The blog of DAVID KOUŘIL

Too many interests

These photos are from Saturday evening, when we went on a walk around the city. I wanted to test out my new lens that I got on Friday, and we couldn’t get ourselves out of the house before it was almost dark. 

Vienna right now has a really interesting atmosphere, it is not quite the usual Christmas-markety winter mood, but it’s almost that. I actually kinda like it, I guess I need changing seasons because of the different feelings they bring.

I often think about the stuff that I’m putting my time into. I’d say that I’m somebody that has many interests. I like coding, I like to draw and paint, I like reading and writing. At some point in my life I was really into music, I practiced playing guitar a lot.

I’m drawn to all of those things, but somehow the fact that I can’t commit to single one of those is bothering me. The impression, that I have from all the people that inspire me, is that you find one thing in your life that you fall in love with and then channel all your creativity through that medium. Sometimes I have a feeling that I still haven’t found mine.

Other times I feel blessed. I’m lucky that so many stories and thoughts speak to me. You can’t choose what you get drawn to, you can’t decide what you find meaning in.

So I just remind myself to be patient, follow the passions, put in the work, and wait for the moment when it all comes together.

An Autumn Saturday

Visited Setagayapark on Saturday morning.

Heuriger in the afternoon.

What I’ve been up to

It has been almost a year since I wrote about my life. I even deleted the blog at the previous address. The reasons for stopping are several. I felt that I was losing the purpose, I didn’t want it to be just a diary of what I did in a week, where I went, what I ate. I wanted it to be much more, but at the same time with my goal of putting out one post a week, I often found myself just writing something quickly on a Sunday evening, just to be done with it.

Another reason is that I didn’t like the blog to be the front page of me. I didn’t have a personal/professional page where I could put up my CV and stuff at that time, and the blog was the only web presence I had. Taken that I was writing somewhat intimate stuff on the blog, I didn’t want it to be the first thing somebody sees when they google me. And I don’t want the blog to be the primary thing that’s associated with me.

All in all, I think I didn’t have the right idea about what the blog is supposed to do and be.

But now I’m back. I mainly restart it because I love documenting my life. Looking back at the year where I was capturing the transition of both me and Gabi into an adult life after finishing university gives me such an incredible joy you wouldn’t believe it. I want to do that, just in a bit more purposeful way. I want to get better at capturing the actual atmosphere of a moment. I want to get better at photography. And I still want to get better (much better) at writing.

So…what has happened in the last year

A lot of stuff has happened since I last wrote in November 2017. I’ve been working on my first paper in my PhD studies and was lucky enough to get it accepted. I’ve also passed something called a proficiency evaluation. We did two small vacations in Budapest and Paris. I finally started going to the gym in Vienna and I also started to learn German.

Doctoral studies

Basically right after the last blog post from November, I started to work hardcore on my first paper. I specifically remember that in November I wrote down an idea for the approach and created a new branch (i-have-an-idea-for-labeling) and since then it has been a grind to get it working and done. I have to say, it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy at all. I struggled with everything, from coding in a new framework, to writing the paper up.

There were two things that helped me. First, I was listening to Dan Carlin’s World War I podcasts and it gave me great motivation, in maybe a weird way. Second, I received, of course, an immense amount of support from Gabi. I know it’s a cliche but I just couldn’t have done it without here being there and encouraging me.

This “sprint” lasted from November to March 31st, which was the exact day of the deadline…well actually the deadline was at 2am so technically it was April 1st. Although it was hard, I remember leaving the office around 3am and thinking…well, finishing is fun, when do we submit next?

After this big deadline there was obviously a calmer period of time. Next fun thing at work was that I was doing a proficiency evaluation with two of my PhD colleagues. In this ‘exam’ you’re presenting what you want to do in your doctoral studies and a committee decides if you’re good to go or if you need some course-correcting. Luckily all three of us passed this without any problems.

Traveling: “Städtereisen” in Budapest and Paris

After the deadline I wanted to take some vacation to regenerate. In the end Gabi planned that we go to Budapest, as it’s a city that’s pretty close to Vienna, and it’s supposed to be also beautiful.

I also went to Paris for a work meeting and we used that opportunity to have a mini vacation there as well.

Exercise

As I was working on the paper, I stopped having the time and, more importantly, the will to do bodyweight exercises at home in the evening. Even though I remembered how great it is to work on a deadline and be in a routine that involves going to the gym in the morning, it took me a long time before I actually got myself to sign up for one here in Vienna. Finally some time in February I decided to go for it and I signed up for FITINN (a chain of gyms here in Vienna). I was actually considering that I start going after the deadline but then realized that that’s stupid and did my first workout on February 26th. I think it also helped with my mental state quite a lot while working on the paper.

So I’ve been working out quite regularly ever since. Over the summer I maybe got a bit crazy and started going every week day, sometimes also Saturday. And I was biking to and from the gym. That felt really sporty, I liked that.

At some point in the summer, Gabi also started to join me. When she’s not traveling for work, we go together every other day. These days I’m still trying to do 5 times a week (but I don’t sweat it if I’m too tired or can’t go), sometimes with Gabi and sometimes alone.

At the moment, going to the gym is one of the pillars that I base my life on. Every day, every morning, it gives an incredible energy and motivation. When I can’t go, I feel it and I miss it. It’s important to me also because I want to keeping putting myself into unfamiliar, different environments. If I would only spend my time at home or the office, constantly talking about the same stuff with the same people, I would go insane. And I also think that you can only benefit from being in situations where you suck. Where you are the beginner and there’s so much to learn. It can be frustrating but that’s the way to grow and improve in all aspects of life.

Learning German

I tried to carry the same momentum from working out into another activity. I’ve wanted to learn German since even before coming to Vienna. I bought a book and even started, but at some point I stopped. I got into the trap of doing it only when I felt like it, when I realized how much I really want to learn it. But as you can imagine, if you only do something when you feel like it, you’re not gonna progress very much. I was also thinking about going to a course but that’s impractical because of my work schedule, and it’s also kinda pricey.

So in the middle of July, I decided that I’m gonna commit to learning German by myself. I went back to the book and gave myself a daily goal of studying for at least half an hour. And I’m still going. Half an hour is something that everybody can do. Even if I’m totally tired in the evening, I can take a shower to wake up a tiny bit, study vocabulary for 30 minutes, and then go to bed. And I would still take it as a success even if I do this and fall asleep while doing it. In this regard, it’s important for me to not break the chain. I’ve had days when I couldn’t do it because I was somewhere out of home, or went for a drink, but now I’m trying to account for these, and do my German studying before going out for example.

Drawing

I have made a conscious decision to draw more in 2018 and I really stuck with it (for a while at least). I somehow rediscovered the passion I had for drawing and painting, and wanted to get really better.

I tried to employ the same discipline strategy as with German and working out: do it every day. But it didn’t work as well.

I think one of the reasons is that with German, I see the immediate reasons why I want to learn it: I now live in a country where German is the official language; if I learn a word, there’s a big chance that I see it somewhere the next day—that way you can see the progress very easily.

With drawing, I’m still struggling with the motivation. I get super into it when I have some free time (which used to be summer holidays, now I don’t have that much free time), but then when I’m actually working towards something I consider a career, it gets pushed aside because it’s not my main goal, it’s not something I want to do for a living, it’s just a hobby. But I still struggle with keeping it a hobby because I don’t like to suck at it. So I would get frustrated that I’m not good enough, but at the same time I know that I can’t (and don’t want to) give it more time. So it’s easy to figure out why my daily drawing practice hasn’t been working out.

What’s next?

Thanks to the paper getting through, I’m approximately 1/3rd through my PhD. I still need to present the paper in Berlin this October, but I’m already working on the next one. I’m excited about it because it’s something that will be amazing if it works out. My supervisor will be changing universities, which, I can imagine, will bring some challenges. I wasn’t sure if my goal is to even finish the PhD before, I was mostly doing it for the experience, because of the people I met so far in academia, and because of the environment that supports learning, freedom, and hard work. But now that I see that it is possible to get the papers needed to finish, now when I see how attainable it actually is, I really do want to finish the doctoral degree. I’m still super excited to learn as much as I can, but having this diploma that in a way gives me a stamp of approval is very tempting. Situation might change in the future, but right now I see myself committed to the doctoral studies as my next goal.

And I want to start writing about getting there on the blog again! I will definitely be changing the format, not necessarily posting something every week, but rather when there’s actually something to write about. But I’m really excited to start documenting again. Not really for anybody else, but for myself.

Short week, weekend spent in Czech Republic

On Thursday, there’s been a public holiday here in Austria. That meant that I stayed at home while Gabi was working. I stayed at home for Friday too (because most of the people from the institute didn’t go to work either) but I tried to work at least a little.

I don’t really remember much happening regarding work.

For the weekend we went to visit my parents in Tlumacov in Czech Republic. I went with a train on Saturday morning (Gabi was going from Brno by a bus). We’ve had a lot of good food and enjoyed not being in the city for a while.

The most eventful was my way back to Vienna. I went with a train again, but it was completely full. It’s a long distance train that was full of Polish people with beers. For a while I was standing in the aisle and made some small talk with a woman who got on the next stop. I thought I have 2 hours of standing and constantly letting people pass by to go to the toilet ahead of me. But then, when the conductor came, he told the two of us to go sit down in the first class! So we went, sit down with the woman, and talked. It turned out that she’s Czech but living in Austria for a very long time. It’s very nice when you randomly meet someone like that.

The weather is getting crazy so I was very glad to come back home to our nice-looking, nice-smelling, and cool (as in temperature cool, but it’s cool as in awesome too) apartment.

Going to my first conference

As I’ve said before, I’ve been at a conference this week. It’s been SCCG 2017 in Mikulov, Czech Republic, and it has actually been the first conference that I’ve ever attended. I’ve presented my Master thesis (through a poster). It wasn’t a huge event but it was good.

Mikulov is in a famous wine district so we had a wine tasting one evening. It was pretty nice.

Even though SCCG is one of the smaller conferences, I still brought back a number of notes. The three invited speakers (Daniel Sykora, Niloy Mitra, and Kwan-Liu Ma) have been inspiring. I’m at the very beginning of my PhD, so there’s a huge amount of stuff that I can absorb. And by the way, I think that the most that I’ve learned was from the bad presentations. I don’t know if it’s mean of me, but I really like to learn from mistakes that other people make. I can see what they do wrong and I try to not do it too. I guess it’s a little selfish, I still need to learn to be able to take critique of myself.

On the way back we stopped by at one wine shop, so I also brought some wine back home with me.

The weather has changed rapidly while I was away. Coming “back home” to Vienna has been pretty overwhelming—it was so hot, lot’s of people everywhere, and I had another one of the moments of realization that we actually live here now. I kinda love it.

There have been two guests at our institute on Friday—both very senior and knowledgeable people. I’ve presented some stuff that I’ve been working on since I’ve been employed by TU Wien. It’s still a little weird to me, to be talking with these people who have been working in the field of visualization for a very big part of their careers. But I’m trying to take advantage of that and I tried to get some advices from them.

I also finally got an Austrian SIM card. I wanted something with unlimited mobile internet (or at least close to it) and I ended up going for T-Mobile’s My Klax Flex (that’s what Renata got few weeks before me and it seems like a good deal). Having mobile internet in a new city is super useful. Even just when you’re looking for something in a supermarket and you need to translate it, it’s awesome to be able to look it up now and there.

On Saturday we went out to celebrate Manu’s (a colleague of mine) birthday. I finally took Gabi too!

This week has been pretty full of everything, just not a lot of actual working, I feel like. But it’s all good, sometimes it’s needed to step away from it, focus more on building the relationships, connecting with people, and making friends.

We just continue Vienning

This week’s blog post is also coming out late because I really didn’t feel like writing anything on Sunday, and I didn’t realize that I’m going to be at a conference from Monday till Wednesday.

I have a credit card y’all! I was having problems with my bank (debit) card last week (could make an online payment, could withdraw money) so I stopped by at my favorite Erste bank to see what’s up. While I was there, I also applied for a credit card. I’ve never had one in Czech Republic and from what I’ve read on the internet, it’s a little bit safer to pay with. Plus, some services (car rentals for example) want you to have credit card, not a debit card. The card came after two days, followed by the pin code the day after. So now I have a credit card and I feel very mature.

I went to a talk of Felix Krause on Wednesday. It was very nice! I’ve watched tons of talks like this (people talking how they’re doing what they’re doing) on youtube, but I have never gone to one. I guess that’s because not that many people I’m interested in come to Brno. I really liked it, it motivated me. I’ve been struggling to find a direction which I should take in my side projects and one of the things Felix said was that you should keep your eyes open on the things other people . You might be doing something, but maybe it’s more useful to develop something you’ve created to help you build that initial thing. I guess you never know where you’re gonna end up. What you need to do SOMETHING.

As I was saying, I’m having troubles choosing what should I focus on. I really want to make tools for myself. I want to learn how to make them on iPhone, because that’s what I see myself using all the time and it could be useful to use it more for work. On the other hand, I also want other people to be able to use what I make. And the third point is that I want to make some side money out of this. I think the money part should really be the last thing on my list. I really believe that if you make something good, the money will follow. But still, I think I have to keep that in my mind, because if I don’t, I might as well end up being an open source maintainer who gets zero income out of what he’s doing while it takes a full time job to do that.

I’m going to a conference from Monday to Wednesday. It’s actually my first time going to any conference (I have a poster there). So I hope that it’ll be fun.

After I come back, I really want to get an Austrian sim card with mobile internet. There’s an option to get a sim card which is not prepaid and nor contract. You just pay each month and get minutes/sms/MBs and when you want to stop this you just stop paying. This doesn’t exist in Czech Republic as far as I know.

First week living together in Vienna

First week of both of us living in Vienna—Gabi was back in Brno for 2 days, I went for a beer, we had a fight, and after we made up we cooked a lot of delicious food. That about sums it up.

The work week flew by very fast it seems to me. It’s actually really hard to get something done and it’s very easy to get distracted with little tasks. I have a lot of those.

Gabi was in Brno because of work so she didn’t really enjoy much of Vienna at the beginning. It really isn’t the same without her. Even in a nice apartment with all our stuff. And I swear, if I lived alone, I would have the nastiest apartment ever. I don’t have the slightest motivation to clean up when I’m all by myself.

On Thursday, we went for a beer with VisGroup. It’s fun, but I always feel so miserable the next day. I couldn’t eat anything and I was tired. Not a good idea to drink on Thursday. I don’t really drink very often so I need very little to get in the mood but I have a really hard time stoping at the right time. And also…peer pressure.

At least the weekend was peaceful. We cleaned the apartment, cooked, I did some work on my iOS project. We also went on a little ride along Donau on our bikes on Saturday. And on a walk to Augarten on Sunday (a rainstorm caught us on the way home).

I was losing my mind over the weekend a little bit. It felt like whenever I wanted to do something, I couldn’t because of technical issues:

  • I tried to buy a washing machine—my card didn’t work (“technical error”).
  • I tried to see what’s up with my Jahreskarte (public transport card)—couldn’t load the page, technical outage.
  • I had to submit a final version of a poster to a conference submission system—no way to do so, the review not even visible.
  • I wanted to login into UPC administration for the first time—credentials in the email instructions didn’t work, couldn’t reset it. I had to create a new account, for which then I didn’t know what the username is (it’s the email! thought it’s written nowhere!)

I was only able to resolve the UPC thing eventually, which means that I have other little errands to do next week…uhhh.

We are now completely moved to Vienna

Wow, it’s the first time I’ve missed putting out a post on Sunday. The reason is that I was just completely exhausted yesterday.

We spent all weekend with moving. On Saturday, it was another trip with a rental van, only this time without our friend’s help and with the rest of ALL our stuff. You don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to physically, with your own hands, move each and every one of them from one location to another. We also bought a couch, which meant we had to somehow get 60 kg to the first floor. But we managed!

We went back to Brno to return the van, relax for a while, and sleep there so that we could hand over the apartment in Brno. There was also a lot to clean still.

I would say that we are very clean people. We can take care of the place we live in. That’s why we were pretty angry that we had to pay for a kitchen unit doors under the sink because it got wet and wrinkled slightly. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think we treated the apartment as best as we could and this was just an effect of actually living in the apartment. It was some kind of chipboard or something like that BTW. Something that almost wrinkles when you just breathe on that. I don’t think you can expect something made from the cheapest materials to last forever. But I don’t know, maybe I’m the asshole…

Oh no, it’s completely ruined!

But anyway, we handed the old apartment over, put the rest of the stuff into Gabi’s mum’s car, and went for lunch to her and her partner’s apartment. After that they took us and our stuff to Vienna. The rest of the Sunday was spent putting our things into places and cleaning. We also finally found out where our storage compartment in the cellar is. The door sign was “parteienkeller” which translated by Google Translate was funny—”party cellar”. It’s pretty nice to have something like that, in this previous apartment we had to keep everything in the apartment. We were lucky to have the bikes down in the bike room. The bike room there was able to only take 4 bikes. And there were 12 apartments. Here in the apartment in Vienna the bike room is HUGE. I guess it’s not surprising when you think about how many people use bikes for every day commute here.

The new apartment look awesome in my opinion. Even now when we are not done unpacking yet, it’s getting cozy. I like that. I can only hope that we are going to like it here. It’s been pretty scary and emotionally taxing, this whole procedure of moving. At this point, I’m glad we are doing this. I’m glad that we are trying this big scary and outside-of-comfort-zone thing. Now I just hope that it doesn’t turn out being a bad move.

April weather

I have a hard time writing something this week.

It’s really cold these days. I think I’ve heard that there is a wave of cold air from the north coming and that’s easy to believe. It’s been hailing one day! It’s not very pleasant to be outside and therefore there was not much happening this week.

On Monday we had a holiday (Easter Monday) and we basically just went for a short walk because it was so windy. Other than that we spent the day laying around. Gabi left on Tuesday morning and it was just me again for the rest of the week. But that’s not gonna stay that way for long! Just one more week.

I’m getting more comfortable in the city every day. I figured out the fastest way to work with just one transfer. The bus stop is few steps from our apartment and the station of Ubahn where I get off is similarly close to the work. I’m nailing the conversations with the cashiers (“grüß gott”, “danke shön”).

We need to go through one more weekend of moving. We will be finally handing over the apartment in Brno so we need to move the rest of our stuff to Vienna. It’s probably going to be pretty hard to coordinate and execute but at least that’s the last thing. After this we both will be living in Vienna.

I was thinking about my goals and “mission statement” of what I want to accomplish actually. Right now, I’m just having fun learning stuff, studying whatever seems interesting to me. I, of course, have this goal of becoming better person—I want to be emotionally stable, calm in high pressure situations, knowledgeable, be the guy who’s able to help people, contribute. But that’s just what I think growing up is about. I always had big ambitions. I knew that I’m going to be successful somehow. I never knew how, but I was just sure that I will find success. My problem however is that I feel like I should already be working on my success. Not to say that I’ve been failing up to this point—I’m very proud that I was able to get my master’s degree and get a job at a university in another country. I want to achieve more however. I want to take control of my life. I want to do things my way and be sure that my actions are what influences the results.

Two things kinda triggered these thoughts. First, I watched La La Land with Gabi. The struggle of becoming great and achieving something is the theme of Damien Chazelle’s films Whiplash and La La Land (I loved both). Another was this DOOM documentary. I don’t know what’s so interesting in this for me. But I really wished that I had the skills needed to work on something like that game.

That being said, I’m still going to continue doing what I’m doing. I’m starting to get really into Swift and iOS development. I really like that all the info is basically out there, either in official apple documentation, or in tutorials on the web. The thing about iOS tutorials is funny—everybody wants to make money on that. There’s so many people explaining how to do simple stuff and marketing their books/paid tutorials. I don’t know if that’s the only way people make money from iOS development. But I just want to create apps, tools for myself, and maybe games. I want to produce as much as I want. And I will!

We now have the Internet at the apartment (and Gabi’s visit in Vienna)

Many people at work already are, or are preparing to go, at a conference, which means that it has been kind of a slow work week. It’s also what they call “first Easter week” (Friday was Karfreitag, not really a public holiday but nobody worked I think).

As soon as I got to work on Tuesday, I noticed that in the online package tracker it was written that my package from UPC (the modem) should be delivered that day. I was expecting a text message but I didn’t get any. I went home right away and waited. Finally, around 3 pm, a GLS van arrived and I got our UPC router. I think the apartment got like twice as cosier as soon as I loaded a webpage!

While I was waiting, I thought it would be a good time to try out our oven. Therefore—mini pizzas!

When I started talking about the food, this is Zimtschnecke. I was hyping it up to Gabi all the time last year when I was in Vienna. You would say I overhyped it. But no, Zimtschnecke delivered. Gabi said it was the best thing ever.

Gabi came on Thursday night. She was supposed to come at 7 pm, but the bus was close to 2 hours late. We went to a walk around Donaukanal, that’s where the title photo is from. It looks very cool, but it doesn’t smell as good (too much pee for our taste).

My parents visited us on Saturday. They’ve never been in Vienna and me and Gabi felt a little bit bad that we didn’t take them anywhere. It’s a pretty long drive (3 hours or so) so they couldn’t stay for the whole day. The weather also wasn’t very nice and we needed to pick some basic stuff in a store (like trash can) which they even bought for us. So we kinda used them. But I think that there will be many other opportunities for them to visit us, maybe even stay for more days, and we will be able to take them around Vienna.

It’s been very windy on Sunday, but we went on a walk along Donau and then to Floridsdorfer Wasserpark (which is like a park with lakes, very cool)

That’s it. We still have free Monday tomorrow together thanks to Easter holiday. I’m not sure what we will do.