Gym and yoga

Today was a good day for my health and fitness, not only was I in the gym at 07:00AM but twelve hours later, I found myself in a Yoga studio on the banks of the Amstel river, slowly lowering my bum and straitening my spine into the all so famous “downwards facing dog”.

Gym was great today, my first rep felt like I was superman, I had a lot of energy and performed with exercises with intense explosion and absurd focus but then round two this seemed to waiver.

After doing my second round of ten pull ups, I needed to take a little break as I felt that I might be a bit sick, which is strange as this rarely happens. I mean I did push myself as I always do but never does my body react with nausea. The nausea soon passed and I was able to finish my workout but I could feel that it took a chunk out of me and I left the gym drenched in sweat feeling slightly dizzy.

Work was uneventful and frustrating, as I am working with some really high level concepts where the setup alone requires you to read manuals of 600 pages per concept and then if you dare miss a single line, the chances are pretty good that it is exactly that line that will cause your code to break.

Then after work it was yoga, hence me finding myself in the downward facing dog position.

I left work a little late and had to cycle like a maniac to be on time for the yoga class, which turned out to be a small mistake as the class was super relaxed and we only started a little while after I arrived.

This intense cycling caused me to for the second time that day be drenched in sweat and the already sweaty clothes from the gym the morning caused my clean yoga clothes to also be wet and sweaty.

Let me preface my yoga experience with the fact that whenever I practice yoga, I become really self aware of EVERYTHING. My breathing, my body, the yoga positions, my short pants (is it hanging out?!),  my sweat and my body odours. So in this case where I arrived kind of sweaty already, I seemed to be constantly worried a bit about how sweaty I was and how it smelt.

There was not much that I could do about it and I proceeded with the class as best as I could and it was a very small and intimate class, we were only five participants and the instructor, which made for an amazing experience.

Unlike other yoga classes, where they harp on the physical side of things, I found todays class a lot more meditative and relaxing. One exercise was to compare ones mood before and after the class and I definitely felt a lot cooler and calmer that before I had arrived.

The class was also prefaced and concluded with some breathing exercises, the ending exercises closely resembled the breathing practice that Wim Hof teaches, where one breathes in intensely and then holds ones breath.

Overall it was a great experience and I will definitely go again, I met some really cool people and we had some tea and snacks afterwards. It feels nice to kind of put yourself out there and meet new people especially when you are of a different culture, different continent even.

Tonight is definitely not the last time that I will be attending Julie’s yoga classes. That about covers the fitness part, as for the health part, I consumed a fully vegetarian diet today consisting of lentils, beans, green beans, asparagus, chilli and eggs. This was both my supper and lunch and it was delicious.

I have decided to cut down grossly on my meat consumption and also on all dairy consumption, especially milk. I have always thought that milk is not as healthy as they want you to believe but I will leave that for its own little write up.

Four day week.

The last few weeks seem to have been rather chaotic as they were littered with public holidays, celebrations, events, functions, gatherings and meeting upon meeting.

I am not sure when exactly in my life it happened but I have now became an individual that finds solace in the comforts of routine.

As a youngster the thought of routine had me up in arms, wondering how could anyone one ever let their days wither away performing the same activities, at the same time, with the same people, at the same place. Yet now I find myself drawn to the above.

Although I would still have liked to have a bit more freedom, more annual leave days, more work from home days, more free time where I could pursue other interests except for work, it is comforting having a routine which one can adhere to and also keep oneself accountable of.

Currently, on an ideal day, my routine would be as follows:

  • 5:00AM – 5:50AM Coffee and reading in bed
  • 5:30AM – 6:00AM Breathing and meditation
  • 6:00AM – 6:30AM Journal and plan
  • 6:30AM – 7:00AM Prepare and pack for work and gym
  • 7:00AM – 8:00AM Gym
  • 8:00AM – 05:30PM Work
  • 05:30PM – 6:00PM Cycle Home
  • 6:00PM – 7:00PM Cook, eat and clean
  • 7:00PM – 9:00PM Work on projects
  • 9:00PM – 10:00PM Study
  • 10:00PM – 11:00PM get ready for bed, journal and read.

So as you can see this is a rather ambitious schedule and pretty hard to keep up and especially hard to keep up when there are tons of public holidays scattered throughout the weeks.

Not that I do not like these said public holidays as they really do provide a well deserved rest but there is normally some function, some event or some social happening, which leads to the opposite of a rest, in fact, one needs another rest day to recover from these.

Now as per schedule, its ten to eleven and time for bed 🙂

Trolling my little brother…

My little brother will be visiting me at the end of the month, it will be his time leaving South Africa and his first long distance flight. The poor guy is a little nervous as it is his first time and also because he is a self proclaimed nervous flyer.

He booked his flight via Kenyan Airways and I could not resist the opportunity to troll him. So I wrote the following “article” and posted it to our family whatsApp group, pretending that it was written by a writer for the New Yorker.

Hahahaha read the following article by Menno Hermes from the New Yorker  🤣😂😂:

My flight on Kenyan Airways was exciting to say the least, from faulty air compressors to spoilt chicken served from paint cans, Kenyan Airways certainly kept me on my toes.

My flight from Cape Town to Dubai via Nairobi was scheduled to last twelve hours with a quick stopover in Nairobi, this was not the case as I ended up arriving in Dubai three days later, after spending no less than thirty-two hours in the air and another thirty something hours in Nairobi.

The first warning sign was the price, flights are like tattoos, be weary if when they cost almost $200 less than the nearest competition. If this is the case one has to ask oneself why and even more importantly, how?

Both of these questions were swiftly answered minutes after checking in to the flight.

Most airports provide a shuttle service if one’s terminal is located a certain distance away from the check in counter but not Kenyan Airways, we were put on what in South Africa they call a “local taxi”, a decrepit vehicle running on mercy alone, and once at the airplane we were each expected to pay a couple of dollars for this “service”.

The taxi driver’s driving had my stomach turning, and I had not even set foot in an airplane.

From the outside, the airplane looked no different to any other major airline, the green and red logo was actually comforting but upon entering the plane, I knew that this was not going to be like any other flight I had taken before.

Normally the Boeing 737 is able to seat six people per row with the isle in the middle but on this particular flight, they managed to squeeze in an additional two seats per row, increasing the seating capacity from six to eight. It has to be noted that when selecting my seat, it did not reflect this overloaded seating arrangement, which in turn, led to people standing around confused, not knowing on which seat to sit.

Not unlike in the “taxi” to the airplane, an air host started whistling and shouting directions, slowly ushering passengers to their seats, it was amazing how proficient he was, especially since in his left hand he was mercilessly gripping a living chicken.

Once everyone was seated instead of being given the usual safety instructions, we were immediately asked to fasten our seatbelts as the seatbelt light did not work, in fact the only indication that we were taking off was the engines roaring to life and the airplane starting to slowly inch forward.

In a matter of seconds, we were building up speed and takeoff had commenced, in that moment the air compressors gave out, causing all the oxygen masks to fall from their overhead storage, immediately causing airplane wide panic and anxiety.

The passengers erupted in cries and panic as we were unsure whether we were taking off or plummeting back to earth. With that said, in a minute or two the atmosphere subsided as we had completed takeoff and were safely at a climbing altitude.

All things considered the takeoff was very smooth and once in the air the passengers seemed to calm down and the air hostess assisted people with storing their air compressors again.

Just when I thought that my travel experience was about to normalise, the air hosts started hawking products, each sold an array of crisps, beers, soft drinks and chocolates and they all seemed to compete with each other, shouting out prices, specials, combinations and products names.

I bought a Black Label and a pack of crisps, retailing for ten dollars, daylight robbery by any standard but after haggling with several air hosts, this was the lowest anyone would go.

Watching people haggling and bargaining certainly made up for the lack of inflight entertainment, where the small screen normally is, there was an ash tray, confirming my suspicion that this roaring beast comes straight out of the seventies.

The additional seats made the seating arrangement uncomfortable to say the least, I was in the unfortunate disposition to be squeezed in between an American bodybuilder who considered the use of the arm rest as his sole right and an African woman who probably had flown Kenyan Airways before thus bringing her own KFC family bucket.

The faint smell of chicken and gasoline permeated through the airplane as an air hostess pushed a trolley with a large drum, plates and cutlery through the isle. The old joke regarding airplane food is that the air hostess would shout “beef” or “chicken” but in this case it was chicken or nothing.

I opted to try the chicken as my diet of beer and crisps were not going to sustain me for another seven hours, I would greatly regret this decision especially upon finding out that the only working lavatory did not have a working lock.

The boiled chicken was bland, cold and tasted slightly of paint which was expected as the drum from which it was served very closely resembled a large fifty litre paint can but there was no way to definitely confirm this suspicion as the sides were blackened from cooking over an open flame.

I munched half way through a chicken leg and to my horror discovered that it was in fact still raw, to the disgust of my neighbouring passengers I choked up a bit of chicken, who both were wise enough to refrain from the onboard meal. I immediately ceased eating but the effect of the salmonella seemed to be instant, I could immediately hear and feel my stomach bubbling as it attempted to digest the partially cooked chicken.

Incidentally at this time the turbulence also started, and this was not your run of the mill regular rain storm turbulence, if this was an earthquake it would have registered an 9.5 on the richer scale.

Evidently there was no need for an seat belt light as everybody immediately buckled up when the airplane started plummeting, ascending and then plummeting some more.

Upon looking out past Mr. America out the window, I realised the absence of any clouds whatsoever, and this made the entire situation all the more alarming.

Quick Post

I had not been writing a lot because I encounter what I have now termed as blocker posts. Blocker posts are posts like the previous post, which I try to capture happenings and events from several days and several occasions into one post.

The problem with these posts are that they become very long and long winded and I normally lose my enthusiasm around midway through, as with anything I believe that writing has to be practiced, developed and consistently be worked on to improve and I think that my writing muscles are just not there yet to write these 1500 plus word articles in one sitting.

As I write and blog more, my capacity to write more and still feel inspired will increase but for now its pretty hard. So I am going to try and avoid the long winded posts that tend to end up over 1000+ words, until I am truly comfortable with writing these long pieces.

This will probably mean that some events and happenings go undocumented but that is also ok, as long as I write consistently and frequently, I will be happy with myself.

Kings Day, Work Outing and Bevrijdingsdag.

So much has happened over the last two weeks, this will be a real catch up post. My last entries revolved mainly around the race that I ran and some pseudo intellectual rants, its time to get back to the basics and document what has been happening these last two weeks.

Kings Day 2018

Kings day is an annual celebration of the Kings of the Netherland’s birthday. It is the one day that everyone takes to the streets or to the water via boats and takes part in the yearly festivities. My girlfriend tried to explain the magnitude of the festivities but this had in no way prepared me for what it was really like.

We left the house at around 10:00 AM after making some sandwiches and packing some beers for the day. Upon leaving the house, hundreds of people had already taken to the streets, some just walking around and taking in the atmosphere, whilst others resorted to side walk commerce, selling all types of things from blankets and tables all along the road.

People sold all sorts of things, apart from the obvious food and drink, it also served as an opportunity for anyone to have a mini garage sale, so you could purchase all kinds of second hand goodies. I saw people were selling clothing, shoes, furniture, cutlery, art, actually anything that you can think of but what did stand out for me was the children. They also ran little side walk businesses selling home made lemonade, cookies and sweets. It was cute to see the little ones partaking in the festivities.

We walked around in the East a bit more and later met up with some friends, with whom we started the big trek into the city centre together. It was now around 11:30 AM and we had opened a few beers. It was great to walk around in the city, seeing everyone with their faces painted and their orange clothing.

Everybody  is Dutch on Kings Day.

We kept walking through the streets just enjoying the sun and the festive atmosphere until we finally reached our house party in the middle of the city. We spent a couple of hours there, as there were around seventy people, just hanging around and having fun. We ended the night with some delicious take Thai Food and the next day was definitely not as festive.

Work Outing

One of the points that came up during one of our development team meetings was that we should celebrate more. As a development team we had achieved rather ambitious goals, like becoming independent of all consultants, starting to manage our software releases on our won and achieving work which was planned for the year in a matter of five months.

So to celebrate, our business analyst found us an escape room in Utrech, which is a city about twenty minutes outside Amsterdam and a great tapas restaurant for afterwards. So we left work on Friday at 15:00 and did the escape room at 17:00.

It was fun, it is really a nice team building exercise, which takes a lot of communication and working together to get out of the room. With that said, we did make it out of the room but it took us around fifty two minutes which is not record breaking but not too bad either (judging by the times of other teams on Facebook).

We had some hindrances  which prolonged the situation such as faulty apparatus of the escape room and out of frustration at one stage we veered off slightly and started doing our own thing individually but eventually we managed to pull it together and escape the room!

We then headed to a tapas restaurant which was ten kilometres out of the city, myself and another college did not make the car pool meaning that we had cycle all the way, which in a way was good because I ate more at that tapas restaurant than I had eaten the entire previous week!

The tapas restaurant was great, here we really blew off some steam, made a lot of jokes and just enjoyed each others company. It is great when you work with a team you get along on a personal level as well. We all are different ages and come from vastly different walks in life but somehow we all get along really well.

Actually “get along really well”, is almost an understatement, there is not a standup meeting where we don’t laugh, make jokes and  try to help each other with the work load.

Bevrijdingsdag 2018

Bevrijdingsdag is another festival day in the Netherlands, dedicated to soldiers who fought in wars. It was once just in remembrance of everyone who fought in World War Two but has since become a day to celebrate all soldiers who have been in war.

This was on a Saturday and once again, just like on Kings day, we were super lucky to have amazing weather. South Africa also has amazing weather but a cool thing about the Netherlands is the ridiculously late sunset.

I am mean as I type this, it is 21:35 but the sun is still out and it is still light outside. It will probably be fully set around 22:15. In South Africa, as I remember the sunset was never really later than 21:00.

Bevrijdingsdag was no exception, the sun shone brightly and only retreated to its lonesome home on the horizon well after 22:00. We started by going to the market close to my house in the East, enjoying some ridiculously good sandwiches from the local corner store. The owner was very friendly and gave us some cheese and cured meats to try before buying a sandwich.

The shop must have been there for the last thirty years at least, you can see that the neighbourhood has gentrified but that corner store looks exactly like it did thirty years ago and the best part of it is that they are proud of it. I am definitely taking my parents there once they arrive.

From the East we cycled to the North of Amsterdam which is a ferry trip but definitely worth it, there we met up with Jytte’s sister, her boyfriend and some of his friends. It was lovely sitting in the sun and enjoying some beers.

Here we parted ways as Jytte had a festival to attend and I had made plans with a friend from South Africa, whom I had not seen in years, I think actually it had been fifteen years.

We met in Westerpark, it was hard to find each other with will all the thousands of people around but finally we managed to track each other down close to the main stage.

I did not think it was going to be weird seeing each other again after all these years, for some reason, I just knew that it will be ok and it was absolutely great. We started talking immediately and could not get enough words in fast enough.

Five minutes later a college from my work joined and we found a quite spot where we could just hang out and catch up a little bit. We hung there for about an hour and then headed to the gin bar and on the way another college joined us.

We git some gins and once again moved to find a nice spot to chill. The night started moving quickly, we headed from stage to stage, bar to bar and eventually made our way to a live performance of what I am sure was a dutch band. We literally spent the entire evening sitting on the grass, drinking beers and talking about everything from artificial intelligence to autonomous vehicles. It was clear that we tended to be a little more introverted than the friend of Melissa who was also there, he ran around, danced a bit and mostly avoided our conversations of the latest technology.

At around midnight the festivities had died down and then we went to Melissas place for a final night cap. It was about a twenty minute Uber ride and I left my bike back at the park.

We arrived at her place and she offered us a glass of wine, it was actually from South Africa, a delicious wine from the farm Springfield, which I frequently visited when I was in that wine region. She also had a dog which had travelled with her all the way from South Africa, to Switzerland and now to Amsterdam.

At around 03:00 AM we called it a night and got an Uber back to Westerpark. Luckily my bike was still there and I cycled the 20 minute route home in 30 minutes. It was a good night!

The race.

I immediately want to start by saying that I did not reach my goal that I had set for the race, I ran last week. I had a very ambitious goal to run a 14 kilometre race in one hour, actually I was a bit more ambitious and wanted to complete it in less than an hour which as you just read did unforetuneatly not happen.

What did happen is that I finished the race in one hour and four seconds. The best time I that have ever ran in any race. Not only did I beat my personal best time, I beat it by more than ten seconds. My average time per kilometre was around 4:26 whereas the last race that I ran in Hong Kong, was 4:38.

I am thrilled by the results and really proud of myself although I always think that I can do better. One thing that did happen really early on in the race was that I tried to pass some people and I was not paying attention then the next moment a man in a wheel chair rode right in front of me, in an attempt not to run right into him, I dodged to the right, causing my upper leg to hit a pole which hurt throughout the race.

Now I am not saying that had this incident not happened, I would have reached my goal (I would have) but who knows.

At one stage I also paced myself with another runner, at first it felt like a pretty decent pace but after two kilometres I realized that he is definitely not trying to set any goals. It was hard to break away from him but at one straight stretch of road, I managed to push past him and started putting metres between the two of us.

Before I get into some more details of what I think, could have been done slightly better, below is a video of the event, you will even see the guy in the wheelchair that I mentioned earlier.

Factors that I need to address that will make me better next time:

  1. My running shoes.
    Even though I love running and run a lot, I have never really invested in running shoes, the shoes that I did the race in were ok in the beginning but recently every time I ran with they gave me shin splits and they hurt my knees. I initially did not buy them as running shoes but rather as casual trainers but due to lack of other shoes they defaulted as my running shoes. I have already ordered new Nike Pegasus and I believe that these will make a huge difference when I go running. The Adidas also felt a size or two too small.

2. My diet.
I should have invested a little more into what I ate before the race. I did have pasta the evening before the race and was planning to have some pasta for lunch before the race but this did not happen and I ended up eating a light salad at around 13:00 and the race was 20:00. I may have had an apple or banana in between but I could feel that my energy reserves were running on empty. Next time, I will make sure to research a little bit and be very prepared.

3. Running long distances (training).
When I run, I tend to run between 5-10 kilometres, never really planning the exact times and setting goals for timings on how far, how fast I want to run. I will have to align my training routine with my goals, so for this race, it would have been great if I had actually ran a 14kilometre or two so that I knew what to expect.  One needs to know how to pace oneself and how when to go fast and when to speed up. My lack of training and exercise caused this aspect to fall flatly on its face.

4. Pacing oneself.
I was out of the gate like a jack rabbit, my first three kilometres, I did just above four minutes, this was already extra tough as I had to push through the crowd, which means that if it was without the masses, I would probably have done the first three kilometres in around 3:50, which is great but not sustainable as you have another eleven kilometres to go. This point might relate to point three, one can only learn to really pace oneself with experience and training.

5. The music.
I opted to not make a playlist and go for a generic Nike playlist found on Apple Music… Stupid choice, although I did give it a listen the previous night and heard numerous songs that I liked, on the race day, not one song that I liked made it to shuffle. This sucked big time as I get really pumped up from familiar songs, like I have written about in a previous post,  I get really psyched up when I listen to Kayne West or just something familiar. I could really feel the mental tole that the music was taking on me as time passed, with each new song I hoped to hear something familiar but did not, so I suffered a slight disappointment each time a new song started. I did consider stopping to change the music but this would have been disastrous for my end time.

Other than that I cannot really think of anything else that I could have done any better. So with the above noted, I can now start working on my next goal, which is slightly more ambitious but nevertheless, a great challenge to strive for and it is the ten miles in an hour challenge. Ten miles in an hour equates to 16kilometres in an hour.

I used an online pace calculator to work out which pace is needed to achieve this feat and it is a whopping three minutes and 45 seconds per kilometre. This sounds insane but when I think that I did the first three kilometres of last weeks race at just above four seconds, it give me a lot of hope that I can achieve the 16 kilometres in an hour goal. I will get a decent plan and consistently work on it.

Bonus photo, the knock I took on my knee:

A side effect of getting older?

The older I get or rather more recently, my thoughts, actions, habits, ambitions and dreams have tended to move more to the betterment of humanity and the sustainability of the earth than self enrichment and self glorification.

I tend to rather think of giving back, making the world a better place and how can I make a difference to the world instead of thinking, how can I get rich and how can I make profits.

I never use to think like, my greatest goals and ambitions all involved and how I can get what I want. I looked up to ruthless business men who could bull doze whatever obstacles in their paths to achieve whatever goals they may pursue which in most cases is money.

I listened to podcasts where the cut throat tactics of men in power was discussed and how most powerful CEO’s tended to be psychopaths. I strived to be more assertive, more dominant and more aggressive, yet all the while  knew that this was not me.

I show immense empathy towards other humans, their hardship and plights, their stories, their sacrifices, their victories and their displays of kindness and empathy. I always knew in the back of my mind that I cannot be one of these so hard men.

I had an employee a few years back who was both a great guy but also had a tendency to show up to work without his head on his shoulders, which brought out an angry side of me, a side which I did not know I had. It was a sobering experience, now in my life I am sure that I would handle situations differently than a few years ago, actually I would handle certain situations different than I did a few days ago.

In the time that I had the employee, I still had the urge to build an empire, no matter what stood in my way. My uncle once described a man with whom I did business, who’s disrepute far exceeded his repute, “Be careful of his, he leaves bodies behind.” Off course not literally but yeah he would have tread upon and devoured anyone and anything to get an extra buck, crazy for me to even type this out.  I do not believe that I stooped to these kind of lows but I would tickle ethics if it meant growth and progress.

This all changed, I am not sure exactly when or exactly why but I do believe that travelling through South East Asia, may have spurred the development of the disregard to consumerism and capitalism.

I was welcomed by fishermen families in Vietnam, feasting upon fresh seafood along with several friends and their family members, whereas the hosts had nothing more than the food for the day, yet the calm, the serenity and the happiness was evident in their manner, never mind the fact that a seventy year old man could easily be mistaken for as being fifty years old.

I do not believe that I was raised to try and improve the world or to try and make life better for my fellow man. I remember everything from my education to my parental upbringing to be more self focused and aimed at self upliftming.

My education was at two all boys schools which focused a lot on individual academic achievements and although there was team sports, a lot of the attention was also focused on your performance as an individual. I wonder if this in fact breeds the kind of self centred  life that so many of my fellow countrymen back home live by no fault of their own.

As of now, I also live a self centred, self focused life but what has changed is my dreams and my ambitions, whereas my goals a few years ago may have been, “drive a Porsche”, “live in a ten bedroom mansion”, blah, blah, blah, it has now focused more to giving back and making the world a better place.

For now all I can do is respect my fellow humans, their beliefs, their opinions, not judge and live an open and honest life.