The Best Things in Life are Free

I’m a student. As in most other parts of the world, that means that I have to carefully watch the limited funds that I have so that I don’t spend more than I earn. I’ve been playing the Budget Game for almost a year now, and the amount in my bank account is actually going up every month (good feeling that). Of course, when I travel to Poland and Spain and Italy this summer, that bank account is definitely going to take a hit. Which is the whole point of budgeting and saving: to cut back on the things you don’t need so that when there is something you really want (Florence!!!!), you have the money to spend on it.

That is, however, irrelevant to the topic at hand. Today I want to discuss the things in life that everybody can enjoy regardless of how strict their budget is: the things in life that are free. And, for the record, by free I mean the things that are REALLY free and not just the things that you mooched off someone else and therefore didn’t have to pay for (although I do have difficulties saying no to free food…).

I’ve been living in Düsseldorf, Germany for close to five years now, but I have only recently become aware of all of the cool events and stuff that are available in this city. A couple of weeks ago, I spent an evening listening to some music at the Jazz Festival in Düsseldorf. There was a free yoga course in a park that I REALLY wanted to go to last Saturday. I decided instead to fix my bike. Bad decision. As soon as I fixed the front wheel, the back wheel went flat, so I’m STILL without bike this week (and suffering because of it). Yesterday I went to a free music festival with some friends after working out (also quite a fun thing to do for free).

Of course, all of these fun free things are in the past. There are many more that I am looking forward to this summer:

1. The World Cup

The whole world is in a frenzy. Who is going to be the football champions of the world this year? In a mere three weeks we will know! The world cup is a month long of solid free entertainment. You can watch it online, with friends, in a sports bar or restaurant. Or you can just count how many times the walls of your apartment vibrate with the coordinated cheers of the whole block whenever Germany scores a goal. 4-0 against Portugal? Not bad. The world cup is also an excellent opportunity to connect with people around you. Even if you are someone like me who doesn’t normally watch much football, and therefore doesn’t know the teams very well. You can always pick up some peripheral to start a conversation. “Can you believe that Spain is already eliminated? The defending champions?” *indignant* (for the record, I REALLY can’t believe it. They scored one solitary goal!)

Personally, I’m looking forward to the Germany vs. USA game on Thursday. It is time to see where exactly my loyalties lie…Just kidding. I can’t wait to see Germany DESTROY the USA team. The USA might be better than Germany in a lot of things, but football is NOT one of them. My heart is painted with black, red, and gold… (I have actually been considering painting my face with a half-Germany, half-USA flag pattern. Symbolism.)

2. Rollnacht

One of the coolest free things to do in Düsseldorf is Rollnacht. The night where the awesome Düsseldorfer shut down the streets to allow thousands of inline skaters to glide through the city. It is a great group activity, rollerblading is awesome, rollerblading in the street is even more awesome, and you get to see different (and sometimes very beautiful) parts of Düsseldorf that you have never seen before. I’ve said it before (although I don’t know if I have said it on this blog before) that I find Rollnacht to be one of the main reasons that make Düsseldorf a great city to live in. Einfach klasse!

3. Entenrennen Düsseldorf

entenrennen

I just recently heard about this. It was apparently supposed to take place on the 15th of July, but because of the huge storm that visited Düsseldorf that week, it was cancelled. They are supposed to find another date for the event, and I REALLY hope that they do. Throwing 6000 rubber duckies into the canal on the slightly-snobby Königsallee? Spraying them with water to see which one can swim the fastest? Yes please! I’m all the way there. Wouldn’t miss it for the world!

4. Büchermeile Düsseldorf

 

I actually found this on the NRW hits page while looking for free activities in the Düsseldorf Altstadt. I love reading, so I’ll probably make a point of going and checking out all of the cool books that they have there.

Ok. That’s pretty much it from my side. There are, of course, many other lovely things in life that are free. Or at the very least, lovely things that do not cost any money (small distinction there). For instance, having lovely friends with whom you can do a lot of these free things is worth its weight in solid gold. Making and keeping friends doesn’t cost you any money (or shouldn’t anyway), but it does require you to spend your time and energy. But in the end, it is totally worth it.

Of course, this only really touches the free events that you can visit. There are a lot of other things that are free. For instance, loads of books can be found for free from Gutenberg. My favorite book (The Bible) is free from many different organizations (like this one) or can be read in many different versions online on sites like this one. If you stumble on a job fair somewhere, chances are you will be able to find free pens (I love free pens so much!). And there are countless other places to find free entertainment online and in the wide wide world (although to clarify, any website that makes it’s profit by selling your personal information (I’m talking to you Facebook!) is NOT free).

So now I want to hear from you. Do you have any recommendations for me? Do you have any favorite free events?

 

Ich muss mich zusammenreißen

That is my overarching life philosophy for the next two weeks. Ich muss mich UNBEDINGT zusammenreißen (English translation: I ABSOLUTELY have to get myself together. It sounds better in German. I therefore employ the beautiful German language to express myself in the best way I know how).

After spending what seems like months (and possibly has been months) neglecting my practical duties, I had a moment of clarity amongst the haze of procrastination and laziness: Ich muss mich zusammenreißen. Punkt.

Of course, moments of clarity are not often followed by the will to carry out the great resolutions of heart. I followed my profound considerations by wasting the day playing Candy Crush and Tetris Friends, and rereading Orson Scott Card’s Shadows in Flight. Then I proceeded to waste the evening on Netflix…. NOT my proudest moment.

Fortunately, I had another moment of clarity today. And this one was followed by the terrifying fact that there is literally no time to waste. I have my first final in three weeks, and another one the week after that. Three weeks! This is not going to be good.

Luckily, I was able to get some friends on board with my plan. They will hopefully hold me accountable.

I’m going cold turkey for four weeks. No Tetris Friends. No Candy Crush. No Pandora. No Netflix. No YouTube. No books.

Suggested activities include:

  1. File the stacks of paper that are overflowing from my desk onto the floor
  2. Clean the apartment.
  3. Do laundry. ALL the laundry. And change the sheets on the bed.
  4. Exercise.
  5. Go grocery shopping so that I actually have food to eat and no longer have to resort to eating a can of kidney beans because there is literally NOTHING left to eat.
  6. Study. A LOT. At the very least, I should make sure that I know everything that I am going to be tested on. Logical right?

Of course, I’m a procrastinator by nature. What do I do when I ban myself from every time wasting activity on the planet? I decide to write on my blog instead of doing the homework for Spanish and Efficient Algorithms.

Typical.

The last months weren’t a complete waste of my time. In fact they were kind of jam packed with loads of things that do not help me be productive in the responsible side of life. I travelled. Visited Frankfurt, Southampton, London, Versmold. Got a tax return from the IRS (and am very glad I will not be having to pay American income tax for a long time. My life will be easier). Got a PGP public key, set up an awesome email address, and attended a key signing party (the Geek in me wanted to do that very badly). Hacked some password hashes (legally of course) and after realizing just how unsafe passwords can be, made a point to change all of the passwords on my important accounts. Of course, those last items were actually part of my Network Security course, so they probably count as being productive….

In any case, I think I am going to go eat the left over meat from the barbecue I went to on Saturday. MMmmmm…..

 

In Your Shoes

Idee_20140317_114615_01

 

I’m posting this comic to announce some exciting news: I now have a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1!!!!! The friend who let me try it out last December sold it to me. I could not be more excited! I wanted to get it to strike off number 16 on my list of 25 things to do before I am 25, and I am absolutely loving it! It is really easy to make comics like the one posted above with the built in S Pen app, and I also found a cool app (Zen Brush) with which I can make cool black and white sketches (like the question mark I drew on yesterdays’ post).

I also really how you can take handwritten notes using the S Pen app and export them to Evernote. In fact, Evernote is quickly becoming one of my favorite apps. I might do a post on that some time soon.

Reading is still easier on a 7 inch tablet, but luckily for me, I still have a 7 inch tablet, so no problems there. I briefly felt the compulsion a couple days ago to buy a Kindle Fire Tablet because Germany FINALLY got Amazon Instant Video, but I managed to restrain myself.

Two tablets, and awesome laptop, a kindle, a smartphone, and an MP3 player are probably enough toys for a girl. As if a girl could EVER have enough toys.

In any case, what does my tablet mean for my faithful readers? I really believe that a photo or image exponentially improve any blog post. Unfortunately, a good camera is not one of my toys, but I am no photographer and I don’t really like taking pictures anyway. I have sometimes tried to find free photos to go with my blog post, but now that I have an easy way to produce sketches, I will probably be adding a lot more personal sketches and doodles. That will at the very least give my blog a touch of the original.

To do, or not to do: Project 2014

qmark

I just updated my Publications page to add a link to my Sketchbook, and I realized that I have accidentally completed one writing/doodling project every year for the past 4 years. So should Project 2014 be a thing???

I realize that my spurt of energy and resolve is due to the fact that I am thoroughly enjoying my five week vacation from work and school. But I completed most of my Sketchbook Project while I was doing my bachelor’s thesis, and I was so stressed out that doodling actually helped me to de-stress. I’m thinking that maybe a similar project would give me a little bit of focus on something else during the next semester and keep me from becoming the total stressed out wreck that I became last semester.

Any suggestions??

I recently had a marathon reading Dickens, so currently the idea of a serial novel sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe I could write a story and post an installment every two weeks or something like that??? It would be a little bit like NaNoWriMo except less stressful.

The Sketchbook Project (final)

piggy

Last March, I posted about how I was working on a Sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project. I was super excited about it, and I did actually finish it. It is one of those things that I am proud of actually doing, but am quite sensitive to criticism of my work. I never claimed to be an artist, but I sure do like doodling. In any case, one of the main reasons that I never posted my completed sketchbook was that I had doodler’s block for the last three pages or so and ended up filling it with poetry that I wrote. And let’s just say that it is hard for me to admit that I am an in closet poet, regardless of how horrible and cheesy I know my poems to be.

In any case, it is almost a year since I started my Sketchbook, and since I actually, in a spurt of idiocy, decided to pay them to digitize my Sketchbook, I figured I could at the very least post the link to the final thing in case any poor soul decides they want to subject themselves to viewing it. Just kidding. It’s not that bad.

Anyway, HERE it is. Knock yourself out if you so desire. And if you decide to pass on this one, no hard feelings.

Prayer – 30 day challenge

I heard once that if you pray Ephesians 3:16-19 every day for a month, all your problems would be solved. I know it sounds like superstition, but recently, I’ve been curious to try it out again.

I think the idea behind the all encompassing statement “all your problems will be solved” was probably that the prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19 touches God’s heart for us. In my experience, I pray desperately for this thing, or for that thing. Often, the more I pray for something, the more anxious I get about that thing. But when I stop myself and pray that He would grant me, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man (my spirit), I find that He answers my prayer and I am able to forget all of my problems and concentrate on Him. I ask Him to come into me, and make His home in every room of my heart, so that I may be rooted and grounded in His love, and be built together with all of my fellow believers in Christ to be able to understand even His dimensions, so that I can practically come to know and experience the love of Christ which surpasses even knowledge itself, and that I may be filled even unto the fullness of God Himself.

It sounds mysterious. But I like the prayer, and am thinking that maybe I should try out a month of Ephesians 3?? Perhaps….

I’m also considering buying the amplified version of the Bible. Check out Ephesians 3 in the Amplified Version… (isn’t it good???)

 

Ephesians 3:16-19

Amplified Bible (AMP)

16 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].

17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,

18 That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];

19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

20 things about me

Reading a list that a friend posted on her blog this morning inspired me to write my own list. I tried to think of trivia that I might not have mentioned on this blog before, but I wasn’t completely successful. In any case, this is what I came up with. 20 things about me. (Disclaimer: This list does not attempt to present a well rounded picture of who I am. It’s just a list of 20 things about me.)

  1. I’m the third child in my family. I’ve always hated being the third child in my family.
  2. I’m fluent in Germany and have lived here for the past 4.5 years.
  3. The first “long” book I ever read was Little Women. I was in the third grade. It took me three days to finish it and I was SO proud of myself.
  4. I love God.
  5. I am a total computer geek. If you want to make me get excited just start throwing words around like i7 processor, 16 GB Ram, 1TB SSD….
  6. Growing up, I always considered myself to look average (dirty blonde hair, unremarkable features, not fat, not thin). My opinion on that subject has actually not changed, but I now don’t mind being average. It’s better than being ugly.
  7. When I was young I WORSHIPPED my brother and would do anything that he asked me to do (fetch him a sandwich, get his shoes, etc.)
  8. I was fat in 5th grade. Then I grew 10 inches and it evened out.
  9. I am lactose intolerant (which has not made me give up ice cream).
  10. I graduated as a valedictorian from high school.
  11. I love ducks. I collect stuffed animal ducks and rubber duckies.
  12. I am over flexible in my hip joints and my right leg is shorter than my left leg. This probably is one of the main reasons why I suffered from a major hip/groin injury when I ran in high school.
  13. My favorite topic in the Bible is studying how we can actually experience the life of God (as described in this book).
  14. In 10th grade I got mad at a guy because he said that I lived under a rock. I feel bad now because I totally did live under a rock.
  15. I’ve never had a boyfriend.
  16. My favorite place to be is in the woods next to a river.
  17. I think Paris is overrated.
  18. I think Vienna is amazing.
  19. I play guitar. I started playing when I moved to Germany because I found I was suddenly no longer surrounded by a whole bunch of musically talented friends who could already play guitar.
  20. I love to escape reality by immersing myself in other worlds. This is why I used to check out stacks of books every week from the library, and this is why television programs are my kryptonite.

Or maybe I am

 

Source here

Sorry for that super pessimistic post that I posted approximately an hour ago. I forgot that this week I had one day that was just GREAT! I got a 1,3 on my final, got a super fast 8GB RAM 64-Bit Processor AWESOME new computer to use at work, got to spend the day at work customizing previously mentioned computer. Then, to add icing to the top of the cake, I managed to do a headstand for the very first time! I actually did it! Without help from anyone.

And yes, I just tried to do it again and fell over, but I wasn’t warmed up yet, so it doesn’t count.

I can do a headstand.

The world is not so bleak after all.

Being Creative (or not)

The problem is that whenever I want to post anything on my blog, I always feel as if I have to apologize because it has been several months since the last time that I posted anything. And, as I often do with apologies, I put it off until the very last minute.

Today is no exception. However, I feel I should apologize twice because I managed to post my New Year’s Resolution for 2014 on January 1, 2013 which meant that no one even read it.

The truth is that I shouldn’t have to apologize. I should be able to post whatever I want to post whenever I want to post it. If I want to post twice a year, I should be able to do that. Technically, I AM able to do that, so we’ll just have to see IF I actually get around to posting without feeling bad about it.

Seriously. It’s not like I have any readers who actually desperately follow this blog just WAITING for me to post something new. Even my mother has gotten out of the habit of checking in regularly.

My problem is that my creative energy has hit rock bottom. At least when I am at home.

Actually, that is not true. I probably have roughly the same amount of creative energy, I just use it for things unrelated to this blog. My Github account is just bursting with activity. That’s the problem. With university lectures, homework, and working at least 17 hours a week doing software development, my home time is usually spent recharging. Not producing anything. Just surfing the internet, spending far too much time on YouTube, reading blogs, reading books (occasionally), and spending time with friends. I mean….I desperately need my running/yoga time every week just to have enough creative energy to get through work and school. Blogging would just be draining.

And it’s not fun anymore.

Yet I have no desire to delete this blog. So I just let it decay into a relic of past years….

New Year’s Resolutions 2014

I have big plans for 2014. My main plans include taking major advantage of my freedom as a student to travel all over Europe as much as I can. After all, with the new buses in Germany, I might actually be able to cheaply visit my friends in Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Nuernberg, and Berlin, so I’m going to try to squeeze those in. I also have friends living in Bielefeld, Detmold, and Versmold, so I’m going to try to go there too (I don’t really have an excuse not to, since I can travel there for free with my Semesterticket).

I’m also planning a trip to Italy. I want to finally see Florence.

In March, I will also be travelling to the States for 5 weeks to visit my family and see my two adorable little nieces before they get all grown up!

My other resolution is to finish reading the Bible in German. I didn’t achieve my New Year’s Resolution last year of reading it all the way through, so I figure that my resolution for this year will be to finish what I started last year. I’ve calculated that if I read two chapters a day, I’ll finish the Bible relatively quickly.