All posts by lauriaarop

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ) 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ). 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

All the best!

Lauri

Mindfulness and meditation

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Lauri

Board games

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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.ย  It’s really addictive and can be frustrating (in a goof way I guess ๐Ÿ™‚ ) 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  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

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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 “Vastlapรคev” (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 ๐Ÿ™‚ )
  • 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… ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 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 toย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ). 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”

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Wishing you all the best!

Lauri

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite TV Shows

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A long time ago I made a post about some of my favorite movies and I thought why not share some recommendations about TV series also. Just to be clear I basically didn’t watch any series (besides Top Gear and the Simpsons) before our trip to SE Asia but there I discovered Westworld and now we (me and Anna) find ourselves quite often spending quality time behind a laptop screen :).ย  We both generally prefer Sci-Fi related shows (she of course watches several different “beautiful” series also with a lot of romance and drama ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

Anyways – I will rank them in my preferred order although in some cases it’s really difficult to rate one on top of other. I also added IMDB links to all the series. Here goes!

  1. Planet Earth and Planet Earth 2 – these are in a totally different genre compared to all the others in the list but they will take you on an incredible journey through various beautiful places on our (only) planet. This is a MUST watch for everyone who… well actually for everyone who lives on Earth to be honest :)! And of course legendary Sir David Attenborough and the magnificent camera work. It literally took them years and years to complete 6 episodes. You can find an interesting article about it here.
  2. The Grand Tour and “Old” Top Gear – well it’s just really really good entertainment and a good example about how the people matter, not the show itself (hinting to Clarkson, May and Hammond). Of course in several occasions they go a bit too far but that’s just a part of it. Definitely would recommend!
  3. Black Mirror – Just superb and really makes you think about how technology will affect our future! I wrote a separate post about it, you can find it here.
  4. The Simpsons – it’s a classic, probably no comments needed :).
  5. WestWorld – there’s also a separate post about it, link available here.
  6. Dark – this is really an atmospheric series that revolves around time travel but with it’s unique style. And when there’s time travel involved it’s always interesting and thought provoking! What happens if I go back in time and stop my grandfather meeting my grandmother… (Which I of course would never do even if it would be possible ๐Ÿ™‚ )
  7. Stranger Things – this is one of those hit series at Netflix but with a good reason since it’s really awesome! There were only a few episodes that lacked the quality compared to others but generally it’s really well executed!
  8. The Crossing – although this show is also very Sci-Fi related it concentrates more on the characters and human relations/behaviours in complicated situations.
  9. Altered Carbon – this is once again a really thought provoking series about what is consciousness and what makes “us” us. What would happen if we could just trade one body or “shell” for another and make unlimited copies of ourselves… but enough information, go and see for yourself :)!
  10. Lost in Space – this one mixes a “family show” with Sci-Fi, aliens, spaceships, psychology, relationships and much more. But it does it well :)!

I hope that you found some value in the list if you’re interested in these kind of TV series and you’ve been thinking about watching something new. I personally cannot wait already when there will be new episodes released to all the series mentioned above!

Feel free to share your own recommendations about some shows that you have really liked!

Netflix and chill everyone :)!

All the best!

Lauri