giovedì, ottobre 23, 2014

Amsterdam: 1 year (plus 1 day)

AMSTERDAAAAM AMSTERDAAAMMM... ce ne andiamo tutti insieme tutti insieme ad Amsterdam!



One year has passed. I will not say that it has been quick. It has been, on the contrary, full of long days and long nights. Not most of them, but a lot of them. It has been a quick change in life that I was not expecting to do, and that I didn't wanted to do. But it has happened. The change, actually, begun some time before, but the 22nd of October has been the start of My Life, part 3.0 (or whatever other number, I changed life so many time that I don't know at which version of myself I am at now). After a month of pure desperation (1 week, actually, than thanks to some amazing friends, things started getting better) I was ready to arrive in a complete new city, with almost no friends (one, just one friend) and no knowledge of the language and the people, ready to start again from the ashes. Ashes of what? Of myself. Again and again. Funny thing, I am really good a that (there is a wonderful song from Ben Harper, Learn it all again tomorrow: "Turns out what I am good at doing, is making something out of the ruin").

Well, the beginning has been hard at times, but not that much, I must say.

Met a wonderful person the first night I was here, met wonderful people during the months I've lived here. It's a good city this to start from scratch.

And now a whole year has passed. I've got a nice apartment to live in, a good job and really good co-workers, some really really new good friends, a guitar (I've always got a guitar, come on!!), two chords... ok, I am joking. I've got almost everything I need except... except... hahahah!! I will not say it, but yes, you know that I miss you.

But also that will change; slowly, time will pass and life will take a new course. For today, 1 whole year plus 1 day after arriving here, I must admit that I am quite happy about my situation and my life. I maybe am not yet fulfilled, but again, that will come and in due time.

Happy Amsterdam-B-Day to ME!

martedì, ottobre 07, 2014

Two words on diets

Since I was a kid I have always been thin. But real thin. Then I reached the "teens", the twenties... and kept on being thin. I have been trying to get to 60 kg (I am 1.70 m, with a lot of hope... meaning, I am more 1.68/1.69) because I was playing football (the European kind of it) and I was lighter than a leaf.
Finally at 24 (thanks to the military... !!) I reached 61 kg and my life changed for... about 5 months. Then I comeback to training and down again to 58 kg.

To keep it short, at one point, around my 30ies, I reached 62 kg and stayed there, then 63, 64, 65... and in the last 2 years I have been around 67/68 kg. I bit too much, if I have to say, but still.
Then last August I've been on holidays for 3 weeks, 3 whole weeks in Italy, 10 days at my parent's, 10 days at a friend's house... a Chef friend's house... and his restaurant.

Again, to keep it short. Last day of holidays, I am at my parent's house and we are eating lunch (you know? Mamma's lunch...) and, don't ask me why, I decided to check my weight... 72 or more (yeah, I was dressed up, of course... but it was summer, no more than 2 kg)!!

Shocked, I was shocked. Ok having some fat around the belly, ok looking as a fighter of the oldest of the sports, but... 70!!
Don't worry, I was not thinking: "OH GOSH!! Look how fat am I!!!!" and crying in my bed. I just thought: "I've been living 20 years of my life or so around 60 kg, now I am at 70 kg... it's a bit too much".
So I decided that I had to get back to weight around 63/65. I am doing sports, playing football once a week and training at least 1 hour 2 times a week, I am living in Amsterdam and biking around so it's not that I am not having a healthy life. It's that I am eating too much!

Having thought that, having decided that 70 was too much, I made a plan: 1 month and I'll have to be 65 (5 kg in 30 days). And than I split it more: 1 week and down to 67, than stay there for 1 week, than another week down to 65, and than stay there for 1 week... and it's done! Easy, no?

I know that my body needs energy to work, energy means food, but I also know that, since I am a bit overweight, I have already that energy stored somewhere in me (around the belly, my dear, around the belly...). So, in order to lose weight my body needs to consume the fat instead of consuming the food I ingest. Of course I could have checked the daily need of calories of a man my age and my size and all of that things. But there was an easy way. In the last months I have been gaining weight (not that much, but I did) so I simply had to eat less (assume less calories).
Pasta in the evenings? Great! How much? before it was a full dish, now it will be half of it. Or none.

What I really did was stop eating outside (I was eating in restaurants/pubs twice a week...) and eating an apple any time I was hungry, or a banana, or a kiwi.

Breakfast: some cookies.
Lunch: a sandwich the days I had to play a football match, or else an apple and a banana.
Dinner: some pasta (once or twice a week) or an apple and a banana if I ate something during the day.

When I was hungry? Always. Sometimes, to relieve the hunger, I would have eaten some more fruit (and sometimes a cookie or two... I have to admit!). And once a week I ate out with some friends (normal eating, so like an animal as usual!).

Did it worked? Like charm. I am now 65/66 kg, I was 67 after the first week. It's been 4 weeks since I started, and now I just want to get to 63/64 kg and I am fine, but I'll take it slowly, now.
So, what I meant to say is that: do you want to lose weight? It can be done. Don't trust all of those diets and shits. Simply eat less. How much? It depends on you? Do you want to lose it quickly? A lot less (but still, something, we still need it...). Change some food with fruits, they give you strength, they fill your stomach and so you will not feel the hunger. Keep it up for some weeks, you'll manage it! 

My knees are happy, my ego is happy...

Side note: if anybody reads this and want to do the same... please first check if you really need it! Eyes are not honest... sometimes we seems to be fat to ourselves and it's not true! I knew I was a bit overweight because I've bee weighting 10 kg less for all of my life... be careful...

sabato, ottobre 04, 2014

Two words on buying a new computer

I've got some friends who uses computers... mmm... maybe it's a fair assumption to think that it's all of my friends.

So, when you are in dare need of changing your ageing laptop and you don't want to pay too much (I know some of you are fanboys of Apple... ) you can try this out:


I am not a HUGE fan of Google... I am a fair fan of them. But These are pretty laptop, not expensive, but still powerful enough for your everyday use. And they have Linux installed on them, so extra security, extra speed and extra awesomeness!

I would, of course, prefer you to buy a full Linux laptop from System76 or ZaReason, but I know it's not so easy, so I will be more than happy if you go with a Chromebook (and you will be too). Or maybe you can do as I did and buy a Sputnik!

Remember just one thing, these (the Chromebooks) are not power machines. If you want to play to the last and all incredibly real life like game, better you buy a desktop (and install Linux on it... eheheh) or something else. The Chromebooks are perfect laptop for the everyday use, meaning surf the web, watch video, listen to music and do whatever the 95% of the population does the 95% of the time with a laptop... and play some games... sometimes...

venerdì, agosto 29, 2014

Summertime

After various years of having holidays in strange periods (at least strange for Italians) I am finally on holiday during summer.

Middle of August is the starting date, and first week of September will be the end. It's quite exciting. Everybody is on holiday in Italy in the summer months, and August is the king of holidays. Shops could be closed, restaurants could be closed. Because being Italy a place where people from other countries would never spend their holidays, the best time of the year for a commercial activity to closed due to holidays is indeed summer, isn't it?

Yes, it is.

But I am not here to talk about the commercial wisdom of Italians. I am here because what was supposed to be my "in fieri" date just dumped me and I am supposed to wait at least 1 hour more before I can go home. So I have to spend some time. I am outside of a restaurant, on a wooden chair with cushions, crickets are playing their music, the air is a bit chilly (it has been a atypical summer) but it's quite and nice out here. I listen to the talks of the other clients of the restaurant (the restaurant is owned by a friend, I am technically not a client...) and we are at the edge of the country, there is a little garden below some trees with little lights between their leaves... what I want to explain is that is fucking beautiful out here.

And ok... I thought I would have gone home with at least a kiss, I'll go home with maximum an headache from the cold but who cares. It has been a wonderful evening and no one cares about anything else. It is a wonderful place and no one will object about it. It is a wonderful life and no one can deny it.

(No, I am not an optimist all of a sudden, I am always been an optimist!)

The end of all of this is that Italy is a wonderful place and there is no place like Italy in the whole world. We should really start to learn how to make it a better place (who?)

martedì, agosto 26, 2014

Time and the Past

Relaxing in Italy after almost an year passed, still it is not easy.

The past is still hunting back, fighting to hold its position in my memory and winning it easily. No one, no one thing, no one thought can send away memories, sensations and feelings that have been part of me for so long.

Life is easy. Life changes every day, every moment and any moment is a different one, a different way of facing the sun, feeling the rain on the skin and looking at the moon's shadows. Forgetting is a slow descent in oblivion that never ends, because memories come back, pieces of life past resurface and float in the oceans of everyday happenings. Like the old fisherman who catches only his dreams, memories spring out of the water with a flash of droplets and splash back again in the dark water.

Never again will be? Or never again will I forget? Time come and go, seconds went by and became hours, became days and months that separate different experiences and nothing changes, nothing move on, nothing will never be the same.

And still it's life, it's going on inch by inch (inches are everywhere...) and it is separating me from what happened, from my life with you and a new life where you are forgotten and forgiven (and myself too).

The Past is still an heavy friend, a huge mountain of strong and stern feelings that will keep on getting weaker... and stronger at the same time. It will be easier because they will come back fewer and fewer... but the times they will appear the shot will sound louder.

Till the they they will take everything away...

mercoledì, luglio 30, 2014

Two words on Israel and Palestine (for kind people only)

I tried to avoid this, because this argument is so polarizing that everybody gets hurt (on the ground, sadly, and also in the discussion).

But it has been so long that the line has been crossed that I can't stay silent any more.

The real line, of course, has been crossed some years ago and a lot of times by a lot of different people, but what I want to think about is the "now", July 2014, and the line has been crossed when it has been decided to wage war. Shelling a populated area. That is the line. As far as today there are some 1000 deaths, 99% on the Palestine side and I believe 90% of them civilians. So: 900 "innocent" persons today are not living any more.
Schools have been hit, hospitals have been hit, houses have been hit.

All of this makes me sad, really sad, because again and again we, as a Species, show that we are not far away from the Species around us, which solve their problems fighting.

I want to add my 2 cents on this argument. I'll try to be, from now on, the more objective and accurate possible, so I'll use numbers (and numbers, I am sorry for somebody who doesn't think so, don't lie) and few opinions originated by emotions (most of these opinions I have been thinking since quite a long time, related also to other conflicts/problems). These are my opinions and there is a high probability I am simply wrong.

Numbers

Gaza Strip Area: 360 km2 (139 sq mi)
Population: 1,816,379
Density: 5046/km2 (13,069.1/sq mi)
[source]

Israel death toll: 59 (56 soldiers, 3 civilians) [font: Israel]
Palestine death toll: 1.118 (180 soldiers, 827 civilians) [font: UN]
[source]

Opinions

Those are the facts. In the past 3 weeks the Israel Defense Forces to kill 180 "terrorists" have killed almost 900 civilians. This is brutal. We can put into account friend fire, accidental deaths and whatever, but I feel it is too much of a cost for any reason. Any time a war action take place in a urban area it is a massacre, and here it is a massacre. Shelling, bombing, air strikes are happening on an area so small, with so many people living in it, that any attack would have caused a massacre, and there you have it.

This, in the Israeli Government words, it is an attack against Hamas. The attack, sadly, is hitting mainly the population. A civilized nation as Israel should end such a massacre on humanitarian behalf. There is really, for me, no question about it.

If Hamas is a Terrorist Cell, there is no use on shelling Gaza. Terrorist are not won hitting the population they allegedly fight for. If Israel wants to put an end on Hamas power in Palestine, let's start building schools, hospitals, infrastructure for the Palestinian in the Gaza Strip. In 5 years Hamas would be no more seen as the guardians of Palestine, but just another Terrorist Group by even the Palestinian.
If Hamas is not a Terrorist Cell, well... ok, they are the actual rulers of Gaza, so this is a war between 2 nations so that Israel will go on until the defeat of Hamas. In any case... please stop.

I know that these thoughts are naïve and stupid.

Last one.

In most of the western countries the capital punishment has been banned. Only the USA and Japan still have it in practice, Israel banished it for all the crimes except for Nazis convicted of crimes against humanity.
So, in the last century most of the "civilized" countries have decided that not even killing another person should lead the government to kill the perpetrator of such a crime. I cannot understand why we accept the death penalty that has been put above a so wide number of heads in Palestine.

Ok, that's it, I will not review what I've written (badly written, too), I apologize with all of the sensibilities that can feel to be offended, I meant no offence. I strongly believe that it is finally the moment for the Human Species to start solve its problems in a new way, away of conflicts and war.

I hope that somebody will understand that what I have written it's not against the Israel state, Israel rights to survive or whatever you might think I am against. I am against killing each other for whatever reason.

domenica, luglio 13, 2014

Inches are all around us

Yes... they are there and those inches, summed up, will make the difference between losing and winning, between life and death.

Ok, I admit it, I watched Any Given Sunday and Al Pacino got the best out of me.
And still I spend the most part of my every day missing the opportunities to catch those inches.

I know theory and I know how to apply it. Never do it, but I know everything.

That make me an idiot, and I am glad that it's been years that I know I am. Unfortunately I am not willing, yet, to change too much. It seems I enjoy going on being an idiot. I've got not much to say about it. I am... really am.

I will get better, probably, I will shave my beard one day and find a more clever version of myself below it. Time is quite running out, but I'll do.

So, what's the point of all of this? Tonight I'll cut my beard!

lunedì, giugno 30, 2014

Amsterdam: 8 months and counting

And... yes!

I am settled. Nice apartment, in a nice neighbourhood, a job to pay the bills and look at the future in a little less scared way (everybody knows, I've got the scared eyes of a deer...) and life is going on as it should.

Of course, life is going on as it should because I have no steering ability at all... but I am used to it. It's more or less 8 years, since I left Italy, that I have no power on my destiny. Every time I fight for something, I end up losing it. It's a bit unsettling, I have to say, but "Hey, what the f**k!" it's a phrase I repeated so much in my head that now it's simply another of my inner jokes.

As far as trying to shape my future, I am now restrained to the choice of my socks and to hoping to manage to maybe get back to a less-horrible shade of fitness. And I am taking the helm of it in these days... I started training for almost 2 hours every Monday and Tuesday (my off days). Today should be the 3rd day... and it menaces rain... but I don't care, I will go even under heavy precipitation!
So far the (in the meanwhile it just started raining... 

lucky me) result of my steering power is a set of horrible socks and aches everywhere. Today if I turn the head down my legs ache (it's not the legs... but I will not be more specific, it's around there). My right knee is telling me "STOOOOPPP!!!" in a nice whisper and my ankles gently weep every evening. It's a fun situation.

And... am I missing something? Ah... well, life is going on well in this nice and warm city.

lunedì, maggio 12, 2014

Learning the Manjaro way - 2 First Steps

Ok, now, with some luck if you are a complete newbie to the Linux world, you have installed Manjaro on your computer.

First thing to know. You have a lot of programs/application already installed on your system (unless you've done a barebone installation, but I didn't explained to you how to do that... so I presume you have a default installation). I will also presume that you are using KDE as a Desktop Environment (DE, the look and feel of your desktop, so to say).

So if you click on your Manjaro icon (a green M) on bottom left (or top left... or wherever you find it. It's the icon that shows the menu for everything that is installed on the system.
Programs are divided into categories, so if you are looking for a music player you can search it under Multimedia, if you look for the word processor, look in Office and so on.
Some programs already installed?
- LibreOffice (a office suite with word processor, spreadsheet and so on)
- DigiKam (to manage import of photos from a camera)
- GIMP (to edit images)
- Amarok (music player)
- Dragon Player (video player)

Just take some time and know your programs. Open them, use them and decide if you like them. Take note of this... it will be useful later on.

Now that you know a little better what you have under your hands, it's time to update the system. As every OS in the world, Linux is constantly improving (ok... I am refraining from making jokes about Windows...). So having the system up to date is really a good thing. Manjaro uses Pacman to install/remove/manage programs and the system. Pacman is a program that works using commands written in a Terminal. What's a Terminal? A Terminal is a program that sends commands to the system to manage it. You will learn to use the Terminal sooner or later. Maybe just for few commands, but you'll  learn that it's really easier than you would have ever expected it to be!
But, for the time, just know that Pacman, the "manager" of the system, can be managed using GUI Front End program (Graphic User Interface... a program that allows you to use your mouse to do things) that is called Octopi. Somewhere on the screen you will find a icon that looks like a octopus (look in the system bar, the bar where there is the Manjaro green "M", on the right there is what is called the System Tray, where icons as the volume, the network indicator are). That is the Octopi icon. If it is green, everything is up to date, if it is some other colour (yellow or red) it means that the system can be updated.

So, now it's time to Update your system: open Octopi clicking with the right button of the mouse on the Octopi icon in the bar and click on Octopi in the menu that appears. On the upper left of the Octopi window that will open there is the File menu, click there, click Sinc Database, insert your password, insert it again because I am sure you inserted it wrong, and wait for the program to check if there are updates. Than in the menu Transaction click on Commit... and update should start.

Next time... 3 Second Steps

domenica, aprile 27, 2014

Learning the Manjaro way - 1 Installation

So, I am so happy about my switch from Ubuntu to Manjaro that I want to share the experience.

But first, first a big and huge THANKS to Ubuntu. I discovered Linux 20 years ago but it wasn't until Ubuntu 8.04 that I really have been able to use it constantly on my PCs. It was, of course, 2008 and for 5 years I simply loved it. Now that I think about it... it's the same years span as... what the f...!! Well... never mind.

So, a HUGE thanks, Ubuntu still remains a great distro, but I am too of a chaos maker to keep it. And it was time to change, as I said. Last words, if you are a complete stranger to the Linux world, try Ubuntu (maybe not the last distro, but the previous one or the LTS), or maybe Mint.

Now, Manjaro. What's Manjaro? Manjaro comes from Arch Linux. Arch Linux is for bad asses. You want to learn Linux? Or you already know it? Go with Arch.
Manjaro tries to have the same level of configuration, speed, optimization as Arch, but gives you some help in the process other than the manuals and forums. It has got a graphic installer, for example!

How to install it? If you are on Linux or on Windows or on Mac: download Unetbootin. Than download the flavour of Manjaro that you want: you want it lightspeed? Download the XFCE one. You want it with more configuration for your DE? Download KDE. You want it bare bones but incredibly configurable? Openbox is for you.
Now launch Unetbootin (if it doesn't open... check on google "unetbootin doesn't launch"... or let me know and I'll help you). Select Diskimage, then select the ISO from Manjaro that you downloaded before, insert a USB stick in one of the USB ports, select it in Type and click OK button.

The program will create a bootable USB stick... let it finish it.
- By the way if you change the ISO from Manjaro with the one from another distro... you'll create a bootable USB stick to install that distro! -

Preliminary things to do on your PC if it's not a new one
If on the PC there is another OS and you already have data on it run a defrag (Windows) on it before trying to install. In this way the data on the PC will be moved to the beginning of the hard disk and there will be space at the end of it to install Linux. When it finished write down how much of the hard disk is being used: you need at least 24/30 GB free in order to install Linux (you can have also less, 10 could be enough, but I know you are a messy person, so let's have some more, ok?).

Now, when Unetbootin finished it's job, insert the USB stick in the PC that you want to install Manjaro to and restart (or start) that PC. You should press F12, F8 or whatever "F" your PC need at start up to select the device from which doing the booting (you know? When you start up the computer that there is that moment in which the screen is black and there is a message? Read that message and type the key that allows you to enter booting options). Select the USB device and restart again.

Instead of the OS (Operating System) that is normally installed on the PC you should be greeted by a different menu. There are some choices... leave the Default one and wait. Linux should be booting and at the end you'll enter in the Manjaro desktop (I've done it for KDE, but it will be the DE, Desktop Environment, that you chose). If you want it's time to mess around, try how it works and everything. This is a Live session of Manjaro, it's not yet installed on the PC, but it works as it were. So if everything works here (webcam, audio, videos) it means that everything will work once you complete the installation.

Let's move on: connect to the internet either by cable or by wireless. If by cable, just connect the cable. By wireless? On the bottom bar there is on the right the System Tray and the icon for Network. Select the wifi connection you use, type the password and that's it.
Now on the desktop there is the icon to install Manjaro. Indeed there should be 2, one "normal" and one "nonfree". The "nonfree" means that drivers that are not free will be installed too. Remember, it doesn't mean that you will have to pay for them, it means that you are not FREE to modify them, but you are not gonna to anyway so select that.

Launch the installation you want and now... WOW: a installation window will pop up. Select the language you want your installation, time zone, keyboard layout, then the disk layout.

And here we stop. To install Linux (Manjaro in our case) you need some space. I advice something like 20 GB.
So, at the disk layout section select Manual and go on.You will see a partition program where there will be a bar, that is your hard disk, with all the partition already there. If you click on the bar you can Change, Delete, Create the partition you are clicking.
If the PC is a new one and you want only Linux on it I suggest to partition (divide) you hard disk as follows:
  • create 20 GB with Type = ext4 for the main Linux installation, mount as "/"
  • some space for swap (normally it's the same as the RAM of your PC, if you don't know, let put 4 GB) with Type = swap, mount as "swap"
  • the rest as "data" disk with Type = ext4, where you will put everything... everything, mount as "/home"
If you have already an OS and data on the PC do like this:
  • leave all the partitions that you already got, simply resize (Edit, usually) the last partition so that 24 GB of space will be left
  • create a 20 GB partition for the Linux installation, Type = ext4, mount point "/"
  • create a 4 GB partition for swap, Type = swap, mount as "swap"
 Now... go on... ONLY IF YOU ARE REALLY SURE YOU WANT TO GO ON! If you are scared of doing some mess... don't do it! Call me, write me, I will try to help and clarify any doubts you have!

So, we go on, and the installation begin, you will be asked your name, a user name, chose a password, the name of the PC and... that's it!

At the end of the installation restart the PC, remove the USB stick and enjoy!

(next: First Steps)