Writing - beginning

Desperate times and desperate measures

What a weird time we are living in. Suddenly the world is upside down, we have to work from home, cinemas are closed and we have to stay away from people. To fight the anxiety I suddenly felt the need to brush off my blog and start writing again. It has been a really long time since I last updated it, and let’s face it the last couple of updates haven’t been great…

But first of all, I hope you are all safe and well. I am ok, typing this at home on a Thursday evening, having a cup of tea the milky way listening to Jamie Cullum singing about the Age of Anxiety. Proper title for the time we live in. The two Jamie concerts I was supposed to go to this year are both cancelled unfortunately but I am sure I’ll see him again at some point.

I am quite anxious about the whole situation we are in. I try to not check Corana news 24 hours a day, I read up on the most important news just once a day. The good thing about this whole situation is that not only are we at home, but everybody is at home. Also some of the people I really like. And they are broadcasting stuff, from their homes into the world. Which is often very entertaining, and it makes you forget anxiety for a little while.
I made a list of the things I find noteworthy, maybe you like some of it.

Keep on reading!

The Circle – review

The Circle

Do you think you will behave better or worse when you are being watched?

I have been anticipating the arrival of movie version of The Circle. I loved the book by Dave Eggers, it’s about tech and the unlimited power of the internet. I don’t think we are living in the world that Dave Eggers is imagining in his book, but we are definitely moving towards it.

Plot: A young tech worker (Emma Watson) takes a job at a powerful Internet corporation (think Facebook/Apple/Google) , quickly rises up the company’s ranks, and soon finds herself in a perilous situation concerning privacy, surveillance and freedom. She comes to learn that her decisions and actions will determine the future of humanity.

Tom Hanks plays Eamon Bailey, a heavily Steve Jobs inspired leader of the Circle. Emma Watson plays Mae Holland, a young tech worker overjoyed to be offered a job at the Circle. Until she figures out that they might take the whole sharing is caring thing a step too far.

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Tinder: 10 tips for better profile pictures

OK, I know what you are going to say. You are going to say – OMG are you on Tinder? (If you have been living under a rock – Tinder is a hugely popular online dating app.) Well let me put this a little in perspective – I recently spoke with some people about Tinder. Not that we are seriously looking for dates (or maybe some of us are) but the popularity of this app is intriguing me so I had to check it out. Just a little warning – if you want your self-confidence diminished in no time – Tinder is for you.

Tinder is highly focusing on what you look like (no luck there then) – and you can either swipe people to the left (meaning: you might be a lovely guy but nah – let’s not meet) or to the right (oh you look alright – shall we have tea?). In this fast-moving world we live in now this is the way to judge or getting judged. So if you are into Tinder there is no need to emphasize the importance of a proper profile picture.

After some Tinder experimenting – checking profile pictures have been entertaining to say the least but mostly for the wrong reasons. So people of the Tinderverse – let me share a few tips regarding profile pictures with you.

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Toni Erdmann – German cinema at its best

Toni Erdmann

If a 162 minute long German film doesn’t instantly wet your appetite, I get you. It didn’t really got me hooked at first either. But Toni Erdmann is definitely worth a watch. This quirky German gem of a comedy/drama will make you laugh and think about what is important in life. This is always a good combination in a film if you ask me, so I highly recommend you to see this film if you are brave enough to try something different (which you should do as often as you can by default anyway…). I am quite sure you won’t regret it!

Plot: Without a warning a father comes to visit his daughter abroad. He believes that she lost her humor and therefore surprises her with a rampage of successful and less successful jokes…

Toni Erdmann was nominated for an Oscar and won numerous Awards.

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2016 in numbers

2016 in numbers – or how to make sense of your personal data

Here is a little disclaimer for this post:

  1. <nerd alert on>
  2. This has become a bit of a long post … don’t say I did not warn you
  3. And I am not a designer – so this is not pixel perfect. But for this purpose it is good enough for me. If you look very carefully you’ll probably spot some pixels that aren’t completely aligned but then I am not a designer. I hacked this together in Google Draw, it’ll have to do. I’ll try to explain how I gathered all the data.

1. Cycling to work

This shows the number of times I have cycled to work this year. In order to automatically track this I created an IFTTT recipe which gets triggered on my phone  when I pass a certain location on my route to work. I can only pass this spot on bicycle and will only pass it when I cycle to the office, so this works fine for me. IFTTT logs this in a Google sheet, so the only thing I need to do at the end of the year is check how often this is logged.

So I cycled to work 105 times this year.

  • (Since I am also tracking when it rains (as you do…)) – I only had to cycle 5 time through rain. This is only 4,7% of the time (quite amazing when you think about it).
  • 105 cycle trips to work have saved me about €220 in gasoline and has also saved me from the stress and frustration of standing in traffic jams during rush hour.
  • It hasn’t saved me from some serious bruises though, as it turned out that taking a turn on a frozen cyclepath makes you fall flat on your face… (be careful cycling in the wintertime is the lesson here).

And finally, here is a graph (click for larger version) showing how much I cycled per month. (from the last 4 years). Seems like I finally figured out this year that I can cycle to work in the fall/winter too. Let’s see if we can tackle the spring too in 2017.

Cycle stats
Cycle stats

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All the reasons you too should see La La Land

Here's to the ones
who dream
Foolish, as they may seem
Here's to the hearts
that break
Here's to the mess
we make

You should see it because …

  • Hey girl, Ryan Gosling is in it.
    Not enough? OK – Ryan Gosling dancing? And singing. And playing the piano? I mean – come on! (It took Ryan Gosling 3 months to play the piano like this, as it is really him playing it in the movie).
  • Oh and Emma Stone. She is fantastic and sings great too. And they have great chemistry together.
  • Yes it is a musical. I don’t like musicals either. But there is less singing in it than you would expect. And the singing that is in it is so beautiful and touching that you forget you’re actually watching a musical.
  • The colours used in this film are wonderful, it’s a visual feast for the eyes.
  • Have a look at those (fairly long but wonderful) one take shots in this film. Some of them took 3 months(!) of rehearsing just to make sure get them right when the outdoor light of the sunset was perfect for the scene.
  • The soundtrack is just perfect.
  • Because they don’t make films like these anymore. (Well appararently they do, but you know what I mean)
  • Like John Legend? He is in it!
  • Because it takes you away from the messed up world we live in for 2 hours of so.
  • And the story (set in modern times) make you think. Which for me is normally the most important thing about a film. (even though there are people who say I think too much …)
  • And last but not least: for the sheer amount of courage it takes to make a movie like this in times when films only seem to care about which special powers the next superhero has.

Plot: “LA-LA Land” is a riveting and uncensored look at Hollywood. It is a story that reveals how friendships sustain us and keep us going. It is a tale that reflects our celebrity-obsessed culture. It is a revealing look at some people’s desire to be loved, adored, and adulated at any cost.

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Hologram for the King

6 movies to get you through your Christmas weekend

Christmas time is not my favourite time of the year, I am always glad when we enter January again and we can all get back to normal. But there are ways to get through December – watching some appropriate Decembery movies is one of them. Of course there are the obvious Xmas movies getting repeated every year (Love Actually, Home Alone etc.) but here is a list of 6 movies which are repeated a bit less but definitely worth seeing:

Dan in Real life
I know I have seen this move about a dozen times now (yesterday again actually) but I never get tired of it. Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche are great together. When I saw this film I immediately crushed on Steve Carell and discovered what a great actor he is (also in more serious movies).

Dan: It might be wrong – but there is a certain rightness to our wrongness.

Last Chance Harvey
Dustin Hofman and Emma Thompson are great together in this last chance for romance for Harvey film. If they can make it – we all can – can’t we? Oh, and set in lovely London …

Harvey: Should I take that as a hopeful sign?

This one is a bit older but still a classic – what if you left meeting the love of your life again to chance? (Oh and John Cusack…)

Sara: You don’t have to understand. You just have to have faith.

Jonathan: Faith in what?
Sara: Destiny

Lost in Translation
Has been around for quite a while too, but can always be watched again, because who can forget (and get over) the ending. And the Awesome Bill Murray will make you fall on love with him.

Bob: I don’t want to leave.
Charlotte: So don’t. Stay here with me. We’ll start a jazz band.

At Middleton
This is probably the least known film of this list, but I saw it last year and was pleasantly surprised. Who knew Andy Garcia could be this sweet? Liked it – you might too.

George Hartman: I’m a cardiac surgeon. I was speaking with a patient.
Edith Martin: Hmm, so you can fix a heart over the phone?
George Hartman: Depends on the data plan.

Hologram for the King
And last but not least, the lovely Tom Hanks is always worth watching. This is a sweet story about trying to figure out your life in a different environment. Has nothing whatsoever to do with Xmas but I recommend it anyway!

Alan Clay: What do you think of this?
Zahra: You and me, the big culture clash? We are separated by the thinnest filament.
Alan Clay: Well, that’s the way I think.
Zahra: That’s the way it is.



Film: Nocturnal Animals – (8/10)

This second film from Tom Ford is a bit of a slow starter but don’t worry about that, it will quickly grab you by your shirt and won’t let you go until you have left the cinema. This is one very beautifully shot and stylish (of course) film that is going to stay with you for a while.
I highly recommend you to watch it, if only for great performances from Amy Adams and Jack Gyllenhaal and the beautiful stylistic scenes.

Oh and nocturnal, I had to look it up!

Plot: An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.

Nocturnal Animals has an IMDB Rating of 8, which is exactly what I would rate it too.

Nocturnal Animals trailer

Read more about Nocturnal Animals on IMDB »

Bored is boring – the 2016 edition

You know you are bored when:

  • None of the 352 songs on your Spotify “Happy” (the name of the playlist alone for crying out loud …) playlist seem worth listening to.
  • You start reading the mails in your spam filter…
  • You check your watch too often. And because you can’t believe that only this few minutes have passed since you last checked it, you check the clock on your mobile phone as well. Only few minutes had passed indeed.
  • You keep making cups of tea, even though you are not really thirsty because you already too much tea.
  • You keep eating sweets, even though they are nearly coming out of your nose.
  • You make lists of things you do when you are seriously bored.

Now this list is very appropriate for the day I am having – but a little bit of browsing through my archives I found this one:
from 2007. It is kind of shocking to see that nearly 10 years later – too little has changed. I need to make some serious plans for 2017.

San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge colour orange

You have probably seen a kazillion photos of the iconic awesome majestic beautiful Golden Gate Bridge but things I learned today:

The bridge is named not for its hue, but for its location. It’s built above the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. (I never could link golden to the colour of the bridge but now it makes sense ?) During construction the Navy, concerned about visibility for passing ships in foggy conditions, pressed for black and yellow stripes to be painted on the Golden Gate Bridge. The Army Air Corps pushed for a more festive candy-cane combination of red and white stripes to make the bridge more noticeable from the air. Both didn’t happen! (Would have loved to see the candy cane one tho!) The Golden Gate Bridge’s signature color was not intended to be permanent, it was the color of the rust protect primer the steel was coated with when delivered. However architect of the bridge Irving Morrow liked the colour so much he fought to keep it and succeeded! (Awesome)

The bridge has a patented Orange colour called International Orange.
CMYK colors are: C= Cyan: 0%, M =Magenta: 69%, Y =Yellow: 100%, K = Black: 6. #canon100d

Photo taken at: SF Bay, Golden Gate Bridge