Why it’s good to have a personal working space at home

Well obviously the current situation in the world has made this topic even more popular than usual but even if we leave all COVID, home office and other topics aside I still think that it’s really important to have a dedicated space somewhere in your place for working/brainstorming.

I’m lucky enough to have a separate room for this (well, at least half a room, the other half is where I keep all my tools currently 🙂 ). Some time ago I didn’t emphasize it as much and just sat behind my laptop where-ever possible but now I understand that it’s much better to have a one certain place for that. When you actually think about it, it sounds extremely logical that you have different places for different activities, you don’t start cooking in your bedroom for example. But in case of working from home it can be a bit vague.

At least in my case when I now sit down in my dedicated space behind the computer I already have the correct mindset for actually doing something useful (at least mostly 🙂 ). I have everything I need – a bigger monitor for a more convenient experience, especially in case of Excel and Photoshop, a comfortable office chair and a (somewhat) ergonomic table which I will probably swap for something better sometime soon. Additionally I have a whiteboard right beside me when I need to brainstorm something or just clear up my thoughts, a small couch for relaxation moments and where it’s nice to lay down for listening for audiobooks for example, a view of our garden, a set of speakers and headphones, depending on the mood and the hour of day 🙂 plus most importantly at least one furry friend (either my cat or one of the dogs).

So if possible I would suggest to find some allocated space for work related activities, even if just a corner on the kitchen table. It will make a difference 🙂

All the Best!

Lauri

Being an early bird

No, I don’t wake up at 5 AM as the watch on the bird’s hand (or wing.. whatever :)) suggests but I do wake up at 6 AM basically every day. And usually go to bed around 10:30PM.

I definitely haven’t had this kind of rhythm all my life, just a past few years. But at least for me it’s the best solution!

I just love the first hours of the morning when everything is quiet and it seems that the whole world is still sleeping. Usually I get up from bed, let my dogs out and feed them plus the cat (since they have also got used to my schedule) and then most often I will read or listen to a book, do some work that needs a high amount of concentration or just brainstorm and write down the ideas that come to my head. In the summertime it’s really nice just to go outside, breathe fresh morning air and enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch, currently it’s a bit too dark and cold for that :).

By the time most of the people get up it feels like I already have so many things done. Which is true since mornings are definitely most productive time of day for me. It also gives a good positive perspective to the rest of the day! Additionally one thing that I really like about these long mornings is the fact that I can do everything calmly and without rushing. I remember back in the day when I had to be somewhere 8.30 AM for example then I woke up at 8.00, brush my teeth, ate, washed, put my stuff together, put my clothes on, all in the time span of 10 minutes and then just flew out of the door. In one way efficient but not the way I like it.

Obviously occasionally when I’m up longer, visiting friends for example or just like to have a longer evening I’ll adjust my schedule since as we all now sleep is very important and in my case if I get less then 7 hours of sleep I’m not as energetic and happy as normal. It depends person by person but generally speaking 7-9 hours is the average. Once again, if for some reason I sleep more than 8-9 hours I’m just like a zombie walking around for the most of the day which is not good also. Luckily for 95% of the time I naturally stick to my rhythm.

At the moment I honestly don’t understand how some people can only sleep as few as 3-4 hours but I think that the saying “exception proves the rule” applies in this case and at least in some way it’s also trainable. So let’s see how things are 10 years from now 🙂

All the best!

Lauri

Padel

A year ago I discovered a new game I had never heard of – padel. We had our monthly “championship” with friends and this time it was proposed to go and try it out. After the first 30 minutes you start understanding what’s going on and after that it’s difficult to stop :).

Basically it’s like a combination of standard tennis and squash (neither of which I like very much or have played). You play on a tennis court (smaller version of it) but it’s surrounded with a strong plexiglass barrier which you can use for your advantage. The ball can only hit the court once but the number of times hitting the “wall” is not limited. That makes it much more flexible and continuous experience in my opinion.

Tennis balls also have less pressure in them, the racket is totally different and the net is also lower. And at least as an amateur player all these things are really beneficial – you can reach to a certain level and enjoy the game much quickly compared to std tennis for example.

In Estonia there’s currently only one place you can play it (plus one outside court that’s mainly used during summertime) but you can tell it’s really catching up and probably it’s just a matter of time when other places will be built. The game has been here only 3 years although the history of it actually dates back more than 50 years.

BTW while writing this post I just discovered that padel and paddle tennis are actually 2 different games although I thought they were the same. I guess you learn something new every day :). Either way I suggest that you get 4 friends together with you and try it out at least once!

All the best!

Lauri

Listening to audiobooks

10 years ago I hardly read any books, only if I had to or as a means just to spend some time. Then life introduced me to self-development and now I’ve read nearly a 100 books throughout that time (I don’t know the exact number but it’s somewhere around that mark). Not all, but most are related with non-fiction and learning something new in a certain area of life. There are months when I read several books and then there’s some where I don’t read any.

When I went to travel to SE Asia I bought myself an e-book reader (Kindle) since it just wasn’t possible to bring so many physical books with me. And that’s actually one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I have bought only a few so called old school books after that although I have a bunch of them that I haven’t got to yet.

Now recently I’ve discovered the world of audiobooks. Main reason for that came from driving a car alone wanting to use my time more efficiently. Especially now when I have these kind of trips more often living a bit further from the city. And in my opinion it’s a really good way how to combine these 2 things – commuting and listening to a great book. It doesn’t have to be by car, you can just put on your headphones and listen while traveling by bus, train etc.

In a general picture I still prefer reading compared to listening since I seem to get more value out of it and the information sticks better but obviously while driving I cannot do that. So I’ve found a nice balance between reading one book and listening the other. I know that some people read perhaps 5 or even more books parallel but for me 2 is the max, otherwise everything just gets scrambled up 🙂

I tried 2 audiobooks providers before sticking to the one I use now. First one was https://www.audiobooks.com/ which I tested as a trial, secondly for a couple of months I used https://www.bookbeat.com which offered unlimited books for 15€ a month (but unfortunately they didn’t have many of the books I was interested in) and so I chose Audible. First of all since they have a huge category of titles available (well obviously, Amazon 🙂 ) and secondly they have a clever system of switching between audiobooks and kindle. Since I use the latter anyways it suited me best.

Here’s one overview of different providers out there.

Whether you prefer reading or listening I think books on the topic you love should be companions for You throughout your life.

“Books are the ever burning lamps of accumulated wisdom.” – George William Curtis

This quote was actually written above the chalkboard in our grammatic class back if 4th grade (which is 20 years ago), yet I remember it so vividly 🙂

I just ate a strawberry from my garden …

…which is not a bad thing. I like strawberries and I like my garden. It’s just the fact that currently it’s 16th of November! Besides that we have roses blooming, dandelions growing out of the greenery and our neighbour just mowed the lawn yesterday. Everything pretty normal for mid summer in Estonia but not mid November! At least it wasn’t like that a while ago.

In my childhood years I remember that we had 4 seasons – a proper Spring, nice summer, beautiful autumn and a decent winter. Now it’s like everything is melted together. Last year during winter we had a maximum of 1 week of snow combined for the whole period. And it’s not like I’m a winter fan, I still mostly prefer summer and a pleasant 25 degrees plus sunshine.

Nowadays there’s talk everywhere about the climate change (which is a real thing based on science facts) but in just recent years I’ve actually discovered myself seeing the results of it with my own eyes. 10-15 years ago same time I was most likely going sledding or building a snowman. Having these kind of winters was an exception, not a norm.

The dark side of it is that every time you turn on the news there’s something about a wildfire, flood, hurricane or something similar. Obviously there’s more info about them since they are just covered more but the numbers don’t lie. What happened recently in Australia for example was just horrible. All the devastation to the plant and animal life. Obviously nature will recover but when these things happen more often there’s a bigger outcome in play which is not good for us or the planet.

I don’t know how is the situation where you live but I’m sure there’s also some clear signs of the changing weather and climate.

This post is just to raise attention to the fact that we are now way beyond the point of denial and I’m really happy that there are a bunch of people who dedicate themselves to change the situation and more importantly it’s acknowledged by the masses.

From one point of view it wouldn’t be bad if we perhaps 20 years from now could drink a pina-colada and go swimming in the sea 🙂 during my birthday (which is in mid January) in Estonia but reasonably it’s not how it play’s out and we have to look at the bigger picture. Maybe I will find this post 20 years from now and hopefully can write a positive feedback for it :). Let’s see

Stay curious!

Lauri

Samorost 3

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken up any computer/mobile games but now I found one which caught my attention from the first minute. I have no idea how or why did YouTube show me the trailer of this game but since it was so other-worldly it was difficult not to try it out for myself.

The game is called Samorost 3 and it’s available on Android/iOS or Steam. I personally bought it for Android and then used BlueStacks (https://www.bluestacks.com/) to play in on PC. It’s a really good platform for using phone apps in your computer. I’ve used it in case of Audible, BookBeat and many other things. Highly recommend!

Here’s a link to the game page:

https://amanita-design.net/games/samorost3.html

And a link to the trailer:

Anyways!

Basically it’s an adventure and puzzle solving game that’s set in an alien world (many different world’s to be exact) and you’re playing as a space gnome using a magic flute to “talk” to different things. I know that it sounds pretty weird (and honestly it feels like the game has been developed by someone constantly on LSD or something similar) but the artwork, sounds, music and the way it’s all put together is just superb! For several times I paused in the game and just took time to notice all the secret small details that this game offers and believe me, there are many of those! This game definitely isn’t easy, in case of some puzzles it took me dozens of times to solve them, even when using hints (which are actually just puzzles themselves) and occasionally it can be even a bit frustrating but it just somehow all adds to the experience!

If you feel like trying something different and you want to train your mind in a fun way then it’s definitely something worthwhile to try out! It immerses you into it and you feel like You yourself are on that alien planet…

All the best!

Lauri

We lost a Legend

If you know something about basketball then you know what happened a few days ago. Sadly we lost Kobe Bryant, his daughter and 7 other people in a tragic helicopter accident.

I remember back in the beginning of summer 2001 when I was kid I was staying at my grandparents countryside place. My grandfather is a really early riser meaning he would wake up around 5 AM.. the same time I was going to sleep after watching yet another thriller between Lakers and 76ers. Due to the time difference between Estonia and US all the games took place in the middle of the night. But I wasn’t disturbed by that. I just wanted to see the next game! So I said good night to my grandfather, he responded with good morning and then I went to bed dreaming about taking the last second shots.. just as Kobe did.

I admired Kobe and Shaq! And the whole Lakers team! For me back then they were the greatest of them all!

But especially Kobe.. I admit, that his playing style was quite often not the most team friendly and he definitely had his flaws but none of us is perfect and the pure raw passion that he played basketball with is difficult to match. You could see it from his eyes. Every minute, every second he was on the court.

Kobe had a huge influence in my love for basketball as he did for millions of other people. He will be greatly missed, it’s not fair to leave when you’re only 41 years of age and you should have at least half of your life ahead of you.

Here’s a poem by Bryant what in my opinion really sums up who he really was and how much passion he had for basketball…

Dear Basketball,

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

“Love you always,
Kobe”

This tragedy is a reminder that nothing is for granted. You never know what tomorrow brings or if tomorrow even comes at all. Enjoy every moment, share your love and be thankful for what you’ve got…

Lauri

Getting a new camera

By now I have been a bit more active in the photography field for about 3 years. At one point I just decided to buy my first DSLR (entry level Canon EOS 1300D) and see how it actually works for me. And as it turns out the world of photography is rich in so many ways. There is just something very special about capturing a moment from an interesting perspective and sharing it with others. I have mainly photographed landscapes and architecture although I have tried a lot of other things as well. At every given moment I have a list of different things I want to try out. Different techniques, places, angles, compositions, people, animals, weather and so on. I think and hope that this list will never end because this is one of the main reasons why I love photography- always trying out something new.

As with most of the things in life there are times when I cannot keep my hands of the camera and also times where it’s just waiting for me in the cupboard. Which is also yet another reason why I like it. There are no limitations, whenever you want you can grab the camera and capture something special. Even if sometimes the end result is not what you expected you still gain experience and you can always enjoy the process itself.

A while ago I had a really memorable moment when I went to one of many beautiful bogs we have here in Estonia to enjoy the sunrise, blissful silence and the magnificent nature around me. It had just freshly been snowing and it felt like walking around in a fairytale. Going there without a camera is truly amazing by itself  but a possibility to capture it gives an extra meaning and excitedness to it.

So now coming to the the caption of this post I finally decided to get myself a new camera. I still believe that photography is more an art than just getting the best technical equipment possible but you still need a proper tool to create the art. Canon EOS 77D is a really decent camera for an amateur photographer and since it’s not a new model anymore the price has dropped to a really reasonable level. Although it’s not the latest model it’s still packed with awesome set of features that allow you to live out your creativity. Maybe someday I will buy a pro camera (which are 3000USD+) but at the moment I see no need for this.

After the first month of usage and quite many photos taken I can easily recommend this camera to everyone who would also like to get in the world of photography but don’t want the very basic nor the pro models. Or if you just feel like it’s time to renew your old camera.

You can see more information about it or you can buy it from here

Links to my photo galleries:

https://www.facebook.com/lauri.aarop/media_set?set=a.1215423641817293&type=3

https://www.instagram.com/lauriaarop.photography/

https://gurushots.com/lauri.aarop/photos

All the Best!

Lauri

Cats vs Dogs

I’ve been lucky enough to live with a cat and a dog for about 2 years. Both are really cute but otherwise they are completely different. Here’s a little overview how it is to have a cat and a dog in everyday life.

BTW – although this post is really pro dog (:D) I love them both and they are both members of our family. Having pets is just awesome :)!

4AM in the morning

Dog – sleeps quietly in her bed without making a noise

Cat – decides to start “Rally de apartment” by running around through the rooms, climbing on the furniture, making alienlike noises, throwing things off the table and jumping on the bed.

4 AM in the morning, we shut the bedroom door

Dog – sleeps quietly in her bed without making a noise

Cat – decides to start “Rally de apartment” by running around through the rooms, climbing on the furniture, making alienlike noises, throwing things off the table and jumping to grab the door handle in order to open the bedroom door. Doesn’t succeed. Tries 250 more times.

Buying flowers or plants to home

Dog – doesn’t really mind them, just wants to get petted and thrown a toy

Cat – Oh, what a nice snack! I should eat them all and then puke all over the apartment to as many places as I can!

Coming home

Dog – every single time waits you at the door jumping and waiving her tail from happiness even if you just went to take out the garbage for 2 minutes

Cat – Dude, where’s my food?! Give me food! I agree to rub myself against your foot for 5 seconds if you give me food. (Followed once again by some alienlike noises)

Sitting on the couch with a laptop

Dog – naps besides you quietly so you have enough room to do work and pet her

Cat – climbs on the keyboard, hacks the computer and probably sends coded messages to other cats who are doing the same. Sits with his butt towards your face so you can’t see anything but the beautiful view I just described.

Washing day

Dog – sits quietly in the bathtub and let’s you wash her after she’s been playing around in the dirt.

Cat – (although we don’t wash him that often) – First find a medieval armor. Then put it on. Then grab a cat and try to fit him through the bathroom door while he hangs on with 4 paws spread as wide as he can against the door frame. Then with one hand try to hold him in the bathtub so he wouldn’t go on a rampage in the apartment and with the other one somehow try to wash him. Do as fast as you can. If you are alive afterwards then you have succeeded!

Buying a new beautiful cat/dog house

Dog – is really appreciative and curls herself in there nice and cosily.

Cat – takes a sniff of the new present and then finds the nearest half-destroyed empty cardboard box and takes it over claiming it his fortress

Trying to take a small nap

Dog – finds a place next to you to keep you warm

Cat – 6kg’s of cat finds the highest place he can, takes a deep breath and then there’s like a cannonball hitting your chest! Then repeat. Then infinite loop of repeat…

All the best :)!

Lauri

A week trip to Malta

At the end of the last year during Christmas we decided to enjoy a glimpse of sunshine and a much nicer weather then we currently have in Estonia and took a trip with a couple of our friends to Malta.

Malta is a small Southern European country (only 316km2) located in the Mediterranean sea. Roughly half a million people leave there based on main 2 islands Malta and Gozo. It’s really rich in history and beautiful architecture. The sea around the island is magical turquoise color and there’s unlimited majestic sights overlooking cliffs and rocky seashores.

In a matter of fact they have a lot of rocks there, almost everything is made out of stone based materials since there just isn’t any trees. Only occasionally you can glimpse one somewhere but mainly just small bushes and other low growing plants.

Since they don’t have much to stop the constant winds blowing from the seas it’s really windy there, at least in the winter time. If you can find a nice quiet place then you could sunbathe or even go for a swim (the average air and sea temperatures were around 18 degrees Celsius) but otherwise you definitely need a jacket or two to stop the wind blowing just right through you.

They have just exquisite choice of different pastries – various pies, cakes, cookies and everything in between. To be honest if you are a sweet lower as I am they are too good to spend a longer time there :). All in all the food was really delicious and pricewise roughly the same as in Estonia, maybe a little bit more expensive.

Almost 40% of all the houses/apartments in Malta are empty and it looks really weird. As I understood there are many reasons behind it related to different regulations and laws but the main thing is that a lot of the real estate is being bought form outside the EU in order to get an European citizenship. Either way it was really sad to see all these place completely deserted, covered with dust and doors and windows nailed shut. I really hope that they are able to fix this issue somehow in the near future.

The streets there are really narrow and since there are a lot of buses (the way how we got around. Buses basically go almost anywhere and it only costs 21€ for 7 days of unlimited travel) most of the time there are traffic jams. There just isn’t enough room for two vehicles to pass each other. So be advised if the destination is only 10km away it will still take a decent amount of time to get there, doesn’t matter if you’re traveling with a bus or a car.

At the end of the post I’ll also add a short video of our trip but here are the main places I would recommend to see when visiting Malta (in random order). 1 week is in my opinion sufficient time to have a look at all the main sightseeing places but of course if you’d like to dig deeper in the local culture and way of life you should plan for a longer visit.

  • Blue Grotto
  • Salt pans in Gozo
  • The ancient capital of Mdina
  • Valletta
  • National Aquarium
  • Dingli Cliffs
  • WWII Beach Post – Ta’ l-Imgharqa – just a really beautiful place to take a swim

And as said before do’t forget to go out and enjoy the tasty foods Malta has to offer 🙂

All the best!

Lauri