Dynamite and water

Water, the essence of life. Without water no development is possible. When I lived in Europe, in the delta of the huge European rivers the Rijn and the Maas, I never thought of water shortages. In fact, it was more the opposite. Floods threaten the Netherlands once in a while. In 1953, thousands of Dutch died when dikes broke during a western storm and a quarter of Holland was flooded. In 1995, the river Maas rose many meters above her average level and weeks-long the country was on a mission to save many villages and cities along the river.

A shortage of water in South East Asia, it’s hard to imagine when you think about the torrential rains that are battering countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore during the rainy season. In Mondulkiri, the biggest province of Cambodia and home to our Kamkav plantations, water was never a problem. Until ten years ago, Mondulkiri had a dry season of two, maximum three months. Now, a decade later, we are tortured by a drought that starts at the end of October, early November and continues till April. At this very moment, all farms are struggling with their water supply. Owners of excavators are experiencing golden times. Everybody wants to make their ponds deeper and wider. We bought extra land in the lowest part of the valley and dug a huge pond there. Unfortunately, big rocks are blocking us from going any deeper than 2.30 meters. Groundwater slowly finds its way but not quick enough to supply for our total irrigation demand.

The horrible drought in California is well-known thanks to the supremacy of the US media. But in South East Asia water shortages will become a media and political issue as well. There are Belgian reports about coffee in Vietnam that predict that 50% of the coffee farmers might need to change their coffee to another -less water depending – crop as early as 2020.

We in the meantime see no other solution than to look for dynamite to blow up the rocky formation in our pond so we can continue to dig deeper. Our cacao trees suffer already heavily, and 30% died this season. We can’t afford ourselves to loose more.

Geeks are the new cool

Ok, it is not as much fun as making it yourself, but for roughly €100 you can feel awesome with this Hasbro/Marvel Iron Man helmet. It even comes with light-up features and sound effects, and you can take the front plate off.  The only thing you still have to bring along is imagination. And that goes for every cosplay outfit, made with or without prefab parts.
Still it can not compete with all these self-made armor outfits I always see during the Elfia events in the Netherlands, but not everybody is gifted with two right hands.
What is actually quite funny is that it is clearly a bunch of men at Hasbro and Marvel, steering the wheel of this new initiative. They totally overlooked the fact that almost two-third of the cosplay and costume communities are female. In the next release, they should consider female costume parts.
Anywise, I personally appreciate this commercial step of these entertainment giants. It is definitely a sign that they finally see a huge potential in the cosplay and costume market. It also means that these groups are coming in growing numbers. It is no longer a hobby of a small bunch of freaky nerds. Just forget a minute about the commercial aspect of this Hasbro/Marvel initiative. The signal that they are giving is quite clear. They are taking nerds and costume geeks seriously. Geeks and nerds are the new cool. And the more adult they are, the cooler they are. Because older geeks normally have the money to spend and are willing to spend. So, step aside lover-boy, step aside mister fancy pants, here comes Tony Stark.
Oooh, and just for the record in case your imagination is taking you a bit too far out: the Captain America shield is not really made of a vibranium-steel alloy. Don’t even think of saving that girl out of the hands of bloodthirsty IS fanatics while trying to catch their bullets with it. Just saying.

Perpetuum Mobile

With my work as an event organizer, I actually continued doing what I used to do as a child: creating stories; from the stories of a king against Robin Hood in our backyard with my brother and sister, to WOII invasion stories in the attic, sitting on my knees with my trousers rolled up, putting tanks and soldiers on a pile of sand that was supposed to be an island waiting to be invaded by bloodthirsty American soldiers.

That’s why my work at the Elfia event is still so much fun: creating royalty, dirty politics with strange races like orcs and vampires. And I am not the only one. Everybody loves stories. And our event creates a platform for thousands of stories. More than 2/3 of the visitors arrive, dressed up in some creative outburst, and a part of that group built a story around his or her character.

The only thing I have to be careful with is that the story always develops. Boredom is the father of all degeneration and downfall. But in some way visitors, entertainers and organizers energize each other. We charge each others battery. It’s a continuous process. It’s a Perpetuum Mobile.