Friday, December 27, 2013

Trips and trips

It's the end of the year and all the students in the town go home. Which leaves the town empty. Luckily two of my friends M&M are making a trip through the region.

They pick me up and for Christmas, we head to Strasbourg, self proclaimed "Christmas Capital".

The whole town is lit up. Unlike other towns, the Christmas market is not confined to one square. It's spread all over town. The whole vibe is very different from what I've experienced before. We walk around, and then as evening approaches, we head to a friends house for the dinner.

Unlike the previous year, this time we are mostly adults and teenagers. Basically everyone knows that Santa is guilty of breaking and entering and such behavior is not to be rewarded with milk and cookies. The conversations range over multiple topics, in multiple languages. Lots of fine wine and fine food is tasted. Finally, late after the presents have been exchanged, we head out to Freiburg where our long trip is just about to begin.

But right now, we just want to crash into bed. Next destinations and more travel later.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My legs hurt

Too many weekends went by without me doing much. I'd plan hikes and/or slackline sessions but bad weather or just low turnout messed them up. I lose my fitness level quite quickly (and take ages to get it back) and it had been at respectable levels due all that touch rugby, slacklining and cycling happening in the last few months of my "job hunting" phase. I didn't want to lose it all.

But weather ended up being routinely bad, especially on the weekends when someone planned a hike; and on weekends where I just planned  lazy activities like a small picnic with slackline and petanque, it ended being exceptionally good.  Eventually another long weekend rolled by and a friend randomly suggested going bicycling. So that's what we did today.

The terrain was mostly flat, along the river and canals. But now that I don't live in the sunny south, this "good weather day" turned out to be foggy and cold, with maximum temperatures of about 7 C. Thankfully, warm clothing was employed in anticipation. In fact, some speculate that too much warm clothing may have been used, resulting in sweating, possibly leading to more cold being sensed. (yes I know this sentence is written weirdly.) 
Typical small town on an autumn day - cold, grey and empty.

Yes, I know that one is supposed to dress for warmer weather but when one hasn't dressed for activities done in sub 10 C weather (except skiing), one routinely over/under-estimates the warming capabilities of one's clothing. Case in point - the bonnet vis-a-vis the scarf. Bonnet pretended to not be there, while Mr Scarf was busy playing the over-achiever.

Long periods of pseudo-solo cycling (I was the unfit one in the group) lead to lots of contemplation. A recurring thought being how difficult it is to motivate the few people I know to do something (other than the approximately 4-5 people who do show up). As I passed by a guy dressed in military-ish clothing (think camouflage fatigues) standing by the banks waiting to hook a fish, I remembered a surplus store I'd seen in the town center. I remember thinking that that would be a good place to look for light, warm winter clothes, or just plain good hiking stuff. I never went there again... I realized that most of the places (cool or otherwise) I found out about, and many of the people I got to know, in the first month here have been forgotten. It's as if everything I discover in beginning is scratch work, and I got rid of it before starting on the actual work. And this isn't the first place this has happened to me. Food for thought sometime...

The bike ride "mid-point" was a town (pic above) about 30 km along our route... but only 12 km away from home by the difficult route. Our way to here had been flat, but the 12 km back included getting over a small hill. around 150 m to climb and descend after 30 km of bicycling for an unfit guy is quite a lot to ask. I didn't do it all ... I walked some portions. But thankfully, I didn't hold up the other guys for too long. Overall, it was fun.
Let's hope that next time, even if it's cold, it is at least a bit more sunny.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Number 100

As I prepared to document things and post updates I realized this post will be the 100th one published. Seems like a big deal... and in a way it's strange that it has taken me so long to write 100 posts. Anyway, here go some updates.

This post was initially supposed to be titled facebook (or something playing on that theme). I've switched off my account on facebook since July and it seems I've suddenly "switched off" my friends. A few friends still keep in touch - chats, emails, phones etc - but the number of people I'm in touch with and who know what's happening has gone down drastically. It seems like most people do not know the concept of emails or random phone calls/texts.

This became much more apparent on my birthday. A Facebook birthday results in around a hundred or so notifications with messages from all the world over. Without facebook reminding people to wish me, this year ended up being noticeably calmer. In addition, me being in a new city now meant that as yet, none of the friends I have made here know when my birthday is. I wasn't complaining much, I like calm birthdays too and I didn't feel like celebrating much this year.

What FB has done though, is that it provided me a place where I could make amusing and/or witty remarks and get instant "likes" from my group of friends. Without that, these days my amusing remarks are sent to just a couple of my friends via chat messages. The blog feels like something substantial where I should write seriously when I have something of substance to post. Ah well, I'll figure it out sometime.

My geek levels have gone through the roof. I got genuinely excited to buy myself a RaspberryPi which I then used to serve as my media center, connected to the nice hi-def TV included in my rent.

My external hard disk crashed. Crashed hard. I lost a lot of data. I have a second disk serving as a back up, but I realized the severity over days. My first concern was for all the photos. I realized I had lost all photos from 2013. I eventually found photos taken post May 2013, realizing that all raw images (and non-processed photos) from my January trip were lost. Then I realized all my work done during my MS thesis and my Bachelor's thesis was lost. I do have the final reports/papers stored at multiple places, but the programs and files seem to be lost.

That prompted me to (a) get a new external hard disk and (b) start looking to replace my 6 year old laptop.

I'm typing this from my new machine, currently running Gentoo which I installed all by myself over the last 40 hours while doing other stuff. Having already configured ssh and screen before, I could get all installation done while I was at work, checking in periodically to see how far the installation had progressed. Darktable works blazingly fast, the fan doesn't kick in when I start watching Youtube videos and I have a battery life longer than an hour.

(Note to self: compile NetworkManager with the USE flags -dhcpcd dhclient, and disable the n channel. That will solve your wifi problems.)

On to other things now...