Life

This page collects images and trivial stuff that might be of interest to friends and relatives. ;-)

2017-06-28 RSI

Recently I received an email by somebody who is developing pains in his fingers. Is it because of Emacs? The wrong keyboard? Bad posture? Carpal tunnel syndrom? Is it repetitive strain injury (RSI) imminent?

I know how the feeling. Years ago, I had the same problem. And I was not alone. The Emacs Wiki RSI page has more stories. The short summary I wrote on my own page: I saw a doctor, started physiotherapy on 2002-02-05. I bought a Kinesis keyboard. I used little programs that forced me to take a lot of breaks. It didn’t help. I stopped therapy 2002-10-21 and decided to work less, get up more often, started practicing Aikido, and no longer work in long shifts. That helped.

There’s a certain sadness that comes with all that. Here’s what I wrote back:

Hello again
I don’t think I can help you. I basically decided that I’d rather change my life than get my neck x-rayed in order to look for possible nerve issues (with the obvious implication that if we did find something, we’d operate on it). So that’s what I did. I work a 60% job over the year with all Fridays off and a four month break in summer. I picked a sport to improve posture (I picked Aikido because I don’t like competitions). I felt encouraged to do this because I had noticed that the pain disappeared over long weekends and holidays. Obviously work was having a negative effect. These days it still comes back if I work for long hours or if I’m angry or both, when I’m angry about having to work long hours. I also noticed that the pain comes back quicker when I spend long hours at home at the laptop, and no fancy keyboard I tried actually helped. So I figured it must be something about the seating, the table height, or whatever. And so I cut back my coding at home, too. More running, more walking, more Aikido, more reading, playing an instrument, whatever it takes. A different hobby, to take my mind away from the only hobby I had for many years, code.
Wishing you the best of luck
Alex

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2017-06-26 Diary

I’ve taken to writing a few sentences every day into a little Moleskine notebook with my fountain pen, hoping that it will help me cope better. Some times I feel “stretched thin.” Is it social media? Reading? The ever growing list of projects I’d like to do, the books I’d like to read, the games I want to run, and work, and running, and Aikido... It’s all eating away at my time and when I’m tired I sometimes feel the urge to cancel all activities and shut myself in. Perhaps the introvert in me is growing stronger. Or perhaps it is the slow passage of years. Without realising it, I have grown older, slower. And how would I react if my life were to be filled to the brim but I have grown older and become slower? That’s right: stretched thin, overextended.

Thus the need to slow down. Writing things down, using a pen, reminding myself of how I learned to write, not writing anything for anybody, but using the process of writing for reflection and processing, that’s what I’m trying to do. And that’s why it can’t happen on this site, even though the main page is Diary. It’s too personal, too banal, to raw, and not intended to be read by anybody, not even me. It’s a write-only notebook.

It’s also not a bullet journal. Yes, we have todo lists, also in a notebook, and I try to liven it up every now and then, but it’s not intended to help me process my life, That’s why I need a real diary, with real sentences, and paragraphs, and at least the pretension of trying to find the right words.

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2017-06-24 Ardèche

We spent seven days in the Ardèche and the surrounding departments of France. It was very hot but we saw a lot of stuff.

fgallery comes with a tool to add captions to your images, fcaption. It is written in Python. Starting it, I got the following error:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/Users/alex/src/fgallery/utils/fcaption", line 11, in <module>
    from PyQt4 import QtCore, QtGui
ImportError: No module named PyQt4

Since I’m using OSX, I was led to the Stackoverflow answers for Python PyQt on macOS Sierra. This seems to do it. I’ve commented the lines I think I did not need to install.

brew tap cartr/qt4
brew tap-pin cartr/qt4
# brew install qt
# brew install pyside
brew install cartr/qt4/pyqt

I definitely need to fix the time on my camera or the pictures will appear out of sync with the picture from the phones.

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2017-05-29 Wallis, wieder einmal

Pictures of us hiking from Chandolin up to the Illpass and from Montana to Aminona.

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2017-05-28 Age

I don’t feel that life is speeding up but my wife feels that way. I guess I’m lucky. To me, the seasons seem to take forever and I can barely remember what I did last year.

Perhaps it’s the onset of dementia.

Before 40, a year is a fraction of the life you had. After 40, a year is a fraction of the life you expect.

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2017-05-19 Cold

Can I just say that I hate being sick? We just had the nicest three sunny days and I stayed indoors, nose dripping, throat aching, voice gone. Gaaaaah.

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2017-04-01 Hayfever

Ok, it’s definitely back. The last day or two I started noticing it but now my nose is running again. It started at about the same time that bees and wasps have made an appearance.

That correlates pretty much with birch bloom, sich started on March 28.

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2017-02-17 Leisure

+David McGrogan writes on his blog about creativity requiring time off to be creative because you need to balance both free roaming thoughts induced by boredom with focus and attention induced by discipline. If you’re constantly distracted at work by meetings, or at home by social media, it’s hard to get anything done.

Luckily, I only work 60% so I get to have Fridays off and a four month break every year. People sometimes ask me whether this isn’t boring to the extreme. To which I say that most people simply adapt to their current way of life and that’s great. It allows us to be happy under a wide range of circumstances. It also means that we’re never bored, as in spending idle hours contemplating life, the kind of leisure the rich Greek philosophers must have felt without the need to work, when all you had to do was hang out, drink, talk, and some calisthenics to defend your city’s interests on the battlefield every now and then. Anyway, leisure and occasional bouts of boredom are essential, I think. As we’re busy at work and stressed out by family, squeezing in a few hours of playing games with friends, I think it’s easy to forget that something atrophies at the same time. That very source of novelty.

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2017-02-05 Running

The temperature rises above 0°C and I feel like running again. So I went running yesterday and the day before. And now my calves hurt as if somebody had kicked them. Yay for forefoot running in my running sandals. :)

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2016-12-31 Looking Back

Looking back at 2016... I wanted to write this and that and didn’t do it, wanted to use my iPad for digital painting and didn’t do it, and then suddenly it all came together when I made a list of monsters in Labyrinth Lord which I actually like and use and then I started illustrating them. I discovered regular drawing as a new hobby in 2016.

My wife finally decided to bring her recorders (two altos and a soprano) into service and I started practicing. She had not played in thirty years but she still knows how to do it and it’s mostly her watching me practice and occasionally we play a little duet. I discovered playing the flute as a new hobby in 2016.

I also wanted to run the 310km Jura Hoehenweg in summer but failed. I did the first segment and then I stopped. Oh well. I didn’t stop running so there’s still hope.

Today, the last day of the year, my wife took the last Endoxan (Cyclophosphamide) and Methotrexate pills of her follow-up chemo so in theory, this should be the end of it. One never knows, of course, and I suspect the fear of a relapse will never truly disappear. Currently we’re also seeing a hypervitaminosis D and increases in calcium in the blood, so who knows whether there are still some surprises lurking in the coming months, but given that the year started with a recovery from bilateral mastectomy, I’m still extremely relieved.

As for gaming, I’m still running the same two campaigns, so no news is good news.

We keep wishing for good health, good luck, being in love, and being together with the one(s) we love – so here’s to you, strangers on the Internet. :)

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Oh, and two weeks later her mom is diagnosed with breast cancer. Again, after eighteen years.

Recently, I wrote the following to a friend on the OSR Discord Server, #general:

It’s hard to know what to say without knowing the details, except well wishes and what feels like platitudes about light at the end of the tunnel. All I can say is that recently I also keep feeling like the abyss keeps coming closer. Friends divorcing, mental crisis tearing relationships apart, my wife’s cancer and now that chemo is over her mom with a relapse (or a new cancer of the same kind). So at times it feels like fate is unfair and death and cancer will get us all in the end, grinding us down until we’ll finally willing to let it all go because we’re just so endlessly tired of it all. But then there are also days when flowers are in bloom and the sun is out and people are beautiful and radiant and the music is fantastic, the food is delicious and I feel young and good and life seems endless. So... I don’t know. Life.

– Alex Schroeder 2017-02-23 12:38 UTC

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