trešdiena, 2009. gada 30. decembris

The year is almost over. It started strange and pretty stupid and for some time it seemed that the whole year would be crazy as well.
And it was… Full with difficulties, hard moments and stresses, but of course with nice feelings as well. And despite the predictions on January 1st – there were more positive things and happy moments this year than I thought! But as I said – this year is OVER!

What to expect from the next one… and probably from the next decade as well?
As I wrote in my radio review of the year, nobody can be sure about the forthcoming events neither in our lives, nor anywhere around us. Who knows... Probably we’ll have some new economic crisis and probably Latvia won’t be in the worst situation in Europe (Greece is „threatening” to take this title away from us), probably some new viruses will emerge (maybe we’ll even run out of the names of the animals?) and probably, we’ll even have a new ice age? I’m not talking about the 4’th part of the movie but about a real cold (as some scientists predict – there won’t be global warming, but the cooling of the planet has already started)
But actually – do we really care much about all these things? Yeah... „SURE”… we want to be informed about everything, because everyone just likes to comment everything (but not many of us are willing to change something)…

Somehow my job is to comment… And I will and will have to do that... And I like that! But what can I change? The easiest answer would be – I can’t influence anything, so I won’t change anything… NO, I’m not gonna say that!
And the first thing I’ll try to change will be ME! How? I’ll keep it in secret, because otherwise my determination might not succeed (Yes, I’m superstitious!)

So, 2010… here I come!

svētdiena, 2009. gada 27. decembris

It's time to face the music!

Have you ever been asked if you liked some certain kind of music? I suppose everyone has! And the most common answer to this question is also very simple – different kind of music!
I have to admit, that I’m one of those persons as well. However I can somehow describe what kind of music I like or, let’s say, it’s easier to describe, what kind of music I don’t like (because my preferences change from time to time, but the music I don’t like – almost never).
So I started to think, what are those qualities, that define Good music?

For centuries, people and musicians have done everything they could to combine two main things – melody and lyrics. That’s the basics!
I used to say that the text was the most important for me for a very long time, because I really was trying to understand and sometimes even to remember the texts. Just for myself. This kind of attitude made me love hard rock, metal, and sometimes even the death metal… Sometimes it even helped me to „like” some poor music… For example, some rap…
But then somehow it changed and I understood that there is no use of good text without good music (rap, again). And, of course, the best combination is when melody and lyrics complement each other. Unfortunately, the text can kill the melody and vica versa. So, probably it’s better to choose just a melody? … and read poems while listening to the music?
However, the two factors I mentioned before doesn’t play the main role in the modern music any more. At least I think so. Damn pop-culture has put it’s own stamps – Pr’s, money, charts, sales, sensations, rumours etc, etc…. It just seems that you don’t need to care about the quality anymore: if you can’t sell your records – do something stupid, get drunk, make a crash with your car, sleep with someone famous, get married with someone strange, get divorced or even… die! (sorry, but, that’s so) And people will buy the record even if it’s a crap – but it’s damn famous crap and even more expensive, so it puts you on some sort of a different shelf in the eyes of society!

But yesterday I realized one thing… All those things don’t matter much, if you have no feeling for it! You don’t need a high quality performance with extra quality sound, you don’t need super-deep-and-thought-challenging texts. All you need is a good company and good emotions! That’s what matters the most! I had experienced this feeling at least 3 times lately and that has made me feel happy... And all of these times were different... the music was different!

If someone would ask me now, if there is some concert (let’s say – of some world famous band) I would like to attend, I couldn’t choose a single one! Because I think there is NONE! Well, ok, maybe 1 or 2...

Yes, I would probably sell my soul to see Pink Floyd live, however It’s unrealistic early morning dream…

trešdiena, 2009. gada 16. decembris

FWD messages... just this time!

I hate Forwarded messages! And most of the people feel the same, seeing their mail boxes filled with Fwd: Fwd: Fwd-like messages.
I suppose, usually most of the people, including me, in such situations act the same – just delete these kind of messages without reading.
Last night I received 7 such messages.. All the same! And I couldn’t help myself not reading at least one of them (Why the hell did I do that?). But somehow – I didn’t feel bad at all….

These mails were about a Christmas market, where anyone can buy some nice gifts made by disabled and old people. And about the situation, when such a market has no other advertisement (The authors of the original letter tell, that it’s forbidden!) than some good words forwarded from friend to friend. The idea is just great and I think I will visit this market as well and maybe even forward this message to other people. And probably all together we will make someone feel better this Christmas…

But all this situation made me think about something else.
Lately there have been a lot of activities connected with charity, for example, the initiative I take my hat off in front of these people, who sacrifice their free time to make kids feel better. And I’m really glad that all this started not just before Christmas… Because from time to time I have the impression, that „we are getting better towards others” only before Christmas. Because we HAVE TO, because it’s recognized as being good… Ok, some may say, that we do something good not only before or during Christmas. Let’s say, two charity campaigns organized by LNT (Latvian Independent Television) – yes, lot of people call and donate their money to help sick children… But some may say, I won’t pay, because it’s not possible to help everyone…
And that’s the problem… We (I have to admit, that I’m one of them) somehow forget about people in needs after all these campaigns are over. Because it’s easier not to notice the problems around us but to say that we are helping to solve them from time to time… And it’s always difficult and hard to do something for someone without asking anything for that… We’re living in a material world, as Madonna used to sing

But still, I’ve noticed one paradox… Mr./Madam Crisis has somehow affected everyone of us and I guess there won’t be much people, who would say their financial situation has improved during last year. But despite this, people are participating more and more in different charity campaigns, helping others and donating money… ( I suppose they could afford much more, if not spending so much for voting on different TV shows)

Have we really changed? Have we become better persons?

Unfortunately, I think – not much… However, you have to start from something! And probably Christmas is the right time for that...?

svētdiena, 2009. gada 13. decembris

Lichen-beard VS Ruler of The World

Almost a month ago my friends gave me a great present – took me to a film-concert by a group of Latvian musicians „Dabas Koncertzāle” (Nature’s Concert hall). It was a film about a music concert in forests of Latvia - a successful combination of science, music, poetry and visual arts. It was unbelievably relaxing and impressive!

I watched the record yesterday once again… And started to think about the fairy-tale which was told there… In short, it was something like that…

Long time ago there was a tribe living somewhere in the forest. And there was a clever but strange old man, living seperate from the tribe. People called him Lichen-beard (Ķērpjbārdis). The man was really strange, going around the forest, murmuring some magic spells and drawing some strange signs on the stems of the trees.
One day Lichen-beard came to the chief of the tribe and asked him to give some young man to whom he could pass his knowledge. However, the chief was so busy, self-satisfied and uninterested about the strange offer of a strange man, that the answer was negative. The old man walked away and some time later died…
Then real natural disasters struck the Earth putting the tribe in real despair. Besides, the big floods and heavy rains washed away all the signs from the trees left by a Lichen-beard.
One day the chief of the tribe prayed for the gods to send his tribe some help. And really, some light persons came down from the heaven and told that they would like to help, but they have to talk to the old Lichen-beard. „He’s dead”, replied the chief. So they asked for the person to whom the old man has left his knowledge. „There is no such person”, answered the chief…
And Then the „people” from heaven said that the old „Lichen beard” was the last wise man left, who knew the language of signs and who could translate the great wisdom of life hidden in them….

This was a really short version of the fairy-tale (I’m sorry to the authors about such a sketchy interpretation of it!). But I hope you got the idea…

At first, it was just a fairy-tale, but then… Suddenly I realized that there are so many strange and weird people around us, to whom we just don’t listen, because we somehow don’t accept them. Who knows, what kind of wisdom they carry and what could we learn from them?

And there was a certain man I remembered… He was a tall man with a beard who used to walk in Riga streets with a wooden stick, singing folk songs and shouting patriotic slogans in his thunder-like voice… I used to talk to him. He presented himself as a Ruler of The world (Pasaules Valdnieks). I guess everybody knew him exactly by this name….

Few people knew that this stranger was a simple man named Pēteris Seņkāns, who sometimes made even politicians feel uncomfortable because of his sayings, who talked to anyone he met on the street – no matter poor or rich, a local one or guest… Towards anyone he was open and sincere. Some called him a wise man, some called him sick one, some just listened and answered him with a handshake.

Just at the end of October The Ruler of The World passed away… As a simple man. But contrary to the Lichen-beard, he was not forgotten – Even some newspapers and magazines wrote about his death, internet was full of condolences from different people who just like me – met him some day somewhere on the street… And believe me – I didn’t read a single bad word about this man on internet…

Who knows how many such strangers are still among us and who knows, if we won’t be the same at the end? No matter what happens, but I realized how important is to leave something after you…
I’m still looking for such a thing… Actually, writing a blog is almost like writing some signs on the trees, and the only hope is that someone will read and understand it…

otrdiena, 2009. gada 8. decembris

Ireland - the land of my "dreams"

I just came back from Ireland – the „green island” that used to be the land of my dreams!
I might say I used to be obsessed with Ireland some 10 years ago: Celtic and Irish music, poetry, nature, art, weapons, jewelery, tattoos, beer… Almost everything! I even had a thought of learning Gaelic without any need to use it in the future! Later on, when taking some quiz, Ireland was named the country where I should live.
This was the second time I visited Ireland and I realized that SOMETHING HAS CHANGED!

I still love all the things I mentioned above, but somehow my attitude has changed and I wouldn’t say this is my dream country any more. Why?

During this week I spent in Ireland, I didn’t see much of all the things I like, but I saw some things from the real life not just from imaginations. Probably not from the point of view of an Irishman, but from a point of a tourist and from the point of some Latvians who live there.
I had a chance to have a ride around Dublin region without concentrating on cultural objects. So I paid attention to some other things: I saw a lot of nice houses and farms, but at the same time I saw a lot of ugly architecture (I mean REALLY UGLY) and a lot of mess around these houses. I saw a lot of luxurience and vulgarity at the same time. But that’s ok – every country can „BE PROUD” of such things as well!
But I guess the people impressed me the most! And not in the best way! Didn’t have a chance to meet much of them, but got the impression for sure. It seems that they just don’t care about anything, about the way things look around them… and the way they look themselves! Probably the only thing they do care about is pub and few pints of beer… I also heard a lot of stories about the attitude of authorities towards different groups of people and believe me, it seems that there is even a bigger mess than in Latvia, but all of this is worth a longer story or even a research.
Despite all this, from now on I will respect more and more those Latvians who have gone there working and living. Because they are not getting everything from the ”RIVERS OF MILK AND HILLS OF PORRIDGE”. Their bread comes out from the sweat and sometimes tears. But despite all this they struggle… And that makes me respect them even more! And specially the young people, who have to adapt to the cruel reality of Irishness!
Yes, THE REALITY IS CRUEL! As everywhere, I guess…

And I don’t think that everything I saw during last week will make me love „Clannad” less or adore „Lady of Shalott” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson less. However, I don’t think that I will consider moving to Ireland to live or work in the nearest future… But I’m looking forward to going there again… soon – to see more!

P.S. Well, maybe just shopping is worth going there! Even if I hate it…

svētdiena, 2009. gada 29. novembris

Life = Poker

Forest Gump used to say that "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

I’m not actually kind of „sweets addict”, but I like playing cards.

Few days ago, when playing poker, my friends asked me to write something about this game. I was thinking about it and at the beginning had no idea what could be the subject. But then, starting to compare this game and the actual life I realized that poker is mostly the same as the life itself… LIFE = POKER!

My girlfriend says, she wouldn’t like this game, because there is too little you can influence and probably there is too little things which depend on you. Well, at the beginning it might seem so…

The poker, as well as our lives consist of just some main combinations (Simple truths) you can easily remember (Learn). Some of them are very simple and easy to get, some of them are so rare that you can only dream of them.

To achieve a better result, you can use different strategies – you can get strong cards, be absolutely sure of your strength and INCREASE STAKES (some others might have strong cards as well, like the competition as well so the stakes get even higher)… you can FOLD and get out dry from the water (even if later on you’ll have to bite your nails off!)… you can BLUFF to scare your opponent (or you can bluff and lose)…
You never know which card will be the next as well as in the real life – you never know what will come next… But with every next card the picture gets more and more clear and your position either gets stronger or not.

During our last poker session I realized that I’m too far from being a professional, because I sometimes just don’t count all the combinations and possibilities (Probably that’s the explanation of why I am where I am in my life?) Sometimes you just concentrate so much on the thing that you realy would like to get, that you either don’t see anything else or you miss it and somebody else uses this chance in his favour!

I guess I could compare more and more! But better no…
I’ll just mention one more thing - There is one main factor either in our lives and either in poker game.. That’s PEOPLE! People with different attitudes, different strategies, different moods, different thoughts! If you guess them right – YOU’LL WIN!

There is only one major difference between life and poker – there are billions of possibilities and situations in our lives, but the poker game is shaped just out of 52 cards…
However the poker game also lasts for a shorter period of time…:)

trešdiena, 2009. gada 25. novembris

My Country ≠ My State?

I guess I’m not the only one who recently have asked myself this question. And I’m absolutely not the only one who has repeated pretty often: I love this country, but I hate this state!

Even if Latvian political leadership, including our president, stresses that the meaning of these two words – State and Country - can’t be separated, I doubt about it more and more. Why? I’ll try to explain…

I just caught myself trying to find this magic connection between the state and the country. I tried to go deeper in some official definitions, however I discovered that the answer is in front of everybody’s eyes. This connections is very simple – it’s us, people around us.. our nation!
But what if the nation gets weaker? Does it mean that the state gets weak as well? Or are we really weak?
Nooo… we are not weak! Does the fact that lots and lots of people are leaving this country means weakness? Not necessarily. One can say that the cleverest people are leaving this country to prove themselves somewhere else, the other would say – the weakest are going away, because they are afraid and they are running away from the trouble. Is it a sign of weakness if mother or father tries to find a job somewhere else to feed his family?
Or should we remember the words of one of my favorite Latvian poets Eduards Veidenbaums „…Un vēders Dievs visaugstākais un katrs pats sev tuvākais”. (The stomach is the highest God and everyone is the closest to himself) Strong words for a person who died only at the age of 24…
I’d like to affirm, that this short phrase of 19th century poet refers not only to „those who have left”, but also to those who have stayed and even more – to those who govern this country! Yes, dear politicians, you may stress that you were elected to defend the interests of the people and the state. But sorry – it really, I mean, REALLY doesn’t seem so!
The latest peripeteia with Mr (or Miss?) Crisis has changed everything. It seems that sometimes mystical work of glorified „international partners” or simply strange uncles from IMF or EU has changed the understanding of what’s right or wrong. It’s more important for our political activists to save their own ass, their position and reputation, than to think constructively about solving the acute problems of the country, of people.
I won’t talk much about increasing the taxes, decreasing salaries and pensions (of course, not for political leaders themselves) and other idiotic decisions recently taken. But do you really think all this stuff is a good motivation to stay in this country? Could anyone be blamed for leaving his or her country in situation like this? And could it be called a betrayal of your state? Sorry – BULLSHIT!
Who has done anything to change the situation? Government, politicians? Sorry, stupid guess.. I haven’t seen anything! With all my respect to Mr Dombrovskis and the job he has done ( I don’t wish anyone to be in his position at this time!), but how does it come, that everything what is done goes somehow against all the rules proven by the great minds of the previous times? Why doesn’t anyone listen or read about the similar situations before and learn from the mistakes of the past? And does this make our state stronger?
I do think a lot of people will agree, that it is hard to trust the present political leaders. But will the situation change and next year’s parliamentary elections change anything?
I’m sorry to all my friends, professors or colleagues who have decided to be a part of some political party with a thought of becoming our „next leaders”. There is no, I mean, NO such party who could change the situation! (OK, probably only for now!) The next leaders will be pretty much the same… With all my respect to lots of clever people who have lots of great ideas and plans, but I think that loud and empty talks will dominate more and more… And, unfortunately, more and more people will start to believe them! And more and more people will lean towards those parties, who offer anything different! Even if they are Russian or Arabic speaking (nothing personal), bananas eating humanoids from hell out of where!
However, I’ve noticed one thing… As times get harder, as Nation gets stronger! Finally people are starting to THINK… and not only think, but also ACT! (Of course, I’m not talking about politicians here!) Some lawyer with a campaign about being a Latvian and not leaving your country has achieved more than a Latvian Institute, some ice-hockey team reunites the Nation at least a couple of times a week, private televisions ask people to join together and sing an anthem and people do that with great pride! And it seem to me that I hear the saying „Latvietis latvietim latvietis” (Latvian for Latvian- a Latvian; derived from Homo Humini Lupus ) less and less.
We might be called naive or even sometimes stupid, and I guess some people would like it to be so. But its not so! And I would like to think, that we all together will come out of this shit stronger and more united! And there will be no more My Country ≠ My State dilemmas!

But… it will take time…