Monday, January 23, 2012

Link dump

I just need to dump some links before I lose them!


I intend to travel to northern Sweden later this year for four main reasons:
To see the Nobel Prize announcement
To see the Northern Lights
To experience eternal darkness
To see the ice hotel

Kirkenes Snow Hotel
Guardian Trevel, where to see the Northern Lights


I want to get new flooring for the appartement. (It's currently sporting a rather tasteless industrial style collection of lino tiles. They're cold, hard, they get dusty and they make the appartement look cheap and nasty.)

Home Depot: How to install laminate flooring
DIY Network: How to install laminate flooring


I should probably start a cooking blog too, just to keep nice, healthy and easy recipes.

Reader's Digest: Stuffed peppers (Yes, I finally got around to cooking these. And couscous is surprisingly easy to prepare.)


In order to progress with the yoga I'm going to need to become more flexible with my legs in extension. So by the end of February I'd like to be able to do the splits. How to do the splits

Friday, January 20, 2012

The deal

I just made a deal with Julia. If I give up going to the gym within a few weeks I have to give her my membership.


On Saturday I joined the gym, as planned! I took a tour of ICC and was impressed with how much stuff they had (and they have saunas, which is a nice touch.) On Tuesday night I checked out the nearest gym, in Meyrin, but was less impressed. They have less stuff there, and it's older, but they do have yoga classes. So it looks like I'll be going to ICC for most of my gym needs.

I'm currently speaking to Anna on IM and she's giving me all kinds of advice about how to get started:

Go to the gym 2-3 times a week (I'm aiming for 3, and will probably have to build e a schedule for it.)

Start with 10-15 minutes of cardio (running, bike, rowing) and vary it from one session to another.

Diet should include plenty of protein (eggs, meat, fish) and calorie intake can be taken from Calorie Calculator.

Find what's comfortable at 10 reps, then increase the weight and try 8 reps. (This should keep the sets nice and short!)

Vary the routines with a different muscle group each visit.

She's going to send me some more information via E-mail with links to forums and messageboards

I'm also on Skype chat with Ed and he has quite a lot of experience with the gym. I've asked him for some more specific help with individual exercises, and he's given me that kind of advice in the past.

Ed says:

So, for a 1 hour gym session, I would do:
5 minute warm up on a treadmill, from walking pace up to a "brisk" jog

15 mins of weights, try to use the freeweights (i.e. not machines, aside from leg weight work) and start slow, probably at 10Kg, and do say 8 reps until you feel comfortable to increase the reps, and gradually use higher weights. Specifically, Google these: dumbbell flys, chest presses (be careful, don't go mad on the weight) and dumbbell pullovers

20 mins of cardio, maybe half on a rower at a moderate resistance, and then a bit of treadmill. try to keep away from the "skiing" machines, they're a waste of time

15 mins of leg work on machines, leg presses, squats, leg abduction/adduction. again, don't go mad. ab/adduction hurts!

5 min cool down jog on treadmill.

Look at for a list of everything, but just make sure you know roughly what you're doing. Don't be put off by others

Friday, January 13, 2012

Climbing up the walls

Last night I went climbing with Julia, as part of my "never say no to a reasonable bit of exercise" resolution. It was lots of fun. She didn't push too hard, and my boss came too, overcoming his fear of heights. But it left me so tired. I need more upper body strength, more flexibility and more balance. So the yoga should help with the last two, and the gym should help with the first.

I was supposed to be going swimming with Catrin today at lunch, but she cancelled. Good job really, as my body aches and I have a headache (dehydration!) I even woke up late. It looks like climbing really takes it out of me. But that's good for the arm muscles, so it's just telling me I need to work them more.

With all that, it means that I'll have to start Couch To 5K again. No big deal. That's quite fun actually.

To get much further with the yoga I really need to understand what I'm doing, so I updated my Amazon account and ordered some books online. The shipping was as much as the books though! Shocking. Then again, the books were cheap enough.

And another resolution to add to the list: Always have lunch with other people. Last year I got into the habit of taking my lunch back to my desk, which was not good. I generally didn't do any work while eating, but I was focused on saving time. Not this year. This year is about learning to let go of the work when it's not immediately in front of me.

Tasks for this weekend:
Join a gym
Get some curtains for my room and the spare room
Sort out a shopping ritual

Oh, and it looks like we're going skiing on Sunday. Petrified. But it will be fun. Another reason to work on my balance and flexibility.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A few shaky days

The past few days have not been as good as I would have liked. I overslept twice (once after drinking the night before. So no drinking after 10pm, except on special occasions!) Oversleeping meant that I couldn't do the second Couch to 5K exercise, and I would have done it this morning instead, but I'm going climbing tonight. I don't want to be all tired for climbing. And I'm going ski-ing on Sunday. I may have to start again on Couch to 5K. But that's no big deal.

Tingting arrived, so productivity at work will be down a bit for the next few months. That might make things trickier. Then again, Steve leaves on Friday which will make things easier. And this year is all about working smarter, not harder. Getting rid of service trigger work will go a long way towards that goal.

I've decided to take things in smaller steps. I don't need to do everything at once, so I'm easing myself into a lot of changes. Sleep and fitness come first. The sleep is just a matter of practice (to undo about 15 years of bad practice) and the fitness is going to take more care. I started with yoga to get some stretches going, and Couch to 5K as a way to build up stamina, but I'm thinking of following this 30 day course (starting Friday) Bodyrock 30 Day Challenge.

If I can put together enough French on Saturday, I'm signing up to the local gym. Then I'll put a gym bag in the car. 3 times a week is not unreasonable. The price is not insane either, which is nice, given that the last time I joined a gym it cost me 30 pounds for a year.

Also added to the list of resolutions: stop being racist. It's fun to make fun of the French, the Swiss, the Americans and even the English, but no more. Jokes are to be confined to between close friends.

I'm thinking of keeping a log of my sleeping habits. But that might be taking things too far.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sleep and things

Just some notes and links about sleep.

Aside from some sleep hygiene, this articles seems to get all the main points. Health Sleep

A good day

So far today has been quite good!

Getting up at 8:00am was a bit hard, so I slept in until the 3rd alarm (8:20am.) Naughty, but not too bad.

I then did the morning yoga, had a healthy breakfast and started Couch to 5K. That advanced me three levels on Fitocracy and I'm almost at level 5 already!

All in all it seems to take about two hours between getting up, doing yoga, having breakfast, changing into jogging clothes, performing Couch to 5K, showering and getting dressed. Good to know. If I want to be at CERN by 10:00am (avoiding traffic) then getting up at 8:00am is about right. Breakfast happens to be a good chance to catch up with news on BBC Worldwide, which is nice.

I finally got my green plates attached to my car today (very efficient, cheap and easy, which was nice.) And I got to keep the old white plates, so they're going up on the wall somewhere. And I got the red triangle for the car. Apart from renewing the insurance for 2012, the car is all up to date and the next steps involve making it look and feel a bit more awesome.

And I did it all in French. Not good French, but at least I tried.

The reading has started too. Last night I started A Tale of Two Cities, by Dickens, and so far it's a good read. So I'm happy about what's been achieved today. A much more positive attitude and less putting off of things.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

First few days

Not a great start to the year, but not a terrible one either.

I couldn't sleep the first night I was back. (Well I collapsed on the sofa and then woke up half an hour later and failed to get to sleep in bed.) Instead I wrote the first blog post about how I'm going to change my life. I went back to bed at 3:00am and woke up at 12:00. I think I needed that sleep, so that's okay!

I did better last night, but it wasn't perfect. Moritz came over for some food, beers and a DVD. I got to bed at about 1:30am and woke up at 9:00am. Bonus points for being sociable. Less bonus points for drinking a beer before bed and getting to bed so late.

New rules for sleep though. From now on no work in the bedroom, no shoes in the bedroom. I got out a pair of pajamas to wear for bed and only bed. No matter how tired I am I must remember to change into them! No more science reading in bed. Instead I read a couple of speeches by Winston Churchill. He was a very eloquent man. More sleep changes to come.

Performed some yoga yesterday and today. I'm easing myself into the exercise, starting with some stretches. I can't do much harm with yoga! So the bedroom is now for just sleep, yoga and getting dressed.

I've also signed up for Fitocracy, which is a website that let's you keep track of fitness. It gives you points for each exercise you perform and then you get to level up. It's supposed to make exercise fun, and so far it looks like it is! Achievement based rewards are underrated.

I've been speaking to mum about Couch to 5K, which is a series of podcasts from the NHS, and it looks like a good place to start some cardio. Once I've digested my breakfast I'll do my first 30 minute session.

Actually I can't leave the flat just yet, because my landlord is coming to pick one of my sofas. He was supposed to take it with him 18 months ago, but didn't for some reason. It's actually a good thing, because it's so large and I need to remove some furniture from the living room in order to make the most of the space. At least that fits into plan to improve my living environment!

Today I'll be mostly working on physics, putting up some pictures and generally tidying up, then making either a curry or a pie. I've stocked up on bread, fruit, veg and yoghurt, so I can snack on things if I need to, and for now I don't plan on being a food Nazi.

I also took a look at at fights to New York for July 4th. Yikes, they're expensive. I definitely want to go to New York, and sometime before Burton leaves there. Perhaps later this year.

I chatted to Moritz last night and he suggested I take up the guitar or bass. That sounds like a reasonable idea. Anything to stimulate the right side of my brain. Not just yet though. One step at a time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A clean start

Having just got back from my yearly Christmas/New Year trip home it feels like it's time for some major changes. I'm usually very skeptical of new year resolutions, but this trip marked a chance for a big transition in my life. In that spirit I'm going to make my best efforts in 2012 to improve my quality of life for the better.

There are many changes that I would have liked to have made by now, but I always seemed to put them off, or never quite be ready to take them on. The previous decade of my life has been shaken up and turned upside down a few times. One experience was bitterly cruel and left several upheavals in its wake. No more. It's time to do something about it. It's time to stop putting things off and time to make the most of my potential. If I put my mind to it I can be healthy, intelligent, artistic, generous, loving, creative and see far beyond my current horizons.

This time next year I want to be the person I've always dreamed of being.

In vague order of importance:

Sort out a real sleep schedule

I've been an insomniac for years for various reasons. (Staying up late to chat with Americans when the internet was young. Finding it the only time to be alone in a house full of siblings. Being far too interested in a project to put down a book or close a laptop. Working very late to meet deadlines. Spiraling sleep cycles. Grief, stress and heartache.)

Arranging a good sleep schedule is key to getting a better quality of life. In that spirit I will aim to:

Sleep 8 hours a night.
Go to bed no later than 23:00 as often as possible. (Going to be bed later once a week should be fine.)
Get out of bed at 08:00 as often as possible, regardless of the time of year, what day of the week it is etc. The time may change, but I'll do my best to stay regular.
Rearrange my bedroom to be more comfortable and used only for sleeping or personal matters.

Exercise more

I've been putting off joining a gym and going regularly for years. From time to time in the states I'd get into the habit of some cardio a few times a week, but it wasn't structured and never lasted more than a couple of months. I aim to:

Join a gym and try to go 2-3 times a week. (Ideally, two evening sessions in the week, and one session in the weekend.)
Lose some weight to the point where I can get a six pack.
Do weight training on my upper body and legs to improve self esteem.
Warm up with yoga stretches.
In the winter, perform some cardio exercise at the gym. In the summer replace this with bike riding.
Plan my exercise regime to fit in with my sleep pattern plan to maximise the effects of both.

Work life

I often waste a lot of time at work and find myself working late at CERN. That needs to chance.

Organise a work schedule so that I work from 09:00-18:00 (with Sunday for extra time if I need it.)
Only make exceptions for rare rush jobs, or jobs where I need to communicate with the USA.
Set well defined goals that can be met. (This may need some structure to the day.)
Don't struggle without progress for as long as I usually do. If I can't find the answer in 20 minutes I'm not doing it right.
Attend more meetings in person so that I become more visible.

Domestic life

I've put off a lot of projects at home that need arranging. Some are general maintenance and some are not. These aims are more nebulous so the list will have be to updated quite a bit:

Arrange bills properly so that everything gets sorted out in good time.
Re file all the important documents.
Finish sorting out the car. (Attach green plates. Make sure I have everything I need in the boot.)
Set out a regular shopping list so that I always have enough food etc in the house and so that I can schedule a regular shopping trip.
Improve the overall appearance of the flat to make it more attractive.
Improve the efficiency of the flat.
Pester than landlord for more improvements. (Carpets!)


Essentially, save money:

Keep track of broad spending habits and expenses.
Save at least 500 euro per month. Aim to save 1000 euro per month.
Draw up calendar of payments (car insurance, housing insurance, medical insurance.)
Book flights further in advance.


Blogging has become bigger to me lately. There's a lot to keep track of.

Keep an archive of US LHC blog posts ready for rainy days.
Aim to post at least once a week, with videos at least once a month.
Keep track of how often my other blogs get updated.


I love to travel and I have a lot of travel planned this year. So:

Book as far in advance as possible.
Make the trips as cheap as possible.
Visit Prague, Paris, England, USA.
Consider a trip to see the Northern Lights.
Consider where conferences might take me.
Arrange visits of others to see me.

Relearn French

I've already learned French once, so there's no reason not to do it again!

Learn how to conjugate verbs again.
Learn new vocabulary.
Speak French wherever possible in day to day life.


I've got so many projects going. Most of them just require some concerted effort to complete:

Get LGBT CERN registered with CERN.
Work on mcviz.
Update greasebox.
Finish unfinished physics projects (Feynman diagram drawer on HTML5 canvas. Graph drawer on HTML5 canvas. Box plot maker.)
Put unfinished and vaguely interesting projects online.
Declare status and intended status of each project.

Art and culture

It's always nice to balance science with culture.

Aim to read more. Make my way through the long list of recommendations (this could take years!)
Discover some more music from different decades, putting it context.
Spend time finding out more about various art movements and how they influenced culture.

Personal life

I'm so far behind organising my virtual life.

Rationalise my music collection into one consistent set of MP3s etc.
Sort out my DVD collection. (Everything should be ripped, archived and backed up.)
Rationalise my photo collection. (Remove corrupted photos where duplicates exist. Remove duplicates. Upload photos to Photobucket. Organise photos by time, place, event and people.)
Standardise my online life. Make a consistent set of profiles and keep track of them all (including the passwords!)


As usual, not a major concern! But keep an eye out for potential partners. Take chances and dates as they come.