Directions for 2014

2014As New Year’s resolutions seem almost made to be broken, I thought that instead of making new New Year’s resolutions this year, as I have done in the past, I am going to set a more practical direction for this year. Instead of making a list of things that I will do “some time” during next year, I have made a list of skills and habits that I will work on for one month at a time.

The way this is going to work is that I will pick one skill or habit to focus on each month, and by the end of the year, hopefully some of these habits and skills will have stuck.

I won’t stop learning the skill or practicing the habit at the end of each month however, but instead add another skill to my repertoire to work on. What sticks will stick, what doesn’t feel worthwhile will fall away. If I throughout the month feel like I don’t want to continue, that is fine too, but at least I will have learned something.

stretchingThe first habit I will be working on is stretching. My goal is to stretch for about 20 minutes in the evening before going to bed. This is something I should have started with a long time ago, especially with how hard I have been working out. Better late than never, I suppose. I was reminded of how stiff I was and how necessary it is that I stretch when I made an offhand joke to a friend of mine that I don’t need to stretch, while at the gym. I thought about it afterwards and told myself that from now on, I will be stretching more. I never did. Now however, with the turn of the new year and in deciding that I will pursue one new habit each month, I felt it was time to get started once and for all.

Another habit I really want to set, is to get a proper morning routine. Right now my mornings mostly consist of me waking up to my alarm telling me that I need to wolf down some food and get out the door, which starts my day out in a rush. Instead, I want to wake up, do something productive, eat breakfast in peace and go to work without stressing. 

Other habits that I haven’t decided in which order to do yet, as I have the two first months planned, has still to be set. If you have any suggestions for skills or habits to work on, let me know and I might incorporate it into my list and into my schedule.

  • Improving my photographyimprove-photography
  • Write two new blog posts every month
  • Cooking better food
  • Learning to write short-hand
  • Learning to play poker well
  • Shoot well with bow and arrows
  • Become better at mental mathematics
  • Learning to beat-box
  • Learning some cool magic tricks
  • Improving various IT skills
  • Learning super-spy skills (à la Jason Bourne)

 

So, what skills and habits are you going to work on during 2014?

How will you make this your best year yet?

Swedish Classic – The Beginnings

ESK_banner1I have decided together with a good friend of mine to complete one of the toughest series of endurance races available in Sweden, called A Swedish Classic (webpage in Swedish). It consists of four separate races that you have to complete within a 12 month span, in order for you to be able to say that you have completed a Swedish Classic. So far the Swedish Classic diploma has been awarded to 23’486 men and 4’959 women since it started in 1972.

Update: As we were too late to book ours slots for Vasaloppet 2014, we will start the Swedish Classic with the Vätternrundan race and complete Vasaloppet in 2015 instead. A positive thing about this is that we will get more time to prepare for the various different races, but it is too bad that we won’t be able to complete the whole thing during 2014.

Update 2: We were lucky enough to get tickets for an earlier race called Engelbrektsloppet, which also is a part of the Swedish Classic race, which means that we will be able to complete the Swedish Classic in 2014! This is so exciting! On another note, I have needed to buy new gear for almost all of these races, such as new skis and a racing bike for the 300 km long Vätternrundan!

The Swedish Classic races are:

Vasaloppet

logotype.vasaloppetThe race that we will be starting with is the ‘Vasaloppet’ cross country ski race, which is 90 km long. It is the oldest, the longest, and the biggest (in terms of participants, normally with over 15’000 people in the main race and an additional 60’000 in related races the same week) cross-country ski race in the world and has been a Swedish traditional race since 1922. The race is held in memory of the Swedish king Gustav Vasa, who fled towards Norway in 1521 on skis. Read more about Gustav Vasa here. The race annually has millions of people in Sweden as well as around the world hooked to the TV or radio and is one of the biggest sporting events of the year in Sweden. Read more about Vasaloppet on Wikipedia. Vasaloppet is held annually on the first Sunday of Mars.

Vätternrundan

VätternrundanVätternrundan is the world’s longest recreational bicycle race, 300 km or 186.4 miles long, circling the second largest lake in Sweden. The race isn’t officially a competition, but instead everybody receives an RF transponder so that they can find out their own race time. In 2011, 27’973 cyclists passed the finish line in the 30 hours that the race is going on for. During the race you can stop at any of the nine stop locations to receive water, food and a free massage and once you have completed the race you are awarded a medal, a diploma and a warm meal.  Read more about Vätternrundan on Wikipedia. Vätternrundan is held during the weekend before midsummer, ever since 1966.

Vansbrosimningen

VansbrosimningenThe Vansbrosimningen is a 3 km long race has been going on since 1950, with participants swimming with the current for around 2000 meters and then up against the current in an adjoining river. For the race in 2014, there are already 3643 people who have signed up as of the time that I’m writing this article. Read more about Vansbrosimningen on the official website (in Swedish).

Lidingöloppet

LidingoloppetIn 2014 Lidingöloppet celebrates it’s 50th anniversary, which makes it an even more special event. The race is a 30 km long cross country running event. During 2013 there were 43’500 participants in the race, making it the largest cross country running event in the world. Read more about Lidingöloppet on Wikipedia. Lidingöloppet is held annually on the last Saturday in September.

Preparation

As these races are all endurance races, we have both been training conditioning a lot, in addition to strength training during the summer. The summer’s training culminated in a short 5 km race on the 14th of September, where I due to stomach issues only was able to complete the race with a time of 29:56. Still, for my first ever race, it felt good to have finished in under 30 minutes.

I’m really excited to having committed to this project, so now I can’t wait for the snow to come so that I can start training skiing in anticipation of Vasaloppet. Of course I will keep you all update on the progress and the results of the races. Wish me luck!

New Year Vows Update

In January this year, I made a few New Year vows. This post is to account for what I have been able to keep and what I haven’t. And for you who are too lazy to read the whole blog post, at the end I have listed all the goals in categories; success, partial success and failure.

New Year Vows for 2011:

  • Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits
  • Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it
  • Learn the basics of Russian
  • Start with, and succeed with my projects
  • Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects
  • Buff up and get more flexible
  • Get an apartment of my own
  • Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer
  • Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Now I will do a rundown of each of these vows to see what I have been able to do and what I have failed to do this year.

Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits

This summer when I went to India together with Mehek, I did buy a lot of clothes. I actually thought that I had packed too much, but we actually didn’t cross the weight limit. I also bought three tailor made suits that I am extremely happy about. I still have a lot of clothes in my wardrobe that I don’t use any more, so I should go through it and remove what I don’t need any more. But I consider this a success.

Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it

I can’t say that I am able to speak Hindi as well as I understand it, but then again, I might speak Hindi almost as well as I understood it by last year. I have learned a lot and I do understand much more now than I did before. Passive understanding of a language is always bigger than active knowledge of a language. I consider this a partial success.

 Learn the basics of Russian

It was not until about a month ago that I actually started learning Russian seriously, and since then I have been skipping days and missing out a lot, but I have gotten started. I am very proud that I have taken the first steps, even though I don’t know what I would consider being the basics of Russian quite yet, so I will consider this a partial success.

Start with and succeed with my projects

I have started way too many projects, so a lot of them have been terminated and a few others put on hold. But I guess that I’ve been able to do what matters. Success.

Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects

I haven’t started any projects that would generate any revenue yet. Failure.

Buff up and get more flexible

In the beginning of the year, I went to the gym almost 3 times per week, every week. I am very proud of this. But then the summer came, I got lazy and never really got back into the habit of going to the gym. I guess that going to the gym for about 6 months at least counts for something, so I’ll give this a partial success.

Get an apartment of my own

After much searching during the spring, Mehek and I finally found an apartment that we are renting. Success.

Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer

In May this year I bought the Samsung Galaxy SII, which I really really love. It’s the best phone that I have tried and I’m super happy with it. I didn’t build a desktop computer however, but instead I bought a new really amazing laptop. I would call this a success.

Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Now this is a big one. I have way too much stuff and I like a lot of it way too much. I know that I shouldn’t keep a lot of it, but it has sentimental value or something of the sort, so I haven’t been able to throw everything out yet. I have however gotten rid of a lot of things, and a lot of new things have taken their place. I guess this is a partial success.

So let’s break it down.

Success:

  • Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits
  • Start with, and succeed with my projects
  • Get an apartment of my own
  • Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer

Partial success:

  • Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it
  • Learn the basics of Russian
  • Buff up and get more flexible
  • Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Failure:

  • Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects

So it would seem that I have been able to do at least most of the things that I set out to do this year. Some things partially, some things fully and I only failed to do one thing that I set out to do. I guess I should be proud of myself.

How have you fared with your own New Year vows? Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook.

Weekend on the Boat and Learning to Film Update

Last weekend, Mehek, my parents and I spent some time on the boat, and in preparation for my trip to India, I recorded a few clips every day just to get used to using my camera and things like that. I have learned a few new features that my phone has. Among other things that I can use the volume buttons to zoom, which I didn’t during this trip, but this feature might come in handy.

The things I have learned so far are:

  1. I need to have a clear idea of what it is that I want to film. The better I know what will come up, and when it will end, the better videos I can make.
  2. Every video must have a start, middle and a finish.
  3. Audio quality is much more important than you might think at first.
  4. Zooming around, tilting and panning should not be overused for simple projects.

So, I’ve made up my mind that I will, while still being flexible, take a short clip before the day starts out and talk a little bit about what I’m expecting from the day, then film some during the events happen. This of course will be completely spontaneous and I have no idea how much of this kind of video I will shoot. And then in the end of the day, I will recap what has happened, include some photos and then try to edit it all up and upload it.

So far I haven’t settled for any computer-based editing program. I have downloaded a trial version of Adobe After Effects, so I will try that out a bit, but I’m still not sure if I’m going to bring the computer with me or not. I am leaning towards bringing it, since I want to be able to free up space on my phone, and it would be handy to be able to edit the video a little bit better than I can on the phone. The videos I have made so far have been completely edited on the phone though, and I’m pretty happy with the result.

Regarding a tripod, I still haven’t found one to buy, but I am still on the lookout. If I can’t find one here in Sweden, I might buy one when I am in India, or make one myself. I have seen a few tutorials for how to make one, and it doesn’t look all too complicated. Not sure how much time it would take though.

I am still learning a lot when it comes to shooting video and everything surrounding that. And I’m looking forward to the trip more than anything else right now. It will be the best trip ever, I’m sure of that. But for now, here’s the video from the weekend:

A little heads up: At roughly 3:50 the audio is pretty terrible, so you might want to either turn off the audio or lower it down a lot. That section of the clip will last for about 30 seconds.

Learning to make short films

To prepare for my trip to India, I have started learning about making vacation films, as I want to be able to remember as much of it as possible, as well as share it with everybody back home. In my opinion, video is one of the best ways to remember things by. It not only includes images, but also sounds and other things that can trigger your memory. And in this day and age, it’s not really that hard to shoot video, anywhere at any time. But, the challenge is to do it well, so that it will be enjoyed. And I am a complete beginner when it comes to image composition, writing outlines and filming serious projects, except for what I learned back in my Multimedia classes. I have always been interested in videomaking though, so this is a great first project to embark on.

Especially one blog got me really hooked on the thought of making my own vacation videos, and that is the RTWblog No Baggage Challenge. I myself don’t intend to travel without any luggage at all, but I don’t plan to bring too much with me either. Perhaps I will bring a ton of stuff back home, but that’s another story. Anyway, this blog really got me thinking that perhaps I can make an awesome video-log of when I’m out traveling too.

I will try to learn as much as possible about how to make good videos before I leave, and share it with you guys, but please do share any and all tips you have for me as well. I am, after all, a beginner when it comes to videomaking. Best practices as well as things not to do are always useful to know. I expect to learn a lot both before I go and while I’m actually in India. But most of all, I want to share my experiences with you.

So, where do I start?I have read a few blogposts about how to make a good vacation video, but somehow I don’t really feel too confident about my abilities yet. I made a short video after work, eating pizza downtown with my parents and girlfriend, but I feel like I need to really up my level for the project to be interesting enough to follow as well as follow through with.

The equipment that I’m planning to use is actually only my cameraphone, the Samsung Galaxy S2. I know, it’s not the best choice in the world, but I don’t have a DSLR, SLR camera or a dedicated video camera. I am thinking about buying a tripod and/or a shoulder support for the camera, but I am not sure what to get, or if I even should, on this first trip. I am thinking that I might use this trip as a learning experience for future vacation videos as well, and that I by next vacation will have bought better gear. I really want to get a good HD videocamera, a dedicated external microphone for optimal audio and some kind of support, so that I will be able to shoot better and more stable video.

Let me know what you think, or if you have suggestions to what I should buy. I am not going to give the videomaking part too big a budget for this trip, but please shoot any suggestions you have my way, even if I won’t buy some things until the next trip. I will also continue learning, so let’s hope for the best.

Progress and Project Update

I guess that it’s about time that I make another progress report, but that’s not all I want to write about on this blog, so I will mention a few more things this time.

When it comes to my training I’m doing really well. I have been sick a few days and missed out on workouts, but I have still been able to increase the weights and reps on almost everything. And I have finally come up with a sort of goal for my workout, other than getting a six-pack. The gym that I’m going to is going to add a lot of new stuff this spring, among other things gymnastics equipment for bodyweight training, and my goal is to be able to handle my body well in that setting also. As in getting a body that isn’t only good at pumping iron or pushing or pulling weights on levers, but getting strong and being able to use my body in ways that I’ve never been able to before. And if everything goes well, I will try out Parkour this summer in a more serious way than I’ve done before.

If you are wondering what the picture has to do with me working out, I am using kettlebells such as these as a warmup exercise. It really gets the pump going, while strengthening both my back muscles and hip flexors as well as almost everything else. It’s an awesome tool! Also I couldn’t find any good pictures of myself working out, so I guess I’ll have to remedy that some time soon. I’m not too sure how popular it would be to bring the camera with me to the gym would be however. For my workout, I’m currently using an 18kg kettlebell.

I have been logging every workout so far in an excel document, and I don’t have any access to any workout program for tracking my workouts, and I don’t really know any good programs or apps for that kind of thing, but so far it has worked out really well for me and I’m happy with what I’ve been able to create. But if anyone knows anything that might be even better, I would surely give it a shot. I probably won’t stop printing my workout schedule for when I go to the gym though. Writing things down on a paper really is pretty easy, and it only takes me 2 minutes to enter everything into excel when I’m done.

I guess it’s also worth mentioning that I now can fully see 4 squares on my abs, with the last two ones coming along nicely, even if they can’t be seen yet.

When it comes to everything else in my life, I guess most things are going along as usual, except that I have more energy and feel restless a lot nowadays. I guess I could “blame” the working out for that. Not that I’m complaining, because I’ve never felt this good in my life.

On a completely different note, me and Mehek have started watching a tv-series called Stargate, after watching the original movie from 1994. We are starting out with SG-1, so we have quite a lot of episodes to look forward to. I was really surprised by the fact that she liked the movie and the series, but I’m really happy about it too. Maybe I can later on (when we’ve seen a few seasons) even get her to watch Star Trek or other geeky series.

Progress with this blog is going slow, and I haven’t really been working with the design at all lately and I have still to make a banner or think up any cool ideas for how I want to change the layout, so I guess that the site will continue looking as it does for now. But if you have any ideas or suggestions for either banners or design, feel free to send links, comments and other fun stuff and I will definitely take a look. Any kind of help is always appreciated.

My other projects that I’m working on have started to take up some time of my thoughts lately also. I’ve gotten a few more ideas that I could do something with on top of that, so I guess life is good.

Regarding the Actionable Series, I will probably be posting something soon, as I have finished reading the 4 Hour Body book (I read it from cover to cover, not just selected chapters as was suggested) and I think I understood the most essential parts of it. Tim Ferris is a good author, but sometimes he digresses into stories that hold very little value to me and more than anything just makes the book more difficult to read and understand.

The parts of the book that I will be focusing on is working out and diet. Tim writes a great deal about loosing weight, but I myself am more focused on gaining, but I will try to cover both those aspects. And because Tim himself is not claiming complete validity in his findings, I can’t guarantee that everything will work the way it’s claimed, if at all. But it’s a good start. Tim has many interesting theories and they seem to have worked out well for him, so I guess there is no harm in trying it out on my own as well, while getting the Actionable Series started.

I think I’ve rambled on long enough for this time, but if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know.

Results of Training: Progress Report 22:nd March 2011

So far my workout has produced mostly strength gains. I have increased the weight on most machines at the gym with about 60%, which is pretty good for having been gymming for about one and a half month now. I first started gymming on the 8th of February, and have since been recording all weights of all machines that I work out with. I am really happy with my progress, but I also want to bulk up a bit. For the sake of measuring this, I have been using a tape measure and checking how much my muscles grow, once in a while. I haven’t been able to do this as consistently as I have wanted, but I’m sure that I’ll get into a pattern of doing it regurarly soon. So far the progress is slow, but I have seen some increase in size of both thighs, arms and shoulders.

When it comes to my six-pack, that I’m also striving for, I haven’t seen much progress since the first two squares. They are pretty clear now, and the next two have started to surface too, but because of having not worked out for about a year prior to beginning now again (and at that time no cardio or strenght training), I have a small belt of fat around the lower part of my stommach. I guess noone is immune to fat gain while eating crisps for over a year without any workout at all. So, it’s time to get rid of this and uncovering the last squares for good!

So, workout is going good, but I was thinking earlier today that I really haven’t had a workout since the initial two or three sessions that I have gotten any kind of burn in my muscles the day after workout. Kind of weird. Is it because I haven’t been working out hard enough, been using too low weights (I have increased the weights almost every single workout since I started), or have I been stretching so well that I have been able to avoid pain in my muscles?

When it comes to future progress, there are a lot of things that I need to work on. I need to get more flexible and to be able to see more muscular growth as well as increase the size of those muscles I need to eat more and at more regular intervals.

If you have any thoughts you want to share about what I have been writing, please feel free to comment!

What’s expected to come

As you can see this webpage looks generally horrible, the font is horrible and the way the lists are is also horrible. I will have to either look for or make a new theme for wordpress SOON because I don’t really want anyone to see what the page looks like right now.

If you have any questions and/or comments on the projects I have or anything like that, just leave that in a comment on the blog, and I’ll get back to you. I am not sure what is going to happen here in the blog in the near future, but I will probably be blogging about progress in the projects that I have active, and let’s just see where it goes from there.

Today’s good news: I am going to go to the gym and start working out! So before I go I will take some measurements and see later on how far I progress in terms of cm in different parts of my body! I might even take a few before working out pictures, because now it has been way too long since I worked out last time, so I’m not as good-looking as I could be. Anyways, I’m happy with the way that I am, but I want to get more flexible and I want to get stronger/buffed up. I don’t really care too much about bulky muscles though, but it would be neat to be at least a bit stronger than I am at the moment.

Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes and let’s hope for the best.

New and Fresh

This is my new blog and where I’ll be keeping track of all my active projects, and also this gives me an opportunity to share what I’m working on. I will be keeping a lot of things private, and I might not at all times keep track of what is private and what is not, so if links sometimes don’t work or if I’m removing or adding pages at random intervals, then you’ll know that at least I’m working on something. I haven’t decided on whether I will be blogging about my private life here or if this is going to be some kind of project-only blog, but I guess time will tell. I am at least glad to have the first little foundation in this blog. I will be adding a lot more contents later.