of the clarinet visited me again in my sleep. And the next morning I remembered.


I Googled a bit and found a Youtube lesson on basic clarinet blowing techniques. They told me to first get the mouthpiece off and get a sound out of it. So I did and what do you know, a sound. Not just any sound but the right sound. Next I added the barrel and tried again. A slightly lower sound emerged. I was on the JAZZ!. So I assembled the clarinet and a perfect A came out of the instrument I placed my finger on the first hole , G! second finger on second hole an F! Third finger  a E!  I was feeling so proud of myself.  now to play the scale further down in one breath I thought. AGFEDCBAG. YES! It works.  And now the other way.

I placed all my fingers on the holes planning to go upscale and…. Squeeeeeek!!!!!!. What the….. ! Again.. Squeeek!!!!!!. Again!!!! G!!!!!!! Huh????? It’s an octave to high. Something fishy was going on here. Again from top to bottom A…G..F…E…D…C…SQUEEEEAK!…… Again AGFEDCBA…. I was totally flabbergasted.   Again F..E..D..C..SQUEEEEK!!!, FEDCB….

Clarinet barrel

What the hell was going on here. Every-time I played a note on the second part of my clarinet it either squeaked was an octave to high or was on key.  Luckily  for me I am an excellent troubleshooter it’s part of my job.

So let me see what happens here. when I play a notes apart the lower register squeaks. When I play them top to bottom all is ok and when I play from button up it behaves as if I have closed the register key.  I disassembled my clarinet and there it was. the upper and lower piece only fit because there was a piece of tape closing the difference. This clarinet is made out of 2 different clarinets.  Well that was it. I owned a clarinet that was unplayable. built out of different clarinet parts from different vendors.  I tried some more But the only thing I could practice was blowing technique.  Bummer! How would I ever learn to play the clarinet again.

Luckily I am not born yesterday.  I know I would not be able to fund a new clarinet on my own. So I started searching the web for clarinets. They where all too bloody expensive. I phoned my brother, who works in a respectable music store. I asked if they had anything cheap laying about. After I told him what I thought was cheap I had to wait another  5 minutes before he stopped laughing and then he told me to forget about it.  As I hang up I realized I saw my ignominious defeat. I was back in my corner still down 3 to 1.

So I let it fare for a few days.  NO! I would not be defeated.  I would still learn to play the clarinet.  But what where my options. I could rent one.  Google again.  My amazement grew as I saw the ludicrous prices on the screen of my laptop.  I decided I would not be ripped of by the people that displayed these rentals. No Sir! No way!.  Maybe I could go and take ….. Gulp…. lessons and get a rental through a music school.  In a flash, memory was back.

My clarinet lessons,  I can still remember going to the local brass band with my dad. I could not go to regular music school because I never went to general music school ( read more on this on my previous post Blowing the reed) But I still wanted to play. So my dad used his connections and got me into lessons at the brass band.  They handed me a clarinet and told me when my lessons would start. I was very happy.  Then I met my tutor as I watched him and shook his hand he avoided eye contact.

Clarinet Construction

Trouble! I don’t trust people that are scared to look you in the eye. Never have never will.  Shivers went down my spine as an early warning system. What would happen next.  I was in class with one other student a girl of about my age. She had been playing for a while and we would practice together. At first all was fine and I played my notes. Practiced for at

least an hour each weeks and soon I was able to blow in the correct way and able to play some tunes. The I noticed it. At first I wasn’t really consciously aware of it but then I started paying attention a bit more.  Now Usually I would sit on the left then the other  girl and next to that the teacher.  I would play my notes and then would hear that it was of mediocre quality and then she would play. As she was playing I watched the teacher.  Did he just stare at her breasts?

Now I  started playing at age 13 and my fellow student was 14 the time a woman starts to look as a woman  if you catch my drift.  I played another time. I did not get any response and then she played.  Nooo! He is… that  bastard……  The next week I started to pay more attention and yes. He was constantly paying attention not to me or my play. Not to her or her play. But to her body.  Of course she did everything well. He did not want to lose his view of the landscape and me, well he did not really give a damn what I did. So I started to lose interest. It was of no concern to him. My mom got upset with me for lacking the interest to practice.  To avoid arguments I taped my practicing on my cassette deck and played it for half an hour.  Meanwhile I’d read a comic or play a video game.  Soon after I told my parents I wanted to stop.  I was glad to be rid of that pervert and life went on.

My new Clarinet

Lessons, lessons would be my last resort. They where to expensive anyway. Prices were rated based on income which placed me in the most expensive category.  So how would I go from here. I still wanted to play summertime and other cool Jazz licks or some mesmerizing classical piece.  I figured there was but one thing to do. Play on my crappy Clarinet practicing what I could and find sponsors for my clarinet.

So last January I started to tell all my family and friends of my plan and told them to give me money for my birthday instead of a regular gift. I told them this money would go into my clarinet fund.  Last month on the 20th Chantal and I gave our birthday party. We always celebrate together because our birthdays are only 10 days apart.  The next  morning I counted the winnings and phoned my brother. I told him my wishes and my new budget.  He wasn’t to pleased but he would try to arrange something. Not really satisfied I started looking for clarinets on the Internet.

I then phoned him I could get one for 1third of the prices he was talking about. Then last Tuesday I phoned him that I needed a decent proposition by Wednesday morning or else I would buy one from the web for ‘el cheapo’.  He phoned back. Now I don’t know what or how he did it but he really came through for me this time. He got me a wooden clarinet of reasonable quality for a great prize.  This morning we went to Nijmegen to get it.

I already studied my first hour. It’s a different system than I practiced on when I was a kid, making the fingering completely new and meaning that I have to start as an absolute beginner again.  After watching some Youtube lessons

I can play au claire de la lune and when the saints already. I also started practicing my scales. That definitely needs work after a basic C to C , I will go and play chromatic.

It’s a new beginning and it’s fun.

P.S.: Thanks all for making this possible and thanks Bro your the greatest!

Blowing the reed

More than words

More than Words

I already wrote about the Matthaus Passion in my post Aus Liebe. Traditonally the date to listen to this is the week before easter. Preferably on Good Friday.  Which is coming friday. I can blog all about Bachs masterpiece and it’s beauty but it would never do right to the music. So I found this good registration on youtube and added it to a nice playlist for you to enjoy.

For the ones that can appreciate the finer things in life I present to you.

BWV 244 by Johan Sebastian Bach:

Der Matthäus Passion

Matthaus Passion By JS Bach

The Matthaus Passion

Click the Image to start or click HERE

Lyrics can be found Here

Happy easter!