Somewhere in the Atlantic, between the US and Mexico and Brussels, 2015

I left Brussels past week and came to the US for a work meeting. For the first time after four trips, I finally found a chance to go to Mexico, squeezing in some days to visit my parents. It's not much time what I ended up allocating, having so many people to see and things I wanted to do. Right now I'm in the plane and can't sleep. This thing is not even half full, yet Interjet managed to sell me a ticket at a hefty price. I must confess it also took me too long to buy it. But that's not what I wanted to write about. Later on I may write my impressions on coming for the first time on my own, predated by my own thoughts. Previous three times I came with Ester and even if we stayed three weeks each time, the feeling I get now is different. From the time I decided I would come, a lot of thinking went on realising how many things have changed and how I feel now about my home country. To begin with, I advert a bittersweet sensation and increasing indifference on what's going on in Mexico. I used to follow quite closely the political life and happenings. Now, from Brussels, I visit the webpages of one or two newspapers, skimming through the headlines, so to only get a rough impression of the situation. The elections just passed and rather than feeling enthusiasm or willingness to discuss the multiple developments, I went through a safe state of semi-denial; swiftly running through the headlines, trying to set a barrier to protect my own emotional integrity. I wonder if this will continue as time goes by (update from the future: in 2017 I feel the pain from my vantage point across the ocean, but it has become strangely familiar. Sad to realise I am rarely surprised every time I see the next horrendous story, the recurrence being so high that it has become predictable, every time reality surpasses fiction, as if we would be witnessing a descent into hell). I can't help wondering where this train goes, it all depends on a myriad of factors no one can even enumerate. For example, many have documented how 9/11 significantly changed the border security between the US and Mexico, disrupting the illegal trafficking, flooding the Mexican market with drugs. Or how globalisation took to Asia the easy money manufacturing from American companies outsourced in Mexico. This drove unemployment to record-highs and created in no time armies of uneducated unemployed people, ultimately contributing to create the ideal conditions to sprout the most violent periods the country has lived in the modern times. 

But that isn't either what I wanted to put in print. It's about a puzzling dream I had last night.

I don't seem to come back to this page but to describe odd dreams. I can't help it. I want this one to be examined in detail. There's a considerable amount of key symbols from my increasingly distant past that came to visit me last night. I woke up confused and with that odd feeling of not distinguishing truth from reality. It must have been around 5 am when I woke up, not being able to find the peace of mind required to get back to sleep.

I will try to describe it, not sure if the actual elements are in the right sequence. Now, how absurd is trying to refer to the 'actual' elements or sequence of the dream, being my fragmented memory the only source to those elements of what I am trying to reconstruct here. Memory is treacherous, the dream sits in my memory as loose fragments that some hidden editor has ruthlessly decided to order in a given way, completely beyond my control or contribution.

I am in a room, it's probably a party at which I landed by some work of randomness. I find myself talking to a guy in his mid-twenties. He discusses passionately about global warming and the role of big companies. I engage in the discussion, though not with the same passion he does. At some point I leave the room.

This transition is now fuzzy in my head, it was clearer this morning, now it's almost midnight and I have forgotten many details. 

Next thing I remember is a visit to the university in Mexico, not surprisingly one of the most distinctive places for me - the entry to the A building of my faculty (the side that faces the B building). This, for the record, happens to be one of my first views of the place where I went to spend many years of education, not surprising the dream borrows from this powerful memory. I access the building and see that there's people making trouble, probably associated to a celebration that is getting out of hand due to alcohol and/or drugs. I witness everything from a safe distance, while I talk to someone else, I can't remember who. At some point, things get rough and I hear shots and see smoke. Everyone's panicking and I resolve to hide from it behind an old desk or  piece of furniture. Suddenly, I understand it's some sort of terroristic attack and the squad that has just broke in plans to take hostages. I scape as quickly as I can, not without being worried about those that lie dead or badly injured. As I rush away I see others hiding, paralysed and looking at me with white faces. I sweat and run until I see an open door, although it seems that someone points it out at me rather than me spotting it first. That someone is Magda. She has a calm expression and with her broken english points at the door. I follow her and we disappear from the place, then an immediate feeling of relief ensues. 

Now, this is the strangest part of the dream. We walk to her place, through tortuous and run down buildings. Nothing seems familiar, the closest connection I can make is somewhere in Eastern Europe, probably a forgotten street in the outskirts of Budapest or some destroyed Ukrainian neighbourhood seen in the news days ago. We reach her studio and talk briefly about her situation, living in such a place. The walls are bright green, just like her room in Poznan. There are cluttered books here and there, but I specially distinguish a few volumes in Polish. As usual, I make the effort to understand what they are about with no success. One specific aspect in Magda's looks is distinct: she has chosen to dye her hair somewhere in between black and red. I observe her facial features closely and distinguish everything to the minute detail, her thin facial hair, following the different events of her face, in the same way a crop in a field follows the undulations of the terrain it is planted in. Because of this, I am immediately struck by the reflection Zizek does of Lynch's films, in which the exaggerated approach to the subject of interest reveals its intimacy, reaching the depths of the innermost - an ultimately perturbing nature. One such Lynchian sequence appears in Blue Velvet, in which the depiction of a perfectly peaceful, even boring, American town is interrupted by the sudden heart stroke of a man watering his garden. While the man agonises on the grass, the camera starts immersing into the grassland, making its way through the leaves and unraveling the wild and frightening kingdom of microscopic monsters lying underneath the placid garden. I continue my conversation with her, trying not to evoke too many things from the past and focusing on the talk. She leaves me in her place, can't remember the reason now, but I have the impression I will see her again. As soon as she departs, I feel embarrassed for not having asked her about Sara. I make a mental note not to forget it again. For some reason I leave the studio and start exploring the streets. It's not a friendly neighbourhood, it doesn't inspire me any trust. At some point I spot a street market and decide to explore it. The sky is overcast and I start feeling uncomfortable. By the time I come out and inspect my pockets, I realise my wallet is missing. I feel stupid and overwhelmed, and start feeling vulnerable again. All of a sudden I remember I have not a single document to allow my departure from this god forsaken place. I start zigzagging the streets and get lost. I have no way to communicate with anybody, I am left at my own devices.

That's all I remember. I will drop it there, I don't want to overdo the experience and bring up things from the dream  I'm not sure about (what recollections from a dream one can really be sure about?). Every time I put the pieces together, they fit differently. Needless to say there's no way of verifying what I'm describing is faithful to the dream's contents.

I believe these are the experiences that came to be the substance of my dream:

  1. The mid-twenties guy. Not a mid-twenties but at least mid-fourties entrepreneur from Israel with whom I happened to have a conversation with for a good hour before landing in JFK, in the flight from Brussels. He was wearing similar clothes and had vaguely familiar facial features to the guy from my dream. Our conversation went from what we do for living to global warming and my forecast of the most likely scenarios in the next 50 to 100 years. He was convinced there are some ruling powers, a superior elite in the world that is ultimately responsible for the state of things and our race towards chaos. In his view, citizens are unassuming entities that move with the tide and are not responsible for anything that has happened to the planet. Sheep. Of course I disagreed, not with the sheep but with the superior elite as a sort of conscious, single entity responsible for everything that happens around us.
  2. My recent visit to the faculty after a few years away is an obvious trigger to this evocation. Not sure about the hostages and shooting. A simple guess is the increasing violence in Mexico.
  3. The Eastern European neighbourhood and the feeling of alienation is most likely due to the conversation over dinner the night before (during this trip to the US, some of us gathered at Circa, in Clinton downtown). We talked about how distinct Hungarian and Finnish are from the rest of European languages, and the feeling of cluelessness one faces, even with the simplest of texts.
  4. Magda. I don't recall when was the last time the thought of her visited me in a dream. However, I am certain the trigger to the dream was to have come across a girl with a very similar face at JFK. I spotted her as soon as I stepped in the shuttle from Terminal 1 to the car rental zone. She was sitting near the door, holding in her hands the typical badge collection airport personnel sports. She looked at me (much in the way American women look at men, with that sort of rogue curiosity, partially to verify if one is looking), I returned the look a bit surprised by the striking similarity between her and Magda. She must have been in her early twenties, with a discrete piercing in the right side of the nose. She wore those ubiquitous yoga pants with ankle-high black and pointy boots and a black Michael Kors bag. And of course, her hair was dyed, somewhere between red and black. The bus was full and it was very hot, I was cramped against the back door, barely managing to fit my stuff, while helping a man with the looks of an orthodox Jewish, desperately trying to fit his bags into the racks. People rushed in and out the bus. With all that distraction, I didn't realise when she left, I thus missed a figure of her height to complete a basic screening.
  5. The market where I get stolen my wallet - It resembles more a market in Puno we visited last time in Peru (that was in April 2015). We bought there some fruit and took a few pictures, then we were told by a by-passer not to stay there and to be extra careful, the place being full of pickpockets). That surely created a lasting impression on me and I brought it this time. 

Note that having forgotten to set the air conditioning to 20 degrees may have had an influence. I woke up sweating, uncomfortable and confused. I went to the bathroom and despite my hideous appearance, I felt relieved of having being submerged in the confusing workings of a dream.

Every time I write time flies and I feel as if I were doing the right thing by rescuing my memories. I have probably written elsewhere how little one can remember when the reference points change all the time. Only the most persistent and deep memories linger in my head. So many others are gone. When I see acquaintances from previous places I lived there are always passages I have completely forgotten. That is a sad thing. I have enjoyed so much the way until here! I regret letting go so many memories. I had a similar reflection last time I visited Sofie in Brno. She says she forgets even more than I do. To exemplify it I brought up one or two passages from those Brno days. Indeed, she had almost forgotten most of what I recollected. These reasons are sufficient to keep writing, keep in mind they say we understand and discern from what our memory can tell us (at least when thinking logically).

Westerpaviljoen, September 2017.

Side trip to Vienna, Oct 2015

It's fun to write in trains. One gets the time to think and the continuously changing landscape helps the strolling of ideas. Free-range ideas to make up a little story. 

I'm coming back from Vienna, after having visited Paola. It's been a long time, last time I was here was some five years ago. I came at the time with the very specific purpose of showing my parents the wonderful city of Vienna. I didn't try to meet Paola, don't remember exactly why. What no one expected was to meet at the St. xxx cathedral (the one with the funny columns) by complete chance. The year after (2011), Paola came to visit me in Zurich, bringing along Ferenc and Vale, Bruno was not there yet. Now, after paying a visit to Sofie in good old Brno, I took a quick detour to Vienna, arriving Sunday night and staying less than 24 hours. I stayed at her place, which she shares with a mom-daughter duo that just moved in a month or so ago. There's also two cats, Carlos and Lua, who happen to be siblings and resemble Matias a tiny bit. Well, most generic cats resemble Matias. Wait, no, Matias had a white belly and at least one or two white paws, which always look like gloves in cats. One would expect those cats to suddenly take the gloves off, or just to stop the traffic and from any given broken light, start controlling the flow at busy streets. But that never happens, I haver never seen it at least.

Last night I came to Vienna, I landed at Paola's, had some chitchat with her flatmates and had pizza for dinner. Bruno was not doing well and threw up, which made me realise how unpredictable and full of little issues rearing children is. They bite each other, demand lots of attention and only think about themselves. I'm always fascinated and look at them very attentively, then I can't help thinking every person that has ever walked the Earth was exactly like that. After the incident we slowly went to sleep. I got the children's room, slept very well and woke up quite early. Should have gone for a run, but I'm lazy and it didn't happen. In the morning I witnessed the ritual to get the kids on their feet ready for the kindergarten, from convincing them to get to the table to finishing their breakfast. After dropping the kids, we went for a Wiener Frühstück and had a catch up talk as the morning sipped through. Then we went to Paola's shop and even had the chance to try some cider. I took some bottles back home, not to many, glass bottles are heavy! Afterwards, we got back to the flat and started to make the way back to the station. Once I got to the station I realised time allowed for a couple of hours of wandering in the city. I didn't miss the chance and drop the suitcases in a locker, then went straight to the centre by U-bahn, trying to do the best of the little spare time I had before starting the way back home. I'm quite satisfied from my two hours killing time in Vienna: I finally got my hands on the portrait of Brahms I gave to Prof. Cea years ago after I came back from Brno. I was pleased to witness the static nature of this sort of goods, in 8 years the price didn’t move a euro cent. Finding the antiquariat happened completely by chance, because first I went to the Aida for a mélange plus sacher, then got into thinking I could check out the TNF shop and buy a new pair of running shoes. I also thought about visiting Mahler in Grinzing. I resolved the only time-effective thing to do was to walk to Mitte and check out TNF (the consumerist drive is the most immediate of all, always). On the way to the shop I realised I was walking the ring, which immediately brought to my memory the antiquariat shop, but I had no idea where it was located, only remembered it was somewhere along the infinite Ringstrasse. By walking and carefully looking at the windows, first I spotted the Vienna star dedicated to Shostakovich, made a picture of it, then kept walking. I haven't done more than 250 m and suddenly came across the V.A. Heck,  exactly the place I was looking for. They had the Brahms I wanted, so I bought it and even got ten postcards designed in Jugendstill style. I also reached the TNF shop but they didn't have my shoe size. Nevermind. I realised I really like to walk around guided by randomness and sudden, almost harmless impulses. Guided by wide-open eyes one can get very far and memories come always along right when you need them. If I were a reviewer of my these two hours full of flashbacks, I’d give it five solid, pointy stars, like those perched on the banners of .


Mis pininos en holandés (con ayuda de la güera, desde luego)

Ik wil jullie vertellen over Mexico Stad, de hoofdstad van Mexico en één van de grootste steden ter wereld, met ruim 20 miljoen inwoners. Mexico Stad ligt in het centrum van Mexico, in een dal in het midden van heel hoge bergen. De stad is ook heel hoog gelegen, op 2240 meter boven de zeespiegel. Daarom kunnen vele buitenlanders (meestal uit Nederland) problemen hebben om goed te ademen en kunnen ze ook hoofdpijn krijgen. De stad werd in 1325 door de Azteken gesticht, oorspronkelijk over de Texcoco meer. Daarom was de stad over water gebouwd. Mexico Stad was het grootste rijk van het Amerikaanse continent tot dat de Spanjaarden kwamen. Na de Spaanse verovering in 1521, was de stad de eerste echte multiculturele metropolis, bewoond door Amerikanen, Europeanen, Aziaten, Afrikaanse slaven en alle de volgende combinaties. Het was ook de eerste stad waar ecologische uitwisselingen plaatsvonden: planten, dieren en mineralen uit Europa en Azië heen en weer. Samengevat, een interessante stad om te bezoeken, het beste in mei-juni of september-oktober, om de hitte en de regen te vermijden.


Cronica: The Norwegian Manhood Test, Compte Rendu

Rescatado de la bandeja de correos, la cronica de que fue lo que paso en Noruega. Con la pena, pero como se lo conté primero a mi colega ultramaratoniano Vincent, tendra que quedarse en este francés super chafa. Pero 'pos 'pior es nada.

La course en Norvège, c'était quelque chose.

On est arrivé (mon copain Fernando et sa copine colombienne, Monica) avec une voiture louée, assez tard pour le briefing de la course, donc on l'a raté et il n'a resté qu'aller se coucher en attendant de l'avoir le lendemain (on n'était même pas certain de l'heure du départ, vue que selon l'organisateur --un mec danois un peu fou-- il fallait attendre les prévisions de la météo jusqu'au la dernière minute). L'endroit était vraiment écarté de la civilisation, c'est une réserve au milieu de nulle part, et pour arriver jusqu'au refuge du départ, il fallait marcher encore 6 km avec les bagages. C'est un endroit très beau, un massif avec une quinzaine de sommets, dans son centre il y a un lac de montagne avec un bateau qui le traverse deux fois par jour, en ramenant les gens de retour au refuge sans devoir traverser le massif de nouveau. La course était conçue pour des équipes, l'assemblage était plutôt libre. Dans notre cas c'était mon copain et moi, et il y avait une dizaine d'équipes, plutôt des duos aussi. L'idée c'était de faire les dix sommets dans moins de 24 h. Le dénivelé dépasse bien les 5000 m, pour une distance de 50 km, c'est tout à fait presque de la escalade. La course est en autonome et même s'il y pas mal des lacs et des rivières, on peu passer facilement des heures sans les toucher, donc il fallait planifier assez bien à l'avance les goudrons.

Tout d'abord, mon ami mexicain et moi allions le faire en duo. On s'est preparé pour les 50 km. Fernando, mon copain fait des marathons en dessus de la barrière de 3 h, mais il n'avais jamais fait du trail running non plus des ultras, c'était du terra incognita pour lui. En tout cas, j'avais fait un peu de confiance vu qu'il était évidemment en forme (en plus il fait de l'escalade). En effet, notre erreur c'était de prendre la course très légèrement. Monica, qui est en train de se préparer pour le marathon d'Amsterdam, nous avait suggéré de nous joindre pour faire la moitié (il n'y avait qu'un checkpoint, pas loin du bateau) et puis rentrer avec le bateau.

On avait appris la veille que la course partait à 7h00 (quand nous sommes arrivés tout le monde était déjà couché, c'était les gens qui gèrent l'auberge qui ont nous informé), au moins on était prêts pour le départ le lendemain. Nous avons parlé avec l'organisateur (qui courrait aussi avec son équipe), qui a nous montré à peu près ce qu'il fallait traverser avec une carte plus ou moins détaillé. La route n'était pas du tout marquée, c'était plutôt suggérée et il fallait se repérer avec un GPS ou au moins avec un altimètre. Nous n'avions qu'une boussole et cette course demandait une vraie connaissance de l'orientation dans la montagne. En fin, nous sommes partis, et vue la route, nous avons pris Monica avec nous (l'organisateur a dit OK) en tant qu'accompagnant jusqu'à la moitié, comme convenu. La seule condition c'était d'arriver au checkpoint avant 16h30 pour pas rater le dernier bateau.

On a commencé la course assez bien, ça montait tout le temps, mais c'était très gerable. On marchait avec les autres équipes, ils avaient un matos très similaire à nous, tout le monde avait conçue une route plutôt pour faire la course à pieds, même s'il fallait savoir se repérer de temps en temps. Nos problèmes ont commencé assez tot, puisque il a commencé pleuvoir très fort. Le terrain n'aidait pas, c'était des pierres sur des pierres, des gros cailloux plats (sédimentaires) avec des coins aigus et couverts d'un sort de lichen qui glissait horriblement. Les pierres avaient des tailles diverses, pas bien tassés, donc dangereuses tout le temps. Parfois il y avait des gros trous qui faisaient un peu peur si jamais un pied faillit tomber dessus. En gros, c'était vraiment compliqué de marcher avec des chaussures pour la course é pieds généralement souples. Avec la pluie il est devenu encore plus compliqué de marcher, les pierres glissaient encore plus facilement, souvent il y avait des peintes dont il fallait attendre avoir le chemin libre au dessus de chaqu'un pour pouvoir avancer sans risquer se prendre une pierre glissante libérée par le coureur qui marchait au dessus. Au bout d'un moment on a croissait des endroits dont il fallait faire un peu d'escalade (sans blague, sans matos, sans avertissement). A partir de ce moment là, Monica a commencé paniquer un peu et puis beaucoup. Fernando a pas mal d'expérience, mais même lui avançait doucement. Depuis ce moment là j'ai pensé abandonner et rentrer, mais le retour me semblait encore plus dur (les peintes étaient vraiment méchantes). Pendant les descentes je le faisait avec un peu de peur, je n'était pas trop concentré par plusieurs raisons : mes copains s'avaient pris pas mal la tête, je sentait beaucoup de responsabilité d'avoir mis Monica dans cette situation risquée, bref, je voyait qu'on courrait vraiment un danger... Au bout d'un moment j'ai tombé et je m'ai frappé la tête. J'ai pris encore plus peur, même si c'était pas fort du tout, la pierre était tellement aiguisée qu'elle m'a coupé un peu. On avançait doucement, c'était déjà assez tard pour que Monica pourrait rentrer avec le bateau... on était tous un peu mécontents, je crois.

En descendent le troisième sommet, j'ai pris un grand caillou avec tout le bras pour passer entre deux pierres, j'ai glissé et le caillou est venu avec moi, j'ai essayé de le contenir, mais le cailloux plat est allé jusqu'au la jonction entre le bras et l'épaule, en poussant fortement... le mouvement a déboîté l'épaule. J'ai demandé mes copains de m'aider le remettre en place, mais on ne pouvait pas. Fernando est allé chercher de l'aide, on a pensé rester dans la montagne, mais il pleuvait tout le temps, il faisait froid (vers 5 °C) et on n'avait plus d'eau. Après quelques minutes le départ de mon copain, nous avons commencé la descente. Ca nous a pris plus de trois heures. Je marchait trop lentement, c'était plutôt de descendre en glissant entre les pierres, car je pouvais pas respirer bien non plus me mettre de bout tout droit (quand l'épaule est déboîté les poumons sont opprimés et on peu pas respirer comme il faut). A la fin on a réussi descendre et on a trouvé aussi un peu d'eau dans un lac. Nous étions vraiment cassés, mais il fallait encore trouver quelqu'un ou franchir le checkpoint. Il a commencé faire nuit (21h00) et on s'est perdu encore, on a commencé désespérer un peu. On hallucinait un peu aussi. J'entendais des voix et  je voyait parfois des gens dans la montagne, Monica aussi. Nous nous sommes rendu compte qu'il fallait trouver un endroit pour passer la nuit le plus vite possible. Juste avant avoir perdu toute visibilité du paysage, on a vu des lumières très loin vers le NE et on a décidé de les suivre. Après plus de trois heures de marche sous la pluie et dans un terrain inondé, on est arrivé à l'auberge. Bien sûr, personne restait réveillé pour nous aider. Heureusement, après quelques minutes quelqu'un est passé pour se brosser les dents, un monsieur qui venait avec un groupe dont il y avait un masseur. J'ai eu trop de la chance d'avoir pu me faire rentrer l'épaule avant de passer plus long temps (typiquement, après 18-20 heures il ne rentre plus et il faut faire une intervention plus sérieuse). Les gens ont nous offert des lits pour dormir et on a fini pour contacter Fernando (encore perdu au milieu de nulle part). Le lendemain on a tous pu se rencontrer, mais c'était assez traumatique.
La récup du bras va bien. Ca fait presque un mois et j'ai encore un peu du mal (le bras était tout coloré pendant deux semaines), surtout la nuit quand je dors de cette coté. En tout cas, j'ai commencé nager et bientôt je le ferait d'une façon plus normale. Je peux courir sans problème (j'ai pas encore tenté la longue distance) et je me sens bien. J'ai de la chance !

Voilà, c'est l'histoire du weekend en Norvège. 


Finding a PhD advisor, some of the first steps

After an e-mail exchange with a former colleague, I came with a small piece of advice for those who are looking for a PhD in science. This is it:

Find an active and competitive group, neither too small nor too big, where the professor is still young and will have time for you to discuss and work along the same lines. The distance to embark on a dialogue will be typically shorter and you will learn much more. Big groups with big professors are impressive: they have everything, they're authoritative, they publish like crazy, however, you will rarely receive direct coaching from your future boss and you're likely to be running one of the multiple projects somewhere in a corner. At such point, your social skills will be key to get your job done and your way though with the help of others, namely postdocs and veteran PhDs. There are exceptions to everything, of course.

Make a list with your favorite groups, work hard on your cover letters and spend time to come up with a tidy version of your CV (ask friends or mentors to give it a good, final polishing). It is optimal to customize your cover letter and CV for every group (don't lie!). Go look for options abroad, that'll give you a better perspective of the groups you're applying to. Apply to several places at the same time, in your home country and abroad, get used to make the difference between different groups and professors. Compare and be critical toward your decisions on which interviews to pick (in case you have the option to choose, of course!), remember it's pretty much like getting married, 4 to 5 years of your life entirely devoted to it and you will have to cope on that one way or another.

Prepare for the interviews like a professional, be ready to answer uncomfortable questions such as gaps of time in your CV or your relationship with your previous advisor. Be direct and concise in your answers, they know who they're looking for, and you should also know what your really want. Never hesitate to ask the group's work phylosophy to the utmost detail, it's better to be safe than sorry. Do not assume that not discussing the work policy will keep you safe from your future's advisor judging eyes. Money is a delicate issue rarely discussed (salaries are typically fixed in universities), but it's crucial to assure that the project you're about to embark in has it continuity guaranteed throughout your whole PhD. 

If you received an offer and an advance of the subject you'll be dealing with, be ethical and critical. This means do not diffuse the information with third parties (unless you're explicity told it's okay to do it) and ask yourself whether this is the kind of science you want to work in for the next years of your life.

Finally, be honest with yourself. Be conscious of the effort and input you might be required in the groups you apply, this is normally very straighforward. It's allowed to make extreme PhDs of 7-days-a-week, it's also allowed to do one of 36 hours per week, learn to play the clarinet and enjoy your weekends doing something else. That part it's all up to you. You should actually start there: what I'm ready to offer for a given PhD? Does the work suits my life style? Do you actually want to do a PhD? In your near future you will be surprised by how many people you meet are doing PhD and just found out it's not their stuff.



Imitacion barata

Para no dejar tan tirado a la calle el siglo XX, vamos a poner algo mas que silencio.

Silencio seria poner aqui a John Cage, con su famoso 4'33".

Lo otro que vamos a poner es musica de muy subidos quilates. Cheap Imitation se llama. Viene en un disco triple que compre ya hace algun tiempo y que me ha seguido hasta aca. Y que creen, que tambien esta en youtube. Albricias!

Con esto ya quedamos a mano, porque ayer que hice la lista no puse en ningun lado a Cage, y yo creo que hay que hacerle justicia.


Enésimo regreso a la Isla Desierta

Tras recibir un inesperado mensaje de un encomiable amigo de años atrás pidiéndome realizar aquel suculento ejercicio musical, no tengo otra que volver a la isla y escribir otra vez la lista.

De que hablo? Del juego musical "La Isla Desierta", que este bloguero eventual aprendiera de los textos de Luis Ignacio Helguera (qepd). Es muy simple, hay que citar diez obras con las cuales uno podria vivir toda la vida aislado en una isla desierta. Asumiendo, claro, que no hay yutub ni aipods ni nada que permita reproducir otra musica; habiendo sin embargo algun reproductor que pueda tocar las diez obras una infinidad de veces. El puro gedankenexperiment vale la pena, porque de algun modo las neuronas se ponen a trabajar, las obras luchan en la memoria imponiéndose una a una, hasta que solo queda una rigurosa lista de diez lugares.

La condicion esta vez es musica de camara del S. XIX, ahi va sin order particular de preferencia:

Una sola limitante: cero obras que sean para instrumentos solistas, porque el piano siempre sale ganando.

1. Quinteto para clarinete, Op. 115 de Brahms - Tal vez la obra mas otoñal que el periodo romantico haya concebido.
2. Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 3, Op. 41 de Schumann - Porque Brahms no seria ni la mitad de lo que fue sin este hombre.
3. Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 14, Op. 131 de Beethoven - Revolucion de la forma
4. Quinteto de cuerdas D956 de Schubert - La profundidad del alma y su sufrimiento a causa de la sifilis delineado por dos chelos.
5. Cuarteto de cuerdas de Debussy - Revolucion en el fondo, impresionismo musical.
6. Sonata para violin No. 2, Op. 100 de Brahms - Escuchar las sonatas de Brahms hace que ni el mismo fin del mundo te altere, crean un mundo armonico tan vasto que no dan ganas de salir de el.
7. Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 12, Op. 96 de Dvorak, "Americano" - Revolucion del mensaje, la musica como evocadora de imagenes concretas, no por ello menos emocionales.
8. Octeto, D803 de Schubert - Pocas obras miran desde tan arriba el paso del tiempo. Es como un dialogo cordial entre personas amables que se repite hasta la eternidad en todas direcciones posibles.
9. Gran Fuga, Op. 133 de Beethoven - Tal vez la primera deconstruccion estetica de la historia, tenia que ser Beethoven.
10. Movimiento para cuarteto para piano en La menor de Mahler - Soy mahleriano y qué!

Ya entrados en gastos, vengan las obras del S.XX:

1. Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 14 de Shostakovich - Tres movimientos casi isocronos, todos ellos de una introspeccion tan grande que es imposible darse cuenta del cambio entre ellos, a pesar de ser tan distintos.
2. Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 2 de Britten - Sonoridad sinfonica con cuatro instrumentos de cuerda.
3. Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 2 de Janacek, "Cartas intimas" - Sincope y pasion perfectamente combinados.
4. Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 6 de Shostakovich - Una de las obras que mas me ha obsesionado. De talla conceptual comparable a una sinfonia, profunda y moderna, aunque sumamente discreta.
5. Noche Transfigurada de Schönberg - Entraniable precursora del siglo, canto del cisne del romanticismo
6. Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 6 de Villa-Lobos - El nuevo mundo, musica de maderas preciosas y humedas.
7. Cuarteto para el final de los tiempos de Messiaen - El mensaje al final de tunel, siempre nos queda la musica, el fin del mundo concebido por Messiaen, el ejemplo fortuito, la tan inusual dotacion con la que contaba para ejecutarla durante la guerra (piano, violin, clarinete y chelo).
8. Fratres de Pärt - Una de mis obras minimalistas favoritas, la repeticion ad nauseam de la misma idea, juego de texturas y cromatismo.
9. Cuarteto de cuerdas No. 4 de Schönberg - El advenimiento del modernismo.
10. Contrastes de Bartok - El modernismo como punto de no retorno.

Todo listo, naufragio preparado y ensayado, musica a salvo. Buen viaje.


Preparando una carrera

Apenas, y de chiripa, unos cuates me pidieron que le hablara un poco sobre como preparar una carrera de 16 km. Me hice un jand-aut y salió esto. Me gusto como quedo hasta eso.

Getting ready for the Dam-tot-Damloop 2012

Running is perhaps the sport we all believe to know naturally (finally, everybody can run!), but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement of the experience, mostly if you’re preparing for a race.

These are some hints that can help you prepare for your first one, avoiding the classical mistakes that can turn a pleasant experience into a painful one.

Traning sessions
1.     Find your pace (marked pathways, sports watch, gps…)
2.     Analyse your run:
-        How does your body react with increasing speed, thirst, stress, food, weather conditions?
-        How comfortably you run?
-        How often do you experience pain, and where?
3.     Plan the route accordingly to your average speed.
4.     Try to do some runs in similar conditions as the expected for the race (distance, route, hydration, time).
5.     When the date is approaching, do not overtrain, you may suffer injures or run into a burnout.
6.     Stop doing long distances (> 12 km) at least 10 days before the race; rather work on your speed and rhythm changes.
7.     Complementary exercise to strengthen your muscles is always welcome. Good routines can be found in runnersworld.com and elsewhere.

A few days before the race
Three days before. 10 miles merit some rest. Run no more than 8 km at reasonable pace, as a hint, while running you should be able to maintain (simple!) conversations.
Two days before. Rest or go for 6 km or go for a swim. Give a break to your legs. A savvy dinner (carbs, proteins) will do good to start loading some power.
The day before. No more than 5 km at a very easy pace, just to stretch your legs. Get a good dinner and avoid heavy food (no complex fats, spicy food and alcohol, no experiments!). Prepare your stuff and check the weather forecast, act accordingly.

The D-day
1.     Light breakfast (tea, an apple without skin/banana, one or two bolletjes, no experiments, eat the stuff you’re used to).
2.     Running is always better with a light stomach. Take time to alleviate your body before leaving home, drinking water helps!
3.     Arrive at least 45’–1 h before, this is to avoid stress prior departure.
4.     Hydrate your body, but do not drink too much (half a liter of water/electrolytes is normally more than enough).
5.     The race starts; by default everybody around you will run faster than they usually do. Keep faithful to your pace and planning (this is difficult, but try it).
6.     Set your running pace, feel comfortable, let yourself marvel by the cheering people and the euphoria of this running party. Concentrate in keeping your pace, be attentive to your hydration, specially if it’s hot.
7.     This is a good day to beat your personal best mark. Remember everything has to do with how well you prepared for it.

After the race
1.     Stretch your muscles; every minute spent doing so is worth it.
2.     Recover, drink electrolites and try to get some proteins as soon as possible (recovery drinks, a nice tuna egg salad…)
3.     It is reasonable to rest the day after, a better full recovery is going for an easy swim, one hour will do you very good to dissipate muscular pain.
4.     From two to three days after the race, you’re ready to start adding up kilometres for the next challenge, which will it be? A marathon, perhaps?

Feel free to send me your questions: rx.fernando(at)gmail.com

Enjoy the race!