The Dos and Don’ts of Smoking Pot. Pro-Tips from an Expert.

„Grandfather, grandfather!“
The old man woke up with a start. He looked around the kitchen. “Where is Annie, your mother?”

“She took the bike and went grocery shopping,” said the youngest boy, grabbing the old man’s arm and cuddling up to him. “Oh grandfather, tell us, did you ever smoke pot? Did you? Tell us, please!”

The man looked the two boys in the face. “You two imps!” he tried to say sternly. “What are you up to now? Why the question, eh?”

The oldest boy just shrugged his shoulders. “We thought about it on our way from school.”

“I can well imagine, you two rascals!” But Grandfather did consider the question, and added after some thought: “When will your mother be back?”

“Not for ages, grandfather. You know how she loves to chat with her friends at the village store.”

“In that case, let me tell you a story… something that happened many years ago. Mind, this isn’t an easy answer to your question; a simple yes or no won’t do!“

Many, many years ago, your grandfather worked in a laboratory in Switzerland. I was there to do my PhD, at the faculty of cellbiology. And in that lab worked a man, a postdoctoral fellow named…uh… John. For the sake of this story, I will change the names, as we do not want to embarrass anyone, even after all these years. John was an American, slightly overweight, with black curly hair. He had completed his PhD in Oslo, and had a Norwegian girlfriend by the name of Rita… Rita Olson. I recall that he had actually gone to Oslo after meeting and falling in love with Rita at some science conference. During John’s stay in Switzerland, the two of them had a long-distance relationship, but I don’t recall Rita ever came to visit from Oslo.

In that lab worked another postdoc, Gabriel, a man from Vienna. Gabriel had blond hair and a goatee and had given me tremendous help to complete my PhD, but he was a bit crazy… many years later I found out that he had a wife or girlfriend in Vienna, and even a young child that he had never mentioned; although we always talked for hours late at night in the lab, about so many topics, and we even got drunk together. Gabriel was extremely negative about Jewish people, a terrible antisemite, he hated Jews for no apparent reason… which made life very complicated, as John was an American Jew… and naturally, Gabriel disliked John from the start. The weird thing was that all three of us were liberals, we had very similar political opinions. So here I was, a rookie Ph.D. student, stuck between these two squabbling men, trying to protect John and trying to re-educate Gabriel. I’m getting sidetracked, but I warned you this wasn’t a simple story.

Anyway, John’s contract ran out and he and Rita went to San Francisco for new postdoc positions. Not much later I finished my Ph.D. and left to work at a German institute to start my first postdoctoral position. Gabriel returned to Vienna too, and this weird and highly intense period as well as our strained tripartite relationship came to an end. I never saw Gabriel since, I think he ended up in Italy. But I did meet John again.

A couple of years later, another postdoc, Karel, and I got a ticket for a conference in Keystone, Colorado. This man came from a newly created country, the Czech Republic, which had just come about after Czechoslovakia disintegrated. This was the time of the fall of the Iron Curtain. Karel and I decided to fly to San Francisco and then rent a car to drive to Keystone, and thus I used the opportunity to fly in a week early and visit John and Rita. John was enthusiastic that I came to visit, and had organized some sightseeing. It was great to see my friend again, although it was soon clear that not all was well between him and Rita: she worked strange hours in the lab, and I hardly ever saw her. They constantly squabbled when she was in the apartment. On top of that, for my entire stay, San Francisco was enveloped in a huge cloud, and it rained all of the time, which pissed off John as all his great plans for sightseeing were torpedoed, and we had to spend a lot of time indoors; which he disliked because of his neighbors.

His neighbors! Getting an apartment in Frisco always was a hassle, but John had managed to find a nice place in Castro, a neighborhood that is and always was highly en vogue with homosexuals; both lesbians and gay men. As we walked the steep streets and went for coffee or dinner, we saw only same-sex couples. Neither John nor I minded, but his neighbors he did mind. First, the gay men in the next-door apartment tried to convince him to become gay too, at least that’s what John told me. They tried to chat him up in the laundry room, which John countered with outrageous stories about heterosexual sex – and as he was quite obsessed with sex, he had quite a few. And then he complained that the men on the right and the women on the left constantly moaned during sex… and that he could hear it through the walls. I held this for an exaggeration until one Friday night the two neighboring couples got going like sewing machines. Embarrassed, John put on a CD and turned up the sound to drown out the noise of same-sex, start-of-the-weekend copulation. John was a great fan of The Rolling Stones, so we listened to them for what felt like ages – I never particularly liked their music.

Sorry, my boys, for getting sidetracked. It’s just that the memories start coming back. Don’t mention a word of this to your mother, you hear!

Anyway, that night John took out his bong, the water pipe. He had already proudly announced that he had bought some hashish, so realizing that we still had zero visibility due to the fog and rain, he suggested we stay in and watch a movie. He had picked a videotape with a Matt Dillon movie that had just come out: a kiss before dying, a Hitchcock-like thriller but with more blood, about a psychopathic killer. Max von Sydow and Diana Ladd were in it too. This is not the type of movie that you should watch if you are stoned; and man, did we get stoned. Rita was at the lab, “working late” and with nothing else to do we smoked the entire chunk that John had bought.

As a youth, I had lived in Amsterdam and had smoked some Afghan, Lebanese, and Nederwiet, but the stuff that John had bought was from a different dimension; this was pure middle American shit of prime quality. Within half an hour the two of us were shitfaced and wasted. My eyes kept on rolling in my head and I could crawl through my left trouser pocket, count the coins and do Spanish translations. John’s socks had blown off, but he still had his shoes on.

We soon lost track of the movie’s plot, wildly speculating about the story, which did not make sense at all. Halfway through I had to use the toilet and excused myself. I had a hard time scaling the speedbump in the hallway. I stood over the bowl to pee, it took ages to empty my bladder. Later I looked at my face in the bathroom mirror for a long time and slowly ordered my clothing. Time crawled by and I panicked; by now John would be wondering why I was hiding out in the toilet for so long. I stumbled back to the living room. “What’s happening? Did I miss a lot?”

“Na. You still saw him getting get into the cab, then he drove across town and just now he arrived at the hotel.” That’s what happens when you smoke good pot; it starts to play tricks on your sense of time.

“What’s that banging noise?” I said. “Do you hear it?”

“It’s the CD player, must be the Rolling Stones. I must have forgotten to turn it off.” John crawled to the HiFi and turned the switch. But the banging continued. “Damn it!” he cursed. He grabbed the electric cord with both hands and pulled it. The plug came out of the wall and so did the socket, revealing exposed electrical cables and some sparks. John crawled to the hole and looked through it. “Fuck this!” he shouted. “It’s those damn lesbians; one of them is banging the other with a strap-on, against my wall!” With considerable effort, he managed to raise himself and started pounding against the wall with his two fists. “Shut up, you hear, stop it!” He shouted at the top of his lungs. I didn’t want to miss another part of the movie, so after crawling to the video player, I tried to locate the pause button. Muffled shouts could be heard coming from the apartment of the two gay men. I realized John’s shouting must have interrupted their activities. I hit my head against the CD rack and collapsed on the floor, laughing.

Sometime later, the neighbors on both sides quieted down. John started the video again. But suddenly the movie was over, and the ending left us flabbergasted: the story didn’t make any sense. We spent ages criticizing the plot and trying to understand it, too. Every time I thought that I understood the story, it evaded me again. In reality, the story is pretty straightforward; I picked up the novel many years later; a well-written book.

Rita arrived, looking glum. She disappeared into the bedroom.

Finally, we went to bed, both of us completely confused. My heart was pounding like an old engine, but I fell asleep quickly.

The next morning at breakfast, Rita joined us, sulky again. She didn’t fulfill the archetypal cliche of a Scandinavian woman: she had dark hair, was short, and had a gigantic rear end. In contrast to booze, hashish doesn’t result in a hangover, although if you use it often, it has detrimental effects; it will change your speech, slows it down, makes you use standard phrases over and over again. It turns you into a turnip; that’s my opinion.

Anyway, a couple of days later, Karel came to pick me up, and we set off for Keystone. I can tell you that story later too.

“What happened to John, grandfather?”

Many years later, I met John again, who by that time had moved to Washington DC. He and Rita had split up, she had started an affair with her boss in the lab that she worked at. John had lost weight, and was working out to stay fit. We visited some of the museums on the Mall that day, we saw the Apollo module and the Wright brother’s plane. Apparently, John was dating women all over the place, he talked about sex constantly. By the end of the day, I was exhausted by his constant stream of innuendo. In fact, that was the last time I ever saw him… although we did exchange a couple of emails many years later.

History closed the book on that one, I guess.


Find more stories in the collection Amazing Stories

CELETERRA. An Adventure Novel set on Earth & in Heaven. 100+ Pages of Adventure.

Read the adventures of Vance and his one-eyed dog Eugene. Adventure and romance, humor and mystery, Celeterra is a book impossible to put down.

Available as eBook!


Celeterra is available in all formats, as paperback and eBook. 


A free sample from this mystery thriller 

Vance descended into the cellar. He found the light switch. They entered the space where the Biedermeier desk had stood. Quickly, he walked into to the wine cellar. He passed by the empty barrels. His hand searched for the handle behind the paintings. He pulled and the hidden door opened with a click. Fumbling in the semidarkness, he made sure that the lever remained hidden behind the old paintings. He switched on the light in the secret room, and retraced his steps and made sure that he hadn’t left any footprints in the dirt of the wine cellar. He turned off the basement light, reentered the room, and pushed the door shut behind him. After hastily opening the cans of food, he switched off the light in this room too, as he was afraid that it might spill into the night through some hidden shaft. Vance drank first and then allowed the hound to drink. They ate their food in the darkness, the dog wolfing it down hurriedly. Vance ate a can of cold peas, which was not very tasty but at least rich in calories.

After that, they stretched out on the damp sand. Vance was exhausted and he shivered uncontrollably. Obviously his body was trying to get rid of some substance, some poison – a drug. He tried to recall how to combat withdrawal symptoms, but under the circumstances, he could only think of drinking a lot of water. In a way, he had been lucky. His stomach had been upset the last few days and due to that, he hadn’t eaten much and had mostly turned to drinking plain tap water. The amount of drugs in his bloodstream must have gone down and as a result, his head had slowly cleared.

The pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. He began to realize that the occurrences of the last weeks were all interconnected. The rococo table, Darwin’s letter, this mansion, the religious sect, Enrique and the fake heaven – they were all interrelated like threads that stick out of a ball of wool. He felt that if he would follow just one of those threads, he would arrive at the core of the ball. Again he imagined that an instigator was waiting there, waiting for him. An individual, pulling all the ropes, manipulating the lives of many people, the perpetrator that had organized Vance’s ordeal.

Who had been in the car that had driven away as he had arrived at the house? What had this visitor been up to at this mansion? He was almost certain that this person had seen him, possibly even recognized him. Had this been the mastermind behind the entire affair?

With that question in his mind, he fell asleep, exhausted.

His sleep was filled with nightmares. He was hunted by wild animals, lions, and tigers. He tried to escape by climbing up a tree, but its bark was wet and slippery and his hands could not get a hold. A male lion came closer and closer, staring at him, both evilly and indifferent.

Eugene woke him up. The dog trembled and growled softly and Vance quickly put his hand on the animal’s snout. They listened. After a while, Vance could hear sounds. As he had suspected there was a shaft or a pipe leading from the ground level down into the cellar. It ensured that fresh air could reach this hideout, even when the door was closed. Now, that shaft transported the sounds from the outside world down to him. A car approached slowly, its wheels grinding on the gravel of the driveway. The engine was almost inaudible. Vance imagined that it was a big vehicle.

Was this the same car that he had seen departing earlier? The car stopped and the engine was switched off. Absolute silence followed, only interrupted by the ticking sounds of the cooling motor. Then several doors opened. Feet stepped onto the small stones. After a few seconds, three doors closed softly. Vance strained his ears. Slow footsteps approached, toiling on the gravel.

With his eyes closed, Vance imagined three, perhaps four men. He imagined that they were going towards the back door. Suddenly it was silent again. Eugene stirred. Vance stroked the animal’s head and went sssh. They waited. It remained silent for a long time. Vance thought that half the world must be able to hear his breathing. He opened his mouth wide to reduce the sound as much as possible.

A man’s voice could be heard, whispering, but unexpectedly clear. They must have stopped very close to the exit of the shaft.

Want to read more? Follow this link:

Originally posted 2018-01-12 23:06:19.

Tokyo, Japan. Backdrop for TWO JOURNEYS, the Corona Pandemic novel.

Arguably, Tokyo is the most populated city in the world, with 36 million inhabitants during the day and 22 million at night. It is impressive how this city runs so smoothly with that many inhabitants. What would happen if it would come to a sudden standstill? The opening chapters of TWO JOURNEYS (my 2011 CORONA PANDEMIC novel) describe just that.
Below some pictures that I took in Tokyo during past visits and that inspired me to place my post apocalyptic work in this mega city.

Highrises in Tokyo. The sheer bulk of these buildings is overwhelming.

Alan, the hero of Two Journeys visits Tokyo around Christmas time.

Should an epidemic of the proportions described in Two Journeys strike, the lights (above) would extinguish rapidly, the trains such as the one below (famously overfilled) would halt.

Find out more about my books here.

Originally posted 2018-01-06 23:15:11.

Pop pickers and music fans: “All by Myself” isn’t all by myself at all.

I’ve been spending quality time viewing and listening to works by Sergei Rachmaninoff on YouTube (played by Anna Fedorova, the great Ukrainian pianist). Fantastic music, and even I can see that it is extremely challenging to play this.

Surprise, surprise: one piece sounded a bit familiar, and as it turned out, the 1975 smash hit All by Myself,” a song by American artist Eric Carmen is based on the second movement (Adagio sostenuto) of Sergei’s Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor, opus 18 (1901).

Seems Eric should have titled his song and changed the lyrics to “Not by Myself, but by Sergei” – which admittedly isn’t very catchy and might not have lead to a top 20 ranking in the hit parade.

By the way, during my exploration of Rachmaninoff’s work, I also discovered that his music is also used in the beautiful ice skating scene in Ronin; that action packed John Frankenheimer thriller with Robert DeNiro – one of my absolute favorite movies of all time.

Originally posted 2019-12-14 22:00:00.

Dive into the marvelous world of amazing creatures

At university, I was most impressed by one professor for molecular genetics, who not only was extremely knowledgeable in his field of study but also suffered from the worst case of dandruff I’ve ever encountered. The shoulders of his black jacket were covered with powdery skin residue, to such an extent that his scientific credence was somewhat overtoned by student jest. I have moved on since, and this dermally challenged professor dropped from sight. But science has progressed so that now we know that dandruff is caused by yeast: and in fact, these Malassezia species cause many skin diseases in humans. M. globosa and M. restricta seem to be the worst culprits when it comes to dandruff. Read more in Wikipedia… and better use a shampoo that effectively combats these yeasts.

Readers will know that I enjoy Wikipedia and that I thumb through the articles almost on a daily basis. However, and slightly disappointing, if it comes to bagpipes, Wikipedia only tells half the story. Little mention about the long-term hazardous effects of blowing the bagpipe on the health of the musician. Bagpipe lung can be added to the list of alternative monikers for hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is already known as “bird fancier’s lung”, “farmer’s lung” and  “hot tub lung,” after the wide range of activities to which it has previously been linked. Instruments can become infested with mold and this is related to potentially fatal lung disease. Next time you see (or hear) a bagpipe playing, or even think of giving the old bag a squeeze yourself – better think twice.

Finally to one of my favorite creatures! My youngest son told me a weird story that humans eat dozens of spiders each night… a tale that I found slightly disturbing and mostly unbelievable. I advise you to do a quick internet search for Demodex and look at the images and read the corresponding articles. These creatures dwell in the hair follicles of human eyebrows, come out at night to roam our faces, and live off the oil on our skin. Next time you look your loved one in the face, try not to think of this intriguing organism… and better not bring it up in pleasant conversation. I did, it kinda ruined the evening.

Originally posted 2017-12-30 21:06:18.

Oumuamua, facts about the cool comet that passed through our solar system in 2017. Where is it now?

I was intrigued by the news about ‘Oumuamua, the first known interstellar body observed passing through our solar system. Flying at a tremendous speed, ‘Oumuamua’s trajectory is hyperbolic, which took it out of our solar system within just a few weeks. As the object doesn’t seem to have had any gravitational encounters with our planets, and as it entered the plain of our solar system from above, ‘Oumuamua most likely came from interstellar space, and may have been traveling for several billion years. Our civilization was caught by surprise as this asteroid visited us, the very first object known to arrive from deep space and do a loop around the sun; the sun’s gravity field altered the course of this asteroid. It appears to come from another star, I suspect a giant explosion may have expelled it from another stellar system. The name ʻOumuamua is Hawaiian for scout, but this object didn’t transmit any signals; most likely, this isn’t an extraterrestrial rocket filled with little spacemen. Originally, it was thought that the object had an unusually elongated shape, but now we know that it actually looks more like a disk. The core seems to be icy, but the surface consists of red grey dust that has collected over millions of years and which has turned into a hard layer under the merciless radiation levels of interstellar space. Also read this blogpost “Why humanity may never be able to conquer space.”

Our Universe continues to surprise: billions and billions of stars and billions of exoplanets fill this huge (and ever-growing) space. As an unexpected visitor such Oumuamua passes by, the overwhelming size of the Universe and the insignificance of our little planet is suddenly pulled into perspective. On the grand scale of things, all our worries or our (mis-)fortunes do not matter much. This thought is humbling, and with Oumuamua having left, at gigantic speed, our solar system into the vastness of space, I thank this intriguing object for giving me pause to remind me of my own smallness.

Read more like this here.

Find my books here.

Originally posted 2017-12-23 22:18:31.

Weird Successes and Failures that will enhance your cinematic experience.

I have been looking at a couple of articles that, although not real news, may be interesting for you to take a quick glance at, even if only superficially.

I stumbled across an article about a Bodybuilder from Germany, Ralf Moeller, who became quite a celebrity in Hollywood. You can read more about this 1.96cm celeb here. Ralf made quite a success of himself.

From there it was (however) only a small step to a list of the worst movies ever, some of which feature (drumroll – but no surprise whatsoever)… Adam Sandler. This depressed me no end; just imagine spending years to write, act, direct, edit and market a movie; all that time & effort, to then be featured in a list of the worst movies or actors ever. Life is cruel.

The discrepancy between the worst movies in that list and the movies that bomb at the box-office is intriguing. I actually kinda linked The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Blade Runner 2049, Hello Dolly and One from the Heart. But none of those made a lot of money. Sad! The audience is merciless.

Better quickly turn the page on that unsavory topic, and zoom in on some of the best movies ever made – especially the country lists contains some gems: the Dutch Turkish Delight (an early work by the famous Hollywood director Paul Verhoeven), Australia’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, and the UK’s The Third Man and Lawrence of Arabia. All absolute favorites of mine.

I saw two movies this week: A Star Wars movie and The mountain between us. I enjoyed both, the former because the makers managed to reinvent the series yet again; the latter because two excellent actors excel in a very intimate what-if, end-of-world scenario. Naturally, the idea of being left on a deserted mountain is close to my heart (as reflected in my novels, see the section “books”)


Originally posted 2017-12-18 00:03:28.