Archive for August, 2010

Everybody Needs a Hobby

I have a new hobby. Yes, yet another one… But this time its about web design! I am finally jumping head first into the wonderful world of web design, something I have secretly (and not so secretly) wanted to do for ages! Its right up there with studying graphic design and I have been itching to try it out ever since I had my first introduction to HTML while playing around with my MySpace profile over 6 years ago or so.

I am talking about my new hobby in absolute terms, using “Web Design” as the umbrella here, but actually this is a hobby with a lot of different parts to it, but that all then tie together to form something amazing – a new skill!

1. Part one is comprised of setting up the first web site. Its actually not me building it, but its me giving the creative input that my lovely designer then interprets in code. Its not ideal from the point of view of learning to actually build one yourself, but it has given me a great insight into the general process of setting up a website. The second one we are to build next with this designer I will pay much more attention to, especially the elements of how to set it all up in Dreamweaver as well as the final bit of how to host a site.

A screenshot of the header

2. Part two is my weekly class in Dreamweaver web design that my lovely colleague Adriana is teaching me. Its a one hour a week tutorial where she shows me how to build newsletters and how to work with Dreamweaver and then I go back home and try it out myself. I have learned so much already and I cannot believe how quickly the hour passes! I cant wait to be able to whip up some fantastic newsletters soon myself from scratch!

3. Part 3 is a bit more abstract. It concerns the big picture. I.e. what to do with  my newly acquired skills. I love learning stuff, but what I love even more is to then be able to put it all into practice and DO something with it. With this hobby the aim is to set up my own sites, to be able to work with sites as well as possibly design them for others in the future. Part three is what wraps everything up and gives it all a reason. Well, that and the fact that I am having SO MUCH FUN learning HTML.

As soon as the first site is up and running Iwill be happy to share it with the world. The one I have helped design will propbably be up already next week! Super exciting! While we will have to wait a little bit longer for a site designed by me… Ehm.. I am still just learning how to set up tables, and considering my ambitious plan for all kinds of fantastic things, I think it will take a while..

Nicaragua and the Croissan’wich

This weekend we did the 72 hour visa run from Costa Rica. Most expats here are forced to do this at some point before their work permits are properly in process or in case they just want to stay a bit longer in this lovely country than what the 3 month you get on the Tourist Visa offers you.

So for our 72 hours outside the country we decided to explore our new neighbour, Nicaragua. I was quite excited about seeing the country, and would have loved to explore more of it, but at the same time, the beach was calling and we ended up deciding on going to San Juan del Sur instead of backpacking around.

TicaBus has an excellent bus service all through central America, from Mexico all the way down to Panama. We had heard a lot of good things about it and decided to go with them instead of paying 10 times as much to go by plane. But although we were travelling on a budget we decided to treat ourselves a bit and travel in style with their Executive Service. Even if you travel by bus, you might as well travel in Ejecutivo style..

But yeah, travelling executive style can be defined in so many different ways, and I guess my interpretation was somewhat in conflict with TicaBus’.

The good thing with this service was that it meant we left the TicaBus station at 3am, got to the border around 8am and bam, arrived at our hotel in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, at 9.30am. It turned out to be a fairly painless journey, except for  my shocking first encounter with the Burger King Croissan’wich.

In addition to the great travel time, the second perk you get if you travel executive style, they serve you a quick breakfast on the bus in Liberia before you get to the border. They don’t happen to mention though that they are in partnership with BurgerKing and that what you get is a little box consisting of the Croissan’wich and two sweeties. Cholesterol, fat and sugar – all you need for a perfect start to your day.

It looks pretty special, feels quite spongy and I bet the whole thing can be made by just squeesing some paste into a mold and heating that up for a bit… Well, I did give it a shot and tasted it, thinking maybe this is an acquired taste that demands some getting used to, but no. Definitely not worth it. My body is my temple and I think having this in me would definitely be something of a sacrilige..

Anyhow, lets move on.. There is lots more to tell! 🙂

So we ended up heading to San Juan del Sur (SJdS), a lovely little town about 40mins from the border. The town is actually a little fishing village that has become something of a surf town, attracting lots of young travellers from all over the world. Currently the 21st season of CBS’s Survivor is also being filmed there, so unfortunately this means there are lots of limitations to where you are allowed to go etc due to the filming.

We had booked ourselves in to a lovely little hotel, Aventura Lodge and after having been picked up by them from the boarder we spent Friday exploring the town and trying out some restaurants and the daiquiris while simultaneously sorting out the important bookings for the weekend.. I.e. booking transport and boards for a trip to the beach.

In SJdS there are loads of different surf companies who will happily rent you boards as well as get you out to the many different beaches near by. Board rentals are about $10/day and the shuttle $5 return ticket.

Due to the massive swell that Nicaragua, and the whole of Central America was enjoying this weekend, we ended up at Remanso, a beginners beach, so that I could jump in as well.. Although, this weekend it was definitely not the typical beginner conditions that the enclosed, horse shoe shaped beach usually enjoys. With the swell at 10ft the beach looked more like a jacuzzi with waves closing out the whole beach at times. I rode a mini mal on Saturday, something I really enjoyed! Before moving on to an egg for the next day when the swell had dropped a couple of feet.

Following our two surf excursions on Saturday and Sunday morning we ventured up the hill in SJdS to take a look at the views from the Christ statue that stood tall, overlooking the town and sea. Cleverly enough we headed off in the midst of the midday heat for this vertical climb that was part of the approximately 10km hike… I think I easily dropped a dress size simply thanks to the loss of a couple of pints of body fluids following this hike.. I dont think I have enjoyed a pool as much as I did enjoy the hotel pool when we jumped in upon our return.. My god cool water is simply amazing..

That evening we had a gorgeous meal at a fantastic restaurant called El Colibri. Owned by a British woman and serving delicious mediterranean food, we had some of the best fallafel we have ever tasted as well as a gorgeous meal in a beautiful setting in our attempt to regain some of the calories we had lost during our adventures that day. In general we have eaten incredibly well in Nicaragua, both at somewhat touristy restaurants as well as in more local settings such as the local food market, and it is definitely cheaper than Costa Rica.

The next day we were due to head off to Rivas pretty early to catch the TicaBus for our return to CR. Got to the bus in time, arrived at the border at about 10am on schedule, but then our luck ran out. The bus broke down and we ended up being stuck at the border for a good 4-5hours while they sorted out another bus for us as well as got us as well as the new bus with all the luggage over to the Costa Rican side. All this meant yesterday turned into a massive 12 hour long journey that I was very pleased to be done with when we finally arrived home at about 8pm to a super excited Sofia (who obviously peed on the floor of pure excitement)

After an eventful 72hours away, I am very pleased to be back home though. Its wonderful to travel around and see new places, but nothing beats the home on the mountains. And I missed Sofia lots and lots as well. (Big thank you to Dan for taking great care of her!)

But now I am just going to take it easy, very easy, until our next trip is due. My whole body still aches from my battles in the waves, the massive hike in incredible heat as well as all the sitting at the border as well as in a somewhat uncomfortable bus. I think a few days of rest following my holiday will do me good. Just so I will be ready to hit the waves again by next weekend! I love where we live!

Fantasy Football

So I am playing Fantasy Football again this year. Last year I attempted it, I started off, I picked my league, I checked game week 1 results, and… Hmm… Then I have no recollection whatsoever of the whole thing anymore. Oops. Even if I dont know how things turned out for my team, my guess is they did not perform any miracles.

This year I am a bit more dedicated. At least I have chosen my team with care, I have joined two leagues to keep the excitement and competition going, I have even done a reshuffle of the team based on some good advice I got in order to be ready for game week 2. I even checked who is playing when AND have two bets placed for upcoming games. U-huh.. A Fantasy Football expert in the making…

My newly found interest in football (soccer, just to be a bit more specific and not confuse some people on this side of the pond) comes mainly from my work. I am sitting in the midst of a marketing department, which is nothing out of the ordinary or a big change from my previous work setting, but this time the people are much more focussed on the sports products we have rather than the other entertainment elements we also offer. And all I hear about is football. Both Soccer and American Football.

So I thought, if you cant beat them, join them. And here I am, with my fabulous team TheBarnacleBoys ready to beat the competition! Come On!

I am actually finding this regular ocurrance that sports is now having in my life quite interesting and fascinating. Working in such close contact with sports related products, the experience the Fantasy Football, the betting on sports and the reading about it is providing me with. Is actually helping me learn a lot about what our typical customers go through each day when they use our product.

So its all quite exciting. Unfortunately this is not really great for someone with such a short attention span as I have. The Fantasy Football League thingie goes on for months, in other words, its no sprint, its a full marathon! So we shall see how long I can keep my interest up. But for now, I think I am doing pretty well. Now bring on Game Week 2!!

The Pep Talk

A Personal Pep Talk

Right. Its time for a good personal pep talk! God damn, I can do it! And I can do it DAMN WELL! Hear me ROAR!

Well, something like that… 🙂

So today is an absolutely wonderfully sunny Sunday and we are a few hours away from hitting the beach with our boards. It’s Barranca time again, and apparently the swell is excellent for me as a beginner. At least that is what my personal surf coach says 🙂 And that’s what this pep talk is all about, giving me the ooomph to hit those waves and not be scared about the steepness of them, or the force or them, or of my board hitting me, or of other surfers getting in my way, or of me getting caught in the leash, or of… Well, you get the point. Its a scary world out there for us beginner surfers.

But today I feel GRRRRREAT! And I am ready to hit those waves 100%! I am NOT going to pull out at the last minute and I am not going to bail on any great waves and I am not going to let a few waves taken over the head get me down. I am going to be as buoyant as my bloody board always is (making it oh so hard to get out there!) and not let any of this pull me down.

I am keeping my fingers crossed now that this pep talk will work and that I will have one of my BEST days EVER out there in the swell today! And if it doesn’t work, I will go with the “Eat Ice Cream” option from the card above.. HäagenDazs super premium ice cream (as they modestly describe it on their website..) always works… 🙂

Combating Boredom

Before my computer profile at work crashed, I used to have lots of lovely favourites set up. I set them up under a few main themes: Online Marketing, Analysis and Statistics, Health and Fitness and Combating Boredom.

The one I miss the most at the moment is my collection of wonderful ways to make the day go faster that had taken me months to compile. You guessed right, its the folder Combating Boredom I am talking about..

CB, for short, had all kinds of interesting pages marked for immediate access in case of need. My favourite ones being sites such as Stumble Upon, Yahoo Games, AlbinoBlacksheep, Alltop… As well as a few news portals and obviously my social media and mail boxes.. Thankfully my relationship with these sites were intimate enough so that I didn’t completely lose them when I lost my Favourites folder.

But back to the real reason for why I even have a folder like this. There are always moments at work when you are bored. Out of things to do. Waiting for other people to do theirs so you can get on with yours. Today has been one of those days. And even if I have had all my helpful heros here to help me combat boredom, we have not succeeded completely.

But thankfully its time to wrap up the day and head off home. I have my pilates lesson in 2 hrs to look forward to and after that I am simply going to jump into bed! Can’t wait!

I hope you all have had a lovely day! And please do let me know if you have any other great ideas of things to do to combat boredom so I can expand my arsenal of arms to fight it.

My Zuccini Empire

My lovely little surprise gardening project is coming along quite nicely out on the terrace. I started off with planting cherry tomatoes, chives, spinach and zuccini, but since I forgot where I planted what, this has now turned into a bit of a guessing game. Thankfully one of the zuccini seedlings came up with a piece of the seed on the leaf, so that was easy to identify. I now have four zuccini seedlings, a few cherry tomato seedlings and a few chives reaching for the skies out on the terrace. Unfortunately the spinach has not yet gotten to this stage  in its life cycle, and is still hiding away under the soil. But quite exciting to see how the zuccini seems to feel very much at home out there. I wonder how long it will take till we get to see the first little zuccini start growing?

Women Surfers

I have just come to the conclusion that I think I should have a role model for surfing, someone who I like the style of and who I could learn a bit from.. So for the last few days I have tried to keep an eye out for some female surfers that would fit the bill. As mentioned, the most important criteria for me with regards to this, was that I wanted to find someone who’s style I like so that I can learn from that… Someone I can watch in action, and hence get an idea of what I would like to look like on the board…

So I found this lovely lady:

Kassia Meador. Ah, I very much like her style on the board and I have gotten so many wonderful ideas from watching a few of the videos about her that can be found on YouTube.. She ticks, well, the one box I had for this. 🙂

God damn I want to be able to do this! All of what she is doing! And get photos this amazing proving it! 🙂 She has inspired me so much to push myself further with the surfing (Although, not as much as J is inspiring me :)) that I cannot wait to get into the water again now. Thankfully I think that will happen already tomorrow! Bring it on!

Muscle Memory

Outch.. And Mmmm.. I am in the middle of that painful yet wonderful feeling of being slightly sore and achey all over following an intensive start of the week. Its been a hectic week in many ways, mainly due to working quite a few hours on a little project (to be revealed soon!) as well as having thrown in lots of exercising as well.

What pushed me over the limit when it comes to the exercising was the Pilates lesson. Having had a recommendation from a girl I know, I had my first Pilates class in ages this Wednesday with a lovely instructor who teaches in a studio just around the corner from where we live here in Santa Ana, Costa Rica.

My gosh I had forgotten how absolutely fantastic Pilates is! The hour flew by and I got to try a few of the machines as well, something I have never tried before as I had just done mat work with my previous teachers. Up till now I have basically not been that keen on using the machines since I think its much more rewarding to work with your body instead of lots of machines, but I can now see that the machines can be an excellent addition to your exercise routines as well. I am definitely going back!

We started off with some mat work, and its amazing how quickly your body gets back into things. Its like my muscles remebered all the moves and they did not at all feel as bad this time round as they did when I first started. Although, my gosh did I feel my legs the next day following this first class and the first cirles with the legs in the air… But this time, compared to my first times, I managed it so much better immediately! (even if I say so myself… ;))

We then moved on to the Half Trapezie, or Half Cadillac Wall unit where we did some more cirles with the legs, we did some arm exercises and some other moves that I had not tried before, but seemed to be excellent exercises. I just need to start remembering the names of all these exercises!

We finished off the hour with a few exercises on the Reformer, the only machine I had actually heard of before this class. And as you might have guessed, I had a great (although somewhat sweaty) time! 🙂

With Pilates you should be doing it a few times a week to see results, but if you do put that tmie into it you will see the results somewhat quickly. I have currently set up one class a week, but will be increasing that to two lessons a week as soon as I can find a good time slot for it. Ideally Id like to do one machine class and then one mat work class a week, but I would not say no to doing two machine classes either. I just want to get back into Pilates, I bet it will help me massively with the surfing!

Pillar 5: Health and Fitness

And so we have arrived at the last pillar, the one focusing on the physical well being and the “Health and Fitness” of your body. As mentioned previously, the pillars are not arranged in any particular order, each one of them carries as much weight as the other ones, while simultaneously supporting each other. This is exactly what a habit of being healthy and keeping fit will do to your mental well being as well your physical well being.

I have always liked being active, possibly due to my slight hyperactivity. Sports was my energy outlet where I could let off steam in a controlled and enjoyable way that benefitted me both physically and mentally.

Although I was never particularly fond of the PE classes at school, at that point in time I used to spend hours and hours on the horse back or orienteering or playing badminton or just running around playing. Anything that involved building up and improving a skill or that had a competitive element has always appealed to me massively, and pushed me to do my best, see how far I could go.

Later on I discovered dancing and didn’ t look back. It started off with Dance Hall Reggae, then Jive. But then came Salsa and a life long passion was born. I know I have only been dancing salsa for 10 years, but you just KNOW when you have found your thing. You know, because its something that is so much part of you, you don’t even question it anymore. I did go through a lot of other dances as well such as Lindy-Hop and Swing in general.. They have all been fun, but mainly because I love partnerwork, nothing has yet been able to compete with salsa for my affection…

Then another format of exercise entered the picture. I found Pilates and immediately following my first class I knew I had been lucky enough to find yet another thing that I clicked with. Pilates not only helped me build up my core strenght (something that helped my salsa spins massively!) but helped me just focus on my breathing and isolating muscles for two hours a week, bringing a much needed element of meditation into the picture. The connection and support that existed between the dancing and Pilates at this point was also fantastic. It helped me get to complete new levels of both balance (physical and mental) and fitness (physical health) while improving my posture as well as adding routine to my life.

The main destabilizers in my life have always happened following a disruption in my exercise routine. When you move city or move country or start a new job or go to a new school you somehow end up destabilizing your usual routines, most often this would mean your exercise routine. I have moved quite a few times in my life, and every time I have not paid enough attention to the fact that I should focus on getting my exercising back on track asap, instead of letting that go uncorrected for weeks on end while “settling in”. Having this pillar destabilized will affect your other pillars and your life for sure, maybe not as quickly as if the disruption starts from one of the other pillars, but it will definitely undermine your balance and routine and have consequences beyond the realm of just this pillar.

I experienced the disruptions with all my other moves, except for this one. The disruptions I have noticed following my move to Costa Rica have mainly been withdrawal sympthoms from dancing, something I have not done for months now. But looking at the general picture, I have not felt the same type of destabilization here as I have before. And I think that is mainly because of surfing.

Surfing came into my life with J. He took me down to Cornwall and “threw” me into the freezing water in August last year, and I must say, I enjoyed it immensely. Surfing has everything I like in a sport. It offers me the possibility to cultivate both a skill as well as a meditative mindset, something I find very difficult in everyday life due to all the white noise that I seem to have going on in my head. Surfing has helped me click right into this place, as well as added another form of exercise into my life that helps me stay balanced as well as fit. And I have J to thank for introducing me to it.. 🙂

So to wrap this pillar up, what I want to say is that I think everyone needs exercise in their lives, both for their mental and for their physical wellbeing. Having this element present in your life will bring benefit to all other areas in your life as well. In other words, help support your other pillars.

cogito ergo sum

After a heated discussion this afternoon with my boyfriend about how understanding things will remove fear and how emotions are largly based on misunderstandings and misreadings, I have been sent away to think about my wrongs and misunderstandings in the company of Descartes, Plato, Hume and Kant.

So I have never studied filosophy. Or well, let me rephrase that, I have never properly studied much filosophy. While in high school we all had to do a course called Theory of Knowledge, unfortunately it was just not very good at all in unwrapping the world of thought, or providing you with any theories to base your knowledge on. I remember us touching upon Plato and Socrates, but I remember the essay competition we were taking part in for my German class at that moment much better. ( I revamped a cheesy comment from Forrest Gump, you know which one I mean, and won a trip to Germany..)

Anyways, so here I am then. Unable to escape the great filosophers (or my boyfriend) and their insights into life and all that is. I started off with Descartes, well the Wikipedia entry about Descartes, and had a bit of a “Oopa” moment halfway through the text already (I hadn’t even reached “Discourse on the Method” yet!) when his famous comment cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”) came up and how it more or less says that existence is questioning things. Right, I can see that, but what really touched a nerve was a bit further down the page:

“He perceives his body through the use of the senses; however, these have previously been unreliable. So Descartes determines that the only indubitable knowledge is that he is a thinking thing. Thinking is his essence as it is the only thing about him that cannot be doubted.”

God damn. 1 – 0 to J and Descartes. My arguments from the discussion before about my extremely overwhealming feelings being uncontrollable and me shutting down into animal mode when faced with any form of fear and becoming unable to deal with them in a rational manner is starting to crumble already. How annoying.

I must say though that I really enjoyed reading up a bit on Descartes. I continued with a summary of his “Discourse on the Method” and I am intrigued to read more. Found a link to the audio book for this that I think I will download just in time now for our 8hrs long trip over to Nicaragua in a few weeks. I think some deep filosophical teachings might be an excellent thing to drill down into while bumping along on the Costa Rican highways towards a new Tourist Visa.

But for now I think Id better stop my filosophical musings on Descartes in order to focus fully on the next filosopher in line, Plato. More on that later. I promise.