Category Archives: Life

Countdown to moving – 40 days

The countdown has reached a round number of days – sort of – and I’ve decided to divulge a bit more information about the flat I’ll be moving into. Behold below, a map of it. Click to enlarge.

Floorplan of the flat I'll be moving to

The image is the best I’ve been able to cook up using Google Sketchup. At least one measurement is right: The width of the living room. The light wood coloured surfaces are the closets in the bedroom and the working surface in the kitchen (where there’ll also be a cooker. a sink and a combined freezer/refrigerator, though I don’t know where), and the dark wood coloured bit is a half-height wall, dividing the kitchen from the living room.

Main entry door is at the top, and the big window at the bottom also contains a door to the balcony. I’m sure there’s a small window in the bathroom as well – I’ve seen it – but it didn’t show on the small map I based this drawing on.

A sleepless evening – and fire

I couldn’t sleep. I’d been trying to sleep for a couple of hours, but nothing was really happening. Check the news, nothing. Back to bed, try to sleep, nothing.

So I decided to go for a drive, and perhaps a walk somewhere. Around town, somewhere I haven’t been in a while – in the dark, err, almost dawn. Quiet, hopefully, and might make me tired.

Not so. A fire had broken out, and I kinda stumbled upon it, a good couple of hours after the firemen had. I snapped a few quick shots with my mobile phone, and talked briefly to some of the firemen while they were resting. Apparently, no one was hurt – but like usual in such a place, no one knew for sure.

A view down the street
First picture shows the street as I discovered it. Okay, not entirely true – there’s a firetruck and a police car behind me at that point, and I noticed them first. You can vaguely see the building concerned, and the fact that there’s smoke in the air, but nothing much else since it’s hand-held with a mobile phone.
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Counting days

As you may have noticed, I’ve added a counter to the sidebar of my blog, showing how long is left until I move. That’s right, I’m moving. Not very far – 5 kilometers by road, probably a bit less by bike. None the less, it’s to quite a different place – notable because it’s a real flat, and not just a room with a shared kitchen and bathroom.

At the time of writing, there’s 45 days, 20 hours to go – which seems like a lot. But 87 days of waiting have already passed, meaning I’m almost 2/3rds of the way there. I’m probably going to spend a good deal of the remaining time looking at furniture and such, though I doubt I’ll buy anything much until I am actually ready to move in.

More will follow on the subject of this exciting announcement in the weeks to come.

What superpower would you have?

I’ve been watching QI, and just noticed one of their discussions again – What superpower the contestants would like. Stephen wants invisibility, while Alan would like to have no bodily smell.

I think I’d like extreme speed, being able to go where I want when I want it, without having to spend time on moving around.

What would be your choice?

Fog lamps

I know my vision isn’t the best. I wear my glasses, I moderate my speed if I have trouble seeing in night. I drive with my lights on at all time – daytime running lights are required by law in Denmark.

But I really don’t think I’m blind enough to ignore fog. It’s usually quite obvious when it’s foggy – or there’s heavy rain, dust or snow. If it’s serious, the right reaction is to turn on your fog lamps. Of course, turn them off again in city traffic, since they tend to produce a lot of glare.

Seriously. Turn them off. If there isn’t any fog, heavy rain, dust or snow – turn them off! I don’t care if they look good on your car, they’re bloody annoying, and anyone running them at night without need are bloody idiots.

Thank you.

Tax debate

There is a tax debate going on in Denmark at the moment. I say tax debate, it’s actually more that a number of political groups are making statements to the effect that they have the best tax plan. The groups are cut into two big camps:

  • Those who believe the tax should be lowered, especially in the top end, to give a bigger incentive for people to work more.
  • Those who believe the money is better spent on welfare, hiring more people to work with elders, children and so on.

I know enough about taxes and public administration to know that in theory, both of these things work. However, in practice – I find that there’s a few problems.

Sure, lowering taxes, especially for those who’ve hit the high marginal tax rate, is an effective means of incentive. But when a very large part of the society isn’t ready to accept people working more than the standard working week of 37(½) hours, it isn’t really going to do much. In particular, public employees are hired on very inflexible terms, even though this is among the areas where more people would make a difference.

The other suggestion, spending more money on welfare, is really a good idea too. Hiring more people, sure – but where are you going to get them? Denmark is the country in the EU-15 with the lowest unemployment – and I guess the same is true of the entire EU. Sure, they’ll find some way to spend the money – but it isn’t going to provide more employees. Again, flexibility is needed – if people were actually allowed to work more, it might be possible.

My suggestion is a compromise – and a focus on flexibility. Let’s cut the tax somewhat, provide some more money for paying public employees – and most importantly, find a way to open up for working more than the standard working week if you so desire. Why not?

William Gibson – Virtual Light

I just finished reading William Gibsons 1993 novel Virtual Light. Apparently, it’s the first in a series of three novels, based around a grim vision of a future post-earthquake California in a broken-up world. Apparent character-ages, and some years mentioned in the book, puts it around 2007. This makes it a lot of fun to look at how William Gibson envisioned a possible future.

The narrative follows the viewpoints of three separate characters, somewhat merging them as the book progresses, but still with the different characters’ slightly differing view of the events. In narrative style, I find it quite similar to that of Mona Lisa Overdrive, although it is a lot closer to home in terms of technology than his earlier novels. The use of fax instead of email is retained, though, as is the use of Virtual Reality for computers.

I picked up the book at an impulse in my local book shop, while I was actually shopping for Neal Stephensons The System of the World. I enjoyed it, and I will surely get the next two volumes as well soon.

Metronome

To aid in my learning to play the piano, I have considered getting a metronome. Metronomes seem to be subject of some discussion in the world of music teachers, so I’ve collected some of the thoughts here.

When to use a metronome
A metronome attempts to teach the student a consistent rhythm and to aid in determining the correct speed at which to play a piece of music. Some schools of teaching insist that the metronome only be used for teaching how fast a given speed “feels”, and that it should never be used while playing or doing rhythm exercises. This puts the main burden on the shoulders of the student, and should give the student a better internal rhythm. It doesn’t, however, prevent the student from losing rhythm in the difficult parts of a piece, and the student has no external way of keeping track of how well he is holding his pace.

Using the metronome while playing pieces, on the other hand, is recommended by some teachers. It is said to be easier to start at a lower pace, and slowly speed up the metronome until the desired playing speed is achieved. It removes the task of keeping the correct rhythm from the student, giving him time to focus on the notes in the music. However, it may also render the student unable to play consistent speeds without a metronome ticking.

I lean toward the second method, of course with the provision that the metronome should only be used for a period of time, after which pieces should be well enough learned for the student (me) to hold the rhythm without external reference.

Types of metronomes
I found a great article concerning metronomes that I will paraphrase a bit from in the following.

Electronic metronomes
These are little electronic devices that go “beep” whenever there’s a tick. I made stuff like this in the 5th grade or so, though modern ones have all sorts of different stuff like built-in tuning. I’m sure it’s great for guitarists and such – I don’t need it. If my digital piano goes out of tune, I’m sure I won’t be able to fix it that easily.

Electric metronomes
These are apparently bigger metronomes that plug into wall sockets, and take up a whole lot of space. I haven’t seen these, but I expect they do exist… I doubt they’d be much use for me, I would rather go for …

Mechanic metronomes
This is the real deal. Wind-up, moving arm with weight, movable weight. These give of a good, unmistakable ticking sound, and since they use wind-up mechanisms, you can use them wherever you are. I know there’s a German company, Wittner, that makes some quite well-known ones – this seems to be the biggest manufacturer of metronomes. And they also make some funny ones, leading me to …

The one I want
So I found it. The metronome I want. It’s mechanic, and it’s funny – it’s shaped like a cat.

Wittner Taktell Cat
Please, buy me one.

Piano progress

I’m slowly progressing with learning to play the piano. Latest to get assimilated is “Love me tender”, though I’ve jumped a few songs on the way there. Rhythm is still a bit of a problem, but I’m getting better at it.

Books

I got myself a couple of books to learn to play the piano, namely the first two of “The Complete Piano Player”, giving me quite enough to do for a while. (I’ve yet to master the first three songs in it – I have attacked them vigorously, and I can hit the notes fairly well, but my rhythm counting isn’t very good.)

Once I get the rhythm down, I’m fairly sure I’ll be quite good. I am already having good success reading the music, which isn’t really very hard.