null's journal

Less is more, or "why does it smell like sweat in here?"

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# 46797

It's only a small step from this

Audi A6

to this:


(No, the pink one's not mine.)

So I sold my car last Saturday. Not because I had to or it was about to fall apart, but because apparently it's the best thing to do.

The car above, let's call it Precious, cost me some 750 quid a month when I take everything into account. That's still cheap for a car that size.

My daily commute to work is about 850m long and boasts three mean speed bumps. As a result I'm only marginally faster by car than by bike, except that it doesn't make a lot of sense to have a cold combustion engine move 1.6 metric tons less than 1km twice a day.

The evening school I attend is literally around the corner - the classroom is closer than the parking lot.

For weekend trips and to buy groceries we can just as well use Honeybunny's car. It's not as pretty or fast as mine but it's got a bigger trunk and costs about half as much as Precious.

So the conclusion is that I don't really need my car. And regardless of whether one can afford it or not, 750 quid a month is a lot of money!

Of course my first plan was to replace the admittedly expensive Audi with a cheaper means of transport. Unfortunately all attempts to obtain a more eco-friendly vehicle were foiled by an exceptionally vigilant security guard with two rabid pitbulls. Leasing or buying a smaller car wouldn't save enough money to justify the change either.

This is where the experiment starts:

My driving instructor once told me that having a car is addictive.
Can I break that habit and at the same time do something for my physical condition?

This post was edited by null on Sep 15, 2010.

Acceleration is...

# 46456

...when the tears of joy flow off vertically.

After months of hearing about it and only seeing it from the outside, my brown-nosing my friends at the most bad-ass company run by treehuggers have finally scored me a ride in this beauty.

Being a sucker for both high-tech toys and massive amounts of torque, it goes without saying that I was excited about this opportunity.

The car itself looks nice enough. The seats are comfortable, and I've been assured that part of the chassis has been replaced, so it's unlikely that the screws holding the steering mechanism will fall out during an overtaking maneuver again. :-P

The acceleration can subjectively be described as 'a swift kick in the back'. The two electric motors that drive Prreciousss deliver a combined output power of 200kW (about 270bhp). This may not sound too revolutionary, but consider that the maximum torque of 600Nm (about 450lb/ft for you Yanks), which is just 50Nm less than a 508bhp Porsche 911 Turbo, is available nearly continuously from naught to top speed*, and you can imagine what happens when you floor the accelerator. I've been told that the limiting factor right now is the battery temperature. :-)

Speaking of batteries, that's probably Prreciousss's biggest weakness. There's of course an extra brake pedal for regenerative braking, but still the 15-minute trip around town village managed to visibly drain the batteries. Okay, the driving style wasn't exactly oriented on low power consumption, but still. And a full recharge on your regular power plug will take about eight hours.

Still, I now know what I want for Christmas.

Shaky view from the passenger seat (the accelerator is hit at 00:06 :-) )
Prreciouss leaves :-(

* "Top speed" as in "the legal limit, and you wouldn't dare to go faster anyway, seeing as there are no airbags or roll bars."

Getting in touch with friends (literally)

91% | 3

# 46379

Everybody loves a good massage, and Yours Truly even more so. Nothing lets you forget a rough day at work quicker than an hour of loving touch that will breathe new life into your sore muscles and leave you in a state of deep relaxation. There's actually evidence that massaging a tight muscle reduces the mental stress that caused the tension in the first place. A good massage relaxes both your body and your soul.
It is thus very unfortunate that most professional masseurs will knead your back for exactly 25 minutes and then rush you out the door because the next customer is already waiting.

As luck would have it, I've stumbled across the one masseuse around who is different. A simple back massage lasts 50 minutes and usually she overruns that limit by at least ten minutes. But the most amazing thing is how much love she puts into her work (i.e. her touch). Forget about painkillers for your back, Prozac, chocolate chip cookie ice cream, everything. All you need is a good back or full body massage by Adelinde. (Yeah, I know. But nobody's to blame for their own name.) If you've never experienced it yourself, you just wouldn't believe how great a proper massage feels.

This is why I've decided to be a masseur, too.

Not that I'd know an awful lot about the human anatomy... one crash course, one Massage For Dummies and several educational videos later, I still feel like I don't have an exact idea what I'm doing to the person on my massage table.
But surprisingly enough, that's not even much of an obstacle. Most people seem to be just happy that somebody volunteers to do anything at all about their aching shoulders.

Setting up your own massage studio needn't be expensive. I've spent under 400 bucks in total. For starters I've bought a decent massage table, a few select oils, peeling gloves and lots of huge, fluffy cotton towels. A fragrance lamp and some good music are available anywhere anyway.

So far I've acquired four regular customers, one of which is my girlfriend and one my flatmate. That's not quite the basis of a flourishing mulltimillion business, especially considering that I currently work for free. (I'm still in training after all, and happy to have a few guineapigs on which to practice.) Feedback so far has been mostly encouraging, and it's been a very informative experience on many levels.

Things I've learnt so far:

  1. Having somebody strip nearly-naked and lie on your massage table for you to touch almost everywhere is an amazing thing. It both takes and builds a lot of trust.

  2. My flatmate requests a massage not when she's tense (she never is, that lucky bastard) but when she's unhappy and feels the need to talk about it.

  3. Women really appreciate it when you begin with a gentle back peeling, and they're pleasantly surprised when you offer to massage their feet/legs with shea butter.

  4. Some women will use you to make their boyfriend jealous and trick him into offering to massage them more often.

  5. They will, however, keep coming back if you're noticably better than their boyfriend.

  6. You can never have too many fresh towels handy.

  7. Massaging somebody with love is much more appreciated than massaging somebody professionally.

  8. With a rolling pin one can give great butt massages without actually touching people there. (No, really. Try it.)

  9. Many women would love a massage, but will never ask for one because they think they're too fat, have bad skin or are afraid I'll see their boobs (I don't). Most of those women will be happy to be bugged until they 'give in', and afterwards think that it wasn't so bad after all.

  10. For some unknown reason, most women pick the oil with the 'sensual' scent.

  11. Long, curly hair + neck massage with much oil = bad combination.

  12. Giving a proper one hour massage is really really hard work.

Oh, if you're ever in need of a good massage near Liechtenstein, until I know exactly what I'm doing, do make an appointment with the world's best masseuse.

So I might be a bit stressed. There's a presentation about my company due tomorrow (and so far all I've got is a rough draft), it looks like I'm taking three hours' worth of work home after nine hours at the office again (for a project which might well decide our company's future and which is already blessed with impatient&unhappy customers, so no pressure), next weekend we're moving and I haven't packed yet (nor will I get a day off, see above), and three of four teachers have scheduled their semester exams for mid-March. Oh, have I mentioned that Honeybunny & me need to talk about her habit of keeping me awake against my will when she wants to cuddle? (And I really really could need some sleep these days.)
On some days everything I do feels like I'm doing it with my last bit of strength. I still get stuff done all day, but something tells me that it's not a healthy lifestyle in the long term.

My social life is next to inexistent. There's no time to chat with people online or in the big blue room, and the stack of unfinished letters and birthday cards dates back to mid-January. So if you're reading this and didn't receive a birthday card from me this year, I didn't forget it, just gimme time till May. :-)

My goals until Saturday evening:

  • Get the nightly file import to work right tonight

  • Finish the presentation at a friend's place far away from everything else, then have dinner with her & cuddle with her dog

  • Pack stuff into cardboard boxes

  • Call somebody to get more boxes

  • Sleep long!

  • Have breakfast & go shopping with friends (as we do every Saturday)

  • Study for the civil law & HR management exams

  • Watch 5 episodes of Dexter. In bed. With a large amount of junk food. And a couple cans of Dr. Pepper.

  • Share 2-3 bottles of wine with Honeybunny and/or a few friends

On a side note, please don't judge the whole country of Switzerland by the actions of one of our criminal megacorporations - in fact, the UBS currently has a massive image problem even in its home country. Not all Swiss approve of large-scale tax fraud services for the rich.

The little things

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# 45896

Today a friend called me and asked me to pick her up at the train station. After I picked her up we had ice cream and chatted for an hour. As she's a student, the ice cream was on me.

When I came home I saw an e-mail of another friend telling me that something I've done two weeks ago has made a difference.

Strictly mathematically speaking, both events were net losses in terms of money, work and time. And the beautiful thing is, to me it's still a gain. Knowing that money doesn't equal happiness is one thing, experiencing it is another.

Today I'm content with myself.

Two months later

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# 45366

I'm 30.
It's early in the morning and I'm passing the nearby mini-lake on my way to work, my car stereo wrapping the Toasters' Run Rudy Run around my ears. A warm wind locally known as Föhn blows over the mini-lake and produces waves that glisten in the twilight. The car in front of mine is my flatmate's Golf, and judging by her slight zigzagging and not reacting to my flashing my lights, Anke too hasn't slept much last night.
I'm the first at the office, picking up a misdirected fax and forwarding it to the intended recipient while my PC is booting up. The day may begin.
Three months from now I'll be back at school, in addition to my regular work pensum. Constant training is important in my line of business, and the following six semesters will work wonders for my career options even though I don't currently want to quit the job I have. I have a plan, and it seems to come together.

I'm 21.
Last night I've slept at my new girlfriend's place. Whereas 'slept' is technically incorrect; as luck would have it, she's a nurse and currently on early shift, which means I get up early too. It goes without saying that as the relationship is still very young, having to get up early doesn't necessarily mean that we go to bed early to make up for it, and even if we manage to go to bed early, we're not exactly sleeping right away.
She's 21 years old and a goddess. I know that you should never tell a woman that you worship her, even if it's true, but sometimes I can't help it.
At first I was a bit worried about the age difference, but so far the only effect is that she makes me feel younger and (albeit implicitly) encourages me to act accordingly. I get along well both with her and her friends, and instead of grimacing at my random silly ideas, she says things such as "cool!" or "hey, let's do that!". The sex is galactic. The other day we did it three times, and every time was longer and better than the previous one. I didn't even know I could still do that.
Also, she can professionally bandage a sprained finger with just sticky tape in the very hypothetical case that, uhm, somebody decided to run down a ski jump on a mini-sledge to see what's behind it.

I'm 18.
Or whatever age you need to be in order to drag a friend to a concert/party called "Ska is dead" with six top Ska bands playing for a total of almost seven hours (though with short breaks inbetween the bands). My business shoes did not survive the meat grinder that was the second row and I think my back's still a bit black&blue, but all in all it was worth it.
Though, it's gotta be said, the world might not yet be entirely ready for what the Japanese think is Ska.

I'm 15.
Well, I was 15 a couple weeks ago, and so was she. The first two weeks were almost like the very first love all over again. Holding on to nothing but your new relationship and letting go of everything else is dangerous, but it was worth the risk and as you can see it worked.
Also, as far as it concerns my new-found love, I have no plans whatsoever. I mean, what can I plan for: moving in together? Having a baby? Marriage? For the time being she'll live with her parents, she wants to get pregnant in six years, and before I marry again I need to get divorced first.
(Besides the obvious problem that it'd be way too early for all of this anyway.)
So I just plod along in the great pool of random things that life throws at me, with no particular direction nor the need for one. Though there's always time to stop and sniff the flowers... figuratively speaking of course as it's still winter.

I'm 40.
Sometimes I feel older than my friends of the same age. My coworkers of 42 resp. 52 years and I get along well and talk about rock stars that most other people of my age are too young to remember. We agree that Brian May would have deserved a large share of the fame that Freddie Mercury used to bathe in, and even after 2 hours with the finest DJs from London, Dave Pike's 1969 single Mathar is still the grooviest thing ever produced.
Also, I'm balding. I blame my genes and there's probably not a lot I can do, but at least I'm not gonna grow my hair and comb it all over the bald spot.

I'm me.
But in reality, age is just a number. On paper I'm 30, but for the first time in years I'm really aware that I'm really always as old as I'm feeling at any given moment. It's me who defines my age and not the other way round. I'm surrounded by wonderful, lovable and cool people aged 21 to 58, and I really don't care a lot about their age. Nor should I, or they, care a lot about mine. So the next time you're at a friend's 40th birthday and see a young guy who could be your son, or some old fart who looks twice your age smashes into you in the mosh pit at the Marilyn Manson concert, feel free to come up to me and say hi. You might even score a couple free beers.

This is me, and this is my life as I intend to live it. Fuck numbers.

This post was edited by null on Jan 16, 2008.

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