2010 was a bit more relaxed than 2009, but it was a very interesting and exciting year. Now for the third time in a row, let me sum up the year in a long post (but not many words on work, do not be afraid), so grab a good Belgian beer, some leftover cookies from Christmas or New Year’s Eve, and enjoy! :)
January started with a really nice New Year’s party at Roy’s place, where we had lots of food and rinks – we also tasted one of the top Hungarian vines, which I brought from home. I managed to arrange my international transfer to a Belgian floorball team, so I started playing for FC Tigers Kraainem. Winter was strong, with freezing cold and snow – not really typical for oceanic climate… I published my video-review on the Knog N.E.R.D cycling computer, which is my most popular YouTube video since then (3400 views this year), though I do not really use it nowadays. I went climbing every Friday, and we usually ended up with a waffle afterwards :) I took pictures of my colleagues playing badminton, but I did not join them yet. I got into contact with the Bikemag cycling magazine (of Hungary), and asked them if it was possible to get accreditation for the Tour de France… I saw Mr. Nobody in the cinema, one of the best movies I have ever seen (and the best Belgian one) so far.
In February, after I celebrated my 25th birthday, I ordered my first road racing bike – instead of buying an iPhone. (This was not the last time in this year, that I was thinking about buying the Apple phone, but then I went for something else :D) This was the start of a new love. For two weeks, while the weather was not good enough (I mean snow by this) to ride the new bike home, one half of my desk at work was covered with cycling accessories – bottles, a pair of Sidi shoes, everything. I started to make scrambled eggs for dinner, as I could rally prepare it as we used to do it in Hungary :) It tasted great. The first signs of spring arrived at the end of the month, snow melted, and I could finally ride my new bike, use my new cycling GPS (Garmin Edge 500), and be able to track my heart rate for the first time ever :) Floorball also went well, and I was climbing 5b routes on the wall every Friday.
In March, I tasted the best pralines of Neuhaus (they are really amazing), I went cycling on the afternoons and then worked till 10 PM (flexible working hours), I made progress in climbing, and I was really doing lots of sports. Life was really nothing more than working, eating, doing sports and sleeping. Then after a good bye dinner, I flew to La Palma for my first observing run with the Mercator Telescope. I almost missed my plane, as I did not remember correctly the departure time, but luckily I checked it at 1 AM and realized, that I would need a taxi in three hours. And I still had to pack in everything… But I made it. Since then, I never managed to sleep more than three hours if I had to fly on the morning… Observing on La Palma was great, that’s what I really love in being an astronomer. Working at the telescope is my dream. Of course I took hundreds of photographs…
I spent the first days of April still on La Palma. I started working on the 3D model of the Mercator Telescope’s building in me spare time, but it is not yet finished… I got bored with it after two weeks, so now I am waiting for motivation. By the way, as I do not have a driver’s license, I was walking up to the telescope every day :) Right after I flew back to Belgium, I went to Brussels to vote on the Hungarian parliamentary elections… That was a crazy day. Ok, it was my craziness, which made it complicated. I rode on the Barabantse Pijl Classic around Leuven, and bought summer cycling clothes, as the weather started to be warmer. I went cycling a lot, and started to do it a bit more seriously. I finally scored my first goal in the Belgian Floorball League. We finished on the third place of the table at the end, so we were through to the play-off phase. I almost got into trouble on a longer (144 km, but I had planned only 120 km…) afternoon ride, as I was riding without a map, and I missed the original plan several times (giving me extra kilometers), so at the end, I was close to not making it back to Leuven before the sunset… At the end of the month, I went to the Dranouter aan Zee music festival to the coast, which was really great, and I listen to e.g. Daan quite often since then.
May was the month, when I really went crazy about cycling :D But first, I found a very nice on-line comic strip drawn by a guy in Leuven. Highly recommended. My parents came for a visit, but unfortunately that was the worst week of spring, it was extremely cold and rainy all the time. But as they left, it became dry and warm again… Strange. (Ok, then we had very unpredictable weather for a while…) We lost the semi-final of the Belgian Floorball League, and this was the case with the bronze-game too. I have tasted more than 60 different Belgian beers by that time, and we visited the Abbaye de Villers-la-Ville on a photo tour. I rode 467.53 km (203.46 + 51.93 + 212.13) on a long weekend, but then I should have spent more time recovering, because the next rides were really bad.
In June, I started to eat gels instead of bars during cycling workouts and I started to play badminton with the colleagues. I rode my seasonal best on my standard Leuven – Mechelen – Leuven training route (average speed of 34.2 km/h), but then I had to shift my cycling sessions to the mornings, as summer became very hot very soon. (Then sometimes it was so hot, that I preferred to watch the Football World Cup and eat bowls of Chunky Monkey ice cream instead of riding in the heat.) I participated in the Third Kepler Asteroseismology Workshop in Aarhus (Denmark), which was very interesting, except that I got food poisoning from the dinner of the last day just before the weekend, so after spending the whole night struggling in the bathroom (in a really bad shape), I had to rest on the remaining one and a half day, instead of walking around the town… But I got the accreditation to the Tour the France, so to prepare myself and the equipment (e.g. a newly bought external flash), I took pictures on the Belgian Championship – which happened to be in Leuven this year.
The main event of July was the Tour de France. I can not tell how an amazing experience it was in only a few words, so please follow the links and read the story of the preparations, the Prologue, the 1st stage, the 2nd stage, and the 3rd stage. (It was published in two parts on the website of the Hungarian cycling magazine too.) Then after the excitement, it was a bit hard to get back to reality, but that’s life… Work productivity levels were on an all year low level, due to the heat (which sometimes ended up in really severe thunderstorms), the final phase of the World Cup, and the Tour de France. I finished second on our internal betting game (e.g. there was only one person, who predicted a final game between the Netherlands and Spain already from the beginning: me – and Paul, the octopus, of course :D), and I was very happy about Spain becoming World Champions! As I did not go climbing anymore on Fridays since the start of the summer, I joined some colleagues to play beach-volleyball (when it was too hot to play badminton inside). We even played on an amateur tournament (and won one game!) in front of the Library :)
August started with holidays in Barcelona and Andorra, so after some sightseeing, we finally went hiking, and climbed a couple of peaks in the Pyrenees. We set foot on the highest peak of Andorra too :) Right after this, my brother came to visit me and Belgium, then we went to London with the Eurostar for three days. Then right afterwards, Erika and Kata stayed at my place for some days, while traveling through Europe. After everyone left, I felt a bit lonely for a short while. As it was still really hot, I could only ride on the mornings…
I worked very hard in the first weeks of September (after moving to a new studio, luckily right next-doors in the same building) to arrive at the point with my first “first author article” where I can send it to my co-authors. When it was raining, I even worked on the weekends… I participated in a real amateur cycling race too, but it turned out to be a total disaster, so I need to follow a different training plan in 2011 if I want to be better. (As I had no real training plan this year :D) On a weekend, when I was really fed up with work, I finally managed to finish with my time lapse video about the Mercator Telescope. It became a huge success immediately, now it is used for outreach not only for the Institute, but for the Faculty of Science too :) I got contact lenses for sports, mainly because I wanted to buy cycling glasses. They are really great (the lenses and the glasses too). At the end, I finished my article in time, and sent it to the co-authors, just hours before I had to leave for observing. This was the start of the best month of this year. One month of observing and cycling on the Canaries. So on the 23rd, I left with 60 kg of luggage (as this time I brought my racing bike with me in a bike box) to Tenerife. I had time to try my bike already before my observing run, and it was truly amazing. I had 6 nights of observing on the IAC-80, but I had two gaps in between, when I could ride the bike on the afternoon. The scenery, the clouds and the sky was of course really beautiful…
On the first days of October I was still working and cycling on Tenerife. It really felt professional. (I even shaved my legs at that time, so I really looked like a pro :D) After the last observing night (which was – by the way – cloudy), I rode down to sea level, then back up to the Observatory (2350 m elevation gain). Then I flew to La Palma for an observing run with the Mercator Telescope. I had to start working one day (night) earlier than planned, as an unexpected instrument change left the previous observer in trouble. But I was of course happy to go and help. From the next day onwards, I used my bike to go up from the Residencia to the Telescope on the evening, and to ride down on the morning, so I could train a bit every day. The first nights were not that good, but then the students arrived from Leuven and Amsterdam, so even if the weather was bad, I had something to do, and I had company with me. We visited the WHT and I took an outreach picture on the next days, then we went to the NOT (and the rest to the GTC too, but I was too tired to get up earlier than usual) and I showed how the sky looks like with the naked eye through a smaller telescope on the last days. I saw the zodiacal light on the last morning, and I even managed to ride down faster with the bike, than the students with a car :D I was very tired at the end of the observing runs, but then I took some holidays in Santa Cruz de La Palma. Of course I did not spend these days with lying on the beach, but I went cycling two times (or I was sleeping or eating pizza, both to have energy to ride :D). First, I rode up from sea level to the Observatory (to the highest peak of La Palma), then two days later, I did the same from the other side of the island. The latter was the toughest one on the Canaries: 122 km and an elevation gain of more than 3600 meter! It was tiring, but extremely beautiful. When I arrived back to Belgium, I was shocked by 1) the cold, 2) the number of students and cars on the roads (as it was still summer holidays, when I left, and now everyone was back in town). I had to deal with a lot of work, so these days were not that easy right after the holidays.
In November, I had to finish the corrections of my paper (following the comments from my co-authors), so I was working most of the time. But there were some other things too luckily. I did not go cycling anymore, as the weather became cold and wet (yeah, autumn), and I rode enough on the Canaries during the previous month. There were some floorball practices and games, but that was all the sports I did. Oh, not exactly, as I bought a PS3 (again, something instead of an iPhone 4 :D) and I played FIFA 11 occasionally. On the first weekend, I went to Vestvleteren, to taste the “best beer of the world”. It is really great, and this is the only place where they sell it. Then I was working and working again. On an evening, I went to Brussels with some friends and colleagues, to celebrate my 100th Belgian beer in the Delirium pub. It was a very nice day. Then I submitted my paper, and left to Tenerife (again, I know :D) for a Winter School in Asteroseismology. It was a very good opportunity to meet our future colleagues and competition ;) On the first week, we visited the Observatory on La Palma, then – on the weekend – I climbed up to the peak of the Teide (3718 m ASL) to watch the sunrise and the shadow of the mountain from there, while on the second week, we went to the Teide National Park (after I spilled a glass of Gatorade on my MacBook :S), and – among others – we saw numerous atmospheric optical phenomena. I received a very positive referee report on my submitted paper!
December was a month of work. Really. I wrote only one post in this period. I had to work on the referee report of my paper, I had to present my work on an internal progress meeting, I had to prepare a Kepler Guest Observer Proposal, and I started working on my next subject, because I was curious about it… Sports: one floorball game and three times one hour on the newly bought Tacx Flow indoor trainer… I bought a lot of music form the iTunes Store and a new iPod nano – signs of my growing music addiction… The students from my second Mercator observing run invited me for dinner, which was really nice of them :) I bought lots (but really, LOTS) of Christmas presents, and a HTC 7 Trophy – a Windows Phone :O – for myself. Also, this was the most snowy winter-start in Belgium for ages, with e.g. a snow storm almost keeping me here before Christmas Eve. Luckily, I managed to fly back to Hungary, and spend some days with my family and friends. My brother prepared cookies, I got lots of new clothes (I am a very effective shopper: we bought 3 coats, 4 T-shirts, 2 pairs of shoes, a sweater and a scarf in less than two hours…), we had dinner with my grandparents in Pécs, and I finally managed to meet with Flóra without painful feelings (and in a great Café). I visited my hiker friends (Eszter and Tomi) and their lovely one year old son (Gergő) too. At the very end, before I flew back to Belgium, Mariann – or as my colleagues from the New Year’s Eve party call her, the Hungarian cyclists’ fashion model :D – prepared me a really great dinner, and we talked till the first subway left the terminus. So after sleeping two hours (on the airplane, waking up to the touch-down bump only), I went to celebrate the New Year among some friends and colleagues – eating wok dishes and drinking wines (e.g. Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2006 from the Top 100 List of 2010) and spirits (e.g. Vilmos)…
I rode 3433 km (plus ~100 km lost data…) on my racing bike (with ~22 km of elevation gain), plus ~3000 km on my commuting bike (I do not have a computer on that, but I ride every day to work, and then to buy stuff also on the weekend, so an average of 10 km on the days when I was in the country is a good estimation). I wish everyone a really happy 2011!