2020 ... an interesting year ...

2020 started off as a normal year ... until January 9th when I had to get up in the middle of the night to get my flight to Funchal, Madeira. It was actually the very first flight that morning and the airport was deserted and felt like a scene from a post apocalyptic movie. I was extremely fortunate to go and spent a week on this beautiful island and meet new people from all parts of the world. The trails on Madeira are spectacular and extremely versatile. From dry and flowy to extremely slippery red mud ... or as the locals call it; Madeira ice.

Just after my trip to Madeira we had a K9 friend sleep over for a week. Brings back memories of when we had our own dog but with the luxury of handing it back over to its owners after a week. Everything went back to normal, and we were getting ready for our bi-monthly or so home cooked dinner session with friends during the last week of February. Two days before we had the first official case of Covid in The Netherlands, so there was already a clear sense that the virus was getting closer and that this might be the last dinner we shared for quite some time. One week later, I decided to cancel my ski trip to Austria and one week later everything was gradually shutting down. Shortly after that, I had three friends that went skiing in Austria infected with the virus. Then people started stashing up supplies ... initially, mainly for toilet paper! 

From there on, it started getting quieter and customers started to put projects on hold. I then remembered the saying ‘in time of destruction, create something’ and started re-investing time in my search for what I call a ‘Rapid Web App Development Tool’. I found and studied Wappler and FM BetterForms. At the same time, I also took another look at farm.bot ... an project I already had been following for a couple of years. I really like the concept of being able to grow food closer to where it’s consumed and not needing green fingers. Early May, the freshly painted bike components finally came out of quarantine. So I finally got to rebuild my old Cube Stereo 160. Ready to roll down hill.

The arrival of my first Farmbot beginning of June, triggered a whole lot of events. I knew I had to do something to cope with the rain showers becoming more intense and to keep me house from getting flooded. This resulted in the excavation of approx. 24 m3 of earth by digging a trench at the side of the house as well as two big holes in the side garden. With a truck load of tiles as well as the bricks that came out the pavement, I built a drainage system and two big wells that can hold 12 m3 of water and that can re-enter water back into the ground at a rate of something like 2 m3 per hour. Hopefully good enough to cope with severe rain showers. Funny enough, I haven’t had the chance to test them out yet.

Early June, I participated in dotfmp, the (for me) first totally virtual developer conference in Berlin. This was also virtual, so unfortunately without the beer-gardens. This is where I also met Henrik from Sweden who introduced me to AppDrag. This turned out to be the web-portal development tool I was looking for. Apart from all these new projects, for me it was business as usual. Holidays were cancelled, but we took advantage of the nice weather and enjoyed home made food and smoked fish with friends in our garden. Although we don’t have any real mountains in our area, I already appreciated the fact that we have a natural reserve right next door and that we’re allowed to ride our bike on all the paths that are there. And being able to ride when I want, this gives me a sense of total freedom ... even when in lock-down.

It came totally as a surprise when a bike friend called me the middle of June to ask whether I would be interested in a trip to the Alps early September. This could be done more or less ‘corona-proof’ by creating a temporary bubble together. The summer went by and I wasn’t really counting on the trip to go ahead. But it did. And so we took of to our first apartment in Davos, Switzerland and enjoyed the challenging trails that this part of Graubünden had to offer us. After having seen most of them, we went to Nauders. This is small town in the south/west of Austria, bordering with Switzerland an Italy. It houses a fair amount of ski-lifts so it was all down hill. As it later turned out, we were really lucky and just in time as the maps of Europe started colouring orange.

The week after we enjoyed the last beautifull weekend of the summer in our favourite house at the beach. And this time it was unusually quiet, as most (mainly German) tourist had just left our country because of extra Corona regulations in their own country. The Netherlands was still reasonably relaxed and mouth masks were still not required. 

The summer was running to an end and and I finally closed the lids on the wells and built the foundation for the greenhouse that’s going to house the robot. Spanish lessons started again. Initially partly in the classroom and partly via Zoom and later totally virtual again. I also started to invest more time in AppDrag and built my first static web site (mtb.rocks). Renewed and extended my knowledge on html, css and sql and started learning and (more importantly) debugging JavaScript. Thanks to w3schools and codepen. Recently, I renewed the ecxs.com website with focus on the integration of FileMaker and AppDrag. Currently, I’m working on getting the AppDrag CRUD Builder ready for launch in Januari. Christmas was actually nice, and we’ve got to spent it with our families. The only difference with non-covid years, is that we ate outside and had to spread it out over three days. It was something else and I actually quite enjoyed it. Yesterday, it was the last day that I took my bike for a spin. And when I parked it against the terrace beam, I noticed that the first flower was already blooming. I hope that this is a sign for what’s lying ahead of us. And finally, the last day of the year, I looked back at 2020 and wrote this to remember how fortunate I was.

2021 ... what may be lying ahead of us ...

- building greenhouse and farm.bot
- a year of more remote ... meetings, developer conferences, spanish course, etc.
- learning more languages, dialects and tools ... Nodejs, VS Code, etc.
- house at the beach in april ... let’s hope spring starts soon this year ...
- end of May/beginning of June Finale Ligure and Nauders
- early July Enduro Camp in Nauders

... and plan B: if the holidays can not take place, I’m going to try out Bike Packing ...