Doing Nothing

One of the most rewarding activities is no activity. Many meditation tutorials warn that this is harder than it sounds. And it indeed is. Doing nothing may be one of the hardest things to do, but it is surprisingly powerful. I recently inherited some balcony furniture from a friend who moved to an appartment with no balcony. I always thought that it would be nice to have such furniture to sit outdoors doing nothing for a while, but paradoxically I was always too busy to think about it. So now, two years after moving in, I finally take the time to be on the balcony to meditate or listen to something on headphones. And it is nice. Who would have said.

Getting some plants for the balcony definitely goes too far ;-)

Paper Towel

I never had the need for kitchen paper towels. But when I arrived to the serviced apartment that I got for some time when I moved to Munich, two rolls of paper towels were prepared in the kitchen. I started using them as napkins, later I moved on to using them to dry my hands, and finally I ended using them even as a dish replacement for, e.g., bread. I became addicted. It was so convenient! No need to clean anything, just throw them away after use. I wanted to believe that it was no big harm for the environment. After all, it was not evil plastic what I was throwing away, but just paper, right?

Regarding evil plastic, I am a big fan of these glass jars that get fully reused :)

But obviously, those paper towels come from somewhere and go somewhere. Most likely, from trees to landfill waste. My Zero Waste book kept insisting that one should move away from such one use items, but the convenience made me fabricate arguments why it was not that bad. In the end, a virus had to come to teach me the lesson. One day, the supermarket was out of paper towels, as people were probably buying them as a replacement for toilet paper. I had to do without, and that seemed impossible. But once I had no other choice, it was not. As is often the case, change was just a matter of a slightly different perspective.

The last page of "Zero Waste Home" - To have or to be?

Cash Flow

This time, I needed more. To be specific, 109.69 € more. Some time ago I made an analysis of the expenses that I had during my first year in Munich. I have now the results for the second year, which show that I spent three cents more per day. While I also saved 14.06% more, I failed my goal of needing less. The figure below shows a side by side comparison of the spending percentage on different areas. The numbers do not include savings. The biggest difference is in housing becasue the first year I got relocation support for a temporary apartment. Taking that into account, I actually spent less on the rest this second year.

Spending for first year (inner circle) and second year (outer circle) in Munich

Specifically, I saved money in traveling and, obviously, relocation costs. I found very interesting that I spent alomost the same money on food, which seems to be really predictable. On a per day basis, I am only a few cents away from the 5.6 €/day on food at home and at work that I observed last year. The next figure shows that I became a loyal Edeka customer, where I spent almost a thousand euros. This made me wonder whether I should sign up for their loyalty program, which would have given me 492 points. However, the minimum to get a prize is 499 points, which buys you some No Brand sunglasses or some pegs. Woo-hoo.

Another year of food at home and at work

Finally, I took a look at how my spending evolved over the year. The figure below shows the percentage of money that I spent every month on some of the most relevant categories. The big orange block is housing, of course. The spending on transport at the end of the year almost vanishes because I started biking to work when I switched jobs. Also, the lockdown starting in March meant a significant increase in food from the supermarket and a clear decrease in ATM cash, which I used to use for lunch at work before the crown hit us. I guess the conclusion is that, as soon as I save some money somewhere, it spills out somewhere else :(

Two Years

I arrived in Munich on this day, two years ago. A new mindset unfolded in front me as I left behind academia and moved to a way of thinking that allowed for a bit more of time for truly personal projects. My list of ideas grew in the blink of an eye. One of them captivated my mind in particular. The inkFrame. A picture frame that would show a different, new and unknown picture each time you look at it. It would not just be a boring frame showing a pre-selection of my holiday pictures, but it would show images that I had not chosen and thus never seen before. And it would use electronic ink, such that it could be on but off at the same time, all the time.

For the first version of the inkFrame, I made a custom wooden laser-cut frame (detail)

It took a while. But two years later, the second prototype stands on a small table in my apartment. It can show anything. Pictures. Text. Time. Weather. And in this time of lockdown, I have chosen to show motivational quotes on it. The frame gets them from a few Twitter accounts, and updates the image every five minutes. Each time I look at it, I get a new short wisdom to think about. But unlike Twitter, there is no scrolling. There is no dumb time wasting as you cannot ask for a new message. You are left there, on your own, thinking about it. It often lights up my day in this indefinite quarantine that nobody would have foreseen two years ago.

The second version of the inkFrame fits into a standard IKEA RIBBA frame

Random Lines

We are all very similar, yet so different. We all have a similar human shape, we all have similar feelings, we all have similar needs. And still, every single person lives in a universe of its own. Not better, not worse, but a different universe. We all have our own perspective on things that reveals dimensions that are invisible to others. As part of a small project that I have been working on for ages, I wrote a simple script that generates images with random lines. They all look very similar but, just like us, no two of them are identical. Sometimes the lines are grouped, sometimes they are sparse, sometimes they are parallel, sometimes they converge. They are similar, yet so different.

This image changes every five minutes. Reload the page with Ctrl+F5 to update the image.