Trip to the Past, and Tasty Food

I’ve been feeling a bit hopeless lately, so this exercise should help.

I’ve been stuck in Factorio. Normally I wouldn’t note the games I’ve been putting hours on, but it has been a venue to interact with other people. But, more than that, it’s been good practice at turning larger tasks easier to execute and plan projects. It’s easy for me to look at a large task and freeze because I want to plan it all, so it is very important for me to practice this skill.

On the weekend, a friend asked for help. She needed someone who had some technical expertise when it comes to web and mobile applications. At least, someone from the area who knew at least something. Now, I don’t know much about mobile development, but it is within my realm of interest. So I gave her a hand, responding to her questions and providing some insight, even if it could be boiled down to the subject matter being beyond our respective fields of expertise.

When it comes to social networks, I did get around posting a little bit more. I did mention before that I wasn’t too excited about the photos that I have selected to put on Instagram, and that certainly has been reflected in the lack of posting. Per friend request, though, I did go through some of the old photos that I have taken. It was nice to go through some of those memories.


A few years ago, for example, I took a small trip with some colleagues from work to Passadiços de Sistelo, in the northern parts of Portugal. I was also reminded of that time I wandered to the Roca Madrid Gallery, which still amuses me to this day as it was much more enjoyable than other visits I’ve done. Never expected to find myself there, and yet I don’t think I will forget.

It also provided some perspective. If you head across the river, on foot through Luis I bridge, from Jardim do Morro, to São Bento’s train station, years ago you would have found the mural pictured below.

Mural on the side of a building. It is just left of the where the metro goes underground, when looking towards São Bento’s train station from the Luis I bridge. Mural seems to be by Frederico Draw

Sadly, as the years have passed, it has decayed and it is but a former shell of how it used to look. While the city has been bustling with life (though certainly fueled by tourism more than locals), I can’t help but feel saddened by what remains forgotten on the less traveled paths. And overall, it didn’t take much pre-pandemic to find places that were in need of upkeep.


And, finally, during the week my mom and I tried a recipe for fluffy pancakes. A friend had recommended them to me, and after showing it to mom she wanted to try them. She had said that she felt like we had been eating pretty much the same, so this was a great opportunity to change.

They came out rather well!

A picture of the first attempt at making the pancakes. They are served with butter and maple syrup.

A Messy End to a Decent Week

Sunday wasn’t a good day. Some family matters that are going to be a torn in the side for some time. I am bothered by it, since these things were foreseeable, but there isn’t much else that can be done. I wish I could say I’m going to focus on other matters. With things like this, however… It dominates the mind and makes it hard to even remember the other things.

Last week I helped my friend from Spain with some university things. I’m hopeful that now that he’s wrapping up exam season he’ll go back to a decent rhythm instead of the stressful sprint he falls into during the end of semester.

I started a small project about Cryptograms as prompted by a friend’s suggestion. It’s been a great way to learn a little bit of Vue.js and tailwindcss, as most of the difficulty is in learning how the framework works instead of figuring out what I want to accomplish. Hopefully I will find the drive to pour a few more hours into it. It’s only missing the behavior to make guesses, and then loading random text from a source.

On other interesting tidbits, I found out that there is an app for contributing to OpenStreetMap. StreetComplete is an app that let’s you respond to questions about what’s around, such as whether a road has a sidewalk, or roof types, and son on. Since I’d love to rely on tools that aren’t bound to a single corporate for-profit entity, I figured it was a simple way to contribute to one. Besides, it is a great excuse to walk for a while. It’s been a long time staying primarily at home, so I’m sure I could use the movement.

I’m also quite happy that I’m now used to sharing things with people in general. I do need to get better with sharing things to people who aren’t just on my immediate circle, but looking back one year or two, it has been a definite improvement. Furthermore, it means that I have more reasons to talk to people!

Overall, while it has been a little bit quiet, I’m still feeling alright about how I’m doing with things. No picture, however, since I haven’t been sharing much over on Instagram, nor taking any.

Of Burgers and Switches

This past week was a bit of a wash, to be honest. Around Wednesday and Thursday I felt like my emotions turned off for a bit. But by Friday I seemed to be fine. It was a weird funk, to be quite honest. If circumstances were different, perhaps it would have been a fine time to spend some time in nature.

Taken in theHunter: Call of the Wild on December 17, 2020. A picture of clouds bathed in the red light of the sunset, above a small island in the distance.

Earlier in the week I ate a Duo Bacon Cheddar at home. It’s nice to, every now and then, to eat out even if it is at home. It is a small treat, and it’s one day no one has to cook. And I had been craving the hamburger, so it was really nice to get to eat it. Now I’m regretting I didn’t take a picture, however. The only downside is having to drive to the drive-through, since no one seems to deliver here, but hey. We stayed inside the car, masks on, made a contactless payment, and drove back.

Good things did happen this week though, beyond caving to a craving. So: when I was young, a neighbor used to play a point and click adventure game. For a while now, we both wanted to know which game that was. She wanted to play it, since she had found it fun at the time. I wanted to be able to put a name to the scenes I remembered from the game. I was talking to a friend about it, as we were talking about old games, and he finally gave me the answer. Turns out that I was remembering scenes from Broken Sword 2.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to indulge in a bit of nostalgia, so I started playing through the first game of that series on discord with him watching and back-seating along. It’s been fun, even if I can only play the game for about two hours before having to take a break. The drawn art style holds up rather well, even if it means I get to play in a small window. And, on the bright side, I learned I find cryptograms fun. It’s a little bit of a taste of the cryptography, a field I doubt I’ll have to time to explore in life.

On Friday I got to make a small change in my network setup at home. I replaced the wireless extender that our Internet Service Provider gave us for one of our own, since it should be cheaper in the long run (the money we save from not renting the device should be paid back within 2 years). Because of my particular set up, however, it did mean I finally had an excuse to add a network switch. I now have the space to plug in five Raspberry Pi’s (or similar) through wired connection! So, hopefully when I work on my plans requiring more of those, I will get around plugging them in.

The network switch on its temporary residence. It’s on top of my PC case, until it’s wall mounted on a better position. Three of its ports are in use.

I also tried, unsuccessfully, to get either WineHQ or a proper Windows XP machine working. I suffered a myriad of issues and, in the end, I gave up. The game I wanted to play works on Windows 10 without many issues, and not wanting to unplug my wheel just wasn’t worth the effort I had already put in. On the bright side, I’m replaying Need for Speed Underground 2.

I’m running out of photos to post on Instagram. I have 12 left, and I admit that I’m not feeling many of them. They are alright, of course, and a few of them I’m even proud of. It’s just that I don’t particularly want to share any of them. Alas. On the bright side, I did talk to a friend about what I’d like to do with it, so I do think I will be more intentional about how I use it.

I do admit I am disappointed in myself for this week. I know I’m not supposed to be necessarily pushing myself to do more, since that’s a recipe to completely derail myself. However, I feel like looking back on what I did this week there really isn’t much that I did throughout that I am happy about or want to note. Most of it was concentrated at the end of the week, except for the burger we bought and ate.

Food, Photos, Helping Others, New Job

Lately, it’s been tough to sit down and write.

On the 20th I started a new job. I admit I’m not feeling too enthusiastic about it, but I could use the paycheck. More importantly, however, is that it is teaching me so much more about myself than I ever expected. Perhaps the most important lesson is that I want my time in this earth to be spent doing something that I find fulfilling, and not just interesting enough to work at. Sadly, I’m not there yet. I will have to figure out how to find the energy to do what I love, without falling into the pitfall of trying to fill the entire day to make the most of it.

But, hey. I found the time to sit down, so here are the things I can say I’ve done these past two weeks:

While I’ve posted less to Instagram, I still did get some new photos up. I think part of the reason I’m not excited about uploading things is because I’m just not that excited about the photos that I have ready. Perhaps, the best thing I could do is upload those so they aren’t lost to time, and get on with actually posting the ones I want. Like the one below!

Black smoke coming out of a chimney during a particularly cloudy day. The smoke fades, becoming indistinguishable from the clouds behind it. I quite like this photograph.

I also baked Petit Gâteau as an impromptu dessert. They came out rather well! I’m glad I feel confident enough to decide to bake them without feeling like it’s a huge deal. Then again, I do consider most of the recipes I have to be not that complicated.

Moving away from my creative side, I started writing a piece about an ex-friend. It’s tough, because I yearn for that which never came to be. Alas, their behavior was not acceptable, so all I can do is grieve it. It’ll take some time, if it ever becomes worthy of being shared. All in all, though, it’s something I need to write about.

I picked up The 99% Invisible City to read, after having it in my possession for a while. I think I’m now in the headspace to read it, even if it’s only a few pages at a time. Last I read is about the air vents for metros and other subterranean infrastructure, a problem I was vaguely aware of existed, but entirely oblivious to how it was solved.

Finally, I’m proud I’ve been helping people around me. Of note is that a friend was having issues with noise, since everyone is spending more time at home. I recommended him some noise cancelling headphones, and he’s been loving them ever since they arrived. I also did help him a bit with university work – at least, with what little I remember. Though sometimes, more than remembering, it’s all about being fresh and awake!

I’m hoping that this coming week I get to set up some network things at home, since we should replace the WiFi extender from our ISP with our own. I also need to sit down and figure out what I actually want to do with some of my socials. We’ll see. Life is tough, as it turns out.

Keeping Myself Accountable

Back in November, I quit my first job. It had been a long time coming, as I had been unsatisfied with my pay and the work I was doing (both in terms of rhythm and the tasks themselves). I’m lucky enough to be in the financial position where it wasn’t completely crazy to leave my job in the middle of a pandemic, and that there seems to be an endless need for software developers so finding another job didn’t seem very difficult.

At the time, I decided that December was going to be a more relaxed month. I hoped that it would serve as a way to reset myself and perhaps revert some of the changes I had seen develop in myself at the time. I was half successful: some of the changes were brought by my increase in weight and won’t go away anytime soon; others feel like something within me broke and I haven’t figured out how to fix.

Regardless, the march of time never stops. While I’m in a better place than when I took this decision, it was clear it was time to find another job. Not just because of financial reasons, but also because I find it difficult to set goals on my own and commit to them once the new project energy has worn off.

That said, one of the challenges I set for this year was to review what I’ve been doing often. There are things I want to accomplish, such as investing time in photography or actually riding my bicycle, and I’d like to direct my life towards those goals without the pressure of a hard schedule. The objective would be to review often, perhaps weekly, with the intent of celebrating and bringing to the forefront whatever steps I take towards these goals.

As such, and hopefully one of many:

A photograph I took of the clouds on a particularly cloudy and windy day. The sun is setting, silhouetting the town’s skyline and bathing in red the top of the clouds. First published in my Instagram account.

Last week, I finally got around editing some of the photos in my backlog. While there are still more to select and go through, it was nice to sort through a few of them. Plus, that means I have more photos ready to be shared! And, on that vein, I have been posting photos to Instagram when I feel like it.

I also made some changes to my CV. I had received some feedback that it was rather sparse and that it should better describe the work I actually performed, so I went ahead and was more explicit about what I did. It also isn’t as relevant anymore as I have a new job already (contract signature pending), but it’s already done for when I have to look again, so no loss.

Finally, I looked into setting up my own instance of Pixelfed. It wasn’t successful for a variety of reason, such as my own inexperience with PHP and its ecosystem, and also because I decided that the Raspberry Pi I bought would have Raspbian instead of Debian (or Ubuntu), but I gave it a fair shot. Regardless, the more I think about it the less I think it would have been a good fit for me: it still works under the Instagram model, so it isn’t particularly useful for a gallery; and having to manage it myself is ever less appealing. That said, I do still want to update my pixelfed.social account to have the same content as my Instagram, as I’d love to support fediverse software.

Trip to Spain – Day 1

For days I had been wondering what I would do with my two weeks of time off around Easter. I had scheduled them guided by the holidays throughout the week, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do throughout. Two weeks, after all, were going to be too much idle time for me to know what to do with myself.

On a whim, I checked for cheap plane tickets. What about Madrid? I could go visit my friend then. Oh, would you look at that. I’m going to Madrid for a week.

An unplanned trip, unlike my last one to Malmö. I’d stay at my friend’s house, and he’d show me around. We would talk and hang out after a few years of not being around each other. Sure, we keep in touch through the Internet, but it would be nice to be able to go places together. The only things I knew for certain would be that I would be seeing him, and that we’d go up a mountain by his house.

View from a left window seat of a Ryanair plane taking off. The sun is raising, and just below the wing you can see the horizon with a light reddish tinge.
View from a left window seat of a Ryanair plane taking off. The sun is raising, and just below the wing you can see the horizon with a light reddish tinge.

The flight there was uneventful, which is a great metric for plane rides. As a side note, my plane ride was quicker than him going from his house to mine. Regardless, we met, we hugged and then we set out to walk, my backpack and camera in tow.

It’s odd to meet somebody you’ve kept in contact through the Internet after so long. Sure, we have shared some photos and we know things have changed. But… It never quite sinks in how much that’s been. Some things are easier to ignore when all you have to go on are texts, voice messages and the occasional photo or video call. Having him in person, as a human being I can see and touch… It was great. And odd. And I knew we’d have plenty of time to adjust to each other throughout the week.

The first stop was a coffee shop in Moncloa. We needed to eat breakfast and had some time to kill until I could get the monthly pass for transport. Why the monthly? Well, it turns out that if you qualify, it’s only 26€ for the thing versus however much else I would have spent just on taking the bus from and to his house.

Then, he took me to Puerta del Sol, and nearby streets as a first introduction to the touristic side of the city. I’ll admit I don’t remember much from it. Perhaps it was the sun, perhaps it was being overwhelmed by the trip, or the people. Or maybe it is my preference for spaces inhabited by the people who live in the city, instead of the well-kept, well prepared places that are the common tourist attractions.

Puerta del Sol. A statue of a person in a horse, and to its left a water fountain. People are present throughout the photo, going about their lives. Some rest nearby the statue.
Puerta del Sol. A statue of a person in a horse, and to its left a water fountain. People are present throughout the photo, going about their lives. Some rest nearby the statue.

Vividly, I remember the coffee shop and what we ate. I remember the tunnel we went through, and the stop at the park. I remember the exhibition we watched, the small food market we went past. I remember the coffee we drank later that afternoon, until eventually we went home.

A cup of coffee with cream and wavy line of chocolate.
A cup of coffee with cream and wavy line of chocolate.

From talking to him, I knew his living conditions weren’t exactly cushy. He shared a room with his brother, and the place wasn’t too big. It was cramped. But he’d said it was fine, and I’m not one to not take people for their word. It was a surprise, as it hadn’t sunk in just how small it was. However, a part of me remembered what it was like to live in the old apartment, back across the small Atlantic pond.

Regardless, by the time we got home there wasn’t much time to do anything. We were tired, and for once they had gotten together for dinner as a way to say “welcome”. A nice dinner, eating arepas. Then? Sleep.

A solid start to the week.

I am…

I have always had trouble answering who I am. Never quite sure, a grey mass seemingly full of possibilities. But not knowing who I am is not good enough anymore. As part of the work I’ve been doing with a therapist, I was asked to write about who I am.

I have always had trouble answering who I am. Never quite sure, a grey mass seemingly full of possibilities. But not knowing who I am is not good enough anymore. As part of the work I’ve been doing with a therapist, I was asked to write about who I am.

Continue reading “I am…”