this is the archive for the ‘rants’ category:


the long run

some time ago, we were talking with a friend who works with kids at risk — many of whom the parents seem to have simply given up on as “too much trouble”… and it got me thinking about the long run.

whether you’re raising kids or doing something else, the long run is always where it hurts. the beginnings feast on our initial enthusiasm, but keeping it up over time requires work and putting the hours in. it’s made of tears and struggle and the sheer boringness of maintenance.

i can get really enthusiastic about new ideas, so inevitably, i end up struggling with the long run, as i believe most of us do. our blogs are filled with links to projects that have disappeared, stuff that stopped being updated, and i’m guilty enough of giving up on stuff too. interests and priorities change, the enthusiasm dries up… and after the initial burst of energy is exhausted, things naturally come to a stop.

and yet, sometimes, they don’t. sometimes, there’s someone who won’t quit, who will put in the effort, day in and day out, because they believe in something strongly enough to pace themselves.

when you think about it, behind every kid that turns out great, or behind every project that turns 10 (or 20!), there are always humans who were relentless and didn’t quit — and that’s remarkable and worth celebrating.

the gdpr

george dantzig’s story goes a bit like this: he got late for class in college one day, saw 2 math problems on the board, assumed they were homework and copied them down (not knowing they were famous unsolved statistical problems). so he got to work, figured out the math and delivered the homework sometime later. easy-peasy.

one of my university teachers used to tell this story and the lesson wasn’t so much that you can accomplish anything with some ingenuity, but more along the lines of “give a student an impossible task and a deadline, and he’ll come up with something — anything”. it was certainly true in my experience of university, where it feels like we were scrambling most of the time, trying to improvise a solution that would somehow answer a question… though not always THE question.

and sometimes it feels a bit like that with the GDPR too, as if everyone is just struggling to grasp the concepts and come up with a solution without much confidence of a good result. in theory, “don’t be a jerk with other people’s private data” should cover it… but the devil is always in the details, isn’t it?

as an european entrepreneur, these past few months have brought some frustration and simultaneously, an interesting learning curve. but as an internet user and EU citizen, i’m definitely looking forward to may 25th, and the rights and freedoms now enforceable. hurray for the GDPR!

“all that red on the map, like a blood stain”

the morning after the US election, i heard someone utter that description of the results and it stuck. stunned and spinning and scrambling for explanations, the world puzzled at the websummit, the theme unavoidable on every panel.

in the weeks since, disbelief gave way to real fear. everything else has felt rather small and meaningless, in comparison to the big elephant in the room.

spinning

and then, slowly but surely, this cold helplessness in the pit of my stomach has transformed into a kind of determination. i’ve realised there is something i can do — which is, after all, exactly what we’ve been doing for the past 11 years through postcrossing: randomly connecting strangers.

if this project has taught me anything, it’s that people everywhere want the same things: to be happy and healthy, to keep their loved ones safe, to be heard and understood. when we randomly match two of these strangers across the world, we disregard their religion, skin colour, political stance or nationality… and yet, whoever they are, they share this brief moment together, teaching and learning and smiling for a few seconds. it’s beautiful.

it’s of little consolation, i’m sure, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something. the more we know of these “strangers” out there, the more we understand them. and the more we understand, the less we fear.

and this — this i can do.

sir nicholas winton

on the same day the postcrossing stamp was launched, czech post also launched a stamp to honour nicholas winton. sir winton is known as the british schindler, for having saved over 600 jewish children at risk from the nazis in 1938, by resettling them with british families.

sir nicholas winton

it’s not lost on me, the irony of celebrating a man who gave all these children a second chance at life, while we close borders and stop others from coming in. who will we be celebrating, 50 years from now?

a list update: 22% done!

i’ve crossed quite a few random things off my 101 things in 1001 days‘ list in the past few months, so it’s time for a list update. let’s see…

– riding a paddle boat: check!
i spent my birthday this year in amarante with friends, munching on traditional sweets and paddling up and down the tâmega river. the trick to paddle boats is to go slowly! don’t put all your muscle into it, just relax and take it easy :)

– make cheese: check!
we made delicious cottage cheese! the hardest part was locating fresh, unskimmed, unpasteurized milk…
cottagecheese

– reduce our energy consumption in 10%: check!
in 2013, we spent an average of 7.44 kWh/day, but in 2014 this number dropped to 5.32 kWh/day, a 29% reduction! :D

– visit an island: check!
guernsey was all kinds of lovely and we must go back someday.
vrguernsey

– see Daniela get into a university: cheeeeeeeeeeck!
all of that studying back in june/july paid off! the kid managed to get into the nursing school closest to her home, which means she now has a proper chance to finally get out of the village, and do something for herself.
sometimes it’s still hard to believe i saw her come to the world 18 years ago, changed her first diaper in the hospital and all… and now, she’s become this amazing person, a fighter, someone who knows what they want, someone able to make a plan. i’m currently bursting with pride! :)