It seems each quarter, and I wrote a quick recap on what I have been up to lately. This time it’s no different. The weeks go by at a rapid pace, and I’m now taking a long and (I like to think) deserved summer holiday. You can see my previous highlights from April 2021 here.
The gyms closed in Finland during April. They’ve since reopened, and I’m thankful for that. This was, obviously, due to COVID-19 and a slightly worsening situation in the capital area where I live. I decided I will not just idle on the sofa and dutifully carried out my training program with slight modifications.
Here’s me doing push-ups with a resistance band in April:
We had some friends over, and I did a cheesecake. It was delicious.
As I wasn’t sure how long the shutdown of gyms would last at the time, I got the Tacx NEO 2T smart trainer. You attach your bike to it, and then you can train on the balcony. It then took me two more months to source the necessary tools to assemble the thing.
We’ve spent a lot of time seeing new but familiar places in Helsinki with the 3-year-old. This is the main church in the city’s heart, and our youngest is always in love with the seemingly endless amount of stairs.
In contrast, my 11-year-old son – the middle one of the three boys – enjoys quality time in solitude. This is him, on the balcony, enjoying his favorite show on Netflix on an iPad:
Since the weather started to become better, we’ve had plenty of breakfasts on the balcony.
As a side project, I started building a homelab – essentially a server rack filled with useful stuff that I can then utilize to my needs. I sourced an 18U rack and got to work. And as all of my network and hardware was essentially non-rack-mountable, I began by upgrading the devices that were quite old already. The Unifi UDM-Pro arrived in a massive box:
Meanwhile, in early May, I received my official diploma and officially graduated from the Executive MBA programme. It was a great two years, but I’m also happy it’s done and dusted now.
More gear for the homelab project – 19″ rack-mounted shelves and other crucial equipment:
Bringing the rack cabinet home in the car. The kid and the wife didn’t fit in the car at the same time, so they had to take the tram. Sometimes these important projects require small sacrifices from the project team..
I continued on the smart trainer project. I couldn’t detach the cassette from the back wheel, so I tried to figure out the exact type of the cassette. This involved a visit to the nearby bike store, where I was treated like a clown for not knowing the cassette specifics. Anyway, I later found the tools and successfully re-installed the cassette on the smart trainer.
In Mid-May, we had time to visit the summer cabin. It’s a quiet place.
While preparing to demolish the old house from the land where we are building a new house, I needed to assess how to turn off the mains of the water. But somehow still keep water accessible to the next house, as it was all connected through one house. Is it the green one? Or the red one? Or the other red one? It didn’t really matter, as I closed them all, and then the demolition company accidentally dropped 2 tonnes of gravel on top of this contraption.
Turns out, the 3-year-old is also capable of appreciating some quiet me-time.
I had some Raspberry Pi minicomputers available, so I installed a separate rack-mount for them.
Removing the old house. It took about a week and a half. I jokingly suggested to the nearby fire department that perhaps they need a place to train for a.. burning house? They did appreciate it (I think) and politely declined due to environmental issues and possible hazardous fumes.
About once per month, I take a few hours to assemble the LEGO cars. It’s fun, puts your mind away from work and the other projects, and sometimes the kids join in to help.
Back at the gym, I see steady progress. Over a period of 12 months, I’ve added 30 kg to my max bench press. While the initial goal for me was to ” be able to bench press 100 kg”, now the goal has shifted slightly. Now I’m just happy I get volume in my gym visits. Currently, 130 kg is doable, and I’m aiming for 150 kg next – perhaps that will happen this year or next year.
The homelab project continues on the side. Top to bottom: Synology DS1821+, a custom server in a 4U SilverStone chassis, the Raspberry Pi mount, Unifi UDM-Pro, patch cables, and a 48-port Unifi switch. I’m utilizing the SFP+ ports to get 10 GbE speeds for the Synology NAS and the server.
During the weekends, we sometimes trek around the national parks we have in southern Finland. This is the oldest thing I own – it’s called a kuksa. Originally from Lapland, it’s a mug carved from a single block of wood, ornamented with a piece of bone from a reindeer. I got this as a gift, and it was handmade in 2000.
Fast forward to early June, and the old house is gone! The house on the left is my parent’s house, and I trust I can borrow some tools from my dad’s toolshed in the back.
School is out! It ends surprisingly early in Finland for the semester – this time on the first week of June. My oldest graduated from the 6th class of the elementary school top of his class, so of course, I was immensely proud. Mostly because I now realize he did not inherit my laziness and intrinsic dislike towards school.
And then we got to digging again at the piece of land. We needed to find the water pipe again to connect my parent’s house to the water mains until we could build a more proper connection.
The smart trainer is finally installed in mid-June! It took a while. Sourcing the tools was one thing, but actually using the tools was another. Turns out, the guy who built my custom-fitted bike about 7 years ago really wanted the thing to hold together. Trying to unlock the cassette was futile. It simply didn’t budge. I gave it a few tries but feared I would break the tools – or the cassette in the process. Then, one night I figured, “Oh well, I go to the gym to get stronger.. so let’s put that to the test!” I carefully positioned the tools around the cassette and the axle. I adjusted my grip and mentally committed to pulling as hard as I humanly can, even if it breaks the very fabric of time. 10 seconds in, pushing as hard as I humanly can, I hear a faint click – and the cassette unlocked!
Extra motivation for future gym visits.
I rearranged my displays (again) and opted for the classic side-by-side setup. The center and right displays are 32″ 4K displays, and the portrait display is an old 27″ WQHD display. I installed the Elgato Wave Forms panels to treat the sound properties of the room for better recording.
The restaurants opened in Helsinki (and to be honest, they’ve mostly been open but sometimes with minimal hours), and we booked a table for the family to enjoy huge steaks. I’ve missed this.
The smart trainer technically works but still requires more fiddling. Ideally, you want to connect all your sensors to one device. For me, this means the smart trainer, the separate Garmin speed/cadence sensor, the temperature sensor, and my heart rate belt. But all these use the Garmin-specific ANT+ protocol.. which my Samsung tablet does not support. It has hardware for it, but the capability is disabled within the software. So, I got the official Garmin USB adapter for ANT+, and after some fiddling, everything works.
No, wait. Once you start the bike, you realize there is nowhere to put the tablet. Or the phone. Or the water bottle. So it would help if you had an adjustable table.
I’m really trying to broaden my taste for vegetables and fruit. I figured that through barbecue, things might taste better.
Back-squat is now comfortable at 150 kg, and I occasionally hit 160 kg. I tend to take this one a bit easier with the injured hamstring, but I’m elated to see progress here after many months of low progress!
And in late June, we also got a decent-sized hole for the new house. Our design includes a good-sized and full-height basement, and while it adds considerably to the overall project cost, I feel it’s a great investment: Bye-bye, commercial gyms in 2022, and welcome, home gym.
Enjoy the summer!
I work with Azure and frequently write about my experiences. Former Microsoft Most Valuable Professional & Microsoft Regional Director, ex-MSFT. Based in Helsinki, Finland.