Monday, December 31, 2007

Lacking presidential perfection.

After the exciting and productive time in China, life is once more on the road in the Fuso Szulc.
Travelling these days from Temecula, California, USA to Punta Boca del Salado, Baja California, Mexico.

This is the kind of life loved very much.
Actually, the kind of life as was lived in China is loved very much as well, but travelling in the Fuso Szulc is always very special.

To travel south and to have everything needed on board.
To be completely independent and to be able to stay wherever wanted.
This gives a tremendous feeling of freedom.
Like the eagle flying higher and higher on spirals of warm air.

It has been learned from the beginning that travelling in the Fuso Szulc means dealing with issues.
By now, this has become the fulfilment of expectations.
The logic of the machine.

Returned from China the Swedish build Dometic refrigerator had not been working properly.
During the absence all the frozen food had melted and rotted.
All other food was lost surrounded by forests of fungus.
Indeed an internal disaster.
First task was to disinfect and clean the interior of the refrigerator.

Cleaning is an activity deeply hated, but this time the hate was not of Stalin-volume.
Next step was to troubleshoot.
Another activity considered as a waste of precious time.

The good news was that the fridge ran on electricity, as it should.
And even it worked eventually on propane but far beneath its cooling capacity.
This made one think that the propane supply might be working inefficiently.
Cleaning of the burner might heal the Dometic fridge.
This evening, after driving for 7 hours, before the sun went down in the Pacific Ocean, quickly the burner was cleaned.
But also the burner jet.
With Q-tips drained in Japanese after-shave lotion because it contains a high degree of alcohol.
This resulted in a dramatic improvement of the colour and size of the flame.
Now blue and big, the fridge should work like new.

Yesterday morning the new Heliotrope Solar Controller was installed.
The former one had blown up.
All cables had been labelled.
Hence, it was easy for a photographer to connect the new controller.
The thing works.
But it is noticed it was on “bulk” the whole day.
Never going into “taper” or “float” mode.
It should because during the driving the RV-batteries are charged by the engine of the truck.
The RV-batteries should be so full of juice that the solar panel energy is not needed anymore.
Making the Heliotrope Solar Controller go into the “float” mode.
The situation with the controller will be closely watched over the next coming days.
Hoping to see a switch to “taper” and “float”.

The new Shurflo water pump is also on board.
The former one had a bad valve and Shurflo has replaced it for a complete new pump.
Now the moment must come that the current water pump can be taken out and the new one put in.
A tricky procedure.
Because the water pump is at a lower point than the water tank.
When the water pump is disconnected, the water tank starts to drain.
It requires skills to take off the hose from the current water pump and quickly get it on the new water pump.
It is not urgent.
It waits for the appropriate moment.
When in a soft mood so that hate cannot rise too high.

The National truck seats are also having a problem.
They have air suspension and air bags.
For this there is a special air compressor and tank.
These days, mostly at night when temperatures are low, the compressor starts to pump air into the tank.
Somehow the pressure in the tank lowers.
It seems that the cool temperatures, around 6 degrees Centigrade / 43 degrees Fahrenheit, is the reason.
It is an annoying problem because several times in the night the peaceful sleeper is woken up by the noisy air pump.
The seats have been checked if there were any air-leaks but that is not the case.
A puzzling issue.


Last issue is a noise heard when driving.
It comes from the front of the truck.
Like if a shock absorber is broken.
Or a bracket loose.
Everything has been carefully checked but until now it has been impossible to locate the problem that is making the noise.

Now it may seem that the Fuso Szulc is a lemon and that the juice is running down the legs constantly.
That might be true but at the same time we must realize that the Fuso Szulc has many appliances that work without a problem.

It must never be forgotten that everything works well except one or two things.
It is only a Lazy Daze motor home and US President George W. Bush that are always perfect.






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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dying for nothing.

This posting is in memory of Talia Klein.
A 13-year-old American girl who died in a plane crash in Panama last Tuesday.

The father of Talia Klein was killed also.
Michael Klein was 37 years old.

In 2001, at the age of 31, he became chief executive of the company Pacificor.
A hedge fund company that doesn’t make public their results.
And where the minimum investment is 1.000.000 $.

Although a young man, Michael Klein was responsible for Pacificor’s investment strategy and operations.
He ran the company’s 600 million $ portfolio.

This job made him wealthy.
He bought a resort in Panama.

With his daughter he was on vacation there when he decided to circle the flanks of the Baru volcano in Panama.
The pilot of the Cessna 172 was 23-year-old Edwin Lasso who also died.

This is such a sad story.
It asks many questions.

Talia Klein, the 13-year-old daughter, was living a life offered to her.
She did not choose for the circumstances to live in.
Too young to make her own decisions.

While a female politician recently assassinated in Pakistan gets headlines every day, nobody stops for a moment reflecting on the death of Talia.
Except the fervent and loyal blog reader of this posting.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++


To learn more about the hedge fund company Pacificor, click on:
www.pacificor.com









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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Like anybody else.

Very alert but always fervent and loyal blog readers had an observation to make when seeing yesterday’s posting.
This picture was published:



First observation was that “Most beautiful people”-team-member Lydia indeed is a very attractive and beautiful woman.



The second observation concerns the 23-year-old student Zhang Xin Wei.
Who says that she feels the most beautiful because of singing together with her friends.
Yes, alert fervent and loyal blog reader, Zhang Xin Wei is challenged with Dow syndrome.



The origin of the situation lies with the CCTV documentary maker Andrey Zhu.
He, together with team member Guo Guo, was in touch with the “Beijing Huiling Community Services for people with Learning Disabilities”.
Mr. Zhu’ and Guo Guo’s idea was to propose the project “The most beautiful people in the world” also to the students of the “Beijing Huiling Community Services for people with Learning Disabilities”.
To see if one of them would feel the most beautiful.
The teachers of the “Beijing Huiling Community Services for people with Learning Disabilities” were very enthusiastic about this idea.
And so was the photographer and all of the team members.
There are no limitations who can participate in the project.
And mentally challenged people are in the first place fellow human beings like everybody else.

Although schedule was heavy while in Beijing, time was made to visit together with Guo Guo the “Beijing Huiling Community Services for people with Learning Disabilities” one morning.
To meet the students and the teachers to get to know each other.

Next, the teachers organised a special morning with the students about being the most beautiful person in the world.
They talked about the subject and Zhang Xin Wei presented herself as the most beautiful and this with a wonderful explanation.
An appointment was made and the team of the project “The most beautiful people in the world” went to her house.

Zhang Xin Wei’s parents, her father is a doctor, live in another city.
They have limited their contact with the daughter to a minimum.
It is the grandmother who looks after Zhang Xin Wei.
Together they live in an apartment.

It was great to meet Zhang Xin Wei.
Who has no reservations.
Immediately she grabs hands and lovingly holds them.
And who is happy.
Content in life.

Her grandmother is the sweetest person ever met.
So lovingly taking care of Zhang Xin Wei.
Caressing her hair and feeling proud to have her as a grandchild.

The grandmother and Zhang Xin Wei have a happy life together.
They are proud of each other.



It was probably the most impressing meeting within the context of performing the project in China.
It had an extraordinary beauty.
Also because team member Lydia immediately was warm friends with Zhang Xin Wei.

Zhang Xin Wei is presented in the project without any extra explanation.
A beautiful picture was made of her and the grandmother and the fact she is challenged by Dow syndrome is totally irrelevant.

Herself, she doesn’t feel challenged by Dow syndrome.
“The most beautiful people in the world”-team neither.









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Friday, December 28, 2007

A partypooper speaks out

In California, USA, this time of year, one day after Christmas, is amusing.
It is busy at shopping plazas.
But the people are not walking away with goods bought in the shops.
They come back to the shops with presents they have received during the celebration of Christmas.
To change them.
Or maybe get a reimbursement.
In front of customer care desks in department stores long lines of people can be seen waiting to get rid of the unwanted presents.
A hilarious sight.

But also it makes a healthy man wonder what kind of madness is going on.
First people drive in their gasoline slurping SUV’s to shops to spent money on presents they believe the receiver will like.
Some time later the one who got the present drives in another gasoline slurping SUV to the shop to get the money back.

In this way everybody is happy.
Money goes around and creates employment.

But what is the toll paid by nature and its limited resources and fragile state?
Very high.
Maybe not noticeable too much yet.
But ask when the time comes the answer to the great-grandchildren.
And feel deeply ashamed when having to admit to have lived as an irresponsible lunatic having destroyed an earth once so beautiful.

On the right side a fervent and loyal blog reader stands up and cries:
‘Why are you such a party pooper?”.
Most people had a wonderful Christmas celebration, enjoyed each other’s company and loved giving and receiving gifts.
This is true.
But only for those among us who close their eyes for an enormous amount of indications that the way we live is devastatingly destructive.

The point is that many people do not know anymore how to enjoy life in a simple way.
Without being extravagant in spending, consuming and wasting.
They consider their way of living as normal and an acquired right.
Their extravagancy is accepted as the norm.

The wheat needed to make sufficient biofuel to run a Range Rover for one week feeds the population of an Afghan village for one year.

How beautiful was the blessing to have been in China during Christmas.
Where not one Santa Claus present was purchased nor received.
But where three days ago the most beautiful 23-year-old woman Zhang Xin Wei was met.
Who said:

“In school with my friends we are all singing together.
And I can sing those songs very well.
Which makes me the most beautiful person in the world”


A statement that made a deep impression.
For its simplicity and honesty.
To be beautiful because of singing together with friends.
To find joy and happiness in that activity.
Not needing any biofuel.

“Can I have a picture with you and Lydia?”, asked Zhang Xin Wei, second from the left:











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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Beijing - Los Angeles.

Waking up at 5.45 am to be ready for the pick up at 6.30 am to go to the Beijing airport.
Together with Andrey Zhu, the CCTV director making the documentary about “The most beautiful people in the world”.
While checking in for the NorhtWest flight to Tokyo with continuing service to Los Angeles, in an airport coffeeshop meanwhile Andrey Zhu was setting up his camera for a last interview.
Until the last minute of the stay in China, the time was made productive.

It was a good interview and a little awkward.
All the travellers coming in for a coffee were staring at what was going on.

It took considerable time, the interview, and at the entrance for the passengers an official of NorthWest Airlines was waiting.
He grabbed the trolley bag and ordered to hurry with him to the gate.
Going through security at high speed and running like it was a preparation for the Olympic Games.
We passed a Starbucks Café and the idea was born to let the guy run with the trolley bag to the gate while stopping to have a Café Latte Grande.
Just as a joke.
As the last passenger the Airbus A 330 was boarded, the door was closed and the plane left for Tokyo.

Fellow passenger in the adjoining seat was Tina.
A 28 year old plastic surgeon from China.
Doing cosmetic jobs on Chinese unhappy with the way they look.
Tina had met on a dating site on the Internet a 40 year old guy in Detroit.
Divorced, a software technician with 2 Chihuahua dogs.
He had been in China half a year ago to see her.
Staying in a hotel in her town.
Tina still lives with her parents.
Now she was on her way to Detroit to see the man she called “my fiancé”.
They were going to travel in the USA for 3 weeks.
New York, Washington DC and Las Vegas.
But Tina had doubts about the whole affair.
One issue was that her fiancé was a Christian and expected her to follow him in his religious footsteps.
Another issue was that Mr. Fiancé loved his country and wanted her to come and live with him in the USA.
Without consideration for her love for China.
And for the fact that her Chinese credentials as a surgeon are worthless in the USA.
Best job she can get is to be a nurse.
Tina had already decided that if fancy fiancé during that romantic dinner by candlelight in Las Vegas would offer her a diamond ring and ask her to marry him, she would say no.
This conversation made a bond between the two travellers.
A pleasant intimacy and it was noticed that in fact Tina was a pretty woman.
And nice as well.
A wild idea was born that for a man of 58 years old, the perfect partner is a 28 year old plastic surgeon.
She can work constantly on him to make him look presentable and attractive.
When walking at Narita Airport in Tokyo it was mentioned to her that it felt like travelling together.
Yes, said Tina, a honeymoon.
She got on a plane to Detroit and we said goodbye as if we were long time friends.
Tina wanted the e-mail address for new contact soon.

NorthWest Airlines had a very old Boeing Jumbo available for the flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles.
Damaged seats showed the plane was already many years in service.
New co-traveller was a very strange Japanese man of 39 years old.
Not speaking one word of English and very religious.
The flight happened to suffer of extreme turbulence and on row 64, in the far end of the plane, this was felt very badly.
It was even scaring but Miya would get his Japanese Bible out and start praying.
This had a soothing effect.
He had another book with him with images and texts for non-English speaking Japanese.
He would look for an image and a word in his book to show it to his neighbour.
Pointing to “How are you?”
Of course the opportunity was used to look in his book for an unusual answer.
As a response to his “How are you” an image and text was found and pointed at saying: “Where can I find a taxi?”
The puzzlement on Miya’s face was better than the two films NorthWest Airlines was showing during the flight.

In spite of the heavy turbulence and the devastating humour applied on Miya, the plane landed safely at LAX-airport.
Everybody happy to finally get out of the Jumbo after the 10 hour ordeal, it was announced that Immigration was not ready yet to receive the travellers.
All passengers had to remain seated.
We were waiting for 45 minutes before the Immigration Officers wanted to fingerprint the over 400 exhausted travellers.

In the hall of the airport building were 8 Immigration Officers in their boots.
5 were available for the small group of American citizens.
3 were available for the over 350 foreign visitors.
A very long line of tired non-Americans hardly moved.
It took an hour before an Immigration Officer was reached.
A very friendly woman.
Who wanted to know how someone can retire in Mexico.
What kind of work can allow that.
Photography, Mam.
She stamped the passport with no further questions asked.








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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Painful Chinese goodbyes.

A few hours left in China after two farewell parties and before to board NorthWest Airlines bound for Tokyo.
Some sleep after another day full of experiences.
This time strong emotional ones as well.
In the three weeks performing the project “The most beautiful people in the world” several new friends were made and it is always very painful to make the caravan continue to the next oasis.
To say goodbye to friends and leave behind the time with them that was so warm and successful.

Next posting will be published at an uncommon moment in the future due to long time having to spend travelling and due to date and time differences.










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Monday, December 24, 2007

A helpless man.

Another crazy day in China.
Today a 20-year-old girl who wants to make a career as an actress.
Cai Shen Shen lives with her father in a poor neighbourhood on the 30th floor of an apartment building.
Trying to get jobs in films, on TV and in video clips.

Although 20 years old, Cai Shen Shen looks and acts as if she were 14.
The innocent Lolita-like girl.
Naively surprised by all the attention and looks she gets.

She was so excited the team was coming.
Had a large bottle of juice ready with carton cups.
Her father left the house after our arrival.

First there was a lengthy interview.
To find out why exactly she is thinking she is the most beautiful in the world.
Eventually she came to this statement:

“Everybody is different but everybody thinks they are the most beautiful.
Just like me.
I keep happy every day and everything will be fine.”


Not exactly a thought provoking statement but then this is Cai Shen Shen.
The way she is.
Deserving respect also.

The photo session was inside.
One room, in which a big bed, obviously used by the father, had enough light.
Question was what Cai Shen Shen was going to wear.
She had been sending pictures in which she really looked sexy.
With some Britney Spears nudity.

How is the photographer handling such a situation?
Going to ask her to put on the same sexy clothes?
Or let her decide herself how she wants to be dressed to be presented in this project?

The project “The most beautiful people in the world” is only a stage on which people can present themselves as they like.
There is no director in this case.
Hence, people can do as they wish.
To have a true representation of whom they are.

Cai Shen Shen decided to put on a super short dress and a photo session followed.
Each picture she posed in a different way without getting any instructions.
Poses known from glossy magazines and pin up pictures.
Dutifully the photographer made the pictures because this was how Cai Shen Shen wanted it.

A second session was made and for this Cai Shen Shen had changed clothes.
Now she was wearing an innocent looking white top stopping north of the belly button and a pair of super tight jeans starting hardly above the pubic hair beginnings.
A purple stone dangled from her navel.

Again she made all those seductive poses and the photographer was noticing he was a man.
Although concentrating heavily on the job an unwanted and uncontrollable excitement made itself known.
It was hoped the two other women present in the room, translator Liang Han and the editor from Marie Claire China Madi Zhu, would not notice.
Nor that the cameraman of the national Chinese TV would zoom in on this embarrassing detail.
Sometimes a man can be so helpless.

After the session Cai Shen Shen asked if a picture could be made of her with the photographer and Liang Han, the translator.












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Sunday, December 23, 2007

A busy relaxed day

These are the last days in Beijing and things intensify even more.

Today was a visit to a very beautiful 28-year-old woman who said:

“When I am full of confidence and creativity, I feel I am the most beautiful inside.
When I keep myself as natural and simple as I can, I feel the most beautiful outside”


To make the portrait we went to a park.
Surprisingly, Zhang Yan positioned herself almost fully behind a tree, hiding most of her face.
That made the portrait exciting and interesting.

Next she wanted a picture of the team.



We had a relaxed lunch in a fabulous Chinese restaurant.
People put their coats on the backs of their chairs.
Next, girls come with cotton covers that are placed over the coats.
This is to avoid that anybody from behind can steal from the pockets.
Also plastic bags were made available.
To put the mobile phone in so that it might not be damaged by food.

It was a short lunch because the next appointment was waiting.
Hurrying back by modern subway to the couple of yesterday.
The 35-year-old Wu Chun Yan and her 23-year-old boyfriend.
Yesterday the light had been bad and to be sure to have a great of picture of them a new session was held in the sunshine.


Again, Wu Chun Yan was so hard to control.
Not following the instructions and acting like a little naughty disobedient schoolgirl.



Quickly a taxi ride to the laboratory to pick up developed films and their contact sheets.
Each time a very exciting moment to see results.

Another taxi back to the hotel where the national Chinese TV-crew was waiting to do the official interview.
For this a location was arranged in a popular cafeteria and another taxi transported the busy photographer there together with the director Andrey Zhu.
A lengthy interview of over 2 hours digging deep into the motivation of creating and performing the project “The most beautiful people in the world”.

Next, Zhang Wei arrived.
Better known as Bobby.
The 19-year-old waiter in a coffee shop.
He had been repeatedly calling saying he wanted to see the contact sheets.
It became so annoying that the team decided to grant him an appointment.
To see if we could keep for him the experience of participating in the project beautiful.
He wanted to see the pictures because he had this deep fear he did not look well.
After some conversation we showed him the contact sheet and he agreed the portrait was OK.
The national Chinese TV-crew smartly filmed the whole encounter to have more interesting material for their lengthy documentary.



Next stop was dinner with friends in a restaurant meeting a German journalist discussing why there was still American Army presence in Europe.
We wondered how Americans would feel if there were army camps of Europeans on American soil.

Another activity now is to organize the party on Tuesday night.
Many people involved in the project will get together the night before departure to Los Angeles.
To celebrate a most successful and wonderful time in China.

This may sound like a busy day that is not even ended yet writing this posting and more e-mails to reply to.
But it doesn’t feel like a hectic day at all.
Nor is there any feeling of being tired.
Everything is so exciting and wonderful, that one is carried by wings powered by fabulous energy.









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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Older than him.

The successful Chinese team of the project “The most beautiful people in the world” has a new member.
27-year-old Liang Han who offers to foreigners for their convenience the name Lydia.

Liang Han (Lydia) is a great addition to the team.
She is dynamic.
Sincere.
A great organizer.
Fluent in English and very nice company to everybody.



Today was a difficult day for the team.
Also for the CCTV-crew, the national Chinese television, following like a shadow.

Appointment was with Wu Chun Yan.
Living in one of the suburbs of Beijing.
In a high rise apartment building.

Wu Chun Yan responded to the announcement in the newspaper asking persons believing to be the most beautiful in the world to contact us, by sending an e-mail explaining she was a 35 year old woman with a 23 year old boyfriend.
This, in her opinion, made her the most beautiful woman in the world.

Once in her apartment, it was a rather tense situation.
It was discovered she lived in that apartment with her mother who was send shopping.
And it was the first time her boyfriend was there.
Her mother didn’t know about the relationship.

They know each other for 2 months.
And Wu Chun Yan explained they were ready to have a baby.
Besides, they were planning to immigrate to Australia.

The task was to not have a personal opinion interfere with the duty to simply report.
Whatever Wu Chun Yan was saying, whatever were her circumstances, they had to be presented in the context of the project as her presentation of her life.
If she felt like the most beautiful woman because of this boyfriend, nothing should interfere to neutrally report her message.
Why deny her the happiness she was obviously experiencing?

Hence, the approach of the team was in her favour.
But Wu Chun Yan, confronted with a reality different from the context from which she had been sending an e-mail, had a hard time to make the same statement.
In front of her the photographer.
Liang Han (Lydia) the translator.
And the CCTV crew.

Obviously it is difficult and delicate for Wu Chun Yan to deal with her experience in life.
Society is rather merciless with women of 35 who have a relationship with a man 12 years younger.
She eventually mentioned this.
When a man of 50 has a relationship with a woman of 30, nobody bothers about that.
But if a woman of 35 has a relationship with a man of 23, society condemns.

Because of the complex issue at stake not only the interview was very difficult.
But also the photo-session was a complicated affaire.
Obviously.
Filmed by the national Chinese television.
In front a photographer with a big camera.
Next to him a balanced and happily married woman translating perfectly.
No wonder Wu Chun Yan was more nervous and insecure than anybody before.



Such a hard, tough, painful job.
But it was successful.
Thank you, Liang Han (Lydia).









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Friday, December 21, 2007

Healthy hating.

There is this method applied of occasionally hating someone or something.
Nothing to worry.
It is just to release stress and tension and anger and aggression, and inside bullshit, frustration, neurosis, obsessions, hiccups, nightmares, onanism, hangovers, missed phone calls, failed courting, the older sister, dumped desires and flat tires.

As we all know, no matter what, we are not supposed to hate.
An extreme no-no.
It is considered a very bad attitude.
Someone who hates is a person without consideration, flexibility and peace of mind.

Well, fervent and loyal blog readers, over here it is OK to sometimes deeply hate.
Because after the hate is peace of mind.

These days the hate has come to the surface because of the inability to be high speed everywhere on the Internet.
The Chinese Government blocks websites.
And the hotel has a flawed Internet system making its guests unable to access the great wide cyber world all the time.

This results in such a high level of frustration that we can speak of hate.

This talented but modest photographer hates not to be able to access websites.
Hates not to receive e-mails.
Hates not to be able to send e-mails.
Hates not to be able to do Internet banking.
Hates not to be able to communicate through SKYPE.
Hates not to be allowed to use MSN Messenger.
Hates not to be able to see even his own blog!

Hating becomes an activity that actually becomes a pleasant way of being.
It has deepness more difficult to reach in other ways.

When hating deeply, a level of emotion is reached more hard to get when feeling like loving, happy or content.

I HATE YOU.
is more easily expressed and felt than saying:

I LOVE YOU.
With the same emotional intensity.

This is logic and is nothing to worry about.
Because when you hate, any opposite activity or response makes one feel relieved, soothed and with no more disappointment.
But when somebody truly loves and expresses this with cosmic intensity, possibly deep regret and disappointment might be the tragic result.

So, in fact, we hate with pleasure.
But in a discriminatory way.
We do not hate persons, except for one: Joseph Stalin.
And we hate only for a short time, except for Joseph Stalin who will be hated into eternity.
And we hate with a smile, except for Joseph Stalin because there was nothing funny about his massacring.

This selective way of hating makes life easier.
We are not supposed to hate.
But somehow we have found a way to hate without it making us bitter and ugly.

Meanwhile, while writing this, in an unexplainable way, the point made has been understood.
The hotel Internet connection is working perfectly again.
So we change instantly.
We LOVE this hotel.
We don’t hate it anymore.
Who cares?
It is Xmas anyway and everywhere.









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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not more than one.

21-year-old Luo Li Han claims:

I am the most beautiful person in the world because I have very good relationships with my friends and because I am the most handsome boy in China.


Another demonstration of a young Chinese person not lacking in self-confidence.
And this has been noticed several times speaking to candidates for the project “The most beautiful people in the world”.
Many are shining brightly being self-assured.

With China expert Karen Meirik, working as a journalist based in Beijing, this subject was discussed.
We tried to analyse and find a reason for this phenomenon that so many Chinese young people are very self-assured and self confident.

One likely explanation is that it is the result of the “one child policy”.
This strategy, imposed on the Chinese population by its Government in 1979, allows people to have one child only.
This means that most young people in China do not have brothers or sisters.
They have been growing up without any competition for the love of their parents.
All the love the parents had, has been received by the one child only.

The mental stability of a person later in life is highly determined by the circumstances in which a person grew up.
If the family is happy, stable, strong, loving and caring, the child will generally come out of its childhood as a balanced and sane person.

Chinese young people generally had this kind of childhood.
They have been confirmed in their existence in the full manner by the father and by the mother all their lives.
And by the full love and devotion of both grandparents too.
Explaining the impressive self-confidence they are expressing and living these days.

Of course there is another side to being the only child.
And this has also been noticed.
The young Chinese person has the experience to almost always have it her or his way.
This can be noticed in traffic.
Constantly the most horrendous and flagrant traffic violation can be witnessed when driving around in Beijing.
The driver wants it his or her way, having no respect at all for the traffic rules protecting the interest of everybody.
In traffic the selfishness dominates.
A person made by the parents into the centre of the world wishes to remain in that position when surrounded by thousands of cars.

To make a career and to be successful the young Chinese person is in an excellent position.
Self confident, self-assured and feeling the total support of the parents constantly.

Another aspect helps the career.
The young Chinese who were met, all had a tremendous respect for their parents.
And they feel obliged to be the best in what they do.
To fulfil the expectations of the parents.
Hence, inside they have a great driving force to accomplish.
To be successful.
To make the parents happy.

Young Chinese people manifest themselves very different from the same young people in Europe and the USA/Canada.
Many young people in Europe and the USA/Canada obviously feel completely lost and are desperately looking for an identity of their own.
Without any self-confidence they experiment having tattoos on arms and legs and other parts of the body, insertions of metal objects in the body called piercings and by wearing extravagant clothing and footwear.
They buy spray cans and paint their names in an artistic way everywhere the people can see it.
All desperately looking for who they are.
These tattooed and pierced young people have not experienced the full love of a father and a mother.
Who were during the childhood of the young people both at work making money.
Who were usually struggling in their own relationship.
Who usually had more than one child distributing the little time and energy they still had among their kids.
Resulting in young members of society revolting.

Maybe it would be a change for the better if in Europe and USA/Canada a law was implemented like in China allowing couples not more than one child.







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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A little fat.

Sun Xi Yuan is a 75 years old retired army doctor who used to take care of high ranked officials.
Now she is living in a two-room apartment in the outskirts of Beijing getting a pension of 2000 Yuan per month.
270 $ or 184 Euros.

She is a happy woman.
In good health although having symptoms of diabetes.
Most remarkably is that she makes jokes, makes fun and is enjoying life.
She walks with liveliness as if she was in her 40’s.

Also for her the visit of the “Most beautiful people in the world”-delegation is an extraordinary event.
She receives generously and with open arms the photographer, his excellent translator and friend Lee, the CCTV-crew and the kind Dutch journalist Erwin Tuil.
Her son has come to assist and chaperone her.



Sun Xi Yuan makes a remarkable statement.
For her beauty is how she looks.
And about this she is rather confident and self-assured.
She claims:

“I am the most beautiful woman in the world because I have big eyes, a high nose and small lips.
But now I am getting a little fat.”


Meanwhile an issue has come up the “Most beautiful people in the world”-team is discussing seriously.
One of the major magazines in China, Marie Claire, has requested if they can publish the project.
By origin, Marie Claire is a French magazine.
A general interest publication focusing mainly on women with emphasis on fashion and life style.
But also social subjects are generously published.
There are versions of Marie Claire now in many parts of the world.
Also in Mandarin in China.
What is the topic of debate is the request of Marie Claire to send along on a visit to a most beautiful person a journalist.
That is no problem.
Several journalists have been coming with the team.
But Marie Claire also wants to send along a photographer.
This is a delicate matter.
The team doesn’t want the project to be hijacked.
To loose the exclusivity of the textual and visual material.
It might be that the Marie Claire-photographer shoots a lot of material including pictures of the most beautiful person.
And that next Marie Claire publishes without needing anything from the project.
In other words, a great idea, a wonderful event, a good publication at no cost for the magazine.
How to avoid this possible loss of business?
We want Marie Claire to publish the texts and the images of the project for which they will have to pay.
Like has been happening in several other countries.

Today is another team meeting to discuss this issue.
To come up with an elegant and diplomatic solution.




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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I love my baby.

Last summer, about two months were spent in solitude and retreat seeing nobody.
At beloved Punta Marquez in Baja California, Mexico.
Cleaning up the centre of existence and restoring the inner balance and harmony.
Making it strong again and a foundation for future activities.

How much this is appreciated here in China now.
Because it is a wild time.
So much to experience that easily could push a person off its feet.
To struggle helplessly in a free fall with no string to pull to open the life saving parachute.

Never before the project “The most beautiful people in the world” has been performed in a country where so much alternative effects took place.
The project in China is a frying pan where the temperature inside the omelette is extremely high.
Resulting in a chain reaction shooting into many different directions carrying the vital message of the project.

The delicate dance is to keep on track for the essential result while letting others in to do their job communicating the same message.

Today the visit was to a couple.
They had a beautiful baby daughter.
39 years old Li Mengnan said:

“My wife and my daughter and me: we as a family are the most beautiful people in the world. After my daughter was born life is full of smile and love”.


This fabulous statement was made by a man, working as an actor, being well known, having a high income, but experiencing a revolution in his life by simply having a baby by the wife he loves.

Witness to this revelation of Li Mengnan were the photographer and his excellent new translator who is a singer in a Chinese rock and roll band doing songs about the devastating pollution hitting all big Chinese cities.
Witness was as always the national Chinese TV team filming every move made.
And the totally involved and sympathetic journalist from Radio Netherlands, Karen Meirik.


The question then becomes who actually is in charge.
Who is the axle of the wheel?

Are the other media specialists high jacking the project or can it be a sharing having each one a sufficient piece of the pie?



It is a dance.
The more relaxed the dancer is, the more harmonious the movements are.
Naturally coming from the rhythm in the air and the tunes from the trumpeters.


Let go, amigo, andale.
Don’t force things to come.
Don’t twist things in your way only.
To open the doors where the pipers wait at the gates of dawn.

Syd Barrett died and he was a genius.
Anyone who wants a view of life in a beautiful perspective and feel the rhythm of exaltation, hallucination and rejuvenation, dances to his “Astronomy Domine”.

Lime and limpid green, a second scene
A fight between the blue you once knew.
Floating down, the sound resounds
Around the icy waters underground.
Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda
And Titania, Neptune, Titan.
Stars can frighten.

Blinding signs flap,
Flicker, flicker, flicker blam. Pow, pow.
Stairway scare Dan Dare who's there?
Lime and limpid green
The sounds surrounds the icy waters underground
Lime and limpid green
The sounds surrounds the icy waters underground.


And it is the guitars, man, the guitars….
Bursting open the heart.
To see the horrors within oneself of Joseph Conrad’ s “Heart of Darkness” feeling the pain more and more approaching the end as Jim Morrison was singing.

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again

Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand
In a...desperate land

Lost in a Roman...wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain

There's danger on the edge of town
Ride the King's highway, baby
Weird scenes inside the gold mine
Ride the highway west, baby

Ride the snake, ride the snake
To the lake, the ancient lake, baby
The snake is long, seven miles
Ride the snake...he's old, and his skin is cold

The west is the best
Get here, and we'll do the rest

The blue bus is callin' us
Driver, where you taken' us

The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall
He went into the room where his sister lived, and...then he
Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
He walked on down the hall, and
And he came to a door...and he looked inside

It hurts to set you free
But you'll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die

Even in China.

+++++++++++++++

To learn more about Syd Barrett's “Astronomy Domine”, click on:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomy_Domine

To learn more about Radio Netherlands, click on:
www.wereldomroep.nl

To learn more about “The piper at the gates of dawn”, click on:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Piper_at_the_Gates_of_Dawn

To learn more about Joseph Conrad’s book “Heart of Darkness” click on:
http://www.popmatters.com/film/reviews/a/apocalypse-now-redux1.shtml

To learn more about “The Doors” and their song “The End”, click on:
www.thedoors.com/








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Monday, December 17, 2007

An angel in China.

A beautiful woman of 25 whose name is Bibo Ren.
Chinese for “the beauty of the ripple in the water”.
For the convenience of foreigners not able to understand Chinese, Bibo Ren changed her name into Angela Ren.
Expressing desire to meet foreigners and making it as easy for them as possible.
Just say “ Hi Angela” and forget about the ripple in the water.

But this serious photographer doesn’t want to be a foreigner to nobody.
If someone’s Chinese name is Bibo Ren we will call her Bibo Ren while in China.
Who has to adapt to whom, for Confucius sake?

In fact, Bibo Ren became his sister and the photographer became her brother.
A good way to avoid becoming lovers.






Pictures by © Zhang Xiaobei

The remarkable event today, meeting Bibo Ren who had written an e-mail claiming she is the most beautiful person in the world, was that she was the first in China to justifiably glorify also her physical beauty.
Saying:

“Because I was born and grew up in Beijing, a city with an ancient flavour and a grand beauty makes me a unique oriental beauty with a grand heart and a beautiful spirit”.


Bibo Ren is a most remarkable woman with a lot of potential.
Fluently in Chinese, English and French and with an impressive elegance and high dignity making her a candidate to dine at tables of top leaders and exclusive echelon.
Besides, she runs for one hour and a half every morning, doesn’t smoke nor drink and reads National Geographic and Paris Match every month.
Bibo Ren would like to go and live and work in Europe and make an impressive career over there.
That can happen if only she insists and persists which she might actually do.

Bibo Ren’s mother invited the “Most beautiful people in the world”-team to a fancy restaurant where they were serving the most favourite dishes of Mao Tse Tung.
The menu therefore was decorated with his portrait.
The huge fish to be cooked was first presented to the diners while still alive struggling hopelessly to survive in a metal bucket.
Within half an hour the fish appeared again.
But now cooked in a Mao Tse Tung sauce.
Was delicious but the Chinese beer had to help to overcome the psychological burden.

It was another remarkable day of “The most beautiful people in the world” in China.
Thank you Bibo Ren.
You are an angel, Angela.






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Sunday, December 16, 2007

To be a needle in a haystack.

The high-speed train from Beijing to the city of Tian Jin.

Travelling by train in China shakes the concept of what are masses.
Going to the huge train station of Beijing means seeing thousands upon thousands upon thousands upon thousands of Chinese all going somewhere.
It only compares to the train station as was seen in Mumbay in India.
An incredible amount of people channelling into one building to spread out to their trains.
It means being with them.
Going through gates showing tickets.
Putting luggage through X-ray machines.
To become one of the 1,3 billion inhabitants of China.

Special is that there are hardly any non-Chinese people in the railway stations and in the trains the day that was travelled to Tian Jin.
But because everybody is focused to go where one needs to go, hardly any attention of the millions of Chinese is directed towards the rare foreign traveller.

It would be easy to feel lost and overwhelmed among so many Chinese.
Among a mass of Chinese of never experienced proportions.
To become a needle in a haystack.

But the photographer is safe.
With him is the wise and caring Yan Zhang.
And on his footsteps the team of the Chinese TV who are his friends now.
The special experience can come fully because there is safety and protection.

Arriving and entering the big city of Tian Jin is a shock.
In Beijing they have been trying to reduce the pollution with a relative positive success.
But in Tian Jin, where only as Olympic Games activities the football competition will take place next year, the focus is on growing and building without too much attention to the environmental consequences.
There are over 12.000 industrial enterprises in Tian Jin.
Focusing on producing more and making more profit forgetting about environmental impact.
Hence, the sun cannot shine in Tian Jin.
There is a pollution never seen before.
The whole city is covered by a greasy fog of pollution that makes the body refuse to breathe and that makes one wonder about the quality of the eyesight.
The sun is a vague round light in the dark grey sky at noon.
Nothing bright about it anymore.
People living in a gas chamber.
Smoking cigarettes anyway.

In this highly polluted city of Tian Jin the lovely Xiao Lu was met.
Living with her kind and loving parents in a one-room apartment.
Xiao Lu is a student of 21 years old.


And having an incredible opinion about beauty.
Xiao Lu was saying:


"I am the only Xiao Lu in the world and every aspect of me is special, unique and beautiful. Even my bad aspects. Because I will overcome those bad aspects by working hard on them. To let them be beautiful too."


Even for the photographer, who has documented over 150 persons in 8 different countries all believing to be the most beautiful, this is a stunning statement.
Incredible that a 21-year-old woman is already so wise.
How inspiring.
How motivating.
How hope giving.

Back in the hotel room in Beijing, the phone doesn’t stop ringing and e-mails keep on coming in interrupted by SKYPE-calls.
This is a wild time.
More journalists want to join the experience and the issue becomes how to remain the axle of the wheel spinning.
To remain focused on what is the most important: to document as best as possible people who have announced themselves as the most beautiful.
Not to be overwhelmed as could have happened among 1.3 billion of Chinese in the train station.

For this the MacBook Pro software program iTunes is loaded with the music of Cliff Martinez he wrote for the film “Solaris”: the 2002 film by Steven Soderbergh.
This hypnotic music keeps the things together.
Centered in the heart.
Remembering the ultimate love story “Solaris” tells.
As dear friend Kixe told yesterday: everybody is beautiful.
That wisdom calms down.
Whatever happens.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Picture on this posting by Yan Zhang.

If interested in Cliff Martinez and his music for the film “Solaris”, click on:
http://www.amazon.com/Solaris-Score-George-Clooney/dp/B00007J8C7







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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spaceships above Beijing

One morning in the hotel room this sound was heard from outside.
Seemed like a spaceship circling above Beijing.
A creepy sound, coming and going.
Screaming, high pitched and very scaring.

Later Zhang Xiaobei was asked what this peculiar sound was.
The police using some sophisticated monitoring device ?
Xiaobei pointed up in the sky where that very moment a flock of doves was doing their flying exercises.
He explained that people put small pieces of bamboo to the bodies of their doves that work like a flute.
When the doves fly, air passes through the small piece of bamboo and makes a sound.
It is a very particular and peculiar sound and makes living in the old town of Beijing very remarkable.

A sound that first puzzles.
Then irritates.
To become familiar and loved.

We have a new team member!
Teaching the worrying photographer to sit back and relax and have things taking care of by the Chinese friends and their sincerity.
Yan Zhang is an editor of the fascinating magazine VISION.
A bright and beautiful lady.



When visiting persons believing to be the most beautiful, one must realise that this is a really big thing for the participant.
Hence, rule one is to have 100 % respect.
To be there completely for the person.
It is absolutely not a routine exercise.
The candidates an ingredient for a project to market.
Each person is unique and having an important message to fully listen to.

Yan Zhang has this natural ability.
People feel relaxed with her.

This is also the case with the CCTV-team.
These two guys are there almost every visit to a most beautiful person.
And they integrate naturally.
Because they are respectful and real.

The message we heard today was from 39 years old Bai Li.
A factory worker making 500 Euros (730 $) a month.


She tells us:

I am trying my best in life and then I will feel no regret.
This makes me feel thankful to life.
And the most beautiful person in the world.



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



To learn more about the fascinating magazine VISION, click on:
www.youthvision.cn






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Friday, December 14, 2007

Radiating beauty

No fervent and loyal blog reader will think that performing a project in China like “The most beautiful people in the world” is simply a matter of going to houses of people and document them.

Before that can happen many things need to be organized.
Things that often are not very simple.

Especially in a country like China dependency is high on collaborators.
This has to do with language.
To speak it and to read it.
But it also has to do with having to know how to remain within the boundaries of culture, tradition and politics.

Hence, the role of the collaborators is vital.
In the beginning it is all very new and exciting for them.
That makes them get involved and this deeper and deeper.
But slowly it becomes hard work.
For example, to make a phone call to a candidate and discuss why that person believes to be the most beautiful and when this is convincing to set up an appointment, is very exciting the first time.
But when talking to candidate number ten, it is a different experience.
While ultimate involvement is still needed, boredom and routine is striking hard.

The photographer therefore has to work on different levels.
It is not only a matter of going out and making pictures.
It is also about keeping the collaborators motivated.
To keep the team together and effective.

This has now reached a critical stage.
In fact, the team has partly fallen apart and now efforts are being made to create a new team.

Meanwhile another level needing a lot of attention is the constant presence of the TV-crew.
They have their own priorities and are rather determined to achieve their own goals no matter what that means for the project.
Constantly it has to be made clear that the project comes first and has the highest priority.
This in a most friendly way to avoid that the situation becomes tense or even ugly.

Another level is the rest of the press.
As there is such high interest, of the foreign press as well, they have to be kept satisfied as well.
Organizing that they can come along on a visit to a most beautiful person.
Keeping a balance during that visit for full attention for the candidate but for the journalist as well.

To perform a project like “The most beautiful people in the world” is hard work.
Every day of the visit to China is dedicated to visiting a candidate and keeping the organization streamlined.
No time for sightseeing or anything else.

Sun Yu Jie is as tall as a basketball player.
He is a Protestant and studying communication.
20 years old, the guy has a tremendous presence.




A kind of radiating beauty, balance, peace and goodness.
He says:
I feel fulfilled with what I have today: my good health and the support of my parents. That makes me feel comfortable and that beauty you can see on my face.



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Pictures on this posting made by Yan Zhang.




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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bobby's birthday.

It is all very fascinating in China besides performing the project “The most beautiful people in the world”.
But what really continues to pisses off is the fact that the Government strictly controls what anybody in this country can see and hear.
This is painfully felt every time when accessing the Internet.
There is a computer.
There is broadband Internet access.
And next there are all those limitations where one can go and where one cannot go.
The websites blocked by the Chinese Government are numerous and this gives a weird feeling.
Like there is a constant silent and dark presence of a power controlling.

When one has been living in societies like the European Union and the United States, one is used to live in rather total freedom.
At least the Internet is free to roam.
It is very exceptional when a website is made inaccessible or is forced to close down.
In the free societies it is also unimaginable that a documentary for TV first must be shown to the authorities who need to give permission for broadcasting.

One way to open up a closed society and lift restrictions is to have it come in contact with free countries and people propagating democracy.
Next year are the Olympic Games in China and the Games are a wonderful tool to achieve this goal.

Zhang Wei is 19 years old and works as a waiter in a coffee shop.
This coffee shop is in a big hotel where also foreigners are staying.
For the convenience of the international clientele he has adopted an English name: Bobby.
Zhang Wei had seen the story in the newspaper about the project “The most beautiful people in the world”.
He wrote an e-mail claiming he was one of the most beautiful.

The team of “The most beautiful people in the world”, together with the guest team member Thomas Sauvin, a museum curator from France based in China, met Zhang Wei in the coffee shop where he works making 110 Euros (160 $) a month.
Zhang Wei has a beautiful presence.
Still very innocent and shy but knowing what he likes and loves.
Later we went where he lives.
A neighbourhood behind the hotel of very small streets with deplorable houses.
One of those buildings was a boarding house.
In a dark room with no daylight were bunk beds.
Zhang Wei rented a bed for 16 Euros (23 $) a month.
This was his home.
He had put pictures of beautiful women next to his pillow on the wall and his small suitcase was under the bed.
Although the conditions he was living in were rather miserable, for Zhang Wei it was not a problem.
He was happy and optimistic.
Saying:



Every time when I watch fashion magazines I imagine I will look handsome in those clothes. But my personality is also beautiful. I am kind, self-confident and earnest. This comes from how my parents educated me.






Today is the birthday of Zhang Wei.
Happy birthday, Bobby!


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Copyright of the images on this posting are by Thomas Sauvin.





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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We can be hopeful.

It is like an engine working at high RPM.
The requests to participate in the project as a most beautiful person keep on coming in.
With each person contact is made and if it is serious, an appointment is made.
This is all in Chinese and happening in the hotel room.

Meanwhile the first results are in: a photo laboratory has developed the films and made contact sheets of the woman who loves her dog while she has a son.
Everybody is very content with the first results.

At the same time requests are coming in from people who want to come on a visit to a most beautiful person.
These are journalists and personalities in the world of the arts and of course they are accommodated.

This is all happening while the Chinese national TV continues to put on video every move that is made.

It is a kaleidoscopic situation constantly changing and showing fantastic views.

In the evening we all return to the hotel.
Like last night.
Some are on the phone organizing things for the next day.
Some are looking at the latest results.
Some are having philosophical discussions about beauty.
While there is Chinese red wine and Russian caviar.

This idea of the most beautiful people in the world has the characteristic of a magnet.
It brings people together.
There is nothing more fulfilling than to be surrounded by dynamic and young people who all believe in the concept and the message.
Who discuss the project and its implications for hours.

Yesterday we went to the suburbs of Beijing.
It is a huge city and it takes more than an hour in a taxi to reach the suburbs.

We were seeing a young man of 29.
He lived in an apartment building that makes even an optimist depressed.
Grey, broken down, detoriated, dirty, scary.
He had one room, a small kitchen and a tiny bathroom.
But surprisingly in his apartment was a very positive and dignified atmosphere.
He had created a place for himself where he obviously felt happy and in balance.

It took a while to interview him and to come to a concluding statement why he believed to be the most beautiful.
This was not because he didn’t know or was complicating things.
It was because he wanted to be sure that the text exactly represented his opinion.
He had great concern for it and that was fabulous.
Eventually it was the following he had to say:

"I can find beauty in all experiences like in separation and reunion.
In sadness and in happiness.
To discover and enjoy and create this beauty are the only reasons for me to live".


That, fervent and loyal blog readers, is a stunning and powerful statement.
It is giving us so much hope.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I love my dog and I have a son.

The first person claiming to be the most beautiful in the world has been visited.
A woman of 34 years old with a 2-year-old son and a 4-year-old obese poodle.
They are living in a two-bedroom apartment.
One bedroom for the woman.
The son sleeps in the living room.
And the second bedroom is for a nanny.

In the apartment it was an incredible mess.
And this seemed not to bother anybody.
A cup of coffee was offered that was made by putting cappuccino powder in cups with hot water.
As is often witnessed, the TV was on as if it was a moving painting.

Within a short time it was learned the woman was divorced.
Reaching out to connect again to the outer world.
With the intention to find there a new partner in life.

After some introductory chitchat, important to get a feeling of the person and some vital information, the interview followed to learn more about her motivation to claim she is the most beautiful person in the world.
The conclusion was:
“ I am the most beautiful person in the world because I am healthy, full of love and kindness and I love my dog.”

Obviously, it stands out when someone has a son but claims to love the dog.
There must be reasons for this way of selecting whom to love.

In this project three pictures are shown of the most beautiful person in the world.
One is a portrait and on its sides two pictures of the situation in which the person lives and sometimes with whom.
Because she had expressed she loved her dog, in one of the pictures the dog was put.
But while making those pictures it was realized this was too easy.
Somebody claims to love the dog and in the picture the spectator sees the dog.
That is too easy and therefore boring.
As a flash came the idea to change the dog for the son.
The result would be to see a portrait of the beautiful woman saying she loved her dog and next a picture would reveal she had a son.
So she would puzzle everybody.
Why does she not say she loves her son as well?
In this way the three pictures and the text become intriguing.

Later, in a nice restaurant we had a great lunch and the national Chinese TV who are still following closely the project interviewed her.

The films were brought to a lab and the pictures are ready today.
It will be very exciting to see the results.
However, they will not be published on this blog.
This has to do with copyrights.

Today a woman of 57.
And so on.
Every day a new person believing to be the most beautiful.
Meanwhile applications keep on coming in.

In China the project is already an overwhelming success.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

To see pictures of the project "The most beautiful people in the world" and learn more about it, click on:
www.themostbeautifulpeople.org

Monday, December 10, 2007

Something beautiful

These are days filled with events and impressions for all the hours awake.
There is no beginning to report as the next experience is offering itself already.

Yesterday, among several activities, was a visit to a centre for mentally challenged adult people.
Next to the Forbidden City in an old building.
Happy people in peace.



Candidates for the project “The most beautiful people in the world” are applying in numbers now.
A story was published in an important Beijing newspaper yesterday and this resulted in even more applications.

The whole project is organised from the hotel room.
Somehow we like to be there and have this as headquarters.
Like last night, we were 6 people in the room.
The TV-crew, the “Most beautiful People”-team, a French journalist from Radio France International and the photographer.
All having a fabulous time because the momentum has been rising high into the sky.
It is exciting and we are now in the nucleus of a spiralling event.

One reason for the success is that the people involved are working on the project on an equal base.
It is not the project of one person.
It is the project of all of us.
This requires of the photographer to let things go.
To control things as little as possible although safeguarding the principles and integrity of the project.
It actually feels to be in a river and floating in warm water in a beautiful landscape.
And most important, it feels enlightening to not have the ego in the way by for example bossing around the others.

This morning the hotel room looks like a party took place or some calamity.
Glasses, cups, food, snacks, bottles, newspapers, magazines, notebooks everywhere.
But something is created here.
Something beautiful.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Blocking blogs.

Suddenly life is totally different than it used to be.
The Fuso Szulc has been changed as living quarters for a room in the Hua Qiao Hotel in the very centre of Beijing, China.

Every day is incredibly busy organizing, together with the team, the project “The most beautiful people in the world”.
There is a lot of media attention for the project.
A TV-team hangs around almost constantly filming the different activities.
Daily there are interviews for newspapers and magazines including the foreign press.

It is like a big and fantastic party.
This is because the people involved are all very nice.
They are committed to the project and believe strongly in it.

China is a modern society these days.
Booming and prosperous.

But there is one thing that a visitor immediately experiences that is reminding of a major difference with the rest of the world.
It is a country controlled by a one party system.

In the hotel room is a modern television, however it is not linked to the rest of the world by satellite as in most hotels outside China.
The only channels available are from the national, government controlled television.
A satellite disk on the roof of the hotel would allow guests to see American TV-channels, the BBC Worldservice, Euronews and programs from many other countries.
This is not allowed.
A foreign non-Chinese speaking visitor is stuck in his hotel room able to see only one national Chinese TV channel in English.

The next confrontation with the one party state is the Internet connection in the hotel room.
The Hua Qiao Hotel is a modern facility and each room has high-speed Internet connection with an Ethernet cable kindly made available by the hotel.
But once the visitor gets on the Internet a weird thing is experienced.
Many websites are made impossible to visit.
Controls in the server stop the web surfer to go where he wants.

This ban on certain websites includes this blog.
In China nobody has access to it.
Fortunately a way has been found to publish texts on this blog, but it is impossible, because not allowed, to see the result.

Another option not available in China, due to Government interference, is MSN.
This messinging service, intensively used, is banned.
But fortunately SKYPE is free.
Now the text messaging is made using the SKYPE service.

These limitations on the freedom are things that are remarked immediately.
The examples in this blog are not the only ones though.
Smart fervent and loyal blog readers will realize that in performing the project “The most beautiful people in the world” in China the limitations imposed by a one party state are also experienced.
But the readers will also understand that at this stage nothing can be revealed about it.

Meanwhile it is snowing in Beijing.

C h i n a

A flight between Los Angeles, USA and Tokyo, Japan is more than 11 hours.


A flight between Tokyo and Beijing is more than 3 hours.


But all in all, from Fuso Szulc to hotel room in China the travel time is over 23 hours.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Trip's beginning.

In a few hours will be the flight from Los Angeles, California, USA to Beijing, China with a stopover in Tokyo, Japan.
The airline responsible for the transportation is called Northwest.
We must hope that they will do a good job because the flight is East-West.

The daily rhythm of activities will be disrupted crossing time and date zones.
This has serious consequences for the fervent and blog readers as well.
The frequency of postings in the next two days will be disrupted.
Until a new rhythm has been found from China and postings will be published regularly.

It is exciting to go and travel.
Which is rather paradoxical.
The current life is already a constant travel.
The journey to China is a travel within a travel.
Maybe in Beijing there will be a trip to Shanghai and that will make it a travel in a travel in a travel.
There needs to be a strong focusing not to get confused living this lifestyle.

At the Los Angeles Airport, before to fly, first there will be breakfast with friend Henry.
And at the airport in Beijing are waiting the team of collaborators of the project “The most beautiful people in the world” and a crew of the national Chinese TV.
This gives a special feeling.

It is just a man with a camera but somehow sometimes a concentration of activity and people is created around him.
This is not created on purpose.
It is an unprovoked side effect of a target.
The target being to give, through photography, as much as possible of the talent and energy so generously allocated by birth.

Santek's end.

There is sad news to report.
Santek Trailers, the company in Riverside, California, USA, that built the Fuso Szulc, is out of business.


Tomorrow their doors will be closed.
No more expedition vehicles will be build by Santek Trailers.
No trailers either.
After having been in business for 24 years.



The reasons are complex for this debacle.
It is only partly because of an economy going into recession and high fuel prices.

There is a chance though that the former owner might re-start the business.
That would be a courageous but risky thing to do.

The thoughts go of course to Paul Westphal.
He bought Santek Trailers not too long ago and invested everything he had in this company.
Paul lost it all.
His money.
His job.
And faces now huge challenges to create income again for his family.

The 15 employees all lost their jobs too.
They must try to find work elsewhere.
All of them are Mexicans without documents but in the USA for many years and socially integrated with wives at home and kids in school.
They are also facing huge challenges to find work and income again.

And then there is the beautiful Gail.
The secretary of Santek Trailers.
She lost her job on Tuesday.
For her it is also going to be an enormous challenge to find a new job.
She may have to give up her apartment and move in with her married daughter.

On a human level, Santek’s closing down is a small tragedy.
Because of the serious implications and consequences it has for the people who were working there.

Yesterday was spent at Santek.
Again the way the camper box was attached to the chassis was remodelled.
Now it is fixed in the best way ever.
It was the last job Santek Trailers did.

It was all very painful to be at Santek and see the halls empty where it used to be a feast of hard working people making beautiful trailers.


To see the place where Gail used to work now without light and an empty chair.

To see Paul Westphal struggling to try to end the company in the best possible way for customers and employees.

Fortunately, nobody was depressed or desperate.
The Mexican friends had confidence they could find jobs elsewhere.
Nobody was nervous or anxious or in a panic.
All were incredibly relaxed.

Paul, a good Christian, has full trust in the Lord and expects therefore the best in life to come.

A chapter has closed.
The friends of Santek Trailers will be dearly missed.
And they are saluted.
Thank you, Santek, for the wonderful opportunity to work together and share the building process of the Fuso Szulc.
Thank you, Santek, for the friendliness, the warmth, and the concern.
Thank you, Santek, for the excellent service and the loyalty to the customers.

Because of the worry for the well being of all the Santek people in the future, Riverside was left with a rather depressed feeling.

But because life keeps everything in balance, the same day Tiffany Snow was met.


Many fervent and loyal blog readers may ask:
“Who is Tiffany Snow?
With who and what is the blog writer coming up this time?”.
Well, dear blog readers, respectfully, Tiffany Jones is a member of the national field hockey team of the USA.
She has been representing the USA on tournaments for 4 years now.
Playing 69 international caps.
Scoring 20 international goals.

Tiffany is an incredible girl.
She has this super fantastic energy radiating from her.
Tremendously positive and life-capable.
Obviously this connected ideally when meeting the nomadic photographer.
It was one of those conversations to remember for a long time because of the close connection growing in a very short time.

Home Depot sponsors the national field hockey team of the USA.
They hire the players of the USA team for 20 hours a month but pay them enough to be able to train the rest of the time.
Hence, although field hockey is an amateur sport, Tiffany is in fact a semi-professional.
And she goes to China as well for the Olympic Games.

The world champion in field hockey for ladies is the team of the Netherlands.
But proudly Tiffany told that once the USA women had managed to beat the national team of the Netherlands.
But this photographer with Dutch origins has to explain that the main and most important Netherlands ladies that time were not playing.

In the end it is not about a company going out of business or the result of a match.
It is about the people.
And persons like Tiffany and the Santek-people are capable and positive.
They are all winners.
Although sometimes they loose.
But they will win again soon.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


To learn more about American field hockey, click on:

http://www.usfieldhockey.com/teams/women/snow.htm







.





Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hollywood









.

Nobody else ever is going to know about this.

One reason why the music of Led Zeppelin has become so successful is that nobody managed to cover it in a better way.
Any other musician doing a Led Zeppelin song made a fool of himself.
This is the same with the sequences made on the deserted beaches of Mexico in the 70’s and 80’s.
They have been imitated many times to make one laugh only.




This brings us to the famous author Henry James.


In his lifetime, 1843-1916, he wrote more than 10.000 letters.
They are preserved and became material for scholars trying to explain and interpret what kind of man he was.

Those were the days…

The times we are living in now, people are still expressing themselves with words.
The difference is that it is in a way that will be forgotten forever.
No scholar will be able to look back at anybody of our times to determine who somebody was.
Henry James would sit down and write with a pen on paper.
Those papers have survived and are kept and are still available for reading.
However, these days, texts are written on a computer, published on the Internet and next evaporate into oblivion.
Years from now nobody will know much about what we thought and what we wrote.

This makes us remember the Polaroid pictures of the 70’s.
These cameras came on the market allowing people to make a picture that was ready almost instantly.


A square formatted image, black on the back and a white space underneath the image.


People who documented for example the childhood of their offspring didn’t realize that those images would fade within a few years.
This resulted in the first generation that were photographed while their images disappeared within 10 years.
A generation that couldn’t look back seeing the pictures of their childhood.
The documentation gone.

This is more and more the case.
We don’t document our lives anymore, not in words, not in images, that will survive 2007 – Henry James’ 1916 = 91 years.
The ways we document is in an evaporating way.
It doesn’t last.
It will be gone in the future.
No way generations after us can have an idea about our lives now, like we can study the life of Henry James.
Only because he wrote his letters with ink on paper and not on a computer sending it as e-mails.

Before, in times seeming ages ago, when there was no internet, from a location like Punta Marquez where the conceptual photography was made, letters were written.
By hand with ink on paper and mailed from the post-office of La Paz, Baja California, Mexico.
Most of those letters were to the partner in life at the time.
Hundreds and hundreds of handwritten letters.
After the separation this wonderful lady returned a large box in which all those letters.
These letters are now in the archive of the Historical Photography Department of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands where they are studied by art-historians.

But for many years now hardly ever a letter is written.
All texts are written on the Apple computer and send as e-mails or in blogs or in chats.
These e-mails and other digital words are written, sent and disappear into etherized eternity.
Everything written after the introduction of the computer and the Internet is lost.
It simply doesn’t exist anymore.
Years from now researchers will have no clue what was written and what was going on from the moment the computer came around.

Is this good or is this bad?
It is not good and it is not bad: it simply is like this.

Being a pragmatist and an optimist the good side of it is cherished.
What to do about it anyway?
Print out every blog, every e-mail and every MSN-conversation on long-lasting paper and store it in an archive?
Impractical and impossible…

The good side is that we can question why it matters?
That we document our lives in a way for future generations to know.

And it is realized that because what is written now will not exist later, makes it even more intense and important the very moment itself.
Like these words now.
They are between us.
And nobody else ever is going to know about it.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


To learn more about the author Henry James, click on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_James