25 before 25 – Checking in at 24

As some of you might know, I made a list of 25 things to do before I turned 25 a couple of years ago. I just turned 24, so I thought I would post an update of the list. Of course, I have changed some of the goals on the list because I just stopped wanting to do them. Take my old goal number 6 — Get married (well…after I find the right guy!) — Well, guess what? I have not found the right guy, and even if I did miraculously find the right guy sometime in the next 11 months, I don’t want to marry him before I turn 25. If, in the future, I actually find a man that I love and want to spend the rest of my life with, I will then marry him (if he decides to ask me). Until such a time occurs, guess who is not going to get married? Yep. That’s right. Me. So I’ve changed my goal number 6 to one of much greater importance — Be Happy –.

So these are my goals. The bold ones are DONE!, the italicized ones are in the works, and the regular ones are not yet completed.

  1. Get bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.
  2. Get master’s degree in Computer Science (If all goes as planned, I should be done by the end of October which will be before my 25th birthday).
  3. Visit Florence.
  4. Visit Paris.
  5. Visit Spain (this used to be ‘visit Ukraine’, but with the political situation there, I decided that I wanted to visit Spain instead. Much less exotic, I know. And I did)
  6. Be Happy (I’m happy right now. So I just have to stay that way. =D I’m glad I’m a happy person, because it is going to be really easy to reach this goal)
  7. Build an operating system from scratch.
  8. Buy a big monitor (either two 20-inch screens or one >24 inch screen) 
  9. Use a raspberry pi to build a home server (I have a Raspberry Pi and COULD use it to build a home server, but that wouldn’t be very useful considering that I already have a really good webserver. But I built my Raspberry Pi and can boot it, so I’m marking this as finished anyway)
  10. Read a book about German history (this used to be write an App for Android, but I’m not a big fan of mobile development. I could write an App for Android easily with the skills that I had, but I have recently discovered an interest in non-fiction which I much prefer reading in my free time. I would like to read a good book on German history. Preferably in German, but I will probably have to ask around to see what is recommended)
  11. Learn to program in Python (I learned it last spring and was unpleasantly disappointed. Not that it isn’t a great scripting language, but I would NEVER use it to build a large application).
  12. Learn another language (I took a year of Spanish at the university. I need to start practicing regularly again, but I don’t actually know if I will be successful at this goal since I won’t have the opportunity to immerse myself in the language).
  13. Finish reading the Tintenherz trilogy.
  14. Get 10,000 hits on my blog in one year.
  15. Learn how to develop web-pages with php
  16. Buy graphic tablet and learn to do a bit of graphic design (I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and made this comic which was all I really wanted to do, so I consider this to be done. I would like to practice copying other cartoonists so that I can learn to draw better (like Adam@Home or Big Top which are drawn by Rob Harrell. I didn’t realize that they were both drawn by Rob Harrell until I looked them up. Weird. I just know that I want to be able to draw like him. Not that I would complain if I could draw like Mark Tatulli (Lio) or Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine)))
  17. Read through the Life-study of the Bible (I’m plugging away, reading one message every day. I finished the Life-study of the Old Testament, and I am almost 80% finished, but we will see if I actually manage to complete this task. I have 414 messages left (as of this morning), so if I double up and read two messages a day for three months, I might be able to do it. We will see!) 
  18. Get into the habit of exercising at least 2-3 times a week (I’ve been really bad recently, but as soon as I get back into my rhythm, I should be able to get back into the habit. I have a running group on Mondays and go to yoga on Wednesday which is technically twice a week).
  19. Visit Amsterdam.
  20. Learn how to remotely access other computers
  21. Build a website from scratch 
  22. Go to the Opera (I got to see Magic Flute! Which was AMAZING! Love Mozart!)
  23. Build up a habit of having morning revival (I’m working on this. It is such a wonderful way to start my day. Now I just have to keep it up for another year!).
  24. Organize/scrapbook all of the souvenirs I have.
  25. Read through the Bible again (I’m hanging out in Philippians, but I’m sure I’ll finish on time. I am just taking longer than I normally would because I like Paul’s Epistles so much that I have been reading them much slower than I normally would).

15 DONE!7 in the works, and 3 to be done!

I’ll let you know in a year how it turns out. =)

To Write or not to Write

To those of you who have diligently read my blog over the past five years (even though I have posted next to nothing for the last couple of years), you know that November is a special month. It is NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The month in which crazy, normal people like you and I buckle down and write a novel because we want to, and because we can do it. A friend (who really liked the novel I wrote in 2011) asked me if I was crazy enough to write another novel this year. The answer: NO.

I actually seriously considered it for about two hours. But no. Not going to happen.

Right now I’m in a really really good place. Like really good.

I’m inwardly very peaceful and happy, satisfied with my life as it is right now, and satisfied that the direction my life is headed is the direction that I want it to head. And I’m learning to find joy in the little things in life. I had a little happy attack on Monday because of baked vegetables. Not even kidding. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, broccoli, and mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and pop in the oven for 30 minutes and you will have some DELICIOUS veggies to eat. Your welcome.

I’ve discovered a new interest in history (reading a book on the authenticity of the old testament which is really interesting), and I’m trying to get in the habit of exercising regularly. I’m trying to get out and sit in the sun (when Duesseldorf is nice enough to give me sun) so that I don’t get Winter depression this winter. The sun is unfortunately already setting at 4:30 and the sun has a habit of liking to hide behind clouds, but I am optimistic (don’t have the winter sads yet!). And the coffee at work is free this week! I have, of course, correspondingly increased my coffee intake.

Work has been a bit stressful since I’ve started my internship (which I’m doing at my work). Essentially, my internship means that I am working 600 hours for free. This means that I work a 40 hour week and am only paid for 17 hours, but it is ok because I’ll be done with it eventually. I’ve noticed that you get a lot more accomplished when you work twice as much. In the evenings I am also super busy, so I’m going to be very jealous over Thursdays, which is the one evening a week when I can go home and do nothing. I wish I could say as much for weekends, but I have pretty much booked my weekends solid for the next two months (including a visit to America at the end of November).

So I don’t know why I thought I had the time to write a novel. Even for two hours. I don’t. In case that wasn’t completely and totally clear. Besides the fact that I am worried I am getting RSI in my pinky fingers (I’ve rebound my keyboard for that reason and am trying to retrain myself to type differently and use my pinkies less). Typing a novel would NOT be a good idea.

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…..

 

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.

In 2013 I…

  1. Visited London, Winchester, Male Ciche, Zakopane, Tilburg, Frankfurt, Romford, Aix en Provence, Spokane, Seattle, and Pullman.
  2. Started learning Spanish.
  3. Started exercising again for the first time in 4 years (running and yoga).
  4. Finished my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.
  5. Showed off pictures of my two new cute nieces to everybody who would look at them.
  6. Bought a Lenovo ThinkPad x230.
  7. Learned the basics of the Clojure programming language (which, for the record, is currently my favorite programming language).
  8. Finished reading through the Life-Study of the Bible for the Old Testament.
  9. Spent a lot of good quality time with my dear Lord Jesus.

And how did I do on my New Year’s Resolutions from last year?

Become more healthy – this includes changing my diet so that I eat more healthily. I’d also like to lose a couple of kilograms. My goal weight is 73 Kg (160 lbs). This basically means that I have to lose about 2 Kg (7 lbs). I also want to start exercising a couple of times a week.

I would say I succeeded in this. I eat less and exercise two times a week regularly. And I’ve managed to get down to 70 Kg (154 lbs), which means I’ve surpassed my expectations on the losing weight front. That means that I’ve lost 5 Kg (11 lbs) in this past year.

Reading the Bible – the Bible is my favorite book, and I have already read it all the way through, but I haven’t done so since I was about 14 years old, and I haven’t read it all the way through in German. So my goal for this year is to read the whole Bible through.

Well…didn’t do quite as well on this one. I’ve gotten to Proverbs in the Old Testament and Romans in the New Testament, so I’ve read roughly half of the Bible this past year (in German). But I intend to pick up where I left off and finish the rest of it next year.

To the opera we go…

Today I finally got the birthday surprise that a good friend gave me a month ago. We went to see Mozart’s Zauberflöte (Magic Flute). I sort of suspected that we were going to a theater of some kind because I was supposed to dress up, and we weren’t going to be eating there. I was HOPING that is was a opera, and I was DREAMING that it would be Zauberflöte. Now I get to cross that item off my list! Needless to say, when I opened the envelope in the car and saw the tickets, a smile fixed itself to my face and wouldn’t budge. See?

edited

The opera took place in the Theater Duisburg.

Theater Duisburg

The hallways were decked out with red carpet, and we were also able to give up our coats at the coat room and borrow cushions to prop us us and allow us to see better. We were pretty far on the right side, but we were able to see pretty much everything, and we were so high up, we could see straight into the orchestra pit.

The opera itself was a bit of a surprise. It was a very modern interpretation of Mozart. The music was, of course, original. But the costumes and stage design were all inspired by the 1920’s. There were also no props. The entirety of the props and staging effects consisted of an animated film (also in 1920’s style) that was projected onto the actors while they sang. I took a couple of pictures of a couple of scenes that I liked. Sorry if they aren’t very good. I was limited by my skills as a photographer, the angle from which I shot, and the quality of my smartphone.

Papageno and his catTamino and Pamina are trapped

 

In any case, I liked the overall effect (although I wasn’t a fan of all of the design decisions). And the music?

Mozart was a genius.

That’s all I can say.

 

25 before 25 – Check up at 23

I’ve posted my list of the 25 things that I want to do before I am 25 several times on this blog already. And I’ve updated it over the years when I’ve completely lost interest in certain things. Since I just turned 23, I figured I better post an update on how my list is going. After all, I only have two years left to get everything done! Although to be honest, I’m not sure if I really will get done with all of them. My next year is booked pretty solid already… And I have no intention of marrying an idiot just so that I can cross it off my list. But it is good to have plans!

The main thing I accomplished this year was getting my bachelor’s degree in computer science. Since I haven’t accomplished much else, I’ve italicized the points that I am actively working on right now and added parentheses to points to let you all know how it is going.

  1. Get bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.
  2. Get master’s degree in Computer Science (just started my first semester).
  3. Visit Florence.
  4. Visit Paris.
  5. Visit Ukraine.
  6. Get married (well…after I find the right guy!).
  7. Build an operating system from scratch.
  8. Buy a big monitor (either two 20-inch screens or one >24 inch screen) 
  9. Use a raspberry pi to build a home server (or just about anything else. I just really have no idea what I should use my raspberry pi for. Any ideas anyone?)
  10. Write an app for Android.
  11. Learn to program in Python (I know, I know. It’s a pretty simple language. But I’ll be learning it officially next spring. I’ve also added Ruby to the languages that I want to learn, but I haven’t made any definite plans about when that is going to happen).
  12. Learn another language (I’m currently taking Spanish A1 at the university, and I’m planning on continuing trying to learn it).
  13. Finish reading the Tintenherz trilogy.
  14. Get 10,000 hits on my blog in one year.
  15. Learn how to develop web-pages with php (I wrote my first PHP app last summer. It was a database accessing Task app which did nothing particularly special. Some guys at my work were trying to get me to reprogram our Foosball tracker in PHP, but I hope they forgot about it. Overall, I didn’t really like the language. It is a bit too messy, and a bit to… Don’t really know. PHPy? Is that a word?)
  16. Buy graphic tablet and learn to do a bit of graphic design.
  17. Read through the Life-study of the Bible (I think I’ll be done with the Old Testament by the end of this year! Yay!) 
  18. Get into the habit of exercising at least 2-3 times a week (I’ve found a running group at the university, and I managed to sneak my way into a yoga course in the University, so I actually am regularly exercising twice a week. On Monday I ran 7.1 km in 36 minutes! I was dead afterwards, but it was a good feeling anyway. In any case, I’m loving it and feeling great! Now I just need to keep up the habit so that I can cross this point off my list in two years).
  19. Visit Amsterdam.
  20. Learn how to remotely access other computers (it’s called SSH. And it’s not particularly difficult. If I every need to know anything else about remotely accessing other computers, I’m sure I can just Google it).
  21. Build a website from scratch (my bachelor’s thesis was dealing with data visualizations, and I programmed the entirety of the visualizations in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. I’m now pretty familiar with the process, and if I ever have any questions, that is what StackOverflow is there for. And as far as creating a blog type website from scratch? Why would I? That’s what WordPress (or Ruby on Rails or equivalent web platform with blogging support) is for. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Especially if you get major headaches whenever you have to do graphic design).
  22. Go to the Opera (hopefully to see the Magic Flute!)
  23. Build up a habit of having morning revival (I’m working on this. And getting better. But it’s a habitual thing, so I still have to keep it up for two years…).
  24. Organize/scrapbook all of the souvenirs I have.
  25. Read through the Bible again (It looks like I won’t make my New Year’s Resolution of reading the whole Bible through in German. But I’m still working away on it, so I’ll definitely be done by my next birthday).

Well…9 completed, 5 in the works, and 11 to go! Could be worse…

Haircuts and Oatmeal

Recently, I have been appreciating the small things in life. I enjoy the rush of adrenaline that I get when I finish a good run. I enjoy feeling of balance and relaxation after a good workout. And I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after I have cooked a meal and eaten it.

Today I am particularly thankful for the feeling of healthy hair. I got my hair cut yesterday. I also finally learned the difference between the German words Frisur, Frisör, Friseur, and frisieren. Der Frisör hat mir eine neue Frisur frisiert.

All of my split ends are now gone. I also splurged and got myself my favorite shampoo. I’ve been using a generic brand for the past couple months, and that combined with the fact that I hadn’t had a hair cut for six months pretty much ensured that I have constantly had horrible hair. I also ended up losing a lot of hair, not because it actually fell out, but because it would get so tangled all the time, and when I tried to brush it out it would break off.

The other thing that I am thankful for today is oatmeal. I’ve been searching for a new breakfast food for the past couple of months, because I no longer want eggs or cereal. In the past, I haven’t wanted to cook oatmeal because you always have to wash the pan afterwards. This week I have discovered that if you use a particular type of oats (in German they are called zarte Haferflocken. I don’t know what they are called in English) then you can just pour in hot water and it automatically becomes oatmeal. Remember instant oatmeal? Turns out its not magic. Turns out that certain oats really do instantly turn to oatmeal when you add water.

Today I added a small spoonful of Nutella into my oatmeal. One of the best ideas I’ve ever come up with. Chocolate oatmeal is even better than normal oatmeal.

Two other small things that I am thankful for: herbal tea (peppermint, lemon grass, fennel) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Well? Anything that you’ve been thankful for recently?

The new year is about to begin

One of my odd traits is that my internal calendar always begins in Fall. This is no doubt due to the fact that for the last 17 years of my life, September has always been the new beginning, the start of a new school year. You have just had three months of wonderful summer break, and now you get to buy school supplies (new pens!), meet your new teacher, etc. Of course, I have been in university for the past four years, but September/October is still the beginning. I moved to Germany almost exactly four years ago. Now I am (almost) ready to begin my next adventure. I am going to be starting my Master’s program in a month.

I just took a nice LONG vacation. This accounts for the fact that I have not posted in three months. I was in America, and Poland, and Germany. I visited my family, saw my hugely adorable niece. I discovered Yoga, and also discovered that the hip injury that has bothered me for the past four years was (I am convinced) at least in part psychosomatic. I ran 7.1 kilometers in 37 minutes yesterday. My hip didn’t hurt at all. Just about every other part of my body did.

One of the main reasons that I have not posted in the recent months is that I do not really know what to post. I spent the last three years getting my bachelor’s degree in computer science. I also managed to become increasingly geeky as every year went by. There are many things that I am passionate about. But I am no longer convinced that anyone cares that the Evernote Webclipper is awesome, that I wrote my first program in the Clojure programming language (and that I love it), that my favorite text editor Sublime Text is amazing, that I am planning on installing a web server on my Raspberry Pi, or that I am completely in love with my new Lenovo ThinkPad x230.

So sorry about that. I may or may not post again any time in the near future. I will probably be completely overwhelmed and stressed by my Master’s program (even though I get to learn Clojure), and I promise nothing. But if you would like me to post something, please leave me a comment.

After all, it’s a new year. And I am convinced that this one is going to be the best one yet…