Walk or Ride

(Take the easy way you know that you want to)

As part of my health and lifestyle changes I set up the goal to walk at least an hour a day. This is good as I normally don’t walk very much and with the bike the cold wind stabs deep inside me and I end up with my head aching even if I wear lots of protective clothing on it.

This morning wasn’t as cold as others so I left a bit earlier for uni and went there walking instead of cycling.
It took me more than double the usual time but the morning was lovely. About mid journey I found a lemon on the verge of an abandoned house. I carried it with me, smelling from time to time and capturing odd looks and a handful of smiles.

On my way back home a young lady stopped by my side to ask for the time. It was very strange that she didn’t have a cellphone but after catering to her request we started to walk together and talk, mostly about our whereabouts and her career as English teacher. We parted ways a few blocks from my home.

I don’t remember when was the last time I had that careless feeling of easiness around someone new, in general and for making conversation out of the blue. Perhaps the surprise was the difference.

Today I walked a tad more than hour and half. So far the week started very good.

Be kind.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Alicia Reinoso.

This afternoon I walked to the city centre for a quick check up with my doctor and to run some errands. When I finished, the day had turned colder and a very fine mist was morphing into rain.

As I approached the bus stop a woman started to look at me, finally asking if I could lend her my sube card in exchange for money for the fare.

With a very distressed tone she related me that she was a Doctor and misplaced her purse with most of her documents and money but someone found it and called so she could pick it up.

The place was in a kind of sketchy neighborhood and she was very afraid of going there alone (and also, it was already dark). It’s not very far from my home and the local police station so I offered to escort her there.

Still, she was afraid and when we arrived at the police station tried to get hold of an officer to come with us but the only patrol car was on duty. We arranged for meeting there and while she waited for whomever found her purse I went to pick up our family car (she lives in the other extreme of the city and the night wasn’t that friendly for such a trip).

We drove to her home chatting about life, her children and strangely enough given my orientation, about religion, moral compasses and other stuff.

That was a very nice quarter of hour. It’s been quite a while since I had such a meaningful conversation with a stranger.

Get up off your lazy bum.

For the most part of last week I felt like catching a cold but not quite.
My body and joints ached and was in this general state of drowsiness.

This morning was humid but not cold. I gathered all my willpower and hoped into the bike instead of taking the bus to the uni.

I arrived exhausted and sweaty.
As it happens at these stages the classes are very small. Today it was only me and the professor. We stood up side by side in front of the whiteboard discussing for about an hour.
A very productive morning.

Back at home I felt terrible but empowered.

Later I went to do some errands.
I took a rest on the sidewalk and the neighbors cat brushes me, asking for petting.

We sat there for a while, attracting odd looks from the passerby people.

Goodbye Dolores.

Today I was trying to finish some drafts and sorting out material for the next ones when gossiping around I got the news that Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of the Cranberries, passed away earlier this week.

I missed them whey they came to Argentina but they’ll always be special for me, as the first time I kissed a girl (that later became a Real Woman, unlike most of her contemporary gals) we were dancing like dorks to the tune of Ode to My Family.

Cultural differences

Sunday was a very nice day among friends and partners of our neighborhood.

Instead of finishing a draft post about that I’m sad. I spent most of this Monday listening to our representatives going around circles instead of voting, while some of my friends were treated like terrorists, being searched by masked officers at gun point, others punched and kicked.

I listened to the live stream for about ten hours before the sleep took over. Most of the ‘normal’ people I met yesterday chose to ignore this and watch crap tv. Meanwhile in Japan they have entertainment shows like Supreme Skills where they pit engineers and craftsmen to see which one is able to complete very demanding projects. Some of them are very light on the details but nonetheless the content is still better than other productions and showcases a complete different scale of values.

On weekends most of us choose to numb our minds with meaningless stuff. Others enlighten themselves.

No wonder things go downhill.

A walk in nature to restore brain function.

So, it turns out that my biking escapades to Los Talas or walks among the forest have a greater side effect than letting me vent and clear the mind while it works on the background.

Urban environments tend to capture attention dramatically and require additional directed attention. Natural environments are as rich, if not richer, but tend to invoke involuntary attention more modestly, allowing directed attention mechanisms a chance to rest and recoup. Interaction with nature improves your ability to perform directed-attention tasks—things you need to concentrate on.

So says researchers from the University of Michigan in Cognitive Benefits of Nature Interaction (Psychological Science, December 2008). They’re looking at a side-effect free, zero-cost, readily available therapy to improve your cognitive functioning. All it takes is a walk in the park.

I found this perusing the many pearls of Andy Hunt.

Birthday

This 30th birthday is way better than the last one.

Near the end, when we were almost finishing packing up a police car appeared. They said someone made a complaint about noises and that we should turn it down.

By then, after a very loud party on the street, there was just a small powered speaker, so we just unplugged it. They walked away, tail between their legs, but before that took all my personal data just in case.

Continue reading

Seasonality.

Reflecting on my latest relationships, most of them begin or end around this time of the year when I feel down and lonely and anxious juggling lots of things.

It’s Over.

Yesterday, after almost exactly a year it was over.

We met for the first time on November 2016 while at PyCon. It was just like a dream.

The farewell party was at a very large house with pool and a park.

After a while of all the noise, shallow chit chat and drunken jokes I went for a walk at the park. It was dimly lit and among the shadows I catched a glimpse of a cat. I followed it until it decided to stop and allowed me to pet him.

And then, She joined me. We talked a lot about how we like cats, the clear sky full of stars, funny moments of the event. We got bored of sitting near the pool and I offered to grab a big puff so we can lay and watch the stars.

But by the time I reached the house some of my friends wanted to come back to the hostel, so I had to leave as I was the designated driver.

Later on December we matched on Tinder and started to chat, moved over to whatsapp and later telegram. She was about 1000km away back then.

On our first date I was a tad nervous, almost innocent. But then the fire lit again.

We had our ups and downs, wonderful moments and some not so much. We did a couple of trips, one of the most beautiful to Bariloche.

Without doubt she was one of the few Womans that I truly cared and Loved in the last years (Love with capital L).
She was one of the two that really cared about me and gave me support in one of my darkest eras (among other things She convinced me to start seeing a psychiatrist). Also, we explored our imagination and our kinky sides. She was one of the few woman that made me open up and reveal myself with all my insecurities and weaknesses. She let my human side flourish. Perhaps a bit too much, sometimes just the right word made me cry.

But not everything was roses. I became distant and tormented with troubles, some of them real, others just a byproduct of my mind. I focused on my studies and regaining my place on the society as an active member and so I put her on a second place for most of the week.

We had previous instances where we were about to call it quits. On one of them I applied some techniques of the Dual Control model and against all odds we ended in a whirlwind of lust.

But the writing was on the wall and we saw this coming.

She put it very concisely into words:

“We Love each other a Lot.
But we are not in love.”

Double Whammy.

I’m on Paxil since August.

Things have definitely improved but still, I’m not quite there yet. Some days I feel as down as before if not more. Others I have my chin up and look at the future with bright hope. I also put some weight (about 12Kg) and it’s the first time ever that I crossed the 70Kg line.

But overall, I’m not convinced that I reached the point where systemic therapy starts taking over the meds. So today we doubled the dosage.

If this doesn’t work we’ll try another one and repeat the whole process again. Lucky me the thieves at my medical insurance only cover a laughably low 27% of a very expensive medication (it’s about on par with the monthly fee). Next month I’m switching to the local generic. All the specialists I queried agreed that it’s as good as the one from Glaxo.

Groundhog Day

Somehow on Wednesdays, it seems that I never arrive home from work before 20.30 – 21 no matter how early I get out.

Last week I reached Retiro at around 17, hoped into a bus that was about to depart and tried to make myself comfortable in a not so soft seat. After crossing most of the city swift as it did so few times we enter into the highway. A couple of minutes later we reach a complete halt. There was a big accident and only one lane carried traffic.

Besides the common spectacle of clowns riding alone on big cars there was the musical companion of raging claxons. I was a bit pissed but there wasn’t much to do about that, so I tried to rest.

Yesterday was mostly the same, except that the queue at the bus stop was way longer than usual.
Overhearing some conversations I learned that they were going to a Coldplay show in La Plata. What a great timing.

After seeing two buses depart I get to board one but there were no seats available. I hopped inside even if that was a rip off, as the next bus would take quite a bit to arrive.

Despite being many laws and norms that forbid having standing passengers for journeys as large as this one this is actually a common situation for most of the day. The driver was generous this time and only allowed ten of us to travel standing.

After a while I got a headache and using my backpack as a pillow I rested on the floor. There was a group of young girls wearing a lot of makeup and leather in a fashion that screamed “rich princess trying to look bad” that gazed at me with an expression that conveyed something along the lines of “ugh, we have to share the ride with that hobo”. But after a while when they realized that this was going to take more time than they expected they joined me at the floor.

The road was completed stuck. Besides the rush of people going back from work there was the storm of fans.

As Buck Dharma used to say, time is the essence . So much of it wasted.

Yay.

When I’m say I’m alright

… don’t look in my eyes ’cause you’ll see I’m not alright.

But I’m trying.

About a month and half ago I snapped and couldn’t take it anymore. I sought professional help and got myself a Real Shrink and a Therapist (both extremely good and expensive). And I’m on meds now.

For the most part of the last three to four years what I described as “happy” or “fine” was actually different shades of miserable. I had my moments of truly happiness, but those were really few. And there was always that tiny rainy cloud looming above me.

I had a breakdown like this back in 2015 and I almost wanted to give up and get away from programming (I kinda did, I biked many times to the countryside trying to look for a quiet spot).

This time it’s not so bad on its own but compounded with other things happening in my life (one of the biggest is leaving Berisso) it totally wrecked me. The difference now it’s that I asked for help. I still run away from the civilization to take day long bike rides and reflex but I’m trying to get a grip on the problem and fix myself.

Lately I’ve lost interest in most of what my life is/was centered about (technology, engineering) and that bothers me a lot. Not completely, I have many drafts and toy projects that prove otherwise.

The knack it’s there but the thrill is gone. At least for a while.

As Dave Thomas put it, this is supposed to be fun. And it stopped being such for me, instead of an almost daily stream of marvel it gradually turned into a grind with an occasional touch of enjoyment, and not always at work.

I believe that we are defined by what we do (more than what we think / believe), work being a significant part of that. On that reference frame, this is a very tough situation.

So what now? I’m going to spend all the time I need to get better and take care of myself. I’m taking a bit of time off work and going back to uni for real, coming clean of my schedule to not rush things pretending I’m doing something when I’m not (attending lectures and using slack on the phone is awful). I’m saying no instead of hesitating. I’m not committing to do things just to please someone. I take a break when I feel I need it.

I know this stuff (antidepressants) takes time to make effect and it’s not a silver bullet that somehow will make everything fine overnight but I’m anxious, waiting for something to happen.

On a totally unrelated thing, the quote from the beginning is from a Storm Large song (it can be found here). I really miss her days with The Balls, the energy and vocal range from that era reminds me a lot to Skunk Anansie. But her smooth side of nowadays is gorgeous.

Sharing is caring.

Some contributions to open source projects that got merged. It’s a pity that most of the work I do has to be private but that’s going to change soon.

https://github.com/voxmedia/autotune/pull/391
https://github.com/voxmedia/autotune/pull/396
https://github.com/LimeSurvey/LimeSurvey/pull/793
https://github.com/LimeSurvey/LimeSurvey/pull/795
https://github.com/indilib/indi/pull/337

The folks at LimeSurvey are really nice and the process was super smooth.
The last one was very tricky, just a misplaced paren that completely changed the meaning of an error check.

Moving in

It’s been about a month since I left Berisso and moved into La Plata.
I miss a lot that air of simple town, the walks in the forest and the docks. I also miss that sense of security, here I need to lock my bike almost everywhere I go.

The (monetary) cost of living here is way higher but on the other hand I spend about a third of the time traveling to the uni (mostly by bike, even if it’s raining it’s still faster than the bus) and the bus to work and I am closer to my support net and the friends of Futura. I’m a strong believer that the amount time lost commuting is one of our biggest illness as society. For many lines of work it can not (yet?) be avoided. So it seems like a net win to me.

But, in spite of this I’m feeling quite down. Today I went to run a little and stopped at Parque Saavedra to rest before returning.

It’s a nice view nonetheless but not even close to the nights in Los Talas and Isla Paulino.