Life

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

2020-04-05 Covid-19 Pandemic

Where do I write about the global pandemic? What is there to write when everybody else is writing about it?

The things I find interesting:

Let's all wear a mask, and people making their own masks, posting patterns and pictures on Mastodon.

@fribbledom saying: “It’s like my entire life prepared me for this...” 🤔 – and posting this image from Hong Kong:

A poster from the Hong Kong Centre of Health Protection

Here’s what it says:

Together, We Fight the Virus!
To prevent the spread of novel coronavirus in the community, we need to work together
Reduce social contact to protect yourself and others
Avoid crowds
Work from home
Stay at home
Avoid social gatherings
Avoid shaking hads with others
Avoid meal gatherings

Also, changing my avatar:

But also this... warning: extreme eye contact ahead!

I’m at home, working on the company laptop; it has a small screen; I’m too lazy to go into the office and carry a monitor home (half of the way would be on foot since I don’t have a car). So... I make due. But unlike the private laptop where I use font size 16 and above everywhere, and Emacs, on the company laptop it’s Eclipse and Outlook and other stupid tiny shit, making me wear reading glasses. Such is life at 45 and older!

Image 2

But then again, I’m also enjoying home office coffee break!

Image 3

I think I’m getting used to this. The hashtag to use is #whfwork from home.

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My setup was not comfy. The bench looks nice but my ass was as flat as it can get and it started to hurt. I didn’t know my office was so ergonomic until I started to work from home.

Image 4

Got an old chair from the cellar...

Image 6

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2020-02-23 Offline

ℹ Looks like my internet access might be spotty for the next few weeks...

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2020-01-01 Donations

Collecting donations for 2020. I’ll start with the regular stuff: I regularly donate $120/year to the EFF, $120/year to the FSF, CHF 250/year to Digitale Gesellschaft, and €180/year to the FSFE.

It makes me sad that I have to support charities in the USA in order to help them prevent the USA from adversely affecting the legal situation in Switzerland. Grrr!

As for political associations in Switzerland: we are members of Mieterverband (for tenants) and VCS Verkehrs-Club der Schweiz (for sustainable mobility, unlike the Touring-Club, which is pro-cars).

I donated…

More to be added throughout the year, I hope.

And I pay double subscription for the local leftist weekly newspaper, WOZ, CHF 530 in total.

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Comments on 2020-01-01 Donations

Happy new year, Alex!

– Enzo 2020-01-02 16:39 UTC


Thanks. 🙂

– Alex Schroeder 2020-01-02 18:44 UTC


I applaud your charitable donations. But I have to warn you about WWF. The WWF was founded by trophy hunters. In the US, if you buy a WWF t-shirt they ship it exclusively using FedEx (the same company that ships hunting trophies, slave dolphins, and shark fins). FedEx also supports the NRA and US republicans, the party who is quite destructive to the environment. The shirts are also composed of unsustainable cotton.

That’s just off the top of my head. WWF often does things contrary to their own mission. So if the environment and wildlife conservation is your motivation, there are many other charitable organizations that are true to their cause. Extinction Rebellion is probably a good one.

– Gavin 2020-01-17 16:48 UTC


Yeah, I keep thinking about the WWF. Ugh.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-01-17 20:36 UTC

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2019-12-09 The Common Cold

I’ve been suffering from a common cold for a few days now.

But remember “Thumper’s Rule.” In the movie Bambi, Thumper the rabbit remarks that Bambi is wobbly and Thumper’s parents tell him: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Ah! Something nice to say about the common cold?

...

Back to the basics: Alex, what is best in life!? To read Wikipedia, of course!

Here’s something for you. If only I had followed this advice:

There is no vaccine for the common cold. The primary methods of prevention are hand washing; not touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; and staying away from sick people.

Common cold on wikipedia

Ah, and there’s more:

Rhinovirus-caused colds are most infectious during the first three days of symptoms; they are much less infectious afterwards.

That is to say, the hand washing must continue until the very end. There’s no way around it. They are less infectious, but not quite gone. And the cold lasts for a very long time, too!

Symptoms may begin within 16h of exposure and typically peak two to four days after onset. They usually resolve in seven to ten days, but some can last for up to three weeks. The average duration of cough is eighteen days and in some cases people develop a post-viral cough which can linger after the infection is gone. In children, the cough lasts for more than ten days in 35–40% of cases and continues for more than 25 days in 10%.

I’ve heard it say that the common cold comes for a week and goes for a week.

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Comments on 2019-12-09 The Common Cold

We have a saying that cured cold lasts for 7 days and uncured for a week. There is something true about that.

Peter Kotrčka 2019-12-10 02:49 UTC


Haha! Apparently having a headache and a running nose makes for better blogging, somehow. Weird!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-12-10 09:41 UTC

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2019-09-26 Melancholy

Feeling melancholy. Time to listen to the German Requiem by Brahms although I suspect it won’t help.

Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit;
aber ich will euch wiedersehen,
und euer Herz soll sich freuen,
und eure Freude soll niemand von euch nehmen.
Ich will euch trösten,
wie einen seine Mutter tröstet.
Sehet mich an: Ich habe eine kleine Zeit
Mühe und Arbeit gehabt
und habe großen Trost gefunden.

Maybe a seasonal thing.

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2019-09-23 Phone etiquette

Sometimes we talk to other people about how we use our phones. Here’s what I think future historians need to know:

  1. people don’t us a land line anymore, it’s all mobile phones
  2. the phone is set to silent; having a loud ring is rude
  3. we don’t answer calls by unknown numbers
  4. we search for unknown numbers before calling back (in Switzerland: tel.search.ch)
  5. we never call back if a search indicates a call center

Personally, I have also disabled my voice mail: I don’t want unknown people to leave me messages which I then have to listen to and answer.

The phone world has been poisoned by robot calls and call centers. It’s ads and spam, now. That is, it’s worse than mail because the mail still gets us stuff we ordered online and bills, which we hate but which we still need to pay, or material to cast our votes without going to the polling booth.

The two or three people I know that still feel more comfortable using voice than writing text usually call via encrypted messenger apps. Sadly, that often includes Facebook-owned WhatsApp, but at least in my circle of friends and family we a lot of Threema. Threema isn’t free software, unfortunately, so that isn’t ideal, either. At least it works without me having to upload my address book to those damn servers.

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2019-09-23 Back to Work

My summer break is coming to an end. I don’t work much: I have a 60% job so I don’t work on Fridays and I have a 17½ week summer break, more or less. This works out fine because we have no kids, no cars, and we live in a small apartment at the edge of town.

During these summer breaks I go on trips with my wife — but she only has four weeks of holidays per year, and I do household chores, and then I sit around doing nothing productive: I write software for my games, I write text for my games, I draw pictures for my software for my games, I create a podcast about my games, I make some music for the podcast for my games... and yet, I find that summer is gone and I didn’t practice playing the recorder, not once, and I only managed to practice my Japanese once, on a plane as I didn’t feel like reading (Kanji Teacher), didn’t play on my consoles, not once, I didn’t read any of the big books I still want to read, and there is so much left to do I could cry.

People sometimes wonder what I do all summer and they tell me they’d be bored but I think creativity is like a plant: it adapts to the time you give it which allows all of us to be happy no matter how much or how little time we spend on it. If you work a lot, your tree is small and if you get a break it can be hard. You have a two week crisis but then the tree is growing every day and soon you will have found projects, your heart will have found a way: local politics, local charities, music, drawing, writing, reading, programming, knitting, doing stuff and making things. It comes naturally to us humans, I think.

It is a bit weird when my wife comes home from work and her mind is full of police thoughts and politics, and I try to tell her that my Face Generator now generates dragons...

Remember the final scene of the movie Fargo?

Final scene from Fargo

She comes back from days of bloody murder and he is sad that his mallard only got selected for the 3 cent stamp and not for the 29 cent stamp. 😂

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2019-09-18 Black and white photography

I’ve been taking some black and white pictures lately and I really like the effect. I should take more black and white pictures.

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/IMG_E3353.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/IMG_E3356.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/IMG_E3357.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/IMG_E3364.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9030168.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9090309.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9090312.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9090314.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9090317.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9090321.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9090322.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9120411.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9120412.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9120413.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9120415.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9120416.jpg

https://alexschroeder.ch/gallery/2019-portugal/imgs/P9120418.jpg

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Comments on 2019-09-18 Black and white photography

These are beautiful. Love these, Alex!

Eugene Eric Kim 2019-09-18 17:33 UTC


Eugene! Long time no see! Thank you for the comment. Whenever I feel insecure about my pictures I remember a very old blog post of yours where you wrote about telling a story in a picture. That’s advice that keeps pushing me because by nature I think I just like landscapes and texture and colors and that’s nice but … not a story.

Oh, and eating horse meat, of course! 😅

– Alex Schroeder 2019-09-18 18:28 UTC


Yeah, those have come out very well! Not to geek out too much, but what sort of camera are you using?

Anne 2019-09-18 23:51 UTC


I have an Olympus E-P5 with the 17mm f/1.8 M.Zuiko lens. The camera is a bit on the large side, but the 17mm is nice and small.

I also carry around an Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 II, which makes the entire bag very heavy and bulky. 😭

But consider this: I’m picking the images I like from a pool of nearly a thousand images, if I remember correctly. So what did I end up picking?

CountModel
144Olympus E-P5
51iPhone 6s
168iPhone 8
363Total

So where as my old iPhone 6s is a loser, my wife’s iPhone 8 is beating the Olympus E-P5. I guess those phone cameras really are going to win in the end!

Hm, now that I think about it, I think I should set them in context! Thus, here are the pictures in my folder:

CountModel
306Olympus E-P5
176iPhone 6s
595iPhone 8
5other (WhatsApp, Screenshots)
1078Total

And so, dividing one by the other to determine the success rate based on the camera model:

CountModel
47%Olympus E-P5
29%iPhone 6s
28%iPhone 8

Argh! Now I’m confused. The problem is of course that the iPhone 8 was usually operated by my wife. So I guess in terms of iPhone successrate, there’s no difference between the pictures taken by either of us.

It’s still possible I only get out the bigger camera when there’s something more interesting to see and thus Olympus pictures have a higher success rate because of it. 🤔

I guess... the conclusion to draw is... uh... what I’m doing is rubbish statistics! 😭

– Alex Schroeder 2019-09-19 08:16 UTC

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2019-09-17 Dreams

Over time I’ve been thinking about my dreams every now and again. And really why shouldn’t I? We dream every day.

Today, for example, I discovered another limitation of my dream generator: when using a digital camera with a display in a dream, my brain cannot figure out how to change the image on the display when I moved the camera. I was trying to align a shot and the image on the display rolled and waved like crazy. It was like trying to read in my dreams. The brain keeps trying to explain why it doesn’t work. I laughed when I woke up. 😀

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2019-08-25 Creating

Recently, @22 recommended the blog post Consume less, create more. The author argues that there is no moral high grounds to be gained when substituting reading books for social media, when reading newspapers instead of Twitter. Being thoroughly informed is not a value per se. All you get is material for smalltalk.

Let’s talk about the first part, consuming less.

I tend to agree with the idea that most people don’t gain from reading those huge daily newspapers.

  • They don’t benefit spiritually. They aren’t happier.
  • They don’t benefit politically. They don’t vote better.
  • They don’t benefit epistemologically. Their knowledge doesn’t allow them to act better.

So, you need to know enough to be able to make the right decisions in the realm where you can make a difference. You need to know a bit about the climate catastrophe in order to vote green. Knowing all the details, however, isn’t necessary and will most likely bring you down.

You need to know enough to convince yourself that your are right, that your newspaper is good. You need to know what you are doing.

Everything else is entertainment. You might as well read a book, or scroll through Instagram.

I didn’t think I’d ever write something as anti-intellectual as this. But I think it’s important to know what the benefits of being an intellectual actually are.

  • Are you running for office?
  • Are you a policy maker?
  • Are you talking to policy makers?
  • Are you an activist, trying to sway public opinion?

If none of the above, and not planning to change, then chances are that our current system is simply information overload.

Perhaps you should read more as a teenager in order to know whether you want to be an activist and change the system. You probably should. It’s definitely worth changing (incrementally, hah).

I find the following works well enough for me:

  • I skim the international and national politics headlines in free newspapers full of ads that mostly just print what the big news agencies put out and skip all the stuff about music, people, holidays, pictures, and so on.
  • I read a small part of a leftist weakly newspaper, WOZ.
  • I read a small part of a leftist monthly newspaper, Monde Diplomatique.
  • I click on some links on social media from people I follow.

No TV.

But even this reduced diet is often overwhelming. Perhaps consuming less also makes me less suited for consuming what’s left.

The second part of the blog post is about creating more.

I often feel bad about not reading enough. I used to be a voracious reader. These days, I skim so much fragmented social media, headlines and abstracts, articles and introductions, it’s hard to focus on reading long articles, let alone books.

The terrible truth is that I am often bored when I read. As soon as I read something interesting, I want to write about it. Post a link. Write a comment. Or I start thinking about role-playing games and programming. Creating things is more rewarding, these days. And it takes me so little effort it’s ridiculous. I feel like some people must feel like when they’re knitting: flow.

Anyway, I was reminded of an older blog post I had read, Productivity Rules. It’s about reducing your exposure to social media. It’s also about reading more books. Ah, I don’t know about reading more books. It’s also about creativity and being more “productive.”

I wonder. I want to know enough to be able to make the appropriate political decisions, but not so much that it crushes my soul. I often feel crushed and think I’m a fool for it. I often close the newspaper and think to myself: ugh, enough! But this is taking us back to what I wrote above. I guess many books these days simply bore me and that’s that. There are no excuses.

But this talk about being “productive” is weird. I refuse to see my free time in terms of productivity. That’s late stage capitalism talking. I don’t need to improve myself, I don’t need to get ahead in my free time.

Or perhaps we are applying the word to something different? @PresGas suggested “fruitfulness.” Interesting association: fecundity.

I guess the measure I’d have is: on my death bed, what would I say about my life?

  • I was lucky beyond belief in love and life
  • I didn’t work too hard and didn’t suffer any hardship, ever
  • I guess I’m sorry I’m taking down the planet with me?

Even in this respect I don’t think I would say: I wish my blog had been more popular. I wish I had been able to sell role-playing games. I don’t wish to have produced more. I don’t want consumers for my products. I want to meet and play games with my peers.

Thus, the audience is small, and I’m mainly doing it for myself. I think that’s how we keep our sanity: by making things for ourselves. Sometimes, incidentally, some free software project or a book or a track turns out to be a big hit, or a money making machine – but mostly they don’t and we need to be happy with that. And it’s still better than consuming a ton and never making a thing.

At least that’s how I explain it to myself. 😅

I think that’s how I keep my sanity.

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Comments on 2019-08-25 Creating

And a day later, @meta links to Sin-eaters: journalists devour the sins of others but to what end? It’s a long litany of terrible things that happened on a particular day, enraging and numbing at the same time, and there you have it: it changes nothing.

I wonder if there’s a better way to live without abstaining from the feed entirely? What exactly is it we’re doing, those of us who scroll through our newsfeed endlessly like an addict lifelessly pulling the lever on a slot machine waiting for information and sadness to spill out?

Indeed, where to find that sweet, sweet balance.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-26 15:11 UTC

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