“Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.”

Monday, September 5, 2011

Preparing for Amsterdam

This autumn I will again go to Amsterdam with my wife. She has to deliver a presentation for European Respiratory Society .. and I just have to bike.
Which brings me to realize how not rich I am. In order to do anything there they will require you to show a credit card or block a huge amount on your debit card.
So my choice is to get a credit card .. again just to rent a bike and sit at a hotel room.
Which officially pulls me away from the debt-free crowd I managed to join. If the credit card is approved that is.

One more financial setback : Our country's government has decided that you cannot drive a car without proper winter tires starting with November 1st. While I have to agree with the safety reasons I wonder how much of this decision was for safety reasons (we have one of the deadliest roads in Europe) and how much was for supporting the tires sales ?
Of course paying 700 Euros for tires and rims - almost twice the average salary in Romania is a huge setback for most . I can survive without too much issues but still I can only think about my father driving his old Dacia 1300 1978 model for almost 30 winters (years) on icy/snow filled roads without winter tires. And he never crashed the car. I drove the car for 3 winters as well (I have a 2008 Dacia Logan equipped with ABS) without loosing control .I just do everything gently and try to be aware of the conditions around me when accelerating,braking, turning.
And winters are getting milder each year...
There is something else that worries me : The lack of common sense of drivers that do not know how to drive gently. I already see them every day as I bike to work : furiously accelerating between traffic lights only to brake even more furiously at the next. Sitting in traffic jams for minutes does not cause them to drive slower when they get out of them. Don't get me started at the ones that drive on highways at twice the legal speed and expect you to just vanish if you are trying to pass another vehicle at a decent 130km/h (legal speed).
No winter tires will save you if you are trying to drive into a corner with 100 km/h or into a tighter curve at 200 km/h
Further more you might be inclined to do so one you have "winter" tires. Can the government legislate common sense ? I don't think so.

What else is new ? My weight was yesterday (after a 30km ride) at 107.6 kg not close to the weight I wanted to have (~95 kg) but at least is under 110 kg.
I had stopped drinking Coca-Cola and also reduced the consumption of coffee a bit .. probably should switch to tea. I am almost happy.
My plan is to be at ~100kg .. or at least less than 105kg in Amsterdam and bike .. a lot like 8 hours /day.
Of course there are other interesting things to do in Amsterdam but since I am both married and on a budget I will stick to biking :).

Now regarding the professional side things are slowly improving. I have read yet again the "Pragmatic Thinking and Learning" book and started applying the lessons in combination with " The Pomodoro Technique".
Of course the Pomodoro technique is pretty effective (using it right now for writing on the blog) but you have to actually increase the duration to 40 minutes for any complex activity .. or even more. Why is that ? You need to first load context into your brain ..and this needs at least 20 minutes (without interruptions).
I experimented with durations and 40 minutes with a 10 minute brake seems ok. Of course my Android application would not allow more ... which brings me to the next news :
I have also bought an Android phone (in a moment of desperation which is going to cost me another 2 years of subscription payment when my old Nokia 6234 had another malfunction - the volume button) - an HTC Desire S which is a very expensive Pomodoro clock :) (using Pomodroid). Of course I use other applications on it mainly my Gmail Account , GTasks for managing tasks, Adobe Reader, Google Maps .. ,Youtube and many others.
Of course I also use it as a portable game console : Angry Birds,Alien Invasion,Fruit Slice and other tools for waisting my time are installed.
I found the phone a good laptop replacer for short web navigation and reading email. I still cannot write on the damn touch keyboard ... I find this post by Jeff Atwood totally relevant.

Now regarding the Ruby skills .. well since being very busy with my work project (and starting to enjoy it) I found my Ruby and RoR skills slowly decaying which is bad for my Pragmatic Investment Plan ( a portfolio of skills suggested by the Pragmatic Programmers in their books). My Project Euler problems are still at 27 which means I am still not advancing.
So what I need to do is to allocate a chunk of time and prepare to work on these issues because you need to make time ..but somehow the mental energy is missing at the end of the day and uninterrupted time is a rare commodity for me recently.
This concludes my post .. as always it is an interesting experience to put your mind online ..

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