I went to Egypt (Hurghada) over the New Year. I went with Emma and her sister, and it was very awesome. When planning the trip, I had for some reason thought I had gone to Sharm El Sheik last time I went to Egypt but of course this was the same place.

Nevertheless, we went to get sun and we got sun! I also got to read two books that i had wanted to read.

Resort

Reading

Swimming

Being gone for a week and them coming back has allowed me to gain a bit of perspective on the habits I had before I left and coming back I’m not sure I’m interested in keeping them.

Those habits include watching gaming streams (and to some extent gaming, playing League of Legends maybe a bit too much), browsing reddit and even to some extent visiting Hacker News too much. It’s not that these habits would intrude on productivity in general, it was all in reasonable amounts, but it’s the kind of habits that mostly waste time and don’t lead to any improvement of life in the long-term. To some extent even habits like that are OK and even good to have, but then you should really enjoy them, which to be honest, I didn’t do.

HN is an especially controversial habit for me, I have learned a lot from that site over the years, and I even have my current job thanks to an HN meetup. But going through the site and looking at it from the new perspective of trying to break habits; there is a lot of crap and circlejerking there. I think about 10% of content is actually good content that I want to read. But how often do you have to check the site to get that 10%? Emanuel suggested subscribing to a top-10 of HN twitter feed which might actually work to some extent. The fun stuff about Haskell showing up or job-posts rarely show up in the top 10 though, but maybe I can get 8% of the content I want, and that would probably be good enough.

Going forward in the new year, I wish to continue feeling a disinterest in these less productive habits and take up more productive habits like exercising more, reading more books (something I really want to do) and doing more things like play card-games with friends and working more. The problem is finding enough new mind-captivating habits to fill the time of the old habits. Some of those habits, like gaming or watching gaming streams, arose because better habits were too straining to do when I was really tired. I could potentially read when I’m really tired, but that would make more more tired. Gaming made me less tired (or at least so I believe). It’s tricky, we’ll see how it works out.


This is what I look like in a beard. It’s gone now because I couldn’t have a beard when I was going to Egypt to sun-bathe.

Beard

I think it looks pretty good, but it really isn’t thick enough to be a “proper” beard. There’s a lot of patchiness as well. I think to some degree, it could work. But in order to cover up the patchiness it needs to be a certain length, and that length might be too long to really look “clean”. I think it might make a come-back at some point in the future, but not right away.

 


tetris



While I was away on my solitary holiday I felt (and wrote about) a certain unpleasant feeling. One could suppose it is a feeling of loneliness. I tried to write about it when I was there and had it most vividly in my memory. I will try to sum up the entire experience at a later point and drawing references to the original description of the experiment, but I wanted to isolate the description of this feeling, as I find it rather interesting and is the core of why I would not want to repeat the experiment in the same way.

It’s a strange feeling. Being alone in an unfamiliar environment. It’s something I’ve felt a number of times throughout my life. Going back to when I was a kid and going away for camp with school and things of that nature. It’s an unnerving feeling of anxiety that reminds me of the fragility of social contact, i.e. how easy it is to become completely desolate and alone. In this state I am actually scared that I might loose those who matter to me, and I become very sentimental about old friends and think very much of how I act toward them and they toward me.

Breaking off every single habit I have at once is, it turns out, a pain. Waking up in the morning I feel calm, sleeping restores my faith in my own capabilities. It restores my analytical thinking and makes me capable of analyzing the feeling. Trying to come to grips with it. When the dark comes back and the warming refreshing feeling of the sun is gone my reasoning turns into an active state of trying to remove the anxiety. Trying to think of ways to escape the loneliness rather than confronting the feeling and dealing with it. I am then like a drowning man flailing in the water.

As the days passed and I got some routine into the trip I found that the feeling mostly came to me while being in my room. This could very well be because there was nothing to do in the room, nothing to see, nothing new to experience, it was just a completely anonymous room. There was nothing to remind me that I was in a place I actually liked.

The feeling came very strongly with actions that reminded me of home and regular routine. The feeling would go away momentarily when using the computer but thinking about using the computer made in come even stronger. It was as if knowing what I was missing out on back home made it stronger, so not only was it a feeling of loneliness, it was a feeling of home-sickness.

Spending 500 words writing about a (I am sure) very common feeling is quite unlike me (I hope), but I really found it fascinating. And it’s a feeling I really don’t have that much, it’s not something I have ever experienced on previous travels with family and friends. No, this is something different, something fundamental in me, that I know have been there for very long. Something I wish to rid myself of, but doubtful about the possibilities of doing so.


tetris



This is the kind of stingray I saw, not my picture though. It's maybe 40cm in diameter.

I just finished my theoretical test for the diving certificate. A lot of questions but they were easy and I got to do it here at “at home” so it was quite easy. Yesterday I did some confined water diving by the beach to learn some basic stuff (that I basically knew already) and today we went out by boat to some nice coral reefs.

At the reefs I did some more exercises and stuff like that but got some free-diving (that is, diving without having to do anything but enjoy yourself and watch the fish). I saw a blue-spotted stingray and I got to pet it! It really wasn’t afraid of people and just kind of swam into me. Pretty fun.

Tomorrow I will go out with the boat again. Because I was supposed to go out and do more exercises tomorrow but I already finished them, I will just go out to have fun. I think I’d rather just lay in the sun than spend a couple of hours on a boat, but what-the-hey diving is pretty fun!


tetris



A shitty store boasting better prices than Ullared - Gekås. I am speechless.

Wandering outside of the hotel neighborhood you find some small shops and some tourist-stuff but it’s really not that much. As far as I can tell, there is no local center with shopping and dining within a reasonable walking distance. It’s quite sad really. It seems that people here, myself included, live very confined within the hotel boundaries, now and again walking 50-200 meters outside of it to find a different restaurant than the one you ate at yesterday. I now only have two restaurants left. The only reason I ventured outside today was because I wanted to see some new stuff and have some more options for eating. Sadly, I don’t think I will be trying this again.

Abandoned construction; this is Hurghada.

As for the salesmen, i almost got roped in by another one today. I said I was from Sweden and he said “tjena broosscchhaaann” because that’s what he knew how to say in Swedish (means “hello brother” or the equivalent of “yo brooo”). He told me about his shop and I said I had to go and he told me he wanted something written in Swedish and I could help. So, I decided to help him. I knew he didn’t really have anything that he needed me to write, but I thought I would write something and was interested as to what that would be. Unfortunately, as we came into his shop he didn’t give a hint about writing anything, he was just talking about his fucking perfumes. So I said I didn’t come to here to egypt to buy anything, I came to relax. He asked why I didn’t want to buy anything and I said I didn’t need it. It seems as if he was stumped by this, either because he thought that you couldn’t resist buying things just because you don’t need it, or he has never seen a westerner who thought he didn’t need anything. Anyway, with this argument I was quickly out of the store.

Delapedated housing is a common sight.

As I walked on and passed more salesmen and managed to somehow rustle my way out of talking with them (looking down in the street and not making eye-contact is a good start) I realized that I didn’t need to be Fredrik from Sweden. These salesmen have all adjusted their styles and sales-tactics to Swedish, Norweigan, Finnish and German people. Those are literally the only people who come here. So I thought about who I could be otherwise, being Japanese sure would help. When they stuck out their hand to greet me I could shake it and say “Hajimemashite, watashi wa Fredrik desu.” And as they tried to understand what had just happened and started speaking english with me I could say “eigo ga wakaranai” and then just repeat “wakaranai, gomen nasai, wakaranai” as I slowly walked away. The problem though; I don’t look very Japanese. So it would probably just be very weird and they’d probably try to keep me there or somehow follow me and talk to me because they knew I was outright lying (though I still might try it, could be fun).

A beautiful Mosque close to the hotel.

My second attempt at a different personality was John, from Portland, Oregon, United States of America. I literally came up with the name as he was asking me, I waited like 2 seconds and John was the first name that popped into my mind that was American enough. I have so far tried this personality on three salesmen and it actually works quite well. Being American has several advantages, I don’t care what things cost so when they say “It’s rrreally cheap for you my friend” I can say “I don’t really care about the price, this is just not my style”. Now this one could work for a Swedish person too of course. Being American also gives you an excuse to be rude, to not care about culture and use the excuse that you can’t bring it home because customs wont allow it. They don’t know how American customs work because they don’t get American visitors. They only know that Swedish people can buy spices and crappy perfume, they don’t know if it’s true or not that American people aren’t allowed to bring in spices through customs. To top it off, most Muslims don’t really care for American people.

Being from Portland also gives it a higher probability of being true, Portland has quite a lot of Swedish and Scandinavian inhabitants and when a guy said I looked Swedish I simply said that my grandparents are Swedish. My English is good enough to fool the people here, and if it isn’t – what do I care? If they figure out I’m lying to them, that will only work to my advantage. The lie is believable enough that they can’t call it out without calling me a liar (as opposed to being Japanese); to which I would of course be outraged and walk away. If they figure out I’m a liar and don’t call me out on it, they have two options: get upset or continue as normal. Continuing as normal is the worst case scenario because then I still have to fend them off further, if they get upset they can’t do anything but stop talking to me – which is exactly what I want!

When I walk around here, I can’t help to think that this is the exact opposite of Tokyo. Sure the sun is nice, but that’s it. That’s literally all that is nice here. I’m definitely not complaining, I quite like it, the sun and the beach is all I need to do what I came here to do. But if I was taking a real vacation, this would not be in my top pick. I miss Tokyo.


tetris



To say that my mood in this place is ambivalent is an understatement. Day one was actually quite a pain, missing internet and people. Day two was wonderful, getting some real sun, reading almost an entire book and getting much writing done, wrapping it up with minor internet-use, some coding and watching National Geographic (the only channel I have that isn’t dubbed to German).

Today, I miss family. Christmas isn’t a big thing for me, that’s why I’m here instead of celebrating. But I’ve never had a Christmas I didn’t spend with family before. The Muslims here put up almost as much Christmas-crap as the Christians to please the tourists, so you can’t really escape the season. Not that I really came here to escape either, it was just a coincidence. All the Christmas stuff just kind of reminds me even more about some of the things I do like about Christmas at home.

The quality of today has also fallen somewhat drastically compared to yesterday because I’ve been studying for my PADI Open Water diving certificate. I have to read a 250 page book in Danish (the English book wasn’t in and there was no Swedish) and watch about 4 hours of instructional video. Today I’ve read 130 pages and watched all the video. Hopefully I can get a hold of the English book tomorrow so the reading will go a bit faster but this day has been a complete “waste”. Sure diving and taking the certificate is real fun, but I didn’t come here to study :S
Why can’t I go anywhere in the world without having to study? Why do I constantly put myself into situations where I have to work?

Anyway, tomorrow I will start diving, looking forward to that. But since all divers use the “buddy system” I will need a buddy, and I have no idea if that’s going to be an instructor, someone else taking the course or what. I guess we’ll see. I hope it isn’t someone weird and that he/she can speak English acceptably well.

I don’t think the entire day tomorrow will be filled with diving stuff or studying though so hopefully I can return to my relaxed state of reading fiction and thinking.

Merry Christmas everyone, especially my family, I do miss you.


tetris