Summary May 2021

Tags: summary mtb travel

Birthday celebration

My last birthday celebration happened when I was 17 years old. I must say that the last as it was organized by me where I actually invited friends to come. Since then my friends and family did congratulate me, and did celebrate it with me every year, but it was always triggered by them, not me. I have a weird relationship to this “special” day which feels nothing special for me. In fact, only my mum celebrates her own birthday, but not my dad nor my sister. And I think that had an impact on me too: why bother? What’s so special about this day? Well, this year I changed my mind. Actually, it was my wife who suggested to invite friends over, and I did.

It was a weird feeling to see a diverse group of people interact with each other. A physicist working with nano tech in the semi-conductor industry, and IT project manager, and IT product owner, a sales and project manager for electrical shields. Unfortunately two more people couldn’t come, but it was fun anyway. I was always afraid of the chemistry that would be among people with different backgrounds and interests. And what I’ve learned is that alcohol helps smooth it out which leads to some interesting conversations.

Overall it was a fun day with everyone saying I should make it a tradition.

Time-off in Turkey

Since the pandemic first hit we lost two trips to it. One to Israel, and another one to Switzerland and Italy. Our friends from Russia were planning to go to Turkey in the beginning of May, and we decided to join to spend the time together.

I never wanted to go to Egypt or Turkey for the fact that these countries are strongly associated with all-inclusive hotels and drunk people. Yet two years ago we visited such a place in Egypt, and now were heading to a similar place in Turkey.

A week before leaving Russia has banned all travel to Turkey, so we were left there alone. Our whole trip lasted 12 days out of which:

  • 2 days were spent on logistics
  • 3 nights in Antalya apartment hotel
  • 5 nights in all-inclusive hotel near Antalya
  • 3 nights in Istanbul

Travelling with two young kids is hard, especially when one has his teeth growing, and the other is allergic to Sun. It’s also hard because children need 2-3 days to get used to a new place, and during that time they might not sleep well, continuously complain about everything, feel tired. And this reduced the real holiday to just a few days, three, to be precise.

My opinion of the fancy hotel is that it is just a cover for a prison. Your schedule revolves around the breakfast, lunch, and dinner times. You plan your activities in between these. Inside the hotel it’s a fake paradise, outside it’s just a desert with nothing to see or do. Yet, children love these because you have a schedule and it’s predictable. Both me and my wife love the opposite: we love going new places every few days, we love a bit of randomness, and most of all we love freedom.

The last three days were in Istanbul, and I totally fell in love with the city. Even though there was a lockdown (which luckily didn’t affect tourists) and all the museums were closed, most of the cafes and restaurants too, I enjoying walking in the old town, seeing the Bosphorus, and imagining what it was like in the Ottoman times.

Bike progress

There hasn’t been much progress in that front because I wasn’t riding regularly. However by the end of the month I decided to take this hobby more seriously and think of it as a paid training session, like if I were to go to the gym, yoga, or swimming class. And this actually made things better because I can plan my sessions 1-2 times a week with regular intervals. June will show if this sticks though.

I made some good progress on wheelie and from the initial lift-off and fall now manage to ride anywhere between 2-15 meters. It is easier to ride longer when I’m going fast, but I want to go slow, almost at a snail pace. So practice continues.

Been also trying to do rear wheel hops like they do on a trials bike. So far I cannot really hold the balance and can jump only forward (contrary to what trial riders do by jumping on the same spot).

3D-printing meets MTB

The other day I saw a “hack” on how to enable free coaster without buying any new parts. Free coaster enables you to ride backwards without your pedals rotating. It’s not extremely useful, but it’s a cool trick that I wanted to learn ages ago. Turns out that all you need is to swap one of the freewhels in the cassette with a blank spacer. The chain will slide on it while going backwards and the pedals won’t rotate.

I found a 3D model for my cassette, modified the spacer a bit, and printed with a hard enough material. Now all I need to do is get used to driving backwards.

3D-printed cassette spacer
MTB cassette
MTB cassette

RC car progress

Not much progress here, although I did manage to connect new ESCs with reverse gear and figure out how these work. I also created new 3D models for the chassis to accomodate motors but haven’t been able to print them yet.

Singing

I started taking singing classes. It was a long-time wish to learn to sign without being embarrased myself. I am not planning to sing karaoke or go to Eurovision, but I do want to listen to myself and not think how awful that is.

There are also several things I want to achieve with singing:

  • improve my voice, ie. controlling both the voice and the breathing
  • improve my public speaking
  • try something new to let my monkey brain pause for a bit

It’s been 4 lessons so far, and I enjoy this a lot.

Mathematics

About 3 or 4 years ago I started thinking about getting back to studies. Not just an online course but rather taking time off the work and going to university. The reasons these thoughts came to be is because the job I was (and still am) doing is not that brain-intensive. There is quite a lot to the joke that modern web development is just copy-pasting code snippets from Stack Overflow. Learning new code patterns and applying them, or fixing a CSS so that your UI can work in every browser doesn’t involve much thinking, it’s just reading blogs, computer science books and articles, or Googling a solution to a known problem. This made me crave for some brain-intensive tasks and lead me to a journey trying to figure out what I want to learn.

Math and physics were the obvious choices. Not because chemistry, astronomy, or other parts of the science are less intensive, but for those subjects I would need to start from the very beginning and brush up all my high-school knowledge. Having friends who studied both physics and maths as their major in universities, I talked to all of them to find out what would interest me more, and in the end I ended up settling for maths.

Mathematics is the foundation of everything. This is the language that one can use to describe almost anything in the real world. Building your physics knowledge of top of that would be much easier. And even though Faraday could make amazing discoveries without the use of maths, I’m not him.

I started looking for various ways to get a proper degree in maths. Researched local universities in Estonia, checked some online opportunities. In the end life (with two kids and a startup) came in the way, and so I paused the research. My itching for intense brain activity hasn’t disappeared. And even though I do not have the luxury of taking a sabbatical and going to university, I decided that I should do my best and complete several online courses to at least refresh my knowledge. And so I signed up for the Calculus course on edX which starts in June.