Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Experiment: Learning catalan

Learning catalan

I've currently started another experiment. I'm going to try to learn as much catalan as possible within the coming year. I use the website http://www.parla.cat to learn, along with the philosiphy explained at http://www.ajatt.org which is all about immersion.

I already now quite a bit of Spanish and I learnt French in school. The catalan language lies somewhere between those two languages, so I understand a lot of it when I see catalan text. The main problem is understanding it when they speak it (they have different rules regarding pronunciation than in Spanish) and to be able to speak it myself. Next year, I'm going on a vacation to catalonia (I've been there several times before), so I'll be able to test what I've learnt.
We'll see how far I get and I'll let you know.

For informational purpose I'll summarize the details:
experiment: learning as much catalan as possible within the next year
start: june 2011
tools: computer, online radio, mp3-player, podcasts, youtube, parla.cat, ...

Experiment : Do we really need a mattress

Do we really need a mattress?
This was a question that popped up in the ERE-forum. There a post there, that links to an article about a guy that questions the need for a mattress. I read the article and the comments on the forum. It seems that a lot of people experiment with sleeping arrangements: there are people that sleep on a thin pad on the floor, people that sleep in hammacks, people who sleep in sleeping bags full time, ...
It gave me inspiration to experiment.

Experimentation outside the norm
Whenever I read about someone who does something weird no one else would do, I get curious. I want to know why they do it. And if they have solid arguments or perhaps links to other people who tried what they're trying, I'll look it up.
This curiosity has led me to a lot of personal experiments I tried. One of these, I will explain now...

No more bed
I live in a small room, so a bed takes up a lot of space. Along with my search for tips on living a minimalist life, I found an alternative sleeping arrangement that would save me space: putting the mattress on the floor.
So that's what I did, I took my bed apart and slept on the mattress. I did keep the wooden lats though, they make sure that there can be some air under the mattress to prevent mold from forming. That seems to be a problem when you put the mattress on the floor. You sweat during the night, the sweat goes in the mattress and gravity pulls it down. When it collects under the mattress, where no air can get to it, molds form.
So when putting  the lats under the mattress (without the bedframe), I have the same minimalist setup, without the mold problem.

No more mattress
I never questioned this before reading the article I mentioned above, but having a mattress is in itself something worth questioning. All over the world, different people sleep in different ways. It's just that in the Western world, we use a mattress to sleep on because... just because. We're used to it, even though theres no real proof that it's good for your back.
But this does not mean that I accept what the article was talking about. As I already told you, if I think something is worth trying, I experiment with it.
After all, if you try something and it gives you bad results, you can always stop doing it. But by experimenting, there's a chance you can find something interesting that can improve yourself and/or the quality of your life.
So I got rid of the mattress. It was old anyway and needed to be replaced.

Was it worth it?
No more mattress, I didn't replace it. In stead, I now sleep on 2 thin camping mats, put next to each other.
I've been doing it for about 2 weeks now and I've never slept better.
The advantages are:
- It's cheap.
- Easy to move or even put away during the day. It doesn't take up a lot of space.
- It's firm and sleeps better than my worn out mattress.
- It's very low to the ground, so it makes a small bedroom look much bigger.

The disadvantages are:
- Heavy people will feel pressure from the ground, it could even be painful.
- Needs to be disassembled/aired out once in a while to prevent molds from forming.
- It's very low to the ground, which makes getting up more difficult (if you're getting older, this could be a problem)
- Might be a problem if you take home a girl or sleep with someone who doesn't like it.
- Might be a problem if you have a lot of bugs where you live and if you don't like them crawling over you.

This turned out to be an interesting experiment, that turned out mostly positive. For most disadvantages, solutions can be found:
-  You can use the pressure from the ground to get an indication of when you're getting overweight. It helps keep you're weight in balance.
- It's small and can easily be disassembled. So doing this once in a while is not difficult.
- For the lowness, you can make a wooden bedframe that's small enough to not take up much space. Then you can put the mats on the frame. This also solves the bug problem.
- Make 2 bedframes that you can put next to each other. A higher one and a lower one. Put a single person mattress on the lowest frame. make sure the top of the mattress is about the same height as the top of the camping mat you put on the higher one. Now it looks like a twin-sized bed, but one half has a mattressy soft feeling and the other has the like-sleeping-on-the-floor firmness.

In any case, I like this arrangement and have no intention of going back to using a mattress. At least not until age gets to me or some medical condition prevents me from sleeping this way...