Waarom een nier doneren een goed idee is

See the English version of this article with sources and footnotes

Het is zeven dagen geleden dat ik mijn nier heb gedoneerd, en ik voel me weer de oude. Ik heb een litteken van ongeveer 10 cm rond de broekrand. Ik loop nog geen marathon. Verder voel ik me volkomen normaal.

Ik doneerde mijn nier anoniem om iemand een tweede kans op leven gegeven. Zijn nieren lieten het afweten, dus zijn leven werd vroegtijdig afgebroken. Hoewel dialyse de functie van een nier gedeeltelijk kan vervangen, vermindert het proces van elke twee dagen aan het dialyseapparaat de kwaliteit van leven van iemand aanzienlijk.

Een nieuwe nier, van een levende donor, gaat gemiddeld 22 jaar mee. Niertransplantaties worden regelmatig gedaan en 98% van hen is succesvol. Kortom, door een nier te doneren krijgt iemand een tweede leven.

Op dit moment wachten in Nederland ruim 800 mensen op een nier gemiddeld twee jaar voordat er een beschikbaar komt. Als ze geen nier krijgen is dialyse de enige optie. Van degenen die wachten sterft 8% en 14% ziet hun toestand verslechteren tot een toestand waarin een transplantatie geen zin meer heeft.

Het doneren van een nier had ook een positieve invloed op mij. Ik voel vreugde en dankbaarheid dat ik iemand anders kan helpen, ook al ontmoet ik de ontvanger nooit.

De donatie, hoe gemakkelijk ik het ook ervoer, komt niet geheel zonder risicos. Toen ik het nieuws voor het eerst deelde met mijn moeder, was haar reactie niet precies wat ik had verwacht. In plaats van dolblij en dankbaar te zijn, was ze verrast en uitte ze haar ongemak over mijn beslissing om een nier te doneren.

“Heb je de nier zelf niet nodig?” en “Wat als iemand in je omgeving een nier nodig heeft?” waren twee typische reacties die ik kreeg toen ik anderen vertelde over mijn plan om te doneren.

Het antwoord op de eerste vraag is een volmondig nee. Nierdonoren leven gemiddeld even lang als andere mensen. Er is een verhoogd risico op terminale nierziekte, maar de kans, gemeten over 15 jaar na donatie, is lager dan 0,5%. Als het misgaat, krijg ik automatisch voorrang op de wachtlijst.

Wanneer iemand in mijn omgeving een nier nodig heeft, krijgen ze mijn resterende nier niet. Maar de kans dat een bekende van mij een niertransplantatie krijgt is 1 op 18000. Met andere woorden, er is een kleine kans dat iemand die ik persoonlijk ken een nier nodig heeft. Zelfs als ze dat deden, is de kans groot dat ik niet compatibel met ze zou zijn.

Een derde risicofactor is een kans om te overlijden tijdens de operatie zelf. De kans om te sterven op de operatietafel, is lager dan 1 op 3000. Ik zeg lager dan dit getal omdat de meest robuste data komt van meer dan 10 jaar geleden en ik mijzelf ook gezonder, of in ieder geval jonger, inschat dan de gemiddelde donateur.

Het ziekenhuis snijdt je nier niet weg zonder met zekerheid te weten dat je gezond genoeg bent om te doneren. Ik bezoek het ziekenhuis zes keer voor de operatie, twee bezoeken die meerdere uren duurden, de andere waren snel in en uit voor een bloedtest of scan. Aangezien ik in dezelfde stad woon als het ziekenhuis, is de totale duur van de bezoeken minder dan twee volle werkdagen.

De dag voor de operatie krijg ik mijn eigen privékamer met uitzicht. Er is wat nervositeit, maar voor de workaholics kan ik zeggen dat ik die middag op de laptop door kan werken. De enige onderbreking is het nemen van bloedmonsters en het inbrengen van een katheter om vloeistoffen in de bloedsomloop te pompen om de nieren gehydrateerd en actief te krijgen.

Tijdens de operatie zelf ben ik onder algehele narcose dus daar kan ik niet veel over melden. Een paar uur later, wanneer ik wakker word krijg ik een raketje en na een half uur bijkomen rijden de zusters mij weer naar mijn kamer.

Wat me het meest verbaast, is de helderheid die ik voel na de operatie. Ik krijg de eerste twee dagen morphine en mijn vriendin zegt dat ik een beetje high klink. Maar ik kan vrienden een bericht sturen dat het goed met me gaat. Na bezoek kan ik de rest van de dag Netflix kijken en naar een audioboek luisteren.

Vier keer per dag komt er een verpleegster langs om mijn vitale functies op te nemen en te vragen naar mijn pijnniveau. De eerste twee dagen bereikt het pijnniveau een acht, beide keren ‘s avonds als ik probeerde in slaap te komen. Maar dit is allemaal beheersbaar met enkele oxycodon pillen en ik slaap relatief goed. Tegen de middag van de derde dag heb ik de laatste aspirines ingenomen en had sindsdien geen pijnstillers meer nodig. Tegen de ochtend van de vierde dag zit ik in een taxi naar huis.

De ervaring van anderen kan verschillen. Ik verkeer in een uitzonderlijk goede gezondheid, sport zes dagen in de week en heb afgelopen zomer een marathon gerend. Dit is slechts mijn ervaring, die mij positief heeft verrast.

Een week na het doneren voel ik het littekenweefsel rond de taille, vooral na het lopen van langere afstanden. Ik moet voorzichtig zijn als ik mijn buikspieren belast, bijvoorbeeld bij rechtop gaan ziten, maar daar is het ook mee gezegd. Ik laat de hond alweer uit, zie veel vrienden en kan in principe weer terug naar kantoor.

Voor ik het vergeet, de intraveneuze katheter is niet de enige die gezet wordt. Je krijgt er ook een die door je geslachtsdelen gaat en die de volgende ochtend wordt verwijderd. En ja, dit doet een paar seconden intens pijn, maar minder dan een trap in je ballen krijgen.

Ik ben blij dat ik een nier heb gedoneerd, zoals de meeste donoren. Ik zal een normaal leven leiden zonder beperkingen. Ik krijg zelfs een jaarlijkse gezondheidscheck ervoor. Iemand anders krijgt twee decennia leven erbij. De kosten waren het waard, voor mij.

Ik kan niet door inschatten of het voor anderen ook een logische keuze is. Er zijn niet veel mensen die dezelfde berekening hebben gemaakt als ik. Jaarlijks zijn er in Nederland 500 donaties van levende donoren, 30 daarvan altruïstisch. Maar als je erover nadenkt om te doneren, aan een bekende of anoniem, dan hoop ik dat mijn verhaal je geholpen heeft om die keuze makkelijker te maken.

Voor meer informatie over het doneren van een nier, zie de informatie op de website van de Nederlandse Transplantatie Stichting.

Why Donating a Kidney is a Good Idea

See the Dutch column version of this article

It’s been seven days* since I donated my kidney, and I feel like my old self again. Sure, I have a scar of about 10cm around the waist. I’m not running a marathon yet, but I feel entirely normal besides that.

If you’re not afraid to suffer a little uncomfortableness, I’m here to convince you that donating a kidney is not a big deal – and a massive deal for someone else at the same time.

Why donate anyway?

By donating my kidney, I’ve given someone a second chance at life. His** kidneys were failing, so his life was cut short. Though dialysis can partially replace the function of a kidney, the process of being hooked to the dialysis machine every second day significantly reduces someone’s quality of life.

A new kidney, from a living donor, will last for an average of 22 years. Kidney transplants are regularly done, and 98% of them are successful.

In short, donating a kidney gives someone another lease on life.

There are currently over 800 people waiting for a kidney in the Netherlands, waiting an average of two years for one to become available. If they don’t receive a kidney, dialysis is the only option. Of those waiting, 8% die and 14% see their condition worsen to a state where a transplant doesn’t make sense anymore.

Donating a kidney also positively impacted me. I feel joy at being able to help someone else. I feel grateful for being able to help another person, even though I never get to meet the recipient.

The potential risks of donating a kidney

When I initially shared the news with my mother, who is retired and had been looking forward to becoming a grandmother, her reaction wasn’t exactly what I had expected. Instead of being overjoyed and grateful, she was taken aback and expressed discomfort with my decision to donate a kidney.

“Don’t you need the kidney yourself? What if someone close needs a kidney?” were two typical reactions I got when telling others about my plan to donate.

The answer to the first question is a resounding no. Kidney donors, on average, live the same length as other people. There is an increased risk of end-stage renal disease, but the chance, measured over 15 years after donating, is lower than 0.5%. And if things go wrong, I’m automatically prioritized on the waiting list.

If someone close to me needs a kidney, they are not getting my other one. But the chance of them getting a kidney transplant is 1 in 18000. In other words, there is a tiny chance that someone I know personally will need a kidney. Even if they did, there is a big chance that I wouldn’t be compatible with them.

A third cost is a chance of dying during the operation itself. The chance of dying on the operating table, from data between 1994 and 2009 is 1 in 3000 (I’m mentioning the dates as it’s probably overestimating the risk). This is roughly the same cumulative risk you would incur by riding a motorcycle for 3000 km.

The actual costs of donating a kidney

The hospital doesn’t cut out your kidney without knowing with certainty that you’re healthy enough to donate.

I visited the hospital six times before the operation, two visits which lasted multiple hours, the others being a quick in and out for a blood test or scan. As I live in the same city as the hospital, the total duration of the visits was less than two full working days.

The day before the operation, I got my own private room with a view. There was some nervousness, but for the productivity obsessed, I was able to work through the afternoon which was only interrupted by taking some blood samples and inserting an intravenous catheter (for pumping fluids into the blood circulation to get the kidneys hydrated and active).

During the operation itself, I was under general anaesthesia so I can’t report much there. When I woke up a few hours later, I got an ice cream (‘raketje’) and after half an hour of coming to, was wheeled back to my room.

What surprised me most was the lucidity I felt after the operation. I was on pain medication, and my girlfriend said I did sound a bit high. But I could voice message friends that I was doing well, and after visitations spent the rest of the day watching Netflix and listening to an audiobook.

Around four times a day, a nurse would come by and take my vitals and ask about my pain level. I received two slow-release morphine tablets (the first two days), four oxycodone tablets (lasting about six hours), and two aspirins three times a day for the first three days.

The first two days the pain level reached an eight, both times in the evening when I was trying to get to sleep. But this was all manageable with the oxycodone, and I slept relatively well. By the afternoon of the third day, I’d taken the last of the aspirins and hadn’t needed more painkillers since.

By the morning of the fourth day, I was in a taxi driving home.

The experience of others may vary. I’m in exceptionally good health, do sports most days, and deadlifted 200kg the week before the operation. This is just my experience, which was less burdensome than expected.

A week after donating, I feel the scar tissue around the waist, mainly after walking longer distances. I have to be careful when straining my core (e.g. getting out of bed), but that is about it. I’m not allowed to lift heavy weights for the first six weeks. I’m walking the dog, hanging out with friends, and back in the office again.

Before I forget, the intravenous catheter isn’t the only one set. You also get one that goes through your private parts which is removed the following morning. And yes, this hurts intensely for a few seconds, but less so than getting kicked in the balls.

Donate a kidney if you can

I’m happy that I’ve donated a kidney, as are most donors. I will live a normal life without limitations. I even get a yearly health check for free. Someone else will get two decades of life back***.

The costs were worth it, for me.

I can’t reach through the screen and tell you that the calculation makes sense to you. There aren’t many people who made the same calculation as I did. There are about 500 living donations in The Netherlands per year. But if you’re thinking about donating, to a person you know or altruistically, I hope my story has helped make that choice easier for you.

To get more information about donating a kidney, see the information on the Dutch Transplantation website.

*The first draft of this article was written seven days after the operation. Now – a few weeks later – I can report the situation is still good. I’ve caught the flu and did take a week to shake that (vs. normally never getting the flu, but no fever, only coughing). Another person I’ve spoken to had a longer recovery time (constipation for a week, feeling tired quickly for two/three weeks, but lower pain levels)

**My kidney donation was anonymous, meaning I didn’t get to meet the person who received my kidney. I do know that it’s a man who had multiple people ready to donate but who didn’t match his blood or tissue type. I didn’t match his blood type but it was a perfect match on the tissue values. Donating through the blood type means that more antibiotics must be given. On average, the success rate is the same.

***In some cases, you might be able to start a chain of donations. Meaning that you donate to someone who has a non-compatible friend/family member who will then donate to someone else who’s on the waiting list (some donation chains can be up to six people).

Sources

98% of kidney recipients are still alive after one year in the US – Temple Health

99% of kidney recipients are alive after one year in the UK. The average function of a living kidney is 20-25 years, but up to 60 years of success have been reported – NHS

Life expectancy is the same – The Lancet – Life expectancy is lower by 0.5-1 year – BMJ Open

The chance of dying on the operating table of 1 in 3000 from data of 80k donors – JAMA

The risk of dying from different activities as expressed in ‘micromorts’ – Wikipedia

About 800 people are waiting for a kidney in The Netherlands (they wait an average of 2 years for one to become available) – Nierstichting

The are about 1000 kidney transplants in The Netherlands (population 18 million) per year – Erasmus MC

My Philosophy

On this page, I want to define, as far as possible, my philosophy or view on life in some (core) concepts. This probably is incomplete and something that will change over time (see changelog below). Yet still, I think it’s good to get a better grip on these concepts to be better able to express why I’m thinking what (and taking actions based on this).

Lastly, I know that in most actions during our lives we don’t think this way. We don’t reason from first principles or weigh actions based on expected utility. We make decisions based on gut feelings, heuristics, experience.

Still, with time I think that we/I may be able to make more decisions based on these concepts. And many decisions are those that have an influence on a longer time horizon (e.g. not eating meat).

One final reason for making this page is the following from Karl Popper (video): “State your theses clearly so they can be refuted.” Said as a critique on philosophers that hide behind definitions, difficult language, and theory (not reality).

How to Think

Critical Rationalism

This is a theory on how knowledge grows. Knowledge is tentative solutions to problems (so no definitive ‘truth’). It grows through correcting errors.

This is contrasted with reasoning by induction (general principles from specific observations).

This is mostly based on ‘Conjectures and Refutations‘ by Karl Popper. He would call it fallibilism (we can’t know what is true, but our theories can get closer). And the books by David Deutsch and subsequent analysis by Brett Hall.

This means that knowledge grows by making conjectures (that we creatively make up) and then test them (refutations). The one with the least amount of holes is our current best understanding of the world (e.g. the theory of relativity).

Knowledge (thus) grows cumulatively. It builds on the earlier theories, and improves them. This is gradual (not revolutionary).

Also see this twitter thread explaining it (better).

Sceptic

Always test knowledge. Ask why. Dogma or arguments from authority don’t count.

And even be sceptical of your own experiences. Your memory is bad (link?) and our brains are made to recognise danger on the Savanna, not to be rational. I.e. if you see a ghost, it was there in your brain, but Casper was not floating there.

Bayesian

Update your beliefs based on conditional probability. This is especially useful (and counter intuitive) when thinking about test outcomes and (false) positives/negatives. (UPDATE THIS TO BE BETTER XD)

See this amazing intro sequence.

Our Maps are Only Approximations

  • universe is flat, maps have levels

Nothing Surprising Ever Happened

  • RAIZ

Free Will

Yes, I have the ability to do what I desire. But no, I don’t have the ability to choose what I desire.

This doesn’t take away my responsibility (at the human level).

TBD

Consciousness

TBD

The Status Quo is bad

How we’ve been doing things is probably not the optimal way. We should be more eager to change/update based on new information.

There is something to be said for conservatism (e.g. in complex systems), but more probably we should reason from first principles and do what comes out on top.

First Principles

  • tbd, Musk

How to Care

Effective Altruism

We should reduce suffering (negative utilitarianism). Which is much more urgent/easier/uncontroversial than maximising happiness.

This can be done on the cheap. Some interventions are much more effective than others. So give money to those interventions.

See my much longer page on Effective Altruism here.

Compassion > Empathy

We can put ourselves in the shoes of someone else (empathy). We care, and should care, about the people around us. But empathy is a spotlight.

We should care not based on geography, skin colour, or cuteness. We should care without these qualifiers, we should be compassionate (feel for others, not feel with others).

Note: See ‘Against Empathy‘ by Paul Bloom for more, and the Wikipedia definition of compassion (I think) is more in line with how I understand empathy (feeling with).

Life is Getting Better

  • Singer
  • Harari

We Shouldn’t Eat Animals

  • Part of EA maybe
  • Ethical (argument why sentient)
  • Link to longer post
  • We can’t do it right

How the Universe Works

Darwinian Evolution

  • Dawkins en Dennett

There is No Universal Time

  • local

We Live in an Always Splitting Multiverse

  • Deutsch
  • End of RAIZ

How the World Works

  • (multiple?)
  • We all don’t know what is going on
    • no conspiracy/cabal
    • not like evolution (we look forward) but close to it

The Near Future

  • Gene editing
  • Ageing done
  • AI (timelines), which may kill us all
  • Killing animals is bad
  • Mars and beyond (asteroid mining, Deutsch matter in space)
  • We Learn facts, not thinking (jobs will change (more)?)
  • Automation will take many jobs (uncertain how much will come back, and you need schooling for that)

How Humans Work

  • We do things because others do them (so be skeptical of that)

Change Log

This page was made in late August 2020 for the first time. I will update the change log when I significantly update a concept, or add a new concept.

Ginger Drink

To start the ginger drink (with a ginger bug), and to keep it alive, do this:

  1. Add a cup of water (230g) into a medium-sized jar (1,5x cup of water at least)
  2. Add 3 tsp grated (in food processor) ginger
  3. Add 2 tsp sugar
  4. Stir (multiple times per day)
  5. Repeat 2-4 daily, until it starts to fizz (close jar if needed)
    • Total ginger ~250g, total sugar ~150g

To make a ginger drink:

  1. Juice 30g ginger (or blend really-really well, can juice with garlic press too, but 30g is a lot) into a large jar (2 litres+)
  2. Add 1-2 juiced lemons
  3. Add 1.6 litres of water
  4. Add 150g sugar
  5. Add 15g of ginger bug (restock your ginger bug if needed)
  6. Taste-test!
  7. Let it ferment (1-7 days) until fizzy enough
    • Put it in the fridge when (almost) fizzy enough, so it ferments slower

Inspiration/tips:

Hummus

This is the basic recipe, see possible changes below:

  1. Soak 150g raw (dried) chickpeas for at least 8 hours (e.g. overnight)
  2. Cook for at least 30 minutes (replenish water if needed) (add baking soda TO TEST)
  3. When done, drain and run cold water over them
  4. Put them (XXX grams?) into a food processor, together with
  5. 5 tbsp tahini
  6. 2 tsp lemon juice
  7. 10g salt
  8. 1 tsp garlic
  9. 1 tsp chili flakes (Ottolenghi)
  10. Add cold! water to the same height as ingredients
  11. Blend for at least 10 minutes!

Orange version:

  1. Add rass el hanout (and/or kurkuma)

Fresher version:

  1. Bake garlic & paprika (bell peppers) in oven before, with royal amount of olive oil over them (don’t add garlic powder)

Bean alternatives:

  • Mix chick peas with lentils, black beans, white beans, etc
  • (haven’t tested if any of them taste better, but variation doesn’t hurt)

Recipes to try:

  • https://cookieandkate.com/best-hummus-recipe/
    • Hmm, add a little baking soda to water when cooking chickpeas (so they become softer)
    • Hmm, cold water
    • Possibly add a bit of olive oil (good tasting one?)
    • Ground cumin
    • Variation: fresh leafy herbs
    • Variation: kalamata olives
    • Variation: sun-dried tomatoes
    • Garnish: olive oil, sesame seeds, chopped fresh parsley

Whole Wheat Bread

1. Mix together in a bowl, make blob:

  • 300 grams – whole wheat oat flour (volkoren tarwemeel)
  • 100 grams – oat flakes (haver vlokken)
  • 40 grams – crushed flaxseeds (buy in bulk packaging)
  • 40 grams – seeds and/or nuts
  • 10 grams – yeast (also buy in bulk)
  • 10 grams – salt (with iodine, not sea salt)
  • 250 grams – lukewarm water
    • dough should be soft but not too sticky, add more whole wheat if needed

2. Let it stand for 20 minutes

3. Spread it out on baking tray (powdered with oat flour), fold two sides together (left-right), then roll from another side (top or bottom)

  • Make about 3 cuts on the top so it can rise without breaking
  • Cover with hand towel

4. Let it stand for 40 minutes

  • Start oven (220 degrees) at 30 minutes into waiting time

5. Put in oven for 30 minutes

  • Let it cool under a hand towel afterward

Variations/tips:

  • Make two blobs (so you can freeze one of them, about 30 min after the end)
  • Add some raisins to the mix (or other dried berries-type things)
  • Make with (partly) white flour for more fluffy (less fibre-rich) bread

Stretching Plan

This sub-page of Fitness, documents my plan for stretching.

Morning (before breakfast)

Warm-up, namely:

  • Joint rotations from fingers to toes (wiggle, wiggle)
  • 10 squats
  • 10 standing cross-body toe touch
  • 10 jumping jacks
  • 10 reverse-lunges

Dynamic stretches (decrease over time), namely:

  • Arm circles (4×10)
  • Arm swings front to back (4×10)
  • Leg swings, front (4×12 per side)
  • Leg swings, side (4×12 per side)
  • Leg swings, back (4×12 per side)
  • Standing bend to front / lean-back (15x)

Before sports

Warm-up (same as above)

Dynamic stretches (same as above)

Weightlifting specific stretches, namely:

  • Pass-through with pvc (10, lx5, rx5)
  • Cossack squat (10x l-to-r-to-l)
  • KB/barbell on knee stretch (2×10 per side)
  • Slow ATG squats + reach (10x, can hold onto rack)
  • Rotator cuffs (1.25kg)
  • Slow mountain climbers (10x per side)
  • Thoracic extension (1 min total)
  • Snatch progression (3x per position)

After sports (4x p/w, Mo/We/Fr/Su)

Isometric stretches (one per body part, choose from list):

How to: 5sec tension, 3sec rest, 5 reps, 30sec end, rest 1min, x3 sets

Start with shorter (end) time of tension, increase over time

  • Shoulders: lay face down, arms forward stretched, raise thumbs up OR
  • Shoulders: lay face down, arms 90 degrees, raise hands
  • Shoulders: stand, hold pvc pipe at shoulder width, move overhead
  • Shoulders: stand, hold pvc pipe behind back, hands up/down get closer
  • Trunk/Back: foam roll on back, PNF tension OR
  • Trunk: stand, move upper body sideways OR
  • Trunk: sit or sit on knee, twist sideways
  • Abdomen: lay on front, move upper body up OR
  • Abdomen: same, but grab feet too
  • Inner thigh: middle split PNF hold OR
  • Inner thigh: sumo squat OR
  • Inner thigh: sit on knee and hands, raise one leg sideways (pissing dog) OR
  • Outer thigh: lay on back, one leg across, with band OR
  • Outer thigh: sit one knee bend forward, other leg behind, bend over OR
  • Outer thigh/Hip: sit with legs in 90degrees, lift back foot
  • Front thigh/Hip: one knee forward, other leg back, stretch hip forward OR
  • Front thigh: stand, fold one leg backwards, pull back (upper body can go forward)
  • Front thigh: sit on knee and foot, move hips forward OR
  • Front thigh: stand, pull foot backward (lean forwards) OR
  • Front thigh: sit on knee and foot, pull foot backward
  • Front thigh/Hamstrings: middle split PNF
  • Hamstrings: stand or sit, grab foot, pull it towards you OR
  • Hamstring: lay on back, pull feet towards face OR
  • Hamstring: stand, foot on table, tilt upper body forwards / back leg backward OR
  • Hamstrings/Back: Sit and pull upper body forward (pancake)
  • Calf/Ankle: KB/barbell on knee stretch OR
  • Calf/Ankle: bend over, grab foot, pull it towards you OR
  • Calf/Ankle: stand on stairs, one foot, push heel down OR
  • Calf/Ankle: stand on stairs, one foot, push knee forward

Relaxed stretches (optional):

How to: 30 sec in deep position, can repeat after 60 sec rest (180 sec better?)

  • Shoulders: sit on hands and knees, hands forward, chest down
  • Calf/hamstring: sit, pull toes towards face
  • Inner thigh: lay in split position with support OR
  • Inner thigh: lotus position (not with hands)
  • Hamstrings: stand/bend/lay and pull foot towards face
  • Front thigh: stand and pull knee backwards OR
  • Front thigh: sit on knees, butt on foot, lean backward
  • Back: foam roll
  • Ankle/Hip: deep squat
  • Ankle/Hamstring: Cossack squat

Walk it off (5 minute walk)

Non-sport days (afternoon)

Dynamic stretches (same as above)

Relaxed stretches (same as above or follow-along)

Making Music

This is the essay for the third theme of my 2020 goals.

I’ve always appreciated good music and have a very diverse set of musical genres that I like to listen to. For some years I’ve played saxophone and someday (when not living in the city) I hope to resume doing that.

Next to playing the saxophone, I haven’t really made music myself. Because I enjoy electronic music (techno, house, etc), I plan on learning how to make some of that myself.

This reminds me of a time when I was about 14 years old. My brother and I got a dj-set on which you could mix music together. We used it for a while but sold it to a friend within a year or two. The friend eventually became quite a reasonable dj.

My two goals for this project are, 1) be able to create music myself, 2) by this process learn to enjoy/appreciate music even more (by knowing what goes on ‘behind the curtain’).

Plan of Attack

  1. Find a program to make it in (I now have FL Studio 20)
  2. Find tutorials on how to use the program
  3. Find samples/edit them and make my first song
  4. Make more songs with these ideas:
    1. Classical music and techno beats
    2. Melodic vocals and techno beats
    3. Movie/tv series quotes and techno beats
    4. A more funky ‘tropical house’ beat
    5. Synthesizer number
  5. Find a way to easily host them (e.g. on this site and/or soundcloud)
  6. Design a workflow/system that I can keep on making music after this initial project is done

What I’ve Learned

I’m subscribed to SkillShare (referral link) and there I’ve found over 10 courses for FL Studio 20. I’m going to start with ‘FL Studio 20 Beginners Course – Learn How to Make Beats in FL Studio’

First session: 1.5h

  • Select ASIO driver (f10, audio), you can change the version if one doesn’t work well
  • Increase buffer length (f10, then audio, buffer) if the pc can’t keep up. Smaller buffer length if pc can do it well
  • Resampling quality (can do lower quality whilst making it (f10, audio)), put at maximum when exporting song
  • Undo history at 100 (f10, general), knob tweaks also enabled (both were already at this setting)
  • Autosave frequently – because chance of crashing highest during playback (f10, file) and changed save folder to large drive (D)
  • Press f1 to go to help (webpage by FL Studio)
  • How does it work?
    • You create patterns, loops
    • You add these to the playlist, this creates the song
    • You choose when and where the patterns play (arrange them)
    • In the mixer you can adjust the loops (mastering, audio painting, transition, filters)
  • If you have your own sounds, you can drag them into the ‘browser’ (on the left), just drag the folder there
  • F2 – rename and colour a pattern (loop)
  • Ctrl + x (when selecting parts of your loop, you cut them)
  • F4 – new pattern
  • + / – go to next / previous pattern (1-9 ditto)
  • ! paste in snares etc (in your pattern – from other pattern)
  • play buttons – channel rack (is only pattern), playlist (is all)
  • ! Bar at top of pattern is (I think, looks different than tutorial) how much they ‘miss’ the perfect mark
  • Shift + ctrl + c = clone a pattern (or right click on the pattern name (in top bar)
  • If you have an instrument, right click on it to go to piano roll
  • Ctrl + click (slepen) is highlighting
  • Shift + click to duplicate that what you selected

Second session: 1h

  • Middle-mouse click on loop to rename (and colour – F2 when that is selected)
  • Knobs on left of loops are left-right (first knob), and volume (second knob)
    • Panning can also be done in in mixer
  • Highlight sounds (loops) by left/right-click, alt (arrow up/down), shift+click, clicking on them (so everything that makes sense)
    • If multiple selected, can do gradient
  • In the mixer (down), you can assign your sounds, shift+ctrl+l and start from your first/top sound (auto-fills the rest after that)
  • Alt+delete (is delete loop)
  • If you drop a sound, drop it at bottom or in between other sounds (otherwise it overwrites the other one)
  • In loop/channel-panel, the III (three bars) icon is where you can make the sounds/tunes more human (same as thing in piano roll (bottom)) – called the graph editor
  • In loop/channel-panel – you have a loop feature (somewhat confusing – looping stuff that isn’t as long as everything or something)
  • (that was step-sequencer, now playlist)
  • Ctrl+a, del = empty whole playlist
  • select patterns with number pad (1,2,3)
  • then plus (or minus) to go to next/previous pattern
  • hover over top bar (with numbers), ctrl+click-hold to select that part, ctrl+b to copy-past that part
  • magnet (also top bar), you can select beat/bar to change where the loops snap to (how fine-grained)
  • (working with audio clips), good, but for drums etc use fl studio things (not audio clips)
  • alt (and move a loop in playlist freely) instead of snapping to the ‘grids’
  • alt+shift (right side), you can cut a part (and then delete the part you don’t want with right mouse)
  • Shift+Q, quantise = snap to grid

Third session: 1.5h

(piano roll)

  • F7 to open, ENTER to make full screen
  • Quarter beat/half-step (in magnet) to show the right amount of zoom/snaps (shift to mini-adjust time, alt to mini-adjust volume)
  • Ctrl+q is making everything snap (quantize) to gridlines
  • (trying out some things in piano roll)
  • if ghost notes enabled, double-right-click on notes to go to the other (ghost) instrument
  • via edit, allow resizing from the left (seems reasonable)
  • control (bottom) can adjust volume and pan (alt and hover over note you want to edit)
  • Not too useful for piano/guitar, but can be cool for snare or other things you want to edit in volume/pitch

(how to use the mixer)

  • Route sound (loop) to mixer (d/q to play that sound and check if the volume etc is moving on the right mixer)
  • ctrl+shift = higlighting multiple mixers
  • dry signal, going to master directly, wet signal is one that is going via other mixer (e.g. the reverb)
  • “mixer takes beat (loops) to next level

Fourth session (75min):

(sounds)

  • Make folder where you save everything
  • Be organized
  • Buy/have some sounds, but don’t need too many
  • (downloaded and unzipped some drum kits)

Fifth session (45min):

(plugins, backups, snaps)

  • More technical discussion things

Good info for first song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AXzP3hs98g

Green Roof & Solar Panels

Why: Because our bedroom gets really hot in the summer. A green roof might help. Solar panels too, and of course will give us sustainable energy.

The questions I want answered:

How much does a green roof help with heat?

Not really clear from websites. But do all say that is has this effect and also keeps in the heat in the winter.

Best info here (Living Roofs). Heat under roof is not 32, but 17 C.

How much does a green roof costs? Could I get the neighbour(s) involved?

This website (GroenDak) looks best. Here is an instruction on how to put it on the roof yourself.

Costs are €41 per m2 (DIY)

Roof is m2 (or m2 if only our own part)

How much do solar panels cost? How does long does it to earn them back?

Based on zonnepanelen.net website calculator (which first gobbles up your email and then wants more).

3200 kWh per year energy based on 12 panels.

That is very good, our usage is 1700 kWh or lower.

Size of panel is 165- or 196x99cm (so about 2m2).

€60 euro per month savings/money earned (guesstimate).

Based on GroenDak website, costs are around €2500 for 8 panels.

Can I combine both?

Coolblue says no (for green roof and installing solar panels).

Is there a subsidie available?

This one for green roofs Rotterdam. (links to this page)

  • €15 per square meter
  • 8 weeks after improvement (or earlier)
  • minimal 20 m2 (roof is possibly a bit larger than that)

Dog Food

Max is currently eating Acana dog food. I wanted to know if it would be easier/cheaper to make it myself (and make it vegetarian). After researching that, I eventually found out that the best solution is to buy vegetarian dog food.

I first dismissed the latter because I thought that this would be much more expensive. Only at the end of my research, I found out that the vegetarian dog food was cheaper than the one I was buying until now.

Previously – Acana

80 euro per bag of 17kg

€4,71 per kg

€1,13 estimated costs per day

DIY

€2,10 estimated costs per day

Based on list of ingredients adapted from this blog.

The mix I made consisted of 23% protein.

The costs per 700kcal would be €1,82 (so per ‘normal’ meal, so not too expensive and quite healthy)

(for myself: file is saved under personal – archive)

New – V-Dog Flakes / Crunchy Nuggets

53,50 per bag of 15kg

€3,57 per kg

€0,86 estimated costs per day

note 1: calories per gram estimated to be the same

note 2: Flakes is cheaper, but is Crunchy Nuggets are ‘brokjes’ so the same as Max has now

When I run out of the current food, I will be switching Max over to this food.