Frequently Asked Questions

Larisa asking questions

A summary of questions people regularly ask me:

Questions related to this site:

Q: "The Road to the Horizon"... What does the title mean?
A: I am a serial expat, an addicted traveller, who always longs for the horizon, for what is "out there". But, "The Horizon" also symbolizes the unobtainable goals, our ideals,..
"The Road" refers to our "walk of life". While we walk towards our goals, it is important not to forget to enjoy things we experience while on the road. To me, the road itself is more important than the destination.

Q: I am a blogger too, can I re-use stuff I find on The Road?
A: Yes you can, and you don't even have to ask my permission. The Road to The Horizon is protected by a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative License. This means you can re-use my posts, text and pictures (and I encourage you to do so!) as long as the contents is not modified, and you link back to The Road. You can not use any material for commercial purposes, though!

Q: How do I comment on a post?
A: At the bottom of each post, click on 'x comments'.

Q: Are comments automatically posted?
A: No. To avoid spamming, profanity etc.., I "moderate" posts: after a reader posts a comment, I get an Email notification so I can review the comment before it is published. By default all comments are posted, whether I agree with the opinion expressed in the comment or not.

Q: Where is your banner picture taken?
A: A magic sunset after a glorious day in Oostende, my birthplace, on the Belgian coast. I took the picture in spring 2008, see this post.

Q: Can I Email a post to a friend?
A: Sure! Click on the enveloppe-icon, or use the Email option in the "Share This" icon beneath each post

Q: How can I get automatic notifications of new posts?
A: There are several ways to do this.
  • Go to the right column and find the 'Subscriptions, Feeds & Tools'-header. Enter your Email address to get new posts automatically emailed to you, once per day. This service is provided by Feedburner, and works very well, without spam!
  • Subscribe to the RSS feed by either clicking on "RSS" on the top menu or via the "Home Delivery" widget in the side column.
  • Subscribe to the RSS feed using your favorite RSS reader via the "Syndication" link you find in the side column.
  • Under each post, you find a 'Bookmark' icon. Click on it, and it will offer you a wealth of social bookmarking services.

Q: I want to link to one of your posts from my site. How do I find the URL to your post?
A: Several ways. Either click on the title of the blog-entry, on the date, or on (Link) at the bottom of each post. This will show that particular post, and your browser will show the direct URL link to that blog post..

Q: Can I get an RSS-feed on a particular subject or tag?
A: Each post is tagged with one or several labels. You can find the inventory of all labels in the right column.
You can choose any of these label-names to customize The Road's feed. e.g. would give you an automatic feed with all posts labeled 'humanitarian'.

Q: How old is this site?
A: I started it mid January 2007.

Q: How many readers do you have?
A: There are on average about 500 visitors to the blog every day, plus about 400 people subscribed by RSS feed and Email updates. That totals to about 900 readers per day. In 2007, this site had 90,000 visitors. In 2008, we had round 120,000 people dropping by.

Q: How often is the site updated?
A: A couple of times per week. Sometimes a couple of times per day. Depends how much time I have on my hands.

Q: How often do you reset the 'New' and 'Updated' labels in the right column?
A: Each time I make a significant change to a post or add a feature, I label it. Once a month or so I reset those tags so you always get an instant look at what is new on this site.

Q: What is the future of this site?
A: It fulfills a purpose. In me, and for the audience. As long as that remains, I will continue.

Q: How can this site be searched for keywords?
A: Three ways:

  • Use the "Search on The Road" bar in the right column, which will give you a Google-like search output for this site.
  • Use the keyword ('tags', 'labels') listed under "The Road by Subject" in the right column. Click one keyword, and all entries that I tagged with that keyword, will be displayed.
Q: Why do you put ads on this site?
A: I want to recover the cost I have for some of the software, tools, hosting and domain servers I use. Any 'revenue', higher than my expense, I donate to a good cause.

Q: Aid Work... This line of work interest me...
A: I get a lot of questions from people who consider working as a humanitarian abroad, either temporarily, as a volunteer or full-time. This post should give you sufficient information to get you on the right track. Check also under the heading 'You want to be an aid worker?' in the right column!

Q: Sometimes a post shows a date back in 2006, though the contents is more recent.
A: When posts are quite long, so I only publish a condensed version (or 'teaser' if you will) on the 'active page', with a link to the full post. I hide the 'full post' by giving it an old date, typically from the year 2006.

Personal questions:

Q: Who are you, where do you live?
A: While I am still figuring out who I am, here is a summary:
I was trained as a graphical engineer, first worked in a digital graphics research company, then did my civil service (I am a conscientious objector so I refused to go to the army) working at a University where I did software development.
Later I moved into computers and networking, and IT systems management. My last 'normal' job was working for an international company who manages the worldwide financial transactions between banks.
In 1993, it all changed. More on that, you can read here. Since 1994, I have been an international aid worker.
In my spare time, I sail, ski, read, write and I am ham (or radio amateur: ON6TT).
"Where I live" is more difficult to define. If "home is where the heart is", then my home is definitively in Belgium with my family, my three girls: Tine, my wife and our daughters Lana (15) and Hannah (12).
But if home is "where I lay my head", then it becomes more difficult. In the past 14 years, since I started as an aid worker, I travelled a lot. I was stationed in Angola (twice), Malawi (twice), DRC, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Kosovo, Pakistan and recently in Dubai. Travels took me 'all over'. I think in the last count, I visited somewhere 150 countries... Loads of stories... Currently I live in near Rome, Italy.

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: In 1994, I started to work in the field of aid and development. I currently work for a UN humanitarian organisation. After 13 years of postings in Africa, the Balkans, Asia and the Middle East, I now work in our headquarters, in Rome Italy.

Q: Why do you blog?
A: Writing has always been a way to 'offload the input'. I take in a lot of what goes on in the world around me, and writing is a way to get some of that input, some of that energy, back out. That is the 'me' part.
I have found people to be interested in the stories I tell, I guess as a form of inspiration. And most importantly, I think with the stories I bring, I can give something 'back to the world', even if it was just a reminder of 'how good we all have it, compared to the lives of the people I encountered in developing countries'. Or as a reminder 'how beautiful this world, people really are..'
So I started blogging. Originally to publish the stories I wrote over the years, but it evolved in sharing some of the stuff that happens 'now', things I care about..

Q: Many of your posts seem to be political inspired. Are you bringing a political message?
A: No, I don't do politics. I do care about the world around me, and use the platform this website gives me, to point at stuff I feel is important to know, or stuff that we tend to overlook. Hunger, third world issues, items about the environment and aid work in general. I also write about stuff I like (or don't) in world politics or policies.

Q: Are you paid to write this blog?
A: Nope. So nobody tells me what to write nor what not to write..

Q: Does your employer endorse your site?
A: The contents and opinions in this site are mine, and mine only. The posts do not represent the opinion of my past nor present employer(s). My employer knows about this blog. If I were to post something that would conflict with my professional position, or cause a conflict of interest with my employer, I do give them the right to comment, or to point out the issues, and I would rectify the post. Up to now this did not happen yet.

Q: Some of the issues tackled on this site are tricky. Some almost political. Are you censored sometimes?
A: I sometimes have outspoken opinions about things, though I try to write about them in an objective, factual way. If I think a piece is purely based on my opinion, I put a clear warning atop of the post. And yeah, sometimes I can be sarcastic, critical, or make fun of things. Don't always take me serious, though!
The choice of subjects is 'subject'-ive, of course. No, nobody has censored my opinions (yet!). I do self-censor regularly, trying to use a sound judgement and my conscience as a point of measure. There are some things, some stories, some experiences I simply can not write about, as it might get someone or some organisation into trouble. Or because it was confided to me in confidence.
In some tricky stories, I abbreviate or change the name of the people involved (sometimes to protect their privacy), or censor the name of the country it all happened in, or when it happened.

Q: Quite some of your posts are about the war in Iraq, or seem to be anti-US. Are you anti-US?
A: I strongly oppose the war in Iraq, like I oppose any war. I am a conscientious objector after all. But nope, I have nothing against the US. I went to the US many many times. I have great friends there. I have my opinion about US foreign policy, though.


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