Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Hawaiian Hurricane


Princeville, Hawaii, August 24, 2018

It is very early morning here in Princeville, on the North shore of Kauai. Usually this is just the right time to watch a spectacular sunrise from our deck - the sky filled with pink colored clouds peacefully drifting by, the ocean the color of emeralds and the waves gently tossing themselves over the black lava rock.

But today the sky is grey and so is the ocean. Hans is still asleep. He has come down with the flu as soon as we arrived and has not stopped coughing and sneezing since then. I don’t want to wake him, so with my first cup of Kona coffee in hand, I check the local news on my laptop, wondering what happened to the promised sunrise.

The local weather channel shows a visual of a monstrous hurricane approaching the Hawaiian islands, with wind speeds approaching 135 miles per hour. Nah, it cannot be that bad if it only moves at 5 miles per hour. A person can walk faster than that. It will probably veer away and find another spot in the Pacific to do what hurricanes do. Read more...

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Ata Lives On


It was an intense three days when our whole family got together to spread my mother Ata's ashes. Before she died, she told us that she would like her ashes to be spread where Jack London had lived, in upper Sonoma County in California.

This was not an easy request since my mother was cremated in Holland, which means that her ashes had to travel 6,000 miles. At first, there was talk of compromise - wouldn’t it be more practical to find a nice secluded beach in North Holland, near the assisted living where she had spent the last 20 years of her life?

But as usual, one of the Dutch angels that I previously wrote about, came to the rescue. She spread her large angel wings and together with her husband, she flew across the atlantic to bring the ashes and help honor Ata’s last wish.

You might argue that the place where someone’s ashes are spread is of no consequence. After all, the person is no longer around, it’s just a heap of dust, so what does it matter where it ends up. Read more...

Thursday, August 9, 2018

To Cut or not to Cut: the Circumcision Debate


Thank God I am not a man, especially a Jewish man. And thank God I wasn’t born in the United States as a man, or I would have joined the millions who have undergone a medical procedure that irreversibly alters the body for the rest of one’s life, without personal consent. It’s called circumcision.

A few days ago a friend told me about a researcher at Harvard University who was fired as a result of a show he performed called Sex; Circumcision: An American Love Story. It is a gripping, 2 hour long explosion of anger by a young American male who went under the knife as an infant. Eric Clopper is Jewish, but that doesn’t mean much in a country where as recently as 2010, 77% of baby boys were routinely circumcised as part of the delivery process.

Since then I haven’t done much else with my time than learn about circumcision and what it really is. What is it’s history? Why is it so prevalent in America and not in Europe?

I have to admit that I now know more about male genitalia than I do about my own equipment, so at the risk of sounding presumptuous, I will share with you what I have learnt.

The word ‘circumcision’ comes from the Latin circumcisus, past participle of circumcidere "to cut round, to cut off". What exactly gets cut off, you may ask, when circumcising an infant in America in 2018?