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

Plotagraphs

…are “moving” pictures which are getting more and more popular by the year. And I understand why – if a still picture says more then a thousand words then a moving picture is even more expressive and vivid. I have also tried to make some based on my own photos. Of course I’m just a beginner and it takes time to learn this technique but at least I’ve got it started. There are several different software available to help you with it but as much as I’ve understood all the good ones are quite expensive.

Nevertheless with some trickery in Photoshop everything can be done :)! So here are some examples of the Plotagraphs I’ve made.

I’ve called this series “Hetk igavikus” which translates to A moment in eternity. Well, the caption is pretty at least :).

I’d strongly recommend to Google “plotagraphs”. I’m sure you’ll find a huge number of works which make you stare at them again and again and again. That’s the case at least for me 🙂

All the best!

Lauri

 

 

 

 

Basketball

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It’s been over 20 years since I first picked up basketball and made my first shot. And since that I have always had the passion towards the game. I’ve never turned pro or even tried to but it has been quite a journey nevertheless. For 7 seasons I played at the local semiprofessional (a quarter professional to be honest 🙂 ) league with at least 1 one game and a few practices a week. I represented my university at different basketball competitions and have attended countless daily events (these are the events when you have 5+ games a day and you feel like a train-wreck at the end of the day – going to celebrate in the evening and falling asleep after 1 beer 🙂 ). And I have enjoyed all of them. Every time when there’s a longer period without playing basketball (due to some injury or our trip in SE Asia) i can feel the urge of getting back to the court growing inside. And speaking about injuries I’ve had quite many, like most of the basketball players I think. I have broken my arm, twisted my ankles more times I can count, dislocated my finger, bruised my ribs, hurt my back and so on. Yep, doing sports can be really bad for your health in some sense :D. Most of these injuries have come due to my quite aggressive playing style. I just love to hustle! Fight for the basket and fight for the right place while on court. In most of the teams I’ve played I have gotten the nickname “tank” sooner or later :).

Nowadays I play basketball twice a week. With just group of friends without attending any competitions. And that’s the way I like it now. A possibility to just enjoy the game, do exercise and have fun! Of course there are many other sports that I enjoy and have participated in throughout the times (going to the gym, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, track and field, handball etc.) but basketball has always been number one.

Related to watching basketball and supporting favorite teams I have been a fan of our local Tallinn based team called BC Kalev/Cramo. I even actually was in the official fan club for one season. But it’s always fun to watch their games and they have really good opportunities to achieve high levels this season. Every now and then I also go and watch games live.

In addition I have always kept my eye on NBA. During 2000’s I was a huge fan of Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe, Shaq and coach Phil Jackson leading the magnificent team. Lately I haven’t had a favorite team as such but I’ve just cheered for a number of teams I like (Raptors, Spurs, Bucks, Mavericks). I usually watch the 10 min recaps of the games and occasionally some more important or interesting games live (not many due to the time difference with Estonia).

In conclusion I think that whether it’s basketball or something totally different, sports should have (if possible of course) a place in your life. It’s just good for your body and also your mind to get physical movement every now and then.

If nothing else, then at least go for a long walk 🙂

All the best!

Lauri

Mindfulness and meditation

mindfulness_poster_UK

How often do we really notice what is happening in this current moment? Not thinking about things that have already happened and imagining about events that will come in the future (although we have no certainty that they will actually happen). I think the answer is not often enough, at least in my case. Our lives nowadays are so busy and fast paced that most of time we forget to notice what is most important of all – the present.

There are literally millions of posts, articles, videos, books and similar material on this topic. And I think for a good reason. Due to the modern way of life people are more and more eager to get back in touch with more simpler things and most of all with themselves. And it’s not actually that easy.

There are constantly so many things to do, so much information surrounding us. All of that makes “plugging out” quite difficult. We are already so used to checking our smartphones, watching TV and just browsing through the world wide web that it’s much easier for us to do these things then not to do. If you add to that the human mind’s tendency to wander then most of the time we are just cruising on auto pilot.

I discovered meditation and mindfulness for myself a couple of years ago. And I have practiced these (very chaotically to be honest) since then. Sometimes for several weeks I don’t do much of anything (and by that I mean I don’t contribute any time to the exercises) when other times I meditate daily and take several “breaks” during the day to just get in touch with the moment. Ironically I use an app (yeah, I know – the life of 21st century) called Mindfulness to set daily reminders and background sound for meditation. For me it’s really helping a lot and I’d definitely recommend it!

Of course meditation and mindfulness are so wide topics and they both have an unique meaning to every person. There are so many different ways how to approach and combine them with everyday life. We don’t have to become gurus but to get a better understanding about ourselves and what is surrounding us is never a bad thing.

I lately also read a really short well written book on this topic called “be present in this moment“. It’s a really good summary and a great starting point about mindfulness and you can always read it again and again. And if you’re interested there are numerous different books that go much deeper into the topic.

One good exercise is just to look around in where you are. And I mean really look (and sense) – to see the textures, colors, hear the noises, smell the surrounding aromas and so on. Doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in your home, at work, waiting for a bus or just walking in the park. It’s really interesting how many things you notice like this.

So I wish you all that you’d have an awesome present moment! And also the moment after that… and after that 🙂

Lauri

Board games

boardgamesforadults-2x1-7452

One of the main activities in our group of friends for quite a long time already is playing board games. And I have also created several Meetups on the same topic. It’s just a great activity and there are so many games to choose from! Sometimes you’d like to play something simple and fun while on other occasions I prefer strategic games where you really have to focus and concentrate. There’s a game for every occasion and every mood :)! Here are some of the games I would recommend if you haven’t tried them already! I also added BoardGameGeek links.

  1. Pandemic – definitely my current favorite game at the moment. It differs from most of the other games since you are actually playing as a team against the game itself.  It’s really addictive and can be frustrating (in a goof way I guess 🙂 ) if sometimes you lose and it’s just a really close call!
  2. Ticket to Ride Europe – a really good strategy game that takes some learning but when you get it you want to play it again and again!
  3. Touche – a fun and easy game to enjoy when you feel like playing something simple
  4. Dixit – brings out the creative side of players. It’s all about pictures and giving hints with just enough information. You’ll get it when you play it 🙂
  5. Citadels – just a great balance between simple and still the possibility to ply out you strategy
  6. Catan – I think this is one of the most known games. Definitely worth trying!
  7. Bohnanza – just awesome fun! And you can learn it in 5 minutes!
  8. Mysterium – somewhat similar to Dixit but still an awesome game on it’s own!

Of course there are several different extensions available for most, if not all, of the games above and there is still a cupboard full of games I have that I din’t mention but I just wanted to bring these out.

I’m actually also working on my own strategic board game. I have had the idea for couple of years but I have now finally taken up the mission to get it finished during this year. Hopefully it goes well! I will write a separate post about it someday soon!

Wish you all the best!

Lauri

 

 

Estonian weather

Seasons-Wallpaper-flowersforever-21927336-800-450

Yesterday it was almost Spring with a nice warming sunshine during the day and a lot of greenery sprouting through the ground. Today… well today we have 15 cm of snow and as wintery as it gets! From one point of view it’s great since today we have a holiday called “Vastlapäev” (no direct translation to English possible) which means kids and people in general go sledding and try to get the longest run down the hill. In addition special pastries with whipped cream are eaten and generally it’s a really fun day :)!

But that wasn’t what I wanted to write about. Today’s weather just got me thinking about what are the statistics about our local weather. Weather in Estonia is a really popular topic because in most cases we have about 1 day of summer, 1 day of winter and then 363 days of “shitty skiing weather” :). Of course it’s hugely exaggerated and the weather here is not bad at all and personally I like it since I enjoy the diversity of it (full 4 seasons). The only thing I miss during the winter is longer days since in Nov-Dec it can get dark as early as 4 PM.

But let’s look at some of the facts.

  • The hottest official temperature measured – 35.6 degrees Celsius (although I’m pretty sure unofficially it has been much warmer sometimes, I remember seeing 37 degrees on a proper thermometer in the shadow at my countryside place)
  • The coldest official temperature measured – minus 43.5 degrees Celsius. Freezing cold but compared to Oymyakon, Russia it’s like a walk in the park (Oymyakon is the coldest constantly habited place on Earth)
  • Warmest month of the year – July (17.4 degrees Celsius)
  • Coldest month of the year – February (minus 4.5 degrees Celsius)
  • Most rainfall in a month – 351mm, August 1987 in Southern Estonia
  • Least rainfall in a month – 0mm, August 2002 in Southern Estonia (this and the previous line are a perfect example of our weather 🙂 )
  • Biggest hail – 70mm in diameter. I actually remember this, it was quite horrible.
  • Sunshine – we have about 1800 hours of sunshine per year as an average. I think that last year was a record in this one.
  • Fastest measured wind speed – 48 m/s which is about 173 km/h and officially a category 2 hurricane! Since it was in 1969 I don’t remember it very well… 🙂
  • Deepest snow coverage – 104 cm in February 1924. A long long time ago…

Generally we have a little bit of everything in here :). And as my PE teacher used to say that there is no bad weather, there’s just bad equipment and poor men!

 

Sending snow and receiving sunshine :)!

All the best!

Lauri

 

My way of organizing thoughts

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I’m pretty sure that this happens to  everyone of us once in a while – just too many thoughts running around in the mind simultaneously. Can’t understand where one ends and another starts. Or you happen to catch yourself in the middle of the thought wandering why I’m even thinking about it when I should do something else instead.

Well, I have found an excellent way how to systemize all these thoughts, at least for me. And I’ve been doing it for several years now. Whenever I get the feeling that I need some clarity in my mind I’ll just open Word (or something similar) on my laptop or grab a pen and a notebook and just start writing everything down. It doesn’t matter in what order, are they sentences, just single words, random ideas or whatever. I’ll just write everything down and wont stop before I have no ideas left (for that moment at least 🙂 ). Doing this allows me to make room in my head in order to see the full picture and analyze what thoughts are important and which I should discard. From some of them bigger ideas or goals emerge, some I will form to actions and quite often many will be left just there… on the paper, but not in my head anymore clearing way to more important things. Of course it’s not like on/off button but it really helps. I call them “brainstorms” and I have dozens and dozens of these kind of files. It’s also interesting to look back sometimes and see what were my ideas a year ago and what has become of them since then.

Different activities and senses (writing, reading, hearing and so on) work differently on people but if you like to write things through as I do I would recommend to try something similar. There are probably millions of people worldwide advising to do the same thing (basically like writing a diary) but as usual getting to the actions is sometimes difficult.

One other thing that I started to do last year is that every morning I write down to my notebook the main activities that I have to do during the day. Every once in a while I look at them, make some comments, mark what I have already done and if in the evening there’s something that I missed I carry it over to the next days to come. Once again a good way to keep things focused! And I really like the writing on my notebook, I bought it right away when I saw it!

“Have a conversation with the universe”

mde

Wishing you all the best!

Lauri