The Four Stages of Staycation

Planning

I’m gonna read a book a day. I’m gonna go through SICP (including all the exercises) and Kurt’s new Haskell book. I’m gonna learn how to play bass. I’m gonna buy that wardrobe for the guest room so that we could get rid of the ugly coat hanger there.

Depression & self-loathing

Weather is really shit, I should have and could have gone somewhere nice. COVID-19 situation in Spain cannot be as bad as they say, people travel after all. Can’t get drunk in a pub with Ivan and Félix. SICP is really hard. Haskell tooling sucks. Bass arrived, I tried playing scales; it’s really hard to press those thick strings. I wish I could have a bass with violin strings (wat). Laptev Sea hasn’t frozen and Donald Trump could still stage a comeback (again) (why do I even pay for that subscription). Oh and my homeland is on the verge of a civil war, it seems. I don’t like the novel I’m reading now, it’s very disappointing even though it’s written by one of my favorite authors. And Karolina recommended it to me, it’s all her fault.

Everything sucks.

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Over-tinkering

The other day I’ve been looking at a Raspberry Pi 4 that’s been laying around, thinking of what to do with it. I quickly googled around how to setup AFP on it, so that I could put it by the router, connect all the portable hard drives and just use it as my “stash drive” from any device in the house. A tiny NAS-like thing.

I quickly realized there were some problems with my hard drives, namely that they all used different filesystems, so I spent a couple of hours (oh yeah) juggling data between them, formatting them onto reasonable file systems that both Linux and macOS can easily read, and setting them up as mount points for Netatalk to serve. I then started exploring other options for my photo library, which I was managing with iCloud at the time. I remembered that I strongly preferred Google Photos for cataloguing and managing albums and shares, so I figured perhaps it’d be a good opportunity to move all my photos there, and perhaps explore a backup system? You know, a backup for my backup, some software that fetches photos from Google Photos periodically (say, daily), puts them on one of the Pi’s external volumes for rclone to later pick up and store safely on b2. That’s when the clock showed midnight and my wife asked why wasn’t I going to bed yet.

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Back on WordPress

After some years of self-hosted statically-generated websites, I am back with the love of my life that is WordPress.com. Reasons are as follows:

  • I deal with technical problems 8 hrs a day. I don’t want to troubleshoot CI, AWS, SSL or whatever other issues that stop my website from being successfully built or deployed in my free time.
  • I cannot stress this enough but the new editor that WP 5.0 comes with is just amazing. I ❤️ it so much that I don’t want to be writing markdown anymore, even if it means I can’t compose my posts in vim. (does anyone really want to write blog posts in vim?)
  • WordPress.com’s personal plan is actually amazingly good value considering what you get for the money.
  • I’m not a designer, I can’t frontend well. Themes I was able to find for my static generators didn’t please me, and I want my website to look good.

So there, I’m not a hacker anymore. But hopefully I’ll become an amateurish writer again.

We sold our car today

Most of you probably don’t know, but about 5 months ago, Karolina and I bought a beautiful, red, 2013 Seat Leon coupé. We sold it today, because of our upcoming move to the Netherlands where we won’t need it, and also because it’s a major hassle moving a car to NL (a proper European federation cannot happen soon enough). It was our first car and despite the fact that we’re both pretty left-leaning, bike-riding, train-loving hippies, we were surprised how much our car–a petrol-burning, city-clogging thing–grew on us. Here is a couple of observations we made about it.

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Dehydration—a cautionary tale

I’ve been riding bikes for a very long time, and although I’ve had breaks, I can safely say I’ve been riding bicycles throughout my whole life. I am lucky to have never had any serious accidents or injuries while cycling, other than the occasional my-shoes-are-still-clipped-into-the-pedals thing,1 I’ve never been doored, I never smashed with my bike into things that generally don’t like being smashed into (that’s a lie; it’s just that injuries were never serious), and I was rear-ended by other bikers only on a few occasions.

Today I went for a quick ride. It was a short one, but since I only got a non-city bike a couple of weeks back,2 I’m still building up my strength and endurance, and, sadly, 50km-long rides are my standard for now. It’s a sunny Sunday in Munich, with a temperature of about 31°C (this is like 88°F, ‘Mericans), clear skies, and I decided to explore some trails around the Isar river. It was all going well, until I reached a part of the trail which was really more akin to a single track than a road of any sort. Riding there on my 32c tires, and climbing even small hills, and being in the proximity of a river which makes the climate hot-and-humid was very exhausting. When I reached the asphalt road and headed towards Neufahrn, I realized I’m running out of water. By the time I turned into Olympiastraße, I was getting a bit weak, and about 10kms from Munich I had to stop. Continue reading “Dehydration—a cautionary tale”

The dawn of my camera

I like taking photographs, and I love cameras.

My grandfather was the first professional photographer in my hometown,1 and I loved playing with his cameras. His darkroom was my favorite place on Earth, filled with cameras, lenses, and a huge enlarger in the middle of a table. I spent hours playing there, and perhaps that’s what sparked my interest in photography, but it was definitely what sparked my interest in photographic gear.

My grandfather gave me my first camera. It was a DDR-made Praktica B100 semi-automatic SLR with a 50mm Pentacon f/1.8 lens. It was so superior to all the Soviet Zenith SLRs my high-school friends had, and its optical performance made my poorly composed photographs look at least decent. I cherished that camera and enjoyed every minute with it, and I actually still do, although sadly I haven’t shot film since 2010.

I learned a ton2 shooting film with the Praktica B100, and I learned to love bokeh of f/1.8 above all, like every mediocre photographer. Shooting film was, unfortunately, expensive, and when I finally got a part-time job in college in 2006, I was able to afford one of the greatest cameras ever made—the Nikon D40.

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Done

On Thursday, April 30th I successfully defended my thesis on “Agents that Play by the Rules” and was awarded the title of PhD.1 It was 4,5 years of work,2 and the last week was definitely the most stressful and exhausting one I had in my entire life, but now I’m done. There’s no more school to go to, no more exams and no more courses to take.3

The overwhelming feeling of completion is a very pleasant one. For the first time since March 2010 there is nothing hanging over my head. There are no papers to be finished, and no talks to be given. No students to teach. Hell, I might even comment out LaTeX-Box from my .vimrc.4 It feels good.

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Last bike ride in Norway

Last weekend, me and Karolina went on a bike ride from Laksevåg in Bergen, through Nesttun and Lysekloster to Fanafjellet and then back to town. It was a lovely, sunny day, and we had a pleasant ~50km ride, but what I didn’t realize that day is that it was our last bike ride in Norway, at least for the foreseeable future. The bike on the picture above, Kona Jake, has just been sold, because Karolina is moving to Munich this Thursday, and I will follow her in about two-three weeks. My contract at Bergen University College is over since mid-July, and my PhD education at the University of Bergen is almost finished (I will hand in my thesis within the next two weeks). We’re moving out, starting a new chapter of our lives in Germany.

There’s many, many things that I will miss once I move, but I think the absolutely fantastic nature of Bergen and its surroundings will be chief among them. If you like cycling and/or mountains, and you can afford it, you should definitely visit Western Norway. I’ve been to a lot of places around the world but in my opinion nothing comes even close to the beauty of this land.

You will be missed, Norway.