The Sunday before Christmas

The jog log:
Slow but steep run to Bettingen (the long way) through slush, mud and melted snow. The temperature was around 5 to 8 degrees plus. Perfect running weather. The soles of my feet were burning for much of the way. Maybe the wrong pair of socks…? But I kept going and feel relaxed now.

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Here’s a quote I heard today at Crossroads from Robert Fulgham’s book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, a book I read many years ago:

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

BTW, Crossroads was beautifully decorated today:

poinsettas at crossroads basel

Compare and contrast these to the 3-meter-high plants in our garden in Nyambadwe last May:

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more of the same

My year of photography:
The Malawi plants are some of my first photos I took with my Canon 40D. I bought the dslr shortly before flying to Blantyre. I have had a lot of fun and look forward to learning more.

I’m planning to get a tripod very soon.

I may sound kind of spaced out/weird/disconnected, but taking photos has a therapeutic effect on me. A way to be creative and express myself. To de-stress. To reflect.

RSS Feeds

Here are a couple of links in preparation for a meeting tomorrow where I get to explain how I use RSS feeds.

What is an RSS Feed?

There’s a video explaining RSS feeds in plain English:

How do I use RSS feeds?

  1. To follow niche topics: to keep up with news and topics that I am interested in. My advice: don’t subscribe to any high-volume news feeds like CNN or the BBC. Use it to stay up-to-date on topics that you are following regularly, e.g. I’ve subscribed to a number of websites that write about technology in Africa.
  2. As a single-source input base with endless distribution possibilities: I can distribute and cross-reference items  on other websites of mine using RSS. For example, I can display my latest Chiperoni.ch entry at another website and vice versa.  WordPress, the web technology I use at this site,  offers RSS feeds for comments, categories and tags. For example the RSS feed address for entries categorized as Malawi is: http://www.chiperoni.ch/wordpress/category/malawi/feed/
    This is a simple but great way to make a website more dynamic. See also my recent prototype.

Advantages versus a regular email newsletter:

  • I can easily unsubscribe a feed, if I want (less hassle than email newsletter).
  • I can decide in what intervals I would like to receive updates.
  • I can choose where I want to read a feed (in a desktop reader, in my email inbox or in web-based tool).
  • I can subscribe to an RSS feed via email.

Tools:

I currently use Google Reader, a web-based feed reader. I have used dedicated desktop feed readers, other web-based tools, and the feed reader of Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail. My preferences change from time to time. A web-based reader has the advantage of being accessible where ever I have Internet access and a browser. Email clients are great for a corporate environment.

More on Google Reader:

I can share, email or tag an entry within my RSS reader:

Google Reader (1)

What else? Feel free to comment and describe your usage, while I catch some sleep.

Running Tips for the Cold Season

dreaming of warmer climate

The transition from European autumn to winter still isn’t easy for this Malawi-born blogger. Even after so many years. I find it’s more difficult to go out running when it’s raining, windy and icy cold. But just like with warm weather, running outside is a good way to get accustomed to the cold season. And it can be very refreshing to have fresh, crisp December air rushing into your system.

Here are a couple for tips:

  1. Layers Wear 2 or 3 layers, so that you can remove a layer or two once you feel warm.
  2. Gloves and a beanie Wear gloves and a beanie to keep your hands and head warm.
  3. Breathing If temperatures drop below zero, breathing can be difficult and can cause a stabbing pain in your lung area. Start running slowly, close your mouth and breathe through your nose to warm the air before it hits your lungs. Usually the stabbing pain stops after a couple of minutes. If it doesn’t, it’s probably time for the indoor tread mill.
  4. Change your schedule On the weekends I run during the early afternoons, while it is light. And I try different routes.
  5. Join a running group Meeting with others helps to stay motivated. Sometimes.

I’m writing these tips for myself, ‘cos that special German phenomenon called innere Schweinehund (literally inner pig dog) has been creeping in.

This afternoon I ran for about an hour from Riehen up to Bettingen. After about 5 minutes I started feeling warm, and when I reached Bettingen I saw a beautiful view of the Black Forest mountains. I ended my run with some stair exercises. And now I’ve got something to write about. To show off. Priceless.