Electro conscious

For years, I wanted a cargo bike. Cargo bikes, however, are big, expensive and therefore quite the investment. 

The thing is, I don’t have a driver’s license. I live in Berlin, and the city has a fantastic public transport system. I’m not gonna lie, though, the main reason I never got my license was first money and then time. During late high school, when all parents bought their children driver licenses, my parents just couldn’t afford dropping a massive amount of money on me learning to direct a motorised vehicle through traffic. 

Later, when I earned my own money, I just didn’t want to spend the time to attend a driving school, spend hours next to a guy who smells of stale coffee and cold cigarettes in a car and learn about the road sign for cattle crossing in 550 meters. Instead, I used my hard earned cash on second hand analogue cameras, which objectively is just a better investment.

It’s not that I lived without cars in my vicinity. My wife knows how to drive and drove me already all around Berlin and Iceland. I also enjoy being a passenger in many of my friends’ cars. Turns out, cars are really good at going places fast and transport things as well. I just never wanted to sit behind the steering wheel of one. 

(On a side note: I recently had the opportunity to play realistic driving games at friend’s place, complete with stick shift, driving wheel with forceful feedback and adjustable racing seat. It was sort of fun to pretend-drive across rally tracks, but also the sort of fun that doesn’t invite itself back into your life anytime soon.)

No car for me meant relying on public transport and bikes. Public transport is great most of the time and the rising “sharing economy”, which is a just a short-time renting economy, of bikes and scooters provided enough mobility for most of my daily travels. I lugged bags of groceries on foot from the shop to the subway and from the station home. I rode the train to Kreuzberg and scootered my way to my destination.

It was only when I discovered the fLotte that my life found a new purpose. fLotte is a non-commercial free service of renting cargo bikes in Berlin. I booked the bikes online a couple of days in advance and then used the heavy duty bikes to transport stuff. And I transported a lot of stuff. Garbage to the collection site, groceries, DIY supplies, and much more other stuff. 

Every single time, the excitement of riding a 2,5 m long pedal powered vehicle through traffic was met with the sadness of returning the rented bike to its real home in front of an organic grocery shop. I got separation anxiety. I didn’t want to let go.

I was briefly distracted from my obsession when my kid was born. For a few months I had other things on my mind – until I realised that I now had another thing to transport, and this thing is much more fragile than the egg cartons I acquired by the dozen. I wanted, no, needed a cargo bike. With a seat, a bench even, safety straps, rain cover and enough space to put a kid next to all the eggs I’m buying. 

After spending way too much time researching the best cargo bikes, we picked the second best and ordered it (for the best one I would have had to sell my first born and then I wouldn’t need the bike anymore, would I). Having never bought a car, I never experienced the joy of adding optional luxuries to the order of my vehicle. Instead of self-aware AC and leather covered passenger lights, I got the retro package with white tires and a two-tone bell – and an electric motor. 

Suddenly, I was propelled through space not only by the power of my ham strings and calves but also by an autonomously shifting electric motor. Is this what driving feels like? So fast, so quick, so effortless? Is this why people control cars? Should I learn how to do it as well? 

Nah. I prefer the open air and the potential to become fit if I ever turned off the eager electrical engine. Being propelled by electrons rushing from minus to plus brings its own problems. I call it being electro conscious. Us cyclists, we’re a people united by our struggle against the motorised vehicles and their constant demand for public space. But when I stand next to another cyclist at a red light, I feel the sweat dripping down my forehead. Of course, this is not due to my exhaustion from cycling, as I have an electric motor. I feel anxious because when the light turns green, I’ll zoom away, in my oversized, 28 kg bicycle, filled to the brim with eggs and beer, while the other cyclist, on their regular people bike, struggles to get going. 

“I’M SORRY!”, I want to yell, “THIS BIKE IS ELECTRIC, DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT LAGGING BEHIND, I’M NOT DOING ANYTHING MYSELF, IT’S ALL IN THE MOTOR! LOOK, I’M NOT EVEN PEDALLING PROPERLY! I’M NO DIFFERENT FROM YOU!”

I never do that, though. I just feel bad for showing other cyclists that they can’t even keep up with a fat guy on a cargo bike.

Give me something to write about

Hey.

This is new. Well. Kinda.

It’s an old site with fresh(ish) new looks to it.

It’s been bothering me for a while that I have this site that I used to write kinda a lot on, diary stuff, travel stories, the occasional recipe, and then, with much less of a boom and more of a fizzle, I stopped. I have one (1) baby now and if you want to know more about my daily life please just pick any random dad blogger, because it is all the same for everyone. For realsies.

So, I decided that I won’t join the daddy blogger scene and retell the story of how important organisation is and how everything changes every other month. At least for now.

Back to my hitherto abandoned little web log project.

I don’t like leaving things hanging with no proper finish, so I always had this thing here on the back of my mind. A few days ago, I needed to do some backend modernisation so that my email still works (mostly to attract spam, but still) so I also touched the frontend. And boy did I not enjoy this.

From all the information technology (InTe for people who want to use wrong acronyms) fields, frontend development has to be my most despised area. Making servers work, writing bioinformatic code or just creating the code for an amazing app is fun and games (sometimes quite literally).

But! HTML and CSS are the Microsoft Office of coding languages for they are ambiguous, full of ancient traditions and mostly used by people who don’t really know how to the thing professionally (i.e. me). They exist for a reason, and it would be a loss to not have them, but using them is eternal agony. And both HTML/CSS and Microsoft Office have their devout fan community telling you that “it’s not that bad” and “if you spend a lot of time with it you can do things!” Well, they’re wrong, I spent time with both and look at me, not doing things.

I tried to remove the author section from the metadata field in the php files. I literally deleted all occurrences of any line of code that was linked to the author metadata. And voilà! It still says on every post that it is written by me. I don’t know where Mr. WordPress draws that information from. He must have a hidden stack of code that I can’t find (to delete random parts) and so I did what all sane people do at this point. I gave up. I hope you’re happy with the knowledge that the posts on this website that only I have access to are actually written by me, as indicated by the little author metadata blob.

So yeah, screw frontend stuff.

k. bye.

Of things that are up

Hey.

It’s been a while. A year, to be exact. Last thing on here is a recipe for pastel de nata. Funny enough, we only learned about the true knowledge for pasteis creation after that post.

So much has happened in between.

In a futile attempt to do the passed time justice, I’ll recap things here for both of my readers (hello!👋).

A year ago, I had transitioned into sci-comm as a professional in a small Potsdam based sci-comm office, conveniently attached to my former workplace during my PhD. I had my own little projects and some bigger things I was involved in, but it was all very tame and straightforward.

Oh, and also Doro was very very pregnant.

All of the last quarter of 2018, and the first of 2019, was a weird transition period. We still had time and sleep (Doro continuously less so) but also had to take things slower, attend doctor appointments and reduce the minimal amount of partying to almost zero.

To enjoy a last pre-birth travel and some sunlight, we went to Portugal and learned about the art of baking pasteis. I make pretty good pasteis now.

Then, we went to Leipzig and enjoyed the Chaos Communication Congress. Doro had to go easy on the mate and we had a good time. Here is a photo. It’s not a good photo. It just shows how we have been at 35c3.

I’m using my photo roll as a reference for what happened when because, honestly, I don’t remember much. My memory has been wiped clean and I heavily rely on technology to fill in the many gaps. If someone would be to hack my photoroll and replace it with one of a complete stranger, chances are I wouldn’t notice.

2019 began like many other years with January first. On one of the many following days, Tegan and I launched something that grew to be something I’m really proud of: Plants and Pipettes. In a blog and podcast we present, discuss and have fun with molecular plant science. I’m quite in love with the stuff we created and still create. We are so free and independent in our work that it is a pleasure to try out things, do everything the way we like and just have a good time.

Plants and Pipettes is also a way for me to play around with illustration as I draw pretty much every figure we publish. I always wanted to learn more about drawing and now I can say that I did. Here is a drawing of a confused mouse and an Arabidopsis plant.Funnily enough, we were not the only ones growing new humans. A good friend shared pretty much the same due date with us, and others followed in the weeks after. Suddenly, a pretty baby-less world was all about babies and only babies. Weird what an age group can do for you. 

Looking back at the months leading up to birth day, my photo stream doesn’t tell too many exciting stories. I ate a lot of Japanese food with friends, cooked a lot of karaage chicken and traveled for work to Münster. Basic stuff. 

One of the last things we did before the day was to enjoy cherry blossom in Berlin. 


And then, it happened. On April 6th we began a new part of our lives. What followed were the hardest 8 weeks we ever experienced. The joy about having a healthy boy lasted only briefly before we were crushed by exhaustion, desperation and pain.

I don’t really want to lay out all the details here. Instead, I’ll summarise it like this: Sometimes you’re lucky with childbirth. More often, you’re not. Downstream of a bad start is a worse first period where healing overlays with figuring things out and where a newborn struggles with basics and the parents struggle with everything.

It’s weird. I know that the first 8 weeks were the absolute worst. I had never felt worse in my life. Thanks to hormones, time and sleep deprivation however, this period feels harmless and tame. Only when looking back at some photos I remember how bad it was.

Here is me at 2 am with a screaming baby in a carrier.

All bad things come to an end. Almost to the day, after 8 weeks everything changed for the better. The boy learned to drink, we healed enough to begin to share some work and all of a sudden we could begin being a family.

I hope I never experience anything like these first weeks ever again. I know that I’m incredibly privileged to have only suffered once, briefly and just by caring for a newborn and not by being subjected to violence or terror. Still, this very first time was no time of joy.

Today, however, stands in stark contrast to the first 8 weeks. We are a happy family, I am enjoying my parental leave after my contract at the sci-comm office ran out and the boy is developing beautifully. He is far from being an easy child but he is a happy and bright one.

Here is me, begin a cool dad in the subway.

I still sometimes wonder whether this is real. Us, being parents, him, being here for pretty much ever (if all goes well), and the focus being on just that: raising a child.

So, that’s what I have been up to. Small stuff. Big stuff. Busy stuff.

I don’t know what will happen with this blog. Yearly updates? Turning this whole thing static? Shifting focus and becoming a daddy blogger? I don’t know. I guess both of you have to just roll with the punches.

If you care for more updates, check my instagram and consider following plantsandpipettes.com. I think it’s really cool.

Pasteis de Nata recipe

Here is my recipe for pasteis de nata – Portugese custard tarts. This is my version of it and because I don’t want to forget it, I’m posting it here. 

This Post is Gulasch

What do you do when you have a ton of ingredients and no the energy to create a dozen different dishes? Gulasch. Everything in one pot, cooked slowly, yum! This is what this post is. 

Madeira

When friends invite you to their wedding party, you don’t say no. Especially not when it is on Madeira. What better reason is there to go than to finish a week of holidays with a splendid festival of two of your friends’ love. And it gets even better if you don’t go alone but bring 10 friends and live together in one house.

I have been in Japan

Last year was a good year when it comes to travelling. Not only was I so lucky to see the amazing Iceland with Doro, thanks to her identity as an international woman of mystery she could bring me along to Japan as well.

And so I left Europe for the first time ever on an international flight to Tokyo.

Doram on Ice

Whoa it has been a long time.

Welcome back, me.

I brought something special to make up for the long silence. Photos from the most beautiful place I ever visited. Iceland.

002 – Joram Macht Bier

Bier Bier Bier Bier.

Bier ist nach Brot die zweitwichtigste Nahrungsquelle aller Menschen. Dennoch wissen viele zwar, welches Bier sie vom Späti wollen, aber nicht, wie es gemacht wird.

Verzagt nicht, Ich habe es ausprobiert. Ich habe Bier gemacht. Mit dabei waren Doro und Simon, die die ganze Arbeit bzw. alle Fotos gemacht haben. Ich hab mich als Besserwisser und Unterbrecher beschäftigt #sorrynotsorry.

Das hier ist Folge 1 vom Bierbraupodcast “Joram Macht Sachen”, die nächsten Folgen beschäftigen sich dann mit dem Abfüllen in Flaschen und dem Trinken.

Viel Spaß äh Prost. Prost!

001 – Joram Macht ein Intro

Joram Macht ein Intro

Welche Intros benutzen Podcaster? Kann ich das auch? Ich höre mir einige Beispiele an und bastel dann an meiner eigenen Version.

Mal wieder gilt Dank dem Sendegate, bei dem das Thema schon diskutiert wurde.

Mehr Infos:

jorammachtsachen ÄTT ohyouhere.de

oder @derjoram auf twitter