Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Right In The Middle

In 1629 Hessel Gerritsz (ca 1582-1632) made a routebook ('roteiro') for the Dutch West India Company (WIC). Strategic information for securing Brazil. The Dutch were eagerly after the yields of sugar cane from the Portuguese. 

Right in the middle of Europe and Brazil are the Cabo Verde Islands located. For the Dutch, both for the VOC and WIC, the place for (re)grouping ships and stocking fresh supplies.

A part of this routebook, around 80 pages, is about the Cabo Verde Islands. All the islands are described in detail: defence systems, population and slaves, where to dock, fruit etcetera. Including maps of the islands.

The manuscript is never published or translated. I want to unlock this document - this treasure house - for humanity. In one book: copy of manuscript, typoscript in old Dutch, translation in modern Dutch, translation in Portuguese and translation in English. Nice and important puzzle to solve :)

Ben Teensma already made the typoscript in old Dutch and translation in Portuguese. I have to add the translation in modern Dutch and English.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Read 'Cinco Séculos de Cartografia'

Wrote a blogpost 'Os Holandeses (part 1)#caboverde. Spin off of reading the six pages of Teixeira da Mota's article 'Cinco Séculos de Cartografia das Ilhas de Cabo Verde' (1961).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

677 vs. 7.4

677 kilometer on GoogleMaps and 7.4 centimeter on the Benincasa map from year 1473. I used this ratio as point zero for caculating how accurate the distances were on the 541 year old map. Wrote a blogpost 'Pretty Reliable' on this subject with more details #caboverde

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Category Mistake

Last couple of years I feel very Zen - without really knowing what Zen is. What I mean is: I feel very in balance. You probably say "you always are."

For me it's a category mistake if someone says "life makes or has no sense".

For me it's like this. Sense is senses getting data for perception. Our mind is interpreting the data: what we see, smell, hear, taste, feel etcetera. In my vocabulary, being alive means our senses get data for perception. Death means: getting no more data for perception. So life can't be senseless. Data overload yes but never senses not getting data. And what surprises me most is, that most of the time we don't realize it at all. Isn't it wonderful?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One More

As you know I am into the Cabo Verde islands. Interested in: maps, history, travelogues and the general picture of the Portuguese exploring the world since the 15th Century.

Cortesão's book 'History of Portuguese Cartography' (1969-1971) opened many tracks for me.

These are the tracks I want to follow (update November 12th, 2014):

  • A. Teixeira da Mota 'Cinco Séculos de Cartografia das Ilhas de Cabo Verde' (1961). Five centuries of Cabo Verde maps.
  • Website 'Ilhas, Portos e Cidades. Cartografia de Cabo Verde (séculos XVIII-XX)'. Maps of the 18th - 20th Century.
  • Cortesão, Armando 'Descobrimento e representação das ilhas de Cabo Verde na cartografia antiga' (1976) in 'Memórias da Academia das Ciências de Lisboa: Classe de Ciências', Tomo XXI (21). Lisboa, Imprensa Nacional. pp. 229-250. More details from Cortesão
  • A Dutch connection to Cabo Verde? CV coast or CV islands? Check out: island Gorée on wikipedia.
  • A. Lyall 'Black and White Make Brown' (1938). Reviews: here. Living on the Cabo Verde islands around 1930.
  • Dutch travelogues about the Cabo Verde islands? Are there any? Interesting?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Birthday Present

For my 50th birthday I bought these books. Arrived all the way from Lisboa. From uma das mais pequenas livraias do mundo. They smell good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow

She is sweet and seems a goodhearted human being. I finished Sophia Loren's autobiography 'Ieri, Oggi, Domani' (2014) on Saturday, which was a Dutch translation. A nice read. Everyone she met in her life is sweet, dedicated, genial and very, very ... - whatever. There is not one single person she hates in her book.

She spoiled her father's meal
"Riccardo [J.D. Scicolone] was twintig, had wat geld en was van adellijke komaf. Als gesjeesd ingenieur had hij een tijdelijk baantje bij de spoorwegen, aan het traject Rome-Viterbo. Al snel bracht hun hartstocht hen naar een klein hotel in het centrum, waar ze lange liefdesnachten doorbrachten. Maar ja, toe kwam ik [J.D. Sofia Villani Scicolone = Sophia Loren] roet in het eten gooien. Door het nieuws van Romilda's zwangerschap, raakte Riccardo helemaal van slag en zachtjesaan bekoelde zijn liefde. Ik paste niet in zijn toekomstplannen, evenmin als mijn moeder daar ooit in zou passen?" (page 15) 

To suffer or to let others suffer
"Ik heb altijd een soort zesde zintuig gehad als het ging om het kiezen van de mensen met wie ik het intiemste en persoonlijkste deel van mijn leven wilde delen. En daarbij ga ik vrijwel nooit de fout in. Als dat een keer wel het geval is, ga ik rustig weg, op mijn tenen. Ik wil niemand kwetsen, ik hou er niet van om te lijden noch om anderen te laten lijden." (page 97)

Balance is the secret
"Degenen die me in de loop van de jaren hebben gevraagd wat mijn geheim was, heb ik altijd en zinnig antwoord proberen te geven: je moet een goed evenwicht vinden tussen rust en in beweging zijn, tussen actief zijn en slaap, tussen culinaire genoegens en een gezond en uitgebalanceerd dieet. Maar het ware jeugdigheidselixer schuilt in de creativiteit waarmee een mens de uitdagingen van elke dag tegemoet treedt, in de passie voor wat je doet en wat je bent, in de wijsheid waarmee je je eigen capaciteiten aanwendt en je eigen beperkingen accepteert." (page 269)

30, 40 and 50 years old. At age 80 the wish - sometimes - to start all over again
"Het is niet altijd makkelijk, laten we wel wezen, en elke fase van het leven heeft zijn grillen en valkuilen. Als je dertig bent, ben je jong en onzeker, op je veertigste ben je sterk en vaak moe, op je vijftigste ben je wijs, en wellicht een tikkeltje weemoedig. En wanneer je op de drempel van je tachtigste staat, word je af en toe gegrepen door de wens om weer helemaal opnieuw te beginnen. Je wordt herboren in je herinneringen en verliefd op de toekomst." (page 273)

P.S. Quotes are in Dutch. Yes ;) as a kind of Chinese garden for you: more

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Gold Seekers. Gold Only?

These days I am checking out Clements R. Markham (1830-1916). His translations, from Spanish into English, of the original chronicles of the conquest of Peru were the main source for Bingham's search for the last Inca capital.

I am curious if the conquistadors of Peru (e.g. Francisco Pizarro) were really that gold thirsty. Not too one-dimensional? Did those men have no other dreams?

What a bless is The Internet these days. I was able to find all the books. Now I must find the time to read them :)
The last book Markham wrote about Peru (1912). Link to book: here

Translation of Baltasar de Ocampo's chronicles. Link to book: here 

Translation of Pedro de Cieza de Leon's chronicles part I. Link to book: here

Translation of Pedro de Cieza de Leon's chronicles part II. Link to book: here

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Following Trails

In a couple of weeks I'll turn 50 years old. Halfway! I know for sure I'll make it to 100 years of age.

Can you imagine how surprised, happy and content I felt, 30 years ago, when I found out that there was history before the Bible and Christianity? That there was an ancient Egypt where the Jews and Christians "borrowed", "inherited", "stole" or ... (there must be more images) the snake and a gate with someone waiting to decide if you led or a "good" or "bad" life?

In a way that feeling still glows in me. It's the well that tells me time and again that there are so many secrets to discover just by following trails. Following trails and find sources with water that quenches the thirst of curiosity. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Small Bang. No Big Bang

Sowhere in our mighty universe
A small bang 
Not a big bang
and no sound heard

P.S. Watercolor 'Flying the Moon' (2010) is from Mary Gutfleisch. Source: here

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Just in Case

The world is on fire - I know. "IS" is fighting for their Caliphate in the Middle East. War in Syria, Ukraine, somewhere in Africa and ... - there must be more. People starving everywhere because of lack of food or water. Not in Western Europe! People dying every day while crossing the Mediterranean Sea, trying to enter Europe. One out of fifteen people are unemployed in my country. 

In a way I don't care. Or better: I try to live my life and I do not want to carry, on my back, the burdens of Planet Earth. 

I am not rich. But so much richer than most 'homo-sapiens' on planet Earth. No real worries for me concerning work, money, house, marriage and kids. Nothing to add or subtract. Not for me.

Next to that I am a romantic and a dreamer. I dream of you. I dream of my "perfect" house and gardens just in case I win the lottery. Last weekend I made a sketch. I only drew the ground floor. I have to draw later: the second floor, ceiling and front view.

I would love to share it with you: 
House and gardens. Ground floor

On the floor. Belgisch hardsteen 'Blauw gevlamd' for the hall. 'Licht gezoet' for the rooms downstairs

'Visgraat parket' for the sitting room and study

Study in red


Herbs. Close to kitchen

'Bakhuisje' for baking bread or pizza


Beuk- en meidoornhagen

Rows with aspargus

Pre-historic house in the back of garden (right)

Trapper's lodge in the back of garden (left)

Walnoten and tamme kastanjes

'Hoogstam' trees. One apple. One peer

Something to add or subtract?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nothing to Add or Subtract

Remember the song 'Perfect' (1988) from pop band Fairground Attraction: song and lyrics? The song that tells us that 'it's got to be perfect' and not take 'second best'?

'Perfect'. Just a random word that all of us understand and comprehend. Really?

Give it a word and 'it' will come alive in our mouth and mind. For the ancient Egyptians a physical object, human being or enemy was born the moment you gave it a name by writing it down. Came alive by naming it!

The word 'perfection' was born a long time ago. Literally the Latin word 'perfection' means 'a finishing' or 'bringing to an end'. The genealogy of the concept 'perfection' reaches back to the ancient Greek word 'teleos'. The oldest definition is from Aristotle (4th century BC) and is more than 2,300 years old. I can't find the word 'perfect' in the quote? Correct :) in English the word 'telos' is translated as 'complete'.
Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book V, chapter 16. 
Quote from 'The Complete Works of Aristotle, Revised Oxford Translation'
Edited by J. Barnes (1984)

Summerized. Aristotle calls 'perfect':
  • 1. Which contains all the requisite parts
  • 2. Which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better
  • 3. Which has attained its purpose
Pretty down to Earth isn't it what Aristotle calls 'perfect' or 'complete'? A shoe that contains all the requisite parts. A flute-player that couldn't play better. Death as the last end of life.

After the ancient Greeks, the Christians "translated" the concept of 'perfect' to God. According to the Christians, human beings are never perfect after Adam and Eve ate from the apple. They make mistakes, sin and always there is something to add or subtract in what they do and let. Only God is perfect and we - human beings - have to embrace the fact that we are not. Never!

Somewhere in the 17th Century, God died in the main culture of Western Europe. 'Democracy' as a God was born. 'Love' as a 'God' was born. 'Peace (not War)' as a God was born. It has to be perfect. Nothing less. For that 'homo-sapiens' fight and kill.

Democracy as a Natural Law. Love as a Natural Law. Peace (not War) as a Natural Law. What a nonsense. It's projection. Made and invented concepts by 'homo-sapiens' in Western Europe. Historically biased.  Culturally biased. 'Homo-sapiens' biased. Individual 'homo-sapiens' biased. Highly subjective.

Look at the 'Venus de Milo'. Once this marble statue must have had arms too. Not perfect as a copy of a female body. Once the statue must have been without damages. Not perfect because of the damages in the marble. She is admired for her beauty. For some she is not perfect because of her hairstyle or the way she wears her skirt. For some this statue is the perfect representation of Greek classical art. For some  she will not be.

What's my point? 'Perfect' is a moment frozen in time. In a metaphor: it's a photo. Appreciated by some. Disgusting for others.

P.S. I wrote on 'Democracy' before: here (2009). And on 'God = Love': here (2010)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

And Gooseberries

More on Machu Picchu. I checked the book of Alfred Bingham for extra information on the three families that lived on Machu Picchu when Bingham "found" this site in 1911: Richarte, Alvarez and family three (name?). Looking for pictures of their houses, gardens and families.

Hiram III Bingham wrote, in 1922, in his book 'Inca Land', about his discovery of Machu Picchu in July 2011:
"Here the Indians had finally cleared off and burned over a few terraces and planted crops of maize, sweet and white potatoes, sugar cane, beans, peppers, tree tomatoes, and gooseberries."

I found these five photos from 1911:
Photo 1: On the right the little boy (from one of the 3 Indian families?) that showed the way.
Corn (?) on the far right. 
Photo 2:  The restored house of one of the 3 Indian families. Which family? The third family?
Photo 3. One of the three Indian families. Which one?
Photo 4. Crop area. One of the crop areas? Which family?
Photo 5. Vegetable garden. One of the vegetable garden? From which family?

And this quote (page 163):
"Actually three families were living in the ruins. Bingham did not learn the farmers' names till the following year, and then the names only of two of them. The location of Richarte's and Alvarez's huts was marked on the survey map made in 1912 and appears to have been near the site of the later tourist hotel. The third family lived in a rehabilitated ruin at a higher elevation."

Well I found more than nothing but still thinking ... there must be more somewhere hidden in archives. Where? What? 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ignorance is the Root

What a lovely book. Details. Lots of lovely details and photos. I am very fond of details - in case you missed it.

The full story of the Yale Peruvian Expedition (Y.P.E.) of 1911 in a book. The story his father never wrote!

Alfred Bingham wrote the book 'Portrait of an Explorer. Hiram Bingham, Discoverer of Machu Picchu' (1989). His father was Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956). Number I (1789-1869) was reverent and converted personally the people of the Hawaiian Islands to Christianity. Number II (1831-1908) was reverent too and translated the Bible, from original Hebrew and Greek, into the language of the Gilbert Islands in Micronesia. Hiram III was supposed to become a saviour of the "souls of the heaten" too but instead he became a history teacher/ professor. Specialized in the history of the South Americas.

Letter from Hiram III to II on 6 July 1907 (quote):
"I suppose it is in my blood to wish to strike into untrod fields and take up burdens that others are not trying to lift. I believe that Ignorance is the root of most evil in the world. Wars, public, private and personal, are generally caused by ignorance. 'Lux et Veritas' is then the motto for me."

His M.A. thesis in history, on university of California, was on 'The Growth of American Supremacy in Hawaii'. The subject of his Ph.D, on Harvard university, was the colonization project in South America undertaken by a Scottish trading company in the late 1600s.

After his "M.A." he got his "A.M". She was Alfreda Mitchell (1874-1967). Rich. One of the grandchildren of Charles Tiffany (1812-1902). The jewellery and silverware company that bore his name and made him a millionaire.  Hiram III and Alfreda met on Hawaii in 1898. The place where Hiram II and III lived and Alfreda landed with her parents while traveling with their yacht. Photo Hiram III and Alfreda around 1900.
They married in 1900 - both at the age of 25 and had seven sons together. The writer Alfred (1905-1998) was the third son. Photo: Hiram II (standing left), Hiram III (standing right), aunt Lydia (left below), Alfreda (right below) and four of their sons in 1908.
Hiram III considered himself an explorer in the first place. Not a teacher. 'Who is Who in America' 1910-1911:

Incidentally! Hiram III became world famous by "discovering" Machu Picchu. Discovering like Columbus discovered America. These Inca ruins were found by Hiram incidentally on his first Y.P.E. in 1911 while looking and paying for let him show "ancient (Inca) ruins". Two more expeditions would follow in 1912 and 1914-1915. The first Y.P.E. had four goals:
1. Determine how far into the Amazon basis the Inca empire had extended.
2. Where had the last Inca rulers maintained a remnant of empire for a generation after the conquest of the Spanish. Finding the lost cities Vitcos and Vilcabamba.
3. Survey and mapping along 73rd meridian from one side of the Andes to the other.
4. Determine whether Coropuna is the highest mountain in the Americas.

Two lost cities found. Hiram personally found Vitcos, the last capital of the Incas. Here lived the last Inca (King) for 36 years, between 1536-1572. He also found the last stronghold of the Inca at Espirito Pampa. By the Spanish called Vilcabamba Viejo. Where the Incas fled to after the Spanish drove them from Vitcos.

Quote (page 180):
"His technique for finding ruins was simple enough. He pumped information out of the native population wherever he went and offered monetary rewards for any who could show him an Inca ruin."

And Machu Picchu? Hiram III 's hypothesis was that it was the last refuge of the Inca dynasty: Vilcabamba Viejo. A hypothesis that no historian now believes. One (of many) hypothesis is that Machu Picchu was the summer residence. I wrote on this before here and here.


  • Hiram III was a tough director. None of the expedition members of the first Y.P.E. from 1911 joined one of the two other expeditions
  • The National Geographic Magazine made three special editions on Machu Picchu: volume 24 'In the Wonderland of Peru' (1913), volume 27 'The Story of Machu Picchu' (1915) and volume 29 'Further Explorations in the Land of the Incas' (1916) 
  • Exploration was for him more than adventuring (page 318): "it had to be justified as contributing to the advancement of knowledge. He had therefore to complete his reports on what he had found. Moreover, he had an intense respect for books and considered the writing of books to be the high calling that would bring him the renown he sought."
  • In World War I he became aviator and commanded, as lieutenant colonel, in 1918, the largest flying school of the Allies: 8,000 men, 10 airfields and thousand airplanes 
  • In  the 1920s he was elected governor of Connecticut and U.S. senator
  • He wrote  in 1939 a biography on Elihuu Yale. The benefactor of the Collegiate School in the Colony of Connecticut, which in 1718 was renamed in Yale College in his honor
  • Real-life inspiration of the Indiana Jones (films) character (source). One of many. Not being confirmed by Lucas or Spielberg. Only resemblances I see: hat, professor and explorer. Nothing else

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Um Pouco Mais

I love Ana Cañas' song 'Luz Anitiga' so much: here

Eu só queria que você cuidasse
Um pouco mais de mim como eu cuido de você

I just wanted you to take care
A little more of me as I take care of you

O sangue é o rio que irriga a carne
E a alma é a terra de um morro
É luz antiga o fim da tarde
Essa saudade sem socorro

Blood is the river that irrigates the flesh
And the soul is the land of a hill
It's old light in the late afternoon
This helpless longing

P.S. Letras: here

Friday, July 4, 2014


Every object has its story. I got a couple  of shoeboxes stuffed with stones, shells, human artefacts and ... - there must be more. One day, if ever :), I'll take a picture of every object and add the story that belongs to it. For my kids. For you.

I picked this Conus Textile in the Red Sea during a snorkeling trip. "Wow that is a nice one!". Where to put it? I have to keep my hands free for swimming! Easy ...put it in my swimming trunks. I continued my swimming. All those fish. All those colours. Watch out for sharks. After a few minutes a big "ouch!" in my trunks. Where does that come from? My balls! Grabbing in my truncks I find out that a little lobster (or ..?) peeps out of the shell, I just picked up a few minutes ago. That "stupid" animal was biting in my ...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Guardian Angel: iDrone

How long will it take before all of us have our own personal drone, flying around us as a guardian angel: our personal iDrone?

A human made artifact that:
  • Sees as an owl
  • Hears as a whale
  • Smells like a wolf
  • Tastes likes a foot taster
  • Touches like a bat
  • Navigates as a bird
  • Detects electric fields as a fish
  • Monitors the condition of the body (e.g. blood pressure, heart beat and temperature)  as a doctor
  • Emotionally balances as a psychologist
  • Communicates as a secret agent
  • Translates as a polyglot
  • Fights as a Gurkha
  • Plans as a scout
  • Takes care as a best friend
  • Advises as an old philosopher
  • Remembers like The Internet
  • Back-ups like NSA
  • ... - there must be more
To protect. To look ahead. To plan. To guard. To monitor. To communicate. What else?

All of us as extended human beings. Our weak spots strenghthened. (Mark that I don't say 'being repaired'.) Will it be a better world? What is the definition of "better"? Says who?

P.S. Skip the Google Glass or other 'optical head-mounted display'. Connect our iDrone via our iCorneal and those artifacts will feel like inseparable 'I'. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Riddle. Close To Ground

Any idea what these stones are? I've collected these ones in the past and will continue to collect them.