Ciro Santilli's energy throughout the day varies as follows:
  • morning: highest
  • 11AM: peak exercise performance
  • after lunch: brain death. Possibly due to Ciro's partial Spanish descent?
  • late afternoon and evening: can do some stuff
Ciro has low tolerance to sleep deprivation which makes him very irritable, and low ability to sleep if there is any light. It must have to do with those damned ganglion cell photoreceptors. On the other hand, Ciro Santilli's wife can sleep without any problems with some morning light! It is definitely genetic. Ciro conjectures that people from very Northern parts of the world must have a gene that allows them to sleep even if there is some light, while more equatorial people don't. Maybe:
Ciro has mild olfactory synesthesia for star anise (八角, bajiao), which is widely used in Chinese cuisine and makes Ciro think uncontrollably of the color blue. Ciro does not have any other known synesthesias. He is also prone to nerd sniping form time to time.
Ciro is a reptilian-like being with cold hands and feet and low blood pressure. For this reason he believes that he will die of cancer or some respiratory problem. If the Chinese government doesn't get him first that is. This also partly explains why Ciro is not a big fan of swimming.
Besides Chinese food, Ciro really likes eating fruits and roasted nuts, maybe partly because he was born in Brazil, and partly because of monkey nature, see his Chinese name. At home he is known as "水果大王" (the big king of the fruits). Ciro is also a sucker for yoghurt (natural without added sugars and full fat, fat-tree yoghurt is terrible, often eaten with fruits). Ciro's "favorite drink" could be tonic water with freshly squeezed lemon. Tied with fresh fruit juices. Chocolate-wise, although not a huge fanatic, a Lindt dark chocolate with whole hazelnut pieces bar will do the job.
Ciro does not like receiving or giving gifts on expected social situations like birthdays or Christmas. Ciro believes that every day is equally precious, and can be a day to give, be it through awesome open source software contributions, or if you find something that your friend will like
Ciro has some respiratory allergies. When he was around 5, he had relatively serious asthma crisis which scared his parents to death. Throughout his life, he appears to be allergic at an intermediate level to: mold or dust mites (or whatever it is that old books/pillows have), cats (itching on touch), hay fever (in May in the UK, likely grass pollen). But even outside of hayfever season, Ciro's nose is constantly either running in the cold, or often partially blocked while sleeping throughout the year. Ciro believes however that this also gives him higher resistance to viral infections, since it has been many many years since he had a cold/flu, and when everyone in the office is going down with it, he's just fine. Ciro wonders if his active immune system will actually kill off cancers early, which he ranks as his most likely causes of death, along with respiratory and gastro-intestinal problems. Ciro has low blood pressure and cannot get fat, so cardio vascular problems seem much less likely.
Ciro is generally democrat due to his high compassion level. He believes that politics is highly genetically determined, and that just like you enter a room full of people and immediately like some and dislike others, the same goes for politics. People just vote for whoever they want to see more of because their way of speaking makes them feel good. There is not rationality involved in it at all.
Ciro self diagnoses a slight graphomania in the early 2020's. This is largely what led him to create, and contribute to Stack Overflow. Literature Nobel Prize laureate Naguib Mahfouz also suffers from the condition however, so maybe good can also come out of it:
If the urge to write should ever leave me, I want that day to be my last.
When Ciro was quite young, maybe around 7-10, when he got very angry or sad for some stupid reason (bullying perhaps? Ciro forgot), he would have a psychosomatic manifestation: his spine would become visibly curved sideways (scoliosis). While writing this paragraph, Ciro Googled it, and found e.g. that describes:
The Root Cause of Idiopathic Scoliosis
It is proposed that Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) is a condition created by emotional stress. Evidence is presented that unresolved emotional stress can cause unbalanced tensions in the fascia and growing muscles that gradually deform the spinal column.
so it is a somewhat well known thing! Incredible. Can you imagine the level of the passions that lead to such physical deformations? But of course, it was all for nothing.
Ciro like to interpret this as him having "a creative personality" with the tradeoff of generally not being amazing at his well defined jobs.
Ciro is obsessed by that which is "quirky". This also often has a parallel with "naughty". He often fantasizes about an imaginary parallel between that feeling and Jobs and Wozniak's blue box.
Ciro's natural fight-or-flight response is to hide in a little corner, and try to solve the problem out. Then get distracted and start procrastinating. And then he tries to solve the unsolvable. Someone Ciro barely new once told him quite correctly:
In the event of war, you would be the type that hides away and makes the bombs.
This is also perhaps why Ciro likes prison decks in Magic: The Gathering. You just sit on your corner, making yourself safer and safer, until the opponent can't do you any harm and concedes.
There are of course infinitely many videos on the "entrepreneurial mindset" online, and it is impossible to know if they are bullshit, or if everyone just feels like that, but OK, just let Ciro feels that he is specially creative will you?
Video 1.
What Predicts Academic Ability? by Jordan B Peterson (2017)
. Source. Good quotes:
Creative people continuously step outside of the domain of evaluation structures
If you are creative and you go off on tangents all the time, there's some probability that one of those tangents is going to be exactly what is needed at the time, and you are going to become hyper-successful as a consequence
[but the probability of that being the right time and place for the idea is extraordinarily low]
The sensible thing to tell anybody is "you shouldn't do it, your probability of success is so low, that its better to just to something sensible".
But the problem with that, is that creative people can't do that, because they are creative. A creative person who isn't being creative, they just wither and die.
Which brings Here's to the crazy ones to mind.
Ciro also one heard a story, likely apocryphal, but still nonetheless resonated with him, that went something like this (TODO find source, Google wasn't helping, stuff that happened before website as usual):
The newly hired manager of some subsection of DuPont (or some other gigantic chemical company) came into the office, and found a chemical engineer, completely drunk in the middle of the day.
Outraged, the manager searched for this colleagues who explained.
Ah, don't mind John (or some other name), the guy invented Teflon (or some other substance) which accounted for 20% of our revenue last year. Even if he does not do anything else in his entire career, his salary won't make any difference compared to those gains, and we take the chance that he might invent something else later.
Ciro likes this story because although he does not drink, he feels his work mind works in a related way. Often, when there is something really hard he knows needs doing he hides, and distracts himself with less important tasks, or by watching crap on YouTube, because he knows that the hard task will hurt his mind. Then one day he wakes up and says: OK, fuck it, let's do it, and does it.
Once Ciro got a performance review from a colleague that said:
If Ciro spent as much effort on his job as he does on side projects, he'd be the most amazing worker.
This is closely related to effortless effort.
Yes, low conscientiousness, give it to me.
Video 2.
And I am not and never have been 'familiar' scene from The Big Short (2015)
. Source.
People want an authority to tell them how to value things, but they choose this authority not based on facts or results. They choose it because it seems authoritative and familiar. And I am not and never have been familiar. High Variance Management:
Like movies, software projects have parts that require high variance and parts that don't. For most projects, the logging system can be off-the-shelf and predictable. But core parts of the product that require novel design should be as good as they can be.
Ciro Santilli fantasizes that he is more compassionate than average.
He feels that this manifests itself notably through his desire/ability to create amazing documentation content and notably for free.
Also related is Ciro's worry about social inequality and how to reduce it.
In school, especially before university, Ciro felt that he always treated "the ugly/unpopular" (it is horrifying that such perception of a person exists! but true) girls really well, which led some of them to like him romantically. In part this was de to Ciro Santilli's self perceived compassionate personality and enter through the narrow gate approach to life. But was also partly Ciro's fault, he should have been clearer that he was not truly interested, but he was also lonely, curious about how it was like having girlfriend, and it feels good to have someone like you. This was a sin.
He also feels like he treated working class employees (and don't forget, this is Brazil, e.g. his building janitors in São Paulo lived in the nearby favela!) with extreme equality, sometimes even better, than other richer people.
One thing Ciro does not do however is give money to beggars on the street. Those beggars do make Ciro feel extremely bad for not giving, but he feels that they must be drug addicts to be out on the street like that, and that this money would be better invested in But maybe this is just wrong. How fucked up the world is, how far away are we from unconditional basic income???
Once Ciro was hanging out with one of his father's on a group tourist, and she was a lesbian borderline/actually activist social reform person, and she promptly gave to a beggar without batting an eye, and that made a big impression on Ciro, making him feel even worse about himself.
It must be said that at times this compassion can be a weakness see Ciro's trip to the Municipal Market of São Paulo.
Ciro Santilli feels that all really important and productive activities come spontaneously, without being internally forced upon people.
You may say that this is because Ciro is lazy and irresponsible, but Bill thinks this isn't necessarily always bad:
I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.
This is yet another manifestation of YAGNI.
As another way to put it, Ciro has very little "self-discipline", and acts very heavily based on small passions that take hold of him. Related: high flying bird vs gophers.
You may also say that Ciro is an idealist, because what to do when the food will run out and you have to hunt? To which Jesus replies at Matthew 6:25-34 "Do Not Worry" (archive):
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Also closely related: man shall not live by bread alone.
Ciro is also fond of the description of the work method of Yukio Mishima presented in Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (TODO based on Mishima's self descriptions?). Ciro Santilli's father highlighted this to him, and Ciro had already watched that movie and thought it was amazing:
Every night I return to my desk precisely at midnight. I thoroughly analyze why I am attracted to a particular theme. I drag it into my conscious mind. I boil it into abstraction. I am constantly calculating until I sit down to write. Only then can my unconscious dreams take over.
This is perfectly complemented by him making tea, as if suggesting:
Don't rush the work. Just let it happen. Every day at midnight, I would boil a teapot of tea. I would watch the steam rise, and with it feel my consciousness deepen. Everything was pure silence. When the hand was ready, it would, by itself, pick up the brush, and writing would start.
Another good one is Hemingway's work method:
Always stop while you are going good and don't think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.
Ciro generally feels that many major developments in his life happened "by miracle", beyond his control. So when he saw the quote by Carl Jung:
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
Ciro tends to do major decisions in his life due to uncontrollable passion rather than logic.
Ciro believes that this is linked to his self perceived creative personality, Because Ciro gives in to such uncontrollable passions, this leads him to do things which are more unusual/creative, because other more logical people would write such options off as weird.
Another type of laziness Ciro is to blame for is passionately seeking Instrumental goals rather than hard end goals, in order to reach the hard goals more effectively. This is well put in the quote apocryphallyref attribute to Abraham Lincoln:
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe
For example, whenever joining a new company, Ciro would first try to improve any exceedingly shitty systems, like the build system or test system, rather than doing whatever random task the manager felt like doing that week. He was somewhat fired for that actually. But in the end, if your infrastructure sucks, your project will fail, so better be fired early and go work on something that might succeed than later when the enterprise goes bankrupt.
Video 1.
Alan Watts' wuwei talk
. Source. During this talk, Alan quotes Jesus: Matthew 18:3 "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.".
Video 2.
Alan Watts' "How to turn work into play" talk
. Source.
Video 3.
Don't Try - The Philosophy of Charles Bukowski by Pursuit of Wonder (2019)
. Source.
We work too hard. We try too hard. Don’t try. Don’t work. It’s there. It’s been looking right at us, aching to kick out of the closed womb. There’s been too much direction. It’s all free, we needn’t be told. Classes? Classes are for asses. Writing a poem is as easy as beating your meat or drinking a bottle of beer.
Video 4.
Charles Bukowski Scandanavian TV interviews
. Source.
I think the magic moment is when you're walking around the house and you think: "Typewritter!". And I know, when I sit down, I never have any idea what I'm gonna write, there's nothing in my mind. And you walk in, you move toward it, and there it is, and things come out of it.
Just enough money to raise 3 kids in a rich country without having to work (so he can focus on whatever project he wants) and no more. Then maximize fame.
Fame is slightly convertible into money with generally little liquidity, but is more valuable if money becomes useless in a TEOTWAWKI.
Of course, in the end, one just does whatever seems cool and useful, and the Gods decide what proportion of fame/money/power they will get. Due to Ciro's love of open source software however, a higher fame percentage seems more likely than money.
Ciro Santilli's full name is quite unique and already dominated by this Ciro Santilli.
Searching just for just "Santilli" on Google does not give any Ciro Santilli hits. The name appears to be a minor variation of the much more common "Santini". Since the name is not that common, it is possible to go over all noteworthy hits. Some relevant ones are shown at: interesting members of the Santilli family.
Searching just for just "Ciro" on Google does not give any Ciro Santilli hits, mostly some smaller brands that could be beaten, this is Ciro's main initial fame metric goal. Reaching it would require doing things known much beyond the programming community however, as Ciro has done until of 2019. is from an electromechanics consultancy as of 2019, so it's not bad, let them be.
At the next useless gamified level, an honorary OBE and more ambitiously ForMemRS from the Royal Society post nominal letters would be nice.
The ultimate dream however would be to beat Cyrus the Great himself on Google searches ("Ciro" == "Cyrus" in Portuguese), maybe becoming "Cyrus the Greater"? That one will be a bit harder though. Maybe if Falung Gong becomes the dominant religion in 2000 years like Christianism did, catapulting the Judaism benefactor Cyrus into greater fame, then there is some hope for Ciro as well.
Which two persons are hard to satisfy?:
He who stores up whatever he gets and he who gives away whatever he gets - these two persons are hard to satisfy.
In a way, Ciro Santilli is both. In Ciro Santilli's knowledge hoarding, he both:
  • stores every knowledge he admires
  • and also gives it away for all to read
Worse of both worlds!
Ciro Santilli feels that Ciro Santilli Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is much more random/hard to determine than the Big Five personality traits
Upon a quick look Ciro Santilli evaluates himself as INTJ.
This is how Ciro Santilli evaluates himself on the Big Five personality traits:
Ciro Santilli's dreams almost all include the following aspect: Ciro is trying to do something mundane, like climbing a hill, walking across town, etc. but doing so it extremely difficult. The hill is too steep, he gets lost, and things which are easy to use in real life are impossibly hard to use in the dream.
So they are a bit like nightmares, but not that bad. Just really annoying and tiresome. Still, Ciro does enjoy o visiting the semi-real places those dreams bring him to, much for the same reasons he enjoys cycling.
Ciro attributes this type of dream to his occupation as a software engineer, because that's basically the feeling you get all day from it: why isn't this working!!! It is so basic!!!
When Ciro was a teenager, he was extremely cheap e.g. for clothes, food and video games even tough his family didn't have bad financial conditions.
This was mostly to save the world by not wasting resources that other people in need could use, and to save money so he could have more money to do more of whatever he wanted without the obligation to work.
But Ciro admits that shocking people with the incredible level of low quality goods was also fun.
Ciro changed after he came to Europe, especially in regards to food, perhaps corrupted by the fact that now the best chocolates, cheeses and breads in the world were not much more expensive than the cheapest brand you could buy. He still hates clothes that are just to look good like costumes though.
Living close to a small favela, São Remo, the favela next to USP, helped Ciro get frighteningly cheap goods on the shop frequented by the favela neighbours.
One legendary story is that of when his flatmate dropped some past on the kitchen floor, and the bowl broke, but Ciro prevented the flatmate from throwing it away and ate some of it nevertheless. What spooked them out the most was Ciro's statement that the pasta now had a crunchy glass shard texture to it.
Ciro once told a friend that his ideal life would be to "just chill out and eat his bread in peace" (while also learning and teaching the sciences). Quote "Omar Khayyam's chill out quote" comes to mind. See also: Ciro Santilli's cheapness.
Ciro Santilli is a collector at heart. But a collector of knowledge.
His uncle, which Ciro rassembles in many ways, was like that. But he collected physical objects such as wines and stamps. Or even worse, objects that were meant to be collected such Panini soccer sticker Albums! This Ciro looks down on.
With computers, knowledge takes no physical space and can be immediately shared with the hole world, and there is great beauty to that, as you can just keep collecting forever without filling up your house.
But of course, physical or not, all attachments futile.
Like other types collecting, once Ciro decides that "he must know everything about a given subject", he will keep coming back to that subject over and over. Not in a systematic way of course, since Ciro is a lazy bastard, but he will keep coming back for a very long time, and eventually become an expert at it.
This compulsive hoarding, together with Ciro Santilli's bad old event memory, are the fundamental reasons for
Ciro's ideal city to live in contains the following in order of decreasing importance:
Could California be Ciro's Mecca?
Ciro Santilli has a bad memory for events that happened a medium time ago, for example in order of months/years. Especially if they are one-off things that have no relation to anything else.
For example, Ciro never remembers which places he travelled to just once, and who was in each trip! He has images of several places he travelled to in his head, and would recognize them, but he just doesn't know where they were!
Another example, Ciro was looking at the carpet at their house, and asked where it came from. His wife replied immeidately: from Bercy shopping quarter in Paris about 10 years ago, and you took it on your back for a long walk until we could find the bus back home because we were concerned it wouldn't fit in the train!
The same goes for scenes from movies and passages from music, which explains why Ciro's art consumption focuses on innovative discrete "what happened" and "general gist" ideas, rather than, analog details such as colors and shapes.
Going back even further in time, Ciro starts to forget the less close friends he had, because the events start to fade away.
Paradoxically however, Ciro believes that this bad memory is one of his greatest strengths and key defining characteristics, because it leads Ciro to want to write down every interesting thing he learns, which motivated and his Stack Overflow contributions and his related Ciro Santilli's documentation superpowers.
It also somewhat leads Ciro to like physics and mathematics, because in these fields you "can deduce everything" from very few base principles, so if you forget them, it does not matter that much as you can re-deduce stuff over and over. Which is somewhat where the high flying bird attitude comes from. It is hard to go deep when you have to re-prove everything every time. But the upside is that anything that sticks, does so because it has a broad net to stick to, and therefore allows Ciro to make unusual and unexpected connections that others might not.
Ciro believes that there are two types of people, and most notably software engineers, which are basically data wranglers: those with bad memory and those with good memory.
Those with bad memory, tend to focus on automating and improving their processes a lot. They take much longer to do one-off specific deep knowledge tasks however.
The downside of the good memory ones is that sooner or later they will find tasks that no matter how much memory they have, they cannot solve without automation, and they will fail at those.
Also, good memory people don't enable others to join the project efficiently as much.
This dichotomy also explains why Ciro sucks at code reviews, but is rather the person who runs the interesting patches by himself and finds some critical problems that the more theoretical code reviewers missed.
If Ciro had become a scientist, he would without doubt be an experimentalist, just like in this reality he is a GDB/runtime person rather than a "static source analysis" person. Those who have bad memory prefer to just run experiments over and over and observe system state at runtime.
Other effects of having a bad memory include:
  • code duplication, or a constant fear of it at least, because Ciro forgets that some functionality exists already
  • meeting aversion, because everything that is not recorded will fade away
  • passion for backward design, because by the time a piece of knowledge learnt in school might be useful (and 99.99% won't), it will have been long forgotten
Related: from Jakob Schwichtenberg:
I'm a physicist and I try to write down things during my own learning process.
In some sense, one of the biggest benefits I have over other people in physics is that I'm certainly not the smartest guy! I usually can't grasp complex issues very easily. So I have to break down complex ideas into smaller chunks to understand it myself. This means, whenever I describe something to others, everyone understands, because it's broken down into such simple terms.
On C2 wiki, therefore it cannot be wrong
Some people have learning disabilities, [... bullshit ...]. A lot of classic spiritual texts have been produced this way. Basically, the stupidest but most dogged disciple, if he has a neurotic habit of writing things down, will make the best teacher for the third and subsequent generations.
During his teenage years, Ciro created an innovative new dance style combining elements of the various corporal practices that he studied a bit of across the years:
Ciro later called this style Cirodance.
Ciro's legendary dance style was famous during his university years, when Ciro would go to parties and dance like made while mostly unsuccessfully trying to woo girls.
Ciro has always been critical of dancing conditions in University parties, where people would always be cramped up doing boring non-creative moves. Rather, Ciro would go to to the edges of the dance floor to have enough space for his amazing moves. There is a perhaps a parallel between such tendencies and Ciro's highly innovative personality. Also perhaps being cramped would have helped wooing said girls.
Ciro later quit dancing, to a large extent because it is too hard to find suitable dancing locations outside: Europe is too cold much of the year, also ground conditions have to be perfect, and no patience to book a dance room somewhere. Kid's playgrounds are ideal, but Ciro is afraid of dancing there because kids parent's would freak out.
Therefore, all evidence of Cirodance seems to have disappeared into the depths of the Internet. There used to be a notorious video on YouTube from around June 2010 entitled "A Piriguete da Poli !!" ("Poli's bitch" in Portuguese) with comment "Sem comentarios... foi a atraçao da cervejada" (No comments... was the main attraction of the beer party) dancing the Piriguete by MC Papo Brazilian Funk carioca song. But the video was removed at some point, they were likely afraid of getting sued, the URL was as shown at, but this was before Ciro noticed that every good thing on the web goes down and became an obsessive web archiver. But in any case, the title gives an idea of the amazing style of Ciro's furor poeticus Axé performance on that day. If the video owner ever reads this message, please please restore the video, or send Ciro a copy. TODO: which channel was it on? Knowing that Ciro would be able to try and contact them.
One legendary episode linked to Cirodance was when Ciro was living in Paris and jobless around 2014 (but not destitute as he leached from his girlfriend). Cirodance was his main physical activity at the time, and Place de la République, where the skateboarders hung out due to the perfect wide concrete floor and relatively close to Bastille where Ciro lived, was the perfect place for it. One cold dark winter evening, Ciro was practicing Cirodance with his headphones and crappy clothes (dirty public square floor, remember), when someone took him for a homeless person and offered him a bowl of soup! It must be said that Place de la République had many events of giving food to the poor. Ciro was a bit stunned, declined, and continued dancing. And so that was the day when a prestigious Polytechnicien was mistaken for a homeless person. And Ciro liked that.
As of 2021, Googling "cirodance" leads to "Ciro Dance" in which comedian "Ciro Priello" (no Wikipedia page at the time) participates in a comedy show with a "silly dance" (TODO this likely has a name) described in the comments as:
It's a brand new Italian format. Some comedians are grouped into a room where they have full access to different kind of items and tools. Laughing means losing. Each of them can try to make the other laugh. The winner gets some money but all of them would have give that to charity.
The dancing guy, Ciro, after only 10 minutes from the start did this nonsense dance. It's silly bit fun nonetheless I guess
UK shirt size: L.
UNIQLO leggings size: L.
Shoe size 30 year old, as in 2017-04 Nike Flex Experience RN 6 Grey running shoes:
  • US: 11
  • UK: 10
  • EUR: 45
  • cm: 29
31 year old:
  • Height:
  • Weight:
  • Chest: 94cm
  • Waist: 81.5cm
  • Hip: 85.5cm
  • Inner leg: 92.0cm
    • Inseam: 95.0cm TODO vs inner leg. This was a separate measure from crotch to ground with help of wife.
  • Length of back: 71cm (from base of neck to knuckle height)
  • Collar: 38cm
  • Sitbone distance (ischial tuberosity):
  • Arm sleeve length: 61.5 cm
  • Head circumference: 58.5 cm
  • Hand:
    • circumference: 19.8 cm around open hand knuckle
    • Tip Of Middle Finger To Crease Under Palm: 20 cm
    • Circunference around closed knuckle: 25 cm
  • Erect penis length: just kidding, just kidding. Ciro Santilli's wife would kill him.
  • rest heart rate: 60 BPM
  • 32 yo:
    • R SPH -1.50, CYL -0.5, AXIS 150
    • R SPH -1.25, CYL -0.5, AXIS 3
  • L from Mark & Spener in UK was humongous. Lets felt tight at first fitting, but it quickly expands to normal size after wearing once.
If Achilles' had his heel, Ciro had his knee.
First during University in Brazil while trying a kick up during the development of Cirodance his knee went a bit weird for a few weeks.
Then, just after arriving in France for École Polytechnique, the boys were playing indoor soccer, and to impress the girls Ciro was playing really hard, even took off his shirt, and suddenly when he was running by himself his knee snapped, he fell and it hurt like hell.
Ciro was on crutches for a few weeks, but the inflammation went away, but then he tried to play more soccer, but the knee was not as stable as before, and once he tried to run full speed, it slipped and hurt him a bit more (less severely) and so he gave up. For some reason it was not visible on the tomography made at the hospital.
Maybe Ciro should have investigated more though, certainly an experienced doctor could have done a hand pressure exam to determine which joint was damaged manually even. That was a medical failure.
So from this day on Ciro gave up on all interesting sports, and confined himself to more repetitive stuff like gym weights and cycling: Section "Ciro Santilli's sport practice". At Polytechnique he was forced to take up swimming as his mandatory sport, that was unbearably boring.
This defect is likely genetic since a close relative had similar problems.
But oh well, his then not-even girlfriend was impressed enough by the soccer or sorry enough for the sucker to marry him, so it worked out.
Ciro Santilli has an undiagnozed condition where his upper legs and lower torso often start to itch when he runs, to the point of being extremely annoying and removing all pleasure form the activity.
If some doctor knows why this could be, please tell him!!!
The problem is a bit hard to reproduce however, and Ciro hasn't been able to determine which exact condition triggers it: temperature, nutrition, something else?
Ciro believes that this is not chiefly due to transpiration, but rather to the impact motion that running does on the muscles, as he has felt something similar on his arms some times while cycling in very rough terrain, which made his arms shake in a similar fashion. or for example if he has a water bottle on a tightly tied backpack that rubs his back, then the back itches at that point.
Also, running on a threadmill is not a problem at all. Ciro believes that this is because the threadmill is better amortized, and therefore does not cause the same mechanical stress required to create the itching as running on pavement.
Interestingly, Ciro didn't feel that at all when he played soccer enthusiastically as a child, and he was one of the fastest runners of the group for sure at that time. So he's not sure if it started when he got older, or if it is just because the difference in workloads between soccer and running.
Found: which names "runner's itch". "My back itches" after riding on a bumpy makeshift motorcycle.
As a Brazilian, Ciro Santilli used to really love playing soccer (but not watching it), until he hurt his knee.
Playing soccer just feels amazing, because you are constantly running around, but with a more specific goal in mind: to get that ball into that goal!
Playing soccer was specially amazing in the flat wet sand beach of Santos. weekend, the sea, feet touching the sand, the sun going down, and your school mates next to you. Nirvana.
It is also true that under those conditions, the skin of your feet will get ripped off due to running on the slightly wet and flat sand no matter how thick it has become. But it is worth it.
Teams would often be slit between "the team with shirts vs the team without shirts", who would just take off their shirts. The two best players would take turns picking players into their teams, the first one to pick would be decided by odds and evens (par ou ímpar).
A pair of Havaianas, or Havaianas rip-offs, stuck into the sand, or even just some school bags, would do as a goal posts. More organized people, especially adults, would have their own water pipe goal with a proper net and all. But doing so would spoil the fun of endless discussions if a non flat ball had gone in or not into an imaginary rectangle.
That's how soccer was meant to be played.
Ciro became however disillusioned with soccer after his injury. It is a shame.
And so after that, Ciro decided to dedicate himself to sports where you can't hurt your knee.
Ciro hates water, so swimming is out of the question. What could be more boring than going back and forth on a fixed location a million times to gain some milliseconds?
And so Ciro has been left with the gym as the only main option for a while.
Running would have been a consideration, but Ciro Santilli's legs sometimes itch when he runs.
This is until he ended up living in a place with decent roads for cycling in the late 2010's, which led to Ciro Santilli's cycling.
Video 1.
Adults playing soccer in Santos, São Paulo, Brazil beach on a rainy day
. Source. It is still warm though as you can see from their clothing.
At first, Ciro Santilli was just cycling to work with an extremely shitty bike he bought on a second hand shop. He knew nothing about bicycles, and the seat was way, way too low, the seller should be prosecuted for selling that to him. Ciro later understood that this was even a woman's bicycle with a low top tube! That's what you get for being so cheap.
But then at some point he bought another slightly less cheap touring bicycle, but this time from a much more trustworthy source: a colleague who was leaving the company and moving out, and this one was actually reasonable. It was the right size to start with!!! And so at some point, out of boredom, Ciro started to adventure out of town on weekends to neighbouring villages, and it just felt so good.
Ciro had started by taking his laptop-computer on his backpack, and stopping at a cafe on some nearby town where he would do some coding over the weekends. Especially during winter, drinking tea with a cake as a break during bicycle ride was the best thing ever. In one place, there was even an electric heater that you could sit in front of. But at some point, those rides start being too short, and you start doing longer real rides without your computer. And since those take more time, you generally don't feel like staying on a far place for a very long time. So you end up creating the "real ride" category and "a small ride to get somewhere nice to code" category clearly split.
He had had the "cyclists high" version of "runner's high". A light euphoria in your head, or a pulsating feeling of pleasure in your legs and lower torso. This reminded Ciro of:
except that it is not as intense, and does not destroy your life.
Like other drugs:
  • it is addictive
  • you will have some bad trips, e.g. went the wrong way on a highway and are afraid you are going to die crushed by fast cars, got flat tire on 1 hour ride and have no repair kit, destination cafe is closed and you are hungry, wind got so strong you can barely ride, half an hour in you find out that it is way colder than what you expected.
    But for every such experience you survive, you learn something to reduce the chances it will happen, and it later feels great to completely master a situation you had suffered previously with.
    Ciro has also come to crave the need to go back to every bad trip spot, with better planning and circumstances, and make it feel amazing, to get the feeling that he has mastered the spot.
  • you will have hangover after a long amazing ride
  • the high become less intense the more you ride, and turns into something you have to do to just to feel normal. And that keeps you fit forever :)
Cycling just gives you an amazing sense of freedom! Ciro likes to imagine himself as a migratory duck when he is riding his bike on cold or wet days.
The prospect of being able to reach nice new places keeps the experience fresh for a very long time.
Ciro likes to decide location on a whim on the day prior. He checks the wind to try and ride parallel to it, and then let's his mind wonder, until an image comes up, some some nice place Ciro was to once. And so the next day, he goes in that general direction again.
Each time you try to find a new cool location, and sometimes you just stumble into amazing stuff without knowing about it. Ciro likes to keep open to new experiences. Keep your eyes open, and if something looks curious, just check it out! Talking to locals for tips is also a great way to find new stuff.
One thing that Ciro often feels is rather excited on the way out, and lightly afraid of going futher at each step because of the return. And during the return, there is a greater feeling of worry and resignation, as you are more tired, you've seen what you wanted to, and you just have to get yourself homehow, often going back through paths that you know better. This reminds Ciro of the ending of the film In the Realm of the Senses (1976), in which the sex obsessed couple plays a strangling sex game, and the man says that it hurts too much when she stops strangling him, and so she strangles him to death. She also cut his penis and carried it around in a bag afterwards, but that not relevant to the cycling analogy.
It is funny, but sometimes this gives Ciro the same feeling that he had as a child playing 2D exploration RPGs such Pokemon and Final Fantasy VI as you explore the wild: Ciro can often hear the FF VI overworld soundtrack, or imagine that a Charmeleon is hidden just around the corner of this new towns he's never been to before. Because in the places you live and have walked a million times, you know there is no magic. But in a new place that you're visiting for the first time? Anything is possible there.
The main difference from video games is that the real world is much much more detailed and diverse, and the freedom is much more real. Also you can't just walk into any house or field like in the games, and there are more empty or repetitive areas that can sometimes get boring since they weren't hand designed. And if you die on a car crash there are no continues.
Another type of game that comes to mind are survival games and roguelikes, where it feels amazing to learn things that actually mean the difference between life and death, and conquering the environment. But also permadeath.
It also gives Ciro the magic feeling of awe that he had as a child when walking around his beloved hometown of Santos, São Paulo, Brazil in the sunshine. And sometimes the feeling of excitement that he had as a child before getting gifts for Christmas. Ciro then once watched a YouTube video where ex-heroin addicts describe the feeling of taking heroin (orally, TODO can't find the video anymore, I think it was this guy) exactly like that: the anticipation of getting Christmas gifts, and he instantly understood.
Ciro also likes to pick random gravel from time to time. He believes that his style of route choice reflects Ciro Santilli's self perceived creative personality: Ciro likes to go where few other people go. And he only needs to go there once to be satisfied, not master and speedrun it afterwards.
Ciro avoids riding at night of course. But when it happens and you are prepared with the safety lights and the route knowledge, it makes for some of the most memorable rides of your life.
As you start cycling, you can feel the endorphins levels rise little by little, and your mind go deeper and deeper into slumber, getting close and closer to the ground, until you reach a point where you feel like you are part of the road. Trainspotting (1996)'s overdose scene comes to mind:
It is amazing how you feel much less cold and hunger when cycling, to the point of being dangerous: always carry some chocolate bars in case you hit the wall! This is especially true at the beginning of the addiction, but with increased drug tolerance and knowledge/awareness/preparation, this starts to feel more normal.
As a friend of Ciro once said: you start to become like a wolf, who knows every cyclable little road in a 30km radius around your home.
As of 2020, Ciro is at that "should I buy a more reasonable road bike" moment. Let's see how it goes. If he does, cycling trips with the bike on a plane are likely.
As a software engineer, trying to repair a mechanical system like his bike reminds Ciro very strongly of how the physical engineering is brutal. Millimetric changes can make huge differences, it is mind blowing! Good lesson to have in mind.
Another thought that often comes to Ciro's mind is that bicycles are not regular possessions because they break a lot. Rather, they must be seen as a kind of transportation tax that you have to pay to feel amazing riding them rather than feel crappy riding a bus or train.
One interesting feeling that Ciro gets from cycling is that it is an intermediate between walking and riding a car. Ciro felt this especially strongly when he lived near work, at a distance that you could either walk or cycle. When you walk, you can just see so much more of the surroundings, it is astonishing. When you cycle, you just go much faster, and you attention is much more towards the front, so you feel surroundings much less. On the other side, cycling allows you to feel different things. E.g. in wider open areas, there isn't much detail to see anyway, so you can better feel those areas on the faster speed of the bike. A similar feeling applies to how pedestrians feel like flies when you are on a bike, just like you must feel like a fly to car drivers. Ciro later learnt that a person of similar literary ability to his, Ernest Hemingway, had a famous related similar quote:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them.... Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.
Although Ciro does not run because of his itchy legs issue, he finds it interest to contrast cycling with running, notably:
  • cycling has a much higher setup time or wearing appropriate clothes, unlocking your bike, and of course, bike maintenance
  • running allows you to go into many more small paths that are not accessible by bike, thus offering a different sense of freedom. You can't go as far however.
So maybe the ultimate sport would be to cycle to a good cross-country running location and then run over there?
Ciro's natural work-time rhythm as of 2020 in his shitty Kross bicycle (2017) was a 60/70km ride every 3 days. Or a 35/40km ride every 2 days. Or one longer 100/120km ride every 4 days. Less than 35km does not count as a ride. His average speed on anything above 70km and relatively flat is always 20km. Always. Ciro once read that that one hunt every three days was a common Paleolithic practice. Cycling is obviously a substitute for hunting. Perhaps the imminent danger of being crashed by a car at all times also has the positive side of playing the "danger" part of the hunt: Video "Why football is the most popular sport in the world by Desmond Morris"
Apocryphally attributed to H. G. Wells as per Quote Investigator
Every Time I See an Adult on a Bicycle, I No Longer Despair for the Future of the Human Race
Video 1.
Running Vs. Cycling | Who Is Faster - GCN Or GTN? by GCN (2017)
. Source. Talks about the interesting Bingley Harriers & AC "harriers vs cyclists" race held annually in the UK, in which you can either run or cycle! The course attempts to balance rough uphill terrain where runners get an advantage, with less rough downhill where cyclists have an advantage.
Video 2.
Final Fantasy VI (SNES) Overworld theme
. Source. This is what cycling feels like!!! The song is known in the West as "Terra's Theme" and it was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, who composed the entire game, and other entries of the Final Fantasy series.
Sometimes, these are more than just mechanics, but also have deeper life analogues. The title of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance comes to mind. Sometimes they are just mechanics.
With more philosophical metaphors:
  • when your bike breaks, that provides an unique opportunity to learn how to fix it: try to fix your own bike before taking it to the shop
  • if the wind is blowing against you on the way out, it will likely blow behind you on the way back. But remember that the other way around also applies.
  • always take one extra clothing layer than what you think you will need in your back pocket or sport bag, especially when time is changing fast in Sprint and Autumn. The weather on the road outside of town can change very quickly!
  • if you took a turn, and it feels wrong, stop to check the map, and possibly backtrack to safety. When it feels wrong, it usually is a bad idea, e.g. roads where cars are too fast/too many. But if you take a wrong turn and it feels right, then follow it without fear and see what it leads to!
  • don't carry a speedometer on your bike. Analysis can be done afterwards on Strava. The only measurement that matters is "how awesome am I feeling right now?". Live in the moment instead of checking your speedometer every 10 seconds.
  • cycle when you body calls it out of addiction, not out a goal that you've made up that must be reached
With less philosophical metaphors:
  • learn how much water and food you need to take for a trip. Otherwise, you will bonk at some time, when you least expect, it happens very suddenly.
    And then you better hope to God that you can find a food shop nearby. Luckily this was the case for Ciro's first and only bonk so far.
    And besides bonking all out, being tired and hungry makes you make stupid decision, especially where traffic is involved!
    Food is safety. Light is safety. Time is safety. Calm is safety. Chocolate bars and candy cannot count as lunch food, only delay lunch. A sandwich with ham cheese and salad is food. A bag of M&M's with a can of soda can bring you back from the dead.
    When you are not in familiar grounds, take twice as much as you think you might possibly ever need. Hofstadter's law.
    You will also learn that, surprise surprise, carbohydrates that you ate one or two days before a ride stay stored in your liver and muscles, and also greatly affect how quickly you will bonk, thus the concept of carbohydrate loading.
    Video 1.
    How Not To 'Hit The Wall' Or 'Bonk' – GCN's Guide To Fuelling While Cycling by Global Cycling Network (2016)
    . Source.
    And surprise surprise: heat can also make you bonk! Who would have thought!
  • correct saddle hight is fundamental, your legs must be almost fully stretched at the bottom position
  • it is impossible to reach the correct tire pressure with (cheap?) hand pumps, their only purpose is to fill up a flat tire so you can get home after a long ride. But a track pump.
  • clean and lube your chain. The speed benefit is instantaneous and mind blowing. It also greatly improves gear shifting.
    This also prevents the chain from rusting, because the lube takes up the place where water would stay, and the muck makes it harder for water to evaporate.
    This is the most common bike maintenance mistake you see on the streets: people with that high pitched overly dry chain noise.
    Video 2.
    How To Get A Perfectly Clean Chain by GCN (2016)
    . Source.
  • when a piece on your bike breaks and has no clear name written on it, you can try to identify it Google images
  • the more you watch YouTube maintenance videos without haste, the more you end up learn random new stuff that unexpectedly saves you later
  • if you took a turn, and it feels wrong, stop to check the map, and possibly backtrack to safety. When it feels wrong, it usually is a bad idea, e.g. roads where cars are too fast/too many
  • public place with lots of people are bicycle parking Hell, because due to anonymity and the large number of distractions, it becomes exponentially more likely that someone will fuck you bike somehow, e.g. by dropping it on the ground. Always search a bit for a reasonable place to park, and avoid overcrowded parking spaces at all costs.
  • gear change matters
    • when you get on your bike to start riding, start riding slowly and gradually switch up pedal forces and gears. Things may have shifted in a weird position as it gets kicked around in parking. Ciro managed to bend his derailleur like that!
    • spin to win, AKA learn to user your gears
    • it is not shameful to ride on your lower gears on a hill. You can actually go surprisingly fast with them, and conserve energy for later. Learn when to use each gear ratio.
  • learn to identify your suppliers:
    • in Europe, this is best place to buy clothing from, and also good for some bike parts. It is the most organized website, and contains non-generic shit which Amazon is full of.
      For bike parts Amazon is also worth looking into however. Bike parts a bit different from clothing because you have to make sure that stuff fits, so you hopefully know exactly the part name before before buying it, and therefore website organization is not as crucial.
      Wiggle is however guilty of shameless: discounts that happen more often than not
  • always take your lights off the bike into your bag when you park, anywhere, and for any amount of time, even if a quick stop. Drug addicts are everywhere, always ready love to steal and resell them.
  • sometimes you do something stupid like going into a really muddy path, and it is really fun, because you've never been there in your life. But then your bike gets really dirty, and your feet are wet and freezing, and you promise yourself you will never do something that stupid again. But then you do it again in a different location, because it was too much fun. Once more unto the breach just comes to Ciro's mind every such time. Embrace this.
  • Google Maps download offline maps. This works very reliably, you can select the area you want to download. The only downside is that Google maps can't reliably show a route offline, and it does not contain national cycle route routes. Or those features are impossible for a software engineer to get working after trying for about 2 hours.
  • OpenStreetMap on browser with cycling layer: This is the best visualization of cycling routes I've found so far, contains both National Cycle Network and National Byway and a few others, and they are shown extremely clearly. But as a website it doesn't reliably work offline
  • the OsmAnd app for Android is the best offline free-ish OpenStreetMap viewer I've found so far. You only have to pay after reaching 5 region downloads, and it is very cheap if you want to do so. The cycle route view is not amazing, the routes are not so clearly marked and mixed with very similarly colored big roads, but with a bit of effort you can make them out. No routing though
  • I've heard Komoot can keep a predefined route (possibly auto planed) reliably offline, but haven't used it myself. I was not able to see National Cycle Route clearly marked anywhere on it
Sometimes you get annoyed to death with your bike not breaking or changing gears perfectly as you would like, and the people at the bike shop never do the job well enough.
The problem with bike shops is that the employees are already swamped with work, and they don't get paid any extra for doing more work.
As a result, paradoxically, they are often happier, and respect you more if you are trying to get them to help you to fix your own bike!
Also, for the same reason, they don't have the time to go for a quick test ride after a fix to ensure that the bug was actually fixed.
So they ignore things that would obviously be huge ridability benefits (although they might not be obvious to newbie customers), for which customers would gladly pay more money for.
But you start to learn how to do stuff yourself and it feel amazing when you finally get there (after infinite trial and error).
Ciro dreams of a bike shop that actually calls you for the appointment and then teaches you how to fix the thing.
So the best strategy is to have a backup bicycle, and when your main one breaks, you just try to to the fix yourself. That means:
  • identifying the broken piece
  • watching YouTube videos of how to do the job
  • buying a replacement and any missing tools on Amazon
  • giving it a shot
Then, if you fail to do the fix, that is OK, just take it to the bike shop, with the piece you've bought, and ask them to do it for you. At least this way you did not waste a golden opportunity to learn!
Ciro had a small accident in 2021. It wasn't ultra serious, a few cuts, but could have been worse. Here's a post mortem.
Ciro was going to cycle 120 km between two locations he had never cycled before. Ciro had cycled this distance before many many times, so he thought he could do it.
What went wrong:
  • on both ends were cities, larger than those Ciro is used to
  • on the start, was a port city. You do not want to cycle in port areas, ever! Lots of trucks, narrow side-walks, bad road, danger danger!
  • on both sides, endless suburbia. This means you have to check your map every 3 seconds to know which little stree to turn, which is very hard without a way to attach your map to your bike. Ciro had his on his pocket. You lose a lot of time like that!
  • there wasn't a lot of sunlight at the time of the year. Not criticial, but still, less than ideal.
  • during the ride, part of the "well documented and safe cycle route" was closed off for repairs. It was unclear what the best alternative would be. Ciro went down a path, but it turned to be horrendous countryside, he had to pull his bike over fences
  • by then, Ciro was tired and a bit late. He had only eaten sweets all day long. They give you calories, but there's always something missing in them.
  • Ciro arrived at the very very large target city, and it was getting dark, and it was rush hour, lots of cars. This was already back on the official bike path, but even those paths are torduous in suburbia
  • also, Ciro was meant to meet his wife later, and he was in a rush, worried that she would be worried about him
  • at one point, Ciro took the wrong turn for a few hundred meters
  • he realized, and turned back
  • when coming back, now extra impatient because o the wrong turn, the place he had come from was actually one way street for a very short while until the right turn, so Ciro went against the correct direction...
  • a car came. It was relatively slow, because the road was slight uphill for the car, and a turn. The slight downhill also meant Ciro was going a bit faster than he realized
  • Ciro tried to go into the sidewalk anyways to make sure he was clear off the car (he was already). When he tried, the wheel stuck, and he flew forward, hitting a wall slightly
This was a perfect example of how many small things add up to an accident.
You have to know when you are tired and hungry and impatient. This is where huge danger lies.
Stop at a shop, eat, sit down. Darkness is not that dangerous if you have lights.
Take a train outside of large cities if needed. Crossing large cities is not something to be taken lightly. You need calm and time to do so safely.
Some other idealists that are a bit further out but with some similarities:
Ciro Santilli also things of those people as being part of his 108 Stars of Destiny troupe.
Ciro sometimes ponders why is it so hard to find people online that you truly love and admire. Maybe it is for similar reasons why it is also hard in the real world: the great variety of human interest, and the great limitation of our attention spans. But online, where we have access to "everyone", shouldn't it should be easier? Not naturally finding such people is perhaps one of the greatest failings of our education system.

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